American Presbyterianism Then and Now (mainline anyway)

Thanks to our southern correspondent, I saw a short piece at the Presbyterian Layman’s website on something called “Narrative on the State of Religion.” The Evangelical Covenant Order (ECO) of Presbyterians (the most recent group to leave, sort of, the PCUSA) was debating whether to re-institute these reports. Each congregation was expected to evaluate its spiritual health and send its “Narrative” to presbytery. Jim Singleton, a leader within ECO, opines that the PCUSA in 1925 stopped using these narratives and resorted to numerical statistics as a measure of congregational health.

Here is the list of questions sessions used for the old Narrative reporting:

Attendance upon the service of the sanctuary by members and others;

Proportions of families that observe family worship;

Observance of the Lord’s day by the members;

Home-training of the children in the Scripture and in the catechism of the church;

Training of pupils in the Sabbath school in the Scripture and the catechism of the church (Singleton said that during that time, Sabbath school was for non-Presbyterian children. The congregation’s children were to be trained at home.);

Fidelity of the membership in honoring the Lord with substance;

Has the congregation paid its minister fully and promptly the amount promised him?

Have there been any special manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s power in the church either by conversions or by increased activity in church work?

To what extent does worldly conformity exist in the church?

What evangelistic work is done by the church outside of its bounds?

What is the church doing to secure people for the Gospel ministry?

For what it’s worth, this is a remarkably good set of questions for pastors and elders to employ in evaluating their flocks and their own ministry. Singleton’s pointing to 1925 is also of interest since for Old Lifers that year was arguably THE turning point in the history of American Presbyterianism, a time when the PCUSA whitewashed the denomination’s health and started to blame conservatives for the church’s woes.

But I cannot go all the way with Singleton or ECO on the “Narrative” they hope to resuscitate. The proposed Narrative looks like this:

How has the Holy Spirit been evident in your congregation in the past year (through conversions, growth in the fruit of the Spirit or other transformational experiences in the congregation)?

How has your congregation extended itself beyond its bounds through the establishment of new communities of worship and discipleship?

In what ways is your congregation seeking the welfare of the “city” (community) to which we are called?

How has your congregation devoted itself to the poor in this past year? Describe the evidence of the heart of compassion.

How has your congregation sought justice as an expression of the Kingdom of God?

Describe the state of moral expression in your congregation — are you more like the world or more like the participants in the values of the Kingdom of God?

How are individuals, including women, men and people of different ethnic groups, experiencing the call to full-time or part-time ministry in your congregation?

Describe how the idea of ministry as the joy and calling of every disciple is evident in your congregation.

Describe how your employment practices are moving toward an expression of the values of the Kingdom of God.

Explain how your congregation understands its commitment to the larger church through our connectional relationships within the Body of Christ.

Strikingly absent are concerns about public worship, observing the Lord’s Day, family worship, and catechesis. It’s as if the folks at Redeemer NYC were responsible for drafting the new Narrative (though I’m not sure the last item about connectional relationships would have made the cut).

Too bad. The old Narrative was a good idea.

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48 Comments

  1. Posted July 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Whatever happened to wanting to “go back” rather than “progress forward” when it comes to doctrine and practice? I think the ghost of John Henry Newman and his “doctrinal development” is a kind of ecumenical specter…

  2. Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Yep, I’m with you on this one. The older “narrative” is much more balanced (and biblical, imo) than the newer one. Without neglecting matters of the heart (for example, its reference to the Holy Spirit and conversions), it avoids experientialist excesses and puritanical hyper-introspection by focusing on those outward, “churchly” practices that can be objectively measured and observed (church attendance, Lord’s Day observance, family worship, catechesis, etc.). The newer “narrative,” while no doubt well-intentioned, is far too subjective, ambiguous, transformational and overly-experiential for my tastes. The older narrative avoids trying to read people’s hearts (something impossible for us as creatures), and puts the focus where it belongs: those outward, “churchly” manifestations of a credible profession of faith in Christ and of a healthy Presbyterian congregation.

  3. Richard Smith
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Geoff Willour: Yep, I’m with you on this one. The older “narrative” is much more balanced (and biblical, imo) than the newer one. Without neglecting matters of the heart (for example, its reference to the Holy Spirit and conversions), it avoids experientialist excesses and puritanical hyper-introspection by focusing on those outward, “churchly” practices that can be objectively measured and observed (church attendance, Lord’s Day observance, family worship, catechesis, etc.). The newer “narrative,” while no doubt well-intentioned, is far too subjective, ambiguous, transformational and overly-experiential for my tastes. The older narrative avoids trying to read people’s hearts (something impossible for us as creatures), and puts the focus where it belongs: those outward, “churchly” manifestations of a credible profession of faith in Christ and of a healthy Presbyterian congregation.

    RS: But without the things of the heart, you know, like love, joy, peace, patience and so on, where does that leave you? Remember that without love nothing you or anyone can do is of any benefit (I Cor 13:1-8). The PCUSA was not in good shape in 1925. It was not their changing their narratives that caused the problem, but instead they were having problems and so changed the narratives. It is possible to have perfect church attendance and Lord’s Day observance, consistent family worship and the practice of catechesis and still be a Pharisee.

  4. Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Richard, and where do love, joy, peace, etc. leave you without catechesis and worship? What if you only get love, joy, peace etc. through the means God has ordained?

    And by the way, how do you know if someone has love? How do you really know? Could it be that you are a Pharisee of the heart?

    Please, no quotes from Edwards.

  5. David A Booth
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I’m curious about what they think a good response would be to: “Describe how your employment practices are moving toward an expression of the values of the Kingdom of God.”

    Perhaps: “We don’t have any employees. The pastor we support financially is not an employee of the church. Since this seems faithful to Scripture our employment practices aren’t moving at all.”

    Somehow I don’t imagine that this is what they are looking for.

  6. Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    “RS: But without the things of the heart, you know, like love, joy, peace, patience and so on, where does that leave you? Remember that without love nothing you or anyone can do is of any benefit (I Cor 13:1-8). The PCUSA was not in good shape in 1925. It was not their changing their narratives that caused the problem, but instead they were having problems and so changed the narratives. It is possible to have perfect church attendance and Lord’s Day observance, consistent family worship and the practice of catechesis and still be a Pharisee.”

    GW: Brother Richard, where in my initial comment did I deny the importance of love, joy, peace, patience, etc.? Nowhere. And, of course, I agree (as would all well-catechized Presbyterian and Reformed Christians) that it is possible for someone to observe all the outward forms of the faith (church attendance, family worship, catechesis, etc.) and at the same time be a hypocrite and unregenerate at heart. But my concern is that no man, including a collection of men in a church session, can infallibly read the hearts of others. That is why historic Presbyterian and Reformed churches (except, perhaps, those tainted by the influence of puritan hyper-introspection), like the OPC, require only a credible (believable) outward profession of faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, uncontradicted by life, as the condition for communicant membership, rather than requiring the demonstration of evidences of regeneration. While it is true that there is some sense that “by their fruits ye shall know them” (as our Savior proclaimed), still it is quite possible for the flesh to imitate such fruits of the Spirit; and thus no man can know with infallible certainty the state of the soul of another man. (In my own life I can think of a number of people who seemed in my judgment to give all the evidences of having a sound profession of faith and of being in a soundly converted, regenerate state, but who then either drifted away or fell away from the faith into gospel apostasy; and in such cases often neglect of the diligent use of the outward means of grace is an initial warning sign of a dangerous drift toward apostasy.) That is why in this present age we are limited to focusing on outward manifestations of a credible profession and of a healthy church such as: faithful attendance at the stated services, faithful observance of the Lord’s Day, participation in the Lord’s Supper, family worship, catechesis and home instruction in the Scriptures, godly submission to the ordained leaders of the church, etc. We in the church are called to be faithful in administering and diligently using the outward means of grace; we are not called to try to fill the role of being the Holy Spirit. Deut. 29:29.

    By the way, in a faithful Presbyterian congregation where these “churchly” practices are being conscientiously carried out in accordance with the Scriptures, any hypocrite who tries to blend in with the godly will be regularly exposed to faithful teaching and preaching that confronts him with his hypocrisy. And if his hypocrisy becomes manifest in his behavior through open and scandalous sin, a faithful Presbyterian session will exercise church discipline and eventually excommunicate him if he fails to repent. But even if he manages to continue in the covenant community with his heart hardened in hypocrisy and his hypocrisy undetected (which sometimes happens in even the most consistent and faithful congregations), then the fault lies not with the outward “churchly” forms of the faith (attendance, Lord’s Day observance, catechesis, etc.), but rather with the hypocrite himself. During His earthly life our Lord Jesus did not cease observing the outward forms of the faith (like weekly synagogue attendance on the sabbath) just because so many of God’s professed people in that time were hypocritical in their practice of the faith. Nor did He denigrate the outward forms (like corporate worship, sabbath observance, tithing, etc.). Instead He confronted the hypocritical and self-righteous use of those outward forms. Any faithful Presbyterian minister of the Word and any faithful Presbyterian session will do likewise.

  7. Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Richard Smith

    Posted July 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    McMark: Moo writes on Romans 8:4 in NICNT, p482—”Some think that Christians, with the Spirit empowering within, fulfill the demand of the law by righteous living. However, while it is true that God’s act in Christ has as one of its intents that we produce fruit, we do not think that this is what Paul is saying here.

    RS: He can say that until the cows come home, but that does not make it so. Grammar is important and so is the context. Notice the context just below. There is no condemnation for those who ARE ALREADY in Christ. They are free from the law of sin and death. Remember, living and walking in sin is spiritual death. The law could not condemn sin in the flesh, but Christ did. Why did God send the Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as an offering for sin? So that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us!!!!! Who are those who in whom the law is being fulfilled? It is those who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. The subject being dealt with is following the flesh or fulfilling the law by the Spirit. One purpose of the death of Christ is so that the Law would be fulfilled in His people by the Spirit.

    Does this not say it all?- Richard is of the legacy of Norman Shephard, Gary North and Richard Gaffin (along with Edwards). Did you know that Gary North looked upon Norman Shephard as his most influential mentor? Is not what Richard said here one of the reasons why Kline, Clowney, etal., started Westminster West? Meshing and mixing Law and Gospel was a no no during the Reformation. Does it not remain so today? Read Galatians slowly Richard!!! Romans and Galatians holds more cloat than 1John and James which I think you misinterpret anyways. Keep flapping your jaws Richard, you are going to bury yourself soon.

  8. Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    God does not need another Son to fulfill the requirements of the Law- it already has been done by His Son alone. To think that creatures can fulfill what only the Creator can fulfill crosses over the Creator/creature distinction, does it not? Is not that called theosis? How can creatures who are still inflicted with “bodies of sin” fulfill the Law? They need God to fulfill it for them or else they have no hope.

  9. Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I have a hard time with this subtle statement by Gaffin but others may not. I know Richard will agree with it.

    Gaffin himself, By Faith not by Sight, p103

    From this perspective then, the antithesis between law and gospel is
    not an end in itself. It is not a theological ultimate. Rather, that
    antithesis enters not by virtue of creation but as the consequence of
    sin, and the gospel functions for its overcoming. The gospel is to the
    end of removing an absolute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the
    believer. How so? Briefly, apart from the gospel and outside of Christ
    the law is my enemy and condemns me. Why? Because God is my enemy and
    condemns me. But with the gospel and in Christ, united to him by
    faith, the law is no longer my enemy but my friend. Why? Because now
    God is no longer my enemy but my friend, and the law… is now my
    friendly guide for life in fellowship with God.

  10. Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Unmask yourself Richard, tell us who you are and where you went to seminary!!!

  11. Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I find it cowardly that you have to still hide yourself Richard.

  12. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, and where do love, joy, peace, etc. leave you without catechesis and worship? What if you only get love, joy, peace etc. through the means God has ordained?

    RS: I would not deny that, but remember people can have all that was listed above and not have these.

    D.G. Hart: Could it be that you are a Pharisee of the heart?

    RS: I John 4:16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
    17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

    D.G. Hart: Could it be that you are a Pharisee of the heart?

    RS: It is logically possible.

    D.G. Hart: Please, no quotes from Edwards.

    RS: “If we are under an infinite obligation to love God supremely, live to Him ultimately, and take everlasting delight in him, because of his infinite glory and excellency, then the least disposition to disesteem him, to be indifferent about his interest and honor, or to disrelish communion with him; or the least disposition to love ourselves more than God, and be more concerned about our interest and honor than about his, and to be pleased and delighted in the things of the world more than in him, must, consequently, be infinitely sinful, as is self-evident” (Joseph Bellamy).

    1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
    2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
    3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

  13. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    John Yeazel: to Richard Smith
    JY quoting McMark: Moo writes on Romans 8:4 in NICNT, p482—”Some think that Christians, with the Spirit empowering within, fulfill the demand of the law by righteous living. However, while it is true that God’s act in Christ has as one of its intents that we produce fruit, we do not think that this is what Paul is saying here.

    JY quorting RS’ response RS: He can say that until the cows come home, but that does not make it so. Grammar is important and so is the context. Notice the context just below. There is no condemnation for those who ARE ALREADY in Christ. They are free from the law of sin and death. Remember, living and walking in sin is spiritual death. The law could not condemn sin in the flesh, but Christ did. Why did God send the Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as an offering for sin? So that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us!!!!! Who are those who in whom the law is being fulfilled? It is those who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. The subject being dealt with is following the flesh or fulfilling the law by the Spirit. One purpose of the death of Christ is so that the Law would be fulfilled in His people by the Spirit.

    John Yeazel for Himself: Does this not say it all?- Richard is of the legacy of Norman Shephard, Gary North and Richard Gaffin (along with Edwards).

    RS: Sir, you are misreading if you think that I am near or in the same universe even as the legacy of Norman Shephard. How anyone can read Jonathan Edwards (wait, maybe you have not) and say he is in the same universe as the legacy of Shephard is somewhat beyond belief.

    John Yeazel: Did you know that Gary North looked upon Norman Shephard as his most influential mentor? Is not what Richard said here one of the reasons why Kline, Clowney, etal., started Westminster West? Meshing and mixing Law and Gospel was a no no during the Reformation. Does it not remain so today? Read Galatians slowly Richard!!! Romans and Galatians holds more cloat than 1John and James which I think you misinterpret anyways. Keep flapping your jaws Richard, you are going to bury yourself soon.

    RS: John, methinks you need to take some reading comprehension lessons, read the Bible very carefully, and then go study the WCF very carefully. By the way, take a few lessons in humor while you are at it. You completely missed the fact that McMark quoted Moo and then my “until the cows come home” remark. Sigh, what are they teaching these kids in school these days?

    John, Shephard confused justification and sanctifcation and that is putting it quite nicely. I assert this, right along with the WCF chapter XI on Justification:
    I. Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies;[1] not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,[2] they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.[3]

    II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification:[4] yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.[5]

    III. Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real and full satisfaction to His Father’s justice in their behalf.[6] Yet, in as much as He was given by the Father for them;[7] and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead;[8] and both, freely, not for any thing in them; their justification is only of free grace;[9] that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.[10]

    RS: Notice that in II it says that faith is the alone instrument in justification, “Yet it is not alone in the person justified; but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.” Note, the justified person is declared just on the basis of grace alone through faith alone, but that true faith is ever and always accompanied with all other saving graces. Please read that carefully. Then, that same true faith is not dead (remember James 2), but instead of that it works by love. By the way, that works by love part is from Galatians the book you said I should read.

    Moving on a little, like to chapter XIII of the WCF, notice what it says about sanctification:
    I. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection,[1] by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them:[2] the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,[3] and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified;[4] and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces,[5] to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.[6]

    RS: What I am saying (or at least trying to say) is in perfect accord with the WCF which stands fully against Norman Shephard and comany. I do read one guy named Shephard, but his name is Thomas. He was the founder of Harvard and was quoted by Jonathan Edwards in his Religious Affections more than all others combined. But notice the last two clauses of the WCF quote from just above: “to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

  14. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    John Yeazel: Unmask yourself Richard, tell us who you are and where you went to seminary!!!

    RS: I am not wearing a mask, John. By the way, Richard is my real name.

  15. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    John YeazeI: I find it cowardly that you have to still hide yourself Richard.

    RS: Where did you find that at? Who is hiding? Well, I do try to hide from my wife at times.

  16. Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Richard, oh wretched man that I am! I don’t love God the way that Bellamy requires or that the Bible says. But thank the Lord I have a savior who died for all of my sins, even of the heart.

  17. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Geoff Willour: Brother Richard, where in my initial comment did I deny the importance of love, joy, peace, patience, etc.? Nowhere.

    RS: You are correct in that, but then again you did not assert it.

    Geoff Willour And, of course, I agree (as would all well-catechized Presbyterian and Reformed Christians) that it is possible for someone to observe all the outward forms of the faith (church attendance, family worship, catechesis, etc.) and at the same time be a hypocrite and unregenerate at heart.

    RS: Which is my concern that we must not limit Christianity to some stated beliefs and outward morality (not that you actually do). For the record, the “Proposed Narrative” listed by Dr. Hart is something I would have a reaction to as well, but one can only have one reaction at a time.

    Geoff Willour: But my concern is that no man, including a collection of men in a church session, can infallibly read the hearts of others.

    RS: I am not sure many would argue that we can infallibly read the hearts of others, but that does not mean we should not look beyond the externals. After all, John Yeazel’s favorite book of the Bible (I John) does tell us that we can know about ourselves and others. But you are correct, it does not say we can infallibly know.

    Geoff Willour: That is why historic Presbyterian and Reformed churches (except, perhaps, those tainted by the influence of puritan hyper-introspection),

    RS: What is puritan hyper-introspection? Is that what a Puritan did when he drank caffeine on an empty stomach while practicing introspection? I keep reading that phrase but I guess I don’t know the line between introspection and hyper-introspection. Everytime I say something about the inner life of Christianity I get hit with that tag.

    Geoff Willour: like the OPC, require only a credible (believable) outward profession of faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, uncontradicted by life, as the condition for communicant membership, rather than requiring the demonstration of evidences of regeneration.

    RS: Nevertheless, I John 4 does speak to how we can know about ourselves and others and of what it might mean to confess Christ. Notice all the plural pronouns there: 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
    13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.
    14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
    15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
    16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
    17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.

    Geoff Willour: While it is true that there is some sense that “by their fruits ye shall know them” (as our Savior proclaimed), still it is quite possible for the flesh to imitate such fruits of the Spirit; and thus no man can know with infallible certainty the state of the soul of another man.

    RS: Much to the chagrin of Dr. Hart, I simply must produce a thought from Jonathan Edwards. After all, I don’t believe in free-will except in how Edwards defined it, so by necessity of my strongest desire I must set it out. He said that everything in Christianity could be imitated by true love. Of course false love is not true love and so those who love with false love can deceive others.

  18. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, oh wretched man that I am!

    RS: Amen!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, you guys don’t like that too much.

    D. G. Hart: I don’t love God the way that Bellamy requires or that the Bible says. But thank the Lord I have a savior who died for all of my sins, even of the heart.

    RS: Which, I might add, was his point in writing that. It sets out the great standard of love for God of which all people fall far short of. That drives us to Christ rather than just some little peccadillo.

  19. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    John Yeazel: I have a hard time with this subtle statement by Gaffin but others may not. I know Richard will agree with it.

    Gaffin himself, By Faith not by Sight, p103

    From this perspective then, the antithesis between law and gospel is
    not an end in itself. It is not a theological ultimate. Rather, that
    antithesis enters not by virtue of creation but as the consequence of
    sin, and the gospel functions for its overcoming. The gospel is to the
    end of removing an absolute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the
    believer. How so? Briefly, apart from the gospel and outside of Christ
    the law is my enemy and condemns me. Why? Because God is my enemy and
    condemns me. But with the gospel and in Christ, united to him by
    faith, the law is no longer my enemy but my friend. Why? Because now
    God is no longer my enemy but my friend, and the law… is now my
    friendly guide for life in fellowship with God.

    RS: Without knowing what perspective he gave the quote, I can only say if it is not on the context of what justifies then it is a good quote. The law reflects the nature of God’s holiness and His glory. A truly converted person loves all that reflects the holiness and glory of God.

  20. Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Richard, what you and Edwards do, it seems to me, is the equivalent of hate crime legislation. It’s not bad enough that someone murders another person. We need also to determine if it goes to the level of hate.

    In case you didn’t realize it, all sin is the result of disregard for God. It’s not as if all people love God but happen to tell lies. The same goes for good works, which proceed from a regenerate heart that trusts Christ. The old formulas take the heart into account, in other words. But what you do is to turn up the volume and see if they really do believe, or if they really really hate God.

    It’s not necessary and especially not beneficial.

  21. David R.
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    John,

    I don’t much care for that passage from Gaffin either. Strange that he speaks of the law-gospel antithesis as something that occurs subjectively, “in the life of the believer.” I’ve always understood it rather to refer to two radically different covenants representing two ways of finding favor with God. This is indeed a “theological ultimate.” I can more or less agree with the second part of the quote though.

  22. Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this post Dr. Hart. Good stuff.

  23. David R.
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    BTW, Moo is in pretty good company among Reformed theologians who view Romans 8:4 in terms of justification (rather than in terms of Spirit empowered law-keeping). Check out Calvin’s and Hodge’s commentaries:

    “That the justification of the law might be fulfilled, etc. They who understand that the renewed, by the Spirit of Christ, fulfil the law, introduce a gloss wholly alien to the meaning of Paul; for the faithful, while they sojourn in this world, never make such a proficiency, as that the justification of the law becomes in them full or complete. This then must be applied to forgiveness; for when the obedience of Christ is accepted for us, the law is satisfied, so that we are counted just.” –Calvin

    “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, etc. This verse expresses the design of God in sending his Son, and in condemning sin in the flesh. He did thus condemn it, ἵνα, in order that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled. The meaning, therefore, of this passage is determined by the view taken of ver. 3. If that verse means, that God, by sending his Son, destroyed sin in us, then of course this verse must mean, ‘He destroyed sin, in order that we should fulfill the law;” i.e. that we should be holy. But if ver. 3 is understood of the sacrificial death of Christ, and of the condemnation of sin in him as the substitute of sinners, then this verse must be understood of justification, and not of sanctification. He condemned sin, in order that the demands of the law might be satisfied. This is the view of the passage given even by the majority of the early Fathers, and by almost all evangelical interpreters, including the Reformers.” –C. Hodge

  24. David R.
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, I guess those comments belong on the “regeneration” thread….

  25. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, what you and Edwards do, it seems to me, is the equivalent of hate crime legislation. It’s not bad enough that someone murders another person. We need also to determine if it goes to the level of hate.

    RS: Interesting analogy.

    D. G. Hart: In case you didn’t realize it, all sin is the result of disregard for God. It’s not as if all people love God but happen to tell lies. The same goes for good works, which proceed from a regenerate heart that trusts Christ. The old formulas take the heart into account, in other words. But what you do is to turn up the volume and see if they really do believe, or if they really really hate God.

    RS: But what the old formulas realized is that incredibly deceptive nature of the heart and the power of the the deceiver. They also realized that a heart under the deceptive power of self-love will think it loves God when it does so many works under the power and deception of self-love. If you would have asked the Pharisees if they loved God or not, they would have thought they did.

    D.G. Hart: It’s not necessary and especially not beneficial.

    RS: So if the devil is the deceiver and our hearts are more deceitful than all else, and then one mixes in the deceitfulness of sin, it would appear to me that we should be very careful about deception. It may not be as easy as many want to make it out to be.

    Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

    Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

    Matthew 24:24 “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.

    Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

    Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

  26. Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    RS: John, methinks you need to take some reading comprehension lessons, read the Bible very carefully, and then go study the WCF very carefully. By the way, take a few lessons in humor while you are at it. You completely missed the fact that McMark quoted Moo and then my “until the cows come home” remark. Sigh, what are they teaching these kids in school these days?

    John Y: No, I did not miss the fact that McMark quoted Moo and then your “until the cows come home” remark. How did you come to that conclusion? I don’t have much of a sense of humor when it comes to someone who distorts the Gospel and then keeps telling everyone for 5 or 6 months that he does not. You add to the Gospel things that are not there and then tell people that they can be assured that they believe the Gospel by their obedience to the Law. And on top of that you claim that believers are to “fufill” the Law by the power of the Spirit. That is the same thing that Norman Shephard and Gary North said. I am pretty sure that nullifies the Gospel and Paul would tell you that you are believing another Gospel. You want to go Law/Gospel/Law which is what the Galatians were doing. I could refer you to an article (with scripture references and all) but why bother.

    I will grant you this- you and Edwards still talk of imputation (where Shephard and I believe North and the theonomists reject it) like the Westminster confession states, but then go on and talk of fulfilling the Law by the Spirit like Christ did (Shephard, Gaffin and North say the same thing). That is nullifying and subtly distorting the Gospel. I am sure many who think like you Richard will disagree. So be it.

  27. Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Richard, if the heart is that deceitful, then may Edwards was lying when he wrote Religious Affections? Anyway, why question the “love” in the heart of an advocate of catechesis but not the love in the heart of the revivalist? Arbitrary, right? Oh no, here come the Bible verses interpreted by Richard’s warmed white-hot, not to be deceived, heart.

  28. Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Richard says: John, Shephard confused justification and sanctifcation and that is putting it quite nicely. I assert this, right along with the WCF chapter XI on Justification:

    Shephard did much more than confuse justification and sanctification- he rejected imputation, he rejected the Law/Gospel antithesis and he rejected the covenant of works among other things. Get your facts straight on Shephard Richard.

  29. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    David R.: Sorry, I guess those comments belong on the “regeneration” thread….

    RS: There is a thread that regenertes? Wow. D.G. Hart as taken Sacramentalism to a different level. However, John Y did bring this up on this thread. If one takes Romans 8:3-4 into account as justification, then it is certainly heresy. That is how those that Calvin was opposing took it. However, I take it that it has nothing to do with justifying the sinner, but instead that the context speaks of keeping the law which is what the Spirit does in the sinner. In that sense it fits with the two passages below.

    James 2:8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well.
    \Romans 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    RS: When one looks at the context of Romans 8:4, it seems almost incontrovertible that the Scripture is speaking of a process by which a person keeps the law by the Spirit. Look carefully at the causal words in the text.

    Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
    2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

    RS: It is the law of the Spirit of life that has set people free from the law of sin and death. That is what it means to have no condemnation in Christ. Note the word “for” at the beginning of v. 2 which has the basic meaning of “because” in this context.

    3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

    RS: Note again the word “for” starting the verse. It is another because of what it means to be free of condemnation in Christ.

    4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    RS: Christ condemned sin in the flesh “so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us.” But it does not say that He gave us a perfect righteousnes so that the Law could be fulfilled in us and so that alone could never justify. But He condemned sin in the flesh so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, but who is the us? It is those who do NOT walk according to the flesh but according to the Spriit. Note again, if this is speaking of justification, that last part would not necessarily be as relevant as it is here.

    5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

    RS: The word “for” again. It tells us why it is those who do NOT walk according to the flesh but DO walk according to the Spirit.

    6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
    7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    RS: Notice the logic of Paul again. Those who walk according to the flesh have a mind set on the flesh and is death. The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God and it cannot subject itself to the law of God and as such cannot please God. But those who walk by the Spirit do fulfill the law, that is, in the sense of James 2:8 and I Corinthians 13:10. That is the interpretation that actually fits the context of what Paul is speaking of. But once again, justification is not what Paul is talking about and so the fulfilling or keeping of the law is not in order to be justified. This is speaking of those who are not under condemnation in Christ and as such they walk by the Spirit of love and so fulfill the law which is the law of love.

  30. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, if the heart is that deceitful, then may Edwards was lying when he wrote Religious Affections? Anyway, why question the “love” in the heart of an advocate of catechesis but not the love in the heart of the revivalist? Arbitrary, right? Oh no, here come the Bible verses interpreted by Richard’s warmed white-hot, not to be deceived, heart.

    RS: Oh, don’t get me wrong, all people of all groups can be deceived. Revivalists can be as deceived as all can be, but again there is a distinction between revival and revivalism. I do continue to find it strange that you tend to be bothered when I quote the Bible but not so much when I quote the Confession.

  31. Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Richard Smith

    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    John YeazeI: I find it cowardly that you have to still hide yourself Richard.

    RS: Where did you find that at? Who is hiding? Well, I do try to hide from my wife at times

    You always want to distort the meaning of what I meant and twist it into something else. Is that a habit of yours or what? You know exactly what I meant by hiding- ha, ha Richard; you should have been a stand-up comedian. You still have not revealed your name and the seminary you went to. I was going to make a comment about your wife but refrained. The Spirit made me hold my tongue.

  32. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    John Yeazel: No, I did not miss the fact that McMark quoted Moo and then your “until the cows come home” remark. How did you come to that conclusion? I don’t have much of a sense of humor when it comes to someone who distorts the Gospel and then keeps telling everyone for 5 or 6 months that he does not.

    RS: But I would by lying if I told you that I distorted the Gospel. I might continue to remind you that I hold to the Gospel as set out in the WCF. I even gave the you sections from the WCF this very day.

    John Yeazel: You add to the Gospel things that are not there and then tell people that they can be assured that they believe the Gospel by their obedience to the Law.

    RS: What do I add to the Gospel? The Gospel is grace alone and Christ alone to the glory of God alone. The issue is what kind of grace saves. I am saying that when true salvation comes it comes by grace alone, but as the WCF says, the faith that that grace comes through (faith is the alone instrument) comes with other graces. The grace that saves (in justification) is a grace that continues to work in the people of God. It is by grace that the Spirit indwells in sinners and it is by grace that sinners are enabled to love and so fulfill the law in that sense. That does not mean that they keep it perfectly and that does not mean that it adds one jot to their justifiction. It just means that the grace that saves is a grace that continues to work in the children of God.

    John Yeazel: And on top of that you claim that believers are to “fufill” the Law by the power of the Spirit.

    RS: But don’t forget James 2:8 and Romans 13:10 which speaks of fulfilling the law by love. But of course there is no love in saved sinners but by the Spirit. I might also add, once again for clarification, this fulfilling the law is not for justifiction. It is because now the sinner loves God and wants to fulfill the law rather than be ruled over by the sins of the flesh. Now if you would take your turn in reading Galatians (okay, go to chapter 5), you will note this:
    13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

    RS: The discussion then turns to the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.
    Those who walk or live in the deeds of the flesh take note: “of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Yet he says something different for those who say they walk in the Spirit and belong to Christ: 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

    RS: Those who walk according to the flesh will not inherit the kingdom, but all who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh and as such they live by and walk by the Spirit.

    John Y: That is the same thing that Norman Shephard and Gary North said.

    RS: Perhaps they did, but if they said it in context of justification or contributing to justification, then they are not saying what I am saying and they said what is contrary to the WCF.

    John Y: I am pretty sure that nullifies the Gospel and Paul would tell you that you are believing another Gospel. You want to go Law/Gospel/Law which is what the Galatians were doing. I could refer you to an article (with scripture references and all) but why bother.

    RS: Remember that I have been using Galatians quite a bit. 1) Salvation is all of Christ and justification cannot be added to at any point and at any time. 2) Those who have Christ have crucified the flesh and walk by the Spirit.

    John Y: I will grant you this- you and Edwards still talk of imputation (where Shephard and I believe North and the theonomists reject it) like the Westminster confession states, but then go on and talk of fulfilling the Law by the Spirit like Christ did (Shephard, Gaffin and North say the same thing). That is nullifying and subtly distorting the Gospel. I am sure many who think like you Richard will disagree. So be it.

    RS: Allow me to repeat myself for approx the 1,000th time. The talk that I am doing of fulfilling the law by the Spirit is not the same as Christ did and it is not adding to justification. Those whom Christ justified (His live, work on the cross, resurrection, ascension) by grace alone now live differently because they are different. But their fulfilling or keeping the law is not a perffect keeping of the law and adds nothing to justifiction. They do it out of love for Him because the law reflects the glory and holiness of God.

  33. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    John Yeazel: Richard says: John, Shephard confused justification and sanctifcation and that is putting it quite nicely. I assert this, right along with the WCF chapter XI on Justification:

    John Y: Shephard did much more than confuse justification and sanctification- he rejected imputation, he rejected the Law/Gospel antithesis and he rejected the covenant of works among other things. Get your facts straight on Shephard Richard.

    RS: If you recall I said “and that is putting it quite nicely.” It is by rejecting imputation that he confuses justification and sanctification.

  34. Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Richard, when you quote the Bible, I have to read your comments. When you quote the confession and Edwards, I can get on with my day. At the same time, your biblical quotes rarely settle anything. They only raise questions of interpretation.

  35. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    John Yeazel
    Older comment by John YeazeI: I find it cowardly that you have to still hide yourself Richard.

    Not as old comment by RS: Where did you find that at? Who is hiding? Well, I do try to hide from my wife at times

    Present Comment by angry John Y: You always want to distort the meaning of what I meant and twist it into something else.

    RS: No, I don’t always want to do that. Just on occasion.

    John Y: Is that a habit of yours or what?

    RS: Not really a habit since I just do it on occasion.

    John Y: You know exactly what I meant by hiding- ha, ha Richard; you should have been a stand-up comedian.

    RS: Thank you. That is the first nice things you have said to me.

    John Y: You still have not revealed your name and the seminary you went to.

    RS: But I have revealed by name. What is the purpose of revealing the seminary that I went to? So you can put me in another box? I will say this, though I am not hiding. 1) It was a well-known seminary. 2) It was Reformed and paedobaptist. 3) It was conservative. But I really don’t want to put into your boxes of odd sizes.

    John Y: I was going to make a comment about your wife but refrained. The Spirit made me hold my tongue.

    RS: But even the desire to do so fell short. Okay, I cannot resist. I assume by holding your tongue you meant that you did not type something mean about my wife or about me. Tsk, tsk.

    James 3:8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.

  36. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, when you quote the Bible, I have to read your comments. When you quote the confession and Edwards, I can get on with my day. At the same time, your biblical quotes rarely settle anything. They only raise questions of interpretation.

    RS: The confession never raises questions? By the way, I am not mocking you on that. It is just very interesting. It also raises many questions.

  37. Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    And, as I have stated before Richard, I think a lot of what the Westminster confession says in regards to sanctification is unfortunate and was influenced by Puritan thought. Most Lutherans would agree with that. I take my thinking on sanctification from the Lutherans more so than the Puritans. Although I think some Calvinists and Lutherans are close in regards to sanctification- even ones who adhere to the Westminster Confession but do not necessarily like the Puritan influence. We have already talked about that though Richard.

  38. Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I am not angry Richard, I just think you are a goof. In fact, I am laughing as I type.

  39. Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Richard:

    but I guess I don’t know the line between introspection and hyper-introspection

    There is no bottom to plumbing the depths of our failures and impurities, especially if one is to embrace that task as necessary to sanctification. And to travel down the road of inspecting and evaluating the purity, or lack thereof, of our works is not even half of the task. There is still the bottomless pit of analyzing all that we have left undone! God be merciful! We know that not any part of our thoughts, words, and deeds are (or will be) free from the remnant of sin in this life. Which tells me that I need Christ’s pardon and cleansing with every breath I take more than I need to produce one pure work.

  40. Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    RS: Allow me to repeat myself for approx the 1,000th time. The talk that I am doing of fulfilling the law by the Spirit is not the same as Christ did and it is not adding to justification. Those whom Christ justified (His live, work on the cross, resurrection, ascension) by grace alone now live differently because they are different. But their fulfilling or keeping the law is not a perffect keeping of the law and adds nothing to justifiction. They do it out of love for Him because the law reflects the glory and holiness of God.

    John Y: I’m just saying Richard, that sounds like Orwellian “doublespeak” to me. I would want to check my Greek and Hebrew on “fulfilling of the Law” and the interpretation of those passages that speak of fulfilling of the Law by various commentators.

  41. Richard Smith
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    John Yeazel: And, as I have stated before Richard, I think a lot of what the Westminster confession says in regards to sanctification is unfortunate and was influenced by Puritan thought. Most Lutherans would agree with that. I take my thinking on sanctification from the Lutherans more so than the Puritans. Although I think some Calvinists and Lutherans are close in regards to sanctification- even ones who adhere to the Westminster Confession but do not necessarily like the Puritan influence. We have already talked about that though Richard.

    RS: But I hope you see that I am in line with the WCF on justification and not in line with Shepherd. It is a shame you don’t like the Puritans. You really should read them more rather than just listen to the bad things being said about them.

  42. Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    I did read a lot of Sproul, Gerstner and Packer- that’s close enough to the Puritans for me. I’m sure there is a lot from Puritan writings that can be beneficially gleaned. However, I never get as liberated, guilt free and motivated to fulfill the good works (not the Law) I was called to then when reading the good reformation writers who proclaim and write about the pure Gospel- unadorned with subtle whispers of “you are not being obedient enough to the commands and law of God.” I just have a radar that reacts to that. I’ll stick with the Reformers that I trust.

  43. Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    RS: But I have revealed by name. What is the purpose of revealing the seminary that I went to? So you can put me in another box? I will say this, though I am not hiding. 1) It was a well-known seminary. 2) It was Reformed and paedobaptist. 3) It was conservative. But I really don’t want to put into your boxes of odd sizes.

    John Y: It would not be that difficult for you to explain what you agreed and disagreed with in regards to what you learned at the seminary you attended, and then there would be no problem of putting you in a box. That does not seem that difficult to me- especially the way you like to write posts. I still think it is cowardly and it makes me suspect as to why on earth you would not want to reveal your full name to us and the seminary you attended. The reason you gave is not a good one. I don’t believe it. You have something else to hide.

  44. mark mcculley
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Smeaton, Apostles Doctrine of the Atonement, p178 –”Romans 8:4–That the righteousness of the law would be fulfilled in us. That is so like another expression of the same apostle, that the two passages might fitly be compared for mutual elucidation (II Cor 5:21). This expression cannot be referred to any inward work of renovation; for no work or attainment of ours can with any propriety of language be designated a “fulfillment of the righteousness of the law”.

    The words, “the righteousness of the law,” are descriptive of Christ’s obedience as the work of one for many (Romans 5:18). This result is delineated as the end contemplated by Christ’s incarnation and atonement, and intimates that as He was made a sin-offering, so are we regarded as full-fillers of the law…”

  45. Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    David R,

    I just went back and read some of the old comments and saw your quotes from Hodge and Calvin on fulfillment of the Law- I appreciate the quotes and your remark. Do you want to comment further on Romans 13 and the verse about fulfilling the Law in James. I have always taken Romans 13 as Paul saying that you can and do fulfill the Law if you Love God and love your neighbor. That is what Christ did and that is the fulfilling of the Law. All the other commands and Laws flow from loving God and loving your neighbor. Is that what you do?, ie., no, you don’t, but you can turn to Christ who fulfilled that for you.

    Richard wants to make walking by the Spirit the means of how we fulfill the Law. I know commentators who say that walking by the Spirit is believing the Gospel which is in contrast to walking by the flesh, ie., not believing the Gospel and believing we can please God by our works and obedience with faith in the Gospel.

    Message flagged

    Thursday, July 12, 2012 7:03 PM

    Moo: In the last part of Romans 8:4, the participial clause modifying
    “us” is not instrumental—”the just decree of the law is fulfilled in
    us BY our walking not according to the flesh but according to the
    Spirit”–but descriptive, characterizing those in whom the just decree
    of the law as ‘those WHO walk not according to the flesh but according
    to the Spirit.” Paul does not separate the “fulfillment” of the law
    from the lifestyle of Christians. But this does not mean that
    Christian behavior is how the law is fulfilled…

    Romans 8:1KJV There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are
    in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

    The phrase “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”
    appears in verses one and four. Most scholars consider this a special
    type of scribal error called dittography, which is the repetition of a
    letter, syllable, word, or phrase. The thought is that a scribe
    accidentally copied the phrase from verse four in verse one, and that
    the textual error repeated itself in later manuscripts.

    http://rosecreek an arminian but has some good points:

    You may or may not have noticed, but modern translations differ
    significantly from the King James Version at Romans 8:1. Modern
    translations, like the NASB and the NIV, say that there is no
    condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The KJV, however, adds
    the clarifying sentence, “who do not walk after the flesh, but after
    the Spirit.”

    I’ve heard some Christians complain that the new versions take
    responsibility away from us and turning grace into a license for sin
    (Jude 4), by removing the requirement to walk in the Spirit.

    I don’t agree.

    Our walking after the flesh is not simply forgiven or covered in the
    blood of Christ. Those who walk after the flesh are not among those
    blessed ones “to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

    Walking after the Spirit is believing the gospel,walking after the
    flesh is not believing the gospel

    But Paul does not need to point that out in Romans 8:1.

    Romans 8:2 says, “The law of the Spirit of life has set us free from
    the law of sin and death.”

    Somehow, most of us (including me for many years) read that comment
    about the law of sin and death, and we have some general, hazy idea of
    “the law of sin and death” that we never really think through. We just
    sort of think, “Yeah, yeah; Jesus died for us.”

    Paul even ties Romans 8:2 to Romans 8:1 with the Greek word gar, which
    basically means “because.” There is no condemnation to those who are
    in Christ Jesus What is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus?
    Paul goes on to explain that. Romans 8:3 also begins with gar. It
    explains Romans 8:2. The Law of Moses couldn’t deliver us from our
    bondage to sin, Romans 8:3 tells us, but God could and did. He did
    that by sending his own Son in the likeness of our sinful flesh, and
    as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.

  46. Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Richard wants to make walking by the Spirit the means of how we fulfill the Law. I know commentators who say that walking by the Spirit is believing the Gospel which is in contrast to walking by the flesh, ie., not believing the Gospel and believing we can please God by our works and obedience with faith in the Gospel.

    Major error in that last sentence. I meant to say without faith in the Gospel

  47. Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    When a friend or spouse accuses you of being thoughtless in some word or deed, how do you initially respond?  If you’re like me, your first reaction is to think (and probably say), “Oh, you’ve got it all wrong!  You don’t understand.  No, that’s not what I meant.  You’re being much too sensitive…”  In other words, my gut reaction is, “Not Guilty!”  When accused my first inclination is to desperately rush to establish my “rightness.”

    Sanctification is not only where the rubber meets the road in the Christian’s day to day life, it’s also, unfortunately, where the camel of  merit-based works can slip its nose under the tent of God’s free mercy given to sinners.

    How do we grow in grace as Christians (and what does that mean)?  How do our works factor into our salvation?  Am I gradually becoming more righteous?  Is salvation, at least in part, dependent on my subjective, progressive sanctification?  In considering these questions one may ask, can the blessing of saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone become marginalized and relegated to that of a first blessing only, i.e. a first step in the Christian life? Is the template supposed to be – once in the door of salvation, i.e. justified in Christ through faith, I then move on from there to the next step of good works empowered by the Spirit for sanctification?  Some seem to think of it this way.

  48. mark mcculley
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Definitive Sanctification is not Ethical Renovation, Definitive Holiness is the Basis for “Regeneration”

    Ephesians 2:5 “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ”

    Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption, p 128—”The view that being raised with Christ is a metaphor for ‘regeneration’ is an inversion of Paul’s way of thinking. The counterpart to natural birth is NOT NEW BIRTH BUT RESURRECTION. If the term ‘regeneration’ is at all applicable to resurrection, then ‘regeneration’ is the metaphor for resurrection.”

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