Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Distinguishing Sanctification & Justification

A.W. Pink notes the differences between sanctification and justification in his book The Doctrine of Sanctification:  Discerning real and false notions of Holiness.  Here’s a lengthy, but very good, quote from Chapter 2, “Its Meaning”:

“Though absolutely inseparable, yet these two great blessings of divine grace are quite distinct.  In sanctification something is actually imparted to us, in justification it is only imputed.  Justification is based entirely upon the work Christ wrought for us, sanctification is principally a work wrought in us.  Justification respects its object in a legal sense and terminates in a relative change—a deliverance from punishment, a right to the reward; sanctification regards its object in a moral sense, and terminates in an experimental change both in character and conduct—imparting a love for God, capacity to worship him acceptably, and a meetness for heaven.  Justification is by a righteousness without us, sanctification is by a holiness wrought in us.  Justification is by Christ as Priest, and has regard to the penalty of sin; sanctification is by Christ as King, and has regard to the dominion of sin: the former cancels its damning power, the latter delivers from its reigning power.

They differ, then, in their order (not of time, but in their nature), justification preceding, sanctification following: the sinner is pardoned and restored to God’s favour before the Spirit is given to renew him after his image.  They differ in their design: justification removes the obligation unto punishment; sanctification cleanses from pollution.  They differ in their form: justification is a judicial act, by which the sinner is pronounced righteous; sanctification is a moral work, by which the sinner is made holy: the one has to do solely with our standing before God, the other chiefly concerns our state.  They differ in their cause: the one issuing form the merits of Christ’s satisfaction, the other proceeding from the efficacy of the same.  They differ in their end: the one bestowing a title to everlasting glory, the other being the highway which conducts us thither.  ‘And an highway shall be there, …and it shall be called The way of holiness’ (Isa. 35:8).”

Monday, October 28, 2013

Baptist Distinctives (Chapter 1)

After reading Pascal Denault's The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology:  A Comparison Between 17th Century Particular Baptist and Paedobaptist Federalism, I decided to collect my thoughts and make some chapter-by-chapter observations.  You can find my post on the Introduction here.  For a general overview of the covenants found in the Bible, see my post on Redemptive History here.  Now let's look at Chapter 1 called 'The Covenant of Works'.

Because the term 'Covenant of Works' is not explicitly found in the Bible, Mr. Denault makes the argument that the Covenant does exist because of the New Testament parallel between Adam and Christ (see Romans 5 & 1 Corinthians 15) and because of God's promise and accompanying threat found in Genesis 2:16-17 (do this and live).  Therefore, the Covenant of Works was established between God and Adam, but the theological difference between Presbyterians and Baptists comes in to play as we look at what happens to that Covenant after the Fall.

Presbyterians believe that the Covenant of Works ends with the Fall and that the Covenant of Grace begins after the Fall.  Therefore, since the Fall, there is one covenant with two administrations:  one administration of the Covenant of Grace in the Old Covenant for Israel and one administration of the Covenant of Grace in the New Covenant for all nations.  In order to maintain unity and conformity between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, Presbyterians have to reject the unity and continuity between the Covenant of Works and the Old Covenant.

The Baptists believe that the Covenant of Works ends with the Fall of Adam and views the subsequent covenants in the Old Testament (Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, & Davidic) as covenants of works, but not the Covenant of Works.  The Covenant of Works was republished in the Old Covenant, but the Old Covenant for Israel (which progressively reveals the Covenant of Grace) and the New Covenant for all nations (which fully reveals the Covenant of Grace) are distinct, separate covenants.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Biblical Picture of a Wife

A biblical wife:
  • is made to be a help meet for her husband (Gen. 2:18)
  • is one flesh with her husband (Gen. 2:24)
  • is a crown to her husband (Prov. 12:4)
  • is a good thing (Prov. 18:22)
  • is from the Lord (Prov. 19:14)
  • is trusted by her husband (Prov. 31:11)
  • looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness (Prov. 31:27)
  • does not depart from her husband (1 Cor. 7:10)
  • submits to her own husband as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18)
  • reverences her husband (Eph. 5:33)
  • is grave, not a slanderer, sober, and faithful in all things (1 Tim. 3:11)
  • is in behavior as becomes holiness, not a false accuser, not given to much wine, and a teacher of good things (Titus 2:3)
  • teaches young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, and to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and obedient to their own husbands so that the word of God is not blasphemed (Titus 2:4-5)
  • trusts in God, adorns herself inwardly, and is in subjection to her own husband (1 Peter 3:1-6)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Baptist Distinctives (The Introduction)

After reading Pascal Denault's The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology: A Comparison Between 17th Century Particular Baptist and Paedobaptist Federalism, I decided to collect my thoughts and make some chapter-by-chapter observations here.  Overall, I recommend the book, but the grammarian in me cringes at that statement; this book (translated from French) could use a good English editor.

First, let's start with the Introduction, which explicitly states Mr. Denault's hypothesis:
"We propose that covenant theology is that distinctive between Baptists and paedobaptists and that all the divergences that exist between them, both theological and practical, including baptism, stem from their different ways of understanding the biblical covenants.  Baptism is, therefore, not the point of origin but the outcome of the differences between paedobaptists and credobaptists."
Mr. Denault uses two main source documents in his assessment: The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.  He also identifies the main theologians on both sides of the debate; the paedobaptists:  William Ames, John Ball, Peter Bulkeley, Thomas Blake, Herman Witsius, Samuel Petto, and Francis Turretin; and the Baptists:  John Spilsbury, Henry Lawrence, Thomas Patient, John Bunyan, Edward Hutchinson, Nehemiah Coxe, Thomas Grantham, and Benjamin Keach.  Even though John Owen was a paedobaptist theologian, Mr. Denault references his works in support of Baptist theology; and therefore, refers to him as John (the Baptist) Owen.

In a very simplified way, this debate is between the Presbyterian belief that the Old Covenant and the New Covenant are one covenant under two administrations and the Baptist belief that the Old Covenant and New Covenant are two distinct covenants; and therefore, differ not only in substance, but also in the manner of administration.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Redemptive History

Samuel Renihan gives a general overview of the 8 biblical covenants in his sermon titled 'Redemptive History & the Covenants' which he preached on June 12, 2011.  Listening to the sermon is like trying to take a small drink from a fire hydrant.

  1. The Covenant of Redemption - Before creation the Trinity covenanted within itself to redeem a specific number of persons (the elect portion) out of fallen humanity.  The Father commissioned the Son to become incarnate as the last Adam bearing our nature in order to make atonement for us and to win our redemption.  The Holy Spirit agreed & clothed Jesus with power during His earthly ministry.
  2. The Covenant of Works (Adamic Covenant) - Man at creation was not in need of redemption; Adam was made good, but mutable (able to sin and not to sin).  Adam was required to tend the garden and prohibited from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Adam as the federal head would have secured eternal life for all if he had obeyed, but he disobeyed God and ate the fruit; therefore, sin and death came upon man.  Everyone is born under sin and death because they are cursed in Adam in the Covenant of Works (all mankind fell with Adam).
  3. The Covenant of Grace (Covenant of Life) - God promised that a Seed would come that would crush the head of the serpent; the Seed is Jesus Christ.  It is a covenant between God, Christ, and the elect in Him.  Sinners are saved and redemption is accomplished through Jesus Christ.  This covenant is made right after the Fall; therefore, no one in the history of mankind has been without a chance to be saved by faith in Jesus Christ.  Salvation is belief in God's promises as far as He has revealed them; belief is by faith, not by works.  The work of Jesus Christ is imputed to the elect.  OT believers were members of the Covenant of Grace and they were justified by faith in Jesus Christ apart from any works or conditions.  Adam is the federal head of the Covenant of Works (he imputes sin and death to all mankind); Jesus Christ is the federal head in the Covenant of Grace (He imputes righteousness to His elect).
  4. The Noahic Covenant - Covenant made with Noah after he emerged from the ark.  The Flood foreshadowed the Final Judgment that awaits us.  God promised that the seasons and intervals of life on earth would continue unhindered to establish stability on the earth in which redemptive history can play out so that the seed can come.  It gave confidence that the world would continue until the seed arrived.  The rainbow is still the sign of the Noahic Covenant and God's faithfulness.
  5. The Abrahamic Covenant - Covenant made with Abraham where God promised him a land, innumerable descendants, and a line of kings.  The sign was circumcision and was based on Abraham's belief.  Gal. 3:8 tells us that Abraham believed the gospel (along with the promises); therefore, he was a member of the Covenant of Grace.  Abraham is the federal head and the members are his offspring.  The seed would come through Abraham's line.
  6. The Mosaic Covenant - It is a covenant with the nation of Israel who were also under the Abrahamic Covenant.  It is a complete list of precepts and prohibitions that form the moral, civil, and ceremonial laws of the nation of Israel.  It is an explicit covenant of works.  Obedience led to blessings and living in the promised land; disobedience led to cursings and expulsion from the land.  The Israelites were in Canaan by grace (Abrahamic Covenant), but they had to keep it by works (Mosaic Covenant).
  7. The Davidic Covenant - Covenant made between God, David, and David's offspring.  God promised David that his descendants would rule on the throne forever, but they had to obey.  It focused the Mosaic covenant into one person, the king.  Israel and Judah are blessed and/or cursed based upon the obedience of their king.  The people longed for a king that will rule over them perfectly.  Ultimately, because of their idolatry, they were disinherited, disbanded, and destroyed; but God graciously preserved a remnant.
  8. The New Covenant - The Seed promised to Eve was announced by John the Baptist.  Jesus Christ, truly God and truly Man, was born a national Jew; and therefore, subject to the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants, which He kept perfectly (internally & externally).  As the perfect sacrifice at the appointed time, He laid down His life for the sins of the elect.  He established the New Covenant in His own blood, purchasing for Himself a kingdom and a people for that kingdom.  The Covenant of Grace is between God and Christ and those in Christ; it is the accomplishing of the redemption of the elect in history.  The New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace in its fullness and fulfillment.
In the Old Testament, Christ had not come and the New Covenant had not yet been established; there was no New Covenant.  However, the New Covenant was as good as done because it is part of God's eternal decree.  God revealed the New Covenant in His progressive promises throughout the Old Testament; therefore, the Covenant of Grace is the progressive revelation of the New Covenant.  

Everyone born on this world is of Adam and under the Covenant of Works, but believers in Jesus Christ are members of the New Covenant; through faith, His righteousness is imputed to us, and we will praise Him forever in unending joy.
What happens if you impose the Mosaic Covenant upon the New Covenant?

We need to distinguish between moral and positive commands.  A moral command is a law of God that flows from His character; therefore, it is universal and timeless (i.e. the Ten Commandments).  Positive commands are laws of God concerning something not inherently moral and related to a specific covenant (i.e. circumcision, civil & ceremonial laws).  When a covenant ends, its positive commands also end.  For example, a moral law is the commandment to worship God one day in seven; a positive law is Christ establishing the first day of the week as that day.

The law is not opposed to faith, but it is not of faith either.  The law is not bad, but contextually, the Mosaic covenant is not the Covenant of Grace.  They are different, and therefore, you cannot impose one on the other.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Audio for 2013 Founders' Conference

Here's the link for the audio messages recorded at The Southern Baptists Founders' Conference Southwest held on September 26-28, 2013, at Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Considering Credobaptism

Here are my notes from the sermon titled "A Reformed Baptist Perspective on Infant Baptism" by Jim Savastio of Reformed Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, preached on March 21, 2004.

The fourfold cord in articulating credobaptism (or believer's baptism):
  1. It is a clear commandment of Jesus to baptize disciples.  In the Regulative Principle of Worship, we offer to God only what He commands in His word, and unless something is explicitly commanded, we don't offer it to God in worship.  There is no clear command to baptize infants.
  2. The biblical teaching of the significance of baptism is that baptism means your sins are taken away, you walk in the newness of life, and you are in Christ.  It is a symbol of regeneration.
  3. The actual record of biblical baptism does not show infant baptism.  Verses which indicate household baptism show the hearing, receiving, and believing as a work of the Holy Spirit.
  4. The issue of the New Covenant in Jer. 31:31 which shows that the New Covenant is not like the old because it is now in their minds and written in their hearts.
The Abrahamic covenant was made with Abraham and his seed.  It was not based on the parents, but on the lineage to Abraham.  Rom. 4:6 expresses promise and faith.  Rom. 9:8 shows that the children of God are not the children of flesh.  Gal. 3:8 and John 1:13 show that belief is the will of man. In Col. 2:11 circumcision is used symbolically.  Given the opportunity that Paul has in Acts 15, he does not tie circumcision to baptism.

**Be a convinced baptist.  Have a zeal for the glory of God & his church.  The doctrine of paedobaptism is not innocent; it is sin because the law of God says to baptize disciples and not infants.  It also allows unregenerate people by right into the NT church which violates the New Covenant.  It is potentially damning to the children.  How do you examine yourself when you don't know whether or not you've been baptized?

Remember to speak the truth in love.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Woman's Distinctive Mission

In his book Woman Her Mission and Her Life, Adolphe Monod (1802-1856), a Protestant preacher in France, defines the general and distinctive missions of a woman.  The general mission for a woman (as well as a man) is to "glorify God who made us all in his image and who, on seeing that image effaced by sin, has renewed it in his Son"; but the distinctive mission for a woman is found in Genesis 2:18 which says, "And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."  According to Pastor Monod, "This [verse] applies to every woman, not just to the married woman, for Eve is not only the wife of the first man, she is also the first woman."

Even though this book was written in the 19th century, it is still very applicable today, as seen in Pastor Monod's warning to all women:

"Do not count on the world to clarify this [distinctive] mission for you.  It has never known it and cannot understand it, because it has always reduced the question that concerns you to the petty proportions of its own egotism or your vanity.  It remains for us to rely on God's Word, on that Word which, though fully preoccupied with setting forth "the one thing...necessary" (Luke 10:42), still resolves in passing all of humanity's great questions.  Joining examples with precept, it judges all things rightly because it judges them spiritually."

I found this book to be a very encouraging and comforting reminder of God's role for me as a Christian wife and mom.  The truth of God's sovereignty expressed by Pastor Monod helps me as I live contra mundum (against the world):

"So if you bear the heart of a Christian woman in your marriage today, you can believe yourself to have been just as truly chosen by God for your husband and he for you as Eve was for Adam and Adam for Eve."

"But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.  What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder," (Mark 10:6-9).

Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Find

One of my favorite things about attending a conference is the book table.  At the 2013 Founders' Conference, Solid Ground Christian Books sent a representative with plenty of books.  Here's what we brought home:

The Baptist Confession of Faith & The Baptist Catechism (2 soft-cover copies for home reference)
The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology by Pascal Denault
Woman: Her Mission and Her Life by Adolphe Monod
A Pastor's Sketches by Ichabod Spencer

Usually when we are traveling, we always visit the local Half-Price Books too.  Here's what we found there:

By His Grace and for His Glory: A Historical, Theological, and Practical Study of the Doctrines of Grace in Baptist Life by Tom Nettles
The Doctrine of Sanctification by A.W. Pink
Hardy Boys #6: The Shore Road Mystery by Franklin Dixon (our youngest son likes to collect this series)

Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer to sit down and read a book with actual pages.  Although I have to admit, it is nice to find a Kindle edition for those hard-to-find and/or over-priced books.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

2013 Founders' Conference Reflections, Cont'd.

Last week my family and I attended The Southern Baptists Founders' Conference Southwest held on September 26-28, 2013, at Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas.  The conference theme was 'Being a Disciple of Jesus Christ'.  I posted my first set of notes here.

As I think about what was said and how to apply it to my life, I'll share the rest of my notes with you.

The Practice of Discipline in the Daily Life Presented by Dr. Tom Ascol

Self-denial is not optional for biblical Christianity--say 'yes' to Jesus as Lord and 'no' to yourself as lord.  Christianity is fought primarily in the soul as disciples war within themselves.  As a Christian, sin resides in you; therefore pursue godliness daily by practicing self-denial, self-control, and self-discipline.  The life of self-discipline begins in the mind by seeing how things really are in submission to the revealed will of God found in His word --> train passions to conform to the commandments of Christ with the Spirit's help by taking every thought captive because we are at war spiritually.  The process is synergistic.

The means of grace is vital for active discipleship.  There is no easy path; daily self-control focuses on the eternal glory of heaven and everlasting life.  The trophy of full consummation of salvation in Jesus Christ is imperishable.  Therefore, be passionate for Christ.  The cross is the only way to inexpressible joy; the prize is worthy of the pathway.

Law and Grace in Discipleship Presented by Dr. Fred Malone

"For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace," Romans 6:14.  This verses tells you how to think daily--sin shall not be your master.  It is not a command, but a fact because a Christian is united to Christ through the Holy Spirit that dwells in you.  The work of the law is written on your heart, (Rom. 2:15).  The sufficiency of Christ and the call of God on your life will lead you to obey God by keeping his commandments.

Dr. Malone's session was the last presentation on Friday night.  It had been a long day and his topic required more concentration than I had at that time (and I was confused by some of his terminology), so my notes are very brief.  I need to listen to his session again on Sermon Audio.  I'll post the link to the conference once the sessions are available on-line.