Luke 23:34 Let It Be

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This verse raises certain Christological questions even if it is acceptably canonical. It is not alone in being a verse which was added to the words of original writers. For instance, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen,” is also not part of the original canon.

While the latter can be said to be in perfect harmony with the rest of the authorial intent of the Scripture, the former runs afoul of several things.

Jesus in John does not pray for the world. Also in John, Jesus said that the Father always hears him. We must conclude that the Father always answers the intercession of the Son. How could it fail? That would be unthinkable. We would have no assurance without the impeccable prayers of Christ. We also must conclude, then, that Jesus did not pray for the forgiveness of all in the crowd, for they would have all been forgiven. Unless one says that he only prayed for some sins of some. To what end would prayer for only some be?

There is another explanation.

If we say that the verse should be accepted as original,  we need to understand that the word forgive, in this passage, does not necessarily mean to pardon iniquity. It simply may mean to permit. In other words it may be rendered, “Father let this be…” Which would harken back to his prayer the night before, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Jesus’ prayer, then, would have been answered. And that according to precedence. In that, Jesus’ prayers are always answered, and it was this very thing, the mocking, the humiliations, the crucifixion itself, that Jesus prayed for, as well as always previously reminding his disciples that according to the will of God it would be let to be.

If Christ is being consistent with the other things he points to on the cross, then it is this. That those who were crucifying him and those who were watching fulfilled scripture but were blind to the reality. The did not know what they were doing, acting as it were, as the Psalm 22 says, as unthinking ravening beasts. When it is written, “They divided his garments..,” it was also in keeping with Psalm 22. If then he responded, “Father let this to be..,” it makes perfect sense, seeing that it was fulfilling what had been written just as he had prayed it would be done. The crowd was saying that since he trusted God, let God save him, also was done according to Psalm 22. There is then this complete context of the Psalm. He bracket the entire event in this one Psalm.

Isaiah 53:12 is often used in reference to the prayer of forgiveness. But the context of that is the intercession for the saints, and not for all. That is, if Jesus was asking for forgiveness of all in the crowd, it proposes universalism. But Jesus was not crucified for the whole of mankind, but only the elect. Now it may be that Jesus was praying for this one particular sin. But that is to stretch the whole of the concept of the intercession of the sacrifice of the cross. The atonement is, as mentioned above, even for acts of ignorance, required a live sacrifice.  No, we can only accept the prayer as  for those who are the elect, if Jesus prayed for forgiveness at all. That is the extent of his atonement.

Now, it is true that Isaiah 53 paints a vivid picture of the crucifixion. It makes mention that he was not recognized for who he was. And, some texts place the last line of Isaiah 53 in the context. But, alas, that is not the testimony of the historic cannon, but a scribal insertion. Jesus appeals repeatedly to the Psalmist, not Isaiah. Even when Jesus says it is finished, it harkens back to Psalm 22 and the completion of the fulfilling of vows, saying that the yet to be born will proclaim all that he has done. The Psalmist records that “you lay me in the dust of death.” Another way of saying it is finished.

Is it true that Jesus prayed for his enemies without regard? That is, is this prayer an example for us that we should do likewise? I think that should be considered a categorical error.

We are not as Jesus was, men without sin. We pray for our enemies in a distinctly different sense. That being, that we have been forgiven much, and vengeance is not ours, and we are humbled by the fact that our sin puts us at the same level as our enemies in every respect. Remember the Law was given to transgressors.

This is not so of Jesus. In fact the Scripture says he does not pray for the world. Also, when he sent out his disciples he only gave them charge to bless if those who heard accepted the Gospel.  The disciples were to leave a curse, they were not instructed to pray for their enemies.

The reference from Luke 23:34 is often made is to Matthew 5:44. But there Jesus is correcting a misinterpretation of the Law which he then corrects, pointing to Exodus. The lesson is equity and impartiality in the law. Even enemies were to be afforded what was true and good according to righteous judgment. As such the children of Israel were to judge righteous justice. So you see, Jesus praying for his enemies at the cross has nothing to do with the other. In Matthew, Jesus is addressing men as the salt of the earth. All men are just like any other men; their commonness and lowliness is what salt is all about. The are to judge with light of truth that they might be approved of by the Father. As the Father is perfect in judgment, so also were they to be. Salt and light have to do with the equity and impartiality of the Law, which is the context. Jesus is saying that they are to treat one another, even their enemies, without respect to persons.

But Jesus is not like any other man. He has respect to persons, for he knows what is in a man. We do not. Jesus did not, and does not now, pray without regard. He only intercedes for the saints. His judgments are sure and true, and as he judges, the Father also judges. Again, it makes no sense that Jesus is praying for his enemies unless one is saying that it is only his passion for which he prays they be forgiven. But then, that is not the context of Matthew 5, either. For there it is righteous judgment. And the righteous judgment is that they were guilty of murder, of which the Law was exacting in its punishment. It would be contrary to his reproof that not one jot or tittle of the Law is rescinded. For Jesus to be perfect as his Father is perfect he would have to judge righteous judgment. Further the Law held provisions for sins of ignorance. It didn’t, however, merely grant forgiveness for ignorance. It required a live sacrifice. But, then, we are back to the extent of the atonement. Jesus did not die for all, but for many. But, he died for all the sins of many. He did not die to forgive some sins of the rest.

Then there is this. The grand court of heaven was held on Calvary, where Jesus had previously said that now is this world judged. Even if the acts of the everyone in the crowd were forgiven, those for whom Christ did not die were condemned there and then. So again, it make no sense to say that Jesus prayed for them. For even if their mocking and scourging, humiliation and killing Jesus was forgiven, their sin remained.

The appeal to Matthew 5:44 is non sequitur.

Finally, let me part with this. The verse is controversial. Historically it cannot be established as being part of the original canon. Those who wish to hold on to it, need to explain it. But, as demonstrated above, that is plagued with problems.

Sabbatarians Deny Christ

Some Thoughts on the Sabbath

God has given us the weekly Sabbath because we still need that regular time; time that is not ours, but time for God.

 

…But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit…

“It is true enough that we have no record of a commandment of our Lord’s requiring a change in the day of the observance of the Sabbath. Neither has any of the apostles to whom he committed the task of founding his Church given us such a commandment.” We hear B. B. Warfield say it. But then he says, “By their actions, nevertheless, both our Lord and his apostles appear to commend the first day of the week to us as the Christian Sabbath.” This is pure conjecture, not taught in Scripture, malarkey, and the imposition of traditions of men.

What does “appear” mean? Is it apparent? Not in the least.

Sabbath keeping is indeed not reiterated in the NT, period. No NT scholar will agree that there is a positive commandment to change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Yet, what we find in the modern era is that it was changed and remains a permitted change even though there is no reasonable inference, nor direct command of regulation. It is made up. And so, Sunday Sabbatarianism at once violates Sabbath by changing it without warrant, and violates the regulative principle. As Calvin said, the Sabbath was either abrogated as a moral commandment, or it is an insult to the Jew to keep the Sabbath regulation while abrogating the day and reconstituting it on another. How, pray tell, is their justification of the violation of the Sabbath while at the same time insisting that it remains, but only on another day? That is a absurdity. He considered the keeping of Sabbaths as a superstitious practice. He himself, though insisting that there is a continuing need for a day set aside for instruction due to the weakness of our flesh, rejected a strict one in seven schema.

In the quote above from Scripture, no one would begin to say that there is a sense in which it is true that we live by the Spirit, but that it is not a current reality fulfilled waiting for a future fulness. Even though, Paul is clear that it takes striving to keep pace with the Spirit. There is “hence” a certainty that there remains the promise of the Spirit for the children of God, now, but no one would say that it is eschatological in its view. No, instead we have already entered in to the promised land of the Spirit, and there remains an eschatological fulfillment of the currency of the Spirit’s work. The requirement is a daily dying to self which Calvin remarks is the eternal Sabbath now which is marked by the believers continuance in the rest given.

The author says about, “there yet remains a Sabbath rest” that it is a future reality. However, the context doesn’t support that. Let’s read:

…Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need…

What does the passage say? Today, whoever has faith has entered. Not tomorrow, not in some future eschaton, but today. How is it anchored? It is anchored in the fact that we have a high priest who has accomplished all things so as to grant the rest that remains for children of God. Are they unable to enjoy it now? No. But we have confidence to draw near the throne of grace, now. It is also anchored in the fact that the Hebrews who were destroyed had the same Christ preached to them but refused to enter the rest that was finished from the beginning. It must not go unnoticed that the very people who the author of Hebrews is concerned for are those who might be defrauded from entering that rest. There remains the rest, so there is fear that some might think it is not Today. There may be those who are waiting in unbelief. Indeed, what is being warned against are those who say there is some futurity to the fulfillment that the writer says has been accomplished by Christ. In short, to insist that there is still a need for Sabbath keeping is to deny that Christ has come and has done what the promise confers – a rest for those who have not hardened their hearts against the idea that Christ has come in the flesh.

The assurance of the faith that is offered in Hebrews is utterly destroyed when it is portrayed as a future event. Let no one defraud you of a rest that is offered by setting the yoke once again to your neck. The contrast that is being made is between those of us believers who have entered and will continue, and those who do not believe the rest has been granted.

Calvin says,

..And we may hence easily learn the difference between us and them; for though the same end is designed for both, yet they had, as added to them, external types to guide them; not so have we, nor have we indeed any need of them, for the naked truth itself is set before our eyes. Though our salvation is as yet in hope, yet as to the truth, it leads directly to heaven; nor does Christ extend his hand to us, that he may conduct us by the circuitous course of types and figures, but that he may withdraw us from the world and raise us up to heaven. Now that the Apostle separates the shadow from the substance, he did so for this reason, — because he had to do with the Jews, who were too much attached to external things…

He draws the conclusion, that there is a sabbathizing reserved for Gods people, that is, a spiritual rest; to which God daily invites us.

…For he that is entered into his rest, or, For he who has rested, etc. This is a definition of that perpetual Sabbath in which there is the highest felicity, when there will be a likeness between men and God, to whom they will be united. For whatever the philosophers may have ever said of the chief good, it was nothing but cold and vain, for they confined man to himself, while it is necessary for us to go out of ourselves to find happiness. The chief good of man is nothing else but union with God; this is attained when we are formed according to him as our exemplar.

Now this conformation the Apostle teaches us takes place when we rest from our works (my emphasis). It hence at length follows, that man becomes happy by self-­denial. For what else is to cease from our works, but to mortify our flesh, when a man renounces himself that he may live to God? For here we must always begin, when we speak of a godly and holy life, that man being in a manner dead to himself, should allow God to live in him, that he should abstain from his own works, so as to give place to God to work. We must indeed confess, that then only is our life rightly formed when it becomes subject to God. But through inbred corruption this is never the case, until we rest from our own works; nay, such is the opposition between God’s government and our corrupt affections, that he cannot work in us until we rest. But though the completion of this rest cannot be attained in this life, yet we ought ever to strive for it. Thus believers enter it but on this condition, — that by running they may continually go forward.

But I doubt not but that the Apostle designedly alluded to the Sabbath in order to reclaim the Jews from its external observances; for in no other way could its abrogation be understood, except by the knowledge of its spiritual design. He then treats of two things together; for by extolling the excellency of grace, he stimulates us to receive it by faith, and in the meantime he shows us in passing what is the true design of the Sabbath, lest the Jews should be foolishly attached to the outward rite. Of its abrogation indeed he does expressly speak, for this is not his subject, but by teaching them that the rite had a reference to something else, he gradually withdraws them from their superstitious notions. For he who understands that the main object of the precept was not external rest or earthly worship, immediately perceives, by looking on Christ, that the external rite was abolished by his coming; for when the body appears, the shadows immediately vanish away. Then our first business always is, to teach that Christ is the end of the Law…

See Calvin’s claim. The sabbath has been abrogated, fulfilled in the coming of Christ. He speaks of the perpetual rest which is future is also one the believer has entered, now, and must be sustained daily. Elsewhere Calvin speaks of the perpetuity of daily rest. He does not suppose that man isn’t at rest once he enters in, only that it cannot be completed in this life because of indwelling corruption. What he does say is that rest is not attained to by external rest or earthly worship. He is, also elsewhere quick to point out that one day out of seven should be wholly dedicated to seeking it, though he himself was a not a sabbatist (his word). And, as he is always wont to do,  he is admonishing that believers continue in it and not be drug again under the practice of superstitious rite to obtain it since the substance of the types are now the possession of believers. This he says is our confidence if we enter now, for if we wait for a futurity, we will enter into darkness:

…Let us therefore come boldly, or, with confidence, etc. He draws this conclusion, — that an access to God is open to all who come to him relying on Christ the Mediator; nay, he exhorts the faithful to venture without any hesitation to present themselves before God. And the chief benefit of divine teaching is a sure confidence in calling on God, as, on the other hand, the whole of religion falls to the ground, and is lost when this certainty is taken away from consciences.

It is hence obvious to conclude, that under the Papacy the light of the Gospel is extinct, for miserable men are bidden to doubt whether God is propitious to them or is angry with them. They indeed say that God is to be sought; but the way by which it is possible to come to him is not pointed out, and the gate is barred by which alone men can enter. They confess in words that Christ is a Mediator, but in reality they make the power of his priesthood of none effect, and deprive him of his honor.

For we must hold this principle, — that Christ is not really known as a Mediator except all doubt as to our access to God is removed; otherwise the conclusion here drawn would not stand, “We have a high priest Who is willing to help us; therefore we may come bold and without any hesitation to the throne of grace.” And were we indeed fully persuaded that Christ is of his own accord stretching forth his hand to us, who of us would not come in perfect confidence?  It is then true what I said, that its power is taken away from Christ’s priesthood whenever men have doubts, and are anxiously seeking for mediators, as though that one were not sufficient, in whose patronage all they who really trust, as the Apostle here directs them, have the assurance that their prayers are heard.

The ground of this assurance is, that the throne of God is not arrayed in naked majesty to confound us, but is adorned with a new name, even that of grace, which ought ever to be remembered whenever we shun the presence of God. For the glory of God, when we contemplate it alone, can produce no other effect than to fill us with despair; so awful is his throne. The Apostle, then, that he might remedy our diffidence, and free our minds from all fear and trembling, adorns it with “grace,” and gives it a name which can allure us by its sweetness, as though he had said, “Since God has affirmed to his throne as it were the banner of ‘grace’ and of his paternal love towards us, there are no reasons why his majesty should drive us away.”

The import of the whole is, that we are to call upon God without fear, since we know that he is propitious to us, and that this may be done is owing to the benefit conferred on us by Christ, as we find from Ephesians 3:12; for when Christ receives us under his protection and patronage, he covers with his goodness the majesty of God, which would otherwise be terrible to us, so that nothing appears there but grace and paternal favor.

That we may obtain mercy, etc. This is not added without great reason; it is for the purpose of encouraging as it were by name those who feel the need of mercy, lest any one should be cast down by the sense of his misery, and close up his way by his own diffidence. This expression, “that we may obtain mercy”, contains especially this most delightful truth, that all who, relying on the advocacy of Christ, pray to God, are certain to obtain mercy; yet on the other hand the Apostle indirectly, or by implication, holds out a threatening to all who take not this way, and intimates that God will be inexorable to them, because they disregard the only true way of being reconciled to him.

He adds, To help in time of need, or, for a seasonable help; that is, if we desire to obtain all things necessary for our salvation.
Now, this seasonableness refers to the time of calling, according to those words of Isaiah, which Paul accommodates to the preaching of the Gospel, “Behold, now is the accepted time,” etc., (Isaiah 49:8; 2 Corinthians 6:2;) for the Apostle refers to that “today,” during which God speaks to us. If we defer hearing until tomorrow, when God is speaking to us today, the unseasonable night will come, when what now may be done can no longer be done; and we shall in vain knock when the door is closed…

Are we conformed to Christ in his death, burial and resurrection, having entered with him into his rest? Is now the acceptable time which is called today. The writer of Hebrews is imploring his hearers not to delay, but Today, to enter that rest which Christ has accomplished. At the same time, both the writer and Calvin are acknowledging the future state. The irony is that those who are sabbatists are working to be at rest.

…Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

This is the grace in which we now stand, the rest of God, being reconciled by Christ through faith. It is through faith we entered the rest, perpetually, which some day will be reveled in truth. It is, though where we live, now. Therefore:

…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. 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.

Assurance, peace, standing, reconciliation, faith, boldness, they speak metonymically of rest just as “from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” It is not as if rest is some estranged member of the whole. Instead, as to substance, to die with Christ and to be raised with him is the same thing. We have entered into his rest.

Those of us who have entered his rest are to be warned, then, about those who would use deceit to burden once again those who have been granted it. Paul speaks of the appearance of asceticism as if those keepings and doings of elemental things can accomplish what Christ has already done. To place again the yoke of the Sabbath around the necks of believers is exactly what Paul and the writer of Hebrews is warning against. The Sabbath has been abrogated, as Calvin said. It is finished. We who have believed have entered the eternal Sabbath, no longer condemned with and though the things which perish, which have no means to offer what Christ died to obtain. If the rest is but one day a week, and not every day, Calvin might observe, the meaning of what Christ has done has failed to gain the hearing ear calling it to look to things above.

Later the writer of Hebrews will give a stronger word that those who deny Christ’s final rest and look for another trample under foot his blood by which he purchased that rest.

…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… that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief… For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

You see, the writer of Hebrews did not say anything different in Ten than he had in Three and Four.

The Hebrew children rejected the offer of Christ and returned to their sins, and were destroyed. If one only goes so far as their making of a golden image, or their debauchery, he has missed the point or returning to sin. Why they did is layered beneath, and that which the writer of Hebrews intends. So then, if we go on sinning, that is rejecting Christ, we too will fail to enter and be condemned with them, for once having been made partakers of the knowledge of the deliverance of Christ, once having been enlightened by his mighty works revealed in his word, if we look elsewhere, the only thing which remains is wrath, for there is no other Christ than he who has been offered once for all. And, therefore, no other rest in him than that which he has accomplished. There remains a rest for those in Christ, but for those who are not, a future expectation of judgment. We hear the evangel in the writer’s words and the call to repent, therefore. That is why it is vitally important that the rest given be truly given and not withheld though the imposition of a day or days which are not Today.

It is true that we must strive in that rest, for faith is filled with many troubled days, and by all appearance there is no rest. However, we enjoy a peace which the world does not understand and cannot receive. By faith we are in full possession of the promise while we still wait for the redemption which is to come. But it does not mean that Chapter Four is saying we haven’t entered it. In fact it says just the opposite. For faith is the substance of the thing hoped for, the very evidence of that which is yet unseen, Chapter 11:1. The Greek summarily says that faith is the very possession of the  thing which is the object of faith’s hope. And so the faith chapter speaks to the fact that even though the promise had been received by the ancients and they had rested from their works, they suffered many ills and yet were waiting through endurance and longsuffering to receive. It is no mystery to those who are pregnant that the child they carry is the same child that they birth. And while the throes of gestation are long and sometimes miserably painful, in the end, the same that is formed is what is delivered. It doesn’t become a child when it is birthed as if it is something other than when it was conceived. The substance is the same. And the joy first cherished when the conception was known is only shown for what it always was when the child is held in the arms rather than the womb. It was granted that Christ was yet to come, ergo, “there remains a rest for God’s people.” It does not mean that it is somehow not now what it will be.

…Before she was in labor  she gave birth; before her pain came upon her  she delivered a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children,  says the LORD.”

What was the possession of Abraham and the rest of the heroes of the faith, did not become something else because it was a future. It had always been the same Christ slain from the beginning, just as the writer of Hebrews says. Joshua couldn’t give it, no earthly priest could. It was for Christ alone to do, and is Today that which he alone has done for those who have the faith of Abraham. Now that Christ has come, the waiting is over. But what has changed? What will change? The magnitude, assuredly. However, that very Christ, Hebrews 4 states, was preached to the ancients and those who refused it in that day, it being Today perpetually for the people of God, were destroyed. But for the people of God, who mixed the message with faith, they entered, for the same Christ slain from the foundations of the world was the same Christ they beheld at the crossing of the sea, with whom they walk, from whom they drank, and to who to looked for in a country not their own.

The disturbing of the saints by imposing again the yoke of do and do not, observe and refrain, keeping of shadows and types, is soundly condemned by Scripture, and as Calvin said, it is a sign of the Papacy which speaks of the grace of God which Christ has obtained, but then refuses to grant that grace except upon the merit of certain performance, such as keeping the Sabbath. We are not to judge concerning the keeping of days, or of the Sabbath, nor are we to be defrauded by some who say we must. To do so, is, strictly speaking, to deny Christ has come. Or in the words of Paul, to deny the substance and not behold the head.

Chapter 33:1 Longing To Be Naked

Chapter 33.1 – Through the Westminster Confession.

Where’s “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

Scott Oliphant is quick to point out that this chapter is not in conflict with the rest of the Confession (this I suppose is true for those who swallow hook, line, and sinker, all that the 1689 has to say and defend it with near cult like obeisance). Then, why did he neglect to annotate his work at greater length? Namely, why when referencing John does he cheery pick?

“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:19-29 ESV)

Oliphant annotates around the verse in question because it undoes what he is trying to prove.

What is Jesus definition of eternal life (life)? It is that he does not come into judgment.

When does that occur? Well, if you didn’t get it from the passage above, how’s about referencing John 11?

The famous passage corrects the stupidity of Mary and Martha (and Scott Oliphant) who think that the first resurrection and its complement the judgment for the saint is something future. In resurrecting Lazarus, Jesus, making sure he is more than “mostly dead,” demonstrates the fulfillment of the passage in Chapter 5 for those who are his.

Mistaking Jesus for something other than who he is, is often the default for the disciples. Don’t be stupid like the emotionally laden sisters needing to be slapped awake. Know this: “Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:24-27 ESV)

Passing from judgment into life is eternal, if you have the Son you have his Father. We are those who do not judge based on appearance. If you believe in the Son you have eternal life, and are sanctified by Jesus Christ in his crucifixion, John 17. You are in him, he in you, he in the Father, and the in you. Or, you have rejected his resurrection, his righteousness, his life (Romans 5) the very thing through which regeneration comes to those who will believe. Don’t have your joy and assurance shaken by those who would steal the Lord’s peace from you by insisting that on the final day, stripped naked, you will be judged all over again. The Holiness that Peter speaks of is one of faith, for the lack of having such the disobedient were destroyed, Hebrews 3:16-4:2. Hebrews tells us, yea, warns us against falling short of his rest. Today is the day if you hear his voice. Beware the mutilators of the flesh, they only wish to again ensnare you to the passions of the flesh so that they can take pride in what they believe they have accomplished by their flesh. In that Day, do you not know that you will sit in Christ’s throne and judge the nations, 1 Cor 6:2? Then today, as long as it is today, judge yourselves and you will not come into judgment, 1 Cor 11:31.

One thing is for sure, you should neither participate in the body and blood of Christ, nor bless the elements, if you do not believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and that you have been judge in all things through him and have passed from judgment into the full inheritance as children of God, Ephesians, waiting only to take possession. What filthy taste it must leave in the mouth when one first tramples the body and blood of Christ underfoot, before eating and drinking, all the while saying today is the day let us rejoice and be glad in it as Abraham was?

Remember this: Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6 ESV) If you are amillennial, then you believe with me that there is no future judgment of the saints. If you believe there is, you are neither blessed, nor holy. Jesus’ question needs to be answered by you. Do you believe that he is first resurrection and that you are in him?

Oliphant describes this time as a “nakedness” before God, which flies in the face of what Paul is teaching in 2 Cor 5. It doesn’t uphold it, for we who are his long to be clothed and not found naked when we pass from our earthly bodies to heavenly ones. The passage describes what is meant by further clothed and it is the passing from this body of death, to the new body of the resurrection. The passage which not only undermines this section of the Confessions but the one previous to it. We will not be found naked, we will not be stripped down, we will not be judged again, once we have been clothed with he righteousness of Christ through regeneration.

What I find most astounding is Oliphant’s call to repentance and faith out of 2 Cor 6, when he seems not to believe that at all.

So, You Reject Perfectionism, But Tell Me Again Why Are You Not Cooperating With The Holy Spirit?

http://reformedforum.org/podcasts/ctc308/

Until there are formal charges brought against Tullian Tchividjian which would include the condemnation of Michael Horton also, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.

After listening to two pod-casts featuring Jones, I have to agree with a couple of commenters. He turns the requirement of works nearly into the means of a second justification and makes good grounds for the FV/NPP arguments.

The WCF and 1689 are quite clear on how and by whom good works are done. What can’t be explained by Jones’ Puritan Pietism, is why a person cannot get the sin out of the way which prevents him from doing any. Paul understood it very well: “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

The WCF, and the 1689 RBC, are clear that it takes a “required” “necessary” work of the Holy Spirit “to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure.” And that “they are not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.” This doesn’t mean you have some infused grace like a credit card just waiting to be used to gain reward points. What is also clear is that a person’s righteousness is in the tank no matter what he does, “They, who in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.” To shorten that, there can be no basis of rewards in the individual, “but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from his Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s (judgment(WCF), punishment (1689).” In other words, no matter how much God has gifted you with the ability to jump, and no matter how high you can, you end up where those who are the least gifted are. The rest of the statement on good works is exactly what Jones seems to deny, that the union with Christ is more than mere association and dedicated imitation. It is rather, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Your life in the flesh is utterly worthless, and if you don’t get that you don’t get Christ. The full absorption while preserving the person is what is found in the WCF, “Yet notwithstanding the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight, but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.” So whose works is the Father looking at again? Jones says it yours. Scripture and the confessions say it is Christ’s.

This was, by the way, what Arminius testified to. Namely, that when he stood before the throne of God, it would be his works as holy because they were empowered by God. But, he did them, not Christ. Arminius’ final justification and approval by God according to works are exactly what is expected of Romanism. The grace of God is infused and it is what man does with it that is the deciding factor in justification and sanctification. Sound familiar? What earlier reformed believers taught and the WCF reflects is quite contrary to that which follows in the 1700’s. Once again, Geneva felt the attraction of Rome, and a religion that emphasized active obedience in gaining God’s blessing. Sanctification once again became the work of “co-operative” grace, rather than the double grace which Calvin understood.

Though Jones makes an appeal to “Classical” Reformed theology, it is neither classical, nor the only historic stream. The confessions, as stated above prove that unequivocally. The real error is in Jones, whose campaign against antinomianism has made him to see little fatted creatures on every ones lawn but “the real Reformed.” I think the assessment I made above is right on. It is Jones, and not TT or MH, who are in error. But, not just error. He appears to take the WCF and trash it. Ponder what I have said above. If your sin is ever-present in all that you do, when can you ever find assurance in what you do? To the contrary, Scripture teaches us to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ the author and perfecter of our faith and to trust wholly in him who has become for us both our justification and our sanctification.

What Michael Horton has said on antinomianism: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/?s=Antinomianism

Here are some things I have written on sanctification:

https://thomastwitchell.wordpress.com/?s=sanctification

They had “a choice.”

“Adam and Eve had a choice.”

Oh really? And who gave them “a choice”? It wasn’t God. God forbid a contrary choice. To say that God placed before Adam and Eve the choice of evil is the highest blasphemy. The reality is that man was created with the natural ability of choosing, but not with libertarian freewill. Man was created in God’s image, not that he could choose evil, and he was forbidden to do so. God did not temp Eve by placing “a choice” before her, it was Satan. God placed before them only what was good.

You see the problem? The natural ability of the will is simply choice. It is not the capability of contrary choice. Adam and Eve were not given a choice between two contrary things, you may eat this and live, you may eat this and die. Instead, they were given choice for those things which God had given them. The choice was not given them to eat of the forbidden fruit. That is, choice in man is choosing what is given. To state it another way, he was to eat what was given and live, and eat not what was not given and live. The choices were to be to him life. God gave them nothing but good choices. He did not give them freewill to choose death.

We can see what is meant in that God by nature is incapable of choosing evil. It was in that image man was created. Natural ability of will is, again, the ability to choose, not to not choose. It does not address the object of the choice, either. Will only addresses the ability of choice. Neither does it address the moral rectitude of the one choosing. Moral choice is a decision of the mind’s capability of discerning good from evil. Still, given the possibilities, that is, that good is the only choice given, moral choice has no reference to the thing chosen, only to the one doing the choosing. Scripture describes sin as not merely the thing chosen, but the nature of the chooser as the source of moral rectitude. To be precise, when speaking of moral choice, it is not simply a matter of what, but who. When speaking of will, it is an instrument of choice and not the one using it. We find in the NT the description of man in his fallen nature as incapable of choosing any good. We must conclude then with Paul, that nothing in and of itself is evil, it is the one choosing it. Or as he says, to the pure all things are pure, to those of corrupt minds everything is evil.

Pritchett is correct. It is implied in the command to not eat and the very mention of evil, that Adam and Eve were already in possession of a certain knowledge of the truth. They had been told. They knew to “not eat and live.” They could not choose that which was contrary to that knowledge, for they had a perfect knowledge of it, and had no other knowledge which contradicted it. Nor could they choose that which was against their nature which was pure and holy, living souls, created in the image of God. The power of contrary choice resides only in the very definition and nature of evil, then. As God cannot deny himself, he cannot oppose himself, he does not possess such power of contrariness. As man was created in that image, he was not capable of opposing himself. The natural ability of choice, or the will, is such that it is able to be the instrument through which desire is expressed. But it is like a hammer which by the carpenter’s hand drives the nail. Man in his natural state desired only what was good.

 

What is keen here is to recognize what is meant by natural ability. Choice has no reference to the object chosen. It is simply choice. It is the mind that chooses, the will is merely its instrument for it doing so. It is the mind which wields the hammer. Moral rectitude and mental acuity are inextricably intertwined so that the one cannot be without the other. But will is not them, but only the instrument by which the individual constituted by them acts. And, the corruption of one results in the corruption of the other. In Adam and Eve there was no corruption, originally. Their will could only act in accord with their nature’s desire.

The state into which man was created was in the image of God. Like God, his will is free. Even in the state of falleness, his will is free. That is, the natural ability to choose has not been abated. As God still chooses, men still choose. It is the nature of the soul which determines the outcome of whether that choice is good or evil. (The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not in itself evil, for that knowledge Genesis 3:22 affirms is God’s own eternal knowledge, and thus inextricable from his nature.) In the case of God, he is impassable. That is, he is incapable of change. He is eternally good even with intimate knowledge of good and evil. In the case of man, he being a created being, he by definition is changeable. He is not eternally good, but good as a function of creation. Certain knowledge belongs to God alone, Scripture declares and to which Genesis testifies. In the possession of the creature that knowledge corrupts by the very antithesis of the creator/creature distinction. Again, what is created is by the very definition, changeable. Along with the nature of man which was created good is the mind. God is omniscient, man is not. Again, by definition man’s knowledge can change. It can grow, or it can be corrupted. God’s cannot. As I said above, the moral nature and the mind are inextricably joined so that the corruption of the one will result in the corruption of the other. However, the will remains intact.

In the case of Eve, she was convinced by the subtlety of the Devil that the fruit which was forbidden was instead good to partake of for food and for gaining wisdom. It wasn’t that she choose against the knowledge she had. To the contrary, that knowledge had been corrupted. The good choice to not eat somehow became the good choice to eat. In the case of Adam, Genesis makes clear that he listened to the voice of his wife. She deceived him and for that God cursed her. It is impossible to get around this conclusion. If Adam wasn’t deceived, he opposed himself, an impossibility given the fact that he was perfect in the knowledge God had given him and holy according to the nature into which he was created. One cannot imagine Eve saying to him he should eat because death is good. No, she delivered to Adam what she had been corrupted with, namely false knowledge. We do not know by what power that corruption was effected. How ever the corruption of mind and nature happened, no matter if we do not know the mysterious power that deception entailed, what we know is that Adam once having been created in the image of God, of sound mind and perfect in righteousness, acted contrary that image.

Finally, we must recognize that deception is by definition not the truth. Where there is no truth, there is no true choice. In other words, even if one wants to assert that there is libertarian freewill, in deception there is no liberty, only bondage.

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.

Sex After Christianity | Moral Chaos Leads To Anarchy – The End Game Of Fascism

Gay marriage signifies the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity because it denies the core concept of Christian anthropology. In classical Christian teaching, the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation. This is why gay marriage negates Christian cosmology, from which we derive our modern concept of human rights and other fundamental goods of modernity. Whether we can keep them in the post-Christian epoch remains to be seen… Conservative Christians have lost the fight over gay marriage and, as we have seen, did so decades before anyone even thought same-sex marriage was a possibility. Gay-marriage proponents succeeded so quickly because they showed the public that what they were fighting for was consonant with what most post-1960s Americans already believed about the meaning of sex and marriage. The question Western Christians face now is whether or not they are going to lose Christianity altogether in this new dispensation.

Too many of them think that same-sex marriage is merely a question of sexual ethics. They fail to see that gay marriage, and the concomitant collapse of marriage among poor and working-class heterosexuals, makes perfect sense given the autonomous individualism sacralized by modernity and embraced by contemporary culture—indeed, by many who call themselves Christians. They don’t grasp that Christianity, properly understood, is not a moralistic therapeutic adjunct to bourgeois individualism—a common response among American Christians, one denounced by Rieff in 2005 as “simply pathetic”—but is radically opposed to the cultural order (or disorder) that reigns today.

via Sex After Christianity | The American Conservative.

Anyone who has studied fascisms will recognize the process toward paganization of society and its collapse begins and is empowered by changing the cosmological thinking of the masses. Change the way the cosmos is perceived and you can control the way people live in it. The aim of fascisms is anarchy which inevitably leads to the reestablishing of tribalism as a means of attaining individual liberation from control. More directly, though, it is the means of individuals with power to control others. The eventual establishment of autonomous individualism where only one thing remains, the will to power, is the ostensible goal. But, as was seen in Nazi Germany, when reason and morality with a basis of faith in an absolute transcendent authority is undermined by individual triumphant and passion, chaos ensues. Sexual liberty was the means to attain control in Germany, and once control was established, sexual policing was the means to maintain it. In fascisms, the void is filled by those who have the might to forcibly take their freedom from those who have what they see as a threat to it. Nazism was then, and on a relatively localized scale. Homosexualism is today, and we are experiencing it on a global one. For the time being the usurpation of moral right and wrong by indeterminate standards is being imposed by governments whose who fear the loss of power. They have abandoned their pledge to deliver the right and good to the people who established the such governments over them to provide it. It was the aim of a government like that of the U.S., which was established under the supreme authority of a Creator who endued men with certain unalienable rights. That was the old paradigm. The new one has done away with transcendent truth as a grounding for rights, for right and wrong, for morality altogether. And in its place is the individual’s right to self expression of a world of his imagination which trumps others rights to life, property and a good way of living. Soon, we will seen the true persecution of Christianity. Like it was for the Jews and the Reformed Orthodoxy of Germany, it will be for even the moderate Christian, on a world-wide scale. Once that begins, it will produce the very revolution that fascisms long for and breed. The resulting chaos will leave a void of power. The dethroning of Judeo/Christianity was the first and greatest triumph of Nazism. The question will be, as it was in the first half of the Twentieth Century, who will fill that throne and with how many of lives?

Can SBC Today’s Bob Hadley Please God While Denying Baptist Faith And Message?

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Regeneration | SBC Today.

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Bob says:

Basically, there are two primary interpretations as to the how and when one is “born again” or regenerated, and both are related to belief, repentance and faith. One posits being born again as being essential for belief, repentance and faith to take place; and the other makes belief, repentance and faith essential for being born again.

What does the BF&M say regeneration is? 1) a work of grace whereby believers become new creatures 2) a change of heart wrought (past tense and a past participle of work) through conviction. It is a work of the Holy Spirit who changes the unconvinced heart of an unbelieving sinner to a convicted heart of a believing sinner who responds in repentance toward God and faith in Jesus. Even if one wants to make conviction moving a person toward the truth and a sense of guilt of sin, the question is still who works it. The BF&M states about the work of the Holy Spirit:

Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

What does Scripture say:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Are you so foolish (anoetos)? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

It is not man who is doing any of this. It is being a fool, Paul said, to think so.

What is the order in the BF&M, then? God by grace works regeneration -a change of heart- convicting of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance and faith. He baptizes (seals them) into the body of Christ and then seals them as the guarantee of ongoing sanctification to complete maturity and salvation of the final redemption. What is Bob’s order: repentance and faith is necessary prior to one being born again. To reiterate, the BF&M places “It” (being born again; a change of heart), prior to repentance and faith. In accord with that the BFM places illumination and enablement by the Holy Spirit prior to repentance and faith. Who is working the enablement and the illumination? And where? The Holy Spirit by his presence in the Christian.

To make no mistake about what he is speaking of, Bob states:

One thing appears clear: apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit or ones being “in Christ” there is no new birth or regeneration… Clearly to be born again one MUST have the Spirit living in his heart for if one does not have the Spirit in his heart that one does not belong to God. Regeneration is not possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

He then asks:

So the question now is this: does the Holy Spirit take up residence in the heart of the unregenerate so that he is able to believe, repent and be saved or does the Holy Spirit take up residence in the heart of an individual who has believed, repented and is then saved?

But as is seen in the BF&M the order is established- by the grace of God the Holy Spirit’s presence within changes the hearted, the believer is enabled, illumined, so as to understand. Which in turn, through conviction the sinner responds in repentance and faith. The BFM has already defined salvation broadly, and not narrowly as Bob has done. To be saved includes far more than Bob can allow, quoting the BFM:

In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

Again, note the order. Regeneration comes before justification. Scripture identifies the order of justification this way:

For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Regeneration, the BF&M states, is the beginning of sanctification by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes… So we need to ask, is faith set apart for God’s purposes in the believer, nor not? Is faith part of sanctification. Which comes first, a new heart which believes, or belief from an unchanged heart?

The question that should be asked is does the Holy Spirit take up residence in an unregenerate heart at all? That is, if as Bob says the Holy Spirit’s indwelling and regeneration are inseparable realities, in which he is right, how could it ever be that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in an unregenerate heart so that it is convinced to turn on its own?

First of all, Bob presents a canard. No Calvinist believes that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the unregenerate so that he will do what is required by the commandment to repent and believe. Calvinists believe that in regeneration the Holy Spirit is resident in the newly created heart. We also need to ask, can an unbelieving heart believe? Bob believes so. The self-contradiction is obvious. For those who are, borrowing the term Jesus used, anoetos (not understanding, unwise, foolish), the answer is no! Unbelievers, by the very nature of unbelief, don’t believe. By the testimony of Scripture, an unbeliever cannot be saved, period. How does one who has not had a change of heart (the BF&M’s definition of regeneration) from an unbelieving one to a believing one, believe? Again, for the anoetos, he can’t. Or, quoting Romans 8 where Bob conveniently didn’t:

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

How does a hostile, unbelieving heart, submit? Paul says, it cannot. It will not obey the commands such as repent and believe. So we ask also, can an unbeliever please God? Or, can only a believer? And who is he who can believe? The BF&M is clear, only those who have had a change of heart, who are set apart for God’s purposes can believe. Interestingly, the section on regeneration in the BF&M is supported by Philippians 2:12-13 in which it is clearly stated that God works in us the things which are pleasing to God and John 1:11-14, where we find that those who received Christ were those who were born of God. They didn’t receive him and then were born of God. The BF&M’s own quotations refute Bob’s intentions. If Bob would have further developed Romans 8 he would find that the setting apart for God’s purposes, as the BF&M’s consideration of the grace points out, is part of the whole package of election (i.e. salvation) which includes regeneration and all other means of accomplishing it. It is consistent with free agency because man in bondage to sin while unregenerate has no means of moral choice by which he can submit himself to the commandments of God. The BF&M delcares that the illumination by the Holy Spirit establishes truth in man and by that working of conviction man is set free to do what God has commanded.

Bob quotes:

Consider the following passages. At Pentecost, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’”

But this is misdirection. The manifestation of the Spirit given on Pentecost is not the indwelling. Peter and the others who were with Jesus prior to his crucifixion and after his resurrection already were indwelt by the Spirit, yet the gift Peter is speaking of is “this which was spoken by the prophet Joel… which also was given to Peter on Pentecost. So why quote it here? It is a non-sequitur. But since Bob’s motives are at best questionable, we can ask if it is sleight of hand meant to distract weak-minded anoetos.

He quotes:

“By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God”

But why didn’t he quote: “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.”

Bob quotes:

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

So we ask, how can one call upon the name of the Lord and be saved except that he already has the Holy Spirit? Again, for the anoetos, he can’t. He must be regenerated, and in regeneration have the Holy Spirit before he can call upon the name of Jesus as Lord and be saved. For no one, not anyone, zero, zip, nadie sin excepciones, calls upon the Lord who does not have the Spirit.

But Bob says:

Conversion is the result of the Holy Spirit taking up residence in a person’s heart and that takes place after one believes, repents and confesses Christ.

Again, this is a canard. Calvinists speak of conversion as the outward manifestation of the inward change (a lot like the BF&M). That is, salvation is much broader than Bob seems to have any concept of and begins with regeneration through the hidden work of the Spirit as John 3 explains. It is demonstrated by the fruit it produces, or as John 3 says, we don’t see wind coming or going but we know it by its effects. Conversion, like salvation is a continuum of events some hidden, others obvious. Typically, the outward work is what is acknowledged as conversion (which fits into the category of sanctification), and regeneration is that which cannot be seen and as the BF&M and Scripture testify come before a man’s understanding is opened so that he sees the kingdom and embraces it. When John says that God has blinded the eyes of some so that they cannot see and be converted, (John 12:40; cf Isaiah 6:9-10), the Greek word, which means to turn around, as in repent, is in the passive voice. In other words, conversion, according to John, is something which is being done to those who are turning around. What else should we expect from John who wrote that Jesus said without being born again, one cannot see, that is understand, the kingdom?

To clarify language, when speaking of being saved we acknowledge the inception, the process, and the consummation:

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

So one is said to be saved in the beginning and to be saved throughout and saved in the end. Bob doesn’t make the proper clarification and so, again, he presents a canard by conflating meaning to the point of utter confusion.

So Bob continues to confuse the issues:

Consider Paul’s word of instruction in Ephesians 1: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (see also 2 Co 1:20-22). Clearly the sealing of the Holy Spirit takes place after one has heard the Word of truth presented in the proclamation of the gospel message and has believed it.

Yes, let’s do. What is the sealing spoken of here? Is it the indwelling? It doesn’t say that. The Holy Spirit’s work is varied. For our comfort, according to many places, such as 1 Cor 2, we are told we have been given the Spirit so that we might know the things God has freely given us and knowing the truth we would be set free and no longer fear the wrath of God. 1 Cor 2 says that we have received the Spirit, not that we should fear, but so that we can discern the truth, understanding the things which God has freely given. It also says that the natural man does not have the Spirit and so cannot discern the truth. But, if that is the case, then how does he place his faith in what he doesn’t know to be the truth and turn around, convert, from unbelief to belief? What faith looks to darkness for light? John writes that these things were written that we might know. But, Paul says, only those who have the Spirit can know the things which were written. Jesus said only the disciples know and that all the rest have been blinded so that they would not convert (repent) and believe. So, when the Holy Spirit, as Jesus said, brings to our minds the things he has said, the Holy Spirit seals the truth to our minds. But, he only does that for those to whom it has been given, to those outside it remains a mystery. And this is our comfort, that as Paul, we know him in whom we have believed, not that we first believe and then know him. First, though, before we can know, and knowing repent and believe, we must have the Holy Spirit.

We  also speak of the sealing of the Holy Spirit in another way. We speak of it in adoption. That having been made partakers of the divine nature, we are inextricably bound to Christ by the Holy Spirit. But, what we have been made to be in this latter sense is given in regeneration, the former is given in sanctification. The latter is what would include definitive sanctification and justification though faith which is the whole of salvation given as righteousness by  union with Christ which seals us to Christ. The former is progressive sanctification which includes all the works we are active in, and justification through believing in which the believer is also active through the power of the Spirit performing those things in him which are pleasing to God. The power of the Holy Spirit acts in believers as the confirming signature by which the saints persevere to the end and inherit the promise. As there is a nuance to the terms used in Scripture, such as saved, salvation, redeemed, redemption, and the myriads of ways we use those terms in doctrinal discussion, there is a variety of ways the terms seal or sealed is used. To seal can mean to bind together, or it can mean to affix a mark as in a signature or deed of ownership.

Then again, even if there is a more nuanced way in which Ephesians 1:13 can be understood, there is a sense in which some or all the aspects of one nuance of the whole of our salvation are true of others. Notice that in Ephesians we have a future redemption. But, is it not the fact that those who are believers are redeemed now? There is a comprehensiveness expressed in Ephesians from first to last, from predestination to consummation. Beside, the phrase, “having believed, you were sealed,” is not necessarily rendered correctly. “Having believed is an aorist participle and could well be translated, believing. And “were sealed” is in the aorist indicative and could be rendered “being sealed.” Thus, it could say, you believing being sealed… So simply, it could just mean that believing is the seal of the Holy Spirit’s working. And if we go to Ephesians 1:20 we find the current condition of believers as now seated in the heavenlies which is the future state as considered in the past and present. This is ongoing work, and not simply the initiatory work. In both the believing and the sealing in Ephesians 1:13, the full sense of the aorist tense needs to be considered. The sense of all of Ephesians is forgone conclusion from predestination to consummation. That is, that it began, is ongoing and has futurity. It moves from the grounding purpose to infancy, to maturity, to standing in the end. So again, it is not necessarily right to fix a cemented sequence to the verbage, especially in view of the wide application of the tenses being used and with the full mind’s eye on all that Ephesians is about.

We can add to this Abraham’s faith. Was righteousness imputed to him because he believed, or was believing imputed to him as righteousness? When we look at Ephesians 2:8-9 we find that faith, though it may not be directly the gift referred, is nonetheless, a part of salvation given by God. And it is not a verb, it is a noun just as in Romans 4:9. Since the righteous live by faith, and Jesus concludes that man lives only by the word of God, it is not a stretch to conclude that faith is God’s grace provision as the full provision of all that is meant by the promise of salvation. That faith is righteousness is further confirmed by the fact that it is the very nature of the Son’s life, especially displayed on the cross. His entire life is that faith in which we are given Ephesians says in such a way so that we are in him by virtue of his resurrection (see Peter 1:3). And further, the proper way of believing is shaped by Jesus’s own faith in his Father to whom he entrusted his spirit. To say then that God enables faith in all men though they themselves remain not submitted to God, dishonoring the Son until they act on it, is to mingle the meaning of faith with faithlessness. It pollutes the kind of faith Jesus had. Jesus did not move from being an unbeliever to a believer, nor was he a mixture of doubts, rather, he was the firstfruit of the faith, and we are made after his image, as he said, born from above, John 3:3; John 17. If one makes faith a neutrality which can at once mean to believe or not to believe, faith simply has no meaning. It is no wonder then that Bob believes that an unbeliever can believe. That is to say, Bob believes that an unbeliever can be saved, thus making nonsense of John 3:16-18. We must first be raised from the dead, the power of God’s love in us as it was in Christ, by which, as the Son did, we sons cry Abba.

In Ephesians, it is best, probably, to understand that the Holy Spirit seals to our minds the knowledge of this comprehensive promise which is mentioned, as is clear in 1 Cor 2,through the word taught to spiritual men by the Spirit. Or, it might be said that this is the hope of glory which is in us, the Holy Spirit who, as with the disciples, was given after the disciples had already seen the risen Lord and had already believed, who brings to our minds the things Jesus said. As he said he would not leave them orphans but would send the comforter as the one who comes alongside as an aid in weakness, so also, even though by virtue of regeneration we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us as they did, Jesus further aids us by sending the Holy Spirit to teach, guide, and comfort. There is no reason to conflate the meaning of what the operation of the Holy Spirit is in grounding our hope in the promise of Scripture as a seal with the initial work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration which seals us to Christ. Because again, Scripture is so nuanced as to have, often, both near reference and far. The verse in Ephesians 1:13 proves no sequence of events, necessarily, especially in view of the comprehensive nature of the near context, and of broad category of salvation as it is spoken of throughout Scripture.

Bob concludes:

there is no ambiguity in the Scriptures where the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is concerned with respect to being born again or being regenerated. Regeneration is not possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to those who have believed and have repented and trusted God by faith (Acts 2:38).

As I said before, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit are not the indwelling. The apostles already had the indwelling when the Holy Spirit’s gift spoken of in Acts 2 was given. The ambiguity is in Bob’s head where he conflates one meaning with another. In other parts of Acts it is clear that the Holy Spirit came upon those who already believed:

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.(Acts 4:29-31)

By Bob’s formulation, Peter was born again, and born again, and born again. For when Jesus spoke to the apostles after his resurrection John writes:

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  (John 20:22)

The there is this:

And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
(Luke 1:15)

And we must ask, when did John the Baptist believe? Before or after he was filled with the Holy Spirit? Surely not before. It could only be that after he was enlightened that he believed for he had to be old enough to understand. Yet, we have the testimony that he was filled before he was born.

Bob concludes his conclusion:

While some may try to make a case for a temporal or logical position for regeneration preceding repentance and the exercise of saving faith, such is not the case for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

As we have just seen, this is not the case. Bob is just confused about the indwelling.

Since regeneration is not Scripturally possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, one must conclude regeneration prior to repentance and saving faith is not possible either.

There is no logical sense in which Bob draws this conclusion. The case is that we have the testimony Scripture that John was regenerated in the womb. Bob has simply failed to read the Scripture.

The lost are not regenerated so they may then repent and by faith trust Christ to be justified or saved; the unregenerate are convicted of their sin and their lost state by the work of the Holy Spirit through the proclamation of the gospel and through believing and repentance, they by faith in the person and the promises of God are converted and justified and receive right standing before God when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in their hearts.

Bob’s redundant assertion, I suppose, he hopes will carry his argument. Is he equating justification with being saved? But as we have seen, being saved is far more expansive than a one time event. Above it has been shown that an unbelieving heart is not convicted of anything. It hates the word of God, it cannot submit to it, it cannot please God. It, as the BF&M correctly affirms, must be changed. It is the Holy Spirit which works through conviction. But that is both the knowledge of God and of sin in truth. And Paul is clear that the man without the Spirit has no knowledge is a spiritual sense of anything pertaining to the promises of God. A man without the Spirit does not comprehend the things of God, because he cannot judge right from wrong. It is only the spiritual man who can,

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.(1 Corinthians 2:12-15 ).

If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that we must be spiritual, that is born of God having been given the Spirit, before we can understand spiritual truths interpreted to us (i.e., the Gospel, 1 Cor 2:1-5).

This is the clear position presented in Scripture.

Ronnie Rogers Wishes For A Systematician To Believe In

One Man’s Suggestions for Calvinists and Non-Calvinists, Part 2 | SBC Today.

This is hilarious. Anti-Calvinists nearly universally claim that Calvinists follow Calvin and not Jesus. Now, with no systematicians of their own, anti-Calvinist Ronnie Rogers hopes for someone they can believe in who would write a Systematic that they could stand on to reach the meaning of Scripture.

And here I thought they already exalted the Jesuit Molina to the position of patron saint.

Adventitious Farrago: Calvin On Baptism

via Institutes of the Christian Religion – Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Not everything Calvin said about baptism can be accepted. There is much he does say which is instructive. Just what is baptism, the proper mode, who is the right recipient and administrator, just what makes it valid, et cetera, are questions that are difficult to answer. However, there are answers. Where Calvin is best is in recognizing where the true efficacy of baptism in water is. He locates it in Christ’s baptism, and that meaning Jesus death burial and resurrection. Right where it should be. Getting that right makes all the rest added, and at times, unnecessary.

Enjoy.

I am adding on to this, this:

We must not suppose that there is some latent virtue inherent in the sacraments by which they, in themselves, confer the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon us, in the same way in which wine is drunk out of a cup, since the only office divinely assigned them is to attest and ratify the benevolence of the Lord towards us; and they avail no farther than accompanied by the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts, and make us capable of receiving this testimony, in which various distinguished graces are clearly manifested. For the sacraments, as we lately observed (chap. 13 sec. 6; and 14 sec. 6, 7), are to us what messengers of good news are to men, or earnests in ratifying pactions. They do not of themselves bestow any grace, but they announce and manifest it, and, like earnests and badges, give a ratification of the gifts which the divine liberality has bestowed upon us. The Holy Spirit, whom the sacraments do not bring promiscuously to all, but whom the Lord specially confers on his people, brings the gifts of God along with him, makes way for the sacraments, and causes them to bear fruit.

It is important to see how Calvin defines the sacraments so as to understand how he applies to them the source of their efficacy, and to whom they should be applied. Calvin appears self-refuting. In some ways concerning some things I think he is. On the other hand, Calvin stands in an arena, I believe, somewhere between paedoism and credoism. He surely doesn’t take the mystical approach that is found in some Reformed circles.