Archive for May 2014

There is Now Only One Israel, So We Don’t need the Pharisee Infant Water

May 25, 2014

Galatians 3:16 Now the promiseS were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to seedS,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your seed,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean–the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul A covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promiseS of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that THE PROMISE by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those AS MANY AS WHO believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we would be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus YOU are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For AS MANY AS YOU many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.

I am not somebody who reduces the Abrahamic promises to one promise. I am all for noticing the various promises, beginning in Genesis 12. Abram will become a great nation, and he can’t have a great nation without land, territory for many people, mostly all biologically related to Abram, a land with no other altars allowed except to Yahweh the King. God also promises blessings for other nations based on their relation to Abram’s nation, with curses for those nations which don’t relate favorably to Abram’s nation.

So I am not reducing all these promises to one promise. I deny that the Abrahamic covenant is the new covenant. I deny that the Abrahamic covenant is “the covenant of grace” or “part of the covenant of grace” or “an administration of the covenant of grace”. Since I know how to talk about the continuity of the Abrahamic covenant to the Mosaic covenant and to the new covenant without saying that they are one covenant, I very much want to notice the various promises associated with Abraham, and to see how they are fulfilled in the circumcision of Christ on the eighth day (Luke 2).

Circumcision is not simply about “spiritual cleaning”. The sign of circumcision is not even only about pointing to the bloody sacrifice of Christ, which cuts the justified elect off from legal solidarity with Adam. Circumcision is an initiation rite for priests, and every male in Abraham’s family (even if one parent did not go testify before the presbytery!) was obligated by Abrahamic law to be circumcised as a sign that Abraham’s family consisted of consecrated priests.

So circumcision was a sign of many things, but not a sign to any person in particular (except Abram himself )of election to justification and eternal life and faith in the gospel.

What belonging to Abraham’s family means now and what it meant then is not the same thing. Zwingli and other Reformed folks like to start with what they think it means now and then read that back as if that was what belonging to Abraham’s family meant then. Thus they notice the promise about the one seed which will bring in the righteousness, but they don’t notice some of the other promises.

To put it a different way, instead of saying “you already have what the pharisees offer”, better to say what the pharisees offer, you don’t need, and could not have anyway.” Now you can be children of Abraham in only one way.

Now that Christ has been born and circumcised, it’s not possible for every jewish male infant to be born as types of the birth to come. The land promise needed for the jewish people to remain the genetic incubator for the Seed is now abrogated, and we need to attend to the discontinuity between the promise of the earth to those who believe the gospel and the promise back then in the Abrahamic covenant.

Reformed paedobaptists (besides Meredith Kline and Gary North) don’t like talking about the bothersome “intrusive” stuff (like negative sanctions) which otherwise does not fit with their neat straight-line continuity They say we should all agree about the unity of the Abrahamic covenant, but paedobaptists can’t stay with that, because they need to harmonize (homogenize) covenants so that we then identify the Abrahamic covenant with the new covenant (or with their “the covenant of grace”)

Sure, the promises to Abraham are typological. But they put non-Abrahamic people out of the territory, to make room for the biological-political heirs of Abraham. Why just look at Genesis 17, when you need to look back also to Genesis 12 and 15? Why not talk about all the promises, unless of course your confessions have already told you what “the promise” is?

So is the “inheriting the world” promise about Christ (the one seed) bringing in the righteousness so that the world belongs to Him and His elect? Or is “inheriting the world” about some conditional promise being made to everybody with one parent who professes to be Christian? Galatians 3 speaks of a promise given to “as many as believe”, and not about a promise given to the children of as many as who believe.

We need to notice the different “seed of Abraham”. Galatians 3 talks about the one seed, not the many, but then it ends with the many who believe the gospel. So two different seeds are in Galatians. But the seed born to the seed are not in Galatians 3, and the only way they can get there is in the collective imagination of some paedobaptists (not Lutherans or Roman Catholics but Reformed)

I am glad to recognize (as I have many times) that the Abrahamic covenant included by design many who were non-elect. Being circumcised and getting in was not the only thing one had to do to “stay in”. But if Reformed folks want to argue that the new covenant people of God are the same set as the people who were in the Abrahamic covenant, they are going to have to make their case.

These Reformed folks need to affirm again that Christ did not die for any non-elect people. If it is not Christ who kept all the conditions of the elect being in (and staying in) the new covenant, then we need to hear a lot more from these folks about the kind of “conditionality” involved in the new covenant. Is “election” simply a corporate thing, with which individuals to be decided later?

Is the new covenant “unbreakable” only in the sense that the covenant stands even if no individuals do what they have to do to “get connected” (and stay connected) with Christ’s death? If water baptism has no efficacy for the non-elect, what efficacy did water baptism have for the elect? Does water baptism promise that anybody will believe? Does water baptism cause anybody to believe? The gospel promises grace only to those who believe the gospel. It’s not the faith given to the elect which causes grace to be given. It’s grace that gives faith to the elect, and those who are never given faith in the gospel were NEVER given grace.

Ephesians 2 says covenantS, plural. The text in no way proves that the Abrahamic covenant is the new covenant, or that the Abrahamic covenant is “the covenant of grace.”. Nobody I know denies that the promise of the gospel concerning the one seed. But Reformed folks ignore the other promises, as they ignore other covenants.

When God says “not all Israel is Israel”, God is NOT saying “you gentiles can now be the kind of Israel you always wanted to be, the kind that there was before Christ was born”. Rather, there is only one kind of Israel now, and you can be in this Israel, and if Jews want to be in Israel now, this is the only Israel even for them now.

So sure, there’s continuity, but don’t ignore the great redemptive-historical change. Before those in the Abrahamic covenant could be in Israel and then become strangers to Israel. But now there is an Israel, the only Israel, and those in that Israel know the Lord.

Jews who don’t believe the gospel are not now Israel. They were Israel ( in one real sense) before Christ was born. But not anymore. Only as many as are called by the gospel (Acts 2) are now the rightful heirs. If your children are among the “as many as God shall call”, they too are rightful heirs. If not, not.

Many Reformed folks like to associate credobaptism with dispensationalism. It makes for a simple equation, and then they don’t have to think too much! But many of us credobaptists are NOT dispensationalists (who just don’t know it). There is only one Israel now and it’s the justified elect of God. Nor am I am of the tribe (John Murray, many amills as well as postmills) that says God has promised those with Abraham’s DNA something extra in the future. There is only one Israel, not a different second Israel which has been promised some land the others of us have not. There is only one Israel, not a different second Israel which are children born to one professing Christian, who are not yet allowed to eat at Israel’s table.

Flesh is Self-righteousness, Because Being Embodied is Not the Problem

May 25, 2014

Self-sufficient and self-righteous people assume that they are going to live Somewhere, even if it’s without a physical body. These religious and “more moral” sinners think they are against the flesh, by assuming that they can continue to live even if they had no body and there were not earth. But Paul’s letter to the Philippians teaches the destruction of all who those who rely on their own righteousness instead of submitting to Christ’s outside righteousness.

1:28— not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their DESTRUCTION, but of your salvation, and that from God.

3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God[b] and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the FLESH—

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

3:19— Their end is DESTRUCTION their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

According to Phil 3:18-19, those who remain enemies of the cross will perish, will be destroyed. Only God can save anybody, and God has not promised to save anybody without teaching that person the gospel. The promise of God is not to those who have a connection in the flesh to somebody else who is a Christian. The promise is to “as many as God will call”. Acts 2:39. God calls by the gospel. Not all who are externally called by the gospel are effectively called by God. But all who are effectually called by God are called by the gospel. (Romans 10:14-17).

The only way we can tell if our works are good fruit (instead of fruit unto death) is to make our calling and election sure. (II Peter 1) By what gospel were you called? Did the gospel you claim be called by talk about election? Did the gospel who claim to be called by talk about Christ’s outside righteousness, as opposed to some righteousness of your own which you are enabled to do. All of your morality and all of your “righteousness” is an abomination to God, if you think it adds to the equation by which God is not angry with you today.

if you think God is at peace with you today, because you think you have not sinned so seriously today, then you are still dominated by the “flesh”, which is your self-righteousness, which sin God hates more than any other, because it sets itself up in competition with Christ’s righteousness. And make no mistake, if you today are adding your own not sinning into the mix along with Christ’s righteousness, what you think is an addition to Christ’s righteousness IS IN COMPETITION WITH CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Philippians 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

Galatians 2:21 for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for NO purpose.

Galatians 5: 2…. if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of NO advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law

Romans 10: 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness

Phil 3:18-19 is in contrast to 3:21. Their end is destruction; but our citizenship is already from heaven. Their end is destruction, but our end is transformation and immortality. When it says that they mind earthly things, this does not necessarily mean immoral things; it may only mean non-gospel things. It may mean somebody who thinks he used to be in this legalistic cult but is now focused on being a healthy and happy and productive member of normal society.

Having a citizenship from heaven does not mean that we are in heaven or that we are ever going to be in heaven. It means that those who are justified get their hopes and commands from Jesus Christ, who is in Heaven, who is our King, and who one day is coming to us on earth from Heaven.

I Corinthians 15: 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is FROM heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are OF heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall[f] also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Again, being from heaven does not mean that we are in heaven or that we will ever be going to heaven. Being “of heaven” means that King Jesus tells us what to do on earth, and that our hope is for the resurrection when Jesus will come to earth from heaven. Being a citizen of heaven means that we cannot also at the same time be a citizen of the demonic powers which oppose Christ’s kingdom and which have been ‘disarmed” by Christ’s death and resurrection (Colossians 2:15) Satan offered Christ these kingdoms, and now Satan and the powers offer us a place as a citizen in these kingdoms, but we reject that offer, because we are already citizens of heaven. This we reject what the world calls strength in order to be found “weak in Christ”.

“Earthly things” cause those in the “flesh” to remain ignorant and not submitted to the gospel. The “earthly things” which are sinful are not the fact that we live on earth in physical bodies. The “earthly things” include the distraction of morality and religion as they come into competition with Christ’s completed work at the cross. The glutton is not the only person who worships his belly. The preacher or the editor who will not preach the gospel and expose the false gospel in order to “keep my ministry and still have influence” is also serving his belly. His flesh may not look like the flesh of the preacher who openly teaches freewill and losing your salvation. But it’s still flesh.

Phil 3:16 Let us walk by the same rule. Let’s not practice the ungodly practice of judging only by outward appearance or by our own standard of saved and lost. Without the imputed righteousness revealed in the gospel, the person who commits less immorality is no better off than the person who commits more sin, if that person who is “more moral” using that difference to find assurance or to think he is more blessed by God or more pleasing to God.

It is FLESH to boast that we are converted because other people are less moral than we think we are.

II Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves by themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise.” Notice what the verse says: WE are NOT like THOSE people. THEY have an unrighteous standard of judgment.

Most commentators on Philippians 3:18-19 focus on the word “belly” and assume that it means greed, not only the desire for too much food but the lust for money and sinful pleasures. They do not connect “belly” to the desire to have one’s own righteousness from the law, even though that has been the topic of the entire chapter to that point. But the lust of the flesh is subtle.

The unlawful desires of the flesh are most subtle when it comes to self-righteousness. The law of God should not be blamed for the sin of self-righteousness, even though God has predestined the abuse of the law. When a person thinks that his not tasting and his not touching brings him blessing, that person is not only self-righteous but also an antinomian, because that person is thinking that God is satisfied with something less than perfect obedience to the law.

The only way that God can be (and IS) pleased with the good works of a Christian is that the Christian knows that these good works are blessings from Christ’s righteousness, not a supplement added to Christ’s righteousness. And this distinction is not only something that God knows, or only something that smart “Reformed theologians” know. Every Christian knows that Christ’s righteousness is the only reason for every love-gift from God.

The sin which deceives us all by nature is that WE DESIRE WHAT WE PRODUCE TO BE PART OF OUR SALVATION. We will give God’s “grace” the credit for helping us produce it. If asked about it, we would even say that “particular election” is the reason we produced it. But, like Cain, we want to take what we produced and offer it to God as some small part of what God will accept as our righteousness.

We don’t mind of God has to produce some righteousness also to “make up the difference”. But the one thing we want, the one thing which the people who killed Jesus wanted, is the one thing Cain wanted, and that is to have God accept what we have produced and what we sincerely (even if ignorantly) offered to God.

But God will NOT accept it. It’s either what we do in this life, or what God has already done in Christ. It’s either destruction or salvation.

Which Covenant Did Christ Keep? The Old or the New? Or are Both ” The Covenant of Grace”?

May 20, 2014

For Richard Bax­ter, the ground of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion was NOT the imputed obe­di­ence of Christ, He held that Christ’s right­eous­ness caused a change in the demands of the law. Packer — “Where ortho­dox Calvin­ism taught that Christ sat­is­fied the law in the sinner’s place, Bax­ter held that Christ sat­is­fied the Law­giver and so pro­cured a change in the law. Here Bax­ter aligns him­self with Armin­ian thought rather than with ortho­dox Calvin­ism.”
Bax­ter sug­gested a scheme sim­i­lar to Rome’s old law/new law dis­tinc­tion: Christ’s work makes the terms of the new covenant more lenient than the old, procur­ing a change in the law that makes obe­di­ence possible.

In Baxter’s doc­trine of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, he has a notion of a twofold right­eous­ness. “As there are two Covenants, with their dis­tinct Con­di­tions: so there is a twofold Right­eous­ness, and both of them absolutely nec­es­sary to Sal­va­tion.” The first of these two is what Baxter called legal right­eous­ness, that is, the right­eous­ness earned under the law of works. This right­eous­ness is not per­sonal to the believer, “for we never per­son­ally sat­is­fied the law,” but is “wholly with­out us in Christ.” Baxter claimed this to be the type of right­eous­ness of which Paul spoke in Philip­pi­ans 3, jux­ta­pos­ing it to the right­eous­ness that comes by faith in Christ.

The sec­ond type of right­eous­ness, how­ever, is evan­gel­i­cal right­eous­ness, which, accord­ing to Bax­ter, does belong to the believer, and con­sists of the believer’s faith. Bax­ter: “faith is imputed for Righteousness…because it is an Act of Obe­di­ence to God…it is the per­for­mance of the Con­di­tion of the Jus­ti­fy­ing Covenant. Alli­son: “Jus­ti­fy­ing faith, for Bax­ter, is that which is imputed and reck­oned for right­eous­ness as a con­di­tion of the new covenant.”

Bax­ter takes the posi­tion that Christ him­self ful­filled the con­di­tions of the old covenant, and thereby pur­chased for us eas­ier terms within the new covenant. On account of Christ’s right­eous­ness, our own right­eous­ness (faith and repen­tance) is accounted, or imputed, as accept­able right­eous­ness. We are, in other words, jus­ti­fied by our own right­eous­ness on account of the right­eous­ness of Christ. Baxter thinks that Christ’s right­eous­ness makes jus­ti­fi­ca­tion by a believer’s right­eous­ness (i.e. his faith) possible.

That the Reformed ortho­dox found this for­mu­la­tion upset­ting comes as no sur­prise, for their con­fes­sional stan­dards taught the very oppo­site about faith, namely, that it was not the ground of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion,(i.e. HC 60–61; BC 22; WCF 11.1–2; WLC 70–73). What they found even more provoca­tive in Baxter’s posi­tion was his insis­tence that jus­ti­fy­ing faith con­tained works, which is the third point we must con­sider in Baxter’s doc­trine of justification.

For Bax­ter, faith itself is not the sole ground of a believer’s jus­ti­fi­ca­tion; rather, faith must be joined to works. “Both jus­ti­fie in the same kinde of causal­ity, viz. as Causae sine quibus non…Faith as the prin­ci­pal part; Obe­di­ence as the less prin­ci­pall. The like may be said of Love, which at least is a sec­ondary part of the Con­di­tion.”

Josh Moody, pastor of College Church , No Other Gospel, Crossway, p 170

“Living as a godly Israelite in Old Testament times was not legalistic; salvation was always by faith because the promise came first. But trying to live under Moses, when Christ has arrived, is legalism….

p 171–” Justification was always by faith…But now that Christ has arrived, the operation of this justification by Christ HAS BEEN REVEALED…Christ now says, ‘with me you can’ and we find that by His Spirit we do and we want to do.”

This is Josh Moody manipulating language to ignore the discontinuity of the covenants. Instead of pointing to a change of covenants, he writes about “the revelation” of what supposedly always there. And more importantly, instead of explaining a change of covenants, he describes a change in “us”, so that we now can and want to do the law.

Part of the problem here is using a word like “legalism” which can mean almost anything . Moody’s claim is that in the Old Covenant there were godly folks who did not live “legalistically”, even though “the operation of” justification by faith had not been revealed.

So 1. Some were justified by grace through faith in the righteousness of Christ in the Old Testament. I certainly agree with that. But 2. He says that some of the godly were not “legalistic” during the old covenant despite the lack of new covenant revelation.

How this is possible, he does not explain. If he simply means that no true Christian is ever a legalist, that is certainly not what he argues elsewhere in his book. But if he wants to say that the revelation has now released the justified elect from “legalism”, how can he think that the justified elect in the old covenant were also free from this “legalism”? Moody is ignoring the change of covenants.

Perhaps it was not “legalistic” for the justified elect under the Mosaic covenant to do what the Mosaic law told them to do. It was not for them a means of justification. So when Moody speaks of “trying to live under Moses when Christ has arrived”, he is not thinking of “legalism” as trying to be justified by the law.

Moody needs to define “legalism”, and state his different definitions when he changes his meanings.

But there is still a problem. In Galatians 3, when Paul is writing about “before faith came, the law was our cop”, he was not only revealing a change in covenants and in redemptive history. In these same verses, Paul is concerned with individuals “getting justified” by Christ, concerned about individuals being baptized by God into Christ

Even though I don’t think it’s right for Moody to ignore the difference between the old and new covenants (thus only stressing that now people can do the law and want to), the solution is not only to see that the old covenant law is not the same as the new covenant law.

The solution is to remind us that, even during the time of the new covenant, there are many non-elect folks for whom Christ never died and who have never been baptized into Christ by legal justification.

What Righteousness Is Near To Your Heart?

May 16, 2014

Romans 10:6 But the righteousness of faith says: Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven (to bring Christ down), or who will descend (to bring Christ up from the dead). The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.

The word about what? Is the word about what’s in your heart or is the news about what Christ did to satisfy the law for the elect?
Christ sits now in heaven Why? Because the work that saves us Christ has finished.

Hebrews 9:28–”Christ, HAVING BEEN offered ONCE to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, NOT TO DEATL WITH SIN but to save them that eagerly await Him.”

What sense could that make? If Jesus Christ is simply everywhere, who cares if He comes again, since we have Him by His Spirit already in our hearts? Please pay attention. I am not denying that Christ indwells the hearts of those who have been justified, but I am
suggesting that we talk about Christ’s kingdom without placing the present time into competition with what Christ got done at the cross.

Nobody is “denying” that atonement and justification are part of the gospel. They have signed the Westminster Confession paragraphs on justification. Sure, they agree with that basic overall “Reformed” position, so no need for them to keep talking about that stuff when they can instead talk about their experiences of having improved and of now being a good influence on the world.

As for myself , whether I am talking to a five year old or I am an old man on his death bed, I don’t want this “God anywhere and everywhere.” I want “Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord who was handed over because of our trespasses and raised because/in order to our justification.” (Romans 4:25).

Romans 5 (love in our hearts through the Spirit who has been given us) begins with peace with God by means of justification. Justification is not the Spirit’s gift. The Spirit is God’s gift to the justified elect. Romans 5:9– “We have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.”

I look to heaven, not simply because the God-man who died with the imputed sins of all the elect has ascended there, but also He is coming from there. And these historical relaities are not below my navel or under my chest. The righteousness by which the justified REIGN is\ NOT a righteousness imparted (or infused) in us by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 5:17 explains that those who receive (by imputation, like the guilt of Adam is received) “the free gift of righteousness REIGN in life through the one man Jesus Christ”. Romans 5:21 continues the theme into Romans 6. “Grace reigns through the righteousness” of that one man. Romans 6:9–”death no longer has dominion over Christ. For the death HE died HE died to sin, once for all.” The Holy Spirit is Christ’s gift, and it is not the Holy Spirit baptizing in Romans 6.

There are many who agree, sure the legal is part of “union”, but when it gets right down to it, they think the atonement and justification is somehow less real and true than what’s happening in their hearts.

Romans 8:10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Nobody is denying that Christ is in the justified elect, nobody is denying that this happens by the Spirit alive in the justified elect, but the point in question concerns the righteousness. Is that righteousness what you think God is doing in you? Or is that righteousness what God did in Christ’s satisfaction of the law? What is the “righteousness of faith” in the context of Romans 4 to chapter 10?

Romans 10:6 But the righteousness of faith says: Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven (to bring Christ down), or who will descend (to bring Christ up from the dead). The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.