Excellent Article On the Current Issues Surrounding Sanctification and Justification

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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I don't have a problem with that idea but the way you stated it earlier (theoretical, possible) are not helpful ways of viewing it. I obviously employ reason as GNC fro what is revealed. It is when it is used to speculate beyond revelation that I have a problem with.


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- Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Rich, could you explain more how what you are saying is consistent with what John Owen says below (I'm sure it is, I'm just getting confused, and in a way that tends to make me feel distressed: as if there is grace available for my perfect resistance of sin, but the problem is that I'm not doing enough; yet I can never do enough, or anything at all, apart from that grace). If this would be better in a different thread so as not to introduce an easily confused lay-person's confusion into this one, could you please move it? Thanks.

(from his commentary on Psalm 130, exposition of vv 1,2)

First, THE nature of the covenant wherein all believers now walk with God, and wherein all their whole provision for obedience is inwrapped, leaves it possible for them to fall into these depths that have been mentioned. Under the first covenant there was no mercy or forgiveness provided for any sin. It was necessary, then, that it should exhibit a sufficiency of grace to preserve them from every sin, or it could have been of no use at all. This the righteousness of God required, and so it was. To have made a covenant wherein there was no provision at all of pardon, and not a sufficiency of grace to keep the covenanters from need of pardon, was not answerable to the goodness and righteousness of God. But he made man upright, who, of his own accord, sought out many inventions.

It is not so in the covenant of grace; there is in it pardon provided in the blood of Christ: it is not, therefore, of indispensable necessity that there should be administered in it grace effectually preserving from every sin. Yet it is on all accounts to be preferred before the other; for, besides the relief by pardon, which the other knew nothing of, there is in it also much provision against sin, which was not in the other:--

1. There is provision made in it against all and every sin that would disannul the covenant, and make a final separation between God and a soul that hath been once taken into the bond thereof. This provision is absolute. God hath taken upon himself the making of this good, and the establishing this law of the covenant, that it shall not by any sin be disannulled: Jer. xxxii. 40, "I will," saith God, "make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." The security hereof depends not on any thing in ourselves. All that is in us is to be used as a means of the accomplishment of this promise; but the event or issue depends absolutely on the faithfulness of God. And the whole certainty and stability of the covenant depends on the efficacy of the grace administered in it to preserve men from all such sins as would disannul it.
(I love what he says later on, that 'This is the great mystery of the gospel in the blood of Christ, that those who sin every day should have peace with God all their days . . .')
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
(I love what he says later on, that 'This is the great mystery of the gospel in the blood of Christ, that those who sin every day should have peace with God all their days . . .')
Words of great comfort, dear sister, the contemplation of which 'maketh the water to stand in mine eyes'.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Those theological books are the best tearjerkers.

'Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.' When I read statements like those above that speak of this rest, and the meekness of our Lord, I want to obey; for I want to obey Him.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich, could you explain more how what you are saying is consistent with what John Owen says below (I'm sure it is, I'm just getting confused, and in a way that tends to make me feel distressed: as if there is grace available for my perfect resistance of sin, but the problem is that I'm not doing enough; yet I can never do enough, or anything at all, apart from that grace). If this would be better in a different thread so as not to introduce an easily confused lay-person's confusion into this one, could you please move it? Thanks.

(from his commentary on Psalm 130, exposition of vv 1,2)

First, THE nature of the covenant wherein all believers now walk with God, and wherein all their whole provision for obedience is inwrapped, leaves it possible for them to fall into these depths that have been mentioned. Under the first covenant there was no mercy or forgiveness provided for any sin. It was necessary, then, that it should exhibit a sufficiency of grace to preserve them from every sin, or it could have been of no use at all. This the righteousness of God required, and so it was. To have made a covenant wherein there was no provision at all of pardon, and not a sufficiency of grace to keep the covenanters from need of pardon, was not answerable to the goodness and righteousness of God. But he made man upright, who, of his own accord, sought out many inventions.

It is not so in the covenant of grace; there is in it pardon provided in the blood of Christ: it is not, therefore, of indispensable necessity that there should be administered in it grace effectually preserving from every sin. Yet it is on all accounts to be preferred before the other; for, besides the relief by pardon, which the other knew nothing of, there is in it also much provision against sin, which was not in the other:--

1. There is provision made in it against all and every sin that would disannul the covenant, and make a final separation between God and a soul that hath been once taken into the bond thereof. This provision is absolute. God hath taken upon himself the making of this good, and the establishing this law of the covenant, that it shall not by any sin be disannulled: Jer. xxxii. 40, "I will," saith God, "make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." The security hereof depends not on any thing in ourselves. All that is in us is to be used as a means of the accomplishment of this promise; but the event or issue depends absolutely on the faithfulness of God. And the whole certainty and stability of the covenant depends on the efficacy of the grace administered in it to preserve men from all such sins as would disannul it.
(I love what he says later on, that 'This is the great mystery of the gospel in the blood of Christ, that those who sin every day should have peace with God all their days . . .')
I think they are complimentary ideas Heidi. Don't take anything I've written as implying that our status within the CoG is threatened by our obedience to God's Law. By faith we are transported into the Kingdom of the Age to Come. We are enemies of God no more and not enslaved to sin and its power. We are in Christ and united to His Covenant-keeping perfection.

Our battle with sin is not as those who live under the threat of the Curse of condemnation for our disobedience but as those who are adopted children of the heavenly Father. Our relationship to sin is not one in which we go before God as our condemning Judge but as those who are children who are grieved when we bruise the Head of Him who has already been judged for our sin.

Thus, Paul first establishes us as justified in Christ and then goes on to speak about what that vital union produces within the family of God. Christ, Himself, produces within us the fruits of sanctification and our hearts beat with an ever increasing desire to obey our Father and resist the sin that we are tempted by. We fail, for sure, but the encouragement is that Christ is working within us toward His holy ends. When temptation leads us into sin we aren't to despair but go to the Father with the confidence that our sins are forgiven in Christ and that He has given us means of grace to renew the battle that wages daily and constantly.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Rich that is most helpful, thank you.

Could you clarify one further thing? My impression (which is probably a misimpression) was that you were saying there is sufficiency of grace in the Covenant of Grace to preserve us from all sin; but our wills are too divided to make use of it; and in this gap we must make an effort. Owen seems to be saying that a sufficiency of grace to preserve from all sin was involved rather in the Covenant of Works where there was no pardon for sin, and in the Covenant of Grace there is not such a sufficiency as to keep us from *all* sin, but certainly such as to keep us from heinous sins, and absolutely from falling away. However it is not necessary for there to be such a sufficiency, because there is pardon. In this situation attending the means of grace become the most important 'effort' we make, or rather the simple hand we hold out to receive, both pardon and grace for obedience. I am sure that your view does actually comport with this last part, because I have heard you made such statements (and greatly profited from them). But I am confused as to how your view as I've understood it could wind up at the same place as Owen's. Again, I'm sorry if this is a 'side-trail'; but I am very appreciative to understand better.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
But even our Larger Catechism uses the terms that seem to be saying what I am trying to express. Repentance unto Life is used. Of course it is a grace and from grace. But without it there is no life.
The Catechism begins by saying that "Repentance unto life is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God." Whatever repentance is in its own nature, it begins as a work of divine grace. No doing on man's part is made the condition of the grace and life promised in the covenant.

So there is a sense in which 'Do This and Live' springs from Live and do this. At least it seems so from from what I am understanding. Especially in light of what I am seeing and what I wrote above and have quoted below.
Please allow me to try to explain the difference in the light of your use of "antecedent, concomitant, and consequent conditions," although it should be observed that this terminology properly belongs to the subject of justification. Since justification is a part of the "life" promised in the covenant of grace I think we can utilise it for the purposes of this discussion.

"Antecedent" means a condition which must go before the promise as a means to an end; "concomitant" means a condition which must accompany the promise and without which the fulfilment of the promise cannot be expected; "consequent" refers to a condition which must be the inevitable result of the thing promised. Faith is an antecedent condition. It is the means or instrument by which justification is appropriated, or made one's own. Repentance is not a means of justification but a necessary accompaniment because without turning from sin there is nothing to be justified from and without turning to God there is nothing to be justified for. Good works is a consequent condition, which means that they are the necessary effect of being justified by faith, or, as our Standards teach, they are the "fruit and evidence" that a person is in a state of justification. If good works are consequent conditions, or necessary effects of being in a state of justification, it is obvious that "doing" cannot in any sense be regarded as a means to being justified.

To apply this to the clause in question -- In "Do this and live," the word "do" is being made a means to the life that is promised. It is being presented as an antecedent condition. It is only the phrase, "Live and do this," which properly presents the state of affairs under the covenant of grace, because doing is the effect of the life that has been freely granted.

Throughout the Standards "life" precedes "doing" in all the fulness of salvation. We have already noted how "life" precedes the action of repentance in the working of the Holy Spirit to produce repentance in the elect. The same applies to the gift of faith and to good works. Faith is also wrought by the Holy Spirit and the word of God (answer 72). With respect to good works, Larger Catechism answer 32 is perhaps the clearest statement on the importance of holy obedience in direct relationship to salvation and eternal life. Even here the obedience is the effect of the work of the Holy Spirit, who has been given to the elect "to enable them unto all holy obedience." Whatever is said about the necessity of obedience in this answer is guaranteed by the work of the Holy Spirit which precedes and produces it.

This is a covenant ordered in all things and sure. The promise is sure to the heirs of promise. Let's be on our guard against introducing an element of uncertainty into God's eternal counsel.
 

Myshkin

Puritan Board Freshman
Rich-

That was rather condescending don't you think? How is publicly categorizing me as childish, party spirited, uneducated, gospel confused, and a stubborn know it all, in the best interest of either of us or of having a civil conversation? Or how can that be construed as "trying to help me"?

I can take correction or receive help, but that was excessive and insulting. I find it sad that somebody actually rated an admonishment towards someone as helpful. I think the word is "schadenfreude"?

Do you have an email I can contact you at? I could not find one on your profile page. I'd rather contact you in that manner than spare myself another public shaming by responding here.

(This is not sarcasm)
I genuinely apologize if I have bothered anyone with my ignorance and unworthiness to attempt to contribute here. I thought this was a place for honest discussion, but lately, more and more my attempt at discussion has rubbed people the wrong way, and I just don't feel like I fit in. I can't seem to articulate my thoughts very well, and I seem to do so in a way that causes some on here to read me uncharitably on a consistent basis. I wish I wasn't so bad at articulating. Its embarrassing. I do apologize for all this and if I have confused anyone due to my lack of ability.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich that is most helpful, thank you.

Could you clarify one further thing? My impression (which is probably a misimpression) was that you were saying there is sufficiency of grace in the Covenant of Grace to preserve us from all sin; but our wills are too divided to make use of it; and in this gap we must make an effort. Owen seems to be saying that a sufficiency of grace to preserve from all sin was involved rather in the Covenant of Works where there was no pardon for sin, and in the Covenant of Grace there is not such a sufficiency as to keep us from *all* sin, but certainly such as to keep us from heinous sins, and absolutely from falling away. However it is not necessary for there to be such a sufficiency, because there is pardon. In this situation attending the means of grace become the most important 'effort' we make, or rather the simple hand we hold out to receive, both pardon and grace for obedience. I am sure that your view does actually comport with this last part, because I have heard you made such statements (and greatly profited from them). But I am confused as to how your view as I've understood it could wind up at the same place as Owen's. Again, I'm sorry if this is a 'side-trail'; but I am very appreciative to understand better.
I know this is a long answer but I think the answer if found in differentiating between the Covenant of Grace, properly speaking, and what Christ's role as Mediator of it is:

Q. 31. With whom was the covenant of grace made?
A. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.114

Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?
A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator,115 and life and salvation by him;116 and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him,117 promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit118 to all his elect, to work in them that faith,119 with all other saving graces;120 and to enable them unto all holy obedience,121 as the evidence of the truth of their faith122 and thankfulness to God,123 and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.124

Q. 36. Who is the Mediator of the covenant of grace?
A. The only Mediator of the covenant of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ,137 who, being the eternal Son of God, of one substance and equal with the Father,138 in the fulness of time became man,139 and so was and continues to be God and man, in two entire distinct natures, and one person, forever.140
Faith is what secures our interest in Christ. We are in Christ as we have faith in Him. Full stop. Our obedience does not secure our interest in Him but our faith alone.

Notice, though, how Christ is said to work in us faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable us unto all holy obedience. This is part and parcel of our interest in Him. Our works are not the condition of this blessing but, because we are in Him by faith, Christ works these things in us. It is definitive.

We can unpack what Christ's mediatorial work looks like a bit more. Remember, these things Christ executes as our mediator in the CoG. We obtain interest in Him by faith:

Q. 42. Why was our Mediator called Christ?
A. Our Mediator was called Christ, because he was anointed with the Holy Ghost above measure,161 and so set apart, and fully furnished with all authority and ability,162 to execute the offices of prophet,163 priest,164 and king of his church,165 in the estate both of his humiliation and exaltation.

Q. 45. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself,174 and giving them officers,175 laws,176 and censures, by which he visibly governs them;177 in bestowing saving grace upon his elect,178 rewarding their obedience,179 and correcting them for their sins,180 preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings,181 restraining and overcoming all their enemies,182 and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory,183 and their good;184 and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel.185
Notice, again, what Christ is securing for us definitively by His grace. He is securing our sanctification.

Don't read anything I'm writing as confusing whether or not our sanctification ultimately rests on us. It is definitively secured by Christ. Chapter 13 of the WCF discusses Sanctification (which, is again, part of what Christ secures for us):

I. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection,1 by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them:2 the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,3 and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified;4 and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces,5 to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.6

II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man;7 yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part;8 whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.9

III. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail;10 yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome;11 and so, the saints grow in grace,12 perfecting holiness in the fear of God.13
Note, then, there is no conflict between the idea that Christ secures the blessings of the CoG for the Elect AND that as King and Mediator, one of those many blessings is that we would be sanctified such that the body of sin in us is destroyed more and more. That involves our wills and, as such, Christ works through the means of exhorting us through His Word to be renewed in our minds.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Thanks again very much Rich. I understand then, from what both you and Rev. Winzer say, that this power to sanctify me is effectual -- it involves my effort, but as a 'consequence' not as a condition. I *will* make the effort because I have died and risen in Christ. The power involved in that certainty is more than the power of my own gratitude, which is still my own work (and as such, is really a 'consequence' of Christ's). It is the power that raised Christ from the dead.

I confess to still having some confusion on the subject but that much being clear is very helpful and is the part I need to know on a daily basis. If I think that if I could only do more, I could have more grace, and if I could only do enough, I could have perfect grace -- that is a terrible bondage; because my own doing, even as you say that which is motivated by gratitude, is my own work -- and that is just never, never, never enough.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
So, if the power at work enabling me to not sin is an active, definitive, divine grace, then what do we make of our failures to resist sin? We wouldn't say that our wills somehow trumped the Spirit's power; how do we describe what's going on? If we say there are times when we love sin more than Christ, isn't God's sanctifying grace supposed to make us love him more, to prevent such division of heart to occur?
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. - Ps. 119:4


I cannot cite enough this thorough, consistent, and Biblical statement from the Westminster Assembly (emphases added):

WLC#32

Q. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?

A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely
provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him;
and, requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and
giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other
saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence
of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he
hath appointed them to salvation.


Gen. 3:15
; Isa. 42:6; John 6:27; 1 John 5:11-12; John 3:16; John 1:12; Prov. 1:23; 2 Cor. 4:13; Gal. 5:22-23; Ezek. 36:27; Jas. 2:18, 22; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Eph. 2:10.

See, this is why I need to read/study the Westminster Standards more.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich-

That was rather condescending don't you think? How is publicly categorizing me as childish, party spirited, uneducated, gospel confused, and a stubborn know it all, in the best interest of either of us or of having a civil conversation? Or how can that be construed as "trying to help me"?

I can take correction or receive help, but that was excessive and insulting. I find it sad that somebody actually rated an admonishment towards someone as helpful. I think the word is "schadenfreude"?

Do you have an email I can contact you at? I could not find one on your profile page. I'd rather contact you in that manner than spare myself another public shaming by responding here.

(This is not sarcasm)
I genuinely apologize if I have bothered anyone with my ignorance and unworthiness to attempt to contribute here. I thought this was a place for honest discussion, but lately, more and more my attempt at discussion has rubbed people the wrong way, and I just don't feel like I fit in. I can't seem to articulate my thoughts very well, and I seem to do so in a way that causes some on here to read me uncharitably on a consistent basis. I wish I wasn't so bad at articulating. Its embarrassing. I do apologize for all this and if I have confused anyone due to my lack of ability.
Allan,

I think there is a difference between being condescending and confrontational. I confronted you because you made sweeping generalizations that were uncharitable. You can PM me if you are interested in further dialog. I don't intend to shame you but you came out of the gates on this thread terribly strong against what you thought others were doing wrong (you even accused me directly of caricature of WSC position). It would be one thing if you came in with a tentative position admitting that you had something to learn (as we all do) but you come with with guns blazing and then you seem shocked that people are telling you that you're being careless with the weapons you are firing off. I am constantly aware of my own failings of being impatient with others and I admit (and repent of) being impatient in my reply to you but PLEASE read what you wrote both initially and in response to my first post and ask yourself if you are presenting yourself as a humble inquirer or are sweeping up a wide swath of people and essentially accusing them of FV or theonomy or other things.

Grace and Peace,

Rich
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
So, if the power at work enabling me to not sin is an active, definitive, divine grace, then what do we make of our failures to resist sin? We wouldn't say that our wills somehow trumped the Spirit's power; how do we describe what's going on? If we say there are times when we love sin more than Christ, isn't God's sanctifying grace supposed to make us love him more, to prevent such division of heart to occur?
We make of the failures to sin that God is pleased to make our sanctification in this life imperfect. Christ will fully conquer sin and death when He comes again but, for now, He calls us to obedience and it is the means of exhortation that we obey. It is not God acting for us but us willing and doing by His power. We are not to live by the decree but by what is revealed and we are commanded to resist and to love Him more. He doesn't leave it to theory as to where this fount of grace is found and it isn't found by demanding of God that He explain to us why He isn't doing more to prevent us from sinning if He really is powerful enough to keep us from doing so.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
So, if the power at work enabling me to not sin is an active, definitive, divine grace, then what do we make of our failures to resist sin? We wouldn't say that our wills somehow trumped the Spirit's power; how do we describe what's going on? If we say there are times when we love sin more than Christ, isn't God's sanctifying grace supposed to make us love him more, to prevent such division of heart to occur?
Romans 7:14ff comes immediately to mind. There is something irreconcilable in this experiential conflict between delighting in the law of God and finding another law at work in my members. The hope of deliverance does not come from fleeing the scene of conflict in order to take higher ground (higher life teaching, getting out of Romans 7 into Romans 8); nor is it to be found in giving up and playing dead (as in the pietistic idea of Let go and let God); but in bearing the griefs and burdens of the war and in looking to the great Victor who has promised to bring to completion the triumph which He has initiated -- "thanks be unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ." In other words, accepting the irreconcilable reality is fundamental to the ultimate conquest in which promise becomes experiential reality.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks Rich and Rev. Winzer for your insights. It's clearing up for me that the struggle with sin itself, which must have an element of loss, is part and parcel of the very means that God has been pleased to employ in our sanctification.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
But even our Larger Catechism uses the terms that seem to be saying what I am trying to express. Repentance unto Life is used. Of course it is a grace and from grace. But without it there is no life.
The Catechism begins by saying that "Repentance unto life is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God." Whatever repentance is in its own nature, it begins as a work of divine grace. No doing on man's part is made the condition of the grace and life promised in the covenant.

So there is a sense in which 'Do This and Live' springs from Live and do this. At least it seems so from from what I am understanding. Especially in light of what I am seeing and what I wrote above and have quoted below.
Please allow me to try to explain the difference in the light of your use of "antecedent, concomitant, and consequent conditions," although it should be observed that this terminology properly belongs to the subject of justification. Since justification is a part of the "life" promised in the covenant of grace I think we can utilise it for the purposes of this discussion.

"Antecedent" means a condition which must go before the promise as a means to an end; "concomitant" means a condition which must accompany the promise and without which the fulfilment of the promise cannot be expected; "consequent" refers to a condition which must be the inevitable result of the thing promised. Faith is an antecedent condition. It is the means or instrument by which justification is appropriated, or made one's own. Repentance is not a means of justification but a necessary accompaniment because without turning from sin there is nothing to be justified from and without turning to God there is nothing to be justified for. Good works is a consequent condition, which means that they are the necessary effect of being justified by faith, or, as our Standards teach, they are the "fruit and evidence" that a person is in a state of justification. If good works are consequent conditions, or necessary effects of being in a state of justification, it is obvious that "doing" cannot in any sense be regarded as a means to being justified.

To apply this to the clause in question -- In "Do this and live," the word "do" is being made a means to the life that is promised. It is being presented as an antecedent condition. It is only the phrase, "Live and do this," which properly presents the state of affairs under the covenant of grace, because doing is the effect of the life that has been freely granted.

Throughout the Standards "life" precedes "doing" in all the fulness of salvation. We have already noted how "life" precedes the action of repentance in the working of the Holy Spirit to produce repentance in the elect. The same applies to the gift of faith and to good works. Faith is also wrought by the Holy Spirit and the word of God (answer 72). With respect to good works, Larger Catechism answer 32 is perhaps the clearest statement on the importance of holy obedience in direct relationship to salvation and eternal life. Even here the obedience is the effect of the work of the Holy Spirit, who has been given to the elect "to enable them unto all holy obedience." Whatever is said about the necessity of obedience in this answer is guaranteed by the work of the Holy Spirit which precedes and produces it.

This is a covenant ordered in all things and sure. The promise is sure to the heirs of promise. Let's be on our guard against introducing an element of uncertainty into God's eternal counsel.
Reverend Winzer,

Is there not a sense where we are commanded and warned to be doers of the word that we may abide in the Covenant of Grace also though. Not as though God owed us anything but that we are warned to abide covenantally and faithfully lest we stray. Of course it flows out of Live and Do this but their definitely seems to be a 'Do This and Live' warning also. Not as though it is attached to justification but to our sanctification and walk with God, as dear children who may be disciplined.

(1Co 10:1) MOREOVER, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;


(1Co 10:2) And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;


(1Co 10:3) And did all eat the same spiritual meat;


(1Co 10:4) And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.


(1Co 10:5) But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.


(1Co 10:6) Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.


(1Co 10:7) Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.


(1Co 10:8) Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.


(1Co 10:9) Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.


(1Co 10:10) Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.


(1Co 10:11) Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.


(1Co 10:12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.


(1Co 10:13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
From the open letter:
So many of my friends and acquaintances are simply up in arms about the way you act and they tell me it’s because you talk too much about grace. They suggest (and I’m almost tempted to agree) that what you need is more and more rules to live by...
Who, among the Confessionally reformed, is actually stating the issue this way? The critic created is as fictitious as the character she is writing to.

I sincerely hope that they don't have William Evans in mind as if his concern can be boiled down to an injunction that people need more rules to live by.

As I noted earlier, a party-spirit approach to this dialog where concerns are boiled down to talking points that don't resemble the actual concern doesn't help us in what I consider an intramural debate. It paints criticism in the worst possible light as if it is all a choice between legalism and grace. I would hope that we can, as brothers and sisters who claim a Reformed confession, can wrestle together with what each side is emphasizing to see where we agree and where we believe certain emphases are clouding the issue of what the implications of Christ's work has for the believer.

EDIT: I just realized that this post is before William Evans article so I don't want to be guilty of assigning any motives here that never existed. I also want to add that the Open Letter does contain elements of what Union with Christ by faith produces in terms of love and power to deal with indwelling sin. As I stated before, there is not complete disagreement on these issues but it is sometimes a matter of how people are framing the issue or treating imperatives as if they all belong to Law.
 

Myshkin

Puritan Board Freshman
Allan,

I think there is a difference between being condescending and confrontational. I confronted you because you made sweeping generalizations that were uncharitable. You can PM me if you are interested in further dialog. I don't intend to shame you but you came out of the gates on this thread terribly strong against what you thought others were doing wrong (you even accused me directly of caricature of WSC position). It would be one thing if you came in with a tentative position admitting that you had something to learn (as we all do) but you come with with guns blazing and then you seem shocked that people are telling you that you're being careless with the weapons you are firing off. I am constantly aware of my own failings of being impatient with others and I admit (and repent of) being impatient in my reply to you but PLEASE read what you wrote both initially and in response to my first post and ask yourself if you are presenting yourself as a humble inquirer or are sweeping up a wide swath of people and essentially accusing them of FV or theonomy or other things.

Grace and Peace,

Rich
Rich-

I sent you a PM. I was only hoping to send you a longer response clearing up where you have gravely misinterpreted me and why I thought your response was not helpful but rather destructive. I observe other places where this debate was being had, and I see both sides, regardless of disagreement, giving eachother the benefit of the doubt.

Here I will briefly respond to your last post since I continue to be misrepresented without being given the respect of being asked if I am even being understood correctly in the first place. I do detect a double standard.

First of all, Rich, I am not an idiot. I know the difference between confrontation and condescension. Confrontation gets to the point, condescension elevates self over another at the expense of the other's dignity.

I would like to point out that I was not making sweeping generalizations. I was giving a context for the question I was asking. A question I was asking with the goal of sharpening my understanding. I don't know why you missed that, or didn't bother to ask a follow up question for clarification rather than assume the worst of me. Why couldn't you have stuck to the issues rather than drag in your opinion of my incompetence in your eyes?

In the article the OP referenced, statements were made that were a misrepresentation of the position being criticized. Subsequent responses on Ref21 also made that observation. A poster earlier in this thread also continued the misrepresentation. If you will notice, in one of my first points to you, I made it clear that you do not make that misrepresentation, but that there are others who do, and you subsequently pointed this out yourself. So it is confusing when you tell me I came in with guns blazing towards a wide group of people and that you agree there are those who caricature each sides position, and then act as if I don't know what i am talking about even when I am agreeing with you and pointing out that I am not referring to you. I believe that if you would have allowed me to clear up your misunderstanding on this initial point, you would not have been so strident and presumptious throughout.

I was also not given the chance to apologize for any misunderstanding I had of what you were trying to say. At one point I did misread, as you pointed out, one of your statements. I thought you were making a caricature, but then realized that what i thought you were saying was incorrect on my part. We were actually speaking past eachother. I wish I had had the chance to clear that up before the cloud of anger was thrust upon me. Couldn't you have just tried to talk it out with me instead of barking at me?

I think where you got lost is in regards to two things: you assumed I was not coming in humbly as an inquirer, and you confused that separate part of my post with an attempt to correct, not you, but those who were continuing a caricature that you yourself admitted was inappropriate.

To say that I am essentially accusing the critics of FV is way off base. Thats a huge leap! Where did I do that, or imply that? I certainly don't think that at all! I was simply pointing out that the criticisms come from certain groups, but i never said that all of these criticisms are the same, or even that those groups were connected.

I was not making a sweeping generalization, and I did not make an accusation. I was asking for those who do make the caricature to prove it. My point was "how many times does one actually have to say what 'you' are falsely accusing them of not saying, before you will take them at their word that they are actually saying it?" Also, I was speaking from my experience that those are the diverse groups that have had the criticisms of WSC. So I was asking if there were other groups that I didn't mention, and if so, who, so that I could personally try to understand the criticisms from a clearer perspective. I fail to see how giving the perspective that I am coming from is equivalent to having a childish party spirit.

I think you took some things personal that I never directed at you, in fact I even made that clear, and you assumed too much about what you thought I was saying and too much about what you think you know of me. If you had just tried to talk it out with me instead of condescendingly and presumptiously insult me, then I would have had the chance to apologize for any misunderstanding and also had the chance to clarify all the misunderstandings on your part.

I think my longer response will help you see this more clearly.

Thanks.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Ya know. It might be useful to see if we can pull up a list of where some of these statements concerning law and gospel are made. Statements that others do not have much appreciation for such as gospel obedience. I for one seemed to have heard some propagate a gospel / law distinction that is Lutheran and not Reformed. I call it Modern Reformed Thought. I do not believe it is of the Reformed tradition. Also something that has been propagated is that the gospel message is something that is confused and only has to do with a an outward work. I just don't have the energy to do it right now. I have been sick for a few weeks and feel very worn out. Sorry. A lot of what I have picked up was from the Heidelblog which is defunct now and Office Hours interviews with Van Drunnen and Horton. Also their books are great resources for what it is being said.

RAS,

Your first post did seem to come across kind of strong and party spirited. We have been discussing this topic for a few years actually. I believe you can view a lot of the exchange that went on between adherents of both thought on this forum.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
To date, the WSC/WHInn "school" has in some form or another, been accused of being or connected to in some degree, the following:
antinomian, "Sonship", Keswick, Lutheran, Dispensationalist, revisionist. In my experience, those who make these claims have either been FV proponents, Theonomists, ex-dispensationalist baptists, neo-kuyperians, those who elevate biblical theology over systematic theology, those who look at the confessions and the Reformed faith progressively rather than traditionally, those who pit Calvin against the Calvinists, and those who seem to think union with Christ is the material principle of the reformation.

Is there anyone who does not fall into any of these categories that agrees with their critique of the WSC/WHInn "school"?
Which camp do you place me in Allen? I want to see if you know me. Be Careful not to place me in the Theonomist's camp to quickly or any of the other camps. And you must obviously believe all these camps are aberrations to truth. Yeah, you came across a bit strong and party spirited. JMO.
 

Myshkin

Puritan Board Freshman
To date, the WSC/WHInn "school" has in some form or another, been accused of being or connected to in some degree, the following:
antinomian, "Sonship", Keswick, Lutheran, Dispensationalist, revisionist. In my experience, those who make these claims have either been FV proponents, Theonomists, ex-dispensationalist baptists, neo-kuyperians, those who elevate biblical theology over systematic theology, those who look at the confessions and the Reformed faith progressively rather than traditionally, those who pit Calvin against the Calvinists, and those who seem to think union with Christ is the material principle of the reformation.

Is there anyone who does not fall into any of these categories that agrees with their critique of the WSC/WHInn "school"?
Which camp do you place me in Allen? I want to see if you know me. Be Careful not to place me in the Theonomist's camp to quickly or any of the other camps. And you must obviously believe all these camps are aberrations to truth. Yeah, you came across a bit strong and party spirited. JMO.
Brother, I do not place you in any camp. Why would you even ask that? I have stated above that I did not have a party spirit when giving a context from my own experience to give perspective of where I was coming from and to ask a question for my further education. I don't even know you, so why are you testing me to see if I do know you? What is the point? Please explain how your question is not party spirited?

It is hard to believe, that people who keep giving me this interpretation of what I said, are giving me the benefit of the doubt and are reading closely, when they aren't even paying attention to a small detail such as consistently spelling my name wrong.

I can't keep explaining myself if nobody is willing to give me the benefit of the doubt when I do so. Thats a stacked deck that makes me look like I can't admit fault even though I have admitted fault at certain points. On top of explaining myself here again, I have read my first post over and over Randy, and it is curious that my opening statement is passed over where I try to make clear that I am not asking out of provocation but rather genuinely. Why are people trying to read my motives despite my explanation of what I meant, and on top of the fact that I admitted I may not have articulated as well as I intended? When am i going to be forgiven for being an imperfect articulator? When I admit what everyone seems to want to hear; that I had bad motives? Where is the grace and mercy for a fellow brother in Christ?

I am not going to be baited anymore. It is clear that an apology, an explanation, or whatever else is never going to be good enough. I have admitted my faults. I keep hoping to be able to come back to this thread and speak to the topic, but whether I assert my opinion or defend myself, I have a stecked deck against me either way.

Sorry again everyone, for my part in this thread.

Psalm 18:14
 
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Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
From the open letter:
So many of my friends and acquaintances are simply up in arms about the way you act and they tell me it’s because you talk too much about grace. They suggest (and I’m almost tempted to agree) that what you need is more and more rules to live by...
Who, among the Confessionally reformed, is actually stating the issue this way? The critic created is as fictitious as the character she is writing to.
Strawman it is. With the exception of genuine moralists and legalists I don't know who actually states the issue this way, even among those who are not confessionally Reformed.

Because Elyse Fitzpatrick is a Biblical Counselor and because so much of this debate has played out in various intramural debates in the Biblical Counseling field over the years, my guess is that the target is Jay Adams and those who tend to agree with his approach. It is an approach that is often derided as "behaviorism" by the "grace based" and "Gospel centered" folks.
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Allan,

I am asking you because I am one who disagrees with some of the stuff and people you name. And since I disagree with them on these issues I might land in one of those camps you name. I just wanted to know which one you might have thought it was. I also know that a lot of these things have been answered in past threads. I believe you have even been involved in some of those discussions. So I find it quite odd that you are asking for clarification. I am not sure why you desire the clarification in light of your participation. Are the past discussions just bleating air? This issue seems to be tied together with many discussions concerning what the gospel is, the law / gospel dichotomy discussion, and the radical two kingdom thought. They seem to have a fountainhead of where they are mostly coming from. This isn't anything hid under a bushel.

I have some disagreement with some of the things I have heard concerning what the Gospel is because I think I see some dangers. Does my disagreement lend me to party spirit? Maybe. BTW, I work with people on both sides of this issue. So I wouldn't really liken myself to have a party spirit.

I agree with Rich here.
I don't think you've been paying much attention to the debate if you're not aware of the discussion on this issue. Even some of WSC's most unfair critics acknowledge that they are distinguishing the Law and Gospel. Again, you are boiling things down in a way that makes all critics pretty unsophisticated if they cannot even tell the difference between a distinction, difference, and separation. Again, one has to spend some time looking at things to see the underlying issue as to why people are disagreeing but the consequences of this distinction create all sorts of consequences for how one emphasizes certain things.
I don't believe a deck is stacked against you. I do know you have interacted on this subject here before and all you have to do is go back and check out what both sides have said. There are distinct things being said. Especially in the books, blogs, and comments. The disagreements aren't over nothing.

Edit....
Sorry Allan, I am getting things mixed up. My comment about stupid was wrong. I do believe Rich was very good at explaining to you what is going on in his first and second response. I am not sure if he is being condescending or confrontational. I do believe it is a situation of confrontation though. Sorry for my comment on your idiot remark. But I don't believe Rich is being condescending. I know he wants you to understand. I think it would be better if you and I both took some time to listen a bit better. This is not an easy topic but you have participated in it before. The blog that this OP is referencing is somewhat of a proof that things are being said and either they are being understood correctly or they aren't. It evidently is a topic worth understanding and working your way through. I do not think the critics are unsophisticated nor are they just willy nilly nit picking. They are coming from some good seminary backgrounds.

http://katekomen.gpts.edu/2011/01/klhortonian-theology-and-mosaic.html

[URL="http://www.kerux.com/pdf/Kerux.24.03.pdf"]http://www.kerux.com/pdf/Kerux.24.03.pdf

D
r[/URL]. C. P. Venema did a good article also in the Mid America Journal.
 
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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
First of all, Rich, I am not an idiot. I know the difference between confrontation and condescension. Confrontation gets to the point, condescension elevates self over another at the expense of the other's dignity.
Thus, I'm accused of elevating myself at the expense of your dignity Allan. I'm saddened that this is the main thing you take from my remarks. I hope others can see more to it than that but I am grieved that this is all you read in it. My stated intent remains but I will endeavor to express myself better in the future.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I apologize for any confusion I may have caused. I should have noticed the date when I discovered and read the link.

Here is a summary from Justin Taylor of whom has been speaking to whom.

Gospel, Grace, and Effort: Roundup – Justin Taylor
Thanks for that link.

From A Question of Balance? Some Final Comments on Sanctification and the Role of the Law - Reformation21 Blog, William Evans notes:
Third, Sean focuses on the question of motivation for sanctification as crucial here. While, in my judgment, it is not the only issue in play in this discussion, it is indeed important. Here I cannot but be reminded of that bit of nineteenth-century English wisdom, variously attributed to John Stuart Mill, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and F. D. Maurice, to the effect that "people are generally right in what they affirm and wrong in what they deny." As far as I can tell, nearly everybody affirms that gratitude for justification is a motivation for sanctification. The question is whether it is the only motive and other motives are to be denied.

Here I wonder whether Sean, in his contention that the "confession of faith makes it clear that the way the law moves us to obey is by showing us our sin and giving us a clearer sight of Jesus," has simply failed to read much of the WCF 19.6 paragraph that I quoted. There we see that gratitude is indeed a motive but that there are other motives as well. The law is a binding obligation (it "binds them to walk accordingly"). Furthermore, the law contains sanctions for disobedience that the Christian may incur in this life ("the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law"). Moreover, there are blessings promised for obedience ("The promises of it . . . show them God's approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works"). And finally, this section concludes with the very clear recognition that these additional motivations are fully consistent with the gospel ("so as a man's doing good, and refraining from evil because the law encourageth to the one, and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law, and not under grace").

When we think carefully about this, the reason for these multiple levels of motivation is also quite understandable. The problem of sin, despite Tullian Tchividjian's "indisputable" claims to the contrary (He writes, "What is indisputable is the fact that unbelief is the force that gives birth to all of our bad behavior and every moral failure."), is more than unbelief. In Adam we are not only faithless; we are also lazy, undisciplined, mean-spirited, lustful, gluttonous, jealous, rebellious, and so on, and we need the law in its fullness to help us move forward in the sanctification process.

In light of all this, I would humbly suggest that some recent efforts to depreciate these other functions of the biblical imperatives, even though this may be done with the good intention of magnifying the grace of God, are both sub-biblical and sub-confessional. In short, let's preach the whole counsel of God, imperatives and all!
He articulated well how the "Gospel=indicative" or "Gospel as justification" emphasis actually ends up muting aspects of our confession where it is nearly impossible to reconcile WCF 19.6 with some of the statements that the Law can
VI. Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives; so as, examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of his obedience. It is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin, and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God's approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof; although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works: so as a man's doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one, and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law, and not under grace.
As I was going to bed last night I was reading this article and it dawned on me why the issue saddens me at a certain level. On the one hand, I appreciate the motivation that some have to guard against any sense that we are accepted by our works or stumbling into legalism. There is also the danger that our theology is guided by an obsession with guarding against antinomianism.

I think the problem is that when you boil the Law/Gospel distinction between types of words (imperative or indicative) then when one insists that it is only the Gospel that brings life, then we're sort of stepping away from the fact that it is not the ideas presented in the Gospel about what Christ has done but that it is Christ Himself that brings life and impels us. You see, I don't have a problem with the idea that the Gospel brings life and the motivation and power to view the Law anew but my understanding of the Gospel (from the Confessions) is not insisting that the Gospel is simply limited to the indicatives about what Christ has accomplished. It has a richness to it that includes all the graces that flow from Christ's mediatorial work as our Covenant head.

Thus, when Sean gets to 19.6 in his rejoinder, there seems to be an inability to see how the laws threatenings could be an evangelical motivation for obedience. If I'm tempted to cheat on my taxes, for instance, what if one of my motivations is that I might lose my clearance and my job and, therefore my house, and imperil my family by financial ruin? Christians are motivated by these "threats" all the time. The consequences of behavior motivate them not to sin at times. Owen, in his book on Sin and Temptation has an extended section on how these (among many different kinds of motivations) are of the Lord and impel us to resist temptation.

You just don't ever hear those kinds of motivations emphasized any more. If the Gospel is abstracted from our union with Christ by limiting it to the discussion of whether we're commanded to do it or whether Christ did it then the only thing we could ever say motivates or impels us is reflecting on what Christ has done. Where would the fear of the Law's threats fit in such a schema? Would our fear of the temporal consequences (broken relationships, lost jobs) that motivate us to obey at times be a sign of our faithlessness? Should we learn to never think in such categories because they are not born out of the Gospel's power (again limited to statements about what Christ has done)?

This is sad to me and actually extremely bothersome. I agree with Sean Lucas that here is an example where these emphases are not merely minor but play out in very consequential ways. Where the WCF tells us of the blessings that the laws threats and commands are to us, the emphasis mutes these and causes the believer to doubt whether such motivations are even appropriate or may belong to a slave mentality. Where God, as our Father, has blessed us in the moment with an internal fear of the temporal consequences, we don't thank Him for the providence of keeping us from sinning but instead attribute the motivation to our carnality and the need to mature beyond the fear of temporal consequences. Where I see a multi-faceted and rich appreciation of the implications of our union with Christ in our battle against temptation in the works of Owen and in our Confessions, I see a laser like focus on a few facets at the expense of the others. When is the last time you've been exhorted to thank God for the sanctifying power of the Law?
 
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