Archive for the ‘covenants’ category

I am NEITHER MENNONITE NOR REFORMED

May 12, 2019

Romans 3:19 law speaks…in order that every mouth be shut and the
whole worl subject to God’s judgment. 20 For no one will become justified in God’s sight by their works of law, because knowledge of sin comes through law…..God’s righteousness has been revealed….that is, God’s righteousness through FAITH IN Jesus Christ to ALL WHO BELIEVE

The doctrine of justification in God’s sight after our condemnation in God’s sight is the doctrine of the true gospel news. It is not the same doctrine as “never condemned in God’s sight”. It’s not the same doctrine as “justified before faith in God’s righteousness”

Even though I think it’s sin (in this new covenant age of Christ as
lawgiver) for anybody to kill anybody, I am not Mennonite. I believe that the God revealed in the Bible imputes Adam’s guilt to us all, so that we are all born guilty in sin before God. This means that we are all born condemned before God and unable to do anything good before God. I believe that the only hope for any sinner is God’s election of some sinners. God’s election is God’s love for a
sinner,and that election is not a result of any decision made by that sinner. God’s love to a sinner is not a consequence of that sinner’s worth.

The hope of election is that all sinners Christ hss elected have been
died for by Jesus Christ. Election determines non-election, and therefore also designates those for whom Christ did not die. Christ died as a legal substitute only for the elect. This elction is not a mere matter ot God being sovereign add effective in whar God attempts to do. Christ’s death for the elect alone is a matter of God’s justice. God’s nature is not to leave sin unpunished. God’s justice teaches is that every sin imputed to Christ will in time NOT BE IMPUTED to elect sinners for whom Christ died

As a matter of justice, Jesus Christ was not merely a sacrifical offering. Being imputed with the guilt of the elect, by Christ’s nature asjust God, Christ by just necessity had to die for all the sins of all the sinners Christ loves. Divine Justice now demands that all those sinners one day be justified before God. Romans 4:25 teaches that Christ died BECAUSE OF sins. Romans 4:25 also teaches that Christ’s resurrection from death was BECAUSE OF justification. .

Justice says that all the elect for whom Christ died either have now
or will be justified. Christ Himself wss justified by His death, and
is no longer under sin. God’s law has no more to demand from Christ.
God’s law does demand the eventual justification of all for whom Chrsit died.

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 time

2 Corinthians 5:20–“we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is
appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to
God.” 21 God made the One WHO KNEW NO SIN TO BECOME SIN, in order that
we would BECOME the righteousness of God in Him.

I Corinthians 1:30– “No one can boast in God”s presence. 30 It is from
God that you are in Christ Jesus who BECAME God-given wisdom for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.

If Jesus never obtained or BECAME the righteousness for the elect, then
there is no news. If Jesus never BECAME the redemption of the elect, there is no news. THE GOSPEL OF JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD NEWS

Hebrews 9:12–“Christ entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus SECURING a permanent redemption

Hebrews 9:28–“Christ having been offered ONCE IN TIME to bear the sins of many, will appear a SECOND TIME, NOT TO BEAR SIN, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.”

Christ was not justified by becoming born again. Christ was justified by satisfying the righteous requirement of divine law for the sins imputed to Christ. Christ was justified by His death. Christ needed to be justified because Christ legally bore the guilt of His elect. This guilt demanded Christ’s death. Christ was not justified because of His resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was God’s delcaration of Christ’s justification, and that because of Christ’s death for sins imputed.

No elect sinner has yet been glorified or given immortality, and so sin still has power in justified sinners. Justified sinners still sin. Sin never had any power over Christ Jesus, except for the power of guilt imputed to Christ. Christ’s resurrection demonstrates that imputed guilt no longer has
any power over Christ,

I Peter 1:21 For you were called to this,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an EXAMPLE
so that you should follow in His steps.
22 He did not commit sin,
and no deceit was found in His mouth;
23 when He was reviled,
He did not revile in return;
when He was suffering,
He did not threaten
but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.

I am a pacifist. God gives life. God takes life, We are not God. The killing done by humans in their death penalty and wars has nothing to do with any God specifically revealed in the Bible. It’s not worship of Jesus which motivates any attempt to overcome evil with evil.

But I am not Mennonite, and not only because of what I think the Bible teaches about the sovereignty of God’s election and the justice of Christ’s atonement. I am not Mennonite because I teach the securiity of those who have now been justified before God. Divine justice demands that those now justified before God stay justified before God.

Even though the sheep (the elect) were born “already condemned” before
God, just like other humans, in each case, with every INDIVIDUAL who is elect, God by means of the Holy Spirit AND THE TRUTH teaches these unconverted and guilty sinners. In time the condemned before God elect become the justified before God elect.

God effectually calls by the power of the true gospel these elect sinners so that they willingly believe this same gospel. This gospel teaches not only election but also regeneraton to believe when God imputes Christ’s righteousness.

Those who have not yet repented of worshipping the false unjust God who fails to save any sinner for whom Christ died give no evidence of being justified yet. In fact, their ignorance and/or unbelief of the gospel is evidence that they are not yet justified before God.

John 3:36 The one who believes in the Son has lasting life,but the one who does not believe in the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on them.

2 Peter 1:1 To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ

Romans 8:10–”Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of
sin,the Spirit is life BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.

I believe that each and every sinner God justifies (immediately as God imputes Christ’s death to them) CONTINUES TO BELIEVE the true gospel, and that all who truly believe as God’s gift purchased by Christ will remain repentant about false gospels, so much so that they will not regard as Christians those who continue in false gospels which teach that Jesus Christ supposedly died for everybody but where there is no justice.

John 10: the sheep hear his voice. The Shepherd calls his own sheep by individual names and leads them out. 4 When the Shepherd has brought all HIS OWN outside, the shepherd goes ahead of them. The sheep follow the shepherd because they recognize his voice.5 They will never follow a stranger. Instead they will run away from strangers, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

I am not Mennonite because Mennonites teach that Christ died for everybody, including the goats. They teach that not all for whom Christ died will be saved. They teach that future justification is determined not by Christ’s just death and resurrection but by our own decisions and morals. About this doctrine, the Reformed are not much different. Though many of them will teach that election will cause people to make correct decisions, it turns out that if a person believes in some version of “no election and died for everybody”, the Reformed still think of this as a “close enough” salvation decision.

For their assurance, anyway, the Reformed look to their own improved moral performance, even though they have a different standard for what murder means than the Mennonites do. To the extent that they talk about election, the Reformed use that doctrine either to claim that their own children are born Christians or use the doctrine of election to explain why they are inevitably
morally superior (not by themselves but with God’s assistance)

I am not Mennonite. I disagree with their Dordrecht Confession of Faith (1632)—-“The Son of God tasted death and shed His precious blood for all men and obtained forgiveness of sins for all mankind; thus becoming the cause of
salvation for all those who, from Adam unto the end of the world, each in his time, believe in and obey God.”

I disagree with this deceptive false gospel. Christ did not die for all sinners. Christ did not die to make it possible for the Holy Spirit to cause sinners to obey enough in order to be sure of their decision to be saved. All the sinners for whom the true Chrsit died wiil be saved, not because of their obedience but because of Christ’s death.

John 10:26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them lasting life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.

Most Reformed people agree with the Mennonites that Christ died for all sinners. The Dordrecht Confession teaches that–“God has declared all men without distinction, who through faith, as obedient children, heed, follow,and practice what the same contains, to be His children and lawful heirs; thus excluding no one from the precious inheritance of lasting salvation, except the disobedient, the stiff-necked and obdurate, who through their own sins make themselves unworthy of lasting life.

Logically, consistently, this means that those who do have lasting life still had Jesus died for them but that their sins made them unworthy. But the Reformed folks argue that logically God saves those with an “inconsistent gospel”. Thus they rationalize that others are being too rational. This comes back to the Reformed saying that God’s sovereignty means that you don’t need to agree on what the gospel is. Believe your own gospel, because in the end they think folks are already justified bofore they know any gospel.

In the assumption that Jews by sin have removed their children from “the covenant”, the Reformed assume that “election” and “covenant” mean that Christ has died for their own children. But like the Mennonites, the Reformed do not believe that it’s the justice of Christ’s death that saves anybody. They assume that their “the covenant” is the new covenant, but they also teach that some who are brought as infants into that “new covenant” will leave that covenant and then face “even worse sanctions” than those who were never born “in the covenant”.

Though the Reformed children may (or may not) have been taught in some catechism class that Christ died for everybody but also “died for the elect in a special way”. They have NOT been taught that God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, nor have they been taught that justice demands that all for whom Christ died will be imputed with Christ’s death (because justice demands that Christ’s death be imputed by God to those sinners for whose sins Christ died)

If there is one practical difference between Mennonites and Reformed that I still notice, it might be that some of the Reformed still superstitiously believe in “eating the body and blood of their Savour”. Since Mennonites do not talk about God at all that much, but instead talk about what they thmselves could and should be doing, they lean much less on sacramental mumbo jumbo. Some of the Reformed act as if they needd no hope in any second coming of Christ to earth. Not only do they plan to go straight to heaven when they die, but they also believe in the “real presence” of Jesus by which they (if they have a clergyman certified by other clergymen to do the hocus pocus) gives them the ability to climb up to heaven in their “sacrament” and “eat and drink Jesus up in heaven”.

Becoming Reformed these days has NOTHING to do with teaching that Christ died only for the elect. The Reformed clergyman may on occasion teach that election helped you to believe in some Christ who died for everyone. Then they will teach you that this faith (in whichever Christ you believed in) was given to you and caused you to be united to the true Christ.

The Reformed not only don’t teach election in Sunday morning worship. They don’t teach at any time that God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ. Instead the Reformed teach that Christ’s death has “infinite and sufficient” potential for all sinners. Instead of teaching election, the Reformed teach that even the water adminstered by the “Roman Catholic Church” can have saving efficacy, not necessarly at the time of the watering, but at some later point.

It is not a problem for Reformed people to accept the infant baptism of the “Roman Catholics” because they teach that they and their children became Christians without hearing and believing the gospel. They take the “sovereignty of God” to mean that God does not need the gospel as a means to effectually call sinners.

Though they accept “faith before regenertion” as one “good enough gospel”, it’s not that big a deal to them, because many of the Reformed think that Christians are Christians already without conversion or gospel. Along with the rest of ritual Christendom, the Reformed teach that water baptism is not something they do but rather something that God does. They believe that God does not save apart from water baptism (apart from “the true church”).

Becoming Reformed these days has nothing to do with the good news of election and atonement. You can agree with all the five points of the Arminians, and still be considered “Reformed” if you agree that “the church” includes those who do not yet believe the gospel. To do this, you have to (implicitly) agree that God’s covenant with Abraham is the very same covenant as the new covenant, and then you have to agree that this “the covenant” is not for the elect alone. This takes thinking about election out of the equation, and puts the accent on finding assurance in children doing the “ordinary” things they are supposed to do, like “regularly be handed the sacrament as a means of grace”.

Was Esau born in “the covenant of grace”, but then later lose his justification in Christ? No. God’s wrath is not an expression of God’s love. God’s wrath is not a response to human negative response to God’s grace.

Those who are justified are no longer under God’s wrath. And those still under God’s wrath were born condemned, already under God’s wrath. The promise of the gospel is for as many as who believe the gospel. The promise of the gospel is for as many physical chidren of Abraham as the Lord our God will call, for the elect among the Jews and not for the non-elect among the Jews. The promise is for your children, as many of those children as the Lord our God will call by the gospel, in spite of parents. The promise of the gospel is for the elect alone and not for the non-elect. Therefore nobody knows if they are elect until after they understand and believe the true gospel. Election by God is not the same thing as justification before God.

Tom Nettles—”The idea of universal atonement is not demanded by the Bible at all, but is often assumed as an inference drawn from a no-grace-no-justice assumption. The piggy-backing of grace onto the command to believe the gospel does not come from the Bible.”

God does NOT promise saving grace in Christ to every baptized baby. God did NOT promise saving grace to Esau in his circumcision. God made not only one promise but many differnt promises. God’s grace is NOT ineffectual. But many of the Reformed are now teaching a “common grace” that does not save some of those to whom God “wants to be” gracious.

Paul Helm—“One thing that the Amyraldian proposal does is to weaken connection between the plight of the race in the fall of Adam. For the Amyraldians the responsibility of each of the non-elect comes only from hearing and not receiving the message of grace.”

The Mennonites teach that Christ only died to eliminate Adam’s sin from being imputed to anybody, and in much the same way the Reformed teach that no infant can be condemned only for sin imputed from Adam. These same Reformed teach the possible regeneration of infants (and adults) who have never heard the true gospel of Christ having died for the elect alone.

Mike Horton, Justification, volume 2,(New Studies in Dogmatics)-“a person can become a member of the covenant of grace without truly beleiving the gpspel All persons in the covenant are to be threatened with the consequences of apostasy. Some belong to the covenant community and experience thereby the work of the Spirit through the sacramental means of grace and yet have never believe the gospel. Thus we Reformed have a category for a person who is in the covenant but this has nothing to do their faith in the gospel.

Horton, p450—“The Holy Spirit grants us faith to be united to Christ.”

Horton, p455–“There is no union with Christ which is not union with the visible church”

Horton, p467–”Calvin goes beyond Luther by stressing the more and more aspect of salvation.”

To justify their false practice, Reformed folks need to flatten out all post fall covenants down into one covenant. Even though they are reluctant to water teenagers and adults who “have not professed” the gospel, they want to keep holding onto their own baby baptisms

Scott Clark — “the Lord gave his covenant promise or the covenant of grace (they are synonyms).”

Since “the covenant of grace” is something invented by the Reformed, “one covenant of grace” turns out to be the false idea that God only made one promise to Abraham. Reformed folks prefer not to talk about election, and would rather talk about “the covenant”. “Election” practically to them means that “my physical children begin life in the covenant” and therefore we never have to talk about non-election.

Romans 9:6 “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” Romans 9 teaches that some of ethnic Israel were predestined to serve in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Those who served this way were not necessarily ”justified before God” and given lasting life. And ethnic Jews not in the genealogy of Jesus are not necessarily “never saved”. Not only is there a difference between being in the genealogy and not being in the genealogy, but also a DIFFERENCE between being elect to justification or not being one of those for whom Christ would die to justify.

God did not make one lump and then leave the rest, God made two lumps.

Romans 11:1 I ask then–has God rejected His people? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.

Philippians 3 If anyone else thinks they has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised as a child of Abraham the eighth day; of the nation of Israel.

Ethnic Israel as a whole was not chosen for justification before God but some in Israel were chosen to be in Christ’s genealogy. Those in “the Reformed church” are not chosen as a group to be justified. Not only the Mosaic covenant but also the Abrahamic covenant have promises that only have to do with the role of the nation in God’s historical plan. Their election to be children of Abraham was utilitarian, like creation or redemption from Egypt, not like redemption from the guilt of sin before God.

Something in one of the promises to Abraham can be a “type or picture” of some other promise to Abraham. Those who believe the gospel are promised lasting life. Those who escape Egypt are not all promised lasting life. The children of those who have lasting life are not promised lasting life.

Mike 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 FAALL UNDER THE COVENANT CURSE without Christ as their mediator. The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response.

To repeat, one last time. I am not Mennonite and I am not Reformed. I believe that the justice of God demands that all for whom Christ died (with their sins imputed to Him) will be justified.

Either you are justified or you are not justified. If you are justified now, you don’t need to be justified in future. If you are not justified now, then you need to be justified. You either are already elect or not, but even if you are elect, if you don’t know the gospel yet, then you are not justified yet.

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Becoming Reformed means Accepting Roman Catholics as True Church and not Repenting of Infant Baptism

April 1, 2019

Becoming Reformed these days has nothing to do with teaching that Christ died only for the elect. The Reformed clergyman may on occasion teach that election helped you to believe in the false Christ who died for everyone. But the Reformed not only don’t teach elecction on Sunday morning. They don’t teach at any time that God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ.

Instead the Reformed teach that Christ’s death has “infinite and sufficient” potential for all sinners. Instead of teaching election, the Reformed teach “infant baptism” The Reformed teach that even the water adminstered by the “Roman Catholic Church” has saving efficaccy, not necessarly at the time of the watering, but at some later point.

it is not a problem for Reformed people to accept the infant baptism of the “Roman Catholics” because even if they don’t agreethat the “Roman Catholics” teach the gospel,the Reformed teach that they and their children become Christians without hearing and believing the gospel. They take the “sovereignty of God” to mean that God does not need the gospel as a means to save sinners.

Though they accept Arminianism as one “good enough gospel”, though they accept Roman Catholicism as gospel, it’s not that big a deal to them, because many of the Reformed think that Christians are Christians already without conversion or gospel. Along with the rest of ritual Christendom, the Reformed believe that water baptism is not something they do but rather something that God does. They believe that, even though God is sovereign, God does not save apart from water baptism. (Even though they say they don’t do the baptism but that God does, the reformed will offer to baptise you, on the condition that you have not already been baptised by some other group –Roman Catholics, Arminians, whatever just so long as they said the word Trinity).

Even though they argue that infant baptism is much better in showing inability and passivity, the Reformed will also boast about “we do baptism for adults also” but only in the cases when the Roman Catholics or somebody else didn’t baptise you as a baby first. Then the Reformed brag about how tolerant and “catholic” they are—-since they teach the potential saving efficacy of infant baptism, they don’t ask for “re-baptism”, but will even offer you “second-rate” adult baptism if you haven’t had the best kind (infant baptism).

So in most cases “becoming Reformed” has nothing to do with election or the nature and extent of Chrsit’s death. “Becoming Reformed” meaans learning a word that is not in the Bible—the word “sacrament”–and then being indoctrinated that water baptism is something that God does to bring salvation.

No, they are not saying that water baptism automatically brings salvation. A few of them, some of the Reformed, will even mumble something about the “grace of baptism” possibily bringing a “greater curse” on those “in the covenant”. Though they are not teaching that water baptism immediately causes their children to become Christian, they do think their children should be thought of as Christians, not because of any evidence that they have heard or believed the gospel, but because the parents and “church” had God Himself baptise them with water.

the song says
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham

The Bible says that not all Israel is Israel
Not all the children of Abrahaam are children of Abraham
Many children of Abraham do not believe the gospel
The Bible is very very clear that not all the children of Abraham are children of Abraham .

John 8:37 I know you are children of Abraham, but you are trying to kill me
John 8:56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced
John 8:59 They picked up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple complex

Abraham is not the father of us all. Abraham is the father of many physical children, and some of those physical children believe the gospel. Some of those physical children were the fathers of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself was one of the children of Abraham.

Abraham is the father of many physical chudren.
And Abraham is the father (in another way) of all those who believe the gospel.
And Abraham is the father (in yet another way) of one child, who is Jesus Christ (not a person who believes the gospel, but the person revealed in the gospel)

Abrahaam is not exactly like Moses, but like Moses, Abraham is promised children, a land and a nation. So when we say that Abraham is our father, we are not saying that Abraham is the mediator of the new covenant. Abraham was justified before God a long time before Christ died, and it was Christ’s death imputed by God to Abraham that caused Abraham to be justified.

John Owen–We must grant distinct covenants, rather than merely a twofold administration of the same covenant. We must do so, provided always that the way of reconciliation and salvation was the same under both. But it will be said, ‘if the way of reconciliation and salvation is the same under both, then indeed they are the same for the substance of them is but one.’ And I grant that this would inevitably follow, if reconciliation and salvation by Christ were to be obtained not only under the old covenants, but by virtue of the old covenants, then they must be the same for substance with the new covenant
But this is not so; for no reconciliation with God nor salvation could be obtained by virtue of the old covenants, though all believers in the gospel were
reconciled, justified, and saved, by virtue of the promise, while they were under the old covenants

John Owen—“No blessing can be given us for Christ’s sake, unless, in order of nature, Christ be first reckoned unto us… God’s reckoning Christ, in our present sense, is the imputing of Christ unto ungodly, unbelieving sinners for whom he died, so far as to account him theirs, and to bestow faith and grace upon them for his sake. This, then, I say, at the accomplishment of the appointed time, the Lord reckons, and accounts, and makes out his Son Christ, to such and such sinners, and for his sake gives them faith.” 10:26

The new covenant is not the same as the Abrahamic covenant There is only one gospel, but there are many different ccovenants. The elect justified before Abraham was born had Christ as their new covenant mediator, because Christ’s blood (Christ’s death) in the future was the cause not only of their justification but also the cause of their faith in the one and only gospel

Since Abraham had two sons, did you ever consider that there was more than one promise to Abraham and that not all the promises to Abraham were to all of Abraham’s children? Wasn’t one of the promises to Abraham in Genesis 17 a threat about being “cut off from the covenant”?

The song says
I am one of them and so are you
So let’s all praise the Lord.
Right arm!

We can and should teach the gospel to our children without teaching them they are already Christians. It is not an advantage to assure children that everybody singing a song is a child of Abraham, It is necessary at some point to teach our children that not all of us believe the gospel. Those who do not yet believe the gospel should not be assured that they are children of Abraham.

Was Esau born in the covenant of grace, but then later lost his justification in Christ? No. God’s wrath is not an expression of God’s love. God’s wrath is not a response to human bad response to God’s grace. Those who are justified are no longer under God’s wrath. And those still under God’s wrath were born condemned, already under God’s wrath. The promise of the gospel is for as many as who believe the gospel. The promsie of the gospel is for as many physical chidren of Abraham as the Lord our God will call, for the elect among the Jews and not for the non-electamong the Jews. The promise is for your children, as many of those children as the Lord our God will call, in spite of parents, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect.

Tom Nettles—”The idea of universal atonement is not demanded by the Bible at all, but is often assumed as an inference drawn from a no-grace-no-justice assumption…. The piggy-backing of grace onto the command to believe the gospel does not come from the Bible.”

God does NOT promise saving grace in Christ to every baptized baby. God did NOT promise saving grace to Esau in his circumcision. To say that we are all Abraham’s children is to imply that God failed to keep God’s promises. One reason for this confusion is failure to see that God made not only one promise but many differnt promises. God’s grace is NOT ineffectual. The reason for not being justified, some will say, is the unbelief of Esau. Whatever the reason, many of the Reformed are claining a “common grace” that does not save some of those to whom God is gracious. Regardless of the reason they give for grace’s impotence, the teaching is heretical. If God promises saving grace to both Esau and Jacob but the promise fails because of Esau’s unbelief, then the conclusion follows that grace succeeded in the case of Jacob, only because of grace causing Jacob to accept grace.

Paul Helm—“One thing that the Amyraldian proposal does is to weaken connection between the plight of the race in the fall of Adam. For the Amyraldians the responsibility of each of the non-elect comes simply from hearing and not receiving the message of grace.

the songssay
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them and so are you
So let’s all praise the Lord.
Right arm, left arm!

Just because you hear the same preacher, or attend the same visible church, this does not mean that I can say that “you” believe the gospel. And if you do not yet know the gospel, then you are not yet believing the gospel as Abraham did, and you are not yet Abraham’s children.

the song says
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had Father Abraham
I am one of them and so are you
So let’s all praise the Lord.
Right arm, left arm, right foot!

Augustine not only taught election but taught the right of the “church” to have heretics killed—- “The field is the world, and the world is the church. Compel them to come into the covenant”

and we who reject infant baptism respond: The earth is the Lord’s, and only the Lord can give life. Your water is not God’s water, and your water does not bring life.

Augustine: We bring both wheat and tares into the broad church, and the Lord in the end will show the difference.

We who will not accept “Roman Catholic” infant baptism respond—The field is the world, and the church is NOT the world. The church is not our children but only those God causes to believe the gospel.

Augustine: But original sin is removed, and regeneration given by infant baptism.

We who reject “infant baptism” in response to the Reformed—–We know that you love Augustine but do not teach water regeneration, but nevertheless you do teach the future saving efficacy of infant baptism. We deny that the Abrahamic covenant aand the new covenant are one and the same covenant. God made some promises to Abraham that God did not make to Moses, but our justification comes from neither the Mosaic nor the Abrahamic covenant because We trust Christ the mediator of the new covenant for our justification. The new covenant is not for those who believe the gospel and their children. The new covenant is only for those who believe the gospel. There is only one gospel, but making all the covenants the same is something you made up so that you would not have to repent of infant baptism and so that you could keep your own “Roman Catholic” baptism.

By baptizing the infants of believers, but not infant grandchildren (to a 1000 generations!) of believers, the Reformed stop halfway between the old and the new covenants. They put the “carnal seed” in the covenant but stop the ethnic inheritance at the second generation. I am reminded of Jonathan Edwards refusing the second generation the Lord’s Supper. The trouble with moderation is knowing when to stop!

Of course not all the Reformed are agreed on the reasons they won’t repent of infant baptism. Some say that “biological descent from Abraham is never a sufficient reason for one to expect new covenant blessings.” But the Reformed still say that Biological descent (household faith) IS ONE REASON to expect that their children will be justified.

Even though “church discipline” sounds to them like a non-objective “anabaptist legalism” kind of thing, some of the Reformed do “believe in church discipline”. They “abhor a nominal church.” Conservative Reformed folks only baptize infants of the first generation. Unlike liberal Anglicans who approve indiscriminate infant baptism, some serious Reformed now attempt to determine if parents are believers before they will baptize their children. In this way, they attempt to avoid a nominal church by looking for conversions but at the same time also avoid John the Baptist’s water.

They will not not repent of their infant baptism, and for them to be baptised as those who now believe the gospel would for them a tragic rejection or tradition and Christendom. In the name of tolerance, they will not tolerate the idea that “Roman Catholic” infant baptism was nothing before God. The Reformed are very much like those who hung on to the idea of everybody being circumcised. Even though the Bible nowhere teacches that infant water baptism comes in the place of circumcision, infant water baptism is the way the Reformed hang on to circumcision and to the idea that all covenants are the same covenant. Instead of circumcision being a type pointing to Christ’s death, they have circumcision as a ceremony pointing to the ceremony of infant water baptism.

The animal sacrifices of the old Covenants were NOT “the means of graace” by which T believers “accessed” Christ’s forgiveness. Christ was not sacramentally present in the blood of bulls andd goats. Nor is Christ “sacrmentally present” in the Lord’s Supper of the new covenant. Sacrifices during the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants served a function different from their role as types of the gospel. God required the physical children to make sacrifices every day and additional sacrifices on special days in order that God would continue to bless them with land and many children . If the sacrifices were not made, the physical children of Abraham would be cursed. If they were made incorrectly, their priests would be killed

Romaans 9: It is not as though the word of God has failed… not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7Neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s children. On the contrary, your children will be traced through Isaac….The children of the promise are considered to be the children…11 For though her sons had not been born yet or done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to election would stand 12 not from works but from the One who calls… 13 As it is written: I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.
14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For God tells Moses:
I will show mercy
to whom I will show mercy,
and I will have compassion
on whom I will have compassion.

16 So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh:
I raised you up for this reason
so that I woul display My power in you
and that My name be proclaimed
18 So then, God shows mercy to those God wants to show mercy, and God hardens those God wants to harden.

The Reformed want to talk about infant baptism. The Reformed don’t want to talk about election. If the Reformed have any practical use for election, it serves to imply (wihout specific argument) that election means that their children are promised something by God that other sinners are not promised.

I am not saying that you need to find out if you are elect before you can believe the gospel. To the ccontrary, I am saying that you need to find out what the gospel is before you can believe the gospel.
I am saying that you are not going to know what the gospel is unless you know that the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ.
If you believe in the Christ who died for everybody, then you do not yet believe in the true Christ revealed in the true gospel

John 3:32 The One who comes from heaven testifies to what He has seen and heard, yet no one accepts His testimony. 33 The one who has accepted His testimony has affirmed that God is true. 34 For God sent Him, and He speaks God’s words…God gives Him the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands. 36 The one who believes in the Son has lasting life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God REMAINS on them.

John 5: 24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes HIM WHO SENT ME has lasting l life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

The Son loves the Father and shows the Father everything the Son is doing.

John 5:19 Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing, and He will show Him greater works than these so that you will be amazed. 21 And as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to anyone the Son wants to give life .
John 5: 27 And He has granted Him the right to pass judgment, because He is Son of Man.

God’s Election is not Based on God’s Justice

June 3, 2018

A Calvinist Attempting to Explain God’s election—“God the Son procured His Father’s favor” (Sonny Hernandez, High Calvinism, p 91)

This is wrong. It’s backwards. God’s favor for the elect resulted in God’s redemption given by God the Son In His death as satisfaction of God’s law

God’s election is not based on God’s foresight of Christ’s death for the elect
Christ’s death for the elect is based on God’s favor to the elect in Christ

God’s election is not because of God’s justice
God’s election shows God’s nature
it’s not only God’s sovereignty and God’s justice that show God’s nature

Romans 8: If God is for us, who is against us?
32 God did not even hold back His own Son
but God gave the Son up for us
how will God not also with giving the Son give us everything?
33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?
God is the One who justifies.

John 3: 16 “For God loved in this way–God gave His One and Only Son, in order that as many as who believe in the Son will not perish but have lasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn but to save through the Son

Since God has never had any love or mercy for the non-elect, the non-elect have no additional guilt for “how they react to God’s love an mercy”. But like the elect were when they elect were born, the non-elect are born already guilty before God

Whatever God ordains is not good, because God also ordains evil. This is why we need to know God’s law, because God’s nature is not only revealed in the gospel but also in divine law. We can’t take “the inductive” approach to history to know what’s good for us to do. Matthew 26: 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed

“As it is written”. Even as prophesy is fulfilled, sin is sin and will be punished as sin by death, either the death of Christ or by the death of the non-elect.

Thomas Boston–The Mosaic covenant could never be said to be a covenant of works when it has such mercy in it to sinful men Mark Mcculley—The Mosaic covenant is not a republishing of the covenant of works because there was never any “covenant of works” with Adam published in the first place. God never proposed (plan a) to Adam that Adam could gain justification and lasting life by works. God the Father never proposed to God the Son that God could gain justification for anybody apart from Christ’s death

God’s election is not based on some idea of “a covenant of works” or “a covenant of grace” between God the Father and God the Son.

If you say that there is only one “the covenant of grace”, and that the Mosaic covenant is an “administration of the covenant of grace”, of course you can’t say that the Mosaic law is a covenant of works—– put most of the Jews out of “the covenant of grace” sure, but never put out infants, let them have water (baptism as “means of grace”) because it’s merely a different form of the grace of circumcision…

1. The Bible never says a time would have come when Adam could stop keeping the covenant of works.

2. The Bible never says a time would come when Christ could stop keeping the covenant of works.

3. Therefore Christ is still keeping the covenant of works.

4. OR there is NO “covenant of works” in the Bible for Christ, because Christ’s death (one act of obedience) purchased all the blessings of salvation for all those for whom Christ died.

Matthew 21: 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its[l] fruit. 44 Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces. But on whoever the stone falls, the stone will grind them to powder!”

A backwards dispensational interpretation–The kingdom of God will be taken away from the Americans and given to the nation of Israel.

a Reformed covenant theology—-The only children of Abraham are those in the sacramental church. Abraham has no other children except those watered by the visible church. The kingdom of God has been taken away from Jews merely by natural generation from Abraham, and the kingdom has been given to us, and to our children by natural generation. But when our children by natural generation are watered by the visible church, they are children of Abraham

Matthew 27: 25 All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!

David Gordon—-“John Murray and his followers believe that the only relation God sustains to people is that of Redeemer. I would argue, by contrast, that God was just as surely Israel’s God when God cursed the nation as when God blessed it. God’s pledge to be Israel’s God, via the terms of the Sinai administration, committed God to curse Israel for disobedience just as much as to bless her for obedience. In being Israel’s God, God sustained the relation of covenant suzerain to her. God did not bless or curse any other nation for its covenant fidelity or infidelity. In this sense, God was not the God of other nations as he was the God of Israel. (p 120 “By Faith Alone”)

Donald Macleod—”It was no part of the work of Christ to make God love us, The very fact of his being on earth at all was proof of the divine love. The business of the atonement, therefore, was to propitiate the God who already loves us: to lay the foundation for an advocacy directed towards him specifically as Father (1 John 2: 1). God unequivocally requires such propitiation, but in the last analysis God also provides the propitiation and God even becomes the propitiation.

The Father elects us in Christ because of the Father’s love for Christ. The Father elects us in Christ because of the Father’s love for elect sinners.

God’s justice in Christ is NOT the cause of God’s love, but it is the necessary means of God’s love.

The death of Christ is not the cause of God’s election in love.
God’s election in love is the cause of the death of Christ.
Jesus, the incarnate Son of God in human flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election.

I Peter 1:20 Christ was foreknown /elected before the creation of the world but was revealed at the end of the ages for you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Christ from the dead and gave Christ glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Bavinck—As a reaction against this came the development of anti-neonomianism, which had justification precede faith, and antinomianism which reduced justification to God’s eternal love…But the gospel mentions no names and does not say to anyone, personally: Your sins have been forgiven. Therefore it is not proper for any man to take as his starting point the belief that his sins have been forgiven.

According to Antinomians, justification was nothing else than the love of God which is not concerned about the sins of man, which does not require atonement in Christ, and which only needs to be proclaimed in order to enable man to believe. Faith to the antinomians is nothing but a renouncing of the error that God was ever the enemy of the elect.

Bavinck—If one says that “justification as an act immanent in God” must of necessity be eternal, then it should be remembered that taken in that sense everything, including creation, incarnation, atonement, calling, regeneration, is eternal. Whoever would speak of an eternal creation would give cause for great misunderstanding. Besides, the proponents of this view back off themselves, when they assert strongly that eternal justification is not the only, full, and complete justification, but that it has a tendency and purpose to realise itself outwardly. This amounts really to the usual distinction between the decree and its execution.

The counsel of God and all decrees contained therein as a unit are without doubt eternal “immanent acts”, but the external works of God, creation, preservation, governing, redemption, justification, etc., are in the nature of the case “transient acts.” As works they do not belong to the plan of God’s ordering but to the execution of God’s plan.

There is much that we know that we don’t know (“negative theology”) But we should avoid saying that only God the Father elects, and avoid saying that God the Son does not give law or create or choose. We should not leave out God the Holy Spirit

The history of the execution of God’s reveals who God is

We can’t just “soundbite” —as in, “salvation is really all about God’s purpose”

Any “covenant” is cut in history

The new covenant is not the Abrahamic covenant

Israel is never simply Israel (we have to keep still paying attention to the different senses of the Israel ) and NOT say “well we have our spiritual eyes on now and read the OT in terms of what our “one covenant of grace” system already thinks it know about God (Father Son and Holy Spirit)

I am a “federalist”, but “federalism” does not depend on “the covenant of works” and “the covenant of grace” Federalism does not depend on a covenant between the Father and the Son. Federalism is two Adams, two legal representatives God the Son depends on God the Father to be God the Son in the same way that God the Father depends on God the Son to be God the Father. As God, God the Son is equal to God the Father and in no way subordinate. As human, God the Son is necessarily subordinate to God the Father.

Palmer Robertson—“The eternal intention of God to redeem a people to himself certainly must be affirmed, but to speak concretely of an intertrinitarian ‘covenant’ with terms and conditions between Father and Son mutually endorsed before the foundation of the world is to extend the bounds of scriptural evidence beyond propriety.”

Letham– “To describe the relations of the three persons in the Trinity as a covenant, or to affirm that there as a need for them to enter into covenantal arrangements is to open the door to heresy. The will of the Trinity is one; the works of the Trinity are indivisible. For all the good intentions of those who proposed it, the construal of the relations of the three persons of the Trinity in covenantal terms is a departure from classic Trinitarian orthodoxy.”

l

But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—witnessed by the law

February 16, 2018

I deny that Adam was “under a covenant of works”. I don’t even say that Christ was “under a covenant of works”? For many Reformed Baptists, my denials are equivalent to saying that justified sinners are to be saved by their own works. At the least, they think denial of “the covenant of works” amounts to saying that God saves sinners without satisfying God’s law.

But here’s the problem with that “either/or” approach to those who deny “the covenant of works”. I do agree that Adam was under law. But I do not think Adam “could have earned life” from the law. I do think that Adam did earn death for all sinners. And I do think that Christ did earn life for all elect sinners. Many who teach “the covenant of works” argue that I can’t say that Christ earned life unless I agree that Adam “could have” earned life.

But here’s the thing I say that people on both sides of the “could Adam merit” question won’t say. I say that Christ earned life for the elect by Christ’s death. On one side, many like Norman Shepherd and John Murray deny that Adam could merit from the law, because they say Adam was under grace even before Adam’s sin. On the other side, many like Meredith Kline and Mark Karlberg deny that Christ could merit life from His death, because they insist that Christ only merited life “by keeping the law”

I do think that Christ kept the Mosaic law. As the person who is now both God and human, Christ keeping the Mosaic law was not optional for Christ. I am not saying that keeping the Mosaic law “qualified” Christ to save. But I am saying that Christ’s death (as the one who has now become also human) is what satisfied God’s law and earned all the blessings of salvation for all those in the new covenant (all those ever in the new covenant are elect).

I am not saying that Christ’s death satisfied “the covenant of works”. I am saying that Christ’s death satisfied God’s law. I don’t equate God’s law with “the covenant of works”. As a matter of fact, those who affirm “the covenant of works” also are not saying that Christ’s death satisfied “the covenant of works”. What they end up saying is that Christ keeping the Mosaic law is what satisfied “the covenant of works”. They say it was not Christ’s death but His acts of obedience (like circumcision) which satisfied “the covenant of works”. Throw in Christ’s water baptism and some other things Christ did (not commanded perhaps in the Mosaic law) and they think that’s the part that gets us to where we are saved not by our law-keeping but by Christ’s law-keeping. In any case, they keep telling us that Christ’s death was not enough to satisfy the “covenant of works” without Christ’s going back to do what Adam should have done. (Strange to say, what Adam should have done sounds like “Adam should have kept the Mosaic law”. But in this process, “the law” gets divided up into “substance and administration accident”, or into “moral vs ceremonial”)

if all this sounds way too complicated for you, ask yourselves what you think the “righteousness” is that God justifies to the elect. Is that righteousness Christ’s death or is that righteousness Christ’s law-keeping? If you don’t want to bother to answer that question, why go on so long about Christ’s righteousness imputed being the gospel?

Romans 1: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed

Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Romans 3:31 is often used to support “use of the moral substance of the Mosaic law” as the standard of conduct for justified Christians. But in context, Romans 3:21-31 is the clearest foundation possible for the doctrine of a definite (not only sovereign but also just) atonement, because Romans 3:31 teaches that Christ’s death was a law-work, a satisfaction of law for the sins of the elect. Christ’s death was a penal substitution, a propitiation. Propitiation means that the law must be faced. Paul’s gospel does not substitute one kind of righteousness for another kind of righteousness. The gospel is not about an “end-run” around the law. The righteousness of the gospel comes by Christ taking the law head-on, satisfying its curse by His death. But folks on both side of “the covenant of works” question don’t think Christ’s death is enough, and mostly on both sides they don’t talk about Christ having only died for the sins of the elect.

Romans 3: 21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—witnessed by the law

Paul cannot let the fact that the gospel is “apart from the law” as regards sinners and the law obscure the equally important truth that Christ’s death is a righteousness that satisfies law. Many Calvinists only talk about election and regeneration and not about Christ’s death as specific only for the elect. And even when most Calvinist talk about the extent of Christ’s death (for whom?), these Calvinists still explain Christ’s death only in terms of God’s sovereignty and NOT in terms of God’s justice. But the nature of Christ’s death under law is such that all for whom Christ DIED must in time be placed under grace and not under law. It would be UNJUST if any for whom Christ be in the end left under condemnation. But most Calvinists either deny or never teach that God imputed the specific sins of the elect to Christ.

I agree with John Owen—“No blessing can be given us for Christ’s sake, unless, in order of nature, Christ be first reckoned unto us… God’s reckoning Christ, in our present sense, is the imputing of Christ unto ungodly, unbelieving sinners for whom he died, so far as to account him theirs, and to bestow faith and grace upon them for his sake. This, then, I say, at the accomplishment of the appointed time, the Lord reckons, and accounts, and makes out his Son Christ, to such and such sinners, and for his sake gives them faith.”. 10:26

Galatians 3: 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (Deuteronomy 21:23)

Christ is not only God but also human (and Jewish) The Sins of the elect were counted to Christ, then Christ paid the debt owed to the justice of God’s law, and Christ even paid to purchase faith and all other blessings for these elect

I hate to be put on either side of “the covenant of works” debate. Most of those now denying “the covenant of works” are saying that Christ was under grace so they can confuse law and grace for Christians. John Murray and Norman Shepherd have been followed up by Banner of Truth puritans like Mark Jones who tell us we need to pick a side—agree to the covenant of works, or say Christ was under grace. And then Jones (with others) says that Christ being under grace means being under both law and grace because law and grace are not opposites. And then Jones (with others) says that Christ being under both law and grace means that we also are under law and grace.

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/04/can-humans-merit-before-god-2.php

https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/is-the-sanctification-of-a-christian-like-the-justification-of-christ/

Jones, p 21— “If Christ is our mediator, our union with him means not only that we must be holy (i.e., necessity), but also that we will be able to be like him (i.e., motive)… “Whatever grace we receive for our holiness first belonged to the Savior (John 1:16). There was a perfect synergy involved in Jesus’ human obedience and the Holy Spirit’s influence…Following this pattern, although man is completely passive at the moment of regeneration, he cooperates with God in sanctification.”

Mark Jones–Man exercises faith in order to receive the saving benefits of Christ’s works of impetration… Good works a necessary part of our perseverance in the faith in order to receive eternal life. Good works are consequent conditions of having been saved.

Nathan J. Langerak –What Mark Jones means by “consequent conditions” is that they are new conditions of salvation imposed on the saved person because the person is now saved. No benefits applied before faith is exercised? Is not faith itself applied before it is exercised? What about regeneration?”

https://rfpa.org/blogs/news/the-charge-of-antinomianism-3-against-an-unconditional-covenant

Mark Jones– Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2). Does this mean “favor” as many English translations suggest? Or should we translate the Greek as “grace”? God may be “gracious” to Jesus – not as though Jesus sinned – because God is gracious to his creatures. How much more to his beloved Son? God showed favor to his favorite Christ’s human nature was sanctified and filled with graces (Gal. 5:22).

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/04/merit-could-adam-merit-anythin.php

Bavinck: “If humans in general cannot have communion with God except by the Holy Spirit, then this applies even more powerfully to Christ’s human nature” (RD, 3:292).

Mark Jones explains that people like me (who deny Christ’s law-keeping imputed) are like

“Gataker and Vines, who used Anselm’s argument to reject the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. Christ’s death was supererogatory and therefore his death merited eternal life. They argued Anselm’s point that Christ’s obedience is required, but his death is not required. But Goodwin argued that the Assembly must grant the assumption of the Anselmians that Christ, in his humanity, was obliged to fulfill the law. However, for Goodwin, Christ, as the God-man, had a unique dignity and so was not obliged to keep the law in the same way a creature is, especially since his law-keeping was voluntary.

Mark Jones—Daniel Featley also held that Christ’s hypostatical union meant that he was freed from the obligation of the law. True, Christ had a human nature, but he was not a human person. The dignity of the person, which in the case of Christ is infinite, alters his relationship to the law. As a result, Goodwin and Featley argued that since Christ was not obliged to obey the law but did so anyway, he must have been doing so on behalf of his people. Goodwin’s position was that Christ’s obedience to the law was not an ontological necessity but rather a functional necessity by virtue of Christ’s pretemporal agreement with the Father to fulfill the law on behalf of sinners. [“a non-indebted work”] Adam did not come freely, hence his obedience was “indebted,” unlike Christ’s, which was not indebted. Therefore the parallel breaks down at that point concerning merit between the two Adams.

Mark Jones–Merit must be something that is not owed: Christ freely came to obey in our place, hence it was not owed. Adam did not freely make the decision to place himself under the law of the covenant of works. Adam was upheld by the Spirit in the Garden, but it was not his Spirit. Merit should proceed from the powers of the one who deserves it: Christ relied upon his Father’s grace – the grace of the Holy Spirit – but, ontologically speaking, the will and essence of God are one, and therefore Christ’s merit proceeded “from the powers of the one who deserves it.” The rewards given to Christ for his meritorious obedience were of use to him because of the glory that would come to his name. God is jealous for his glory, so when Christ merited glory there was no threat of God sharing his glory. Finally, the rewards given to Christ are proportionate to the work he performed. Adam’s reward would have been far greater, assuming we say that Adam would have been granted heavenly life, than what he “worked for”.

Mark Jones—Adam’s obedience WAS MADE POSSIBLE not because he obeyed simply in his own strength, but also because Adam had assisting grace from God. William Ames argues that Adam persisted in the garden by grace and that “grace was not taken from him before he had sinned.” The acts were Adam’s, but that does not mean that he did not receive power from God

Mark McCulley asks—So Adam did not sin because God took away grace, because God took away grace because Adam sinned? This sounds like Arminius and Amyraut, like Wesley and Andrew Fuller.

Amyraut—“Sin seems to have changed not only the whole face of the universe, but even the entire design of the first creation, and if one may speak this way, seems to have induced to adopt new councels”

Mark Jones– Some Puritans were not altogether keen on the use of “works” and “grace” as the principal designations of these two covenants for the simple reason that “there was very much of Grace and Favor in both.” Personally, I don’t have a problem with the two-covenant schema described as a covenant of works and a covenant of grace, but we shouldn’t assume that the covenant of works was devoid of grace. Patrick Gillespie –Even though in the covenant of works the condition was obedience and the reward resulted from works, even that Covenant was a Covenant of Grace. God freely endued man with all the habits of Grace in perfection”
.
Mark Jones– What does Bryan Estelle mean by meritorious grounds”and how can fallen sinners merit anything, even corporately in relation to temporal blessings? Those who want to affirm “ex pacto merit” should, if they wish to maintain agreement with the Reformed orthodox of the seventeenth century, also be comfortable with (and perhaps insist upon) pre-Fall grace.

Mark Jones– “The definition of grace as God’s favor in the place of demerit is, I believe, wrong-headed because Christ received God’s grace. Christ was also endowed with the habits of grace in order to keep the terms of the covenant. In order to keep the Adam-Christ parallels, we must not abandon the concept of GRACE GIVEN THEM BOTH but actually affirm it. It has been a peculiar oddity that some assume that the parallels between the two Adams means that Adam could not have received the grace of God because Christ did not. But this view is based on the fatal assumption that God was not gracious to Christ in any sense.”

Mark McCulley—Mark Jones is saying that Christ was under grace, therefore it was not strict justice that satisfied God’s law by Christ’s death. Mark Jones is also saying that Adam was under grace, therefore grace failed Adam. I don’t know which one of these two statements is worse!

The gospel is not about an “end-run” around the law. The righteousness of the gospel comes by Christ taking the law head-on, satisfying its curse by His death. But folks on both sides of “the covenant of works” debate don’t think Christ’s death is enough, and mostly on both sides they don’t talk about Christ having only died for the sins of the elect.

Romans 3: 21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—witnessed by the law

Paul cannot let the fact that the gospel is “apart from the law” cancel out the equally important truth that Christ’s death is a righteousness that satisfies law. Romans 3:31 We uphold the law. Many Calvinists only talk about election and regeneration and not about Christ’s death as specific only for the elect. Most Calvinist talk who ever dare talk about the extent for whom Christ died still explain Christ’s death only in terms of God’s sovereignty and NOT in terms of God’s justice. But the nature of Christ’s death under law is such that all for whom Christ DIED must in time be placed under grace and not under law. it would be UNJUST if any for whom Christ be in the end left under condemnation. But most Calvinists either deny or never teach that God imputed the specific sins of the elect to Christ.

Romans 6:7 a person who has died is justified from sin… we died with Christ… we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in light of the fact that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

https://jamesward.bandcamp.com/track/isaiah-53-he-shall-be-satisfied

Must Grace Have Been Bestowed on your Children before you can teach them God’s law?

October 4, 2017

Was Esau born in the covenant of grace, but then later lost his justification in Christ and therefore failed to “enter heaven”?

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. 14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. 15 Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many. 16 And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal.

God’s wrath is not an expression of God’s love. God’s wrath is not a response to human bad response to God’s grace. Those who are justified are no longer under God’s wrath. And those still under God’s wrath were born condemned, already under God’s wrath. God’s wrath for the non-elect is not subject to change

For the promise is for you in spite of yourself, as many Jews as the Lord our God will call, in spite of them being Jews, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect. The promise is for your children, as many children as the Lord our God will call, in spite of parents, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect. The promise is for all who are far off, as many non Jews as the Lord our God will call, in spite of them being born outside any covenant, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect

Since our duty is not based on our ability, the soundbite from Augustine (give what you command, and command what you will) is wrong if it’s understood to say that Christians now CAN obey the law at least enough to make it “congruent” or “fitting” (Jonathan Edwards) for God to bless us. The Augustinian soundbite is also wrong if it is used to imply that God in neo-nomian fashion now lowers the standard of the law to the level of what we in the new covenant are now gifted to do IMPERFECTLY.

The law is not the gospel, grace is not the law, and the ability to keep the law is not grace. It’s still too late for justified sinners to keep the law in order to “enter heaven” Those who are already saints are commanded to obey God’s law but not as a condition of covenant blessing.
Romans 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.

Freedom from the law by Christ’s death imputed is necessary before we do any good works or worship acceptable to God

Those who reduce all post-fall covenants to one covenant of grace tend to say that their children need to have been born in grace in order to be taught the law. Like the Arminians who assume that the duty to believe the gospel implies the ability to believe the gospel, these like John Murray work their way from assumptions about the new capacity of regenerate disposition to denial of antithesis between law and grace for those born “in the covenant”

Mark Jones–When I ask my children to obey me in the Lord should I get rid of the indicative-imperative model for Christian ethics?

There is one divine standard, in this new covenant age, according to which both believers and non-believers are accountable. There are not two different standards. The commandment for children to obey their parents shows no distinction of believers and non-believers, and neither does the commandment to parents to raise their children according to God’s Word.

http://www.apoorwretch.com/2014/06/baptist-answers-to-pca-pastor-mark.html

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leithart/2017/10/baptists-talk-babies/?

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/06/daddy-am-i-really-forgiven.php

http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/rite-reasons/no-20-daddy-why-was-i-excommunicated/

Do Christians and Their Unbaptized Children Pray to the Same God?

https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/does-teaching-someone-the-bible-make-them-a-christian/

Mark Jones—“Divine grace is not MERELY God’s goodness to the elect in the era of redemptive history. … Divine grace is a perfection of God’s nature, even apart from sin. In the garden, the grace of God was upon Adam.”

John Murray, The Covenant of Grace— “The continued enjoyment of this grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The relation established implies mutuality. The conditions in view are not conditions of bestowal. They are simply the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing and of the covenant relation is inconceivable….the breaking of the covenant is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

Richard Gaffin, by Faith not by Sight, p 103–”The law-gospel antithesis enters NOT BY VIRTUE OF CREATION..but as the consequence of sin…The gospel is to the purpose of removing an absolute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the believer…”

Gaffin— Having been called effectively involves having been regenerated, but the two are not identical. The exercise of the Spirit’s energies in calling produces an enduring change… marked anthropologically by a new and lasting disposition inherent in them, what Scripture calls a new “heart.” That is, at the core of my being, I am no longer against God and disposed to rebel against his will but, now and forever, for him and disposed in the deepest recesses of whom I am to delight in doing his will….The Holy Spirit’s work in the justified ungodly does not MERELY consist of an ongoing countering activity within those otherwise only disposed to be thoroughly resistant and recalcitrant. The definitive change MAINTAINED in believers by the Spirit provides a stable basis WITHIN THEM for renewing and maturing them according to their inner selves (2 Cor. 4:16). The Reformed use of “habitual” to describe this irreversible change, seems appropriate and useful. ”

http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=141

Leithart–“God can and does reward appropriate (albeit imperfect) human response. God’s unmerited love, then, does not nullify reciprocity. . . . God’s love is bestowed prior to conditions and is undeserved, yet there are conditions for its continuance”

Leithart: The big difference between the word and baptism is that the word offers God’s grace to everyone-in-general while baptism declares God’s favor TO ME . Baptism wraps the gift of forgiveness and justification and puts MY NAME on the package. Like the gospel, BAPTISM REQUIRES a response of ENDURING faith. Faith involves believing what baptism says ABOUT YOU…The self-imputation of “righteous” is based on the baptismal declaration that we are “justified from sin” by union with the death and resurrection of Jesus. And I can’t, of course, live a life of unbelief and disobedience, and expect baptism to rescue me at the end. Such a life would betray my baptism….. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/evangelicalpulpit/2014/11/no-sacraments-no-protestantism/#ixzz3L1NmJLfk

Wesley, Working Out Our Own Salvation—“Allowing that all persons are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing that there is no man in a state of nature only. There is no man, unless he has quenched the Holy Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace he has.”

John Piper–How then can I say that the judgment of believers will not only be the public declaration of our differing rewards in the kingdom of God, according to our deeds, but will also be the public declaration of our salvation – our entering the kingdom – according to our deeds? When some deeds are exposed at the judgment as a person’s way of life, they will be the evidence that their faith was not transforming and they will not be saved.” (Future Grace, p 366)

Mike 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, 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.”
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/13/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton/

Here are several good responses to the related ideas that duty implies ability, or that ability eliminates distinctions between teaching children law and assuming that grace bestowed is necessary to teach children law.

Engelsma: Mike Horton affirms that God promises saving grace in Christ to every baptized baby. This 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. God’s promise failed. Grace is resisted. Grace is ineffectual. 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, only because of grace causing Jacob to accept grace.”

Tom Nettles—”The idea of universal atonement is not demanded by the Bible at all, but is often assumed as an inference drawn from a no-grace-no-justice assumption…. The piggy-backing of grace onto the command to believe the gospel does not come from the Bible.”

Mark Seifrid— “The Law speaks even to us who are regenerate as fallen human beings. Being a Christian means again and again, in all the trials and temptations of life, hearing and believing the Gospel which overcomes the condemnation pronounced on us by the Law and by our own consciences in which that Law is written….But according to the puritan perspective, Law and Gospel do not address the believing human being in radically different ways, but only in differing degrees according to the measures of “grace” present within them. …. The embedding of the Law within grace qualifies law’s demand—while the Law works the death of sinners, it has a different effect on the righteous. The puritans regards the “flesh” is present as a power that exerts partial influence on us.

http://equip.sbts.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/sbjt_102_sum06-seifrid1.pdf

Paul Helm—“One thing that the Amyraldian proposal does is to weaken connection between the plight of the race in the fall of Adam. For the Amyraldians the responsibility of each of the non-elect comes simply from hearing and not receiving the message of grace.”

Lee irons—”Their principle (that all types must typify grace and cannot typify the works principle) would rule out Adam from being a type of Christ. And what about the types prefiguring the day of judgment throughout the OT? For example, Noah’s flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues of Egypt, the conquest of the Canaanites, the expulsion of Israel from the land in the exile. These are not symbols of grace but of wrath.”

Steve Yang– Murray argues that those who crucified their old self with Christ are no longer under the dominion of sin (Romans 6). He says that “it is wrong to use these texts to support any other view of the victory entailed than that which the Scripture teaches it to be, namely, the radical breach with the power and love of sin which is necessarily the possession of every one who has been united to Christ. Union with Christ is union with him in the efficacy of his death and in virtue of his resurrection – he who thus died and rose again with Christ is freed from sin, and sin will not exercise the dominion” (143). Murray further writes, “the Christian] must reckon himself to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ his Lord. It is the faith of this fact that provides the basis for, and the incentive to the fulfillment of, the exhortation, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body…’” (146).

Murray’s usage of Scripture, however, has failed to prove that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit necessarily changes a person in a progressive sense. His usage of Romans, for instance, is unwarranted for the reason that he assumes that by “the dominion of sin” Paul has an ontological change in mind. However, when Paul wrote “so you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11) the verb he chose to use was logi,zesqe, which means to “consider”, to “count”, to “credit” or to “reckon”. Such a verb is not used in an ontological sense, but in a positional sense. Paul also uses this very verb to describe the manner in which Abraham was counted righteous by God God accounted, or declared, Abraham righteous even though Abraham ontologically wasn’t. Murray’s usage of this passage undermines his own assumptions by reaffirming the positional aspect of God’s blessings.

The freedom from the dominion of sin, which Paul speaks of, is the freedom from the condemnation of sin and from the guilt of falling short of the law’s demands. Whereas Murray would seem to suggest that sanctification is conforming to the law (by the Spirit’s help), Paul’s claim is that “we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, IN ORDER TO serve. Whereas Murray would suggest that being freed from the dominion of sin means that the believer has newly attained ability to keep the law, Paul, on the contrary, suggests that such freedom means Christians are absolved from the law’s demands. All the law could do is condemn, kill, and destroy. And it is for this very reason that in Rom. 7:7 Paul anticipates the objection that “doesn’t such a view suggest that the law is sin?” the view that the freedom from the dominion of sin only means that the Spirit aids us in obeying the law would never draw one to raise the objection that the law is sin (in fact, quite the contrary). If one were in line with Pauline theology, one would have to expect answer to similar objections in which Paul faced. The fact that John Murray does not seems to attract such objections only suggests that John Murray is not reading the Apostle Paul correctly.

Stoever, A Faire and Easy Way, p 64 – Cotton professed himself unable to believe it possible for a person to maintain that grace works a condition in him, reveals it, makes a promise to it, and applies it to him, and still not to trust in the work. If a person did not trust in the merit of the work, he would at least be tempted to trust in the right of it to the promise, and he probably would not dare to trust a promise unless he could see a work.

If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace-which is why you were born a Christian and an American

February 14, 2017

Douthat–“That’s not who we are.” So said President Obama, again and again throughout his administration, in speeches urging Americans to side with him against the various outrages perpetrated by Republicans. And now so say countless liberals, urging their fellow Americans to reject the exclusionary policies and America-first posturing of President Donald Trump. The problem with this rhetorical line is that it implicitly undercuts itself. If close to half of America voted for Republicans in the Obama years and support Trump today, then clearly something besides the pieties of cosmopolitan liberalism is very much a part of who we are.”

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton

Mike Horton–Hebrews assumes a category of covenant members who are in some sense beneficiaries of the Spirit’s common work through the means of grace. They are covenant members “who have once been enlightened” (ancient church documents use “baptized” and “enlightened” interchangeably), “who have tasted the heavenly gift [the Supper], and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away” Specifically, they have fallen away from the new covenant… 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. A Baptist interpretation cannot account for this category of common covenant beneficiaries of grace who spurn the objective common grace delivered to them and fall away. It is only covenant theology that accounts for this tertium quid between “foreigners to the covenant” and “elect members.” Some non-elect brothers and sisters share the new covenant in common with the elect.

Mike Horton—”Covenant theology does not teach that the covenant of grace itself is “breakable”. God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not… 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 with all of his benefits. …..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? ”

We did not choose to be born in America, so doesn’t that prove that it’s grace to be born in America?

If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace—This is why you were born a Christian and this is why you need to become a Christian?

Was the election of Obama and Trump an accident OR was it OUR mistake?

If American cannot become some better, isn’t that saying that America is equivalent to what America always was?

We made some bad decisions, but that’s not who we are?

If America did something terrible even one time, does that mean that American could maybe do it again?

When we go to the meetings, we say, We are Americans, it’s been four years since we voted

But we were born here, and so we cannot say that we are not Americans anymore (we are not baptists anymore)

We can watch everybody else, but nobody but us can watch us

having a king was not God’s idea
your idea, God told them, but God is still king
and what will happen now with your king
is not God’s will but then again not against God’s will
call it a “hand over”

Since you did not choose your parents, and you did not choose where to be born
therefore it must be all grace, not a choice

so why do you hear so many sermons commanding you to “become what you are”?

Do this because of who you are now or because of who you will become—Those appeals makes sense.

But become what you are?

If we are x, we do not need to become x unless of course there is some kind of “as if fiction” happening.

Because you are justified, become thankful

If you are justified, you stay justified, unless you are in a covenant where Christ is not the mediator.

if you are justified, you don’t become condemned, unless you are in a covenant which is not governed by election and take as good news an atonement which is not governed by election.

Nobody has always been justified, but those who have been justified are not still being justified, unless they are in a covenant where law is grace and grace is law.

http://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/post/four-views-on-eternal-security

Sam Storms: “The contention is 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 not been regenerated or come to saving faith in Christ. The contention is that to such persons the warning passages, threatening the consequences of apostasy, are addressed. Other views are faulted 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 ) apart from faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. …

A “synagogue sermon” which scandalizes both exclusivists and inclusivists

December 12, 2016

John 1: 6 There was a man named John
who was sent from God.
7 John came as a witness
to testify about the light,
so that all would believe through him
8 John was not the light,
but John came to testify about the light.

I Corinthians 15: 13 But each in his own order:Christ, the first fruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when Christ hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when Christ abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For Christ must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death

The age to come has now come, the age to come has not yet come. The day of recompense to come has not yet come, and this explains the discontinuity between the old covenants and the new covenant. Some of us focus on the unbelief of the disciples and John the Baptist, and others of us notice their lack of understanding of the meaning of Christ’s kingdom. The age to come which has now come with Christ is not the same as the ages of the old covenants but it is also not the same as another age to come after this age. That day will be a day of vengeance and recompense. As usual I want to notice what tends to get skipped or not commented on some famous texts

Isaiah 35—The wilderness and the dry land will be glad;
the desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose.
2 The land will blossom abundantly
and will also rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
steady the shaking knees!
4 Say to the cowardly:
“Be strong; do not fear!
Here is your God; VENGEANCE IS COMING
GOD’S RETRIBUTION IS COMING; God will save you.”

5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then the lame will leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy,
for water will gush in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the parched ground will become a pool of water,
and the thirsty land springs of water.
In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs,
there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus.
8 A road will be there and a way;
it will be called the Holy Way.
The unclean will not travel on it,
but it will be for the one who walks the path.
Even the fool will not go astray.
9 There will be no lion there,
and no vicious beast will go up on it;
they will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk on it,
10 and the redeemed of the Lord will return
and come to Zion with singing,
crowned with unending joy.
Joy and gladness will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee.

Isaiah 61: The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim LIBERTY to the captives
and FREEDOM to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s FAVOR,
and the DAY OF OUR GOD’S VENGEANCE

to comfort all who mourn,
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify Him.
6 But you will be called the Lord’s priests;
they will speak of you as SERVANTS of our God;
you will eat the wealth of the nations,
and you will boast in their riches.
7 Because your shame was double,
and they cried out, “Disgrace is their portion,”
therefore, they will possess double in their land,
and lasting joy will be theirs.
8 For I Yahweh
will faithfully GIVE THEM RECOMPENSE
10 I greatly rejoice in the Lord,
I exult in my God;
for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation
and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness,
as a groom wears a turban
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth produces its growth,
and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

When Jesus came to his own, his own received Him not. Instead they were SCANDALIZED by Jesus. They were OFFENDED by Jesus. The conservatives who liked the status quo thought Jesus was being too “political”. And those who wanted to overcome the Roman occupation thought that Jesus was being too “spiritual” (instead of political).

I often speak of “synagogue sermons” with contempt. By this I mean sermons which are not about Christ but about morality and charity, sermons which could be given to anybody, anywhere. My reference is to “sermons that think they are universal not sectarian” but which carefully exclude (or fail to attend to) anything which might possibly offend anybody. These are sermons that could be given in a mosque or a synagogue with the same (very little) effect. I hear these sermons in Christian churches, both liberal and conservative.

But there is one “synagogue sermon” which caused its hearers to be angry and to attempt violence against Jesus. Were they angry because they were atheists who did not believe in God? No. Were they angry because Jesus left off the part of the quotation from Isaiah which left out the part about the Day of Recompense? It’s not obvious that this was the case. Were they disappointed that the Age to Come they had expected had not yet come? Perhaps, but’s it’s not clear. Were they scandalized because Jesus talked about including Gentiles as well as Jews? I don’t think so. I think the main offense was that Jesus, like John the Baptist, talked about not all the Jews being included. Jesus was not “new perspective” nor was Jesus teaching a new gospel which was “more not less inclusive”.

Luke 4: 16 Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As usual, Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:

18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me
to proclaim freedom to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
20 Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down to teach. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Jesus.21 He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”

22 They were all speaking well of Him and were amazed by the gracious words that came from His mouth….Jesus said to them, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.25 But I say to you, there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them—but to a widow in Sidon. 27 And in the prophet Elisha’s time, there were many in Israel who had serious skin diseases, yet not one of them was healed —only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged.29 They got up, drove Jesus out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Jesus over the cliff.30 But Jesus passed right through the crowd and went on His way.

Even though John the Baptist may not have been confused about the exclusion of some Jews from the kingdom, even John was bewildered and doubting about the nature of the kingdom age which had come with Jesus. What the old covenants had taught about the age to come seemed like it was all done at one time, not in two ages, with still another age to come. John the Baptist had already scandalized many, both Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” 3 For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said:
A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make His paths straight!
5 Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 7 When John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the place of his water baptism, John said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. 9 And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 10 Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

John the Baptist preached news about Christ as the one who had come to fulfill the law and the prophets. John pointed to Christ as the one who had come to bring the Day of Recompense. John the Baptist preached the law in order to point to Christ as the gospel.

Matthew 11: 2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, John sent a message by his disciples 3 and asked Jesus, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed,the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.6 And if anyone is not OFFENDED BECAUSE OF ME, he is blessed.”

7 Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet. 10 This is the one it is written about:
Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You;
he will prepare Your way before You.

Chaplains of the status quo teach us that it was all a big misunderstanding, that some people think that the kingdom is political but it is not. Chaplains of the status quo wear soft clothes and live in king’s palaces. But John, in preaching the law, was negative about the chaplains and the status quo. John was positive about a coming day of wrath and recompense. Even though John the Baptist was wrong about the timing, John was not wrong about God’s law being satisfied in the future. God’s wrath is satisfied not only in Christ’s death which was ordained by God but which was organized by the Jewish political status quo. God’s wrath was shown in that age by the Roman destruction of the temple and will be shown in the destruction of all the non-elect in the Day to come.

But all these events , John’s preaching and even the synagogue teaching of Jesus (Luke 4) all happened before Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension. All that preaching had more repenting in the message than it did “believe and you shall be saved”. Without saying that any one person needs to hear law before gospel, it does seem that for a time what is being heard is law as a preparation for the gospel. Do all the law and you will be saved. But you can’t do all the law, so you won’t be saved. Now you are ready for the gospel. But in some stores. it seems like nobody ever gets to the gospel, because everybody is stuck in law-mode, both those who know they are doomed because they can’t do the law and also those who think they do enough of the law and thank God for giving them the sincerity and ability to do the law, and to “at least” be better than those who killed John the Baptist.

Matthew 14 Herod had arrested John, chained him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 since John had been telling him, “It’s not lawful for you to have her!” 5 Though Herod wanted to kill John , Herod feared the crowd, since they regarded John as a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday celebration came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. 7 So Herod promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 And prompted by her mother, she answered, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter!” 9 Although the king regretted it, Herod commanded that it be granted because of his oaths and his guests. 10 So Herod sent orders and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 John’s head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother.

God does not teach all the law and gospel to any one person at all time, no matter what ‘”soundbite” they have landed on. God did not teach all the law to Adam or to Moses or even in the Sermon on the Mount. And God did not teach all the gospel to Adam or to Abraham or to David or to the disciples and John the Baptist.

Hebrews 2: We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, 3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. 4 At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to His will. For God has not subjected to angels the world to come that we are talking about.
7 You made him lower than the angels
for a short time;
You crowned him with glory and honor
8 and SUBJECTED EVERYTHING everything under his feet.
For in subjecting everything to Jesus, God left nothing that is not subject to Jesus. As it is, we do NOT YET see everything subjected to him. 9 But we do see Jesus

The age to come has not yet come.

Stanley Hauerwas—We say that the Psalm Sunday crowd got it wrong because they were wanting freedom in this world and in this age, and then we who either love the status quo or think nothing will change say that Jesus was offering only spiritual freedom, a kingdom after we die, and a death which is not really death. Instead of Passover and resurrection, we teach an inherent immortality that claims that all humans are eternal.

That way we can say the kingdom is in our hearts. Instead of obeying the King who was standing among the disciples and who is coming back to earth, we can say that the Sermon on the Mount is only for after we die, and now go out and buy our guns. All we need to do is be careful not to buy those guns as a church but as individuals.

Hauerwas—-“If Jesus is all about getting us to love one another, then why did almost everyone reject Jesus? They did so, I think, because when Jesus was told by the devil that he would be given the power to turn stones to bread, Jesus refused; when Jesus was offered authority over all the kingdoms of this world, he refused; when he was offered the possibility he would not die, he refused. Jesus refused these goods because God’s kingdom cannot be forced into existence using the means of the devil.

Hauerwas—Jesus’s refusal to play the devil’s game does not mean that the kingdom Jesus proclaims is not political. Jesus refuses to use the violence of the world to achieve “peace.” But that does not mean Jess is any less political or that Jesus is not about the securing of peace. His arrest is often thought to represent the apolitical character of Jesus because Jesus commands Peter to put away the sword Peter had used to cut off the ear of the priest’s slave. Jesus rebukes Peter, but Jesus does so because that is not the “cup” the Father has given him. But the cup from which Jesus must drink is no less political for being nonviolent.

Hauerwas—The character of Jesus’s politics is manifest in his response to the high priest who questions Jesus about his teachings in John 18.19-24. That Jesus is questioned by the high priest may suggest that his mission was “religious” rather than political, but such an account cannot be sustained for no other reason than Jesus’s answer: “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in the synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

Hauerwas—They tell me that you are the King of Jews. Is that true?” Pilate’s question is meant to see if Jesus is “political.” Jesus responds by asking if Pilate came up with such a view on his own or did others tell him such was the case. “I am not a Jew, am I?” replies Pilate.. “If my kingdom were FROM this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over. ” This is a response used often to deny that Jesus was political. But Pilate rightly saw that Jesus’ denial that his kingship was not of this world is not the denial that Jesus is king. Jesus denied that his kingdom was just another form of Rome.

John Howard Yoder— the Constantinian shift the meaning of the word “Christian” changes. Prior to Constantine it took exceptional courage to be a Christian. After Constantine it takes exceptional courage not to be counted as a Christian. … After the establishment, Christians knew that God was governing the world in Constantine, but they had to take it on faith that within the nominally Christian mass there was a community of true believers. No longer could being a Christian be identified with church membership, since many “Christians” in the church had not chosen to follow Christ. To be a Christian is transmuted to “inward-spirituality.”

Stanley Hauerwas, Matthew (2006)