Response to Gerety

Sean Gerety has written a blog post wherein he attacked my blog post quotation of Berkhof in the following way:

It’s hard to imagine a more vicious attack on the integrity of the Scriptures and the Reformed system of faith than what Keister has written above.

Gerety expounds this attack by saying the following:

If the Scriptures were irrational and violated the laws of logic, specifically the law of contradiction, would they still be trustworthy? I don’t see how? Yet, for Keister reason is not a tool by which we can discover the trustworthiness of Scripture and he confuses the laws of logic with errors in logic due to sin.

I would simply say this: go back to the original post and see if I was saying that we can’t prove the Scriptures to be correct. I was NOT saying that we do not apprehend the Scriptures by use of our reason, fallen though it is (the Holy Spirit is required for us to understand the Scriptures: this is God’s answer to correcting fallen human reason). There is a big difference between apprehending (Gerety’s word is “discover”) God’s word by use of reason (which I think is essential), versus proving God’s Word is true by the use of reason (which I believe is impossible).

Let it also here be said unequivocally that I believe that all logic and infallible reason belong to God, and there is not one single contradiction in all of Scripture. Indeed, God, through Scripture, has given us the very source of logical and rational thinking.

The problem here is that Gerety equates my statement of the limited, derivative nature of our reason (which requires an external starting point precisely in order to be valid!) with irrationality. The only thing I was saying in the post (and what Berkhof was saying, as well!) is that Scripture is our starting point, and that we cannot prove a starting point, any more than we can build a foundation under another foundation. The proof is in the pudding, shall we say, and the pudding is one hundred percent logical, when God and Scripture are our starting points.

My questions for Gerety are simple: would Gerety claim that human reason is more foundational to our thinking than God’s Word is? I thought God’s Word WAS truth, the very definition and encapsulation of truth. God’s Word is the very thing that enables us to think truly logically and rationally. Second question: does sin affect fallen man’s logic and rationality at all? I thought human beings were depraved in every aspect of their being, the mind included. Now, I do not claim that unbelievers are incapable of agreeing with a logical proposition. There is such a thing as common grace. However, if Scripture is not the alpha point, the omega point is irrationality. The unbeliever will always start from the wrong place. If you start in the wrong place (i.e., with false premises), then the conclusion will be wrong as well.

In conclusion, I do not believe I have issued any attack whatsoever on the Christian faith, or the Reformed faith, let alone one than which a more vicious attack could scarcely be imagined. Since Gerety is banned from this blog, he will need to respond on his own blog.

143 Comments

  1. roberty bob said,

    January 7, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I understand Berkhof to be saying that it is the natural [unregenerate!] man who is unqualified to assert himself as judge over the veracity of God’s Holy Word. Such a man can neither prove nor disprove the trustworthiness of Scripture.

    My understanding is that the regenerate man whose mind is governed by the Holy Spirit agrees with God’s Holy Word, and finds it trustworthy. Such a man is persuaded by Scripture’s testimony to the Truth, and sees evidences and proofs or God’s trustworthiness at every corner. God’s testimony comes across to his mind as reasonable in a way that resonates with his own redeemed rational mind. He says AMEN to God.

    My postings in the previous entry were not intended to deny that the redeemed man has no struggle with sin, but that the frustrating and unsuccessful struggle portrayed in Romans 7 is not a true portrayal of the redeemed man in Christ who is empowered by the Spirit of Life in his struggles so that he prevails. The Romans 7 man is in the chains of bondage [sin clinging to his reason] so that he cannot do the good that he wants to do; the Romans 8 man is free, and he is able!

  2. greenbaggins said,

    January 7, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    RB, I can agree pretty much with your first two paragraphs. I don’t agree with your interpretation of Romans 7, for a number of reasons. Firstly, an unregenerate man CANNOT echo verse 22. The only other time Paul uses the phrase “in my inner being” is in 2 Corinthians 4:16 and Ephesians 3:16, both of which are unequivocally speaking about the believer.

    Secondly, verse 25 describes the entirety of the chapter. It is a “summing up” of the previous argumentation. The summary of serving the law of God, and yet serving also the law of sin comes AFTER the thanksgiving of the first part of the verse. Isn’t the thanksgiving misplaced, if the statement about slavery comes after it?

    Thirdly, the part of us that is still enslaved is not all of us. It is the “flesh” that is sold under sin (verse 14).

    Fourthly, even though chapter 7 describes the struggles of the believer, I do believe that there are situations where we are freed from the chains. In other words, Romans 7 does not describe what happens all the time to the believer.

  3. roberty bob said,

    January 7, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    to #2 . . . greenbaggins . . . thanks for the response.

    In Romans 8 Paul says that the Spirit of God lives in those who are in Christ Jesus, and that such persons are controlled by the Spirit and not by the sinful nature [8:9]. I have difficulty squaring this the belief that Paul is speaking as one who is “in Christ” when he says “but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin” [7:14]. I don’t see how Paul can be simultaneously spiritual and unspiritual.

    To be unspiritual and sold as a slave to sin, unable to do the good that he wants to do because of sin’s indwelling, is a “wretched” state to be in [7:24]. If one were to be delivered from such a wretched state, what would that deliverance entail? Would the delivered [saved!] man still insist that he is unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin? Would the saved man testify that he continues to suffer as one who is trapped in “this body of death” [7:24]? No. He thanks God that he has been rescued from this body of death by Jesus Christ our Lord.

    That’s why I maintain that the believer in Christ does not see himself as enslaved to the law of sin. He is a free man now. This does not mean that he doesn’t have a sinful nature; only that the sinful nature no longer controls / enslaves him. The Holy Spirit now controls him; he puts to death the misdeed of the body [he triumphs over his sinful nature], and he lives [8:13] unto the Lord as a true son of God.

    You say that “the part of us that is still enslaved is not all of us; it is the flesh.” So, you take it that Paul says that the mind is set free to be the willing slave to obey God’s law, but the in the flesh [sinful nature per NIV] the believer remains enslaved to the law of Sin. Thus the perpetual conflict. OK. I’ll go with that. But even then, in Romans 8, Paul says that those who live according to the sinful nature do not have the Spirit of Christ, and do not belong to Christ. Those who live according to the sinful nature will die. So, I will die and not live if I, in my sinful nature, remain a slave to the law of Sin. I need the resurrection power of the Spirit [8:11] in order to live and not die.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    January 7, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    RB, it is easy to admit that 7:14 is the most difficult obstacle to my reading of the text. However, I believe that the difficulty disappears once one realizes that Paul is not saying that the entire “I” is enslaved. He uses the word “I” in several different senses in the passage. Sometimes he means only the regenerate part of him. Sometimes he means the whole person. Never does he say that “I” is only the remaining sin. In other words, it is only the remaining sin that is enslaved, not the whole “I.” This, I believe, fully answers the problem you raise.

    You would admit, would you not, that there is in fact a conflict going on in the “I” of Romans 7? Let me ask you this: what non-believer do you know of who even knows this struggle at all? That is, in my opinion, the ultimate Achilles heel of the non-regenerate interpretation of Romans 7: the unbeliever does not struggle with sin. To quote the song from “My Fair Lady”: “When temptation comes I fall right in.”

    Further, you have not answered my points about the inward man delighting in the law of the Lord (something the unbeliever CANNOT do), or the contextual indicators in 1 Corinthians and Ephesians about what “the inner man” means. I have already said that Romans 7 does not describe what is always and constantly the case; and this would explain why the Christian is not enslaved. You have also not answered my argument about the sequence in the last part of the chapter. Why would the thanksgiving for freedom PRECEDE the statement about still being enslaved (again, it is ONLY the indwelling sin that is enslaved).

  5. January 7, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Greenbaggins, Romans 7 as a believer presents many problems for Catholic theology. How about Paul saying Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I AM foremost. I agee with you that the pursuit of holiness, there should be a decreasing frequency of sin, however the closer we get to the Word, the more we see our sinfulness. I believe Paul wrote Romans 7 as a believer about a mature believer, the one who understands this stuggle with sin in our life. But because Catholics have a faulty view of sin, and a faulty view of justification, they will have a faulty vliew of R7. They are on the gospel of grace sposored salvation by works. This system doesnt allow for the stuggle of R7. K

  6. roberty bob said,

    January 7, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    No. Paul is not describing the experience of the non-believer in Romans chapter 7. Paul is describing what it was like for a conscientious Jew or God-fearer under the Law administration before the coming of the Grace-Faith administration. Such a person [Paul included] was zealous in his efforts to do the good that the Law required, but he found that he could not do what he wanted to do because of Sin’s overpowering presence. The man who wants more than anything to do good, but is hindered at every turn from doing it is a “wretched man” who desperately cries out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

    Romans chapter 7 describes what is going on in the best of men under the Law before the coming of Faith [Christ!]. Therefore, this chapter cannot be a description of the person who now lives “in Christ” and is under the administration of the Sin-defeating Holy Spirit. Romans 8 describes what is going on “in Christ” for those who have been delivered from the wretched conditions of the previous [Law] administration. We do not yield to the flesh [sinful nature] to do its bidding, but instead obey the Spirit of Christ who lives with in us providing the superior power to put to death the misdeeds of the body. We want to live and not die. So, this is how we are delivered from this body of death. The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is the Spirit who gives life to our mortal bodies.

    This point of view clears away all of the obstacles of interpretation. While it is true that believers in Christ go to war against the flesh, they do not engage in the hopeless frustration that was the wretched lot of men under the Law.

    “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” That is the cry of the man yearning to be delivered.

    “Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!” That is the praise of the man delivered from his wretched condition.

    The Strife is O’er, the Battle Won!

  7. Kenneth Winsmann said,

    January 7, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Green baggins,

    Would you say that it is impossible for a man to read Gods Word, agree with every jot and tiddle, recognize the truth of every passage, and still reject Christ as savior? I have read Reformed protestants (turritinfan for example) who have claimed that beleif in the doctrine of sola fide is not necessarily saving in and of itself. Afterall, many have learned and accepted reformed teaching only to walk away from the faith later on. I understand that you would say these ppl never were ACTUALLY regenerated…. Yet they understood and agreed with Gods Word at least for a time. How does this kind of situation play into the quotations you have provided?

  8. roberty bob said,

    January 7, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    to #4 . . . greenbaggins . . .

    You ask me, “Why would the thanksgiving for freedom precede the statement about still being enslaved in the sinful nature to the law of sin?”

    I think Paul is summing up the two-fold reality of the Law administration: 1) the man’s mind is a willing slave to God’s law, set on obeying God’s commands; 2) the man’s flesh / sinful nature overpowers his mind to prevent him from doing the good that he wills to do.

    Here at the end of verse 25 Paul is only re-iterating what he has been saying in verses 14-24: I know that the law is good. I want to do it because it is good, but I find myself doing instead the evil that I hate. In my mind I know better, and I really want to do the right thing, but my sinful nature inside of me keeps me from carrying it out. There’s a law at work here: whenever I want to do good, evil is right there with me. Yes, I delight in God’s law, but there’s another law at work in the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind. And my mind is losing.

    OK. You see the continuous frustration here: two laws in conflict.

    The wretched man wants to be delivered from this unrelenting warfare between his mind [which is on the side of the good] and his flesh / sinful nature [which is on the side of evil], which prevails over his mind every time.

    You tell me. What would deliverance look like in this situation?

    Would it look like 7:25b?
    So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law,
    but in the flesh / sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

    No. This is not what deliverance looks like. This is only a restatement of the problematic situation.

    Deliverance looks like Romans 8, especially as summed up in vs.13b.
    But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the flesh, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.

  9. January 7, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Robert bob, are you serious man, Paul is wrting Romans 7 as a believer. He says in verse 6 he has been freed from the law. It is the NEW testament.

  10. January 7, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Roberty bob, let me getbthis right, Paul was under the law in the last verse of R7 and is a believer in 8:1. Nonsense.At the end of 7 hecsays who is goingbto save me from this sruggle. Thanks be to God thru Jesus….. How many Jews under the law been shouting that. Cmon. Notice his point in 8:1 is a statement about justification, not ontology. Iow all the struggle you may have with sin, if your in Christ, its all good.

  11. roberty bob said,

    January 7, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Kevin, you have not been paying attention to my postings, which you are trying to refute. Listen one more time please.

    Paul, as a believer, is writing about what it was like being under Law. As a believer in Christ with the Holy Spirit now indwelling and empowering him, he can now see how futile his life once was [under Law] when Sin always got the upper hand. Roman 7 describes the futility of the wretched man struggling under these conditions. Romans 8 describes the deliverance of this once wretched man, who now has the power that he once lacked to prevail over the sin indwelling his flesh.

    Kevin, I am a serious man. Paul has been freed from the Law, which is why he is no longer the wretched man who in his mind wants to do good but is hindered by his flesh from doing so. He is now led by the Spirit, and he does not roll over and give in to the flesh / his sinful nature.

    Being in Christ and filled with Christ’s Spirit is the difference between the wretched Romans 7 man and the obedient Romans 8 man.

  12. roberty bob said,

    January 7, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Kevin, there were many godly people of faith who lived under the Law. These godly people had their mind set on doing the good that pleases God, but they lacked the power to perform the good that they wanted to do. Roman 7 describes this frustration. Christ, in redeeming those under the Law, put an end to this wretched frustration. He poured out his Holy Spirit. The redeemed are filled with the Holy Spirit, who gives them the power to prevail over the Sin that resides in the flesh.

  13. Ryan said,

    January 7, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Good post. Gerety is a loose cannon, I wouldn’t be very bothered by his libelous nonsense if I were you.

  14. greenbaggins said,

    January 7, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Ryan, I’m not particularly bothered by Gerety anymore. I was asked to respond by Hugh, and so I did.

  15. Hugh McCann said,

    January 7, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks for the helpful clarification, Lane!

  16. January 7, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Robery bob, Paul is freed from the Law in 7:6. Got it. He is speaking of the battle a believer goes through. He says Christ rescues him, how? Therefore, iow based on the struggle I just described christian, there is no condemnation, or there is now justification for those in Christ. He is a belivler in Romans 1, 7, 16.

  17. Jack Miller said,

    January 7, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    roberty bob,

    Do you fulfill the law now that you are “in the Spirit?” Why do you sin (to quote you) “now [that you have] the power that [you] once lacked to prevail over the sin indwelling [your] flesh?”

    http://theworldsruined.blogspot.com/search/label/Thomas%20Jacomb

    Others open it thus, the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in Believers perfectly, yet not personally, but imputatively.

    Their meaning is this, the Lord Jesus in his own person whilst he was here on earth did obey the Law, perfectly conforming to it in all its holy commands; now this his most perfect obedience to the Law made over, reckoned, imputed to his members, as if they themselves in their own persons had performed it. The Law’s righteousness is not fulfilled in them formally, subjectively, inherently or personally; but legally ( they being in Christ as their Head and Surety) and imputatively so it is. This is the fulfilling which suits with the words, for ’tis said that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, not by us, but in us; in us (that is) not only for our sake and for our good, but as Christ’s Obedience is ours by imputation. If the former senses [1. and 2.] be rejected this must be received; for since the Law’s righteousness must be fulfilled in the Saints, (otherwise what the Apostle here affirms would not be true), and since there are but two wayes wherein it can be fulfilled, either by themselves or by some other; it necessarily follows, if they do not fulfil it the first way that the second must take place; and so it must be fulfilled by Christ for them and his obedience be imputed to them. And this is that Exposition of the words which our * PROTESTANT Divines (so far as imputation in general is concern’d) do commonly give: but about it many things are necessary to be spoken unto, both for the explaining and also for the vindicating of it (which therefore shall be done by and by).
    [emphasis in the original] – Thomas Jacomb: pp 576-77, The Righteousness of the Law Rom VIII Ver. IV

  18. roberty bob said,

    January 7, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    Kevin . . . Yes, Paul declares himself freed from the Law in 7:6, and then goes on to describe what he found to be true for those like himself who struggled under the Law as they were overpowered by Sin. The commandment intended to bring life actually brought death because Sin came on the scene and deceived him into sinning.

    Rail away all you want. From 7:7 on through 7:25 Paul is describing how Sin took every opportunity to provoke people who were striving to attain unto life through the Law into doing evil. Only Jesus Christ our Lord could deliver people from such a wretched existence.

    You and I have not lived under the Law as that administration ended at the cross of Christ. While we wage war against sin, we do not do so hopeless as slaves to the law of sin. We struggle with Christ’s Holy Spirit indwelling us and empowering us to prevail against our flesh / our sinful nature. I do not say, O Wretched Man that I am, Who Will Deliver Me from this Body of Death? Had I lived under Law, I would be that wretched man. Under the Grace-Faith administration I have life and peace, not wretchedness and death. That’s the difference.

  19. roberty bob said,

    January 7, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    to #17 . . . Jack . . .

    Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires [Romans 8:5].

    The Spirit desires that I put to death the misdeeds of the flesh / sinful nature, and live in obedience to Christ. I have a personal obligation to follow after the Spirit in obedience to Christ.

    No one is without sin. I have certainly not claimed to have no sin. Yet, as the Apostle John taught us, “No one who lives in Christ keeps on sinning. As we follow Christ, we learn how to do what is right and pleasing in his sight. When we fail, we confess our sins and repent.

    Do Christians fulfill the law personally or imputatively? Well, I am aware of my obligation to obey Christ. I believe that Christ fulfilled the law as he was without sin. As God’s sinless, spotless Lamb, Christ gave his life as an atonement for sin. Look! the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Does this also mean that the accrued merits of Christ’s obedient law-keeping must be imputed to my account? I do not believe this is needed in order to for us to be counted as righteous. What counts is is be forgiven of sins and united with Christ by faith.

  20. Ron said,

    January 7, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    In other words, reason cannot prove the trustworthiness of Scripture. This is because reason only comes packaged in damaged goods.

    Lane,

    I agree with the the first part but am not comfortable with the second. Given the very nature of special revelation, I don’t see how even pristine reason (undamaged goods) could arrive at what God must reveal in Word if it’s to be known. I don’t think you mean to suggest that given pristine reason we could have deduced, reasoned ourselves or proved special revelation. I’d prefer “we cannot prove the trustworthiness of Scripture because what is contained in Scripture is a special revelation.”

    Maybe not worth mentioning.

  21. Ron said,

    January 7, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    “There is a big difference between apprehending (Gerety’s word is “discover”) God’s word by use of reason (which I think is essential), versus proving God’s Word is true by the use of reason (which I believe is impossible).”

    Now, of course, I fine that quite right. But why it’s impossible mustn’t leave room for a natural theology if only we had pristine faculties of reason. Nuff said.

  22. Ron said,

    January 7, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    So I am not misquoted or misunderstood, when I agree with this: “reason cannot prove the trustworthiness of Scripture,” what I mean is we cannot reason ourselves to Jesus is God, etc. Such things are trustworthy on God’s say-so and not because we can prove them by applying logical laws to experience. If we could prove them, we wouldn’t need special revelation.

    There is another sense of the word “prove,” which goes like this. I have proved the principles of Scripture true over and over again, both in covenant blessings and chastisement. In that sense we can “prove” Scripture’s trustworthiness but not in the rigorous sense of proving something true.

  23. Ron said,

    January 8, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Berkhof quote:

    The Word of God presupposes the darkness and error of the natural man, and would therefore contradict itself, if it submitted itself to the judgment of that man. It would thereby acknowledge one as judge whom it had first disqualified.

    Lane,

    As I consider this matter more this morning, I’m wondering whether I can help clear something up between you and any accusers. You wrote, “The only thing I was saying in the post (and what Berkhof was saying, as well!) is that Scripture is our starting point, and that we cannot prove a starting point, any more than we can build a foundation under another foundation.”

    I could hope Berkhof would have agreed that we must begin with Scripture, but I don’t think he was saying that here. (Whether I find evidence in Berkhof of believing that way is another matter.) In any case, I haven’t pulled him down from the shelf to look at the context of the quote, but the snippet I read seems to suggest to me that what he was merely saying is: (i) natural man (because he is not spiritual) will never render an agreeable verdict upon Scripture. (ii) Given that Scripture condemns natural man, even finding his reason prejudiced and darkened, for Scripture to look to this same natural man, with all his fallen biases, for affirmation or agreement would be madness. In other words, natural man is not in position to approve (not “prove”) of Scripture, and for Scripture to expect such approval from natural man would contradict what Scripture says about him.

    Lastly, I don’t think this says anything about the redeemed that have the Spirit and mind of Christ. I think such as these will “judge” Scripture to be utterly reliable and that Scripture distinguishes God’s redeemed in this way. That was, possibly, Sean’s point.

  24. roberty bob said,

    January 8, 2015 at 11:11 am

    to #23 . . . Ron . . .

    And my point as well. Berhkof is only referencing the natural man, not every man. The problem / confusion came when greenbaggins indicated that the regenerate man is in the same spiritual condition as the natural man — sin clinging to his reason.

  25. Ron said,

    January 8, 2015 at 11:46 am

    RB,

    Yes, after writing to Lane I skimmed the thread. Your phrases such as “asserts himself as judge” and “agrees with Scripture” (or something like that) resonated with me. I realized then I was pretty much echoing your thoughts. Then came the Romans 7 bunny trail. :)

  26. January 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Lane be careful with criticism from a Catholic on logical deduction. For the early church saw the trappings of Rome’s incarnationalism as fleshly distractions from truly Spiritual worship. Rome is the poster child for the result of sin on logical conclusion. Paul said one could NOT get to the truth of the gospel through human wisdom. And you are correct that all logical reason only belong to God. But Rc’s confuse the infallibility thing, you know.

  27. Reed Here said,

    January 8, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Lane, no. 4, your “Paul has two different I’s in view” is exactly how Paul explains his usage in Rom 7:14-24 in Rom 7:25:

    “… So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

    Two different senses in which he considers himself. Note these are not historically distinguished, as in the one he is looking back at his life prior to conversion. Instead they are both present in the now of Paul’s life.

    Good work brother. You helped strengthen and clarify the interpretation here.

  28. Jack Miller said,

    January 8, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    roberty bob @ #19-

    No one is without sin. I have certainly not claimed to have no sin. Yet, as the Apostle John taught us, “No one who lives in Christ keeps on sinning. As we follow Christ, we learn how to do what is right and pleasing in his sight. When we fail, we confess our sins and repent.

    Amen. No one is without sin. In fact we win daily. As the WLC states:
    Q. 149. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
    A. No man is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.

    So all I’m saying is that we believers do not “fulfill the righteousness of the Law” in our obedience. Rather it is upon the ground of Christ’s perfect obedience which fulfills the righteousness of the Law that our works are accepted by God through faith.

    WCF 16.6. Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

    Thinking otherwise can lead to a subtle lowering of the standard of the Law’s holiness or elevation of the righteousness of our own imperfect (i.e. still sin-stained) works. We believers, in our works of obedience, still fall short of the righteousness of the Law. Thus it is far from a stretch to see the man in Romans 7 as a believer: Romans 7 And The Normal Christian Life

  29. Jack Miller said,

    January 8, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    correction: “In fact we win sin daily.”

  30. roberty bob said,

    January 8, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Like I said, Jack, Christian believers live in union with Christ their covenant head; we are found in him. Of course Christ was obedient to his Father in heaven; he met God’s righteous requirements. When we obey God in good faith, we also meet God’s righteous requirements. With faith it is possible to please God. Obedience to God always meets his requirements. God is mindful of our weaknesses and imperfections, and He is gracious to forgive those who confess their sins and repent of them.

    We will have to differ on the identity of the Romans 7 man. I do not believe that when Christ Jesus our Lord delivers us from the wretched state of being slaves to our sinful nature that He leaves still enslaved to our sinful nature. Logically, and theologically, this makes no sense. Romans 7 does not describe the normal Christian life; Romans 8 — being in Christ, indwelt & empowered by His Holy Spirit — does describe the normal Christian life. Stretch toward Romans 8 and you’ll know what I mean.

  31. roberty bob said,

    January 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    to #29 . . .

    So you are saying that since you sin daily, you cannot win.

    You really are stuck, experience-wise, in Romans 7.

    It’s not too late for Romans 8!

  32. Jack Miller said,

    January 8, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    roberty bob,

    I’ll just leave it at this – your explanation seems to blur things, not clarify things. We sin daily against God’s moral law in thought, word, and deed yet our obedience “always meets [God’s] requirements?”

  33. Jack Miller said,

    January 8, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    @ 31 – Not stuck at all. To quote John Calvin:

    In short, I affirm, that not by our own merit but by faith alone, are both our persons and works justified; and that the justification of works depends on the justification of the person, as the effect on the cause. (John Calvin, Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote)

  34. January 8, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Jack said” we dont fulfill the righteouness of the law in our own obedience. Before Jesus said go into the world and make disciples etc., He said all authority on heaven and earth has been given to ME. We arent extensions of the incarnation. We arent furthuring a plan of redemption. That is his unique finished work. Ex oper operato a fatal axiom. Grace sponsored salvation by works. Good points Jack.

  35. roberty bob said,

    January 8, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    “He who does what is right is righteous, even as He is righteous.”
    — 1 John 3:7

    “Dear Friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him. And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” — 1 John 3:21-22

    “Offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life, and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness . . . .” — Romans 6:13

    “We believers, in our works of obedience, still fall short of the righteousness that is of the Law — Jack Miller

    ………….

    When we sin, we fall short of the righteousness that is of the Law.

    When we obey [do what is right], we are righteous, even as Christ is righteous, and we become instruments of righteousness.

    Yet, you are saying that even when we obey we fall short of God’s standard of righteousness as set forth in His Holy Law. This defies sound logic and denies what the Apostles of Christ clearly teach.

  36. Jack Miller said,

    January 8, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Heidelberg Catechism Q. 114.
    But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments?
    A.
    No: but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience; (a)
    yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live, not only according to some, but all the commandments of God. (b)

    (a) 1 John 1:8-10; Rom.7:14,15; Eccl.7:20; 1 Cor.13:9.
    (b) Rom.7:22;
    Ps.1:2; James 2:10.

    Yes, as those born of the Spirit we do offer ourselves up to God as instruments of righteousness. In this life we do obey yet our obedience is not intrinsically righteous (therefore not inherently meeting the requirement of holiness in the Law). Again, the ground of acceptance for our obedience before God is the blood of Christ – his perfect obedience to the Law and his perfect sacrifice for our sins. LC 39, 149; WCF 16.6.

  37. roberty bob said,

    January 8, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Intrinsic: belonging to the essential nature of a thing.

    “In this life we do obey yet our obedience is not intrinsically righteous.” — Jack Miller

    “He who does what is right is righteous, even as He is righteous.”
    — John the Apostle of Christ

    “He who does what is right is not intrinsically righteous, for Christ alone is intrinsically righteous.” — John the Reformed Confessor

  38. Jack Miller said,

    January 8, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    I’ll side with the Reformed theologians and the Westminster Divines on this one…

    (maybe check out John Gill’s commentary on 1John 3:7)

  39. Hugh McCann said,

    January 8, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    robby rob @35 – are we simultaneously just & sinful?

  40. roberty bob said,

    January 8, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    We Christians are sinners who have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 3:21-26. Every day we put off the old man with its sinful desires and put on the new man, our Lord Jesus Christ. Under the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, Sin shall not be our Master.

    Hugh, you look a lot like Martin Luther, who of all men was simultaneously just and sinful.

  41. Hugh McCann said,

    January 9, 2015 at 12:30 am

    roberty rob – I take it your answer is “yes”?

    Sort of?

    Thanks for the compliment – with the hat, people confuse me with Marty all the time.

    Is is just a nasty rumor that you’re a papist?

  42. January 9, 2015 at 1:23 am

    Roberty bob, At the Passover the Jews were no thankful for an injection sanctifying grace, but that had passed over them. They deserved what the Egyptians got. But God PASSED over them. Forensic.

  43. roberty bob said,

    January 9, 2015 at 11:12 am

    My garage door four-digit access code is the year in which Martin Luther nailed it to the Wittenburg door! I’m sure that counts for something.

  44. January 9, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Robert bob, a sign from heaven lol

  45. W.A. Scott said,

    January 12, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Hello Roberty Bob, You are likely aware of this, but the interpretation that Romans 7 applies to the believer was the position of many pre-reformation teachers. The position of the reformers is not contradicted by the words of 1 John 3:7 “he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” This passage can apply to the believer in two senses: 1. The perfect forensic sense via the covering of Christ’s perfect righteousness in His Blood that each of us has through a true faith (that by its nature produces holy/righteous deeds); 2. The imperfect intrinsic/sanctification sense–he who does righteousness is an intrinsically holy/righteous person (albeit in a tainted/inchoate sense–as the reformers note)–or stated another way, he who lives a holy life is a holy person.

    Either way, the Apostle John makes clear that no one can say they are justified and sanctified without the evidence of a transformed life. God Bless and if I don’t get back to this thread have a great week.

  46. W.A. Scott said,

    January 12, 2015 at 7:12 am

    p.s. Before calling it quits I just wanted to add that it is true that “Christ alone is intrinsically righteous.” When the intrinsic state of any believer is judged strictly by God’s Perfect standard, it is “filthy rags” and “mere unrighteousness” as Bernard of Clairvaux notes. Also, even as servants of Christ our intrinsic state remains the cause for condemnation rather than justification before the Awesome Holiness of God, as the Scriptures make clear: Psalm 143:2 “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.”

  47. roberty bob said,

    January 12, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    to #45 . . . W. A. . . . Good Day!

    Yes, I am aware of the many who saw Romans 7 as a description of the Christian believer’s struggle. I do not find the arguments persuasive.

    My view lines up with Paul Achtemeier [Romans]. Let me quote.

    ” . . . what it [Romans 7] represents is non-Christian [I would even say pre-Christian / before the coming of Faith] life under the law seen from a Christian perspective. While it is in that sense an objective description from Christian perspective of the life of anyone who finds in the law of Moses the final declaration of God’s will, Paul is probably drawing to some extent at least on his own life as a Pharisee in this discussion. But these verses describe that life life, not as it looked to Paul the Pharisee then, but as it looks to Paul the Christian now. The situation Paul faced prior to his conversion was that he knew the law embodied God’s will, and he knew God’s will was good, and he wanted to do it, and he tried to do it by following the law. The problem was, sin’s control over him through the law led him to oppose, rather than accept God’s will as expressed in Christ.

    But when did Paul the Pharisee, who did what the law required (recall Philippians 3:6b), ever oppose God’s will? When he rejected Christ, the final embodiment of God’s will, and as a result persecuted Christ’s followers! Reflecting from his present Christian perspective on his life as that Pharisaic rejecter of Christ, Paul can see that while as a Pharisee he wanted to do the good (i.e. follow God’s will), his devotion to the law led him to do the opposite of that, since his understanding of the law led him to oppose God’s will in Christ. In seeking to do God’s will, he persecuted the followers of Christ, so that his very intention to do good then resulted in what he now knows to have been evil. Sin has so taken over the law that it used the law to oppose God! It was that dilemma, a dilemma unknown to him until he became a Christian, from which he was freed when he finally recognized in Christ God’s true will for humankind. That is why he can say of his former life, speaking as if from within it: ‘As a result, I find with respect to the law that when I intend to do good, evil lies right there (vs. 21).” [pp 122, 123]

    Achtemeier extends the situation to all of humanity . . . .

    “What Paul describes in these verses therefore is the dilemma of all human beings who seek to follow God’s will apart from Christ. Knowing they ought to do good, human beings nevertheless stumble under the power of sin into the very evil they seek to avoid. Trying to do the good, they in fact oppose the good until that point at which they recognize it in Christ.” [p 124]

    “Humanity apart from Christ . . . will continue to be the unwilling servants of sin until a greater power breaks them loose . . . . Only Christ can free us from that power. Only Christ can deliver us to a new life in which the Spirit of God can work his will. Paul turns in chapter 8 to a discussion of that happy state.” [p 124]

    “Those who seek to preach or teach this passage [Romans 7] face the problem of overcoming the weight of a long history of interpretation which has distorted Paul’s intention in these verses. It will seem at first as though we are robbed of the comfort of knowing that Paul shared the problems we feel as we try to live out our Christian life. To be sure, Paul knows the continual struggle the Christian faces in resisting the old ways of serving sin. He refers to that problem in 6:12-14. Yet that struggle is not what this passage is about . . . . The problem Romans 7 does discuss is the problem of those who can do nothing but evil, since the power of sin over them remains unbroken.” [pp 124, 125]
    ……….

    Romans 8 describes the normal Christian life of being in Christ, and empowered by Christ’s indwelling Holy Spirit. The futile struggle of Romans 7 gives way to the victorious struggle of Romans 8.

  48. roberty bob said,

    January 12, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    to #46 . . .

    I agree about Christ being inherently [in his nature] righteous. It was also necessary for Christ to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to do everything that his Father told him / showed him to do. He had to resist the many temptations that were put before him. He had to live by faith in every word that proceeded from the mouth of God.

    What can you say about the Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit, and who by faith obeys his Lord and Savior? Do you really regard his obedience as “filthy rags” and “mere unrighteousness?”

    The question I have is that if a person has true faith [without faith it is impossible to please God / with faith it is possible to please God], isn’t his obedience [or righteousness] pleasing to God. Do the Holy Spirit’s best efforts produce filthy rags and mere unrighteousness?

    Look, I believe in confessing my sins — the evil I have done, and the good I have left undone — but are we also supposed to confess that the good we have done that arises out of faith, conforms to God’s law, and is done for God’s glory is one stinking mess of unrighteousness?

    Is that what you do?

  49. roberty bob said,

    January 12, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Here’s a prayer of thanksgiving that I found somewhere . . .

    We always thank God for all of you,
    mentioning you in our prayers.
    We continually remember before our God and Father
    your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love,
    and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you,
    because or gospel came to you not simply with words, but also
    with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction.
    You know how we lived among you for your sake.
    You became imitators of us and of the Lord;
    in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message
    with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
    And so you became a model to all the believers . . . .

    ………..

    and another . . . .

    We constantly pray for you,
    that our God may count you worthy of His calling,
    and that by His power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours
    and every act prompted by your faith.
    We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
    and you in him, according to the grace of our God
    and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    ………..

    These are Apostolic Prayers [or summaries thereof].

    God is thanked for the Spirit-produced good, and it is noted how the Christians were living up to their name as imitators of the Lord Jesus Christ. They had become a model of Christian living to all the believers.

    There is no filthy rag stench here, not even a hint of it!

    You dare not mention stenches where the Holy Spirit’s fragrance fills the hearts of the faithful.

  50. January 12, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Roberty bob said, someone who is full the Spirit, are their works filthy rags. As compared to God’s perfect law and requirement for perfection obedience to that law, yes. Augustine said even our best works are stained by sin. God considers them good, but not in light od his holiness and perfect law. Paul as a Christian called himself present tense chief sinner. We can only and ever be justified by His righteouness.

  51. W.A. Scott said,

    January 12, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Hello Roberty Bob,

    Time for one quick reply…

    The stench comes from our filthy, sinful flesh–which is never entirely absent (or, mortified) even in the midst of our best, Holy Spirit inspired works. No doubt, the Holy Spirit and His works are sinless and immaculate, but the sinful flesh prevents the same from being true even of mature, Spirit filled believers. God Bless, W.A. Scott

  52. roberty bob said,

    January 12, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    “God considers them [our best works] good, but not in the light of his holiness and perfect law.” — Kevin

    So then, God considers our best works to be good by not looking at them in the light of His own standard. This sounds strange to me. If God is not using His own standard to assess our best works as good, then what standard is He using?

    I don’t see how God can find our best works to be good and pleasing to him, when, in fact, [as you assert] they stink to the highest heaven.

    God poured our His Holy Spirit upon His Son Jesus. Jesus was led by the Spirit throughout His life and ministry. Jesus went about doing good. God was well pleased with His Son. When that same Spirit is poured out upon Christian believers who go on to follow the Spirit’s leading, doing the good for which He empowers them, is God not also well pleased with these sons and daughters?

  53. roberty bob said,

    January 12, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    to #51 . . . about that stench . . .

    Why does the Apostle Paul fail to make mention of it when he writes about the mortification of the flesh? I find it interesting that Paul is impressed with the wonderful fragrance that Christian believers spread as they carry out the gospel ministry.

  54. Ron said,

    January 12, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    The partisanship probably explains the sloppy imprecision. If a pope said what a Falloni said and a Reformer said what RB said a little latitude might be given. As it stands, I think that both arrogance and dullness is standing between the real issue of this thread.

  55. Ron said,

    January 13, 2015 at 8:18 am

    BTW RB and Falloni, the arrogance and dullness (pride would have been a better word than arrogance). was not intended for either of you, though I do believe you’re both being unnecessarily difficult with the other.

  56. January 13, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Galatians 6:3″ For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

  57. January 13, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Paul in Philipians didnt consider his sin dung, but his righteouness.

  58. roberty bob said,

    January 13, 2015 at 11:58 am

    to Kevin . . .

    Paul, in Philippians, speaks of the following: 1) a righteousness of his own that comes from the law [this righteousness Paul considers as dung!], and 2) the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith [this righteousness is not dung!].

    You will probably say that the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith is one in which the Christian believer is entirely passive since the righteousness consists in Christ perfectly obeying the law and crediting that perfect obedience to the Christian believer’s account. I view the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith as Christ’s sacrifice of atonement for sins [the one righteous act to which Paul refers in Romans 5:18] and the Christian believer’s receiving of God’s gracious forgiveness and abundant Spirit-filled life.

    The main difference between our views, I think, is that you see the Scriptures as teaching the imputation of Christ’s perfect law keeping to our account, while I do not see that transaction having happened; I see Christ as the spotless [sinless] Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world so that believers in him may be forgiven of their sins by faith. The believer’s faith, like Abraham our father in the faith, is credited unto him for righteousness. The believer, indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit, loves God and keeps his commandments — thereby fulfilling the Law of Christ.

    Thanks for the challenging conversation.

  59. Jason Loh said,

    January 13, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Dear Brother Kevin Failoni, keep up the good work!

    The only way to make (exegetical) sense of Romans 7 is that there are two “I”s which is to say simultaneously just and sinful …

  60. Ron said,

    January 13, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    “The believer’s faith, like Abraham our father in the faith, is credited unto him for righteousness.”

    RB,

    How does this comport with the imagery of being found in Him or being baptized into Christ? The only way to reconcile justification by faith with union language is if the object of our faith is the instrument that lays hold of another in whom we must be found.

  61. Ron said,

    January 13, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Excuse me. That should be:

    How does this comport with the imagery of being found in Him or being baptized into Christ? The only way to reconcile justification by faith with union language is if faith is the instrument that lays hold of another (the object of our faith) in whom we must be found.

  62. roberty bob said,

    January 13, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Hi Ron . . .

    I believe in Jesus Christ. He is my Savior and my Lord. I believe that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, mine included. I believe that Jesus arose from the grave, victorious over sin, death, and hell. He died for my sins, and was raised for my justification.
    I have been baptized into Christ. I am in Him, and He, by His Holy Spirit, is in me.

    By faith I am found in Him, Christ the Lord — our Righteousness.

    ” Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

    ” . . . to the man who does not work but trusts God who justified the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

    ……….

    Faith believes God’s promise [as Abraham did before the coming of Christ]. Faith believes in Christ, the fulfillment of God’s promise. By faith the believer is found in Christ. Those who are baptized are baptized into Christ — into his death — in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, we may live a new life.

  63. Ron said,

    January 13, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    RB,

    I think you avoided rather than addressed.

    I want to know how the supposed imputation of human faith (as opposed to the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness) does justice to existential union. In other words, how does the alleged imputation of *our* faith comport with our being robed in *His* righteousness?

  64. January 14, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Jason Loh, great point. Missed you here. Hope you are well brother.

  65. January 14, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Roberty bob 58, I want you to notice something in Romans 4:1-6. This is very important, and how we know ot is righteouness that is credited. If Paul meant faith he would have said ” now to the one who works, his work is credited ….. but he doesnt say that. He says his wage. Something external. And likewise it is righteouness, external tgat is credited in the same way the wage was credited. K

  66. Ron said,

    January 14, 2015 at 8:56 am

    RB,

    If you need help refuting K’s most recent post just ask.

    Come on, Kevin.

  67. Ron said,

    January 14, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Kevin,

    Please forgive my arrogant and sarcastic post. No excuse.

    What if RB says that due to the terms of the covenant our faith merits an external reward or wage? He might even quote John 6, that belief is the work of God.

  68. January 14, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Ron, I’m not understanding you. Are you saying that faith isn’t the sole instrument that receives our justification from outside of us, namely the righteousness of Christ imputed to us? This is what I meant in Romans 4:1-5. When Paul uses the example of the wage to the one who works, he doesn’t say his work is credited , but his WAGE. In the same way Paul when Paul says that faith is credited for righteousness, faith is the instrument that receives the righteousness of Christ, just like the WAGE. Faith isn’t righteousness. It is a person that is offered. God brings us into union with Christ thru regeneration by the Spirit working thru the Word, producing faith repentance and bringing our justification. Faith is the only instrument that can receive and bring to our heart the righteousness that justifies us. Bunyon said my righteousness is in heaven.

  69. January 14, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Ron, I think that Roberty bob and I would say we are having a good conversation. Im not sure what your hangup is. There is no arogance or animosity here, unless you are feeling it. Im trying to figure your position out. Are you Reformed or Catholic, or somebody trying to straddle the fence. Please describe your position. Are you a NPP guy? Thanks God bless

  70. Ron said,

    January 14, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Kevin, working backwards, I don’t think that you and RB are being arrogant.

    I’m Reformed and not trying to straddle any fences.

    Roberty bob 58, I want you to notice something in Romans 4:1-6. This is very important, and how we know ot is righteouness that is credited. If Paul meant faith he would have said ” now to the one who works, his work is credited ….. but he doesnt say that. He says his wage. Something external. And likewise it is righteouness, external tgat is credited in the same way the wage was credited. K

    Kevin,

    My point is that it’s inadequate to defend the Reformed doctrine of imputation and how it relates to faith based upon the point you’re trying to make from Romans 4:4. Don’t get me wrong. A proper handling of Romans 4:1-5 makes the Protestant and Reformed case, but I find your defense from Romans 4:4 strained and counterproductive. At the very least, I believe your rendering of the verse leaves out a negative. The apostle does not say “his wage is credited.” Rather, he says the wage (or reward) is not credited of grace but of debt. Paul’s polemic is simply focused on merit vs. grace, and not as you imply – wage vs. the works that allegedly merit the wage. Let me explain…

    Verse 4 states: “Now to him that works, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” The simple point is that the idea of reward for work opposes the doctrine of grace, for it would place God in debt to the sinner. (It also opposes the Roman Catholic doctrine of personal merit according to grace.) If salvation is of grace, then it cannot be of works. (There’s no third ground, as Rome would have us to believe.) Thus far we agree.

    However, although I trust that you and I agree on this doctrine (and both oppose RB’s doctrine), I suggest you’ve made an invalid argument. You seem to say that the apostle would have needed to say this if he held to RB’s doctrine of imputed faith: “Now to him that works, his work is not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” Yet that too makes the Reformed case, not RB’s! Hence, I found your point counterproductive. Such rendering would still underscore the antithetical nature of work and grace. The real issue is debt vs. grace (and where might find perfect righteousness). Do you really want to say that if verse 4 read “work” rather than “wage” there’d be room for this unusual doctrine of imputed faith? That’s my only point.

    What RB cannot reconcile is the equivalence of being found in (i.e. alien righteousness), and the alleged imputation of faith (personal righteousness). He has confused the instrumental cause of justification with God’s righteousness that is laid hold of by faith. The trajectory would be trusting in his own faith rather than in Him whose perfect righteousness is appropriated by faith.

  71. January 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Ron, You misunderstood what i said. Or I wasn’t clear. I didn’t say the wage as credited to the believer. Im Reformed, that would be nonsense. Paul is making comparison between the one who works, and the one who does not work but believes. It is consistent with the grammar of that section to see the parallel of how faith is credited to the one who does not work, but believes, in the same way the wage is credited to the worker, as something external. Obviously it isn’t credited as work due like the worker, but as a favor. But is is credited ( faith to the ungodly who does not work) like the wage to the worker as only in the sense of being something external. I’m drawing the parallel that Paul makes between how a wage is credited to the worker and how faith is credited to the believer. Paul does not say of the worker, his work is credited as what is due, in the same way he does not say to the believer faith is righteousness. But he shows something external is credited to the worker ( his WAGE) and in the same way to the ungodly man who DOES NOT WORK but believes, external righteousness is credited to him, namely the righteousness of Christ. Obviously the worker’s wage isn’t credited as a favor, and the believer’ righteousness isn’t credited for his work. But Paul uses the example to the worker ( that his wage is something external) as an example of the manner in which righteousness comes to the ungodly who believes apart from works.

  72. Hugh McCann said,

    January 14, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Kevin @71, Did you mean “righteousness” where you have “faith,” here?

    “I’m drawing the parallel that Paul makes between how a wage is credited to the worker and how faith is credited to the believer.”

  73. Ron said,

    January 14, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Kevin,

    You confirm I understood your intended meaning, but I’m not sure you’re grasping mine as it relates to your most recent post to RB. It’s not your bottom line theology I question. It’s this particular polemic I find strained. I’ll leave you to it though. Maybe RB can succeed it critiquing your reductio.

  74. Ron said,

    January 14, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Again: “You seem to say that the apostle would have needed to say this if he held to RB’s doctrine of imputed faith: “Now to him that works, his work is not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” Yet that too makes the Reformed case, not RB’s! Hence, I found your point counterproductive.”

  75. roberty bob said,

    January 14, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    where to begin . . . ?

    This is how I understand it. Jesus was born under the Law. He did not abolish the Law, but fulfilled it by doing justice and showing mercy [per Isaiah 42:1-4]. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus obeyed God [doing all that His Father showed Him {John 5]. Though accused of sin by His enemies, no sin was found in him. Jesus could therefore lay down His life as a sacrifice of atonement [being the very Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world], which he did. In raising Jesus from the dead, God vindicated Him of the charges for which He was condemned. In being raised, Jesus is the first born and first fruits of God’s new creation.

    Faith [and baptism, the union sacrament] unites the believer with Christ in His atoning death and life-giving resurrection. The baptized Christian believer is said to be clothed with Christ [Galatians 3:27], meaning that he is graced with forgiveness [the prime benefit of Christ’s atonement] and graced with newness of life [the prime benefit of the resurrection].
    I do not see anywhere in Scripture that the Christ-robe we wear is woven of the merits of His perfect Law-keeping obedience credited to our accounts.

    What I hear is the exhortation to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, which is to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, etc. [per Colossians 3]. This tells me that having been renewed in [restored to] the image of God’s Son, we are expected show forth the attributes / character traits of our Lord Jesus. So, the robe is a garment for us to put on and wear every day. This is in keeping with the experience of Job, who testified how he had put on righteousness as his clothing [Job 29:14ff.] and went in to action bless his needy neighbors [eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, father to the needy, etc.] . When Jesus inaugurated his kingdom ministry, he set His agenda according to Isaiah 61 [doing the kind of things that righteous Job had done] while clothed with the garments of salvation [Isaiah 61:10]. So, our Lord Jesus Christ clothes Himself with the robes of righteousness / salvation in order that he may, in blessing us, cover us in them as well.

  76. Hugh McCann said,

    January 14, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    “I do not see anywhere in Scripture that the Christ-robe we wear is woven of the merits of His perfect Law-keeping obedience credited to our accounts.”

    Uh… Romans 4:5f?

    But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.

    Not only forgiveness and sinlessness, but RIGHTEOUSNESS.

  77. Hugh McCann said,

    January 14, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Oh, and Isaiah 61:10! YES!

    Not only the Groom, but his blessed bride, as well:

    I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
    my soul shall be joyful in my God;
    for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation,
    he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness,
    as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments,
    and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

  78. Hugh McCann said,

    January 14, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    If you’re not *as* righteous as he is righteous, you’re of all men most miserable. Damned miserable, actually.

  79. Ron said,

    January 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    RB

    You’re not reconciling union language of Romans 6, Galatians 3 and Philippians 3 with your doctrine of imputed faith. How does Paul counting his works as dung and his desire to be found in Christ, God’s righteousness, comport with imputed faith? I can understand how it comports with the imputation of Him who is received by faith but not the imputation of the instrument of faith. Please just address that.

  80. January 14, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Ron, what do you mean this polemic you find strange. You can’t see the parallel in Romans 4:1-5? Paul is explaining that to the one who works his wage is credited as what is due. Not the work is credited as what is due, but the wage. In the same way to the one who does not work , but believes, righteousness ( external) is credited to him by faith.

  81. Ron said,

    January 14, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Kevin,

    The apostle is not basing anything on the distinction that wages are external and works are internal. Rather, his point is simply that wages, which are *indexed* to works, are antithetical to grace.

    That (i) our true righteousness is external, (ii) wages are external and (iii) works are internal is irrelevant to the apostle’s point that wages indexed to works denies grace by God in debt to sinners. You’re superimposing upon the text an irrelevant observation about internal works and external wages in order to draw a inference that is not only unnecessary – it’s counterproductive. Your point is not found in the text.

  82. Ron said,

    January 14, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Clears up a typo:

    Kevin,

    The apostle is not basing anything on the distinction that wages are external and works are internal. Rather, his point is simply that wages, which are *indexed* to works, are antithetical to grace.

    That (i) our true righteousness is external, (ii) wages are external and (iii) works are internal is irrelevant to the apostle’s point that wages indexed to works denies grace (by putting God in debt to sinners). You’re superimposing upon the text an irrelevant observation about internal works and external wages in order to draw a inference that is not only unnecessary – it’s counterproductive. Your point is not found in the text.

  83. January 14, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Ron, are you kidding man. You are misrepresenting my position. Paul is comparing the manner in which a worker gets credited for his work, by wages, somethingvfrom outside him. Get it. In the same way righteouness, external is credited to a believer, as something external. Iow if faith was the thing that made a believer righteous then work would be what is credited to the the one to whom is due. Its not rocket science. The gramnar in context supports this. K

  84. Ron said,

    January 14, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Kevin,

    I suspect that if you understood my internal critique of your position you would have addressed it by now. Instead you throw around false disjunctions, asserting what we agree upon as if sufficient to refute my critique.

    Your position is the apostle would have needed to say this if he held to RB’s doctrine of imputed faith: “Now to him that works, his *work* is not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” RB’s case can’t be made even had Paul used *work* rather than *wage*! Either construct would make the Reformed case and undermine RB’s. Moreover, anyone who might hold to RB’s faith-imputation might simply say that the credit of internal faith is shorthand for the credit of an external reward for faith, (as opposed to the merits of an external savior credited through faith). So much for this novel internal-external distinction.

    You’ve given me little hope for fruitful discussion. You might begin by sticking to your thesis and attempting to defend *it* rather than rehearsing common agreement and resting your case upon those things.

  85. January 15, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Ron, I have no idea what your saying. Your description of what I am saying is not my argument. I simply said Paul uses wages as something external credited to the worker. You cant deny this. And in the same way he means righteouness credited to the ungodly who believes, something external. If you need support for this, check out Piper’s book on justification, which is quite good. The argument Ron is against the NPP guys who think faith is righteouness. Faith is the instrument that receives righteouness, something external. And the worker’s wage is credited as what is due, not his work. How this relates to Rb’s argument, ill leave that to you.

  86. Ron said,

    January 15, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Kevin,

    I’ve been dealing with this and only this:

    If Paul meant faith he would have said ” now to the one who works, his work is credited ….. but he doesnt say that. He says his wage

    That postulate of yours doesn’t hold true. If Paul said work rather than wage he would not have been approving of RB’s position, not even close.

  87. Ron said,

    January 15, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Thanks Lane. I regret having stopped by.

    Kevin, best of providence defending the gospel against RB’s quasi RC view of things. He certainly can gain much from you. If you’d like to continue with me, please pop me your email address on my site. I won’t publish it.

  88. January 15, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Ron, I agree with you on RB’s quasi RC views. Im thinking he is here because he might see the fruitlessness in the medieval gospel of accumulated righteouness thru doing sacraments. Ron, God bless

  89. January 15, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Hugh, I apologize, I didnt see your post in 72. It took you 10 words to summarize my point that it took me 300 to make. Thx K

  90. roberty bob said,

    January 16, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    The Apostles preached the atoning death and life-giving resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to all who obey Him. They preached a gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins.

    “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” — Acts 26:20
    ………..

    I looked high and low, near and far, for any mention in the Apostolic preaching of Christ accruing merits through the active obedience of His sinless, Law-keeping life, which were to be credited as righteousness to the accounts of all believers. This was not the theme of their preaching. They preached the forgiveness of sins through the atoning death of Christ on the cross, and justification through [faith in] the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

    ………..

    What am I reading here at green baggins? I am reading that being forgiven of my sins by faith in the atoning blood of Christ cannot be reckoned for righteousness. I am reading that the taking away of my sin is simply the cleaning out of my life’s shabby furniture; to have righteousness in my account, I need the perfect furniture of Christ’s sinless life put into my living room. Never mind that Christ refurnishes my life with the fine furniture being fashioned by the Holy Spirit. No. Christ obeyed the Law in my place so that I wouldn’t have to; I get the credit for what He did [his merits are counted for my righteousness], so it really doesn’t matter whether, or to what extent, I obey him.

    …………

    Here I have believed my entire life that Christ’s saving righteousness was manifested through His dying and rising. Now I am learning that the actual righteousness we need in order to be saved does not come from cross and resurrection, but from the merits of his sinless life writ on my life’s ledger. Where do you find this merit theology in the preaching of the Apostles?

  91. Hugh McCann said,

    January 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    R-Rob, Faith in Christ is reckoned to us as Christ’s righteousness, not its own, right?

    And it’s not merely that Jesus gets you new furniture – God reckons you’re an upper east side townhouse! The refurnishing is real, but irrelevant to one’s justification, right?

    AND (not, “no”), Christ obeyed the Law in our place so that we wouldn’t have to (b/c we COULDN’T!); we get the credit for what He did [his merits are counted for our righteousness], so it really doesn’t matter whether, or to what extent, we obey him.

    Not for justification; no way.

    As for your final paragraph, you mustn’t rend asunder what God hath joined together. Christ’s saving righteousness was manifested through His dying and rising. YES!

    AND (not, “but”), the actual righteousness we need in order to be saved comes from his cross and resurrection — the merits of his sinless life written on our lives’ ledgers.

    That is, the passive & active obedience of Christ really amount to Christ’s life/ work/ death/ resurrection being credited to the sinner-saint.

    Where do you find this merit theology in the preaching of the Apostles? And: St Paul to the Romans.

  92. January 16, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Roberty bob said ” I get credit for what He did” You finally got, its caleed grace. We didnt earn it andcwe dont deserve it. Its a gift. 2 Corinthians 5:21: God made Him who knew no sin to be sin, that we might become the righteouness of God. It doesnt say we become righteous, but the righteouness of God ” in Him”

  93. roberty bob said,

    January 16, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    I thought that when the Apostle Paul mentions in Romans 5:18 the “one act of righteousness,” he had in mind specifically Christ laying down his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. I did not know that the one act of righteousness included his life-long perfect law keeping with his atoning sacrifice. Adam committed one consequential act of sin [eating from the forbidden tree] and Christ carried out one consequential act of righteousness [laying down his life as a sacrifice of atonement]. Based on that belief, I am justified by faith in Jesus’ blood that was shed for the forgiveness of my sins. Paul says in Romans 5:6-8 that David speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: and the blessedness consists of transgressions forgiven, sins covered, sin not counted against him. No reference is made there to a righteousness the consists of the imputed merits of a perfect Savior. I just want to make sure here. Am I justified by faith in Christ’s blood shed for the forgiveness of my sins? If a sinner like me is forgiven by God for having faith in Jesus’ shed blood — but not credited with the merits of Jesus life-long perfect obedience to the Law — will that sinner’s faith be credited to him as righteousness?

    When I think of grace, forgiveness always comes to mind. Saving grace is God forgiving me of my sins, not counting them against me. I thought that’s all there was to it. The sermon transcripts of Apostolic preaching found in the Acts of the Apostles confirms that, as time and again it is stated that they preached the gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. There is no mention in the Acts sermons of the transfer of merits.

  94. roberty bob said,

    January 16, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    So, as far as my justification is concerned, obeying the Lord — whether I do or don’t — doesn’t matter. So says Hugh.

    If my obedience does not matter as far as my justification is concerned, when does it matter? Or doesn’t it ever matter at all?

    When I stand before the Lord on the Last Day to give account of my deeds — whether good or evil — will obeying the Lord matter then? Or will I be able to say on the Last Day, “Lord Jesus, my disobedience to your commandments does not matter because when God looks at me He only sees only your perfect life-long obedience, which has been put to my account?” Is that what you would say? I can’t imagine myself saying such a thing. The Apostle teaches that each one will receive from the Lord according to his [own] deeds, weather good or evil.

  95. Hugh McCann said,

    January 17, 2015 at 12:04 am

    2Rs – You sound Orthodox (tho’ not orthodox). Read the epistles and get beyond the sermons in Acts – they’re awesome, but are the entres into the faith of the church. Paul & Co. explain things for us.

    You’ve been repeatedly directed to Romans and 2 Corinthians. Read and interact with these instead of pitting Jesus against Paul or Paul against Paul.

    Yours sounds like the faith of either a neophyte, or a false teacher’s. Are you truly Christ alone for your salvation, or “Jesus + you”?

    [Y]our obedience is pathetic, man. Jesus said, So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

    Paul said he labored by grace: by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Was this not grace alone, or was Paul to share some of the glory with God?

    If you can’t imagine standing before God robed only in the righteousness of Christ, then are you not a functioning synergist, and therefore not trusting Christ alone for your salvation?

    Then, pile up your good deeds and see how far they get you on Judgment Day.

    You asked, “Am I justified by faith in Christ’s blood shed for the forgiveness of my sins?”

    Yes, *if* that’s ALL you’re trusting in: Christ’s blood shed for your sins, and NOT your piety, prayers, decisions, charity, or choices.

    IOW, if you see Christ as exclusively sufficient, not merely necessary. That is, his work alone is your righteousness.

    He is not only the only way of salvation (exclusively, as even the papists aver), but the alone sufficiency for sinners (nothing to be added to his work for justification, washing, sanctification ~ 1 Cor. 6:11).

    “If a sinner like me is forgiven by God for having faith in Jesus’ shed blood — but not credited with the merits of Jesus life-long perfect obedience to the Law — will that sinner’s faith be credited to him as righteousness?”

    No.

  96. January 17, 2015 at 9:42 am

    Hugh, maybe one of the best posts inhave ever read. It would happen to be #95 thesis. Roberty bob’ garage door number is the year of thd Reformation lol.

  97. roberty bob said,

    January 17, 2015 at 10:37 am

    I do picture myself robed in the righteousness of Christ. In my baptism. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ [Galatians 3:27]. In obedience to the Lord, I clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love [the very character traits of Christ, per Colossians 3:12,13]. I do not take pride in this, or in my piety, prayers, decisions, charity, or choices. I have not once claimed to be trusting in anything that I do, or have done. Merits are not in the gospel calculus, as far as I can tell. What I need in order to be saved is Christ’s atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of my sins, and the new life that is born within though the power of his resurrection and indwelling Holy Spirit. The righteousness of Christ [from reading Romans, 2 Corinthians, Galatians] is revealed in Christ’s death and resurrection.

  98. W.A. Scott said,

    January 17, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Roberty Bob said:
    “I am reading that being forgiven of my sins by faith in the atoning blood of Christ cannot be reckoned for righteousness.”

    Unlike some modern reformed teachers who say that “forgiveness of sins” merely makes us neutral and something else is necessary to make us positively righteous, the reformers (Luther, Calvin, etc.) taught that forgiveness of sin is not only the imputation of our sins to Christ, it also the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness to our account. In other words, forgiveness only occurs when our unrighteousness covers Christ and Christ’s perfect righteousness covers our sins (as seen in the Scriptural image of the Lamb who was put to death for the guilt of others while the Lamb’s spotless/righteous blood covers the unrighteousness of the condemned sinner).

    According to the Reformers and Scripture: we are either perfectly righteous in view of the Law OR we are condemned for failing to perfectly fulfill the Law — there is no neutral middle ground (this includes infants who partake via Federal Headship either in the condemnation of the 1st Adam or the justification of the 2nd Adam). Further, the forgiveness of sins is the non-imputation not only of our commissions against the Law but also the non-imputation of our continual omissions in failing to do perfectly at every moment what the Law requires. Consequently, the Apology of Augsburg notes: “Well does Augustine say: All the commandments of God are fulfilled when whatever is not done, is forgiven.” And it is only the perfect righteous Blood that covers/fulfills our continual lack of perfect obedience/righteousness.
    [Continued]

  99. W.A. Scott said,

    January 17, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    s to your other question regarding the necessity of good works for Salvation/at the Final Judgment, the reformers (not to mention Scripture) taught that while we can only claim Christ’s righteousness as the basis of our justification–any attempt to claim presently or at the Final Judgment that we are “in Christ” (and thus partakers in the covering of His perfect righteousness) will be useless if we do not have a transformed life that testifies to the same. Consequently, the fruits of our actions will be necessary proof that we are who we say we are (namely those who are covered with Christ and His righteousness) both presently and at the Final Judgment. As Luther says: “Christ did not earn only gratia, grace, for us, but also donum, “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” so that we might have not only forgiveness of, but also cessation of, sin. Now he who does not abstain from sin, but persists in his evil life, must have a different Christ, that of the Antinomians; the real Christ is not there, even if all the angels would cry, “Christ! Christ!” He must be damned with this, his new Christ” (On the Council and the Church, Luther’s Works, 41:113-114).

    In fact, the Scripture clearly teach (and the reformers unanimously affirm) that eternal life is given as a “reward” for our faith and good works and/or is “attain[ed]” through our faith and good works (albeit not according to any merit in our faith or good works but only on the basis of the promise of God and the infinite merits of Christ). As Luther notes in his Bondage of the Will in reply to the questions of Erasmus:
    “Why is the word ‘reward’ repeated so often in the Scriptures? ‘There is a reward for thy work’ (2 Chron. 15.7). ‘I am thy exceeding great reward’ (Gen. 15.1). Again: ‘Who rendereth to every man according to his work’ (cf. Job 34.11). And Paul says in Rom. 2: ‘To those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek eternal life’ (v. 7); and there are many similar statements. The answer is that what is established by all these passages is simply a consequence of reward, not in any way a worthiness of merit; inasmuch as those who do good do not do so in a servile, mercenary spirit, with a view to gaining eternal life–although they seek eternal life in the sense that they are in the way by which they will find and attain eternal life…”

    God bless, W.A. Scott (as always I don’t know if I’ll have time to follow up in the near future).

  100. Hugh McCann said,

    January 17, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Great, (Mr) Scott!

    Thanks, Kevin.

    R-Rob – I meant to type (& it bears repeating):

    Are you truly trusting Christ alone for your salvation?

    Your post #97 is certainly pious-sounding, and I hope God gives you greater light in his word.

    As for the baptism thing, my avatar is deceptive as I don’t follow Luther on that – either as to its efficacy or its recipients.

    Being baptized into Christ is to be born again, which does not necessarily happen at one’s water baptism. To trust in sacramental grace is deceptive at best.

    Hence, we look in faith to our baptism as
    a picture of our washing, except not our washing,
    a picture of our regeneration, but not our regeneration,
    a picture of our union with Christ, tho’ it is not that.

    It points us in faith to our washing, regeneration, and union, but it is not these, and does not necessarily contain these.

    Peter says it well: The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

  101. January 17, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Tremendous job WA Scott. We are not to look to our obedience in any way to be justified, only Christ’s righteouness that comes by faith. The righteous shall live by faith. Havingvsaid that, we should pursue holy living with all ourselves. But, we should never forget, the Roman Catholic system is a system of grace sponsored salvation by works, rejected by the Reformers. The greatest violation being the despicable work of the Mass to propitiate one’s sins and merit increases of grace and justice. All should be encouraged to leave that communion immediately. K

  102. roberty bob said,

    January 17, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Thank you, W. A. . . . for your posts which express what I believe to be true — and for showing the link or faith and obedience as pertaining to justification and the final judgment. This resonates.

    Hugh asks, “Are you trusting Christ alone for your salvation?”
    On what basis do you wonder? Have I not repeatedly stated that my faith is in Christ’s blood shed for me? And in the vindicating judgment of Christ’s resurrection? Is there even a hint that I might be trusting in someone other than Christ? Who might this other savior possibly be?

    Hugh, you think my post #97 is pious-sounding. I meant for it only to be factual — clearing up some your assumptions from post #95.

    As to baptism, I read about this fellow who said to Saul of Tarsus, “What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized and wash your sins away!”
    So, what happened to Saul when he was baptized? Did he wash his sins away, or not? Or did he merely perform a ritual which gives a picture of his sins being washed away? When I said “I do” and gave my wife a wedding ring, did we get married, or did we merely give the gathered witnesses a picture of what getting married looks like?

    Kevin, you should know by now that I’m not Roman Catholic. I’ve emphatically insisted that I’m opposed to the merit system in all of its forms . . . including its use in Reformed theology.

  103. Hugh McCann said,

    January 17, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Hi, Rob @102 – I’ve questioned your understanding (if not your regeneration) since you repeatedly say you’re skeptical about Christ’s active obedience/ righteousness being imputed to you.

    As for baptism, you’re assuming water and not spiritual baptism? You’re assuming water + spiritual baptism?

    (Yes, his sins were pictured as being washed away, per 1 Peter 3:21, above, not actually washed away by holy water.)

    Your wedding/ marriage analogy is a fail. Your ceremony, rings, vows, even a duly authorized deputy (civil or ecclesiastical) of the state, or a church’s proclamation doesn’t marry you, except in the eyes of the state (and those so inclined). A wedding does not a marriage make.

  104. January 17, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    Robert bob, please go to ” out of His mouth” Tim Kauffman’s series on regeneration in the Fathers is the best I have read. He destroys the RC position.

  105. roberty bob said,

    January 17, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    to #103 . . .

    I had assumed that when Saul of Tarsus was baptized in water to wash away his sins [per his own testimony in Acts 22:16], he believed then and there that his sins were washed away — that he had become a new man [regenerated by the Holy Spirit’s life-creating power] in Christ.

    But you are saying that Saul was baptized only in order to perform a ritual depiction of a cleansing that God had already performed in him, or would eventually perform, by the Holy Spirit. So God doesn’t effect anything in the baptism rite itself since baptism is simply a symbolic depiction of cleansing from sin and the new birth — not the actual event the accomplishes this.

    So, when Paul says that all of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ, this may be true for some but not necessarily true for all. It all depends on God’s timing [to regenerate before, during, or after the ritual depiction?] — or to regenerate at all.

    It’s like a wedding. The wedding ritual is a symbolic depiction of the marriage union, but you just don’t know for sure on the wedding day whether you’re looking at the formation of an actual marriage. The actual marriage may have actually been formed days or months or years before the chosen wedding day, or it may take days or months or years after that day to form — if it forms at all.

    Have I understood you, Hugh?

  106. January 17, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    it is clear in the fathers regeration was by the washing of the Word thru the Spirit, and not the physical water. Please read Tim Kauffma’s series. It is thecbest.

  107. roberty bob said,

    January 17, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    to 106 Kevin . . .

    it is clear in Ephesians 5:26 that Christ makes his church holy in the washing by water through the word. And in John 3:5 it is by water and the Spirit.

    So, if the water doesn’t do a blessed thing, why baptize in water? Why get wet if you don’t have to?

  108. Hugh McCann said,

    January 17, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    2Rs – Baptism: Right! :)

    When Paul says that all of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ, this must mean spiritual (Sprit) baptism, and not watery.

    Of the water baptism, it may be true for some but not necessarily true for all. It all depends on God’s timing [to regenerate before, during, or after the ritual depiction?] — or to regenerate at all.

    Same for a marriage. What makes them married?

  109. Ron said,

    January 18, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    RB,

    Jesus saves. Notwithstanding, believers are born again by the incorruptible word of God. We reconcile these truths by a doctrine of means and ends. God saves through the foolishness of preaching. Added to that, a sacrament is a “visible word” (Augustine), which must be interpreted by the Word lest it is a bare, meaningless sign. Sacraments don’t work automatically, even if administered properly. As Calvin noted, the Lord teaches and instructs us by the Word, and he confirms His Word by the use of the sacraments. However, God also quickens our minds by the agency of the Holy Spirit.

    So, although it is true that “Jesus saves”, he does so by divine means of appointment. Similarly, in the natural world, God warms us and nourishes us by the sun and food but as Calvin also notes, such things are nothing outside of God’s means of appointment. In other words, it is ultimately God who warms and nourishes (and even that isn’t automatic or causally necessary).

    With that as a backdrop, the Westminster standards rightly teach a sacramental union between the visible sign and invisible thing signified. This union is so recognized in the Word that sometimes the effects of one are attributed to the other. So, when we say the Word saves – we say that God saves by His word. In the like manner, when we say Baptism saves, we maintain that the Sacraments have “value only as God’s instruments” (Calvin). They don’t work automatically and they don’t work apart from faith and God’s will.They are subordinate to God and His word, but unfortunately Rome has replaced God’s glory with these signs, even making idols out of them. The 39 Articles couldn’t be more right: sacraments are not to be gazed upon, paraded around or worshiped. These are superstitious practices based upon false doctrine.

    Protestants are divided on whether baptism in Romans 6 or Galatians 3 is referring to water. I without hesitation believe it is, but I also maintain that the Word is attributing the reality to the sign, which is where the analogy of Scripture and systematic theology comes into play. For instance, if Paul meant that baptism saves in a water-causal-necessity sense in the manner that Rome asserts, then he would have undermined all he had already taught. That God kindles our faith (Horton) by the sign and seal of baptism should not be controversial. That God saves through the means of Word and Sacrament is not to say that Sacraments automatically save (which paves the way for one losing his salvation).

    In sum, what Reformed folk will argue against is the teaching of the “working of the works” but we need not be minimalists either.

  110. Hugh McCann said,

    January 18, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    These should be problematic for baptism-regenerationists who say we can fall away after such a work as THIS!

    But they also prove too much if water baptism is in view. Calvin (et. al.) erred here.

    Rom. 6:3 ~ Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him…

    Sounds suspiciously like being IN CHRIST, not in potentiality, but reality.

    Gal. 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

    Only to “take him off” upon commission of a mortal sin? ;)

  111. Ron said,

    January 18, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    But they also prove too much if water baptism is in view. Calvin (et. al.) erred here.

    Hugh,

    I don’t think Calvin erred here.

    I trust you will agree that Calvin erred had he taught that water baptism is a sufficient condition for existential union with Christ no matter who the subject, but he didn’t.

    Sounds suspiciously like being IN CHRIST, not in potentiality, but reality.

    If one does not personally appropriate by faith the sufficiency of Christ’s person and work for his salvation, the rite of baptism is of no confirmatory and sealing effect; it’s as though one feasted upon Christ in the Supper yet without faith and thanksgiving.

    This doctrine of the visible and invisible church does not undermine this Reformed interpretation of Romans 6 and Galatians 3, which makes room for sacramental language, attributing the sign to the thing signified. It is indeed true for the “called of Jesus Christ” in Rome, the true “churches of Galatia” and saints everywhere that those who have been baptized into Christ have been clothed in Christ. There is not a mere potential when we interpret God’s word as speaking to the elect in Christ.

    The Scriptures are addressing the Saints here, there and everywhere, even though there are hypocrites who attend the hearing of God’s word. With that said, when God says to His people that those who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death, it is not a potentiality but a truth. From that perspective, attributing the reality to the sign presents no problem.

  112. Hugh McCann said,

    January 18, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    If, as I aver, Romans 6 is not about potentially being in Christ, but actually being in Christ, then it cannot be about water.

    And, if “the rite of baptism is of no confirmatory and sealing effect,” apart from faith (not necessarily endowed at baptism), then this baptism cannot be about water.

    Of course, any and all baptized into Christ are regenerate, justified, saved. Hence, it cannot be water in view by Paul.

    Calvin erred (as too many do) is seeing water baptism here: Titus 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    He got it that salvation is [not] contained in the outward symbol of water, but because baptism tells to us the salvation obtained by Christ. But then waxes eloquent on the water.

    Washing of regeneration = renewing of the Holy Spirit, not water baptism which pictures this/ these.

  113. Ron said,

    January 18, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?”

    The “we” who are dead to sin are the “us” who are in Christ. Similarly; 1 Cor. 15 does does not undermine particular atonement by saying “Jesus died for our sins.” These things are written to the true Israel of God. They have been baptized into Christ. The promises are for the true Israel and to us the sacraments are effectual.

  114. Hugh McCann said,

    January 18, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    \\The “we” who are dead to sin are the “us” who are in Christ.//

    Amen. By virtue of baptism by/ in the Spirit, not water.

  115. Ron said,

    January 18, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Forget the texts we’ve referenced. Do you have an issue with this basic principe?
    https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/sign-thing-signified-and-sacramental-relationship/

    Either way, I’m fine leaving the matter here, my Bother.

    Grace and peace.

  116. Hugh McCann said,

    January 18, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    With whom does “the sacrament include the thing signified”?

    For all the elect regenerated at baptism?

    No, the “inward and spiritual grace thereby signified” is *not* also part of the sacrament.

    Not in 100% of the cases, else we’d be Lutherans, Anglicans, or Papists.

    If “The only way one can possess the whole sacrament is for the Holy Spirit to give us faith,” and not all baptized folk have faith, then the “inward and spiritual grace” is not present, though signified, right?

    The blood of Christ is not applied to us in any sacrament, is it, Ron?

  117. January 18, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Without question the washing of the Word thru the agency of the Spirit. Its supernatural. Grace doesnt come thru the created thing.

  118. Ron said,

    January 18, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Kevin,

    Did God dictate the Word or did he work through created beings?

  119. roberty bob said,

    January 18, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    As they travelled along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”

    OK. So, the water [a God-created thing] is only the sign of the thing signified, namely, the washing away of sins — the so-called bath of regeneration — which is done through the agency of God’s Word and Holy Spirit. This thing — the washing away of sins, being born anew — can happen at any time or any place God chooses. However, for baptism to occur, the sign must be given: there must be water!

    Suppose the gospel-believing eunuch, on his way home, did not stop at the water in order to be baptized. Could he nevertheless claim to have been baptized by the Spirit?

    If you have the real thing — the thing signified — can you claim to have the experience of baptism without the sign of water?

  120. Ron said,

    January 18, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    “If you have the real thing — the thing signified — can you claim to have the experience of baptism without the sign of water?”

    RB,

    Not only can it be claimed, it would be true.

  121. roberty bob said,

    January 18, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    So, the eunuch who sped right on past the water all the way home to Ethiopia can tell all the folks how he the Lord saved him and baptized him?

  122. Ron said,

    January 18, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    RB,

    His profession would not be credible if he wouldn’t submit himself to baptism. In fact one who would refuse the sacrament cannot be regarded as a Christian.

  123. Ron said,

    January 18, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    RB,

    In your second to last post you speak of one having the reality. Accordingly, he would present himself for baptism, having not yet been baptised, on the basis of a credible profession. We should not expect such a one to refuse water. There’s no tension here.

  124. roberty bob said,

    January 18, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Good answers, Ron, at #122 and #123. That’s what I believe to be true. As Jesus said, “by water and the Spirit!”

  125. Ron said,

    January 18, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    RB,

    Don’t forget Saints Peter and James. We are born again by incorruptible seed, the word of God. And, we were brought forth by the word of truth. :)

  126. roberty bob said,

    January 18, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks for the reminders, Ron. Have a good Lord’s Day evening.

  127. Ron said,

    January 18, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    You too, RB. You too. :)

  128. Hugh McCann said,

    January 18, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    2Rs – Yes, of course, “the eunuch who sped right on past the water all the way home to Ethiopia can tell all the folks how he the Lord saved him and baptized him”!

    He was baptized into Christ by the Spirit, not with marine sprinkling or aquatic immersion.

  129. Hugh McCann said,

    January 18, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Hey, Ron, I answered your questions to me and asked you four in #116.
    Care to answer/ comment?
    Thanks.

  130. roberty bob said,

    January 19, 2015 at 12:01 am

    No doubt the Spirit does it, but even our Spirit-filled Lord Jesus Christ went down to the river to be baptized. Saul of Tarsus found water, too. What are you waiting for, Saul. Be baptized and wash your sins away.

    Hugh, you still look like Martin Luther!

  131. Hugh McCann said,

    January 19, 2015 at 12:17 am

    RB- You asked: “So, the eunuch who sped right on past the water all the way home to Ethiopia can tell all the folks how he the Lord saved him and baptized him?”

    I answered, “Of course.”

    Don’t equivocate by changing the terms. We don’t know that Phillip mentioned baptism to the eunuch in Acts 8. Jesus was fulfilling all righteousness and Paul was instructed by Ananias. Or was his baptism in Acts 9 “merely” the Holy Ghost? ;)

    But even if the Spirit necessarily prompts you to get water baptized apart from a Christian leading you in it, the overwhelming use of “baptism” in the NT is the answer of a good conscience toward God, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.

    The eunuch was baptized by Christ before Phillip dunked or sprinkled him.

  132. January 19, 2015 at 7:30 am

    The Eunuch was baptized after Phillip explained the passage and the Enuch believed. Incindentally, Phillip wasnt infallible, yet told him the meaning of the Scripture.

  133. Ron said,

    January 19, 2015 at 9:59 am

    With whom does “the sacrament include the thing signified”?

    Hugh,

    Only those who are united to Christ possess that which the sign signifies.

    For all the elect regenerated at baptism?

    Surely those who are regenerated at the font possess the reality. However, not just those possess the reality since not all the elect are united to Christ at the time of baptism. (Interestingly,I believe there were Divines that held to two stages of regeneration that applied only to the elect – first stage at baptism and the second at effectual calling. I reject this view.)

    No, the “inward and spiritual grace thereby signified” is *not* also part of the sacrament.

    Not in 100% of the cases, else we’d be Lutherans, Anglicans, or Papists.

    I think some could treat WLC 163 as a wax nose. However, I’m fine with Lane’s construct here, from the link I provided, since he elaborates that the gift of faith according to grace releases or appropriates that which the sacrament signifies. (In other words, I suspect his view is somewhat analogous to all drinking from the same spiritual rock but some drank in faith whereas others did not.) In any case, it sounds like you take exception to WLC 163, which you’ve quoted. I don’t. (We might agree on our theology but maybe we don’t on what the LC is saying.) I believe the sacrament, exegeted by the Word, puts forth and visibly depicts that God alone must save and that he must save by grace alone. To signify grace is not the same thing as being grace. To signify that God must save by sovereign washing, etc. shouldn’t be a matter of dispute for Calvinists.

    So, that the grace of union with Christ (and all that contemplates) is signified by the sacrament does not suggest that the sacrament works automatically, or that the sacrament is to be equated with grace. In the like manner, the non-visible Word does not convert automatically.

    If “The only way one can possess the whole sacrament is for the Holy Spirit to give us faith,” and not all baptized folk have faith, then the “inward and spiritual grace” is not present, though signified, right?

    The WLC speaks of the inward and spiritual grace being signified. We mustn’t “identify” (i.e. equate) the sign with the thing signified lest they become the same thing (as noted by stalwarts). So, if what you mean by “present” would collapse the grace signified into the sacrament itself then I agree with you, but I don’t think that the standards do that (yet I infer you quoted that portion with disapproval).

    We must distinguish grace from means of grace. A sign can be the latter when mixed with faith (and a means of condemnation when not mixed with faith.) However, I don’t agree that the sign of grace is not presented by the sacrament. Given what you wrote, we might disagree over that point. To believe that grace is signified doesn’t make us Lutherans, etc. Because to believe that grace is signified doesn’t make the sign, grace, let alone automatically released.

    The blood of Christ is not applied to us in any sacrament, is it, Ron?

    The merits of Christ are always applied by the Spirit. However, the Spirit works in conjunction with the Word – so much so that we’ve been called forth by the word of truth. The sacrament (properly administered and explicated) is a visible word. Accordingly, God may choose to apply salvation through the means of the sacrament that must be interpreted by the Word, as he does by the occasion of the Word apart from the sacrament. But it is God alone who applies the blood of Christ through the instrumentality of faith and the means of the sacraments. Similarly, Jesus healed but for some reason used clay of the spittle. Nonetheless, it was Jesus alone who healed. Lastly, salvation includes sanctification and through the Supper we are truly nourished in Christ. It is God alone who nourishes us, but he delights in doing so through His means of appointment as we feast upon Christ in our hearts, in faith…

  134. Ron said,

    January 19, 2015 at 10:05 am

    I wrote: “Because to believe that grace is signified doesn’t make the sign, grace, let alone automatically released.”

    There should be no commas. IOW: I should have written: “Because to believe that grace is signified doesn’t turn the sign into grace let alone automatically release grace.”

  135. roberty bob said,

    January 19, 2015 at 11:40 am

    However, the one to whom the sign is given — the baptized person — should, by faith, consider himself to be clothed with Christ: graced with His saving righteousness! Right?

  136. January 19, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Ron, can grace come thru fallen human nature? Aren’t created things part of that nature. god uses them as signs, but grace must come ply by supernatural means, namely Christ, fully man, and fully God.

  137. Ron said,

    January 19, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Kevin,

    I don’t think I know where to begin with answering you. I suspect your non-Reformed roots run very deep. If you have issues with the Westminster standards on this matter, please quote chapter and verse and maybe I’ll try to entertain those sorts of things.

  138. Ron said,

    January 19, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    However, the one to whom the sign is given — the baptized person — should, by faith, consider himself to be clothed with Christ: graced with His saving righteousness! Right?

    RB,

    Yes, that would be a good idea. :)

  139. January 19, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Ron, strike my question. I asked a bad question. In Roman Catholicism there is a faulty axiom, that grace nature innerconnection. Arevyou familiar with this? That fallen human nature is receptive to grace. It is thru this axiom and their other faulty axiom, the church as an contunation of incarnation that God brings grace thru fallen humaity, Mary, Priests etc. Grace can only come suprnaturally thru the Word by the agency of the Spirit. Could you respond to this thanks Kevin.

  140. Ron said,

    January 19, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I reject Rome’s hot iron burns theology, the priesthood as it relates to their perversion of communion and all the rest. However, I affirm the Reformed teaching on the efficacy of the sacraments through the sovereign power of the Third Person. These are God’s sacraments.

  141. January 19, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Ron, thanks.

  142. Ron said,

    January 19, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    Sure thing, Kevin. I even republished a post on my site in your honor.

  143. January 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Ron, I enjoyed that article. And yes, I consider myself Reformed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: