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

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.

Beware Of Those Who Never Admit Fault

Very helpful thoughts on abuse…

The Reformed Reader  Over the years I’ve met people who would never admit when they were wrong or if they were at fault.  If they did something wrong or even sinful, they would make excuses, blame other people, play the victim, or simply deny wrongdoing altogether. It’s like the alcoholic who totally denies he has a problem and blames his wife for accusing him.  Since there is no true acknowledgement of sin/error, there is no true sorrow or repentance for sin/error.  It’s an ugly picture.

When a five-year-old child denies doing something wrong, that’s one thing.  But when someone who is more mature never admits fault it is clear sign of pride and it shows that the person does not understand the pervasiveness of sin in his or her own heart.  In fact, the more I meet people who never admit fault and never apologize, the more I am very cautious around…

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War Room: Dishonouring God — a review by John Ellis (from ADayInHisCourt)

A Cry For Justice

When John Ellis watched War Room, he almost walked out of the cinema when he saw how it depicted spouse abuse. Here are some excerpts from his review of the movie. We hope you read his whole review War Room: Dishonoring God, but be aware that it is fairly long and the power punches which we are quoting below come near the end of Ellis’s review.

Ellis’s review has a ‘reblog’ icon at its end, so we trust that he does not mind us picking out the following quotes.

With its theology, War Room weaves together three serious errors: Manichaeism, name it/claim it, and the belief that evil/sin resides outside of a person and not within. Manichaeism, the dualistic and odd heresy that claims there is a cosmic struggle between the equal forces of good (the spiritual world of light) and evil (the material world of, well, material and darkness), is a kissing cousin of Gnosticism. It’s…

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