Archive for August 2012

Are you being Arbitrary When You Say that God is Arbitrary?

August 26, 2012

Steve Chalke–“why did God command us to forgive without demanding
punishment, but then God Himself wouldn’t forgive but instead demands
punishment (even if it was from Himself) to Himself? ”

The argument seems to be that either Jesus is our example and thus not unique, either that, or that Jesus is unique and thus not our example. Either Jesus accepting the unjust punishment is our example, OR the punishment of Jesus was the last final unique punishment and there is no more example, in which case you can do what you want because His death is not an example but unique.

But of course there is one more reading, and that’s from Romans 12 (leave the vengeance to God, don’t do vengeance yourself) and Hebrews (the violent sacrifice of Jesus does work, but it’s the only one that ever worked or will work, so don’t do sacrifices yourself).

Charles Bradlaugh–“What did Jesus teach–unto him that shoots your
wife, let him shoot you also? Surely it would be better to teach that
‘the one who tempts God and courts oppression shares the crime’, and
if one person is shot to shoot that person who shot to prevent future
shooting.” This argument says “if Jesus was a pacifist for you, then you don’t need to be a pacifist yourself” and it’s not only atheists who use this argument but many Christians.

Romans 3:3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though everyone were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slander us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

I know some Calvinists (I was one of them) who think it is enough to say that God is sovereign. In this emphasis, sometimes they even project their own ego onto God, and sound like they think of themselves as sovereign also.

But the truth of the gospel is not only God’s sovereignty but also God’s righteousness. This means that the gospel is not only about the justification of the elect sinner but also about the justification of God.

I have no use for the “freewill theodicy”. But that does not mean that I am dismissive of efforts to justify God. To justify God does not of course mean that we make God just. Rather, it means that we declare that God is just.

When God justifies an elect sinner, it’s not only God’s sovereignty that declares the sinner just. God is justified in justifying the elect sinner because 1. Christ died because of the imputed guilt of that elect sinner and 2. God then righteously counted that elect sinner to legally share in that death. Because of these two facts of history, God is justified in justifying elect sinners.

But It certainly doesn’t look just. The elect sinners go free. Christ, who did not sin, died. Why doesn’t that just make things worse?

This is why we are tempted to say that the whole thing is only about God’s sovereignty and then tell people to shut their mouths and ask no questions.But the Bible itself does not take that attitude. The Bible tells us how God thinks. The Bible justifies God.

Romans 9 does not only ask: “who are you to talk back to God”. Romans 9 explains that it is inappropriate for that which is made to sit in negative judgment on the maker. That which is made is instead to make the positive judgment that God has the righteous right to harden as many as God hardens. Since God is our Creator, it’s not completely “arbitrary” for God to govern and judge us. It’s not the same as you being a parent and thinking that gives you the right to tell your (adult) children what to do.

Romans 6 deals with the objection that God justifying sinners will cause sinners to rationalize their sins, so that they not only say that their sins were predestined but also that they say that more sins result in more grace.

The Romans 6 answer is that grace is either grace or not. There is not more or less grace, but either grace or no grace. More sin does not get the elect more grace, because all those God justly justifies have all the grace any other elect person has. If you have grace, then you are justified from sin, and if you don’t have grace, you are a sinner “free from righteousness” (6:20).

While unbelievers trust in God to help them to sin less, those who have been delivered to the gospel know that there are only two kind of sinners, —guilty sinners and justified sinners .

The theodicy of Romans 3 announces that God is true even if every man is a liar. We justify God because God has revealed Himself. And God has revealed that God is more than sovereign. God’s words reveal God to be Righteous and Just. And God’s word is justified in history by what God did when Christ gave Himself up to death on the cross because of the imputed guilt of the elect.

We were wrong: God was right and God is still right. God prevails, but it is not only a matter of “might makes right” or “sovereignty always wins”. One. We have no right to make a negative judgment on God. Two, it is God who will be making a negative judgment on many sinners. Three. we are called to make a positive rational judgment about God’s justice.

But how do these three points connect and cohere?

What God pleases to do is right. And there is no better proof of that than the way God justifies elect sinners. The wisdom of the cross shows God’s righteousness. It is just for God to not only let elect sinners go free but also to give them faith and all the other blessings of salvation. The death of Jesus was not only “one more bad thing”. That death without resurrection might have been, but Christ’s death plus resurrection , despite the sins of those who killed Jesus, was to God a good thing which reconciles and makes things right.

Yes, it is grace to those sinners saved by it, but also it was just for God to do it, because of what Christ did in his obedience even unto death. As Isaiah 53 explains, the righteous servant will be satisfied. God will be just to Christ. And God is just to justify elect sinners for the sake of Christ.

Psalm 116:11—“I said in my alarm, ‘All mankind are liars’” Not only is God justified, but sinners are condemned. We see this in Romans 1:25 . All of us have been people who “exchange the truth for a lie”.

It is idolatry to only know a God who is sovereign. The true God is also righteous. It is rebellion against the Creator to deny that God is just. Psalm 51:4-6—“Against you have I sinned and done what is evil, so that you are justified in your words and blameless in your judgment..Behold you delight in truth…” Two things go together: God tells the truth, we are false.

The gospel is good news for the elect, but not without also being first bad news. You can call it “law before gospel” if you wish. But part and parcel of justifying God (and trusting God’s true gospel) is taking sides with God against our-selves. We can’t both be right. God is right, and we are wrong. If God is right, then we are wrong.

If we ever get to thinking that God is only being sovereign but not being fair to us, then we show not only that we are wrong but also that God has not yet called us by the gospel to the truth. We should not only confess that God is going to get God’s way, that God is going to win. We need to learn to confess that the way God acts and judges is just. We make a positive judgment about God. That is a result, and not a condition of God having justified us.

To reject the righteousness of God (His attribute, not only Christ’s saving work and gift) is to reject the true God. Romans 3:3 tells us that God’s faithfulness proves that God is the true God. Isaiah 42:3—“He will faithfully bring forth justice.” Isaiah 45:19—“I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness. I did not say to the seed of Jacob, seek me in vain. I the Lord speak the truth. I declare what is right”.

Getting in a dispute with the true God shows not only that we are foolish to fight with the Almighty. Getting in a debate with God shows just how arbitrary we ourselves are! The irony every time is that our lies, rationalizations, self-deceptions only result in the truth of God being more declared. And then, when we try to say, “well at least our falsehoods are making God look more faithful”, we are brought face to face with the fact of Romans 3:5—God is the righteous judge of us. God is not only “the boss of us”, because God is judging us and will judge us.

God takes sides with Himself. God takes sides against sinners. God is not neutral arbitrator. God is one of the parties in God’s lawsuit against sinners. The God we have offended by being sinners (exchanging truth for idolatry) is the God who will judge all sinners.

Why Not Put Some More Non-Elect People in “the Covenant”?

August 22, 2012

Kline, p362, Kingdom Prologue—”But surely there would not be a different policy on covenantal incorporation for Gentiles than for Jews within the church, where the partition wall between the two has disappeared. The holy parent/holy child principle must, therefore, apply to ingrafted Gentile branches as well as to Jews.”

mark: I guess it’s the “surely” which really sells it! Abraham is the
father of those who believe the gospel and are circumcised, and
Abraham is the father of those who believe the gospel and are not
circumcised. So far, agreed. Therefore, Abraham is the father of those who believe the gospel. Again, agreed.

Therefore, since Abraham is the father of some who are circumcised and also the father of some who are not circumcised, all who believe the gospel need to be circumcised. Well, again, we all agree that this is wrong. We know Galatians.

Well, therefore we will explain to the Jerusalem counsel what
Galatians is really saying without of course ever saying it. We will
explain to all who believe the gospel that water baptism signifies
basically (mainly, forget the details about a seed leading up one
seed, and a specific land), water baptism signifies the same
realities, therefore those who have already been circumcised will need to be water baptized (if they signify the same realities, why?) and also those who have not been circumcised will need to be water baptized which is the same thing.

I am not only repeating the basic credobaptist objection from silence
( why didn’t Paul just say what John Murray and Zwingli said and make
it easy on everybody?). I am trying to get to the logic of saying that because Abraham is the father of all who believe, that therefore the genealogical priniciple must “therefore” continue for those who
believe, both for those who are both circumcised and water baptized,
and also for those who were never circumcised but who were water
baptized. For Kline to say “surely” that principle must be carried
over is nothing but beginning where he started!

WHY must that (temporary, to begin where I start) principle continue?
I am not calling anybody an Arminian, nor am I saying that the padobaptist argument inherently leads to Rome or to Arminius, but I always think of this analogy.

Arminians insist that Jesus had to die for every sinner, at
least in some impersonal sense in which Christ has somehow made
salvation available conditioned on the sinner’s obedience to their
false gospel. But then we ask Arminians— WHY must we insist on
Christ’s death being “enough” for everybody even though it’s not effective for everybody?

In other words, we tell Arminians that they think they are reading the atonement better by making it for everybody, but in reality they are making the atonement to be something different which is not the
biblical atonement. By way of analogy (again, I am not arguing slippery slope), again I ask: why must we insist that the genealogical principle continues in the new covenant?

Why must Romans 11 be teaching that unbelievers begin in the new covenant? Do you think you are reading the new covenant better by making it for more people than only the elect? To end where I started, I think this is making the new covenant to be something different which is not what the Bible says about the new covenant.

Why? Is it because we have been brainwashed to say that, since there
is only one gospel, therefore there must be only one “the covenant of
grace”? Or is it because we are open to the inclusion of females in
the “covenant sign” but not open to a restriction, a narrowing, so
that the number of those in the new covenant cannot be (at least in
the beginning) less than those who were in the Abrahamic covenant?

Does this mean that we think everybody ever in the Abrahamic covenant
is first in the new covenant, if only in order for many of them to
then be “cut off” from the new covenant? But again, WHY do we think
this? What is wrong with saying folks were in the Abrahamic covenant
who were never in the new covenant?

No Elect Person Dies Not Knowing the Gospel

August 21, 2012

As much as I agree with John Owen against the idea of double jeopardy, I think we need to be careful about how we use Owen’s trilemma about all the sins of all people, or all the sins of some people (the third hypothetical of course being some of the sins of some people).

The cross-work (the righteousness) of Christ not only entitles the
elect to justification (even before they are justified) but also
entitles the elect to conversion.

Even before they believe the gospel, the elect are entitled (because
of Christ’s work) to the converting work of the Holy Spirit. Christ
bought both the forgiveness of sins and the legal application of the
legal satisfaction God needs to forgive and continue to be just and

What does the application of Christ’s work mean? First, it means that
God imputes that work (not only the reward, but the righteousness) to
the elect. Before the cross, God imputed the work to some of the
elect. After the cross, God continues to impute the work to some of
the elect.

So there is a difference between Christ’s work and the imputation of
Christ’s work. Romans 6 describes being placed into the death of
Christ. There is a difference between the federal union of all the
elect in Christ before the beginning of the world and the legal union
of the elect with Christ when they are justified.

Second, the application (purchased by Christ for the elect, and thus
now their inheritance) includes the conversion which immediately
follows the imputation. We could go to every text in the New Testament about the effectual calling into fellowship, but let us think now of only two.

Galatians 3:13-14: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by
becoming a curse for us, so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of
Abraham would come…, so that we would receive the promised Spirit
through faith.”

And here’s a second text which teaches us that regeneration and
conversion is a result of the imputation. Romans 8:10–”but if Christ
is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is
life because of righteousness.”

Because the work (righteousness) is imputed, the next result will be
life, not only forensic life but the life also the Holy Spirit gives
by means of the gospel, so that the elect understand and believe, and
are converted. Because the elect are now in Christ (not only by
election but by imputation), Christ is in the elect. Christ indwells
the elect by the Holy Spirit.

As II Peter 1:1 starts, “To those who have obtained a faith of equal
standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus
Christ.” The reason we need to be careful about John Owen’s trilemma
is that Christ did not die to forgive any elect person of the final
sin of unbelief of the gospel. Christ died to give every elect person
faith in the gospel and conversion.

Of course Christians do disbelieve even in their faith, and Christ
died for all the sins of all Christians including all those after they are converted. But no elect person dies unconverted, because Christ died to give them the new birth and the conversion which follows.

I am not saying that John Owen did not know this. I am only saying
that the trilemma (as it is often used by Cavinists) does not take
into account the time between Christ’s work and the application and
imputation of Christ’s work.

The trilemma in itself does not give us the necessary reminder that
Christ died to obtain not only the redemption but also the application of the redemption. Christ did not need to die for final disbelief by the elect because Christ died instead that the elect will not finally disbelieve.

Romans 5: 17 speaks of “those who receive the free gift of
righteousness” and how they reign in life through the one man Christ
Jesus. This receiving is not the sinner believing. It is not an
“exercise of faith” (if you check the commentaries, Murray is right
here about the passive and Moo is wrong). The elect “receive” the
righteousness by God’s imputation.

The elect do not impute their sins to Christ. Nor do the elect impute
Christ’s righteousness to themselves. God is the imputer.

But here is the point: the receiving of the righteousness by
imputation is not the same as the righteousness. The imputation is not at the same time as Christ earned the righteousness. God declaring the elect to be joint-heirs with Christ in that righteousness is not the same as the righteousness. There is a difference between Christ’s righteousness and God’s imputation of it to the elect.

The New Covenant is Not Identical with the Abrahamic Covenant

August 17, 2012

The Abrahamic covenant came before the old covenant, and therefore the Abrahamic covenant is NOT the new covenant. Abraham had two sons.

If circumcision was for Abraham a seal of the promise to Abraham thatAbraham would have children and own a lot of land, then we cannot saythat circumcision is ONLY a seal of righteousness that he had by faith. The circumcision is a sign of more than one thing. But

paedobaptists tend to read the Old Testament as if the Arahamic
covenant and the new covenant were the same, and thus reduce the
Abrahamic covenant to being only about the righteousness earned by

In addition, the Romans 4:11 text says that circumcision was a sign to Abraham that he Abraham had the righteousness. The circumcision is a sign that Christ will bring in the righteousness, but not a sign to
anybody else that they have or are promised the righteousness.

Israel is a type fulfilled by Christ, not by a mixed body of justified and non-justified folks we call “the church”. Circumcision is a type of the forensic “cutting off” from legal identity in Adam by means of Christ’s death. Christ’s death is our death, and that death is not water, not regeneration, not “covenant membership” in a conditional (full gospel) probation.

It’s not water that fulfills the type of circumcision, because it’s Christ’s death to the law imputed to the elect which is the ultimate thing signified by circumcision. Christ did not become cleansed or regenerated, but His blood was shed to satisfy justice, and that’s the central truth to which circumcision speaks.

But this does not mean that paedobaptists should ignore the other preliminary things signified by circumcision. We don’t have to agree with Hodge that there were two different Abrahamic covenants to agree that circumcision had more than one significance.

So when Deyoung writes “And if this spiritual sign—a seal of the
righteousness that comes by faith—was administered to Abraham and his
infant sons, then we cannot say that the thing signified must always
be present before the sign is administered.”, we have to say 1. in the case of Abraham, the righteousness signified had already been imputed to Abraham before circumcision. and 2. there is more than one thing signified but Deyoung has ignored that and now only focuses on the righteousness. 3. and even in regard to the righteousness which is signified, there is an ambiguity in which paedobaptists have their
cake and eat it also.

On the one hand, they tell us we can’t know who is justified, and so the sign is not about an infallible knowledge that this infant will be justified. But agreeing with that, why not then give the sign to everybody? But then, on the other hand, the confessions teach that there is a promise to the children of those who are Christians. And here there is more ambiguity, since first we can’t infallibly know which parents are justified, and second, there is no promise to Christians that they will even have children, and third, What exactly is this promise to the children of those who are Christians?

There is no promise that specific children will be justified. So at
most, what you have is some idea that they are “in the covenant” and
thus subject perhaps to “covenant curses”. But again, how are these
infants different from any other infants, since all infants are born
guilty in Adam and all need that righteousness, and none of them is
promised that righteousness, and they can only know they have it if
God gives them faith in the gospel?

To summarize, dispensationalists can’t really see the newness of the
new covenant, because they can’t let go of the idea that the Abrahamic covenant promised land unconditionally to ethnic Israel. And paedobaptists can’t really see the newness of the new covenant,
because they can’t let go of the genealogical principle of Abraham
having a seed which would be fulfilled in Christ.

Despite that fulfillment, paedobaptists still think there is a genealogical principle at work in the new covenant. They think the Abrahamic covenant is no different from the new covenant, and that the new covenant is no different from the Abrahamic covenant. This is why they can’t really read what Colossians 2:11-13 say, so they assume that water baptism is the fulfillment of the sign of circumcision.

II Peter 1—add works to get assurance?

August 10, 2012

Those puritans who advocated “the practical syllogism” read II Peter 1 as teaching that we must add works and virtues to our lives in order to gain and maintain assurance. But II Peter 1 teaches that we have to make our calling and election sure in order to even know if our added works and virtues are acceptable and pleasing to God.

In other words, we need to think about what gospel it was by which we were called. Were we called by a gospel which conditioned our end on our having works and virtues? Or were we called by the true gospel which says that we must be accepted by God in Christ’s righteousness before we can do anything good or acceptable to God?

The legalists  are careful to say that their works are the evidence of Christ’s work in them. Nevertheless, most legalists do not test their works by the gospel doctrine of righteousness. Most legalists think you can be wrong about the gospel doctrine, and nevertheless still show off your salvation by your works and acts of piety. In other words, legalists (like Paul Washer) raise doubts about those who don’t “try more effort”, but they don’t have these same doubts about “sincere and hard-working” Arminians and Roman Catholics.

Peter, a servantand apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

All or Nothing, Christ’s Righteousness or Yours

August 8, 2012

A mystical experience guy writes: “It was not only imputed sin, because Christ then had to live out that sinfulness by bearing that sinfulness”

This focus on the “sinfulness” that Jesus is bearing sounds like some six hour mystical experience, and it distracts from the meaning of Christ being legally counted with the guilt of the elect.

First, I question the biblical basis for these mystical guys assuming that Christ was not imputed with sins until six hours before He died. Second, the wages of sin is death, and not some six hour experience. Third, the focus on “sinfulness” rather than imputed guilt calls into question what these guys think “imputation” means. Is it only a transfer of punishment and consequence, and not of guilt, as Andrew Fuller would have it?

I understand the practical point is that imputation has results. Of course I agree. Indeed, I am the one saying that the life of the new birth is a result of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. But mystical guys don’t like that. They like to talk about their new birth experience. And when they talk about results of the new birth, they don’t deny imputation and forgiveness of sins, they are looking for more “real” results than that. They think the new birth has given them a better more righteous “soul” than the next guy.

This shows up when they deny that the reign of grace through righteousness in Romans 5:21 is about Christ’s earned and imputed righteousness. These mystical guys are itching to get your Spirit-enabled “righteousness” into that verse, even though it doesn’t fit the context, either before or after.

And of course their idea that imputed righteousness is not enough shows up again when they talk about II Cor 5:15-21, when they insist that “new creation” is about them and their new birth, even though the entire context is about judgment, Christ’s death, non-imputing of sins. But still they think that “becoming the righteousness of God in Christ” is not (only) about imputation.

I am not picking on people because of a word or two. I am saying we need the only. We need the sola. Texts like II Peter 1:1, Romans 5, II Cor 5, are ONLY about a righteousness that Christ earned. The righteousness in those texts is not God’s attribute, and it’s not Christ’s person apart from that finished obedience to death. Every time these mystical guys say “not only”, they might as well say, not that.

Galatians 2: 21–” I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

Arminians and Roman Catholics look at that verse and say, see it’s not through the law, so why talk about Christ’s satisfaction of the law when it’s about Christ in me by grace enabling me to imperfectly keep the law, and grace does not demand perfection. They don’t think that Christ’s death and resurrection are enough. They don’t deny it. They just don’t think it’s enough.

But the point of Galatians 2:21 is that Christ died to completely satisfy the law’s demand, and there is no possibility of satisfying God’s law in any other way except Christ’s death. And to those who would say, well sure, we don’t deny that Christ’s death figures into the equation but don’t forget how grace now causes us to get circumcised, Galatians 2:21 goes all or nothing. ONLY Christ’s death for righteousness, because if not ONLY that, Christ died for nothing. Thus the antithesis.

When the mystical guys proclaim (they don’t explain) that it’s not only about the imputed righteousness, they are opening up a false way for some other kind of salvation. If there were indeed a future justification based on our works, then we who are justified by Christ’s obedience alone are without hope, and Christ died in vain. Only the non-elect and non-justified will be judged by the books. This is why we who have our names written in the book warn those who don’t believe the gospel of the judgment to come.

II Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.”

No, the imputation of righteousness is not a result of the new birth. But yes, imputation of righteousness has results. Result one, those imputed with Christ’s righteousness know and believe God’s only gospel, and repent of the false gospel that gets them into the equation. Result two, there is no condemnation for those imputed with Christ’s righteousness.

There is no being “in Christ” without being imputed with Christ’s righteousness. “No condemnation” is not a result to be minimized. And “no condemnation” is not a result to be put back in doubt based on the works of those who are already in Christ.

Christ Was Justified by What He Did By His Death, Christ’s Death Resulted in His Resurrection

August 7, 2012

1 Timothy 3:16 “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.”

If you are going to have two kinds of righteousness, it certainly would make sense to have two kinds of justification.  NT Wright does have two. He has a future justification based on what his politically active self  will do. But there is only one justification, and it is based on Christ’s death alone.

I Timothy 3:16 is a very interesting verse to think about. Christ was justified. Now, how was Christ justified? Certainly not by becoming born again. Christ was justified by satisfying the righteous requirement of the law for the sins imputed to Christ. Christ was justified by His death. Christ needed to be justified because Christ legally shared the guilt of His elect, and this guilt demanded His death.  Christ was not justified because of His resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was Christ’s justification, and that declaration was because of Christ’s death.

Romans 6:9–“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”

So Christ was justified by His own righteousness. Christ was declared to be just, not simply by who He was as an incarnate person, but by what He had done in obedience and satisfaction to the law. Remember that “imputed” has two senses, one which is legal sharing and the other is declare. No righteousness was  shared from somebody else to Christ, because Christ had earned His own righteousness by His own death.

The justification (vindication, if you want) of Christ is God’s declaration (in the resurrection) that Christ was just on the basis of what Christ did in His death.. Christ was imputed as righteous. Christ was justified. Romans 4:24-25 –Righteousness will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,  who was delivered up because of our trespasses and raised because of our justification.

We do need to say that the justification of the elect sinner is different from the justification of Christ. The legal value and merit of Christ’s death is shared by God with the elect sinner, as Romans 6 says, when they are placed/baptized into that death.

So only one righteousness. In Christ’s case, no legal sharing. In the case of the justified elect, that same one death is legally shared, and this one death is enough, because counted to them it completely satisfies the law for righteousness. (Romans 10:4)

Romans 6:7–“For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”

I submit to you that Romans 6:9 is saying exactly the same things as “justified in the Spirit” is saying in I Tim 3:16. Gaffin (also Darby and Edward Irving)  is wrong to think of justification as being a result of resurrection and “union” with the resurrected Christ. Fesko is right to think of resurrection as the declaration of justification.

The Norman Shepherd (“federal vision”) problem creeps in when people begin to think that since Christ was justified by what He did, then the elect also must be justified by what they are enabled to do. But there are NOT two justifications, one now by imputation, and another in the future, where we will be justified like Christ was. We are ONLY justified by what Christ did, and NOT by what Christ is now doing in us. Christ alone was justified by what HE HIMSELF DID .  Christ is not to be justified by what Christ WILL DO, because Christ has already been justified by  what HIS DEATH DID. .

Repentance From Dead Works

August 6, 2012

Hebrews 6:1– “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”

Hebrews 9:14–”How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The problem with using works “done after you are in the family” to get assurance is that works done without assurance are not pleasing to God. But the light of the gospel exposes our “good works” as “dead works”. And “dead works” are sins.

John 3:19– “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Certainly God commands us all to be moral. But morality can be done in the flesh. To doubt that you are justified or will be justified because of what you have done or not done is to take the focus away from Christ’s one-time-done death for elect sinners.

Calvin vs Osiander: Reconciliation is Not Infusion or Regeneration

August 5, 2012

Calvin, 3/11/4—But the most satisfactory passage on this subject is that in which he declares the sum of the Gospel message to be reconciliation to God, who is pleased, through Christ, to receive us into favor by not imputing our sins, (2 Cor. 5: 18-21.)

Let my readers carefully weigh the whole context. For Paul shortly after adding, by way of explanation, in order to designate the mode of RECONCILIATION, that Christ who knew no sin was made sin for us, undoubtedly understands by reconciliation nothing else than justification. Nor, indeed, could it be said, as he elsewhere does, that we are made righteous “by the obedience” of Christ, (Rom. 5: 19,) were it not that we are deemed righteous in the sight of God in him and not in ourselves.

Osiander holds in regard to the mode of receiving Christ,that by the ministry of the external word the internal word is received; that he may thus lead us away from the priesthood of Christ, and his office of Mediator, to his eternal divinity.

It would be incongruous to say that that which existed naturally from eternity was made ours. But granting that God was made unto us righteousness, what are we to make of Paul’s interposed statement, that he was so made by God? This certainly is peculiar to the office of mediator, for although he contains in himself the divine nature, yet he receives his own proper title, that he may be distinguished from the Father and the Spirit.

Jehovah, when made of the seed of David, was indeed to be the righteousness of believers, but in what sense Isaiah declares, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many,” (Isaiah 53: 11.) Let us observe that it is the Father who speaks. He attributes the office of justifying to the Son, and adds the reason, – because he is “righteous.” Christ justified us by his obedience to the
Father; and, accordingly that he does not perform this for us in respect of his divine nature, but according to the nature of the dispensation laid upon him.

Righteousness is Not An Objective Thing Out There?

August 4, 2012

new perspective: “Christ Himself is our righteousness. There is no objective thing out there called the righteousness of Christ, but it is Christ Himself who earned it as the Federal Head for His people. ”

The denial sounds like Osiander’s. I commend to every reader Calvin’s responses to Osiander in the Institutes. If there is no objective merit to Christ’s work of obedience, then Christ presumably could have skipped the cross and entered directly and personally into our hearts. NP says Christ earned “it”, but if it’s not an objective thing, then what is “it”?

Romans 1:16– “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

the NP gloss. For in the gospel, there is this person and that person has this history but that history does not result in an objective thing called “the righteousness” because you see it’s the person who is revealed….

Romans 3: 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

the NP gloss. But now Christ Himself has been revealed, and He Himself is the priority, so this means that there is no objective thing called “the righteousness of God”. I mean, first you get faith to get it, but the it you then get it is not an objective thing which itself could be the real difference between life and death before God….

Romans 4:6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

the NP gloss. I don’t deny that God counted righteousness to David, or that this meant “not counting David’s sins against him”, but let’s not think that this “righteousness” and the not counting are “objective things”, The righteousness which God counts is only a means to an end, and really not even that, “it” is only a result of a real relationship that David had with Christ in his heart, because we need to remember not to give the priority to the benefits, even when we have fallen into sin big time, the pious thing to do is to focus on Christ Himself and not on something objectively done in time and space, obtained in the past, and then “transferred” (like a thing) to us as if it were merit points, without which we would have no hope. I don’t deny that Christ earned something of course but I do deny that this something is an objective “out there” commodity which has legal value….

Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

NP gloss. Of course it’s important to have knowledge, but we have to know that knowing a person is not like knowing an objective thing like the value of something a person did. And in the case of “the righteousness of God”, it’s not an objective thing we know from hearing the gospel, so we need to know Christ before we can know about it, and indeed if we know Christ, then we won’t be trying to establish our own righteousness. And you don’t need to know anything positively objective about the righteousness of God in order to stop trying to build your own righteousness. I mean, if you know that righteousness is not a thing that really counts as the legal gatekeeper between you and Christ, you will stop worrying about righteousness all together, yours or God’s!

II Peter 1:1 –Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

NP gloss: This needs to be reversed. We get righteousness by faith. And our faith is not in the righteousness of Christ, as if the object of faith were some objective commodity that belonged to Christ instead of Christ Himself If we are spiritual, we don’t want what Christ has,but instead we want Christ personally. Some say that the righteousness of Christ is the means we get Christ, but they have it backwards since the truth is we must get Christ before we get the righteousness. And having Christ in your soul is the important reality. Because then Christ in you is no longer out there as merely some object of faith. He Himself is the righteousness, and He is not an objective thing, so Jeremiah 23 means that His righteousness is not an objective thing….

NP: the only way one obtains the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is to be one with Christ.

mark: which being translated means—- being imputed with the righteousness, obtaining the righteousness that Christ obtained is NOT THE WAY TO BE ONE WITH CHRIST. This is NP begging the question NP thinks “union with Christ” is not legal but real and personal. He sometimes agree that there is a “legal aspect” but only to then disagree that “union” has anything to do with legal placement into Christ’s death.

The NP is not the only one to want an “union with Christ” apart from Christ’s righteousness which then permits those thus united to then be imputed with such righteousness. Some give the priority to sacramental “union”. Some give the priority to “experience” which is not about an “objective thing”.