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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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Jack Miller: More Law or More Gospel?

Jack Miller points out that law/gospel distinction in detail for us here.  My only complaint is that at one point he says "knowledge" of law and gospel is unnecessary:

Our problem as sinners isn't a knowledge problem remedied by more law instruction and our subsequent doing, but a sin-problem which only the gospel solves, God's already done!  This is true for our justification as well as our sanctification.  As believers we are called to mortify sin within us, which by definition means resisting the desires that actually tempt us and then again to offer ourselves to loving God and loving our neighbor.  The finished work of Jesus declared in the gospel is the only weapon given believers that actually breaks that power of sin and frees us to walk in a righteous direction.  The World's Ruined:  Too Much Gospel, Too Little Law?

The problem here is that knowledge is required before anyone can know sin through the light of the law.  (Romans 3:20; 7:7).  The sinful and carnal mind cannot obey God's law.  (Romans 8:7).  In fact the soteriological articles say that plainly in Articles 9-18.  But Article 9 is straight to the point:

Article IX

Of Original or Birth Sin

Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath itself the nature of sin.
The phrase phronema sarkos is from the New Testament Greek of Romans 8:7:

. . . διότι τὸ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς ἔχθρα εἰς θεόν, τῷ γὰρ νόμῳ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐχ ὑποτάσσεται, οὐδὲ γὰρ δύναται· (Romans 8:7 BYZ)

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (Romans 8:7 NKJ)

It means literally the "mind of the flesh".   But here's the thing.  Knowledge is required before we can know we are sinners:

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 3:20 NKJ)

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." (Romans 7:7 NKJ)
 And knowledge is required before we can know the Gospel by faith:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (Ephesians 2:8 NKJ)

And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. (Ephesians 2:17 NKJ)

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14 NKJ)

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 NKJ)
And even more to the point, even our sanctification is impossible without knowledge:

"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17 NKJ)
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18 NKJ)
The mind is not enmity against God.  We are to worship God with our minds (Mark 12:30).  It is the carnal mind, the sinful mind that is at enmity with God, not the believing mind.  The believer has been set free from this bondage to evil thoughts, though not entirely.  (Genesis 6:5; 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5).

3 comments:

J. S. Miller said...

Charlie,

Where do I say knowledge is "unnecessary?"

I have made no claim that we don't need knowledge. I have made no claim that one doesn't need saving knowledge communicated in order to lead him to Christ. What is the purpose of that knowledge? To awaken us to our core, essential problem, i.e. sin. Sin is the real problem, not lack of knowledge or lack of information or wont of effort to satisfy the law. All fall short. I can have all knowledge and yet be a clanging cymbal without the love of Christ in my heart.

So, I agree with your basic construction of faith: knowledge, assent, and trust. The knowledge communicated through law and gospel proclaimed in Scripture serves God's purpose of bringing sinners, who are under the sentence of death due to their problem (sin), to repentance and faith in Christ who is the only remedy for their real and central problem of sin. So then, we need the knowledge of God which comes through the teaching of both words of Scripture: law and gospel which together diagnose our sinful condition and offers by God's grace the free gift of eternal live in Christ through faith.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Love is a command. But you don't know anything apart from Scripture. Natural revelation is sufficient only to leave men without excuse in the judgment. There is no such thing as "natural law" or "natural theology."

All knowledge begins with Scripture.

As for the context of Paul's remark in 1 Corinthians 13 and the "love" chapter, knowledge is not in and of itself bad. The reprobate can have knowledge but do they believe? No. Understanding comes only from logical revelation in God's Word. For there to be faith there needs to be understanding. So saving faith is simply believing what is understood. The trichotomy of faith as knowledge, assent, and trust is a tautology. Faith is understanding and assenting to the knowledge revealed in the logical and rational revelation in Scripture. There is nothing else needed except faith/assent.

R. Scott Clark opens the door to skepticism by appealing to natural law as a source of information for civil law in the worldly kingdom. The only way to know right from wrong is the revealed law of God in Holy Scripture. Sinners don't know they are sinners until they are confronted by the revealed law of God in special revelation.

The civil law of the land should be drawn from the general equity of the Decalogue as a summary of God's apodeictic moral law.

Scripture alone IS the Word of God.

Everything else leads to skepticism.

Romans 3:20

Charlie J. Ray said...

I agree with you that we do not need more law. What we need is more Scripture. Scripture is a revelation of the whole counsel of God in regards to both law and gospel.

2 Timothy 3:16; Acts 20:27; John 10:35

In one sense the Scriptures are the only way to evangelize and the Scriptures as a whole are the gospel:

NKJ 2 Thessalonians 1:8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Obeying the gospel would imply coming to saving faith on God's terms, not our own fallen reasoning (Romans 1:18, 21). Salvation can be by grace alone through faith alone. (Ephesians 2:8-9).

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