Baptism’s Double Dip

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.(1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.(1 Peter 3:18-22 ESV)

I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.(Luke 12:49-53 ESV)

The double-edged sword of the crucifixion of Christ is evident in these passages. Like circumcision in the OT which pointed to Christ, baptism in water points to him also. The function of the type should not be lost. On the one edge it speaks to the promised blessing, on the other, cursing. The demarcation is Christ himself, our circumcision. Or, to put it in Gospel terms, Christ our baptism. For judgment, Christ said, he came into this world. John also says that Christ was given so that the believing ones would be saved and so that the unbelieving one would be condemned.

As can be seen, water baptism confers nothing. Rather, it is Christ’s baptism. As Peter puts it, his resurrection. But he does not leave it at that, rather, he includes Christ’s suffering and death. Many were saved through the sea, but perished on the other side. Many received circumcision only to be destroyed in the various judgments of God. Only eight were saved through the flood. All this to demonstrate that God’s sovereign election in Christ places those who will be saved in Christ through his death. At the same time, his crucifixion was the final judgment of the world even though we await the consummation of all things at his appearing. Such that, his crucifixion places some on the right and others on the left.

Neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision, baptism or unbaptism is anything. What matters is Christ. Having been in him in his crucifixion, those the Father has given him, are born again through his resurrection. As is true to the fallen human condition, mankind places an idolatrous, superstitious value on the outward rite. Interestingly, circumcision was a hidden thing, buried beneath a covering out of view. Likewise, water baptism cannot be seen once the waters dry. It is so appropriate, then, that Peter emphasized the hidden conscience not the outward washing. As Paul writes:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.(Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)

And the writer of Hebrews:

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.(Hebrews 6:13-20 ESV)

That God swore to himself is our greatest comfort, not our baptism in water. That we have such a high priest who did not derive his origin nor his priesthood from among men, again, speaks of that secret working of the Holy Spirit who causes us to be born again in the inward man not according to the works of the flesh but by the Spirit, and fixes our destiny as an anchor behind the curtain of our heart, it having been circumcised in Christ, the way being made open, sprinkled with his blood, cleansed as it were with pure waters of Spirit baptism which expresses itself in faith. Our declaration of what God has inwardly worked testifies to the great promise made in Genesis- to those upon whom God’s favor rests, a blessing, to those upon whom he is taking vengeance, the expectation of God’s justice. Scripture reveals this dual aspect of the covenant between the Father and the Son in an ever brighter light as the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings causing his own to leap with the vigor of youth. In water baptism we proclaim to the world this marvelous reality, that God is saving those appointed to that light. At the same time we proclaim his judgment, an eternal, dark agony for all those who reject the bloody baptism of Christ which cleanses us from sin.

God Is The Sign: Behold Vengeance Is Mine Immanuel Says

The trappings aside, Isaiah is fulfilled. A sign given by the weary God. Isaiah 7 is incredibly in-depth about the sign of joy and the woe pronounced upon the house of David that accompanied it and cannot be divorced from it if the full account of Scripture is to be upheld. Very much like the woes pronounced by Jesus over Jerusalem, Isaiah is prophesying doom along with blessings upon his covenant people.

But, then, the sign is the child, a precious stone, and he is God, Isaiah proclaimed:

But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken…

The child Jesus, set for the falling and rising of many.

That’s right. Peter said it and also Paul places this prophecy in the Messianic Kingdom Age. The annunciation of the angels marks the beginning of the end and portends a rough future for Jerusalem, Judea and the furthest reaches of the world. Wherever the Gospel was intended to go is wherever the curse is found. For Israel herself is set as a sign for the nations, a lesson that all must heed. Her rising and falling is a portent for the nations. For what happens to her happens to all.

All… because they refuse the waters of Shiloah:

Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.

This prophecy is not restricted to just Israel as can be seen.

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand.

Immanuel’s land is the whole earth. For his kingdom knows no end.

Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered; give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered. Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

The comfort that God gives is meted with the solemn warning that the world is the enemy of the church. It will attack her and try to kill the bride of Christ, pursuing her throughout the world for the rest of history as Revelation tells us. We might want to remember that Jesus was fond of quoting Isaiah and telling his disciples that the words that he had were for them to understand and not all could hear what was being said. However, all are subject to them. The somber warnings extend to the ends of the earth. The words are a heavy burden to bear:

Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

Yet, who believes this report? What is wanted is a Christmas without a crucifixion.

We hear refrains of Christ’s words reflected in Isaiah 6. How long will this message be bound up among the disciples? Until the end, until the only thing that remains is the holy seed:

Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the Lord removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.

We hear Jesus’ words of John 17:

Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs

with hints of the Resurrection and the sanctification by the word of the testimony. And there are the dire warnings against those disobedient to it, that they will be cast into utter darkness.

So goes the foreboding witness of the great sign of Immanuel, born in a manger, in Bethlehem to a virgin. We read further in Isaiah 9 about this little one who stepped down from glory and took on the form of a servant:

But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

How wonderous this message of great peace and joy on earth to all upon whom God’s favor rests. It is indeed a time to be recognized with songs and feasts and gatherings of the family of God.

We must remember that the joy of the annunciation came at great cost. For the child that was born, the one in whom all the hopes and fears were met came not merely as a babe, but as the Judge of all mankind. He came himself to bear the judgement of God against many so it was written, the judgement began with the household of God and cost the life of the babe born in Bethlehem. But woe was pronounced upon all those who reject the invitation to suffer along with him:

The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel; and all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: “The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.”

But the Lord raises the adversaries of Rezin against him, and stirs up his enemies. The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. The people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the Lord of hosts. So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day— the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up. Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men, and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows; for everyone is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is scorched, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no one spares another. They slice meat on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own arm, Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim devours Manasseh; together they are against Judah. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

Isaiah 9 flows naturally into Isaiah 10 with this:

Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

Who are the writers? Are they those who promise blessing and not cursing. Are they those who do not tell the whole story. Is that how they defraud the widow and the fatherless- by keeping them in the dark concerning the great and terrible day of the Lord?

Listen, the fast that the Lord requires is to set the record straight. That is how the captives are set free, this is how the widow is defended, the orphan given a home and the hungry fed. As Jesus remarked the only way to escape the woes pronounced against Israel and the world is to lay down your life. You cannot rebuild, you cannot replant. The only true relief from sorrow is the cross. There is only one way, and all disciples must take up their cross and follow him. Judgement will fall on all men. Just as he was under the yoke so must we all be. The poor you will have with you always, but who is he who is poor? The other side of the cross, for those who believe, is the resurrection to life and that rich and fat, abundance of peace and joy that passes man’s understanding. But for those who love their celebrations, the bright lights of the holy days without the recognition of the one true light who was born a babe in a manger, for them the only expectation at Christmas is as the writer to the Hebrews says:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,

“Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Joyfully accepting the plundering of possessions in hopes of that one true possession, is to be possessed by Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus wept over Jerusalem for their sin was to keep from her children the pronouncements of judgement for rejecting the Holy One of God. Just as they had done numerous times before, they had not announced the zeal of the Lord whose vengeance accomplishes salvation for his people through captivity and judgement. The teachers withheld the vital information about the suffering messianic path. As Jesus would command his followers that they must surely follow him, he commanded that they take up the very same cross upon which he was crucified. He asked if his disciples were willing to go through the baptism which he was to be baptized in, and even though he knew they were unable he promised that indeed they would eat and drink of the same cup. Our God is a Jealous God. Zealous is the same word. He is jealous for his people, his jealousy burns so much so that the very warnings of pending doom for his enemies are the very waters of deliverance for his people. As the waters of doom for the Egyptians were the waters of baptism for the people of Israel, this little child, the King of kings born in such humble circumstance was the portent of falling and rising of many people.

This Christmas do not neglect the entire story. For this is the wise prophecy of Simeon and of all the saints who await his appearance:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Calvin’s Commentary On Hosea 6:7 Not A Covenantalist’s

But they like men have transgressed the covenant; there have they dealt treacherously against me. Here God shows that the Israelites boasted in vain of their sacrifices and of all the pomps of their external worship, for God did not regard these external things, but only wished to exercise the faithful in spiritual worship. Then the import of the whole is this, “My design was, when I appointed the sacrifices and the whole legal worship, to lead you so to myself, that there might be nothing carnal or earthly in your sacrificing; but ye have corrupted the whole law; you have been perverse interpreters; for sacrifices have been nothing else among you but mockery as if it were a satisfaction to me to have an ox or a ram killed. You have then transgressed my covenant; and it is nothing that the people say to me, that they have diligently performed the outward ceremonies, for such a worship is not in the least valued by me.

via Commentary on Hosea – Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

The Gospel according to Isaiah. (see previous program also)

One of the interesting things that happens in the Covenantal community is the forcing of texts to meet the demands of the hermeneutic. In this White Horse Inn broadcast notice the “Well there ya go” attitude while misapplying a Scripture by taking it out of its context and making it say what is needed, filling a term with definition that does not belong then reading it back into a presupposition. Don’t get me wrong, there is much to be benefit from in studying the covenants. It is when a personal committment to a tradition becomes so strong that it binds the conscience, Calvin might say, “Well there ya go you have stumbled over your tradition and are falling into superstition, again.” Calvin was not short on criticism of those he otherwise was in agreement with and we do not take Calvin, as he did not, as the final authority on anything. In this thing, Calvin is right… saith I.

The text in Hosea says nothing about Adam the first man. First of all, the context is the judgement upon the nations, including Israel which transgressed in a superstitious way the Law. Several other times the prophets have mentioned how it is that Israel transgressed like other men. The term Adam at first meets the context as just another city of men where God through the prophet is condemning other cities of men. Secondly, it meets the context of the paganization of Israel’s people (men, adam). Even if it is not the city of the Jordan called Adam, it may well have been another city called Adam, or no city at all, but a type of the cities. In any case, or no case, the word adam means man, or mankind, or simply men, and there is nothing else in the immediate or extended context to indicate it was the first Adam. The simplicity of translating it according to the surrounding context is swept under the covenantal carpet, however, when the need to emphasize a so called covenant of works in the Garden arises. It is as if the main idea of grace versus works will collapse without it. For the sake of the consistency hermeneutic, Hosea 6:7 is forced into service. Really, though, what Isaiah and Hosea are contrasting is the corruption of the Law into a paganish sacrificial system which becomes, then, nothing other than the same as sacrifices offered by men and rejected by God. All Israel is said to sacrifice as all other men (adam) in the pagan nations do seeking a god’s favor by works. In doing so, Israel has reduced God who says “there is no other God beside me,” to just one in the pantheon of paganism. So Hosea says God doesn’t accept such sacrifices, just as Isaiah says. What God desires is obedience, and as both Hosea’s and Isaiah’s gospel proves, it is obedience to the God of the grace of the promise, not to the curse of a covenant of works which is provoking his chastisement.

Calvin’s Commentary on Hosea 6:7 is in concert with his commentary on Genesis where he stood starkly against the idea that Adam was another mediator between God and man: http://thomastwitchell.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/no-covenant-of-works-in-the-garden-according-to-calvin/

Covenantalist’s covenant of works typing typically fails for different various counts against it:

Anachronism:This is a fallacy of history in which one imports a modern or later concept or definition back into a belief or word of a previous age.

Fallacy of Equivocation: This is a logical fallacy which occurs when one definition of a word or phrase is imported into that same word which, from the context, does not bear the same meaning or connotation.

Text Isolation: This is an exegetical (i.e. interpretive) fallacy. This occurs when an interpreter takes a verse, ignores the surrounding context, and (since the verse, phrase, or word is without context) imports a meaning or interpretation into the passage.

Superficial Reading: This is an exegetical fallacy in which the interpreter finds a passage of Scripture that sounds like their theology’s position and conclude that that passage must be teaching that peculiar doctrine.

More fallacies committed by the imposition of the Covenantal hermeneutic upon exegetical meaning probably can be identified. Four strikes ought to be enough for any umpire to call it out.

Greg Dutcher’s Killing Calvinism And Turning The Tables Of Southern Baptist Liberty Of Conscience

2 Timothy 2 – ESVBible.org.

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:22-26 ESV)

Of course a teacher is to be affable. Kind in spirit in as much as it is right to be so, but when we want to know what gentleness is we must consider all that Paul is saying to Timothy without neglect to the broad parameters of what it means to be kind. We cannot forget that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, nor can we forget that it is through God’s kind judgement that repentance comes. No one repents except that they are charged with being wrong. Paul, in fact, calls holding to teaching that is false, sin. And yes, ignorance then is sin, for ignorance is the opposite of the likeness of the maturity of the Son of God who is light and not darkness. We are not to remain children tossed about by every wind of doctrine and the cunning of men, but to bring down every thought which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. What is the controversy in the SBC except being tossed about? The calm seas of truth settled as proven do not look a thing like the SBC.

Prautes- prah-oo’-tace Noun, Feminine: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness.

It is one of the words used for kindness. To be kind in 2 Tim 2, is epios. Though slightly a different cast, all words along with the full range of meaning used for similar descriptors of the proclaimers of truth must be taken into consideration with all of Scripture’s depiction of those who are the great cloud of witness. Not all of it is nice.

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:5-13 ESV)

Praus- prah-ooce’ Adjective: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness; Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time.

Also to be considered is the fact that since God’s mercy is toward us, we are to be equipped with the same mind. So, humility speaks to us that we are to have reverence for God, properly understanding that the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord, knowing that our enemies whether within the household of God or without, are no more the enemies of God than we were at one time.

In the first instance of the root praus, we have what many have used to rule out any harsh speech when confronting error in the church. The second is what gentleness can look like in demonstration, for Jesus, who turned over tables and called his own disciples anoetos, cannot be anything less than our true example of the meanings. Following this out, here is John’s description of the temple event:

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-17 ESV)

Here it is, a holiday, and what does Jesus do? Being jealous, for that is what the word zeal means, he acts meek and mild, of course, not wanting to upset the peace and propriety of the occasion and so turns over the tables and whips the sin out of the poor, doctrinally challenged money changers. This is characterized as a monstrous display if found in a teacher of the church, today.

Demonstrating Christlikeness, is also found in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”

You can see how the condescension of Christ, who was under the authority of God, fully submitted to the Father, did what was appropriate to the circumstance. He fed the crowds and called them gluttons who served their bellies. Likewise, one cannot reconcile the use of prautes to mean affable, soft, mild, in all passages even when epios is associated with it. Instead, there is an appropriation made of a range of definition. In fact, we have instruction that we are to show kindness, and the word used in Peter is chrestoskhrase-tos’, which means fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, good. It can mean soft and mild, and other appropriations of common usage. But, unless one uses both definitions of both chrestos and prautes, he cannot get to the full meaning of Scripture, especially in 2 Timothy 2, which is a common place we find the error of the be nicety-nice or be rejected paradigm  defended. As the temple incident demonstrated, there is meek, and then there is MEEK.

Unfortunately, and too often, only the genteel meaning is used for those words commonly translated kindness, humble, meek, and gentle. So, any showing of harshness, as Jesus did, is deemed not in the Spirit, and operating against the principles of Christlikeness with which we are to approach error in the church. The problem is, Jesus didn’t act so foolish as to think that when whips were needed, dialogue and sweet disposition was the only appropriate response. Monologue, was his normal mode. And harsh correction was his oft used expression of the kindness of the Lord which leads to repentance, such as “Get behind me Satan.” Simply, one should not say his brother in Christ is serving the Devil in his thinking even though Jesus and Paul did.

In the SBC’s self-contradictory doctrine of “you can have your truth, we can have ours,” what is most glaringly obvious is the loss of biblical authority by the very fiat of cherry-picking the meanings of words to fit their traditions. This happens in both the anti-Calvinist and the Calvinist divisions within the SBC. Neither side can maintain neutrality, however, as each side seeks to defend it orthodoxy, which always provokes the other side to respond to invective by invective. It starts out often ostensibly innocently in saying things like “any thinking man,” or publishing a Statement. But, it quickly becomes as rough and tumble as would be expected when there really isn’t any sincere hope for peace.

A new book just out, Killing Calvinism, I prejudged. And why? Because it promtes the very error of Scriptural compromise for the sake of peace which makes John, Peter, James, Paul and Jesus and every other voice of God in Scripture, say what they never intended to say. How are brothers to approach one another? How are brothers supposed to deal with error? How are we to respond to the weak? To the world? By whom, to whom, and for what reason are necessary questions which need to be asked. How are we to deal with apostasy, heresy, divisiveness? Well in Paul’s time, it was turning such a one over to Satan so he might learn not to blaspheme. Or, “how do you want me to come to you?” Paul said:

For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.

And don’t mistake it, Paul is speaking of demolition as the necessary groundwork, some of which he has already been engaged in, before building up can take place, or the context of Corinthians means nothing. How did Paul approach Peter, we should ask before condemning the affect of emotive speech. Is there a situational nuance to meek and mild manners? Is anger a proper mode of dialogue? Is being emotive and using strong language the problem, or is the control of them? Does, “Be angry and sin not,” mean anything? And just who is supposed to defend doctrine? Can the laity give an answer when asked even though not mature? Is being abused under false doctrine a legitimate enough reason to passionately express the proper doctrine even if not a teacher? Does it even matter that a confession is supposed to mean something?

Here’s my take on it, the angst, and frustration that is often found among the Young Restless and Reformed, or the new Calvinism, or whatever one wants to call it, is because those who hold office in the church, who hold the Doctrines of Grace, refuse to defend them as truth and all other doctrine as opposed to the truth. The “can’t we all just get along” paradigm leaves those depending upon leadership wondering why bother if the leaders do not in sincerity hold these doctrines to be the only teaching of Scripture. Greg Dutcher says there is a problem with those who confuse the doctrine of Sovereignty of God with God. But wait, how can God be separated from who he is? Are his attributes incidental to his nature, or his nature? Jesus is not just a person, is he? Is he not the Truth?

In today’s church, Paul could not get away with such a threatening attitudes when present. Or, even the threatening elitism of corrections he made to false doctrine in letter. Saying things like fools as Paul did, and being deriding as James was, or Peter’s calling those who oppose the teachings clouds without water, predestined to damnation, or Jesus calling his disciples slow of mind, and spiritual dunces, would not ever pass the test of today’s so called apologists and teachers in most venues of Calvinism, SBC or otherwise. The real issue is confessionalism versus doctrinal laxity. As Kevin Boling rightly assessed the issue, we don’t lead with Calvinism, Calvinism is simply the teaching of the gospel and cannot be separated from it.

For all the feel-goodism in the can’t we all just get along of both camps in the SBC, no unity has been born except the false unity of the ecumenical spirit of the big tent compromise which bred the situation today rather than resolving it. The time has come to realize, that the figure heads, Calvinist or non-Calvinist, of the SBC don’t have a choice when faced with error. They must prove, hold to what is true, and rebuke those who oppose the truth. Scripture commands that error be silenced. Nor do they have the right to leave others to their opinions for peace sake, for opinions are nothing more than ignorant arguments. Should we leave the man bruised and beaten who has been mauled by theives? How can error be silence if it is agreed that all are ignorant and that’s okay? Ignorance breeds quarrels, and the seeking of teachers that tickle the sensuous fancy because it makes one feel good to think they’re right even if they’re wrong breeds ignorance. Jesus did not say when the Spirit of opinion comes, he will lead you into all sorts of dialogue. And it is blasphemy to think that each has received what others have not so that personal opinions stand as equals to doctrine. Paul condemned that and taught, rather, that no one has anything more than anyone else and that no one should go beyond what is written. The key is you have to know what is written not just speculate about it. There is one faith, not as many as there are quick-witted teachers. Until true humility reigns, which says that whatever we have we have from God, and that with reverence of that fact we need to speak circumspectly with fear as oracles of God, for we will be judge for every word, and that means dropping the pretense that God has given the church the right to hold individual opinions equal with doctrine, the foolish arguments, as Paul calls them, will continue and grow worse and undermine the authority of Scripture, thus making the salt taste like dung and so blaspheme the Name of God before the eyes of the world.

Here is another place where epios is used. But, unless we forget, Paul is not about to leave them babes suckling the teat for long:

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!

But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2 ESV)

A couple of things to note here. The Gospel was without error or deception. These were newborns. Paul and his fellow laborers were longing to return to complete the task of discipleship that they had started. And, these were people who Paul says were elected for this, chosen by God, so that the power of God in sovereign salvation might be made known (he obviously didn’t think election to be secondary). Those who fear the Gospel try there best to stop it, but it cannot fail because God is the one doing the choosing of those who will be saved. The doctrine of sovereign election is fundamental to the gospel. Funny thing is, that he tells Timothy, also, that he was called to announce the good news to the chosen ones, to whom he was sent just as Christ was sent, for which he was confident that they would without fail be brought to the faith because God had foreordained it. Ironic that the very niceness that some use to disqualify believers because insistence on election as primary doctrine is harsh, is the very niceness that insists on it.

Being motherly midwives of the Lord’s children, and then their fathers, the role of teachers is to complete the training with full faithfulness to the complete doctrine revealed in Scripture, and not just the milk of the gospel message. Paul later says: “But we do not want you to be ignorant…”

There is more to the gospel message, strong meat the author of Hebrews calls it, than just the evangel. And it was for this purpose that Paul wanted to return to Thessalonica, so that, as with Timothy, they would be fully equipped for every good work. They were to “not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”

Doctrine which was sound was to be proven, not guessed at, and without error, or as he told Timothy, so that the worker would not be shamed. Paul instructed them in following his example in speech and behavior, as he did every he went, and insisted that only sound, that is proven doctrine, be taught. Paul will go on to say in the next epistle: “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” There is a body of doctrine beyond the elementary teachings of Christ which must be adhered to and in this case it was of eschatological specifics and not just the parousia in general. Of what are so erroneously called non-primary doctrines, Paul says that those who will be destroyed are those who teach them falsely. Doctrine is never adiaphoral matters of indifference. Contrary to Scripture’s insistence on teaching sound doctrine even in matters of eschatology, according to the triage advocates, unimportant doctrines, as if there were any such thing, are fair game and can be handled loosely and mangled at will.

It may be politically incorrect to say that both sides of the divide in the SBC are in error in wanting to approve of one another so as to allow each to call themselves of this or that tradition, or any other political faction. One thing is for certain, the Scripture no where allows for private interpretation and individualism in doctrine which cause such factions. It insists on a single tradition and one which can be proven. The SBC is in great apostasy by allowing such partisanism. But it is precisely a foundation of division upon which the SBC now stands, having given themselves over to the allowance of error as a badge of pride in the big tent circus.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t take a stand one way or the other on the doctrinal issues which divide the SBC. There is one issue, more than any other, that caused me to remove myself from the SBC. And that is the tolerance for making the Holy Spirit double-minded in the truth once and for all delivered to the saints. It is the undermining of the authority of Scripture by the so called right of liberty of conscience. Authority is a necessary aspect of inerrancy. There could be no more clear defining condition of liberalism as to deny that truth can be known. And no more revealing symptom of the syndrome than to say that each has a right to his own opinions as if all opinions were equal and equal to doctrine. What more warning does one need than:

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
(Matthew 12:31-37 ESV)

There is no right to private opinion, only the right to sound doctrine which all must obey. It is time to stop being so careless with the Word, it borders on the blasphemy for which no one will be forgiven. Oppositional opining makes the Holy Spirit to testify against himself as if he were a double-minded man. As Jesus said, either the tree is good or it is not, there is no other condition allowed. By their fruits they are known. The words spoken are either true or false, of the Holy Spirit, or against him. Prove all things, hold to what is good. Better to be known as a fool and remain silent than to open ones mouth and dispel all doubt. If you speak, speak as an oracle of God, or remain silent. It is as simple as that.

Here is a great article on liberty of conscience.

(The definitions and descriptions of Greek words belong to StudyLight.org © 2001-2012 and have been reformatted from their original.)

Of Infant Baptism, Presuppositions, And Binding Traditions That Return To The Law

Third Baptism Debate Released

The basis for the New Covenant being “not like” the old covenant is found in the second half of verse 6: “For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.” Here’s what Greg Nichols says:

The promised blessing of the old covenant was conditional, and without guarantee. In stark contrast, God insures and guarantees that Christian Israel will perpetually receive the promise of comprehensive spiritual blessing and perpetual divine favor. The substance of this surety is Christ: “by so much also has Jesus become the surety of a better covenant” (Heb. 7:22). The word translated “surety” is ἔγγυος. This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It conveys the idea of “guarantee, someone or something given as a pledge.”…Thus, Christ himself is God’s guarantee that the promises of the new covenant can never fail. Christ himself is God’s pledge that Christian Israel can never break the new covenant like Hebrew Israel broke the old. Christ makes certain that Christian Israel will never depart from God because he has purchased them with his blood (Acts 20:28). On behalf of Christ God grants them faith (Phil. 1:29). Christ died in order that they would walk in gospel obedience (Rom. 8:3, 4). Christ died to redeem them from all sin and to purify them as a people zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). Every spiritual blessing flows to Christian Israel through Christ, because of Christ, and in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Christ also prays for his people to secure their perseverance in faith and holiness in every generation (Heb. 7:25). Thus, because of Christ Christian Israel can never break the new covenant.3

Repeatedly Paedo-baptists have asserted their position, and repeatedly Credo-baptists have thoroughly demolished the arguments. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Paedo position is not grounded in exegesis. Nor as Jamin nails it, Scriptural history. Rather, Scripture, when it is used is often taken out of context, misquoted, or simply misapplied, and the appeal to history is outside the text with the “silence” argument utilized to excuse the exercise. As Hubner points out, however, the Scripture is not silent, as every passage which is clear assigns baptism to believers. There are no direct commands, and mere inference is utilized to insist on paedo-baptisms. Also, a Jamin posits, does this not violate the WCF’s prohibition of implementing worship which is not directly instituted by Scripture? Yes, unequivocably so. Traditions triumph, however, as Paedos are loathe the submit to Scripture, and insist instead in presuppositional arguments and that from their hermeneutic, not from the proper exegesis of the text.

Finley bailed. It is no wonder. The more the TE is questioned, the less and less his answers make sense and more and more approach heresy. Indeed, Finley descends into a works based salvation without even knowing it, apparently. It might have been this that caused his sudden withdrawal, for any PCA member seeing the Finney in Finley would have cause to question his credentials. No one in the new covenant can lose their salvation as Finley ventures. Jesus was clear, he would never leave nor forsake his own. Jesus is the reason why the NC is better than the old. Being in the NC is not the result of mechanistic exercise, nor of lineage, or by the will, but according to the promise. And not by the promise but as the fulfillment of it by Christ, and that by the work of the Holy Spirit, John 1:12-13, who not only regenerates, but seals for the Day of Redemption. If baptism is the symbol of regeneration, and regeneration cannot be lost, then it is a contradiction to say that a baptized infant can fall away. Baptism isn’t the sign of inclusion in the NC, then, but perseverance in regeneration is. Regeneration is the segueway into the NC, not baptism, and regeneration is into eternal life and perseverance is ascribe to eternal life’s it’s very nature. No one gets into the NC by familial relationship, by discipleship, or even by the merit of ones faith, but by regeneration, that is, by being born of God. And having once ben born into new life, one cannot fall away:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, the gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God… All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

Becoming a child of God is not by blood. There is not clearer statement in Scripture, it is not effected by baptism, nor the exertion of the will or either parents, officers, or the candidate, either. Nor can it be effected by perseverance. The promise is unilateral, coming down from Heaven, incarnated as the Son, put in effect by the death and resurrection of Christ: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time… obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls… knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God… you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God… (1 Peter 1:3-25)

We should be able to stop right there. When Scripture speaks unequivocably about just who is in the NC according to promise, and who is not, why are there those who would argue that there is another way into the sheepfold according to the OC which could never save? Contrary to a conditional promise, we have what is so often quoted as support for infant baptism:

For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

(Acts 2:39)

B) Acts 2:39 has also been pressed into service to support infant baptism. “For the promise is unto you and to your children . . .” Usually the sentence is not completed. But the Scripture goes on, “and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The context has in view specifically spiritual promises, namely remission of sins and filling with the Holy Spirit. These promises cannot be said to attach themselves to all the crowd before Peter (the “you ” of the text), but only to “as many as the Lord our God shall call.” They could not be said to belong to “all that are afar off”, but only to “as many as the Lord our God shall call.” If that phrase qualifies the first and third parties mentioned, it must also qualify “your children”. The promises do not belong unto the children of believers apart from effectual calling. Only those children who receive this saving grace of God may be conceived of as being heirs of the spiritual promises.

via Search Results Paedo « Reformed Baptist Fellowship.

And as heirs of the New Covenant. In discussing this passage, the author is right to point out that the final clause is the qualifier.

Continuing:

D) I Corinthians 7:14 is another favorite verse. There we are told that children are “holy”. The text does not have even vague reference to church membership or baptism. It is talking about mixed marriages in which one spouse is a believer and the other is not. The question is whether such a relationship is proper, moral, or holy for those who were converted after marriage to the unbeliever. Paul reasons from the obvious to the doubtful. It is obvious that your children are not bastards. They were born in wedlock. They are holy. Therefore, it ought to be clear to you that your marriage relationship is holy. Don’t feel guilty about it or wish to be free from your obligations. If the word holy suggests a covenant relationship or cultic purity, making the children proper objects for baptism, then the unbelieving spouse is also a valid candidate for the sacrament. The verb “sanctify” has precisely the same root and signification as the adjective “holy.” And it is the holiness of the spouse that the passage belabors.

With such appalling lack of New Testament evidence for infant baptism, those who support such a practice have rapidly retreated to Old Testament texts and an argument from the unity of the covenants. The practice of baptizing infants of believers is founded on Old Testament Scripture, or upon texts of the New Testament where suitability for baptizing infants is read into them with a predisposition and presupposition drawn from the Old Testament.

I. HISTORIC COVENANT THEOLOGY AND INFANT BAPTISM

The argument has hung upon a syllogism that goes something like this: There is a unity between the Old and New Covenants. Circumcision in the Old is parallel to baptism in the New. Infants of believers were circumcised in the Old. Therefore, infants of believers should be baptized in the New. Many tell us that this syllogism is so strong that New Testament silence is a major argument in favor of their position. The New Covenant is so like the Old, and baptism so parallel to circumcision, that unless the New Testament absolutely forbids the baptism of infants, it must be practiced.

As B.B. Warfield said, “It is true that there is no express command to baptize infants in the New Testament, no express record of the baptism of infants and no passage so stringently implying it that we must infer from them that infants were baptized. If such warrant as this were necessary to justify the usage, we would have to leave it completely unjustified. But the lack of this express warrant is something far short of forbidding the rite; and if the continuity of the church through all ages can be made good, the warrant for infant baptism is not to be sought in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament where the church was instituted and nothing short of an actual forbidding of it in the New Testament would warrant our omitting it now.”

1. Immediately we Baptists raise our first objection. There is here a serious hermeneutical flaw. How can a distinctively New Testament ordinance have its fullest–nay, its only foundation–in Old Testament Scripture? This is contrary to any just sense of Biblical Theology and against all sound rules of interpretation. To quote Patrick Fairbairn in The Interpretation of Prophecy, “There cannot be a surer canon of interpretation, than that everything which affects the constitution and destiny of the New Testament church has its clearest determination in New Testament Scripture. This canon strikes at the root of many false conclusions and on the principle which has its grand embodiment in popery, which would send the world back to the age of comparative darkness and imperfection for the type of its normal and perfected condition.” If you allow Old Testament examples to alter New Testament principles regarding the church, you have hermeneutically opened the door to Rome’s atrocities. It is upon such rules of interpretation that the priest and the mass have been justified. We find the clearest expression, of that which is normative for the New Covenant’s ordinances, in the New Covenant relation.

B.B. Warfield, typically so powerful in testifying to the soteriological constructs of the Doctrines of Grace, so weakly appeals to silence for the sake of his tradition. And why? There is nothing other than the tradition of the hermeneutic of classical covenantalism which uphold infant baptism. Abrogation of the first sign is a typical sticking point for the Paedo-baptist who insists that there is no clear abrogation of the sign. That, as the author is pointing out is simply the blind application of a hermeneutic principle which obscures Scriptural reality of the abrogation of the first sign:

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6)

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:6-23)

Before going further, please read what the Scripture says. If you do, you will realize that the abrogation is clear. Try replacing baptism with circumcision in the passages above. You will find that the promise is to both circumcised and uncircumcised. There is a disconnect, for baptism is for all who believe, which is the connection made to Abraham, and not to his circumcised descendants, otherwise, the covenant promise would depend upon circumcision which the passage in Romans says, it does not. More than that, if the promise is to the uncircumcised, and the is a direct correspondence to the OT, by why baptize? Such is the confusion that ensues when the two covenants are mixed.

It becomes exceedingly clear how covenantal infant baptism brings individuals back under the law which Christ had come to fulfill. The failure to circumcise, or the failures of the circumcised were exclusionary under the old covenant. Circumcision was a sign of inclusion in Israel, as type pointing to Christ, but not into the promise of Christ. We have then, two, not one, covenants spoken of in reference to Acts 2. Such that, if one submits to baptism under the requirement of covenant of the flesh, that is law, it supplants Christ and he becomes ineffectual being the subject of the works of the law and not of the Spirit. As Peter is proclaiming, and why the listeners needed to repent, was not that they were Law breakers, but keepers, but could not be saved by it. They needed to repent from the Old Covenant. They were all circumcised, anyway. What, one must answer, is there further need of another circumcision? Contrary to the Old Covenant, John 1:12-13, as mentioned above, clearly abrogated the connection to circumcision by explicitly stating that the promise does not come by the determination of the flesh, either as a mechanistic observance of an ordinance imposed, or by conception, or by one’s submission to it, but as the last clause in Acts 2 states, by promise to as many as God calls.

Baptism itself is a sign of abrogation, for it is a sign of the New Covenant, a circumcision not made by hands, but by the Spirit. A circumcision by the Spirit is nothing close to the Old Covenant work of the flesh. To assign baptism to a work of the flesh even if spiritualized diminishes the work of Christ. And that Spiritual circumcision, as mentioned before, is Christ, the SEED, it is not our baptism, but that which points to his. Which brings us back to the Abrahamic covenant.

If anyone of Abraham’s children did not receive this circumcision, that is Christ, he was cut off from his people. The circumcision of Isaac then is not one which placed him in the covenant promise, however, it is one which pointed to the circumcision which does, namely, Abraham’s circumcision of the heart signified in his flesh, not before he believed, but after. Abraham saw Christ’s day and rejoiced in it. Christ’s crucifixion is the circumcision which baptism symbolizes. Abraham’s and Isaac’s circumcision, then, is like the law as a school teacher, only. They pointed to Christ. Isaac’s circumcision pointed to Christ by faith by way of Abraham. Then, when the Christ had come, this old signatory which pointed to Christ was done away with just as the law type and figures no longer are necessary since the real had come. And instead, a signatory which reflected what could not be seen, the circumcision of the heart, put in its place. Not in the sense of continuance, but discontinuance. It was not a sign of what might to come into the lives of the old covenanted children, but as with Abraham, it was a sign of that which had already happened, to Abraham, so also are all children of faith. The point is, Isaac’s circumcision did not point to Isaac’s covenantal inclusion but Abraham’s. And because of that, Isaac’s circumcision as reflected in Ismael, is, because of its nature in those who receive it, a sign of exclusion, also. For it tells us by way of Abraham, that it is not by means of the fleshly circumcision, but by the Spirit, that an unbelieving heart is circumcised in Christ. Namely, that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. And the fact is, the new heart, is Christ who was circumcised, not us. Paul concludes, and we need to take this as a warning about covenantal baptism, that to submit to circumcision as a mean of inclusion is to make Christ of no effect.

In once sense, then, to accept infant baptism is what Paul is condemning in Galatians. Submitting to it makes Christ’s circumcision on our behalf, null and void, as condemning as the Law. Infant baptism’s connection to the Old Covenant promises makes it law. The law’s power was sin, and except that the sin problem was taken care of, the infant, whether born into the nation of Israel, or to Abraham, or to the Gentiles, was put to death by it.

To ascribe benediction to baptism is one major flaw. But to ascribe malediction to it is quite another. Under the Law, that is the Old Covenant, there were stipulated promises dependent upon perfect obedience. It threatened death for a single violation of it. The OC was conditional, do this and live, do this and die. As we know the law of sin and death made any endeavor to do this and live impossible and the do this and die inevitable. The NC is unconditional, if we are unfaithful, and we will be, he remains faithful such that the blood of Christ, our true baptism, cleanses us from all sin. Our perseverance is a work of grace through our guarantor, Christ, who perfect obedience is ours by regeneration. It is a perfect covenant because it is not dependent upon man who promises, “This we will do,” and cannot fulfill, but God who has done all things for us in Christ. The initiation into the NC is not as Finley describes, baptism, rather it is regeneration. And the sign affixed to it is baptism which is not initiatory at all, rather, it is a participation in the New Covenant as a member not as the means of attaining membership.

The Law prescribed death for not persevering in the ordinances. Under the Perfect Law of Christ, no condemnation is held out. How sad then, that by baptizing infants the priestcraft comes into being, where it is no longer the High Priest who has benefitted the new-born, but the officers of the church who transmit the grace through mechanisms. Those sacrifices performed by the priests which could never take away sin indefinitely, are reinstitute. And, as we see in Finley, the demonstration of the Law in the failure of the infant to persevere is the determining factor in their salvation. Instead of the offer of grace, believe in Christ and live, the “discipleship” of the baptized infant becomes the terror of do this and die. In Christ, though, those who are born into the kingdom can never fall away. His is truly a New Covenant of grace, one which is new every morning and cannot crash down and burn like the idols made by human hands.

What, Me Pastor?

James White’s reply to Matthew Vines’ “The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality” YouTube presentation and more.

Local heretic Rodger McDaniel often has op-ed pieces in the town newspaper pushing the homosexual agenda. Leonard Pitts, a race-baiter and a homosexual advocate, trumpets anti-christian thought. Where is the Christian voice? Tim Keller, a well known PCA teaching elder with tremendous public reach, can not even bring himself to condemn homosexuality. Instead of defending Scripture, political social justice dominates his speech. It all sounds so nicety-nice. Some elders who don’t even read the local newspaper and the wonder is, if this community is their mission field, why do they not care about its people?

As James White points out, Vines is promoting false teaching through isegetical gymnastics and emotionalism. The debate has largely been lost by evangelicals because of the silence of those who have charge to promote the Gospel in truth. The sexuality controversy is an opportunity, a public forum for preaching. But if the evangelist is the man in the pew who is not equipped to exegete Scripture, then the field is surrendered. If only there were shepherds who, instead of trying to maintain self-sequestation, a neighborhood life-style, domestic tranquility, and professional appearance, had the zeal to demonstrate the biblical view in a public forum with the frequency we see from those opposed to Christ, there might not be a change in society, but there would be a change in the numbers of legitimate conversions to Christ.

The Gospel ministry requires not just the “good news,” preached to the world. It requires the bad news, and it first. And that means at times Truth taking advantage of the forum of the news media. It requires that those elders who have walled themselves in their church fortresses, familial or professional lives, actually do battle where the enemy is, the local square, which today is the mass media. “Cest la vie,” say some, “it isn’t our job to confront societal issues. That belongs to the man in the pew.” They insist that the church bear its testimony in silence to maintain good public relationships, rather than become a target of condemnation. If you open your mouth, be it in public, family, friendship, or neighborhood, you will suffer loss because the message is offensive, necessarily so Jesus said. If you don’t, you’ve denied him. If you’re not making enemies, you’re not paving the way to the peace which is offered in Christ.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39 ESV)

Check the context. This is about those who would be those who were to “devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” You see, those who God has placed as the shepherds of the church are those who are to intercede and to go public. He sent them out among wolves, and even though the immediate ministry of the word for which Jesus had sent the Twelve and then the seventy-two, was first to the house of Israel, the reality will become, in the context of the Great Commission, that the elders would go even to the towns of the Gentiles. Those who were selected to serve the tables were “full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” They were not the typical layman, and depending upon how one considers the testimony of Steven, not mere deacons, either. Skilled defense of the Gospel, wisdom from above empowered by the Holy Spirit, meant, even in the context of meeting the needs of the congregation, public proclamation of the Gospel. This was not the job of the laity, but those appointed and approved of by the Council of the Twelve to be overseers.

Jesus didn’t recognize relationship evangelism that doesn’t bring offense to those the Gospel is to be presented. And it requires a cost that far exceeds the demands placed upon those who are not leaders. The Gospel is preached, at least in the world, among those who are wolves. There are those who are men of peace among those wolves. But wolves are out there, outside the church, in the wilderness, where those who are to protect the sheep are to go and find those men of peace who, who being sheep, are to be rescued from those wolves. The only way to find the sheep is to make the attack public, to sound the alarm, to draw the lines of battle so that there will be a distinction between darkness and light. Becoming bait for the wolves, the role of the elders, allows the sheep to escape. Appointed to salvation, there already are sheep in every city. God will have already worked in them the regeneration which will enable them to receive the message of the Gospel when the pastor/elder’s evangel reaches their ears. Only sheep will hear, and receive it. Others will will not bleat, they will not repent and believe, they will just howl. But to do evangelism, is for the elders to get out among those the Lord is saving, and they are out there among the wolves.

The call to evangelize doesn’t belong to everyone, instead, Christ chose some, to go and intercede and minister the word to the lost sheep on the behalf of Christ. The laity have the tables where they are to serve, working with their hands what is native to them so as to give to their brothers in need. And for that, certain men full of wisdom (in other words, elders) were to oversee the work. Jesus wasn’t sent to all, but to the lost sheep of Israel, nor did he send everyone who is a sheep, just as he did not he reveal himself to everyone in the world. He sends now some, not all to make disciples, teach and preach and oversee. Each is gifted according to the measure of Christ and that particularly distributed, not all being what everyone else is.

The reason that evil has triumphed in terms of the homosexual takeover is the fact that those who have been gifted in knowledge and placed as overseers to protect the flock through the proper administration of their duties, have failed to do so. Instead of going public, they’ve become private professionals working toward comforts and retirements, living the lives of common sheep and not shepherds. The diminution of the roles and duties of the pastors/elders, is a tradition well past time done away. Somewhere along the line, the duties of teaching, evangelism, and protection has become the duty of the children of save up for their parents, while the shepherds (fathers in the faith) just supply the pulpit and perhaps are active CEOs, but nothing more. Curious, isn’t it, that all the pastoral cues taken from Scripture do not ever stake out the domain of the elders as only the pulpit parapet and church business management. To the contrary, it calls them soldiers not be entangled in the domestic trappings of personal life. They are called to live as if they have left behind those pursuits which are the vocations of the other members of the body of Christ, family, lands, et cetera. They are called to take the enemy fortress by force.

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12 ESV)

John’s ministry was a public ministry, Jesus’ ministry was a public ministry, the apostles’ too, and they whom they appointed. Those who desire the eldership are to be known by the public. If a man is unknown in the community, indeed, if he doesn’t stand out as opposed to the systems of the world in that community, if he is not known as opposed to heresy and every lofty thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, it cannot be said that he is ministering the Gospel and seeking those sheep lost among the wolves. And if he is sending sheep out to find sheep, he is sentencing both to death.

Yes, our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual. Yet it is clear, any thought, any word, which opposes the knowledge of God is to be brought down. That is the violence to which Jesus was referring. Let the world call it hate speech. What is truth is only a threat to those who love their evil deeds. Have light in yourselves, Jesus said. The enemies of the cross with rebel against it. However, if a lamp is lit but hidden, what good is it? The thief will come in where there is no light.

Jesus came into the world, but the world would not receive him, but those who were born of God did. Following that example, the example of the Good Shepherd, he will not abandon his own where a hireling will. And as Christ said, outside the sheep fold are others to be brought in. To accomplish that, he has appointed some to be shepherds to bring them in. Where there are lost sheep, that is where the shepherd is to go. It is a dangerous business which will require the life of the shepherd. But, if he is not willing to go out among wolves, neither will he be willing to stay when the wolves endanger the flock.

Who Goes To Church? Why We Mask Ourselves With Christ

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.(Romans 13:11-14 ESV)

14. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, etc. This metaphor is commonly used in Scripture with respect to what tends to adorn or to deform man; both of which may be seen in his clothing: for a filthy and torn garment dishonors a man; but what is becoming and clean recommends him. Now to put on Christ, means here to be on every side fortified by the power of his Spirit, and be thereby prepared to discharge all the duties of holiness; for thus is the image of God renewed in us, which is the only true ornament of the soul. For Paul had in view the end of our calling; inasmuch as God, by adopting us, unites us to the body of his only-begotten Son, and for this purpose, — that we, renouncing our former life, may become new men in him.
(Many have explained “the putting on” here in a manner wholly inconsistent with the passage, as though the putting on of Christ’s righteousness was intended. (Calvin keeps to what accords with the context, the putting on of Christ as to his holy image. Sanctification, and not justification, is the subject of the passage. To put on Christ, then, is to put on his virtues and graces, to put on or be endued with his spirit, to imitate his conduct and to copy his example. This is in addition to the putting him on as our righteousness, and not as a substitute for it. Both are necessary: for Christ is our sanctification, the author, worker, and example of it, as well as our righteousness. — Ed.) via Commentary on Romans – Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Modern Reformation – Articles.

…On one side, we are faced with the naturalist or Pelagian, who sees religion as little more than morality. A Christian is simply someone who has made a decision to submit to the life-style Jesus models. On the other side, we face the enthusiast, who sees religion in terms of private experience that requires no mediation through the preached Word, the truth of the Gospel proclaimed in clear doctrinal and historical terms. However these two types may seem contradictory, they both represent the “Nicodemus syndrome,” the desire to attain salvation by the flesh rather than to be given salvation by the Spirit. The liberal Protestant cannot see the kingdom of God because it is heavenly and things heavenly are regarded as simply out of bounds for real knowledge, while the enthusiast cannot see the kingdom of God because he or she insists on climbing up into heaven instead of receiving the Word who has come down to earth and is made known in earthy forms of ink and paper, human speech, water, bread and wine.

After leading off his famous Institutes with the quote cited in the beginning of this article, Calvin observes that it is impossible to contemplate self-identity apart from God. First, God is our Creator in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). And yet, we can begin also with ourselves and before long we realize that we are not only created with amazing dignity, but sinking in “miserable ruin, into which the rebellion of the first man cast us.” “Thus,” writes Calvin, “from the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, and–what is more–depravity and corruption, we recognize that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, and purity of righteousness rest in the Lord alone.” This leads us once more to contemplate God:

we cannot seriously aspire to him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves . . . Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself. For we always seem to ourselves righteous and upright and wise and holy–this pride is innate in all of us–unless by clear proofs we stand convinced of our own unrighteousness, foulness, folly, and impurity.

Theology, not psychology; the external Word, not internal self-identity, must give us our definition. We are created, not self-creating; sinners, not innocent spirits; redeemed in Christ, not striving after our own selfhood.

So what does this have to do with the Protean self, the tendency we have described above? Actually, it has a great deal of relevance. First, the answer to the perpetual, anxious, and feverish process of constantly re-inventing our “self” is met with the realization that our self-identity is not something we achieve, but something we are given.

Either we are given our identity in Adam, our first representative, or we are given our identity in Jesus Christ, our “second Adam” and the head of the new humanity of those who are born from above. If we are only born from below (i.e., natural birth), we are lost. Furthermore, if we seek to be born again from within, we are lost. Genuine identity must come not from “self” but from “other”–that which is not self. Just as we do not possess identity in ourselves as human beings, instead receiving our identity by our relationships to other people, so too we have an identity as Christians only because of our relation to Christ as we share in his Body, the church.

As the New Birth–a cataclysmic, supernatural resurrection of the soul that is “dead in trespasses and sins”–comes from above, so too does the sanctification that grows out of that vital union with Christ. We are branches of the Vine, members of the Body, precious stones in the Temple, co-heirs with Christ: this is our identity, a gift. As we have all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ by virtue of being chosen in him, redeemed by him, and sealed in him by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:3-13), it is only by acknowledging and constantly embracing this vital union with Christ that our sanctification can replace the striving for self-identity whose very elusiveness has led to the postmodern crisis of selfhood. Instead of wearing new masks and feverishly transforming ourselves through multiple “rebirths,” or taking up new identities based on the icons and vain promises of mass marketing and consumerism, we give up ourselves and our pretended right to define ourselves. Instead of re-inventing our “self,” we die to self and are raised to new life in Christ. Crucified with him, we are raised with him in newness of life, forever changed.

There once lived a young man who, despite his Christian mother’s prayers, gave himself over to a life-style of debauchery and joined a mystical cult that involved “free love.” One day, as he was in his backyard, he overheard a child singing, “Take up and read, take up and read,” and it just so happened that the young man had recently picked up Paul’s epistles out of cursory interest. The book was opened to Romans 13:

The hour has come for you to wake from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Gripped by a sense of guilt and utter lostness, he who had found his identity in false religion and immorality turned in faith to Jesus Christ. Clothed in his lust for new experiences and unfettered liberty, he now could see nothing but bondage in himself and he clothed himself in Christ, accepting from the hand of another the gift of a new identity. That young man’s name, if you haven’t guessed by now, was Aurelius Augustinus, known to us as St. Augustine. Augustine left a life of error and license not because he acceded to his mother’s pious wishes, nor because he wanted to merit his way into eternal life. After all, he became the ardent foe of Pelagius and works-righteousness. Rather, it was because that which had seemed beautiful was now ugly; that which was attractive was repulsive; that in which he had claimed unlimited freedom he now regarded as insufferable bondage. Grace, that double-cure, promised him a way out, a way of escape from both sin’s guilt and power. The Bread of Life held out to him, Augustine was suddenly given a new way of seeing himself and his world that reoriented his entire self-understanding in a radical moment. Not all conversions, of course, are so abrupt and instantaneous, but the New Birth itself (the cause of conversion) is always abrupt and instantaneous. The Wind blows and the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame leap for joy.

It is that promise of new clothing–both justification and sanctification, a new standing and a new nature–that the Gospel holds out. As God renamed Jacob (“he who struggles for control”) Israel (“he struggles with God”), so he renames us in baptism. By losing our life we gain it. In the Revelation our Savior declares that his people are given the hidden manna of life everlasting. “I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it” (Rev. 2:17).

But the New Birth does not end the battle; it only begins it. Throughout our lives, the struggle is enormous as we battle against the constant pretensions of the flesh (i.e., our sinful identity in Adam), those life-styles, and assertions of selfhood that regard the Spirit as the enemy of freedom. In truth, the Holy Spirit liberates us to enjoy a clearly defined selfhood that is no longer in bondage to the Protean pursuit. At last, Proteus has been captured and chained, forced to appear as he really is, but instead of Proteus’ prophesying, it is God who prophesies or preaches, naming and identifying our true, alienated self and then freeing us to enjoy a new selfhood. It is an identity that is given to us from outside of ourselves, not one that is constantly re-invented from within; an identity that is firm, not constantly wandering aimlessly for a place of rest and purposeful existence; an identity that is eternal and not bound to the passing fads of this evil age. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on things below. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4).

Obama: Heretic In Chief

President Obama’s Christianity | Denny Burk.

Yes, I know, some will say that calling Obama a heretic is an absurd statement. Yet, the fact is, you can’t be a Christian at all, even a liberal one, if you deny the essentials of the Christian faith. To do so makes you a heretic.

Now, we shouldn’t be surprised that Franklin Graham cannot tell the difference. After all, the fruit in that family hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

What is a Christian? | Denny Burk.

But that brings up another point. Billy Graham has said essentially just what Obama has said, just what Franklin said (which strangely enough, son of another former Southern Baptist, Joel Osteen said. It makes one think that there is something in the baptismal waters of the SBC). But, you won’t find Denny Burk padding the deck in reference to the heretic idolized by the SBC by saying his universalism is merely liberal Christianity. It isn’t merely liberal Christianity, BG is a heretic. On the other hand, he is SBC, so it doesn’t matter what he believes, they have autonomous soul competency, and no one can tell them what they must believe, after all, the Scripture is wide open for personal interpretation. So, Billy Graham is well within his rights as a Southern Baptist to deny the faith, but not within the bounds of Christianity to do so.

Michael Horton, though, brings some necessary balance. It simply doesn’t matter that there is or is not a Christian in the White House. There has rarely, and perhaps has not ever, been one there. It does matter what one’s world view is. For that is what will dictate the President’s leadership for the common good:

Yet believers also must stop expecting politicians to double as high priests of a false religion, an idolatrous religion, that substitutes real confessional communities for a generic moralism. Even where a candidate’s confession differs from our own, we have to ask what we’re looking for in our political leaders. Are we seeking an icon who will reassure us that even in a wildly pluralistic and relativistic society we are the ones in the right, safely ensconced in the walls of absolute truth? Or do we have the more modest goal of electing presidents who will eschew any messianic mantle and pursue policies that we believe are more likely to do more good than harm to the republic’s common good and the Constitution that they swear to uphold?

On Electing a Shepherd of the National Soul – White Horse Inn Blog.

On all points Obama fails. He won’t take a stand one way or the other, really. And in that he is postmodern, without any foundation for decision-making. That is why he fails in the pursuit of good and right for the republic. He has no right, nor any good, that is inviolable.

We, in a republic, elect not a person who will do the will of the people, or even his own will, that is either a bare democracy or a dictatorship. We elect those who will, hopefully, govern in such a way that what is in view is the right and good of the people despite what they think is in their best interests, or what is in the best interests of the office holder. The reason that we have disagreements as to the best course our country can take is based upon this very thing, that not all people agree as to what is the right and good. It is far easier to determine when the candidate is patronizing or self-aggrandizing, than to know that they are pursuing the right and good. Regardless, we elect, though blindly with such hopes, based upon what can be known about the absolute unwillingness of the candidate to compromise his own ethos.

Pigeon-holing a President by applying a religious test is the furthest thing from the considerations of those who established the free exercise clause and exempted the faith of the individuals for public office from any religious qualifications for office. And as Michael says, it is simply idolatry. Still, we must consider what they believe, and establish as far as is possible that they are sincere in those beliefs.

Too often, as Horton explains, Christians fall for the trap that a person’s particular belief system is the qualifier. And while all Christians would like it if a Christian was elected, those who would run for office on their faith are usually the furthest from it. Obama needs to be tested in other ways. One of those is his claim to be a Christian. That is a lie. But it is not the fact that he is not, but the fact that he lies about it. The same can be said of Romney. He is a liar, and that is the liability that disqualifies him. Indeed, it is the integrity of the individual, his “best” effort to toe the line on his world view’s out working in policy making that is what we should look for in a candidate. When a candidate cannot hold consistently in their testimony before the people about what they believe, then we have every reason to suspect they will be untrustworthy in discharging the duties of the office.

Examine what a person believes. But let it evaluate itself. If it is self-contradictory, then that person is a contradiction of truth and not the person who can be trusted to carry out the mandates of the pursuit of what is the right and the good for we the people.

Double-Cross: This Isn’t Just Another Christmas Story

1. Redemptive History is History The triumph of Barth in many Reformed circles not only led to a collapse of the Law into the Gospel, but created a Kierkegaardian “paradoxical” dualism between history and supra-history. Still saddled with this liberal dualism between faith and history, neo-orthodoxy and pietism often tend to downplay the fact that, as Paul told Festus, these events did not take place in a corner. They were public and historical, not simply individual and subjective. This is Luther’s point when he stresses “Christ extra nos,” Christ outside of us, in opposition to mysticism. Redemptive-historical preaching and Bible reading, therefore, will focus on every text as a part of one seamless fabric of promise and fulfillment. The whole Bible is concerned with history–not with history in general, but with the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan in Christ from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is not about me or the problems of my generation, but about specific saving events in the past, present and future that incorporate me into a community, a “cloud of witnesses.”

2. Redemptive History is a Unity This is why a lot of redemptive-historical preaching is done from the Old Testament as well as the New. The Law and the Gospel run from the beginning to the end of the Bible and the revelation of Christ is like a light that grows brighter as the story progresses. Instead of breaking this story up into dispensations or atomistic verses, we should see the Bible as talking about the same thing from beginning to end: Christ, and the covenant of grace through which the believer is united to and participates in his life.

3. Redemptive History Means Progression Some, in reaction against dispensationalism, make so much of the unity of revelation that they neglect the differences between the Old and New Covenants and fail to distinguish the national promises made to Israel from the saving promises made to the New Israel. We must always be ready to announce the new stages of revelation and redemption as they are brought into view by the text.

Conclusion

But is all of this biblical? In other words, are we imposing an approach on the text that is not there–precisely what we are accusing others of doing? Audaciously, Jesus accused the biblical scholars of his day of not knowing the Scriptures (Mt 29:29; Lk 24:45) and declared, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (Jn 5:39). After his Resurrection, our Lord explained the Scriptures on the Emmaeus road. But first, he sharply rebuked the two disciples for failing to read the Old Testament with himself at the center: “‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!’…And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Lk 24:27). Imagine the power of that sermon! No wonder their hearts burned within them. Jesus here teaches us how we are to read and preach the Bible. It is not chiefly about Bible heroes or lessons in life, but the revelation of Christ. Similarly, Peter reminds us that the chief message of the entire Old Testament is “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1 Pt 1:10-11).

To preach the Bible as “the handbook for life,” or as the answer to every question, rather than as the revelation of Christ, is to turn the Bible into an entirely different book. This is how the Pharisees approached Scripture, however, as we can see clearly from the questions they asked Jesus, all of them amounting to something akin to Trivial Pursuits: “What happens if a person divorces and remarries?” “Why do your disciples pick grain on the Sabbath?” “Who sinned–this man or his parents–that he was born blind?” For the Pharisees, the Scriptures were a source of trivia for life’s dilemmas. To be sure, Scripture provides God-centered and divinely-revealed wisdom for life, but if this were its primary objective, Christianity would be a religion of self-improvement by following examples and exhortations, not a religion of the Cross. This is Paul’s point with the Corinthians, whose obsession with wisdom and miracles had obscured the true wisdom and the greatest miracle of all. And what is that? Paul replies, “He has been made for us our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Cor 1:28-31).

via Modern Reformation – Articles.