From DGH on Do Some Pray More Effectually than Others Submitted on 2015/02/04 at 12:15 pm

Mark, nice of you to avail yourself of the open comments policy at Old Life. I wonder what you think. But in light of your post about the efficacy of prayer and the way you left us at Old Life, I have a few questions.

First, you write:

There are some who know God’s will, pray with great faith, keep God’s commandments, and so have effectual prayers. That’s why the man, Christ Jesus, prayed with such efficacy.

I wonder after your encounter with Iain Duguid if your prayers were less effectual. You seemed to be upset, in my estimate, needlessly so. So I wonder if you could reflect on your own experience with holiness and prayer life after this recent episode of on-line banter.

Second, you sign off your post by invoking Machen’s telegram to John Murray: “Pastor Mark Jones is so thankful for the prayer life of Christ. No hope without it.” Are you on your deathbed? If so, how should we pray? And should we only pray after improving our sanctification?

Last, have you heard of John Calvin? You write this:

Consider the Apostle John’s words: “…and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him” (1 Jn. 3:22). This verse makes clear that receiving from God is connected to obeying God.

But listen to how Calvin renders that verse:

22 And whatsoever we ask These two things are connected, confidence and prayer. As before he shewed that an evil conscience is inconsistent with confidence, so now he declares that none can really pray to God but those who with a pure heart, fear and rightly worship him. The latter follows from the former. It is a general truth taught in Scripture, that the ungodly are not heard by God, but that on the contrary, their sacrifices and prayers are an abomination to him. Hence the door is here closed up against hypocrites, lest they should in contempt of him rush into his presence.

He does not yet mean that a good conscience must be brought, as though it obtained favor to our prayers. Woe to us if we look on works, which have nothing in them but what is a cause of fear and trembling. The faithful, then, cannot otherwise come to God’s tribunal than by relying on Christ the Mediator. But as the love of God is ever connected with faith, the Apostle, in order that he might the more severely reprove hypocrites, deprives them of that singular privilege with which God favors his own children; that is, lest they should think that their prayers have an access to God.
By saying, because we keep his commandments, he means not that confidence in prayer is founded on our works; but he teaches this only, that true religion and the sincere worship of God cannot be separated from faith. Nor ought it to appear strange that he uses a causal particle, though he does not speak of a cause; for an inseparable addition is sometimes mentioned as a cause as when one says, Because the sun shines over us at midday, there is more heat; but it does not follow that heat comes from light.

Be well.


146 thoughts on “From DGH on Do Some Pray More Effectually than Others Submitted on 2015/02/04 at 12:15 pm

  1. Wouldn’t Christ’s prayers be more effective, assuming such is the case, because he’s God? Where does that leave us in this illustration?


  2. In our post Barth and Torrance world, it is more and more common to think of all sin as sin against grace. This tends to make the law of no consequence, and therefore takes the antithesis out of the antithesis between law and grace . We are given the guilt trip of not only “you killed Jesus” but also of “you killed Jesus attempting to love you and offering to save you”

    That being said, of course I still agree that Christians sin against grace. But what is the providential correlation between our sins against grace and our chastisements—-I have no problem saying that chastisement is Fatherly grace, but I question a Deuteronomic connection between our sins and our chastisements. When a Christian sins against grace, that Christian is still sinning against law.

    Isaiah 59: Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
    or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
    2 but your iniquities have made a separation
    between you and your God,
    and your sins have hidden his face from you
    so that he does not hear.
    3 For your hands are defiled with blood
    and your fingers with iniquity;
    your lips have spoken lies;
    your tongue mutters wickedness.
    4 No one enters suit justly;
    no one goes to law honestly;
    they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
    they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
    5 They hatch adders’ eggs;
    they weave the spider’s web;
    he who eats their eggs dies,
    and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.
    6 Their webs will not serve as clothing;
    men will not cover themselves with what they make.
    Their works are works of iniquity,
    and deeds of violence are in their hands.
    7 Their feet run to evil,
    and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
    their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
    desolation and destruction are in their highways.
    8 The way of peace they do not know,
    and there is no justice in their paths;
    they have made their roads crooked;
    no one who treads on them knows peace.


  3. Mark Jones:

    There are some who… pray with great faith… and so have effectual prayers


    If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.


  4. A little more Calvin on prayer:

    … notwithstanding of our being thus abased and truly humbled, we should be animated to pray with the sure hope of succeeding. There is, indeed, an appearance of contradiction between the two things, between a sense of the just vengeance of God and firm confidence in his favor, and yet they are perfectly accordant, if it is the mere goodness of God that raises up those who are overwhelmed by their own sins. For, as we have formerly shown (chap. 3: sec. 17. 2) that repentance and faith go hand in hand, being united by an indissoluble tie, the one causing terror, the other joy, so in prayer they must both be present. This concurrence David expresses in a few words: “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy, and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple,” (Psalm 5:7.) Under the goodness of God he comprehends faith, at the same time not excluding fear; for not only does his majesty compel our reverence, but our own unworthiness also divests us of all pride and confidence, and keeps us in fear. Institutes of Religion, Book 3.20.11


  5. Mark Jones writes:

    Christ’s prayers were effective for several reasons. He prayed fervently and frequently, always in faith. But he also understood the will of God. Long before Christ, Elijah prayed for rain to be withheld. He did not request this because it seemed a good idea to him. Rather, he offered his petition based on the Scriptures: God threatened various curses against his people, including drought (Deut. 28:22, 24).

    Mark has been known to flatten things. When he does touch on curses from Deut. 28, I do wonder if he believes Christians can now come under covenant curses. It seems like the curses threatened and the blessings promised for obedience found their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. I always get left with the feeling from Mark and his followers I must do more and more to please God Mark.

    Deuteronomy 28:53-57 (ESV)

    53 And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. 54 The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces,[a] and to the last of the children whom he has left, 55 so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. 56 The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces,[b] to her son and to her daughter, 57 her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.

    Lamentations 4:10

    The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children; they became their food during the destruction of the daughter of my people.

    Not to go all Nationwide.


  6. Forgive me if I’m way off base here, but as reformed Christians who believe in the the sovereignty and immutability of God, is Mark’s question even a valid starting place?

    “Does our godliness or lack thereof affect our prayers in terms of the influence they have on God to answer them?”

    Can we “influence” God through our prayers? I’m not sure.


  7. One’s only recourse with Reformation21 is:

    1) Have Darryl keep open comments for them (thanks D!)

    2) tweet them (as if)

    3) ignore (but these are ordained officers!).

    As always, DGH provides an invaluable service.

    Mark, OLTS is here for ya, around the clock, yo. Peace.


  8. It’s remarkable how similar Mark’s reasoning is to RC’s seeking the mediation of saints and Mary. I mean, you’ve got RC’s thumbing through the rosary while reading Mark’s stuff and nodding their heads.


  9. J.I. Packer contra Jones

    “There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me. There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that he sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and am I glad!), and that he sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough). There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, he wants me as his friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given his Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose…I need not torment myself with the fear that my faith may fail; as grace led me to faith in the first place, so grace will keep me believing to the end. Faith, both in its origin and continuance, is a gift of grace” (Knowing God)


  10. D. G. Hart
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink
    Brad, do more and more except respond to interlocutors.

    Agree. Brad, great comment.

    But only minor scruple: we avoid responding to the trolls (at least in any meaningful way)(we all know this and can tell who they are a mile away).


  11. It seems like Jones is basically saying that you need to have a certain level of sanctification to access more sanctification.

    More cart, less horse.


  12. Perhaps there is a fourth use of the Law: paralysis (i.e., you’re not holy enough or spiritually strong enough to pray EFFECTIVELY; so don’t bother to pray.)?


    Rom 8:26
    Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

    Heb 4:14-16
    Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


  13. MJ—God threatened various curses against his people, including drought (Deut. 28:22, 24).

    Brad—MJ has been known to flatten things. I do wonder if he believes Christians can now come under covenant curses.

    mcmark—Brad, you must be a dispensationalist with a page there in between your two testaments, you forget that if it’s not directly left out or contradicted in the new that we can assume that there’s still curses. It just makes sense—no sacramental sanctions, no law, and if no law, no covenant, It’s all one covenant, even if Abraham did have two children, and if you are uncomfortable with the words “curses” or “punishment”, why not refer to the sanction as “not getting as blessed as much as you might have if you had not sinned”, because that’s what happened to Adam, because Adam was in “the covenant” and Adam was “in grace”, but he still got cursed by the gospel he was supposed to believe…..

    don’t be so narrow about a difference between law and gospel, because Jesus (unlike the Lutherans) has a large commanding gospel. Why say ‘sinned against the law” when you can “fail to increase his works of faith”??? Don’t just talk about Christ in the past taking the curse, and then forget about those “omitted works of faith” Why talk about “merits”, when you could give God the credit since you know you could not have increased your holiness on your own without God’s grace?

    John Calvin on I John 4—the meaning is, that as there is nothing more miserable than to be harassed by continual inquietude, we obtain by knowing God’s love towards us the benefit of a peaceful calmness beyond the reach of fear. It hence appears what a singular gift of God it is to be favored with his love…. Though fear is not wholly shaken off, yet when we flee to God as to a quiet harbor, safe and free from all danger of shipwreck and of tempests, fear is really expelled, for it gives way to faith….”There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:18-19


  14. Douglas Bond, Grace Works P and R, 2014 p 92—“There are men today who encourage their congregations to tear out the page between the Old and New Testaments in their Bibles. Zealous to avoid the error of dispensationalism, these men make the continuity of the covenants the foundation of their preaching. But I wonder if it is a foundation that is able to support the scandal of grace. If we care about the distinction between law and gospel…then we will train our ears for those who don’t seem to want to keep the distinction between the old and new covenants.Their insistence on “the continuity of the covenants” may prove to be a code phrase for confusing law and gospel. Where there is a merging of the old and new covenants, it will never be the law diminished by gospel. It will always be the gospel fatally diminished by the law.”


  15. Justin,

    If only I could have faith like Jesus, and obey like Jesus, and pray like Jesus.

    Thank God for the gospel


  16. Romans 4: 13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression

    But there are many who can promise you a not so good job in the age to come, if you don’t pick up the pace on increasing your “sanctification” now.

    Lutzer, Moody church—“The works we do after our conversion do not have merit in and of themselves. They only have merit because we are joined to Christ. Also, we should not think of God as our employer who has a legal obligation to pay us….Your Eternal Reward, 1998, p 14)

    But be sure that we WILL get paid, if we work the right way, with the right motive, and we are not Pelagians who did the works of faith in and of ourselves.

    Gloria Copeland–God knows where the money is, and God knows how to get the money to the people with faith

    Joyce Meyer—If you stay in your faith, you are going to get paid. I am now living in my reward.

    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.


  17. When I learn of these positions held by Pastor Mark Jones, it really underscores the Great Divide in the PCA between those like Pastor Jones who are Edwardsian/Revivalists/Pietists with all the trappings and those who are Confessional. The former nearly made me mad (insane) with all their Talmudic-resembling additions and innovations.

    It’s not a bad thing to do what Howard Beale told everyone to do when confronted with these types…………you’ve got to get mad!…………………………now go to the window, open it, and yell at the top of your lungs – I’m mad as L and I’m not going to take it any more!


  18. PS semp ref, thanks for sharing your perspective. I always wonder what’s going on in fellow NAPARC denoms.

    Peace bro.


  19. Wasn’t Jones just pointing out what the Lord says – the Lord’s warning, that prayers can indeed be hindered (ex: 1 Peter 3:7 ) Restating this, some praying may be more effective? It would be the Lord Who decides if, when. Or is the Lord just kidding us? And again RGM – is the Lord a liar, a jokester, or just humoring us, telling us to pray because prayer is effective?

    and after that verse 7 of 1 Peter 3 I love too…
    8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;

    9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For, “the one who desires life, to love and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15a but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts


  20. Calvin commenting on 1 Peter 3:7

    That your prayers be not hindered For God cannot be rightly called upon, unless our minds be calm and peaceable. Among strifes and contentions there is no place for prayer. Peter indeed addresses the husband and the wife, when he bids them to be at peace one with another, so that they might with one mind pray to God. But we may hence gather a general doctrine — that no one ought to come to God except he is united to his brethren. Then as this reason ought to restrain all domestic quarrels and strifes, in order that each one of the family may pray to God; so in common life it ought to be as it were a bridle to check all contentions. For we are more than insane, if we knowingly and wilfully close up the way to God’s presence by prayer, since this is the only asylum of our salvation.

    Some give this explanation, that an intercourse with the wife ought to be sparing and temperate, lest too much indulgence in this respect should prevent attention to prayer, according to that saying of Paul,

    “Defraud not one another, unless by consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer.” (1 Corinthians 7:5.)

    But the doctrine of Peter extends wider: and then Paul does not mean that prayers are interrupted by mutual cohabitation. Therefore the explanation which I have given ought to be retained.


  21. My only complaint is after 2.5 years posting here, it still hasn’t led to a tee time with anyone. That’s my boeuf.



  22. appreciate that Brad also..

    If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; Ps 66:18

    Spurgeon’s commenting on this verse writes if, having seen it to be there, I continue to gaze upon it without aversion; if I cherish it, have a side glance of love toward it, excuse it, and palliate it; The Lord will not hear me. How can he? Can I desire Him to connive at my sin, and accept me while I wilfully cling to any evil way? Nothing hinders prayer like iniquity harboured in the breast; as with Cain, so with us, sin lieth at the door, and blocks the passage. If thou listen to the devil, God will not listen to thee. If you refuse to hear God’s commands, He will surely refuse to hear thy prayers. An imperfect petition God will hear for Christ’s sake, but not one which is wilfully miswritten by a traitor’s hand


  23. aren’t we all (our desire) to stand up for the LORD and HIS word? not that He needs us to, but incredibly, He asks us to participate, and He tells us it’s war…

    For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ 2 Cor 10:3-


  24. PS:

    Smileys are for PCA blogs, yo.

    🙂 😀 😦 😮 😯 😕 😎 😡 😛 😐 😉 😆 😳 😥 👿 😈 🙄 ❗ ❓ 💡 :arrow :mrgreen:

    Peace, a.


  25. a
    of course our Lord is not a liar, I don’t believe I said He is. My concern also is not if our prayers may be effectual, but if we can say we have “influenced” God. Do we change God’s mind or will?


  26. RGM, isn’t your question another manifestation of the classic “God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility” conundrum? We know the dangers of ascribing too much power to creatures, but if we say creatures do not influence the Creator, don’t we end up in a form of determinism? But think Abraham interceding for Sodom.


  27. RGM: “Can we “influence” God through our prayers? I’m not sure.”

    It’s a good point.

    I’ll toss in however…

    1) Do you really believe that Jesus didn’t know what the blind man wanted when He asked the blind man what he wanted from Jesus? [spoiler alert: the ability to see…]

    2) Do you really believe that Jesus turned around and went “duh…. who touched me??” when the woman was healed by touching His garment?

    I believe that God likes to hear honest and faithful prayer and requests, to His glory.

    Christ evoked these kind of responses from those who had contact with Him (something about dogs and crumbs as well). Moses was left to give a gut-wrenching answer to God a few times showing love for his God and even those rotten people who deserved the suggested punishment.


  28. Yes, it is a classic question, and it has classic Reformed answers. None of which are apparent in Jones’ post. Here is part of a good answer I read recently:

    It would seem, however, that we “influence” God when we are in his will. In other words, if we are walking in the will of God and we ask God for something in prayer, then we are more likely to receive an answer because we are doing what he wants. In contrast, if we are out of the will of God and we ask him for something, he will not give it since it is not in his will. So, if we are walking in the will of God and we pray, we are praying according to his will and our prayers are answered in the affirmative. However, if we are not in his will, they’re not answered in the affirmative. Therefore, the issue isn’t if God answers our prayers, because he does. The issue is whether or not our prayers, and ourselves, are abiding in God’s will so that our prayers will be answered.

    We are the ones who need to have our wills changed according to his desires, not his will changed according to our prayers.


  29. RGM, Isn’t Matt Slick Arminian?  This is still troublesome to me and doesn’t sound much different than Mark Jones, “The issue is whether or not our prayers, and ourselves, are abiding in God’s will so that our prayers will be answered.”  If I do not live until I’m 75 or 80, is it due to my not abiding?  Not praying enough?  Not repentant enough?  With health issues, I pray for grace and longevity.  So what if my prayers are not answered?  That has me right back at the Word of Faith Movement.  Been there, done that, and burned the t-shirt. Oh, if I just had enough faith.


  30. RGM, perhaps, but that still seems formulaic and, as Brad suggests, prone to leading a believer to think that one’s condition has direct influential bearing on God, which seems to inherently lead one to focus on his condition (in or out of God’s will?).


  31. SR, appreciate the encouragement.

    I’m keeping my head low, re: theology, on this thread. Lots of rich stuff, I merely try to keep the mood light (at least that’s what I tell myself).

    Grace and peace.


  32. a.

    Who is the one being hindered? Us or God? Jones makes God’s hearing of our prayers contingent on our ever-increasing righteousness (and fervency). God is inclined to hear a righteous man not because there is anything good about the righteous man (which is what Jones seems to be implying) but because a righteous man has learned what God’s will is and what to ask of Him. If we ask according to his will, in Christ’s name, we shall receive.

    From what does the effectiveness spring? From our ever increasing conformity to God’s law? But this makes us depend less upon Christ and more upon ourselves. If God hears me because of my obedience, then I must muster up more and more obedience in order for God to hear me – it’s vicious. The effectiveness is not to do with anything in ourselves but that we have learned what God’s will is (Romans 12:1-2) and ask what God will give.


  33. Gaffin—Calvin accents how inseparable, yet distinct, good works are from faith as the alone instrument of justification. This is fully in keeping with what he emphasizes in many other places, perhaps most notably at the beginning of his magisterial treatment of justification in the Institutes. With the application of redemption as the large, overall concern of Book Three, he had previously discussed sanctification (“regeneration”) and in considerable length (3:3-10). Why did Calvin order his material in this way, treating sanctification before justification? “The theme of justification was therefore more lightly touched upon because it was more to the point to understand first how little devoid of good works is the faith, through which alone we obtain free righteousness by the mercy of God; and what is the nature of the good works of the saints, with which part of this question [justification] is concerned” (3:11:1).

    John Fesko in a footnote on p 315– “Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine”

    “Richard Gaffin tries to argue, on the basis of the grammar involved in a similar Pauline statement, that works are not the ground of judgment: “It is not for nothing, I take it, and not to be dismissed as an overly fine exegesis to observe, that in Romans 2:6 Paul writes, ‘according (kata) to works,’ not ‘on account of (dia),’ expressing the ground, nor ‘by (ek) works,’ expressing the instrument” (By Faith, Not By Sithgt [Carlisle: Paternoster, 2006], 98-99;

    Though Gaffin’s comment concerns Paul’s statement in Romans 2:6, at the same time we find the same prepositional combination with the accusative in John’s statement in Revelation 20:12e, the only difference being in the use of the singular and plural pronouns (cf. Rom 2:6). Gaffin argues this point because he wants to preserve sola fide in the judgment of the works of the believer.

    Relying upon the analysis of Ridderbos and Murray, Gaffin’s finer point is that the judgment kata works is “in accordance with” the works, and such works are synecdochical for faith in Christ (see Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, trans. John Richard de Witt [1975; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992], 178-81; Murray, Romans, 78-79).

    Yet can such a fine distinction be supported by the grammar alone? The use of “dia” with the accusative means “because of, on account of,” and the use of “kata” with the accusative means “in accordance with, corresponding to” (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996], 368-69, 376-77). One must ask, what difference exists between the two?

    In fact, when we delve more deeply into the significance of “kata” with the accusative, we find that “often the noun that follows kata specifies the criterion, standard, or norm in the light of which a statement is made or is true, an action is performed, or a judgment is passed. The preposition. will mean ‘according to’, ‘in conformity with’, ‘corresponding to.’ This use is common in reference to the precise and impartial standard of judgment that will be applied at the great Assize (Matt. 16:27; Rom 2:6; 1 Cor 3:8; 2 Tim. 4:14; 1 Peter 1:17; Rev 2:23)” (Murray J. Harris, “Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament,” in NIDNTT, 3:1200).

    Gaffin’s argument apparently fails to account for judgment kata works for the wicked. This point seems to be borne out by Paul’s own use of kata, as he says, “He will render each one according to [kata] his works” (Rom. 2:6), but this rendering kata works is for both the righteous (v. 7) and the wicked (v. 8).

    According to Gaffin’s interpretation, are the wicked judged according to their works, but are they not the ground of their condemnation (see 2 Cor. 11:15)? Again, note how Paul uses kata: “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due [to de ergazomeno ho misthos ou logizetai kata charin alla kata opheilema]” (Romans 4:4)

    Judgment therefore is indeed kata (in accordance with, or on the basis of) works – the evil works of the unbeliever and the good works, the righteousness of Christ.”


  34. tp://…/50-2/JETS_50-2_311-328_Wenger.pdf

    Calvin– “We must come to this remedy: that believers should be convinced that their only ground of hope for the inheritance of a Heavenly Kingdom lies in the fact that, being engrafted in the body of Christ, they are freely accounted righteous. For, as regards justification, faith is something merely passive, bringing nothing of ours to the recovering of God’s favor but receiving from Christ that which we lack.”

    Wenger— This explanation is especially informative because Calvin utilized the language of union (engrafting) with Christ, but only as a means of further describing the proper distinction between justification and sanctification, rather than a blurring of categories or of their order.


  35. thinking we’re all together about this:we’d like to know more of God’s mystery;definitely for now see in a mirror dimly (1 Cor 13:12a); the Lord has told us everything He wants us to know for now and He wants us seeking Him

    Re prayer: as you’ve been saying : “this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” 1 John 5 14 -15

    Re:Brad: “If I do not live until I’m 75 or 80”,
    we love to know in His book are all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them. Psalm 139 16 and we also love this story: In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, and said, “Remember now, O LORD, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. Isa 38:1-5; 2 Kings 20:1-6

    what can we say… Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised and and His greatness is unsearchable!!! Ps 145:3


  36. a.,

    this song has been a favorite of mine since i was a teenager, it is psalm 116 set to music. you can listen to 30 seconds of it via the preview. I post because your quoting the psalms reminded me of it.

    I don’t mean to make light of theology by referring to star trek or golf, by the way. I get rubbed the wrong way when people mock things I take seriously, so I don’t know if your comment about starfleet academy was any of that, but i appreciated it, because it showed me a level of seriousness which i believe you and i share.

    not that you needed my little sermon, just there’s the song, and thanks for your post, a.



  37. (Sh)a.(ne)

    Not thinking together with Jones on this though. Jones isn’t “just pointing out that our prayers can be hindered” (anyone can do that), he’s explaining how our prayers are hindered (and conversely, how to have a more effective prayer life), and this is the substance of the disagreement.

    We all agree that our prayers can be hindered, but how we (OLTS crowd & Jones) understand that are at odds. I understand if you want to vindicate Jones from misrepresentation, but that seems to be your common theme around here.

    Jone’s seems quite clear about what he means as he has said it a number of times in a number of ways about the role of works/righteousness/obedience in the Christian life – they play some kind of role in salvation, they play some kind of role in our present experience of God’s blessing (prayer being the particular subject at hand).

    We’re not on the same page here if you think that our works some how garner God’s attention more.


  38. Hi all– Just another quick reminder that if I post on old life it is as “Shane” or “Shane A” or “Shane Anderson.” Some of you have been arguing with me on here without me knowing (or even having read the post or comments), even calling me out by name. I know most everyone thinks you guys (and the occasional gal) are nuts, I just don’t want them confirmed in their suspicion.

    I read OL some, because I appreciate some of DGH’s insights into things, and I appreciate some of you from interactions on twitter. Other than that I don’t frequent this “psych ward with a library”…

    With sincere affection and intermittent confusion–

    @shane_a7 or @reformation101 on twitter

    We’d love to have any of you come and spend a day or two with us March 7th-8th in Greensboro. we’ll be hosting one of my favorite PCA ministers to preach on the goodness and greatness of Christ.


  39. Calvin on prayerl

    In fine, supplication for pardon, with humble and ingenuous confession of guilt, forms both the preparation and commencement of right prayer. For the holiest of men cannot hope to obtain any thing from God until he has been freely reconciled to him. God cannot be propitious to any but those whom he pardons. Hence it is not strange that this is the key by which believers open the door of prayer, as we learn from several passages in The Psalms. David, when presenting a request on a different subject, says, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; according to thy mercy remember me, for thy goodness sake, O Lord,” (Psalm 25:7.) Again, “Look upon my affliction and my pain, and forgive my sins,” (Psalm 25:18.) Here also we see that it is not sufficient to call ourselves to account for the sins of each passing day; we must also call to mind those which might seem to have been long before buried in oblivion.

    prayers will never reach God unless they are founded on free mercy. To this we may refer the words of John, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9.) Hence, under the law it was necessary to consecrate prayers by the expiation of blood, both that they might be accepted, and that the people might be warned that they were unworthy of the high privilege until, being purged from their defilements, they founded their confidence in prayer entirely on the mercy of God.
    John Calvin, Institutes of Religion: Book 3.20.9


  40. Whatever Shane, we all know a. is your alter ego.

    “Psych ward with a Library”? Have you been to Ref21 lately??

    Apologies for the confusion on your name though.


  41. entirely on the mercy? as in “only” or “totally”? Don’t you know that even the solas need to be balanced so they won’t be left alone? Now that we are Christians, we have been released from that nasty law/gospel antithesis that God in creation never intended to happen in the first place….We need some paradox and tension, depending on the situation, and today when so many are antinomians…..

    Calvin on Leviticus 26— “But if ye will not hearken unto me. Thus far a kind invitation has been set before the people in the shape of promises, in order that the observance of the Law might be rendered pleasant and agreeable; since, as we have already seen, our obedience is then only approved by God when we obey willingly. But, inasmuch as the sluggishness of our flesh has need of spurring, threatenings are also added to inspire terror, and at any rate to extort what ought to have been spontaneously performed.

    It may seem indeed that it may thus be inferred that threats are absurdly misplaced when applied to produce obedience to the Law, which ought to be voluntary; for he who is compelled by fear will never love God; and this is the main point in the Law… the Law is deadly to transgressors, because it holds them tight under that condemnation from which they would wish to be released by vain presumptions.

    Calvin—… “threats are also useful to the children of God for a different purpose,…that, after their regeneration, their corrupt affections may be daily subdued. For although they sincerely desire to devote themselves altogether to God, still they have to contend continually with the remainders of their flesh. Thus, then, although the direct object of threats is to alarm the reprobate, still they likewise apply to believers, for the purpose of stimulating their sluggishness, inasmuch as they are not yet thoroughly regenerate, but still burdened with the remainders of sin.”


  42. Nate – “in response to you –“on the same page here” (I think) and in conclusion*

    understanding that sin makes us thick-headed, unwilling to accept certain truths when they receive minimal emphasis, the biblical authors repeat foundational doctrines so that they might penetrate our hearts and minds. …
    1)“By grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” Eph 2:8.
    2) It is true that we are the ones who put our faith in Christ but God gives us this faith and guarantees that we will exercise it unto salvation.
    3) the Holy Spirit changes our hearts and we will not refuse the call to trust in Christ.
    [*excerpted thoughts from]

    …so.. each of these gospel truths may receive minimal emphasis – YES definitely #1 AND definitely also #3 and #2
    (eg #2: John 3:36; Acts 5:32; Rom 1:5; 2:8; 6:16; 15:18; 16:26; Phil 2:12; 2 Thess 1:8; Heb 5:9; 11:8; 1 Pet 1:2,22; 4:17

    Jesus obeyed for us and Jesus is obeying through us. This is the Lord’s plan.

    a MacArthur study bible summary (verse references not included here)
    -Evidences that neither prove/disprove one’s faith: visible morality; intellectual knowledge; religious involvement; active ministry; conviction of sin; assurance; time of decision
    -Fruit/proofs of authentic/true Christianity: love for God; repentance of sin; genuine humility; devotion to God’s glory; continual prayer; selfless love; separation from the world; spiritual growth; obedient living; hunger for God’s word; transformation of life;
    -If List I is true of a person and no evidences of List II , there is cause to question the validity of one’s profession of faith. If List II is true, List I will be also.



  43. Nate, I think Shane would be quoting some better guys than Swindoll, Spurgeon, and MacArthur. I don’t think his grammar is that quirky either.


  44. Calvin used the word “regeneration” to define the entire Christian life. That’s a problem . The Reformed tradition identifies “sanctification” in Christ with moral progress. That also is a problem.
    But the bigger problem is when we put adjectives before “faith” and adverbs before “believe” and forget that it’s the object of faith which saves. Faith alone is not the object of faith. But faith alone is never alone is also not the object of faith. Christ’s past (finished) death and resurrection for the elect alone is the object of faith. We must not put our faith in the adjectives and adverbs we use to describe our faith.

    It’s not that I want things to be simple and unqualified. Rather, I think the “alone” qualification is an antithesis that still qualifies the idea that regeneration before faith results in inevitable moral progress.

    Gaffin—When the prepositional phrase “without works” is taken adverbially, that is, as modifying the verb “justifies,” then the statement “faith without works justifies,” is true. When “without works” is taken adjectivally, that is, with the noun “faith,” that is, “without-works faith,” then the same statement is false.”

    Dan Fuller (the Unity of the Bible) quotes Jonathan Edwards: “We are really saved by perseverance…the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”

    The “balance” of Gaffin, Garcia, Shepherd, and Evans is not new.

    Romans 1:16 the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed beginning and ending with faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”


  45. Mark Karlberg— “The priority for Gaffin is union with Christ, what is the “absolutely necessary, indispensable context for justification. Gaffin contends that union with Christ must be kept central and controlling.,,, Contrary to Gaffin’s teaching, justification is not contingent upon sanctification, perseverence in holiness, or any of the other benefits accruing from union with Christ. The reformers were right in speaking of good works as the fruit of saving faith. Justification rests exclusively on the finished work of Christ but Gaffin prefers to speak of the ongoing work of Christ.”

    MK–”For someone to rely wholly on Christ’s finished work at the cross, Gaffin warns, he has then cut himself off from the ‘whole Christ’ from the Christ who NOW is working out the benefits of atonement. What is obscured in Gaffin’s formulation is the fact that the application of salvation has already and completely been secured by Christ in his work of reconciliation. There is nothing future to be attained by Christ.”

    MK–”Gaffin speaks repeatedly of the irreducible benefits of union with Christ. What does this mean? I take it that the point Gaffin is wanting to make is this: We are not to isolate (i.e., discriminate) one benefit among others, nor are we to give one benefit special weight in the application of redemption.

    But Gaffin then DOES give special weight to the benefit of union with Christ. And he is free to do so because matters of ordo ­ are “indifferent theologically” to him…

    mcmark— Saying that the application of salvation has already and completely been SECURED BY Christ in his work of reconciliation is NOT the same as saying that Christ’s work has now already been imputed or applied. There is no need to deny a distinction between Christ’s death (impetration) and the application of Christ”s death. God gives faith in the gospel to the elect because of God’s imputation in time of what Christ purchased for the elect, including forgiveness of their sin and failures in prayer.

    The antithesis between law and gospel is NOT “antinomian”, because the Bible itself tells us that “law is not of faith”. Bavinck—” The gospel, which really makes no demands and lays down no conditions, nevertheless comes to us in the form of a commandment, admonishing us to faith and repentance. The gospel covenant is pure grace, and nothing else, and excludes all works gives what it demands….The Gospel is sheer good tidings, not demand but promise, not duty but gift.”


  46. WCF 14.1 The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe…. is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts,

    Scott Clark—There is nothing intrinsic to faith that makes it powerful. The mystery of faith is that it is, in itself, empty. It is a sign of our perversity that we continually TRY TO FILL FAITH WITH SOMETHING OTHER than “Christ for us.” We want to make the power of faith to be faith itself or Spirit-wrought sanctity or something else beside Christ.
    Those whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or ANY OTHER EVANGELICAL OBEDIENCE to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

    Scott Clark–Faith does not justify because it is “formed by love,” i.e. made powerful by Spirit-wrought sanctity.

    Stoever, A Faire and Easy Way— “John Cotton professed himself unable to believe it possible for a person to maintain that grace works a condition in him, reveals it, makes a promise to it, and applies it to him, and STILL NOT TRUST IN THE WORK Even if a person did not trust in the merit of the work, he still probably WOULD NOT DARE TO TRUST A PROMISE UNLESS HE COULD SEE A WORK”

    Cotton—“Grace and works (not only in the case of justification) but in the whole course of our salvation, are not subordinate to each other but opposite:as that whatsoever is of grace is not of works, and whatsoever is of works is not of grace.”


  47. and in final final conclusion… Muddy- you’re now speaking against THESE men of God? your brothers? not your disagreement with them, but them?

    men revile the things which they do not understand, woe to them who go the way of Cain -he became very angry and his countenance fell and then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”; by faith, Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts and through faith; little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Jude 1 4 – ;Gen 4. 4 -7 ;Heb 11 4 ;1 John 7 -14


  48. “Muddy- you’re now speaking against THESE men of God? your brothers? not your disagreement with them, but them?”

    If you hadn’t quoted them this unfortunate situation would have never happened.


  49. I threw away, in a large dumpster, all of my Swindoll books c. 2001. Got tired of moving lugging junk around that I would never use or give to anyone. Kept my Spurgeon and Macarthur books.

    And no, again, I have not posted anonymously or under the name “a”…


    PS–If you all remember, I’ve not hidden my open disdain for the way this crowd approaches sound ministers who don’t toe the line with the ways escondido, sonship, RSC, or Tullian approach law/gospel and sanctification. I love Horton. I love Gaffin. I’m not SO stupid as to not see differences in thought and piety, but I’m not so schismatic and quarrelsome as to create divisions where none need to exist. That’s why I don’t engage here.

    You all have consistently read Mark Jones in the most negative light, and acted like you are defending the church from a false teacher. If anything I’ve read or heard from him made me think that, I’d be with you. But, instead, I’ve seen the reverse. I think the only reason he is getting heat, is that he is willing to say things that need to be said. And if it bothers you that people who have blessed you in some way have been wrong, well, welcome to total depravity. But, the fifth commandment still applies.


  50. Shane,

    I’m curious as to your application of the 5th commandment related to divisions in the church. Aren’t distinctions in law/gospel and sanctification worth dividing over? Should a minister, who will be held responsible for the well being of his sheep, be held to account if the doctrine he teaches is a stumbling block to faith? The 5th commandment cuts both ways–pastors don’t get free reign. Your logic there is a bit confusing, and I’d appreciate a bit of clarification. Further your “disdain” for brothers doesn’t seem to track well with the greatest commandment either, doesn’t it also contribute to divisions between those God has brought together? That’s not an accusation, I just really don’t see how you’re practicing the values your are espousing. Help me clarify that.

    Also, as a craven Baptist with no dog in this fight (and profoundly under-catechized re: the 5th commandment) I can tell you what is downright confusing about this whole kerfuffle. There’s a man who’s understanding of sanctification relies, in some part, on the ability of the believer to perform that which he confesses lest the believer face some sort of sanction*. But then when challenged (and not unexpectedly given the current landscape), this person’s composure becomes hostile, sarcastic, and accusatory–in a word “graceless.” Is it fair to see this confusing? If praxis is so critical to belief, why can’t this person, do what is commanded. If he can’t how can I? He’s benefitted from the best seminary training among some of the best theologians in North America. What am I missing? Why should I listen? I don’t think I’m coming in with baggage–I’m just reading how he reacts to comments on this blog.

    I will readily concede that you know the works of MJ better than I. Honest question: can you point to an instance where MJ publicly had an inappropriate response to someone, and has publicly apologized? Can you show me where he treats others with the grace, peace, patience, and longsuffering? Can you honestly say his responses to criticism have been within the bounds of what we are told Christian love should be?

    I hope I’m wrong–and please show me if I am. But if the face of Christian love is what MJ shows to his brothers who are in disagreement with him, I’m not sure that’s what I’m interested in aspiring to.

    Or, maybe the bar is really that low and I’ve been worrying about nothing this whole time.


    Your Baptist brother who does not disdain you one bit,

    David D

    *I realize this may not be the best summary, correct as you feel appropriate. Even so, I think the disjunction I see will still be apparent.


  51. On an unrelated note:

    Y’all know what’s worse than not allowing comments? Not being able to go back and fix grammatical/spelling errors.

    I am undone.


  52. a.

    You’re not making sense anymore. What’s your point? Catholics believe in ‘Justification by Faith’ but what they mean by that is entirely different that what protestants mean. MJ points out that ‘the prayers of a righteous man are effective’ but what he means by that is something different than what many of us here would mean.


  53. david D—as a craven Baptist with no dog in this fight (and profoundly under-catechized re: the 5th commandment) I can tell you what is downright confusing about this whole kerfuffle. There’s a man who’s understanding of sanctification relies, in some part, on the ability of the believer to perform that which he confesses lest the believer face some sort of sanction….

    mcmark—Amen. I am not much of a water baptist, but I do have a dog in any debate about law and gospel. But allowing just any folks to comments will only show that most people cannot and do not understand….mj


  54. and the Lord’s training of His children is no small thing..

    so much to be taught, learn, practice; so much discerning, nuance…, don’t be anger but be angry, don’t judge but judge rightly, rebuke but not revile, on and on…

    guess that’s why the Lord says like newborn babies, we are to long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it we may grow in respect to salvation for concerning Jesus there is much to say but we become of hearing, and though we ought to be teachers, we have need again for someone to teach us the elementary principles not being accustomed to the word of righteousness because we are infants. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. 1 Peter 2: 2 ; Heb 5:11-14


  55. Antinomianism, by Mark Jones. P&R,
    2013. Paperback, 176 pages, list price
    $17.99. Reviewed by Pastor Jeremiah
    What roles do God’s law and good works
    play in the Christian life? In answering
    this question, one must avoid two dangerous
    errors. The first is legalism: the idea
    that good works in any sense earn or merit
    eternal life.
    The second
    error is antinomianism:
    the idea that
    good works
    are in any
    sense optional
    in the
    C h r i s t i a n
    life. Legalism
    with sanctification. Antinomianism does
    just the opposite. It is the latter error that
    provides both the target and the title for
    this book.
    Drawing on a wide reading of historical
    and contemporary sources, Mark Jones
    does an able job of explaining and analyzing
    the major tenets of antinomian theology.
    The problem with antinomianism,
    Jones argues, is not that it denies any role
    for God’s law or good works in the Christian
    life. (Few antinomians would deny
    New Testament commands!) Rather, the
    problem is that antinomianism blurs the
    distinction between the accomplishment
    and the application of redemption.
    Point by point, Jones argues that antinomianism
    so emphasizes what Christ
    has done for us that it fails to emphasize
    fully what Christ does in us. Though it
    sees Jesus as our Savior, it neglects him
    as our example of holiness (pp. 20–22).
    Though it cherishes Christ’s imputed
    righteousness in our justification, it insufficiently
    appreciates his infused grace in
    our sanctification (pp. 24–28). Though
    it recognizes how the law brings us to
    Christ, it relaxes the use of the law as a
    guide in following Christ (pp. 31–39). In
    short, though antinomianism realizes that
    Christ saves us from the guilt of sin, it fails
    to wrestle comprehensively with how he
    also delivers us from the power of sin (pp.
    Jones argues that at the root of antinomianism
    is hermeneutical error. In interpreting
    the Bible, antinomianism makes
    justification, rather than union with
    Christ, its governing principle (p. 41). It
    leans much closer to a Lutheran law-gospel
    paradigm than a Reformed covenantal
    framework (pp. 53–56). Consequently,
    it comes to different conclusions and/or
    emphases in various practical areas, such
    as the role of good works, the distinctions
    in God’s love, and the evidences of assurance.

    Overall, Mark Jones has given to the
    church a very useful little book. His analysis
    is compelling, and the chapters on
    good works and the love of God are immensely
    practical. The final chapter summarizes
    the issues and points the reader
    toward a solution: a full-orbed appreciation
    of Christ’s person, his work, and our
    union with him by faith.
    Two points should be raised in conclusion.
    First, Antinomianism is an erudite
    book. It contains foreign-language quotations
    and cites an array of Puritan sources.
    This may have been necessary, but it limits
    accessibility. This is a book for the pastor’s
    study, not the church’s book table.
    Finally, it should be noted that Jones
    critically engages two living NAPARC
    ministers by name. The book’s preface
    does not indicate whether or not these
    men were contacted directly, prior to
    publication. Whether such engagement
    is necessary may be debated. Whether it
    occurred should have been noted. source


  56. Shane, MJ vigorously markets himself in the world of ideas and tweaks people. What he’s getting back is as sure as the law of gravity. It’s all in Proverbs or the penumbra thereof.

    But if you want to get technical about the 5th commandment, he’s not acting as a pastor when he’s online as Mark Jones, Masked Marvel.


  57. Do you remember when everyone was shouting my name, and I used my strength to rip my blouse

    It sucks to be me right now!

    Beneath the clothes, we find a man… and beneath the man, we find his… nucleus.

    There is no place for me in this world. I don’t belong out there, and I don’t belong in here. So I’m going out into the Wilderness. Probably, to die.

    Nacho: How did you find me in the wilderness?

    Esqueleto: I saw you from the village


  58. Close the door and pull the shades and climb the walls
    Feel medicine heal the lines of age
    I’m here and now I’m gone, I’m there and far beyond
    Nothin’s gonna pinch this nerve of mine
    And nothing’s gonna pinch this nerve of mine

    I wanna make it right
    I wanna make it right

    I’m on the wire, over and higher
    Over the pretense, over the spire
    On and connected

    I’m overfloating now
    I’m overfloating now
    I’m overfloating now
    I’m overfloating

    Alone, alone, alone, alone
    Alone, alone, alone, alone
    Alone, alone, alone, alone

    Breathe and take in and gently blow it on
    Drink it down and swallow hard and gaze
    Hold the potion up, stare your shadow down
    Remember to forget and then rename your shame

    I wanna make it right
    I wanna make it right

    I wanna make it right
    I wanna make it right

    I’m on the wire, over and higher
    Over the pretense, over the spire
    On and connected

    I’m overfloating now
    I’m overfloating now
    I’m overfloating now
    I’m overfloating

    Alone, alone, alone, alone


  59. Helpful bit from Calvin on James 5: 16b – “The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working.”

    That no one may think that this is done without fruit, that is, when others pray for us, he expressly mentions the benefit and the effect of prayer. But he names expressly the prayer of a righteous or just man; because God does not hear the ungodly; nor is access to God open, except through a good conscience: not that our prayers are founded on our own worthiness, but because the heart must be cleansed by faith before we can present ourselves before God. Then James testifies that the righteous or the faithful pray for us beneficially and not without fruit.


  60. Shane,

    I obviously misunderstood you when you wrote “…I’ve not hidden my open disdain for the way this crowd approaches sound ministers…” I apologize for misrepresenting what you wrote, and thus poorly representing you and your views. It was my mistake.

    But why not address my questions at all? Are they not valid? Do I have any incorrect presuppositions? I’m really curious about that. Does my transgression invalidate the responsibility to engage? Please let me know. As an outsider, I’m really trying to understand what Presbyterianism is. Can you see why this issue could confuse someone coming in from the hallway? I assure you, my intention is not to incite, it’s to gain clarity.

    I hope you can see this from my perspective: what counsel should I take from this theology of prayer? Does disobedience hinder my prayers? To what extent? Is the grace of Christ able to redeem those prayers so that even in their sinfulness, he sends them to God as they should be, not as they are? Can Jesus redeem how I talk to God?

    What about me as a Baptist? To a Presbyterian my beliefs could reasonably be seen as blasphemous.* A Presbyterian sees me (as I understand it) to willfully withhold God’s covenant of promise to those who have access to it thought the Christian family, so that I make God a liar to my children. You see me deny the presence of Christ with his people at his table, so that I make God a liar to his people. I could see how a Presbyterian would see me as worse than a pagan, because my sin isn’t one of denying God, it’s one of misrepresenting him to his people. Can God save me from that? Does Jesus’ blood cover Baptists who never convert to Westminster? It’s one thing to steal a paperclip from work, or to get snippy with your wife. It’s another to be and encourage blasphemy among God’s people. If praxis is the touchpoint of assurance, exactly what is required of me? As you can see, I hope, these questions are not academic.

    So maybe I lied about not having a dog in this fight. But it seems to me, if I’m right about what Jones is teaching, that’s the least of my problems.

    *CWU is going to have a field day with this one. Go easy my friend…


  61. In his book on “antinomianism”, Mark Jones attacks John Cotton. While I do not like Cotton’s side of the debate with Roger Williams on religious liberty, Cotton did not find assurance in his improved levels of morality and praying But Jones links John Cotton with “antinomianism” because Cotton understood God’s imputation of Christ’s to be logically prior to faith, and a cause of faith.

    (But see II Peter 1:1, Galatians 3-4, given the Spirit because of being sons, Romans 8:10, life because of righteousness.) John Cotton writes: “We must be good trees before we can bring forth good fruit. If then closing with Christ be a good fruit, we must be good trees before we can bring it forth.


  62. David D, I was raised Baptist, went presby to marry my wife (and improve my doctrine (wink)) 12 years ago. Also, you may be the Lego man from Twitter? If so, I’m also from the UC system, Santa Barbara version.

    I’ll send the Lego man a follow request on twitter. If not you, my bad.

    With Darryl, welcome dude.


  63. Mark M,

    I found interesting that MJ criticized two NAPARC ministers in his book, per the NH review I posted above.

    Thanks as always, Mark M.


  64. While we should try to pray “rightly,” Keller gently reminds us, there are no perfect prayers or perfect pray-ers. “All prayer is impure,” he says, corrupted by our ignorance and willful sin. We should try and yet can fail at prayer—an encouraging piece of news, when we remember that grace is there to sustain us.


  65. DD, I did not have full appreciation for covenant theology and infant baptism when I became a presby, it takes time. The big issue for me was worship and lack of general silliness. I quickly saw how important ecclesiology was, what it difference it can make on the ground. Not to troll, but consider the short and mixed pedigree of the “Reformed baptists” until recently — roughly 200 years from late 17th c. to late 19th c., almost exclusively among English speakers, has always been derivative and imitative, has mixed with and benefited from revivalism.


  66. The answer to Reformed legalism is not the conditionalism of Lutherans who teach “universal objective atonement and justification” that only potentially atones, in which justification depends on sin not causing the presence of Christ in faith to leave you so that you lose eternal life. The double talking dialectic of Jordan Cooper leads toward Leithart, not back to Calvin and Hodge and Machen.

    Defining the law-gospel distinction correctly requires a gospel in which the penalty of the law is satisfied by Christ’s death for the elect.

    the truth that some sinners have been baptized into Christ
    is no evidence that I have been baptized into Christ
    not all sinners have been baptized into Christ
    and not all sinners watered have been baptized into Christ

    those who have once been in Christ stay in Christ
    it did not depend on sin or faith for them to be in Christ
    nor does it now depend. on sin or faith for them to stay in Christ
    those put in Christ by God’s imputation will now always be out of Adam

    not everybody is God’s own child, :
    Jesus died for Christians
    the gospel is for Christians
    not everybody is or will be Christians
    not everybody is baptized into Christ!

    even though everybody needs His death to pay for
    ALL their sins, even their unbelief
    Christ did not die for every sinner, and not every sinner died with Him
    Christ gave the full redemption price only for those who believe the gospel

    And this redemption price paid causes them to believe
    This is why even their believing is not part of the payment
    Christ did not pay the price for those who will not be redeemed

    But Lutherans call all this “rationalism”.

    Do I need clergy and sacrament
    to make sure that eternal life lasts
    at least until I die?
    Or is salvation free because Christ paid it all?

    The water cannot comfort
    because many with water perish
    but none die the second death for whom Jesus made the sacrifice.


  67. thanks Andrew: may the prayers of the saints be counted as incense before Him, and that is what they are! Let us pray! Ps 141:2; Rev 5:8

    thanks Todd: wouldn’t it be helpful to be together on this..Jesus came to give us (His children,the born again) abundant life (John 10:10)-> beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord we are being transformed into this abundance, looking in this mirror intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty and abiding by it (2 Cor 3:18 ;James 1:23-25)
    too simple?


  68. Philip Cary—We need to see that conversion happens many times in life, I think, if we are to understand exactly what Luther means by justification. justification occurs many times, as often as you repent. We are converted whenever the Holy Spirit teaches us to take hold of Christ himself in his Word, rejoicing at the preaching of the Gospel. We are justified and converted many, many times in life.

    Philip Cary— But that’s not how the formula of Concord seems to put it: “The chief issue is solely and alone what the unregenerate man’s intellect and will can do in his conversion and regeneration….” Here too conversion marks a before and after: before conversion, I have no free will that can cooperate with God or do anything good by way of faith or obedience; afterwards my will is freed by grace to believe and obey God with gladness, making a real inward co-operation between God and man possible. Identifying this turning point, this before and after, is a crucial move in the Formula of Concord’s effort to clarify the sense in which our free will can and cannot co-operate with the grace of God, which is the key point at issue in the synergist controversy.

    Philip Cary—The Formula of Concord does not follow Calvin’s lead, however, in making the event of conversion irrevocable, as if after conversion there is no going back to what was before. On the contrary, it speaks of the possibility of sinning against conscience in such a way that sin reigns again in their hearts, so that they “grieve the Holy Spirit within them and lose him” and therefore must be “converted again.” but only this passage explicitly draws the striking but necessary conclusion that there may be more than one conversion in a person’s life.


  69. Todd, even more reason to love Lutherans.

    “Though good works certainly are a necessary result of saving faith, placing assurance in one’s sanctification points one inward, often leading to despair due to the lac [sic] of desired fruit in the Christian life.”

    Which is why when speaking of coram deo the formula of “good works are necessary for salvation” works, and when speaking of coram mundo the formula of “good works are inevitable to salvation” works.


  70. CWU – it’s not trolling if it’s true, amirite? No argument form me about the crazy you can find in the (to use your term) Calvinish Baptist world. It’s a worthwhile discussion, but probably best story best discussed over an adult beverage. (Coffee if you’re Baptist…har har)

    My point is this: If we start talking about prayers which are hindered by sin, we need to start talking about specifics here. If sin is missing the mark, how much do my prayers get hindered and by what sins? I think if you really look at what sin is, somebody has to make the case that their confession is the one that God listens to more than everyone else. Cooper’s point in the post above is salient: Are all Lutherans antinomian? If so does God turn a deaf ear? Half an ear? What hope does a Lutheran have in the Jones economy? These guys need to answer these questions. And when they are posed to them, they don’t answer, get snarky, act like you’re the problem, and leave. How’s that for winning hearts and minds?

    My quick read on this whole issue is this: I spent the formative years of my life under the tyranny of Christian perfectionism. I can smell it a mile away and I smell it here. Growing up, I was compelled to serve God because he is true, but hated him because my doctrine of sanctification never let me rest. I’ll be damned if I go back to that. I mean that literally. What Jones is offering looks like Wesleyanism wrapped up in a Reformed tortilla to give it the flavor of orthodoxy. I don’t think he’s intentionally doing it, and I could be wrong.

    But who am I to quibble? My guys can’t even decide if we are or aren’t Calvinists. I guess I’ll just pray for wisdom, and I’ll hope against hope that he would hear the prayers of a sinner such as I.


  71. Anthony,

    a community church, Baptist affiliated. doubt if our future assignments will be by denomination, so maybe see you in a nearby room (John 14:2) then, probably will recognize you


  72. I was reading a review written by an Arminian of Dr. Jones’ book, he asked the following question when trying to understand Jones’ formulation of God’s different “loves” for the elect:

    “Third, there is God’s love for the elect and this love has three parts. I needed an aspirin. Doesn’t Jesus pray in John 17:26 that the love with which the Father has loved the Son may be in the believers?”

    “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26)

    That kind of had me asking whether or not Christ prayed with efficacy here. Or do we need to edit those categories of love a bit more?

    I doubt he’s willing to debate these categories with anyone (who will actually accept the challenge of a debate). So I probably shouldn’t expect him to actually interact or converse.


  73. a.,

    Dude, you need to send a link, bro.

    Or not, whatev. I built that website (mostly me, we paid the company for the template) all by my lonesome. Interweb html stuff, aint it fun?

    Anywnay, peace out. Link or not from you, it was fun chatting. Have a nice day at your non-denom church, if you have any questions about the Orthodox Presbyterian Church or J Gresham Machen, my twitter feed at the link of my name is where to find me. Peace out. Oh, and it’s Andrew, not Anthony, no biggee.


  74. “We are committed to faithful Gospel preaching, God-honoring worship, and Christ-centered fellowship.”

    great design Andrew. ours is being redesigned right now, may send when completed.


  75. 1. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. WCF 13-1

    3. Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and, for a time, continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves. WCF 17-3

    This is an honest question. How is what Jones is advancing very much different than the preceding from the confession that I have here copied from Or quite a bit more from many of the puritan divines? Or what about the big guy himself:

    “Because the Father has reconciled us to Himself in Christ, therefore He commands us to be conformed to Christ as to our pattern.” …“Unless we ardently and prayerfully devote ourselves to Christ’s righteousness we do not only faithlessly revolt from our Creator, but we also abjure Him as our Savior.” John Calvin – Institutes Ch. 6. (there’s a lot more)

    That short quote from Calvin perfectly encapsulates what I see as the biblical view. Sanctification accompanies justification or there is none. If the belief in any subjective work of God in Christ in the new birth along with behavioral evidence of this makes one a “piestist”, then I am. The former flows from the latter. I don’t know what could be clearer from scripture and this is view is well represented in the scholastics.

    I hesitate to jump in here because I have a high regard for Jones and I have a high regard for Rachel. She may not be an academic, but she is very capable. In this case I really don’t want to take sides. I’m honestly asking what it is about Jones view that is at odds with historic reformed orthodoxy?


  76. Greg,

    My concerns hinge on what he means by “effectually”

    We can know God’s will, obey His commands, have great faith, and still not see the effects of our prayers. A Christian (from the greatest to the least) has been given the grace according to how Christ has apportioned it, according to the measure of faith (which comes with a warning not to think more highly of yourself than you ought).

    It seems like someone could take Dr. Jones and twist him to put certain souls in a pickle. Where is the encouragement to have more faith to the one whose faith is waxing and weening (as faith does), will his/her prayers be effectual? When asked, I notice a trend to simply proof text a few passages of scripture that support his earlier point, with a bit of hubris, and move on (to the effect of “Cya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!”) Is it out of love for the people within the Church? Or fear of losing control? I think particular responses highlight that answer.

    I think the biggest thing going on here is that we all need to grow in grace, and strive for sanctification by the power of the Spirit! Taking hold of the promises of God, which are “Yes” in Christ Jesus.

    “Lord Jesus, create in me a clean heart, will you sanctify me in your truth, I believe, but will you help my unbelief?”. The exhortation to repent is so necessary, but it seems like there can isn’t any encouragement for the believers identified in WCF 17-3. There are different motivations that everyone acknowledges to be useful in stirring the hearts of believers in that class, however, whichever side you “choose” you are assigned either “Encouragement” (the so called antinomians) or the Exhortation (the so called legalists). Watch both sides of the debate says “there is more than one way to skin a cat” only to pick the way of their choice to the exclusion of the other.

    So you have your champions of each side. It’s cast in terms of personality and hagiography, so it necessarily boils down to that. Which is a bit ironic when you are talking about sanctification.


  77. Greg – not sure of all you are saying, but a few comments

    “It seems like someone could take Dr. Jones and twist him to put certain souls in a pickle.”
    -but speaking of love, why would someone want to do that? not to mention it is the Spirit who will testify to each

    “cast in terms of personality and hagiography, so it boils down to that.”
    -it does appears to boil down to more than that – i.e. “the biggest thing going on here is disagreement that we all need to grow in grace and strive for sanctification by the power of the Spirit! Taking hold of the promises of God, which are “Yes” in Christ Jesus.”

    “A Christian has been given the grace according to how Christ has apportioned it, according to the measure of faith (which comes with a warning not to think more highly of yourself than you ought).”
    – the warning :so as to have sound judgment Rom 12:3; that each is to exercise our gifts accordingly; further, that to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Cor 12:7; that the proper working of each individual part causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Eph 4:16; that Paul further talks about imparting his spiritual gifting to others Rom 1:11;and that there is encouragement to earnestly desire gifts

    Reread MJs piece –don’t see anything said the Lord does not say in His word and appreciate his summary:Thus:
    1. There are some whose prayers are hindered for various reasons.
    2. There are some who know God’s will, pray with great faith, keep God’s commandments, and so have effectual prayers. That’s why the man, Christ Jesus, prayed with such efficacy.
    3.If Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees, imagine when Christ was on his knees.
    4. Pastor Mark Jones is so thankful for the prayer life of Christ. No hope without it

    from a. aka no not sh(a)ne (a)nderson aka always the MJ supporter


  78. a.,

    Nice shot.

    You clearly have good concentration. As for me, I’m still working on a few things.

    Oh, and you may want to save that comment, if you like the work you’ve done. I would tell you why, but why spoil secrets, right?



  79. a. I’ve read MJ’s piece, I appreciate the summary!

    I’m not sure that gets at the gist of what I wrote, but thanks for responding!


  80. Mark Jones is becoming a divisive guy, and “I weary of considering his trash.” Accusing others of being antinomian when the others accuse others of being legalists seems like a zero-sum game.

    Mark Jones—what are we to say about the fact that the Canons of Dort expressly say that the gospel “threatens”?

    Mark Jones quotes his guy Goodwin—“God therefore set forth a copy of his law in his word, which is the means of sanctifying us; and sanctification itself is but a writing of that law in the heart” . Does this mean that any diversity from Goodwin is “antinomian”?

    Mark Jomes quotes his guy Burgess— God’s laws are “practical and operative means appointed by God, to work, at least in some degree, that which is commanded.” Does this mean that any difference from Burgess is “antinomian”?

    It will not do to contrast himself with Pelagius by agreeing that “law without the Spirit” is powerless. The gospel teaches us that the gospel is not the law, and that gospel is not about the Spirit enabling us to obey the law because the gospel is about the law being satisfied by Christ’s death.

    Yes the gospel without the Spirit has no power. But that in no way means that the gospel is the law.

    Mark Jones quotes his guy Stalker: “it is no unusual thing to find the initial stage of religion regarded as if it were the whole. Converts go on repeating the same testimony till it becomes nauseous to their hearers as well as unprofitable to themselves. In the religion of many there is only one epoch; there is no program of expanding usefulness or advancing holiness; and faith is only the constant repetition of a single act.”

    It’s bad enough to “move on” from the gospel to the law for something one calls “sanctification”, but even worse to equate obeying the law with believing the gospel. But with the legalists, it is not uncommon for them to dismiss the reality of justification by Christ’s blood without seeing a life of moral improvement. With the legalists it is not uncommon to say that God sees even in the first act of faith in the gospel all the subsequent acts of obeying the law.

    Jonathan Edwards is NOT my guy—- “We are really saved by perseverance…the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”


  81. I don’t think I can answer for Jones in this kind of detail. I’ve read some of his articles and blog posts and have had some conversation with him, but that does not qualify me to set forth his thought with precision sufficient enough for where this conversation is headed.

    In a world and church of increasingly uncertain dialectic mush, good systematics is needed more than ever. However, the more thoroughly developed a person’s system is, the tougher it is to have soundbite in a combox driven conversations at this level. The relation of personal practical righteousness to prayer is a direct subcategory of one’s view of the relation of sanctification to justification and yes regeneration.

    Thus a substantial foundation must be laid in those areas to properly treat the subject of this post. Even then there will be some nuance (man I usually hate that word). For instance Hebrews 11 showcases some heroes of the faith whose righteousness might not be what we are at first reminded of had they been referenced somewhere else.However Jones does make a solid biblical case that the normative way God works is to reward a pliable heart with confidence and answered prayer. BUT. Not always.

    I also don’t know that Calvin is saying precisely what Dr. Hart is recruiting him for in light of Calvin’s larger body of thought. Not to sound like Bill Clinton, but a lot hinges on what Calvin means by the word “good”.

    I am not singling out Dr. Hart when I say this, but it has been my experience that most of the people pushing for what is in my view an illegitimate exaltation of justification to the practical sum of the gospel, are doing so in an attempt to escape the Romans 7 war. They wish to declare peace with sin and compromise, but retain some assurance of salvation.

    I say that war IS the assurance of salvation. True justification by faith alone through grace alone is evinced in a growing hatred for what God hates and love for what He loves.

    God has not scripturally bound Himself to a formulaic manner of engaging and answering prayer. However, a man DOES presume upon the Grace of the Lord His God who approaches that throne in prayer at settled peace with sin.


  82. Mark Mcculley says: “it is not uncommon for them to dismiss the reality of justification by Christ’s blood without seeing a life of moral improvement.”
    Despite your rather convoluted attempts to mangle 1st John 3 into conformity with your permissiveness, there is no such thing as a justification that does not provide new life in Christ. There is then no such thing as new life in Christ that nobody can see forever.

    You also sent me a friend request which I accepted. No sooner had my finger relaxed on the mouse button, but that you launched a shock and awe style carpet bombing campaign on my page with your own blog posts. Like 7 or 8 in a row. You proceeded to dictate to me how I would engage you on MY page, WHILE refusing to answer one simple question of mine despite at least 4 polite attempts on my part to pry it from you.

    When I gently warned that I would whittle back your invasion of my page if you kept posting new links, by deleting all your posts except one so we could still talk, you flagrantly defied me and did it anyway. No sooner had I deleted the first one and YOU unfriended ME LOL!!

    Look man. Take a piece of brotherly advice. Turn your computer off, get a bible and lock yourself away with the Lord and His word. Confess this craving for the recognition of men to him and don’t come out until you can leave it at His feet.

    I am being serious. When you know who you are in Christ, you will be able to use his obvious gifts to His glory and rest confident that He will give you the audience you were born for. It will probably be far smaller than you presently wish, but the knowledge of His pleasure upon your service to Him will infinitely more than compensate. I promise. And far more importantly, so does He.


  83. How can I take brotherly advise, when you don’t know if I am morally improved enough to be your brother, and when I don’t know if you know and believe the gospel yet?

    God’s commandments are not burdensome for the justified elect because those joined to Jesus Christ are united with His death to the law because Jesus Christ’s death has satisfied God’s judgment for those God has justified. The new life lived by the justified does not (even in part) satisfy God’s law. To gain assurance by one’s morality is not to trust Christ’s atonement.

    I John 3: 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let NOT SIN THEREFORE REIGN in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 DO NOT present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who HAVE BEEN BROUGHT from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT UNDER LAW but under grace.

    I John 4: 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

    If you think that you are in the world as Christ is in the world because of improved morality then you do not yet know the gospel which is about the punishment of Christ by death is for the elect the end of religious fear based on the need for constant moral improvement.

    I John 5: 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

    Faith in what? Faith in our moral improvement? Continual believing in our continual moral improvement? Or is it the faith that results from the new birth which trusts in the propitiation made by Christ? Or is it faith in Christ’s death PLUS faith that your faith is working so that you are morally improved?

    I John 4:10 0 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.


  84. I John 3 is about the difference between a Nicodemus and somebody immoral, about the difference between a religious Cain and a religious Abel. Think of the context. This is not about Abel being more moral than Cain. It’s not about Abel’s quiet times being more sincere than somebody else’s The religious confidence of Cain in his own morality and worship is NOTHING but evil deeds.

    Cain hated Abel. Cain wanted to glory in/ rejoice in (Philippians 3:3) what he himself could show God (and others). Cain refused to put to death (not count) all of his own deeds (Romans 8:13) but instead wanted to worship a god who would accept Cain’s credit for producing “new life” in Cain himself.

    To pass over from death to life is to be put into the new man, to be given a new legal state, in which one’s confidence is not in what God does in you but rather in what God has done in Christ outside you. Only in this way can we be in the world as Christ was in the world.

    The Cains of this world are ready for a self-examination and contrast in terms of their morality. They are Pharisees who contrast well with alcoholics and people who watch the Super Bowl.. But these Cains “do not practice righteousness” (I John 3:10).

    These Cains will not come to the light, because they love darkness and hate the light of the gospel (God forgives elect sinners because Chris died for elect sinners). This gospel keeps telling these Cains that their deeds are evil, and that their deeds are no factor in the equation of their assurance. This gospel says this about ALL their deeds, even their moral deeds and their quiet time deeds. (John 3:19).

    These Cains want to thank their god not only for the new life their god has given them to show the world. But the true God won’t accept their thanks. Those like Abel who worship in truth won’t fellowship with self-righteous religion. That’s why Cain hated Abel.


  85. Scott Clark—There is nothing intrinsic to faith that makes it powerful. The mystery of faith is that it is, in itself, empty. It is a sign of our perversity that we continually TRY TO FILL FAITH WITH SOMETHING OTHER than “Christ for us.” We want to make the power of faith to be faith itself or Spirit-wrought sanctity or something else beside Christ.
    Those whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or ANY OTHER EVANGELICAL OBEDIENCE to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

    Scott Clark–Faith does not justify because it is “formed by love,” i.e. made powerful by Spirit-wrought sanctity


  86. Jack Miller—-When someone unexpectedly points out one of your faults with an air of condemnation is your first inclination to effortlessly turn the other cheek and gratefully receive the criticism? Or, if you’re like me, is your first impulse to defend and justify yourself…. And if you do give a response that is in keeping with God’s law, isn’t it more than likely that – feeling unjustly attacked – you grit your teeth while ignoring your negative inward feelings, force a smile and feebly reply, “Thank you for your feedback. I’ll prayerfully consider your words?”

    JM– Often being a hypocrite to how we strongly (and wrongly) feel and then choosing to be true to our purpose of godly living is painfully hard. One would hardly describe that as the unburdened response of obedience. Do you feel that you have kept God’s commandments as he intended….?


  87. “Therefore, if you would duly understand how inseparable faith and works are, look to Christ, who, as the Apostle teaches, (1 Cor. i. 30,) has been given to us for justification and for sanctification. Wherever, therefore, that righteousness of faith, which we maintain to be gratuitous, is, there too Christ is, and where Christ is, there too is the Spirit of holiness, who regenerates the soul to newness of life. On the contrary, where zeal for integrity and holiness is not in vigour, there neither is the Spirit of Christ nor Christ himself; and wherever Christ is not, there in no righteousness, nay, there is no faith; for faith cannot apprehend Christ for righteousness without the Spirit of sanctification.”
    Calvin in his letter to Sadeleto – September 1, 1539


  88. I’m so glad that now, thanks to Mark Jones, I know why my prayers for healing haven’t been answered. (I’m suffering from an autoimmune disease which has been difficult to treat). I’m just wondering exactly how holy I have to be? There are many who pray for me, so I can now assume that none of them know God’s will, pray with great faith or obey the commandments enough.
    Does he understand what this sort of teaching does to people?
    This wreaks of the sort of things I hear from my Wesleyan/Arminian friends.


  89. So what do these people (who point fingers and tell people they have terminal cancer because they don’t have enough faith) do when they are told they have a fatal illness by their doctor.

    Or maybe they are living forever, with no deaths at these churches?


  90. Elizabeth – off thread topic a bit, but have you ever been tested for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity? If not, it might be worth your while. If it turns out that you have one or both of these and are placed on a restrictive diet you may see improvement.


  91. Back on topic, this thread reminds me of situation currently taking place in a local congregation (which shall remain unnamed). Over the past decade or so there was a bit of a vacancy in the senior pastoral position during which time the music “minister” was allowed to run amok somewhat, overshadowing the existing choir by moving “praise band” to the forefront. This disgruntled more than a few choir members as well as some in the general congregation, but some of the “powers that be” supported him and it continued.

    Soon after they finally did hire a senior pastor, a semi-retired associate pastor who was providing pulpit fill stepped down permanently and he (the new pastor) steered a congregational search committee into hiring a “pastor-ette” to take his (the associate) place. This action did not go over very well with the congregation and resulted in a rather heated meeting (to approve the appointment). But they did it anyway, with the warning that she could never be ordained, preach, or be involved in the distribution of the sacraments in any direct way. Soon after the approval she was up in front, involved in the communion service along side the senior pastor. Not long after that she preached.

    Not surprisingly, attendance began to deteriorate. Soon after, the very popular youth pastor announced his pending resignation to go into the mission field. Things deteriorated further to the point where there are few or no infants in the nursery any more and attendance became thin (compared to the original numbers).

    Now, here’s the kicker: A few years ago one of the congregation’s members died after long term suffering with cancer. Here it comes. Are you ready? The senior pastor is blaming the absence of this deceased member, who was noted to have prayed strongly for the well being of the congregation on a daily basis, for the church’s downward spiral!!


  92. Cunha—The foreword to the recently published second edition of Gaffin’s By Faith, Not By Sight is written by PCA pastor Mark Jones and is, unfortunately, fully consistent with the understanding that there has been no positive change in Gaffin’s teaching on justification.

    Cunha–The selection of Jones to write the foreword, a man who has on more than one occasion publicly suggested that works of evangelical obedience have some efficacy in justification, is itself noteworthy. Jones gushes at the beginning of the foreword that “It is a unique privilege and a remarkable providence to write a foreword for a book that has been so deeply influential in my own theological thinking.” He then attempts to defend Gaffin’s views on soteriology, and especially justification, largely on the basis of historical theology….

    Cunha–Jones says that Reformed theologian Peter Van Mastricht (1630-1706) taught that there are three stages of justification and that in the third and final stage “in which believers gain possession of eternal life, good works have a certain ‘efficacy,’ insofar as God will not grant possession of eternal life unless they are present.”

    Cunha–Jones goes on to say that, based on what he discerns to be a shared view on Paul’s teaching in the first half of the second chapter of Romans, both Gaffin and Van Mastricht “hold firmly to the Reformed view that good works are a necessary condition (consequent, not antecedent, to faith) for salvation.”

    Cunha–“Jones suggests, approvingly that both Van Mastricht and Gaffin stretch justification out into multiple stages and that good works are in some way efficacious in the final stage. Such a scheme violates the antithesis between works (Law) and faith (Gospel) with respect to justification. This is entirely consistent with the explicit denial of the Law/Gospel contrast expressed by Gaffin in By Faith, Not By Sight.”


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