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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dr. Michael Horton - By Grace Alone Through Faith Alone - Listen to Free Online White Horse Inn Christian Radio Broadcasts

Is faith a work we do to save ourselves and regenerate ourselves? Or does regeneration precede faith and is the faith of the elect itself a monergistic gift from the Holy Spirit? This round table discussion on The White Horse Inn should provoke serious thought on these matters.

Dr. Michael Horton - By Grace Alone Through Faith Alone - Listen to Free Online White Horse Inn Christian Radio Broadcasts

Sin Boldly: Martin Luther's Letter to Melanchthon

For those who think Martin Luther was an antinomian when he said, "Sin boldly," it might be well to read the context of the remark. Obviously Luther is referring to the Roman Catholic prohibition of marriage for priests and nuns:

13. If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2 Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.

The opening lines of the letter prove that the context has to do with marriage of priests:

2. By the way, St. Paul very freely speaks about the priests (1 Timothy 4:1-3), that devils have forbidden them to marry; and St. Paul's voice is the voice of the divine majesty. Therefore, I do not doubt that they must depend on him to such a degree that even though they agreed to this interdiction of the devil at the time, now--having realized with whom they made their contract--they can cheerfully break this contract.
3. This interdiction by the devil, which is clearly shown by God's Word, urges and compels me to sanction the actions of the Bishop of Kemberg. For God does not lie nor deceive when He says that this is an interdiction from the devil. If a contract has been made with the devil it must not endure since it was made in godless error against God and was damned and repudiated by God. For He says very clearly (1 Timothy 4:1 Vulgate) that those spirits are in error who are the originators of the interdictions.

To read the original letter from Martin Luther to Phillip Melanchthon click here: Let Your Sins Be Strong.

Christianity.com Video 4 – What books should all Christians read? - White Horse Inn Blog

Christianity.com Video 4 – What books should all Christians read? - White Horse Inn Blog

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book Review: Sincerity Meets the Truth, by John Pedersen

A Review of “Sincerity Meets the Truth”, by John K. Pedersen

John K. Pedersen. Sincerity Meets the Truth. (Audubon: Old Path Publications, 1997). 56 pages.

Every now and again I am pleasantly surprised by books I read. In this case I was more than surprised as I read Sincerity Meets the Truth. I found myself murmuring, “Amen!” over and over again. I met John K. Pederson via the FaceBook social network. Talking in private messages I learned that we have much in common when it comes to Reformed theology. As Carl Trueman once noted the Reformed tradition is multifaceted and cannot be defined by one modern denomination or even one Reformed confession from the sixteenth century. The term “Reformed” cannot be reified. Hence, we have the Reformed Forum blog claiming to speak for us all from the “center”. Such could never be true since the Reformed Forum is essentially advocating the theology of the neo-Calvinists and of Cornelius Van Til. Pedersen makes this all the more clear by his critique of modern ecumenicalism and Arminianism via an allegory.

Moreover, John Pederson has written a succinct and modern allegory similar to John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Ironically, a foreward was written by Michael Horton of The White Horse Inn. Unfortunately, future copies of Sincerity Meets the Truth will not include Horton's endorsement. Horton himself has written a book critiquing Evangelicalism called, Christless Christianity, the thesis of which says that many Evangelical churches and denominations promote what can only be called “pelagian pragmatism”. In his foreward, Horton insightfully says:

But John Pedersen has provided us with a fresh story. In this remarkable little tale, the “pilgrim” is a man by the name of Sincerity. A denizen of Evangelical Religion, Sincerity and his neighbors have the town of “Badstuff,” just across the tracks, as their enemies. But when a faithful minister visits Kindlove Reformed Church, a jewel in Evangelical Religion's crown, everything is turned upside down. Suddenly, instead of enjoying a false unity based on their coalition against “Badstuff,” the inhabitants of Evangelical Religion soon learn more about themselves than some might have wished. (Page iii).

However, one could reasonably question Horton's sincerity since he himself seems unwilling to take on the blatant ecumenicalism within Evangelicalism and the Reformed movement. Be that as it may, John Pedersen has succinctly laid out the anti-theological bias of even Reformed congregations today. Although the book was originally written in 1997 it is as pertinent today as ever. I personally experienced a similar bias against dogmatic theology at a local Presbyterian Church in America congregation. After all Arminians and Roman Catholics are just unclear on doctrine. They are not really lost and in need of conversion, are they? Think again.

Gordon H. Clark has said that a paradox is a charlie horse between the ears that can be removed with rational massage. If Arminianism and Roman Catholicism openly oppose the doctrines of grace and the five solas of the Protestant Reformation, one can only conclude that these two traditions are teaching another Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9) and another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).

As Pedersen says in his preface:

False doctrine is worse when it goes under the cover of truth, and when it quotes Scripture, and sings Amazing Grace. Satan is always at his best in opposing the truth when he does it in the name of Christ. There has never been a more subtle expression of false doctrine than that which affirms all the “truths” of the Christian faith on the basis of human effort, merit of works, foreseen faith, or “free will.” To affirm grace on the condition of works is the ultimate perversion. It is The Lie. (Page vi).

The plot of the story is when a pastor of a broadly evangelical Reformed congregation opens his pulpit to a Reformed preacher, Not-His-Own. One of the members of the congregation, Sincerity, is forced to confront his adherence to false doctrine and Evangelical liberalism. When the sermon upsets the majority of folks attending the worship service the resulting conversation reveals the root of the problem, being relativism and ecumenicalism in theology.

The validity of this critique should not escape the reader. If two confessions of faith are mutually exclusive of the other—A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time—then one or the other of those confessions of faith is false. One is faithful to Scripture and the other is not. This is in fact the basis of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers said that Rome had gone apostate and officially so. The canons of the Council of Trent still officially condemn the Gospel and the doctrines of grace taught in Scripture. The Synod of Dort officially condemned Arminianism as a heresy. The Reformed confessions and standards are a systematic summary of the teaching of Holy Scripture. Either those confessions are propositionally true or they are not. Since Reformed theology and Arminianism and the five points of the Remonstrandts are mutually opposed to one another one has to wonder how modern neo-Calvinists can with a straight face advocate Arminians and Papists as “brothers in Christ” when both are essentially false religions. Be careful about stating this openly in a broadly Evangelical Reformed congregation. One might find oneself excommunicated. I speak from experience here.

Pedersen's comment via Not-His-Own here is applicable:

In other words, by tolerating many different and contradictory 'versions' of the grace of God in the gospel, the assumption is that such tolerance is reasonable and legitimate due to the supposed fact that the truth of God's grace is 'not easy' to understand—as if it were not wholly impossible to understand apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (Page 40).

And with Not-His-Own's pithy observation I fully agree:

By suggesting that the 'Arminian' version of grace—which makes grace conditional on human effort and merit—is a legitimate, though 'less clear' version of grace, it is inferred that God cannot guard his own grace in the confessions of his people to exclude confessions which actually deny it. For example, to say that I believe in Jesus because of some inclination, some free-will, or some 'foreseen faith' is to say that grace is a response to something in me, which makes it a payment. This is a denial of true, biblical grace. The Bible clearly teaches that God is the Author of a person's faith and is the One by whom a true confession is made. (Page 42).

I highly recommend Sincerity Meets the Truth. To obtain your copy contact John Pedersen via FaceBook or e-mail at: pjump56 AT gmail DOT com.


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

Anglicans Ablaze: A rough decade for American congregations

According to a recent religious survey, the medium attendance at local congregations decreased from 130 to 108. It does not seem like much but it seems to me that there could good reasons for the decline. Namely the influence of modern social media. When there are no local congregations that fit one's own theological commitments the best thing to do is either plant a new church or stay home. I for one do not attend Arminian or Pentecostal/Charismatic churches since I regard those churches as heretical.

To read the original post click here:
Anglicans Ablaze: A rough decade for American congregations

Monday, September 19, 2011

Old Life Theological Society » Blog Archive » The Problem of Sappy Evangelicals

Are classical Calvinists really angry? Darryl Hart doesn't think so. Of course, I'm one of those Calvinists who does not accept the neo-Calvinist doctrine of common grace or the free offer to reprobates. Maybe taking a more dogmatic approach to systematic theology is not such a bad thing? Maybe the problem is "sloppy agape" as the old cliche goes?

Click here to read the story:
Old Life Theological Society » Blog Archive » The Problem of Sappy Evangelicals

A Brief Commentary on the Catechism of 1662, Part Two

A Brief Commentary on the Catechism of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: Part Two

by Charlie J. Ray

[To see the previous installment click on Part One. Click here to see the Catechism.]

Question. What did your Godfathers and Godmothers then for you?

Answer. They did promise and vow three things in my name. First, that I should renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanity of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh. Secondly, that I should believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith. And thirdly, that I should keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my life.

Question. Dost thou not think that thou art bound to believe, and to do, as they have promised for thee?

Answer. Yes verily: and by God's help so I will. And I heartily thank our heavenly Father, that he hath called me to this state of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. And I pray unto God to give me his grace, that I may continue in the same unto my life's end.

Firstly, you will note that the assumption of the Catechism is that of infant baptism. The person learning the Catechism is now being instructed in the Christian faith as understood from the Reformed Anglican perspective. The child is now at an age of maturity whereby he or she is able to understand the Scriptures and the “Articles of the Christian Faith.” The “Articles of the Christian Faith” refers to the Apostles Creed. The Latin word “credo” means “I believe”. Some Christians have made the claim that there is no creed but the Bible. Unfortunately, the Bible must be interpreted properly (2 Timothy 2:15) and the Bible must be believed (2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Romans 10:8-13). Creeds and confesssions of faith are systematic summaries of what we as Christians agree that the Scriptures teach. A credible profession of conversion and of true Christian faith therefore consists of repentance and of having a basic understanding of the most simple and basic Christian doctrines (Jude 1:3-4; Ephesians 4:4-6). Even churches with no creeds or confessions in writing have spoken or “oral” confessions of faith and definite doctrinal beliefs which are expressed in the preaching and teaching ministry of that local congregation.

The first answer in the catechism can be divided into three parts: 1) Repentance and conversion. 2) True profession and belief in Christian doctrine. 3) Living the Christian life in accordance with God's revealed will in the moral law.

Beginning with repentance and conversion it is obvious that the child at baptism is unable to do any of these things for himself or herself. So the godparents (the two natural parents and one other godparent: see the rubric at the Publick Baptism of Infants) promise to teach the child as he or she matures the following principles of repentance: 1. Renouncing the devil and all his works. This part of the answer acknowledges that the devil is an actual adversary of the Christian and that he must be resisted and rejected. Scriptural support for this view can be found in these verses: James 4:7; Ephesians 4:27; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11; 1 John 3:8-9. 2. Renouncing the pomps and vanity of this wicked world. Scriptures: Isaiah 13:11; Ecclesiastes 1:2. 3. Renouncing all the sinful lusts of the flesh: Romans 7:5; Romans 8:3-4.

As has been previously stated, at baptism infants are professed to be regenerate because of the faith of the parents and the godparents who are obligated to bring the child up in the faith. Regeneration is promised to the children of believers, although this is not an obligation on God's part and therefore not every child who is part of the external covenant and the visible church is truly regenerate. This will prove itself as the child grows older and gradually grows in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:17-18) at which point it becomes obvious whether or not the child is regenerate and is being converted and sanctified in the truth (John 17:17). All elect infants are regenerated instantly at their baptism (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5-7; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11). This regeneration of the soul provides the fertile soil in which the Gospel seed is planted and brought forth into fruition. The Dutch Reformed theologian, Herman Hoeksema, helps clarify this doctrine:

. . . We know very little of an infant's life, but it is certain that long before what is usually considered the age of discretion there can be and is a decided influence of the Word of God upon the covenant child.

According to our conviction, it is especially for this reason that children of the covenant are regenerated from earliest infancy. Why should God, according to the rule of the covenant, bring little children under the influence of the preaching of the word from their earliest infancy if they are not regenerated? The dead certainly cannot use means, and there is no proper reaction to the preaching of the word by those who are spiritually dead. Only those who are living are capable of using the means that the Holy Spirit provides for the working of faith and for the development and upbuilding of that faith. We believe that as a rule the elect children of the covenant are regenerated from earliest infancy. As the child grows up in the sphere of the covenant, he gradually comes to conscious faith, receives the promise, and assumes his part of the covenant . . . [Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2, 1st Edition, 1966, (Grandville: Reformed Free Publishing, 2005), pages 312-313.]

For those concerned about the false assurance of salvation based on membership in the visible church and receiving the external sign of baptism, Hoeksema offers a needed qualification:

When the child of the covenant reaches the age of discretion, having always walked in the way of the covenant, he is not and cannot be expected to be conscious of any sudden or remarkable change or conversion in his life. To be sure, the change that we call conversion must surely take place. The covenant child must be conscious of true conversion, which consists of the mortification of the old man and the quickening of the new man. He must be conscious of a sincere sorrow of the heart that he has provoked God by his sins. . . This entire change is wrought through the preaching of the word.

The preaching of the word in the sphere of the covenant must be both distinctive and upbuilding. It cannot proceed from the assumption that all the children of the covenant, that is, all those who are born in the sphere of and under the covenant are elect and regenerated. The theory of presumptive regeneration, according to which it is presumed that all of the children born under the covenant are regenerated, is certainly not scriptural. [Ibid., 313-314].

Although this seems redundant, the doctrine of conversion needs to be stated in the affirmative. The Catechism says that the child is regenerate and so does the baptismal service in the 1662. But both the Catechism and the Baptismal Service must be interpreted via the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and not the other way around.

The conclusion of the Public Baptism of Infants says:

Then shall the Priest say,

SEEING now, dearly beloved brethren, that this Child is regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ's Church, let us give thanks unto Almighty God for these benefits; and with one accord make our prayers unto him, that this Child may lead the rest of his life according to this beginning.

What most critics tend to overlook—and most Anglo-Catholics as well—is that this proclamation of regeneration is not a matter of stated fact but is rather an expression of faith based on the prayers petitioning God's grace to regenerate the child:

Then shall the Priest say,

O MERCIFUL God, grant that the old Adam in this Child may be so buried, that the new man may be raised up in him. Amen.

Grant that all carnal affections may die in him, and that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in him. Amen.

Grant that he may have power and strength to have victory, and to triumph, against the devil, the world, and the flesh. Amen.

Grant that whosoever is here dedicated to thee by our office and ministry may also be endued with heavenly virtues, and everlastingly rewarded, through thy mercy, 0 blessed Lord God, who dost live, and govern all things, world without end. Amen.

ALMIGHTY, everliving God, whose most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of our sins, did shed out of his most precious side both water and blood; and gave commandment to his disciples, that they should go teach all nations, and baptize them In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Regard, we beseech thee, the supplications of thy congregation; sanctify this Water to the mystical washing away of sin; and grant that this Child, now to be baptized therein, may receive the fulness of thy grace, and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [Ibid.]

Notice that the prayers ask for God to “grant” what is prayed for. That is a decidedly “Augustinian” form of prayer. It completely refutes the semi-pelagian or pelagian view that humans are born without original sin and have an innate power over sin. Only God can regenerate a soul in an adult or an infant and that regeneration is an immediate and direct action by the Holy Spirit given to whom God will give it (John 1:12-13; 3:8; Titus 3:5).


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

Monday, September 12, 2011

EV News :: Telegraph: 'Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams set to quit next year'

The problem is the next candidate for Archbishop of Canterbury might be even worse than Rowan Williams. EV News :: Telegraph: 'Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams set to quit next year'

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Church Society - Issues - Doctrine - BCP - Ryle Thoughts - Usefulness

Bishop J. C. Ryle on why we should use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. You won't find the "Reformed" Baptists quoting Ryle on this: Church Society - Issues - Doctrine - BCP - Ryle Thoughts - Usefulness

An Excerpt from, "Not Reformed At All": A Response to Doug Wilson

Editor’s Note: This essay is an excerpt from Not Reformed at All: Medievalism in "Reformed" Churches, a new book responding to Douglas Wilson’s book "Reformed" Is Not Enough: Recovering the Objectivity of the Covenant.  Not Reformed at All is available from The Trinity Foundation for $9.95, plus $6.00 shipping and handling.  [To see the original post click here:  Not Reformed At All.  This is from a book by Sean Gerety and John Robbins.  I have corrected the computer symbols at the original post and replaced them with the quotation marks which would have been in the original article's pdf format.  Charlie J. Ray.]

 The Biblical Covenant of Grace

The New Testament is a fuller, clearer, and more systematic revelation of Jesus Christ than the Old. The New Covenant is superior to the Old, as the author of the book of Hebrews argues at length, and the revelation of the New Covenant is superior to the Old. Both are, of course, the Word of God, but "in these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son [not merely by the prophets], who [is] the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person."

Not only does the New Testament give us a fuller, clearer, and more systematic revelation of Jesus Christ than the Old, it also is the authoritative interpretation of the Old. It does this in four ways: (1) by commenting explicitly upon the text of the Old Testament; (2) by incorporating Old Testament texts into its own arguments; (3) by repealing portions of the Mosaic system that are obsolete; and (4) by correcting the common misinterpretations of the Old Testament taught by the Jewish religious leaders of the first century - what some recent theologians call "Second Temple Judaism." Perhaps the most obvious example of the last is Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, in which he corrects the false teaching of the rabbis in this way: "You have heard it said.....but I say unto you. 

There are many examples of the first three methods - commentary on and incorporation of the text of the Old Testament itself, and repeal of its national and sacrificial system - and the one that we shall look at most closely is Paul’s letter to the Romans. In this letter, the Apostle Paul is the inspired and authoritative interpreter of the Covenant of Grace; any interpretation of the Covenant that conflicts with the authoritative interpretation written by the Holy Spirit and Paul, either by appealing to the teachings of Judaism, or by imposing its own construction on the text of the Old Testament, is false.

Now, what does Paul teach about the Covenant of Grace in Romans? First, Paul denies that there is any corporate salvation, any offer of corporate salvation, or corporate election to salvation, as the unbelieving Jews of that day commonly thought. They were falsely assured of their favor with God and of their salvation because they were children of Abraham, in solidarity with the patriarch with whom God had made the covenant. But Paul denounces that assurance in Romans 2 and declares the Jews more guilty before God than the Gentiles:

Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, "Do not commit adultery," do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," as it is written. For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision..... For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God (Romans 2:17-29).
Paul here denies that there is any group justification, corporate election to salvation, or corporate salvation. Rather than assuring their salvation, their outward advantages - chiefly the oracles of God, the Scriptures - condemned them more severely than the Gentiles, who did not have any special revelation from God. Paul concludes his argument with these words: "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin"   (Romans 3:19-20).

The next step in Paul’s argument is to assert not only justification by belief alone, but to insist that justification is taught in the Old Testament: "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by The Law and the Prophets" (Romans 3:21).  Paul explicitly attacks the Jewish notion that righteousness comes by the law, and insists that nothing of the sort is taught in The Law and the Prophets; in fact, The Law and the Prophets teaches that righteousness comes "apart from the law." Furthermore, Paul attacked the Jewish misunderstanding of the covenant by denying that God was the God of all loyal, circumcised Jews because he had entered into covenant with Abraham: "Or is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith" (Romans 3:29-30).

Notice Paul’s reason for saying that God is the God of the Gentiles as well as the Jews: justification by faith alone. It was not circumcision, nor Torah, nor descent from Abraham that guaranteed the fulfillment of the promise "I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Today, it is not baptism, nor church membership, nor godly heritage nor covenant faithfulness that guarantees fulfillment of that promise, but God alone.

So far in this passage, Paul has asserted:

1. that the circumcision of the Jews does not make them pleasing to God;
2.  that being the physical children of Abraham and bearing the sign of the covenant are not assurances of favor with God;
3.  that there is no group insurance policy that insures a loyal, circumcised child of Abraham election or salvation;
4.  that all circumcised Jews are as guilty before God as uncircumcised Gentiles, and more so;
5.  that what makes a true Jew is the invisible circumcision of the heart (which Gentiles may have, and some do have), not the visible circumcision of the flesh;
6.  that no one, Jew or Gentile, will be justified by the deeds of the law, done at any time in his life;
7.  that justification by belief alone is taught in the Old Testament (which he calls The Law and the Prophets), and all the Jews should have understood it;
8.  that God is God of both Gentiles and Jews, because justification is by belief, not heritage, alone;
9.  that belief alone makes God our God, and we his people, thus uniting us to Christ and fulfilling the promise God made to Abraham;
10.  that righteousness does not come by the law.
    Paul continues his explanation of the Covenant of Grace by focusing on Abraham, whose descendants the Jews were. In Romans 4 Paul mentions the doctrine of imputation 11 times - a doctrine that the Jews in general simply did not understand. Abraham was saved by an imputed righteousness, a righteousness not his own. He was saved while he was still uncircumcised. Physical circumcision, to which the Jews looked for assurance of their favor with God, had no part to play in Abraham’s salvation - and it has no part to play in the salvation of his children either. "For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law [and no one does], but if you are a breaker of the law [and everyone is] your circumcision has become uncircumcision" (Romans 2:25). Further, "this blessedness" (Romans 4:6, 9) that is, salvation apart from works, comes on all who believe, whether they are physically circumcised or not. Paul further explained the reasons:

    For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all [Romans 4:13-16].

    The first reason for justification by faith alone that Paul presents is that the promise was not made to Abraham or his seed through the law, that is through their law-keeping, as the Jews misunderstood the Covenant, but through the righteousness received by faith alone. Paul says that if those who are of the law - those who bear the marks of the covenant and keep their noses clean, those whom Calvin called "saintlings" - are heirs of the promise, then the promise is made of no effect, for they are not saved, but objects of wrath.

    Notice Paul’s argument here: The Jewish misinterpretation of the Covenant makes the promise of the Covenant ineffective ("of no effect"), for the circumcised are not saved, but are objects of wrath, just as he had proved in chapter 2. This is the same Jewish misinterpretation of the Covenant that infected medieval churches, Reformed churches in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and American Presbyterian and Reformed churches in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 

    In the place of an effective, efficacious Covenant of Grace, in which God writes his laws in the minds of all the members of the Covenant, these churches substitute an ineffective, objective covenant in which reprobate (children of the flesh) and elect (children of the promise) alike receive the promises of God in baptism. In opposition to this counterfeit covenant, Paul teaches a Covenant of Grace in which "the promise might be sure to all the seed." There is no sure promise of salvation in Wilson’s counterfeit covenant. His appeal to ritual baptism for assurance is asinine, for he admits that some baptized people go to Hell.

    At this point in his argument, the Apostle Paul discusses the role of the Mediator of the Covenant of Grace, who fulfills the law of God perfectly on behalf of and instead of his people, and who dies the death demanded by the law for their sin, paying the full penalty due to them. Because he is the Mediator of the Covenant for his people, their union with Christ, the Covenant Head, results in their receiving the free gift of salvation, freedom from the condemnation of the law (they are "dead to the law through the body of Christ" their substitute), and all the blessings of the Covenant of Grace, including regeneration and faith itself. This is exactly what God had promised in Jeremiah 31, as repeated in Hebrews 8.

    This "new covenant" (not the covenant made with Moses, and explained in greater detail in the New Testament), this Covenant of Grace, is personal ("I will put"; "all shall know me"); individual ("I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts"); and absolutely effective ("I will be their God and they shall be my people;" "None of them shall teach his neighbor....for all shall know me"); and "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt." The Mosaic covenant was public, corporate, and ineffective ("because they did not continue in my covenant"). By this efficacious, sovereign Covenant of Grace, believers are justified and made sons of God:

    And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he predestined, these he also called; whom he called, these he also justified; and whom he justified, these he also glorified.

    What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:28-39).
    This is God’s sovereign Covenant of Grace, and it is wholly efficacious; no one and nothing can thwart it. This Covenant is made exclusively with Christ and the elect, to whom alone the promises of life and salvation belong. 

    At this stage in his extended argument, Paul uses the doctrine of election (individual, of course) to defend God against the charge that he has not kept his covenant promises to the Jews, and his Word is of no effect. Paul’s argument is, in summary, that God had made no promises of salvation to all the children of Abraham, nor even to all the circumcised, but to his chosen people only. Just as God’s election is of some only, and Christ died for some only, so in the Covenant of Grace the promise of salvation is to some only. The Covenant is not a promise to all men, not even to all those that are circumcised or baptized, but only to those chosen by God in Christ from before the foundation of the world.

    Paul writes: "But it is not that the Word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called" (Romans 9:6-7). Paul insists that God keeps his promises, that his Word has in fact "taken effect." The problem is not with God’s promises, but with those Jews who misunderstand the promises, thinking that God had made promises to all the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To this Paul replies: "They are not all Israel who are of Israel," and "they are not all children of Abraham," echoing his statement in chapter 2: "He is not a Jew who is one outwardly," visibly, but "he is a Jew who is one inwardly," invisibly. Paul quotes the Old Testament making that plain, if only the Jews had believed Moses’ writing in Genesis 21:12: "In Isaac [not Ishmael] your seed shall be called." But while they trusted in Moses, as Jesus said, they did not understand or believe Moses’ words in Genesis 21.

    Paul continues: "That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: `At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son’" (Romans 9:8-9). Paul draws an antithesis between the children of God and the children of the flesh, who are not the children of promise or of God: "These are not the children of God." Those whom the Jews think are the children of God are not. Not only this, but "when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of him who calls), it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated’ " (Romans 9:10-13). 

    Paul carries the argument one step further. Not only is the line of circumcised Ishmael not to be identified with the children of God and made recipients of the promises, even though they were children of Abraham and bore the sign of the covenant, but not all the children of Isaac are children of God either: "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." The children of God are those whom God has elected, and to them alone are the promises of the Covenant of Grace made.

    Paul continues his argument against the unbelieving Jews:

    "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy" (Romans 9:14-16). The sinner’s performance, before or after baptism or circumcision, contributes precisely nothing to his salvation. The Covenant is sovereign; its terms were set unilaterally; and those terms are fulfilled by the God-man who represents his people. The Covenant of Grace accomplishes exactly what God intends. It is to a remnant, not to all Israelites, nor to all church members, that God made his promises:

    Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. For he will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the Lord will make a short work upon the Earth." And as Isaiah said before: "Unless the Lord of Sabaoth [Hosts] had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been made like Gomorrah."

    What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.

    Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on him will not be put to shame" (Romans 9:27-33).
    Paul explains the Covenant of Grace in terms of God’s election of individuals. Any interpretation of the Covenant that excludes or minimizes the doctrine of individual election is a false interpretation. Today ministers in good standing in several denominations, not just Wilson’s, are teaching that the Covenant of Grace is conditional, that it is made with all who are baptized, that it is better understood if we ignore the doctrine of election, and that the salvation of the baptized depends upon their fulfilling the terms of the covenant. To the ten points by which we summarized Paul’s teaching earlier, we must now add several more:

    11. the sole ground of Abraham’s salvation is the imputed righteousness of Christ;
    12. this perfect, extrinsic righteousness was imputed to Abraham before he was circumcised; so circumcision (which represents all works done in obedience to God)was neither a condition nor a ground of his salvation, but a result;
    13. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to believing Jews and Gentiles without partiality;
    14. the instrument of this imputation is belief alone, not law-keeping;
    15. the Covenant promises of God are not to all the children of Abraham, but only to the children of promise;
    16. the Covenant of Grace is made by God the Father with Christ the Mediator, who, acting in the place of (as a substitute for) and on behalf of (as their legal representative), only the people the Father had given him, perfectly fulfills the terms of the Covenant and obtains complete salvation for his people;
    17. in the Covenant of Grace God promises all the blessings of the Covenant, including faith and eternal life, to his people;
    18. God keeps his Covenant promises by preserving his people for eternity, so that nothing - including they themselves - can separate them from the love of Christ;
    19. there is no unrighteousness with God, for he has not broken any promises to his people, but has carried them out fully in Christ.

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    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

    Friday, September 09, 2011

    Reasonable Christian (32)

    At Cana (Jn. 2:1ff.) Jesus turns a great amount of water into wine. If the nature of Johannine miracles as signs is considered, a deeper meaning must be sought. Thus law and gospel may be contrasted as water and wine, or wine may be equated with Logos (Philo). While oĆ­nos is not used in the accounts of the Last Supper, it is obvious that the cup contains wine . . .

    Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1995). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (680). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

    Reasonable Christian (32)

    Monday, September 05, 2011

    Quote of the Day: Herman Hoeksema on the Relation Between God's Work and Man's Activity in Sanctification

    The relation between our walking in sanctification of life and God's work of sanctification must not be conceived in the Arminian or synergistic sense.  God is first also in the work of sanctification.  Without him we can do absolutely nothing.  Only when he works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure can we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12, 13).  Only when he realizes his promises unto us, so that we actually have hold of those promises, can we cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit and perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1).  Our work is rooted in the work of God, and it is the fruit of his work in us.  He works in us his spiritual energy, the living spiritual power, to work out our own salvation and to walk as children of light.  All spiritual power is alone from him.    Herman Hoeksema.  Reformed Dogmatics.  Vol. 2.  (Grandville:  Reformed Free Publishing), pp. 127-128.

    The Canons instruct further:

    The Canons of Dort: Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine
    Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure; but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him; or even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of salvation and actually believe in Christ; but because He who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe and the act of believing also.
    The Canons therefore attribute the work of sanctification to God only. . . .  (Ibid., 129).
    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

    Anglicans Ablaze: There Is Nothing New Under the Sun

    Robin Jordan's critique of the Anglo-Catholic direction of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America:

    In his article, “Scripture, Tradition, and the Deposit of Faith,” (Virtue Online), REC/ACNA priest Victor Novak presents an Anglo-Catholic reinterpretation of Anglican identity that has gained popularity in some quarters of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America in recent years. The views that Novak expresses are the opinions of one school of thought in Anglicanism. They do not represent a historic consensus of Anglican thought on the matters in question.

    The notion that Anglicanism represents a “western Orthodox” tradition is relatively recent in origin. It is traceable to the nineteenth century Tractarian leader and theologian, Edward Bouvrie Pusey. Pusey maintained that Anglicanism constituted a third Catholic tradition alongside Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Novak may be described as a modern-day Puseyite.

    Click here to read the rest of Robin's article: Anglicans Ablaze: There Is Nothing New Under the Sun

    Quote of the Day: Gordon H. Clark

    From Gordon H. Clark's Answer to Van Til:

    If the complainants cannot know what God means, how can they know God does not mean this or that? They affirm that there is a resemblance or analogy between the truth God knows and the qualitative different truth man knows. But by what right do they assert a resemblance when they cannot describe the qualitative difference? Or, how can they assert that two things resemble each other when they have never known and can never know one of them? One can say that two men resemble each other if one has seen both men. But one cannot legitmately affirm a resemblance between a man one has seen and a man one has not seen. Similarly, if a man knew God's meaning, he could compare it with his own and remark the similarity or difference. If I know your opinion, I can say it is similar to or dissimilar from mine. But if I do not know your opinion, I have no way of knowing whether your opinion is the same or contradictory of mine. Similarly if man's knowledge and God's knowledge do not “coincide at any single point,” then for all we know, perhaps Christ did not die for our sins. And the complainants wish to make their views a test for orthodoxy! Where in the Westminster Confession of Faith is there any such philosophy?

    To read the context, click here: Reasonable Christian: Part Seven: The Answer to the Complaint Against Dr. Gordon H. Clark

    EV News :: Abortion: The Children who would have been baptised

    Click here to read the story at the EV News site: EV News :: Abortion: The Children who would have been baptised

    Sunday, September 04, 2011

    Quote of the Day: John Calvin on Luke 5:37ff

    16. And no man putteth a piece of fresh cloth. He supports the preceding statement by two comparisons, one of which is taken from garments, and the other from vessels of wine. Those who think that he compares worn-out garments and decayed bottles to the Pharisees, and new wine and fresh cloth to the doctrine of the gospel, have no probability on their side.

    Calvin's Commentary
    , Harmony of the Gospels....  Luke 5:37ff.

    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

    The Anglican Reformed Tradition

    In three talks Lee Gatiss looks at Reformed theology and the doctrines of grace, from the English Reformation to the Evangelical Revival.

    Can those who would call themselves 'Reformed' today be happy in the Church of England? The Reformed foundations of our church history are unfolded, looking especially at the 'Evangelicals' of the 18th century such as George Whitefield and John Wesley.

    Lee Gatiss unpacks some of their debates over issues such as predestination and so-called 'limited atonement.' The writings and hymns of Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778) are opened up to see what this colourful figure had to say on these matters, and what he can teach us today in our context.

    To hear the audio links click here: The Anglican Reformed Tradition

    Reasonable Christian: The Consensus Tigurinus Revisited

    For those in doubt about the Reformed view of the sacraments a review of John Calvin's Consensus of Tigurinus is in order. In fact what Calvin drew up here would be very close to the view of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer as outlined in his treatise on the Lord's Supper. (See Churchman article, Cranmer's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper in its Gospel Context). To see excerpts from the google books version of Cranmer's work click on: The Lord's Supper.

    To read the Consensus of Tigurinus click here: Reasonable Christian: The Consensus Tigurinus

    Saturday, September 03, 2011

    The Thirty-nine Articles: XIX-XXXI

    For those who think grape juice is "wine" I would like to quote Article XXVIII. Clearly the English Reformers used wine and not grape juice. The burden of proof would be on the neo-legalists to prove that the cup in Scripture was filled with grape juice and not wine. They would need to prove also that the English Reformers and the early Presbyterians used grape juice and not wine. Unless they are able to do so then the only conclusion one can draw is that they are gnostics who think that material things such as wine or alcohol is evil or malignant in and of themselves. Or just perhaps reading American Prohibitionism into the sacrament of the Lord's supper is hyper-pietism and completely unbiblical? The fact of the matter is that external laws cannot prevent determined sinners, which is why prohibitionism does not work with the issue of alcoholism. Alcohol, like guns, is not the source of evil. Rather sinful people are the source of evil. Since the Bible institutes the Lord's supper and since the passover meal was served with wine, not grape juice  (see Leviticus 23:13), then we ought to follow Scripture rather than Pharisaical traditions that go beyond what Scripture itself prescribes and prohibits. (1 Corinthians 4:6.  See also:  1 Corinthians 11:20-27.  If wine were not used in the Lord's supper in 1 Corinthians 11 then why does Paul rebuke the Corinthians for getting drunk when the sacrament was served?  1 Corinthians 11:21.) 

    I could point out the many passages in the New Testament that show that "wine" is always alcoholic wine.  Even when Jesus mentions "new wine" it is in the context of the fermentation process since fermentation will burst old wine skins and new wine skins expand during fermentation.  (See  Matthew 9:17).  What is even more hypocritical is that neo-legalists wish to condemn the Reformed Confessions as "legalistic" because they prescribe the use of "wine" in communion--which is beyond dispute the practice in Scripture, the early church, and in the Protestant Reformation.  Modern day gnostics and legalists need to get over their false piety and obey the Scriptures and the Reformed Standards.  It is not those who wish to follow Scripture and the Reformed standards who are being divisive (read heretical) here but it is the modern day Pharisees who produce laws that go beyond the moral law of God and instead stand upon the false traditions of men.  (Mark 7:8).

    Article XXVIII

    Of the Lord's Supper

    The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.

    Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

    The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith

    The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.

    The Thirty-nine Articles: XIX-XXXI

    168. What is the Lord's supper?
    Answer: The Lord's supper is a sacrament of the New Testament,1 wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace,2 have their union and communion with him confirmed;3 testify and renew their thankfulness,4 and engagement to God,5 and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body.6
    See also: WCF 29.1 | WSC 96

    1 Luke 22:20
    2 Matt. 26:26-28; 1 Cor. 11:23-26
    3 1 Cor. 10:16
    4 1 Cor. 11:24
    5 1 Cor. 10:14-16, 21
    6 1 Cor. 10:17

    169. How hath Christ appointed bread and wine to be given and received in the sacrament of the Lord's supper?
    Answer: Christ hath appointed the ministers of his word, in the administration of this sacrament of the Lord's supper, to set apart the bread and wine from common use, by the word of institution, thanksgiving, and prayer; to take and break the bread, and to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants: who are, by the same appointment, to take and eat the bread, and to drink the wine, in thankful remembrance that the body of Christ was broken and given, and his blood shed, for them.1
    See also: WCF 29.3

    1 1 Cor. 11:23, 24; Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19, 20

    170. How do they that worthily communicate in the Lord's supper feed upon the body and blood of Christ therein?
    Answer: As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lord's supper,1 and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses;2 so they that worthily communicate in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal and carnal, but in a spiritual manner, yet truly and really,3 while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death.4
    See also: WCF 29.7

    1 Acts 3:21
    2 Matt. 26:26,28
    3 1 Cor. 11:24-29
    4 1 Cor. 10:16
    The Three Forms of Unity also prescribe the use of "wine" and not "grape juice" or "new wine" in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 29:

    Question 78. Do then the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ?
    Answer: Not at all: 1but as the water in baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ, neither is the washing away of sin itself, being only the sign and confirmation thereof appointed of God; so the bread in the Lord's supper is not changed into the very 2body of Christ; though agreeably to the 3nature and properties of sacraments, it is called the body of Christ Jesus.

    Question 79. Why then doth Christ call the bread His body, and the cup His blood, or the new covenant in His blood; and Paul the "communion of the body and blood of Christ?"

    Answer: Christ speaks thus, not without great reason, namely, not only thereby to teach us, that as bread and wine support this temporal life, so His crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink, whereby our souls are 4fed to eternal life; but more especially by these visible signs and pledges to assure us, that we are as really partakers of His true body and blood (by the operation of the Holy Ghost) as we 5receive by the mouths of our bodies these holy signs in remembrance of Him; and that all His sufferings6 and obedience are as certainly ours, as if we had in our own persons suffered and made satisfaction for our sins to God.

    1 1 Cor. 10:1-4; 1 Pet. 3:21; John 6:35, 62-63;
    2 1 Cor. 10:16; 1 Cor. 11:20
    3 Gen. 17:10-11, 14; Ex. 12:26-27, 43, 48; Acts 7:8; Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:24;
    4 John 6:51, 55-56; ;
    5 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 1 Cor. 11:26-28; Eph. 5:30;
    6 Rom. 5:9, 18-19; Rom. 8:4;

    See also The Belgic Confession, Article 35 where this paragraph occurs:

    Christ, that He might represent unto us this spiritual and heavenly bread, hath instituted an earthly and visible bread as a sacrament of His body, and wine as a sacrament of His blood, to testify by them unto us, that, as certainly as we receive and hold this sacrament in our hands, and eat and drink the same with our mouths, by which our life is afterwards nourished, we also do as certainly receive by faith (which is the hand and mouth of our soul) the true body and blood of Christ our only Savior in our souls, for the support of our spiritual life.  (Mark 6:26; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; Ephesians 3:17; John 6:35)

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