False Sons of Belial

Since the next two chapters of RINE (17-18) are both short and deal with pretty much the same issue, we will take them together.

Wilson’s concern is with those people who are not necessarily teaching false doctrine, but whose lives are not living up to their baptismal vows. He notes that the Bible calls such people “children of Belial” (pg. 147) and “false” (pg. 151). So, if the previous chapter dealt with false teaching, these two chapters deal with false living. I don’t have anything in the way of criticism for chapter 17. There is a good list of activities that the children of Belial tend to perform (pg. 148), as well as helpfully careful advice about how to deal with them (“we never discipline because someone might be a son of Belial in his heart. We discipline because his behavior has made it plain,” pg. 149, emphasis original).  Also good is the caveat to church unity: “Pursuing the peace of the Church does not entail silence when covenant members are defying the Word” (pg. 149).

For chapter 18, Wilson introduces some interesting categories to speak of false brothers. The first category is a variant of the law-Gospel distinction. I call it a variant because Wilson does not hold to the standard view of the law-Gospel distinction. He holds that the law-Gospel distinction is in the mind of the reader, not in the text of the Bible (pg. 152). But the distinction as applied to false brothers has one more qualification: the law-aspect of a false brother’s law-reading is “a certain pharisaical understanding of it” (pg. 152). In other words, a false brother is reading the text as law, but not with a correct understanding of that law. He is reading it in a legalistic fashion.

I challenge this view of the law-Gospel distinction. I believe that it erases the first use of the law, which is to drive us to the Gospel, to Jesus. Here are some very helpful words from the WCF. I wonder if Wilson would comment on them.

God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it: and endued him with power and ability to keep it. This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness, and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments…Beside this law, commonly called moral…(emphasis added, WCF 19.1-3)

Whatever else this passage is saying, it plainly asserts that the CoW did not end with the breach of it. The rule for the CoW was the moral law, the Ten Commandments, which was given to Adam (of course, in a more rudimentary fashion, although it could have been given to Adam in the form we find it in in Exodus 20: who is to say what form God gave it in to Adam? But the command to love God and to love his neighbor was surely implicit in the Garden, if not explicit). The CoW is equivalent to the first use of the law, since the perpetually binding nature of it (note: God bound Adam and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience. That means that we are still bound by the Ten Commandments as a CoW.  Thanks be to God, who has sent Jesus to fulfill that obligation so that the law is no longer our enemy but is our friend! Jesus sets us free from the law as a CoW, as section 6 says. But section 6 also implies that those not saved by Christ are still under the moral law as a CoW) is here said to be the moral law, the Ten Commandments, what was given to Adam. Section 6 also informs us that the first use of the law is by no means abrogated even for the believer. The law still points out our sin and drives us to Jesus, even if the third use of the law is now also applicable.

The previous paragraph is also applicable to the next major idea that Wilson introduces, which is a “two-covenant” idea (Wilson says “in effect,” plainly qualifying himself here). Wilson says that “one covenant consists of those who by grace ‘get it.’ The other ‘covenant’ is the sin-made covenant of falsehood, lies, and bondage within the context of surrounding grace. It is, in effect, a covenant that hard-hearted people have made to break covenant” (pg. 153, emphasis original). Wilson quotes Galatians 4:22-24 to prove his point. The question, given the previous paragraph, should be somewhat obvious: is not Galatians 4 talking about people who want to remain under the CoW as a legalistic way of self-righteousness? Yes, that results in breaking the administration of the CoG (I don’t believe that someone can break the substance of the CoG, since the true partakers of the CoG are the elect). I would have liked Wilson at least to address the possibility that Galatians 4 is talking about the CoW-CoG. At the very least, it is easy to see how Galatians 4 supports such a distinction. An important caveat must be made here (everyone, please note!): I do not believe that the Mosaic covenant can be simply equated with the CoW. The preamble to the Ten Commandments forbids that, in my opinion. Instead, I believe that the CoW has remnants in the Mosaic economy (“Do this and live”), but that the substance of the Mosaic economy is the CoG. In other words, the theoretical possibility of obeying the law perfectly still exists (otherwise, what benefit for us is there in Christ’s obedience of the law?), even if the reality is that all are sinners, and no one can obey the law. This is the clear teaching of WCF 19.

One final word on the Calvin quotation (pg. 155). Calvin does not advocate Wilson’s position. Calvin is plainly talking about the visible/invisible church distinction, as is clear from the immediately preceding context to the portion that Wilson quoted:

What, therefore, can be the meaning of Paul, when he denies that certain persons have any right to be reckoned among children, except that he is no longer reasoning about the externally offered grace, but about that of which only the elect effectually partake?

In fact, this quotation proves that Calvin believed that only the elect truly partake of the CoG. At the very least, Calvin believes in the “external-internal” distinction within the CoG.

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42 Comments

  1. jared said,

    October 26, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Lane, you can find some of what Wilson thinks of WCF 19.1-3 in this post. He did a series of posts that worked through the entire confession, you can check it out in his archives under the topic “Notes on Westminster”.

  2. October 26, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Adam’s obedience was intended to maintain his life and inherit true life for all of his posterity. His prohibition was singular: Love God and protect your neighbour. Failure to do this was death. Obedience was never, never intended to merit anything. Subsequently all Adam’s posterity fell under the covenant curse of his singular sin. It was singular in that it was his alone and it was singular in that its like was never to be seen again. Not even Abel fell under the same stipulations as his father. However, both Cain and Abel were under the law [CoW] as a tutor, as a brutal task master crying out to them for conformity. Cain could not maintain love; Abel was murdered for his.
    Postlapsarian humanity was under the curse of the CoW [law]: sin and die. For them, there was no benediction. There was no hope for life in their obedience as there was no glimmer of hope for them nor any idea in their minds of “Hmmmm, if I obey, I won’t die” or “If I obey I will save myself from death.” The law was never, never intended to save eschatologically. It was never intended to merit eternal life. And yet the [CoW] was perpetual. And yet only in its condemnation. It never, ever held out any hope for anyone after Adam.
    Sinaitic law is the same. Presbyterian pastors can be heard saying from time to time, “Moses’ law couldn’t save the people of God.” Oh, did I say Presbyterians, I meant Dispensationalists. Really, I hear this all the time. Moses law was not intended to image prelapsarian life. Did it have analogies? Yes. It is moral; it is relational; it is legal; it is intended to provide true living.
    I truly do no understand how Alan Strange can come to the conclusions in his lectures that he does (www.sermonaudio.com). He says that Lusk, et al. espouse the view that Adam was not given the law.
    Strange asserts their position as, “The law came through Moses and is intended for sinners. Adam wasn’t a sinner and so was not given the law. Rather, Adam was called to covenant faithfulness rather than sinless perfection in regards to his probation. That is, pre-lapsarian Adam was not required to be sinlessly perfect. Rather he was to be ‘faithful to the relationship he had with God.’”
    That is to say Adam might slip up now and again and “sin” but he hasn’t broken the covenant. Now, this is Alan Strange’s assertion. He does not cite his source, merely presenting it as a straw man to be quickly torched.
    He attempts to disprove this and re-establish the WCF language of merit and he says, “according to the FV-ers”,
    “Had Adam remained covenantally faithful but not sinlessly perfect then he wouldn’t have fallen…” Again, that is, Adam could have sinned but not been unfaithful covenantally. This is poor logic. Covenantal faithfulness and sinless perfection are the same thing in regard to Adam alone. So, his ad hoc “Had Adam remained covenantally faithful but sinned”? It doesn’t follow. Again, for Adam these two ideas are the same.
    Post-lapsarian unredeemed humanity are under the curse of Adam’s failure. I say unredeemed b/c as Paul says all men are guilty and under wrath by Adam and the law for them requires conformity. This is not so for the redeemed. For those whom God has bought for himself, his law no longer condemns.
    For the redeemed God’s law requires faith, hope, and love. Can we keep God’s law as Christians? Yes. Do we always? No. Does that failure and sinful rebellion nullify our allegiance to God? No. Why? B/c we are not in the pre-lapsarian cosmos. Before the fall any and all sin was covenant unfaithfulness. And so Adam was held to a higher standard of perfection. Post-lapsarian redeemed humanity is no longer “posse non peccare”. Redeemed humanity will sin and sin big time but not all sins are breakers of the covenant. Not all sins are sins of apostasy.

    For Adam, his relationship with God was quid pro quo. It was “do” or “die”; or if you will, “don’t do” and “live.” Adam had to do it perfectly. To quote a recommended author’s book review:

    Christians too need to remember that God has made a covenant with the church. And, therefore, we need to ask the question:

    “What does Yahweh your God ask from you?”

    {Uh, believe in Jesus? That he is my covenant keeping Promise Keeper?}

    The answer is found in Deuteronomy:
    we need to fear God;
    we need to walk in his way;
    we need to love him;
    we need to serve him;
    and we need to keep his command-ments.

    And, like Israel of old, if we live in obedience to the Word of God then we shall be wise and understanding and, indeed, God will greatly bless his people if they obey his Word.

  3. GLW Johnson said,

    October 27, 2007 at 7:50 am

    BlackandTanDude
    You have had way too much to drink. Once you sober up ,go read Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, oh, say about 20 times or so because in your present inebriated state you are clueless.

  4. Roger Mann said,

    October 27, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    I do not believe that the Mosaic covenant can be simply equated with the CoW. The preamble to the Ten Commandments forbids that, in my opinion. Instead, I believe that the CoW has remnants in the Mosaic economy (”Do this and live”), but that the substance of the Mosaic economy is the CoG. In other words, the theoretical possibility of obeying the law perfectly still exists (otherwise, what benefit for us is there in Christ’s obedience of the law?), even if the reality is that all are sinners, and no one can obey the law. This is the clear teaching of WCF 19.

    Lane, while I agree with your overall point, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the Decalogue always functions as a CoW for the non-elect unregenerate man (Adam’s natural seed) — regardless of which economy or period of history it is viewed from (WCF 19.1-2)? Likewise, it only serves it’s third use (as a rule of life) under the CoG for the elect regenerate man (the second Adam’s spiritual seed) — regardless of which economy or period of history it is viewed from (WCF 19.6-7). Thus it serves different functions depending on which covenant a man relates to it under.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    October 27, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Welcome to my blog, Roger. I agree with your point. The only way I would tweak it is that the first use of the law does not disappear for the Christian. The non-believer never experiences the third use of the law, I agree. However, the first use does not disappear. It is still our pedagogue.

  6. Roger Mann said,

    October 27, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Hi Lane,

    Thank you for the welcome. I’m not sure if I agree that the law “is still our pedagogue” or not (you’ll have to clarify what you meant). Doesn’t Scripture state that “the law was [past tense] our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Gal. 4:24-25)?

    I was simply emphasizing the fact that the Decalogue never stops functioning as a CoW for the non-elect (thus they remain condemned as covenant breakers), while it only stops functioning as a CoW for the elect after regeneration/justification — that is, when the benefits of the CoG are applied to us by the Holy Spirit. This has been the case throughout postlapsarian history. It sounds like we agree on that point.

    By the way, I always thought the use of the law as a “pedagogue” to bring us to Christ was its second use, while you’re referring to it as its first use. What order are you using? Thanks.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    October 27, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    First use: pedagogue; second use: restraint on evil in the world; third use: guide for the Christian life. We are no longer under the law as a way to salvation (CoW), once we become believers. However, the law still points us to the One who fulfilled it. In fact, it still drives us there. It is in that sense still our teacher, even if, in the Galatians 4 sense, we are no longer needing the law as the way to life.

  8. rgmann said,

    October 27, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    However, the law still points us to the One who fulfilled it. In fact, it still drives us there. It is in that sense still our teacher, even if, in the Galatians 4 sense, we are no longer needing the law as the way to life.

    Ok, qualified in that sense, I would agree. Even genuine believers need constant reminders of Christ’s fulfillment of the law (active and passive) as our federal head/representative in the CoG. Keep up the good fight against the false gospel of the FV.

  9. David Gadbois said,

    October 27, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    BlackandTanintheAM said:

    For the redeemed God’s law requires faith, hope, and love. Can we keep God’s law as Christians? Yes. Do we always? No. Does that failure and sinful rebellion nullify our allegiance to God? No. Why? B/c we are not in the pre-lapsarian cosmos. Before the fall any and all sin was covenant unfaithfulness. And so Adam was held to a higher standard of perfection. Post-lapsarian redeemed humanity is no longer “posse non peccare”. Redeemed humanity will sin and sin big time but not all sins are breakers of the covenant. Not all sins are sins of apostasy.

    BlackandTan has not just been drinking too much alcohol, but has also been drinking deeply of the unfortunate writings of James Jordan. This has all of his trademarks – meandering, unstructured blocks of writing. Lots of assertions with no real argument. Cobbles together (bits or superficial references to) biblical stories, themes, and Biblical Theology terms to make some vague, poorly-defined point while never interacting with standard, established positions or literature in favor of its own self-confident idiosyncratic position. Comes to conclusions and is not embarrassed about their contradictions to Reformed theology and the Reformed creeds (and certainly need not explain itself on the matter).

    Read the paragraph above. What this presents is the idea that the law, for the Christian, is a sort of “kinder, gentler” law than Adam had. It does not require perfect obedience. So with the bar lowered sufficiently, it turns out that we actually *can* fulfill this Law Lite (tastes great, less filling). But this is exactly the Romish doctrine of salvation – they will readily tell you that we can’t be justified by works of the Law (the Mosaic Law, with a capital “L”), but we can be justified by works of love and faith, being enabled by God’s grace. So we are justified by law, just a different law (Law Lite). Just don’t commit sins of apostacy (mortal sin), whatever you do.

  10. William Scott said,

    October 28, 2007 at 4:47 am

    “Just don’t commit sins of apostacy (mortal sin), whatever you do.”

    Sorry all for raising again a “not very Reformed” point of view on the thread–but I have to disagree with equating the teaching of Luther, and the Lutheran Confessions and Anglican Formularies regarding “deadly”/”mortal” sin with Roman denials of justification by faith alone.

    God Bless,
    William Scott

    Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

  11. David Gadbois said,

    October 28, 2007 at 5:46 am

    William, the problem with people like you who have pet doctrines and hobby horses like this is that you see it even in places it doesn’t exist. If the only tool you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.

    The view articulated above by DrunkintheAm, to which I was responding, is not the teaching of Luther, the Lutheran Confessions, or your precious Anglican Formularies that no one here regards with either reverence or authority. The Lutheran doctrine of mortal sin is certainly idiosyncratic, unbiblical, silly, and distinct from the Roman doctrine, but that is not what we are talking about here.

  12. October 28, 2007 at 7:42 am

    David,
    Do you know Jesus? Are u exemplifying the fruit of the spirit? I am ashamed of you, truly. Here is my B&Tinthe AM if you must know.

    If you would like to address a point of thread with me, please do. If not, then may God give you the grace to remain quiet and wise before you speak.

  13. GLW Johnson said,

    October 28, 2007 at 7:49 am

    B&T
    David stated very directly his differences with you ( all of which I share) and your response amounts to ” that’s not nice. I don’t like you!” ?

  14. October 28, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Note Bene: No. My response was more along the lines of, “Do you know Jesus? Are u exemplifying the fruits of the spirit?”

    Alrighty then. If my earlier writing was not up to par, forgive. I’ll make my points more articulate so that you’ll be able to follow more closely but you’ll have to lean in closer so I can whisper it into your ear.
    Points made (no not formal, I know, again, all apologies):
    A) The CoW was never meant to earn eternal life
    B) Before or after the Fall
    C) The CoL was intended to glorify (Oh, alright, “mature”) Adam.
    D) The CoL(W) perpetuated after the Fall
    E) But its perpetuity was only for condemnation
    F) That is, after the Fall the CoL ceased to have any benediction
    G) That is, post-lapse, it never again held out eschatological hope
    H) Critique Alan Strange’s understanding of how (A-G) this applies to the Mosaic economy.
    I) The Mosaic economy was never intended to hold out the promise of eternal life for anyone who could keep it perfectly.
    J) This is different than Adam. Adam’s obedience was intended to promote that glorification of humanity by his faithfulness to God.
    K) For Adam, sinless perfection entailed covenant faithfulness.
    L) For the Mosaic community, the Law meant only to kill primarily and guide the faithful secondarily.
    M) Whereas Adam’s sin was covenant breaking prima facia not all subsequent sin is
    N) Whereas Adam’s first sin was covenant unfaithfulness, for those redeemed, each and every sin is not
    O) Not all sins are sins unto death
    P) We obey God’s law now b/c it is that which gives us life the way it should be: others first.

  15. October 28, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    #9

    No. This is not what I said. For unredeemed man. the Law demands perfection; it is intended to kill, not give life. For the Christian, it is the same law with a different purpose. I am not required to keep the law perfectly. If said that I am, I ask to what purpose? David, are you required to keep the law perfectly? To what purpose?

  16. Roger Mann said,

    October 28, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    A) The CoW was never meant to earn eternal life B) Before or after the Fall

    And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. Romans 7:10

    For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” Romans 10:5

    Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” Galatians 3:12

    Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. Romans 4:4

    Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So [Jesus] said to him…if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17

    I. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it; and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

    II. This law, after his Fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments… Westminster Confession of Faith 19.1-2

    Both Scripture and the Confession clearly refute your assertion. You need to repent for teaching false doctrine.

  17. October 28, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. Romans 7:10

    >>>Yes, life. Life the way it is supposed to be. What was God’s command to Adam? Obey. Unto life. Part of that life was escatological; part was communal. In communal Adam’s obedience was toward God and Eve. This communal aspect is the Life spoken of post fall.

    For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” Romans 10:5

    Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” Galatians 3:12

    >>>>Again, this promise of life is not eschatological. It is not the life promised to Adam. The life God promises in his law again is life the way it ought to be.

    Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. Romans 4:4

    Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So [Jesus] said to him…if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17

    I. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it; and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

    >>>>This promised life he, again, is for Adam. Note: “God gave to Adam a law…promised life…and endued him with power and ability to keep it.” Surely, you will not say that Adam’s posterity is endued with power and ability to keep it? Only Adam was promised eschatological life. We are promised life, too, but not eschatological. Our promise is like, “You want to be happy? Live this way.”

    II. This law, after his Fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon mount Sinai in ten commandments… Westminster Confession of Faith 19.1-2

    >>>>Yes, it is a perfect rule. And the Decalogue are that rule: OTHERS FIRST. God is the primary “other” and neighbors are secondary “others”. The Law given at Sinai was not given to hold out eternal life as its reward.

    Both Scripture and the Confession clearly refute your assertion. You need to repent for teaching false doctrine.

    >>>>“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

  18. Roger Mann said,

    October 29, 2007 at 1:03 am

    What was God’s command to Adam? Obey. Unto life. Part of that life was escatological; part was communal…This communal aspect is the Life spoken of post fall.

    God only has one law that applies to both pre and post Fall situations. The death threatened is eternal death (Rev. 14:11; 20:10, 14-15); the life promised is eternal life: “‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ So [Jesus] said to him…if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:16-17). According to the plain context of this passage Jesus taught that “eternal life” can be gained by keeping the commandments. Was He lying? Absolutely not! That is precisely how Jesus earned “eternal life” for His elect people — by keeping the commandments and perfectly fulfilling the law in their stead:

    Therefore, as through one man’s offense [disobedience to the law] judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act [obedience to the law] the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience [to the law] many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience [to the law] many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:18-21

    For the wages of sin is [eternal] death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

    Surely, you will not say that Adam’s posterity is endued with power and ability to keep [the law]?

    No, Adam’s posterity is not “endued with power and ability to keep [the law].” Only Adam was endued with that power and ability. But Adam’s posterity is still bound to the same law with the same threat and promise attached to it — “by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it” (WCF 19.1). That’s why Scripture clearly states:

    For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” Romans 10:5 (“promised life upon the fulfilling”)

    For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Galatians 3:10 (“and threatened death upon the breach of it”)

    It’s the same law that was given to Adam. It’s the same promise of life that was given to Adam. And it’s the same threat of death that was given to Adam. This isn’t hard stuff here. It’s kind of like playing connect the dots. Same law. Same promise. Same threat.

    The Law given at Sinai was not given to hold out eternal life as its reward.

    Both Jesus (Matt. 19:16-17; Lk. 10:25-28) and Paul (Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12) say that it was. The problem is not with the law or with its promise of justification/eternal life (Rom. 2:13). The problem is our sin and inability to obey its commands: “And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Rom. 7:10-12).

    Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason…

    In order to be “convinced by Scripture” you have to actually read and understand what it says. In order to be “convinced by plain reason” you have to think logically and draw valid conclusions. So far you seem to be lacking in both areas.

  19. Robert K. said,

    October 29, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Somebody needs to make Dathenus’ Pearl of Christian Comfort available on the web so we can just direct people there who demonstrate all the typical and common misunderstandings and non-understandings of law and gospel.

  20. Robert K. said,

    October 29, 2007 at 10:47 am

    My comment refers to blackandtan’s mis- and non-understandings of law and gospel…

  21. October 30, 2007 at 6:37 am

    Listen to the quote written by an OPC pastor:

    “Confession 19.2a means that the divines equate the moral law inscribed upon Adam’s heart with the law given at Sinai. Hence, what is said about the law at Sinai may also be said of the law in the garden of Eden with one major difference.
    *
    In a post fall world no one can obtain life by the law (Rom 3.20; Gal 3.10, 24), but this is not so in a pre-fall world where sin and death have yet to enter the picture.
    *
    This means that Adam’s presence in the garden was determined by his obedience to the law as it was specifically and generally revealed to him, that is the specific command not to eat of the tree of knowledge and the general revelation of the law upon Adam’s heart.”

    http://64.233.169.104/custom?q=cache:k1O0cMXp4uYJ:www.genevaopc.org/resources/res_pdf_44.pdf+maturity+vs+merit&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=pub-0138811627523720

  22. October 30, 2007 at 6:37 am

    Robert,

    Indulge me.

  23. October 30, 2007 at 6:38 am

    Sprry about that waky link.

    http://www.genevaopc.org/resources/res_pdf_44.pdf

    That’s better.

  24. October 30, 2007 at 8:23 am

    # 18
    Roger, Hi.
    Am I to understand by“And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” you understand life here to be “justifiying life” or eternal life?
    Now, I am just trying to understand you. Are you saying that salvation in the OT was “possible” by keeping the law were one able to do so?

  25. Roger Mann said,

    October 30, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Am I to understand by [Rom. 7:10] you understand life here to be “justifiying life” or eternal life?

    Scripture makes no distinction between “justifying life” and “eternal life,” so I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

    “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” Romans 2:13

    “Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So [Jesus] said to him…“if you want to enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17

    So, when Paul says that the commandment was “ordained to life” (Rom. 7:10), and that those who obey the law “shall live” by the law (Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12), he’s referring to “eternal life” and “justification.” Moreover, perfect obedience to the law earns “eternal life” and “justification” before God.

    “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.” Romans 4:4

    This is the plain teaching of Scripture and the very foundation of the gospel (see Rom. 5:18-19).

    Are you saying that salvation in the OT was “possible” by keeping the law were one able to do so?

    I’m saying that “eternal death” has always (pre and post-Fall) been the penalty for violating God’s law, and “eternal life” has always (pre and post-Fall) been the reward for obeying/fulfilling God’s law. Those are the covenantal stipulations ordained and upheld by God Himself. If this were not the case, then the Lord Jesus (the “second Adam”) could never have redeemed us by His obedience (active and passive) to God’s law, and we would all be doomed to eternal death as covenant/law breakers!

    “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience [to the law] many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19

    “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’).” Galatians 3:13

    “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5

    To deny these truths is to deny the very gospel of God’s grace to unworthy elect sinners.

  26. October 30, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Note the quote above from the OPC pastor.
    **In a post fall world no one can obtain life by the law (Rom 3.20; Gal 3.10, 24), but this is not so in a pre-fall world where sin and death have yet to enter the picture.**

  27. October 30, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Life is meant to be had by living after the law. This is life as it should be: others first. The law shows that this life cannot be had perfectly. It shows that we are sinners in need of life from without. Justification (death removed and life given) cannot come by that which can only give death. Justification therefore, is from without. Faith brings life; the law, death.

  28. Roger Mann said,

    October 30, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    In a post fall world no one can obtain life by the law (Rom 3.20; Gal 3.10, 24), but this is not so in a pre-fall world where sin and death have yet to enter the picture.

    While it’s true that in a post fall world no “sinner” can obtain life by the law (and I never claimed otherwise), it is not true that “no one” can obtain life by the law in a post fall world — for that is precisely what Jesus Christ did by His active and passive “obedience” to the law. If you deny this, then you deny the gospel and are lost.

    Furthermore, this quotation by the OPC pastor is irrelevant to the issue I was addressing. The issue is whether the law promises “eternal life” to those who obey/fulfill its precepts. I’ve conclusively demonstrated that it does, and you have consistently dodged the points that I’ve raised.

    Justification (death removed and life given) cannot come by that which can only give death. Justification therefore, is from without. Faith brings life; the law, death.

    What is the ground of an elect sinner’s justification? If you say anything other than Christ’s active and passive “obedience” to the law, then you are denying the gospel and are lost. Faith is merely the “alone instrument of justification” (WCF 11.2) not the ground or basis of our justification. The Confession makes this quite clear:

    Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth…not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God. (WCF 11.1)

  29. October 31, 2007 at 10:02 am

    I haven’t tried to dodge your points. I have tried to address them directly, maybe you can reread the thread. Is there a point you would like me to address in particular? As to the WCF on justification we agree.

  30. Roger Mann said,

    October 31, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    I haven’t tried to dodge your points. I have tried to address them directly, maybe you can reread the thread. Is there a point you would like me to address in particular?

    Well, I don’t want to go back and find each point in particular, but here’s a couple of examples. You wrote: “The Law given at Sinai was not given to hold out eternal life as its reward.” My response was:

    “Both Jesus (Matt. 19:16-17; Lk. 10:25-28) and Paul (Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12) say that it was. The problem is not with the law or with its promise of justification/eternal life (Rom. 2:13). The problem is our sin and inability to obey its commands: ‘And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good’ (Rom. 7:10-12).”

    Even though I pointed out that your statement flatly contradicts both Jesus and the Apostle Paul, you never even attempted to deal with the verses I cited. You just went on as though nothing had been said.

    Next, you asked: “Are you saying that salvation in the OT was “possible” by keeping the law were one able to do so?” My response was:

    “I’m saying that ‘eternal death’ has always (pre and post-Fall) been the penalty for violating God’s law, and ‘eternal life’ has always (pre and post-Fall) been the reward for obeying/fulfilling God’s law. Those are the covenantal stipulations ordained and upheld by God Himself. If this were not the case, then the Lord Jesus (the ‘second Adam’) could never have redeemed us by His obedience (active and passive) to God’s law, and we would all be doomed to eternal death as covenant/law breakers!”

    I then cited Romans 5:19 and Galatians 3:13; 4:4-5 to back up the last sentence in the above paragraph, and once again you never attempted deal with the verses I cited or the points that I raised. You just went on as though nothing had been said — even though the points in both of these examples were at the very heart of the debate we are having.

    As to the WCF on justification we agree.

    Then what have you been disagreeing with me about? If the ground of our justification/eternal life is solely Christ’s active and passive “obedience” to the law, then justification/eternal life must be the reward for perfect obedience to the law, and Christ must have earned justification/eternal life for His elect people by His “obedience” to the law! If you agree with this, then what have you been arguing against? And how can you possibly say that the “Law given at Sinai was not given to hold out eternal life as its reward?” If your statement is correct, then on what basis did Jesus earn “eternal life” for His elect people?

  31. October 31, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks. I’ll get back as soon as I can.

  32. October 31, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    I suppose I do have one ??

    If we say that salvation was by faith in the OT, just like now (contra Dispies) and not by law, then how are we saying that the law could merit life?

  33. October 31, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    BlackandTan,

    You are avoiding Mann’s important point – the Law *must* be able to grant life to those who perfectly obey it because that is precisely what the Last Adam did for elect sinners (again, see the parallel in Romans 5 between Adam and Christ). If Adam couldn’t earn eternal life, then neither could Jesus. So where’d the Gospel go? I’ve re-read all of your posts here, and the glaring thing missing in all of it is Jesus.

    You said, in regard to Galatians 3:12 “Again, this promise of life is not eschatological. It is not the life promised to Adam. The life God promises in his law again is life the way it ought to be.”

    This is another example of you (as Jordan does) making preposterous assertions without argument. If you are going to disagree with the Reformed interpretation of this verse that has been around for 400+ years, go ahead, but you need to at least interact with it and provide proof for your alternative.

    But such an alternative *is* preposterous – in Galatians 3 Paul is defending justification by faith alone, he is *certainly* talking about eternal life (“eschatological life” as you call it). What Adam failed to do, and we cannot do, Jesus did. He earned eternal life by obedience to this law principle.

    Same goes for Romans 10:5 – the law of Moses is clearly contrasted with the Gospel principle of faith in vs. 6. The FV view, confusing the two, shatters to pieces on this passage alone.

    And you ignored Mann’s citation of Romans 4:4. This is also a pivotal text that FV is uncomfortable with and really needs to be pressed against FV more often. I’m, frankly, surprised it hasn’t gotten more attention in these debates. It says that the works principle grants the “doer” a reward that is 1. a wage 2. what is due and 3. not credited as a favor/gift. Now, was Jesus a doer of the law or not?

    “We are promised life, too, but not eschatological. Our promise is like, “You want to be happy? Live this way.”

    I’m not sure this Joel Osteen version of Gospel/law confusion is much better. Supposedly the kinder, gentler law can make us happy even though it can’t reconcile us to God and grant everlasting life. First, that certainly makes for a strange definition of happiness, to begin with. Second, our inability to fulfill the law wil certainly make happiness always out of reach.

    Also, the fact that our less-than-perfect law keeping keeps us in the covenant is a disturbing form of covenantal nomism (“in” by grace, stay in by works) that is common in FV circles.

  34. greenbaggins said,

    October 31, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    The issue is not dispensationalism here, but the relationship of the CoW with the CoG. Try to get a hold of a’Brakel’s discussion of this (volume 1 of _The Christian’s Reasonable Service_). Look up the discussion on the CoW. It has *nothing* to do with dispensationalism, and everything to do with the three uses of the law, and the CoW.

  35. Roger Mann said,

    October 31, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    If we say that salvation was by faith in the OT, just like now (contra Dispies) and not by law, then how are we saying that the law could merit life?

    You’re still confusing the instrumental means of our salvation (faith alone) with the meritorious ground of our salvation (Christ’s perfect obedience to the law). Christ earned or merited righteousness for us by His perfect obedience to the law (which is the meritorious ground of our salvation); the Holy Spirit imputes Christ’s righteousness to us by faith alone (which is the instrumental means of our salvation). This has been the case in both the Old Testament and New Testament. Thus, there’s no conflict in saying that we are justified by faith alone, and that perfect obedience to the law merits eternal life. As I said before, to deny this is to deny the gospel and remain under God’s wrath.

  36. October 31, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    BlackandTan,

    The problem is that you are ignoring Mann’s comments regarding the law and the Covenant of Works as it pertains to Jesus. The law *does* grant eternal life to those who perfectly obey it, which is exactly what Jesus did on behalf of His elect, as the Last Adam, even though the First Adam did not and we cannot. If the law does not, then where is the Gospel? Re-read your posts, and a glaring feature is the fact that Christ is missing.

    Jesus earned eternal life for His people (the Bible explicitly says that He was worthy *because of what He did*) through obedience, sacrifice, and law-keeping, and through the First Adam/Last Adam parallel in Romans 5 we see that Jesus did what Adam failed to do and we cannot do, namely fulfill the works/obedience principle unto eternal life.

    In regard to Romans 3:12, you said “Again, this promise of life is not eschatological. It is not the life promised to Adam. The life God promises in his law again is life the way it ought to be.”

    This is just another bare assertion without any argument. As if one didn’t need to argue for an interpretation that goes contrary to 400+ years of Reformed interpretation. This is a common feature of James Jordan’s writings, and I am sorry to see it here. Sorry, FV boys, you are welcome to disagree with the Reformed interpretation of Scripture, but certainly no one should listen to you unless you interact with it and provide proof for your idiosyncratic, agenda-driven alternative interpretations.

    And your interpretation of Galatians 3:12 *is* preposterous. Paul is defending justification by faith alone in chapter 3, so he is most certainly talking about eternal life (or “eschatological life” as you call it). Paul’s whole point is that we *can’t* fulfill this works principle unto life. But is not the Good News that Jesus did?

    Same goes for Romans 10:5. Paul is explicitly contrasting the works principle of the Mosaic Law with the Gospel principle of faith unto that righteousness by which we have eternal life in vs. 6. All FV confusions about the Law of Moses and concerning the law/gospel distinction must shatter to pieces on this single passage alone.

    Roger Mann also cited Romans 4:4, which went without rebuttal. I’m surprised this text doesn’t get more attention, because it, too, is a passage that is fatal for FV. In the context of discussing justification (implying eternal life), it says that according to the works principle, the reward that is granted is 1. a wage 2. what is due and 3. not accounted as a favor/gift. Now, was Jesus a “doer of the Law” and, if so, how was his reward therefore accounted to Him?

    And you still haven’t actually addressed Roger’s citations of Jesus’ view of the Law (Matt. 19:16-17; Lk. 10:25-28).

    “We are promised life, too, but not eschatological. Our promise is like, “You want to be happy? Live this way.”

    I’m not sure this version of the Joel Osteen-style law/gospel confusion is any better. Supposedly, the law (or good advice of some sort) that does not require perfect obedience can grant us happiness even though it can’t reconcile us to God or secure eternal life. First, that certainly makes for a questionable definition of “happiness.” Second, this sort of law principle should still put us in despair, because happiness will always be out of reach since it is conditioned on the performance of imperfect sinners.

    Also, the idea that remaining in the covenant is conditioned on less-than-perfect lawkeeping (Law Lite) is a disturbing form of covenantal nomism (“in” by grace, stay in by works) that is prevalent in FV thinking.

  37. October 31, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    BlackandTan,

    The problem is that you are ignoring Mann’s comments regarding the law and the Covenant of Works as it pertains to Jesus. The law *does* grant eternal life to those who perfectly obey it, which is exactly what Jesus did on behalf of His elect, as the Last Adam, even though the First Adam did not and we cannot. If the law does not, then where is the Gospel? Re-read your posts, and a glaring feature is the fact that Christ is missing.

    Jesus earned eternal life for His people (the Bible explicitly says that He was worthy *because of what He did*) through obedience, sacrifice, and law-keeping, and through the First Adam/Last Adam parallel in Romans 5 we see that Jesus did what Adam failed to do and we cannot do, namely fulfill the works/obedience principle unto eternal life.

    In regard to Romans 3:12, you said “Again, this promise of life is not eschatological. It is not the life promised to Adam. The life God promises in his law again is life the way it ought to be.”

    This is just another bare assertion without any argument. As if one didn’t need to argue for an interpretation that goes contrary to 400+ years of Reformed interpretation. This is a common feature of James Jordan’s writings, and I am sorry to see it here. Sorry, FV boys, you are welcome to disagree with the Reformed interpretation of Scripture, but certainly no one should listen to you unless you interact with it and provide proof for your idiosyncratic, agenda-driven alternative interpretations.
    And your interpretation of Galatians 3:12 *is* preposterous. Paul is defending justification by faith alone in chapter 3, so he is most certainly talking about eternal life (or “eschatological life” as you call it). Paul’s whole point is that we *can’t* fulfill this works principle unto life. But is not the Good News that Jesus did?

    Same goes for Romans 10:5. Paul is explicitly contrasting the works principle of the Mosaic Law with the Gospel principle of faith unto that righteousness by which we have eternal life in vs. 6. All FV confusions about the Law of Moses and concerning the law/gospel distinction must shatter to pieces on this single passage alone.

    Roger Mann also cited Romans 4:4, which went without rebuttal. I’m surprised this text doesn’t get more attention, because it, too, is a passage that is fatal for FV. In the context of discussing justification (implying eternal life), it says that according to the works principle, the reward that is granted is 1. a wage 2. what is due and 3. not accounted as a favor/gift. Now, was Jesus a “doer of the Law” and, if so, how was his reward therefore accounted to Him?

    And you still haven’t actually addressed Roger’s citations of Jesus’ view of the Law (Matt. 19:16-17; Lk. 10:25-28).

    “We are promised life, too, but not eschatological. Our promise is like, “You want to be happy? Live this way.”

    I’m not sure this version of the Joel Osteen-style law/gospel confusion is any better. Supposedly, the law (or good advice of some sort) that does not require perfect obedience can grant us happiness even though it can’t reconcile us to God or secure eternal life. First, that certainly makes for a questionable definition of “happiness.” Second, this sort of law principle should still put us in despair, because happiness will always be out of reach since it is conditioned on the performance of imperfect sinners.

    Also, the idea that remaining in the covenant is conditioned on less-than-perfect lawkeeping (Law Lite) is a disturbing form of covenantal nomism (“in” by grace, stay in by works) that is prevalent in FV thinking.

  38. October 31, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    DG,
    That was a much more amenable post. Thank you.

  39. October 31, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Here is Moses.
    “And you shall again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. “Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.
    “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’
    Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. “But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

    Brothers, let this end this post. I have reviewed yours and the scc cited and I stand by what I believe I read. I hope this will answer to the above with out having to “verse” and “chapter”.

    I still do not think that the CoW post fall holds the same offer of life for degenerate man as it did for Adam. It still requires perfect, perpetual, and personal obedience but its promise upon living after its precepts is not eternal life. Romans 10 speaks of righteousness and life, true. But again, I believe Moses is merely showing the quid pro quo of life by the law. What does the law promise? Life to the one who lives by it. But this life is life now, not hereafter. When Paul says he was killed by the Law that should have given life (even though he says elsewhere if there were a law that could give life….) he is not referring to glory. He is talking about life with his neighbour; life with his fellows; life with his family.

    To the long quote above:
    Promising his love and mercy to his national prodigals, God describes the resurrection of Israel from death. He offers them life. He has put before them like so many other “offers you can’t refuse,” life and death. This is not eternal life. It is life as it should be. God’s law is intended to give life to us in this life.
    But we can’t find life in the living out of the law. We do not love our neighbors as ourselves. And so we do not truly live; we die. Jesus has done for us what we could not and he has died for us so we won’t have to. This is my hope. The active [and passive] obedience of Christ, no hope with out it.

  40. Kyle said,

    October 31, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Black&Tan, re: 37,

    When Paul says he was killed by the Law that should have given life (even though he says elsewhere if there were a law that could give life….) he is not referring to glory. He is talking about life with his neighbour; life with his fellows; life with his family.

    Gal. 3:21-22: “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”

    If God had given a law that could give life, we’d be justified by that law: “Righteousness would indeed be by the law”! Life is correlated to righteousness, and righteousness is correlated to the promise by faith in Jesus Christ. This is eternal, justified, glorified life. The problem is not with the law itself, but with sin: “Scripture imprisoned everything under sin.” The law is powerless to give life to sinners. Sinners can only be condemned by the law that promised life: “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me” (Rom. 7:10-11). But, “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:2-4). The law could not do it, not because of a problem with the law itself, but because of the weakness of the flesh.

  41. Roger Mann said,

    October 31, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Brothers, let this end this post. I have reviewed yours and the scc cited and I stand by what I believe I read.

    And I stand by what I said earlier:

    The issue is whether the law promises “eternal life” to those who obey/fulfill its precepts. I’ve conclusively demonstrated that it does, and you have consistently dodged the points that I’ve raised.

    Once again, you have dodged the main points that I’ve raised, and you have refused to seriously interact with the scriptures that have been cited. But you obviously take yourself seriously — which is all that really matters, right? I just hope that not too many others will take you seriously and be misled by your twisting of the Law/Gospel distinction as taught in Scripture and the Confession. I pray that you will repent, for teaching false doctrine is most definitely a sin.

  42. November 1, 2007 at 6:29 am

    Thanks, Kyle. That’s a bit more helpful. Guess I was having a glitch with equating eternal life with justification. I affirm that by the works of the law shall no man be justified. I just couldn’t read that back into “by the works of the law shall no man have eternal life.” Thanks.


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