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I s s u e 19 0 S e p t e m b e r 2 012
Christ, Our New Covenant Prophet— Part 2
John G. Reisinger
Christ is “that Prophet” who fulfills the prophecy concerning the new lawgiver who would replace Moses. The Old Testament prophecy is recorded in Deuteronomy 18:15-19, and the object lesson demonstrating that the prophecy has been fulfilled is the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-6; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36). Scripture makes it clear that the Jews not only knew about the promise that God made to Moses concerning a new prophet; they were looking forward to its fulfillment. They asked John the Baptist,
“What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No” (John 1:21 NKJV).1
In This Issue Christ, Our New Covenant Prophet ― Part 2 John G. Reisinger Why Did God Become Man? A. Blake White Jonathan Edwards and Freedom of the Will - Part 1 Steve West The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - Part 1 Dr. J. David Gilliland You Are a Missionary A. Blake White Concerning Sanctification Robert Traill 1
Their point of reference was Deuteronomy 18.
Reisinger—Continued on page 2
1 Bold type within a quotation indicates that I have added the emphasis.
Why Did God Become Man?
A. Blake White
The incarnation is at the heart of the Christian faith. God became flesh. There are many places in Scripture that we could go to see why God became a man, but Hebrews 2:5-18 is particularly rich and helpful in answering this question:
Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might
White—Continued on page 12
Reisinger—Continued from page 1
A bit later, John again mentions the expectation of the promised prophet. After Jesus had fed five thousand people with two small fish and five small barley loaves, he told them to gather up the leftovers.
Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:13-14 NKJV).
Again, their expectation came from Deuteronomy 18. This is a very important section of Scripture. Let us examine it carefully and see exactly what God was promising. Notice that the new Prophet will speak with the full authority of God himself. I have added bold numbers within the passage to mark four significant points.
(1) I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and (2) will put My words in His mouth, and (3) He shall speak to them all that I command Him. (4) And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. (Deut. 18:18-19 NKJV)
Mediator and Lawgiver of the new covenant. Moses is the lawgiver for Israel; the chosen earthly nation of God living under the old covenant. Christ is the Lawgiver for the true people of God living under the new covenant. Additionally, God promises that the new prophet will be “from among their brethren.” The author of the letter to the Hebrews stresses the humanity of Jesus Christ (2:11-18; 10:5-10). Jesus Christ fulfills this part of the prophecy on both details; he is “like Moses” as a lawgiver. He is also “like Moses” in that he is both a human being and a seed of Abraham. Point Two: All true prophets speak the words of God when they prophesy, but at other times, they speak their own words. There is no question that Moses was the greatest of all prophets until the advent of our Lord. Moses is the only prophet that ever spoke faceto-face with God, but not every word that Moses spoke during his ministry was directly from God. The words of Moses spoken merely as a man were no more inspired than the words you and I speak today. Jesus did not have a one-time face-to-face encounter with God; he came from an eternal existence with the Father. John records Jesus’ explanation of which he spoke,
“… I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me … I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say … These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me” (John 8:28; 12:49, 50; 14:24).
Sound of Grace is a publication of Sovereign Grace New Covenant Ministries, a tax exempt 501(c)3 corporation. Contributions to Sound of Grace are deductible under section 170 of the Code. Sound of Grace is published 10 times a year. The subscription price is shown below. This is a paper unashamedly committed to the truth of God’s sovereign grace and New Covenant Theology. We invite all who love these same truths to pray for us and help us financially. We do not take any paid advertising. The use of an article by a particular person is not an endorsement of all that person believes, but it merely means that we thought that a particular article was worthy of printing. Sound of Grace Board: John G. Reisinger, David Leon, John Thorhauer, Bob VanWingerden and Jacob Moseley. Editor: John G. Reisinger; Phone: (585)3963385; e-mail: email@example.com. General Manager: Jacob Moseley: firstname.lastname@example.org Send all orders and all subscriptions to: Sound of Grace, 5317 Wye Creek Drive, Frederick, MD 21703-6938 – Phone 301473-8781 Visit the bookstore: http://www. newcovenantmedia.com Address all editorial material and questions to: John G. Reisinger, 3302 County Road 16, Canandaigua, NY 14424-2441. Webpage: www.soundofgrace.org SOGNCM.org or
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Point One: Exactly how is Jesus “like Moses”? The two primary likenesses of Moses and Jesus are that (1) they are both mediators of a specific covenant, and (2) they are both lawgivers. They both mediated covenants that established nations. Moses meditated the covenant that established God’s earthly people, the nation of Israel, and Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant that established the church, the true Israel of God. Both Moses and Christ gave the specific laws under which the covenant people of God to whom they minister are to live and by which they will be judged. Moses is the mediator and lawgiver of the old covenant and Christ is the
It is exegetically impossible to attempt to make these words mean that Jesus came, not to give any new revelation or laws about morality and holiness, but he came only to give us the true meaning and interpretation of the highest laws that were already
Reisinger—Continued on page 4
Jonathan Edwards and Freedom of the Will - Part 1
It is an overwhelming understatement to say that Jonathan Edwards was a brilliant person. In terms of evangelical philosophical theology, he probably does deserve the title of the most brilliant theologian North America has ever produced. Over the past months, I have written a series of articles on free will. One of the most impressive things about Edwards is that many of the main issues that are discussed today were already being worked out by him. Even if his work is not the final word, it is immensely helpful and deserves careful attention not only because of its historic significance but also because it still sheds profound insight into the topic these few centuries later. This article is planned to be relatively descriptive. I want to sketch some of his arguments and note some particularly relevant points. There are places where I will break off for commentary or excursus, but with the goal of elucidating Edwards’ own thought. Although there are scholarly-critical editions of Edwards’ works, most pastors I know don’t own them! But there are a number of pastors and believers I know who have the two-volume set The Works of Jonathan Edwards.1 Instead of footnoting references, I will place page numbers in brackets for ease of reference. Edwards says more in his title than most of us could say in a book. His work is called A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of that Freedom of the Will, Which is Supposed to be Essential to Moral Agency, Virtue and Vice,
1 The edition I am using was published by Hendrickson (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1998).
Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame. Under this title, he affixes Romans 9:16, “It is Not of Him That Willeth.” The elements of his title must be remembered while reading his work; they really do tell you what he is investigating. Edwards begins by doing something that very few philosophers have done before or since: he actually explains what he means by the will! He writes (p. 4): “And therefore I observe, that the Will (without any further metaphysical refining) is, That by which the mind chooses any thing. The faculty of the Will, is that power, or principle of mind, by which it is capable of choosing: an act of the Will is the same as an act of choosing or choice.” Edwards also carefully and clearly explains what he means by Liberty and Freedom (p. 12): “The power, opportunity, or advantage, that any one has, to do as he pleases. Or in other words, his being free from hindrance or impediment in the way of doing, or conducting in any respect, as he wills. And the contrary to Liberty, whatever name we call that by, is a person’s being hindered or unable to conduct as he wills, or being necessitated to do otherwise.” For Edwards, then, the will is not disconnected from the mind. The mind assesses, and the will is the power of choice. When the mind chooses, it selects its preference (this is basically a tautology: it can be reversed and stated as ‘when the mind has a preference, it chooses it’). If the mind chooses what it prefers, then it does so freely. To be free is to do what pleases you, and your will always chooses the option which is most pleasing to you overall. (This is the case even if you
choose short-term pleasure at the expense of greater long-term gain—you will to be gratified now rather than defer to greater pleasure in the future.) The opposite of freedom is being forced to do something you don’t want to do, or being restrained from doing what you want. If someone overpowers you, puts a gun in your hand, and makes you pull the trigger killing an innocent person, you have been forced to do something against your will and are not responsible. Or, if you see someone drowning and try to save them, but someone overpowers you and ties you up, you are forcibly restrained from doing what you willed. Being overpowered, either by being forced to do what you don’t want, or kept from doing what you do want, is the opposite of liberty. What is exceptionally important for Edwards is that the will is integrated into the human person. It is very strange today to read many arguments about free will where the governing idea seems to be that the will is somehow free-floating in the human being, but without being affected much by the mind or heart. It is almost as if it is an autonomous faculty that remains neutral regardless of what else the person is. Edwards does not allow for such a position. He (rightly) argues that liberty can only be found in a being that has a will, but not in just the will itself (p. 12). The will does not have a will. If the will all by itself had liberty, it would have to have the power to do what it pleases and the properties of the mind to assess. But then what is being described is a will in the will. And if the will has a will, then the only way for its will to
West—Continued on page 8
Reisinger—Continued from page 2
given through Moses at Mount Sinai. Moses, despite his greatness above all the prophets, must still speak only as a prophet. Our Lord not only speaks as a prophet, he speaks as the Creator; he speaks as God himself. We will come back to this point. Point Three: According to Hebrews 1:1-3, our Lord is the full and final revelation of God. In his Son, God has said all that he has to say. Not only does Christ bring God’s full and final message, Christ himself actually is the Message as well as the Messenger. Moses spoke as a faithful servant in God’s house; Jesus spoke as the Son who built God’s house and who is in charge of that house.
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. (Heb. 3:1-6)
could say, “I am speaking as God. I am speaking with the full authority of God himself. I am telling you that you must believe what I say just because I said it!” In Deuteronomy 18, God promises that he will judge men based on an individual’s attitude to the words of the new prophet, and Jesus repeats that idea.
“There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day” (John 12:48).
covenant of law.2
These words cannot be tortured to mean, “There is a judge for the one who refuses to accept my true interpretation of Moses.” Ironically, this unique authority of Jesus Christ as the new Lawgiver is at the heart of a great controversy in Reformed, especially Reformed Baptist, circles today. I have been the subject of several books and quite a few articles that claim I am an “antinomian” simply because I believe that Christ is a new lawgiver who replaces Moses. My great sin is believing that the Ten Commandments were indeed the highest law and revelation of the character of God ever given up to that point in time, but our Lord gives his church an even higher standard. I believe Jesus not only gives his church a much fuller revelation of God’s holy character, he also gives the new covenant people of God a higher moral standard. The holiness demanded of a new covenant believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit is greater than that required under the law. One preacher who disagreed with me on this point insisted, “Christ is a Law-keeper not a Law-giver.” I replied, “I believe he is both.” I believe that Christ, in the “But I say unto you” contrasts in the Sermon on the Mount, is clearly establishing himself as a new Lawgiver in contrast to Moses as the old lawgiver. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ gives us higher and more spiritual laws than Moses gave, or could have given, to Israel under a
We insist as loudly as we can that Christ never once contradicts Moses. Contrasting two things to emphasize their difference and show why one is better than the other one is not at all the same as saying they contradict each other. If anyone ever teaches that Christ contradicted Moses or says Moses said something that was wrong, they are clearly destroying the unity of the Scriptures. Our Lord never says, or in any way implies, that Moses was wrong. He does contrast his teaching with that of Moses and clearly claims the law of his kingdom of grace is a higher law than that given to Moses for Israel. When Hebrews insists that there is a new and better covenant, the writer is not saying the old covenant was either bad or wrong. He is merely insisting that the new covenant is much better than the old covenant. If that were not true, there never would have been a need for a new covenant as a replacement. Christ is contrasting a theocratic earthly kingdom based on “good, holy, and just” law with a spiritual kingdom based on pure grace and higher laws. Both kingdoms, though different, are righteous and good and both come from God. However, one is better than the other one. Actually, one prepares the way for the second one. Christ is contrasting the essence of the very nature of law and grace, but he in no way is denying that both law and grace are holy, righteous and good. Our Lord is contrasting the theocratic kingdom established under Moses based on pure law with his newly founded kingdom based on pure grace. The latter is far superior to the former, but in no sense was the former wrong or bad.
2 For a detailed proof of this assertion, see my But I Say Unto You, available from New Covenant Media, 5317 Wye Creek Drive, Frederick, MD 217036938.
Reisinger—Continued on page 6
Point Four: The new Lawgiver gives some new and higher house rules that are more appropriate for the new spiritual house. As mentioned above, Moses alone of all the prophets spoke face-to-face with God, but even he, like all other prophets, had to preface his speech with, “Thus saith the Lord” when he repeated a specific message that God had given to him. Only our Lord could say, “But I say unto you” and speak with the authority of God himself. Moses, like all true prophets, could claim that “God told me to say this,” but only Jesus
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse-Part 1 Revelation Chapter 6
Dr. J. David Gilliland
Dr. Gilliland is the Teacher of Historical Theology and Christian Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary A special blessing is promised ture – yet also written in a way that read: to the ones who read and heed the would use the events of Israel’s hisNow when the attendant of the teachings of the Book of Revelation; tory and those of the first century as man of God had risen early and gone however, it also presents quite a “types” or pictures of the principles out, behold, an army with horses and unique challenge. For many it means that would define the church age as chariots was circling the city. And his venturing into uncharted waters as it servant said to him, “Alas, my master! well as the final events of history. seems to be a very mysterious comTurn for a moment to Revelation What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with munication – even by biblical stanchapter 17 for a brief example: us are more than those who are with dards. Recognizing that there may be ” And on her forehead a name them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, some here who are relatively new to was written, a mystery, “BABYLON “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that the study of this book, let us take a THE GREAT, THE MOTHER he may see.” And the LORD opened few moments by way of introduction OF HARLOTS AND OF THE the servant’s eyes and he saw; and beto survey its structure, style, and mesABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” hold, the mountain was full of horses And I saw the woman drunk with the sage. and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” It is written in what theologians refer to as an “apocalyptic” style. Interestingly, it is a style not particularly unique to the Old or New Testament as numerous examples can be found in the literature of the pagan nations of biblical history. It was a style of writing used to depict the crucial events of human history – events ultimately ascribed to God or some pagan deity. It was characterized by the use of bizarre “other world” animation and cataclysmic natural disasters to emphasize the spiritual significance of these events. The Greek word for “Revelation” is apocalypsis, which means to “reveal” or “uncover.” It has more to do with “revealing” the nature of the spiritual realm than it does the development of a detailed road map for the distant events of the future. Turn for a moment to the book of II Kings where we read of an episode in the life of Elisha which gives us some insight into what we can expect in the Book of Revelation. Elisha was being pursued and was ultimately surrounded by the armies of the king because of his faithful preaching of the scriptures. In II Kings 6:15-17 we This phrase“eyes to see” is a concept that will be emphasized throughout the Book of Revelation. The primary purpose of this book is to give us an understanding of the principles that lie “behind” the events of human history and how that history relates to the plan of God for his people. Views within the Christian community regarding the time frame of its fulfillment range anywhere from entirely within the first century – typically with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. – to the final few years of human history. I think what is more biblically consistent, though, is to recognize that there are elements of both. Remember, this is a book that was written for us, but not to us. It was written to a group of recently planted churches in western Turkey sometime near the end of the first century. It was written to a people living under the oppression of Rome, and it was written in a style that is particularly unfamiliar. Most importantly, it was written in a way that would have been “real” to them – understandable in their day and applicable to their cul-
blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly. And the angel said to me, ‘Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits . . . the ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” (Rev 17:5-12).
Reading this passage with a twenty-first- century perspective is very confusing – to say the least. If you lived in the first century, though, you likely would have recognized that the “seven mountains on which the woman sits” referred to Rome. The “horns” and the “kings” may well
Gilliland—Continued on page 9
Reisinger—Continued from page 4
Living under the covenant of law given through Moses and living under the gracious covenant of grace established by Christ are two different things. No one questions that the laws God gave to Moses to govern the nation of Israel are “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:12). Those laws fulfill God’s primary intention to convict a rebellious nation of its guilt and push them to believe the gospel promised to Abraham. Those same laws are not high enough to govern saints of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This is what our Lord is stating in Matthew 19:8, 9. He specifically insists that the true nature of most Israelites, even though they were “redeemed by (animal) blood” was that of hard-hearted sinners. Jesus told the Pharisees, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (NKJV). Hard-hearted sinners need a covenant of law to convict them of sin. God’s true church, living under the new covenant, does not have any hard hearted-sinners. They have been given new hearts that love righteousness. They have hearts upon which God’s law has been written. They are all regenerated. They all “know the Lord” in saving faith (Hebrews 8:11). God provided Israel with the Mosaic laws concerning easy divorce and polygamy only because of Israel’s “hardness of heart” (Matthew 19:1-9). I repeat: none of God’s new covenant people have a hard heart. They all have new hearts that yearn to please God. The laws that God gave to hard-hearted sinners under the old covenant in order to convict those sinners of their need of grace are not of the same nature as the laws given to regenerate saints with new hearts under the new covenant. The laws, or rules, that govern a child of God living under grace will always make higher demands than the law or rules that govern hard-hearted sinners living
under a covenant of law.3 I have a real problem trying to understand why this is so difficult for some people to grasp when Scripture is so clear. A “catch question” that enables a certain brand of theologian to immediately label you as either orthodox or antinomian is this: “Do you believe the Ten Commandments are the rule of life for a Christian today?” Anything but an unqualified yes earns you the label of antinomian. My response to that question is this: “I believe the Ten Commandments, not as they were written on stone and given to Israel as covenant terms,4 but as they are clear3 Both Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology forget that Israel, as a nation, was the earthly “loved, chosen, redeemed, called” people of God even though most of those “loved, chosen, redeemed, called” people were ungodly rebels who died in unbelief and went to hell (Heb. 3:16-19). We dare not attach, as both Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology do, New Covenant spiritual meanings to the redemptive words Scripture uses of Israel as a physical nation. This is a root error of both Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology. 4 Very few writers or theologians acknowledge the fact that the Ten Commandments constituted the basic covenant document, or the summary document of the old covenant. Their theology insists that the Ten Commandments must be trans-covenantal. However, Scripture makes it clear in specific texts that the author of those texts considered the Ten Commandments written on stone as the “terms of the covenant” God made with Israel at Sinai. Exodus 34:27-29: 27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant-the Ten Commandments. 29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that
ly interpreted and applied by our Lord and his apostles in the new covenant Scriptures, are a very real part of a Christian’s rule of life today.”5 The Ten Commandments contain moral law, but the Ten Commandments are not THE moral law. Strangely enough some of the people who get the most upset when we make those statements will say the very same thing using different words. Dr. Richard Barcellos has written extensively against what I believe concerning New Covenant Theology. He wrote a book titled In Defense of the Decalogue.6 The major thesis of his book is exactly what the title states. He is defending his belief that the Ten Commandments, as written
his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD (NIV). Deuteronomy 4:13: He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets (NIV). Deuteronomy 9:9-11: 9 When I went up on the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the LORD had made with you, I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water. 10 The LORD gave me two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God. On them were all the commandments the LORD proclaimed to you on the mountain out of the fire, on the day of the assembly. 11 At the end of the forty days and forty nights, the LORD gave me the two stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant (NIV). 5 For a detailed study of the place of the Ten Commandments in the history of redemption, see my Tablets of Stone (New Covenant Media, Frederick, MD 2004). 6 We have written a lengthy response to Barcellos and laid out what we really believe. It is titled, “In Defense of Jesus the New Lawgiver.” It is available from New Covenant Media, 5317 Wye Creek Drive, Frederick, MD 217036938.
Reisinger—Continued on page 16
You Are a Missionary
A. Blake White
Every single Christian is mandated to make disciples. A disciple is one who makes disciples (Matt. 28:1820). Disciple-making is not optional for New Testament Christians. Every single Christian has been sent. This may sound strange at first, but think about it. You do believe in the biblical teaching that God is meticulously sovereign, don’t you? “We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall” (NLT). Christian, you are not in your city by accident. Before your grandpa’s grandpa had his first job, the Lord knew that you would be working where you are working right now. You live in the neighborhood that you do by divine decree. Acts 17:26 reads, “From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.” That includes your location. You are there because God has
You are a missionary. I know what you are thinking, “Not me. I live in the States!” So goes the typical conception of Christians in North America. We are not missionaries, but we know we are supposed to pray for and support them. Now, I don’t mean to denigrate those Christians who have left North America to preach the gospel to other nations. Obviously that is needed and extremely important! Local churches should prioritize financial and prayerful support for foreign missionaries. What I am concerned with is that those Christians who stay home feel as if they have done their part by praying for missionaries and sending a check. Not the case. If we simply define missionary as one who is sent by God to tell the gospel to others, then we are all missionaries. A missionary is a person sent to promote the Christian faith. That’s all of us.
put you there. Are you representing his rule well there? Do your neighbors know about him? Every one of us are sent ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:18-21). If America ever was a “Christian nation,” it certainly isn’t now. It is the new mission field. Ask the Lord to grant you his eyes. Are you serious about the lordship of Christ? How are you seeking to serve your neighbors and gain a hearing for the gospel? Do you know their names? Are you intentional in your workplace? Do you view your coworkers as those who will one day face God in judgment if they do not turn to Christ? You are a missionary. If you have neglected this aspect of your calling and identity, join me in pursuing gospel intentionality all the time in all aspects of life.
“As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” (John 20:21) m
Live so that the preacher can tell the truth at your funer al. Anonymous
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West—Continued from page 3
function is if the will’s will has a will. An impossible infinite regress looms. The idea is incoherent. The will is not endowed with liberty – only a full person who possesses a will can be free. After establishing this principle, Edwards argues that Arminian theology falls into this regress (pp. 13-20). Arminian views of the will require it to be self-determining (p. 15): “There is a great noise made about self-determining power, as the source of all free acts of the Will: but when the matter comes to be explained, the meaning is, that no power at all is the source of these acts, neither self-determining power, nor any other, but they arise from nothing; no cause, no power, no influence, being at all concerned in the matter.” The horns of the dilemma are either choosing an impossible infinite regress of willings, or having the first willing arise for no reason and out of nothing. Either way, it is difficult to see how the concept is coherent. Furthermore, it is likewise hard to see how such a reality can confer the property of being responsible, or how it can be responsible-making. But these philosophical cavils are nothing compared to the theological inconsistency that Edwards examines next. Many libertarians argue with great vigor that libertarian free will is necessary for genuine morality and responsibility. If we are to really be blameworthy or praiseworthy, we need to be responsible for what we have done. They contend that we need to form our own characters. Many of the Arminian arguments run along the lines that human beings must have libertarian freedom in order to be justly rewarded or punished. The great inconsistency with this position, however, is that God does not have this kind of libertarian freedom. Edwards observes that Arminians frequently appeal to free will as necessary for responsibility, but they also praise God for being necessarily holy, just,
righteous, and good (p. 41). In fact, it is common for Arminians to urge that Calvinism can’t be true because God is necessarily loving. So, notes Edwards, Arminians have no problem ascribing praise and necessity to God, but then they argue that any being who acts out of necessity is not free, and therefore not responsible, and not to be blamed or praised! At this juncture, a short excursus is justified. What Edwards points out here is extraordinarily important, not just in Calvinist-Arminian discussions, but in all discussions of freedom and responsibility. When we are talking about human beings, it is easy to keep isolating elements that confer or remove responsibility. But in our analysis, as we keep breaking things down more and more, we can end up supporting positions which deny glory to God! What libertarians claim is necessary for responsibility ends up making God nonresponsible! It makes the incarnate Christ nonresponsible for his righteousness. It makes saints in heaven (unless we believe we can sin in heaven) nonresponsible. Yet nothing is clearer than that God is necessarily holy, and that he cannot sin: yet he is the only being worthy of praise. Read Revelation 4-5, and see that the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb are worthy to be praised. Even for human beings, surely it is strange to think that we are responsible for being virtuous here in this life, but when we are perfected in glory, we will never be responsible for anything virtuous we do again because we can’t choose to sin. Beyond this, it is increasingly common to hear Arminians of all stripes say that libertarian freedom and choice is necessary for real love between persons. If I can’t choose not to love God, they say, then I do not do so freely, and love that is not freely chosen is not love at all. Besides some inherent strangeness in this position (after all, does my wife really want to
know our love only remains genuine if I can still choose not to love her whenever I want?), it flies in the face of the doctrine of God. Does the Father love the Son? Does the Son love the Spirit? Do they love each other freely: of course! But could the Father hate the Son? Could the Spirit choose not to love the Father? Even writing the very idea seems close to blasphemy. God is love, and he loves necessarily. If this is the case, and God is love, then the libertarians are simply wrong when they posit libertarianism as a necessary component of genuine love—if they are right, then God is not really love, and there is no real love amongst the persons of the Trinity. But surely any position that brings us here is just dead wrong! It must be abandoned. God is free not on libertarian grounds but on the basis of the great cosmic fact that he does whatever he pleases. True freedom is not libertarian: true freedom comes from acting without compulsion or restraint from your own character. Good trees produce good fruit (i.e., their actions accord with their character). A perfect God acts perfectly. The sinful mind not only doesn’t submit to God’s law (which is terrifying enough), it cannot do so. Whatever we do flows out of what we are. That is freedom (or bondage). Rather than limiting God, Edwards sees this as a reason to praise him. Here are three quotes (pp. 70-71):
It is no disadvantage or dishonour to a being, necessarily to act in the most excellent and happy manner, from the necessary perfection of his own nature. This argues no imperfection, inferiority, or dependence, nor any want of dignity, privilege, or ascendancy. It is not inconsistent with the absolute and most perfect sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God is his ability and authority to do whatever pleases him…
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have represented the political leaders of that century as well. But there is more involved here than just a reference to the historic city of Rome. The name “Babylon the Great” suggests that Rome is also a “type” of the political powers yet to come. It is a picture, as well, of the final “Rome” and echoes the first Babel – the secular state and world system that elevates itself above God, God’s people, and God’s revelation (Rev. 19). In summary, this passage is typical of much of this book. There are references to specific historical events that you would have recognized had you lived in the first century, yet the text is written in a way so as to reveal the principles and conflicts that would characterize the rest of history. Finally, the book is structured around a series of sevens: seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls – all having to do primarily with events on earth that span the church age. Interposed between the discussions of these groups of seven are interludes that depict events in heaven – an arrangement emphasizing the relationship between events on earth and those occurring in the heavenly realm. Let’s turn now to our text in Revelation 6 – a famous scene in apocalyptic literature known as “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
“Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, ‘Come.’ I looked, and behold a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer” (Rev 6:1-2).
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This imagery in not particularly new either, as it is similar to one recorded in the book of Zechariah (Zech 1). The saint in the first century would have understood that whatever the purpose was of these riders and horses, they were under the control of God. The picture of a conquering hero mounted on a white horse was a common one in that era and has endured as a symbol of conquest throughout history. Perhaps you can picture the historic images of Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus, or Napoleon, to name a few. While not precluding a responsible national defense, what is in view is the greater specter of autonomous political power and authority undergirded by the threat of military force, as opposed to the moral authority of God’s righteousness. Additionally, John may have had in mind the Parthian conquerors from the East who had won an important battle against the Romans in 62 A.D. and were known for their mounted archers. You may remember, however, that there is another rider on a white horse in the Book of Revelation: “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. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself” (Rev. 19:1112). As you might guess, some expositors have suggested that these riders and horses are one and the same, and what the first seal in Revelation 6 pictures is Christ and the power of the gospel. I would suggest there are a number of differences that indicate they are not the same. The rider in Chapter 19 (without question the Lord Jesus) carries a sword, whereas the rider in Chapter 6 is armed with a bow – the later commonly associated with God’s judgment in the Old Testament. The crown referred to in Chapter 6 is the “victor’s crown” (stephanos)
as opposed to the diadem or “royal crown” of Chapter 19. Note also, that John was careful to point out that the crown “was given” to the rider in Chapter 6. This phrase “was given” is used throughout the book to describe the authority or permission given to wicked forces as instruments of God’s judgment. Additionally, there seems to be a relationship between the four horses that is not as well explained if the first seal represents Christ and the gospel.
The NIV reads, “and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest” which gives a clear sense of the passage. The point, of course, is not that this is a literal white horse and a rider with a bow but what it represents.
What the author does intend to portray, though, is the apparent likeness between the two. And it underscores one of the main themes of the book: Things are often not as they seem. How many times in history do political and military leaders come onto the scene appearing as “Christlike”? How many times have we seen an almost religious devotion to leaders who promise – and often sincerely at first – peace, prosperity, and security? They certainly are seen as a type of “messiah” in the eyes of the gullible masses. The other writers in the New Testament warn us of Christ-like figures that will deceive many, and we have seen them throughout history. In the first century, the Roman kings often demanded to be worshipped as gods, and they were often treated as gods – as long as the empire was in the period known as the PAX ROMANA.The twentieth century is full of these “messiah like” leaders as the socialist, communist, and fascist leaders come to mind. We think of Hitler and his promise of a Third Reich, Imperial Japan, and Stalin or Lenin and their desire for a great empire or utopian state. Unfortunately, some have walked these shores as well, at least in the opinion of some of their followers. For example, there was an article written several years ago describing the global initiative of one of our most popular politicians. The goal of the initiative was
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to identify immediate and pragmatic solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems (poverty, religious intolerance, global climate change, etc.). Among other things, this politician was referred to as “World Savior.” The foreign policy travels of another politician were more recently described by the following proclamation: “He ventured forth to bring light to the world! The anointed ones pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a miracle in action – and a blessing to all of his faithful followers.” Gerard Baker, an editorialist of the Times on Line, recently had this to say, “Every decade or so the people who control the way we see the world anoint some American politician the Redeemer of a Troubled Planet.” Yes, even the non-Christian world recognizes the principle behind the rider on the white horse. We should stop here for a moment and ask ourselves: What is the source of our confidence in America? Is it on our military might or the strength of our economy? Is it based on the strength of our “democratic process” or freedom? Or is it based on faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ and His word? Who is our hero on the white horse?
“When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, ‘Come.’ And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and those men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him” (Rev. 6:3-4).
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tainly common in Israel’s history as one king after another lead the people astray with false hopes of safety. Rather than trust in God’s providence and blessing, they demanded a king: “We will be like all the nations” (I Sam 8). Compare by contrast those who Jesus says will be victorious, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the earth.” Note here as well, like the rider on the white horse that was “given a crown”, that this rider too was “given a sword.” Again, John is stressing that no matter how things may appear the actions and consequences of these leaders and events are under the sovereign control of God. It may have appeared to the saints in the seven churches that Caesar was in control of the events that impacted their lives. But John wants them to understand that even Caesar is under the authority of God.
“When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, ‘Come’ I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine” (Rev. 6:5-6).
We see in this text, as history shows as well, that fast on the heels of a spirit of conquest come war and bloodshed. What started out with a promise of peace eventually (although often over a number of generations) leads – because it is man’s system, for his glory, and devoid of biblical righteousness – to a moral breakdown in society, foolish alliances that attempt to substitute for a dependence upon God, and ultimately war. It was cer-
Some of the inevitable consequences of war or violence are economic collapse, shortage of essential goods, and famine. This is just as true in our day as it was in the first century. For example, it is estimated that at least 10 million people died of starvation during the economic and agricultural experiments in Stalin’s Soviet Union. You can see it in the news from the war-torn African countries every day.
“And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine” (Rev.6:6).
A denarius was roughly a day’s wage for the average worker. It took a day’s wage to pay for a quart of wheat. And what should we think about the statement, “Do not damage the oil and the wine?” The commentators are not certain as to its exact meaning. It probably suggests two things. One of the similarities we notice during the first few seals, trumpets, and bowls is that although judgment does come, it is temporary and limited in scope. The vineyards and olive trees were known to have the deepest root systems and would likely be the most resilient during times of famine. This emphasizes the fact that even though the drought was severe it was not total. The recurring message is that there is still time for repentance – the end is not yet. This may also have alluded to the edict of Caesar during one of the major famines during the first century that prohibited the use of vineyards and olive groves for the growth of more desperately needed staples like wheat and other grains. This points to the other inevitable aspect of warfare – poverty. The oil and wine were items of luxury, and the effort to preserve them at the expense of the basic food supply would have the greatest effect on the poor and less fortunate. During war it was the poor that suffered the most. This was a reality all too familiar to the early Christians. Unlike a biblical economic environment like we have enjoyed (until recently I should add), where investment and capital growth is part of what it means to be a faithful steward, wealth in the first century usually meant one thing – compromise. The labor guilds were extremely powerful during the first century, as they were often aligned with the temple cults and emperor worship. If you didn’t participate in those events, you suffered economically and often were forced into poverty. Participation in this economic system is part of what John refers to later in the book as “the
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Robert Traill1 (1642-1716)
1 From Traill’s Sermons, upon 1 Peter 1:1-3, vol. 4, pg 71, Edinburgh edition of Traill’s Works, 1810. (Banner of Truth Trust, 1975) reprinted in Holiness, by J.C. Ryle (Hertfordshire, England, Evangelical Press, 1987) p 317.
Concerning sanctification, there are three things that I would speak to. What sanctification is. Wherein it agrees with justification. Wherein it differs from justification. 1. What is sanctification? It is a great deal better to feel it than to express it. Sanctification is the same with regeneration, the same with the renovation of the whole man. Sanctification is the forming and the framing of the new creature, it is the implanting and engraving of the image of Christ upon the poor soul. It is what the apostle breathed after: “That Christ might be formed in them” (Gal. 4:19); that they might “bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49). There are but two men only that all the world is like, and so will it fare with them, as they are like the one, or like the other—the first Adam, and the second Adam. Every man by nature is like the first Adam, and like the devil; for the devil and the first fallen Adam were like one another. “Ye are of your father the devil,” saith our Lord, and he was “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). All the children of the first Adam are the devil’s children; there is no difference here. And all the children of the other sort are like to Jesus Christ, the second Adam; and when His image shall be perfected in them, then they shall be perfectly happy. “As we have also borne the image of the earthly, so shall we also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49). Pray observe: we bear
the image of the earthly by being born in sin and misery; we bear the image of the earthly by living in sin and misery; and we bear the image of the earthly by dying in sin and misery; and we bear the image of the earthly in the rottenness of the grave; and we bear the image of the heavenly Adam when we are sanctified by His Spirit. This image increases in us according to our growth in sanctification, and we perfectly bear the image of the heavenly Adam when we are just like the Man Christ, both in soul and body, perfectly happy, and perfectly holy, when we have overcome death by His grace, as He overcame it by His own strength. It will never be known how like believers are to Jesus Christ, till they are risen again, when they shall arise from their graves, like so many little suns shining in glory and brightness. Oh, how like will they then be to Jesus Christ, though His personal transcendent glory will be His property and prerogative to all eternity! 2. Wherein are justification and sanctification alike? I answer, in many things. Firstly, they are like one another as they are the same in their author; it is God that justifieth, and it is God that sanctifies. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (Rom. 8:33). “I am the Lord that doth sanctify you,” is a common word in the Old Testament (Exod. 31:13; Lev. 20:8). Secondly, they are alike and the same in their rise, being both of free grace; justification is an act of free grace, and sanctification is the same. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His
mercy, He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). They are both of grace. Thirdly, they are alike in that they are both towards the same persons. Never a man is justified but he is also sanctified; and never a man is sanctified but he is also justified; all the elect of God, all the redeemed, have both these blessings passing upon them. Fourthly, they are alike as to the time; they are the same in time. It is a hard matter for us to talk or think of time when we are speaking of the works of God: these saving works of His are always done at the same time; a man is not justified before he is sanctified, though it may be conceived so in order of nature, yet at the same time the same grace works both. “Such were some of you,” saith the apostle, “but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). Fifthly, they are the same as to the operation of them by the same means, that is, by the Word of God: we are justified by the Word, sentencing us to eternal life by the promise, and we are also sanctified by the power of the same Word. “Now ye are clean,” saith our Lord “through the Word that I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). “That He might sanctify and cleanse His church,” saith the apostle, “with the washing of water by the Word” (Eph. 5:26). Sixthly and lastly, they are the same as to their equal necessity to eternal life. I do not say as to their equal order, but as to their equal neTraill—Continued on page 13
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become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (ESV).
This passage gives us four reasons: 1. To taste death for everyone (vv. 5-9) 2. To bring many children to glory (vv. 10-13) 3. To defeat the devil through death (vv. 14-15) 4. To become a merciful and faithful high priest (vv. 16-18) Recall that Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish Christians who were being tempted to return to Judaism in light of the present persecution. The author of Hebrews wants to highlight the superiority of Jesus in comparison to all rivals. The summary of Hebrews could be “Jesus is better.” The first reason we see from this passage on why God became man was to taste death for everyone (2:5-9). Verses 5-8 say, “Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” He writes that it is testified somewhere. Hebrews is a sermon, so the preacher doesn’t have time to bust out his Psalm scroll. He’s on a roll so he just says, “trust me, it’s in there.” Of course, we know that he is referencing Psalm 8, which speaks of God’s majesty. In light of his grandness, who are we? Mankind was created to rule over the created order. But are we? Is Psalm 8 presently true? We are called to rule over creation, but it
sure doesn’t look like we are in full measure. We rule in part, but not like Psalm 8 envisions. We live in a broken world. I can’t even exercise dominion over trash bags. Inevitably, they don’t work the way I want them to. Often, technology rules over me, not the other way around. We have dominion over some animals. People try to exercise dominion over lions and tigers and other wild ones, but they usually end up on the show, “When Animals Attack.” The author of Hebrews applies Psalm 8 to Jesus, as we will see. “Son of man” was one of Jesus’ favorite ways of referring to himself. He was made lower than the angels for a little while. The commission of Adam is ultimately fulfilled in the last Adam. The author of Hebrews reads Psalm 8, as well as the whole Old Testament, Christologically – that is, in light of Christ. Psalm 8 is not true of us now, but it is true of Jesus. Do you remember that strange comment in the first chapter in Mark? Jesus goes to the wilderness and is tempted by Satan, and Mark writes, “And he was with the wild animals” (Mark 1:13). Jesus has dominion over them. They recognize his kingship. He fulfills God’s original intention for humanity. Hebrews 2:8b states, “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” At present we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. Notice that it says at present. All things have indeed been placed under the feet of Jesus, but we do not yet see it. That awaits his return. We live in the overlap of the ages, between the already and not yet. The pastor wants us to be assured that Christ really is in control. Verse 9 says, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for
everyone.” Jesus was crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death. Because of his death, he was crowned. Jesus has been Lord for all eternity as the second person of the Trinity. He has been the Son from eternity, but there is a sense in which he earned this lordship. So in Acts 2 we read that God has made this Jesus Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). Romans 1:4 says that the Son was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead (NIV).
He was crowned so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. The Son of God tasted death for us! In our place! He drank the cup we deserved! He meets our greatest need. D.A. Carson writes, “If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would’ve sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would’ve sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would’ve sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would’ve sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior.”1 The second reason God became man was to bring many children to glory (2:10-13). Verse 10 reads, “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” It was fitting? This is the miracle of Christmas, the miracle of the incarnation. Remember that crucifixion was a cruel form of public execution. God came in the flesh and suffered this awful death. Jews thought those crucified were cursed by God, and non-Jews just considered it
1 D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 109.
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cessity, that is, as it is determined that no man who is not justified shall be saved, so it is determined that no man who is not sanctified shall be saved: no unjustified man can be saved, and no unsanctified man can be saved. They are of equal necessity in order to the possessing of eternal life. 3. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ? This is a matter of great concernment for people’s practice and daily exercise—wherein they differ. They agree in many things, as has just now been declared, but they likewise differ vastly. 1. Justification is an act of God about the state of a man’s person, but sanctification is the work of God about the nature of a man, and these two are very different, as I shall illustrate by a similitude. Justification is an act of God as a judge about a delinquent, absolving him from a sentence of death; but sanctification is an act of God about us, as a physician, in curing us of a mortal disease. There is a criminal that comes to the bar, and is arraigned for high treason; the same criminal has a mortal disease, that he may die of, though there was no judge on the bench to pass the sentence of death upon him for his crime. It is an act of grace which absolves the man from the sentence of the law, that he shall not suffer death for his treason—that saves the man’s life. But notwithstanding this, unless his disease be cured, he may die quickly after, for all the judge’s pardon. Therefore, I say, justification is an act of God as a gracious Judge, sanctification is a work of God as a merciful Physician; David joins them both together. “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases” (Ps. 103:3). It is promised that “Iniquity shall not be your ruin” (Ezek. 18:30), in the guilt of it—that is justification; and it shall not be your ruin, in the power of it—there lies sanctification.
2. Justification is an act of God’s grace upon the account of the righteousness of another, but sanctification is a work of God, infusing a righteousness into us. Now there is a great difference between these two, for the one is by imputation, the other by infusion. In justification, the sentence of God proceeds this way: the righteousness that Christ wrought out by His life and death, and the obedience that He paid to the law of God, is reckoned to the guilty sinner for his absolution; so that when a sinner comes to stand at God’s bar, when the question is asked: “Hath not this man broken the law of God?” “Yes”, saith God; “yes,” saith the conscience of the poor sinner, “I have broken it in innumerable ways.” “And doth not the law condemn thee to die for thy transgression?” “Yes,” saith the man “yes,” saith the law of God, the law knows nothing more but this, “the soul that sinneth must die.” Well, then, but is there no hope in this case? Yes, and gospel grace reveals this hope. There is One that took sin on Him, and died for our sins, and His righteousness is reckoned for the poor sinner’s justification, and thus we are absolved. We are absolved in justification by God’s reckoning on our account, on our behalf, and for our advantage, what Christ hath done and suffered for us. In sanctification the Spirit of God infuses a holiness into the soul. I do not say, He infuses a righteousness; for I would fain [be glad to] have these words, righteousness and holiness, better distinguished than generally they are. Righteousness and holiness are, in this case, to be kept vastly asunder. Our righteousness is without us; our holiness is within us, it is our own; the apostle plainly makes that distinction. “Not having mine own righteousness” (Phil. 3:9). It is our own, not originally, but our own inherently; not our own so as to be of our own working, but our own because it is indwelling in us. But our righteous-
ness is neither our own originally nor inherently; it is neither wrought out by us, nor doth it dwell in us; but it is wrought out by Jesus Christ, and it eternally dwells in Him, and is only to be pleaded by faith, by a poor creature. But our holiness, though it be not our own originally, yet it is our own inherently, it dwells in us: this is the distinction that the apostle makes. “That I may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9).
3. Justification is perfect, but sanctification is imperfect, and here lies a great difference between them. Justification, I say, is perfect, and admits of no degrees; admits of no decays, admits of no intermission, nor or any interruption; but sanctification admits of all these. When I say justification is perfect, I mean, that every justified man is equally and perfectly justified. The poorest believer that is this day in the world, is justified as much as ever the apostle Paul was; and every true believer is as much justified now, as he will be a thousand years hence. Justification is perfect in all them that are partakers of it, and to all eternity; it admits of no degrees. And the plain reason of it is this: the ground of it is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, and the entitling us to it is by an act of God the gracious Judge, and that act stands forever; and if God justifies, who is he that shall condemn? (Rom. 8:33.) But sanctification is an imperfect, incomplete, changeable thing. One believer is more sanctified than another. I am apt to believe that the apostle Paul was more sanctified the first hour of his conversion than any man this day in the world. Sanctification differs greatly as to the persons that are partakers of it, and it differs greatly, too, as to the same man, for a true believer, a truly sanctified man, may be more holy and
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foolish. But this is exactly what God has done. It was grace. It was fitting. Notice what he says on the side: all things exist by God and for God. This is similar to what Paul wrote in Romans: “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). Do you view your life this way? Are you as God-centered as Scripture calls us to be? He “brings” us to glory. With the use of this verb the author is probably alluding to the Exodus. In Exodus 3:8, we read, “…and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Jesus accomplishes a new exodus by bringing many sons to glory. The “many” here determines the scope of the “everyone” in verse 9.2 Glory refers to God’s power and presence. To be brought to glory is to be brought to where God’s presence is manifest.3 He calls Jesus the founder of our salvation. The word for founder is difficult to translate. Pioneer is good since it can handle both leading and founding (so NIV), but it could also be trailblazer, source (NET), or captain (KJV). It is the one who is first; the one who stays at the head; the one who leads.4 Jesus is called a “forerunner” in Hebrews 6:20 as well. He is the champion. He was made perfect through suffering. This is not referring to moral improvement, but to being made complete or fully equipped for his office.5 He is our perfect substitute. Hebrews 2:11 reads, “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers.”
2 Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 105. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid., 106. 5 Ibid., 107.
We are his brothers, and he is the firstborn. We were predestined, Romans 8:29 says, “to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” He had every right to be ashamed of us and completely leave us alone to run our hell-bound race, but instead he is not ashamed to call us brothers. The third reason God became man was to defeat the devil through death (2:14-15). He shared in our humanity. He shared in flesh and blood. He became a man so that he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil. Satan is powerful. He is the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4). First John 5:19 says, “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Some avoid religion so that they can be free, but none are free. The whole world lies in the power of the evil one. Through the cross, Jesus destroyed Satan. We already saw that he is the pioneer of our salvation, a theme started in Genesis 3:15. God kept his promise. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:15). “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). All people are enslaved to the fear of death (thanatophobia). Woody Allen once said, “I am not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” He speaks for many who are scared to death of death, but it is important for Christians to remind others of the grand statistic: 10 out of 10 die. One has said, our birth is nothing but our death begun. Christian, for you death is dead. It has lost its sting. Oh Death, where is your victory (1 Cor. 15:55)? In John 11:2526, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me
shall never die. Do you believe this?” Christ paradoxically defeated death by means of his own death. Jesus, the God-man, is our only hope in death and life.
The fourth reason God became man was to become a merciful and faithful high priest (2:16-18). Hebrews 2:16 says, “For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.” Here he alludes to the new exodus theme again. Isaiah 41:8-10 says: “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off’; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”6 He had to be made like us (Heb. 5:1). To represent us as high priest, the Son of God had to identify himself with us. He is merciful, and he is faithful. Mercy is pity moved to action. He never tires of hearing from his children. He is faithful. You can trust him with all. He will not fail you. He came to make propitiation. Outside of Christ, we were under the wrath of God. He was angry with us. Many people today do not like the idea of a God who gets angry, but that is not Christianity. God is holy, righteous, and angry with sin and sinners. Propitiation conveys the sense of an atoning sacrifice that puts away sin and satisfies God’s wrath. Hebrews 2:18 says, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” He suffered when tempted and is able to help us when we are tempted. He experienced the full range of temptations. You will never find yourself in a place he has not
6 Ibid., 117.
been. Jesus can help. He knows. He understands. What a Savior we have! He came to put all things under his control. He tastes death for everyone. He destroys the devil and therefore destroys the power of death. Because of him, we will live forever. He is not ashamed to call us brothers and share his inheritance with us. He helps us when we are tempted. As high priest, he prays for us and makes propitiation for us. God’s wrath has been absorbed because he has tasted death for us. That is why God became man. m
Gilliland—Continued from page 10
Traill—Continued from page 13
mark of the beast.” John, in essence, is reassuring them with the thought, “Don’t be surprised when you find yourselves in a state of poverty and exclusion from the economic system of the day.” How then do we apply these principles in the twenty-first century? They can be applied in the same way they were in the first century. When we see wars, famine, and persecution, it reminds us that God still judges “in history.” It may only mean the end of a city or nation, but for those with “eyes to see” it is yet another warning of the final judgment that is yet to come. And that is part of the “big idea” of the Book of Revelation that we will further develop in Part 2 of this series. m
sanctified at one time than at another. There is a work required of us—to be perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1). But we are nowhere required to be perfecting righteousness in the sight of God, for God hath brought in a perfect righteousness, in which we stand, but we are to take care, and to give diligence to perfect holiness in the fear of God. A saint in glory is more sanctified than ever he was, for he is perfectly so; but he is not more justified than he was. Nay, a saint in heaven is not more justified than a believer on earth is; only, they know it better, and the glory of that light in which they see it, discovers it more brightly and more clearly to them. m
All through the New Testament, when God's work in human lives is spoken of, the ethical takes priority over the charismatic. J.I. Packer
La Soberanía de Dios en la Providencia [The Sovereignty of God in Providence] - John G. Reisinger Hay seis principios que son básicos al concepto de la soberanía de Dios en la providencia que corren a través de la palabra de Dios y esfuerzan su mensaje de la salvación. 1. Dios siempre está en control de todas las cosas y constantemente trabaja en lograr su plan. 2. Dios controla y usa todo el mundo, aun el diablo, llevando su plan a cabo. 3. Dios castiga los que El usa en completar sus propósitos cuando actúan con motivos incorrectos. 4. Todas cosas vienen de Dios, pero el diablo es el agente de toda maldad. Dios tiene un plan y propósito definitivo para el mundo. Es imprescindible comprender y creer estos seis principios para poder tener un entendimiento bíblico de Dios o de la teleología de su gracia soberana. Poder captar y aplicar estas verdades en su vida cotidiana es fundamento para establecer una esperanza bíblica que nos lleva a una alegría verdadera en el Señor. Es difícil tener una seguridad y esperanzada razonable y asegurado mientras que vivamos en nuestro mundo loco, sin conocimiento y aprecio de la soberanía de Dios en la providencia personificada en estas seis verdades bíblicas. ¿Entiende usted el mensaje de esperanza y gracia indicado en la palabra de Dios, o tiene algún problema entendiéndolo en un sistema coherente? ¿Puede usted relacionarse a las verdades de la Biblia en su vida cotidiana, o le parecen las doctrinas de la escritura sin relación a las situaciones de la vida real de su mundo personal hoy? Este folleto se escribió precisamente para darle ayuda clara y específica en estas dos áreas. Su diseña es para ayudarle a entender lo que realmente dice la Biblia y lo que significa, y además aplicar ese mensaje a las situaciones de la vida real que les hace frente en su mundo personal.
on the tables on the covenant (Ex. 34:27, 28), are the unchanging moral law of God. He rejects our contention that Jesus is the new Lawgiver who replaces Moses in exactly the same manner that Jesus replaces Aaron. After Barcellos sets forth what he thinks we believe, he gives us his version of what he believes Matthew 5:17-20 really means.
What Jesus is saying is that the Old Testament is still binding upon His people, but not in the same way it used to be. (p. 65, italics in the original)
Reisinger—Continued from page 6
than Poythress has done.
But that is precisely what we believe and teach! When we say the identical same thing but use some different words, Barcellos calls us “antinomians.” When Barcellos makes that statement it is good theology, but when we state the same truth using different words, we are heretics. Barcellos then quotes New Testament scholar Vern Poythress.
All the commandments of the law are binding on Christians …, but the way in which they are binding is determined by the authority of Christ and the fulfillment that takes place in His work.” (p. 65)
The entire Bible, all sixty-six books, interpreted through the lens of the new covenant, is the Christian’s rule of life today. Is that not what both Barcellos and Poythress are saying? I am fully aware that nearly everyone says they believe we must interpret the Old Testament in the light of the New, but in reality both Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism have their entire systems of theology in place before they get out of the book of Genesis. Some theologians say, “If you cannot find the seed and root of a doctrine in the first eleven chapters of Genesis it is not a biblical doctrine.” I could also respond to the earlier stated catch question by saying, “The Ten Commandments are far too low a standard for a child of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit and living under grace.” We are not in any sense whatever anti-law. One of our major premises is that the clear objective laws that Christ has given to Christians are higher laws than God gave to Moses. I keep asking the people who accuse me of being an antinomian how it is possible for us to be “against law,” which is the essence of antinomianism, when we vehemently insist that Christ gives us higher laws than
Moses gave Israel. How can belief in higher law be twisted to mean against law? I have yet to receive an answer to this valid question. To label what we have stated as antinomian is ludicrous. We insist that Christ is a new lawgiver who replaces Moses exactly as it was prophesized in Deuteronomy 18. That is labeled as “heresy” only because it contradicts the third maxim of Covenant Theology, “one unchanging moral code for all men in all ages.” Covenant Theology will not allow even our Lord himself to change, or add anything to, one single law of Moses. Moses is king of the campus in the conscience of a believer in the system of Covenant Theology. In that system, Christ, in no sense, can replace Moses as a new Lawgiver. Christ merely gives us the true meaning of the law of Moses.7 m
7 We must not confuse the “unity of the Scriptures” with the “unity of the covenants.” We accept without question the “unity of the Scriptures.” God has one unchanging sovereign purpose in grace (Ephesians 1:1-14) but the old and new covenants are two distinctly different covenants. The Scriptures know nothing about the old and new covenants being different “administrations” or “versions” of one and the same covenant.
Again, we could not state what we believe any better or any more clearly
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White—Continued from page 8
It is the glory and greatness of the Divine Sovereign, that his Will is determined by his own infinite, allsufficient wisdom in every thing; and is in nothing at all directed by either so inferior wisdom, or by no wisdom; whereby it would become senseless arbitrariness, determining and acting without reason, design, or end. It is no more to God’s dishonour, to be necessarily wise, than to be necessarily holy.
God is splendid and worthy of praise, despite not having libertarian freedom. Arminianism runs into a tremendous problem here. It seems that there is a mighty contradiction between Arminian anthropology and
As believers, we must start with God and Scripture. Our philosophy, theology, and doctrine must always be correctable in light of God’s Word. And when even deeply cherished convictions are demonstrated to be inconsistent with more basic, foundational truths, we must be willing to change. The foundation must remain while the superstructure is altered. Given the choice between denying that God is truly worthy of praise because he does not meet the Arminian criteria for responsibility, or denying the validity of the Arminian criteria, the right option should be clear! Soli deo Gloria. God must be
glorified, and our understanding of human freedom modified. Rather than start with us, we must start with him, and work out what it means to be free with the understanding that he is the most free being. God is worthy to be praised; anything that cuts against that fact must be rejected, even if it is our intuitions about freedom and responsibility. Start with God, not with human beings, and theology rather than philosophy. Part of Edwards’ brilliance is his profound centering on biblical truths, and thinking through concepts in the light of God’s revelation. Less brilliant though we are, we would do well to mimic his method as well as we are able. m
Greetings, I want to take this opportunity to do something that is long overdue. I want to express my personal gratitude to John Reisinger for the help, I may even say counsel, which he has extended to me as an individual and to speak for countless others who I am confident join me in saying, “We thank our God and Father for giving you to us and express much gratitude for He who has made you!” John, I have very strong recollections of meeting you at Seaside Heights Sovereign Grace Conference over forty years ago and I still say, “Thank God, our Father in and through Jesus Christ, whom the Apostle John so aptly describes in Chapter One of his Gospel in verses 1-5.” In my birthing years I almost adopted Arthur A. Pink as my apostle and then read his life story and strangely met John Reisinger. He was and is the real deal. I remember visiting my second Bunyan Conference with my son Frank. Having a broken right wrist and broken elbow; John took my son and me into his home so that I could rest in a chair which his wife Rosemary, slept in when she had a broken collar bone. I will never forget not just John, the theologian, but more personally, John the man. I believe I was the first black man to attend Bunyan. Through the years our Father allowed me to bring many West Indian men of dark hue to experience my own experience. John, by Divine Providence, was named John and John truly has the fine qualities of John the Baptist and John the Apostle. In 1968, the Lord led me to commence with the Caribbean Sovereign Grace Conference in St Lucia. Of course I asked John to come and speak to us to which he graciously consented. He brought along Dr. Sasser and together they were our featured speakers. The conferences brought preachers and guests from Trinidad, Dominica, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. John and Tortola. We should also mention the preachers and other guests from New Jersey, Long Island, Mississippi, Philadelphia, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Chicago, Oklahoma, Maryland and Colorado to name just some of the locations represented because John’s name was associated with the conferences. Monday to Saturday of that week, we presented four messages during the day and two at night. I still have, in my prized files, a copy of that first Conference. Grace Institute of Biblical Studies has used the writings of John and Dr. Sasser as class material in its Associate and Bachelor Programs. I used to pray with our mainland guests following each of the speakers from the various islands who had preached. I would say, “Good Baptist preaching!” and would receive many “AMENS!” I would then ask the next preacher to name the church that he represented. He might say Baptist, the Christian Fellowship, the Pentecostal or other denomination. Each preacher’s question to me was, “How do you do it?” My response was; “John said, “Preach and teach the scriptures!” I have read most of John’s writings and listened to many of his recordings. I once asked John which eschatology did he personally believe in; A-Mill, Pre-Mill or Post-Mill. This probably recurred over a period of 30 years. His amazing response was, “Which one would you like me to defend?” That answer gave me another insight into John’s ability. I am bordering on eighty-six years old but regard John as my spiritual mentor for over forty years. I, and many others, feel grateful for John’s ministry to us as a gracious gift of God. John has been used by God to light a flame—New Covenant Theology. I appeal to the young lions to include the Caribbean in this most powerful wave of God’s Revelation. John, I thank God for you and for your kind loving conduct and knowledge. Thank you from all of us. Dr. Kortright Worrell St. John, Virgin Islands
What is New Covenant Theology? An Introduction A Blake White
“Blake White has written a wonderfully accessible primer on new covenant theology… This is the ideal book to give to someone who wants a brief and convincing exposition of new covenant thought. I recommend this work gladly.” Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary “In a very readable, accurate, and succinct manner, Blake White covers the basics of New Covenant Theology… I highly recommend this work for those who want to know more about NCT, for those who want to think through how "to put the Bible together," and mostly for those who want to rejoice in Jesus Christ our Lord, our glorious mediator and head of the new covenant.” Stephen J. Wellum, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The Grace of Our Sovereign God John G. Reisinger
Most of the material in this book was originally printed in booklet form. The chapter titled The Sovereignty of God in Providence has been translated into four languages. There are three known people who were on the verge of suicide and were brought to bow in faith, hope, and love to our sovereign God through God using this message in their life. The chapter on limited atonement has helped many so-called “four and one-half point Calvinists” see limited atonement as the foundation and linchpin of the Doctrines of Grace. One of the constant comments about John Reisinger’s teaching in both the pulpit and writing is his ability to make difficult subjects easy to understand. Someone said, “He puts the cookies on the bottom shelf.” John says, “We are called to feed sheep, not giraffes.” This book is not written primarily for seminary students; it is written for the man in the pew. It is aimed at introducing God’s people to what has been called the Doctrines of Grace that cluster around the sovereignty of God. We know of no better book to introduce fellow believers in basic Reformed Theology’s view of sovereign grace than this book.
Hermeneutical Flaws of Dispensationalism Gary George
This book addresses the biblical hermeneutic that gives the New Testament its proper hearing and allows the student of Scripture to be consistent with biblical revelation. Whatever the post-advent period looks like, it will be frosting on the cake, rather than returning the cake to the oven and rebaking it. New Covenant Theology, above all other theological systems available to modern scholarship, comes closest to giving Christ his glorious preeminence and his Holy Spirit-inspired New Testament authors their decisive place in biblical interpretation. This is a nicely bound reprint of Gary's Prophetic Fulfillment, Spiritual, Natural or Double?
Union with Christ: Last Adam and Seed of Abraham A. Blake White
To be "in Christ" means everything! To be a Christian is to be in Christ. This is why Paul could say in 2 Corinthians 12:2 that he knew a man “in Christ.” He could have said, “I know a Christian.” In Romans 16:7, Paul says that Andronicus and Junia were “in Christ” before he was. In other words, they were Christians before he was. Christians are those who are “in the Messiah.”
Abide in Him: A Theological Interpretation of John's First Letter A. Blake White
John G. Reisinger says, “If I were to pick one section of this commentary that gives the heartbeat of both the commentary and of New Covenant Theology, it would be the following: "As should be clear by now, love for John is not an emotion but is always practical and active. Love of fellow Christians expresses itself with actions and in truth. Love and obedience go hand in hand. Jesus made this clear in the Upper Room Discourse. John 14:15 says, 'If you love me, you will keep my commandments.' In John 14:21, Jesus said that the one who has and keeps his commandments is the one who loves him. John is a faithful interpreter of the mind of Jesus.”
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Mark your calendar 2013 John Bunyan Conference
April 22-24, Reformed Baptist Church, Lewisburg, PA Les Clemens, Pastor
Scheduled speakers: Gary George - Pastor of Sovereign Grace Chapel in Southbridge, MA; author of Hermeneutical Flaws of Dispensationalism James M. Hamilton Jr – (Ph.D. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Biblical Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. John Reisinger - evangelist, theologian, and conference speaker. John has authored twenty-three books. David Robinson - (M.Div Mid America Reformed Seminary) Pastor of Grace Bible Church, Cambridge, Ontario. Kirk Wellum - Principal, Professor of Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology Toronto Baptist Seminary Blake White - (M.Div, SBTS) is currently a doctoral candidate in Biblical and Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written six books including What is New Covenant Theology, An Introduction.
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