Jesus and the Believer

Douglas Wilson has responded to my post with this reply over on his blog. It is certainly a courteous reply, for which I am grateful. Heat is sometimes useful, but can often cloud the issues, when light is what is needed.

His counter-argument can be summarized this way: in Christ we find law and gospel integrated in perfect harmony. Even though he does not say this, he would probably agree that because it is integrated in the Head (Jesus Christ), so also it is integrated in the members (that’s us) by virtue of union with Christ. He didn’t draw an explicit line from Christ to the believer, but this probably how he would proceed. If he disagrees, I’m sure he will let us know.

He argues that it follows from this that the law and the gospel do sweetly comply one with another, and that if the giving of the law at Mount Sinai was part of the covenant of grace, then my position would be out of accord with the Westminster Standards, as well as with a few more recent theologians.

To the first part of the answer, I would reply that not everything that is true of the Head is true of the members. To get at this, we need to go back to the Covenant of Works/Covenant of Grace distinction. Adam and Eve were bound to perform the terms of the CoW, which were not only negative (in the command concerning the tree), but also positive (the cultural mandate, and the implied command to worship no other god but the one true God). This Adam failed to do, thus desecrating the CoW Sabbath structure (see Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 140). He failed to attain to everlasting life. This Christ rectified, and attained on our behalf. Hence the CoG is a Covenant of Grace for us, but it is not grace for Jesus. Hence, in the matter of how we obtain what Christ did, there is not a parallel between Head and members.

To answer the second part of the response, I would say that the law and the gospel do sweetly comply with one another…in sanctification. And they sweetly comply with one another in Christ’s obtaining justification for us, since by His law-keeping we obtain grace. But in the matter of our obtaining justification, the law and the gospel are utterly opposed. I don’t know how Paul can be any clearer on this than when he says that we are justified not by works (law-keeping) but by grace. Paul makes an absolute antithesis between law and gospel in justification.

One final comment on Westminster West. The Law/Gospel distinction is not the invention of WSC, nor is WSC’s take on sola fide. For proof of this, see these posts (part 1, part 2, part 3). I strongly encourage all readers of this blog to read those posts carefully. I will say this: if it’s Westminster West’s fault for “corrupting” me on this issue, then blessed be this “corruption.”

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55 Comments

  1. jeffhutchinson said,

    March 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Wonderful words, brother. Taking off my “pastor/shepherd/defender of the faith/initiater of witch hunts/paranoid schismatic” hat for just a moment, and left only with my “flesh-and-blood-human-being” hat, your take on the Scriptures at this point brings so much more grace and truth to my needy finite self. Thanks for this clear and wonderful summary of the good news.

  2. March 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    What we’re looking for from Doug is, “I was wrong in what I wrote in the Joint Federal Vision Profession.”

  3. pduggie said,

    March 30, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Prove all law-keeping is works.

  4. pduggie said,

    March 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    This is a very good quote from Turretin you cite

    ” The opposition of the law and the gospel (in as far as they are taken properly and strictly for the covenant of works and of grace and are considered in their absolute being) is contrary. ”

    Absolutely yes. But that is not the only way to take the Law. if you stipulate that by law you mean “strict Covenant of Works” in its *absolute* being, then nobody disagrees.

    But you don’t say that. You implied faith was utterly unrelated to law in any way. Which is silly.

  5. pduggie said,

    March 30, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    You should ask Doug Wilson if he thinks that every text of scripture can be heard as a covenant of works, as well as a covenant of grace. That would make more clear the way you are speaking past each other.

  6. pduggie said,

    March 30, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Thomans Manton on the covenant of grace as a law

  7. greenbaggins said,

    March 30, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Paul, are you having reading comprehension problems? Even in the first post, I wrote explicitly in the context of justification. In the context of justification, faith is utterly opposed to law. In justification, it has no relation to law except insofar as it lays hold of the law-keeping of another.

  8. GLW Johnson said,

    March 30, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I would once again ask pduggie to please address how any of the Fv distinctives are in anyway representative in Manton, Gill or Hodge. This is simply astounding.

  9. pduggie said,

    March 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    “In justification, it has no relation to law except insofar as it lays hold of the law-keeping of another.”

    In justification, the facts of God’s command and facts of faith being obedience to a command cease to be facts? That’s what I’m reading. If you want to clarify, please do so.

    I would agree that in justification, faith has no relation to a covenant of works. If that’s what you mean, fine. But God still commanded the faith that receives Christ in justification. How can you deny that?

    GLW: I’m not saying they are. I’m saying that to oppose the FV, Lane is opposing Gill, Fisher, et al. He shouldn’t do that.

  10. GLW Johnson said,

    March 30, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    pduggie
    No you not. You are misreading all three. Manton-who was a member of the Westminster Assembly- as well as Gill and Hodge all affirmed the Law/Gospel distinction ,which is the very point under discussion- that you could read them in another light says more about you than you can imagine.

  11. pduggie said,

    March 30, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Lane

    2 simple yes/no questions

    1: is the saving faith that rests upon Jesus for justification commanded by God

    yes or no?

    2. is it linguistically permissible to state that we are obeying the command of God when we exercise saving faith in justification.

    yes or no?

  12. David deJong said,

    March 30, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    I have the same question I had in the first post (comment 69). Since you explicitly restrict the sphere of your discussion to justification, how can you claim that it is necessary to decide of *every passage in Scripture* whether it is law or gospel? Even if you say that the law-gospel dilemma is operative in a particular sphere (justification), how does that imply that you need to insist on a comprehensive law-gospel hermeneutic? In fact, Lane says: “I would say that the law and the gospel do sweetly comply with one another…in sanctification.” So presumably texts of Scripture that are about our sanctification are less amenable to this law-gospel divide?

    I would also point out that Paul’s fundamental distinction is not between law and gospel but between faith and works. This focuses more on the human response than on the character of Scripture as such. This seems to comport with the FV emphasis, namely that the division is not in the text but in the human heart. Given the FV supports a “law-gospel hermeneutic,” but reads it not in the text but the in the heart, you have a long way to go in order to prove that they deny sola fide. They may arrive at sola fide with a slightly different hermeneutic. So, you haven’t really come close to proving what has (purportedly) been the main contention of these posts, namely that DW denies sola fide.

  13. David deJong said,

    March 30, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    I do think my first question above is another way of getting at pduggie’s main point. The question of whether a law-gospel hermeneutic works consistently throughout scripture is related to the fact that scripture consists of much more than Galatians and Romans. Obviously, Lane doesn’t deny this, but practically speaking he is operating with a “canon within the canon.”

  14. tim prussic said,

    March 30, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks for patiently bearing with all of us, Pastor.

    Anyone who thinks that the LGD is only Lutheran simply hasn’t read much in the way of older Reformed divines. My issue with the current statement of it coming out of Westminster West is the dogmatic rigidity of it as a hermeneutic and the elevation of that hermeneutic to the level of Gospel faithfulness.

    LGD with reference to justification is NECESSARY. I’ll offer a half-dozen amens and good ol’ Reformed thumbs up on that.
    LGD as a hermeneutic is true, but neither absolute nor necessary.

  15. Ronnie said,

    March 30, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Great post Lane!! I don’t know how many times it has to be repeated

    “But in the matter of our obtaining justification, the law and the gospel are utterly opposed.”

    But in the matter of our obtaining justification, the law and the gospel are utterly opposed.

    But in the matter of our obtaining justification, the law and the gospel are utterly opposed.

    But in the matter of our obtaining justification, the law and the gospel are utterly opposed.

  16. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 31, 2010 at 7:52 am

    2. is it linguistically permissible to state that we are obeying the command of God when we exercise saving faith in justification.

    While Lane can answer for himself, your question is improper. When Jesus says “believe in me”, it is a call, it is an offer. Believing in Christ is not obeying a command, it’s receiving a gift; an infinitely costly gift freely offered. Seriously brother, mistaking the offer of Christ as a command is a mistake no one can afford to make.

  17. pduggie said,

    March 31, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Andrew: Is it an imperative?

  18. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 31, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Paul, Why is it so important to you for it to be an imperative? Is an offer an imperative? The idea of obeying in the act of believing does not provide any benefit to the believer. It seems to me, that only leads people to trust in their act of belief, rather than trusting in Christ. Christ supplies all the benefits to the believer. That is why the Apostle Paul puts such distinction between faith and works, utterly excluding works from faith. That’s why Eph 2:8,9 is written the way it is. Faith itself is a gift of God. It is not about obedience to an imperative, or command, it’s about the instrument of reception of a gift freely offered.

  19. pduggie said,

    March 31, 2010 at 8:30 am

    I guess Spurgeon confused law and gospel

    “If God has set forth the Lord Jesus Christ as the propitiation for sin, and has told me to trust Christ, it is my duty to trust Christ, because God cannot
    lie; and though my sinful heart will never believe in Christ as a matter of duty, but only through the work of the Holy Spirit, yet faith does not cease to be a duty; and whenever I am unbelieving, and have doubts concerning
    God, however moral my outward life may be, I am living in daily sin; I am perpetrating a sin against the first principles of morality. If I doubt God, as far as I am able I rob him of his honor, and stab him in the vital point of his
    glory; I am, in fact, living an open traitor and a sworn rebel against God, upon whom I heap the daily insult of daring to doubt him.”

  20. pduggie said,

    March 31, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Andrew: I’m an English major.

    Believe is a verb. “Believe in me” is an imperative sentence.

    Receive is a verb. “Receive this gift” is an imperative sentence.

    And no, “I offer you $100″ is not an imperative.

    Someone who thinks that because “receive this” is a command, that they a) merit in any way or b) earn or c) trust in their receptivity as the cause of the receipt of the gift is foolish and wicked.

    But nobody should be claiming we have to turn of our brains and say that “receive this” isn’t in the imperative mood.

    I find the linguistic wrangling amazing. I detect it also in the race-to-the-bottom that occurs in how “ungodly” someone has to be construed as before they can be considered to be justified. Some object to the idea that the Spirit regenerates before faith, because, shoot, if a guy was regenerated by the Spirit and his will determined toward the good FIRST, then that would contradict Paul saying the “ungodly” are justified.

  21. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Paul, in regard to number 11, what bothers me about the questions is that they seem to come from some deep-felt need to have something in justification be about our obedience to God, in some way. Ephesians 2 says that even our faith is a gift from God. If we cannot even take credit for the faith that resides in us, then how can we be said to obey a command of God in exercising justifying faith? Of course, one could make this question a bit more sophisticated by claiming that the command from God to believe is law, but, since we are incapable of believing on our own, the faith has to be given to us. However, I’m not sure about all the implications of that yet, so I’m not yet ready to sign my name on to that.

  22. Andrew Duggan said,

    March 31, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Paul, you do realize it is you that is doing the linguistic wrangling – right? Christ offers eternal life, by way of his righteousness, sacrifice, and resurrection, and you are concerning yourself with the minutia of parts of speech. You are straining at verbal gnats while swallowing doctrinal camels whole. You will notice I didn’t answer your question as to whether or not it is an imperative. I asked you why it is important to you, and you answered because you are an English major. I’m sorry that you feel the linguistics are more important than the free offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

    Please reconsider your priorities.

    I’m glad to read that you think trusting in the act of believing is wicked and foolish, but, sadly it is a very common thing for people to do when faith is presented primarily as obedience to a command to believe. The other thing you should keep in mind is that most of those who do trust in their act of believing don’t have the discernment to know the difference between that, and real faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

  23. pduggie said,

    March 31, 2010 at 9:32 am

    @21 Lane: let me assure you that what you think is a deep felt need in me to have something be about our obedience in Justification is not at all the case. Its just that I’d like words to have ordinary meanings as much as possible.

    I prefer, in general, to say things that are true, and deal with consequences by apophatic denials, like: “No this doesn’t mean that faith is a substitute work”, Or what I said above in @20.

    Even our faith is a gift of God. And even when we obey the more active commands of the moral law in general as a rule of life, it is only possible as a gift from God. If the giftedness of obedience to the rule of life doesn’t deny its character as obedience, why worry about the giftedness of faith-dependence’s character as a response to an imperative. As a duty.

    A son has a duty to listen to his father when his father tells him to shut up and trust him while he fixes the bike the son broke. His shutting up doesn’t fix the bike, and doesn’t merit fixing the bike, and a whole bunch of other stuff. But he has that duty.

    faith is an act of evangelical obedience, but faith doesn’t justify *qua* “evangelical obedience” but *qua* “receiving and resting upon Christ,” self-dispossessingly and extraspectively

  24. pduggie said,

    March 31, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Andrew: are we back into the paradox of humility that we spoke of long ago?

    That we are called to humbly reject our selfishness and serve god and Others, and he says that we will be ‘great’ if we do so. So we have a promise of greatness for not seeking greatness. Shall we seek the greatness that is the reward of humility? Kinda sorta.

    We have to lose our life to save it. Faith comports with that call.

  25. pduggie said,

    March 31, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I’m perhaps speaking too flippantly to say my *only* motivation is that of a grammarian (though that is what got me riled up to start).

    There is the FVish/”something close to biblicism” that I don’t want to ever worry that the very words of scripture are misleading or confusing, and that it would be better to find a substitute. And since 1 John 3:23 and even John 6:29 don’t mind saying God command saving faith, neither should we. (I’ll grant that Jesus is being somewhat ironic in John 6:29)

  26. Reed Here said,

    March 31, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Paul: frankly brother, I think your whole worry is rather much of a non-issue, at least with the majority of posters here (and I don’t have any names of any offhand who might fall into the error you are concerned about.)

  27. Roger Mann said,

    March 31, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    23. pduggie wrote,

    faith is an act of evangelical obedience, but faith doesn’t justify *qua* “evangelical obedience” but *qua* “receiving and resting upon Christ,” self-dispossessingly and extraspectively

    That’s the qualitative difference between “evangelical” obedience and “legal” obedience. Legal obedience merits (i.e., pactum merit) the promised reward, while evangelical obedience does not merit the promised reward — it is merely the instrumental means ordained by God whereby we receive the merited reward earned by Christ in our stead. If this important distinction isn’t maintained when interpreting Scripture, then we are left with the absurd Scriptural contradiction that we are saved by our “works” (“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” John 6:29) by obeying God’s “commandments” (“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ…” 1 John 3:23). Thus, if we don’t clearly distinguish between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace in our theology, then we are left with nothing but confusion and error. Indeed, we are left with “another” gospel, “which is not another” (Galatians 1:7).

  28. pduggie said,

    March 31, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    @27 I think I am distinguishing between the COG and COW. If you specify ‘legal’ obedience as COW, I’ll agree with you. Its an evangelical obedience we find expressed to us as an evangelical obedience when we find it in the first command of the decalogue considered along with its preface. And in John 6:29.

    And yes, if we defined faith as the thing that God imputed itself as righteousness for justification, we would be justified on account of our own obedience. But faith is the instrument by which we receive the imputed righteousness of another, and we are justified by faith.

    Ok?

  29. Roger Mann said,

    March 31, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    28. pduggie wrote,

    I think I am distinguishing between the COG and COW. If you specify ‘legal’ obedience as COW, I’ll agree with you. Its an evangelical obedience we find expressed to us as an evangelical obedience when we find it in the first command of the decalogue considered along with its preface. And in John 6:29.

    The first commandment of the Decalogue is part of the republication of the moral law that was originally given to Adam in the CoW — the same moral law that all men’s conscience bears witness to (Romans 2:12-16). Therefore the first commandment is a legal command that falls under the Law/CoW category as it pertains to justification. John 6:29, on the other hand, is an evangelical command that falls purely under the Gospel/CoG category as it pertains to justification. You are mixing law and grace, works and faith by collapsing these two commands under the rubric of “evangelical obedience.” Moreover, just so there’s no confusion, the Law/Gospel distinction is merely a different way of describing the original CoW/CoG distinction. They are referring to the same theological category.

  30. Roger Mann said,

    March 31, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    By the way, earlier I wrote:

    “Legal obedience merits (i.e., pactum merit) the promised reward, while evangelical obedience does not merit the promised reward — it is merely the instrumental means ordained by God whereby we receive the merited reward earned by Christ in our stead.”

    Unless the Decalogue retains its Legal/CoW character throughout post-fall history, Jesus could not have merited the promised reward of righteousness/eternal life for us by His obedience to its demands. Our very salvation hinges upon the Law/Gospel or CoW/CoG distinction being maintained.

  31. pduggie said,

    March 31, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    @29. Roger I think you are wrong. I think to demonstrate this, I’d ask you what other evangelical obediences there are?

    The WCF implies that there are other ones besides faith.

    The moral law is NOT JUST, and certainly not in its textual intention a republication of something to be performed as works for hypothetical justification.

    The full content of evangelical obedience is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments, as much as the natural moral law was.

  32. rfwhite said,

    March 31, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Mr. Postman (Lane), I’m wondering why there is a need for integrating law and gospel in Christ. Are they or are they not integrated apart from Christ? Any light?

  33. Roger Mann said,

    March 31, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    31. pduggie wrote,

    Roger I think you are wrong. I think to demonstrate this, I’d ask you what other evangelical obediences there are? The WCF implies that there are other ones besides faith.

    There are no other “evangelical obediences” that pertain to justification other than belief of the gospel under the CoG — period. The WCF implies nothing different. And that is what I have been talking about. For example, I wrote:

    “Therefore the first commandment is a legal command that falls under the Law/CoW category as it pertains to justification. John 6:29, on the other hand, is an evangelical command that falls purely under the Gospel/CoG category as it pertains to justification.”

    Notice I said that the first commandment is a legal command that falls under the Law/CoW category as it pertains to justification, just as John 6:29 is an evangelical command that falls purely under the Gospel/CoG category as it pertains to justification. Faith alone is the only “evangelical obedience” that is required for justification in God’s sight under the CoG.

    The full content of evangelical obedience is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments, as much as the natural moral law was.

    Not pertaining to justification under the CoG it isn’t. Our obedience to the moral law/ten commandments has absolutely nothing to do with our justification before God. You don’t understand the basic gospel.

  34. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Dr. White, I might answer this one by going to the idea that only Christ can turn law-keeping (His own) into grace (for us). If Christ is not present, there is only law for us, not gospel at all. He IS the gospel in His person and work. Hence, outside of Christ, there can be no integration of law and gospel. The law is our enemy in a fallen state until we are justified by faith alone in Christ Jesus alone. Only Christ has fully obeyed the law, and He provides that law-keeping to His sheep as an act of free grace. The law then becomes our friend after we have been justified by grace alone, and the law no longer condemns us, but is the standard for the Christian life. The difference between whether the law is our enemy or our friend depends entirely on whether we have been justified or not.

  35. terry west said,

    March 31, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Lane,
    Wouldn’t that be in essence what Doug Wilson is saying too?

  36. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    No, Terry, for Douglas Wilson is saying that the LGD is not in the text, but only in the person, or application, of the text. I’m saying that if it is not in the text, then we cannot have sola fide, because faith will be defined as both law and gospel.

  37. rfwhite said,

    March 31, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Lane: I think what you say makes sense, though I’d suggest that judge and pedagogue are better terms than enemy (not that I don’t get your point).

    Terry West has anticipated my next question, but I would pose it this way: Would Doug grant your summary? If so, then why the Joint Statement on law and gospel?

  38. rfwhite said,

    March 31, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Your answer to Terry and my question crossed in the ether … Thanks.

  39. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Dr. White, I think it is fairly safe to say that Doug would NOT grant my summary, and certainly not my conclusion, because we disagree on the nature of the law/gospel distinction. I didn’t see the LGD before as having such an integrated function in connection with sola fide. Doug certainly claims to hold to sola fide. I am trying to make clear that sola fide is impossible without a distinction *in the text* between law and gospel, because faith becomes Golawspel.

  40. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 31, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Lane, I asked a question before that probably got lost in the flurry. Is the Law/Gospel distinction in the text an exhaustive pairing? That is, does every passage of Scripture belong to exclusively Law or exclusively Gospel?

    (Sorry if it’s a dumb question; I’m not familiar with some of the literature, such as Colquhoun)

  41. terry west said,

    March 31, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Lane,
    You said – “the law then becomes our friend after we have been justified by grace alone, until then the law condemns us….”

    That seems to me to be what Doug is saying. His argument the way I have read it is that the text (law) condemns or is not good news until there is a change in status in the person, then the text becomes good news because it no longer condemns but rather becomes a gracious standard of living. I mean I know you are insisting on the distinction being only in the text but your wording and your emphasis is on the change of status of the person reading the text, i.e. law. Which is exactly the emphasis or essence of Doug’s arguement.

  42. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Jeff, that is a debated question. Colquhoun would say that some passages belong to both, but certainly not when justification is in view.

  43. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 31, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    One more and then I’ll leave it. Are there any passages that are neither Law nor Gospel?

    (BTW: I agree that when justification is in view, there are no passages that combine law with gospel.)

  44. Tom Wenger said,

    March 31, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    One thing that I think is important to note is that our Reformed tradition believes that this distinction is crucial for sanctification as well. In the life of the believer the law still performs a sin-revealing function that in turn highlights the power and necessity of the Gospel. Mind you, it is NOT functioning in the fear-inducing sense of the 1st use here, but instead, as an aspect of the 3rd use our guide reveals to us where we ought to be, and the fact that we are not yet there. Thus this produces sorrow for our sins and gratitude for the finished work of Christ.

    I only say this because it is important to distinguish between promise and command for our being conformed to the image of Christ else we are pursuing such things out of fear and doubt rather than offering ourselves as living sacrifices in view of God’s mercy.

    This is the essence of the quotes from Calvin that I posted in the Law and Gospel thread. Often when discussing the link between justification and sanctification he says things like:

    “For unless you first of all grasp what your relationship to God is, and the nature of his judgment concerning you, you have neither a foundation on which to establish your salvation nor one on which to build piety toward God.” [Inst. 3.11.1]

  45. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 31, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Tom, thanks for that.

  46. pduggie said,

    April 1, 2010 at 9:03 am

    @33 Mr Mann (that was fun to write)

    what’s wrong with this

    1. we have a duty to trust Christ for justification

    2. All duties God requires of man are the moral law.

    3. The duties God requires of man are sometimes a covenant of works, sometimes evangelical obedience

    4. As a duty that God requires of man, trusting Christ for justification would fall under the section of the decalogue that is concerned with having no other Gods before him

    1 John says his “command” is to believe. So its a duty. So that duty is moral law, considered as evangelical obedience. And the part of the moral law it divides under is the first commandment.

    As an evangelical obedience, it isn’t the cause of justification. since the faith we have a duty to exercise is only instrumental for receiving Christ’s perfect righteousness.

    So which of the 4 premises would you reject and what would you put in its place? It seems to me you don’t want to allow that the moral law is the content of evangelical obedience ever. Is that it?

  47. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 1, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Pduggie (#46)

    One thing that could be better is that you omit

    5. Our justification is not given to us in exchange for executing our duty to believe.

    Not saying that you disagree with #5 … just saying that it is the crucial point (cf. WCoF 11.1).

    And the reason this is important to re-state (and not assume as implicit) is that we are talking about confusion between law and grace, and it is important in order to keep these clear that we distinguish our duty to believe and the mechanism by which faith justifies.

    (Wright is not correct on this, BTW. Faith is not the badge of justification; if it were, then it would justify no more than circumcision. Baptism is the badge, faith is the instrument)

  48. David Gray said,

    April 1, 2010 at 9:59 am

    >And the reason this is important to re-state (and not assume as implicit) is that we are talking about confusion between law and grace, and it is important in order to keep these clear that we distinguish our duty to believe and the mechanism by which faith justifies.

    That is well stated…

  49. pduggie said,

    April 1, 2010 at 10:01 am

    totally agree with your #5, Jeff. Thanks.

  50. Roger Mann said,

    April 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    46. pduggie wrote,

    So which of the 4 premises would you reject and what would you put in its place?

    I would reject premise 2 and 4, since all duties that God requires of man are not moral law, and the command to believe in Christ for justification specifically is not part of the moral law. Your argument transforms (deforms) faith in Christ into a work of the Law and completely destroys the gospel of free grace. What does Scripture say?

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

    Faith is plainly contrasted with and opposed to “works of the law” for the simple reason that faith is not a work of the law:

    “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” (Galatians 2:15-16)

    “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

    Moreover, if faith were a work of the law, then believers would indeed have something to boast about in their salvation:

    “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about…” (Romans 4:2)

    Why? Because obedience to the law earns or merits the promised reward of justification/eternal life:

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

    This is why Paul emphatically declares that grace and works are in opposition to one another and cannot be mixed in the matter of justification:

    “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” (Romans 11:6)

    “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…” (Romans 4:14-16)

    I’m not sure how much clearer Scripture could be on this matter. The command to believe in Christ for justification is not part of the “moral law,” and the act of believing in Christ for justification is not a “work of the law.” As I said before, you don’t understand the gospel.

    It seems to me you don’t want to allow that the moral law is the content of evangelical obedience ever. Is that it?

    I won’t allow the evangelical commands to repent and believe on Christ for justification to be torn from the context of the gospel and be transformed (deformed) into “works of the law.” They are not part of the moral law. We are justified by grace not law; through faith not works. Scripture could not be any clearer.

    As an evangelical obedience, it isn’t the cause of justification. since the faith we have a duty to exercise is only instrumental for receiving Christ’s perfect righteousness.

    Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. If the command to believe on Christ for justification is a duty of the “moral law,” then it is no longer merely a passive “instrument” for receiving Christ’s perfect righteousness. It has now been transformed (deformed) into a “work of the law.” You are trying to mix law and grace, works and faith — which completely destroys the gospel of free grace.

  51. Brian Kimmel said,

    April 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Roger, is faith a cause of justification?

  52. Roger Mann said,

    April 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    51. Brian wrote,

    Roger, is faith a cause of justification?

    Yes, faith (the act of believing) is the instrumental cause of our justification, while Christ’s perfect obedience to the law (active and passive) is the meritorious cause of our justification. The problem with pduggie’s proposition, however, is what I pointed out above:

    If the command to believe on Christ for justification is a duty of the “moral law,” then it is no longer merely a passive “instrument” for receiving Christ’s perfect righteousness. It has now been transformed (deformed) into a “work of the law.” You are trying to mix law and grace, works and faith — which completely destroys the gospel of free grace.

    In other words, pduggie’s position logically makes faith the meritorious cause of our justification. He will probably deny that. But that is the necessary consequence of making the command to believe the gospel message a duty of the “moral law.”

  53. pduggie said,

    April 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    “Question 91: What is the duty which God requires of man?

    Answer: The duty which God requires of man, is obedience to his revealed will.”

    Question 95: Of what use is the moral law to all men?

    Answer: The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and will of God, and of their duty,”

    So it would seem to me that your rejection of #2 comes up against the testimony of the larger catechism that the moral law is what in reformed theology informs men of their duty. Our duty to have faith in Christ comes from moral law.

    Your problem seems to be that you labor under the misconception that “moral law” is only a covenant of works, and that all use of law is “works of the law”.

    Obedience to law could be as a covenant of works that would earn eternal life. Or obedience to law could just be as a rule of life, which does NOT earn. You say categorially that obedience to law would always earn life. But evangelical obedience obeys the ‘rule of life’ use of the moral law, not the covenant of works use.

    ” The command to believe in Christ for justification is not part of the “moral law,””

    Wrong! The catechism tells me that every duty we have is summed up in the moral law.

    “and the act of believing in Christ for justification is not a “work of the law.”

    RIGHT!

    ” If the command to believe on Christ for justification is a duty of the “moral law,” then it is no longer merely a passive “instrument” for receiving Christ’s perfect righteousness. It has now been transformed (deformed) into a “work of the law.” ”

    To my way of thinking such transformation would be impossible. Because works and faith are antithetical.

    Maybe you could try to convince me that the moral law is in its very nature a covenant of works. You could start by showing how

    “Question 97: What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?

    Answer: Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet, besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them: How much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.”

    this functions in your thinking. The moral law is the Christians rule of obedience. But you said if we obey the moral law, we’d earn eternal life by works. But the catechism says that we have been delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works.

    Something is wrong here.

  54. Roger Mann said,

    April 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    53. pduggie wrote,

    Something is wrong here.

    Yes, your theology and reasoning capability.

    “Question 91: What is the duty which God requires of man?

    Answer: The duty which God requires of man, is obedience to his revealed will.”

    Yes, our duty is to obey God’s “revealed will,” which encompasses every command that pertains to us in Scripture. This includes “moral,” “ceremonial,” “civil,” and “evangelical” commands, as the case may be. But you want to collapse all of God’s commands under the category of “moral law,” thus making nonsense of the distinctions made throughout Scripture, and destroying the free gospel of grace in the process.

    Question 95: Of what use is the moral law to all men?

    Answer: The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and will of God, and of their duty,”

    So it would seem to me that your rejection of #2 comes up against the testimony of the larger catechism that the moral law is what in reformed theology informs men of their duty. Our duty to have faith in Christ comes from moral law.

    No, our duty to have faith in Christ does not come from “moral law,” and absolutely nothing in the Westminster Standards teaches any such thing. The Larger Catechism, Answer 95, merely states that the moral law informs us of our duty to obey the “will of God” as it is revealed in the moral law — “binding them to walk accordingly [i.e., to the "will of God" as it is revealed in the moral law]; to convince them of their disability to keep it [i.e., the "will of God" as it is revealed in the moral law], and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives; to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery, and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and of the perfection of his obedience [i.e., to the "will of God" as it is revealed in the moral law].” The fact that you want to collapse all of God’s commands under the category of “moral law” — thus confounded our “evangelical” duty with our “moral” duty — is quite astounding indeed!

    Your problem seems to be that you labor under the misconception that “moral law” is only a covenant of works, and that all use of law is “works of the law”.

    The Larger Catechism, which you just quoted and blatantly mishandled, makes it quite clear that the “moral law” is indeed a “covenant of works” in its essential nature:

    Question 93: What is the moral law?

    Answer: The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding everyone to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto [i.e., the "moral law"], in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul and body, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he owes to God and man [i.e., as it is revealed in the "moral law"]: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it. [which makes the moral law a "covenant of works" in its essential nature]

    The moral law only stops functioning as a “covenant of works” for those who have been freely justified by faith in Jesus Christ (who fulfilled the “works of the law” in our stead). The reason it stops functioning as a “covenant of works” for believers is because we have already fulfilled all of its demands in our Representative and Covenant Head, Jesus Christ. The essential nature of the moral law has not changed (i.e., it is still a “covenant of works”); only our relationship to it has changed.

    “The command to believe in Christ for justification is not part of the “moral law,”

    Wrong! The catechism tells me that every duty we have is summed up in the moral law.

    Wrong! I’ve already demonstrated above that you simply don’t understand what the catechism teaches.

    “and the act of believing in Christ for justification is not a “work of the law.”

    RIGHT!

    It is a “work of the law” under your convoluted “system” of theology.

    “If the command to believe on Christ for justification is a duty of the “moral law,” then it is no longer merely a passive “instrument” for receiving Christ’s perfect righteousness. It has now been transformed (deformed) into a “work of the law.”

    To my way of thinking such transformation would be impossible. Because works and faith are antithetical.

    The phrase “work of the law” means obedience to a command of the “moral law.” Therefore, if the command to believe in Christ for justification is a “moral law” (as you adamantly assert), then it necessarily follows that believing in Christ for justification is a “work of the law.” So your “way of thinking” on this matter is simply irrational.

    Maybe you could try to convince me that the moral law is in its very nature a covenant of works.

    I have already done so above. But, for good measure, here’s a few passages of Scripture that teach the same thing:

    “And the [moral] commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it [i.e., the commandment] killed me.” (Romans 7:10-11)

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

    “For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse… Yet the [moral] law is not of faith, but ‘the man who does them shall live by them.’” (Galatians 3:10-12)

    I could go on, but I’m beginning to think that it is pointless.

  55. pduggie said,

    April 12, 2010 at 8:41 am

    You make a good point from WLC 93 indicating the “essence” of the moral law is a covenant of Works. Its still pretty interesting that we can “use” the moral law, and even its promises of life and threatenings of death in an evangelical manner, and that someone “who [does] good, and refrain[s] from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.”

    There still seems to be some quandry. Many people (Fisher, John Brown) deny any “precepts” to the gospel. So since “Believe on Jesus as mediator” is a precept, (an imperative, we all agree, right?) we could call it an “evangelical obdience” but an obedience to what? A precept of Gospel? There are none

    Brown: “Q Are faith and repentance precepts of the gospel strictly so called? A No they are required by the law and it argues great ignorance to say that faith which believes and receives God as our God and repentance which turns from all other gods to the true God are duties not of the law but of the gospel.”

    So a precept of Law? Btu you’ve just shown that the moral law is only a covenant of works. So faith is really a work of the law after all?

    Brown: “Q Why is faith necessary? A Because without faith we cannot receive nor worship God as our God nor acknowledge him to be true.

    Q Doth this command require faith in Christ as Mediator A Yes for without this we could not acknowledge the truth of God in his word nor can we receive and worship God as God and our God but through Christ ”

    Brown is explicating the decalog.

    I guess one helpful thing is that the text of the Decalogue is only a “summary comprehension” of the moral law. The Decalogue USES the moral law, but it USES it not to promise life to Israel for a fulfillment the could never achieve, but in an evangelical way that promotes God as the deliverer from Bondage. That is the God they are to have no other god. Not the “god as creator” in natural law, but God as redeemer in the gospel sense. As Burgess claims, the law = (covenant of Moses) was not directly contrary to the covenant of grace.

    Paul can “republish” the Decalogue, but when he does, the SAME TEXT (“honor your father and mother that thy days may be long on the earth”) does not imply a covenant of works.

    So ok, I was wrong and “moral law” can be a stand in for covenant of works. But the text of the Decalogue is not a covenant of works text (only at the very least. It has other textual uses)


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