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(8 posts)

Works of the Law versus Works of Faith

Wednesday··2007·09·19 · 3 Comments
knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. —Galatians 2:16 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. —Ephesians 2:8–9 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. —Romans 2:13 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. —James 2:24 Contradictions! The Bible is full of them. How are we to make sense of this? Let’s ask Dr. Luther: Here [in Romans 3:1–20] the question arises: How can a person be justified without the works of the Law, or how can it be that justification does not flow from our works? For St. James writes: “We see how that by works a man is justified, and and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). So also St. Paul: “Faith . . . worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6); and: “The doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom. 2:13). To this we reply: as the Apostle distinguishes between the law and faith, the letter and grace, so also he distinguishes between the works resulting from these. He calls those deeds “works of the Law” that are done without faith and divine grace, merely because of the law, moved by either fear of punishment or the alluring hope of reward. By works of faith he calls those deeds which are done in the spirit of (Christian) liberty and flow from love to God. These can be done only by such as are justified by faith. Justification, however, is not in any way promoted by the works of the Law, but they rather hinder it, because they keep a person from regarding himself as unrighteous and so in need of justification. When James and Paul say that a man is justified by works, they argue against the false opinion of those who think that (for justification) a faith suffices that is without works. Paul does not say that true faith exists without its proper works, for without these there is not true faith. But what he says is that it is faith alone that justifies, regardless of works. Justification therefore does not presuppose the works of the law, but rather a living faith which performs its proper works, as we read Galatians 5:67. By the law is the knowledge of sin (3:20). Such knowledge of sin is obtained in two ways. First, by meditation (of the Law), as we read in Romans 7:7: “I had not know lust except the law had said, thou shalt not covet.” Secondly, by experience, namely, by trying to fulfill the Law, or we may say, through the Law as was assure to fulfill its obligations. Then the Law will become to us as occasion to sin, for then the perverted will of man, inclined to evil, but urged by the Law to do good, becomes all the more unwillingly and disinclined to do what is good. It hates to be drawn away from what it loves; and what it loves is sin, as we learn from Geneses 8:21. But just so, man, forced by the Law and obeying it unwillingly, sees how deeply sin and evil are rooted in his soul. He would never notice this, if he did not have the Law and would not try to follow it. The Apostle here only mentions this though, since he intends to treat it more fully in Chapters 5 and 7. Here he merely meets the objection that the Law would be useless if its works could not justify. —Martin Luther, Luther’s Commentary on Romans, trans. J. Theodore Mueller (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1954), 59–60.

WLC Q31: Galatians 3:16

Originally posted at The Calvinist Gadfly. Q. 31. With whom was the covenant of grace made? A. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, And to seeds, as referring to many, but rather to one, And to your seed, that is, Christ. Galatians 3:16 Nineteen centuries (according to Ussher) before Christ, a covenant was made with Christ, and through Christ, with all who were chosen in him. There are two (that I see) directions we could go with this discussion. One is union with Christ, or what it means to be in Christ. The other is the unusual unilateral nature of the covenant. The latter will be the focus of this post. Look with me to Genesis 15: 9 [God] said to[Abram], Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. . . . 17 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram . . . Did you see what happened there? Under normal circumstances, both parties to a covenant would have bound themselves in the covenant by passing between the bifurcated beasts. In this case, however, only one party made a promise and made the symbolic gesture binding himself to his oath. God, in the form of a smoking oven and a flaming torch, passed between the pieces. Abram stood by and watched. This was a unilateral covenant, a promise made by God alone. God was not working together with Abram. And this is the pattern for all of redemptive history. God makes the promises, and he keeps them, and we are the undeserving recipients of his grace. So it has always been, and so it will always be. Like Abram, we hear Gods promises, and we stand and watch him work. From the beginning, monergism has been at the core of Gods redemptive plan. Get your own copy of The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms here.

Hymns of My Youth II: In the Cross of Christ I Glory

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. –Galatians 6:14 In the Cross of Christ I Glory In the cross of Christ I glory, Tow’ring o’er the wrecks of time; All the light of sacred story Gathers round its head sublime. When the woes of life o’ertake me, Hopes deceive, and fears annoy, Never shall the cross forsake me; Lo! it glows with peace and joy. When the sun of bliss is beaming Light and love upon my way, From the cross the radiance streaming Adds more luster to the day. Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure, By the cross are sanctified; Peace is there that knows no measure, Joys that through all time abide. —Great Hymns of the Faith (Zondervan, 1968).

Lords Day 15, 2012

I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord. HYMN 7 (l. m.) Crucifixion to the world by the cross of Christ. Gal. vi. 14. Isaac Watts (1674-1748) When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood. See from his head, his hands, his feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did eer such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown! [His dying crimson, like a robe, Spreads oer his body on the tree: Then am I dead to all the globe, And all the globe is dead to me.] Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. from The Psalms & Hymns of Isaac Watts. Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Book III: Prepared for the Holy Ordinace of the Lords Supper (Soli Deo Gloria, 1997). 14But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6 The Cross And The Double Crucifixion. The words of this verse literally run thus: From me, however, far be it that I should glory, save in the cross; and the form of expression reminds us of the frequent phrase in the Psalms, But as for me; so calm, yet so decided; so, simple, yet so dignified. Others may glory in the flesh, or in forms, or in rites; but as for me, the cross is my only boast; all that I rejoice in centers there; it is my gain and my glory, it is my solace and my song. He lays great stress upon this I or me. Though the whole world were uniting to glory in other things, he could not; he would be inexcusable. He had a thousand reasons for rejecting every other boast,more reasons than any other man. And he knew well what he was saying in this boast. Let us take up here, the cross, the glorying, and the double crucifixion. I. The cross.It is not the literal piece of wood that he is speaking of, nor any figure or imitation of it, such as men in all ages have made for ornament or worship,a piece of ecclesiastical furniture, or an article of female dress. It is the essence of the cross that he speaks of; the great truths represented by it; salvation by a crucified Christ; Gods way of justification through the death of a sin bearer. The sacrifice for sin upon the cross, the burnt-offering upon the altar; it is this that be keeps before his eyes, and would have us keep before ours. It is the slain Lamb which he holds up to view. Connected with the cross there is death, but there is also life; there is weakness, but there is also strength; there is poverty, but also riches; shame, but also glory; defeat, but triumph too. The cross, as it stood on Golgotha, has long since gone into dust; but that cross was a symbol, like the desert pole and the brazen serpent. That cross and that serpent embodied in them mighty truths; truths which were to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; truths which the natural man despises and rejects, but which, to the new man, are the gladdest and most glorious of all glad and glorious things. It is as the embodiment of these things that the cross is here held up to us. Without these the cross is nothing save a piece of Hebrew wood, in no respect more precious than the other crosses erected at its side. Take away from it the sacrificial blood shedding, the propitiation for sin, and it is useless and worthless. The cross is mighty and venerable and glorious solely because of what it reveals concerning God, amid His way of saving the lost by providing a Saviour for the guilty. The cross is Gods verdict against sin; His exhibition of righteousness; His declaration of love to the sinner; His method of removing guilt from the condemned, and imparting life through death to every one who is willing to take life at His hands. II. The Glorying.Pauls opinion of the cross had undergone a wonderful change. The cross was once the lowest object in his estimation, now it is the highest. He glories in it. This implies such things as these:(1.) To think well of it.Once he had thought evil of it; now he thinks well. His estimate is changed,reversed. He admires what he disesteemed. (2.) To speak well of it.He commends it to every one wherever he goes. He has not a good word to say for himself but he has good words without number for the cross. He dispraises self and the flesh and the world; he praises the cross. It is the tree of trees. (3.) To boast of it.It is to him the one object of boasting; all other boasting is excluded for ever. In it he exults as one who has found a treasure. He calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me. And if men ask, What is thy cross more than another cross? he answers, My cross is the cross of crosses; there is nothing like it, so perfect, so admirable, so glorious; in it I have found the love of God, the pardon of sin, the life of my soul, the peace of my conscience, an everlasting kingdom. (4.) To trust in it.It is the tree of life, under whose shadow he sits down. It is the treasure-house of all riches; it is the fullness of all grace and blessing. It presents a resting-place to his weary soul. It invites and attracts and welcomes. Everything about it is fitted to remove distrust and awaken confidence. It is the end of fear and doubt; the producer of all happy, trustful thoughts. It is the place of light and peace. No wonder that he gloried in it. Let us learn to glory. The more we look at it and understand its meaning, the more we shall trust it, and in trusting it find rest to our souls. We cannot add to it, and we cannot take from it. It is perfect. Let us be satisfied in knowing that it is what it is,the place of propitiation and of peace. III. The Double Crucifixion.The cross crucifies Paul; it crucifies the world to Paul. In crucifying Paul it crucifies time world, and in crucifying the world it crucifies Paul. They are crucified to each other. Paul is nailed to the cross, and becomes an object of contempt and hatred to the world. The world is nailed to the cross, and becomes an object of contempt to Paul. For the crucified object becomes, by being nailed to the tree of shame, a thing of degradation,a curse and an hissing. To be nailed to a cross was to be made a dead thing, a cursed thing, a shameful thing. Thus it was mutually with Paul and the world. Each was dead to the other; they were mutually irreconcilable. The world saw nothing in Paul but vileness and meanness; Paul saw nothing in the world but the same. And it was the cross of Christ that had produced this reciprocal feeling of separation and abhorrence. It was a double crucifixion. That double crucifixion was the key to the apostles life. It set Christ between him and the world. It set the grave between him and his former self. Crucifixion with Christ had crucified him to the world and the world to him. Thus the old man was crucified; the flesh and all things pertaining to the flesh were crucified; and only out of resurrection could anything good or holy come. All that came short of resurrection came short of the glory of God.(1.) A Christian is a decided man.The cross of Christ rejects all halfheartedness; nay, renders it impossible. There was no compromise upon yon cross, when the Father smote the Son, and the Son consented to be smitten; there can be none in those who are nailed to it. (2.) A Christian is an unworldly man.He was part of the world; he is so no longer. He has come out from it and become separate, and touches no more the unclean thing. He has bid farewell to the world and its vanities. (3.) A Christian is a man of heaven.He has set his affection on things above. He has gone up to be with his Lord upon the throne in the heavenly places. His heart and his treasure are above. How glorious is the cross! How safe are they who have taken refuge there! It is the cross of the Divine Substitute. It stands forever, outliving ages and generations, like Egypts pyramids and palms. Its substitutionary value does net alter, and its efficacy for salvation to the chief of sinners is liable to no failure, no shortcoming. Its potency for shelter and deliverance and pardon knows no diminution; it is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We may be transgressors of no common order, both as to duration and enormity; we may have very superficial convictions of our own sinfulness, and very feeble thoughts of the sufficiency of the cross; we may have little faith, much unbelief; little light, much darkness; little repentance, much impenitence: still the sufficiency of the cross is infinite. Like the wide arch of heaven, it throws its canopy over the broadest circle of transgression and unworthiness. He who is willing to take shelter beneath it, whatever he may be, shall find it sufficient. To sit under its far-reaching shadow is certain life and safety; to sit anywhere else is certain wrath and doom. That shadow avails or takes effect in the case of all who, crediting Gods testimony concerning it, consent to be indebted to it for security and peace. For faith in the cross is no work or merit, which a poor sinner must toil at till he has secured enough to give him the benefit of the shelter. It is simply the relinquishment of all other pretended shelters, and the willingness to allow this divine shelter to be extended to him by the God who has provided it for the sinner. Whosoever will, is our proclamation. God does not mock you by providing a refuge and then throwing hindrances in your way, or refusing to remove existing obstacles out of your way. He provides the glorious shelter; He removes all obstacles without; He presents you with His own heavenly Spirit (better and more accessible than all self-power) to remove all hindrances within. It is in all respects a wondrous cross, for security, for sufficiency, for accessibility to the sinner. Its value is divine, and that is infinite; its sheltering canopy is wide,wide as the world; wide as the sinners utmost sin and ruin; wide as heaven and hell; wide as earth and sea; wide as the wrath of the Judge; wide as the love of God and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Horatius Bonar, Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts & Themes Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+"://";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Lords Day 44, 2012

I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. Galatians 5:17 Hymn CXXX. The inward warfare. Galatians v. 17. John Newton (17251807) Strange and mysterious is my life, What opposites I feel within! A stable peace, a constant strife, The rule of grace, the powr of sin: Too often I am captive led, Yet daily triumph in my Head. I prize the privilege of prayr, But oh! what backwardness to pray! Tho on the Lord I cast my care, I feel its burden evry day: I seek his will in all I do, Yet find my own is working too. I call the promises my own, And prize them more than mines of gold; Yet tho their sweetness I have known, They leave me unimpressd and cold One hour upon the truth I feed, The next I know not what I read. I love the holy day of rest, When Jesus meets his gathered saints; Sweet day, of all the week the best! For its return my spirit pants: Yet often, thro my unbelief, It proves a day of guilt and grief. While on my Savior I rely, I know my foes shall loose their aim; And therefore dare their powr defy, Assurd of conquest thro his name: But soon my confidence is slain, And all my fears return again. Thus diffrent powrs within me strive, And grace, and sin, by turns prevail; I grieve, rejoice, decline, revive, And victry hangs in doubtful scale: But Jesus has his promise passd, That grace shall overcome at last. Olney Hymns. Book I: On Select Passages of Scripture. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+"://";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Sovereign Election in Galatians

Wednesday··2012·12·12 · 1 Comments
Sovereign Election means not only election to salvation, but also to a life of service ordained by God. In Galatians, Paul testified that he had been chosen by sovereign grace. He recognized that he had been set apart from his mothers womb to know Christ and serve Him. What was true for Paul is true for all believers. The fact is, all who come to know Christ do so because God has sovereignly appointed them for a glorious relationship with Him. Standing behind every conversion is the doctrine of sovereign election: He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles. Galatians 1:1516a Paul declared that long before he was born, the sovereign choice of God had set him apart to know Christ and preach Him. William Hendriksen writes that these wordswho had set me apart before I was borntestify to Gods sovereign good pleasure: It refers to far more than the divine providential activity revealed in Pauls physical birth. It indicates that God did not, as it were, wait until Paul had first proved his worth before appointing him to an important function in His kingdom. No, from his very birth Paul had already been designed for his specific mission, that design being itself the expression of Gods plan from eternity (Eph. 1:11). Hence, the verb separated, as here used, means nothing less than set (me) aside, consecrated (me), marked (me) off from the rest of mankind. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 403.

Lord’s Day 46, 2013

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. —Galatians 2:20 Crucifixion and Resurrection O Lord, I marvel that thou shouldst become incarnate, be crucified, dead, and buried. The sepulchre calls forth my adoring wonder, for it is empty and thou art risen; the four-fold gospel attests it, the living witnesses prove it, my heart’s experience knows it. Give me to die with thee that I may rise to new life, for I wish to be as dead and buried to sin, to selfishness, to the world; that I might not hear the voice of the charmer, and might be delivered from his lusts. O Lord, there is much ill about me—crucify it, much flesh within me—mortify it. Purge me from selfishness, the fear of man, the love of approbation, the shame of being thought old-fashioned, the desire to be cultivated or modern. Let me reckon my old life dead because of crucifixion, and never feed it as a living thing. Grant me to stand with my dying Saviour, to be content to be rejected, to be willing to take up unpopular truths, and to hold fast despised teachings until death. Help me to be resolute and Christ-contained. Never let me wander from the path of obedience to thy will. Strengthen me for the battles ahead. Give me courage for all the trials, and grace for all the joys. Help me to be a holy, happy person, free from every wrong desire, from everything contrary to thy mind. Grant me more and more of the resurrection life: may it rule me, may I walk in its power, and be strengthened through its influence. —The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett, editor (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+"://";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

The Fruit of the Spirit Is Love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. —Galatians 5:22–23 Now we come to the plain meaning of the text. “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” I can well understand some of you saying, “Why do you take this one word ‘love’?” Because when this one word is uttered there is no more to say. It is perfectly correct to take all the words which follow. The Apostle wrote them under inspiration and with deep significance. You will see at once there is difficulty in the text. It reads, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.” You feel there is difficulty in saying, “The fruit of the Spirit is,” and then reciting nine words. Men have recognized the grammatical difficulty of the “is,” and quote the passage, “The fruits of the Spirit are . . .” That is grammatical. That reads smoothly. Hence the popular supposition that there are nine fruits of the Spirit. But we have no right to interfere with the text in that way. Our business is to find out what the text really means. The Apostle wrote, “The fruit of the Spirit is love . . .” It is one, not nine! It may be objected that the affirmation does not remove the difficulty in the text. The one thing in your Bible which is not inspired is the punctuation. If I were writing this text out for myself I would feel I was perfectly warranted in changing the punctuation, and I would read it like this: “The fruit of the Spirit is love,” and then I should indicate a pause by some means other than a comma, say a semicolon and a dash, and then read on: “joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.” The Apostle reaches his climax, and he writes the full and final fact concerning Christian experience in the words, “The fruit of the spirit is love.” Then there breaks upon his consciousness the meaning of love, and in order that we may not treat the word as a small word, that we may not pass it over and imagine there is nothing very much in it, that it is merely a sentimental word, he gives us the qualities and quantities and flavors of the fruit by breaking it up into its component parts. To change the figure, the Apostle writes the word “love,” and there surges through his soul all the harmonies of the Christian life. It is a great orchestra—love—and he listens and picks out one by one the different qualities of the music, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance. If you have love you have all these things. If you lack love you lack them all. If that can be proved, then I think it is proved that love is the all-inclusive word, and the words which follow break it up and explain its meaning. —G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit (Sermon: The Fruit of the Spirit) (Baker, 2006), 1:171–172.


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