Saturday, December 4, 2010

Brian Schwertley: The Entire Weight of God's Just Judgment and Wrath Fell Upon Christ When He Suffered Punishment on the Cross

God does not overlook sin or arbitrarily pardon it, but judges it and punishes it in Christ. Jesus’ death was the demonstration of the justifying judgment of God. … Because Christ has suffered the penalty in the place of His people, they are pardoned, forgiven and forever released from punishment.

–Brian Schwertley, A Defense of the “Active Obedience” of Jesus Christ In The Justification of Sinners: A Biblical Refutation of Norman Shepherd on the Preceptive Obedience of the Savior

Francis Turretin: Christ Infinitely Satisfied the Punishment of Death and Merited the Reward of Life for Us

The obedience of Christ has a twofold efficacy, satisfactory and meritorious; the former by which we are freed from the punishments incurred by sin; the latter by which (through the remission of sin) a right to eternal life and salvation is acquired for us. For as sin has brought upon us two evils - the loss of life and exposure to death - so redemption must procure the two opposite benefits - deliverance from death and a right to life, escape from hell and an entrance into heaven.

-Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. II, p. 447

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Start your Christian walk with the Gospel, then move to "bigger and better things" like Law-keeping?

Can a Christian progress through sanctification by striving to keep every jot and tittle of the Law? Does he only need Christ and the Gospel to start his walk of faith?

I never would have said I believed quite this way. However, as I look back to what I believed and practiced before a year and a half ago when I started an extensive study of soteriology and Christ as the foundation (I Cor. 3:11), I cannot say that I had the centrality of the Gospel nailed down in my theology and orthopraxy.

I would point to verses like I John 5:2, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments." See, there it is! We must strive after law-keeping. However, I ignored the whole context of Scripture, which places Christ at the foundation. From the heart, we must pursue Him, love Him, follow Him, take His yoke upon us, emulate His example of humble and sacrificial service in laying down His life for those who were unlovely and unloving toward Him. When we follow Christ, we will keep the law as a result. But we don't place law-keeping at the center of our focus. True, we do search the Scriptures diligently to discern God's leading; this is how He speaks to us -- through His inspired, sufficient and authoritative Word. But when we look at Scripture, we see Christ at the beginning, middle, and end -- He is the center and foundation, the end-all and be-all of the Word and of our lives.

Philippians 1:27 says, "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." Later, Paul writes:
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. ... But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead (Phil. 3:3, 7-11).

Although I would not have admitted it, I was similar to a Pharisee who trusted in myself, that I was righteous (Lk. 18:9). I went about to establish my own righteousness (Rom. 10:3), rather than repudiating everything wrought in me or performed by me, trusting in Christ's righteousness alone. I had even memorized this passage in Philippians, and I was familiar with the various Scriptures that call us to renounce everything in ourselves and take hold of the righteousness of Christ alone by faith alone. But I still did not count Christ as the precious pearl of great price for whom I should give up everything else to follow Him (Mt. 13:46, Lk. 14:26-33).

I wasted so much time when I did not think much, speak much, and love much of Christ. I did not realize how monstrous, grievous, and enraging my sin against God is and how much I had been forgiven because God had placed my sins upon Christ, He became the curse for me, and He drank down the ferocious wrath and judgment of God that should have been poured upon me for my sin. I loved little because, I fancied in my mind, I had been forgiven little (Lk. 7:47).

Now I desire to make much of Christ and to see Him worshipped in my life, my family, my community, and throughout the world, as He ought to be worshipped. This means living day-by-day in sacrificial service with gratitude to Him (Rom. 12:1). God alone is glorious and worthy. I think frequently about how I can prioritize this mission of proclaiming His glory and calling upon all men to comprehensively repent and trust in Christ alone. What am I doing? Not enough. What can I do? Obviously, of myself, I can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). But may God embolden me to be more faithful and diligent as an ambassador for Christ throughout life, by His strength and wisdom alone.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Christ is the Center and Foundation, and Everything is Vain Apart from Him

Matthew 4:4 -- "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (cf. Deu. 8:3).

Matthew 7:24-27 -- "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

Matthew 12:30 -- "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."

Matthew 28:18-20 -- "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

John 14:15 -- "If ye love me, keep my commandments."

I Corinthians 3:11 -- "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

Philippians 1:21 -- "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Jesus is the foundation and center of everything. John 1:3 says, "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." I Corinthians 8:6 says, "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." Colossians 1:17 says that "he is before all things, and by him all things consist"; 2:3 says that "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" are hid in Christ. Hebrews 1:3 says that Christ upholds "all things by the word of his power."

Apart from Christ, every thought, word, and action is utterly vain and futile. To deny His Kingship over every atom of reality is to imagine a vain thing (Ps. 2:1). To build a home without Christ at the center is a vain labor (Ps. 127:1). To approach Christ in terms of our own doctrines and commandments is to worship Him in vain (Matt. 15:9, Mark 7:7; cf. Col. 2:8). To neglect gratitude toward Christ and the glory of God in our intellectual endeavors is to become vain in our imaginations (Rom. 1:21). To teach and trust anything devoid of Christ’s resurrection is to preach and believe in vain (I Cor. 15:14, 17). When we labor for Christ, our work is not in vain (I Cor. 15:58). When we acknowledge Christ’s absolute Lordship, obey our Lord, and work out our salvation with fear and trembling through God’s work in our hearts; we may rejoice in the day of Christ that we have not run or labored in vain (Phil. 2:9-16).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Walk Worthy of the Lord!

Ephesians 4:1 -- “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”

Colossians 1:10 -- “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

I Thessalonians 2:12 -- “That ye might walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”

II Thessalonians 1:5 -- “that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom.”

II Thessalonians 1:11 -- “that our God would count you worthy of his calling.”

Sunday, August 8, 2010

R.J. Rushdoony: God is sovereign and determines the standards of judgment and grounds of forgiveness

"Forgiveness in Scripture is juridicial: it means charges dropped because satisfaction has been rendered. It can also mean charges deferred for the time being, as in Christ's word from the cross, concerning the Romans soldiers, 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do' (Luke 23:34). ...

"But even as true confession is unto God, so true forgiveness is also from God and on His terms. The church can administer God's forgiveness, but it cannot forgive on its own. Humanistic confession has been replacing the Christian, even as humanistic forgiveness has increasingly supplanted God's.

"God, as Creator and governor of all things, is the absolute lord or sovereign over all. His judgments are total and final because He alone is God, and all final reckonings are in His hands. This is the premise of Christian confession. We confess to God because He alone can grant us full absolution and forgiveness through Christ, and He alone can renew us and create a clean heart in us."

-R.J. Rushdoony, The Cure of Souls: Recovering the Biblical Doctrine of Confession (pp. 39-40)

"Cheap forgiveness means a cheap view of sin, and also of the atonement. Sin, being so costly in God's sight that it required the death of the incarnate Son of God, cannot be treated lightly by men. Moreover, because all sin is against God's law, sin cannot be dealt with in terms of how we feel about it, but must rather be dealt with in terms of what God says about it" (Ibid., p. 68).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Can you forgive yourself?

I have heard pastors say that we must forgive ourselves. However, I have not heard where this concept is found in Scripture.

God forgives us on the basis of Christ's penal substitutionary satisfaction in making atonement. And why do we need forgiven? Because we have violated God's Law, which is to say that we have committed cosmic high treason against the majesty and holiness of the sovereign, eternal, immutable, and supreme Ruler of the universe.

Sin is not a matter to be dealt with lightly, and neither is God's righteousness. God will render just judgment to everyone, and He will by no means clear the guilty. Our sins must have been imputed to Christ and He must have paid the penalty, suffering the curse through His infinite sacrifice on the cross, in order for us to secure an abatement of God's just judgment and punishment.

We are not free to set our own law by which to judge ourselves or to come to terms with our own violations, easing the guilt of our consciences, by means of our own invention. God alone sets the standard, and all sins are ultimately against Him. He alone can make provision for the removal of our guilt through the penal substitutionary sacrifice of Christ.

Do not look to yourself -- anything wrought within you, performed by you, or pronounced at your own tribunal. You may not forgive yourself. Unless Christ has satisfied God's justice pronounced against you -- and you receive and rest in Him alone through faith alone, repudiating every rival plan of pardon and acceptance before God -- you have no hope. Dressed in Christ's righteousness alone, you can be faultless to stand before His throne.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Francis Turretin: Justification by faith alone is of the greatest importance

This [doctrine of justification by faith alone] must be handled with the greater care and accuracy as this saving doctrine is of the greatest importance in religion. It is called by Luther “the article of a standing or a falling church.” By other Christians, it is termed the characteristic and basis of Christianity—not without reason—the principal rampart of the Christian religion. This being adulterated or subverted, it is impossible to retain purity of doctrine in other places. Hence Satan in every way has endeavored to corrupt this doctrine in all ages, as has been done especially in the papacy.

-Francis Turretin, "Institutes of Elenctic Theology," 2:633. (Quoted by Morecraft in "Authentic Christianity," vol. 2, p. 954.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Joe Morecraft: Christ by His blood satisfies, atones, propitiates, reconciles, and redeems

The only source of satisfaction, atonement, propitiation, reconciliation and redemption with reference to God is through the shedding of sacrificial blood. The word, “sacrifice,” is directed to the need created by the guilt of our sin. “Propitiation” refers to the need that arises from the wrath of God against sin. “Reconciliation” refers to the need arising from our alienation from God because of sin. And “redemption” or “ransom” is directed to the slavery to which our sin has consigned us.

-Joe Morecraft, "Authentic Christianity," vol. 2, pp. 73-74

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Packer and Beeke: Faith is not the ground of justification, but rather the instrument of receiving and resting in the person and work of Christ alone

“When Paul paraphrases this verse [Gen. 15:6] as teaching that Abraham’s faith was reckoned for righteousness (Rom. 4:5, 9, 22), all he intends us to understand is that faith—decisive, whole-hearted reliance on God’s gracious promise (vss. 18ff)—was the occasion and means of righteousness being imputed to him. There is no suggestion here that faith is the ground of justification.”
-J.I. Packer (quoted by Dr. Joel R. Beeke in “Justification by Faith Alone,” pp. 56-57)

“… Habakkuk 2:4 … quoted in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38, is ultimately fulfilled in the righteousness that comes by faith in the gospel of Christ, for which the law itself teaches us to look (Romans 3:21-22; 10:4). Paul’s explanation of Habakkuk has inspired not only Martin Luther but countless other believers to place their faith in a righteousness not their own, but that of Jesus Christ who is called ‘THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ (Jeremiah 23:6).”
-Dr. Joel R. Beeke, “The Relation of Faith to Justification” (in the book, “Justification by Faith Alone,” pp. 57-58)

Theodore Beza: Christ's righteousness and perfection is imputed to us freely when we rest in Him and receive Him by faith

Truly, all that is in Jesus Christ, that is to say, all the righteousness and perfection (in Him there was no sin and moreover He has fulfilled all the righteousness of the Law), is placed to our account and gifted to us as if it were our own, provided that we embrace Him by faith.

-Theodore Beza, “Faith and Justification”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Scripture represents all of God's believing people as a Kingdom of Priests

Exodus 19:5-6, "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."

Isa 61:6, "But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves."

Romans 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

Hebrews 13:15-16, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

I Peter 2:5, 9, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. ... But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."

Revelation 1:5-6, "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

Revelation 5:9-10, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

Revelation 20:6, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

John Robbins: The doctrine of Christ's perfect, extrinsic, objective, imputed righteousness--forensic justification--ended 1,000 years of stagnation

For a thousand years, because of the church's doctrine of justification as an internal grace rather than the objective, external, legal declaration of a sinner's innocence by God, men had looked inside themselves for the grace that merited salvation. The more devout retreated to monasteries and convents to find their salvation in their interior lives. Some sat on poles, some beat their bodies bloody, and some made pilgrimages to "holy" places. The church had lost the message of the Gospel, that men are saved by a righteousness wholly outside of themselves—the righteousness of Christ. By his perfect life, innocent and substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection, Christ had fulfilled the demands of God's law on behalf of all who believed in him. It is to Christ that one must look for salvation, said Luther, not inside oneself. Once the religious subjectivism of the medieval church was eliminated in Protestant countries, the energy consumed by desperately seeking and earning salvation was turned outward, and a thousand years of intellectual, political, social, economic, and religious stagnation ended.

Monday, July 12, 2010

God is inflexibly just, and His law makes inexorable demands that Christ satisfied

In my studies of justification and atonement over the past few months, I have come to the following summarizing conclusion: We must take the highest and most exalted view of God's glorious, holy character, and His perfect, eternal, immutable Law. Our understanding of every area of life--economics and history, no less than soteriology and ecclesiology--must begin with the assumption that God is absolutely sovereign over every square inch of reality, and His Word is sufficient for all areas of life and thought.

We exalt Christ, the cross, and the Gospel, when we affirm that God's Law-Word makes demands on every speck of our existence--physical and material, as well as spiritual and intellectual. God is sovereign over all individuals and entire nations, no less than over churches and families. Furthermore, we are utterly incapable of rendering satisfaction to His requirements of perfect, perpetual, and personal obedience in every word, thought, deed, and motive. We must utterly renounce all confidence in ourselves and place all faith alone in the person and work of Christ alone, the very God of very God and very man of very man: His work of active obedience secures a perfect righteousness that is imputed to us, the spotless garment in which we must be clothed, as the ground of our acceptance with God; through His passive obedience, our sins are reckoned to Christ at God's sovereign tribunal, and Christ has paid the penalty for every violation.

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:" (Philippians 3:8-9).

"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10).

Christ has removed our guilt, or liability to punishment that accrues to our violations of God's Law; He has appeased God's wrath through the provision of the Father's great love in sending His Son to drink down every drop of divine justice; He has reconciled us to God by bearing our sins in His own body; and He has redeemed us out of bondage to sin, condemnation, Satan, the world, and death. Christ alone satisfies God's righteous standards through His penal substitutionary atonement, as the Father did not spare Him so that He could spare us.

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)

Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is now seated at God's right hand, ruling as the Prince of the kings of the earth, and making intercession day-by-day as the Advocate for His people. Having performed His priestly function of offering Himself to God as a perfect, spotless sacrifice of infinite value when He shed His own blood and died for us, Christ rose again to ascend into glory and reign as the exalted Victor over history and throughout all eternity.

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).

"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:5-6).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

R.J. Rushdoony: Self-atonement is impossible, and man is totally passive in salvation -- God alone is sovereign

Self-atonement is an impossibility. … Man is God’s creature, totally God’s creation, and man can exist only in God’s world. He is totally morally liable to God, and man’s every attempt to assert a claim to autonomy is not only a violation of his moral duty but a metaphysical impossibility and a mental monstrosity. Man cannot make atonement to God for his sin because he is neither capable of truly self-righteous atonement, since he is nothing in and of himself, nor can he add anything to God. As Paul asked the Corinthians, “and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (I Cor. 4:7). Since man is totally God’s act, man’s justification and atonement are also of necessity totally God’s acts. …

The declaration of all Scripture is that atonement and justification are the sovereign acts of God through the work of Jesus Christ. Atonement therefore is essentially not a subjective experience but an objective fact. The primary point of reference in atonement is not the sinner’s experience but God’s order, God’s self-propitiation. Christ pays the price to God as the representative sinner, so that the reconciliation and atonement are divinely initiated. Christ, by His incarnation as very man of very man, acts as man’s representative in the transaction. The atonement of the elect is thus vicarious, in that it is not their work but God’s work. Because man is totally a creature, he is totally passive in relationship to God; because he has been created lord over the earth, man can assume a secondary activity towards the earth. …

The only possible source of political liberty is on the premise of the atoning work of Jesus Christ. (R.J. Rushdoony, Politics of Guilt and Pity, pp. 7-8, 10)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gary North: The Levitical sacrifices had to be unblemished to symbolize Christ's perfect, infinite sacrifice

“Leviticus begins with the law governing the burnt offering. ‘A male without blemish’ was required, which was also the requirement for the Passover lamb: ‘Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats’ (Ex. 12:5). The phrase, ‘without blemish,’ is repeated throughout Leviticus [1:10; 3:1,6; 4:23,28,32; 5:11,18; 6:6; 9:2-3; 14:10; 22:19; 23:12,18]. The blemish-free sacrificial animal symbolized God’s legal requirement of a final sacrifice that alone serves as a legal ransom payment (atonement) to God for man’s sin. This pointed to the substitutionary death of a perfect man, Jesus Christ (I Pet. 1:18-21).” (Gary North, Leviticus: An Economic Commentary, p. 50)

“Why was there a Levitical requirement of blemish-free sacrifices? Because man is made in the image of God, and his acts are supposed to reflect God’s acts. This raises the question of God’s acts. God has offered a sacrifice to Himself: a high-value, blemish-free sacrifice. To meet His own judicial standards, God forfeited in history the most valuable Lamb of His flock, His own Son. It is not what fallen may pays to God that repays God for sin (a trespass or boundary violation); it is what God pays to Himself. The blemish-free animal in the Mosaic sacrificial system symbolized (i.e., judicially represented) this perfectionist aspect of lawful atonement. Even closer symbolically than slain animals was God’s announcement to Abraham that he would have to sacrifice Isaac, a payment for which God later mandated a substitute: the ram (Gen. 22:13).” (Gary North, Leviticus: An Economic Commentary, pp. 53-54)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lyrics: The perfect, spotless, infinite, sufficient atonement of Christ our Savior

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

-Isaac Watts

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

-William Cowper

Shall we still dread God’s displeasure,
Who, to save, freely gave His most cherished Treasure?
To redeem us, He hath given
His own Son from the throne of His might in Heaven.

He becomes the Lamb that taketh
Sin away and for aye full atonement maketh.
For our life His own He tenders
And our race, by His grace, meet for glory renders.

-Paul Ger­hardt

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

-Charles Wesley

[Note: we ascribe to the words "all our race" the meaning that Christ died for the entire "race" of God's elect; He redeemed them and secured for them eternally glorified life]

Jesus, our great high priest,
Hath full atonement made,
Ye weary spirits, rest;
Ye mournful souls, be glad:

Extol the Lamb of God,
The sin atoning Lamb;
Redemption by His blood
Throughout the lands proclaim:

The year of jubilee is come!
The year of jubilee is come!
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.

-Charles Wesley

Fountain of never ceasing grace,
Thy saints’ exhaustless theme,
Great object of immortal praise,
Essentially supreme;
We bless Thee for the glorious fruits
Thine incarnation gives;
The righteousness which grace imputes,
And faith alone receives.

Whom heaven’s angelic host adores,
Was slaughtered for our sin;
The guilt, O Lord was wholly ours,
The punishment was Thine:
Our God in the flesh, to set us free,
Was manifested here;
And meekly bare our sins, that we
His righteousness might wear.

Imputatively guilty then
Our substitute was made,
That we the blessings might obtain
For which His blood was shed:
Himself He offered on the cross,
Our sorrows to remove;
And all He suffered was for us,
And all He did was love.

In Him we have a righteousness,
By God Himself approved;
Our rock, our sure foundation this,
Which never can be moved.
Our ransom by His death He paid,
For all His people giv’n,
The law He perfectly obeyed,
That they might enter Heav’n.

As all, when Adam sinned alone,
In his transgression died,
So by the righteousness of One,
Are sinners justified,
We to Thy merit, gracious Lord,
With humblest joy submit,
Again to Paradise restored,
In Thee alone complete.

Our souls His watchful love retrieves,
Nor lets them go astray,
His righteousness to us He gives,
And takes our sins away:
We claim salvation in His right,
Adopted and forgiv’n,
His merit is our robe of light,
His death the gate of Heav’n.

-Augustus Toplady

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.

Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.

When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.

This spotless robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
The robe of Christ is ever new.

Jesus, the endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me—
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid.

O let the dead now hear Thy voice;
Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness.

-Nikolaus L. von Zin­zen­dorf

Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.

-Philip Bliss

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

-Augustus Toplady

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

-Elvina M. Hall

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

-Julia H. Johnston

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

-Will­iam R. Fea­ther­ston

J. Gresham Machen: A high view of the Law is neccesary for a proper understanding of the Gospel

A new and more powerful proclamation of law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law.

As it is, they are turning aside from the Christian pathway; they are turning to the village of Morality, and to the house of Mr. Legality, who is reported to be very skillful in relieving men of their burdens…

‘Making Christ Master’ in the life, putting into practice ‘the principles of Christ’ by one’s own efforts-these are merely new ways of earning salvation by one’s obedience to God’s commands…

So it always is; a low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace. Pray God that the high view may again prevail. (J. Gresham Machen, What is Faith?, pp. 141-142)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

John Murray: Eternity will not exhuast the wonder and glory of Christ's atoning sacrifice

The lost will eternally suffer in the satisfaction of justice. But they will never satisfy it. Christ satisfied justice. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). He was made sin and he was made a curse. He bore our iniquities. He bore the unrelieved and unmitigated damnation of sin, and he finished it. That is the spectacle that confronts us in Gethsemane and on Calvary. … Here we are spectators of a wonder the praise and glory of which eternity will not exhaust. It is the Lord of glory, the Son of God incarnate, the God-man, drinking the cup given him by the eternal Father, the cup of woe and of indescribable agony. We almost hesitate to say so. But it must be said. It is God in our nature forsaken of God. The cry from the accursed tree evinces nothing less than the abandonment endured vicariously because he bore our sins in his own body on the tree. There is no analogy. He himself bore our sins and of the people there was none with him. There is no reproduction or parallel in the experience of archangels or of the greatest saints. The faintest parallel would crush the holiest of men and the mightiest of the angelic host (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, pp. 77-78. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955).

Thought and expression stagger in the presence of the spectacle that confronts us in the vicarious sin-bearing of the Lord of glory. Here we must realize that we are dealing with the mystery of godliness, and eternity will not reach the bottom of it nor exhaust its praise. Yet it is ours to proclaim it and continue the attempt to expound and defend its truth (p. 5).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

John Murray: When we understand the nature of the atonement, we see that it was limited in intent and extent but not in efficacy, perfection, or power

The question is: on whose behalf did Christ offer himself a sacrifice? On whose behalf did he propitiate the wrath of God? Whom did he reconcile to God in the body of his flesh through death? Whom did he redeem from the curse of the law, from the guilt and power of sin, from the enthralling power and bondage of Satan? In whose stead and on whose behalf was he obedient unto death, even the death of the cross? These are precisely the questions that have to be asked and frankly faced if the matter of the extent of the atonement is to be placed in proper focus. ... The question is precisely the reference of the death of Christ when this death is viewed as vicarious death, that is to say, as vicarious obedience, as substitutionary sacrifice, and expiation, as effective propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption. In a word, it is the strict and proper connotation of the expression "died for" that must be kept in mind (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 62. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955).

... Did Christ come to make the salvation of all men possible, to remove obstacles that stood in the way of salvation, and merely to make provision for salvation? Or did he come to save his people? Did he come to put all men in a salvable state? Or did he come to secure the salvation of all those who are ordained to eternal life? Did he come to make men redeemable? Or did he come effectually and infallibly to redeem? (p. 63)

... The saving efficacy of expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption is too deeply embedded in these concepts, and we dare not eliminate this efficacy. ... Whether the expression "limited atonement" is good or not we must reckon with the fact that unless we believe in the final restoration of all men we cannot have an unlimited atonement. If we universalize the extent we limit the efficacy (p. 64).

... It is necessary for us to discover what redemption or atonement really means. And when we examine the Scripture we find that the glory of the cross of Christ is bound up with the effectiveness of its accomplishment. Christ redeemed us to God by his blood, he gave himself a ransom that he might deliver us from all iniquity. The atonement is efficacious substitution (p. 75).

Read about Murray's analysis of the nature of the atonement to more fully understand why Christ's work of obedience, expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption; are inescapably limited to believers.

Monday, June 14, 2010

R.J. Rushdoony: God's sovereignty and predestination vs. sacramentalism and baptismal regeneration

The conflict between God and man over the issue of sovereignty comes about in various ways. An important instance of the clash can be found in the rise of English Arminianism between c. 1590 and 1640. The basic problem was one of predestination versus sacramentalism, or, more specifically, predestination versus baptismal regeneration. If God saves man by His sovereign predestinating grace, then baptism is an outward witness to an inner grace, and to God's covenant promise. It witnesses to the fact that God has a covenant of grace with His people. It is, according to chapter 27 of the Westminster Confession, "a sign and seal of the covenant of grace." It witnesses to what God has promised and to what God has done; it is not itself the ingrafting into Christ, or regeneration, or remission of sins, but a witness to what God in His sovereign grace does. The salvation is from God, not from the rite nor the church. The Larger Catechism, A. 165 says of baptism,
Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ has ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord's.
Behind a man's baptism there stands God's sovereign decree, and Christ's atonement in satisfaction of God's justice. To affirm baptismal regeneration means to transfer the saving power from the Lord who ordains baptism to the rite itself, and to the church which performs the rite. (R.J. Rushdoony, Sovereignty, p. 72)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

R.J. Rushdoony: We tend to move from gratitude for grace into autonomous expectations of entitlement

Louis XIV, after the fearful defeat of his army at Ramillies, said, "God seems to have forgotten all I have done for him." Men are ready to affirm salvation by grace, and then to believe that they have now merited various blessings. Men and women marry, feeling at first privileged to have one another, and then their lives become one of expectations and demands; they expect to be loved rather than loving. Men feel elated at getting a prized position but are then resentful that they are not showered with advantages for doing their work. The economy of our lives shifts easily from grace to expectations. Since man's original sin is to believe that he can be his own god, and his own source of law and order (Gen. 3:5), all men readily forget grace and live in terms of their expectations of God and man. The peace offering, and the many psalms which echo it, requires us to live in gratitude towards God and in community with one another. (Rushdoony, Commentary on Leviticus, p. 66).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lyrics: The spotless robe of Christ's righteousness

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine!
Alive in him, my living head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown through Christ my own.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found,
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

We trust in you, O Captain of salvation—
In your dear name, all other names above:
Jesus our righteousness, our sure foundation,
Our prince of glory and our king of love.

Our load of sin and misery
Didst thou, the Sinless, bear?
Thy spotless robe of purity
Do we the sinners wear?

Thy righteousness, O Christ,
Alone can cover me:
No righteousness avails
Save that which is of thee.

Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am . . .

I will glory in my Redeemer
Who crushed the power of sin and death;
My only Savior before the holy Judge,
The Lamb Who is my righteousness.

Knowing you, Jesus,
Knowing you, there is no greater thing.
You’re my all, you’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord.

-Cited by John Piper, “Counted Righteous in Christ” (p. 36-37)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jonathan Edwards on Sola Fide

A person is to be justified, when he is approved of God as free from the guilt of sin and its deserved punishment, and as having that righteousness belonging to him that entitles to the reward of life. That we should take the word in such a sense, and understand it as the judge’s accepting a person as having both a negative and positive righteousness belonging to him, and looking on him therefore as not only free from any obligation to punishment, but also as just and righteous and so entitled to a positive reward, is not only most agreeable to the etymology and natural import of the word, which signifies to pass one for righteous in judgment, but also manifestly agreeable to the force of the word as used in Scripture. … But certainly, in order to a person’s being looked on as standing right with respect to the rule in general, or in a state corresponding with the law of God, more is needful than not having the guilt of sin. For whatever that law is, whether a new or an old one, doubtless something positive is needed in order to its being answered. We are no more justified by the voice of the law, or of him that judges according to it, by a mere pardon of sin, than Adam, our first surety, was justified by the law, at the first point of his existence, before he had fulfilled the obedience of the law, or had so much as any trial whether he would fulfill it or no. If Adam had finished his course of perfect obedience, he would have been justified, and certainly his justification would have implied something more than what is merely negative. He would have been approved of, as having fulfilled the righteousness of the law, and accordingly would have been adjudged to the reward of it. So Christ, our second surety (in whose justification all whose surety he is, are virtually justified), was not justified till he had done the work the Father had appointed him, and kept the Father’s commandments through all trials, and then in his resurrection he was justified. When he had been put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, 1 Pet. 3:18, then he that was manifest in the flesh was justified in the Spirit, 1 Tim. 3:16. –Jonathan Edwards, Justification by Faith Alone

J. Gresham Machen on active obedience

"If Christ had merely paid the penalty of sin for us and had done nothing more we should be at best back in the situation in which Adam found himself where God placed him under the covenant of works. In other words, if Christ only paid the penalty for our sins through his passive sufferings, then we are merely transported back to the Garden of Eden.

“That covenant of works was a probation. If Adam kept the law of God for a certain period, he was to have eternal life. If he disobeyed he was to have death. Well, he disobeyed and the penalty of death was inflicted on him and his posterity. Then Christ by His death on the cross paid that penalty for those whom God had chosen.

“Well and good. But if that were all that Christ did for us, do you not see that we should be back in just the situation in which Adam was before he sinned? The penalty of his sinning would have been removed from us because it had all been paid by Christ. But for the future the attainment of eternal life would have been dependent upon our perfect obedience to the law of God. We should simply have been back in the probation again.

“Here we begin to understand why Jesus' passive obedience is not enough - if divorced from his active obedience. The passive sufferings of Christ discharged the enormous debt we owe, due to our sins and the sin of Adam. In effect, Jesus' passive obedience alone would bring our account from hopelessly overdrawn back to a zero balance - our debt would be retired. But having our debt retired and our sins forgiven does not get us into heaven; it simply returns us to the starting point. More must be done if we are to gain heaven. Righteousness must be completely fulfilled, either by us or by a representative acting on our behalf.

"Moreover, we should have been back in that probation in a very much less hopeful way than that in which Adam was originally placed in it. Everything was in Adam's favour when he was placed in the probation. He had been created in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. He had been created positively good. Yet despite all that, he fell. How much more likely would we be to fall - nay, how certain to fall - if all that Christ had done for us were merely to remove from us the guilt of past sin, leaving it then to our own efforts to win the reward which God has pronounced upon perfect obedience.

"That is the reason why those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ are in a far more blessed condition than was Adam before he fell. Adam before he fell was righteous in the sight of God, but he was still under the possibility of becoming unrighteous. Those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ not only are righteous in the sight of God but they are beyond the possibility of becoming unrighteous. In their case, the probation is over. It is not over because they have stood it successfully. It is not over because they have themselves earned the reward of assured blessedness which God promised on condition of perfect obedience. But it is over because Christ has stood it for them; it is over because Christ has merited for them the reward by His perfect obedience to God's law.

“Do you see? Christ has passed the test. He has earned the reward. Heaven has been secured by his perfect obedience to God's law. And he did not do all this for himself as if he needed to earn heaven for himself. He did all this for his people - even for you, O believer! On your behalf, he actively obeyed, thereby saving you and placing you beyond the possibility of ever becoming unrighteous again. Your status is secured eternally - what a great hope!"

Dr. J. Gresham Machen

John Samson: We must be counted perfectly righteous to enter God's holy presence

DOUBLE IMPUTATION - If Christ had merely paid the penalty for our sins, our debt to God would have been cancelled, and no punishment would be due to us, thank God! But that is not nearly enough to gain an entry into heaven. That would simply remove the outstanding debt we owed to God and bring us to zero... and zero is simply not enough. Jesus said, "Unless your righteousness (positive) exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall in no way enter the kingdom of God." (Matt. 5:20)

We as sinners not only need the removal of the negative (our sin) but the presence of the positive... full and complete righteousness to be able to stand before a holy God just in His sight. So not only were our sins imputed to Christ and He bore their full punishment for us on the cross, but positively, the righteousness of Christ was imputed to us. The punishment due to us because of our sin came upon Him, and the pleasure of God due to Jesus' complete obedience to every jot and tittle of the law, came upon us. The very righteousness of Jesus Christ is the righteousness imputed to us by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. This righteousness is one that has perfectly fulfilled the entire demands of the law of God. –John Samson, "The Active Obedience of Christ - No Hope Without It!"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

John Gill: Christ's active and passive obedience secure eternal life and an escape from the wrath to come

The complete justification of God's people, is brought about by the death of Christ: justification is sometimes ascribed to the obedience of Christ; by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (Rom. 5:19), and sometimes to the blood of Christ, being now justified by his blood, verse 9. And both are concerned in justification: the one is what is commonly called his active obedience; the other his passive obedience; and both together, with the holiness of his nature; are imputed for justification: his righteousness entitles to life; and his blood, his sufferings, and death, secure from wrath to come; and; therefore, it may well be said, with a view to Christ's dying for his people, who is he that condemneth? (John Gill, Who Shall Lay Anything to the Charge of God's Elect?)

Theodore Beza: Christ has satisfied God's justice -- penal and preceptive -- once and for all, silencing the railings of the accuser

You say, Satan, that God is perfectly righteous and the Avenger of all iniquity. -- I confess it; but I add another property of His righteousness which you have left aside: since He is righteous, He is satisfied with having been paid once. You say next that I have infinite iniquities which deserve eternal death. -- I confess it; but I add what you have maliciously omitted: the iniquities which are in me have been very amply avenged and punished in Jesus Christ who has borne the judgment of God in my place (Rom 3:25; 1 Pet 2:24). That is why I come to a conclusion quite different from yours. Since God is righteous (Rom 3:26) and does not demand payment twice, since Jesus Christ, God and man (2 Cor. 5:19), has satisfied by infinite obedience (Rom 5:19; Phil 2:8) the infinite majesty of God (Rom 8:33), it follows that my iniquities can no longer bring me to ruin (Col. 2:14); they are already blotted out and washed out of my account by the blood of Jesus Christ who was made a curse for me (Gal 3:13), and who righteous, died for the unrighteous (1 Pet 2:24).

... Here is the second assault that Satan can raise against us on account of our unworthiness: It is not sufficient to have no sin, or to have satisfied for sins. But more is necessary; that man should fulfil all the Law, that is to say, that he love God perfectly and his neighbour as himself (Deut. 17:26; Gal 3:10-12; Matt 22:3740). Bring therefore this righteousness, Satan will say to our poor conscience, or know well that you cannot escape the wrath and curse of God.

Now, against this assault, what will all men profit us except Christ alone? For it is a question of perfect obedience which is never found in any save in Jesus Christ alone. Let us learn therefore here to appropriate to ourselves once more, by faith, another treasure of Jesus Christ: His righteousness. We know that it is He who has fulfilled all righteousness (Matt 3:15: Phil 2:8; Is 53:11). He has given a perfect obedience and love to God His Father, and has perfectly loved His enemies (Rom 5:6-10) as far as being made a curse for them, as St. Paul says (Gal 3:13); that is to say, as far as bearing, for them, the judgment of the wrath of God (Col. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:21). Thus, being clothed with this perfect righteousness which is given to us through faith, as if it were properly our own (Eph. 1:7-8), we can be acceptable to God (John 1:12; Rom 8:17), as brothers and co-heirs of Jesus Christ.

On this point, Satan must of necessity close his mouth, provided we have the faith to receive Jesus Christ and all the benefits He possesses in order to communicate them to those who believe in Him (Rom 8:33).

(Theodore Beza, “Faith and Justification”)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spurgeon: Christ alone is our righteousness

MAN by the Fall sustained an infinite loss in the matter of righteousness. He suffered the loss of a righteous nature and then a two-fold loss of legal righteousness in the sight of God. Man sinned. He was therefore no longer innocent of transgression. Man did not keep the command. He therefore was guilty of the sin of omission. In that which he committed and in that which he omitted, his original character for uprightness was completely wrecked. Jesus Christ came to undo the mischief of the Fall for His people. So far as their sin concerned their breach of the command—He has removed by His precious blood.

His agony and bloody sweat have forever taken away the consequences of sin from believers, seeing Christ did by His one sacrifice bear the penalty of that sin in His flesh. He, His own self, bare our sins in His own body on the tree. Still it is not enough for a man to be pardoned. He, of course, is then in the eye of God without sin. But it was required of man that he should actually keep the command. It was not enough that he did not break it or that he is regarded through the blood as though he did not break it. He must keep it—he must continue in all things that are written in the Book of the Law to do them.

How is this necessity supplied? Man must have a righteousness or God cannot accept him. Man must have a perfect obedience or else God cannot reward him. Should He give Heaven to a soul that has not perfectly kept the Law? That were to give the reward where the service is not done and that before God would be an act which might impeach His justice. Where, then, is the righteousness with which the pardoned man shall be completely covered, so that God can regard him as having kept the Law and reward him for so doing? Surely, my Brethren, none of you are so drunk as to think that this righteousness can be worked out by yourselves.

... We, therefore, assert—believing that Scripture fully warrants us—that the life of Christ constitutes the righteousness in which His people are to be clothed. His death washed away their sins. His life covered them from head to foot. His death was the Sacrifice to God. His life was the gift to man by which man satisfies the demands of the Law. Herein the Law is honored and the soul is accepted. I find that many young Christians who are very clear about being saved by the merits of Christ’s death, do not seem to understand the merits of His life.

... He completed the work of obedience in His life and said to His Father, “I have finished the work which You gave me to do.” Then He completed the work of atonement in His death and knowing that all things were accomplished, He cried, “It is finished.”

... Christ in His life was so righteous that we may say of the life, taken as a whole, that it is righteousness itself. Christ is the Law incarnate. Understand me, He lived out the Law of God to the very full and while you see God’s precepts written in fire on Sinai’s brow, you see them written in flesh in the Person of Christ—

“My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
I read my duty in Your Word,
But in Your life the Law appears
Drawn out in living characters.”

... He carried out the Law, then, I say to the very letter. He spelt out its mystic syllables and verily He magnified it and made it honorable. He loved the Lord His God, with all His heart and soul and mind and He loved His neighbors as Himself. Jesus Christ was righteousness impersonated. “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” He might well say. One thousand eight hundred years have passed since then and blasphemy itself has not been able to charge Him with a fault.

... You will now observe that there is a most precious doctrine unfolded in this title of our Lord and Savior. I think we may take it thus—When we believe in Christ by faith we receive our justification. As the merit of His blood takes away our sin so the merit of His obedience is imputed to us for righteousness. We are considered, as soon as we believe, as though the works of Christ were our works.

-C.H.Spurgeon, “The Lord Our Righteousness

John L. Girardeau: Christ's righteousness, as our substitute, is perfectly spotless and provides infinite satisfaction before God for His elect

“The obedience which Christ, as the representative of his elect seed, rendered to the law is perfect; it is finished. The eye of justice, the scrutiny of Omniscience detect in it no blemish. It has been examined at the divine bar and judicially pronounced satisfactory. It cannot be invalidated; there is no contingency of failure in its results. But Christ’s seed representatively rendered that obedience in him. It therefore grounds, with absolute certainty, their everlasting holiness and happiness, their complete and indefectible life. The federal representative is in glory; the federal constituency must also be glorified. If not, the principle of representation is a figment, and the covenant of redemption breaks down amidst the jeers of hell.” (John L. Girardeau, "The Federal Theology: Its Import and Its Regulative Influence," with introduction by W. Duncan Rankin [Reformed Academic Press, 1994], pp. 45-46; quoted in a compilation by Lee Irons)

William Cunningham: Arminians and Romanists both deny the biblical doctrine of substitution and satisfaction by Christ

“Papists unite with Arminians in denying the necessity of a perfect righteousness, as the ground or basis of God’s act in accepting men’s persons, and giving them a right and title to heaven … As the Scriptures indicate that a perfect righteousness is necessary, as the ground or basis of our acceptance and admission to a right to life, as well as a full satisfaction as the ground or basis of our forgiveness or exemption from punishment, so they set before us such a perfect righteousness as available for us, and actually benefiting us, in the obedience which Christ, as our surety, rendered to all the requirements of the law.” (William Cunningham, "Historical Theology," vol. II, pp. 49, 51; quoted in a compilation by Lee Irons)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Louis Berkhof: We have no claim on God's blessings, so the doctrine of election is perfectly just

The fact that God favors some and passes by others, does not warrant the charge that He is guilty of injustice. We can speak of injustice only when one party has a claim on another. If God owed the forgiveness of sin and eternal life to all men, it would be an injustice if He saved only a limited number of them. But the sinner has absolutely no right or claim on the blessings which flow from divine election. As a matter of fact he has forfeited these blessings. Not only have we no right to call God to account for electing some and passing others by, but we must admit that He would have been perfectly just, if He had not saved any, Matt. 20:14,15; Rom. 9:14,15. (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 115. Banner of Truth, 2003.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

John Otis on WCF XI.1

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XI, Section 1: Of Justification, states:
Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth;(a) not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,(b) they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.(c)

(a) Rom. 8:30; Rom. 3:24.
(b) Rom. 4:5, 6, 7, 8; II Cor. 5:19, 21; Rom. 3:22, 24, 25, 27, 28; Tit. 3:5, 7; Eph. 1:7; Jer. 23:6; I Cor. 1:30, 31; Rom. 5:17, 18, 19.
(c) Acts 10:43; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:19; Acts 13:38, 39; Eph. 2:7, 8.

"It is quite apparent that justification does not infuse righteousness or obedience into men. Justification pardons men of their sins. Men who are justified are declared righteous, not made righteous inwardly. The righteousness that is given to them is the righteousness of Christ, freely bestowed. The Confessional statement expressly states that the righteousness that men possess is not rooted in faith itself or in any kind of evangelical obedience. The obedience that justified men possess is said to be the obedience and satisfaction of Christ that is credited to their account." (John Otis, Danger in the Camp: An Analysis and Refutation of the Heresies of the Federal Vision, p. 41.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

James Buchanan: Christ's righteousness is the only and all sufficient righteousness, on the grounds of which we can be justified before God

That righteousness [which is the ground of a sinner's Justification] is called in Scripture "the righteousness of God"; "the righteousness of Christ"; the "righteousness of One"; "the obedience of One"; the "free gift unto justification of life"; "the righteousness which is of" or "by" or "through faith"; "the righteousness of God without the law"; and "the righteousness which God imputes without works."

It will be found that, while these various expressions are descriptive of its different aspects and relations, they are all employed with reference to the same righteousness -- that there is one righteousness in which they all find their common center, as so many distinct rays converging towards the same focus, while each retains its distinctive meaning -- and that there is no other righteousness to which they can all be applied or in which they can find their adequate explanation.

... By His [Christ's] vicarious sufferings and obedience, He fulfilled the Law both in its precept and its penalty and is now said to be 'the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,' while His righteousness is identified with 'the righteousness of God,' to which the unbelieving Jews refused to 'submit themselves' and contrasted with 'their own righteousness' which they 'went about to establish,' 'as it were by the works of the law' (Rom 10:3-4)."

-Dr. James Buchanan, "The Immediate and Only Ground of Justification: The Imputed Righteousness of Christ"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Matthew Henry on Galatians 5:4

"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4).

"All those who seek to be justified by the law do thereby render Christ of no effect to them. By building their hopes on the works of the law, they forfeit all their hopes from him; for he will not be the Saviour of any who will not own and rely upon him as their only Saviour." (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Galatians 5:4.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Archibald Alexander: Suffering the penalty is only half the requirement for justification, and Christ satisfied all

To suppose that suffering the penalty is an equivalent for obedience, and entitles to the same rewards is extremely absurd. It would be to suppose that Jehovah who loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity, would be as well pleased with sin, accompanied with its due punishment, as with perfect obedience to his own most holy law. The enduring a penalty in his own person, or by another, never can entitle any one to any thing else than exemption from that which he has already endured. …

If a surety would secure the inheritance for him, he must obey the law in his stead, as well as suffer its penalty. Hence it appears evident, that justification includes more than merely the remission of sins, or it would be no justification; and although pardon is included in justification; yet the transaction receives this denomination not from the forgiveness of sin, but from the imputation of righteousness, by which the believer is constituted righteous; and by which a title to eternal life is procured for him by the merit of his surety.

Justification, therefore, is not merely the forgiveness of sin, but in addition to this, a declaration that the justified person has a right to the blessings promised. He not only obtains deliverance from the sentence of condemnation, but instantly is constituted an heir of God, a joint-heir with Christ in the heavenly inheritance.

-Archibald Alexander, “A Treatise on Justification by Faith”

A.W. Pink: Transgressing the Law and paying the penalty does not remove the positive obligation for perfect righteousness

The one who was justified upon his believing sustained a twofold relation unto God: first, he was a responsible creature, born under the law; second, he was a criminal, having transgressed that law—though his criminality has not canceled his obligation to obey the law any more than a man who recklessly squanders his money is no longer due to pay his debts. Consequently, justification consists of two parts, namely, an acquittal from guilt, or the condemnation of the law (deliverance from Hell), and the receiving him into God’s favour, on the sentence of the law’s approval (a legal title to Heaven). ... Against this it has been objected, "The law requires no man to obey and die too." To which we reply in the language of J. Hervey (1750), "But did it not require a transgressor to obey and die? If not, then transgression robs the law of its right, and vacates all obligation to obedience. … It is not sufficient that the believer stand before God with no sins upon him—that is merely negative. The holiness of God requires a positive righteousness to our account—that His Law be perfectly kept. But we are unable to keep it, therefore our Sponsor fulfilled it for us.” –A.W. Pink, “Justification” (ch. 5)

Shedd and Hodge: Christ satsified the penalty and precept of the Law for His people

“But the law requires present and perfect obedience, as well as satisfaction for past disobedience. The law is not completely fulfilled by the endurance of penalty only. It must also be obeyed Christ both endured the penalty due to man for disobedience, and perfectly obeyed the law for him; so that He was a vicarious substitute in reference to both the precept and the penalty of the law. By his active obedience He obeyed the law, and by his passive obedience He endured the penalty. In this way his vicarious work is complete.” –William Shedd, "History of Christian Doctrine," quoted by Charles Hodge in “Systematic Theology,” vol. 3

“As Christ obeyed in suffering, his sufferings were as much a part of his obedience as his observance of the precepts of the law. The Scriptures do not expressly make this distinction, as they include everything that Christ did for our redemption under the term righteousness or obedience. The distinction becomes important only when it is denied that his moral obedience is any part of the righteousness for which the believer is justified, or that his whole work in making satisfaction consisted in expiation or bearing the penalty of the law. This is contrary to Scripture, and vitiates the doctrine of justification as presented in the Bible.” –Charles Hodge in “Systematic Theology,” vol. 3

"Christ sustained no other relation to the law, except so far as voluntarily assumed, than that which God himself sustains. But God is not under the law. He is Himself the primal, immutable, and infinitely perfect law to all rational creatures. Christ’s subjection to the law therefore, was as voluntary as his submitting to the death of the cross. As He did not die for Himself, so neither did He obey for Himself. In both forms of his obedience He acted for us, as our representative and substitute, that through his righteousness many might be made righteous." –Charles Hodge in “Systematic Theology,” vol. 3

Sunday, March 14, 2010

John Robbins: Works are not the condition, ground, or instrument of salvation, but rather salvation is the condition or ground of obedience

"But the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture ... repeatedly exhorts believers to lead holy lives. His argument is, You are already Christians; you have already passed from death to everlasting life; you are already saved; therefore, act like Christians. ... (Ephesians 5:8, 15-16). There are dozens of other such exhortations. But our acting like Christians does not save us, for we are already saved. The indicative -- salvation -- logically and chronically precedes the imperative: Behave as the saved people you are. Our good works are not the condition or ground or instrument of our salvation; our salvation is the condition or ground of our obedience. Works and justification are not related as equals, but as effects to cause. Ideas have consequences. Christian ideas have Christian consequences. Those who believe the Gospel, given the opportunity, will produce good works."

(John Robbins, Not Reformed at All: Medievalism in "Reformed" Churches, pp. 121-122)

John Owen: Christ's work of mediation is for His people, not for "all" and "everyone" who ever lived

It was his “church” which he “redeemed with his own blood,” Acts xx. 28; his “church” that “he loved and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church,” Eph. v. 25–27. They were his “sheep” he “laid down his life for,” John x. 15; and “appeareth in heaven for us,” Heb. ix. 24. Not one word of mediating for any other in the Scripture. Look upon his incarnation. It was “because the children were partakers of flesh and blood,” chap. ii. 14; not because all the world were so. Look upon his oblation: “For their sakes,” saith he, (“those whom thou hast given me,”) “do I sanctify myself,” John xvii. 19; that is, to be an oblation, which was the work he had then in hand. Look upon his resurrection: “He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” Rom. iv. 25. Look upon his ascension: “I go,” saith he, “to my Father and your Father, and that to prepare a place for you,” John xiv. 2. Look upon his perpetuated intercession. Is it not to “save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him?” Heb. vii. 25. Not one word of this general mediation for all. Nay, if you will hear himself, he denies in plain terms to mediate for all: “I pray not,” saith he, “for the world, but for them which then hast given me,” John xvii. 9.

... To me nothing is more certain than that to whom Christ is in any sense a Saviour in the work of redemption, he saves them to the uttermost from all their sins of infidelity and disobedience, with the saving of grace here and glory hereafter.

(John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

John Gill: Regeneration is a work of the triune God, necessary for entrance into the eternal heavenly Kingdom, and not from the will or works of man

"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).

... by "water", is not meant material water, or baptismal water; for water baptism is never expressed by water only, without some additional word, which shows, that the ordinance of water baptism is intended: nor has baptism any regenerating influence in it; a person may be baptized, as Simon Magus was, and yet not born again; and it is so far from having any such virtue, that a person ought to be born again, before he is admitted to that ordinance: and though submission to it is necessary, in order to a person's entrance into a Gospel church state; yet it is not necessary to the kingdom of heaven, or to eternal life and salvation: such a mistaken sense of this text, seems to have given the first birth and rise to infant baptism in the African churches; who taking the words in this bad sense, concluded their children must be baptized, or they could not be saved; whereas by "water" is meant, in a figurative and metaphorical sense, the grace of God, as it is elsewhere; see Eze. 36:25 [Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.]. Which is the moving cause of this new birth, and according to which God begets men again to, a lively hope, and that by which it is effected; for it is by the grace of God, and not by the power of man's free will, that any are regenerated, or made new creatures: and if Nicodemus was an officer in the temple, that took care to provide water at the feasts, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks, and as it should seem Nicodemon ben Gorion was, by the story before related of him; ... very pertinently does our Lord make mention of water, it being his own element: regeneration is sometimes ascribed to God the Father, as in 1 Peter 1:3 [Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,], and sometimes to the Son, 1 John 2:29 [If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.] and here to the Spirit, as in Titus 3:5 [Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;], who convinces of sin, sanctifies, renews, works faith, and every other grace; begins and carries on the work of grace, unto perfection;

... unless a man has this work of his wrought on his soul, as he will never understand divine and spiritual things, so he can have no right to Gospel ordinances, or things appertaining to the kingdom of God; nor can he be thought to have passed from death to life, and to have entered into an open state of grace, and the kingdom of it; or that living and dying so, he shall ever enter into the kingdom of heaven; for unless a man is regenerated, he is not born heir apparent to it; and without internal holiness, shall not enter into it, enjoy it, or see God.

(From John Gill's Commentary on John 3:5, emphasis mine)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Excerpts from Spurgeon's "A Defense of Calvinism"

I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine grace. If I am not at this moment without Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His glory.

... Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God."

... What circumstances were those in our power which led us to elect certain persons to be our parents? Had we anything to do with it? Did not God Himself appoint our parents, native place, and friends? Could He not have caused me to be born with the skin of the Hottentot, brought forth by a filthy mother who would nurse me in her "kraal," and teach me to bow down to Pagan gods, quite as easily as to have given me a pious mother, who would each morning and night bend her knee in prayer on my behalf? Or, might He not, if He had pleased, have given me some profligate to have been my parent, from whose lips I might have early heard fearful, filthy, and obscene language? Might He not have placed me where I should have had a drunken father, who would have immured me in a very dungeon of ignorance, and brought me up in the chains of crime? Was it not God's Providence that I had so happy a lot, that both my parents were His children, and endeavoured to train me up in the fear of the Lord?

John Newton used to tell a whimsical story, and laugh at it, too, of a good woman who said, in order to prove the doctrine of election, "Ah! sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards." I am sure it is true in my case; I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that great Biblical doctrine. I recollect an Arminian brother telling me that he had read the Scriptures through a score or more times, and could never find the doctrine of election in them. He added that he was sure he would have done so if it had been there, for he read the Word on his knees. I said to him, "I think you read the Bible in a very uncomfortable posture, and if you had read it in your easy chair, you would have been more likely to understand it. Pray, by all means, and the more, the better, but it is a piece of superstition to think there is anything in the posture in which a man puts himself for reading: and as to reading through the Bible twenty times without having found anything about the doctrine of election, the wonder is that you found anything at all: you must have galloped through it at such a rate that you were not likely to have any intelligible idea of the meaning of the Scriptures."

... What did He foresee about my faith? Did He foresee that I should get that faith myself, and that I should believe on Him of myself? No; Christ could not foresee that, because no Christian man will ever say that faith came of itself without the gift and without the working of the Holy Spirit. I have met with a great many believers, and talked with them about this matter; but I never knew one who could put his hand on his heart, and say, "I believed in Jesus without the assistance of the Holy Spirit."

... If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, "He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord." I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. "He only is my rock and my salvation." Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, "God is my rock and my salvation." What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

... All the purposes of man have been defeated, but not the purposes of God. The promises of man may be broken—many of them are made to be broken—but the promises of God shall all be fulfilled. He is a promise-maker, but He never was a promise-breaker; He is a promise-keeping God, and every one of His people shall prove it to be so. This is my grateful, personal confidence, "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me"—unworthy me, lost and ruined me. He will yet save me ...

... I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed such a limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I dare not allow the thought to find a lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy. In Christ's finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discovers no shore. There must be sufficient efficacy in the blood of Christ, if God had so willed it, to have saved not only all in this world, but all in ten thousand worlds, had they transgressed their Maker's law. Once admit infinity into the matter, and limit is out of the question. Having a Divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the Divine sacrifice. The intent of the Divine purpose fixes the application of the infinite offering, but does not change it into a finite work. Think of the numbers upon whom God has bestowed His grace already. Think of the countless hosts in Heaven: if thou wert introduced there to-day, thou wouldst find it as easy to tell the stars, or the sands of the sea, as to count the multitudes that are before the throne even now. They have come from the East, and from the West, from the North, and from the South, and they are sitting down with Abraham, and with Isaac, and with Jacob in the Kingdom of God; and beside those in Heaven, think of the saved ones on earth. Blessed be God, His elect on earth are to be counted by millions, I believe, and the days are coming, brighter days than these, when there shall be multitudes upon multitudes brought to know the Saviour, and to rejoice in Him. The Father's love is not for a few only, but for an exceeding great company. "A great multitude, which no man could number," will be found in Heaven. A man can reckon up to very high figures; set to work your Newtons, your mightiest calculators, and they can count great numbers, but God and God alone can tell the multitude of His redeemed. I believe there will be more in Heaven than in hell. If anyone asks me why I think so, I answer, because Christ, in everything, is to "have the pre-eminence," and I cannot conceive how He could have the pre-eminence if there are to be more in the dominions of Satan than in Paradise. Moreover, I have never read that there is to be in hell a great multitude, which no man could number.

There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!

... The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. For instance, I read in one Book of the Bible, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Yet I am taught, in another part of the same inspired Word, that "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." I see, in one place, God in providence presiding over all, and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions, in a great measure, to his own free-will. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act that there was no control of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to atheism; and if, on the other hand, I should declare that God so over-rules all things that man is not free enough to be responsible, I should be driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.

... I ask the man who dares to say that Calvinism is a licentious religion, what he thinks of the character of Augustine, or Calvin, or Whitefield, who in successive ages were the great exponents of the system of grace; or what will he say of the Puritans, whose works are full of them? Had a man been an Arminian in those days, he would have been accounted the vilest heretic breathing, but now we are looked upon as the heretics, and they as the orthodox. We have gone back to the old school; we can trace our descent from the apostles. It is that vein of free-grace, running through the sermonizing of Baptists, which has saved us as a denomination. Were it not for that, we should not stand where we are today. We can run a golden line up to Jesus Christ Himself, through a holy succession of mighty fathers, who all held these glorious truths; and we can ask concerning them, "Where will you find holier and better men in the world?" No doctrine is so calculated to preserve a man from sin as the doctrine of the grace of God. Those who have called it "a licentious doctrine" did not know anything at all about it. Poor ignorant things, they little knew that their own vile stuff was the most licentious doctrine under Heaven. If they knew the grace of God in truth, they would soon see that there was no preservative from lying like a knowledge that we are elect of God from the foundation of the world. There is nothing like a belief in my eternal perseverance, and the immutability of my Father's affection, which can keep me near to Him from a motive of simple gratitude. Nothing makes a man so virtuous as belief of the truth. A lying doctrine will soon beget a lying practice. A man cannot have an erroneous belief without by-and-by having an erroneous life. I believe the one thing naturally begets the other. Of all men, those have the most disinterested piety, the sublimest reverence, the most ardent devotion, who believe that they are saved by grace, without works, through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God. Christians should take heed, and see that it always is so, lest by any means Christ should be crucified afresh, and put to an open shame.

(Spurgeon, "A Defense of Calvinism")

Berkhof on the Purpose and Extent of the Atonement

[The atonement] secured for those for whom it was made: 1) A proper judicial standing through justification. This includes the forgiveness of sin, the adoption of children, and the right to an eternal inheritance. 2) The mystical union of believers with Christ through regeneration and sanctification. This comprises the gradual mortification of the old man, and the gradual putting on of the new man created in Christ Jesus. 3) Their final bliss in communion with God through Jesus Christ, in subjective glorification, and in the enjoyment of eternal life in a new and perfect creation. All this clearly obviates the objection so often raised against the penal substitutionary doctrine of the atonement, namely, that it has no ethical bearings and offers no basis for the ethical life of the redeemed. It may even be said that it is the only doctrine of the atonement that offers a secure basis for a real ethical life, a life that is rooted in the heart through the operation of the Holy Spirit. Justification leads right on to sanctification.

... It may be laid down, first of all, as a general principle, that the designs of God are always surely efficacious and cannot be frustrated by the actions of man. This applies also to the purpose of saving men through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. If it had been His intention to save all men, this purpose could not have been frustrated by the unbelief of man. It is admitted on all hands that only a limited number is saved. Consequently, they are the only ones whom God has determined to save.

... The sacrifical work of Christ and His intercessory work are simply two different aspects of His atoning work, and therefore the scope of the one can be no wider than that of the other. Now Christ very definitely limits His intercessory work, when He says: "I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me." John 17:9. Why should He limit His intercessory prayer, if He had actually paid the price for all?

... And if the assertion be made that the design of God and of Christ was evidently conditional, contingent on the faith and obedience of man, attention should be called to the fact that the Bible clearly teaches that Christ by His death purchased faith, repentance, and all the other effects of the work of the Holy Spirit, for His people. Consequently there are no conditions on which the fulfillment is simply dependent on the will of man. The atonement also secures the fulfillment of the conditions that must be met, in order to obtain salvation, Rom. 2:4; Gal. 3:13,14; Eph. 1:3,4; 2:8; Phil. 1:29; II Tim. 3:5,6.

... We believe that God "unfeignedly," that is, sincerely or in good faith, calls all those who are living under the gospel to believe, and offers them salvation in the way of faith and repentance. Now the Arminians maintain that such an offer of salvation cannot be made by those who believe that Christ died only for the elect. ... The following remarks may be made in reply: (a) The offer of salvation in the way of faith and repentance does not pretend to be a revelation of the secret counsel of God, more specifically, of His design in giving Christ as an atonement for sin. It is simply the promise of salvation to all those who accept Christ by faith. (2) This offer, in so far as it is universal, is always conditioned by faith and conversion. Moreover, it is contingent on a faith and repentance such as can only be wrought in the heart of man by the operation of the Holy Spirit. (3) The universal offer of salvation does not consist in the declaration that Christ made atonement for every man that hears the gospel, and that God really intends to save each one. It consists in (a) an exposition of the atoning work of Christ as in itself sufficient for the redemption of all men; (b) a description of the real nature of the repentance and faith that are required in coming to Christ; and (c) a declaration that each one who comes to Christ with true repentance and faith will obtain the blessings of salvation. (4) It is not the duty of the preacher to harmonize the secret counsel of God respecting the redemption of sinners with His declarative will as expressed in the universal offer of salvation. He is simply an official ambassador, whose duty it is to carry out the will of the Lord in preaching the gospel to all men indiscriminately. ...

(Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Banner of Truth, pp. 392-398)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

John Murray's analysis of the nature of the atonement

John Murray's analysis of the nature of the atonement, outlined:

In this series we will see how John Murray, from the penal substitutionary perspective, analyzes the atonement in terms of man's relationship to God and his problem with sin. Specifically, Murray deals with the following, providing abundant Scriptural support:
  1. Christ's obedience, by which we were constituted righteous before God and freed from condemnation;
  2. Christ's sacrifice and expiation, which removed from us the liability of guilt due to sin;
  3. Christ's propitiation, which dealt with the Father's wrath that abides on sinners;
  4. Christ's reconciliation, which removed, first and foremost, God's alienation from us and then, secondarily, our alienation from Him, restoring us to peace with God;
  5. Christ's work of redemption, purchasing us from bondage as slaves and criminals under sin.