Posted tagged ‘active obedience’

Adam was righteous and the justified elect are righteous, but there’s a Difference (not vicarious law-keeping but Christ’s death is the Difference)

May 12, 2018

Adam was righteous and the justified elect are righteous, but there’s a difference

The difference between Adam and us is not that we sin—both Adam and we sin

Neither Adam nor us is glorified yet

Before Adam ever sinned, Adam did not have Christ’s death as punishment for his future sins

Before we were imputed with Christ’s death, we did not have Christ’s death as punishment for our future sins

But after sinners are justified by Christ’s death, they have Christ’s death as the final and permanent punishment for all their sins

Before Adam sinned, Adam was already on probation under the law

After sinners are justified by Christ’s death, that death imputed means they are not still on probation

So we do NOT “have to” (no hope without it) say that it’s Christ’s obedience to his mother that is the righteousness by which we are justified?

The difference between Adam before justification and after justification is Christ’s death

Was it Christ’s obedience to his mother that is the righteousness imputed? No. Christ’s death is the difference.

If we are pardoned of the sin of not having done what is required to “fulfill all righteousness”, then no “sin of omission” can be counted against us

I don’t believe that Adam “could have earned immortality” for himself or for others

I disagree with John Owen-“We deny that the death of Christ is imputed unto us for our righteousness. By the imputation of the death of Christ our sins are pardoned and we are delivered from the curse of the law, but we are not esteemed righteous except by the fulfilling of the commands of law or the obedience to the law.”

John Owen- (Volume 5 on Justification) – we being sinners, we were obnoxious both unto the command and curse of the law. Both must be answered, or we cannot be justified. And as the Lord Christ could not by his most perfect obedience satisfy the curse of the law, “Dying thou shalt die;” so by the utmost of his suffering he could not fulfill the command of the law, “Do this, and live.” Passion, as passion, is not obedience, — though there may be obedience in suffering, as there was in that of Christ unto the height. Wherefore, as we plead that the death of Christ is imputed unto us for our justification, so we deny that the death of Christ is imputed unto us for our righteousness. For by the imputation of the sufferings of Christ our sins are remitted or pardoned, and we are delivered from the curse of the law, which he underwent; but we are not thence esteemed just or righteous, which we cannot be without respect unto the fulfilling of the commands of the law, or the obedience by it required. The whole matter is excellently expressed by Grotius

John Owen is saying that Christ’s death is not Christ’s merit.
John Owen goes on to accuse all who see Christ’s death as the fulfillment of the law’s requirement of bringing in their own personal righteousness as that which entitles them to positive inheritance (not merely forgiveness of sins)

John Owen is saying that Christ’s death can only take away the old clothes and leave us naked (“neutral”)
John Owen is saying that Christ’s death cannot be our “new clothes”, our new “dress of righteousness”.

John Owen is teaching that only obedience to precepts can be the righteousness, and thus teaching that “Christ’s law-keeping” (not His death) is our imputed righteousness.

His philosophical argument is that Adam was not under both the obligation of punishment and the obligation to “do acts of law-keeping while on probation to obtain immortality (and release from probation)

But no matter how many times Owen repeat this theory (in different ways, with different words time and time again), he has not proven that Adam was promised freedom from law and probation, based on a limited time of doing.

It’s true that Adam was not under BOTH obligations, death as punishment and obeying God’s law to live.

But this means it’s true that Adam was never commanded to die
Christ came to die.
Christ came to do what Adam was never commanded to do.
Christ came to die.
Adam was not promised immortality,
Don’t sin, don’t die.
Don’t eat from the tree, don’t die.

And notice that the sin of Adam is not “failure to do what you need to do to gain immortality”
The sin of Adam is breaking the law.
The sin of Adam is not “sin of omission”.
Except in the sense of “omitting to not eat from the one tree.”

There is no reason to think Adam did not eat from the tree of life, but even if Adam omitted to do that.
Adam was not obligation to eat from the tree of life.

The “covenant of works” theory teaches a ”hypothetical gospel” in which Adam supposedly “could have” earned righteousness for others by keeping the law. One clear way to say that the law is not the gospel is to say that the it was not the gospel for Adam either. But the “covenant of works” is not inherent to the law/gospel antithesis

So if only the death of Jesus is the righteousness, what does it matter if Jesus obeyed his mother? My answer 1. if Jesus had sinned, then His death would have been for Himself not for others 2. It is good and right to do what God commands even if our obedience does not “bring in the righteousness” (or need to). Christ’s obeying his mother is the right human thing to do, not a “qualification to become the Surety”

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Only Dying Would Not Be Enough Righteousness?

March 14, 2018

Galatians 2:19 For through the law I have died to the law.

Romans 6: 6 We died with Christ in order that sin’s dominion over us would be abolished…because a person who has died is justified from sin’s claims… 9 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 Christ died, Christ died to sin once for all time.

Hebrews 7: 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he DID THIS ONCE FOR ALL WHEN HE OFFERED UP HIMSELF

https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/christ-offered-his-death-to-god-one-time-only/

https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/jesus-is-coming-in-the-future-but-not-to-make-anymore-sacrifice-for-sins/

God has protected and will protect God’s elect from God. God’s wrath was appeased at only one time and at one place by the propitiation finished not in Christ’s life and suffering, but accomplished by Christ’s death . Romans 5:9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath

For many preachers, what appeases the wrath of God is not Christ’s death but Christ’s suffering before His death, and they also teach that Christ creates the positive righteousness not by His death, but by His perfect keeping of the Ten Commandments.

Everything Christ did was vicarious, for His elect people (not for all created humans). This is something different from saying that everything Christ did is imputed to the elect when they are justified. Christ’s resurrection is not imputed to the elect. Christ’s faith is not imputed to the elect.

Not everything Adam did is imputed to us. That does not mean that Adam’s other sins don’t matter. But only Adam’s first sin is imputed to us. And Christ’s death is His accomplishment, His one act of obedience. To change the one act into many acts is to read Mosaic law-keeping into the gospel (and usually into Adam’s situation before sin). God made Him to be sin who knew no sin. To be made sin is to be under the law for the guilt of the elect. To become the righteousness of God in Christ is to be be protected and justified before God by God’s identification of the elect with Christ’s death for the sins of the elect.

But many false gospels teach that Christ’s death was not the reason some have faith in the gospel. The Lutherans teach that Christ died for all, but agree that not all have faith.
https://jackkilcrease.blogspot.com/2010/06/what-is-sin-martin-luther-not-having.html

The Calvinists teach that Christ died only for those who believe, but most of them are not teaching that it’s Christ’s death which causes those who believe the gospel to do so. Most of the Calvinists are only teaching that regeneration causes those who believe the gospel to do so. Of course that is true, but if you ask them why some are regenerate and others are not, they will not refer you to Christ’s death for the elect. Instead, most Calvinists will refer you to Christ’s law-keeping righteousness. and then on top of that, they will even teach that you have to believe the gospel in order to get God to impute to you that law-keeping righteousness. And none of this is about Christ’s death, because they don’t equate Christ’s death with Christ’s righteousness.

Even though propitiation comes before (or after) the justification of a sinner, and these are distinct events, it’s still true that all for whom propitiation was made will be justified. The Lutherans (and the free grace anti–Lordship people at the Grace Evangelical Society) are saying that there is one unforgivable sin, are teaching that there is no propitiation ever for the sin of “unbelief of the gospel”

I don’t see how we criticiZe this false gospel without talking about “timing”. It’s the connection between atonement and justification that some eternal justification folks are after—whenever one happens, the other happens, even if both are “timeless”. Those who teach atonement and justification at the same protest any time gap between the atonement and justification (to make the point that the atonement is actual not potential), but they are not bothered by the time gap which says that an elect person can be born justified from God before God and yet still be unregenerate for a long long time.
https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/no-time-lag-after-imputation-of-christs-righteousness-until-regeneration/

https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/impetration-the-death-of-jesus-bought-satisfaction-of-justice-only-for-the-elect-not-only-application/

Calvinists tend to teach that Christ only died “for those who would come to faith”. This not only sounds different than saying “died only for the elect”, but it really is different because it’s teaching that Christ’s death only acts negatively, taking away sins. It’s teaching that Christ’s death still does not get you to a positive justification—all are propitiated for , but not all are justified because not all are given “positive righteousness”.

But who does that remind you of? It reminds me of every preacher who says that Christ’s death was not enough to obtain justification, and that for justification, we need also Christ’s law-keeping. How many preachers say “his death and His righteousness”, as if His death were not His righteousness? How many preachers say “His righteousness” but not defining what that righteousness is?
I am not trying to equate the “no hope without the law-keeping” preachers with the Lutherans and the Arminians who say that Christ made propitiation for all sinners. We all agree that Christ was sinless, and not disobedient to God’s law. But these groups are also saying that Christ’s propitiatory death was not the reason some have faith in the gospel. The Lutherans teach that Christ died for all, but agree that not all have faith. The Calvinists teach that Christ died only for those who believe, but most of them are not teaching that it’s Christ’s death which causes those who believe the gospel to do so.

Most of the Calvinists are only teaching that regeneration those who believe the gospel to do so. Of course that is true, but if you ask them why some are regenerate and others are not, they will not refer you to Christ’s death for the elect. Instead, most Calvinists will refer you to Christ’s law-keeping righteousness. and then on top of that, they will even teach that you have to believe the gospel in order to get God to impute to you that law-keeping righteousness. And none of this is about Christ’s death, because they don’t equate Christ’s death with Christ’s righteousness.

I don’t know if it’s chicken or egg, or which idea leads to the other idea, but many of these preachers also are dogmatic that “only destruction” or “only “perishing” or “only death” is not enough punishment for the non-elect. Some even say that the righteousness of the gospel would mean nothing to them if they thought the righteousness only saved them from destruction or perishing. So they re-define destruction and perish as meaning infinite torture that never ends. Instead of some permanent second death for the non-elect, they re-define death to mean never-dying but continuing to sin and to be tormented. The mere death of the non-elect is not enough for them.

Chicken. Egg. I don’t know if it was their philosophical intuition about what the non-elect deserve and “have coming” which came first, or if their first though was a docetic explanation which denies that Christ can really die. But either way, they fail to see that the death of the non-elect will never satisfy God’s wrath in the way that Christ’s death appeased God and expiated the sins of the elect to protect the elect from God. That philosophical soundbite about Christ being tortured for an infinite amount of time because He is God is not something you read in the Bible. You have to read that “tortured forever” INTO the Bible. Even though we don’t understand how Christ can be both God and human, we believe that Christ IS both God and human, and as the mediator of the new covenant, Christ’s death (one time, one place) is enough righteousness for all the elect. Christ did not only die for all those who believe the gospel. Christ died only for the elect and only for all the sins of the elect. Christ’ death did NOT bring in a righteousness infinite enough for all the noon-elect also (if only they would take it). Christ died only for those who will actually be justified before God.

When Lutherans and Calvinists and Arminians get their eyes off Christ’s death and start talking about Christ’s infinite law-keeping, it often turns out that their notion of Christ’s righteousness is not infinite enough to take care of one sin, the sin of not believing the gospel. Sure, they say the righteousness is infinite, but since you did not believe (or stopped believing), then the infinite righteousness will not be enough for you, and this means that the second death will not be enough for you either—-you will have to be tortured forever, and that means that there will never be a time when there will be no more dying. Dying you will continue dying, and it will never be enough, and death will always continue as God’s enemy.

Christ died enough for the elect to some time in their lives give them the faith to understand and believe the gospel. Even these elect were born under the wrath of God, but Christ’s death not only is enough to take away their sins (past and future) but Christ’s death DOES take away the condemnation and wrath for all their sins. And since Christ’s death is Christ’s righteousness, Christ’s death has purchased for all these elect the gift of the Holy Spirit (from Christ) so that each sinner for whom Christ died will come to believe the gospel before Christ’s coming or before they die.

Acts 2: 25 For David says concerning him,
“I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens

I Corinthians 15: 23 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 He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last ENEMY to be ABOLISHED is DEATH. 27 For God has put everything under His feet

Revelation 21: 3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne
Look! God’s dwelling is with humans
God will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them
and be their God.
4 God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will no longer exist;
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things will have passed away. 5 Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.”

https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/but-now-apart-from-the-law-gods-righteousness-has-been-revealed-witnessed-by-the-law/

The degrees of infinity idea does not make much sense, but it allows preachers to say that the non-elect being punished are never quite punished enough, even when they are punished more than others.

David Wells, Christianity Today, March 20 1987 — “If God is as good as the Bible says, if his character is as pure, if his life is as infinite, then sin is infinitely unpardonable and not merely momentarily mischievous. To be commensurate with the offense, God’s response must be correspondingly infinite. Annhilationism instead looks instead for a finished, finite, temporal response. An infinite response, however, is what we see happening at the cross. Was Jesus annihilated? Jesus could exhaust infinite punishment because he himself was the infinite God? Jesus did not bear a punishment MERELY LIKE that which sinners deserved. Jesus did not bear a death that was MERELY ANALOGOUS to theirs..”

Mark: To be “commensurate”, is Jesus still dying on the cross and will Jesus die on the cross forever?

If Jesus is not still dying on the cross, how is His death even LIKE that of non-elect people dying but never getting dead?

Where does the Bible talk about “infinity”? And where does the Bible talk about Christ’s suffering before His death being “infinite”? When did the “infinite punishment” of Jesus begin and when did it end?

If Christ only suffered an equivalent of “eternal torment in Hell”, does that mean that God’s grace arbitrarily (merely, only) “accepted” the punishment of Christ as the same?

Since the punishment of the non-elect will never be finished, does that mean that the punishment of the non-elect will never be infinite?

Does “I will repay” mean that “I will have never repaid”?

If duration of the torment is the real punishment, why is there any need to die after that torture is done, and would not death be the end before more needed punishment?

If the punishment is never done, so that the condemned can never die, why does the Bible teach that the wages of sin is death?

When you translate, the result is a translation.

When you destroy, the result is destruction.

When you finish dying, you are dead.

If you never finish dying, you are not yet dead.

http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2016/04/the-unsaved-in-hell-would-want-to-be-annihilated-to-end-their-suffering-why-this-statement-completely-misses-the-point/

http://rethinkinghell.com/audio/meta/notes/demler_handout.pdf

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

Christ’s Works or Christ’s Faith or Christ’s Death?

May 11, 2017

Philippians 3: 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, in order that I gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is THROUGH FAITH in Christ—the righteousness FROM God

Among those of us who agree that there is a difference between the imputation of the righteousness and the righteousness, and who also agree that RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE JUDICIAL BASIS FOR JUSTIFICATION, is there agreement about the nature of the righteousness?

Does Christ have a righteousness of His own from His keeping the law?
Or does the righteousness of Christ come from His death as satisfaction of the law?

Or Both?

Does Christ’s death only gets us forgiveness?

Does Christ’s death only get us back to where Adam was before Adam was before Adam sinned?

Does Christ’s death only return us back to only sinless but not righteous?

But didn’t Adam before Adam’s sin have righteous fellowship with God?

Yes, God not only commanded Adam not to eat from the tree but also to “have dominion”, but did Adam need more than Adam already had to be righteous? Did Adam have to do something to stay righteous? Did Adam have to NOT DO something to stay righteous?

Genesis 2: 15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

Genesis 1: 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.

Even though Christ’s death was successful , did Christ’s death only “accomplish” getting our old clothes off and getting us clean?
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Is it true that Christ’s death does not give us new clothes?

Is it only Christ’s acts of resisting Satan’s three temptations which give us the new clothes? Or was it the physical circumcision and water baptism of Christ which gives us the new clothes?

Christ’s death is not “obedience to the law”. Christ’s death is satisfaction of the law. The law requires obedience or death, the law does not say that death is obedience.

Genesis 3: 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Genesis 3: 21 The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and the Lord God clothed them.

Did Jesus save the elect by getting the blessing of the law or by getting the curse of the law?

July 1, 2015

Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (Deuteronomy 27:26)

11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall LIVE by faith.” (Habbakuk 2:4)

12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall LIVE by them.” (Leviticus 18:5)

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)

Even elect Gentiles (who were never under the Mosaic covenant) are saved because of Christ’s bearing the curse of the Mosaic law.  Some who reject the need for law-keeping imputed are Socinians who deny the need for any law satisfaction at all. If forgiveness is sovereign, they claim, there is no need to satisfy the law at all in any way, Thus the Socinians say, if there is any need to satisfy the law, then there cannot be any forgiveness. They play off God’s sovereignty against God’s righteousness.

I am not doing that. But I am contrasting Christ’s death as the satisfactory curse of the law over against the traditional idea that the law cannot be satisfied by death but only by “active obedience”, which is how the Reformed tradition often refers to the Mosaic law-keeping of Christ.  Christ’s death can keep you from death, we are told. But if you want life from the law, then Christ’s death won’t get you that, because for that, you need to be imputed with Christ’s Mosaic law-keeping.

But what is being kept from death if not life? The tradition seems to say that Christ’s death only gets us back to where Adam was, which was life on probation, which was life only because no sins were yet counted toward us. The tradition says that Adam could have gotten immortality if only he had kept the law (the tradition even tends to say that Adam was keeping the Sabbath, since it equates “moral law” with “Mosaic law”), and therefore the tradition says that Christ got immortality for us not by His death but by His law-keeping.

Calvin—“In His death and resurrection, all things are furnished to us, expiation of sins, freedom from condemnation, satisfaction, victory over death, the attainment of righteousness, and the hope of a blessed immortality.”

I am very glad when Reformed folks at least don’t reject the idea that the blood (the death of Christ) is no part of Christ’s righteousness. But we need to be very careful how we say that. Many folks are saying that the death is the new covenant remission, but that the Mosaic law-keeping is the righteousness

Let’s be clear about justification—while agreeing with Calvin and Romans 4 that we can equate forgiveness and justification, I do teach that justification entitles us to all the positive blessings of salvation, not only forgiveness of sins but access to God and etc

The non-imputation of sins IS imputation of righteousness. The pardon of sins IS justification of sinners This does not mean that we who teach that Christ’s death is our righteousness are saying that justification is only forgiveness. I am not teaching that. (Piscator did not teach that either.) While sins of omission are also remitted, that does not change the fact that God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect results in the new birth, faith in the gospel, glorification, all the positive things are earned by Christ’s death.

The greater problem comes with folks like Shepherd and Hornes when they say that only initial justification by the death, and future justification by “union with the Spirit of the risen Christ causing us to work”.

I reject Shepherd’s view. It’s easy to to assume that there are only two sides—if I don’t agree to union with the Mosaic law-keeping of Jesus (union with his circumcision, union with his water baptism, union with his praying, union with his believing, etc), it can be assumed that the only other choice is a future justification (access) by the Holy Spirit causing me to work, to “progress in sanctification”.

But there are more than two choices I reject union with the Mosaic law-keeping of Jesus . Union with Adam’s sin was not union with Adam’s entire life of sinning. But I also reject in any way the Shepherd/ Gaffin idea that the death is not enough righteousness, and that future blessings are conditioned on what i do in union with the resurrected Christ. Justification is forgiveness, but more than forgiveness

Mathew 5: 17 “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Mosaic Law or the Mosaic Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will be satisfied from the law until not only my death is accomplished but more importantly I have spent my entire life obeying to the Mosaic law. Therefore, whoever teaches people that Christ’s death alone will be enough justice for God to forgive all their future sis will have to teach them they will need to obey the Mosaic law because they forget that Christ’s life of obeying the Mosaic law is the justice that God uses to actually bless elect sinners positively….. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 24: 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ suffer these things and enter into His glory, but also that was not enough, since there would have been no hope for our entering glorying unless the Mosaic law keeping of the Christ be imputed to us

I Corinthians 15: I gave over to you as of first importance that which I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised the third day according to Scriptures, and so that gets us back to where Adam was, but according to the Reformed tradition, Christ kept the Mosaic law and this was what God imputed to us in order for us to have eternal life

the rich young ruler asking what must I do—
—keep the covenant of works for a significant period of time sell you stuff and give it to the poor, or you will die
—-or the other choice, for the rest of your life, attend the sacramental means of grace which will assure you that Christ has kept the covenant of works for you—in any case, don’t trust in my death alone, not enough, no hope without something more, some other plus factor—–i am keeping the law for those who accept the “sincere offer” ….

Romans 3:24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Him as a propitiation[ through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. 26 but God also presented His entire life of vicarious Mosaic law keeping to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, because His death alone was not enough justice to pass over sins, and God needed the Mosaic law-keeping of Christ in order to declare righteous the one who has faith in Christ Jesus……Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! If we only trusted in the death of Christ alone , of course, that would be ignoring the positive results which come from obeying the law. But on the contrary, because we know also that there is no hope (none) without Christ’s life of obeying the Mosaic law we uphold the Mosaic law and the Mosaic law was what Adam already knew all about and also the standard by which we define anything Jesus commanded or did by way of example….

Romans 8:3-4 What the law could not do since it was limited by our flesh, God DID by sending His son to keep the Mosaic law for us, 4 in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who are legally united to his Mosaic law keeping

Hebrews 10: 10 By this will of God, we have been sanctified not only through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all time because that would merely leave us where Adam started but we have been sanctified through the offering of the Mosaic law keeping of Jesus Christ for 33 years (since he was not killed as a baby)

11 Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this great high priest did take away sins, but that was not enough to take away our sins of omission against the covenant of works, so this man, before offering one sacrifice for sins forever, day after day for 33 years kept the Mosaic law an there would be no hope only in the death if it were not for what Christ did to satisfy the law before then because not even His death would have been enough to perfect permanently those who are sanctified.

II Cor 5: 21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, but that alone was not enough in order for us to become the righteousness of God in Him, so He also had the One to not only not sin, but to do positive acts and works to keep the Mosaic law, and it is that positive stuff He did (not the death) which is the righteousness which is imputed to us which causes us to legally become the righteousness of God in Christ

Romans 5:9 having been now justified by His keeping the Mosaic law, because His death only remitted sins but did not justify…..we shall be saved by his entire life of keeping the Mosaic law, because His resurrection from death is not what shall save us, because there is no hope without His entire life of keeping the Mosaic law….

Galatians 2:21 for if righteousness is through the Mosaic law keeping of Jesus, then Jesus DIED for no reason

Romans 10:4 is the law Christ’s goal or is Christ the law’s goal?

Christ’s end is to keep the Mosaic law? or is it the Mosaic law’s end to witness to Christ? (Or both?)

Philippians 3: 10 to know Him and the fellowship of His keeping the Mosaic law for us

My goal is to be conformed to His keeping of the Mosaic law

I Thessalonians 5 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,10 who kept the Mosaic law for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him

Calvin on Romans 4:25 —When we possess the benefit of Christ’s death and resurrection, there is nothing wanting the completion of perfect righteousness.

God’s Active Imputation of the Sins of the Elect to Christ

December 1, 2014

I am not yet bored with the idea of Christ bearing the sins of the elect by imputation.

II Corinthians 5:21 21 For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, in order that in Christ we would become the righteousness of God.

Leon Morris: “The verb is active and the subject is God. In this imputation both the Father and the Son are exceedingly active.” The Cross in the New Testament, p 220

As God legally constituted Christ not only to be the sin offering for the elect but also (and first) guilty of the guilt of the elect, even so God legally constitutes the elect not only to be justified before God but also (and first) makes that righteous relationship to be real by crediting the legal merit of Christ’s death to the elect.

Instead of counting the sins of the elect against them (see II Cor 5:19) God counted the sins of the elect against Christ. The identification by God of Christ with the sins of the elect was not a fiction but so real that it resulted in Christ’s death.

John Owen–“but it will be said that if our sins, as to the guilt of them, were imputed to Christ, then God must HATE Christ. But it is only inherent sin, not imputed sin which makes a person hateful to God. Christ being perfectly sinless and holy in Himself was glorious and lovely in the sight of God. Indeed Christ’s active taking upon Himself the guilt of the elect was high ACT OF OBEDIENCE to God.” The Doctrine of Justification, volume 5, p 203

Psalm 40:6-8
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

John 10: 17 For this reason the Father loves me,because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

God’s active imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ is the only way that Christ took away those sins. if Christ never bore those sins Christ never took them away, but Christ did bear those sins, because the Son actively took those sins to Himself and God the Father made Him to be sin.

Isaiah 53:12
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Hebrews 9: 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to BEAR THE SINS of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

I Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, in order that we would die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

If Christ has not already taken away your sins, Christ will never bear your sins . If Christ ever bore your sins then those sins are already taken away. The elect sinners who do not know this about Christ’s sin-bearing are not yet justified, because God has not yet imputed to them Christ’s sin-bearing and taking away death

Was the Physical Circumcision of Christ Part of Christ’s Righteousness?

June 17, 2012

The Fatal Flaw, by Jeffrey Johnson, Free Grace Press, 2010

I very much recommend this new book. It is an excellent study of various covenant theologies and also an argument against infant baptism. But I still want to quibble . I quote Johnson:

“The covenant of works that Christ was obligated to fulfill could not have been the covenant of creation. Why ?Because this covenant had already been broken and its death penalty issued upon Adam’s fallen race. Thus Christ had to be born outside the broken covenant of creation…He could not be born under the federal headship of Adam. As Wisius explains, ‘That the surety was not from Adam’s covenant, not born under the law of nature, and consequently not born under the imputation of Adam’s sin.’

Johnson continues: “The law justifies but before the law men could not merit salvation by works, because there was no covenant….If all this is true, then the Mosaic covenant had to be a covenant of works; our salvation depended upon it. If not, there would be no covenant to reward the man Christ Jesus for His obedience.”

I have of course not quoted the entire argument. I encourage you to buy the book and read the discussion beginning on p 146 an ending on p162. What do I disagree with in the above argument? I agree that Christ was not born under the federal headship of Adam. I agree that the Mosaic covenant was a legal conditional covenant.

I even agree with Johnson’s larger point, which is that the Mosaic covenant cannot be seen as an “administration of the covenant of grace”. But I go further and question even the idea of any “the covenant of grace.” Which covenant is “the covenant of grace”? Is it the Abrahamic covenant? Is it the new covenant? Are both those covenants one and the same? Are both those covenants administrations of “the covenant of grace”?

Johnson is very good in showing that the Abrahamic covenant had both its unconditional and conditional aspects. At one point (p215), he even refers to Bunyan’s idea that Christ kept the conditional aspect of the Abrahamic covenant, that had NOT been kept by anybody else. When Gal 3:16 explains that the promise was made to Abraham and his seed, and then explains that Christ is that one seed, why not see Christ alone as obeying the Abrahamic requirement for blood?

Why does Johnson think he needs to see the Mosaic covenant (instead of the Abrahamic legal aspect) as the covenant of works Christ kept? Isn’t circumcision a requirement of not only the Mosaic but also of the Abrahamic covenant? Does not physical circumcision point to the need for the blood not of animals but of Christ?

Make no mistake. I believe and rejoice in the federal headship of Christ. My objection is to the idea that the Mosaic covenant is the condition of the agreement of God the Father, Son and Spirit to redeem the elect. Why must the “covenant with Christ” be conflated with either the covenant with Adam or the covenant with Moses?

I am not disagreeing that there is legal covenantal arrangement with Adam. Even though as a supralapsarian, I do question language about what Adam “could have earned if he had passed probation”, I do not at all question the federal imputation of Adam’s sins to the human race, including to the elect. And I also agree that the Mosaic covenant is conditional.

I am only questioning why Johnson must locate the legal conditions of Christ the covenantal surety in the terms of the Mosaic covenant. His answer is that Christ was not under Adam. But why not say that Christ was under the Abrahamic conditions? Why not agree with Bunyan in saying that Christ kept the Abrahamic requirements so that the promise would be unconditional to all those promised salvation by the Abrahamic covenant?

Johnson does not really answer this question, and I would love to have a talk with him about it. Were the Gentiles (for example, those addressed by some of the prophets) ever under the curse of the Mosaic law? I am only asking a question here. Please don’t call me a dispensationalist for asking the question! My hope in the gospel has everything to do with Christ legally paying off (satisfying) the curses of God’s law against the elect. But my hope in the gospel does not depend on me identifying God’s law with the Mosaic law.

On page 163, Johnson seems to give away his case for the Mosaic covenant being the “covenant of works”. In a footnote, he acknowledges that Gentiles were not under the Mosaic covenant, but then says “nevertheless they were still under the covenant of works” and then quotes Romans 2:14 (a law unto themselves). But doesn’t this show that you can be under a covenant of works and not be under Moses? And if so, doesn’t this show that Christ could have been under a “covenant of works” for His elect without that being the Mosaic covenant?

To say that Christ died “for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant” in Hebrews 9:15 does mean some of the elect were under the Mosaic covenant. But it does not prove that the gentile elect were under the Mosaic covenant.

As James Haldane suggests in his commentary on Hebrews (p245, Newport Commentary Series, Particular Baptist Press), the solution to the problem of the first covenant is not to find a better mediator for that first covenant. If a former covenant is infringed by one of the parties, satisfaction is given by making a second covenant.

If we are going to make distinctions within the Mosaic law-economy, why not be consistent in thinking about these distinctions when we think of Christ legally satisfying the Mosaic law? Was Christ keeping the ceremonial laws of Moses when He shed His blood? Were we Gentiles under the curse of the Mosaic law for our failure to keep the ceremonial law?

I am not denying that Christ was cursed by God’s law for the sins of the elect. I am only questioning the idea of pointing to the Mosaic covenant as that law or as that “covenant of works” for Christ. If you want to use the language of a covenant of works for Christ our federal Head, why not go to the Abrahamic covenant for that? Or even better, why not refer to a “covenant of redemption” which is neither the Mosaic nor the Abrahamic (especially in its conditional aspects, like the duty of the physical children of Abraham to be physically circumcised)?

Hebrews 13:20—“the God of peace brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant.”

I am not denying that Christ was physically circumcised, but I am questioning if that circumcision was a vicarious law-keeping for the elect. Since we Gentile elect were never commanded to be physically circumcised, how then we can be blessed because Christ was physically circumcised?