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 Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quote of the Day: Herman Hoeksema

"It is important that the church boldly and clearly proclaim this absolute proprietorship of the Most High.  She must preach that the earth and its fullness and those who dwell in the world are the Lord's.  The church must always be vigilant lest the truth be adulterated and corrupted.

"Yet it is in the very nature of sin to deny this truth.  Even as fallen man follows after the lie that he is God, so he lives and acts in the wicked and deceitful imagination that he is Lord--Lord of himself and Lord of the universe.  This evil characteristic of sin becomes manifest not only in his brute and open refusal to glorify God as Lord and be thankful, but even in a more abominable form in the false religion of self-righteousness.  Men bring their tithes and offerings and piously feel that the Lord thereby is obligated to them, or they speak of doing something for him and feel that they can claim their reward.  Thus the Jews of old pursued after a mirage of an imaginary righteousness by bringing their offerings to the house of God.  But God is the Lord.  He possesses all the universe.

Herman Hoeksema, Knowing God and Man.  (Jenison:  Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2006).  Pages 26-27.

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

Can You Go to Heaven without Being a Church Member? (Or, The Curious Case of A. W. Pink)

Is it just me or does it seem a bit hypocritical for a Presbyterian Church in America elder to complain about folks refusing to attend their "reformed" churches? The last PCA I attended was predominated by Arminian members. The pastor had the audacity to say that Roman Catholics are "Christians" and "saved" and had no need for conversion to the Gospel of grace. When Mr. William H. Smith can demonstrate that the Federal Vision error, Auburn Avenue, error, and the New Perspectives on Paul error has been eradicated from the PCA maybe we might take him seriously. As it is, the PCA is just another Reformed denomination that has gone down the road to broad evangelicalism and accepting Armininism as a viable "optional" gospel. Unfortunately, the Synod of Dort called it what it is: heresy.

Can You Go to Heaven without Being a Church Member? (Or, The Curious Case of A. W. Pink)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Conservative Presbyterians Mulling Split Over Gay Ordination?, Christian News

Conservative Presbyterians Mulling Split Over Gay Ordination?, Christian News

Aquila Report: Reversing The Reformation – A Layman Examines The Undermining of Justification By Faith

Reversing The Reformation – A Layman Examines The Undermining of Justification By Faith

Opinion and Commentary
Written by Terry Rayburn
Monday, 22 August 2011

In 1975 some of (Norman Shepherd’s) former students were being questioned for ordination, and when the question “How is a sinner justified?” was asked, they answered, “By faith and works.” Shocked questioners traced their answer back to their professor, Norman Shepherd.

This is re-posted from October 30, 2009. I want to add an important point: Much as I am reluctant to recommend studying the writings of neo-legalists...if you DO, you must remember one thing...they are false teachers, and false teachers almost always "blow smoke" (at best), confuse, and outright lie.

This is important, because typically these neo-legalists will SAY that they believe in Justification By Faith, fooling the unstudied or gullible. By redefining "justification" and "faith", they can say it with a straight face, and defend themselves when confronted with their own writings DENYING biblical justification, and promoting works salvation.

This re-definition and deceit is similar to the statement in the document of "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" which declares that Justification is "by grace through faith", yet is signed by Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church -- Cardinals who also subscribe to the canons declaring anathema on those who believe this.

The Roman Catholic Church held an almost monopolistic grip on the hearts of millions of people for hundreds of years.

Through the Dark Ages and Middle Ages, the awful legalistic system of "salvation by works" nearly choked out the light of the Gospel of the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only small pockets of true believers in Christ escaped the dark heavy blanket of Romanism.

Then around 500 years ago came what we call the Reformation.

Men like Luther and Zwingli and Calvin and Knox, intense students of the Scriptures, rose up and shined the light of the Gospel into the darkness of European Catholicism.

These brave men brought an end to the monopoly of the Popes. They boldly proclaimed that salvation was
- by grace alone, not by merit;
- by faith alone, not by works;
- by faith in Christ alone, not in sacraments;
- under the final authority of the Word of God alone, not the unscriptural teachings of the Bishops of Rome.

The Central Point of the Reformation

The central point of the Reformation is what we call Justification by Faith. This is the sublime and simple truth that when we believe in Jesus Christ we are “justified” or “declared righteous” by God. This means that we are fully in right standing with God, our sins forgiven and no longer held against us.

This is accomplished because God judged our sins in Christ on the Cross, and gave us the “gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17) by imputing the righteousness of Christ to us, when we believe in Christ.

As 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Romans Chapter 5:1,2 gives us the result of this wonderful act of the Lord: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”

The Permanence of Justification

When we are justified, declared righteous by God, it is forever. It is permanent. And it occurs at the moment when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, when we believe the Gospel.

The "gift of righteousness" can never be taken away, because it is part of a package deal, to put it crudely. This righteousness is given to us by grace through faith, and that is “not of yourselves” and “not of works” (Ephesians 2:8,9). Even the very faith by which we believe in Jesus Christ is a gift given by God through the New Birth, regeneration.

This “imputed righteousness” contrasts starkly with the unbiblical Roman Catholic teaching that one is actually “made righteous” (“infused righteousness”) through the sacraments like Baptism, and the Eucharistic Mass, and through meritorious good works -- and that this so-called righteousness leaks out through sinning, and therefore can be lost, thereby damning the soul of the one who fails to maintain his “righteousness” by his works and attendance to the sacraments.

In Come the Neo-Legalists

The Reformation did not, of course, abolish Roman Catholicism. This cult of works salvation has continued these many years, and still thrives today.

But until recently one could more or less count on Protestant Bible teachers to uphold Justification by Faith Alone. One could more or less count on Protestant Bible teachers to oppose the so-called Justification of Rome, where grace and works are mixed, making it “no longer grace” (Romans 11:6).

But back in the 1960’s and 1970’s there was a professor at Westminster Seminary named Norman Shepherd. In 1975 some of his former students were being questioned for ordination, and when the question “How is a sinner justified?” was asked, they answered, “By faith and works.” Shocked questioners traced their answer back to their professor, Norman Shepherd.

Shepherd was allowed to teach for six more years, a disgrace in itself, but was finally released in 1981, the proverbial dung having hit the fan hard enough. Even then, several professors who then agreed with Shepherd were allowed to remain, teaching hundreds of students who spread the cancer yet today.

The big foot of undermining Justification by Faith had been stuck in the door, and the result has mushroomed into several full-blown ministries and movements, some directly from Westminster, and some relatively independent.

Allow me to name some names and then I will attempt to capsulize the kernel of the heresy.

Pioneering writers include E.P. Sanders, N.T. Wright, Steve Schlissel, Steve Wilkins, Douglas Wilson, and Peter Leithart.

They have been joined by a multitude of Pastors, bloggers and other writers, and teachers in Seminaries. Many in the Emerging/Emergent Church movement have gravitated toward these men, particularly N.T. Wright.

They operate under names and ministries you may have heard: Shepherdism, Auburn Avenue Theology, Federal Vision, or the New Perspective on Paul. And they lead churches in virtually every Reformed denomination.

What They Have In Common

I won’t pretend the issues and sub-doctrines are not varied and even complicated, but they have one important thing in common – a rejection of the biblical Justification by Faith (even while sometimes saying they support it).

Like most false teachers, their terminology is often the same as orthodox terminology. But the expression of their error can mostly be bunched under an important term: Covenant Nomism (sometimes called Covenantal Nomism). “Nomism” refers to “Law”.

Though their implementation of the doctrine varies (for example, some teach that one enters the “covenant” through water baptism, others through so-called “faith alone”), the basics are as follows:

1. One enters into a “covenant” of the “people of God”, through “faith” and/or baptism. This is a real covenant which makes one a real Christian.

2. Once in the “covenant” of the family of God, it is now one’s responsibility to stay in the covenant, and follow Jesus as Lord all the days of one’s life…or else (more on the “or else” in a moment). This is blatant Legalism.

3. IF one remains in the “covenant”, by assembling together and obeying the Law sufficiently, THEN, at the end of one’s life, or the end of the age, one will be truly “Justified”, or “declared righteous” ON THE BASIS OF THEIR LIFE AND WORKS.

4. Here’s the “or else”: If one departs from sufficient obedience to the Law, or (in some cases) stops fellowshiping in the local assembly, they are deemed “out of the covenant”, will never be “justified”, even though they truly believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and were in His “covenant” and were a true Christian. Their works, or lack of them, have ultimately damned them.

What Can Be Done?

Admittedly, this is an extremely brief introduction to Neo-Legalism, or Covenant Nomism.

The men teaching these things are not ignorant, and they’re not stupid. They are biblically classic false teachers.

What would I recommend?

1. I don’t recommend studying these men, except by the most discerning and biblically knowledgeable.

2. I do recommend studying the biblical doctrine of Justification by Faith, just as the FBI reputedly studies real money, in order to quickly identify the counterfeit.

There are many good books on the subject. A thorough classic is by James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification. Another good one, perhaps easier to read, is James White’s The God Who Justifies.

An excellent sermon by Charles Spurgeon can be read at:

Scriptural support for Justification by Faith can be found at:


3. If you accept true biblical Justification by Faith, have courage to say so. And don’t be afraid to mention names.

Too many Protestant believers and teachers have been "returning" to Roman Catholicism. While for some there may be an inherent attraction to the ancient religious trappings of Romanism, in many cases it’s simply an abandonment of the great truth that God justifies us, declares us righteous, forever, when we believe in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. To Him be all the glory

Terry Rayburn is the owner of the NoBurglars.com Security Firm in Clarksville, TN and attends Community Bible Church in Nashville. He blogs regularly at Grace For Life where his article first appeared: it is used with his permission.

Reversing The Reformation – A Layman Examines The Undermining of Justification By Faith

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Anglicans Ablaze: A Fork in the Road: A Plea for a Biblically Faithful Ordinal

Robin Jordan rightly criticizes the new ordinal being pushed by the Anglican Church in North America. As a church prays so goes the church:

In a 2008 article I noted that a number of the folks that are drawn to what goes by the name of Anglicanism in North America are evangelical Christians who are attracted to liturgical worship. What concerns me is what they are being offered with the liturgical worship—the theology that is embodied in that worship. One of the important principles of worship that Anglicans have always recognized is "lex orendi, lex credendi." What we pray shapes what we believe.

As I noted in that article, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer recognized this principle and removed from the second Edwardian Book of Common Prayer of 1552, everything that directly or indirectly gave expression to a doctrine that was not gathered from the Scriptures or was contrary to the Scriptures. He wanted to give the English people a Prayer Book that was thoroughly Scriptural—"the pure Word of God," a Prayer Book that would cultivate in them a faith that was grounded in the Scriptures. The 1552 Prayer Book in its 1559 edition would be the Prayer Book for almost 100 years.

To read the rest of the article click here: Anglicans Ablaze: A Fork in the Road: A Plea for a Biblically Faithful Ordinal

Saturday, August 27, 2011

See BibleWorks 9 in Action - YouTube

This video gives you a great idea of how useful Bibleworks 9 is. I love this software because it flies on my Windows 7 software while Logos drags. I hate waiting for windows to open. Bibleworks 9 has no memory hogging extra graphics. The focus is on the original languages and not bells and whistles and graphics.

Bibleworks is by far the best original languages software out there. Any student or teacher of the original languages will want this package. It's reasonably priced and there are even textual criticism apparatuses included in the same package at no additional cost. I particularly like the Reformed Confessions included and the search engines work great, although the search engine for the original languages is much better than the engine in the confessions because some of the confessions are only available in help file format and you need to search using quotation marks, etc. instead of the other search engine syntax. Watch the video below to see what is included in Bibleworks 9.

See BibleWorks 9 in Action - YouTube

Friday, August 26, 2011

Petition against the registration of civil partnerships on religious premises - e-petitions

Petition against the registration of civil partnerships on religious premises - e-petitions

Calvin's Comments on Romans 11:29

Calvin's logic in doing exegetical work is impeccable for his time.  Against the semi-pelagians Calvin says that faith is not a work that merits anything whatsoever. This applies equally to the later development of Arminianism and the Anglo-Catholics/Tractarians.

In this passage Calvin points out that Israel was elected or chosen as a nation and that this is not individual election.  This proves that grace and election are not general in the Old Testament period since ONLY the nation of Israel was chosen from among all the nations of that time.  (Exodus 34:24; Leviticus 18:24).  However, the covenant of grace with Abraham shows that God did intend to bring in the other nations in the future.  (Genesis 17:4).  Since the Old Testament nation of Israel is a type of the church (Galatians 6:16) it follows that the church itself represents the election of the church as a whole and not individuals.  Since not all Israel is true Israel, general election of a group, nation, or church does not necessarily mean everyone in the group is individually elect.  (Romans 9:6-13).  The gifts and calling of God to the church are irrevocable.  God does not withdraw His promises to Israel in the Old Testament and His promises to the church are likewise certain.  Calvin says:

29. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. He has mentioned gifts and calling; which are to be understood, according to a figure in grammar, as meaning the gift of calling: and this is not to be taken for any sort of calling but of that, by which God had adopted the posterity of Abraham into covenant; since this is especially the subject here, as he has previously, by the word, election, designated the secret purpose of God, by which he had formerly made a distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles.  For we must bear this in mind, —that he speaks not now of the election of individuals, but of the common adoption of the whole nation, which might seem for a time, according to the outward appearance, to have failed, but had not been cut up by the roots. As the Jews had fallen from their privilege and the salvation promised them, that some hope might remain to the remnant, Paul maintains that the purpose of God stands firm and immovable, by which he had once deigned to choose them for himself as a peculiar nation. Since then it cannot possibly be, that the Lord will depart from that covenant which he made with Abraham,

"I will be the God of thy seed," (Genesis 17:7),

it is evident that he has not wholly turned away his kindness from the Jewish nation.

He does not oppose the gospel to election, as though they were contrary the one to the other, for whom God has chosen he calls; but inasmuch as the gospel had been proclaimed to the Gentiles beyond the expectation of the world, he justly compares this favor with the ancient election of the Jews, which had been manifested so many ages before: and so election derives its name from antiquity; for God had in past ages of the world chosen one people for himself.

On account of the Fathers, he says not, because they gave any cause for love, but because God’s favor had descended from them to their posterity, according to the tenor of the covenant, "Thy God and the God of thy seed." How the Gentiles had obtained mercy through the unbelief of the Jews, has been before stated, namely, that God, being angry with the Jews for their unbelief, turned his kindness to them. What immediately follows, that they became unbelievers through the mercy manifested to the Gentiles, seems rather strange; and yet there is in it nothing unreasonable; for Paul assigns not the cause of blindness, but only declares, that what God transferred to the Gentiles had been taken away from the Jews. But lest what they had lost through unbelief, should be thought by the Gentiles to have been gained by them through the merit of faith, mention is made only of mercy. What is substantially said then is, —that as God purposed to show mercy to the Gentiles, the Jews were on this account deprived of the light of faith.

The hardening of the Jews is equivalent to the hardening of the Gentiles.  God hardens all so that He may have mercy on all.  (Romans 11:32).  This is not to refute individual election and reprobation but only to show that God deals with nations and groups as He did with Israel in the past.  Not all Israel is true Israel.  God always maintains a remnant of true believers in the visible churches.  (Romans  11:1-2, 22).

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Rejoinder on Sanctification and the Gospel

I got this from the Aquila Report. Sean Lucas refutes the neo-nomian views of Bill Evans in a previous post. It is refreshing to see Lucas' response and I agree 100% with him. (See my response here). Lucas says:

I believe that the predominant form of Christianity in my neck of the woods is "experiential moralism": people go to church to have an experience that will help them fly right and do better. The problems come when a) they don't have such experiences and b) they realize that it is not possible for them to fly right and do better.

To read the rest of the article at the Aquila Report click here: A Rejoinder on Sanctification and the Gospel

Mexican Presbyterian Church breaks with PCUSA : Anglican Church League, Sydney, Australia

Mexican Presbyterian Church breaks with PCUSA : Anglican Church League, Sydney, Australia

Common Grace by Louis Berkhof

Louis Berkhof said this about possible objections to the doctrine of common grace:

3. Another objection to the doctrine of common grace is that it presupposes a certain favorable disposition in God even to reprobate sinners, while we have no right to assume such a disposition in God. This stricture takes its starting point in the eternal counsel of God, in His election and reprobation. Along the line of His election God reveals His love, grace, mercy, and long-suffering, leading to salvation; and in the historical realization of His reprobation He gives expression only to His aversion, disfavor, hatred, and wrath, leading to destruction. But this looks like a rationalistic over-simplification of the inner life of God, which does not take sufficient account of His self-revelation. In speaking on this subject we ought to be very careful and allow ourselves to be guided by the explicit statements of Scripture rather than by our bold inferences from the secret counsel of God. There is far more in God than we can reduce to our logical categories. Are the elect in this life the objects of God´s love only, and never in any sense the objects of His wrath? Is Moses thinking of the reprobate when he says: “For we are consumed in thine anger, and in thy wrath are we troubled”? Ps. 90:7. Does not the statement of Jesus that the wrath of God abideth on them that obey not the Son imply that it is removed from the others when, and not until, they submit to the beneficent rule of Christ? John 3:36. And does not Paul say to the Ephesians that they “were by nature children of wrath even as the rest”? Eph. 2:3. Evidently the elect can not be regarded as always and exclusively the objects of God´s love. And if they who are the objects of God´s redeeming love can also in some sense of the word be regarded as the objects of His wrath, why should it be impossible that they who are the objects of His wrath should also in some sense share His divine favor? A father who is also a judge may loathe the son that is brought before him as a criminal, and feel constrained to visit his judicial wrath upon him, but may yet pity him and show him acts of kindness while he is under condemnation. Why should this be impossible in God? General Washington hated the traitor that was brought before him and condemned him to death, but at the same time showed him compassion by serving him with the dainties from his own table. Cannot God have compassion even on the condemned sinner, and bestow favors upon him? The answer need not be uncertain, since the Bible clearly teaches that He showers untold blessings upon all men and also clearly indicates that these are the expression of a favorable disposition in God, which falls short, however, of the positive volition to pardon their sin, to lift their sentence, and to grant them salvation. [See: Common Grace, by Louis Berkhof].

Apparently Berkhof thinks that logic is not part of God's special revelation. Scripture reveals the fact that God hates the reprobate. (Romans 9:11-13; Psalm 58:3). Surely the ultimate end is what matters. God no more loves the reprobate than George Washington loved the traitor he was about to execute. The fact is it is true that the elect were objects of God's wrath just as the others were prior to the conversion of the elect. (Ephesians 2:3). But the plan of God from before creation was to damn the reprobate. (Acts 4:27-28; 1 Peter 2:8; Romans 9:22; Jude 1:4). We know this because election takes place before creation. (Ephesians 1:3-5, 11; Romans 9:11-13). Apparently for Berkhof Scripture itself is "rationalistic" since it is Scripture that teaches that God hates the wicked and the reprobate. God's general providence does indeed give certain benefits to all men but these benefits merely serve to store up God's wrath against the reprobate since they refuse to accept the Gospel when it is preached to them. Furthermore, God is under no obligation to save anyone even if they have not heard the Gospel. The "light of nature" serves only to prove they are guilty of rejecting God and they are guilty of idolatry. General revelation can never lead to saving faith.

The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion alludes to Acts 4:11-12 when it says:

Article XVIII

Of obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ

They also are to be had accursed that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out to us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.

De speranda aeterna salute tantum in nomine Christi

Sunt et illi anathematizandi qui dicere audent unumquemque in lege aut secta quam profitetur esse servandum, modo iuxta illam et lumen naturae accurate vixerit: eum sacrae literae tantum Iesu Christi nomen praedicent in quo salvos fieri homines oporteat.


Composed in 1552/3 by the English reformers and unchanged since.

The irony here is that Scripture is perfectly clear on the matter but because of the neo-Calvinist "rationalism" that says that divine revelation cannot possibly be logical or rational then the neo-Calvinist argues that theologians like Gordon H. Clark is a rationalist. It is the Arminian and the semi-Arminian neo-Calvinists who are rationalists because they cannot let Scripture speak for itself. Nowhere does Scripture imply that God has divine favor of any sort for the reprobate:

And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? 23 And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory-- 24 on us, the ones He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:22-24 CSBO) [Holman Christian Standard Bible, 2005]

The ultimate end is what God has predetermined and planned in eternity before creation. Therefore any idea of common grace as a divine favor is misleading since God plans eternal punishment for the reprobate. Common grace undermines this preterition and decree to reprobation and tries to find common ground with the Arminian and the semi-pelagian. The fact is "common grace" is only mentioned as an error of the Arminians in their theory of natural light in creation/common grace:

Rejection 5

That the corrupt and natural man can so well use the common grace (by which they understand the light of nature), or the gifts still left him after the fall, that he can gradually gain by their good use a greater, namely, the evangelical or saving grace and salvation itself. And that in this way God on His part shows Himself ready to reveal Christ unto all men, since He applies to all sufficiently and efficiently the means necessary to conversion. For the experience of all ages and the Scriptures do both testify that this is untrue. “He sheweth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for His judgments, they have not known them” (Ps. 147:19, 20). “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16). And: “Now when they (Paul and his companions) had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:6, 7). [V. Rejection of Errors, Third and Fourth Head of Doctrine].

The neo-Calvinists wish to turn an error into an affirmative. The fact is that natural light and common grace are both rejected as Arminian errors as the context clearly shows. The other nations in the Ancient Near East did not receive God's graces but only the nation of Israel. When the Arminians refer to "common grace" they understand this to be the "light of nature". The Apostle Paul says that the revelation of God in nature serves only to bring damnation on the reprobate because they commit idolatry and are ungrateful and unthankful to God for His mercy. (Romans 1:18-32). Clearly "by which they understand the light of nature" refers to the Arminians since "they" is contrasted with "we". The active voice refers to the second person plural, namely the Dutch Reformers. "They" refers most obviously to the Remonstrandt opponents.

Article 5

In the same light are we to consider the law of the decalogue, delivered by God to His peculiar people the Jews by the hands of Moses. For though it discovers the greatness of sin, and more and more convinces man thereof, yet as it neither points out a remedy nor imparts strength to extricate him from misery, and thus being weak through the flesh leaves the transgressor under the curse, man cannot by this law obtain saving grace.

Thus, in 3rd and 4th Heads of Doctrine, Rejection of Errors 5 refers to "common grace" as a doctrine of the Arminians/Remonstrandts and is NOT a positive affirmation of the doctrine as modern revisionist neo-Calvinists assert.


Common Grace by Louis Berkhof

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bibleworks 9: An Examination of John 3:3-8 Continued

Bibleworks 9: An Examination of John 3:3-8 Continued

[To read the Greek you can download the SBL Greek font here: SBL Greek.]

Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3 ESV)

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. (John 3:3 GNT)

I want to continue the discussion of this passage of Scripture and show how Bible software like Bibleworks 9 can help you to study a passage, verse or word in Scripture with greater ease, comprehensibility, and depth than has been possible before. The above sentence spoken by Jesus is called a conditional sentence, which in syntactical terms is composed of a protasis and an apodosis. The protasis is the dependent clause indicating a condition which then results in consequence or apodosis. In English the protasis says, “unless one is born again . . .” The apodosis is “. . . he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

In Koine or New Testament Greek the protasis is “ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν . . .” and the apodosis is “οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.Most original languages Bible software does the parsing for you. Your Greek New Testament professor will tell that this is cheating. When I studied Greek in college we learned the paradigms in J. Gresham Machen's beginning grammar. (Example of a verb paradigm or chart). This was helpful in recognizing the most common forms of articles, nouns, and verbs. However, sometimes Greek is ambiguous since a one form of a verb could be deponent or it could be middle voice. This is how parsing guides and popups become extremely helpful. At one time I relied on hardcover parsing guides to clear up apparent ambiguities. Now I can see these issues instantly with the software parsing window. Of course, the student should not take the parsing guides as infallible or inerrant. Feel free to critically examine the parsings and compare your insights with critical commentaries to see if others have questioned the standard parsings as you have. There are guidelines for doing exegesis in an objective manner but I tend to study ad hoc unless I am doing an exegetical paper or formal exegesis. One should realize that there is no such thing as total or absolute objectivity when doing anything scientific, including exegesis and textual criticism. That does not mean that the exegete should not attempt to remain objective during the study. He or she should not draw final conclusions until the end of the study although preliminary conclusions can be drawn during various steps of the process.

What is particularly helpful about Bibleworks 9 is the Resource Summary tab in the Analysis Window. When pointing to a verse of Scripture in the Browse Window click on the Resource tab in the Analysis Window and a complete listing of the verse references comes up. Any word pointed to is brought up in the Analysis Window as a list of lexicons, grammars, dictionaries, and commentaries where this Greek, Hebrew or English translation of the word occurs. For example, A.T. Robertson's A Grammar of New Testament Greek in Light of Historical Research will show up wherever the highlighted or hovered over word or verse occurs in Robertson. So if I want to find out what Robertson has to say about conditional sentences I can open Robertson in a separate window and look for that section of the grammar dealing with conditional sentences or I can look at what comes up with the Resource tab in the Analysis Window.

So when I look at Robertson I find that there is no direct discussion of John 3:3 in regards to conditional sentences. I can only look at the entire discussion of conditional sentences and the four classes thereof on pages 1004-1027. This saves much time in looking through a hardcopy of Robertson. Now I can simply focus on the general discussion by studying the two types and four classes of conditional sentences and figuring out how that relates to my exegesis. The same time saving principle applies to the other grammars. The easiest way to get the feel for these basic principle of Greek grammar and syntax is to review a more basic grammar or an intermediate grammar. Robertson's discussions are not for the faint hearted.

Wallace is perhaps a more useful summmary of Robertson's four classes of conditional sentences. Class three is ἐάν + the subjunctive mood and it can be used in any verb tense with the negative particle μή. (See Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, by Daniel B. Robertson. Included in Bibleworks 9). On page 682 Wallace says:

There is often a tacit assumption that the protasis of a condition indicates the cause and the apodosis tells the effect.

At any rate, when Jesus says that “unless a person is born again/from above” He is giving the condition for “seeing” the kingdom of God. This could be a metaphor for the kingdom of God as seen through the eyes of faith in the here and now but it might also have eschatological implications for what occurs after death in the final judgment. At any rate the cause of “seeing the kingdom of God” is having met the condition of being born again. Since the word for born again is in the passive voice it indicates that the person is being acted upon by an outside agent and not that the person is the cause of the action himself:

γεννηθῇ verb subjunctive aorist passive 3rd person singular from γεννάω

Notice the verb is in the subjunctive mood, aorist tense, and passive voice. We can tell all that because Greek is a formative language. That is we can tell the parts of speech from the formation of the words with prefixes and suffixes. I am being overly simplistic here but you get the point. The subjunctive indicates contingency or uncertainty from the human perspective. However, Wallace gives a necessary correction here:

The subjunctive is the most common of the oblique moods in the NT. In general, the subjunctive can be said to represent the verbal action (or state) as uncertain but probable. It is not correct to call this the mood of uncertainty because the optative also presents the verb as uncertain. Rather, it is better to call it the mood of proba­bility so as to distinguish it from the optative. Still, this is an overly simplistic defi­nition in light of its usage in the NT. (Ibid., 461).

Wallace's discussion of the passive voice bears this out as well:

III. Passive Voice
In general it can be said that in the passive voice the subject is acted upon or receives the action expressed by the verb. No volition–nor even necessarily awareness of the action–is implied on the part of the subject. That is, the subject may or may not be aware, its volition may or may not be involved. But these things are not stressed when the passive is used. (Ibid., 431).

That means that the word for “born” conveys the idea of the recipient being acted on from “above” or that he is born “again”. That's why Nicodemus asks how it is possible to be born a second time from his mother's womb? (John 3:4) Logically speaking such a thing could only be possible by the adult going back into his mother's womb and being born a second time. Therefore it is obvious that Jesus is speaking figuratively here and what He says is a spiritual reality that takes place by the means of faith or seeing through believing. This faith or seeing is impossible without a prior condition being fulfilled and the person himself cannot fulfill the condition. To do so would be as absurd as Nicodemus' proposed solution of re-entering the womb and being born a second time by natural birth. The text speaks for itself but the Arminian, the synergist and the semi-pelagian must read presuppositions into the text to make it say what it does not and cannot say, namely that the person's own faith causes God to regenerate the person who believes. But the text plainly gives the condition as preceding faith or seeing! Thus the Arminian must turn this verse upside down and backwards to make it fit with the theology of synergism and general grace. I will have more to say on this later.

As I said before this is not a formal exegetical paper so I will simply point out the highlights to show that the perspicuous reading of the text—even in English—clearly refutes the Arminian understanding of the new birth as subsequent to faith rather than the cause of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).


P.S.  For the prior discussion  see:  Bibleworks 9:  Born Again

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

Quote of the Day: William Tyndale

A clergyman hopelessly entrenched in Roman Catholic dogma once taunted Tyndale with the statement, “We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope’s”. Tyndale was infuriated by such Roman Catholic heresies, and he replied, “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!”
The most simple way of combating heresy of any kind, including Arminianism and Pentecostalism, is to teach the Scriptures. The Scriptures are the final authority (2 Peter 1:19-21) and whatever any man says that is contrary to the Scriptures is dangerous to the soul (2 Peter 3:15-16).

To read the entire article click here: William Tyndale

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reformed and Charismatic? - White Horse Inn Blog

I don't often agree with Mike Horton. However, the following article is spot on. Horton is surely right when he says:

As a Charismatic Calvinist, Wayne Grudem has been used by God to bring the doctrines of grace to many who would likely not have encountered these truths otherwise. I have immense respect for his clear defense of many cardinal doctrines of Christianity. At the same time, the Calvinism-Charismatic bridge goes in both directions and his view of continuing prophecy has contributed to a curious hybrid that in my view cannot survive in the long run. Reformed theology is a system—not one imposed on Scripture, but one that arises from the self-consistent Word of God.

To read more click here: Reformed and Charismatic? - White Horse Inn Blog

A Question of Balance? Some Final Comments on Sanctification and the Role of the Law

The Pharisees are everywhere. You know that justification by faith alone is not really alone. To be fully justified you must have infused sanctification with it. Faith without works is dead. Right? Welcome to Rome!

The Reformed standards answer these questions adequately. Infused holiness is never the basis, ground or cause of our justification, which is imputed by a legal declaration. Critics refer to this as a "legal fiction". If our salvation depends on sanctification rather than justification by an imputed and alien righteous not our own, then there can be no assurance of salvation and the Christian is never sure if he or she is yet under the wrath of God.

To see the article with which I disagree, click here:

A Question of Balance? Some Final Comments on Sanctification and the Role of the Law

For Whom Did Christ Die? by Angus Stewart

For Whom Did Christ Die?

Rev. Angus Stewart

For whom did Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, die on the cross? This foundational question must especially be asked and answered in our day because many believe that the Lord shed His blood for everyone head for head, excluding no one. This view, universal atonement, is preached in many pulpits and widely promoted as if it were gospel truth. But this position must be analysed very carefully. Is it really true that Christ gave His life to save everybody without exception?

This short pamphlet presents 19 simple arguments against this popular error. First, it shows that the view that the Son of God died for all men absolutely is foolish and contradictory. Arguments 1-8 are stated in the form "Did Christ Really Die for ...?" Argument 9 lists antithetically biblical names given to those for whom the Saviour shed His blood. Second, universal atonement is ruled out by considerations from the Holy Trinity, the Old Testament sacrifices and the truth that Christ’s death actually atones and saves (arguments 10-13). Third, five well-known and pertinent biblical chapters are expounded proving particular redemption, that Jesus laid down His life for the elect alone (arguments 14-18), which is the teaching of the Reformed creeds on the basis of the Word of God (argument 19). Readers are urged to look up and study the Scripture texts cited throughout this pamphlet; this is especially important for arguments 14-18.

1. Did Christ Really Die for Those Who Were Already in Hell?

How could the Triune God, who is possessed of infinite wisdom and understanding, send His dearly beloved Son to ransom from sin and hell those who were already in hell, a place of torment from which the damned have no way out (Luke 16:26; Mark 9:43-48; Rev. 14:10-11)?

2. Did Christ Really Die for Those Who Had Already Committed the Unpardonable Sin?

In His public ministry, Jesus spoke of the unpardonable sin: "Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Matt. 12:32). Nor was Christ speaking here merely in the abstract; some of His hearers that day had committed that sin (22-37). The Lord knew, therefore, that some people, including the Pharisees before Him (24), could not be forgiven. What sense then is there in the Saviour dying for the redemption and forgiveness (Eph. 1:7) of those whom He already knew could not be forgiven?

3. Did Christ Really Die for Those Who Never Hear the Gospel?

God sent His Word to only one people, the Israelites, during the Old Testament age, and "He hath not dealt so with any [other] nation" (Ps. 147:19-20; Acts 14:16). Moreover, Jehovah does not send the gospel in the New Testament age to everybody either (Matt. 24:14; Acts 16:6-8). Why then would God send His Son to die for those who never hear the gospel and hence could never be saved (Rom. 10:14, 17)?

4. Did Christ Really Die for Judas, the Son of Perdition?

The Bible teaches that Judas was "the son of perdition" (John 17:12), that is, a man wholly characterized by perishing, ruin and eternal destruction. Did the Lord really die for Judas when He knew that the Old Testament had already prophesied that Judas would betray Him (Ps. 41:9; 109:6-19) and "go to his own place," namely hell (Acts 1:25; John 17:12)?

5. Did Christ Really Die for Esau Whom God Hated?

Scripture states that God hated Esau (Rom. 9:13) but repeatedly the Saviour’s atonement is spoken of as the fruit of God’s love (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; I John 4:10). How then could God send His Son in His infinite, eternal and boundless love (Eph. 3:18-19) to die for Esau whom He hated?

6. Did Christ Really Die for the False, Harlot Church?

Since the Lord’s sacrifice is motivated by His love for those for whom He died (John 15:13; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:25), if He laid down His life for absolutely everybody, then he also loved and died for the false church, the whore, and the multitudes who fornicate with her in her corrupt worship (Rev. 17:1-2, 15)! But Ephesians 5:25 teaches that the Son of God "loved the church, and gave himself for it." No mention is made here of a love of Christ or a death of Christ for that which is not the true, elect church which is sanctified by God’s cleansing Word (26) and presented spotless at the last day (27).

If the Lord Jesus loved and died for everyone head for head (which necessarily includes the false church), then He must have "loved the church [and the false church], and gave himself for [both of them]." Then husbands would be commanded, "love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church [and the false church]" (25). Thus husbands would have to love their wives even as Christ loves His bride and a harlot, the false church.

But Scripture teaches that our Saviour has one bride, the church of all ages (Rev. 21:2). He loved her and gave Himself for her alone. This—and not the theory that the Redeemer loved and died for everybody—is the truth of the cross and the biblical model for Christian husbands who are not to love and give themselves for harlots.

7. Did Christ Really Die for Antichrist and His Followers?

If the Lord Jesus died for all men, then it follows that he was crucified to save Antichrist, the "man of sin" (II Thess. 2:3), who "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is God, or that is worshipped" (4). This man is the culmination of the working of the "mystery of iniquity" (7), the one who works with "all deceivableness of unrighteousness" (10), whose "coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (9). Is it possible that the Father gave Christ to die for Antichrist? Did the One who is God and man really go to the cross for Satan’s man, the "man of sin" and "son of perdition" (3), the one wholly characterized by iniquity and eternal destruction? Did the eternal, omniscient God really send His Son to reconcile the lawless one whom He has ordained to be destroyed by the "spirit of [Christ’s] mouth" and "the brightness of his coming" (8)?

II Thessalonians 2 also speaks of Antichrist’s followers. They reject the truth and the son of perdition deceives them; therefore, both parties are guilty (10). But we also read that "God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned" (11-12). If God loved them and gave His Son to die for them and wants to reconcile them to Himself, then why does He send them strong delusion in order that they should believe the lie in order that they all might be damned (11-12)?

Similarly, a death of Christ for absolutely everybody presents the Lamb of God as offering Himself as a sacrifice for the beast and the false prophet whom we are told shall be "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Rev. 19:20). Moreover, "whosoever was not found written in the book of life [will be] cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15). If the Son of God died for them, His ransom did nothing to free them from eternal punishment.

8. Did Christ Really Die for Other Reprobate Individuals and Groups?

If the Lord died for all absolutely, He must have died for Cain as well as Abel, Nimrod as well as Noah, Jezebel as well as Elijah. This holds for nations too. Christ must have redeemed not only Israel but also the Amalekites, against whom God swore to fight for generations (Ex. 17:14-16); the Amorites, including Sihon whose heart Jehovah made obdurate that He might destroy him (Deut. 2:30); the Canaanites, whom God hardened that they might go to battle with Israel and be slaughtered (Josh. 11:20); and the Philistines, including Goliath; as well as the homosexual Sodomites, upon whom the Most High rained down fire and brimstone (Gen. 19:24); and the Edomites, whom He hated and devastated (Mal. 1:2-5).

The incarnate Son must even have offered Himself a sacrifice for Pharaoh, whom God raised up in order to show His power in drowning him (Ex. 9:16; Rom. 9:17), and the Egyptians whom He crushed at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:26-28), even though no provision was made for the application of lambs’ blood upon their lintels (Ex. 12).

9. Christ Died for His People, Friends, Etc.

The truth is that Jesus Christ died for His "people" (Matt. 1:21; Heb. 2:17) and His "friends" (John 15:13-14). The "people" whom He redeemed are further described as "his seed" (Isa. 53:10) and not the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15); His "sons," "children" and "brethren" (Heb. 2:10-14) and not "bastards," i.e., the illegitimate (Heb. 12:8); His "sheep" (John 10:11, 15) and not "the goats" (Matt. 25:33); His "church" (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25) and not the "synagogue of Satan" (Rev. 2:9; 3:9); and the "many" (Isa. 53:11-12; Matt. 20:28; 26:28; Mark 14:24; Heb. 9:28) and not everybody head for head.

10. The Truth of the Trinity Rules Out Universal Atonement

The orthodox teaching of the Holy Trinity militates against the notion that Christ died for everyone head for head. The Father chose to save the elect alone and not the reprobate (Rom. 9:6-24; Eph. 1:3-6), the Spirit applies redemption to the elect alone and not the reprobate (Rom. 8:1-27; Eph. 1:13-14), but the Son (allegedly) died for the elect and the reprobate. Thus there is a radical disjuncture between the extent of the saving work of the Father and the Spirit (elect but not reprobate) and the extent of the saving work of the Son (elect and reprobate). Where then is the unity between the three Persons of the Godhead? They are not all of one mind and they do not all have one purpose. In fact, one Person of the Trinity (the Son) is working for a goal (the salvation of the reprobate) not shared by the other two Persons (the Father and the Spirit). The Father elects His people to be redeemed, the Spirit applies this redemption to the same elect people, but the Son (allegedly) dies to redeem some whom the Father chose not to redeem and some to whom the Spirit wills not to apply redemption.

Thus the teaching of universal atonement is forbidden by the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity and runs counter to scriptural statements regarding the unity of the extent of the saving work of the Father and the Son (John 10:15-17; Rom. 3:25-26; II Cor. 5:18-19; Eph. 1:4-7); the Son and the Spirit (Gal. 4:4-6; Heb. 9:14); and the Father, the Son and the Spirit (Isa. 59:20-21; Eph. 1:3-14; II Thess. 2:13-14; Titus 3:4-6; I Peter 1:2; Rev. 1:4-6).

11. The Old Testament Sacrifices Were Not Universal

Scripture, especially the book of Hebrews, makes it very clear that the Old Testament sacrifices were types and shadows of our great high priest’s death on the cross. If the Lamb of God offered Himself for the sins of everybody, then one would expect this to be reflected in the sacrificial system. Leviticus 1-7, the central passage on the Mosaic sacrifices, speaks of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering and the trespass offering. Always these sacrifices are particular, for Israel, the church (Lev. 1:2; 4:13; 7:36, 38), and nowhere do we read of universal atonement, an offering for every individual Jew and Gentile.

Similarly, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest made atonement for the Israelites, not the Moabites nor the Jebusites (Lev. 16:16, 17, 19, 21, 34). Moreover, the high priest bore "the names of [the twelve tribes of] the children of Israel"—not the names of the children of Esau—on the breastplate "upon his heart, when he [went] in unto the holy place," speaking of his representative and intercessory work for them (Ex. 28:29).

Lest it be said that the Old Testament sacrifices speak of an atonement for every member of the nation of Israel, we recall that fact that "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel" (Rom. 9:6) and that the true Jew is not one circumcised in the flesh but one circumcised in the spirit (Rom. 2:28-29). Our Lord shed His blood for the true Israel and the Old Testament types point to His redemption of the spiritual "Israel of God," consisting of elect Jews and Gentiles (Gal. 6:16).

12. Christ’s Death Actually Atones

Universal atonement is contradicted by the biblical presentation of Christ’s sacrifice as a work which actually atones and blots out sin. The Son of God delivered us from the kingdom of the devil (Heb. 2:14-15). He propitiated God’s wrath against us by bearing God’s righteous indignation against our sins (I John 4:10). He reconciled us (Rom. 5:10), redeemed us (Gal. 3:13) and ransomed us (Matt. 20:28).

Scripture does not teach that Christ merely made atonement possible by His death. Nowhere does it say that. The Bible teaches that Jesus actually delivered, reconciled, redeemed and ransomed us by His cross. He did not merely make it possible for all men to be delivered, reconciled, redeemed and ransomed. On the cross, the Messiah turned away God’s punitive wrath against us for ever. It is not true that Jehovah’s wrath is only potentially turned away from all men so that all can be saved if they, by an act of their "free will," choose Jesus. This view would make entrance into God’s kingdom depend on man’s decision and not on God’s election!

If the Son of God paid the price for all men yet some men perish in hell, then His cross does not save all for whom it was made. Then too it is not substitutionary, for if He bore the punishment of the reprobate—in their stead!—why do they perish? If some end up in hell for whom Christ died, then God punished their sins twice, once on the Lord Jesus and once on them. How can the infinitely just God require payment for sins twice? How can He demand punishment of the sinner in hell when satisfaction has already been made for his sins by Jesus? And how can some whom the Saviour delivered, reconciled, redeemed and ransomed dwell forever as God’s enemies in everlasting darkness in the bottomless pit of hell? Remember, there is no condemnation for those for whom Christ died (Rom. 8:34)!

So far is the Son of God from shedding His blood for everybody that His death is actually "the judgment of this world," for it is the casting out of Satan, "the prince of this world" (John 12:31), bringing destruction upon the devil and his "seed" (Gen. 3:15).

13. Christ’s Death Actually Saves

If the Lord Jesus died for absolutely everybody, then why are not all actually saved? Romans 6 makes it clear that those who are united to Christ in His death are dead to sin (6-7) and "alive unto God" (11), and will be raised bodily to glory (5). But many spend all their days "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1) and will rise in the "resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29). We can only conclude that they were not united to Christ in His death (i.e., He did not die for them), for if the reprobate were united to the Son of God in His death (i.e., if He died for them), they would die to sin and live unto God (Rom. 14:9; II Cor. 5:14-15).

Scripture teaches that both faith (Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29) and repentance (Acts 5:31; 11:18; II Tim. 2:25) are gifts of God’s grace. Faith and repentance are instances of "spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). God’s blessings in Christ come through the cross (Rom. 8:32; Gal. 3:13-14). But "all men have not faith" (II Thess. 3:2) nor do all repent (Rev. 16:11). Thus faith and repentance were not purchased for everybody head for head on the cross and so the Saviour did not die for all.

Titus 2:14 explains that the Son’s purpose in His redemption on the cross is the sanctification of His own "peculiar people" that we would be purified and be "zealous of good works." But many die impenitently and are "filthy" (Rev. 22:11) because of their "ungodly deeds" (Jude 15). Since the purpose of the omnipotent God always stands (Rom. 9:11) and can never be resisted (II Chron. 20:6), it was not the Lord’s purpose to sanctify and redeem the reprobate by the cross. Thus Christ did not die for them.

14. John 10 Teaches Particular Redemption

In John 10, Jesus teaches that He, the good shepherd, died for His sheep: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (11); "I lay down my life for the sheep" (15). Just as every earthly shepherd has his "own sheep" (3, 4), Christ refers to His "fold" or flock (16) as "my sheep" (14, 26, 27). Later, the Lord told some people that they were not His sheep and that this was the reason why they did not believe: "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep" (26).

The argument is simple: Jesus died for His sheep (11, 15), knowing exactly who they are (14, 26, 27); He told certain people that they were not His sheep (26); therefore, He did not die for them. The Lord also said that His sheep were given to Him by His Father (29). The Father gave the sheep to the Son in His eternal purpose of election so that in time He would die for them and gather them out of all nations (16). Since Christ died for His sheep (and some are not His sheep), and His sheep are the elect, Christ died for the elect alone.

15. John 17 Teaches Particular Redemption

In His high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus states, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine" (9). The "world" here is the world of the reprobate or non-elect for whom the incarnate Son of God does not pray, as opposed to the elect ("them which thou hast given me").

If the Lord did not do the lesser thing (pray for the reprobate world), did He really do the greater thing (die for the reprobate world)? Intercession is one of the two main aspects of Christ’s priestly work. If Jesus did not pray for the world (one aspect of His priestly work), is it possible that He died for the world (the other aspect of His priestly work)? This would destroy the unity of Christ’s priestly office, for He would be dying for those for whom He did not (and does not) intercede. Furthermore, the Saviour prays on the basis of His finished work of redemption (Isa. 53:12; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25-27; 9:24-26). Therefore, if He did not pray for the world, it is because He did not die for the world.

In John 17, Jesus is praying just hours before the cross and with a view to His sacrificial death, for He says, "Father, the hour is come" (1). Throughout John 17, Christ’s prayers and, therefore, His redeeming work are particular, only for the elect, those whom the Father gave Him (2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24). Our Lord’s prayers that the Father keep (11-16), sanctify (17-19), unite (20-23) and glorify (24-26) "as many as thou hast given him" (2) are powerfully answered, for we are granted "eternal life" (2-3).

Jesus says, "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified" (19). Christ’s sanctifying Himself is His consecrating and dedicating Himself to do the will of Him who sent Him. Our Lord especially set Himself apart as our willing sacrifice on the cross. This, He tells us, was "for their sakes," for those whom the Father gave Him, the elect. Thus Christ’s prayers and sacrifice are not only particular—"for them which thou hast given me" (9)—but also exclusive, "not for the world" (9).

16. Isaiah 53 Teaches Particular Redemption

Isaiah 53 is the greatest chapter in the Old Testament, and possibly in the whole Bible, on our Saviour’s substitutionary atonement. The "us" for whose sins Christ was "wounded" (4-6) are given specific names: "my people" (8), "his seed" (10), and the "many"—not all men head for head (11-12). They are the "pleasure of the Lord" who "prosper in his hand" (10). God never made the reprobate "prosper in his hand" and He was never pleased with them (Ps. 2:4-5; Prov. 3:32-34). They are not His "seed," "people" and "pleasure," so Jesus did not die for them.

Those for whom Christ died "are healed" by "his stripes" (Isa. 53:5). It is not merely that they might be healed if they believe, but they really are healed. Those whose sins the Son bore are also justified: "my righteous servant [shall] justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities" (11). God’s elect "people" (8) are declared perfectly righteous for Christ bore our punishment (11). The reprobate are not justified, thus He did not atone for them. It is for the "many" whose sins He bore that the Saviour intercedes (12). Remember, Jesus said, "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me" (John 17:9). The "many" for whom Christ suffered and for whom He prays are the elect, not the reprobate world.

In this way, Jesus is perfectly "satisfied" (Isa. 53:11). If some for whom He was "stricken" (8) and for whom He intercedes (12) are not healed (5) and justified (11) and do not "prosper in his hand" (10) and do not receive a share in His spoils (12), Christ would not be "satisfied" (11). If even one soul perishes for whom He died, Christ’s purpose is not fully realised, His atonement is not totally successful and He is dissatisfied. The notion that Jesus shed His precious blood for everybody head for head presents the cross as an abject failure with regard to most of those for whom He died and contradicts the Bible’s teaching that Christ is "satisfied" with the fruit of His death (11).

17. Ephesians 1 Teaches Particular Redemption

Ephesians 1:3 declares that we have been blessed "with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." These blessings come to us "according as he [i.e., God] hath chosen us in him [i.e., Christ] before the foundation of the world" (4), that is, we receive all these blessings according to our eternal election (4) and predestination (5). Ephesians 1 enumerates some of our spiritual blessings: holiness (4), adoption (5), acceptance with God (6), redemption (7), the forgiveness of sins (7), the knowledge of God’s will (9), the sealing of the Holy Spirit (13) and an eternal inheritance (11, 14). Not only are we blessed according to our election (4, 5) but all the elect have "all spiritual blessings" (3). On the other hand, the fact that the reprobate are not blessed with any of these spiritual blessings is also according to the eternal "purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (11).

One of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ is "redemption through his blood" (7). Thus the Son’s redemption or atonement is an instance of those spiritual blessings which come to us "according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world" (4). Therefore, the Lord redeemed, shed His blood and died for the elect and not for the reprobate. Thus the elect are forgiven (7), adopted (5), accepted (6), made holy (4) and sealed with the Spirit (13) for their eternal inheritance (11, 14) on the basis of our Saviour’s cross. The reprobate do not receive any of the spiritual blessings of Christ’s sacrifice, for He did not die for them.

18. Romans 8 Teaches Particular Redemption

Romans 8 is also contrary to universal atonement. Verses 28-30 speak of a people whom God foreknew, predestinated, called according to His purpose, justified, glorified and conformed to the image of His Son. The apostle draws the following conclusion: "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (31). "Then" or "therefore" indicates that this is a logical inference based on his preceding statements, here called "these things." The "us" can only be those predestinated (or elected) and called according to God’s eternal purpose (28-30). Paul’s argument is this: If God is "for us" (31) in predestination, calling, justification and glorification (29-30), then "who can be against us?" (31). In other words, if God in His eternal decree has chosen us to everlasting bliss, called us out of darkness into His marvellous light, acquitted us of all our sins and reckoned us righteous with the very righteousness of Christ Himself, and glorified us in conforming us to the image of His Son, then "who can be against us?" (31).

The apostle reinforces this already compelling argument with another: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (32). Who are the "us" referred to twice here for whom God sent the Saviour to die? Again, they are those predestinated and called according to God’s eternal purpose (28-30). The only conclusion is that Christ died for the elect.

If it is objected that the Lord Jesus also died for the non-elect, then we reply that the passage gives absolutely no hint of this. In fact, this would make the passage teach that God sent His Son to die for those who are not predestinated and not called, justified, glorified or conformed to Christ. Moreover, if it is argued that the Saviour died for the reprobate, this would make the passage teach that the reprobate will receive all the blessings of His cross, for verse 32 teaches that God freely gives "all things" to those for whom Christ died. The "all things" include freedom from the law of sin and death (2), life and peace (6), adoption as God’s sons (14), the witness of the Spirit (16), an eternal inheritance (17), the redemption of the body at the resurrection of the just (23), the ability to pray in the Spirit (26), etc. Furthermore, the "all things" would also include the blessings of justification, calling, glorification and conformity to Christ according to God’s eternal predestination (28-30)! To read universal atonement into Romans 8:32 would mean that God freely gives the blessings of calling, justification and glorification to the reprobate, those whom He never calls, justifies or glorifies. This verse teaches an absolutely inseparable connection between those for whom Christ died and all these spiritual blessings. Some do not receive these blessings; therefore, the Saviour did not die for them.

Next Romans 8 declares that no charge (33) and no condemnation (34) can be laid against those who are justified (33), those for whom Christ died (34). But many charges are righteously made by the God of heaven against the reprobate wicked so that they are condemned! This is the case because they are not justified (33), for Jesus did not die for them and does not intercede for them (34).

19. The Reformed Creeds Teach Particular Redemption

On the basis of the Word of God and in keeping with the biblical arguments in this pamphlet, the creeds of the Reformed churches—in the British Isles, in continental Europe, in N. America and all around the world—teach that the Lord died for His elect church alone. The Canons of Dordt (1618-1619), produced by an international assembly of Reformed Protestants, clearly affirm that the Son of God redeemed the elect "and those only" (II:8) and that those who teach that He died for absolutely everybody speak "contemptuously of the death of Christ" and "bring again out of hell the Pelagian error" (II:R:3). American Presbyterian B. B. Warfield writes that the Canons were "published authoritatively in 1619 as the finding of the Synod [of Dordt] with the aid of a large body of foreign assessors, representative practically of the whole Reformed world. The Canons ... therefore ... [possess] the moral authority of the decrees of practically an Ecumenical Council throughout the whole body of Reformed Churches" (Works, vol. 9, p. 144).

The Westminster Confession states, "Neither are any other redeemed by Christ ... but the elect only" (3:6; cf. 8:1; 11:4; 13:1). These articles were included in the Congregationalist Savoy Declaration (1658) and the Baptist Confession (1689). Thus the creeds of Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists all teach limited atonement or particular redemption. All who recite the Westminster Shorter Catechism confess that Jesus Christ is the "only Redeemer of God’s elect" (A. 21). The Reformed creeds simply set forth the Bible’s teaching on this subject. Let us believe and hold fast to scriptural truth, spread it near and far, and honour the crucified and victorious Christ who laid down His life for His beloved sheep (John 10:15)!

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

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