Friday, March 28, 2014

J.W. Dale on the Baptist Rejection of the Family from the Kingdom of God.

The doctrine that the kingdom of God = the Church, is made up solely of individuals on the basis of a personal repentance and faith, without recognition or provision for the relation of parent and child in family unity, any more than for the relation of a lawyer to his clients, of a physician to his patients, or a merchant to his customers, is a doctrine, which the Lord of that kingdom rejects on the ground of that folly and ruin which must be the portion of "a kingdom divided against itself."

That the constitution of this world is divine, will be admitted by all who believe that there is a God. That the constitution of the human race has its fundamental element in the Family Institution and not in the individual man will be admitted by every rational being. That the strongest, the tenderest, and the most influential ties bind parent and offspring together under divine constitution, the brute creation would testify, if men should deny. That moral duties and responsibilities inhere in the relation of parent and child, making the parent responsible (who shall fix the limits?) for the moral wellbeing of the child, none can rationally deny, who admit the moral nature of the new-born babe and the claim of God—" all souls are mine."

Now, from this kingdom, under a Family constitution, God has by sin been rejected. And he has declared his purpose to overthrow his enemies and to re-establish his kingdom—"Every knee shall bow to me;" "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained praise." The doctrine under consideration declares, that God will not re-establish this kingdom; but will set up another kingdom under a radically diverse constitution, from which family life shall be rejected and a solitary individualism be substituted. There would, thus, be two kingdoms of God in the world; the one having the Family Institution as its controlling feature, and the other refusing to give the Family institution any admission. "If Satan cast out Satan, Satan's kingdom cannot stand." If God's Family be cast out of God's kingdom the result remains to be developed. There has been no trial of such evisceration. The church for five thousand years has accepted this as the divine Constitution of the human race, nor has she ever supposed that God has set up another kingdom radically antagonistic to his own original kingdom. It does not, however, remain to be shown, that no nation or community organized on a basis rejecting or subverting the divine Institution of the Family can stand. This has abundantly been proved. Throughout heathenism generally the family is in ruins; and the moral ruin is as abounding. China has a singular history both as to permanence and as to regard for the family. Mohammedanism has substituted the harem for the family. France, at her influential centres, is largely destitute of family life; history declares the result. Romanism receives individual men and women into her monasteries, and nunneries, and priesthood, and rejects the family; the result is on record. Communism, Fourierism, Shakerism, Mormonism, reject or subvert the family; and the balance-wheel of permanence, and the germ of development and moral blessing is gone.

They who are attempting to build up a kingdom in God's name of individual men and women, rejecting from it the Family Institution, have been engaged in the task too short a time and their piety is too much better than their logic, to show the natural and fully developed fruit.

Should a father and mother, with their newly born babe, appear before the custodians of such an organization, and ask admission into the Church, the visible kingdom of God, the answer must be: "You can be received because you can repent and, believe; but there is no provision for the impenitent and the unbelieving." But our babe has not performed one act of impenitence or originated one act of unbelief." That is true; but he must personally repent and believe or he cannot come into the kingdom of the gospel; 'Repent and be baptized every one of you;' 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned.' Your child is a child of the Devil." Is our babe under the curse of the Law without any personal act of his but solely by the act of his parents and his birth from them, and yet incapable of being received into the kingdom of the gospel by their act, acknowledging the sovereign right of God in him, the commands of God laid upon us for him, confessing his need of cleansing by the blood of Christ the Redeemer, and accepting with adoring faith the promises "made unto parents and their children," and holding him forth by the prayer of faith to be received into a Saviour's arms? "Your child is under the covenant of DEATH as your child; but he is not under the covenant of life as your child. No provision is made in the gospel for the salvation of children with their parents.'' 'Will you, then, receive us as PARENTS? “No, we cannot. When we reject your child as your child received from God to be nurtured, trained, taught in his kingdom for his glory, we reject the family in all its elements and therefore cannot receive you into the kingdom of God as Parents, Father and Mother. We have no fathers and mothers, or sons and daughters, in our kingdom. And if your child (now unprovided for and left out in the kingdom of Satan because he cannot repent and believe) should live long enough to repent and believe, he could not come into the kingdom as your child; and when in it, he could not he related to you as your child under the laws of the kingdom, but only as any other individual believer." Well, then, we will enter the kingdom of God as husband and wife. In God's name, and by God's ordinance, we twain have been made one. Marriage, no doubt, is a part of the law of God's kingdom. "No, it is not. The only elements which can be considered in receiving into the kingdom of God is individualism, not twain-unity any more than family unity. We cannot recognize you in your relation as husband and wife, any more than we can recognize Richard Roe and John Doe as partners in business, when they come together to be received into the kingdom. Besides, if we were to recognize Marriage as an element in the kingdom of God, and you entering that kingdom as husband and wife should have a child born to you, what could we do with it? We would be placed in the dilemma of recognizing Marriage, and Husband and Wife, as belonging to the kingdom of God, and casting the fruit of the womb which is His reward out of his kingdom as unholy." When your members intermarry do they marry in the kingdom? "No; Marriage is God's institution, it is celebrated by God's minister, it is performed in God's house, it is sanctified by prayer in God's name, but it is all out of His kingdom, and in the world" (Satan's kingdom?) "to which marriage and the FAMILY BELONG (!). In the kingdom of God there is nothing but naked individualism (man, woman), repenting and believing."

Does not the Bible address Husbands and Wives as in the kingdom and as having duties to perform toward each other? "That is an accident not entering into the constitution of the kingdom any more than when it addresses rich men and poor men, and enjoins just weights and equal balances. Marriage no more enters into the kingdom of God than does a commercial partnership; nor the Family with its parents and children, any more than an Orphan Asylum with its Steward and Matron and orphan waifs."

Thus rejected. Father and Mother bear away their babe, saying, "O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united."

And let all who fear God and keep his commandments say Amen.

from pages 227-230 of Christic and Patristic Baptism, Wm Rutter & Co., 1874

Monday, March 24, 2014

If TBN Had Existed in the Time of Irenaeus

1. But there is another among these heretics, Marcus by name, who boasts himself as having improved upon his master. He is a perfect adept in magical impostures, and by this means drawing away a great number of men, and not a few women, he has induced them to join themselves to him, as to one who is possessed of the greatest knowledge and perfection, and who has received the highest power from the invisible and ineffable regions above. Thus it appears as if he really were the precursor of Antichrist. For, joining the buffooneries of Anaxilaus to the craftiness of the magi, as they are called, he is regarded by his senseless and cracked-brain followers as working miracles by these means.
2. Pretending to consecrate cups mixed with wine, and protracting to great length the word of invocation, he contrives to give them a purple and reddish colour, so that Charis, who is one of those that are superior to all things, should be thought to drop her own blood into that cup through means of his invocation, and that thus those who are present should be led to rejoice to taste of that cup, in order that, by so doing, the Charis, who is set forth by this magician, may also flow into them. Again, handing mixed cups to the women, he bids them consecrate these in his presence. When this has been done, he himself produces another cup of much larger size than that which the deluded woman has consecrated, and pouring from the smaller one consecrated by the woman into that which has been brought forward by himself, he at the same time pronounces these words: “May that Charis who is before all things, and who transcends all knowledge and speech, fill thine inner man, and multiply in thee her own knowledge, by sowing the grain of mustard seed in thee as in good soil.” Repeating certain other like words, and thus goading on the wretched woman [to madness], he then appears a worker of wonders when the large cup is seen to have been filled out of the small one, so as even to overflow by what has been obtained from it. By accomplishing several other similar things, he has completely deceived many, and drawn them away after him.
3. It appears probable enough that this man possesses a demon as his familiar spirit, by means of whom he seems able to prophesy, and also enables as many as he counts worthy to be partakers of his Charis themselves to prophesy. He devotes himself especially to women, and those such as are well-bred, and elegantly attired, and of great wealth, whom he frequently seeks to draw after him, by addressing them in such seductive words as these: “I am eager to make thee a partaker of my Charis, since the Father of all doth continually behold thy angel before His face. Now the place of thy angel is among us: it behoves us to become one. Receive first from me and by me [the gift of] Charis. Adorn thyself as a bride who is expecting her bridegroom, that thou mayest be what I am, and I what thou art. Establish the germ of light in thy nuptial chamber. Receive from me a spouse, and become receptive of him, while thou art received by him. Behold Charis has descended upon thee; open thy mouth and prophesy.” On the woman replying, “I have never at any time prophesied, nor do I know how to prophesy;” then engaging, for the second time, in certain invocations, so as to astound his deluded victim, he says to her, “Open thy mouth, speak whatsoever occurs to thee, and thou shalt prophesy.” She then, vainly puffed up and elated by these words, and greatly excited in soul by the expectation that it is herself who is to prophesy, her heart beating violently [from emotion], reaches the requisite pitch of audacity, and idly as well as impudently utters some nonsense as it happens to occur to her, such as might be expected from one heated by an empty spirit. (Referring to this, one superior to me has observed, that the soul is both audacious and impudent when heated with empty air.) Henceforth she reckons herself a prophetess, and expresses her thanks to Marcus for having imparted to her of his own Charis. She then makes the effort to reward him, not only by the gift of her possessions (in which way he has collected a very large fortune), but also by yielding up to him her person, desiring in every way to be united to him, that she may become altogether one with him.
4. But already some of the most faithful women, possessed of the fear of God, and not being deceived (whom, nevertheless, he did his best to seduce like the rest by bidding them prophesy), abhorring and execrating him, have withdrawn from such a vile company of revellers. This they have done, as being well aware that the gift of prophecy is not conferred on men by Marcus, the magician, but that only those to whom God sends His grace from above possess the divinely-bestowed power of prophesying; and then they speak where and when God pleases, and not when Marcus orders them to do so. For that which commands is greater and of higher authority than that which is commanded, inasmuch as the former rules, while the latter is in a state of subjection. If, then, Marcus, or anyone else, does command,— as these are accustomed continually at their feasts to play at drawing lots, and [in accordance with the lot] to command one another to prophesy, giving forth as oracles what is in harmony with their own desires,—it will follow that he who commands is greater and of higher authority than the prophetic spirit, though he is but a man, which is impossible. But such spirits as are commanded by these men, and speak when they desire it, are earthly and weak, audacious and impudent, sent forth by Satan for the seduction and perdition of those who do not hold fast that well-compacted faith which they received at first through the Church.
5. Moreover, that this Marcus compounds philters and love-potions, in order to insult the persons of some of these women, if not of all, those of them who have returned to the Church of God— a thing which frequently occurs—have acknowledged, confessing, too, that they have been defiled by him, and that they were filled with a burning passion towards him. A sad example of this occurred in the case of a certain Asiatic, one of our deacons, who had received him (Marcus) into his house. His wife, a woman of remarkable beauty, fell a victim both in mind and body to this magician, and, for a long time, travelled about with him. At last, when, with no small difficulty, the brethren had converted her, she spent her whole time in the exercise of public confession, weeping over and lamenting the defilement which she had received from this magician.
6. Some of his disciples, too, addicting themselves to the same practices, have deceived many silly women, and defiled them. They proclaim themselves as being “perfect,” so that no one can be compared to them with respect to the immensity of their knowledge, nor even were you to mention Paul or Peter, or any other of the apostles. They assert that they themselves know more than all others, and that they alone have imbibed the greatness of the knowledge of that power which is unspeakable. They also maintain that they have attained to a height above all power, and that therefore they are free in every respect to act as they please, having no one to fear in anything. For they affirm, that because of the “Redemption” it has come to pass that they can neither be apprehended, nor even seen by the judge. But even if he should happen to lay hold upon them, then they might simply repeat these words, while standing in his presence along with the “Redemption:” “O thou, who sittest beside God, and the mystical, eternal Sige, thou through whom the angels (mightiness), who continually behold the face of the Father, having thee as their guide and introducer, do derive their forms from above, which she in the greatness of her daring inspiring with mind on account of the goodness of the Propator, produced us as their images, having her mind then intent upon the things above, as in a dream,— behold, the judge is at hand, and the crier orders me to make my defence. But do thou, as being acquainted with the affairs of both, present the cause of both of us to the judge, inasmuch as it is in reality but one cause.” Now, as soon as the Mother hears these words, she puts the Homeric helmet of Pluto upon them, so that they may invisibly escape the judge. And then she immediately catches them up, conducts them into the bridal chamber, and hands them over to their consorts.
7. Such are the words and deeds by which, in our own district of the Rhone, they have deluded many women, who have their consciences seared as with a hot iron. Some of them, indeed, make a public confession of their sins; but others of them are ashamed to do this, and in a tacit kind of way, despairing of [attaining to] the life of God, have, some of them, apostatized altogether; while others hesitate between the two courses, and incur that which is implied in the proverb, “neither without nor within;” possessing this as the fruit from the seed of the children of knowledge. 

Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 1, Chapter 13

Friday, March 21, 2014

B.B. Warfield on Systematic Theology

“The systematic theologian is pre-eminently a preacher of the gospel; and the end of his work is obviously not merely the logical arrangement of the truths which come under his hand, but the moving of men, through their power to love God with all their heart and their neighbours as themselves; to choose their portion with the Saviour of their souls; to find and hold him precious; and to recognise and yield to the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit whom he has sent. With such truth as this he will not dare to deal in a cold and merely scientific spirit, but will justly and necessarily permit its preciousness and its practical destination to determine the spirit in which he handles it, and to awaken the reverential love with which alone he should investigate its reciprocal relations. For this he needs to be suffused at all times with a sense of the unspeakable worth of the revelation which lies before him as the source of his material, and with the personal bearings of its separate truths on his own heart and life; he needs to have had and to be having a full, rich, and deep religious experience of the great doctrines with which he deals; he needs to be living close to his God, to be resting always on the bosom of his Redeemer, to be filled at all times with the manifest influences of the Holy Spirit. The student of systematic theology needs a very sensitive religious nature, a most thoroughly consecrated heart, and an outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon him, such as willfill him with that spiritual discernment, without which all native intellect is in vain. He needs to be not merely a student, not merely a thinker not merely a systematizer not merely a teacher – he needs to be like the beloved disciple himself in the highest, truest, and holiest sense, a divine.”

B.B. Warfield, Studies in Theology: The Works of B. B. Warfield, vol. 9, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991 rep.), pp. 86-87.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Henry Van Dyke on the Reformed Doctrine of The Lord's Supper

The Reformed doctrine of the Lord's Supper is intimately connected with the two great mysteries of the incarnation and the personal union of believers with Christ. The Holy Communion has its profound roots in the one mystery, and its precious fruits in the other. Christ did not say, "This do in remembrance of My death.'' To make it simply a memorial of His sufferings on the cross is to belittle the ordinance, and presumptuously to restrict the meaning of the words of institution: "Do this in remembrance of Me." Christ Himself, in His Divine fullness, and not any part of His person or of His history, is the subject and the substance of the sacrament. His death as the sacrifice for sin, though it is the central point, is but a small part of the history of His relation to His redeemed people; and the importance and efficacy of this fact depend on what precedes and follows it. The cross of Jesus would be no more to us than the cross of the penitent thief, if He were not the Incarnate Son and Word of God, and if His cross were not inseparably connected with His resurrection and ascension to glory.

The sacrament is founded upon and leads us to His one indivisible Person, which is the reservoir of all Divine fullness for our salvation. He is not, and cannot be, divided. His human nature never had, and never can have, any existence separate from His Deity. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and was the Son of God from the moment of His conception. His human soul and His human body were separated for three days, when the one descended to Hades (Acts 2:27, 31), and the other lay in the tomb; but neither was parted for a moment from His Divine nature. Moreover, since the incarnation Christ's Divine nature does not exert any saving power, nor bestow any gracious gift upon men, except in and through His human nature. The Son of God was from the beginning the living Word of the Father, the life and the light of men; and now since the Word became Flesh, it is the Son of Man who has power on earth to forgive sins, and is exalted a Prince and a Savior to give repentance and remission. By its union with the Divine nature the humanity of Christ is infinitely exalted. It was so even on earth; the touch of His finger was life-giving, and there was virtue in the hem of His garment. The light of God which transfigured Him on the mount came from within. It follows from this that wherever Christ is there is His human as well as His Divine nature. His human nature is virtually omnipresent, because it is inseparably and forever united to the Divine.

The incarnation of the Son of God accomplishes its chief purpose in the personal union of the believer with Him. This union is a great mystery (Eph. 6:32). But its mystery is no hindrance to our faith in its reality nor to our experimental knowledge of its blessedness. The Scriptures in which it is asserted are numerous, varied, and explicit. The sixth chapter of John, the farewell address of Christ, and the intercessory prayer are full of it. We are one with Him, even as He is one with the Father, as the branch is one with the vine, as the husband is one with the wife, as the members are one with the body. The union is not only legal, but vital. He dwells in us, and we in Him; and "when He who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory." It is trifling to set aside these Scripture statements as mere figures of speech. The figures fall short of the profound reality which they illustrate. It is no less trifling to resolve the mystery of this personal union with Christ into the indwelling of His Spirit in the souls of believers. It is accomplished by the indwelling of the Spirit, and therefore additional to it, and not identical with it. Our bodies as well as our souls are united to Christ, — our whole nature to His one Person. His saving work for us and in us will reach its consummation in the "redemption of our body." (Rom. 8:23) When the Christian dies, he "sleeps in Jesus." "The souls of believers at death, being made perfect in holiness, pass immediately into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in the grave till the resurrection." 1

Now, both the everlasting unity of Christ's person and our personal union with Him are signified, exhibited, and brought home to our experience in the Lord's Supper. This is the chief end for which it was instituted. "It was designed to signify and effect our communion with Christ in His person, in His offices, and in their precious fruits." 2

It is only by being made partakers of Christ Himself that we can partake of His benefits; and therefore the res sacramenti, the thing signified, sealed, and applied in the Holy Supper, is not merely the sacrificial virtue of His death, nor the benefits He procures for us by His sacrifice and intercession, but the personal Christ, once crucified, now risen and glorified forever. He plainly asserts the necessity of this personal union with Himself in words (John 6:53-57) which, if they are not intended to describe the Lord's Supper, are certainly applicable to it; for Paul makes the application (in 1 Cor. 10:16) when he declares that the bread we break and the cup of blessing we bless is the communion (the koinonia, the actual participation) of the body and blood of Christ, — that is, of His Divine yet human person. "This I say, then, that in the mystery of the Supper, by the symbols of bread and wine, Christ, His body and blood, are truly exhibited to us; first, that we might become one body with Him; and secondly, that, being made partakers of His substance, we might feel the results of this fact in the participation of all His blessings." 3 In his commentary on the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians, Calvin asserts the same great truth still more strongly. 4

The first question relates to the real presence of Christ in the sacrament. In common language the idea of presence is usually restricted to local nearness and to discernment by the bodily senses. Yet even in common language a much wider conception of its meaning is often indicated. We say of another that he is present with us when we know that he is sitting behind a screen at the farther end of the same room, or in another room of the same house. Two hearers are present in the same audience without recognizing each other. We speak of the presence of the sun when it shines on us. A blind man would use the same language. Presence, therefore, even in common language, does not depend upon local nearness nor upon sense perception. One person is present with another wherever he reveals himself and makes his influence felt by the other; and even where such revelation is made and such influence exerted, though they are accepted and realized by some and not by others of the same company. On a bright day at a funeral the sun is as really present with the corpse as with the living mourners.

All Christians who believe in the Lord's Supper at all, believe also that Christ is present in it. The whole contention is about the mode of that presence. Many who admit its reality virtually deny it in their attempts to explain it, — those, for example, who make it a mere conception in the mind of believers. The Westminster Confession and Catechisms assert that "Christ's body and blood are present to the faith of the receiver no less truly than the elements themselves are to their outward senses." Their bodily senses do not produce, but only perceive, the presence of the elements. They are present to a blind man, though he does not see them. And so Faith perceives, but does not create nor secure, the presence of Christ's body and blood. It is as real to those who do not discern the Lord's body as to those who do. While we fully agree, with Hooker, that they who hold that Christ's body and blood are "externally seated in the very consecrated elements themselves," are driven either to incorporate Him with the sacramental elements or to transubstantiate their substance into His, we cannot accept the inference that "the real presence of Christ's most blessed body and blood is not to be sought for in the sacrament, but in the worthy receiver of the sacrament.” 5 Surely there is a broad and tenable ground between seating Christ externally in the elements and confining Him to the thoughts and experiences of the communicants. The two extremes meet, and are equally objectionable in this point, that they limit and localize the Savior's presence.

No less objectionable is the theory which identifies Christ's presence in the sacrament with the omnipresence of the Divine nature. This, like the preceding notion, belongs to Zwinglianism in its lowest form, and cannot be reconciled to the Scripture doctrine of the person of Christ. The Romish Church is consistent with Scripture and with the teaching of all the Reformed Confessions when she insists that Christ's presence in the sacrament includes His human as well as His Divine nature, His body and blood as well as His Deity, But when she insists that this personal and real presence involves the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into His Deity and humanity, we deny and protest against the assumption. We reject also the theory of a local presence in, with, or under the sacred symbols. Presence, as applied in Scripture and in our theology to the theanthropic person of Christ, has nothing to do with locality or limitation of any kind. 6 It refers to influence and manifestation. His whole human nature, body and soul, being forever united to His Divine nature, is virtually omnipresent; that is to say, its influence can be exerted and manifested anywhere, according to His Divine will. The ultimate source of such influence and manifestation, of course, is in His Divine nature; but they are exerted and put forth in and through His human nature.

This use of the word "presence" is perfectly consistent, as already shown, with the popular use of language. It is consistent also with Christ's own promises: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." To resolve such promises into the presence of the Holy Spirit is to belittle and utterly to confuse them. Christ does not make a difference in His promises without a corresponding difference in the things to which they refer. His promised presence, though invisible and intangible, and in that sense spiritual, is nevertheless personal, real, and objective; that is, outside and independent of our apprehensions of it. This spiritual but real presence of Christ is specially promised and covenanted to us in the Lord's Supper. The consecrated bread and wine are not merely the symbols of His body and blood, but the Divine seals of the covenant whereby Christ and all His benefits are not only represented, but applied to us; and therefore their use is the koinonia, the actual participation of Christ's body and blood by every believing communicant. "If they are 'seals' of the covenant, they must, of course, as a legal form of investiture, actually convey the grace represented to those to whom it belongs; as a deed conveys an estate, or the key, handed over in the presence of witnesses, the possession of a house from the owner to the renter. ... It is the authoritative appointment of Christ that these signs, rightly used, shall truly represent and convey the grace they signify." 7 The grace signified is the fullness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in Christ (Col. 2:9). His body and blood are specially mentioned and emphasized, because it is through His humanity that the Divine nature is brought into union with us and His Divine power made efficacious for our salvation, and also because it is in regard to His coming in the flesh, His sacrificial death, and His glorification as our representative that our faith most needs to be confirmed.

This will be more apparent in our answer to the second question: What does the believer receive in the Lord's Supper? The unbeliever receives nothing but bread and wine. Here the Reformed doctrine differs radically from both the Romish and the Lutheran. 8 The unbelieving communicant is guilty of or concerning the body and blood of the Lord, not because he eats and drinks them without faith, but because, having no true faith, he does not eat and drink them at all. 9 They are present and offered to him as truly as to the believer; but he neither discerns nor receives them. He is guilty, not because he is personally unworthy, as all communicants are, but because he eats and drinks unworthily, in a way not suitable to the nature and design of the sacrament. The thing there signified, Christ truly exhibits and offers to all who sit down at that spiritual feast. 10 But just as the rain falling on the hard rock runs away because it cannot penetrate, so the unbelieving repel the grace of God, and prevent it from reaching them. "They bring death on themselves, not by receiving Christ unworthily, but by rejecting Him." 11

But the believing communicant receives and appropriates that which the unbeliever ignores and rejects. The bread and wine are called Christ's body and blood because our Lord, by holding forth these symbols, gives us at the same time that of which He has chosen them to be the signs and the seals; for Christ is not a deceiver, to mock us with empty representations. The reality is conjoined with the sign; or, in other words, we do not less truly become participants in Christ's body and blood in respect of their spiritual efficacy than we partake of the bread and wine.

It should be remembered, however, that the body and blood of Christ cannot be separated from Christ Himself, and that no saving benefit can be received from Him unless we are vitally united to His person. His body and blood represent His whole person and offices, His merits, the sacrificial virtue of His death, and all His benefits, both of grace and of glory. This is evident from His own words in John 6:51-57; and this mode of speaking is adopted especially with reference to the Lord's Supper, because we cannot be made partakers of His Divine nature except in and through His humanity. "For the flesh of Christ is the conduit that conveys the graces of the Godhead and the graces of the Spirit of Christ into our souls, which otherwise than by His body we could not receive." 12 It is plainly the doctrine of the Standards of the Presbyterian Church that the believing communicant receives not only the sacrificial virtue of Christ's death, but Christ Himself in all the fullness of His Divine and human nature. "Sacraments are holy signs and seals to represent Christ and His benefits, and to confirm our interest in Him." 13 "Wherein Christ and the benefits of the New Covenant are represented sealed and applied to believers." 14

1. WSC
2.  A.A. Hodge, Commentary on WCF
3. Calvin, Institutes
4. Calvin, Commentary on 1 Cor. 11:24-36
In the light of the incarnation and the personal union of believers with Christ, we may undertake to answer certain questions which go to the root of the whole doctrine as to the design and efficacy of the Lord's Supper.
5. Hooker, Ecc. Pol.
6. That participation in the body of Christ which I affirm does not require a local presence, nor the descent of Christ, nor infinite extension, nor anything of that nature. His communicating Himself to us is effected through the secret virtue of the Holy Spirit, which cannot merely bring together, but join in one things which are separated by distance of place. In short, that He may be present with us He does not change His place, but communicates to us from heaven the virtue of His flesh as though it were present. Calvin, Commentary on 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
7. A.A. Hodge, Commentary on the Westminster Confession
8. WCF 29.7
9. 39 Articles, Art. 29
10. “Christ's body and blood be offered by God unto all, yet they are received by such only as have the hand of faith to lay hold on Christ; and these, with the bread and wine, spiritually receive Christ, with all His saving graces. The wicked receive only the outward elements”. Ussher, Body of Divinity,
11. Calvin, Institutes 4.17.33
12. Isaac Ambrose, “Looking to Jesus.”
13. WCF 27.1
14. WSC

The Church, Her Ministry and Sacraments: Lectures delivered on the L. P. Stone foundation at Princeton theological seminary in 1890 by Henry J. Van Dyke

Friday, March 14, 2014

Toplady on Conditional Redemption

“What think you of conditional redemption? ...We are gravely told by some, that ‘Christ did indeed die; but he did not die absolutely, nor purchase forgiveness and eternal life for us certainly: his death only puts us into a salvable state; making God placable, and pardon possible.’ The whole efficacy of his sufferings, according to these persons, depends on our being towardly and complying: which if we are, we then come in for a share in the subsidiary and supplementary merits of Christ; having first qualified ourselves for his aid, by a performance of certain conditions required on our part, and entitled ourselves to the favour and notice of God. According to this scheme (which is only the religion of nature spoiled;—spoiled by an injudicious mixture of nominal Christianity), the adorable Mediator, instead of having actually obtained eternal redemption for his people, and secured the blessings of grace and glory to those for whom he died; is represented as bequeathing to them only a few spiritual lottery-tickets, which may come up, blanks or prizes, just as the wheel of chalice and human caprice happens to turn. Our own righteousness and endeavours, must first make the scale of eternal life preponderate in our favour; and then, the merits of Christ are thrown in, to make up good weight. The Messiah's obedience and sufferings stand it seems, for mere ciphers; until our own freewill is so kind as to prefix the initial figure, and render them of value.—I tremble at the shocking consequences of a system, which (as one well observes) considers the whole mediation of Christ as no more than a pedestal, on which human worth may stand exalted: nay, (to use the language of another) which sinks the Son of God—how shall I speak it?—‘into a spiritual huckster, who, having purchased certain blessings of his Father, sells them out afterwards to men upon terms and conditions.’” - A Caveat Against Unsound Doctrines

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

God's Sovereignty Over Men's Wills

Does the Bible teach that God is sovereign over men’s wills? You tell me.

“you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Gen. 50:20)

“But I will harden his (Pharaoh’s) heart, so that he will not let the people go.” (Ex. 4:21)

“And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” (Ex. 12:36)

“And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen.” (Ex. 14:17)

“But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass through, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand” (Deut. 2:30)

“For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them” (Josh. 11:20)

“God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech” (Jud. 9:23)

“the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” (2 Sam. 24:1)

“The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets” (1 Kings 22:23)

“that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom” (Ezra 1:1-3)

“the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God” (Ezra 6:22)

“He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants.” (Ps. 105:25)

“A man’s heart (will) plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Pr. 16:9)

“The king’s heart (will) is in the hand of the LORD…He turns it wherever He wishes. (Pr. 21:1)

“Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger…I will send him against an ungodly nation, and against the people of My wrath I will give him charge…Yet he does not mean so, nor does his heart think so” (Is. 10:5-7)

“For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” (Is. 14:27)

“Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure’” (Is. 44:28)

“I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever” (Jer. 32:39)

“I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.” (Jer. 32:40)

“I will give you a new heart (will) and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart (will) of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezek. 36:26-27)

“For His dominion is and everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?” (Dan. 4:34-35)

“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:27-28)

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

“Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” (Rom. 9:19)

“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Cor. 12:11)

“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)

“Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” (Jas. 4:15)

“For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.” (Rev. 17:17)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Irenaeus, The Church's Received Faith

“The Church, though dispersed through our the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: She believes in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them.

"And in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His future manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father ‘to gather all things in one,’ (Eph. 1:10) and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, ‘every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess’ (Phil. 2:10-11) to Him.

"And that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send ‘spiritual wickednesses,’ (Eph. 6:12) the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning of their Christian course, and others from the date of their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.”

Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, I.X.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Irenaeus, The Glory of the Incarnation

“Their doctrine departs from Him who is truly God, being ignorant that His only-begotten Word, who is always present with the human race, united to and mingled with His own creation, according to the Father’s pleasure, and who became flesh, is Himself Jesus Christ our Lord, who did also suffer for us, and rose again on our behalf, and who will come again in the glory of His Father, to raise up all flesh, and for the manifestation of salvation, and to apply the rule of just judgment to all who were made by Him.

"There is therefore, as I have pointed out, one God the Father, and one Christ Jesus, who came by means of the whole arrangements connected with Him, and gathered together all things in Himself. But in every respect, too, He is man, the formation of God.

"And thus He took up man into Himself, the invisible becoming visible, the incomprehensible being made comprehensible, the impassible becoming capable of suffering, and the Word being made man, thus summing up all things in Himself so that as in super-celestial, spiritual, and invisible things, the Word of God is supreme, so also in things visible and corporeal He might possess the supremacy, and, taking to Himself the pre-eminence, as well as constituting Himself Head of the Church, He might draw all things to Himself at the proper time.”

–Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, III.xvi.6.

Visitor Counter

Flag Counter