We Obey Because Christ Obeyed For Us

Herman_Witsius_Economy_of_the_CovenantsXIII. It would likewise be false to infer from this, that “if Christ performed obedience for us, we ourselves are under no necessity of obeying, because no demand can be made on the principal debtor, for what the surety has performed in his room.” Our obedience may be considered, either as it is the duty of the rational creature, with respect to his sovereign Lord; or as it is a condition of acquiring a right to eternal life: in the latter respect Christ accomplished it for us; and therefore, under that relation, it neither is nor can be required of us, as if for want of perfect obedience we could be excluded from eternal life. But in the former respect, we by all means owe obedience, and the obligation to it is rather increased than diminished by this instance of Christ’s love. For what more proper, than by this to show our gratitude, and declare, not so much by words as actions, that we acknowledge him for our Lord, who has purchased us for himself? And in fine, that as adopted sons we decline no obedience to our heavenly Father, whom his natural Son, and of the same substance with himself, so cheerfully obeyed.

Witsius, Herman (2014-08-21). Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, 2 Vols. (Kindle Locations 3432-3439). . Kindle Edition.

Posted in Active Obedience

Gospel as Pure Promise

The following excerpts from The Economy of the Divine Covenants by Herman Witsius speak of the gospel as having a category of “pure promise”.  As Witsius writes, “…the gospel strictly taken, consists of pure promises of grace and glory.”

Vol. 1, Book III, Chapter I, p. 284

VIII. Divines explain themselves differently as to the CONDITIONS of the covenant of grace. We, for our part, agree with those who think, that the covenant of grace, to speak accurately, with respect to us, has no conditions properly so called: which sentiment we shall explain and establish in the following manner:

Vol. 1, Book III, Chapter I, p. 284

IX. A condition of a covenant, properly so called, is that action, which, being performed, gives a man a right to the reward. But that such a condition cannot be required of us in the covenant of grace, is self-evident; because a right to life neither is, nor indeed can be founded on any action of ours, but on the righteousness of our Lord alone; who having perfectly fulfilled the righteousness of the law for us, nothing can, in justice, be required of us to perform, in order to acquire a right already fully purchased for us. And indeed, in this all the orthodox readily agree.

Vol. 1, Book III, Chapter I, p. 286

XII. Besides, when God proposes the form of the covenant of grace, his words, to this purpose, are mere promises, as we have lately seen, Jer. xxxi. and xxxii. Our divines therefore, who, in consequence of the quirks of the Socinians and Remonstrants, have learned to speak with the greatest caution, justly maintain, that the gospel strictly taken, consists of pure promises of grace and glory.

Vol. 1, Book III, Chapter I, p. 286

XIII. And indeed if we were to take the promises of the covenant of grace altogether without exception, we could not, so much as in thought, devise anything in us, as the condition of these promises. For whatever can be conceived as a condition, is all included in the universality of the promises. Should God only promise eternal life, there might be some pretence for saying, that repentance, faith, and the like, were the conditions of this covenant. But seeing God does in the same breath, as it were, ratify both the beginning, progress, uninterrupted continuance, and in a word, the consummation of the new life; nothing remains in this universality of the promises which can be looked upon as a condition of the whole covenant. For we here treat of the condition of the covenant, and not concerning anything in man, which must go before the actual enjoyment of consummate happiness.

Vol. 1, Book III, Chapter I, p. 286-7

XIV. It is, however certain, that God has in a very wise and holy manner, so ordered it, that none should come to salvation but in a way of faith and holiness, and so ranged his promises, that none should attain to the more principal, or more perfect happiness, but they who should first be made partakers of the preceding promises. Whence we gather, that none can take comfort in the infallible hope of happiness, who has not sincerely applied himself to the practice of faith and godliness. And the scripture now and then assures us, that it is impossible for any to please God without faith, or see him without holiness. From this, many were induced to call faith, and a new life, the conditions of the covenant: whereas, to speak accurately, and according to the nature of this covenant, they are on the part of God, the execution of previous promises, and the earnest of future happiness, and on the part of man, the performance of those duties, which cannot but precede the consummate perfection of a soul delighting in God. Or if we will insist upon it, to call these things conditions: they are not so much conditions of the covenant, as of the assurance that we shall continue in God’s covenant, and that he shall be our God. And I make no doubt, but this was exactly the meaning of those very learned divines, though all of them have not so happily expressed themselves.

Vol. 1, Book III, Chapter I, p. 288-9

XVIII. But, which is the principal thing, we imagine, the best way to conceive of this constitution of the covenant, is as follows: since the covenant of grace, or the Gospel, strictly so called, which is the model of that covenant, consists in mere promises, prescribes nothing properly as duty, requires nothing, commands nothing: not even this, believe, trust, hope in the Lord, and the like. But declares, sets forth, and signifies to us, what God promises in Christ, what he would have done, and what he is about to do. All prescription of duty belongs to the law, as, after others, the venerable Voetius has very well inculcated, Disput. Tom. 4. p 24. seq. And we are, by all means, to maintain this, if, with the whole body of the Reformed, we would constantly defend the perfection of the law, which comprehends all virtues, and all the duties of holiness. But the law, adapted to the covenant of grace, and according to it, inscribed on the heart of the elect, enjoins to receive all those things which are proposed in the Gospel, with an unfeigned faith, and frame our lives suitably to that grace and glory which are promised. When God, therefore, in the covenant of grace, promises faith, repentance, and consequently eternal life, to an elect sinner, then the law, whose obligation can never be dissolved, and which extends to every duty, binds the man to assent to that truth, highly prize, ardently desire, seek, and lay hold on those promised blessings. Moreover, since the admirable providence of God has ranged the promises in such order, as that faith and repentance go before, and salvation follows after, man is bound, by the same law, to approve of, and be in love with this divine appointment, and assure himself of salvation only according to it. But when a man accepts the promises of the covenant, in the order they are proposed, he does, by that acceptance, bind himself to the duties contained in the foregoing promises, before he can assure himself of the fulfillment of the latter. And in this manner the covenant becomes mutual. God proposes his promises in the Gospel in a certain order. The man, in consequence of the law, as subservient to the covenant of grace, is bound to receive the promises in that order. While faith does this, the believer at the same time, binds himself to the exercise of a new life, before ever he can presume to entertain a hope of life eternal. And in this manner it becomes a mutual agreement.

Vol. 1, Book III, Chapter I, p. 288-9

XIX. But let none here object, that life is promised in the new covenant to him that believes and repents, no less than it was in the old covenant to him that worketh; in order thence, to conclude, that faith and repentance are now, in the same manner, conditions of the covenant of grace, that perfect obedience was the condition of the covenant of works. For when life is promised to him that doeth anything, we are not directly to understand a condition, properly so called, as the cause of claiming the reward. God is pleased only to point out the way we are to take, not to the right, but to the possession of life. He proposes faith, as the instrument, by which we lay hold on the Lord Jesus, and on his grace and glory: good works, as the evidences of our faith, and of our union with Christ, and as the way to the possession of life.

Vol. 1, Book III, Chapter I, p. 291

XXIII. In the discourses of the prophets, Christ and his apostles, there is a certain mixture of various doctrines, which, indeed, are closely connected, and mutually subservient; each of which ought to be reduced to their proper heads; so that the promises of grace be referred to the Gospel; all in junctions of duty, and all threatenings against transgressors, to the law.

Selections were taken from: The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, Vol I, Book III

Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, (Escondido, California: den Dulk Foundation, 1990) Vol. 1

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Walther’s Warnings About Shepherds in Christ’s Church

CFW WaltherA pitiful object is the young minister who enters upon his office with the thought that his days of hard labor and toil are over, that he has now entered a haven of rest and peace, which he decides to enjoy since now he is his own boss and need not take orders from any person in the world. Equally as pitiable as the attitude to the sacred office which I have just sketched is that of the minister who looks upon his office as his craft, or trade, and resolves to prepare for himself a nice, comfortable parish by being careful not to make enemies and doing everything to make all his people his friends. These unhappy individuals plan to employ spiritual assets for temporal profit. They are not true ministers of Christ, and on the Last Day He will say to them: “I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt. 7:23.

But blessed is the minister who starts his official work on the very first day with the determination to do everything that the grace of God will enable him to do in order that not a soul in his congregation shall be lost by his fault. Such a one resolves that by the grace of God he will do all he can, so that, when the day comes for him to put down his shepherd’s staff, he may be able to say, as Christ said to His Father: Here I am and those that Thou gavest me, and none of them is lost. Even the blood of those who shall stand on the left side of the judgment-seat, he resolves, shall not be on his hands.

But now the question arises: What is the matter of chief concern to a minister who wants to attain this glorious object? He must approach the Lord with heartfelt prayer and earnest entreaties in behalf of his congregation and, when preaching the Word of God with great zeal publicly and privately, jointly or severally, rightly divide the Word of Truth. For that is what  Paul demands 2 Tim. 2:15, saying: “Study to show thyself approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

During your present year at the Seminary this very thing, you know, is the subject of our study — the proper division of the Word of God, of Law and Gospel. These two are the cardinal doctrines of all the Holy Scriptures, which are made up of these two. Any passage of Scripture, yea, any historical fact recorded in Scripture can be classified as belonging either to the Law or to the Gsopel. No one should be permitted to graduate from a school of theology who is unable to determine whether in any compound clause of Scripture the protasis is Law and the apodosis Gospel,or vice versa. It is your duty to become perfectly clear on this subject.

Twentieth Evening Lecture, pp. 209-210

Without question, the words which, in Rev. 3:15-16, Christ addressed to the bishop of the church at Laodicea are of a memorable and awful import. He said: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. So, then, because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.’ We see from these words that in the infallible judgment of God it is worse to be a lukewarm than a cold minister; it is worse to be a lazy and indifferent minister, who serves in his office because it is the profession in which he is making his living, than to be manifestly ungodly. For when a minister, though not teaching or living in a plainly unchristian manner, is so sleepy, so void of all earnestness and zeal for the kingdom of God and the salvation of souls, the inevitable effect is that the poor souls of his parishioners become infected by him, and finally the entire congregation is lulled into spiritual sleep. On the other hand, when a minister leads a manifestly ungodly life and teaches ungodly doctrine, the good souls in his congregation do not follow, but turn away from him  with loathing. Now, although greater damage is inflicted on the Church by the lukewarmness of a minister than by his manifest ungodliness, still both kinds of ministers will at the end of the world receive the same sentence. Both the lukewarm and the cold minister will be addressed in those awful words: “I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt. 7:23.

A faithful servant of Jesus Christ, however, will one day hear himself addressed in these words of inexpressibly glad import: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Matt. 25:21. A faithful minister must not only avoid being lukewarm or cold, he must be warm. His heart must glow with love of his Savior, Jesus, and of the congregation which his Savior has entrusted to his care, so that he may be able to say with Paul and all the apostles: “Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God.” 2 Cor. 5:13. This is a strange dictum. Paul says that a minister must manifest greater earnestness and zeal than the majority of the members of  his congregation may like or approve. The apostle does not mean to say that in his ministry at Corinth he displayed zeal without knowledge, Rom. 10:2, but that he was more zealous than the Corinthians desired. Every sincere preacher and minister of Jesus Christ shows himself full of zeal and earnest determination, though he may not reap any better reward from his congregation   than unpopularity, hatred, and enmity. A sincere minister will go through such experiences   rather than gain any one for himself by hushing the truth, veiling it, or grinding down its sharp points.

It is an undeniable fact, then, my friends, that a minister, in particular, a really zealous minister, has to take his ministry seriously, or he commits a grievous sin. However, he can commit a grievous sin also when his presentation of Christianity and the demands which he makes upon Christians are in excess of what the Word of God declares.

Twenty-ninth Evening Lecture, pp. 307-308

Jesus says regarding Himself: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” John 14:6 Peter confirms this statement by his declaration before  the Jewish Sanhedrin, saying: “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other  name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 Paul adds his testimony by telling his Corinthians: “ I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I Cor 2:2. Verily, then, it is a great and awful sin not to draw any soul that has been entrusted to us for instruction to Jesus and not to tell that soul again and again  what a treasure it has in the Lord Jesus, its Savior. To keep some one from believing in Christ is such an awful sin that words cannot express it. A preacher who restrains a soul from confidently laying hold of Christ — no matter whether he does it consciously or unconsciously, purposely or from blindness, through malice or as the result of a perverted zeal for the salvation of souls — deprives that soul, as far as he is concerned, of everlasting life. Instead of being a shepherd to that soul, he becomes a ravening wolf to it; instead of being its physician, he becomes its murderer; yea, instead of being an angel of God, he becomes a devil to that person. Alas, ever so many preachers have not realized until their dying day how many souls they have kept away from  Christ by their unevangelical preaching and by their own fault have cause the souls entrusted to them to die of spiritual starvation. The result was that these unhappy preachers shortly before their death have had a severe soul-battle to fight with self-accusations and despair, and not a few of them have departed this life without consolation, in anguish, misery, and despair.

The worst offenders in this respect are the so-called rationalistic preachers, who with diabolical audacity mount Christian pulpits and instead of preaching Christ, the Savior, to all sinners, recite their miserable moral precepts for a virtuous life and fill the ears of the people with their empty bombast. To these rationalistic mercenaries, “whose God is their belly,” Phil 3:19 the terrible woe is addressed, even in our day, which the Lord denounced, saying: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Matt 23:13. What terror shall seize these preachers who used to call themselves friends and adorers of Jesus Christ when they must appear before His judgement-seat and hear Him address them in words of flaming anger: “I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt 7:23.

Thirty-Fifth Evening Lecture, pp. 361-362

All excerpts are from The Proper Distinction Between Lawn and Gospel by Dr. C.F.W. Walther

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Piper vs Owen on Romans 2:6-7, 13

Excellent article on some of John Piper’s errors.


A short demonstration on the importance of covenant theology:
John Piper denies a works principle anywhere in Scripture, including the Covenant of Works.

Has God ever commanded anyone to obey with a view to earning or meriting life? Would God command a person to do a thing that he uniformly condemns as arrogant?

In Romans 11:35-36, Paul describes why earning from God is arrogant and impossible. He says, ‘Who has first given to [God] that it might be paid back to him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” The thought that anyone could give anything to God with a view to being paid back with merit or wages is presumptuous and impossible, because all things (including obedience) are from God in the first place. You can’t earn from God by giving him what is already his…

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Piper’s Foreword


I’ve written in the past about some of Piper’s erroneous statements regarding justification. Justin Taylor recently posted a Foreword Piper wrote to Thomas Schreiner’s new book on Sola FidePiper says:

As Tom Schreiner says, the book “tackles one of the fundamental questions of our human condition: how can a person be right with God?”

The stunning Christian answer is: sola fide—faith alone. But be sure you hear this carefully and precisely: He says right with God by faith alone, not attain heaven by faith alone. There are other conditions for attaining heaven, but no others for entering a right relationship to God…

Such faith always “works by love” and produces the “obedience of faith.” And that obedience— imperfect as it is till the day we die—is not the “basis of justification, but . . . a necessary evidence and fruit of justification.” In this sense, love and…

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C.F.W. Walther on the Sanctification Controversy Brewing

CFW WaltherIn another place in the same chapter, §52, Gerhard writes: “There are several reasons why this distinction between the Law and the Gospel must be accurately defined and strictly adhered to. In the first place, many instances from the history of the Church of days gone by might be adduced to show that the pure teaching of the article of justification is not preserved, and absolutely cannot be preserved, if the distinction of these two doctrines is neglected.” Woe to him who injects poison into the doctrine of justification! He poisons the well which God has dug for man’s salvation. Whoever takes this doctrine away from man robs him of everything; for he takes the very heart out of Christianity, which ceases to pulsate after this attack. The ladder for mounting up to heaven is taken away, and there is no longer any hope of saving men. “In the second place,” Gerhard continues, “when the doctrine of the Gospel is not separated from the Law by definite boundary-lines, the blessings of Christ are considerably obscured.” By ascribing to man some share in his own salvation, we rob Christ of all His glory. God has created us without our cooperation, and He wants to save us the same way. We are to thank Him for having created us with a hope of life everlasting. Even so He alone wants to save us. Woe to him who says that he must contribute something towards his own salvation! He deprives Christ of His entire merit. For Jesus is called the Savior, not a helper towards salvation, such as preachers are. Jesus has achieved our entire salvation. That is why we were so determined in our Predestinarian Controversy. For the basic element in the controversy has been that we insisted on keeping Law and Gospel separate, while our opponents mingle the one with the other. When they hear from us this statement: “Out of pure mercy, God has elected us to the praise of the glory of His grace; God vindicates for Himself exclusively the glory of saving us,” etc., they say: “That is a horrible doctrine! If that were true, God would be partial. No, He must have beheld something in men that prompted Him to elect this or that particular man. When He beheld something good in a person, He elected him.” If that were so, man would really be the principal cause of his salvation. In that case man could say, “Thank God, I have done my share towards being saved.” However, when we shall have arrived in our heavenly fatherland, this is what we shall say: “If I had my own way, I should never have found salvation; and even supposing I had found it by myself, I should have lost it again. Thou, O God, didst come and draw me to Thy Word, partly by tribulation, partly by anguish of heart, partly by sickness, etc. All these things Thou hast used as means to bring me into heaven, while I was always striving for perdition.” Yonder we shall see — and marvel — that there has not been an hour when God did not work in us to save us, and that there has not been an hour when we — wanted to be saved. Indeed, we are forced to say to God: “Thou alone hast redeemed me; Thou alone dost save me.” Verily, as sure as there is a living God in heaven, I cannot do anything towards my salvation. That is the point under discussion in this controversy.

In conclusion, Gerhard says: “In the third place, commingling Law and Gospel necessarily produces confusion of consciences because there is no true, reliable, and abiding comfort for consciences that have been alarmed and terrified if the gracious promises of the Gospel are falsified.” Commingling Law and Gospel brings about unrest of conscience. No matter how comforting the preaching is that people hear, it is of no help to them if there is a sting in it. The honey of the Gospel may at first taste good, but if a sting of the Law goes with it, everything is spoiled. My conscience cannot come to rest if I cannot say: “Nevertheless, according to His grace, God will receive me.” If the preacher says to me: “Come, for all things are now ready — provided you do this or that,” I am lost. For in that case I must ask myself, “Have I done as God desires?” and I shall find no help.

Fifth Evening Lecture, October 17, 1884

The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel

Dr. C.F.W. Walther

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John Piper, Justification, Sanctification, and the Mystery of Those in Reformed Circles That Defend Him

john_piperI have been following John Piper closely in recent months.   Are Piper’s teachings damaging to Christ’s sheep?  Read below and decide for yourselves.

In recent years, Piper had defended Doug Wilson and even then Piper was gently rebuked.

By 1994, Meredith Kline warned of issues that Piper exhibited in the flattening of covenants due to his influence under Daniel Fuller.

Here Piper claims you can believe the promises of God and still be lost.

OPC elder and author D.G. Hart responded here and wisely employed Calvin.

I do not believe Piper understands the nature of God’s promise which actually accomplish what God promises in Jesus Christ.  If a person actually looks (in true faith) to Messiah, they have believed the promises of God and will be saved in the end.  The text that Piper fails to exegete is interpreted by Piper as though they believed the promises of God.  They did not trust Christ, period.  None of us can present our works to Jesus as our confidence and be saved.  Piper reads everything through his Christian Hedonism.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. (2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV).

Then, Piper’s forward to a book on Justification sola fide by Thomas Schreiner was published.


“The stunning Christian answer is: sola fide—faith alone. But be sure you hear this carefully and precisely: He says right with God by faith alone, not attain heaven by faith alone. There are other conditions for attaining heaven, but no others for entering a right relationship to God. In fact, one must already be in a right relationship with God by faith alone in order to meet the other conditions.

“We are justified by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone.” Faith that is alone is not faith in union with Christ. Union with Christ makes his perfection and power ours through faith. And in union with Christ, faith is living and active with Christ’s power.

Such faith always “works by love” and produces the “obedience of faith.” And that obedience— imperfect as it is till the day we die—is not the “basis of justification, but… a necessary evidence and fruit of justification.” In this sense, love and obedience—inherent righteousness—is “required of believers, but not for justification”—that is, required for heaven, not for entering a right-standing with God.”

Jack Miller provided a very helpful response.

Then, Richard D. Phillips in the PCA, found it necessary to defend Piper on the article that is the forward to Schreiner’s book on justification.  It makes one wonder if Phillips read the Piper article You Can Believe the Promises of God and Still Be Lost.  After all, why would a Presbyterian minister come to John Piper’s defense?  Phillips either did not perform his due diligence by reading that article, among other things or does not understand Calvinism and the nature of God’s promises in the Gospel of Christ.

Then, URCNA minister Christopher J. Gordon provided a very helpful/pastoral response to Phillips.

Phillips wrote another article, letting us dummies know that James is indeed in the Bible.

And R. Scott Clark, URCNA minister and professor at Westminster Seminary California wrote this and other things in response to Piper (graciously without using Piper’s name because it’s not a personality thing).

Subsequently, Dr. Clark responded to Phillips piece on James.

Lee Irons then entered the fray on the lack of precision in Piper’s formulations.

Mark Jones, “Obedience Boy” responds  with a defense of Piper.  Mark has recently joined forces with Doug Wilson at New Saint Andrews.

Lee Irons responds to Mark Jones.

Darryl Hart also responds to Mark Jones.

Finally, R. Scott Clark interviews Christopher J. Gordon on the Heidelcast regarding this controversy over sanctification.

Below are other helpful articles on the theology of John Piper from Crying Out for Justice –

John Piper’s Works Righteousness “Gospel” (Part 1) — Piper’s teaching tactics and view of God

John Piper’s Works Righteousness “Gospel” (Part 2) — He Misuses the Law of God

John Piper’s Works Righteousness “Gospel” (Part 3) — Doctrines of the Reformation compared to Piper

John Piper’s Works Righteousness “Gospel” (Part 4) — Work Hard Enough and You Might Just Maybe, Perhaps Squeeze Through that Narrow Way

John Piper’s Works Righteousness “Gospel” (Part 5) — Working Your Way Through the Gate

In this video at 11:00 plus, Fisk eventually deals with the “Lord, Lord…” passage that Piper butchers.

Posted in Assurance, John Piper, Justification, Mark Jones, Richard Phillips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Luther’s Theology of the Cross: By Simon Jooste


Here’s Part 1 of another great piece of writing by C or C’s friend Simon.


According to Martin Luther, the church of his day had fostered an illicit relationship between theology and philosophy. He was concerned about late medieval scholasticism’s magisterial use of human ratio that sought to penetrate the being of God. This penchant for an unmediated view of God, via the elevator of speculative reason, Luther called a theology of glory.[1] In hostile opposition to this trend Luther formulated his theology of the cross.[2] In this paradigmatic shift, Luther sought to redefine the relationship of theology to philosophy.[3] His polemics on the subject find their most explicit early form in his Heidelberg Disputation of 1518. In commenting on Luther’s theologia crucis, Luther scholar, Walter Von Loewenich argued: “[I]n no theologian of the Christian church have these thoughts of Paul experienced such a revival…

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j_gresham_machenBut I really must decline to speculate any further about what might have been if Christ had done something less for us than that which He has actually done. As a matter of fact, He has not merely paid the penalty of Adam’s first sin, and the penalty of the sins which we individually have committed, but also He has positively merited for us eternal life. He was, in other words, our representative both in penalty paying and in probation keeping. He paid the penalty of sin for us, and He stood the probation for us.

That is the reason why those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ are in a far more blessed condition than was Adam before he fell. Adam before he fell was righteous in the sight of God, but he was still under the possibility of becoming unrighteous. Those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ not only are righteous in the sight of God but they are beyond the possibility of becoming unrighteous. In their case, the probation is over. It is not over because they have stood it successfully. It is not over because they have themselves earned the reward of assured blessedness which God promised on condition of perfect obedience. But it is over because Christ has stood it for them; it is over because Christ has merited for them the reward by His perfect obedience to God’s law.

J. Gresham Machen, The Doctrine of the Atonement: Three Lectures

Posted in Active Obedience, Atonement, J. Gresham Machen

Warfield on Faith

bb_warfieldSo little indeed is faith conceived as containing in itself the energy or ground of salvation, that it is consistently represented as, in its origin, itself a gratuity from God in the prosecution of His saving work. It comes, not of one’s own strength or virtue, but only to those who are chosen of God for its reception (II Thess. ii. 13), and hence is His gift (Eph. vi. 23, cf. ii. 8, 9, Phil, i. 29), through Christ (Acts iii. 16, Phil. i. 29, I Pet. i. 21, cf. Heb. xii. 2), by the Spirit (II Cor. iv. 13, Gal. v. 5), by means of the preached word (Rom. x. 17, Gal. iii. 2, 5); and as it is thus obtained from God (II Pet. i. 1, Jude 3,1 Pet. i. 21), thanks are to be returned to God for it (Col. i. 4, II Thess. i. 3). Thus, even here all boasting is excluded, and salvation is conceived in all its elements as the pure product of unalloyed grace, issuing not from, but in, good works (Eph. ii. 8-12). The place of faith in the process of salvation, as biblically conceived, could scarcely, therefore, be better described than by the use of the scholastic term ‘instrumental cause.’ Not in one portion of the Scriptures alone, but throughout their whole extent, it is conceived as a boon from above which comes to men, no doubt through the channels of their own activities, but not as if it were an effect of their energies, but rather, as it has been finely phrased, as a gift which God lays in the lap of the soul. ‘With the heart,’ indeed, ‘man believeth unto righteousness’; but this believing does not arise of itself out of any heart indifferently, nor is it grounded in the heart’s own potencies; it is grounded rather in the freely-giving goodness of God, and comes to man as a benefaction out of heaven.

The effects of faith, not being the immediate product of faith itself but of that energy of God which was exhibited in raising Jesus from the dead and on which dependence is now placed for raising us with Him into newness of life (Col. ii. 12), would seem to depend directly only on the fact of faith, leaving questions of its strength, quality, and the like more or less to one side. We find a proportion, indeed, suggested between faith and its effects (Mt. ix. 29, viii. 13, cf. viii. 10, xv. 28, xvii. 20, Lk. vii. 9, xvii. 6). Certainly there is a fatal doubt, which vitiates with its double-mindedness every approach to God (Jas. i. 6-8, cf. iv. 8, Mt. xxi. 21, Mk. xi. 23, Rom. iv. 20, xiv. 23, Jude 22). But Jesus deals with notable tenderness with those of ‘little faith,’ and His apostles imitated Him in this (Mt. vi. 30 f., 20, xiv. 31, xvi. 8, xvii. 20, Lk. xii. 28, Mk. ix. 24, Lk. xvii. 5, cf. Rom. xiv. 1, 2,1 Cor. viii. 7, and see Doubt). The effects of faith may possibly vary also with the end for which the trust is exercised (cf. Mk. x. hi ha ava(3\e\f/w with Gal. ii. 16 €7rioTeu-cranev ha 5t/catoj0w/xey). But he who humbly but confidently casts himself on the God of salvation has the assurance that he shall not be put to shame (Rom. xi. 11, ix. 33), but shall receive the end of his faith, even the salvation of his soul (I Pet. i. 9). This salvation is no doubt, in its idea, received all at once (Jn. iii. 36, I Jn. v. 12); but it is in its very nature a process, and its stages come, each in its order. First of all, the believer, renouncing by the very act of faith his own righteousness which is out of the law, receives that ‘righteousness which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God on faith’ (Phil, iii. 9, cf. Rom. iii. 22, iv. 11, ix. 30, x. 3, 10, II Cor. v. 21, Gal. v. 5, Heb. xi. 7, II Pet. i. 1). On the ground of this righteousness, which in its origin is the ‘ righteous act’ of Christ, constituted by His ‘obedience’ (Rom. v. 18, 19), and comes to the believer as a ‘ gift’ (Rom. v. 17), being reckoned to him apart from works (Rom. iv. 6), he that believes in Christ is justified in God’s sight, received into His favour, and made the recipient of the Holy Spirit (Jn. vii. 39, cf. Acts v. 32), by whose indwelling men are constituted the sons of God (Rom. viii. 13). And if children, then are they heirs (Rom. viii. 17), assured of an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance, reserved in heaven for them; and meanwhile they are guarded by the power of God through faith unto this gloriously complete salvation (I Pet. i. 4, 5). Thus, though the immediate effect of faith is only to make the believer possessor before the judgment-seat of God of the alien righteousness wrought out by Christ, through this one effect it draws in its train the whole series of saving acts of God, and of saving effects on the soul. Being justified by faith, the enmity which has existed between the sinner and God has been abolished, and he has been introduced into the very family of God, and made sharer in all the blessings of His house (Eph. ii. 13 f.). Being justified by faith, he has peace with God, and rejoices in the hope of the glory of God, and is enabled to meet the trials of life, not merely with patience but with joy (Rom. v. 1 f.). Being justified by faith, he has already working within him the life which the Son has brought into the world, and by which, through the operations of the Spirit which those who believe in Him receive (Jn. vii. 39), he is enabled to overcome the world lying in the evil one, and, kept by God from the evil one, to sin not (I Jn. v. 19). In a word, because we are justified by faith, we are, through faith, endowed with all the privileges and supplied with all the graces of the children of God.

B.B. Warfield. Biblical Doctrines (Kindle Locations 7543-7580). Monergism Books. Kindle Edition.

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