Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Few Good Quotes

Below are a few choice quotes to ponder. The eloquence and power of some preachers never ceases to amaze me. Every one of the quotations below is merely a line or two from a sermon. None of them are clever quips intended to impress carnal men with oratorical skill. It challenges me to be more deliberate in my speech, especially in the pulpit.

God will not pardon for repentance, nor yet without it. Thomas Watson

Ah, did we but rightly understand what the demerit of sin is, we would rather admire the bounty of God than complain of the straithandedness of Providence. And if we did but consider that there lies upon God no obligation of justice or gratitude to reward any of our duties, it would cure our murmurs (Gen. 32:10). John Flavel

Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before. John Owen

Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy. John Trapp

In whatsoever dunghills God’s elect are hid, election will find them out and bring them home. John Arrowsmith

There is no real bondage, but what is either from, or for sin. Vavasor Powell

Brethren, while it is well with us, through the grace of God, and our own houses are not in flames, pray do not let us think the times are not perilous, when so many turn unto Popery and Quakerism, into pernicious errors, and fall into swift destruction. Will you say the time of the public plague was not perilous, because you are alive? No. Was the fire not dreadful, because your houses were not burned? No; you will, notwithstanding, say it was a dreadful plague, and a dreadful fire. And pray consider, is not this a perilous season, when multitudes have an inclination to depart from the truth, and God, in just judgment, hath permitted Satan to stir up seducers to draw them into pernicious ways, and their poor souls perish forever. John Owen

We are not saved for believing but by believing. Thomas Taylor

A legally convinced person would only be freed from the pain, an evangelically convinced person from sin, the true cause of it. Stephen Charnock

It is in many places a lost labor to seek for Christianity among Christians. John Owen

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why Turkey is Better Than Chicken

This is my wife's first Thanksgiving. She was puzzled to hear me talk so excitedly about turkey. She asked why I thought turkey was better than chicken. If, a picture is worth a thousand words, this picture explains a lot.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

The text above read thus:

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November [New Style, November 21], in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thomas Goodwin on Christ's Headship

Perhaps we are all familiar with the Reformed way of categorizing the work of Christ into the three offices of Prophet, Priest and King. Thomas Goodwin has some beautiful insight into the relation of Christ’s headship over the Church to the three offices.

I have often had many discussions with myself, whether that this relation of headship should not import some distinct office from that of king, priest, and prophet, to which three all divines do reduce the offices of Christ. But I have at last resolved my thoughts thus: that this relation of headship doth import all his offices, but with that peculiarness, and with that eminency, as no other relation is Scripture doth. For -

First, to begin with his kingly office; there is this difference between a king and a natural head of a body, that a king ruleth only externally by commands, and by laws, and by proclamations declared; but the rule of a head is natural. Therefore now, if you reduce it to the kingly office of Christ, it is with an eminency, with a peculiarity. It is our advantage that we are not ruled by Christ as a king simply considered, so far as that similitude will carry it, by external laws revealed, or by way of promises or rewards; but we are ruled by Christ naturally and inwardly, as the members are ruled by the head, which of all rules is the best and most eminent. So that it noteth out the peculiarity of his kingly office.

Secondly, come to his prophetical office. His headship noteth that too, and that with a peculiarity. The head doth not teach the members by outward dictates, or by way of doctrine; but it doth teach the members by way of impression, a secret impression, carrying them on to do the thing teacheth. So Jesus Christ, as a head, doth not only teach by way of doctrine, but by efficacy. I need not write unto you, saith he, for you are all taught of God to love one another. And this is the most glorious teaching in the world.

Thirdly, go to his priestly office, and his headship importeth that too. There are two parts of his priestly office. There is, first, offering of sacrifice; secondly, there is intercession, a pleading of that sacrifice before God for us. And of the two, intercession is the most eminent part of the priesthood of Christ; for that part of his priestly office was resembled by Melchisedec, who, we never read, offered sacrifice, but he blessed Abraham, as Christ doth us from heaven, and now intercedeth for us.

Now, intercession is noted out by headship, for it is natural to the head to speak for us members; the tongue speaks, if speaking will prevent any danger; the head takes care of the members by intercession and by pleading. It noteth out therefore, his priestly office, and that with an eminency and by a peculiarity.

Thomas Goodwin, on Ephesians 1:22, 23 (Sermon XXXVI, Works, Vol. 1)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Augustine on "Free-Will"

it pleased God, the Creator and Governor of the universe, that, since the whole body of the angels had not fallen into rebellion, the part of them which had fallen should remain in perdition eternally, and that the other part, which had in the rebellion remained steadfastly loyal, should rejoice in the sure and certain knowledge of their eternal happiness; but that, on the other hand, mankind, who constituted the remainder of the intelligent creation, having perished without exception under sin, both original and actual, and the consequent punishments, should be in part restored, and should fill up the gap which the rebellion and fall of the devils had left in the company of the angels. For this is the promise to the saints, that at the resurrection they shall be equal to the angels of God. (Luke 20:36) And thus the Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all, the city of God, shall not be spoiled of any of the number of her citizens, shall perhaps reign over even a more abundant population. We do not know the number either of the saints or of the devils; but we know that the children of the holy mother who was called barren on earth shall succeed to the place of the fallen angels, and shall dwell forever in that peaceful abode from which they fell. But the number of the citizens, whether as it now is or as it shall be, is present to the thoughts of the great Creator, who calls those things which are not as though they were, (Romans 4:17) ordereth all things in measure, and number, and weight.

But this part of the human race to which God has promised pardon and a share in His eternal kingdom, can they be restored through the merit of their own works? God forbid. For what good work can a lost man perform, except so far as he has been delivered from perdition? Can they do anything by the free determination of their own will? Again I say, God forbid. For it was by the evil use of his free-will that man destroyed both it and himself. For, as a man who kills himself must, of course, be alive when he kills himself, but after he has killed himself ceases to live, and cannot restore himself to life; so, when man by his own free-will sinned, then sin being victorious over him, the freedom of his will was lost. “For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19) This is the judgment of the Apostle Peter. And as it is certainly true, what kind of liberty, I ask, can the bond-slave possess, except when it pleases him to sin? For he is freely in bondage who does with pleasure the will of his master. Accordingly, he who is the servant of sin is free to sin. And hence he will not be free to do right, until, being freed from sin, he shall begin to be the servant of righteousness. And this is true liberty, for he has pleasure in the righteous deed; and it is at the same time a holy bondage, for he is obedient to the will of God. But whence comes this liberty to do right to the man who is in bondage and sold under sin, except he be redeemed by Him who has said, “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed?” (John 8:36) And before this redemption is wrought in a man, when he is not yet free to do what is right, how can he talk of the freedom of his will and his good works, except he be inflated by that foolish pride of boasting which the apostle restrains when he says, “By grace are ye saved, through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8)

St. Augustine, Enchiridion, 29. 30

Thursday, November 18, 2010

William Farel on Marriage

"God created woman to be a help meet for man, especially in the holy state of matrimony. To help is the aim of love. Marriage binds the parties to a strict outward union; but how much more should it promote that unity of spirit which rests upon affection and true friendship! We clearly see in those married persons who live according to the Divine law, how the affection of the one sympathizes with the comfort or discomfort of the other. The man rejoices in the welfare of his wife, and the woman in the welfare of her husband. Her sorrows trouble him; while she not only grieves for his sufferings, but, if her spouse be absent, joy departs till he returns to her. What sacrifices are too great for her to make, if he is ill; and what will he regard as too great, if he can thereby restore health to her? So strong is their love, that they would with joy endure for each other the sharpest sufferings. To those who wish to make progress in every virtue, what opportunities for the performance of the most sacred duties does this state present! What joy is felt, when progress is made in true goodness, and how it stirs up to constant and mutual improvement! If anything unpropitious occurs, how does the most active and tender sympathy develop itself! So true it is, that the duties of love cannot be performed in any state so completely as in that of holy matrimony. He, who himself 'is love' instituted, honored, and commanded it; but he who was a murderer from the beginning, and hatred itself, has (as far as lay in his power) annulled, disgraced, and forbidden it."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jacob's Pleading Grounds In Prayer

I am not one for “secrets” in the Christian life. The word smacks of Gnosticism. There are no secrets in the Christian life. We have been given all that we need for life and godliness. Secrets regarding prayer are especially troubling. Countless books have been published on the subject of prayer that purport to give us methods of guaranteeing success in prayer, as if God is bound by laws of physics that force Him to respond the way we want once we get the formula right. The Prayer of Jabez comes to mind. Millions of people were led to believe that by simply repeating this prayer in a mantra-like manner, they were certain to get untold blessings, most of which were financial.

Having said that, Scripture does give us models of prayer. These are prayers that were mighty. Mindlessly repeating them today does not guarantee an answer for us any more than a mindless speaking of them would have guaranteed anything when the prayers were originally uttered. However, these prayers do exhibit attitudes that please God.

An example of such is Jacob's Prayer at Mahanaim, which is found in Genesis 32:9-12. The prominent features of Jacob’s prayer are the grounds on which he pleads with God.

First of all, he pleads with God on covenantal grounds. He says, “God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac."

Secondly, Jacobs pleads on God's command and promise – He says, “Who said unto me, ‘Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will do thee good.’”

Thirdly, Jacob pleads on the pure grace and mercy of God. – Jacob prays, “I am not worthy of the least of all the lovingkindnesses, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two companies.”

Fourthly, Jacob pleads on the grounds of God’s deliverance. Relying solely on the unmerited mercy of God, he asks, “Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he come and smite me, the mother with the children.”

And finally, Jacob pleads with God based on His past faithfulness. Jacob casts his eye back, not just to God’s faithfulness to him, but all the way back to his father and grandfather’s life. He says, “And thou saidst, ‘I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”

This is no claim to a secret to success in prayer, but it is certainly a model of a God-honoring prayer and one from which we can learn much.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Divine Sovereignty Over Men's Evil

When Calvinists defend the Reformed doctrine of Divine Sovereignty, it is common to cite 1 Samuel 2:26 as a Scriptural example of God’s sovereign control over everything, including the so-called free-will of men. Genesis 50:20 is another passage to which appeal is made to demonstrate this doctrine. In both cases we see men freely doing evil acts, yet Scripture claiming that God Himself worked in such a way that these evil acts would be freely done, yet He would overrule them for His righteous purposes.

Without a doubt, the sovereignty of God in the reprobation of sinners is a thorny issue. But when I look at Scripture, I find examples of God’s sovereignty of evil men’s actions that are more compelling than the aforementioned two passages.

First, of course is the Samson and Delilah incident. Samson may have been self-absorbed, but he wasn’t stupid. So how do we account for the fact that he continued to live with Delilah as she “vexed him to death?” She tried to have him assassinated on many occasions, yet he finally confides in her regarding the secret of his strength. He had no reason to believe that she had any noble intentions for asking such a question. She had the gall to say, “You don’t love me,” to a man she had tried to get rubbed out! Samson should’ve been the one saying that. Yet in the face of a mountain of evidence that she wanted him dead, despite days of nagging and betrayal, Samson willingly tells her the secret he cannot doubt that she wants to use for his destruction. If this doesn’t demonstrate God’s sovereignty, nothing does.

Next, there is the infamous dividing of Israel into two kingdoms. When Solomon was still alive and reigning, the prophet Ahijah and the seer Iddo had warned that Jeroboam would lead Israel in a revolt that would divide the kingdom, leaving only a remnant to David’s descendants. Rehoboam gets faced with an opportunity to use his free-will to override this dire prophecy. He could say what the people wanted to hear and thus maintain rule over the whole nation. What does he do? Does he listen to the elders, thus averting certain disaster? Does he force God to regroup and implement Plan B? No. He listens to the stupid advice of his buddies and causes Israel to revolt against him exactly as God had said.

Thirdly, there is the story of Ahab and Micaiah in 1 Kings 22. Micaiah gives a clear, unmistakable prophetic message from God that Ahab will be killed in battle Ramoth-gilead. Not only that, but he explains that a lying sprit in the mouths of false prophets will tell Ahab to go out into battle. Moreover, Ahab knows that his prophets are merely yesmen and that Micaiah is a true prophet of God. In the face of all of this, what does Ahab do? Does he stay home to show that he is the master of his own destiny? Does he stay home to show that his will is free enough to make God change His plans? No. He goes into battle and gets killed, just as God said.

When Arminians wax eloquent about so-called free-will, or when Open theists speak of God being forced to guess about man’s acts and regroup when we catch Him off guard, I wonder if they have ever read their Bibles.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Sacramental Beauty of Baptism

Every baptism administered, including our children's baptism, is, in one sense, more about the Church that it is about the children. That is because the Church is a living organism. It is a body: God's covenant people. The congregation is the covenant family of God. We have often lost the grasp of Covenant Theology which our forefathers had. When we view the congregation as a collection of individuals, then we are not thinking along the lines of Covenant Theology: we are thinking like Baptists. The congregation is a living organism.

As with all living organisms, there is included some dead matter. For instance, the hair and nails of my body (which is a living organism), though they are not living material, they are nevertheless part of the living organism. So when we view the Church as a living organism, we acknowledge that there are those among us who are not living partakers of covenant life.

Baptism sacramentally reminds us of God's covenant faithfulness. It is vital to remember that baptism is a sacrament. So many people view baptism as pertaining primarily to the children being baptized. But that is not the primary focus of baptism. Baptism is first and foremost a sacrament in the full sense of that word. Baptism, like the Lord's Supper, is the wonderful means ordained by God, whereby it pleases Him to communicate to us the promises of the Gospel. The sacraments are God's ordained way to visibly reaffirm His covenant faithfulness. This means that baptism is administered, first of all for the benefit of the whole congregation. Through the sacrament of baptism God's confirms His covenant to His people. The baptism of the child is a means toward that end.

Our children's baptism is God's affirmation that they are received unto grace in Christ; that they are welcome; that they may take refuge in the Savior. We need to point our children to Christ as early as possible, because that's what their baptism communicates. The very sacrament of baptism itself confirms that what our children need is regeneration in order to be living members of the kingdom of God. This is what is signified by the dipping or sprinkling of water. In baptism, God the Father confirms to His Church as an organic body, and to His children individually, that He makes an eternal covenant of grace with us. Every time the baptismal formula is repeated, the congregation as a whole, as well as the individual members of it, may take comfort from the reaffirmation of God the Father's unbreakable and eternal covenant of grace with them. God's children should never be in doubt whether that relationship with Him is an abiding relationship. As often as baptism is administered, we are reminded of these truths and are sacramentally reassured of God's faithfulness.

Baptism reassures God's children of the efficacy of the atoning work of God the Son. We are reminded over and over through the sacrament of baptism that Christ's work for our sins is finished and that He has paid for them all. We have assurance that we may repair the the cleansing fount again and again. We need not be in doubt whether or not our sins have been forgiven. Baptism sacramentally reminds the Church that she has been washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Baptism also demonstrates the sealing work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit seals us and dwells in us, assuring us that we will be continually sanctified as members of the body of Christ. This is a tremendous reassurance because we often grieve the Holy Spirit with our sin. We learn in baptism, that although we sin, we cannot sin His presence away. He may withhold His operation in us to chastise us for grieving Him, but He will never depart. Baptism is the reassurance of this truth. God sacramentally reassures His people of the ongoing indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit and that the work of the Spirit cannot possibly fail.

It is so important to grasp that baptism, like the Lord's Supper is a Sacrament, not simply an ordinance. Reducing it to an ordinance removes all the emphasis from God's covenantal faithfulness to His people and place the focus on the act of the individual believer. Baptism is for the benefit of the whole congregation, first of all as a sacrament. It is secondary that it initiates the child into the covenant community. Reversing this order, placing the infant being baptized in focus, reveals a Baptistic mindset regarding baptism. It places the individual over the family to which he belongs. In baptism we enter the covenant community, we do not supersede it. This is, at bottom, the difference between credobaptists and paedobaptists. Credobaptists always put, in our estimation, undue emphasis, on the individual and his/her decision to join with God's people.

The Reformed theologians of generations past, in order to affirm their belief that in baptism our children are received unto grace (not: they are recipients of grace), simply quote Genesis 17:7. Why quote from here rather than from a New Testament passage? Because they took all of Scripture in order to establish the doctrine of baptism. The Old Testament is the great presupposition of the New Testament. There is an organic unity of the two Testaments. The entire Old Testament is the foundation of the practice of infant baptism. So when a Baptist asks you to show him a text in the Bible that demands that infants be baptized, you can say, "That is very simple. The entire Old Testament is my text." The entire Old Testament demands the inclusion of children in the visible manifestation of God's covenant people: the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The entire Old Testament bears witness to this text of Genesis. The theme is that God is the God of His people and of their seed. This theme is woven all through the Old Testament. It is the very warp and woof of Old Testament theology. That is why the New Testament opens with genealogies. It is demonstrating to us that God is faithful to His covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Apostate Christianity: A First Hand Encounter, Part 2

Yesterday I began a short critique of a nearby Congregationalist church. I picked up a few printouts of their pastor’s sermons last Tuesday and I read over them. One need not read in much detail to see how vapid, hollow, insipid and vacuous these sermons are. I cannot even imagine how dreadfully dull it must be to sit under this kind of teaching week after week.

I noticed that on the sermon dated September 26, 2010 that among the texts for the message was a passage from the Qur’an. I’m not about citing the Qur’an, but if I read it from the pulpit, it will be to demonstrate the evil nature of the religion it purveys. But how does New England Congregational use the citation from the Qur’an? The title of the sermon says it all: So, What Does New England Congregational Believe, Anyway? The Biblical passages were both from Ephesians. Mind you, there is no exposition of these passages; they are merely quoted at the beginning of the message. On the face of it, it would appear that the pastor is comfortable with putting the Qur’an side by side with Sacred Scripture.

Lest you think I am jumping to unwarranted conclusions, I must hasten to add that I checked several of the sermon print-outs, and in every case, there was a quotation from the Qur’an. So this was not an isolated incident.

Well, let’s ask the burning question: What does this church believe, anyway? Remember, these are their words, not mine. In fact, the pastor actually remarks that many members of the congregation were surprised that the church even had a statement of its beliefs! He says, “Consensus on theological beliefs cannot be easily found here because of the wide spectrum of belief about the nature of God, the person of Jesus, or a ghost that is holy.” I submit to you that that is blasphemy.

So, “tongue in cheek,” by their own admission, here is what they believe:

1. We believe in an interpretation of faith that allows us to encounter God in any way God chooses to come to us.

2. We believe that by being theologically liberal we are best able to respect individual differences in faith and pilgrimage, worship God, honor the bible, and follow Christ’s teaching. (The lower case “b” in bible is not a typo on my part; that is exactly how it appears in their print-out. Surely this says something about their view of the Bible.)

3. We believe in the teaching of the Gospel variously interpreted in an environment that does not require strict adherence to a creed.

4. We believe that being inclusive of all people is fundamental to our faith community.

If you do not find this heretical in the extreme, you have cause to question your profession of Christianity. This is an apostasy worthy of Rome. A Christianity with no doctrinal content, a Christianity whose beliefs cannot be codified in a creed is a Christianity not worth having! God save us from such “Christianity.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Apostate Christianity: A First Hand Encounter

We frequently hear about the apostate character of the mainline denominations, but because we attend more theologically sound churches, it is a rare occasion that we actually get a firsthand look at the depth of this apostasy.

This past Election Day was such an occasion for me. The polling place is a Congregation church. Right next to the tables where you check in to vote there is a rack on the wall with flyers and leaflets. Two or three of the slots have sermon print-outs. I picked up a couple to read, just out of curiosity. I must confess, the description “apostate” used in reference to many of the mainline denominations is not misapplied with regard to the output of this church’s pulpit!

One sermon urges us to be like Jesus and just soak in the sheer joy of being alive. The sermon speaks of Jesus having fun, sucking back a few cold ones with his friends and telling some good jokes (i.e., the Parables). I must admit, I have never read a parable I found funny, nor have I ever heard anyone even insinuate that they were jokes. If you were to read this guy’s “sermon” (what an abuse of the word!), you’d think that the Gospel’s are full of stories about Jesus cracking jokes and laughing hysterically all the time.

What’s missing from this message? How about the Gospel! Do you mean to tell me that the twelve Apostles were martyred for the message of “have fun and enjoy life?” Polycarp was burned at the stake for this? Cyprian was martyred for enjoying life? No God, no Trinity, no sin, no grace, no substitutionary atonement, no imputation, no distinctly Christian content at all. Yet they have the audacity to call this a Christian church!

I will detail a few more of the apostate things they teach tomorrow. But just think: This is a so-called witness for Christ and His Gospel. God forbid that any church should turn out like New England Congregational, a synagogue of Satan.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Cessationist Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, Part 2

When we look at verse 12 in light of all that we have already established, a clearer picture emerges. Verse 12 is the linchpin in the Charismatic argument for their supposed "proof" that that which is "perfect" refers to heaven.

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: for I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

These words are often construed by Pentecostals and Charismatics to refer to heaven. Even many who repudiate the Continuist position see here a reference to heaven. I think I can demonstrate that this is NOT the case.

1. If Paul is speaking of heaven, then he is saying that in his glorified state he would have omniscience. Since this is impossible, Paul cannot possibly be saying that. This contradicts plenty of Scriptural statements regarding God's infinitude and our finitude. Glorification is not deification. When Paul says, "then shall I know even as also I am known," he is speaking of how God knows him. So if he is referring to heaven, then we've made Paul claim that with glorification comes omniscience. This alone should put the nail in the coffin of this interpretation. Certainly our understanding will be enlarged when we get to heaven, but that is not the same as saying that glorified saints will receive a kind of omniscience. Heaven will be a perfect state, but we will not have omniscience any more than we will have omnipotence.

2. In verse 13, Paul places this in the present age. For he says, "And NOW abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." The word "abideth" means "remains." This is in direct contradistinction to what he has just said in verse 8-10 would fade away and cease. We have already pointed out how hope and faith do not survive the eternal state. I no longer need to hope to the arrival of what I already possess. So after saying that some things will fade away, he tells us about things that will remain. Spiritual graces will remain in the Church after the spiritual gifts pass away. This can only apply to the Church in this present age. Let me reiterate: The spiritual graces continue once the spiritual gifts pass away. There is no debating that point. But the spiritual graces are only applicable to the Church during this present age. Therefore, the spiritual gifts MUST pass away during this present age. This means that since "that which is perfect" comes after the miraculous gifts that do not remain, while the spiritual graces do, this places "that which is perfect" during this present age as well. 

3. To teach that "that which is perfect" refers to the state of Glory involves a contradiction. It affirms a passing away of knowledge at the very point when greater knowledge is said to be attained. If we will know perfectly in Heaven, how can knowledge pass away when we get there? Pentecostals use verse 12 to say that a perfect knowledge will be attained in heaven. In other words, we will experience an increased knowledge there. But this is said in the face of saying that our state of continuing revelation throughout the church age will only cease when we get to heaven. This is saying that A is A and not A at the same time. They make verse 8 say that when we get to heaven revelation will cease, and then they turn around in the space of a few verses, and make verse 12 say that when we get to heaven revelation will exponentially multiply!

4. To teach that "that which is perfect" refers to the state of Glory contradicts what the rest of Scripture teaches about the spiritual enlightenment of the child of God in this world. "Now we see through a glass, darkly," literally means, "Now we see as in a riddle." This is to say that until that which is perfect has come the believer does not possess a clear and full understanding of spiritual things because he only has a partial revelation, according to verse 9. If we put ourselves in Paul's position we can see this clearly. It is as if he were saying, "At this point in time, before the completion of the New Testament canon, we do not possess the entire body of revelation that God intends to bequeath to His Church, therefore we still see things as a riddle - through a glass, darkly. If the Pentecostals and Charismatics are right, then we do not nor will we ever have a complete revelation as long as the Church exists on earth. Moreover this is a contradiction of other tremendous Scriptural statements.

A. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 - "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." Verse 9 is not teaching about heaven. It is speaking of the unsaved man's inability to understand the things of God. Verse 13 tells us what these things are, by a claim to Divine inspiration. The natural man left to himself will never arrive at the truth. The only reason why anyone ever arrives at the truth is because the Holy Spirit has revealed these things to the Church. The Holy Spirit has given the Church a sufficient revelation. I ask, Is that seeing through a glass, darkly? If God's Word is sufficient for all matters pertain to doctrine and practice, then we are not seeing through a glass, darkly. So back at 13:12, Paul is saying that he and his Apostolic era colleagues were still seeing through a glass, darkly because they still didn't have the full written Word of God. Paul is not teaching that when we get to heaven, only then will we receive the completed revelation, but that when "that which is perfect comes," in this lifetime - we will have a full, written revelation of all that God requires of us for faith and practice in this world. Once the New Testament was completed, the Church saw things fully. This doesn't mean that before the close of canon, the saints did not know enough to be saved; it merely means that we are in a more advantageous position.

B. 2 Peter 1:19 - "We have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light in a dark place, until that dawn and the day star arise in your hearts." Neither this passage nor the above one is teaching that the Christian is presently seeing everything darkly or in riddles, but will gain a clear and full understanding when he gets to heaven. They are both teaching that God's people have a mature revelation and therefore, those things that are essential to life and godliness, doctrine and practice, here and now in this life are possessed by the Church in the Scriptures - the more sure word of prophecy.

5. In the passage, "then shall I know even as also I am known," the words, "am known," signify a knowledge without any need for additional information. This is how God knows us and all things. God is never in need of any additional information. That is what is meant by "knowing as we are known." With the closing of the canon, the Church knows in this way. That is not to say that we have omniscience, as I said earlier. It means that in the completed revelation of the Old and New Testaments, the Church has no need for additional information. Paul is juxtaposing the two conditions - the current condition of possessing the less than full written revelation, therefore seeing through a glass, darkly with the full body of revelation that has no need for additional revelation. Looking back, we see that what the spiritual gifts conveyed was fragmentary at best. Paul repeatedly uses the phrase "in part" when speaking of the state of revelation under the era of spiritual gifts prior to completion of the canon. Notice that he says, "we know in part; we prophesy in part," in the light of verse 8. Yes they were means of revelation, but it was only partial. This overthrows the whole tongue-speaking crowd whatever else one thinks about the rest of the passage; because even if tongues were still existent as in the Apostolic age, they would still be conveying fragmentary knowledge.

In conclusion, we have shown that Paul clearly states that the supernatural revelatory gifts would cease at the coming of "that which is perfect." We have further shown that this can refer to nothing else but the completion of the New Testament canon. Hence, I repeat what I have said many times on this blog: Any attempt at Continuism, in any form whatsoever, is a blatant and open denial of the sufficiency of Scripture, Reformed theological commitments notwithstanding. Continuism is a distinct doctrinal characteristic of popery, not true biblical Christianity.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Cessationist Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, Part 1

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1 Cor 13:8-12

It is no secret that the traditional Reformed exegesis of this passage is solidly Cessationist. The whole weight of the Continuist position hangs on, what I hope to demonstrate, is an exegetical error. Much of the discussion turns upon the proper understanding of the phrase “that which is perfect” in verse 8.

Scripture not only tells us that the supernatural gifts would cease, but it also tells us when they would cease. Continuists always make "that which is perfect" refers to the eternal state. Cessationists take it to mean the completion of the New Testament. I wish to demonstrate that this is the only way this passage can be understood, then draw some inferences from it.

Why must "that which is perfect" refer to the completion of the New Testament canon?

1. Perfect simply means mature. When that which is mature comes, that which is in part will be done away with. Paul's illustration demonstrates that "perfect" means mature.

2. 14:20 In understanding be "men" - the same Greek word, in the same basic context.

3. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 claim that God's Word makes us "perfect" or mature.

Based on these (2 & 3) passages, it is clear when Paul speaks of the perfect or of the mature, he has the present time in mind, not heaven. He does not have the glorified man in heaven in view. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul tells us that the man of God becomes mature or perfect not by miraculous gifts, but by the Word of God. This places the supernatural gifts within the realm of the immature. Furthermore he is referring to tongues, prophecies and knowledge as immature revelation. By that I do not mean defective. It is still Divine revelation, it is just not complete. Not only will the gifts cease or fade away, but even as they were, they were in part. Paul is telling the Corinthians that what they had then by way of those gifts was incomplete or immature compared to that which was to come - that which is perfect. The need for spiritual gifts places those in that situation at a disadvantage. Charismatics don't see this. A continued need for revelatory gifts means that what we possess now by way of revelation is not perfect and is at best in part. Now if you can say that about the Bible, then I repudiate your claim to be a Christian. Nor is there any self-consistent way to maintain the sufficiency and completeness of the Scriptures and leave a back door open to the continuation of the supernatural revelatory gifts. 

It is often objected by proponents of Continuism, even the adherents of a soft version of it, that the gifts were confirmational, that is, they confirmed the message of the Apostles; so that if we had a situation today in which the message of the Apostles had never been heard, God might still use these gifts in the same confirmational manner. The flaw with this logic is that the gifts as they operated in Scripture were MORE than simply confirmation of the Apostles message. They were themselves revelatory. If the gift is genuine after the manner of operation in Scripture, it would have to be BOTH confirmational AND revelatory. If it can't be one, it can't be the other.

The whole context of chapter 13 is the larger context of 12-14 which deals with supernatural gifts. I Corinthians 13 is not a rabbit trail off the subject Paul has in view. He is striving very hard to show that Faith, Hope, and Love (the greatest of which is love) are Gospel virtues which the Church will possess through her entire earthly pilgrimage. The partial immature, incomplete state of revelation prior to the arrival of "that which is perfect" will change. The tongues, prophecies and knowledge will pass away, or cease, but faith, hope and love will continue.

This is another reason why the "perfect" cannot possibly be referring to the glorified state. Faith and Hope will not survive this age. In Glory, hope and faith will be superseded by sight and experience. Having attained the promised kingdom, we will no longer need to live in hope of its arrival. Granted we will love each other in the eternal state, but that is beside the point.

But back to the passage, it is important to note that Paul juxtaposes the current immature state of the Church, possessing a revelation via spiritual gifts, and that only in part, with the perfect, full, sufficient revelation that had yet to be completed at the time of his epistle. This is important to grasp because Pentecostals and Charismatics place great stock in their own spiritual maturity based on their supposed practice of these gifts. They take tongues and prophecy to be great indicators of spiritual maturity. Yet the Holy Spirit tells us the exact opposite. Moreover if the Charismatics and Pentecostals are correct, the Church will never have a complete body of revelation throughout her entire existence on earth. This involves them in a massive contradiction. If knowledge, as one of the gifts, will vanish away, how can they turn around then and say that we know only in part now, but when we get to heaven we will experience an exponential increase in knowledge. Not only is this a direct contradiction of Scripture, it stultifies their own position. There is no other way to understand this, because Paul says quite bluntly that the immature was going to give way to the mature. In doing so, he relegates spiritual gifts to the realm of the immature.

When Paul refers here in verse 8 to tongues, prophecies and knowledge, he is referring back to chapter 12, verses 6-11. In fact the point he is making in chapter 13 has to do with all that he has already said in chapter 12. The point is this: Those gifts did exist in the Apostolic church; they were practiced by the Apostles. So when he comes to chapter 13, he says, naming three prominent gifts, that something better than these gifts was coming. And when it came, the temporary and immature would no longer be needed. If people could get this into their heads, the whole Charismatic movement would dry up overnight. What Paul is contrasting here is lesser and greater revelation.

All of the above explanation plays heavily on how we are to understand verse 12. At first glance, verse 12 might seem to countenance the Pentecostal interpretation to "that which is perfect" is a reference to Heaven or the glorified state of believers. It is important to remember that the gifts which Paul lists in verse 8, as a sample of all those he mentions in chapter 12, being miracles, belong to the realm of revelation. This revelation is said to be "in part." Therefore, his partial revelation will be done away with once the "perfect" revelation comes. If what is being replaced belongs to the realm of Divine revelation, the logical inference is that what replaces it which is perfect or mature is also in the realm of Divine revelation. This basic premise must be grasped to understand verse 12.

Paul was telling the Corinthians that what they then had by way of Divine revelation was immature and temporary, and would be superseded by "that which is perfect." I want to reiterate that by calling Divine revelation "immature," I do not mean to say that it was defective. I merely mean to say that it was not complete. It is a contrast between lesser and greater revelation. We must remember that we are dealing with a period in history when the New Testament was not complete. Paul is telling them that what they had was a lesser 'version,' if you will, of the complete revelation that was coming. Paul doesn't specify when it would occur, but he is exceptionally clear in saying that once the Church possessed the perfect revelation, there would be a cessation of the immature revelation.

To make "that which is perfect" refer to the state of Glory is to say that the Church, while on earth, will never possess perfect revelation. This contradicts statements found throughout the New Testament. For example, in John 16:13, Jesus promises the Apostles total and perfect recall of all that He taught them so that they could write the New Testament. And notice that Christ says, "all truth." Christ is stating quite plainly that at the close of the New Testament canon, the Church possesses "all truth." Nothing can be added to "all." So if Paul means that the "perfect" is heaven, then, in direct contradiction to Christ, he is saying that the Church will have to put up with partial revelation throughout her entire history. Furthermore, it is during the Church's earthly pilgrimage that she needs the mature or perfect revelation. How could it be any consolation to the Corinthians for Paul to say that they will have to wait to get to heaven before they will possess the full revelation God means for His people to have while on earth?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Leopard Has Not Changed Its Spots

Whenever any polemic is made against the Papacy, someone inevitably rides in to save the day with the inane appeal that Rome has changed. Protestants should no longer hold Rome in contempt as they did in the days of the Reformation. Rome, we are assured no longer practices (and thus the insinuation is made that she no longer believes in) her “right” to affect the political landscapes of countries.

History can easily demonstrate what a lie this is. Can a leopard change its spots? Below are citations, mostly from Roman Catholic bishops, cardinals and popes, all made during the first 50+ years of the 20th Century. Rome may not be deposing kings as she once did, but only an idiot could believe that she no longer has her tentacles wrapped up in most of the world’s important political concerns. Moreover, whenever her involvement is discovered, it is always something that is to her advantage, even if it means harm to her own devotees. With every true Reformation Christian, I say, “Good riddance to Papal tyranny.”

Without further ado:

"The claims of the Roman Catholic Church imply a rebellion against modern civilization and an intention to destroy it, at the risk of destroying society itself. To be able to submit themselves to these claims, men need the souls of slaves!" J. W. Draper, Professor at the University of New York

"Germany is the element upon which the Holy Father can and must base great hopes."
Mgr. Fruhwirth

"One has to fight with fists. In a duel, blows are neither counted nor measured…War is not fought with charity." Pope Pius X

On May 30, 1929, Pius XI wrote to Cardinal Gasparri: "A Catholic state, it is said and repeated, but a Fascist state; We note this without any special difficulty, willingly in fact, for it undoubtedly means that, with regard to ideas and doctrines as well as to practice, the Fascist state will not agree to anything that is not in accordance with Catholic doctrine and practice." Paul Lesourd, La Cite de Cisar et Dieu (Flammarion, Paris, p. 28).

“Pius XI is certainly the most German of popes that ever sat enthroned on the See of Saint Peter." Gazette de Cologne, May 31, 1927.

"Nazism is a Christian reaction against the spirit of 1789." Franz von Papen, Privy Chamberlain to the Pope

"Catholicism is hostile to intellectual liberty and incompatible with the principle and trend of modern civilization; it arouses unwarrantable pretensions to govern, and threatens the rights of the family; it tends to undermine the soul's love of truth; it alienates cultured minds in whatever country it is professed, and, wherever it reigns, saps the morality and strength of the state." Gladstone.

"Rome gives one much more the impression of being a great pagan city than a Christian capital…a basilica such as Saint Peter's is disconcerting in its coldness and magnificence. It is so much designed for spectacular demonstrations that the soul is turned away from meditation and love. When I reached the Vatican, it conveyed to me anything but a religious impression… We went in procession through the streets of Rome, singing the Magnificat… An eminent Roman said to me, somewhat cynically: ‘You men from the north believe in dogmas. We make them.’" Raymond de Becker, Livre des vivants et des moris, pp. 73, 74. 82. 101 112 to 118, 134 to 139 and 140

"Germany's war is a battle for Christianity." Jesuit Father Coughlin, Chief of the Christian Front (7 July 1941)

"It is not without interest in characterizing the evolution in the United States in the field of anti-Semitism, to know that the audience of the "radio priest", Father Coughlin, well-known for his anti-Semitism, exceeds twenty millions." Secret archives of the Wilhelmstrasse (document 83-26 19/1, Berlin, 25 January 1939).

"The Catholic Church will give Germany all the moral support she is capable of."
Statement by Mgr. Orsenigo to Herr von Ribbentrop, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"God wants the Anschluss." Franz von Papen, (March 11, 1938)

"Catholicism and Nazism have much in common and they work hand in hand to reform the world." Mgr. Tiso

"Having become Pius XII, Pacelli is seen to be an out and out pro-integrist and Germanophile. He is called the "German Pope". . . . Germany is, in his eyes, called upon to play the role of the "sword of God", of the secular arm of the Church. . . . In 1943, he refuses to condemn publicly the Nazi concentration camps." Alexandre Lenotre

"The Vatican is one of those mainly responsible for my country's tragedy. I realized too late that we had been pursuing our foreign policy in the sole interests of the Catholic Church." Colonel Joseph Beck, Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1932 to 1939.

"The soldiers of the L.V.F. are contributing towards the preparation of the nation s great rebirth. Today, now that Mr. Doriot is gone, we can but admire his deeds and hold them up as an example.'' Cardinal Baudrillart, (L'Emancipation Nationale, December 12, 1941).

"Hitler is an envoy of God." Mgr. Stepinac

"The Third Reich is the first power in the world, not only to recognize, but also to put into practice, the high principles of the Papacy." Franz von Papen, Privy Chamberlain to the Pope.

"John XXIII sends his best wishes to Cardinal Stepinac." La Croix, 25 June 1959

"In Germany, both in the cathedrals and in the most modest of village churches, Christian priests preached a racial crusade, exalted the Teutonic military virtues and, for reasons that could deceive only the most primitive of minds, encouraged mass assassination and pillage." Lecomte du Nouy, La dignite humaine (Editions du Vieux Colombier, Paris 1952, p. 29)

“The German nation knows that it is fighting a just war. The German nation has a great task to perform - not least of all for our Eternal God. During this year of war, the Fuhrer and Supreme Chief has more than once implored God's blessing on our good and just cause." Mgr. Markoaski, Catholic Almoner General of the Wehrmacht, Extract from a pastoral letter published by Mgr. Markoaski on 6 October 1940.

"Where is the statesman or the sovereign who could remain unafraid while beholding at the very pinnacle of the Catholic Church, a man who, free of all control, was the ruler of consciences and was able, unimpeded, to surrender himself to the abuses, errors and excesses of omnipotence?" Emile Ollivier, of the Academie Francaise, L'Eglise et l'Etat (p. 409)

“The Third Reich is the first power in the world, not only to recognize, but to put into practice, the lofty principles of the Papacy” Franz von Papen

On October 28, 1943 Ambassador von Weiszaecker sent the following message to von Ribbentrop:
"German Embassy to the Holy See, Rome, 28 October 1943:

"Although he has been urged on all sides to do so, the Pope has not been led into making any demonstrative reproof against the deportation of Roman Jews. Despite the fact that he must expect to see this attitude attacked by our enemies and exploited by the Protestant circles of the Anglo-Saxon countries in their anti-Catholic propaganda, he has also done all he possibly could in this delicate question not to strain relations with the German Government. Signed: Ernst von Weiszaecker." Document found in the Secret Archives of the Wilhelmstrasse (quoted by Leon Poliakov, Breviaire de la haine, 343

"The 'scala segreta' the secret staircase, is one of the government's great resources… It is the stage door entrance of this pompous theatre called the Papacy, a thousand times more fertile in lies, dupery and immorality than any other theatre in the world." C.S. Volpi, Privy Chamberlain to the Pope

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Against Popery, by Thomas Watson, pt. 4

12ly. Another Error in the Popish Religion is, They deny Jesus Christ suffered the pains of Hell in his Soul. Indeed, to give them their due, they do aggravate the pains of Christ’s Body, but they deny he felt the Pains and Torments of Hell in his Soul. This Opinion doth much lessen the Sufferings of Christ for us, the same doth lessen the Love of Christ to us. But it is clear, Christ felt the pains of hell in his soul.

But when we say, Christ suffered the Pains of Hell in his Soul, we do not mean that he felt horror of conscience, as the damned do; but we mean he felt that that was equivalent to it, he felt the burden and pain of God’s wrath. Christ Jesus suffered equivalently the pains of Hell, that so he might free us really from the Torments of Hell.

13ly, And lastly, another Error is this, The Pope (say they) hath a power to absolve men from their Oaths. Of what sad consequence, and how dangerous this may be to Protestant States, I leave themselves to judge. It hath been often determined by learned Casuists, that an Oath once taken (the matter of it being lawful) persons cannot be absolved from it. But no more of this matter.

I’ll now wind up all in a word or two of application, and it shall be in the words of my text. Wherefore, my beloved, flee from Idolatry, flee from Popery; take heed of that Religion that brings forth so many Monsters. And besides these thirteen Errors, consider briefly these six or seven Particulars:

1. The Popish Religion is an impure, filthy Religion, they allow of Stews and Brothel-houses for money: nay some of the Popes themselves have been guilty of Sodomy and Simony.

2. It is a Superstitious Religion; that appears in their Christening of Bells, in their using of Salt, Spittle, and Cross in Baptism: Indeed Paul gloried and rejoiced in the Cross of Christ. Paul had the Power of the Cross in his heart, not the Sign of the Cross in his forehead. It is an unspeakable indignity and dishonour to Jesus Christ, to use that in his Worship that he never instituted.

3. Popery is upheld by Deceit and Lying: How have they belied both Calvin and Luther. They say of Luther, that when he died, the Devils were seen to dance about him, and that he died with much horror and despair, when as he went serenely and sweetly out of the world, his last words being those of our blessed Saviour’s, Father, into thy hands I commit my Spirit.

4. The Popish Religion is an out-side carnal Religion, it consists in external things, as Whipping, Fasting, Chringing: There’s nothing of Life and Spirit in their Worship, it’s but a skeleton and carcass; there is nothing of Soul and Spirit in it.

5. The Popish Religion is an unedifying religion, it doth not build men up in their most holy Faith, it doth not carry on the work of Sanctification; there is more of Pomp than purity in it.

6. It is a cruel Religion, it is maintained and propagated by Blood and Cruelty. The Pope will have St. Paul’s Sword, as well as St. Peter’s Keys; and what he cannot maintain by dint and force of Argument, that will he endeavour to maintain by force of Arms. In a word, the Romish Church is a Purple Whore, dyed with the Blood of Saints and Martyrs.

7. And lastly, the Romish religion is a self-contradicting religion. One of their Canons saith, a man (in some cases) may take the Sacrament at the hand of an Heretick: another Canon saith, he may not. A learned and judicious Writer observes above an hundred Contradictions in their Religion. Therefore again I press the words of my Text, Wherefore, my beloved, nay, let me say, my dearly beloved, flee from Idolatry.

To shut up all let me exhort you to these two or three things:

First, Hold fast the Doctrine of the true Orthodox Protestant Religion: the very filings of this gold is precious. Keep all the Articles of the Christian Faith; if you let one fundamental article of your Faith go, you hazard your Salvation. When Samson pulled down but one Pillar, immediately the whole Fabrick tumbled: so, if you destroy one Pillar, if you let go one Fundamental of Truth, you endanger all.

Secondly, Hold forth the profession of the Protestant Religion, I say: do not only hold fast the Doctrine of the Protestant Religion: but hold forth the Profession of the Protestant Religion: Be not ashamed to wear Christ’s Colours. Christians remember this one thing, those Persons that are ashamed of Christ, are a very shame unto Christ. The Religion I exhort you to flee from, is a novelty: that which I press you to stand to, is a verity; it is consonant to Scripture; it is built on the foundation {} of the Prophets an Apostles, and hath been sealed to by the blood of many Saints and Martyrs.

Thirdly, and lastly, do not only hold fast, and hold forth, but also adorn the Protestant Religion: this is holy Paul’s Exhortation to Titus, Titus 2.10, Adorn the Doctrine of God our Saviour. Adorn Religion with a holy Conversation. There is nothing hardens Papists so much as the looseness of Protestants. Therefore adorn your holy Religion with a holy Conversation: Do as Christ did, tread in his steps; make your Saviour your Pattern. Let me assure you, I can hardly think they do truly believe in Christ, that do not really conform unto Christ. The Primitive Christians Sanctity, did much-what propagate Christianity. And this is that I beseech you carry home with you: Hold fast and hold forth the Protestant Religion and adorn it with a Holy and Bible-Conversation; and when you do not hear me Preaching to you, yet let me beseech you hear this good Word speaking in you, Wherefore my dearly beloved, flee from Idolatry.

Consider what hath been said, and the Lord make it advantageous to all your Souls.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Against Popery, by Thomas Watson, pt. 3

Objection. But they say, God crowns our works, ergo they merit.
Answer. God (to speak after the manner of men) keeps two Courts, a Court of Justice, and a Court of Mercy: In his Court of Justice, nothing may come but Christ’s Merits; but in the Court of Mercy, our works may come. Nay, let me tell you, God in free grace crowns those works in the Court of Mercy, which he condemned in the Court of Justice. Now that we do not, nor cannot merit by our good works, I will prove by a threefold argument, and this threefold cord will not easily be broken.

First of all, (and I beseech you mind it) that which merits at God’s hand, must be a gift we give to him, and not a debt we owe to him. Now whatever we can do for, or give unto God, it is but a just and due debt.

2. He who would merit at God’s hand, must give God something overplus: But alas, if we cannot give God the principal, how shall we give him the interest? If we cannot give him his due, how can we give him overplus?

3. He who would merit any thing at God’s hand, must offer that to him that is perfect: But alas, can we give God any thing that is perfect? are not our best Offerings fly-blown with pride and corruption?

Beloved, Woe to the holiest man alive, if God weighs him in the Balance of the Sanctuary and do not allow him some grains. I conclude this with that saying of Ambrose, Good Works are the way to but not the cause of Salvation. Therefore when you have done all, say you are unprofitable servants. [Luke 17.10.]

There is no Angel can merit (for he chargeth them with folly [Job 4.18,]) much less vile and sinful man. Therefore count all your own Righteousness but as dung and dogs meat. In a word, rely not on your own merits, put the crown on the head of Free-grace. That’s the eighth.

Ninthly, The ninth Error in the Popish Religion is, the Doctrine of Purgatory. There is, say they, a middle and infernal place, called Purgatory. Now what is this but a subtle artifice and trick to get money? for when they (especially those that are rich) are about to die and make Wills, if so be they will give large sums of money, the Priests will pray for them that they go not into Purgatory; or if they do, that they may be quickly delivered out of it. How contrary and repugnant is this to Scripture, that holds forth no Middle place?

The wicked when they die, their Souls go immediately to Hell, Luke 16.23, The rich man was buried, and in hell he lift up his eyes.

’Tis true there is a Purgatory in this life, and that is the Blood of Christ, 1 John 1.17, If we are not purged by this blood, while we live, we shall never be purged after by fire. Wicked men, when they die, do not go into a fire of purgation but damnation.

And, on the other hand, Believers when they die pass immediately to Heaven, Luke 23.43, This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Christ Jesus was now on the Cross, and was instantly to be in Heaven; and the penitent Thief was immediately to be with Christ: Here is no mention of any such place as Purgatory. The ancient and Orthodox Fathers were all against Purgatory; as Chrysostom, Cyprian, Augustine, Fulgentius.

Tenthly, A tenth Error is, the Invocation of Angels, a praying unto them. This is a certain rule, that Angel-worship is Will-worship, expressly forbidden in Scripture, Col. 2.18.

Their distinction of Mediators, of Redemption, and of Intercession, doth not help them; Though we pray (say they) to Angels as Mediators of Intercession, yet we pray to Christ as Mediator of Redemption.

Answer. Jesus Christ in Scripture is not only called a Redeemer, but also an Advocate: and it is a sin to make any our Intercessor but Jesus Christ. That it is sinful to pray to Angels, is clear from many Scriptures: See Rom. 5.10, How shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Mark, we may not pray to any but them in whom we believe: But we cannot believe an Angel, therefore we must not pray to an Angel.1 So also in Heb. 10.17, Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest by the Blood of Jesus; He only is to be prayed unto, by whom we have entrance into the Holiest: but it is by Jesus Christ that we enter into the holiest; therefore it is only Jesus Christ that we must pray unto. That is the tenth.

11ly. An eleventh Error is, Their Worshipping of Images; they burn {} Incense before the Image, which is a Divine worship unto the Image. Now this is directly contrary to the very letter of the Command, Exod. 20.4,5. Image-worship, and Idol-worship are terms synonimical. God saith of Idols, that they speak Vanity, Zach. 10.2. And is it not a vain thing to worship those things that are vain, and that speak vanities? None can draw the picture of a Spirit, who then [can] draw the Picture of him who is the Father of spirits? This Opinion of Image-worship hath been condemned and exploded by several Councils and Synods.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Against Popery, by Thomas Watson, pt. 2

Fifthly, A fifth Error is, There is distinguishing between sins Mortal and sins Venial: Mortal sins are Murder, Perjury, Adultery, and such like; these (say they) deserve Death and Damnation; but Venial sins, such as vain thoughts, rash anger, concupiscence, these (say they) do not deserve Death.

But we say and affirm, That there is no such sins as they call Venial. It is true, the greatest sins being repented of, are pardonable through the blood of Christ; but there is no sin of which we can say, that do not deserve death and damnation. And this I will prove by a double Argument.

1. If the very least sin be (as indeed it is) a breach and violation of God’s Law, then ’tis no more venial than a greater: But the least sin is a violation of God’s Law; therefore the least sin is no more venial than a greater. The minor [proposition] is clearly proved from Matt. 5.28, Whosoever looks on a Woman to lust after her, hath committed Adultery with her in his heart: In which place our Saviour makes a lascivious look, an impure glance of the eye, to be a breach and violation of God’s Law.

2. If the least sin expose men to a Curse, then they are no more venial than greater; but the least sin doth expose men to a Curse, Gal. 3.10, Cursed is he that continues not in all things contained in the Law, to do them. He that faileth in the least iota or punctilio, it exposeth him unto a Curse. And remember this (my brethren) That without repentance, God hath provided a great Hell for little sins. That is the fifth.

Sixthly, A Sixth Error in Popery is, Their asserting the Doctrine of free-will. That Goliah of the Papists, Bellarmine, saith, That man’s will is inclinable unto good, and that a man hath an innate power to do that which is good. But man’s will being corrupted and depraved, is not inclinable to that which is good, but quite contrary. And this is evident from our own experience, had we no Bible to confirm it.
When the Rudder of a Ship is broke, the Ship is carried up and {} down, to and again, which way the wind will: even so it is with man’s will being corrupted. Austin, in his Confessions, saith, That before his conversion he did accustom himself to fruit stealing, not so much out of a love to the fruit, as to stealing. Hence is it that men are said to love evil, Micah 3.2.

Again, the will being depraved and corrupt, hath no innate power to do that which is good. Indeed the Papists say, That man hath some seed of good in him; but the Scripture doth not say so. Man as Ambrose well saith, hath a free will to sin, but how to perform that which is good he finds not.

Sin hath cut the locks where our strength lay. Therefore are we said to be without strength, Rom. 5.6. Sinners are said to be in the bond of iniquity, and so not in a posture to run heaven’s Race. A man by nature cannot do that that he hath the least bent and tendency to that which is good: he is so far from performing a good act, as that he cannot so much as think a good thought. Hence it is that man is said to have a heart of stone: he can no more prepare himself for his Conversion, than a stone can prepare itself for the Superstruction: Men naturally, are dead spiritually. In man’s will there is not only impotency, but obstinacy. Hence it is men are said to resist the holy Ghost, Acts 7: But I go on.

Seventhly, A seventh Error is, their Indulgences. They say, the Pope hath a power to give a pardon and Indulgence, by virtue of which men are freed from their sins in God’s sight.

Besides the Blasphemy of this assertion, what else is it but a cunning trick and sly artifice to get money by. This is that indeed brings grists to the Popes Mill. How contrary is this to the Scripture, which saith, None can forgive sin but God only? Mark 2.

This Doctrine of Popish Indulgence, is a key that unlocks and opens a door to all manner of licentiousness and uncleanness; for what need persons care what they do, if they (for their money) can obtain a pardon? Mr. Fox in his Book of Martyrs, mentions one that at first was a papist, and being brought before Bonner, said, Sir, at the first I was of your Religion, and then I cared not how I lived, because I could with my money obtain a pardon. But now I am otherwise persuaded and do believe, That none can forgive sins but God only?

Eightly, An eighth Error is, The Doctrine of Merits: they say that good works do expiate sin and merit glory. Bellarmine saith, a man hath a double right to glory; one by Christ’s merits, and the other by his own; And for this he urges 2 Tim. 4.8, Henceforth is laid up {} for me a crown of Righteousness, which the just Judge shall give unto me, and not only unto me, &c.

Which is the just Judge. Now Bellarmine saith, That God in justice doth reward our Works; and if he doth it of right and in Justice, then certainly they merit.

To this I answer two ways:
1. God giving us in justice a reward: It is not for the worthiness of our work, but for the worthiness of our Saviour.
2. God as a just judge rewards our works, not because we have merited a reward, but because he hath promised a Reward, and so is just in giving what he hath promised.

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