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)