Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Few Thoughts on How God's Moral Law Relates to the Civil Magistrate

The central cause of this widespread moral collapse, so it seems to me, is located in the decline of Puritan religion.  This returns us to the main theme of religious rather than civil history.  When the seminaries and churches declare that God is dead, or when, less extreme, they substitute for the Puritan God of the Ten Commandments a different concept of god, inconsistent with the Ten Commandments, it logically and factually follows that morality is changed, too.  A man's view of morality depends on his view of God or whatever his first principle may be.  Different types of theology produce different types of morality.   

Dr. Gordon H. Clark.  Essays on Ethics and Politics.  John Robbins, ed. (Jefferson: Trinity Foundation, 1992   P. 167.

There is a constant danger for Christians who become involved in the political process.  But that applies equally to those who refuse to be involved in the political process.  Not speaking up when evil is dominating our nation is a violation of the command to preach the Gospel everywhere.  (2 Timothy 4:2).  The apostles said in Acts 5:28-29 that we ought to obey God rather than man when the political forces tell us to shut up and keep our faith in the closet.

However, the danger for the Christian who becomes involved in the political process is that his or her own theological system of thought and worldview could become compromised by watering down biblical principles and biblical theology for the sake of having an ecumenical common ground with unbelievers.  I am the first to admit that the danger of becoming a die hard Ted Cruz supporter, which I openly confess that I am, is that some people confuse the civil magistrate with the Bible and the result is what is usually called civil religion.  For example, Glenn Beck, a Mormon, is a strong advocate for God's moral law and for the United States Constitution.  But Glenn Beck is not a Christian.  Beck is strong on pro-life issues.  But I cannot in good conscience pray with Glenn Beck.  But on television I saw Ted Cruz praying with Glenn Beck.   Mark Levin, also a constitutional conservative, is Jewish and has a Pelagian view of free will.  Neither of these men are Christians.  So I cannot in good conscience pray with either of them.

Moreover, the American principle of religious pluralism is based solidly on the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment, which guarantees the separation of church and state.  That definition does not exclude Christians from public service in the government as Steven K. Bannon of Breitbart News contends.  Bannon is continually misquoting the Bible as if Jesus somehow advocated a complete disconnect between Christians and the government.  The verse in question was render unto Caesar.  It is disturbing to me when I hear the Bible misquoted and trashed in a thirty second sound byte for a liberal or pseudo-conservative cause.  But anyone who has ever read the Bible knows that render unto caesar was a political trap laid for Jesus by his political and eccesiastical opponents, the scribes and Pharisees:
14 When they had come, they said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?
 15 "Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?" But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it."
 16 So they brought it. And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's."
 17 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marveled at Him. (Mark 12:14-17 NKJV)

I actually called into Bannon's radio program and was able to rebut his irrational argument on the air at the Patriot Channel, Sirius XM.   He did not much like being shown to be ignorant of the Bible.   I later learned that Bannon is a Roman Catholic.  He probably has not read the Bible much in his life.  For the Protestant the main emphasis is the preaching and teaching of the written Scriptures, which are the final authority in all matters of faith, practice and morality.  (2 Timothy 3:16; Matthew 4:4; Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 8:20).  This applies equally to how one does politics.  The Bible, according to Dr. Gordon H. Clark's Scripturalism, is the beginning axiom for Christianity and Christianity applies to all life, including the political realm.

I also called in to comment on Bannon's contention that "Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump."  Well, the problem with this logically and Scripturally speaking is that if the term Evangelical is not specifically defined, then it is a meaningless term and you have said nothing other than that people in general have voted for Trump.  What they really mean is that from a civil religion point of view people who identify with some generic religious spirituality voted for Trump.  I pressed Bannon on this and asked him how he defined Evangelicalism.  His response was that Evangelicals were "self-identifying as Evangelicals in exit polls".  Well, if that is so, then the term is still meaningless because Bannon and the liberal press are just using a generic term as a propaganda device to manipulate an expected outcome and to persuade generally religious people to vote for the candidate favored by the press.  But the traditional definition of an Evangelical is someone who adheres to the five solas of the Protestant Reformation, the main one being Sola Scriptura or Scripture Alone.  Scripture is the final measure of truth in the political realm as well as in the private realm.  We know that murdering the unborn is murder because the Bible is propositional and logical revelation and because we can logically deduce that human babies have a right to live.  Thou shalt not murder is the principle upon which we base that inference.   (Exodus 20:13 KJV).  But here is a surprise for you.  God expects you to obey your elders and that expectation is the first commandment in the second table of the Decalogue.   Do not murder is commandment number six while the command to honor your parents and other elders is commandment number five.  (Exodus 20:12 KJV). The commandments are listed in a descending order of importance, though to break one commandment is to break them all. (James 2:10-11 KJV).

The idea that the Christian and Evangelical churches, moreover, cannot speak to political issues in their services or in sermons is understandable given the danger of civil religion, a tradition that started with the evangelist, Billy Sunday.  On the other hand, the theological doctrine of two kingdoms theology is foreign to the Protestant Reformers and to the Bible.  On that point, I can wholeheartedly agree with the reconstructionists and the theonomists.  But I am not theonomist or a reconstructionist because their theological system is inherently based on a confusion of the civil or judicial law of the Old Testament nation of Israel with the moral law of God.  The two are not the same thing at all.   (See chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession of Faith). 

The problem here is that the socialist left and the liberation theologians of the mainline liberal denominations are openly preaching the social sciences in their churches and in their sermons because they have replaced special revelation with general revelation or natural revelation.  According to the liberal model, God is totally transcendent and man can know nothing except what can be known from below.  We cannot know anything God knows because, as Kant said, we cannot know anything on the noumenal level.  We can only know what can be empirically observed from below and what we can establish by rational reason.  Kant called this the phenoumenal or phenominological realm--that is, what we can observe in natural phenomena.  But Kant did presuppose certain innate and pre-existing abilities in man such as the ability to think, to tell time, etc.  These are not learned but are innate in man, according to Immanuel Kant:

A large part of Kant’s work addresses the question “What can we know?” The answer, if it can be stated simply, is that our knowledge is constrained to mathematics and the science of the natural, empirical world. It is impossible, Kant argues, to extend knowledge to the supersensible realm of speculative metaphysics. The reason that knowledge has these constraints, Kant argues, is that the mind plays an active role in constituting the features of experience and limiting the mind’s access only to the empirical realm of space and time.

Matt McCormick, "Immanuel Kant: Metaphysics," in Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:  A Peer Reviewed Academic Resource.

The point being made here is that liberal mainline churches are preaching and teaching a form of theonomy but they are doing it from the perspective of the theological left.  Their theological views are deduced from a humanistic view of the social sciences and the empirical sciences, including their higher critical views of the Bible and textual criticism.  Their views are not deduced from the Bible except as the Bible is interpreted by means of their liberal and socially progressive presuppositions.

In African American churches there has been a long standing tradition of preaching on social justice issues since the days of slavery, when the slave who could read would read the Scriptures while another would expound on the text that he could not read.  Of course, times have changed.  But in this tradition you can still visit some black churches where one of the deacons or another lay person will read the text verse by verse while the minister then preaches on the text verse by verse.  Verse by verse is not a bad way to preach, by the way.  So if liberation theology, feminist theology, black liberation theology, socialism, the LGBT or homosexual issues can be openly preached in liberal churches and political applications of the social "sciences" like psychology, sociology, evolutionary sciences, etc., can be and are openly preached in liberal churches, why do Evangelicals think they cannot apply biblical principles to the same issues and do so as openly as the political and theological left does?  In effect, the left has established their liberal theology as the civil religion of our nation.  All religions lead to God, right?  They have confused the political doctrine of religious pluralism with establishing a theological liberalism and comparative religions as the official state religion.  Religion, according to this view is nothing more than man's cultural adaptations of existential angst to help someone cope with the vicissitudes of life.  Secular humanism is another established version of this state religion and said religion makes it heresy to disagree with the state dogmas on evolution, homosexuality, abortion, gun rights, religion as an opiate of the people and a whole host of other politically correct dogmas that are strictly enforced by our increasingly socialistic government.

For example, Barack Obama appealed to the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence to justify his endorsement of the Supreme Court decision to uphold the perversion of gay marriage.  He said that homosexuals have a "god given right" to marriage.   But is that what the Declaration of Independence said?  All agree that Thomas Jefferson was a deist and not a Christian theist or an Evangelical Protestant.  But why did Jefferson appeal to the axiom that all men are "created equal"?  The answer is that Jefferson believed in a supernatural creation.  While it is true that Jefferson rejected  the supernatural miracles of the Bible, he did not reject the biblical doctrine of creation and in fact he got his doctrine that all men are created from the Bible.  (Genesis 1-3).  Obama's progressive morality is therefore anachronistic and is not to be found in either the Bible or the Constitution.  The Bible without any doubt condemns homosexuality.  Of course, the liberals do not believe the Bible is inspired by God.  They consider it to be a product of human invention in order to deal with  man's experience of suffering.

Additionally, the Bible nowhere advocates the separation of church and state.  Although I agree in principle with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I do not agree with the liberal presupposition that religion cannot be an influence in political matters.  The theological left is extremely engaged, so it is hypocritical and a double standard to forbid Evangelicals from the same engagement.  There is no political test for public office.  That would mean that Ted Cruz and other Evangelicals deserve the same consideration for office as any theological liberal, any Roman Catholic, or any atheist.  

From a Clarkian Scripturalist perspective, the beginning axiom of Christianity is the Bible, not the social sciences, not philosophy or rationalism, nor even political science.  All of these other beginning axioms lead to atheism or skepticism.  The Bible alone leads to a consistent Christian worldview or epistemology.  Scripture alone literally is the beginning of all knowledge. 

Proverbs. 1:7  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  KJV

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.  KJV

2 Pet. 2:20  For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  KJV

I have much more to say on this subject but I will close here for today.

Question 191

What do we pray for in the second petition?

In the second petition, (which is, Thy kingdom come, (Matt. 6:10) ) acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, (Eph. 2:2–3) we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, (Ps. 68:1,18, Rev. 12:10–11) the gospel propagated throughout the world, (2 Thess. 3:1) the Jews called, (Rom. 10:1) the fullness of the Gentiles brought in; (John 17:9,20, Rom. 11:25–26, Ps. 67) the church furnished with all gospel-officers and ordinances, (Matt. 9:38, 2 Thess. 3:1) purged from corruption, (Mal. 1:11, Zeph. 3:9) countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate: (1 Tim. 2:1–2) and the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted: (Acts 4:29–30, Eph. 6:18–20, Rom. 15:29–30,32, 2 Thess. 1:11, 2 Thess. 2:16–17) that Christ would rule in our hearts here, (Eph. 3:14–20) and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him for ever: (Rev. 22:20) and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends. (Isa. 64:1–2, Rev. 4:8–11)

The Westminster Larger Catechism: With Scripture Proofs. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

Monday, May 02, 2016

Lordship Salvation, John MacArthur, and Zane Hodges

Galatians 2:16–17

16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. 17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!

Someone asked me a question in regards to a comment posted by David Bishop on Facebook.  The question has to do with what is wrong with the Lordship Salvation view of John MacArthur and the Once Saved Always Saved view of Zane Hodges.  This is David Bishop's comment below:
Via David Bishop

Lordship Salvation was an overreaction to Zane Hodges' Antinomian false gospel. The problem with Lordship Salvation is that it swung too far over into the opposite direction and became a false gospel for all the opposite reasons Zane Hodges' gospel was false. Lordship Salvation so far to the right of Hodges that it became an attempt to redefine faith, repentance and salvation, with the result that it denies the gospel of God's sovereign grace. Zane Hodges was an Arminian theologian and textual critic who defined salvation as coming to believe for one instance in time the singular proposition that "Jesus promised eternal life to all believe in Him." And when I say singular proposition, I literally mean singular proposition. For example, Hodges once gave an illustration in which a man marooned on an island comes across a tiny portion of John 5 in which the only part of the text still legible to him are the words, "Jesus promised eternal life to all who believe in Him." Hodges insisted that if this marooned man believed this one single statement AND NOTHING MORE, then he would be saved. Furthermore, if the marooned man later stopped believing this and started to believe there is no God, or even that Muhammed was God, then he would still saved. Why? Because he had believed for one instance in time. This is why I call Hodges' false gospel, "tattoo Christianity", because Hodges believed that once you got your "tattoo" then that was it, you were going to Heaven. You could go off and become an Atheist, a Buddhist, whatever, and you would still be saved because you had gotten your tattoo. Now, John MacArthur attempted to answer Hodges, but what he answered him with was a Neonomian false gospel every bit as false as Hodges. JMac argued that faith was not just intellectually agreeing with God that all the Biblical propositions about Christ and His crosswork are true, but rather faith is also striving to become less sinful as proof that you have submitted to Christ's Lordship. The basis for his argument was the entirely irrational and self refuting idea that the words "heart" and "mind" as used in the Bible represent two entirely different ways of knowledge and belief. In other words, just like the Danish philosopher who inspired Karl Barth, JMac insisted that a composite of head knowledge plus heart knowledge equals truth knowledge. Neither he, nor Kierkegaard understood that the word "heart" is a polysemy. In other words, it is a word that can be used in many different ways - the heart of the galaxy, the heart of the matter, the heart is an organ, you broke my heart, etc. Imagine, if you will, that we did indeed have a second organ inside our body besides the one in our skull that was capable of knowledge. How would we ever know whether we were only head knowing rather than also head [heart?] knowing? We would need a third organ that could tell the difference. JMac and the Lordship folks today never consider this fact. Instead, they just keep repeating their nonsense and insist anyone who disagrees with them must agree with Hodges. Faith in Scripture simply means to agree with God about what He has said concerning His only begotten Son and His Son's crosswork. Now, lots of people can know what God has said, but only those who have been imputed righteous and have been born of the Spirit will agree with God that what He has said is true. Lordship Salvation flatly rejects this, and this is why I reject Lordship Salvation.

From a Clarkian Scripturalist perspective there are several major problems with Bishop's response, the main one being his view that "head" knowledge and "heart" knowledge are two different ways of knowing.  But the problem here is that the typical definition of "head" knowledge as defined by modern Evangelicals in general is that they mean intellectual knowledge by the term "head knowledge."  They define heart knowledge as a deep felt conviction or an emotional intuition or some other ineffable sensation that cannot be intellectually formulated.  But the Bible never makes such a distinction between the intellect and the heart.  In fact, emotions produce no knowledge.  Emotions are nothing more than bodily sensations and therefore cannot know anything.  The Bible, on the other hand, says that the heart thinks.  (Genesis 6:5; 1 Chronicles 28:9, 29:18; Job 17:11; Proverbs 23:7; Jeremiah 23:20; Daniel 2:30, 7:28; Hebrews 4:12).  In other works, the head, heart, and soul are very much identified as the intellectual seat of consciousness according to the Bible.  This is not to say that the soul has no emotional sensations but overall the Bible represents the heart as the inner soul of man that thinks.  (Proverbs 23:7).  There are exceptions where the Bible says that the heart experiences emotions but Jesus himself said that out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts.  (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21).

In regards to the MacArthur and Hodges dispute, I agree somewhat with Bishop's assessment.  But Hodges was not just an Arminian in regards to conversion.  He was also a dispensationalist in his theology, which is another theological system altogether from what the propositions in the Bible would indicate.  MacArthur, although he now identifies as a Calvinist, was at one time also a dispensationalist.  Unfortunately, MacArthur adheres to no detailed Reformed confession of faith such as the London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689.  For that reason MacArthur has often made serious errors, including confusing justification and sanctification in the first edition of his book, The Gospel According to Jesus.  MacArthur contended in that book that final justification depends on the obedience of the believer and not justification by faith alone.  (See:  The Gospel According to John MacArthur, Trinity Review.  See also:  Justification and Judgment, Trinity Review).  The problem with MacArthur is his continual confusion of justification and sanctification and MacArthur's view of Lordship Salvation is essentially the same thing as the Federal Visionist view that the believer's final justification or vindication depends not just on imputed righteousness but also the works of the believer.  This is the view espoused by John Piper as well in his doctrine of final "vindication" by works.  (See:  John Piper Invites Doug Wilson).

Where I differ with David Bishop above is that he seems to be denying the Reformed confessional view that sanctification is a necessary result of regeneration and saving faith.  The Westminster Confession of Faith 1:6 advocates a system of theology that is logically deduced from the propositions in the Bible.  (See:  The Westminster Confession of Faith and Logic, Trinity Review).

Saving faith is indeed mere intellectual assent.  (See:  Saving Faith:  Trinity Review).  That is, the first thing that happens is an intellectual understanding of the Bible and the Gospel message.  But saving faith is only possible after regeneration or the effectual call.  (John 3:3-8; 6:44, 65).  Understanding what the Bible says and believing what it says are two different things, as most any unbeliever can understand that the Bible says that Christ died on the cross for our sins.  But he refuses to believe what he understands the Bible says because it is foolishness to him.  (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Furthermore, it must not be forgotten that the Westminster Confession has chapters that are numbered in descending order of importance.  The three most important doctrines in the WCF are 1)  Scripture, 2) the Trinity, and 3) Predestination or Of God's Divine Decree.  Saving faith is chapter 14 while regeneration is in chapter 10, justification is in chapter 11, adoption is chapter 12, sanctification is chapter 13, repentance is chapter 15, good works is chapter 16, chapter 17 is perseverance and assurance is chapter 18.  It is good to understand that the Puritan divines at Westminster wanted to emphasize these doctrines as they relate to one another in the system of propositional truth they deduced in summary form from the Scriptures.  Of course all Scripture is God's written word and there could be much more deduced from the Scriptures than what the WCF says (2 Timothy 3:16).  The Reformed confessions, though more thorough than any other confessions of faith today, are only a summary of Scripture in brief.  Christians are obligated to learn as much Scripture as possible and to understand the Scriptures in relationship to all the other Scriptures.  (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:15-17; John 10:35; John 5:39; Acts 17:11).  In short, to isolate saving faith as intellectual assent from everything else the Bible says is wrong.

Moreover, sanctification is a lifelong process of repentance and struggle against sin.  Assurance of salvation comes from God's promises to save His elect, from the eternal predestination of the elect, from eternal justification, and from conversion, justification and sanctification.  (See WCF chapter 18).  True conversion always has the goal of producing justifying faith and a progressive sanctification.  According to Dr. Clark, the effectual call and perseverance of the saints are both monergistic acts of God.  The WCF says the same thing.  (See WCF chapters 10 and 17).  But sanctification and repentance have to do with our will cooperating with God's commands.  Of course, even our synergistic cooperation with God's commands is also caused by God working in us. (Philippians 2:12-13).

I am not sure what Bishop means here:

Now, John MacArthur attempted to answer Hodges, but what he answered him with was a Neonomian false gospel every bit as false as Hodges. JMac argued that faith was not just intellectually agreeing with God that all the Biblical propositions about Christ and His crosswork are true, but rather faith is also striving to become less sinful as proof that you have submitted to Christ's Lordship.

A true and living faith does produce a progress in Christian maturity and a striving to live more and more like Christ:

XII. Of Good Works.
ALBEIT that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, Article XII.

Bishop's view seems to ignore that sanctification is also a part of the system of theology deduced from Scripture.  The Westminster Confession of Faith makes it clear that the result of saving faith is indeed repentance and sanctification as a matter of cooperation of man's will with God's revealed commands in Scripture.  (Deuteronomy 29:29; Romans 6:1-2; Philippians 2:12-13, 3:10-15).  Only faith can make our good works acceptable to God.  (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 1:17; Habakkuk 2:4).  But this does not mean that we have a license to sin.  (Jude 1:3-5).  The problem with MacArthur is that he confuses justification with sanctification, not that sanctification itself is not a necessary evidence of a valid profession of faith.

Additionally, the neo-orthodox view of Scripture is that Scripture is not literally the words of God but only an analogy or framework of God's revelation since nothing God knows can be known by man and nothing man knows is what God knows.  But does God know that 2 +2 = 4 or that David was the king of Israel?  There are no contradictions in the Bible so there is therefore no contradiction between imputed righteousness and a progressive sanctification.  (Hebrews 6:1-6; Romans 4:1-5; Romans 6:1-2, 12:1-2; Galatians 2:16-17).  I'm not sure how Bishop equates MacArthur's confusion of the head with the heart as some third way of knowing the Scriptures.   However, Dr. Gordon H. Clark clearly says that adding trust to faith or assent is a tautological and circular argument.  Faith, trust and assent are all the same thing and all are an intellectual belief of what is known from the Scriptures.  If the Scriptures are not univocally the words of God, how could anyone believe what God has said?  In other words, if revelation is not communicable from God to man, then the Bible is not God's literal Word.  A reflection or analogy of revelation is not revelation and if the two never meet then the result is the neo-orthodox view of Scripture, which is essentially the view espoused by Westminster Seminary, California and Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  It is also the view taught by Dr. Michael Horton and Dr. R.  Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary, California.

Saving faith is wrought in the heart and therefore faith itself is not the basis of justification.  Instead, justification is objective and outside of us.  It is the cross work of Christ and his active obedience.  What Christ did in the place of the elect is that He lived a perfectly sinless life by actively obeying God's moral law in every detail and never sinning by omission, commission, or ignorance whatsoever.  Additionally, Christ passively obeyed God by dying for all the sins of all the elect to pay the eternal penalty of God.  The substitutionary atonement of Christ is the basis of our justification, not our faith.

It is therefore imperative that Christians study the Bible in detail and learn as much of Scripture as possible.  A good place to start is with the Westminster Larger Catechism with the proof texts:

Question 68
Are the elect only effectually called?

All the elect, and they only, are effectually called: (Acts 13:48) although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the word, (Matt. 22:14) and have some common operations of the Spirit; (Matt. 7:22, Matt. 13:20–21, Heb. 6:4–6) who, for their willful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ. (John 12:38–40, Acts 28:25–27, John 6:64–65, Ps. 81:11–12)

Question 70
What is justification?

Justification is an act of God’ s free grace unto sinners, (Rom. 3:22,24–25, Rom. 4:5) in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; (2 Cor. 5:19,21, Rom. 3:22,24,25,27,28) not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, (Tit. 3:5,7, Eph. 1:7) but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, (Rom. 5:17–19, Rom. 4:6–8) and received by faith alone. (Acts 10:43, Gal. 2:16, Phil. 3:9)

Question 72
What is justifying faith?

Justifying faith is a saving grace, (Heb. 10:39) wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit (2 Cor. 4:13, Eph. 1:17–19) and word of God, (Rom. 10:14–17) whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, (Acts 2:37, Acts 16:30, John 16:8–9, Rom. 5:6, Eph. 2:1, Acts 4:12) not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, (Eph. 1:13) but received and rested upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, (John 1:12, Acts 16:31, Acts 10:43) and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation. (Phil. 3:9, Acts 15:11)

Question 73
How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, (Gal. 3:11, Rom. 3:28) nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; (Rom. 4:5, Rom. 10:10) but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness. (John 1:12, Phil. 3:9, Gal. 2:16)

Question 75
What is sanctification?

Sanctification is a work of God’ s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit (Eph. 1:4, 1 Cor. 6:11, 2 Thess. 2:13) applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, (Rom. 6:4–6) renewed in their whole man after the image of God; (Eph. 4:23–24) having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, (Acts 11:18, 1 John 3:9) and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, (Jude 20, Heb. 6:11–12, Eph. 3:16–19, Col. 1:10–11) as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life. (Rom. 6:4,6,14, Gal. 5:24)

Question 77
Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?

Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, (1 Cor. 6:11, 1 Cor. 1:30) yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; (Rom. 4:6 ,8) in sanctification of his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; (Ezek. 36:27) in the former, sin is pardoned; (Rom. 3:24–25) in the other, it is subdued: (Rom. 6:6,14) the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation (Rom. 8:33–34) the other is neither equal in all, (1 John 2:12–14, Heb. 5:12–14) nor in this life perfect in any, (1 John 1:8,10) but growing up to perfection. (2 Cor. 7:1, Phil. 3:12–14)

The Westminster Larger Catechism: With Scripture Proofs. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

There could be much more said, but this is my off the cuff response to David Bishop's remarks, which I think were unclear and ambiguous at several points.  Sovereign grace does not mean once saved always saved, as he said.  Bishop is also correct that sovereign grace is not merited or earned by our obedience.  But saving faith does result in a process of growing in knowledge of Scripture, spiritual maturity, and struggling against sin.  (Hebrews 5:12-13; 1 Peter 2:2).   Even the plowing of the wicked is sinful.  (Proverbs 21:4).  But the good works of the elect are acceptable on the basis of their faith and not on the basis of merits.  (Hebrews 11:6).  The perseverance of the saints means they may and often do fall into sin but they are never totally forsaken and God always preserves them in faith and brings them to repentance.  (Jude 1:24-25 KJV; 2 Timothy 1:12 KJV).

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Irish Articles of Religion, A.D. 1615: The image of God Consists in the Wisdom of His Mind

Man being at the beginning created according to the image of God (which consisted especially in the wisdom of his mind and the true holiness of his free will), had the covenant of the law ingrafted in his heart . . .   Irish Articles of Religion, A. D. 1615
According to Dr. Gordon H. Clark, man is the image of God. But what is the image of God? Since God is Logic and man is God's image, it logically follows that man is a spiritual soul, not his physical body.  (John 4:24).  Animals have bodies but are they the image of God? 

In reading the Irish Articles of Religion, A.D. 1615, this morning I found that Dr. Clark got his view of man as God's wisdom and logic from the Irish confession. The Irish Articles were primarily the work of Bishop Ussher.

This remark is made under the doctrine of providence:

Of the Creation and Governance of All Things

21. Man being at the beginning created according to the image of God (which consisted especially in the wisdom of his mind and the true holiness of his free will), had the covenant of the law ingrafted in his heart, whereby God did promise unto him everlasting life upon condition that he performed entire and perfect obedience unto his Commandments, according to that measure of strength wherewith he was endued in his creation, and threatened death unto him if he did not perform the same.

Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 530.

Notice that the image of God, according to the Irish divines, "consisted especially in the wisdom of his mind and the true holiness of his free will" and "had the covenant of the law ingrafted in his heart." (John 1:1, 9; Romans 2:14-16. Need I remind anyone that the Bible says the heart thinks and is basically equivalent to man's soul. (Proverbs 23:7).

It should also be noted that "free will" does not mean "libertarian" free will. Instead it means that man is not a robot or a biological machine in slavery to brain chemistry, the sociological environment, or to physiology. No, man has a genuine will that is capable of making genuine choices. The fact that God governs all things and that all things are predetermined does not override man's free will in the sense that man is a free moral agent and man will be held fully accountable by the Creator for everything he says and does in his lifetime. (Romans 1:18-21; Deuteronomy 29:29; Isaiah 8:20).

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