Is Hebrews Ten Warning Us To Obey the Law?

Hebrews 10: 8 If anyone disregards Moses’ law, he dies without mercy, based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, regarded as profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

Reformed: the people of God in the new covenant are both believers and unbelievers because some of the people of God end up in hell. The future tensed in Greek indicates that this will in fact happen and so this passage can’t be taken hypothetically. So you have got a problem here the covenant people of God end up in hell…. You haven’t even attempted yet to deal with the fact the God’s people are being sent to hell in verses 30-31 you have merely ignored this issue.

Thanks for reminding me of your questions. I am sure I can’t answer everything to your (or my) satisfaction, but let me quickly rehearse some things I know about Hebrews chapter 10.

1. The particular sin being warned against is the sin of going back to the Mosaic law and the Levitical economy for salvation. And there is (and never was) any salvation to be found in the Mosaic law or the Levitical economy. I am not denying that some people living during the Mosaic economy were justified by grace through hearing and believing the gospel of Christ, the seed of Abraham. I am saying that there is no salvation ever to be found in our law-keeping, nor was there ever any salvation to be found in the old ceremonies. Those ceremonies pointed to Jesus, and the way Jesus opened for the elect through His flesh. In context, it seems we have some people who have professed to have believed in the gospel, to trust in Christ, and yet some of them have, or are tempted to, go back to that Judiasm which has rejected the blood of Jesus.

2. There is nothing “hypothetical” about this warning (or the others in Hebrews). The logic of “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin” is not that Christ died for every sinner, and that every sinner had a “chance” or an “opportunity” to be saved, if they accepted “the offer”. No. The logic rather is that now and always there has been only sacrifice that really takes away sin, and that’s the sacrifice of Christ. The old economies had their place because their ceremonies pointed to this one sacrifice of Christ. Now that Christ has come, now that the new covenant has arrived, not only in promise, but in fulfillment, still there remains one (and only one) sacrifice for sins.

Put it this way— for every sinner, for any sinner, there is only one sacrifice that can take away sins, and it’s Christ’s propitiatory death. This does not at all mean that Christ has died for every sinner. It means every sinner needs Christ’s death. But only the sins of the elect the Father has given the Son were imputed to the Son, and the Son has only made a propitiation for those sins. Christ’s death is not enough for every sinner, because it was never intended for every sinner. But the point is—Christ is the only propitiation there is, and if you don’t trust Christ, then there can be no propitiation for you. Go back to Judiasm, (and without getting into the longish question about if apostates can come back to the gospel), and don’t come to Christ, then there “remains no other sacrifice”.

3. And you might read this, and say, well there you have it, it’s the supralapsarians who can’t make a distinction between covenant and election. And the guy denies “common grace” also!

It’s true that I say “providence” instead of ‘common grace”. It’s even true that I am supralapsarian, but I would insist that what I have indicated in the paragraph above is true even on an infralapsarian understanding, unless one is an Amyraldian who thinks Christ obtained some kind of “general fund” of atonement, and then somehow the elect get applied the efficacy of it. In other words, if you believe in definite atonement, this is a fair reading of the warning: no hope but in Christ’s grace, no mercy except in Christ’s bloody death. (I do of course disagree with the sufficient/efficient formula as used in Dordt.)

4. But to repeat, there is nothing hypothetical about these warnings. Yes, there are some contrary “feelings”: Hebrews 6:9–”yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things, that belong to salvation”. But in principle, the Hebrew warnings are no different from those found in places like Galatians and Philippians. It’s not a warning about immorality, but about going back to another gospel, about not trusting Christ, but instead trusting Christ and also your “covenantal nomism” (for which nomists as non-Pelagians thank their god!).

Because if you trust Christ and your Spirit enabled obedience, then you don’t trust Christ! Galatians 2: 21–”If justification were through the law, then Christ died for NO purpose. (not for some purpose, not to provide a “plan” to get started!). Galatians 5:2–If you accept circumcision, Christ will be of NO advantage to you. (Of course, Nanos and Doug Wilson think this only applies to gentiles) So this is a serious real, life or death warning. Although Paul does not tell the Galatians that he thinks most of them are lost judiasers, he does not discount the possibility that some who profess to trust Christ are in reality still in their sins, without grace, without propitiation.

5. It was not hypothetical then, and the danger is not hypothetical now. “Legal preaching” does not mean not preaching the law and the seriousness of sin and the wrath of God. It means confusing the law of God with the gospel of God which is about Christ’s satisfaction of the law for the elect. Christ preached this gospel in John 5: 24. “As many as hear my word and believe him who sent me has eternal (lasting quality) life! HE DOES NOT COME INTO JUDGMENT

And this warning to trust this gospel and not going back into “works and ceremonies” is not at all hypothetical. Let me give you an example from my personal experience, which is NOT from the “federal visionists”, to show that I know that they are not the only legalist heretics in town. This was in a rather large “Reformed Baptist” congregation, quite some time ago. The clergyman took this Hebrews 10 text and attempted to put us all in the “sweat-box” for about 50 minutes one night before the Lord’s Supper. I suppose the idea was to prepare us for the gospel by smiting the sheep with the law. (What else could a shepherd do with his stick?)

Don’t you know, he asked us, that most of the threats of hell are not to those outside the church? Most of the language about hell is directed to God’s people, not only to motivate them, but to make them examine themselves if they are really are trusting Christ. So back to the OT, a couple examples of no mercy in the Mosaic economy, and then on to Hebrews 10, you think that covenant was pretty bad, will it be worse for you if you don’t start living and not merely professing to be Christians! The “Lord will judge His people”

Deuteronomy 32: 35
Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly.’
36 For the Lord will judge/vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants,
39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

45 And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

The basic strategy of the Reformed Baptist preacher was to say–since God is going to condemn some of his people, what we need to do now is have a dress rehearsal of that, and let me judge you for what you are doing and what you are not doing.

I could elaborate, but I think you get the point. One, I am not saying that this kind of thing is true of most Reformed Baptists. I bring it up because I myself am baptist, and don’t want to be seen as only picking on federal visionists. (After all, I am told, their problem is the same as baptists, since they can’t tell the difference between election and covenant, although they do talk about becoming non-elect, and baptists who know the gospel don’t say “become non-elect” but say something about those who did not belong having professed faith visibly)

….Two, I am not saying that my example of what this clergyman did wrong is an excuse or a substitute for doing all the exegetical work on the details of the text, or for not dealing with questions about “the substance of the covenant of grace”.

But before I get to those questions, I do want to emphasize one point. Not only did the Reformed Baptist get chapter 10 of Hebrews wrong, but he really turned it upside down. He ended up doing the very thing that the writer to the Hebrews was warning against. The writer is saying—don’t look to your own obedience, not to the Mosaic economy, not to any other system but Christ’s death as the only answer for sins. Because Christ’s death (which has now happened!) IS the only hope we have for escaping God’s wrath against sins.

The preacher wasn’t saying to go back to Judiasm, and since he was a baptist, he wasn’t even saying –obey to stay in “the covenant of grace”, but he was saying that assurance of salvation depended on the Holy Spirit enabling us to obey God’s law. (No more law-gospel antithesis once you are in God’s house?).

What number am I on? 6. The word “covenant” is in verse 29. Don’t let me forget about. The phrases “old covenant” or “Mosaic covenant” are not in verse 26, which says the “law of Moses”, but I think we could agree that the thought is about the old covenant economy. The reference is to the covenantal curses on folks who are Abraham’s sons but not Abraham’s sons (Ishmael, Esau, Judas, etc).

So which covenant is it in “profaned the blood of the covenant”?
How can there be a new covenant if there is but one covenant of grace?

I think Reformed people tend to have three answers at once here:

answer one: the new covenant is “substantially” the “one covenant of grace”

answer two: because of the contrast with Moses, the covenant here is “the new covenant” (which of course has always existed along side the old covenant, since the gospel has always existed)

answer three: it’s not really the “new covenant” which the apostates were in but only the “administration” of the new covenant

I am not sure how you can have all three different answers at the same time, but maybe it’s best to use only one or two as needed.

Since my confession (First London Baptist, 1644) does not have all the answers on this either, let me jump to Hebrews 13:20 — the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal (permanent lasting quality!) covenant….

This takes me back to the gospel Jesus preached in John 5:25—He who believes….does not come into judgment, but HAS passed from death to life.

Does this guy have no shame, reading John’s (or Paul’s) categories into Hebrews? Not much. Not that “analogy of Scripture” answers everything, but I begin with what I know, and not what I don’t.

7. John Owen makes sense to me on it being Christ who is sanctified. I know that category exists in John 17. But if Owen is not correct, I don’t need to say that nobody except sovereign grace baptists understand “eternal security” or perseverance/ preservation. Owen was not baptist. And Mike Horton was wrong to imply only his kind of “covenant theology” can make sense of warning texts. Even if it turns out that “the covenant by which he was sanctified” is in reference to those who professed and left but never belonged, this does not prove any of the three answers above.

a It does not prove that there is “one covenant of grace”. (The covenant in question is not the Mosaic covenant, which is also supposed to be included –in some sense–in the “one covenant of grace”, is it not?)

b. Even if “the covenant by which he was set apart” is phenomenological, by appearance, this does not prove that the new covenant includes the infants born of one professing parent (as opposed to all infants to all ethnic Abrahamic seed, professing or not professing).

c. Instead of contracting “the one covenant of grace” to one professing parent, why not expand it to all sinners, all who need the blood of Christ, and who will be saved if they only believe it? In other words, Hebrews 10 does not in any way prove that the “genealogical principle” continues in this “covenant”. Assuming that “his people” that the Lord will judge is the visible congregation of professors does not in any way tell us who is and is not to be admitted to that visible congregation.

Perhaps it is only those you would admit to the Lord’s table. But of course not all who are admitted to the Lord’s table are the justified elect, and no baptist denies that there is “judgment” involved in the Lord’s Supper. We don’t have to say God is doing it “sacramentally” to get there. But some Reformed folks assume that baptists can’t make a distinction between visible and invisible. We can, and we don’t have to admit (only some) infants to do so.

We don’t have to have “two kinds of water baptism” to get there either. Of course there are different kinds of baptism, such by Christ with the Holy Spirit, such as “into Christ’s death”, but we don’t see how can you have one water baptism but with two meanings, without confusing a lot of people about what God is doing.

Let me repeat– as serious as our questions about the nature of “covenants” are, I think some of us can agree that the larger more important warning in Hebrews 10 (not hypothetical) is the danger of people being distracted from the gospel by the idea of a grace which enables them to enter into the holy by the Spirit causing them to do works of faith. That “faith” is not in the gospel, because it is not trust in Christ the great Shepherd who kept the covenant (for the elect alone) by His obedience even unto death.

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23 Comments on “Is Hebrews Ten Warning Us To Obey the Law?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    preachers use hebrews warnings to lay down the law, but Hebrews is warning about going back to law. It’s the same in Galatians 5, when it talks about “falling from grace”


    Horton: To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? If faith is the only way into membership (693), then why all the warnings to members of the covenant community to exercise faith and persevere in faith to the end?

    God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. Yet they must embrace the promise in faith. Otherwise, they fall under the covenant curse without Christ as their mediator. The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ

    Engelsma: Horton affirms that God promises saving grace in Christ to every baptized baby. For a Reformed theologian, it is the same as to affirm that God promised saving grace to Esau in his circumcision. This affirmation implies that God failed to keep His promise. His promise failed. Grace is resistible, inefficacious, and impotent. The reason, they will say, is the unbelief of Esau. Whatever the reason, grace does not realize itself in one to whom God is gracious. Regardless of the reason for grace’s impotence, the teaching is heretical.
    If God promises saving grace to both Esau and Jacob, as Horton affirms, but the promise fails because of Esau’s unbelief, then the conclusion necessarily follows that grace succeeded in the case of Jacob, not because of the inherent, sovereign power of grace itself, that is, because of God, but because of Jacob’s acceptance of grace

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Romans 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
    Romans 11:22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, as many as continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Hebrews 10: 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,
    “Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
    38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
    my soul has no pleasure in him.”
    39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Dr. T. David Gordon in his book “Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers” (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2009)
    “Some of the neo-Puritans have apparently determined that the purpose of Christian preaching is to persuade people that they do not, in fact, believe. The subtitle of each of their sermons could accurately be: “I Know You Think You Are a Christian, but You Are Not.” This brand of preaching constantly suggests that if a person does not always love attending church, always look forward to reading the Bible, or family worship, or prayer, then the person is probably not a believer…”

    The hearer falls into one of two categories: one category of listener assumes that the preacher is talking about someone else, and he rejoices (as did the Pharisee over the tax collector) to hear “the other guy” getting straightened out. Another category of listener eventually capitulates and says: “Okay, I’m not a believer; have it your way.” But since the sermon mentions Christ only in passing (if at all), the sermon says nothing about the adequacy of Christ as Redeemer, and therefore does nothing to build faith in Christ.

    “It is painful to hear every passage of Scripture twisted to do what only several of them actually do (i.e., warn the complacent that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven). And it is absolutely debilitating to be told again and again that one does not have faith when one knows perfectly well that one does have faith, albeit weak and imperfect…”

    “So no one profits from this kind of preaching; indeed, both categories of hearer are harmed by it. But I don’t expect it will end anytime soon. The self-righteous like it too much; for them, religion makes them feel good about themselves, because it allows them to view themselves as the good guys and others as the bad guys – they love to hear the preacher scold the bad guys each week. And sadly, the temperament of some ministers is simply officious. Scolding others is their life calling; they have the genetic disposition to be a Jewish mother.” (pp. 83-84)

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Stanley Hauerwas, A Better Hope, p 43–“Gerald Schlabach sent me criticisms of my work that another Mennonite had posted on an e-mail forum. The critic argued that my work is far too Catholic and thus incompatible with an Anabaptist perspective: ‘Hauerwas has a Constantinian fear of Christian liberty. He wants the clergy to tell us the story and the church to have the sanctions to enforce it.’ In his response Schlabach agreed that this is an accurate (although insufficiently nuanced) summary of my views but defended the position nevertheless. ”
    Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom , Peter Leithart, IVP, 2010

  7. markmcculley Says:

    if Christians not under the law are going to face a judgment of works, by what law will they be judged?

    Psalm 103: For as the heavens are high above the earth,
    So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
    12 As far as the east is from the west,
    So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
    13 As a father pities his children,
    So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
    14 For He knows our frame;
    He remembers that we are dust.
    15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
    16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    And its place remembers it no more.
    17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
    On those who fear Him

    the law says
    1. when we sin we think we are hiding from God, behind God’s back

    2. when we don’t confess our sin, we still think we are hiding from God, in the darkness we love, instead of the light
    1. there is the God who hides Himself

    Isaiah 45: 15 Truly You are God, who hide Yourself,
    O God of Israel, the Savior!
    16 They shall be ashamed
    And also disgraced, all of them;
    They shall go in confusion together,
    Who are makers of idols.

    2. this God shows up in time and place in the incarnate High Priest on earth at the cross

    3. this God who hides the sins of the justified elect behind His back
    Isaiah 38: 17 Indeed it was for my own peace
    That I had great bitterness;
    But You have lovingly delivered me from the pit of corruption,

    Isaiah 43: 25“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins

    Hebrews 8: 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds[ I will remember no more.”

    Hebrews 10: “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

    divine willed amnesia

  8. markmcculley Says:

    I Peter 4: 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And

    “If the righteous is scarcely saved,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
    19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

    mark—what is the connection of v 16 and verse 17, is the judgment of verse 17 the same as “suffers as a Christian” of verse 16. or is the judgment of verse 17 more about “if you suffer as an evil doer” of verse 15

    which is it–persecution for Christ’s sake, or discipline for our sin’s sake, are both the same?

    Hebrews 12: 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

    “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
    6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

    7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    The paedobaptist says “sanctified” does not refer to definitive sanctification, nor progressive sanctification, but simply a non-salvific “set apart” (referencing “holy” in 1 Cor 7:14), and “the covenant” refers to a “dual-sided” covenant that one can be in “outwardly” (which procures different blessings from being in the covenant “internally”). In other words, he applies a doctrine of covenant membership established from other texts to this text in order to avoid theological contradiction. And that is a completely legitimate and necessary aspect of proper biblical interpretation – but let’s not pretend such a doctrine is derived from the text.

  10. markmcculley Says:

    Jesus did not bear the curse which comes the warnings, which means there’s still some curse left for those in the covenant , In theory, there is no curse for those in Christ Jesus, but in practical reality, you have to obey the warnings or you won’t be in Christ Jesus. Which would mean you were never in Christ Jesus, because justification was in Christ’s death alone, but sanctification is not in Christ’s death alone but also in your daily dying, and if you don’t die daily, then you won’t stay sanctified, and you won’t stay in the covenant, which means that you were never justified. Justification itself is by Christ’s death alone, but the assurance of it depends on how you obey the warnings so as to not lose your sanctification.

    Since our context is not legalism but antinomianism, we don’t need all that justification stuff, we need sanctification

    The gospel depends on the situation, the gospel depends on those who hear it, and now in our situation, we need the gospel to be the law, and we need the gospel to be what condemns people–because many are born in the church and many are born in the covenant, so what will condemn them is not the law, because what will condemn them is the gracious but conditional promise of the covenant, what will condemn them is “grace”— a grace common between those who believe and those who don’t believe. Grace for everybody, but believing for some.

    His people” in the old covenants is the same as “His people” in the new covenant
    Jesus might have been your representative but he’s not your replacement and substitute therefore you got to die daily and not only depend on His death alone.
    Not His death alone but also another factor is your repenting, which means doing what your church tells you to do (most likely, because we can’t be sure at this point, because it’s no longer just depending on Christ’s death alone)
    So how does this essay fit with what he wrote in From Heaven He Came?

    Has his Reformed ecclesiology subverted his soteriology?

    507, “Punishment God Cannot Twice Inflict”—Garry J Williams —“My argument stands against an unspecified penal satisfaction narrowed only by its application. The sacrifice for sin in Scripture is itself specific…If the penal substitution of Christ has no relation to one person’s sin, then it is not in itself God’s actual answer to any sin, and therefore not penal at all…An unspecified “No” is not an answer to anything; it is without meaning….I cannot see how anyone who excludes the identification of Christ’s satisfaction itself with the specific sins of specific individuals can avoid the logical outcome of denying its truly penal character.
    Garry J Williams, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, ed Gibson, Crossway, 2013, p 513—”The notion that the lost will be punished for the sin of unbelief and not for sin in general allows Lutherans and Arminians to hold that Jesus died for every general sin of every individual, and yet not all must be saved, because unbelievers may still be justly condemned for their unbelief since Christ did not die for it. This reply limits the sins for which Christ died.”
    Williams: “The Lutherans and Arminians have created a difficulty with biblical texts referring to the sins for which Christ died. Every affirmation that sins have been borne by Christ must now be understood to contain a tacit restriction—except the sin of unbelief….If a sinner believes and becomes a Christian at age forty, since the Lutherans teach that Christ did not die for the sin of unbelief, this means that Christ did not die for this man’s sin of unbelief committed over forty years

  11. markmcculley Says:

    Tom Nettles, By His Grace And For His Glory ” . from the chapter on world missions ” .
    “Offer” is not used in Scripture to describe how God gives his gifts to men … The word offer has too dormant a connotation to incorporate the vivid and active images picturing the effectuality of gospel preaching : the blind see , the dead live , the sleepers awaken , the sinners’ resistance is aggravated , and a sweet-smelling savor rises to the nostrils of God . In apostolic examples of preaching , we see little of what might be called ” offer ‘ and much of what is called ” command . ” Men are commanded to lay down arms and surrender to God , who demonstrates his sovereign holiness in all his actions — creation , providence , and redemption — and promises of forgiveness encourage those who truly comply . The unabridged version of the gospel simply cannot be contained within the normal connotations of the word offer.”
    Grace cannot be “offered .” Grace is purely within the sovereign prerogatives of God and those who argue for the validity of offering grace place themselves in the position which they claim is so presumptuous in the hyper-Calvinist . To offer grace is to determine human responsibility from a supposed knowledge of the divine intentions toward all men in particular . Those who argue for general atonement on this basis pursue the same erroneous line of thought . Neither the evangelist nor the sinner need have guarantees that grace accompanies their interaction for the responsibility of either to be established . It is enough that both know that God commands all men everywhere to repen

  12. markmcculley Says:

    Romans 7: 4—you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, in order to be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, in order to bring forth fruit unto God. …
    7: 6 But now we have been released from the law, since we have died to what held us,

    The covenant of works theory was never interested in death. Adam was already under law before Adam sinned. The covenant of works theory still says that there is no hope in Christ’s death alone.

    The law written on the heart in the new covenant means ” “FORGIVEN, REMEMBERED NO MORE”

    The law written on the heart does not mean, now we can and will do it

    Hebrews 8: 10
    But this is the covenant
    that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, says the Lord:
    I will put My laws into their minds
    and write them on their hearts.
    I will be their God,
    and they will be My people.
    11 And each person will not teach his fellow citizen,[e]
    and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,”
    because they will all know Me,
    from the least to the greatest of them.
    12 For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing,
    and I will never again remember their sins.
    13 By saying, a new covenant, He has declared that the first is old. And what is old and aging is about to disappear.

    Hebrews 10: 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after He says: 16 This is the covenant I will make with them
    after those days, says the Lord:
    I will put My laws on their hearts
    and write them on their minds,
    17 He adds: I will never again remember
    their sins and their lawless acts.
    18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

    the math of grace, no other sacrifices for sins needed, the old sacrifices did not take away sin, and there are no future extra additional sacrifices

  13. markmcculley Says:

    the Mosaic law asked for animal sacrifices. The contrast in Hebrews 10 is between those old sacrifices and Christ’s death. The contrast is NOT between the law-keeping of Christ and the old animal sacrifices. Hebrews 10: 3 But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said:
    You did not want sacrifice and offering,
    but You prepared a body for Me.
    6 You did not delight
    in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings.
    7 Then I said, “See—
    it is written about Me
    in the volume of the scroll—
    I have come to do Your will, God!”
    8 After He says above, You did not want or delight in sacrifices and offerings, whole burnt offerings and sin offerings (which are offered according to the law), 9 He then says, See, I have come to do Your will.He takes away the first to establish the second. 10 By this will of God, we have been sanctified THROUGH THE OFFERING OF THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST once and for all time

    not many acts of law-keeping but by one sacrificial offering

    12 But this man, after offering ONE sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.

    14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified.

  14. markmcculley Says:

    t comes down to the idea that, since God commands you to believe the gospel, then that must mean that God wishes (unsuccessfully in many cases) that you would believe the gospel, and that those who deny this are being “insincere” when they call people to believe the gospel. In what way do we make a distinction between the command to believe the gospel and the gospel itself? is the command itself part of the gospel? Is the gospel in the end no different from law, with commands and “conditions”? In what way do we make a distinction between the promise of the gospel and the gospel itself? What is the promise of the gospel (or of “the covenant”)? Is the promise of the covenant that God loves everybody, or is it a promise that God only loves those in the covenant? Or only the elect in the covenant? I will ask two questions. 1. Does God desire the salvation of the sinners who never hear the gospel? Barrett keeps saying that God desires the salvation of all who hear the gospel. What about those who never hear the gospel? Does God want them to be saved as well? If the gospel in the end is also the law, so that only those who hear the gospel can justly be condemned, how can those who never hear “the gospel” be justly destroyed by God? And why, if God really loved them, did God not send somebody with the gospel to these people? If Jesus died in order to condemn those who resist them, how can God condemn those who never heard of Jesus?I f there can be no sin unless God has first somehow loved you and desired your salvation, then this changes everything about how we approach the Bible. Instead of beginning with our problem before the law, the sufficient for everybody preacher begins with a well-intentioned solution, God’s love which is in the end not quite enough. 2. “When the gospel is preached it is not a free offer to whomever will believe, but rather it is simply a promise meant only for the elect”. What if I flip the phrases around here in the structure of this sentence? What if I “deconstruct” the implied (but un-argued) difference? Are there any elect who will never believe the gospel? Are there any non-elect who will believe the gospel? When the gospel is preached it is meant only for those who believe, to as many as who believe, for all who believe it. The gospel is not good news for those who will not believe it. How can it be gospel for who will perish to be told that those who won’t believe will perish? This is good news for those who believe. This is good news for the elect. There’s no ultimate difference, unless you are somehow ashamed of the word “election” …

    Romans 1: 5 We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations, on behalf of His name

    Romans 16:26 now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the lasting God to advance the obedience of faith among all nations

    I John 3:23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us.

  15. markmcculley Says:

    David Scaer–“The meaning of the command is not exhausted by intensifying its condemnation of the sinner. For Luther the commandment serves its ultimate purpose when the negative prohibition is transformed into positive description of the life of the Christian. Note what Luther does with the second commandment. It becomes an invitation to prayer. The prohibition against killing lays on the Christian the necessity of helping the endangered neighbor, and the one against stealing sees the Christian actually providing funds for the impoverished neighbor. Thus the prohibition against stealing becomes the opportunity for giving. The comparative lesser significance of the negative prohibition in regard to the greater significance for doing good can be seen in that in two of his explanations, the first and the sixth, Luther totally omits the prohibitions. What this means is that for Luther the law can stand without its condemnations and still be the law in some sense. This is in no way suggesting that Luther was antinomian in any sense, p 182
    Before God it is no works and pure grace, but before the world it is only works.

    Click to access scaersanctificationinlutherantheology.pdf

  16. markmcculley Says:

    Donald Macleod—it is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of the atonement to suppose that according to it God deals with all men in justice but with only some in mercy. For according to the doctrine of limited atonement the elect do not experience God’s justice as it concerns them, for it is satisfied by the atonement of Christ FOR THEM. All are liable to punishment for their sin, but only some are punished since the elect are ‘punished’ in Christ their substitute.

    So it is not that some experience both love and justice while some experience justice only. Rather, some experience love, some justice, neither both and each one or the other. The inequality is thus symmetrical, and the incidence of divine love and justice does not provide the least reason for supposing that those who hold this view hold that justice is essential to God while love is arbitrary.

    If God cannot but exercise mercy as God cannot but exercise justice, then its character as mercy vanishes. If God has to exercise mercy as God has to exercise justice then such ‘mercy’ would not be mercy. For the character of mercy is such that each person who receives it is bound to say ‘I have no right to what I have received. It would have been perfectly consistent with God’s justice had I not received it’.

    The logical character of mercy is vastly different from that of justice. A justice that could be unilaterally waived would not be justice, and mercy which could not be unilaterally waived would not be mercy.

    Click to access 03-2_47.pdf

  17. markmcculley Says:

    Peter Lillback—-“One last matter of importance for Calvin’s understanding of the relationship of the Old and New Covenants must be examined in relation to the letter–spirit distinction. If these two are really one and the same covenant that are different only in externals, then does the mass defection of Israel also imply that there can be a mass defection of the New Covenant era saints? …If this is denied, then does not the letter–spirit distinction actually prove that they are two different covenants having a different substance?”

    Peter Lillback–“Does the New Covenant allow for such covenant-breaking as the Old Covenant experienced in light of the former’s being only of the letter and the latter’s being of the Spirit? How can Calvin’s claim that the only difference between the two is with respect to the extent and power of the Spirit’s work explain this dilemma? ” Christianity and Civilization #1 – Failure of the American Baptist Culture. Edited by James B. Jordan and Gary North, “Calvin’s Covenantal Response to the Anabaptist View of Baptism.”

  18. markmcculley Says:

    if we assume our children are non-believers until what we feel to be credible profession of faith — then teaching them the imperative is at best worthless and at worst, placing them under law for no cause.”

    mark–I wanted to highlight this, because in context you are not talking about all unbelievers but about children with Christian parents, but I think this gets to the larger “two kingdom” concerns of the thread. What makes for a transformationist confusion of two kingdoms? Is it a confusion of law and gospel which leads away from two kingdoms?

    On the one hand, two kingdoms people are saying—when you work with Muslim citizens of the American empire, don’t assume that they are Christians, and they don’t need to believe the gospel in order for you to kill for the American economy (not for Christ). On the other hand, two kingdom people are saying—if i don’t presume my children to be Christians, what’s the point? If they are baptists, if they are not in “the covenant” , teaching them abut right and wrong is “at best worthless and at worst, placing them under law for no cause.”

    I don’t think it’s impossible to teach the promise of the gospel to those outside the covenant. And I certainly don’t think it’s worthless to teach the law of Christ to those outside the new covenant. We are NOT “placing anybody under the law” We are all born condemned, all born under the law. And teaching the law is not teaching the gospel, which is why it’s important to teach law. One main lesson we teach is that the law is not the gospel.

    I think the tricky part for most two kingdom folks is that they want to teach Bible law or the law of Christ only to Christians, and then teach some “theistic natural law” to non-Christians. And many of them speak out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to first table and second table of the Commandments given through Moses. And beg the question when they cherry-pick is “ceremonial not moral”. But those are are large questions, and I simply want to ask with you —how worthwhile is it to talk about God’s revealed law to non-Christians, if you think it doesn’t do any good to command your own children unless you presume God’s grace to them?

    Scott Clark— Robertson adds, “all Gods demands are gracious and grace.” He argues that Jesus is “full of grace and truth–and I don’t regard him as having a split personality. Is there any word or action of Christ which is not grace? Did Jesus fail to distinguish between law and gospel when he said “if you love me you will keep my commands? Was the Sermon on the Mount law or gospel? Was it helpful tips for practical living or a set of social and moral demands we must live out? I am not really sure that this hard and fast distinction between law and gospel actually works, because I am not sure it is absolutely biblical.

    Scott Clark—As we read on, it becomes clear that Robertson is not just unsure about the distinction. He doesn’t like it. “There is no doubt that the term law is used in different ways in the Bible, but in the sense of the just and fair expression of the character of God, I think that this is as much part of the Good News as anything.” What Robertson misunderstands is that the law/gospel hermeneutic is not a set of conclusions. It is a question that begins with the recognition that God speaks to sinners in distinct ways in his Word. “Do this and live” is not the same sort of speech as “It is finished.”

    Scott Clark–To sinners, the demand for absolute (not relative) righteousness is not good news because, after the fall, we cannot perform it. The law is good, holy, and just. We, however, are not. The good news announces God’s gracious salvation of sinners. In the history of redemption, before Christ was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, the promises were clothed in types and shadows. They looked forward to fulfillment. After the incarnation, the good news announced the arrival of salvation. The law demands works. Grace receives a gift. These are distinct categories.

    Scott Clark—It may seem pious to say that all of God’s Word is grace but it’s not particularly pious because when we do that, as evident even in Robertson’s post, we tend to turn the good news into bad news. Yes, for those of us who are under grace, the law is a gift. It guides, it norms, and by God’s grace we do learn to love the law but it never becomes gospel. It always remains law. Now that the curse has been extinguished, the record of debt has been nailed to the cross (Col 2:14) we are free, by grace, to see ourselves honestly before the law (because our standing before God is not at stake), confess our sins, to turn from them, to die to self, and to seek to live to Christ, in union with Christ, by the power of the Spirit.

    mcmark– I am sorry,, if I have taken this in directions which are not about “who’s in the covenant”. But I am also not sure that another discussion about the subjects of water is going to be helpful—if we have not heard each other the times before…

    I am asking if the law goes to everybody, even if grace is only for some.

    But I am asking that question in order to be asking about the relationship of those in the kingdom of Christ to those in the kingdom of Satan. Since we don’t presume them to believe the gospel, is it worthless (or even wrong) for us to teach them the law of Christ? And if we shouldn’t teach them the law of Christ, what’s the point of finding common ground with those outside in some law by which we define family and agree about biology? Are we Christians still “the parents” in this situation?

  19. markmcculley Says:

    It’s like I died when I was converted. My faith is not in my conversion narrative but in Christ’s death, but psychologically, it feels like I died. The law of God was written on my heart so that I now know that my only hope is God’s forgiveness of my sins. Now that I have despaired in that way, now that I fear God in that way, I don’t even fear not having anything to show for my time since then

  20. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Mike Horton—Through their covenant membership they have shared in
    God’s COMMON GRACE, and now, if they respond in unbelief, they will bear the CURSES OF THE NEW COVENANT. We must account for this category of common covenant beneficiaries of grace who spurn the objective
    COMMON GRACE delivered to them and fall away. If our theological
    system cannot account for this third group—not elect BUT NOT WITHOUT COVENANT GRACE EITHER–then we need a different theological paradigm. It’s covenant theology that accounts for this tertium quid between
    “foreigners to the covenant” and “elect members.” Some non-elect share the new covenant in common with the elect.

    Sam Storms —Horton contends that the blessings listed in Hebrews 6: 4-5 are experienced neither by the “saved” nor the “unsaved” but by
    those persons who belong to the covenant community but who have never come to saving faith in Christ. For Horton, a person can become a
    member of the new covenant without “truly embracing the word that is preached”. All persons in the new covenant are to be threatened with
    the consequences of apostasy. Some persons “belong to the covenant community and experiencesthereby the work of the Spirit through the means of grace, and yet are not regenerate” . Horton faults other views for failing to recognize “a category for a person who is in the covenant but not personally united by living faith to Jesus Christ”

    Sam Storms– I find this entirely unpersuasive. There is no indication
    in the New Testament that anyone was regarded as a member of the New Covenant (as promised in Jeremiah 31 and instituted by Christ at the last supper) apart from faith in the redemptive work and resurrection
    life of Jesus Christ. …Horton attempt to connect the warnings with the supposed spiritual benefits of the means of grace (one of which he identifies as the “sealing” of the Spirit)–destroy–a-christian

  21. Mark Mcculley Says:

    the Triune God, Presbyterian and Reformed, 2014, p 86
    Edited by Ronald Kohl, pastor of bible fellowship, quakertown

    Richard Phillips—“The experience of being made sin for us and of
    bearing the wrath of separation from the love of God was what it took
    for God to love the world and to offer the gospel to you legitimaately”

    mark mcculley–If Christ shed His blood for apostates who reject
    God’s grace and love, then the grace of God is not sovereign and the
    shed blood of Christ is not precious enough to satisfy God’s wrath for
    all for whom Christ died. Those who teach that Christ died in an
    attempt to love those who perish have “profaned” (made common) the death of Christ.

    Richard Phillips finds a doctrine of sanctification by threats of hell”
    in a text that says nothing about gehenna. Hebrews 10 is not
    teaching that those who are not sanctified have no assurance of
    justification. Hebrews 10 is teaching that those who do not continue torepent of the false gospel will be consumed.

    That Christ sanctified Himself does not mean that Christ got better
    and better but that Christ set Himself apart to die for a people set
    apart before the creation of the world

    The new covenant has arrived in history , not only in promise, but in
    fulfillment, and there is one (and only one) sacrifice for sins.. for
    every sinner, for any sinner, there is only one sacrifice that can
    take away sins, and it’s Christ’s propitiatory death. This does not at
    all mean that Christ has died for every sinner. It means every sinner
    needs Christ’s death. \

    But only the sins of the elect the Father has given the Son were
    imputed to the Son, and the Son has only made a propitiation for those sins. Christ’s death is not enough for every sinner, because it was never intended for every sinner. But the point is—Christ is the only propitiation there is.

    Hebrews 10:28-29, “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the One who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which Christ was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace.”

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