Is Grace Everywhere?

So Mark Jones keeps telling us and since we have no way to comment at his blog we will once again adopt the role of servants serving servers by opening up comments here.

First, Jones says that lots of Reformed theologians, backed up by Richard Muller — apparently Jones favorite strategy for finding room to affirm a contested point — said grace existed before the fall and that Adam needed grace to comply with the Covenant of Works:

Most seventeenth-century Reformed theologians understood grace in a more general sense than simply equating it with redemptive favor. But they did make important distinctions on the grace of God before and after the Fall, such as the way Adam possessed the Spirit in contrast to how we possess the Spirit.

Anthony Burgess argues that Adam needed help from God to obey the law and then notes, “Some learned Divines, as [David] Pareus…deny the holiness Adam had, or the help God gave Adam, to be truly and properly called grace.” Pareus believed that grace only comes from Christ to sinners. Burgess shies away from the dispute, but he does insist that Adam could not persevere “without help from God.” . . .

Richard Muller has suggested that not only does the language of “voluntary condescension” rule out human merit, but that the “presence of divine grace prior to the fall was a fundamental assumption of most of the Reformed thinkers of that era.” The evidence cited above sustains Muller’s contention.

“Voluntary condescension” (WCF 7.1) was consistent with the idea, espoused by William (“Exception to WCF 7.1”) Bridge, that “out of free love and grace [God] was pleased to condescend to enter into Covenant with man.”

Great. But if Adam had the Holy Spirit then how did he sin? Did God remove the Holy Spirit and thus make Adam susceptible? If so, is God implicated in the introduction of sin among his creation?

Also, I wonder if Dr. Jones has considered what the Confession of Faith says about Adam in his state of innocency:

After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls [e], endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image [f]; having the law of God written in their hearts [g], and power to fulfill it [h]: and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change [i]. Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures. (4.2)

If you had to describe this as gracious or natural, I am pressed to understand why someone would choose grace. And why did the divines, some of whom did (I gather from Dr. Jones) talk about Adam being endued with the Holy Spirit, fail to mention that in the Confession? When you look at the proof texts (supplied by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church anyway), you don’t see much that would add support to Dr. Jones’ formulation on grace before the fall:

d. Gen. 1:27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

e. Gen. 2:7. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Eccl. 12:7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Luke 23:43. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. Matt. 10:28. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

f. Gen. 1:26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. Col. 3:10. And [ye] have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. Eph. 4:24. … and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

g. Rom. 2:14–15. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.

h. Gen. 2:17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Eccl. 7:29. Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

Yes, I do understand that the references to the Christian putting on the “new man” is a gracious work of the Holy Spirit. But surprise (and beware the valleys and mountains). I am not Adam who was without sin. I need grace and the Holy Spirit to live in a holy manner. If Adam did, what does it say about the inherent goodness of human nature at creation?

Jones’ flattening continues when he likens Christ’s experience to that of the believer:

Jesus was and is the man of the Spirit, par excellence. Christ’s obedience – all of it – was done in the power of the Spirit. Thus, the Holy Spirit is the “immediate operator of all divine acts of the Son himself, even on his own human nature. Whatever the Son of God wrought in, by, or upon the human nature, he did it by the Holy Ghost, who is his Spirit” (Owen). . . . The Second Adam, Jesus Christ, possessed the Spirit in greater measure and was, as far as I am concerned, the greatest believer who ever lived.

For good measure, he adds a quotation from Bavinck (on the virgin birth, mind you, not on Christ’s human nature):

At this point it is important to note that this activity of the Holy Spirit with respect to Christ’s human nature absolutely does not stand by itself. Though it began with the conception, it did not stop there. It continued throughout his entire life, even right into the state of exaltation. Generally speaking, the necessity of this activity can be inferred already from the fact that the Holy Spirit is the author of all creaturely life and specifically of the religious-ethical life in humans. The true human who bears God’s image is inconceivable even for a moment without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit…. If humans in general cannot have communion with God except by the Holy Spirit, then this applies even more powerfully to Christ’s human nature.

Does this mean, as one Old Lifer asked me by email, that the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s life is comparable to mine and that we can think of Christ’s life of sanctity like the work of sanctification in the believer? Remember what the Confession says about sanctification:

2. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

3. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

And is Jones aware that he may be straying into Roman Catholic territory in the way he construes the two Adams and their natures? That may seem like a stretch but if you follow Bavinck on Adam’s original righteousness as the Reformers conceived it, you may want to counsel Dr. Jones back from the ledge. First, Bavinck acknowledges that Adam’s righteousness was a free gift of God and “only possessed . . . by and in the Holy Spirit.” But Bavinck is aware of the danger of flattening:

Granted, between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in man before sin and in the state of sin, there is a big difference. Now that indwelling, after all, is “above nature” (supra naturam) because the Holy Spirit has to come to humans as it were from without and is diametrically opposed to sinful nature. In the case of Adam that entire contrast did not exist; his nature was holy and did not, as in the case of believers, have to be made holy. . . (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, 558)

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in systematic theology to think that the same contrast between Adam and us applies to Christ and us, or that Christ’s righteousness was not above nature but natural to the righteousness of an unfallen human nature.

To construe this original righteousness, furthermore, as gracious in the sense of having to right what was defective, is also a mistake of important proportions for Bavinck. He explains the nature of the dispute between Rome and Protestants over Adam’s original nature:

The dispute concerned the question of whether that original righteousness was natural or, at least in part, supernatural. . . . they used this term [natural] to maintain the conviction that the image of God, that is, original righteousness, was inseparable from the idea of man as such and that it referred to the normal state, the harmony, the health of a human being; that without it a human cannot be true, complete, or normal. . . . [Man] is either a son of God, his offspring, his image, or he is a child of wrath, dead in sins and trespasses. When that human being again by faith receives that perfect righteousness in Christ, that benefit is indeed a supernatural gift, but it is supernature “as an accident,” “incidentally”; he regains that which belongs to his being. . . (551)

For good measure, Bavinck adds that if Adam’s original humanity was incapable of obeying God’s commands, you wind up having to do what Roman Catholicism does and add grace to Adam’s original constitution:

From these two ideas, the mystical view of man’s final destiny and the meritoriousness of good works, was born the Catholic doctrine of the “superadded gift” . . . . The heavenly blessedness and the vision of God, which is man’s final destiny — and was so for Adam — can be merited ex condigno only by such good works as are in accord with that final destiny. . . . The righteousness that Adam possessed as a human, earthly being by virtue of creation was not, of course, sufficient to that end. So for Adam to reach his final destiny he too needed to be giving a supernatural grace, that is, the gratia gratum faciens (“the grace that renders one engraced or pleasing to God”), the image of God. (539-40)

Of course, simply quoting Bavinck doesn’t make any of this so. But what is instructive about Bavinck is the danger he sees in talking about grace before the fall or Adam in his original righteousness needing something extra to obey God (or by implication discussing Christ’s holy life as analogous to a believer’s sanctification). Would that Dr. Jones in his historical surveys would be that cautious.


123 thoughts on “Is Grace Everywhere?

  1. So novel constructions, envelope pushing, and questionable balance of emphasis is more acceptable in Reformed Land if it tilts toward anything legalistic and moralist? Isn’t Mark as near the borders of the reservation as Tullian?


  2. So, why do it at all? Is it a branding strategy? Is it a commitment to covenantal nomism but they can’t actually say it, because enough people know what that is? Are they closet FVers, but just on issues of soteriology? Is it a commitment to monocovenantalism and Shepherd’s re-constructions but they need to say it in a different way because that battle was already waged-we’re JUST following the puritans-as if that were monolithic or universally helpful and true. Maybe it’s just too much Nacho Libre. Either way it’s a problem and thanks to GRN and Reformation 21, we are already having to deal with it in the PCA.


  3. Mark Jones equates believing the gospel with obeying the law by faith.. Did Christ produce a perfect and complete righteousness by grace? Did Christ earn merits by grace? Did Christ, who was without sin, need grace to keep the law? Grace is for sinners.

    Mike Horton—In the federalism of the Westminster Standards on this point, the divines speak of God’s relationship to Adam in terms of “voluntary condescension.” However, this is not the same as grace; a term that would have been used if that is what was intended. The divines knew exactly what they were doing (and Ursinus defended every one of their points before the Assembly ever met). “Voluntary condescension” is hardly grace. Why is that so? In the first place, the former simply means that God was not compelled by any necessity to create: it was a free act. Second, by pronouncing his benediction (“It is very good,” not just “good”), God was approving Adam’s standing. But upon what basis was Adam currently acceptable before God? On precisely that basis indicated by the benediction: his intrinsic worthiness as a loyal son and servant.

    Horton— to conflate “voluntary condescension” and “grace” is to empty grace of its most precious scriptural meaning. Scripture nowhere speaks of this relationship as gracious, and with good reason: grace happens to sinners. Friendship, condescension, familiarity, goodness: these in no way entail graciousness on God’s part, since the relationship was not yet marred by sin. Grace is not treated in scripture as merely unmerited favor, but as demerited favor, God’s favor toward sinners despite their having deserved the very opposite. In that sense, grace and mercy are interchangeable terms, just as the “covenant of grace” has sometimes been called the “covenant of mercy.” God cannot be regarded as gracious or merciful to creatures who as yet do not deserve otherwise,. “Goodness” and “condescension” are not equivalent to grace and mercy.

    David Gordon—John Murray jettisoned the notion of distinctions of kind between the covenants. Murray denied “any reason for construing the Mosaic covenant in terms different from those of the Abrahamic.” Murray believed that the only relation God sustains to people is that of Redeemer. I would argue, by contrast, that God was just as surely Israel’s God when He cursed the nation as when He blessed it. …..When Paul and the other NT writers use the word covenant, there is almost always an immediate contextual clue to which biblical covenant is being referred to, such as “the covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8) The New Testament writers were not mono-covenantal regarding the Old Testament (see Rom 9:4, Eph 2:12; Gal 4:24).


  4. Lee Irons—-God’s freedom must be maintained, but not at the expense of the divine perfections (i.e., wisdom, goodness, justice, holiness, truth, and rationality). God does not act arbitrarily, for all his actions are expressive of and delimited by his attributes….A covenant is the revelation of God’s justice. It follows, therefore, that (we) must reject the distinction between condign and congruous merit. The problem with this distinction is that congruous ex pacto merit becomes gracious when it is placed by way of contrast beneath condign merit as something less than full and real merit. Thus, grace inevitably enters the definition of congruous merit.

    OPC Report on Justification– Federal Vision proponents have argued that Phillippians 2:9 rules out the notion of merit in regard to Christ’s obedience, because Paul uses the word echarisato, which etymologically derives from the word for “grace,” charis, to describe God’s giving the name above every name to Christ. This indicates, they claim, that the Father exalted the Son not meritoriously but graciously……The context of Phil 2:5- 11 shows that MERIT CANNOT BE ELIMINATED from Paul’s teaching here. The context is one of “work rendered and value received.” The Father exalted the Son because the Son perfectly fulfilled his course of obedience. The Son obeyed, therefore the Father exalted Him.


  5. Mark Karlberg—-According to the view of Gaffin and Strimple (summarized in their endorsement of Merit and Moses), there is no works-principle functioning in the covenant God made with Israel through Moses. This means that the sole principle governing the old covenant is the principle of (saving) grace, identical to what is the case in the new covenant.

    MK—What the Murray school of interpretation must conclude, to be theologically consistent (what is the aim of the systematician), is to say that believers under the new covenant are likewise subject to both the blessings and the curses of redemptive covenant in accordance with (non-meritorious) good works. This point is crucial: In this school of thought there is no genuine difference between the two economies of redemption, wherein reward is bestowed “on the basis of” or “in accordance with” the believer’s works of obedience. This is precisely the doctrine Shepherd and Gaffin have been eagerly advancing; and they have taken the argument one step further by eviscerating the law/grace antithesis entirely in their doctrine of the covenants (pre- and post-Fall). This is the heart of the current dispute, one that has immediate ramifications for the biblical doctrine of justification by faith (apart from good works).


  6. Mark Jones—. After all, the law is written on our hearts, which is (in some sense!) a return to Eden. And, as the WCF (19.6) makes clear, believers may expect “blessings” upon “performing”/keeping the moral law, as long as it is “sincere” obedience. …I cannot affirm that there is a works-principle at the typological level (that is devoid of ASSISTING GRACE) and thus functions as the meritorious grounds for Israel’s continuance in the land. The existential crisis this would have created for those who lived by grace through faith in Christ needs to be reckoned with. Imagine being a pastor in that context!….Indeed, if many of our finest Reformed theologians are to be believed, God provided ASSISTING GRACE to Adam in the Garden (JUST AS God provided ASSISTING GRACE to Jesus during his ministry). And, to me, that doesn’t sound like the type of covenant that some people think was “republished” at Sinai.”


  7. I can’t understand why anytime Jones writes about anything, there is an immediate rejection by a certain tribe on the interwebs, even if what he is saying is mostly consistent with their favorite flavor of reformed thinking. Maybe I’m just not smart enough, or as RSClark has argued, I don’t know how to read well. It does seem to me that Jones’ most ardent critics either A: lie or B: stretch his words out of proportion. I don’t like it when people do that to Horton, and in regard to Jones, it appears fueled by a party spirit.


  8. Scott Swain– If all we do is affirm how good God’s law is, how it functions as a means of gratitude for God’s redeemed people, and so forth, and if we fail to acknowledge and expound the anthropological predicament of Adam’s children before God’s good law, then we are setting people up either for failure or self-deception in relation to the law. We must be clear: “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8.8).

    Moreover, we must be clear that God’s SOLUTION to this predicament is NOT a graciously structured covenant. God’s solution to this problem is the incarnation, death, and exaltation of his Son…..: “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8.3-4)

    Calvin on Romans 8 4. That the justification of the law be fulfilled, etc. They who understand that the renewed, by the Spirit of Christ, fulfill 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, Commentary on Romans 8:4

    Robert Haldane on the last phrase in Romans 8:4 —The expression, walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, in the verse before us, is generally interpreted as referring exclusively to the practice of good or of wicked works. It is supposed that the Apostle is here guarding his doctrine of gratuitous justification from abuse, by excluding all claim to union with Christ, and to exemption from condemnation, where there is not purity of conduct…There are, however, many different paths in the broad way; that is, many ways of walking after the flesh, all of which lead to destruction. Among these, that of seeking acceptance with God by works of righteousness, either moral or ceremonial, is equally incompatible with union to Christ and freedom from condemnation, as living in the grosser indulgence of wicked works.

    This way of going about to establish their own righteousness, by those who profess to have received the Gospel, and who have even a zeal of God, is probably that by which the greater number of them are deceived. There is the greatest danger lest the fleshly wisdom, under the notion of a zeal for God and of regard for the interests of virtue, should set men on the painful endeavor of working out their salvation, in part at least, by keeping the law as a covenant, thus attending to its requirements for justification.

    .Haldane–The word flesh in the beginning of the fourth chapter of this Epistle cannot signify immoral conduct; for that Abraham was justified by wicked works could never be supposed. It must there signify works, moral or ceremonial, as is proved by the rest of that chapter. In this Romans 8:4 passage the word flesh cannot be taken for immorality, any more than in the fourth chapter of the Romans. It must be understood in the sense of working for life, or self-justification, in opposition to the way of salvation according to the Gospel. In the same manner, the terms flesh and Spirit are employed, in Philippians 3:3, ‘For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.’ Here the word flesh, opposed to Spirit, just as in the passage before us, cannot signify immoral conduct, in which it would be absurd to suppose that the Apostle placed confidence.

    Haldane–All men, without exception, have the WORK OF THE LAW written in their hearts, and if ignorant of the only Savior of sinners, they attempt to satisfy their conscience by means of some religious observances or moral works, — the idolater, by his sacrifices; the Roman Catholic, by his masses and penances; the Socinian, by his vaunted philanthropy; the nominal Christian, by his assiduous attendance at religious services: and all, in some way or other, by their works, moral or ceremonial, seek to obtain their acquittal from sin before God, and a favorable sentence at His tribunal. All of them are going about to establish their own righteousness, being ignorant of the righteousness of God.


  9. But, Shane, speaking of Horton, contrast what he (thanks, Mark) says with what Jones says. Jones is gathering the troops to suggest there was pre-lapsarian grace. Horton is making the point that there wasn’t because it couldn’t be and sounds closer to the Belgic which also doesn’t seem eager to put grace in the garden: “We believe that God created human beings from the dust of the earth and made and formed them in his image and likeness—good, just, and holy; able by their will to conform in all things to the will of God.”

    If grace is everywhere, then it’s necessarily no where.


  10. Shane,

    Could it be that, as Chortles suggests, Jones is the other end of the spectrum from Tullian, and even more so? Jones’ track record of late hasn’t been so pretty, and he’s been the most vocal and strident in his criticisms of Repub/(supposed) antinomianism/Law-Gospel, not to mention the self-congratulations he includes in his posts (“everyone one loved my recent post, so here’s another gift for you all!”).

    Throw in Jones’ recent prurient (and off-base) post on masturbation and there’s a lot to be stirred up about.


  11. Dr. Jones is hardly uninvolved or shy about identifying areas of disagreement concerning doctrine and linking those concerns (antinomianism) to names as he does in his book “Antinomianism”, e.g. on page 72 citing a partial Dr. Horton quote and then linking him to antinomian John Eaton – and of course on several pages putting Tullian squarely in the antinomian camp. He argues his case. He puts forth his doctrinal understandings and contrasts them with both men. One need not feel sorry for Mark Jones, as he has initiated the conversation, it seems.

    This post of Darryl’s, in keeping with Mark Jones review of TLNF and his questions regarding possible “Lutheran” leanings and non-Reformed teachings in some of the essays, likewise asks questions concerning the implications and leanings of some of Jones’ teachings.


  12. Yes. In general I would be closer to Jones’ approach, as I understand it, than to Kline. But what I am arguing for is listening to each other rather than talking past each other.


  13. The unfallen natures–Adam’s and Christ’s–sustain a radically different relationship to the sustaining presence of Holy Spirit, from the regenerating-and-renovating work of Holy Spirit in the otherwise dead elect. If not, we might as well say that H.S. indwells all mankind! Anyone want to go there?!?

    Furthermore, the reliance upon the power of Holy Spirit exhibited by Christ, for the exercise of his Mediatorial office, and conferred by the Father at his baptism (aka, his public anointing), is just there–and not pervasively as in a lifetime of “growth in grace”–where our Lord demonstrates to his followers the resource they now possess through HIS conferring that same Spirit upon them in the Pentecostal baptism.

    Jesus did his miracles, and exhibited all other aspects of divinity (like knowledge of the internal thoughts of others) in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Praise God, he did live as a true man with us, and through Holy Spirit anticipated “greater works than these” done by his disciples. But he did NOT “grow in grace” as a man, or “learn obedience” as a man by the enablement of Holy Spirit! He was the Son of God, eternally beloved and obedient to his Father.

    When Jesus Christ “learned obedience,” it was in the context of suffering; what we have always called his “passive” obedience, and quite distinct from his active obedience (no hope without it).

    Frankly, I’m willing to be persuaded that the OPC’s now planned study SHOULD be taking place, if only to reign in the lengths some folks seem willing to go (i.e. torpedoing crucial theology) in order to attack “republication.”


  14. Shane, that’s why comments are open here (not sure why Ref21 is closed).

    So in the interest of conversation and listening, why are you closer to Jones’ approach, especially in the light of Bavinck’s warnings?


  15. Bavinck: Many have in later years, when the confessional power of the Reformation weakened, entered the way of self-examination, in order to be assured of the sincerity of their faith and their salvation. Thus was the focus shifted from the promise of God to the experience of the pious.

    It is not we who approach the judgment of God, after self-examination, with the sincerity of our faith, in order to receive there the forgiveness of our sins; God does not sit in judgment by himself in heaven to hear the parties and to pronounce sentence…God himself comes to us in the gospel. The foundation of faith lie outside ourselves in the promise of God; whoever builds thereupon shall not be ashamed.

    Bavinck—If imputation in every respect comes about after faith, faith becomes a condition, an activity, which must be performed by man beforehand, and it cannot be purely receptive. But if the righteousness, on the ground of which we are justified, lies wholly outside of us in Christ Jesus, then faith is not a “cause.”

    “In justification we are declared free of guilt and punishment on the basis of a righteousness which is outside of us in Christ Jesus, and which through God’s grace is reckoned to us and on our own part is received in faith. When Roman Catholicism therefore speaks of a grace which is poured into us, we have no objection to that in itself; we object only if this grace is regarded as a part of the righteousness on the basis of which we are declared free before God. For, if that were so, then the deliverance from guilt and the removal of the pollution would be confused with each other; and then Christ would be robbed of the perfection of His achieved righteousness….
    chapter 22 of Our Reasonable Faith, p 474


  16. First–I have nothing to do with Ref21, or with any schismatic offshoots of Reformed theology. I make an effort to speak the truth as I hold it in my conscience and to think of others more highly than myself. I don’t do that perfectly.

    I became convinced of the Reformed view of the Law years ago as a Baptist, and began more and more in my church and home to understand how to live as a Christian. During that time, though I continued to hold to the main contours of Kline’s views on the covenants up through Moses, I became less satisfied with what I heard on White Horse Inn. I continued to listen for some time, but it appeared to me that the way they were discussing Law and Gospel didn’t have Scriptural warrant. I was very neutral on them in general because on a central matter I agreed with them, our justification is distinct from sanctification, and is in Christ’s righteousness alone done for us. I also think, like Horton noted on MoS, that his books tell “the whole counsel” in a way that WHI just doesn’t. I began over time (in baptist circles “new covenant theology” and in presby circles “sonship” and more extreme lawgospel preaching) to hear things that just flat out didn’t square with the Bible. I couldn’t open the Bible or our confessions and find this mostly pessimistic view of the law, but everywhere found Jesus saying not only believe but also take up the cross and follow. That may be simplistic, but it’s how I arrived where I am.

    I love our confession and catechism, believe and teach them to my children and anyone who will listen. As I began to think more about how my view of the mosaic covenant via Kline and WHI, compared to our standards, I found them lacking the clarity and positive view of sanctification and good works found there. Having read and reread Jones’ article and the responses here, I am more convinced that the views that mingles COW and COG in the Mosaic Covenant is not biblical. Also I stand by my observation that Jones’ critics either A: lie (I’m sure out of ignorance, maybe also a party spirit) or B: persistently misconstrue his and other’s (Bavinck’s, “the obedience boys'”) words.


  17. Shane, almost every Reformed theologian could be accused of mingling the Covenant of Grace and the Covenant of Works. That’s what Jeff and David R. have been going on about. Your mere affirmation of the the Confession or the Bible settles nothing. Nor does it take into account the way that someone like Norman Shepherd mingled faith and obedience. What if some of us see clever Dr. Jones doing something similar. The point of the post was to ask how he denies nomism or Roman Catholicism. Adding the Holy Spirit to Adam’s original goodness, as Bavinck argues, can get you into trouble.

    Comments are still open.


  18. Mr. Legality is gracious with bourgeois who are condign.
    God says “Mercy triumphs over judgement.” but
    ply Mr. Legality for mercy and you will find
    he must consult with lawyers of like mind.

    “Depart in peace, be warm and filled”,
    because Christians of our kind
    don’t associate with sinners of your ilk.

    For all his talk of grace he will, in the final analysis,
    put a heavy yoke upon your neck and
    ring his hands in his middle-class palaces.

    Law or grace? He doesn’t differentiate,
    his merciless heart in bondage still.
    “It’s a gracious law by which we work” he says
    as he makes his converts with natural skill.

    As is the legal way, the sin sick wounds are
    left to worsen and with the Pharisee he prays,
    “I thank you that I’m not like THIS person!”
    Yet only cleaned up for a season and thus
    Mr. Legality, having crossed land and ocean,
    makes his disciple twice as much a child of hell.

    He can’t love the Lord his God or his neighbor as himself
    because the law for him is not a normative guide
    but rather, the legal road by which he strives.

    ” I lie in righteousness”, says he, as he lowers
    the standard and transgresses every jot and tittle.
    He proudly trumpets loud and far,
    “My works contribute just enough
    even though they are so little.”

    Antecedent or consequent he wouldn’t know
    because all his pedantry is just so much show.

    All the saints when they see Mr. Legality, moralizing by
    turn and weep seeking mercy from the Lord
    for ever turning right or left and for
    having ever followed such blind guides.


  19. Shane, just stick with Scripture and the 3FU/WCF for your path.

    Add in useful primary theological works, don’t put any belief in the word of some internet hack as a secondary source for what Horton or Kline says.

    Please don’t quote Kline unless you have the high-level academic lettering. It is painful to read how people think they can capture his entire theological value in a flaming session on the internet…


  20. Kent–I agree with you about the standards and primary sources. What level of education ought I have before I can quote Kline? Do you believe I’ve engaged in flaming here?


  21. Shane, you write: Also I stand by my observation that Jones’ critics either A: lie (I’m sure out of ignorance, maybe also a party spirit) or B: persistently misconstrue his and other’s (Bavinck’s, “the obedience boys’”) words.

    Possibility [A] seems unhelpful and I would say less than charitable as it imputes only ill-motives to those who would disagree with Jones (or anyone). That always shuts down healthy debate and discussion because it rules out at least one other very likely option, i.e. those taking issue with something Jones or someone else is writing are doing so because they do in fact think that it is either unclear or actually distorting some aspect of Biblical truth. Your possibility [B] seems to only restate your argument in the form of a conclusion that you think the critics of Jones are wrong. How are they wrong? How would you answer the questions posed in the above post? Help us out here.

    By the way, were the very outspoken critics of Tullian (Jones et al) who came in waves last spring “lying” about Tullian and driven only by a “party spirit?” How would you have responded to that criticism? Doesn’t that criticism automatically elevate one side to an “holier than thou” level thus sidelining important issues/differences that may lie at the heart of the debate?


  22. Wow it’s been like the synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches here of late. Time to bring some grace back into things, methinks.

    Thomas Boston, Fourfold State, on the state of Innocence:

    “By the favour of God he was advanced to be confederate with heaven in the first covenant, called the covenant of works. God reduced the law, which he gave in his creation, into the form of a covenant, whereof perfect obedience was the condition: life was the thing promised, and death the penalty…How easy were these terms to him who had the natural law written on his heart; and that inclining him to obey this lositive law, revealed to him, it seems, by an audible voice (Gen. 2:16,17), the matter whereof was so very easy!”, p.46

    “And does it seem a small thing unto you, that earth was thus confederate with heaven? This could have been done to none but him whom the King of Heaven delighted to honour. It was an act of GRACE, worthy of the GRACIOUS God whose favourite he was; for there was GRACE and FREE FAVOUR in the first covenant [CoW], though the exceeding riches of the GRACE, as the apostle calls it (Eph. 2.7), were reserved for the second. It was certainly an act of GRACE, FAVOUR, and ADMIRABLE CONDESCENSION in God, to enter into a covenant, and such a covenant, with His own creature. Man was not at his own, but at God’s disposal, nor had he any thing to work with but what he had received from God. There was no proportion between the work and the promised reward. Before that covenant, man was bound to perfect obedience, in virtue of his NATURAL DEPENDENCE on God; and death was naturally the wages of sin, which the justice of God could and would have required, though there had never been any covenant between God and man. But God was free; man could never have required eternal life as the reward of his work, if there had not been such a covenant. God was free to have disposed of His creature as He saw meet. If he [Adam] had stood in his integrity to the end of time, and there had been no covenant promising eternal life to him upon his obedience, God might have withdrawn His supporting hand at last and so have made him creep back into nothing, whence almighty power had drawn him forth. And what wrong could have been in this, for God would have only taken back what He freely gave? But now, the covenant being made, God becomes a debtor to His own FAITHFULNESS: if man will work, he may crave the reward on the ground of the covenant. Well might the angels, then, upon his being raised to this dignity, have given him that salutation – ‘Hail! thou that are HIGHLY FAVOURED, the Lord is WITH THEE.'” pp.48-49

    [On barring Adam from the Tree of Knowledge] “But you may say, and did He grudge him this? I answer, Nay; but when He had made him thus holy and happy, He GRACIOUSLY have him this restriction, which was in its own nature a PROP and STAY to KEEP HIM FROM FALLING…Man being set down in a beautiful paradise, it was an act of infinite wisdom, and of GRACE too, to keep him from one single tree, as a visible testimony that he must hold all from his Creator as his great landlord…It was, in a manner, a continual watchword to him against evil, a BEACON set up before him, to bid him beware of dashing himself to pieces on the rock of sin.”

    But I guess Boston was a legalist, eh? You know, the Marrow Man- the man who actually rediscovered the book and had it reprinted. It’s ironic that the people who push republication so vociferously are so dogmatic on the covenant of redemption as well. People like Boston, Fisher, the Erskines, John Brown of H., veered away from the covenant of redemption/grace distinction because they were worried about the neo-nomian tendencies of it.

    There are different types of grace, and grace manifests in lots of ways. Christ was helped by the public profession of his Father’s love for him; he prayed in the Garden and was given succour; read Psalm 22: is that the psalm of one who has no experience of the aid of God’s Spirit?

    Maybe some of you should heed Shane and admit that we’re getting in speculative ground here. And yes, Bavinck warns against dangerous tendencies, but by the very nature of warning that suggests it’s not wrong to go where Mark Jones is going as long as one is careful. Furthermore, Mark Jones is hardly a legalist when one looks and reads the things he countenances… But enough with personal attacks: why are Mark Jones’ bad attempts at humour a sign of his arrogance but Dr. Hart’s bad attempts at humour aren’t? After a while the “all about me” moves beyond being ironic and is just actually making it all about you.

    Anyway, Boston quoted; problem solved.


  23. Some housekeeping:

    I don’t know how to italicise, hence the capitalisation of some words.

    I do believe in republication, as it’s in the WCF. But the modern permutations just confuse me and since none of us are allowed to try to understand Kline since he’s such a super duper genius and must just bow down before him, and since I’m, like, “naw”, then I’ll just stick with the WCF.

    (BYB, the Puritans were very learned and spiritual men but they’re also pretty easy to understand, most of the anyway: perhaps Kline shouldn’t be writing books for the church if no one can understand him, eh? Eh? Aye.)


  24. Shane: Kent–I agree with you about the standards and primary sources. What level of education ought I have before I can quote Kline? Do you believe I’ve engaged in flaming here?

    Oh goodness no level of flaming from you here. Your thoughts here have been much appreciated, coming from the other side. An open discussion of thoughts and the willingness to learn doesn’t happen much on here; a few threads have been totally ruined recently on here by people who must be up to 28 hours of wasted life now, and continuing.

    Quoting Van Til or Kline or Puritans or Murray or Hegel or Marx (especially Groucho) as if one has perfect grasp of all their ideas is not a good idea under any circumstances. I have read all of them closely, without academic supervision, and won’t use their names to bolster my opinions.


  25. Alexander, okay, if you don’t like criticisms of Jones’ implications along Bavinck’s lines, what about Charles Sheldon? What would Jesus do? Is that a way to live the Christian life? Or maybe we should think about what Jesus did because we couldn’t do?


  26. @ Shane:

    This is my third attempt to put this into words, so please forgive ineptness.

    I fundamentally agree with you that the situation is grievous. I think it’s two-sided, in that critics of, say, Kline or Tdvjajkls-a-who-sen have been harsh in tone and have taken harsh actions corresponding to those words.

    At the same time, critics of Jones are at times harsh in tone.

    This is not new. Before Jones and Tjrbvxmxdrpten, there was and continue to be Frame and WSC with partisans on both sides. Then Shepherd v. Kline Before that, van Til and Clark. Before that, Machen and the PCUS (PCUSA? UP? I can never keep that time period straight). Go back far enough and you have Arminius and Beza, and …

    The question is, must it be this way?

    I think it need not be this way, but the church has been deficient of late in dealing with the Internet format. On the ‘Net, anyone can literally say anything. So you can have, for example, a faction within the church who grabs ahold of teaching off the internet that undermines their confidence in their pastor, leading to a split being marshaled from hundreds or thousands of miles away.

    I have seen this happen.

    Or you can have laymen or even elders from a different denomination leading an internet charge against a teaching elder, in essence “convicting” (or talking as if conviction had taken place) that elder of heresy without (a) benefit of trial, or (b) authority to so do.

    Somehow, the internet brings out the aggression in our hearts — while at the same time allowing us to conceal the motives for that aggression. I cannot count the times that someone has cited either Luther or Paul as an excuse for, well, just being a jerk. I don’t visit either GreenBaggins or PuritanBoard because it makes me lose sleep (not faulting Lane here).

    So what’s the way forward? First, I think it will have to be a change of heart. Ultimately, the Spirit will have to convince the Church to uphold the fifth and ninth commandments on the ‘Net. The notion of upholding people’s honor, or of deferring to the judgment of church courts, seems lost on people.

    Second, I do think that denominations should probably promote officially sanctioned, clearly refereed debates on the internet about ideas in order to model for their people how it can be done. We *need* to be talking about ideas. Instead, we end up talking about people.

    To an extent, the OPC does this on its website. But it needs to be more, and more prominent.

    Third, I think non-denominational websites (this one, Ref21, T4G, whatever) need to regularly remind people that parachurch is not church. And let’s admit it: for better or worse, websites have been functioning, or been hijacked by the mob to function, as quasi-judicial parachurch entities.

    Fourth, I think we all need to learn much better how to do what DGH suggested in another post: learn how to fight like family. That’s very hard, because the stakes for “losing” come down to leaving the ministry. It seems to me that there might need to be a new mechanism for discussion that lowers the stakes.

    When you get to the point of Dennison et al suggesting that judicial action should be taken against all adherents of republication, the situation is out of hand.

    Ideas, not people. Unity of the faith, not drawing endless lines. Family, not teams. That’s where we need to be.


  27. Alexander,

    I’m no learned scholar but part of the trouble I’m seeing is not necessarily in the use of the word “grace” towards Adam, but in how it’s being used. The same “grace” exercised towards Adam is equated, or closely equated with, the grace that God exercises towards us.

    I don’t agree that Grace is the best word to use to describe God’s actions towards Adam. Part of that stems, I think, from our modern muddying of what grace actually is and the current furor over Law/Gospel only exasperates that. Grace becomes this catch-all word (like “gospel-centered”) where any of God’s actions towards man in a benevolent manner become “Grace”. As I read the bible, that’s not how I see the biblical writers using the word Grace, especially Paul.

    What I wish would happen in this debate is for the monogracers (one-kind of grace) to distinguish between the Grace exercised towards Adam vs the grace exercised in Christ towards fallen sinners. This is why I think it is unhelpful to use Grace as the word to describe God’s actions towards Adam – the meaning, as Dr. Hart shows, gets easily flattened. And when that happens, you have all kinds of problems that come out.


  28. Is this not clearly showing the difference? Maybe actually reading what Jones said would help?


    Elsewhere, Owen adds:

    “And thus Adam may be said to have had the Spirit of God in his innocency. He had him in these peculiar effects of his power and goodness; and he had him according to the tenor of that covenant whereby it was possible that he should utterly lose him, as accordingly it came to pass. He had him not by especial inhabitation, for the whole world was then the temple of God. In the covenant of grace, founded in the person and on the mediation of Christ, it is otherwise. On whomsoever the Spirit of God is bestowed for the renovation of the image of God in him, he abides with him forever. But in all men, from first to last, all goodness, righteousness, and truth, are the ‘fruits of the Spirit,’ Eph. 5:9.”

    So while Owen affirms that Adam had the Holy Spirit, he is also careful to distinguish the manner in which Adam possessed the Holy Spirit in the covenant of works and the manner in which we possess the Spirit of Christ in the covenant of grace. There are similarities and (important) differences!

    Goodwin also makes a similar argument: the Holy Spirit “was in Adam’s heart to assist his graces, and cause them to flow and bring forth, and to move him to live according to those principles of life given him.” Yet, Christians “have the Spirit upon Christ’s account, in his name, purchased by him, as whom he had first received, also purchased as the head of the church.”

    Adam, however, retained the Spirit according to the tenor of the covenant of works (“Do this and live”). Interestingly, Goodwin argues that “as by one act of disobedience he forfeited life (‘Cursed is he that continues not in all things’), and so in like manner the Spirit was forfeitable by him upon the same terms.” However, in the case of a Christian, the Spirit is given by promise: it is an absolute gift, “and not upon conditions on our parts, but to work and maintain in us what God requires of us.” Here is the difference between the gift of the Spirit in Eden versus the gift given in Christ.

    Crucially, “The gift of the Spirit is not founded upon qualifications in us, to continue so long as we preserve grace in our souls, and do not sin it away” (Goodwin). The Spirit is given without conditions, but instead to work conditions (e.g., faith, love, hope).

    The Holy Spirit in Adam was, then, a “superadded” gift that aided him in his love to God, his Father.

    Adam’s Faith

    Reformed divines spoke of Adam’s faith in the garden, but at the same time they were always careful to distinguish between Adam’s faith in the covenant of works and his faith in the covenant of grace. To be sure, there were similarities, but there were also important differences, just as there are important differences between the way in which Adam possessed the Spirit before and after the Fall.

    According to John Ball, Adam’s faith in both covenants was theocentric. In both contexts his faith is evident from the love he had for God, “because if faith abounds, love abounds.” However, the foundation for faith in each respective context differs. The righteousness of nature presupposes a certain type of faith based on mutual love between the Creator and the creature.

    After the Fall, however, faith leans upon the promise made in Christ because man, in himself, falls under the judgment of God. In the next place, (for Ball) faith in the covenant of works is natural, whereas in the covenant of grace it is supernatural. Finally, Ball notes that faith in the covenant of works was mutable, and thus, so was Adam’s holiness. But faith in the covenant of grace “is eternal and unchangeable, because it comes from an eternal and unchangeable beginning, the Spirit of Grace.”

    The first sin, according to Reformed theologians, was unbelief (not pride as Rome argued). That only makes sense if Adam was commended to exercise faith in God’s word (see Turretin, 9th topic, 6th question: “By this man did not have the faith in the word of God which he was bound to have…”). As Bavinck said, “faith for Adam and Christ was nothing other than the act of clinging to the word and promises of God.”


  29. Thank you Jeff. That was helpful to me. I am also thankful to be part of a congregation where the latest fads or controversies are hardly if at all discussed. Tullian Tch-who?


  30. Alexandar,

    HTML tags are pretty easy – here’s a quick primer

    <i> italics </i>
    <b> bold </b>
    etc… (see below the comm box to see additional tags)


  31. Jeff, I hear you. One thing I would add is that anyone who blogs should have an open comments policy (at least until things turn nasty). I know this sounds like (all about me) self-vindication, but I don’t understand the point of blogging in a semi-whimsical manner and then treating it like it’s a book to be reviewed in some other format. The blogosphere is a great device for conversation — I believe. Yes, it can get ugly. But part of what I enjoy is seeing people react. I most enjoy q&a after droning on for 45 minutes. Praise me NOT.

    Can’t we simply talk? We have a great device for it.


  32. Nate and Alexander, we are trying to protect the gospel here which according to the Reformation was salvation in Christ through faith alone — not works. Don’t Protestants have to be careful how they talk about gracious obedience?

    It’s not that complicated.


  33. Bob, and this leads to Jones calling Christ the greatest believer ever, or that Adam had the Holy Spirit before the fall?

    None of these quotations tell us what Dr. Jones thinks, either as a historical theologian or a pastor or a blogger. He throws out a lot of words from the past. But where does he stand on today’s debates — say like Shepherd or Federal Vision?


  34. Bob wants to know if the quotes above were careful enough.

    Didn’t Owen – that “mono-gracer” – write the definitive 17thC work on justification in the English language?


  35. Don’t Protestants have to be careful how they talk about gracious obedience?

    Multi-ding. That sums it up. Care is required when walking this ledge. Carelessly batting around words and concepts to try to establish street cred with one group or the other (I would say Jones and Tullian both do this) should be a no-no. Good ol’ Lloyd-Jones said proper preaching of JbF would expose a preacher to the charge of encouraging sin and antinomianism. I believe he’s right. And think about this — did Paul seem more condemnatory of the Galatians or the Corinthians?


  36. To quote Mark Jones directly, to get some sense of his style—“another by a prominent theologian: ‘The Law is not a checklist we keep but a benchmark we fail’. Romans 8:4. Enough said. Though, the reader should know that the context shows that Paul is clearly speaking about sanctification, not justification. What is a checklist? Meaning: “things to be done, or points to be considered, used as a reminder.” Is the law to be done or considered? Of course (Ps. 119:15, 78, 97, 128) Are we able to? Yes. Anyone who reads their Bible with an ounce of care will find that we can keep the law (Ps. 119:168) Perfectly? No. That’s why the Westminster documents speak of “sincere obedience” being acceptable to God.”

    mark mcculley–I not only disagree with Mark Jones about Romans 8:4, but I disagree with his attitude in simply dismissing any need to define or argue for his assumptions. Mark Jones displayed the same arrogance when he accused Tullian of antinomianism because of his reading of I John.

    Romans 8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit

    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…”


  37. Charles Hodge: one’s interpretation of Romans 8 verse 4 is determined by the view taken of Romans 8:3. 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” — that is, so that we should be holy (sanctification). But if Romans 8:3 refers to the sacrificial death of Christ and to the condemnation of sin in Him as the sinners’ substitute, then this verse must refer to justification and not sanctification.”

    On Romans 8:4, Vickers comments: “I do not think it is likely that Paul is speaking here of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as the fulfillment, but rather of what Christ’s work accomplishes in us through the Spirit.” p 160, Justification by Grace Through Faith, P and R, 2013) But since Vickers is not into polemics (except with those who use commercial metaphors for the atonement or for justification), he does not interact with Hodge or Smeaton or anybody else who has a different view. He thinks the word “walking” proves his point.

    Moo on Romans 8:4 in NICNT, p 482–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….

    To think that those who agree with Jones about 8:4 are in the “classical mainstream”, and that those who disagree are not, would mean that John Calvin was antinomian in his reading of 8:4.


  38. Well, we can either treat people like Jones or Phillips or GRN as if they’re simply unaware and gently remind them of the historical context and historical boundaries and how they’re being less than careful or we can deal with them as purposely obfuscating and antagonistic and intentional in their words and trajectory. I’m content to let them choose, but they don’t get to be either the former or the later and sounding forth from the pulpit or on the internet and imagine that they can bully, shame, or mock those who question them about it. .For all the basement dwellers on the internet, there’s also more than a fair number of otherwise competent, capable and conscientious folk who are willing to hold them to account for their pontificating. Happens to me all the time, what makes them so special? Fathers and brothers is fine, as far as it goes, but be careful when you go to taking advantage of other’s charity. Don’t mistake their generosity for ignorance, inability or cowardice.


  39. It’s a short slippery slope from “assisting grace” that does not bring success to Adam to a “common grace” defined as including a divine desire to save the non-elect. But not all the Reformed, now or in the past have so defined (or so profaned) grace.

    Herman Hanko—The Marrow Men claimed that by making salvation conditioned upon faith, they in fact made the work of salvation particular because only the elect actually came to faith. But one had to explain how only some were saved when in fact God desired the salvation of all and provided an atonement which was sufficient for all, intended for all and available to all.

    (mcmark–Of course there is always the rational explanation that explanation is not possible in the case of dogmatic contradictions.)

    Hanko—It is true that the Marrow Men taught that saving faith was worked in the hearts of the elect of God. In this way that they hoped to escape the charge of Arminianism. But this will not work for two reasons. In the first place, how is it to be explained that God on the one hand desires to save all and expressed this desire in the preaching of the gospel; and on the other hand actually gives faith and saves only a select few? The Marrow Men, as the Amyraldians before them, resorted to a distinction in the will of God but such a distinction sets God in opposition to Himself as being One Who on the one hand desires to save all, and on the other hand, desires to save only some.

    (mcmark–note well that this is not the distinction between command and promise, or between law and gospel. The duty to believe the gospel does not depend on an ability to believe the gospel. The duty to believe the gospel does not depend on a divine promise of love and grace –assisting or otherwise hyphenated and qualified– to all sinners.)

    Hanko–In the second place, by making faith the condition of salvation, faith is set outside the benefits of the atonement. if the atonement is for every sinner, but faith is not for every sinner, then faith cannot be a blessing given by means of the atonement. Then faith is not one of the blessings of Christ’s death, but becomes a condition for making Christ’s death effective. One cannot have it both ways.

    (mcmark—thus the common assumption that election is no part of the gospel, but only an explanation of why some sinners meet the condition of believing a “gospel” which falsely teaches that faith causes the new birth and that faith causes the death of Christ to work. Where there is no idea that God’s election decided for whom Christ would die, there is the assumption that it’s the work of the Spirit in us which unites us to an universal atonement.)


  40. Calvin on Rom 8:4

    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. For the perfection which the law demands was exhibited in our flesh, and for this reason — that its rigor should no longer have the power to condemn us. But as Christ communicates his righteousness to none but to those whom he joins to himself by the bond of his Spirit, the work of renewal is again mentioned, lest Christ should be thought to be the minister of sin: for it is the inclination of many so to apply whatever is taught respecting the paternal kindness of God, as to encourage the lasciviousness of the flesh; and some malignantly slander this doctrine, as though it extinquished the desire to live uprightly.


  41. In his introduction to the second edition of Gaffin’s By Faith, not by Sight, Mark Jones suggests that anybody who has a different order of salvation than Gaffin is antinomian.

    Mark Jones– “The position that faith followed (imputation) was not typical of Reformed thought in his day but rather was associated with antinomianism.”.

    Mark Jones—”Any view that posits faith as a consequence of imputation (John Cotton) is not the typical Reformed position.”

    Mark Jones—”The Lutheran view that justification precedes sanctification..ends up attributing to justification a renovative transformative element.”

    Mark McCulley— Mark Jones is dogmatic that “union” precedes imputation, and that “faith” precedes “union”. Does that not end up attributing to “union” a renovative transformative element?

    Does that not end up attributing to “faith” a renovative transformative element? Is the atonement imputed to us on the basis of the Spirit’s work of giving us faith?

    I agree with DGH in wanting to hear what Mark Jones has to say about Norman’s Shepherd’s denial of the antithesis between law and grace. Does Mark Jones agree with Gaffin that there is a “not-yet aspect” of justification?

    Mark Jones—Antinomianism, p 73—If fear of punishment and hope of reward provide the ONLY motivation for for holy living, then Horton certainly makes a valid point. However, this is another point where the Christian life is both-and and not an either-or on the matter of motivation. The fact is, that one will have a difficult time finding many classical Reformed theologians denying that Christians should hope for rewards as a motivation for holiness.”

    mark mcculley–One suspects that any theologian one quotes against “mercenary motives” will be dismissed as not “classical enough”. On the one hand, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. But on the other hand, one still needs to be circumcised in order to assure oneself of future justification.
    On the one hand, not everything is as either-or as Galatians sounds, and even in Galatians, the distinction is not between law and grace, but between law misunderstood and law correctly used as one motivation to threaten Christians in terms of the “efficacy” of future salvation (and also how to get more rewards than other Christians.)


  42. DG, in an effort to not praise you, the reason I am not as bent out of shape over the use of the word grace is because of the range of meaning that it has in our modern context. I don’t think it’s correct to use it, but given the latitude of meaning that people give it, it’s not surprising for it to be used, I can understand that.

    I appreciate Mark’s comment back on “Flattening Will Get You Nowhere” pointing to Michael Horton’s point on Grace vs Condescension

    Not that I won’t point out that using the word is incorrect – a few months back I had a lengthy conversation with a friend (no, not the interwebs) on this very point about the use of the word Grace with Adam (unrelated to the current controversy and Jones).


  43. Nate, I hear you but I have lived too long in the era of John Frame where because preaching is “dramatic” we now have precedent for — wait for it — “liturgical drama.”

    “Voluntary condescension” is not “grace”. It violate Strunk and White if the divines really meant “grace.”


  44. Jesus was “put to live by faith as we are…For in this example of Christ we have the highest instance of believing that ever was.” – A Former Member of the Westminster Assembly.


  45. Mark, here’s an interesting, additional bit on Rom 8:4. I’m not a “lettered” man in theology, but I do look for consistency. I find it curious that Mark Jones, in light of turning to Owen in order to make his case in his recent book, at the same time can implicitly write off Puritans such as Owen, and by implication Jacomb, when it comes to this passage of Scripture, in that he uses a view on 8:4 to support his argumentation that they reject. Am I missing something here?


    5. As was before observed, reconciliation and the pardon of sin through the blood of Christ do directly, in the first place, respect our relief from the state and condition whereinto we were cast by the sin of Adam, — in the loss of the favor of God, and liableness unto death. This, therefore, is that which principally, and in the first place, a lost convinced sinner, such as Christ calls unto himself, does look after. And therefore justification is eminently and frequently proposed as the effect of the blood-shedding and death of Christ, which are the direct cause of our reconciliation and pardon of sin. But yet from none of these considerations does it follow that the obedience of the one man, Christ Jesus, is not imputed unto us, whereby grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life.

    The same truth is fully asserted and confirmed, Romans 8:1-4. But this place has been of late so explained and so vindicated by another, in his learned and judicious exposition of it (namely, Dr. Jacomb), as that nothing remains of weight to be added unto what has been pleaded and argued by him, part 1 verse 4, p.587, and onwards. And indeed the answers which he subjoins (to the arguments whereby he confirms the truth) to the most usual and important objections against the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, are sufficient to give just satisfaction unto the minds of unprejudiced, unengaged persons. I shall therefore pass over this testimony, as that which has been so lately pleaded and vindicated, and not press the same things, it may be (as is not unusual) unto their disadvantage.

    Thomas Jacomb: pp 576-77, The Righteousness of the Law Rom VIII Ver. IV

    3. Thirdly, Others open it thus, the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in Believers perfectly, yet not personally, but imputatively.

    Their meaning is this, the Lord Jesus in his own person whilst he was here on earth did obey the Law, perfectly conforming to it in all its holy commands; now this his most perfect obedience to the Law made over, reckoned, imputed to his members, as if they themselves in their own persons had performed it. The Law’s righteousness is not fulfilled in them formally, subjectively, inherently or personally; but legally ( they being in Christ as their Head and Surety) and imputatively so it is. This is the fulfilling which suits with the words, for ’tis said that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, not by us, but in us; in us (that is) not only for our sake and for our good, but as Christ’s Obedience is ours by imputation. If the former senses be rejected this must be received; for since the Law’s righteousness must be fulfilled in the Saints, (otherwise what the Apostle here affirms would not be true), and since there are but two wayes wherein it can be fulfilled, either by themselves or by some other; it necessarily follows, if they do not fulfil it the first way that the second must take place; and so it must be fulfilled by Christ for them and his obedience be imputed to them. And this is that Exposition of the words which our * PROTESTANT Divines (so far as imputation in general is concern’d) do commonly give: but about it many things are necessary to be spoken unto, both for the explaining and also for the vindicating of it (which therefore shall be done by and by).
    [emphasis in the original]


  46. I Corinthians 45 So also it is written, The first man, Adam, became a living “soul”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly.

    Genesis 2: 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living “soul”.

    Genesis 3:19 you will return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
    because you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.

    Acts 13: 36 For David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, died, was buried with his ancestors, and experienced decay, 37 but the one whom God raised up did not experience decay. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brothers, that through this one forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by this one everyone who believes is justified from everything from which the law of Moses could not justify you.


  47. Shane, I’ve known since the live tweeting of the Leithart / Truman “debate” at Heidelblog last spring. I tweeted at one point ‘Where’s the gospel?’ You faved it. And I thought, Shane Anderson! Your photo confirmed it. Which brings up again… Why in the world didn’t Carl Truman bring up how FV undermines the gospel? It was an obvious point of disagreement they could have debated. But I digress… Blessings.


  48. Well, it seems Mark Jones keeps up with the reaction he gets on Old Life and elsewhere, but he doesn’t seem interested in taking any of it seriously:

    I’ve been trying to put my finger on what it is about Jones that doesn’t sit right with me, besides the actual issues under discussion, and I think it’s the way he comes out with a piece that indicts a whole lot of people in his own “family” of being in serious error and then when members of the family respond or have good and valid questions, they just get laughed off, like they aren’t worth his time. He’s got more important things to do, like post selfies in a luchador mask.


  49. J-Li, it’s the requisite cheeky, wink-wink, knowing, aren’t-we-cool-but-above-it-all Ref21 shtick. 90% of the readers will have no idea what he’s talking about, nor can they request explanation.


  50. This is when I hate the internet. Recess/after school/in the hallway/in the lunch line/on the field was much more expedient, not to mention satisfying, for fixing sh*tbird.


  51. I have it on good authority that Jones doesn’t waste his time with Oldlife. Don’t think of yourselves more highly than you ought.

    I am curious, though, where does he “indict” a whole lot of the family of being in “serious error”?


  52. Bob,

    Well he clearly reads OLTS since he loves backhanded references to the site (See his latests’ postscript). Nothing like jabbing your opponents where they can’t answer back. At least you have the stones to post your thoughts here.


  53. Maybe Mark’s view on commenting on blogs can be taken from the beginning this comment he gave to me a couple years ago on concerns I expressed regarding conflating works and faith / law and gospel:

    I really don’t have the time to get into this too much and I am a little wary of people who troll around various websites posting comments and have nothing better to do. Surely that doesn’t apply to you, but I don’t want to give the impression that it applies to me because, as a general rule, I don’t comment on blogs.

    I was merely pointing out that salvation is broader than justification and therefore can involve means such as good works. The question of necessity of good works for salvation is affirmed in the standards and in the New Confession of Faith (1654).

    One way of looking at it is this way: are good works the way of life or also the way to life? The way “to life” speaks of necessity whereas to only say “way of life” might imply that our works are merely a “thank you” to God for salvation. The WLC 32 uses – clearly arguing against a view held by Tobias Crisp – the words “to salvation” to describe holy obedience. Crisp rejected that sanctification was the way to Heaven, but the divines affirmed that good works were not merely evidence of faith.

    Let me also suggest that you read Turretin on this topic (see Institutes 17th topic, third question) for a typical Reformed answer to this question.


  54. Case in point is the book and other articles on antinomiansm. It’s pretty clear that TT is the main target in these, but Jones also suggests Mike Horton and Edward (Marrow of Modern Divinity) Fisher are at least sympathetic to antinomiansm. Those are serious charges, and presumably apply to any who share the views of these men on sanctification.

    Then TT does a whole hour on Pirate Chrisian radio in May trying to explain he is not an antinomian. I leave it to that audience to decide if he succeeds or not. In response to that Mark Jones hops on twitter to brush it all off:

    Now he doesn’t have to go on PCR to make a meaningful response, but what he says is just so juvenile and disrespectful to a minister in his own denomination. I can’t respect someone who operates like that.


  55. J-Li,

    Please get your facts straight and stop spreading rumors. That tweet was not from Mark Jones. That tweet was a picture taken by Pirate guy of a private facebook conversation between him and Jones. Decide for yourself if that is kosher behavior. And it was not a picture of the whole conversation, I am told. Funny how the anti-pietists are pietistic when it suits them.

    Jones has a high regard for Horton. He did not say at all Horton was sympathetic to antinomianism. He critiqued one view of Horton’s. Or is Horton beyond critique? Hardly a serious charge anyway.


  56. Very interesting that Turretin is being heavily claimed by anti-repubs. Is that the Dennison connection or somethg else?

    Turretin is not, however, congenial to any project to make obedience into a means of grace. For Turretin, there is a huge wall between obeying in order to receive life and obeying because you live (11.23.7).

    So the sticking point is the unqualified use of “necessary.” Are good works necessary a priori because they obtain eternal life? Or are they necessary a posteriori because we have eternal life? Turretin is everywhere and abundently clear that the latter is the case.

    He seems to think that this point needs a lot of repetition. Imagine.


  57. Jones, in “Antinomianism”, linking antinomian John Eaton to his concerns about Michael Horton. As they say, not too subtle:

    In addressing the issue of rewards, Owen responds to the criticism that “to yield holy obedience unto God with respect unto rewards and punishments is servile, and becomes not the free spirit of the children of God.” Owen could perhaps have listed several prominent antinomian theologians who never tired of making this point. John Eaton, for example, castigates legal preachers for extorting good works out of saints by “hope of rewards. This objection has again surfaced in our day, with even Michael Horton claiming that fear of punishment and hope of rewards, as “a sound motivation for Christian holiness” (emphasis added), is a “disastrous pattern of thinking.” If fear of punishment and hope of reward provide the only motivation for holy living, then Horton certainly makes a valid point. However, this is yet another area where the Christian life is both-and, not either-or, on the matter of motivation.


  58. Bob, you wrote: He did not say at all Horton was sympathetic to antinomianism. The quote from Mark’s book is a little more than a neutral “critique”of Horton – “even” Michael Horton – in the same breath with Eaton identified as an antinomian. As I said, not too subtle. It’s not that Horton is beyond criticism. It’s that you want to paint Jones as an innocent bystander not responsible for the arguments he’s implicitlly and explicitly making regarding other Reformed ministers.


  59. Jeff, thanks so much for all the unpacking and explicating you have been doing. In light of Turretin, above, could you comment on his 17th TOPIC THIRD QUESTION: THE NECESSITY OF GOOD WORKS which is widely cited by some to support the “necessity of works for salvation? Thanks again…


  60. After Mark Jones’ recent post on Ref21- on a book and a mask- how anyone can think this man is a legalist is beyond me…


  61. Bob has a point, up to a point. The issue is not Mark Jones per se. He might be a legalist, or he might be unclear. He seems to be playing with fire by pushing the “grace in the garden” and “Jesus was the greatest believer” issues without alerting his readers to historical context (yes, Turretin. But also Norm Shepherd and also Rome and also mainline Presbies).

    The larger point is that Jones’ comments, and Tullian Tchividjian’s, fit within a larger fight within the Reformed world about the nature of sanctification and pastoral ministry. It would be helpful to me to have Jones clarify: Grace in the garden, so … where does that go? where does it stop? How are you different from Shepherd or Murray? Jesus trusted in His Father, so … where does that go? Where does it stop? How is this different from the clearly false “Jesus was the first Christian”?

    The genius of Tertullian is that he anticipates misunderstandings and moves to address and clarify them.

    The weakness of Jones — and, to be fair, Tchividjian — is that their style of writing owes so much to the late 20th/early 21st century that it doesn’t lend itself to that kind of writing. Can you imagine this from either man?

    “Is obedience necessary? We distinguish. It is one thing to say that obedience is necessary in an a posteriori sense in relation to …”

    So my preference would be for Jones to more squarely locate himself. (1) What exactly is he saying about grace in the garden and Jesus’ obedience by faith, and how is that different from and similar to those who have gone before? I want some historical theology, man. (2) What exactly is he saying about pastoral ministry and the roles of exhortation, accountability, honesty about sin, means of grace, perseverance? How does “both gratitude and blessings/discipline” (Jones) fit together with “sinning daily in thought, word, and deed” (WLC) ?

    For that reason, Bob, I think it’s appropriate to challenge Jones or others to clarify. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to assume that he’s saying something unorthodox, but merely that he’s saying things that sound potentially unorthodox.


  62. Jack, this is the Mark Jones cherry picking hermeneutic. Find two words that agree with you, ignore the preceding phrase (12 words).

    The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.

    tee hee.


  63. Alexander, legalists are like that. Having no moderation, they’re leading the Scout troop on Thursday then running down the street at 2:00 am with a mask ere Friday comes. Trust me, I’ve tried both moderation and its dialectically necessary opposite, doing my part to keep the world in balance.


  64. Perhaps Douglas Moo might help you chaps understand Paul’s teaching on the necessity of obedience for salvation:

    “Verses 12-13 [of Romans 8] cap off this proclamation of life in Christ by reminding us that God’s gift of eternal life does not cancel the complementary truth that only by progressing in holiness will that eternal life be attained.”

    “Paul clearly affirms that his readers will be damned if they continue to follow the dictates of the flesh…In a way that we cannot finally synthesize in a neat logical arrangement, Paul insists that what God has done for us in Christ is the sole and final grounds for our eternal life at the same time as he insists on the indispensability of holy living as the precondition for attaining that life. Neither the “indicative”-what God has done for us in Christ-nor the “imperative”-what we are commanded to do-can be eliminated. Nor can they be severed from one another; they are inextricably connected.”


  65. @ Jack: Thanks for the kind words. I don’t want to flood this thread, lest Kent feel pushed out.

    But briefly, Turretin takes a lot of effort to distinguish the precise kind of necessity of obedience, and how that is different from (a) the necessity of obedience in the CoW, and (b) the necessity of faith in the CoG. So 17.3 ends up affirming in brief a lot of the material in topics 11 and 12. In particular,

    * The CoG is gracious because God not only requires faith and obedience, but also gives it by promise. This is the unique feature of the CoG (12.2.30).

    * The covenant is conditioned “concerning the end” but not with regard to the promise (12.3.4). This is difficult, but I understand him to be reaffirming that there are conditions, but God has promised to meet them in His elect.

    And here it would be helpful for a Jones or other “obedience boy” to consider and deal with this thought experiment: Given that the elect are guaranteed to persevere, what is the pastoral point of telling people that obedience is necessary for salvation? [Hint: I think there *is* a point, but it needs to be carefully expressed]

    What I’ve heard so far creates a kind of meta-stable state for the believer in which perseverance is guaranteed, yet not guaranteed. That would be my criticism of John Ball in Covenant of Grace 3.

    * Finally, and Turretin repeats this point many times, faith and obedience are conditions only in the a posteriori sense of “obey because you live” and NOT “obey in order to live.”

    So we believe because God has created faith in us. We obey because there is an actual influence of the Spirit moving us to do this.

    [And, to avoid misunderstanding, we do not wait passively for that influence, but diligently use the means of grace]

    Here is the crucial point:

    Condition is used either antecedently and a priori for that which has the force of a meritorious and impulsive cause to obtain the benefits of the covenant (the performance of which gives man a right to the reward); or concomitantly and consequently a posteriori, for that which has the relation of means and disposition in the subject, required in the covenanted … These things being laid down, we say first, if the condition is taken antecedently and a priori for the meritorious and impulsive cause and for a natural condition, the covenant of grace is rightly denied to be conditioned. It is wholly gratuitous, depending upon the sole good will of God and upon no merit of man. Nor can the right to life be founded upon any action of ours, but on the righteousness of Christ alone.

    But if it is taken consequently and a posteriori for the instrumental cause, receptive of the promises of the covenant and for the disposition of the subject, admitted into the fellowship of the covenant (which flows from grace itself), it cannot be denied that the covenant is condition …

    — FT, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 12.3.2-3.

    So another two questions for Jones: Can you whole-heartedly affirm that obedience is not a priori necessary for salvation, but only consequently so?

    Can you whole-heartedly affirm that sanctification is wholly gratuitous and depending on the good will of God and not man?

    If he can, and if he can accept that this statement is different from saying that

    * Obedience is not necessary in any sense (False!)
    * We have no role in sanctification (False!)
    * We may passively wait for our sanctification (False!)

    then the conversation can actually move in a fruitful direction.

    And, probably, he will understand why TT was wrongly accused (in my view) of antinomianism.


  66. @ Patrick: It’s the “pre-” in “precondition” that we’re really debating here. Turretin seems to think that it’s necessarily to qualify. You are more loose with it (though I have noticed that you give a nod to a priori and a posteriori in one of your posts).

    So here’s your moment: Why say “precondition” instead of “condition”?


  67. DGH, it is both/and:

    In addition to Moo, there is Michael Horton:

    “The New Testament lays before us a vast array of conditions for final salvation. Not only initial repentance and faith, but perseverance in both, demonstrated in love toward God and neighbor…Holiness, which is defined by love of God and neighbor…is the indispensable condition of our glorification: no one will be seated at the heavenly banquet who has not begun, however imperfectly, in new obedience.”


  68. Jeff, read Jones on good works in Antinomianism. Lots of clear distinctions there for you to wholeheartedly agree with.

    Horton sounds like a legalist there. Hmmm….


  69. Patrick, so then why does Horton’s name come up in charges of antinomianism?

    If Horton is right, then how much holiness is needed for glorification? Can merely 75% holiness separate me from the love of God?


  70. More obfuscation. Talk about not being able to read. There is NO way to read Paul’s treatment of the NC contrasted with Sinai and NOT walk away with the idea that the NC, as fulfillment of the Abrahamic, is CHARACTERIZED BY PROMISE(The LAW IS NOT of FAITH). To capitalize upon union or the duplex gratia or the puritans- trying to ferret out pastoral application- and use that as your touchstone to try and characterize the NC as conditional TOO, like the MC, and push continuity along that line under the guise of sanctification or salvation holistically considered’ is heading toward a misreading of the bible on a MASSIVE scale. Try again and suck less. I’d hide behind a mask too, if I was trying to get away with crap like this.


  71. Jack, you know how it is. Who’s got the patience, besides Jeff and yourself-saints, to walk down the road with guys who know what they’re doing and are getting paid to do it, just to have them engage you in war of attrition. Ain’t nobody got time for this……………….. It’s the Sweet Brown folksy sensibility.


  72. Bob, thanks for the reading tip. I agree with DGH: It would help to advance the conversation by sharing some of those distinctions here. Despite possible appearances, the point is not to bash Jones but to get people to hear their communication problems and address them.

    For example…

    Horton: The New Testament lays before us a vast array of conditions for final salvation.

    Bob: Horton sounds like a legalist there.

    Not at all. The key, as stated previously, is whether those conditions are a priori, thus taking the force of a meritorious condition, or a posteriori, taking the force of something concomitant.

    Or as Paul says, “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”

    Is obedience a means of grace, or a fruit of grace?


  73. Sean, your appreciate the candor.

    And, two things. A patient man I am not. Just ask my wife. And two – for the sake of Jeff’s good name, please don’t group us together in any kind of compliment…


  74. There’s also Meredith Kline:

    The weakness of the traditional designation, “Covenant of Works,” for the pre-redemptive covenant is that it fails to take account of the continuity of the law principle in redemptive revelation and therefore is not a sufficiently distinctive term. The principle of “works” continues into redemptive-covenant administration, not only in the sense already stressed, that the blessings of redemption are secured by the works of a federal head who must satisfy the law’s demands, but in the sense, too, that none of the many represented by Christ attains to the promised consummation of the covenant’s beatitude unless he attains to that holiness without which man does not see Cod. (By Oath Consigned)


  75. David R., so Kline is on your side? I thought you believe obedience is required. Now you find Kline supporting it. So what are you complaining and complaining and complaining and complaining about?


  76. D.G., Kline was right about one thing, therefore he was right about everything? Obedience is not required in one sense, therefore it isn’t required in any sense? A distinction or two couldn’t hurt….


  77. Darryl,

    I couldn’t tell for sure when this was posted earlier – do you agree with Jones (and disagree with Horton) when he wrote:
    “This objection has again surfaced in our day, with even Michael Horton claiming that fear of punishment and hope of rewards, as “a sound motivation for Christian holiness” (emphasis added), is a “disastrous pattern of thinking.” If fear of punishment and hope of reward provide the only motivation for holy living, then Horton certainly makes a valid point. However, this is yet another area where the Christian life is both-and, not either-or, on the matter of motivation.”
    Or is Jones no bueno here as well?


  78. Jeff,

    “Is obedience a means of grace, or a fruit of grace?”

    Why can’t it be both? As you said:
    * We have no role in sanctification (False!)
    * We may passively wait for our sanctification (False!)

    One cannot obey without grace. But is not additional grace given when one actively obeys which then deepens ones holiness and union (thus leading to greater obedience and so on)? Such grace would not have been bestowed without the obedience (although the obedience could not happen in first place without grace yielding it).


  79. @ CvD: I think the Gal 5.1-5 is entirely dispositive.

    But I do think you have put your finger on the touchstone difference between Protestants and Catholics in the matter of sanctification.


  80. Jeff,

    I’m not trying to derail convo to RCism. I am asking my question assuming your system and its notions of sanctification which is why I cited your list of negatives. So where do you disagree with following in view of progressive sanctification:
    One cannot obey without grace. But is not additional grace given when one actively obeys which then deepens ones holiness and union (thus leading to greater obedience and so on)? Such grace would not have been bestowed without the obedience (although the obedience could not happen in first place without grace yielding it).


    So was Jones wrong in his criticism of Horton and motivation of believers? If so why is seeking heavenly reward (not salvation) in sanctification of believer disastrous? Paul and others dont seem to have an issue encouraging believers with such motivations in their pursuit of holiness.


  81. @ CvD: Ah. I misunderstood your givens. If we’re talking strictly within the Reformed system, we would say … I would say? … that grace precedes obedience, in that sanctification is a change of heart wrought by the Spirit.

    Obedience to the law does not change the heart, but a change of heart brings obedience.

    So: Means of grace uphold Christ; faith receives the merits of Christ; those bring about change of heart; obedience follows.

    Or to put it in Jesus’ terms, obedience is the fruit of the root. And we all know from biology that fruit cannot be self-fertilizing. Likewise, faith is the way in which we are nourished, obedience is the result of that nourishment.


  82. Jeff,

    I am still failing to see where obedience boys disagree with what you said. Obedience is fruit of root and follows faith they and Jones would agree. I am guessing you disagree that obedience can then yield more grace? You say the fruit is not self-fertilizing but if one does not obey the fruit withers. You obey (through/from grace) and grow in holiness and more grace. You sin and you don’t. The differentiating factor seems to lie in your obedience or lack thereof. If you do not disagree obedience can yield more grace then i fail to see why you take umbrage with the both/and Jones espoused.


  83. DG,

    Evidentially Mark Jones does not think you were doing him much of a service by bringing the comments over to your blog: Why We Don’t Allow Comments

    I wonder if his section addressed to professors had you in mind. He also seems to think that laymen blog commenters are one step above neanderthals (maybe).


  84. CvD: ? You say the fruit is not self-fertilizing but if one does not obey the fruit withers.

    The fruit is the obedience. What you describe is self-contradictory.


  85. Darryl,

    I had a little back and forth with Mark about the post today on Twitter – and lo and behold, he claimed (jokingly) that I was the reason for the post. While I think the post was generally done in jest, and my responses were in kind – it all seemed a bit strange in the end.

    I get why some blogs don’t allow comments – and sometimes it boils down to the contributor(s) not wanting the hassle, which is fine. But, the strength of the medium is in its conversational, and even argumentative tone – good ideas often emerge and are defined in conflict. I don’t even mind the intra-group humor of Ref21, as most groups develop their own inside language and humor – even on this site, but when it begins to detract from substantive dialogue (e.g. St. Cagle and that hooligan David R.), it becomes a nuisance, and boorish.

    But, where the bad form comes in, is where Ref21 gives its contributors the mic, and lets them gab on about whatever view they like, even if their views are controversial and disputed, and then block ability to present a contrarian opinion, and for all its pitfalls the combox allows this. Instead, in their usual chummy, and sometimes dismissive humor, they impugn anyone who would dissent, cause darnit, we have the microphone. The danger comes in – especially on matters like Republication, or Union, or similar matters, is that these are genuinely contested ideas, and for all the shennanigans that happen here that give OL it’s distinct flavor, there is substantive debate here, and it does actually shape and clarify matters for all involved, even if agreement isn’t reached. But Ref21 punted to arrogance and condescension…

    Well, I can do that too: leave it to the Obedience Boys to police the internet from all possible “depravity creep” and expect us (lazy pastors, untested seminarians, ignorant laymen, and cunning scholars) to thank them for silencing us. Didn’t Chomsky call stuff like this manufacturing consent?

    BTW, hopefully Mark wasn’t around any children when that photo was taken – talk about creepy.


  86. But Ref21 punted to arrogance and condescension…

    They ain’t as hot as they think they are and it shows/is getting old.
    Nobody else is either or they know they are going to catch it in the combox if they give a hint that’s the case.

    Either that or they get tuned out. (Think BBros.)
    There are plenty of trolls to be sure, but if you can make your case against the dissenters, some people still know how to read.


  87. But where does he stand on today’s debates — say like Shepherd or Federal Vision?

    That’s the crux.
    Still waitin’ for the answer.

    So yeah, the puritans did talk about grace before the fall, but note bene we are told further that a guy named Roberts distinguished between the grace of benevolence and the grace of mercy.
    So . . . what’s that mean for us today when people talk about grace before the fall? Shepherd is channeling Roberts so no worries?
    Again, we is still waiting for the academic answer.
    Must be behind the paywall.


  88. Jeff,

    “CvD: ? You say the fruit is not self-fertilizing but if one does not obey the fruit withers.
    The fruit is the obedience. What you describe is self-contradictory.”

    Again, if and when you obey (by and through grace), does that yield growth in holiness and grace or not? If you disobey and sin, are you not retarding that growth and instead yield fatherly displeasure? You say what I describe is self-contradictory so apparently that would mean you disagree that if and when you obey that such obedience yields growth in holiness and grace. If you don’t believe that and agree that your obedience (by and through grace) yields further growth in holiness and grace, then how is that not self-contradictory per your statement above?


  89. Cvd:
    Again, if and when you obey (by and through grace), does that yield growth in holiness and grace or not?

    No, that’s not the way of it. Growth first, then fruit. As I said, Gal 3.1-5 is dispositive.


  90. Jeff,

    Okay, so if you don’t obey you will grow in holiness and grace?

    The following from WCF looks like it’s a cycle of grace first, then fruit, then more grace:

    “God does continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.”

    “yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.”


  91. The Christian View of Man, by Machen, Banner, p 160–

    “Thus the covenant of works into which God entered with man was a gracious thing. It contained indeed a possibility of death, but it contained also the promise of assured and eternal life. If the temptation was resisted, even the possibility of death would be removed.

    “Now do you think that if Adam had not sinned, the entrance into that higher condition would have been closed to him? Do you think he would have left to an eternal jeopardy in which the dread possibility of his sinning would ever have been before his eyes?”

    mark mcculley—- as long as it’s only a “if that, what then, would have happened” question, and as long as we don’t have any Bible either way, and I am being asked what I think—Yes, I think endless probation “would have been” just and that justice does not demand grace.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.