Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting the L Out of Here. Part 8

Romans 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. ESV

What we see here is a comparison and contrast between two men. From the lesser to the greater we have our father Adam the first man. He embodied all of humanity so when he fell into sin we all fell with him. This is in a nutshell the Doctrine of Original sin. Therefore we are by nature sinful and unclean and deserve our Creator’s wrath both in this life and in eternity. The second man is God and man. In his perfect obedience, the cross and his resurrection he embodied all of humanity suffering the just punishment for all our sin. In that act all of humanity is reconciled. The debt is paid. The books are balanced. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 By faith we receive the fruits of that sacrifice. Romans 3:28 So those who go into everlasting perdition do so for not believing and receiving this gift. John 3:18

Our reformed want to claim a Limited Atonement. Saying Jesus died only for those who would believe They have a huge problem in Romans 5:18-19. Clearly it states that the righteous act of Jesus leads to justification and life for all. The many not the few. The other part of the huge problem is that if the first Adam embodied all humanity the second Adam embodies all as well since it is from the lesser to the greater. As the old saying goes “You cannot have it both ways.” Either not all are guilty for the transgression of Adam and are free and need no Saviour or they are guilty and need one. There again if it is true for the lesser than it is true for the greater.

Radical! By letting go of the L one can look upon the perfect life, death burial and resurrection of Jesus with full assurance since it is for all humanity. This is something which our reformed who buy fully into the L cannot do. I encourage all those stuck in this ambiguity to “Get the L Out.” Stop looking to your self for assurance and look to Jesus alone.

In the name of Jesus. Amen. †

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where is True Assurance of Grace and Salvation?

Westminster Confession of Faith. Chapter XVIII

I. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation (which hope of theirs shall perish): yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.

In a previous blog post we looked at the Canons of Dordt’s teaching on assurance. Now we see the Westminster divines had a similar idea. More morbid introspection. This again is needed due to the teaching of Limited Atonement by they Calvinists. One cannot hold to that doctrine consistently and point only to the death of Jesus for assurance. If Jesus did not die for everyone then the cross of Jesus is off the table. What does the scripture say? Don’t you know?

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. ESV

We see that a person who has been baptized into Jesus was baptized into his death. The fruits of the cross of Jesus are transferred to the person baptized. This is not just an historic fact but a person, such as myself, remains baptized 40+ years in the future and for the rest of life.

ERomans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. ESV

Daily we can recall the promise that we have been united with him in death and will be resurrected as Jesus was resurrected. This is how, biblically, we can be assured we are in the state of grace rather than trying to work up this assurance by spotting our own faith, love for Jesus and trying to do good deeds. These things will naturally flow from the person, being fruits of the Spirit, who is in Jesus but not something we can use to have assurance. Our measurements of these items will always either be exaggerated or may entirely escape our notice. It is a firmer foundation to trust in the strong promises of God where he has located himself for our forgiveness and ongoing assurance. We can tell our false or erring brothers and sisters that we are baptized so keep your false accusations to yourself. We can make the sign of the Holy Cross invoking the Triune name of God so to drown our flesh daily putting it once again to death on that cross. And we can tell our old adversary, who daily falsely accuses us, “We are baptized! What of it?"

Baptized into Thy name most holy,
O Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
I claim a place, though weak and lowly,
Among Thy seed, Thy chosen host.
Buried with Christ and dead to sin,
Thy Spirit now shall live within."*

*Baptized Into Thy Name Most Holy"
by Johann J. Rambach, 1693-1735
Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1829-1878

In the name of Jesus. Amen. †

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Assurance of Election.

I have been asking a question to those who believe in Limited Atonement. "How, if Jesus did not die for every person, do you know you are died for?" The answers are numerous but all involve some type of inward peering. A fellow Lutheran reminded me of an article contained in the Canons of Dordt which shows this inward peering to be quite consistent.

Article 12: The Assurance of Election
Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God's Word-- such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.

The problem with all this turning into oneself for assurance is that oneself is where the problem sits. Either one will notice the absence of the above mentioned fruits of election and be cast into despair worse than before. On the other hand a person may notice these things or set about to work them up and be filled with pride and arrogance toward others who have not worked up these items. What a dreadful place to look since we are such dismal failures that we need saving by another. Why should we look to ourselves for any assurance?

Mark 7:20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” ESV

We see in the above statements of Jesus inward peering is the last thing we should be doing. Deceit and pride come out of the heart of a sinner. This is why we must always be looking outside ourselves for salvation and assurance of the same.

This is where Jesus points us for assurance:

John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread [3] the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus [4] said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. ESV

We see here a tangible way in which Jesus comes to us for the forgiveness of sin. Receiving the true body and blood of our Lord gives us the assurance we are forgiven and have eternal life and will be raised on the last day. In these promises we have Jesus located to bring the fruits of his life, death, burial and resurrection. Coming totally from outside us. No maudlin or prideful peering inwards to do spiritual measuring which are never accurate due to our sinfulness.

Lord may your body and your blood be for my soul the highest good! Amen. †

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Promises Broken. Promises Kept.

In this world, seems especially in this day and age in the USA, one is constantly hearing and making promises. Promises are wonderful things to hear. Men and women are elected based upon promises. The covenant of marriage is based upon promises. Prospective employees promise a good days work for pay and benefits. Employers promise in return for a good days work pay, benefits and fair treatment will be enjoyed by the employees.

Alas in a broken and dying world filled with sinners promises are made to be broken. Some are broken because when made there was no real desire to keep them. The others are broken because we do not have the ability to keep them. With all good intentions we may wish to live by these promises but fall far short.

In either case we need the Eternal Promise Keeper:

Romans 10:5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” ESV

Behold all the promises in the above section. Wow! What a wonderful section filled with the assuring promises from the One who keeps promises perfectly. Even in the reading of it one may think that it cant be all that easy and good. Others will object and start thinking of people who confess with the mouth but do not live the life. Or at least that is the unrighteous judgment of the person judging the life of the other.

So what are you going to do? Toss doubt at everyone who sees these promises and latches hold on them with full assurance and faith? Or will you give this to a terrified sinner in the hour of doubt due to his or her failings in what he or she has done or left undone? Remember what the righteousness based on faith says both to you and the other sinners in your life. What we do is of no consequence in this equation. Rather in whom we place our trust for salvation.

This is the radical done didness of the Gospel of our Lord. Salvation based solely on his perfect life, death, burial and resurrection. The deeds are done. The price is paid. Death is conquered. Eternal life secured. What is left for us to do?

In the Name of Jesus. †