Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Lord's Prayer in Latin, Marked for Translation

I have the privilege of teaching Latin at Sayers Classical Academy and also teaching Sunday school at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. In God's providence, I am currently able to begin teaching about the Lord's Prayer in both of these settings. For my Latin class, it is necessary for me to be able to fully identify each word of the Lord's Prayer in the Latin text. I pray that this close examination of our Lord's words (I'm looking at the Greek text also) will help in my exegesis and explanation of the prayer in Sunday school as well.

Looking online for helps regarding the Latin text of the Lord's prayer, I could not find any page that had the prayer fully marked for translation. Therefore, I've created my own marked text, seen below. I've marked it in the way that is most useful to me. I certainly welcome any questions/corrections.


VMS^           
Pater noster,

pron.       2sPAI   (in+AblNP)       
qui          es          in caelis,          

 3s PPS          AccNS ^
sanctificetur nomen tuum.
                                                       
3s PAS     AccNS ^                      
Adveniat regnum tuum. 

                 PN
3s PPS      NFS      ^
Fiat          voluntas tua,

adv.  (in+AblNS)     conj.     (in+AblSF)
sicut in caelo          et          in terra.

AccMS ^              ^                  2s PAV         
Panem nostrum quotidianum da               

1pDat  adv
nobis hodie,

conj      2s PAV  1pDat AccNP^               
et          dimitte nobis debita nostra

adv. conj. 1pNom   
sicut et    nos         

1p PAI         DMP          ^
dimittimus debitoribus nostris.

conj.      conj.         1pAcc             
Et          ne             nos                 

2s PAS  (in+AccFS)
inducas in tentationem,

conj.        2s PAV       1pAcc.         (a +       AblMS)
sed          libera          nos               a          malo.


Amen.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Impassibility and the Single Divine Decree


The following is a consideration of an area of systematic theology. I believe that it is spiritually profitable for believers to consider such things. This type of consideration keeps us from forming idols of God according to our own imaginations. For those who love God, this type of consideration is profitable in allowing us to grow in knowledge concerning the One we love.

According to classical orthodoxy—the belief of the church through the ages—God is impassible. “Impassible” indicates “unchanging in one’s emotional state”. God—who is eternal, immutable (meaning: unchangeable), and perfect in His affections—does not change in regard to His emotions. Without exception, this was the univocal view of the Church until quite recently, as Samuel Renihan demonstrates in God Without Passions: A Reader.

If a Christian has not thought through the doctrine of divine impassibility, then an immediate objection may come to his mind.

OBJECTION: Since believers used to be children of wrath, and are not children of wrath as believers, this necessarily implies that God has changed His affectional posture toward believers and gone from a God of wrath from a God of peace in relation to believers. [The position in this objection is sometimes referred to as “relational mutability”.]

The following answers to this objection are from James Dolezal and Samuel Renihan, two contributors to Confessing the Impassible God: The Biblical, Classical, and Confessional Doctrine of Divine Impassibility. At the end of this post, you can view the video from which these answers came.

James Dolezal

God is infinitely perfect in His hatred of my sin. That’s not a state of feeling that comes upon God. God is not a little more angry with sin than He was before. In other words, these are not states of emotion through which God is passing. God is not a little more or a little less angry with sin. It is His nature to detest it. It’s an insult to God’s holiness to say His wrath against sin rises and falls. It is His nature to detest sin.

It is also His nature to love. He is a God full of compassion. When He passes by Moses, He says, “The LORD God, full of compassion, showing mercy to generations and generations.”

Love is His nature. Holiness and justice are His nature. With respect to time, though, God does not manifest Himself or deal with me according to the fullness of His wrath or the fullness of His grace at one and the same moment. He can disclose Himself or administrate His dealings with me according to His wrath at one moment and according to His grace at another. It’s not that something changes in God… God has eternally and unchangeably decreed to deal with me in space and in time….

The change is on the side of revelation/manifestation, not on the side of being and perfection in God. But God is the one who wills that alteration. God wills to frown upon me—that is to say, to deal with me as One who is frowning upon my sin—and in the same act of will, to alter that manifestation—not alter His being, but alter that manifestation—by subsequently smiling upon me as I am united to His Son by faith through the work of His Spirit.

Samuel Renihan 


As God is simple [meaning: “without parts”], so His decree is simple. And His decree is of His will, which is one with His essence. So you have a simple, unchangeable decree with an unfathomable multitude of effects in time and space. So you can’t take those multitude of effects and assume some kind of complexity in the decree, when—in fact—it was simple in a simple God, whose will is one with His essence.

And so this question [the objection that God must undergo changing emotions when people are saved] assumes that:
  1. God has affectional postures;
  2. God is on the roller coaster of time and can change.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"That Man of Sin"


In the Summer 2005 edition of Founders Journal, Dr. Sam Waldron published an article arguing that churches should use the 1689 Baptist Confession as their statement of faith. Dr. Waldron argues that the 1689 Baptist Confession is the “best available local church confession.” In making his arguments, Waldron is clear in stating that Scripture alone is infallible, and that—as with all lengthy confessions—some revisions should be considered. One area of the 1689 Baptist Confession that needs “a slight revision,” Waldron argues, is Chapter 26, Paragraph 4: that the Pope of Rome is the Antichrist; the end-times “Man of Sin,” who will be destroyed at Christ’s return. Waldron writes:


[T]his statement ought not to have been made or be part of our confession today. This is one of those places where a slight revision of the 1689 Confession is necessary. In my experience (having become a Reformed Baptist pastor in 1977 and having shepherded two Reformed Baptist churches during that time), Reformed Baptist churches today, when they express their allegiance to the Confession in their constitutions, commonly make an exception of this statement.

Whereas it seems wise to forego identifying the Pope or papacy with a single end-times Antichrist, it is important to note that there are definite reasons that the Particular Baptists who originally adopted the 1689 Confession came to the conclusion that they did. Whether or not the “man of sin” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 will hold the Roman Catholic office of “pope,” the papacy is certainly anti-Christ in the broad sense (1 John 2:18). In fact, the papacy is diametrically opposed to all three persons of the trinity. Consider some of the titles that the Pope claims for himself: “Holy Father,” “Pontiff,” and “Vicar of Christ:”
 
¨    God alone should be called “Holy Father,” as Jesus directly commanded His disciples in Matthew 23:9.
¨    Jesus Christ is the only pontiff. “Pontiff” means “bridge,” or—in religious settings—the high priest mediating between God and Man. Jesus is the only mediator between God and Man (1 Tim 2:5); in the New Covenant era, He is the only High Priest  (Heb 8:1; 10:14).
¨    The Holy Spirit is the only vicar of Christ. (“Vicar” means “substitute.”) See: John 14:16, 26.

[The above observations are adapted from points made by Phillip Jensen at the 2016 Together for the Gospel Conference.]

Conclusion: Confessional Subscription

In light of the Pope’s blasphemous claims, along with Waldron’s concession about the particular wording found in the 26.4, how should churches that subscribe to the 1689 Confession view its statements concerning the papacy? Tom Chantry, in some personal correspondence I had with him a couple of years ago, gave a number of helpful thoughts concerning this matter. Here is part of what he wrote to me. [The following material is consistent with specific statements Chantry has made on his own blog, so I don’t think he’ll mind my sharing these thoughts here.] 

[N]ote that the primary doctrine expressed in 26:4 is the exclusive headship of Christ over the church.  As a secondary doctrine, the confession condemns as blasphemy the pope’s usurpation of Christ’s title.

So what does it mean to subscribe to this doctrine? 

1. A strict subscriptionist [one who seriously takes the doctrines expressed in the 1689 Confession as an accurate summary of biblical teaching] must agree that Christ is the only Head of the Church, and that no man may usurp that title. 

2. A strict subscriptionist must agree that the system of papacy is a manifestation of the spirit of antichrist, and that part of the purpose of God the Holy Spirit in revealing antichrist to us was to prepare us to reject the papacy.  He must agree that God has rejected the papacy, and that Christ will utterly destroy it at the Judgment.

3. A strict subscriptionist must recognize that the papacy was the primary manifestation of the spirit of antichrist - at least during the age and location of the authors of our confession. 

It is important to take Reformed confessions seriously and to understand why they make specific claims concerning the papacy. It is important to resist—and not compromise in resisting—the spirit of the anti-Christ, wherever it might be found. Finally, it is vitally important to glorify Christ alone as the Head of the Church, “in whom—by the appointment of the Father—all power for the calling, institution, order, or government of the Church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner.”

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Saturday, April 09, 2016

Suffrage Within the Church in Electing Elders


3 points about the above video:

1. Yes, it may have been made with sexist intention, and sexism is wrong.
2. It is, however, genuinely ironic and funny.
3. The real point is that most people have not been educated or prompted to consider their right to vote, and that definitions matter. (This is why I used to show this video when teaching Political Science; I think that someone could have just as easily gotten a bunch of guys to thoughtlessly sign a petition against men's suffrage.)

With that goofy introduction out of the way: this post is not about women's suffrage, or suffrage in general. This post is about suffrage within the church, specifically in regard to the election of elders. I believe that, just as people in society at large have not adequately thought through issues related to voting, we within the church have not adequately thought through the role that voting plays in our congregations.

Concerning suffrage within the church, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 declares: "Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes." In line with this statement, I was brought up under a tradition of regular church business meetings, wherein the congregation would vote on various issues facing the church. Though, at times, the business meetings were viewed as alternately either boring or contentious, no one questioned whether they should be occurring.

In college, I lived in a different town, and I became involved in an independent church, the pastor of which was very strong on the elder-rule model of church government. He basically believed that the congregation did not need to vote on anything. Whereas I remained convinced that the New Testament gives warrant for the congregation electing deacons, I followed my then-pastor's conviction that elders should be appointed by other elders, and that the elders should make virtually all of the decisions for the congregation as a whole; I did not see that the need for any church vote regarding the installation of elders. I believed that my conclusions on this matter were warranted from Titus 1:5, in which Paul instructed Titus (who was a pastor), "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you." This passage seemed to indicate the Titus himself, and not the various congregations, was in charge of installing elders for the congregations.

When I became a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, my thinking on elders unilaterally appointing other elders was challenged. Surprisingly, the decisive challenge (moving me back into a more historically Baptist direction) did not come from a Baptist, but from a Presbyterian. For a Missions class, I was required to read Robert Reymond's Paul, Missionary Theologian. In discussing aspects of church government seen in Paul's missionary activity, with specific reference to Acts 14:23, Reymond notes:


The verb xειροτονέw literally means ‘choose, elect by raising hands’. The action described here probably means that Paul as an apostle simply appointed elders when he first planted a church, just as missionaries often do today when they first plant a church. This ‘appointing’ did not preclude, however, his seeking the church’s will in the matter by asking the congregation for a show of hands. (502n10)

The idea seems to be that elders will initiate the choosing of other elders, but that the congregation will play an important role in confirming the calling of those elders. Practically speaking, this makes sense in at least two ways:

1. Men who may be considered for the role of elder might tend to put on more of a pious manner when around the already-appointed elders than when around others.  Members of the congregation who are not elders may have insight into ways that a man's character does not line up with the qualifications of an elder.

2. In general, if the congregation does not respect a certain man (perhaps not through specific moral fault in the man, but rather through his not having labored among them for an adequate time), then-if that man is installed as an elder with no formal congregational input-it might be hard for the congregation to accept the new elder's pastoral authority.

John Calvin made a similar point as Reymond, in an even more expansive way, when he considered the question, 'Should a minister be chosen by the whole church, or only by colleagues and elders, or by the authority of a single pastor?' Calvin answered:


Those who attribute this right to one individual quote the words of Paul to Titus “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city” (Tit. 1:5); and also to Timothy, “Lay hands suddenly on no man” (l Tim. 5:22). But they are mistaken if they suppose that Timothy so reigned at Ephesus, and Titus in Crete, as to dispose of all things at their own pleasure. They only presided by previously giving good and salutary counsels to the people, not by doing alone whatever pleased them, while all others were excluded. Lest this should seem to be a fiction of mine, I will make it plain by a similar example. Luke relates that Barnabas and Paul ordained elders throughout the churches, but he at the same time marks the plan or mode when he says that it was done by suffrage. The words are, Χειροτονήσαντες πρεσβυτέρους κατ εκκλησίαν (Acts 14:23). They therefore selected (creabant) two; but the whole body, as was the custom of the Greeks in elections, declared by a show of hands which of the two they wished to have. Thus it is not uncommon for Roman historians to say, that the consul who held the comitia elected the new magistrates, for no other reason but because he received the suffrages, and presided over the people at the election. Certainly it is not credible that Paul conceded more to Timothy and Titus than he assumed to himself. Now we see that his custom was to appoint bishops by the suffrages of the people. We must therefore interpret the above passages, so as not to infringe on the common right and liberty of the Church. Rightly, therefore, does Cyprian contend for it as of divine authority, that the priest be chosen in presence of the people, before the eyes of all, and be approved as worthy and fit by public judgment and testimony, (Cyprian, Lib. 1 Ep. 3). Indeed, we see that by the command of the Lord, the practice in electing the Levitical priests was to bring them forward in view of the people before consecration. Nor is Matthias enrolled among the number of the apostles, nor are the seven deacons elected in any other way, than at the sight and approval of the people (Acts 6:2). “Those examples,” says Cyprian, “show that the ordination of a priest behoved not to take place, unless under the consciousness of the people assisting, so that ordination was just and legitimate which was vouched by the testimony of all.” We see, then, that ministers are legitimately called according to the word of God, when those who may have seemed fit are elected on the consent and approbation of the people. (Institutes 4.3.15)

After the above statement on suffrage within the church in electing elders, Calvin then gives the following important word: Other pastors, however, ought to preside over the election, lest any error should be committed by the general body either through levity, or bad passion, or tumult. (Ibid.)


With all of this in mind, I  believe that when it comes to electing elders, the already-appointed elders should take a lead role in both bringing new candidates for eldership before the congregation and in presiding over the election of new elders. HOWEVER, candidates for eldership must be confirmed by the whole congregation. The biblical warrant for the congregation both electing officers and exercising church discipline (Matt 18:17) means that there is definitely a congregational aspect to church government.

I will say that I am still a bit uncomfortable with the Baptist Faith and Message declaration about "democratic processes," simply because the term "democratic" has such philosophical and historic baggage. HOWEVER, I fully concur with the statement in the Reformed Baptist Confession (1689):

The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person, fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit, unto the office of bishop or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the church itself; and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition of hands of the eldership of the church, if there be any before constituted therein; and of a deacon that he be chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by prayer, and the like imposition of hands. 
( Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; Acts 6:3, 5, 6 )
 (26.9, emphasis added)


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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"so help me God"

Stomach virus afflicted my family at the end of last week. Sunday, instead of taking part in the Resurrection Day activities with my church family, I was at home with recovering children. I decided to redeem the time by going back over my notes from the Gospel of Matthew; using SermonAudio, I was listening to various sermons from my pastor on passages that I missed due to travel, nursery duty, etc.

Late Sunday night, I was finishing taking notes from Matthew 5:33-37. I had Facebook open on my browser, and was surprised to see an article/interview come across the screen from John Piper, in which he was answering a question from the passage I was considering. John Piper was addressing the question, "Should Christians Swear on the Bible?" Piper was arguing that based on Matthew 5:33-37, Christians should not swear to tell the truth in a court of law. My own pastor (Mitch Chase) took a different view from Piper in his sermon, and I believe that Mitch's view is supported by sound exegesis. (You can hear his entire sermon HERE.)

New Testament Evidence

In arguing that Matthew 5:33-37 is NOT meant to prevent every kind of oath whatsoever (provided the oath is honestly given), Mitch pointed to certain passages from later Scriptures in which oath-taking is indicated in a positive manner. Piper notes the New Testament evidence in passing:

"God himself took an oath in Hebrews 6:13–18. And angels take oaths (Revelation 10:5–7). And Paul at least five times heightened his seriousness in telling this truth by saying he was speaking in the presence of God or Christ (see, for example,Romans 9:1–2)."

Without any engagement with these passages, Piper treats them as irrelevant. But if you look at each of these passages, they provide weighty evidence indeed. Notice the way in which Paul communicates to the churches in Corinth and in Galatia, from which he was experiencing some opposition. In these contexts, in which people might doubt his word due to no fault of his own, Paul confirms his testimony with words like, "I call God as witness to my soul" (2 Cor 1:23), or, "I assure you before God that I am not lying" (Gal 1:20). There is not a hairsbreadth of difference between this language and the "so help me God" of an oath in court. There is, in fact, no way of understanding the Holy Spirit-inspired Apostle's language as anything other than an oath.

Old Testament Evidence

Whereas the New Testament evidence may be especially telling, in that it demonstrates oath-taking occurring even after Christ gives His instruction, the Old Testament also has bearing upon this question. In Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20, God commands His people to take oaths in His name. The Old Testament is full of people taking oaths, and doing so-when the oath is taken honestly-is not always portrayed as a bad thing. These Old Testament commands and examples are not just for people in ancient times; they are for US who trust in Christ (see Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 10:6-11; 2 Tim 3:16-17). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was not contradicting the earlier words of God; He was rightly interpreting them.

Confessional Evidence

I would also like to submit that Piper's biblical reasoning on this issue could benefit from an examination of the Reformed/Baptist confessional heritage. Today, there are many who distrust confessions of faith (and works of systematic theology in general), believing that they necessarily force an interpretive grid upon Scripture. But as I read  Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ by Nehemiah Coxe and John Owen, I see Owen (the architect of the Savoy Declaration) and Coxe (the architect of the Second London Baptist Confesion) drawing their arguments by careful exegesis of specific passages. And on this issue as well, it is better to take our older brothers' words into consideration than to have each generation pretend as if they are thinking through disputed issues for the first time. So, for example, we should consider Chapter 23 of the Second London Confession, "Of Lawful Oaths," where it declares:
In matter of weight and moment, for confirmation of truth, and ending all strife, an oath is warranted by the word of God; so a lawful oath being imposed by lawful authority in such matters, ought to be taken. (Heb 6:16; 2 Cor 1:23; Neh 13:25)
We should look at the reasoning of the Confession and the Scripture proofs it cites to see if there is wisdom from our elders that will benefit us.

Conclusion

John Piper, in his advice against oaths in court, is trying to be faithful to the command of His Lord. In this, he is to be commended. However, I am convinced that he is wrong on the question at hand, and that his error-however honest-has the potential for serious consequences.

Piper envisions himself, if in court, refusing to give an oath. Instead, he believes he would give a miniature sermon: something like Stephen before the Sanhedrin. But, though United States judges and justices have made wicked decisions at times, our court system is not the Sanhedrin. It is, however, an environment in which many witnesses have a reason to lie, and the judge and jury need a formal mechanism by which people are either bound to tell the truth, or else they face legal repercussions. It is not a place where each witness can establish a reputation whereby everyone can know that his "yes" is "yes" and his "no," "no." It is not a place where each witness can give a theological dissertation based on private opinion. Introducing unusual language into the proceeding just confuses the matter at hand. Instead of providing the opportunity for witness that Piper imagines, failure to give a simple answer may make the Christian seem unnecessarily obnoxious, and place him-again, unnecessarily-in danger of contempt.

Finally, apart from the specific example at hand-the question of a Christian who is a witness at trial-the approach that Piper takes to this question introduces a detrimental method of biblical interpretation. People have used this method-taking a single phrase from the Sermon on the Mount out of context, not interpreting Bible verses by the light of Scripture as a whole-and they have argued for absolute pacifism  (based on "love your enemies"), they have argued against proper Christian discernment (based on "judge not"), and they have promoted even worse errors.

Several of Piper's works have been a great blessing in my own life. He is greatly influential with many in our churches. But I would urge anyone reading this to re-consider his exegesis concerning oath-taking; in general, I would hope that we will all strive to interpret every Scripture in context.

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Monday, March 07, 2016

Covenants of Redemption: Major Movements in Redemptive History

Over the past year, I was privileged with the opportunity to teach at several of the Wednesday evening prayer services at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. On these occasions, I taught through the covenants of Scripture. I did not have all of my lessons on the covenants recorded, but I did record those which I believe to be most foundational to the covenant structure of Scripture. These sermons are as follows:


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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and Levitical Covenant: Jeremiah 33:14-22


14 Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.’”
19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 20 “Thus says the Lord, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, 21 then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’" (Jeremiah 33:14-22 NASB)
Notice that the above text links together the Davidic Covenant, the New Covenant, and the Levitical Covenant. (The "good word" in verse 14 refers to the New Covenant promise from Jeremiah 31:27ff.)

The book of Hebrews also brings these three themes together and proclaims that they find specific fulfillment in Christ. Hebrews discusses the Davidic Covenant, for example, in Hebrews 1:5. Hebrews mentions Jesus as our High Priest in chapters 3-5, then gives a rather extended consideration of both the Levitical priesthood and the New Covenant in chapters 7-10.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology

In order to rightly understand God's Word, it is crucial to consider God's covenant dealings with His people. In particular, it is important to consider the relationship between the Old Testament and New Testament. A right understanding of covenants will assist the believer in better comprehension and appreciation of the gospel.

In addition to the resources at www.1689Federalism.com, I believe that the following 10 videos are wonderfully helpful in rightly understanding what the Bible teaches about the covenants.

Covenant Theology Foundations by Samuel Renihan

A Brief Survey of Covenant Theology, Part 1 by Richard Barcellos

A Brief Survey of Covenant Theology, Part 2 by Richard Barcellos

A Brief Survey of Covenant Theology, Part 3 by Richard Barcellos

Redemptive History and the Covenants by Samuel Renihan

Whatever Happened to the Covenant of Works? by Sam Waldron

The Primacy of the Abrahamic Covenant by Jeffrey Johnson

Kingship and the Davidic Covenant by Samuel Renihan

Old Covenant Prosecution and New Covenant Resolution by Samuel Renihan

Christ and His Covenant by Samuel Renihan

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Brief Note on Faith as a Gift

Of saving faith, the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (2LBCF) declares:
The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord's supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. (14.1)
Notice the assertion that saving faith is "the work of the Spirit of Christ in their [i.e. the elects'] hearts. The Abstract of Principles, used by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, similarly declares, "[Faith] is wrought by the Holy Spirit." In 2LBCF the Scripture proof specifically tied to the doctrine that faith is a work of the Spirit is Ephesians 2:8, which reads, "For by grace you are saved through faith, and this not from yourselves, [it is] God's gift."

Sometimes, people who think that "faith" must originate in Man's 'free-will' object to using Ephesians 2:8 as a proof that faith is a gift. They point out that "faith" in the Greek is a feminine noun, whereas the pronoun "this" in the Greek is neuter. HOWEVER: because there is NO neuter antecedent for "this" in the Greek text, then it is best to see "this" as referring to "grace" (a feminine noun), "saved" (a masculine participle), and "faith" (a feminine noun) taken together. The singular pronoun "this" is used because "grace," "saved," and "faith" are seen as one experience of salvation enjoyed by the elect. As C.H. Spurgeon (who himself held to the 2LBCF) wrote,  salvation is All of Grace.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

A Note on the Contemporary Massacre of the Innocents

Imagine that you gained certain information concerning a building in your town in which 70 people were going to be killed this week. Your first response might be to call the police, to let them know of the impending massacre. But imagine that the police refused to do anything about the situation. Furthermore, imagine that a law was passed that (in effect) asserted the people being killed have no right to life.

Faced with this situation, what would you do?

Here in Louisville, at the corner of 2nd and Market, approximately 70 to 100 abortions will be performed this week; 70 to 100 pre-born children will be torn apart and evacuated from their mothers’ wombs.

What should Christians and churches do in light of this situation?

First, it must be strongly asserted that violence is NOT an option for Christians. Abortion is an instance of government-sanctioned murder, and Christians have clear examples from the Bible about how we are to act in the face of government-sanctioned murder:

- When Jesus was being taken to be murdered by the authorities, and He commanded Peter to put away his sword rather than to fight;
- When Peter was arrested soon after the killing of James, and the Church responded not by trying to mount a military-style rescue mission, rather they turn to earnest prayer on his behalf (see Acts 12).

Historically, Christians have followed these examples responding to government sanctioned killing (such as the killing that made martyrs of countless Christians or the gladiator games) through preaching, protest and prayer, but they did not turn to violence to stop violence.

So while the actions of those who kill abortion doctors or bomb abortion clinics may SEEM to make sense from a utilitarian or pragmatic perspective (kill one person or a few people to save, potentially, a great multitude of people), this is NOT the way that Christians are to think.

Second, we should respond to the evil of abortion exactly as the Church has always responded to government-sanctioned murder. We should pray, proclaim the gospel, persuade others to repent, and protest. We should take the message of truth to where it most needs to be heard.

[In March 2011, Tray Earnhart, who was then pastor of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, asked me to speak to our congregation concerning the work done every Saturday morning in front of the abortion clinic here in Louisville; the above thoughts are an excerpt of what I said on that occasion.]

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