Thursday, August 28, 2014

What do Calvin, Owen, and Hodge Have in Common Regarding Hair-Trigger Schism?



They are all against it!


JOHN CALVIN:
"Our indulgence ought to extend much farther in tolerating imperfection of conduct. Here there is great danger of falling, and Satan employs all his machinations to ensnare us. For there always have been persons who, imbued with a false persuasion of absolute holiness, as if they had already become a kind of aerial spirits—as if they had bean some angels of Paradise, spurn the society of all in whom they see that something human still remains. Such of old were the Cathari and the Donatists, who were similarly infatuated. Such in the present day are some of the Anabaptists, who would be thought to have made superior progress. Others, again, sin in this respect, not so much from that insane pride as from inconsiderate zeal. Seeing that among those to whom the gospel is preached, the fruit produced is not in accordance with the doctrine, they forthwith conclude that there no church exists. The offence is indeed well founded, and it is one to which in this most unhappy age we give far too much occasion. It is impossible to excuse our accursed sluggishness, which the Lord will not leave unpunished, as he is already beginning sharply to chastise us. Woe then to us who, by our dissolute licence of wickedness, cause weak consciences to be wounded! Still those of whom we have spoken sin in their turn, by not knowing how to set bounds to their offence. For where the Lord requires mercy they omit it, and give themselves up to immoderate severity. Thinking there is no church where there is not complete purity and integrity of conduct, they, through hatred of wickedness, withdraw from a genuine church, while they think they are shunning the company of the ungodly. They allege that the Church of God is holy. But that they may at the same time understand that it contains a mixture of good and bad, let them hear from the lips of our Saviour that parable in which he compares the Church to a net in which all kinds of fishes are taken, but not separated until they are brought ashore. Let them hear it compared to a field which, planted with good seed, is by the fraud of an enemy mingled with tares, and is not freed of them until the harvest is brought into the barn. Let them hear, in fine, that it is a thrashing-floor in which the collected wheat lies concealed under the chaff, until, cleansed by the fanners and the sieve, it is at length laid up in the granary. If the Lord declares that the Church will labour under the defect of being burdened with a multitude of wicked until the day of judgment, it is in vain to look for a church altogether free from blemish (Mt. 13)." (Institutes 4.1.13)


JOHN OWEN:
"And, to speak plainly, among all the churches in the world which are free from idolatry and persecution, it is not different opinions, or a difference in judgment about revealed truths, nor a different practice in sacred administrations, but pride, self-interest, love of honour, reputation, and dominion, with the influence of civil or political intrigues and considerations, that are the true cause of that defect of evangelical unity that is at this day amongst them; for set them aside, and the real differences which would remain may be so managed, in love, gentleness, and meekness, as not to interfere with that unity which Christ requireth them to preserve." (A Discourse Concerning Evangelical Love, Church Peace, and Unity)

CHARLES HODGE:
Charles Hodge on Conscience


Friday, June 6, 2014

Gaffin and Marshall Give MJ the High Five



I realize the dust has settled on the recent so-called "sanctification debate," and it is not my intention to cause further ripples in already placid waters. What I'd like to do is just post a couple of quotes that I hope would tend to the appreciation that Dr. Mark Jones' position on sanctification, as it relates to final salvation, is actually of rich, Reformed pedigree (if this has not been proven already!).

Friday, May 23, 2014

The "The Puritans Are Not the Bible" Card



"If someone could point me to one passage in the Bible that says...AND DON'T POINT TO SOME OBSCURE PURITAN WHO GOT IT WRONG, OK?!...that actually says explicitly that the Law itself generates love for God and neighbor, I will listen." (Tullian Tchividjian, Chris Rosebrough Interview)

I think this was in reaction to this:

"But what of Tchividjian's claim that these false teachers assume 'that the law (in all of its uses) [has] the power to produce what it demands'? Would anyone argue such nonsense? Well, I do know of some ministers - in fact, even some who were responsible for crafting the Westminster Confession of Faith - who have argued that after Adam's fall, 'God therefore set forth a copy of his law in his word, which is the means of sanctifying us; and sanctification itself is but a writing of that law in the heart' (Thomas Goodwin). Likewise, Anthony Burgess argued that God's commands not only inform us of our duty, but are also 'practical and operative means appointed by God, to work, at least in some degree, that which is commanded.' Samuel Rutherford said essentially the same thing in his disputes against the antinomians because they denied that the law was a true instrument of sanctification.

We all know that apart from the Holy Spirit we can do nothing. And we all know that God's commandments do not have the power, in the abstract, to 'produce what they demand.' (In fact, even announcements of God's saving power in Christ have no effect apart from the Spirit's application.) But, it should be noted, the faithful preaching of God's commands in the context of a faithful gospel ministry can produce real change in a sinner's life because God has ordained his commandments to work, 'at least in some degree, that which is commanded.' In other words, failing to preach God's commandments robs Christ's sheep of a true means of sanctification, and thus they may be - ahem! - less holy as a result. We preach God's commandments to God's people because God has promised to bless such preaching with the Holy Spirit." (Mark Jones, Tullian's Trench)

I had a hunch that TT would be pulling out the "The Puritans are not the Bible" card in the event the proposed debate with Mark Jones materializes. The quote above was a foretaste. At any rate, MJ's explanation of how the Law—as blessed by the work of the Holy Spirit and not taken abstractly—is indeed a means of sanctification pretty much lays that point by TT to rest.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Confused About the Tullian Tchividjian Thingy?



If so, the following couple of resources should serve to enlighten you on what the so-called "Contemporary Grace Movement" is and why many of the Reformed servants of the Lord have taken up arms, as it were, against TT's take on sanctification and why he got ejected, ironically, from the "Gospel Coalition."


A brief, critical explanation by Ligon Duncan:



A more thorough and passionate explication by Rev. James Barnes:


Alternative link: Critique of the Contemporary Grace Movement


Monday, May 19, 2014

Goodwin and Owen on Christ's Pity and Patience



"There is comfort concerning such infirmities, in that your very sins move him to pity more than to anger. This text is plain for it, for he suffers with us under our infirmities, and by infirmities are meant sins, as well as other miseries, as was proved; whilst therefore you look on them as infirmities, as God here looks upon them, and speaks of them in his own, and as your disease, and complain to Christ of them, and do cry out, ‘miserable man that I am, who shall deliver me?’ so long fear not. Christ he takes part with you, and is so far from being provoked against you, as all his anger is turned upon your sin to ruin it; yea, his pity is increased the more towards you, even as the heart of a father is to a child that has some loathsome disease, or as one is to a member of his body that has the leprosy, he hates not the member, for it is his flesh, but the disease, and that provokes him to pity the part affected the more. What shall not make for us, when our sins, that are both against Christ and us, shall be turned as motives to him to pity us the more? The object of pity is one in misery whom we love; and the greater the misery is, the more is the pity when the party is beloved. Now of all miseries, sin is the greatest; and whilst yourselves look at it as such, Christ will look upon it as such only also in you. And he, loving your persons, and hating only the sin, his hatred shall all fall, and that only upon the sin, to free you of it by its ruin and destruction, but his bowels shall be the more drawn out to you; and this as much when you lie under sin as under any other affliction. Therefore fear not, ‘What shall separate us from Christ’s love?’" (Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ Towards Sinners on Earth)

"A soul acquainted with the gospel knows that there is no property of Christ rendered more glorious therein than that of his patience." (John Owen, Overcoming Sin & Temptation, eds. Kelly Kapic & Justin Taylor [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2006], 204)

What a glorious and comforting picture of one of the reasons why the Eternal Son of God had to assume human nature upon Himself, i.e., "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 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" (Hebrews 2:14-18).


Monday, May 12, 2014

Van Til and His Rollie



"When I think what an aid tobacco is to friendship and Christian patience, I have sometimes regretted that I never began to smoke." (J. Gresham Machen)

Seems Cornelius Van Til didn't suffer through such a regret.


(click to enlarge)


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Manliness of Puritanism


*The following is excerpted from J. I. Packer's A Quest for Godliness, as found here:


Anyone who knows anything at all about Puritan Christianity knows that at its best it had a vigour, a manliness, and a depth which modern evangelical piety largely lacks. This is because Puritanism was essentially an experimental faith, a religion of ‘heart-work’, a sustained practice of seeking the face of God, in a way that our own Christianity too often is not. The Puritans were manlier Christians just because they were godlier Christians. It is worth noting three particular points of contrast between them and ourselves.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Holy Spirit As Eschatological Reward



Adam's failure to keep the stipulations of the CoW meant that the Holy Spirit withdrew from him and from the whole created order. If the Spirit is the Person of the Trinity that perfects all of God's external acts, this withdrawal seems to explain the Curse. In the CoG, the Holy Spirit restores this perfection in both man and the world, to be fully realized in glory.

It also appears that eschatological reward is the fullest reception of the Spirit that is possible. Adam forfeited this potential; but Christ, as the Last Adam, has received the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), and therefore, those united to Him shall enjoy perfection in the outward man even as they are now being perfected in the inward man.

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


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dignity Beyond Dust



Secular materialism, in its hubris, celebrates the ignominy of being merely dust. Christianity, on the other hand, in its humility, depends on the Spirit of God to breathe the image of God into dust so that man may gain a dignity beyond it.

"So is God, the great demiourgos, the universal framer of all, represented as an artificer, who first prepares his matter, and then forms it as it seemeth good unto him. And this is mentioned for two ends:-- First, To set forth the excellency, power, and wisdom of God, who out of such vile, contemptible matter as a heap of dust, swept as it were together on the ground, could and did make so excellent, curious, and glorious a fabric as is the body of man, or as was the body of Adam before the fall. Secondly, To mind man of his original, that he might be kept humble and in a meet dependence on the wisdom and bounty of his Creator; for thence it was, and not from the original matter whereof he was made, that he became so excellent." (John Owen, Pneumatologia)


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dr. Marty Foord on Biblical Masculinity



Probably the best treatment of the topic that I've come across.

Click here for Dr. Marty Foord's profile.


Lecture I (Be the Man - Ephesians 5:21-6:9):



Lecture II (Be the Man in the World - Titus 2:1-15):



Lecture III (Be the Man in the Church - 1 Tim 2:1-8):



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