Posted tagged ‘John Murray’

Even if you do what you believe (because you believe), and “choose life”, there is no life in the law

January 23, 2017

There is no life in the law of Moses. There is no life in the law of Christ.
There is only life in the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Many who preach sermons in churches could preach the very same sermon in synagogues, because they preach the law and not the gospel. They confuse the law with the gospel, because they think that doing the law brings life. Make your choice, these preachers tell us. Believe the law and then do the law, and if you don’t do the law that means you don’t believe the law.

Deuteronomy 30:11 Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is NOT TOO HARD FOR YOU, nor is it too far away. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and DO IT ?” 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and DO IT” 14 No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to DO 15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 IF YOU OBEY the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and DOING his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live…. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.

But this choice is not as simple as it sounds, which is why legal preachers also cut themselves (and those who listen to them) some slack. They assure us that we need not live by the letter of the law. They say we can choose life and gain life by doing what the law says but at the same without our relying on our believing and on our doing what the law says. We should remain humble and thank God for helping us do the law. We should not sit in judgment those who don’t do the law well, so that others will not judge us when we don’t do the law better.

These preachers have no good news for sinners like me. These preachers have no good news for people like me who are still very unbelieving.

When Jesus preached in a synagogue, Jesus preached about Himself, not about our doing the law. Of those who are guilty before the law , all those for whom Jesus died (the elect) will be freed from that guilt and given life.

Matthew 11: 8 those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces.

Luke 4: 16 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

Luke 4: 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 one widow outside of Israel. 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.

These who come in soft clothes to the synagogues are not offended at the idea of a new perspective in which they become more inclusive and welcome others to do the law with them. But those in soft clothes in the synagogues get angry when anybody “narrows the covenant” to only those sinners whose hope is not in doing the law but in election by grace. Those in soft clothes in synagogues reject any notion that their own children and other family members will not be given enough grace to do enough of the law to receive life.

Deuteronomy 27: 26 Cursed is everyone who does not DO ALL the things written in the book of the law'”

John 3:19– “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their DOING was evil. 20 They do not come to the light, lest their DOING be exposed.

“All who depend on DOING the law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10).

Those who pursue life by doing and obeying the law also accept the consequences of disobeying law. We are all born condemned, even before we do anything good or bad.
Whether we think we are pursuing life by doing or not, we are all born condemned, with no hope except in the gospel.

Hebrews 6:1– “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”

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

Faith in the doctrine of Christ’s death and resurrection can be referred to as obedience in the sense that when we believe in Christ we are doing what God command everybody to do. Thus is why the Scriptures sometimes speak of “obeying the gospel.” But doing the law is not faith in the gospel (Romans 3:28). Since whatever is not faith is sin (Romans 14:23 ) , some have concluded that “works of the law” does not refer to failure before the law in general, but rather to a specific kind of sin–the sin of trying to earn life from God by doing the law. But we are all born condemned because of Adam’s sin and also because of all our sins, not only because of the sin of trying to gain life by law. Even though there was never grace for the non-elect, the non-elect also are born condemned before they did anything good or bad, and before they ever attempted to gain life by doing the law. Romans 9:11 For though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything GOOD OR BAD, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works. Law doing is not simply acts one does without faith. “Works” are “anything we do, whether good or bad.”

Romans 3:19 “The law speaks to those who are under the law, in order that every mouth be silenced, and in order that the whole world be held accountable to God. 20 For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by doing commanded by the law. Through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

Jesus has redeemed His elect people from the curse of the law “by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13)

Galatians 3: 12 The law is NOT of faith, rather “The one who DOES them shall LIVE by them.” (Leviticus 18:5)

The logic of “if” is the logic of “or”.

Galatians 2:21 if righteousness and life came through doing the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Christ died for a purpose (all for whom Christ died will be saved) OR righteousness is through our doing the law. No synthesis possible. Christ did not come to help us to get around that antithesis

Galatians 3:18 For IF the inheritance comes by DOING the law, the inheritance does NOT come by promise

Galatians 3:21 For IF a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by doing the law.

Romans 3: 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded.

If our doing the law brings life, then trusting only in Christ’s death is excluded. Faith in Christ’s death and resurrection means “not doing the law”

This is why we cannot say that doing the law because we believe gives us life. We do not receive or keep life by doing the law.

John 7:19 “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law.”

Acts 13: 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption 37 but Jesus who God raised up experienced no corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man Jesus forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; 39 by this Jesus each and every person who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.

II Corinthians 3: 7 Now if the ministry of death, in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at the face of Moses because of the glory, a glory now set aside, 8 how much more will the ministry of the Holy Spirit come in glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! 10 Indeed, what ONCE HAD glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory. 11 if what was SET ASIDE came through glory, much more has the PERMANENT come in glory!

If you Remember that Somebody Has Something Against You, Then You are not the Forgiver

May 12, 2011

Matthew 5:23–“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go First be reconciled to your brother.”

Some liberals have a difficult time reading this command correctly, They cannot think of themselves as needing any forgiveness, so they “interpret it” as saying “go to the person who has hurt you and make peace. (Michael Hardin, The Jesus Driven Life, p96)

We are not the ones who reconcile ourselves to God (by not being like Calvinists or other Christians we know). God is the one who reconciles. God is the subject of Reconciliation, But this does not mean that we need to become Socinians who deny that God is also the object of His own Reconciliation.

Romans 5:17 speaks of “receiving the reconciliation”. Why do we “receive the reconciliation”? Why not just say, we were reconciled? In other words, why not just get changed, so we are not at enmity? Why do we receive something?

If there is never legal enmity in God, then there is no wrath, and if not, there is no propitiation, and no need for it. But the problem is not only in our own hearts, at the altar. God has a problem with us, and only God can solve that problem.

Romans 5:17 does not mean overcoming your enmity in order to overcome your enmity! It means to passively receive by imputation what Christ did.

Matthew 5:24 (sermon on the mount) commands “leave your gift there before the altar and first be reconciled to your brother.” So, even though sinners are the objects of reconciliation, though sinners receive it, this reconciliation is not only the overcoming of the hostility of the elect, but what God has done in Christ to overcome God’s own judicial hostility to elect sinners.

John Murray: “In the Scripture the actual terms used with reference to the reconciliation wrought by Christ are to the effect that we are reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10) and that God reconciles us to Himself (II Cor. 5:18, 19; Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:2-22). Never is it expressly stated that God is reconciled to us.

It has often been stated, therefore, that the cross of Christ, insofar as it contemplated reconciliation, did not terminate upon God to the removal of His alienation from us but simply and solely upon us to the removal of our alienation from Him. In other words, it is not that which God has against us that is dealt with in the reconciliation but only our enmity against Him. It is strange that this contention should be so persistent, that scholars should be content with what is, to say the least, so superficial an interpretation of the usage of Scripture in reference to the term in question.

It is not to be denied that the reconciliation is concerned with our enmity against God. Reconciliation, like all the other categories deals with sin and the liability proceeding from it. And sin is enmity against God. But, when the teaching of Scripture is properly analyzed, it will be seen that reconciliation involves much more than that which might appear at first sight to be the case.

When in Matthew 5:24 we read, “Be reconciled to thy brother,” we have an example of the use of the word “reconcile” that should caution us against a common inference. In this instance the person bringing his gift to the altar is reminded that his brother has something against him. It is this grievance on the part of the other that is the reason for interrupting his act of worship. It is the grievance of the other that the worshiper must take into account, and it is the removal of that grievance, of that alienation that the reconciliation which he is required to effect contemplates.

He is to do all that is necessary to remove the alienation in the mind and attitude of the other. It is plain, therefore, that the situation requiring reconciliation is the frame of mind or the attitude of the other and what the reconciliation must effect is the change of mind on the part of the other, namely, the person called the brother. Thus we are pointed in a very different direction from that which we might have expected from the mere formula “be reconciled.”

And although it is the “against” of the brother that is in view as requiring a change, the exhortation is in terms of “be reconciled to thy brother” and not at all “Let thy brother be reconciled to thee.” By this analysis it can easily be seen that the formula “reconciled to God” can well mean that what the reconciliation has in view is God’s alienation from us and the removal of that alienation. Matthew 5:23, 24 shows how indefensible is an interpretation that rests its case upon what, at best, is mere appearance.

John Murray’s Mono-Covenantalism

February 2, 2010

John Murray’s Mono-Covenantalism, by David Gordon, in By Faith Alone, edited by Gary Johnson and Guy Waters (Crossway,2006, p121

I am perfectly happy with retaining the covenant of works, by any label, because it was a historic covenant; what I am less happy with is the language of the covenant of grace, because this is a genuinely unbiblical use of biblical language; biblically, covenant is always a historic arrangement, inaugurated in space and time.

Once covenant refers to an over-arching divine decree or purpose to redeem the elect in Christ, confusion Is sure to follow.  In my opinion, Murray kept what ought to be discarded and discarded what ought to be kept.

John Murray despised dispensationalism. We all disagree with it, but few of us with the passion of John Murray. Indeed, some of the historic premillenialists who left Westminster Seminary complained that Murray’s attack on dispensationalism made them feel  attacked also.

What Murray jettisoned was the notion of distinctions of kind between the covenants. He wrote that was not “any reason for construing the Mosaic covenant in terms different from those of the Abrahamic.” Murray believed 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 He cursed the nation as when He blessed it.

The first generation of the magisterial Reformers would have emphasized discontinuity; they believed that Rome retained too much continuity with the levitical aspects of the Sinai administration. But the Auburn theology cannot describe covenant theology without reference to dispensationalism, despite the historical reality that covenant theology was here for several centuries before dispensationalism appeared.

My own way of discerning whether a person really has an understanding of covenant theology is to see whether he can describe it without reference to dispensationalism.

When Paul and the other NT writers use the word covenant, there is almost always an immediate contextual clue to which biblical covenant is being referred to, such as “the covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8)  The New Testament writers were not mono-covenantal regarding the Old Testament (see Rom 9:4, Eph 2:12; Gal 4:24).

Does God Count the Apology as the Cleaning?

January 28, 2010

From Facebook’s Preaching Christ Crucified discussion:

Is a symptom of Piper’s error the way he speaks of the atonement and/or who it’s for  – making faith the righteousness? Seems you told me in times past that this is what Piper does in his book on imputed righteousness.

It’s confused, like John Murray’s commentary on Romans. First, he does a good job of showing why faith cannot be the righteousness. Second, he assumes that Gen 3:15 and Romans 4 are teaching that God counts the faith as if it were the righteousness, it being an “instrumental condition”.

I am serious. Murray’s reasons why faith is not the righteousness are excellent.  But then he takes it all away: my theology say but the text says. He needed to ask himself again if he was right about what the text said. The object of faith is what is imputed, not the message but the righteousness that the message talks about.

The worst part of Piper is his illustration. Son fails to clean the room. Dad cleans the room for the son. Thenthe  son apologises. Therefore, Piper says, dad’s cleaning is the righteousness and not the apology, therefore I will count the apology as the righteousness. Makes no sense…

Scott Price wrote on January 20, 2010 at 6:42am

Wow, Piper blows it on the example. That’s just plain and simple conditionalism, like Arminians do. So much for him being a ‘7 pointer’. That’s what I can’t figure. You mentioned his work on Romans 9 was great and he claims to believe in double predestination but yet has this 2 wills of God thing goin on.

Though people hold a mix sometimes of good and error, BUT it seems the shift is from the  cross to preaching it to shave off the offense of it.

There seems to be a big concern in the minds of some to want to psychologically condition the mind of the hearer to feel more comfortable about the cross instead of offended by it. There is no doubt that the Spirit of God uses the offense of the cross in true preaching.

The Amyraldian gives lips service to sovereign grace and widens the door of the Atonement more than God Himself does and he thinks he is actually helping the sinner.  They think if Christ only died for the elect how can the hearer know he is elect and thus they adjust their message and it does not become about the cross and Christ anymore, it becomes  what is available on conditions.