Thanks to Justin Taylor for tuning me into this.
Sunday is October 31, Reformation Sunday, remembering God’s great work of bringing the light of the gospel to Europe through the Reformation. So to help prepare you for that day I was joined by TurretinFan, and we talked about Francis Turretin, one of those used by God to help systematize and defend the truths of the Reformation. Then I spent about 25 minutes (after taking a call on John 17:12/John 6:44) discussing the backgrounds of the Reformation. I hope this helps you have a more meaningful Reformation Sunday! Here’s the program.
What might Jesus say about the Schullers’ whoredoms?
15 “But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his. 16 You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be. 17 You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. 18 And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. 19 Also my bread that I gave you—I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey—you set before them for a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord God. 20 And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your whorings so small a matter 21 that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them? 22 And in all your abominations and your whorings you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, wallowing in your blood.
23 “And after all your wickedness (woe, woe to you! declares the Lord God), 24 you built yourself a vaulted chamber and made yourself a lofty place in every square. 25 At the head of every street you built your lofty place and made your beauty an abomination, offering yourself to any passerby and multiplying your whoring. 26 You also played the whore with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, multiplying your whoring, to provoke me to anger. 27 Behold, therefore, I stretched out my hand against you and diminished your allotted portion and delivered you to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. 28 You played the whore also with the Assyrians, because you were not satisfied; yes, you played the whore with them, and still you were not satisfied. 29 You multiplied your whoring also with the trading land of Chaldea, and even with this you were not satisfied.
30 “How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute, 31 building your vaulted chamber at the head of every street, and making your lofty place in every square. Yet you were not like a prostitute, because you scorned payment. 32 Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! 33 Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. 34 So you were different from other women in your whorings. No one solicited you to play the whore, and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; therefore you were different.
35 “Therefore, O prostitute, hear the word of the Lord: 36 Thus says the Lord God, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them, 37 therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated. I will gather them against you from every side and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness. 38 And I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy. 39 And I will give you into their hands, and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber and break down your lofty places. They shall strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare. 40 They shall bring up a crowd against you, and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. 41 And they shall burn your houses and execute judgments upon you in the sight of many women. I will make you stop playing the whore, and you shall also give payment no more. 42 So will I satisfy my wrath on you, and my jealousy shall depart from you. I will be calm and will no more be angry. 43 Because you have not remembered the days of your youth, but have enraged me with all these things, therefore, behold, I have returned your deeds upon your head, declares the Lord God. Have you not committed lewdness in addition to all your abominations?
Be warned Sheila, everyone who uses proverbs will use this proverb about you: ‘Like father, like daughter.’
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
But wicked men and impostors This is the most bitter of all persecutions, when we see wicked men, with their sacrilegious hardihood, with their blasphemies and errors, gathering strength. Thus Paul says elsewhere, that Ishmael persecuted Isaac, not by the sword, but by mockery (Galatians 4:29.) Hence also we may conclude, that in the preceding verse, it was not merely one kind of persecution that was described, but that the Apostle spoke, in general terms, of those distresses which the children of God are compelled to endure, when they contend for the glory of their Father.
I stated, a little before, in what respect they shall grow worse and worse; for he foretells not only that they will make obstinate resistance, but that they will succeed in injuring and corrupting others. One worthless person will always be more effectual in destroying, than ten faithful teachers in building, though they labor with all their might. Nor are there ever wanting the tares which Satan sows for injuring the pure corn; and even when we think that false prophets are driven away, others continually spring up in other directions.
Again, as to the power of doing injury, it is not because falsehood, in its own nature, is stronger than truth, or that the tricks of Satan exceed the energy of the Spirit of God; but because men, being naturally inclined to vanity and errors, embrace far more readily what agrees with their natural disposition, and also because, being blinded by a righteous vengeance of God, they are led, as captive slaves, at the will of Satan. And the chief reason, why the plague of wicked doctrines is so efficacious, is, that the ingratitude of men deserves that it should be so. It is highly necessary for godly teachers to be reminded of this, that they may be prepared for uninterrupted warfare, and may not be discouraged by delay, or yield to the haughtiness and insolence of adversaries.
But as for thee, continue in those things which thou hast learned Although wickedness prevail, and push its way forward, he advises Timothy nevertheless to stand firm. And undoubtedly this is the actual trial of faith, when we offer unwearied resistance to all the contrivances of Satan, and do not alter our course for every wind that blows, but remain steadfast on the truth of God, as on a sure anchor.
Knowing from whom thou hast learned them This is said for the purpose of commending the certainty of the doctrine; for, if any one has been wrong instructed, he ought not to persevere in it. On the contrary, we ought to unlearn all that we have learned apart from Christ, if we wish to be his disciples; as, for example, it is the commencement of our pure instruction in the faith to reject and forget all the instruction of Popery. The Apostle therefore does not enjoin Timothy to defend indiscriminately the doctrine which has been delivered to him, but only that which he knows to be truth; by which he means, that he must make a selection. Besides, he does not claim this as a private individual, that what he has taught shall be reckoned to be a divine revelation; but he boldly asserts his own authority to Timothy, who, he was aware, knew that his fidelity and his calling had been proved. And if he was fully convinced that he had been taught by an Apostle of Christ, he concluded that therefore it was not a doctrine of man, but of Christ.
This passage teaches us, that we ought to be as careful to guard against obstinacy in matters that are uncertain, (such as all the doctrines of men are,) as to hold within unshaken firmness the truth of God. Besides, we learn from it, that faith ought to be accompanied by prudence, that it may distinguish between the word of God and the word of men, so that we may not adopt at random everything that is brought forward. Nothing is more inconsistent with the nature of faith than light credulity, which allows us to embrace everything indiscriminately, whatever it may be, and from whomsoever it proceeds; because it is the chief foundation of faith, to know that it has God for its author.
And which have been intrusted to thee When he adds, that the doctrine had been intrusted to Timothy, this gives (αὔξησιν) additional force to the exhortation; for to “commit a thing in trust” is something more than merely to deliver it. Now Timothy had not been taught as one of the common people, but in order that he might faithfully deliver into the hands of others what he had received.
And that from (thy) childhood This was also no ordinary addition, that he had been accustomed, from his infancy, to the reading of the Scripture; for this long habit may make a man much more strongly fortified against every kind of deception. It was therefore a judicious caution observed in ancient times, that those who were intended for the ministry of the word should be instructed, from their infancy, in the solid doctrine of godliness, that, when they came to the performance of their office, they might not be untried apprentices. And it ought to be reckoned a remarkable instance of the kindness of God, if any person, from his earliest years, has thus acquired a knowledge of the Scriptures.
Which are able to make thee wise unto salvation It is a very high commendation of the Holy Scriptures, that we must not seek anywhere else the wisdom which is sufficient for salvation; as the next verse also expresses more fully. But he states, at the same time, what we ought to seek in the Scripture; for the false prophets also make use of it as a pretext; and therefore, in order that it may be useful to us for salvation, it is necessary to understand the right use of it.
Through faith, which is in Christ Jesus What if any one give his whole attention to curious questions? What if he adhere to the mere letter of the law, and do not seek Christ? What if he pervert the natural meaning by inventions that are foreign to it? For this reason he directs us to the faith of Christ as the design, and therefore as the sum, of the Scriptures; for on faith depends also what immediately follows.
All Scripture; or, the whole of Scripture; though it makes little difference as to the meaning. He follows out that commendation which he had glanced at briefly. First, he commends the Scripture on account of its authority; and secondly, on account of the utility which springs from it. In order to uphold the authority of the Scripture, he declares that it is divinely inspired; for, if it be so, it is beyond all controversy that men ought to receive it with reverence. This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit.
If it be objected, “How can this be known?” I answer, both to disciples and to teachers, God is made known to be the author of it by the revelation of the same Spirit. Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spake. The same Spirit, therefore, who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling, now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone. This is the first clause, that we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it.
And is profitable Now follows the second part of the commendation, that the Scripture contains a perfect rule of a good and happy life. When he says this, he means that it is corrupted by sinful abuse, when this usefulness is not sought. And thus he indirectly censures those unprincipled men who fed the people with vain speculations, as with wind. For this reason we may in the present day, condemn all who, disregarding edification, agitate questions which, though they are ingenious, are also useless. Whenever ingenious trifles of that kind are brought forward, they must be warded off by this shield, that “Scripture is profitable.” Hence it follows, that it is unlawful to treat it in an unprofitable manner; for the Lord, when he gave us the Scriptures, did not intend either to gratify our curiosity, or to encourage ostentation, or to give occasion for chatting and talking, but to do us good; and, therefore, the right use of Scripture must always tend to what is profitable. “Who is it that by nature will not desire his happiness and his salvation? And where could we find it but in the Holy Scripture, by which it is communicated to us? Woe to us if we will not listen to God when he speaks to us, seeing that he asks nothing but our advantage. He does not seek his own profit, for what need has he of it? We are likewise reminded not to read the Holy Scripture so as to gratify our fancies, or to draw from it useless questions. Why? Because it is profitable for salvation, says Paul. Thus, when I expound the Holy Scripture, I must be guided by this consideration, that those who hear me may receive profit from the doctrine which I teach, that they may be edified for salvation. If I have not that desire, and do not aim at the edification of those who hear me, I am a sacrilegious person, profaning the word of God. On the other hand, they who read the Scripture, or who come to the sermon to listen, if they are in search of some foolish speculation, if they come here to take their amusement, are guilty of having profaned a thing so holy.”
For instruction Here he enters into a detailed statement of the various and manifold advantages derived from the Scriptures. And, first of all, he mentions instruction, which ranks above all the rest; for it will be to no purpose that you exhort or reprove, if you have not previously instructed. But because “instruction,” taken by itself, is often of little avail, he adds reproof and correction
It would be too long to explain what we are to learn from the Scriptures; and, in the preceding verse, he has given a brief summary of them under the word faith. The most valuable knowledge, therefore, is “faith in Christ.” Next follows instruction for regulating the life, to which are added the excitements of exhortations and reproofs. Thus he who knows how to use the Scriptures properly, is in want of nothing for salvation, or for a Holy life. Reproof and correction differ little from each other, except that the latter proceeds from the former; for the beginning of repentance is the knowledge of our sinfulness, and a conviction of the judgment of God. Instruction in righteousness means the rule of a good and holy life.
That the man of God may be perfect. Perfect means here a blameless person, one in whom there is nothing defective; for he asserts absolutely, that the Scripture is sufficient for perfection. Accordingly, he who is not satisfied with Scripture desires to be wiser than is either proper or desirable.
But here an objection arises. Seeing that Paul speaks of the Scriptures, which is the name given to the Old Testament, how does he say that it makes a man thoroughly perfect? for, if it be so, what was afterwards added by the apostles may be thought superfluous. I reply, so far as relates to the substance, nothing has been added; for the writings of the apostles contain nothing else than a simple and natural explanation of the Law and the Prophets, together with a manifestation of the things expressed in them. This eulogium, therefore, is not inappropriately bestowed on the Scriptures by Paul; and, seeing that its instruction is now rendered more full and clear by the addition of the Gospel, what can be said but that we ought assuredly to hope that the usefulness, of which Paul speaks, will be much more displayed, if we are willing to make trial and receive it?
III. The Gracious Cause of Union with Christ
A. The Father’s eternal counsels of redemption planned the salvation of sinners (Eph 1:4). The Son was sent to seek and to save that which was lost (Lu 19:10). “Christ did not come to represent a disjointed conglomerate of people – He came to die for those who would be saved by union with Him” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 448).
B. The sovereign grace of God alone puts us in union with Christ (1 Cor 1:30-31; James 1:18). The Father poured out His infinite grace IN the One He loves – that means that all of God’s grace comes to us in Christ (Eph 1:6; 1 Cor 1:4). This was a planned union by God’s own decision. It was not conditioned upon what God saw that you would do (see 2 Tim 1:9; Eph 1:11, 13; Gal 2:20; faith is the instrument 3:26). Even saving faith is traceable to God’s grace (see Phil 1:29; Eph 2:8, 9).
C. We are God’s workmanship (Eph 2:10; 2 Cor 5:17). The believer is “complete” in Christ (Col 2:10). Christ is our life (Col 3:3, 4).
D. The believer’s union with Christ was planned in eternity (Eph 1:4). It was objectively actualized in Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom 6:5). It was subjectively realized in the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13). “The flesh of Christ is like a rich and inexhaustible fountain that pours into us the life springing forth from the Godhead into itself” (Calvin’s Institutes, IV. 17.9.). Calvin’s point is we cannot share in Christ’s saving benefits without possessing Him.
E. The Holy Spirit unites the believer to Christ (1 Cor 12:13). Union is coincident with regeneration – it takes place at the moment of the new birth (Gal 3:27). The Holy Spirit regenerates the sinner (Titus 3:5-7). There can be no new life UNTIL the bondage of sin and self is broken (Rom 6:2-7; 2 Cor 5:14-15, 17). Christ’s death and resurrection is the basis for imparting new life to the believer. His death was the judgment of our old life (Rom 6:6). Who and what we were before we met Christ was judged at the cross – it is slated for demolition, not improvement. (Note that false forms of “Christianity” major in attempts to patch up and fix up the “old man” – Rom 6:6 teaches us that victory over sin’s power is by the crucifixion of the “old man” by co-crucifixion with Christ.)
APPLICATION: The Spirit’s regenerating work unites us to Christ. An unbreakable union ensues. Because of the believer’s union with Christ, final resurrection is assured (Rom 6:5; 1Cor 15:22; Rom 8:17). We will always be with Him (1Thess 4:17, 18). He who has the Son has the life (1 Jn 5:12).
Being united with Christ saves us from the PENALTY of sin, the POWER of sin, and, ultimately, the PRESENCE of sin. If a person is only interested in being delivered from the penalty of sin, what does it say about the lack of evidence that they are in union with Christ? (Note the passages which teach that Christ purchased the believer’s consecration – 2 Cor 5:14, 15).
APPLICATION: There is nothing that man can do to command or control the new birth. Neither baptism, nor a religious formula, or membership in a church can eternally unite a person to the Son of God. Being united with Christ is an act only God Almighty can perform – it is not even triggered by man’s action (Jn 1:12, 13; Matt 11:27; Eph 2:1-10; James 1:18). (See quote from The Cross and Salvation, by Bruce Demarest on the erroneous view of Catholicism, p. 317.)
Union With Christ by Augustus Hopkins Strong
The consequences of union with Christ may be summarily stated as follows:
(a) Union with Christ involves a change in the dominant affection of the soul. Christ’s entrance into the soul makes it a new creature, in the sense that the ruling disposition, which before was sinful, now becomes holy. This change we call Regeneration.
Expositor’s Greek Testament on 1 Cor. 15:45, 46—“The action of Jesus in ‘breathing’ upon his disciples while he said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22 sq.) symbolized the vitalizing relationship which at this epoch he assumed towards mankind; this act raised to a higher potency the original ‘breathing’ of God by which ‘man became a living soul’ (Gen. 2:7).”
(b) Union with Christ involves a new exercise of the soul’s powers in repentance and faith; faith, indeed, is the act of the soul by which, under the operation of God, Christ is received. This new exercise of the soul’s powers we call Conversion (Repentance and Faith). It is the obverse or human side of Regeneration.
(c) Union with Christ gives to the believer the legal standing and rights of Christ. As Christ’s union with the race involves atonement, so the believer’s union with Christ involves Justification. The believer is entitled to take for his own all that Christ is, and all that Christ has done; and this because he has within him that new life of humanity which suffered in Christ’s death and rose from the grave in Christ’s resurrection,—in other words, because he is virtually one person with the Redeemer. In Christ the believer is prophet, priest, and king.
(d) Union with Christ secures to the believer the continuously transforming, assimilating power of Christ’s life,—first, for the soul; secondly, for the body,—consecrating it in the present, and in the future raising it up in the likeness of Christ’s glorified body. This continuous influence, so far as it is exerted in the present life, we call, Sanctification, the human side or aspect of which is Perseverance.
(e) Union with Christ brings about a fellowship of Christ with the believer,—Christ takes past in all the labors, temptations, and sufferings of his people; a fellowship of the believer with Christ,—so that Christ’s whole experience on earth is in some measure reproduced in him; a fellowship of all believers with one another,—furnishing a basis for the spiritual unity of Christ’s people on earth, and for the eternal communion of heaven. The doctrine of Union with Christ is therefore the indispensable preparation for Ecclesiology, and for Eschatology
This doctrine is another way of saying, “Christ alone!” All spiritual blessings in heavenly places are found in him. Even the gifts of the Holy Spirit are through and for the ministry of Christ the Mediator. No one is baptized in the Holy Spirit, but baptized bythe Holy Spirit into Christ.
Regeneration, or the new birth, is the commencement of this union. God brings this connection and baptism even before there is any sign of life–”while you were dead…he made you alive” (Eph.2:1). The first gift of this union is faith, the sole instrument through which we live and remain on this vine. But this is a rich vine, pregnant with nourishing sap to produce an abundance of fruit. Though we are not attached to nor remain attached to this vine by the fruit (what branch depends on the fruit?), those who are truly members of Christ inevitably produce fruit. Through union with Christ, we receive his righteousness imputed (justification) as well as his righteousness imparted (sanctification)….
…2. Confusing Indicative and Imperative
Everywhere the Scriptures provide both the declaration of who we are in Christ (indicative) and the command to respond to that particular declaration in a certain way (imperative). For instance, Paul does not simply issue an imperative like, “Stop living with your boyfriend.” He says, “How should we who have died to sin live any longer in it?” Paul does not call people to die to sin; he does not invite them to enter into a higher level of abundant life; there are not appeals to become something which the believer is not already. The believer has died, is buried, is raised, is seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and so on. These are not plateaus for victorious Christians who have surrendered all, but realities for every believer regardless of how small one’s faith or how weak one’s repentance.
Thus, we must stop trying to convert believers into these realities by imperatives: “Do this,” “Confess that,” “Follow these steps,” and so on. Union with Christ ushers us into conversion and conversion ushers us immediately into all of these realities so that, as Sinclair Ferguson writes, “The determining factor of my existence is no longer my past. It is Christ’s past” (Christian Spirituality: Five Views, Zondervan, p.57).
For those who speak as though the filling of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, justification, the new birth, and union with Christ are things to be attained by obedience to imperatives, Paul insists, “But of him[God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption–that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’” (1 Cor.1:30-31).
These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the Gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.
Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of His good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
They who, in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possibly in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.
We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins, but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from His Spirit, and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s judgment.
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 unreproveable 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.
Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.
Paul describes for us what motivated him:
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
And instructs us about what should be our attitude:
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Remembering that he also said:
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
And why did Jesus do that?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus knew, and pursued the promise of the Father, not in absence of the thought of reward, but specifically humbled himself for the very purpose of attaining it.
Not even God does what he does for altruistic reasons. His purpose in all that he does is his own glory. In Jesus we find that image most perfectly revealed:
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
And it is this image that has been restored to man in Christ Jesus, that man being enabled to glorify God would by that be glorified with him:
As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth… By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you… All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.
“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
The conclusion is inescapable:
Question. 1. What is the chief end of man? Answer. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever…
If we glorify God, he will glorify our souls for ever. By raising God’s glory, we increase our own: by glorifying God, we come at last to the blessed enjoyment of him.
Johnathan Edwards would say this is a godly selfishness. Why, then, would the world look to a pure altruism? There is the allusion toward an inherent selfishness in man, what the article says Hawkins called the selfish gene. But is it genetic, is it solely societal influence? What is the source of the drive, greater or lesser, in man that approves of this attribute readily recognized in man? And why is there no such thing as pure altruism?
Sinful man wants nothing to do with God. Therefore, he seeks by all means to deny him, even to the point that right reason for seeking glorification of oneself is seen as a fault. It is claimed that even though there is the concept of altruism, it is always tainted by some selfish motive. But is the selfishness necessarily wrong? No, because as the catechetical question affirms, there is a reason that we were created. In seeking to fulfill man’s purpose, there is inherent in him and in that purpose benefit to the man as an individual self.
The world, however, wants nothing to do with glorifying God. And since that drive is one in which the very image of God is found in part, worldly man denies, or calls the actions into question. Altruism, the worldly think, is a goal to be sought, one that is pure, with no thought of self in seeking the best of another. It is recognized that it is an impossible goal, however, by those in the field of psychology. A selfish gene Hawkins calls it, as an explanation for the existing psychology of man. The reality is that it isn’t a flaw, but the purpose for which man was created. Altruism, to the contradiction of Scripture, seeks no thing for the self. Scripture though shows us the more perfect way:
God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
We can see by the next verse that there is, indeed, a form of selfishness which the bible calls self-seeking. When we understand the balance, that in seeking God’s glory we ourselves will be glorified, we come to understand why it is the world abhors a selfish do-gooder. There is in the worldly person a hope to separate from the doing of good the purpose for which man was created to do good works. Even when man is devoid of the Spirit of God, he will still seek to do the good works he was created to do. The emptiness that comes out of all man’s efforts, what he calls the selfish motive, or the selfish gene, is the effect of sin. Sin never seeks the glory of God, and therefore can never find the peace in the self benefit that is providentially attached to it. That is the hope set before the believer; his glorification with Christ, Romans 8. It is the reason that pure altruism does not exist. Man either seeks his own glorification to the exclusion of God because of the selfish gene of sin and never finds peace in doing such. Or, by the glorification of God he seeks his own by the Spirit of God.
“It cannot be doubted, that every article is fundamental, to the denial of which, God, not withstanding the grace and benignity of the Gospel, has annexed a threatening of destruction. I say, not withstanding the grace of the Gospel; for according to the rigour of the law, all culpable ignorance of any truth which God has revealed is damnable…To point out the articles necessary to salvation, and precisely determine their number, is a task, if not utterly impossible, at least extremely difficult. There are, doubtless, more articles fundamental, than those to which Scriptures have appended and express threatening of destruction…
Nor is it necessary that we should possess an exact number of fundamental articles. It is incumbent on each of us to labour with utmost diligence to obtain an enlargement of saving knowledge, lest, perhaps, we should be found ignorant of truths that are necessary. The man who is not solicitous to receive every possible accession to his knowledge, knows nothing yet of the ways of the Lord, as he ought to know…
It is evident then, that to ascertain precisely the number of necessary articles, is not requisite to our spiritual comfort. It is sufficient to know in general, that he who has learned cordially to love God as reconciled in Christ, and to place his confidence in him, holds what is necessary; and that, mean time, it is the incumbent duty of all Christians, to make progress in the knowledge of the mystery of God, and of Christ…
It is of no great importance, besides, to the Church at large, to know quite correctly the precise number of fundamental articles. It does not become us to ascend into the tribunal of God, and pronounce concerning our neighbor, for how small a defect of knowledge, or how inconsiderable an error, he must be excluded from heaven. It is much safer to leave that to God: and even supposing that we had succeeded in discovering it, still we would possess no clear and positive rule of admission to the communion of the Church. It may not be safe and expedient for us to receive into church fellow-ship, a person chargeable with some error or sin; whom, however, we should not dare on account of that error or sin, to exclude from heaven. Nor, were even if this point once determined, would the way be prepared for perfect peace and harmony in the churches of Christ; as if, provided the necessary articles are maintained, no great solicitude ought to be discovered with respect to the rest. Though one article be of greater importance than another, none of the truths of God ought to be esteemed so trivial and contemptible, that it is of very little consequence whether our sentiments concerning them be right or wrong…
Our faith consists not in words, but in sense, not in the surface, but in the substance; not in the leaves of a profession, but in the root of reason. All the heretics of present day, that claim the name of Christians, are willing enough to subscribe to the words of the Creed; each however affixing to them whatever sense he please, though diametrically opposite to sound doctrine. It must be remarked, also, that such Protestants as have held this language with regard to the Creed, have included under the articles expressed in it, those which are necessarily suppose or deduced in it, and without the articles can be neither thoroughly understood, nor sincerely acknowledged…
Neither the ancient Fathers, however, nor the chief men of the Reformed churches, can justly be accused of having done wrong, when they inserted in Creeds and Confessions articles not absolutely necessary, and even when they sometimes expressed those articles in terms other than those of Scripture. Since all the truths of our holy faith are exceedingly precious, and are at the same time intimately connected together, prudence requires us to provide for the security of such as are necessary, by maintaining those which, though less necessary, are yet worthy of all acceptation. It is also necessary for the Church, solicitously to distinguish and separate herself from all who pervert the truth; and her safety if ill consulted by those who, under the specious pretext of peace and toleration, would have her embrace with open arms all that hold errors not entirely fundamental. Conduct of this sort would be utterly unworthy of the chaste Spouse of Jesus. As heretics, too, are accustomed to use general expressions with a view to deceive, and while they retain the words of Scripture, impose on them a foreign and unnatural sense; necessity sometimes indispensable requires us, for the purpose of detecting the wiles of seducers with the greater facility, to express the genuine meaning of Scripture in our own language…
The experience of all ages shows, that persons who calumniate forms of that kind, are pleased with none excepting such as are extremely brief, and composed entirely of the mere words of Scripture, are secretly entertaining some mischievous design. Herman Witsius
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Sect. XXXIX. — BUT why do I go on enlarging? Why do I not conclude this discussion with this Exordium, and give my sentence against you in your own words, according to that saying of Christ, “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned?” (Matt. xii. 37.) For you say that the Scripture is not quite clear upon this point. And then, suspending all declaration of your own sentiment, you discuss each side of the subject, what may be said for, and what against, and nothing else whatever do you do, in the whole of this book of yours; which, for that very reason, you wished to call DIATRIBE (The Collation) rather than APOPHASIS (The Denial), or something of that kind; because, you wrote with a design to collect all things, and to assert nothing. But if the Scripture be not quite clear upon this point, why do those of whom you boast, not only remain blind to their side of the subject, but rashly and as fools, define and assert “Free-will,” as though proved by a certain and all-sure testimony of Scripture, — that numberless series of the most learned men, I mean, whom the consent of so many ages has approved, even unto this day, and many of whom, in addition to an admirable acquaintance with the Sacred Writings, a piety of life commends? — Some have given, by their blood, a testimony of that doctrine of Christ, which they had defended by Scriptures. If you say what you say, from your heart, it is surely a settled point with you, that “Free-will” has assertors, who are endowed with a wonderful understanding in the sacred writings, and who even gave testimony of that doctrine by their blood. If this be true, they certainly had clear Scripture on their side, else, where would be their admirable understanding in the Sacred Writings? Moreover, what lightness and temerity of spirit must it be, to shed ones blood for a matter uncertain and obscure? This is not to be the martyrs of Christ, but the martyrs of devils!
Now then, do you just set the matter before you, and weigh it in your mind, and say, to which of the two you consider the greater credit should be given; to the prejudices of so many learned men, so many orthodox divines, so many saints, so many martyrs, so many theologians old and recent, so many colleges, so many councils, so many bishops and high-priest Popes, who were of opinion that the Scriptures are quite clear, and who (according to you) confirmed the same by their writings and by their blood; or to your own private judgment, who deny that the Scriptures are quite clear, and who, perhaps, never spent one single tear or sigh for the doctrine of Christ, in the whole of your life? If you believe they were right in their opinion, why do you not follow them in it? If you do not believe they were right, why do you boast of them with such a trumpeting mouth, and such a torrent of language, as though you would overwhelm us head and ears with a certain storm or flood of eloquence? Which flood, however, will the more heavily rush back upon your own head, whilst my Ark is borne along in safety on the top of the waters! Moreover, you attribute to so many and great men, the utmost folly and temerity. For when you speak of them as being men of the greatest understanding in the Scripture, and as having asserted it by their pen, by their life, and by their death; and yet at the same time contend yourself, that the same Scripture is obscure and ambiguous, this is nothing less than making those men most ignorant in understanding, and most stupid in assertion. Thus I, their poor private despiser, do not pay them such an ill compliment, as you do, their public flatterer.
Arminians though exhibiting certain differences among themselves are agreed that sufficient grace, whether it be regarded as a natural possession or a gracious bestowal, resides in all, and therefore that all men have the ability to believe. The explanation of the fact that some believe and some do not rests wholly in a difference of response on the part of men. This difference of response may be stated in terms of co-operation with, or improvement of, the grace of God. But in any case the explanation of the difference lies exclusively in the free will of man. For the difference of response on the part of the believer as over against the unbeliever he is not only wholly responsible but he, in the exercise of the autonomy that belongs to his will, is the sole determining factor. God does not make men to differ. He operates no more savingly and efficaciously in the man who believes than He does in the man who does not believe. For this indiscriminateness in the saving operations of God, the Arminian is exceedingly jealous; he demands that what God does for and in one He does for and in all equally. In the ultimate, then, the issue of salvation rests with the sovereign determination of the human will. Men make themselves to differ.
Now it is easy to see that , if man is thus able to co-operate with or improve the grace that is common to all, there must remain in man some vestige of good. Indeed, so decisive an element of ability to good survives that it determines the exercise of the most important event or series of events in the history of the individual. And this is exactly where the Arminian position impinges not only upon the sovereignty and efficacy of God’s saving grace but upon the total depravity of sinful man.
Second, middle knowledge compromises the self-existence of God. When we say that God is self-existent, we mean to say all of the following: that he is pure actuality (there is no potentiality [or passive potency] in his being); that he is wholly independent and uncaused; that he is his act of existing; and so forth.
However, if God possesses middle knowledge, then his knowledge is somehow dependent upon the creature—that is, God knows what I would do in a particular situation because I would do it in that situation. Indeed, every doctrine of middle knowledge one encounters in the literature implies this. Tiessen, as we have seen, tells us that God must take into account what the free (compatibilist) creature will do in order to make the wisest decision he possibly can. Ware’s comments are essentially the same. Molinists openly admit that the free (libertarian) creature determines which counterfactuals of freedom are true. Thus, Craig affirms that it “is up to God whether we find ourselves in a world in which we are predestined, but it is up to us whether we are predestined in the world in which we find ourselves.” In short, the content of the divine middle knowledge is determined by the creature. Thus, it metaphysically reduces God to the same level as the creature, for he is now seen to be a mixture of act and potency. God is now
seen as contingent, therefore he needs a cause…
Fourth, the only way to maintain consistently the sovereignty of God is to deny middle knowledge. We earlier noted that middle knowledge compromises God’s pure actuality. In so doing, it also compromises his sovereignty. Proponents of middle knowledge will protest, insisting that God is truly sovereign over which hypothetical circumstances (i.e., counterfactuals/subjunctive conditionals) obtain in this world. But as Turretin explains, this answer leads to an incoherence in the theory of middle knowledge—at least insofar as it denies the very sovereignty it wants to secure:
This middle knowledge takes away from the dominion of God over free acts because according to it the acts of the will are supposed to be antecedent to the decree and therefore have their futurition not from God, but from itself. Indeed God would seem rather to depend upon the creature while he could decree or dispose nothing, unless a determination of the human will were posited which God would see in such a connection of things. Nor ought the reply to be made that the dominion of God is not therefore taken away because he can remove that connection or some circumstances of it; for example, in the foreknowledge by which God knew that Peter would deny Christ if placed in a certain condition, God could hinder him from denying Christ by taking away some foreseen circumstance (for instance, the fear of death) or by adding greater light in the intellect and a greater inclination in the will to confession, and the like. For it is not sufficient for the support of the dominion of God that he could hinder Peter from denying Christ, for he might have deprived Peter of life before the apprehension of Christ (but this would be to have dominion over the life of Peter, not over his free will); but it is requisite that the free acts of Peter, of denying or not denying Christ, should depend upon him (which is denied on the supposition of this knowledge). In fine, if God can take away one foreseen circumstance, he can therefore change the event of the thing: if he can by a decree change the event of a thing, therefore it also pertains to the decree to procure it; for he who hinders the event by a removal of some circumstance ought to cause it by supplying the circumstances.
Turretin’s point here is that God must be factored into the equation when contemplating whether there are true counterfactuals of freedom; for at every moment of every hypothetical state-ofaffairs, the question can still be raised, “Is God going to permit this?” Hence, the truth of any counterfactual must be dependent upon God, not the will of the creature—much less the circumstances in which the creature is placed.
Fifth, the doctrine of middle knowledge is superfluous. Most theologians can see why a distinction between natural and free knowledge is necessary, namely, if God does not have natural knowledge, then, among other things, he had no choice but to create this world, since his knowledge is limited to what goes on in this world (thus destroying the doctrine of free creation); and if he does not have free knowledge, then God is not sovereign over which world obtains. But middle knowledge is simply unnecessary, since, as Turretin maintains,
[n]atural and free knowledge embrace all knowable things and entities and are not to be multiplied unnecessarily. There is nothing in the nature of things which is not possible or future; nor can future conditional things constitute a third order. For they are such either from a condition only possible or powerful, yet never to take place, or from a condition certainly future and decreed. In the former manner, they do not recede from the nature of possible things and belong to natural knowledge; in the latter, they are future and decreed by God and come under the free knowledge.