Support for 2K is Growing (and it’s hardly rrrradical)

From the moderate regions of mid-western evangelicalism:

This conflation of the church and the nation characterizes the rest of the book. In defining (and I would say, exaggerating) the cultural influence of evangelist George Whitefield, Metaxas says that Whitefield’s preaching had the effect of turning colonists into Americans. To be an American (not a Christian, but an American), was to accept certain religious truths about one’s status in God’s eyes. As Metaxas concludes in summing up Whitefield’s significance, “the Gospel of Christ . . . created an American people.” Strange, I somehow thought that Jesus promised to build his Church on that foundation, but I guess he meant the United States.

Although Metaxas focuses on the colonial and Revolutionary eras, he does allow Abraham Lincoln to join the conversation as well, and as it turns out, Lincoln agreed John Winthrop that the United States has a “holy calling” to be an example to the world. Minimally encumbered by evidence, Metaxas notes that Lincoln understood that “America had been called by God,” and that “to be chosen by God—as the Jews had been chosen by God, . . . and as the messiah had been chosen by God,” was a “profound and sacred and even terrifying obligation.” I’m not sure which is scarier: the analogy of the United States to Israel—God’s new chosen people—or the analogy of the United States to Christ.

The latter reminds me of a trenchant observation in Hugh Heclo’s fine book Christianity and American Democracy: “If America is the redeemer of nations and time, then America is the Christ of history,” Heclo writes. “This notion may be inadvertent, but it is blasphemy all the same.”

And from the topsy-turvy world of unraveling Europe:

It seems as though many church leaders think that we have the right, the knowledge and the ability to use our position to advance particular political positions, which we equate with the Kingdom of God. This is across the spectrum, from liberal to evangelical, from low church to Catholic – it has been disturbing to see just how many church leaders seem to think that speaking a prophetic word means speaking a political word, even use the same political codes that the secular world use. And even more astonishing is how the Internet makes constitutional, financial and political experts of us all. ‘It’s only advisory’, ‘the Scottish Parliament has the power to block’, ‘£100 billion will be wiped of the markets’, ‘thousands will be killed in Northern Ireland’….and these are some of milder prophecies. I don’t have any problem with church leaders advocating political positions in public as private citizens (I often do it myself), but we have no right to commit our churches to those positions, nor to equate them as being part of the Christian message.

And 2k doesn’t even force you to identify one kingdom with God the Father and the other with God the Son.

Genius!

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77 thoughts on “Support for 2K is Growing (and it’s hardly rrrradical)

  1. And? mrbefree. Not sure what you are saying. Is someone saying something derogatory about faithful creeds, the way some seem to be about scripture (derogatory I mean) around here?

    Btw, since you reference one, did you check and see if it lines up with scripture? Creeds don’t replace the ultimate authority nor the need for each one to study the very word of God for themselves, do they? Nor knowing replace receiving/believing them, right?

    ok, then maybe creedal words might meet with less pushback than scripture, itself, here; so then, here’s one to confront the curious “slathering on pious grease” phrase eg:

    Chapter XV Of Repentance unto Life:
    I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.
    II. By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.

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  2. Ali, I don’t recall seeing people say anything derogatory about scripture around here. Perhaps you are confusing this with criticism you’ve received for tossing it out there in a seemingly haphazard way.

    No, I didn’t check to see if it lines up with scripture. My poor attempt at making a point is that eventually you have to accept someone’s scriptural doctrines at some point. Even if it’s your own. Why not subscribe to doctrinal confessions that have stood the test of time?

    I don’t understand the point of your WCF quote, but it’s certainly a doctrine I subscribe to.

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  3. 1) Bottomline, upon which I’m sure we agree, the Lord will hold each one accountable for his own scriptural doctrines and we all have the generous invitation to come and know Him.

    2) Please disburse Chapter XV Of Repentance unto Life, et al, wherever it is needed please.

    3) Happy 4th holiday to you too.

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  4. ” the Lord will hold each one accountable for his own scriptural doctrines”

    My hope is in Christ only. So unfortunately, I can’t agree with you here.

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  5. “Not sure what you are saying. Is someone saying something derogatory about faithful creeds, the way some seem to be about scripture (derogatory I mean) around here?”

    Hmmm…. I’ve never read anyone write anything derogatory about scripture around here. That’s a pretty serious accusation. Perhaps you have confused critiques of your misuse of scripture with someone saying something derogatory about scripture itself. Speaking of humility…

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  6. ah sdb, I gotta go…
    1) in attitude and response, sdb ; also cw or was it muddy said way back “no one will ever read the scripture you quote around here” = to me=derogatory (dismissive, disinterest, other d’s I can’t think of now),
    2) speaking of serious accusations – I am not aware of any misuses of scripture I’ve made but would appreciate any and all being pointed out so I can deal with them. Thanks, mr. humility 🙂

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  7. 1 – Attitude is notoriously difficult to catch in blog comments. Snark, tongue in cheek comments, sardonic bits, and self-deprecating humor can easily come across wrong. The reference to cw or muddy is an example of them criticizing your use of scripture not scripture itself. Whether that criticism was derogatory or not isn’t clear from your paraphrase, but whatever the case, it was not derogatory about scripture.

    2 – I’ve pointed out before that your MO of quoting scripture without context (or rearranging the context to make your point) is a misuse of scripture. Consider this textbook example (forgive me if you’ve seen it before),

    And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Mathew 27:5b, Luke 10:37

    Now you might respond to someone who wrote this that this arrangement of the text completely changes its meaning. And you would be right! While the phrases came from God’s Word, when they are reformed to create a new idea, they aren’t God’s Word anymore. When one takes strings of words from the Bible, rearranges those strings, and then concatenates them, you have done what I did above. Maybe the result correctly represents what the Bible teaches maybe it doesn’t. Like any person’s words they are fallible meaning they could correct or incorrect. Indeed, one can pick individual words from the Bible and write out that “Mary had a little lamb”. Obviously this is not inspired text even if each word came from God’s Word. Since the verse and chapter divisions that make up the books of the Bible are a human construct, piecing together whole verses or even whole chapters is no guarantee that an amalgamation of parts of the Bible will be anymore inspired than “Mary had a little lamb”. Now it might be your text formed by reshaping the words of scripture happen to be correct, but maybe not.

    So here is an example of this in action. In the thread about Racial Reconciliation, Z pointed out that the reformed commitment to their ecclesiology is grounded in our commitment to what scripture teaches about church govenrance and abiding sin in the life of the believer. To which you responded “for the purpose of?” and answered your question as follows,

    for the purpose of? oh, never mind, just saw it …… to sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble; with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves; putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.; He gives a greater grace, therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Pet 3:8;5:5; Phil 2:3;James 1:21,4:6

    So you conclude that the purpose of fidelity to what the scripture teaches about proper church governance and the implications of abiding sin is described in this concatenation of five strings of passages from the Bible. However, these passages are not being written to sum up the reason why scripture prescribes the ecclesiastical forms that they do. Now if a particular passage bears on an issue, noting that can be quite helpful – I’m not against quoting scripture! While the Word of God is infallible by nature and profitable for training in righteousness, our quoting of it is not necessarily profitable.

    Perhaps you think reference to what we believe scripture teaches (our confession and catechisms) is a cheap substitute for citing scripture directly? I would agree that the confessions and catechism should be tested against scripture (as they themselves aver) and we have mechanisms to address purported problems with our confessions. However, when you break up texts of scripture and paste the pieces together, you are forming new thoughts. The Holy Spirit didn’t put those ideas together like that, you did. Criticism of that novel construction is not criticism of God’s Word, it is criticism of your use of it.

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  8. Since it is Independence Day weekend, just a short review of the “co-mingling” of Biblical and political themes:

    “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, … And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

    Now, just what verses mention such themes?

    Looks like that 1776 bunch signed their own death warrant trusting only in the King of the Universe to preserve them. In civil affairs, can’t get much more personal with God than that.

    New Jersey Signers included Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon, who, aside from schooling many a young aspiring politicos at Princeton, personally brought that Presbyterian mind of his to serve on over 100 Revolutionary Committees, and served as a top advisor to Gen. Washington, et al. Just more “co-mingling” of political/spiritual spheres.

    One of his best loved sermons on the topic:
    http://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/1776-witherspoon-dominion-of-providence-over-the-passions-of-men-sermon

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  9. D.G. Hart “Russell, “supreme judge”? Is that Allah?”
    Nope…back in 1776, all those politicos had to affirm in some fashion to Biblical Theology, therefore giving their definition of the phrase “supreme judge”. Particularly since the Apostles’ Creed was popular knowledge. Sort of like what we see here:

    1 Peter 1:17 “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth”

    Rev. 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

    Apostles’ Creed “On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.”

    One can check up on those Colonial / State charters / Constitutions here:
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/18th.asp

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  10. If a Southern Baptist can figure it out:

    When we apply texts like this to the nation, apart from the story of Scripture, we do precisely what the prosperity gospel preachers do. The prosperity gospel teachers are drawn, after all, to passages from Deuteronomy and elsewhere promising material and physical blessing for those who are obedient, and material and physical curses for those who are disobedient. The message is that those who obey God’s word will abound with money and health, while those who disobey will face poverty and illness. They misuse the word of God though, by abstracting the promises of God from Jesus Christ. He is the one who, obedient to God, receives God’s blessing and he is the One who, bearing the sins of the people, receives God’s curse (Gal. 3). To apply these to the people directly, bypassing Christ, is to preach a false gospel of approaching God apart from a Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5). A prosperity gospel applied to a nation is no more biblical than a prosperity gospel applied to a person.

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  11. Enjoy the prosperity gospel today DG https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGkEpxitLTc

    Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

    The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock. Isa 26:3-4

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  12. oh, and don’t forget to share the prosperity gospel today. Did you notice a world out there that needs it -if only they knew

    When He (Jesus) approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace Luke 19:41

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  13. D.G. Hart: “Russell, you’d be a good apologist for Pope Francis.”

    Nope, don’t think all those Protestant Founding Era people, whose hundreds of political/theological pamphlets are still nicely archived at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. would agree to that conclusion.

    Last I checked, the basic rule of Hermeneutics is to understand the writer’s intent according to the common definition of the words used in the time and culture of the writer’s day. Otherwise, we get Eisegesis, or “reading into the text one’s own bias” leading to false conclusions. Pretty important in the political/economic scheme of things, given that millions of people are directly affected.

    Remember when the Ten Commandments were posted in public school classrooms? I do. Seems that the practical and theological value of the one ‘Thou shalt not murder’, banned in 1962 from public school classrooms is, by its absence, tragically proven true in ways unimaginable before that time.

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  14. Ali: I think it may have been that 20,000 to 500,000 word copy and paste jobs that certain people like to INFLICT upon us would probably never get read.

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  15. @Russell
    Did someone put the 10 commandments back in classrooms (or at least the one about murder)? The homicide rate in 1960 was 5.1/100,000. It was 4.5/100,000 in 2014. Perhaps Japan has posted the 10commandments more widely? There the homicide rate is 1/100,000. Then there are those bastions of righteousness in Scandinavia where the homicide rate ranges from 0.5-0.9/100,000.

    Curiously, the top three states with the highest homicide rates are Louisiana (10.3), Mississippi (8.6), and Missouri (6.6). The bottom three rates are New Hampshire (0.9), Vermont, Minnesota, and Maine (1.6), and Hawaii (1.8). Perhaps these states do a better job of spreading the Gospel or at least instilling a sense of duty toward the 10 commandments than the “Bible Belt” states?

    Or maybe it isn’t quite so simple?

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  16. kent says: Ali: I think it may have been that 20,000 to 500,000 word copy and paste jobs that certain people like to INFLICT upon us would probably never get read.

    oh kent, 500k, seems like an exaggeration, but ok. Hey, though, did you know that the Bible has maybe ~ 800k words. Doesn’t seem like very many, but it’s enough; exactly what’s needed. Reminds me – I was intercepted just yesterday by two missionary members who say its not enough (essentially); the Bible wasn’t’ even the book they were carrying around to persuade and they were sort-of persuasive, one very well trained, the other learning intently. They also said how much we have in common together in our faiths. Found out they lived elsewhere but were sent into our city as missionaries. They agreed God seems to be really moving in these days and also agreed we all should pray a lot that He would open eyes to see truth. Interesting.
    Anyway, I may not have much in common with him, but I think we do?

    Also, not exactly sure what sdb is saying above (hope he explains), but we already have been told because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. The Lord’s words may be rejected, hidden, taken down from display at schools, but nothing we can do about the fact that they (His words) will never pass away Matt 24:12,35

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  17. @Ali I’m saying that asserting a straight line between displaying posters of the 10commandments in schools and the homicide rate is not valid. In other words, the data falsify,

    Remember when the Ten Commandments were posted in public school classrooms? I do. Seems that the practical and theological value of the one ‘Thou shalt not murder’, banned in 1962 from public school classrooms is, by its absence, tragically proven true in ways unimaginable before that time.

    You see the murder rate is lower today than in 1962 and the 10commandments are still not posted in public school classrooms. Perhaps the cause of the crime spike between 1962 and 1992 and the subsequent drop in crime since then has little to do with court cases about the separation of church and state and more to do with things like baby booms and lead poisoning.

    The point of the 10commandments is not to make us moralists and lower the homicide rate. There are a lot of very moral unbelievers headed to hell (godless Norway and Japan are much more moral societies than ours!) and there are plenty example of men “after God’s own heart” who commit adultery and murder. The point of the 10commandments is to reveal the depths of our sin and need for a savior, not make us as wholesome as white bread mormons. The scripture does not teach that everyone’s path of sanctification looks exactly the same, nor does it teach that moral hectoring is a means of God’s grace for building up the believers. The Holy Spirit working through word and sacrament on the other hand…

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  18. morning sdb

    1) you forgot to include in your statistics 59 million murders since 1973
    2) not sure your point related to this topic, but the scripture does teach the principle that everyone’s path of sanctification looks the same ….the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. Prov 4:18 ; also 2 Cor 3:18
    3) not sure why any believer would speak negatively about posting the ten commandments; but anyway more importantly, I’m sure we agree on Matt 5:13-16
    4) sdb says the Holy Spirit working……. thanks for that, though, ‘cause sean, for one, is thinking ‘the conversion narrative is an unhelpful course to take”

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  19. Ali, go back a few years on Old Life and see what some people posted in single and aggregate arguments that nobody cared about. I could give you a few names, but it might cause some survivors on here to fall to the floor and spin around in a circle like Curly and go whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo for an hour…

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  20. oh wait, sdb gotta go, just remembered some prefer creedal language re: the look of the same path for all believers….
    Chapter XV Of Repentance unto Life:
    I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.
    II. By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.

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  21. 1) you forgot to include in your statistics 59 million murders since 1973

    Abortion didn’t start in 1973 – it had been legal in many states long before RvW and was relatively common practice even where it was illegal. At any rate, the abortion rate has been declining since its peak in the 1990’s…

    2) not sure your point related to this topic, but the scripture does teach the principle that everyone’s path of sanctification looks the same ….the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. Prov 4:18 ; also 2 Cor 3:18

    Umm… no. It does not. Does you path look like King David’s? Mine doesn’t. The fact that we are all being transformed does not mean that we all stumble and struggle in the same way.

    3) not sure why any believer would speak negatively about posting the ten commandments; but anyway more importantly, I’m sure we agree on Matt 5:13-16

    I have not spoken negatively about posting the ten commandments. I am denouncing sloppy nostalgia (Ecc 7:10) and the misuse of God’s Word. Using the 10commandments to instill moralism and buttress civil religion is a form of idolatry. Given your comments here, I doubt that we agree on what Jesus’s point is about being salt and light.

    4) sdb says the Holy Spirit working……. thanks for that, though, ‘cause sean, for one, is thinking ‘the conversion narrative is an unhelpful course to take”

    Sean is correct. The Bible does not teach “decisional regeneration” any more than it teaches “baptismal regeneration”. Belief that the Holy Spirit works in the life of the believer through the means taught in scripture (Word and Sacrament – a process helpfully summarized by the Heidelberg Catechism) is not consistent with the “conversion narrative” so common among many evangelicals.

    oh wait, sdb gotta go, just remembered some prefer creedal language re: the look of the same path for all believers…

    Why do you conclude that this part of the confession indicates that everyone’s path to Sanctification looks the same? Is every believer delivered from drug addiction? I haven’t been – because I’ve never been a drug addict. Is it impossible for a drug addict who become a believer to relapse? Not for me because I have nothing to relapse too. The covenant child raised in the fear and admonition of the Lord will have a very different path than the unbeliever who comes to faith in Christ later in life. Perhaps instead of mining bits of the WCF to buttress your prior, you might consider what the WCF says about sanctification:

    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. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (emphasis mine).

    Perhaps you believe we all have identical imperfections in this life? The teaching of scripture is quite clear that our sanctification on this side of glory is incomplete meaning that there will always be some abiding sin. The example of scripture is that the abiding sin manifests itself differently in different people, therefore our path of sanctification will look different from one person to another.

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  22. Thanks sdb. Not sure we can have a further fruitful discussion at this time, because I don’t think we’re dealing honestly enough at this time. Did someone say sin doesn’t continue in this life?
    though you say by the creed… In which war…the regenerate part does overcome…and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, I’m not even going to call you a ‘legalist’ or pietist’

    Salvation –the ‘conversion narrative’ – is deliverance by God from the penalty, power, and presence of sin – justification, sanctification, glorification – that is the exact same path every believer is on and I’m pretty sure (certain ) you know that is what I am saying.

    and on the above and this below we agree, I am sure ….

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

    And putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

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  23. Ali,

    What kind of outward evidence would you look for to see whether someone is “on the exact same path” as all other Christians? To pick up on sdb’s thought, if you froze time right after David sent the order to kill Uriah but before Nathan’s intervention, would he meet that standard of evidence?

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  24. @Jeff and @sdb, hermeneutical question here. You cite David. What kind (if any) of qualitative distinctions do Reformed make in the way the Holy Spirit operationalizes Himself in sanctifying the life of believers pre-vs-post Pentecost?

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  25. Jeff, not sure the benefit of answering, but quickly…

    I said 1)“scripture does teach the principle that everyone’s path of sanctification looks the same ….the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. Prov 4:18 ; also 2 Cor 3:18” 2) “Salvation the ‘conversion narrative’ – is deliverance by God from the penalty, power, and presence of sin – justification, sanctification, glorification – that is the exact same path every believer is on”
    Are you disagreeing with that or trying to alter what I said?

    Concerning your question: Jeff Cagle says: Ali, What kind of outward evidence would you look for to see whether someone is “on the exact same path” as all other Christians?
    Since the “exact path” for every Christian is the highway of holiness- a life by grace by faith in Christ and sealed and empowered by the Holy Spirit – see the Bible to know the principles and factors that will make it look how it looks.

    Concerning sdb’s comment re: covenant children and unbelievers distinction, covenant children are unbelievers until they are saved

    Concerning ‘the conversion narrative’ about which it is very important to be clear about it – as many as receive Jesus, to them He gives the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

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  26. @Petros
    Great question. Speaking generally about the covenant communities , not either side of Pentecost I don’t know. David, however, was anointed and received the Holy Spirit (and pleads in Ps 51 that the Holy Spirit not be taken away). I presume that all those who were justified (by faith) were being sanctified by the means ordained by God for his people (circumcision, sacrifices, reading of the law, etc…).

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  27. Matt T—I do appreciate the fact that the Ten Commandments can be read according to the third use of the law, after the assurance of forgiveness. But this use does not reflect the covenantal function of the Ten Commandments in their scriptural context.

    https://matthewtuininga.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/how-should-we-use-the-ten-commandments-in-worship/

    But if you say “the covenant” without saying which covenant, and if you say “law and gospel” without saying which law, that solves everything. Then we don’t have to imitate the example of Jesus the mediator of the new covenant in either a church or a nation-state.

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  28. ” Did someone say sin doesn’t continue in this life?”
    No. You claimed that it is not true that “everyone’s path of sanctification is different”. Our imperfections are not the same, therefore our progress is different. Section V of the Canons of Dordt is helpful here…particularly article four.

    ” though you say by the creed… In which war…the regenerate part does overcome…and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, I’m not even going to call you a ‘legalist’ or pietist’”
    Why would anyone think that belief that saints grow in grace is legalism or pietism? Perhaps you are confusing criticism of the belief one can divine another’s state of grace on the basis of outward displays? Or that mandating extra biblical exercises as a condition of growing in grace?

    “Salvation –the ‘conversion narrative’ – is deliverance by God from the penalty, power, and presence of sin – justification, sanctification, glorification – that is the exact same path every believer is on and I’m pretty sure (certain ) you know that is what I am saying.”

    If so, then it is irrelevant to my comment about the 10commandments. But the ordo salutis is not the “path of sanctification” and the conversion narrative Sean rightly criticized is not merely short hand for a summary of the ordo salutis.

    ” Since the “exact path” for every Christian is the highway of holiness- a life by grace by faith in Christ and sealed and empowered by the Holy Spirit – see the Bible to know the principles and factors that will make it look how it looks.”
    Like I said, the path of sanctification looks different for everyone. David’s path and Peters path are very different.

    “Concerning sdb’s comment re: covenant children and unbelievers distinction, covenant children are unbelievers until they are saved”
    But a believer who has no memory of life prior to knowing Christ may stumble in adolescence in ways that abeliever who comes to faith in his 60’s. Their paths of sanctification are different.

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  29. “Concerning sdb’s comment re: covenant children and unbelievers distinction, covenant children are unbelievers until they are saved”

    …. “the norm does become, even covenant children who grow up in the faith have a sense that they need to convert in order to become Christians, which is an astounding thing because how can covenant children who have grown up in the home with family worship, grown up being catechized, grown up going to two services on Sunday, what do you convert from ?” http://reformedforum.org/ctc412 ~@26.2

    An astounding thing? Jesus said not to be astounded
    John 3 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”9 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?

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  30. Ali, how is quoting scripture texts an answer? Still, the gist of the scripture which you cite, actually helps make the point against the conversion narrative, particularly as it’s employed in evangelicalism. The whole idea of decisional regeneration and conversion emphasis, as employed in the evangelical mainstream, engages a theology that says we can manipulate and manufacture conversions if we employ a particular set of measures. The scripture you cite says that trying to control the Holy Spirit and manipulate conversion is akin to trying to control the wind( in this case scripture points to the impossibility of doing so). The reference to ‘conversion narrative’ is a historical reference to Arminian and Methodist theology, as employed particularly in America, and manifested in ‘measures’ such as tent revivals, anxious benches, dramatic/charismatic preachers, theatrics(think music and stage performances) mass hysteria, crusades, walking an aisle, and other rather crass manipulations. The scripture you cite, says the Holy Spirit can’t be directed in such a way. He can’t be manipulated. He can’t be made to conform to your expectations nor subject to your measures and manipulations. He blows where he wills and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from or where it is going. You can’t harness conversion and bring it about. Now, that’s a biblical conception of the work of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit, applied to conversion or sanctification is largely a mystery to us. None of that can be used to say that we deny or diminish the work of the Holy Spirit, instead it’s a theology of the Holy Spirit that recognizes the biblical nature of how the scriptures describe the movement of the Holy Spirit among men.

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  31. sean says:Ali, how is quoting scripture texts an answer?

    sean, suggestion: quit diminishing any of scripture and then nothing of the Lord’s truths will be diminished.
    ps, don’t forget to let someone know today…. as many as receive Jesus to them He gives the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name

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  32. @sdb, no argument from me that OT believers were sanctified with the means God provided to them. But, I would assert that your/Jeff’s appeal to David as an exemplar of sanctification is misguided, insofar as it overlooks the qualitatively new aspects of the New Covenant, post-resurrection and post Pentecost (Jer 31:33; Jn 16; Acts 2).

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  33. Ali, misusing scripture is to diminish it. Scripture is understood within a particular context. Thus, the warnings against false teachers. The devil and false teachers manipulate scripture(divorce particular texts from their contexts) to lead others astray. Scripture texts aren’t just so much confetti to be tossed about.

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  34. @Petros
    Could be, I’d have to think about that more. The Canons of Dordt use David and Peter as examples of believers who fall into sin. If David isn’t a good example, Peter is sufficient to make the point.

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  35. @Ali What does that have to do with the fact that a covenant child who comes to faith at a very young age will follow a very different path than one who comes to faith much later? I’m not claiming, nor does anything I wrote suggest, that covenant children are born regenerate or have no need to profess faith in Christ. Rather, people who come to faith at a very young age and may have no memory of their life prior to coming to faith, will have a path of sanctification that looks very different from someone who comes to faith later in life. The manifestation of abiding sin in the life of the believer (which we all have) looks very different based on cultural context, age, and circumstances.

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  36. Russell, all I meant was that you are as gullible about the founders as some RC’s are about the Pope.

    And when you’re touting those 10 Commandments, remember how the Israelites received them when Moses came down from the mountain.

    Doh!

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  37. @sdb, well, the Canons of Dort paragraph only cites David and Peter as regards to being examples of believers who sinned. Fine. But that is different than appealing to David as an exemplar of new covenant sanctification.

    These kinds of topics are interesting, insofar as more Biblicist-oriented eeevangies (I’m guessing this is Ali, and it’s a moniker I’ll accept for myself) make appeals to Scripture, whilst Reformed do their copy/pasting out of extra-biblical confessions and canons.

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  38. Petros,

    I don’t know if there is a uniform position on the role of the HS in sanctification vis a vis old and new covenant believers in the Reformed tradition. Generally, I think there are a few points all agree on:

    1. That the Old Testament believers, no less than NT believers, were regenerated by the Spirit.
    2. That whatever degree the OT believers had the Spirit, the NT enjoy Him in greater measure.

    I think many are also agreed that the HS sanctified OT believers but did not distribute spiritual gifts to all of them. Rather, they were given only to priests, prophets, and kings.

    In general, I think the different is one of degree, not kind.

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  39. Robert, thanks. I would only say the difference in ‘degree’ is significant enough to void making an appeal to David as an exemplar of how sanctification works today.

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  40. Petros,

    Not necessarily, particularly when there is every evidence from the NT that many of the same problems David had were ongoing in the New Covenant church. The Corinthian church was laden with sexual immorality, for example, But there’s no evidence Paul regarded them as not having the Spirit. In fact, his comments assume they did.

    Evidently, for some Christians, sanctification is a process full of fits and starts while for others it is much smoother. Examples from both Testaments bear this out.

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  41. @Petros Are you saying that someone who is a believer cannot fall into egregious sin? Or do you have some other idea of where the discontinuity is between David’s path of sanctification and what could be seen in a NT believer? Given the way Paul references David in Acts 13, I’m not convinced that the reformers erred in using David as an example of the kind of sin a believer can fall into.

    Setting aside the question of David, I would question any attempt to find an exemplar of what sanctification looks like. Paul tells us that God’s will for us is to be holy. What we experience while we are being fashioned this way will vary considerably from believer to believer.

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  42. Guys, if your argument is only that anyone (OT or NT) can fall into egregious sin, I agree. (I’m not clear how Acts 13 is relevant one way or the other, however.) I suppose I’m just less comfortable blurring the lines between the covenants when it comes to recognizing the ‘added benefits’, so to speak, of living on this side of Pentecost. To that end, if it’s possible, sin on this side of Pentecost is arguably even more egregious.

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  43. For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Rom 15:4

    The Lord said David was a man after His own heart. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

    and good thoughts here: http://www.gotquestions.org/man-after-God-heart.html
    “First, David had absolute faith in God.
    Second, David absolutely loved God’s law.
    Third, David was truly thankful.
    Fourth, David was truly repentant.”

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  44. For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction

    Sin always harms and always has consequences

    2 Samuel 12: 1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said, “There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.2 “The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.3 “But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him.4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd,To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; Rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

    5 Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. 6 He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.”7 Nathan then said to David, “You are the man!

    Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! 9 Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’” 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. 14 However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”

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  45. @Ali “Sin always harms and always has consequences”. Yep, but not everyone struggles with the same sins to the same degree. Thus the path we follow as we are sanctified is not the same. I’m surprised you find this so controversial.

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  46. @ Ali, sdb: Probably equivocation on the word “same” is going on here. “Same in what way”? — the WCF identifies both invariants and variants in the lives of believers in the chapter on sanctification.

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  47. Petros: What kind (if any) of qualitative distinctions do Reformed make in the way the Holy Spirit operationalizes Himself in sanctifying the life of believers pre-vs-post Pentecost?

    Excellent question, and a reasonable followup also. If I understand, you are suggesting that if the operations of the Spirit are different “enough” from OT to NT, then perhaps we cannot say that someone who committed adultery and murder today could be a believer?

    First to the question, everyone Reformed agrees that in the OT, the Spirit operated through non-believers (Saul) and even animals (Balaam’s donkey) to perform signs and wonders. ALMOST everyone Reformed agrees that signs and wonders are no longer in operation today, since they were a proof of God’s work that has been superseded by the coming of Christ (Heb 1: “Previously, God spoke through various prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son…”) and by the written word of God.

    So one difference is that in the OT, the working of the Spirit was more outward, oriented towards outward demonstrations of power. In the NT, while there were signs and wonders to inaugurate and transition into the new era, those have been replaced by the inward working of conviction (John 16: “He will convict men of sin, righteousness, and judgment”) and of guidance.

    A second difference is that because the working of the Spirit was more outward, those outward signs could be performed even by non-believers such as Saul — and the Spirit could then be taken away from him again.

    And a third difference is that while the Spirit certainly understood the full meaning of the types contained in the sacrifices, feasts, and other elements of worship, He did not communicate that full meaning to OT believers as He did to the apostles.

    One commonality is that in both eras, it was necessary for the Spirit to change hearts from unbelieving to believing, as sdb observed above. And from this, unless we posit that salvation itself worked in an entirely different manner in OT v NT, we must conclude that the Spirit also indwelt believers to give sanctification, adoption, and perseverance.

    The really interesting question is whether the Spirit could have been removed from believers. When David prays “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me”, does he fear a legitimate possibility, or is he afraid of something that we know could not have happened?

    I would argue the latter. The theoretical case is strong — since salvation by grace through faith is the same in all times, David is in no more danger than Peter or any other NT believer of being cast from God’s presence. That’s one of the important subtexts in Romans 4.4-8.

    But also consider David’s position. WE know that he was legitimately a believer. We understand the perseverance of the saints.

    What he knew was far less, and he had previously seen the Spirit leave Saul for a seemingly lesser infraction. So in David’s mind, the possibility of losing the Spirit was real, even though we would look back from a fuller NT perspective and say that, No, he could not.

    Well, OK, but is David’s situation still different in that OT believers could somehow sin more greatly than NT believers? That seems improbable on its face. Is David’s adultery worse than that of the man with his father’s wife in 1 Cor 5? Or is his murder worse than the blasphemy of desecrating the Lord’s Supper in 1 Cor 11?

    It is significant that Ps 32 concerns itself with both justification and sanctification:

    Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
    Whose sin is covered.
    Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
    And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
    When I kept silent, my bones grew old
    Through my groaning all the day long.
    For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
    My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
    I acknowledged my sin to You,
    And my iniquity I have not hidden.
    I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
    For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You
    In a time when You may be found;
    Surely in a flood of great waters
    They shall not come near him.

    Our knee-jerk reaction is to think of forgiveness solely in terms of justification. But actually, our forgiveness is rooted in justification and then grows from there to our experience of forgiveness in a closer walk with God — which is an aspect of our sanctification.

    In other words, justification is the ground of sanctification. Hence 1 John 1.9: “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That verse is speaking of our ongoing experience with the Lord, an experience whose source is our justification.

    And in that, David is just like we are.

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  48. ok , you wore me down sdb, everyone has a unique path on the same road. and on each one’s path..
    There is no plateau in the Christian life. We are either growing closer to Christ’s likeness or we are falling away. —Aimee Byrd

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  49. and … 

    Ephesians 4: 11 He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

    (even John MacArthur) 🙂

    12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the staturewhich belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love,]we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

    17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

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  50. …and still thinking of the proper working of each individual part, causing the growth of the body, for the building up of itself in love…
    if any of us are just noisy/ clanging gongs/cymbals, know all mysteries/all knowledge/have all faith, we can still be nothing and be profited nothing.

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  51. Jeff, I largely agree with your and Robert’s observations. Thx. If, the way Robert put it, one agrees that people on this side of Pentecost enjoy the sanctifying power of the HS in “greater measure”, one (perhaps minor) inference is that our sins (and those of the Corinthians) are even more egregious (if that’s possible) than David’s, as we (presumably) are engaging in an even more active ‘quenching’ of the Spirit than David. I suppose it’s a challenge to find the right words to describe pre vs post Pentecost sanctification, which in both cases is, I agree, rooted in justification.

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  52. Petros,

    The book of Hebrews, at least, does seems to suggest that sin is a more egregious matter for the Christian because it is a sin against greater knowledge and a greater experience of covenant fulfillment. I think there is a sense in which adultery committed by a Christian is worse than David’s, at least if we are viewing each as a mere old covenant/new covenant believer. Though with David, the fact that he wasn’t an “ordinary” believer but the king might have some bearing on the gravity of his sin that it doesn’t have on new covenant believer’s sin. Of course, the New Testament also seems to indicate that grace is greater on this side of the incarnation, though I would think that has more to do with our knowledge of the depth of God’s love and willingness to pay the ultimate cost than with the fact that God is somehow more forgiving now, which I’m pretty sure that none but the most ill-informed believer would believe.

    It is hard to talk about the exact differences, like you said. Probably the people who would be the most acutely aware of the difference are those believers who lived under both covenant administrations, such as the early Jewish Christians. Would be interesting if we could ask them directly.

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  53. @Jeff, Ali
    “Probably equivocation on the word “same” is going on here. “Same in what way”? — the WCF identifies both invariants and variants in the lives of believers in the chapter on sanctification.”

    Could be. By different path, I had in mind a different sets of struggles, failures, and weaknesses that the believer overcomes. I suspect that drug addict who comes to Christ is likely to sin (and repent!) and struggle in ways that are very different from one who has never experienced drug use. One might also find that the recovering addict may sin in ways that a very moral non-believer never would. That in itself is not evidence that the recovering drug addict is not being sanctified and growing in holiness.

    “ok , you wore me down sdb, everyone has a unique path on the same road. and on each one’s path..
    There is no plateau in the Christian life. We are either growing closer to Christ’s likeness or we are falling away. —Aimee Byrd”
    Sorry about that. Not my intent. If I’m missing your point, I’m happy to stand corrected. Like I said I don’t understand what is controversial here. My original comment was more directed towards those that think that there is a simple 1:1 correspondence between presence of believers (or posting of the 10 commandments) and demise of various social ills. That inference rests on what I take to be a mistaken view of how our sanctifications actually manifests itself in our collective day to day lives.

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  54. @Jeff Thanks for your comment about sanctification and how the Holy Spirit operated in the Old and New Testaments. I hadn’t thought of the Spirit acting through unbelievers/animals. I was surprised by this statement: “ALMOST everyone Reformed agrees that signs and wonders are no longer in operation today, since they were a proof of God’s work that has been superseded by the coming of Christ…” I always though that cessationism was controversial even among the reformed. Or is cessationism a stronger position than what you meant here?

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  55. @ Petros: the parsing gets a little cute.

    Here’s the PCA position paper:

    A. Tongues.

    It seems evident that the tongues in Acts 2 were foreign languages known to the hearers there present. It is more difficult, however, to resolve the question of the exact nature of the tongues mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament. It is also difficult to determine with certainty the relationship of the modern tongues phenomenon to the New Testament experience. The General Assembly suggests, however, that:

    1. Any view of the tongues as experienced in our time which conceives of it an experience by which revelation is received from God is contrary to the finalized character of revelation in Scripture;
    2. Any view of tongues which sees this phenomenon as an essential sign of the baptism of the Spirit is contradictory to Scripture; and
    3. Any practice of the tongues phenomenon in any age which causes dissension and division within the body of Christ or diverts the church from its mission is contrary to the purpose of the Spirit’s gifts.

    B. Miracles.

    Much discussion and debate continue throughout the church of Christ on the subject of miracles. In the Scripture certain clusters of miracles were associated with various servants of God and related to the giving of revelation, such as Exodus 4:1-9; 1 Kings 17:23-24; John 2:11, 3:2. Such miracles were signs by which God communicated divine truth or confirmed that the speaker indeed spoke from God. These miracles related to revelation have ceased, since revelation was completed with the closing of the Canon in the New Testament era.

    Scripture also uses the term “miracle” or wonder to describe the acts of God in all areas of creation and providence[22]. The power of God in response to believing prayer to work wonders and to heal the sick cannot be limited[23]. Such wonders certainly do continue to this day and are all for the glory of God not man.

    Finally, the General Assembly would speak a word of caution against an obsession with signs and miraculous manifestations which is not indicative of a healthy church, but of the opposite[24]. The Spirit provides all that is necessary for the equipping of the saints through His presence and power in the lives of the regenerate[25]. The true basis of faith and spiritual growth is the work of the Holy Spirit in believers as they are made subject to His written Word, which is sufficient in itself for spiritual growth to complete maturity[26].

    — Pastoral Letter Concerning Spiritual Gifts.

    So there is a little wiggle room, BUT none at all where the meat is concerned: neither tongues nor miracles can provide new revelation, which is where the prize is for both Pentecostals and charismatics.

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  56. “neither John MacArthur nor Tim Keller were at Constantinople”. Whoa – now THAT’s the kind of historical insight that keeps me reading at OL.

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  57. @Jeff, thanks. This is the money quote: “neither tongues nor miracles can provide new revelation”. I’m 100% with you on that.

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  58. DG Hart to Russell: “And when you’re touting those 10 Commandments, remember how the Israelites received them when Moses came down from the mountain.”

    Seems to me, those “touted” 10 Commandments used to be read in responsive fashion in OP Churches. The whole idea was to imprint them on the congregants’ minds, so when they went out into “The World”, they had a sure guide to confronting “The World’s” competing views.

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  59. D.G. Hart: “Russell, you missed the point (as you do about 1776).”
    Hmmm…Perhaps I’m a little dense, but please explain what I missed about 1776.

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  60. Russell says: D.G. Hart: “Russell, you missed the point (as you do about 1776).”Hmmm…Perhaps I’m a little dense, but please explain what I missed about 1776.

    but Russell, what about the first point : D. G. Hart says:” And when you’re touting those 10 Commandments, remember how the Israelites received them when Moses came down from the mountain,” which goes along with…
    sdb says “The point of the 10 commandments is not to make us moralists and lower the homicide rate. The point of the 10 commandments is to reveal the depths of our sin and need for a savior

    meaning, I think, “forget that kind of stuff, doesn’t matter, doesn’t work, completely inapplicable”; and besides, who wants to lower the homicide rate anyway

    Chapter XIX Of the Law of God
    II. This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables: the first four commandments containing our duty towards God; and the other six, our duty to man.
    V. The moral law does forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it. Neither does Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.
    VI. Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience,and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.
    VII. Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.

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  61. Russell, what you missed is that the U.S. was not founded as a republic where the Westminster Confession was the norm for officials and citizens.

    Doh!

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  62. D. G. Hart says: Russell, what you missed is that the U.S. was not founded as a republic where the Westminster Confession was the norm for officials and citizens.Doh!

    Chapter XIX Of the Law of God
    II. This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness;
    V. The moral law does forever bind all, as well justified persons as others…
    VI. ..yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others..

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  63. @Ali
    ” meaning, I think, “forget that kind of stuff, doesn’t matter, doesn’t work, completely inapplicable”; and besides, who wants to lower the homicide rate anyway”

    No. Meaning that the homicide rate in 1962 was higher when we had posters of the 10c on display in classrooms than it is today. Further states with higher numbers of self professed believers have higher crime rates than very secular states. Pinker’s work shows that the homicide rate in Europe has declined markedly as the continent has secularized. Irreligious nations like Japan and the scandinavian nations have much lower rates than us. These are facts that Russell needs to face.

    I’m not denying the third use of the law, I’m criticizing simplistic causal just-so stories that are inconsistent with the data. When we treat God’s word as morality tales to buttress an Eisenhower-esque “judeo-christian” civil religion, we should not be surprised at the ineffectual cultural Christianity that results (e.g., mtd). Further, we should not be surprised that God doesn’t only call very moral people, but is fashioning a people for himself from all sorts of walks of life. Thus many believers, all of whom are being sanctified, are struggling with sins that perhaps unbelieving blue-bloods in Vermont and Mormons in Utah are not.

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  64. Robert: Probably the people who would be the most acutely aware of the difference are those believers who lived under both covenant administrations, such as the early Jewish Christians. Would be interesting if we could ask them directly.

    yes it will; from His word, though, until that time, we can imagine their extreme sentiment – the extreme joy and gratefulness -having witnessed the object lesson over and over, the constant reminder of the extremely bloody and costly sacrifice of thousands of innocent year after year – seeing the result of disobedience is death; that access to God’s presence requires first sin purging ‘else the risk of being consumed, (and yet still by those sacrifices never make perfect nor sins taken away)

    but now…by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us

    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 cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

    Since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

    just seems like that calls for a whole lot of ‘sentiment’ 🙂

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  65. yeah I’m going to read some more about that…. but I’m feeling lot of sentiment right now, so first ….

    Our soul waits for the LORD;He is our help and our shield.For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You. Psalm 33:20-22

    Return to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you for You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. Psalm 116:7-8

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