Scripture Meditation – John 6:33

August 24, 2008 § Leave a comment

(I posted this as a comment over on Wedgewords. I thought it would make a good addition to the Scripture Meditation category here.)

John 6:33, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

In light of the passage above, couldn’t we say that God indeed has and does continue from moment to moment to uphold His “responsibility” as Creator and preserver of His creation and that the incarnation of the Son is the declaration of this very fact, and that it is this that shows our sin to be the most wicked? That our obligations to one another flow from the command that we imitate our heavenly Father?

Now if this is true and we bring this down to the covenantal or ecclesiastical level, we have The Father’s promise to the Son and by extension to all whom, upon condition of faith, are in union with the Son. So, that in the case of the wife needing a husband to imitate Christ she needs that husband to perform the duty that Christ himself has freely and graciously pledged to do for His church. And because Christ is indeed faithful therefore the husband “owes” this imitation of Christ to his wife.

And, also what makes our sin even greater is that God has gone beyond just mere Creator to creature preservation but He continues to love and to be good to those that hate Him and have rejected the clearest testimony of His goodness. i.e. the giving of the bread from heaven for the life of the world, the incarnate Son himself.

Just thinking out loud.

Blessings,
Terry W. West

Worth Quoting – Peter Martyr Vermigli on Communion With Christ

December 31, 2007 § Leave a comment

But while I write to you like this about N. N., something else occurs to me about which there is reason enough urging me to write you, both by way of inquiry and also to state my own opinion. As I do this with all freedom, so will it be up to you whenever you have leisure to indicate your own opinion. I do not press for an answer, being well aware that you are overwhelmed by important matters.

Men do not all agree concerning the communion which we have with the body of Christ and the substance of his nature; for what reason, I suppose you will hear. It is so important that he that is Christ’s should understand the mode (ratio) of his union with him.

First, it seems to me that he was pleased (as is said in the Epistle to the Hebrews [2.14] to communicate with us, in flesh and blood, by the benefit of his incarnation. ‘Since the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same’.

But unless some other kind of communion were offered us, this would be very general and feeble; for the whole human race already has communion with Christ in this manner. They are in fact men, as he was man.

So besides that communion this is added, that in due season faith is breathed into the elect whereby they may believe in Christ. Thus are they not only forgiven their sins and reconciled to God (in which the true and solid method of justification consists) but further there is added a renewing power of the spirit, by which our bodies also–flesh, blood and nature–are made capable of immortality, and become daily more and more in Christ’s form (Christiformia) as I may say. Not that they cast aside the substance of their own nature and pass into the very body and flesh of Christ, but that they no less approach him in spiritual gifts and properties than at birth they naturally communicated with him in body, flesh and blood.

Here, then, we have two communions with Christ (duas communiones cum Christo), the one natural, which we draw from our parents at birth, while the other comes to us by the Spirit of Christ. At the very time of regeneration we are by him made new according to the image of his glory.

I believe that between these two communions there is an intermediate one which is fount and origin of all the heavenly and spiritual likeness which we have with Christ. It is that by which, as soon as we believe, we obtain Christ himself our true Head, and are made his members. Whence, from the Head himself as Paul says [Eph. 4.16] his Spirit flows and is derived through the joints and ligaments into ourselves as his true and legitimate members. Wherefore this communion with our Head is prior, in nature at least though perhaps not in time, to that later communion which is introduced through regeneration. And here, it seems to me, natural reason helps us. We are taught that in things engendered the heart itself is formed first in infants. From it by a certain vein a spirit flows from the heart and in some way pierces the prepared matter of the living creature and there shapes the head. Thus by that vein through which spirit proceeds from heart, the head is joined to the heart. Again, by another vein spirit flows from the head and afterwards forms the liver, an organ that communicates with head and heart, by the arteries or veins which knit together. From the liver, moreover, and the other principal members there are other arteries or veins reaching to the other parts of the whole, by which the same engendering spirit passing through, fashions the other members. Thus it happens that they all communicate together, and are joined especially to the heart, that is to the fountain of life-not indeed in place or immediate contact (as they call it) but because from thence they draw the quickening spirit and life, by the wondrous workmanship of the highest artificer.

Peter Martyr Vermigli (A.D. 1499-1562)

Peter Martyr, “Calvin, Strasbourg 8 March 1555,” in The Life, Early Letters & Eucharistic Writings of Peter Martyr, ed., by J.C. McLelland and G.E. Duffield (Sutton Courtney Press, 1989), pp., 345-347.

Christ’s Represenation of THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE in His Substitutionary Death

September 6, 2007 § Leave a comment

This is my reply to Dean over on Green Baggins. I am posting it here because for some reason I am not able to post long comments at Lane’s blog right now.

First I will quote Deans reply to my previous post on “Corporate Justification” from earlier today.

Dean said:

Terry

I do not think Calvin’s quote taken in the context of his argument is what you are trying to make him say.

Institutes – Book 3; Chapter 24 “Election is confirmed by God’s call; Moreover, the Wicked Bring Upon Themselves the Just Destruction To Which they are Destined” Part 8 “General and Special Calling”; Part 10 “The elect before their call. There is no ’seed of election’.; Part 11 “Not growth from see but divine deliverance”; Part 12, “God’s administration of justice toward the reprobate”

If your quote was found in this section it would be much more convincing. But in this section (Part 11) Calvin says, “What if we come to examples? What
seed of righteousness was in Rahab the harlot before she had faith? In Manasses, when Jerusalem was stained and almost drenched with the blood of the prophets? In the thief, who only at his last breath thought of repentance? AWAY, THEN, WITH THESE ARGUMENTS WHICH INQUISITIVE MEN DREAM UP FOR THEMSELVES APART FROM SCRIPTURE! But let what Scripture holds remain with us: All like lost sheep have gone astray; every one has turned to his own way, that is, to perdition.”

Now my reply to Dean.

Dean,

The context of the Calvin quote is his argument for the true human nature of Christ in the incarnation. This fits perfectly into a “Chalcedonian” representation of all the whole human race. I want you to notice in the following quotes how Calvin is explicit about the WHOLE HUMAN RACE and all members thereof (without exception) being those for whom Christ substituted for in His death. Any honest appreciation of the following commentary on Isaiah 53 will show that Calvin was not working with the later Protestant Scholastic categories (what we today view as “Owenic” categories).

Calvin – 5. And he was wounded for our iniquities. He again repeats the cause of Christ’s great afflictions, in order to meet the scandal which might have arisen from it. The spectacle of the cross alienates many persons from Christ, when they consider what is presented to their eyes, and do not observe the object to be accomplished. But all offense is removed when we know that by his death our sins have been expiated, and salvation has been obtained for us.

My comments – Now we in our modern day would read Calvin’s reference to “us” as a reference to the elect, but we will see later that this is not the case.

Calvin again – The chastisement of our peace. Some think that this is called “the chastisement of peace,” on account of men being careless and stupefied amidst their afflictions, and therefore that it was necessary that Christ should suffer. Others view “peace” as relating to the consciences, that is, that Christ suffered, in order that we might have peaceful consciences; as Paul says that, “being justified by faith through Christ, we have peace with God.” (Romans 5:1) But I take it to denote simply reconciliation. Christ was the price of “our chastisement,” that is, of the chastisement which was due to us. Thus the wrath of God, which had been justly kindled against us, was appeased; and through the Mediator we have obtained “peace,” by which we are reconciled.

My comments again – Again we see that Calvin uses the term “us” and “we” again. We would tend to read this again as the elect, but loook what Calvin says next.

Calvin continues – We ought to draw from this a universal doctrine, namely, that we are reconciled to God by free grace, because Christ hath paid the price of “our peace.” This is indeed acknowledged by the Papists; but then they limit this doctrine to original sin, as if after baptism there were no longer any room for reconciliation through free grace, but that we must give satisfaction by our merits and works. But the Prophet does not here treat of a single species of pardon, but extends this blessing to the whole course of life; and therefore it cannot be thus undervalued or limited to a particular time, without most heinous sacrilege. Hence also the frivolous distinction of the Papists, between the remission of punishment and the pardon of sin, is easily refuted. They affirm that punishment is not remitted to us, unless it be washed out by satisfactions. But the Prophet openly declares that the punishment of our sins was transferred to him. What, then, do the Papists intend but to be Christ’s equals and companions, and to lay claim to share with him in his authority?

In his wound (or, in his medicine) we have healing. He again directs us to Christ, that we may betake ourselves to his wounds, provided that we wish to regain life. Here the Prophet draws a contrast between us and Christ; for in us nothing call be found but destruction and death; in Christ alone is life and salvation, he alone brought medicine to us, and even procures health by his weakness, and life by his death; for he alone hath pacified the Father, he alone hath reconciled us to him. Here we might bring forward many things about the blessed consequences of Christ’s sufferings, if we had not determined to expound rather than to preach; and therefore let us be satisfied with a plain exposition. Let every one, therefore, draw consolation from this passage, and let him apply the blessed result of this doctrine to his own use; for these words are spoken to all in general, and to individuals in particular.

My comments – Least Calvin be misunderstood. look at this last sentence above, “….spoken to ALL IN GENERAL and to INDIVIDUALS IN PARTICULAR” ,or in other words, spoken to the whole human race and every individual member thereof. Calvin clearly and explicitly makes no exception. Now, this is not the last time we see this universal language, lets look again.

Calvin continues – 6. We all, like sheep, have gone astray. In order to impress more deeply on our hearts the benefit of the death of Christ, he shows how necessary is that healing which he formerly mentioned. If we do not perceive our wretchedness and poverty, we shall never know how desirable is that remedy which Christ has brought to us, or approach him with due ardor of affection. As soon as we know that we are ruined, then, aware of our wretchedness, we eagerly run to avail ourselves of the remedy, which otherwise would be held by us in no estimation. In order, therefore, that Christ may be appreciated by us, let every one consider and examine himself, so as to acknowledge that he is ruined till he is redeemed by Christ.

We see that here none are excepted, for the Prophet includes “all.” The whole human race would have perished, if Christ had not brought relief. He does not even except the Jews, whose hearts were puffed up with a false opinion of their own superiority, but condemns them indiscriminately, along with others, to destruction. By comparing them to sheep, he intends not to extenuate their guilt, as if little blame attached to them, but to state plainly that it belongs to Christ to gather from their wanderings those who resembled brute beasts.

My comments – Look at Calvin’s explicit statement including the “whole human race” in the “all” used by the Prophet. And as we have already seen when Calvin says the whole human race he means all individual members thereof.

Calvin continues – Every one hath turned to his own way. By adding the term every one, he descends from a universal statement, in which he included all, to a special statement, that every individual may consider in his own mind if it be so; for a general statement produces less effect upon us than to know that it belongs to each of us in particular.

My comment – I have to break in here and say that this is clear and explicit language here. Notice that Calvin is not only arguing for the universal scope of Christ’s penal substitutionary death, but is careful to make sure that no one can construe this to be some “abstract class”, but rather that EVERY individual of the “class is included.

Calvin continues – Let “every one,” therefore, arouse his conscience, and present himself before the judgment­seat of God, that he may confess his wretchedness. Moreover, what is the nature of this “going astray” the Prophet states more plainly. It is, that every one hath followed the way which he had chosen for himself, that is, hath determined to live according to his own fancy; by which he means that there is only one way of living uprightly, and if any one “turn aside” from it, he can experience nothing but “going astray.”

He does not speak of works only, but of nature itself, which always leads us astray; for, if we could by natural instinct or by our own wisdom, bring ourselves back into the path, or guard ourselves against going astray, Christ would not be needed by us. Thus, in ourselves we all are undone unless Christ (John 8:36) sets us free; and the more we rely on our wisdom or industry, the more dreadfully and the more speedily do we draw down destruction on ourselves. And so the Prophet shows what we are before we are regenerated by Christ; for all are involved in the same condemnation. “There is none righteous, none that understandeth, none that seeketh God. All have turned aside, and have become unprofitable. There is none that doeth good; no, not one.” (Psalm 14:3) All this is more fully explained by Paul. (Romans 3:10)

My comments – Again, this is just good stuff, Calvin here makes reference to Romans 3. Now we Calvinist we certainly include (rightly so) every member of the human race in the depravity described in this text, but Calvin is clearly making co-extensive Christ’s substitutionary death with those included in Romans 3. So, again, no “Owenic” categories here limiting the substitutionary death to the elect alone.

Calvin continues – And Jehovah hath laid upon him. Here we have a beautiful contrast. In ourselves we are scattered; in Christ we are gathered together. By nature we go astray, and are driven headlong to destruction; in Christ we find the course by which we are conducted to the harbor of salvation. Our sins are a heavy load; but they are laid on Christ, by whom we are freed from the load. Thus, when we were ruined, and, being estranged from God, were hastening to hell, Christ took upon him the filthiness of our iniquities, in order to rescue us from everlasting destruction. This must refer exclusively to guilt and punishment; for he was free from sin. (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22) Let every one, therefore, diligently consider his own iniquities, that he may have a true relish of that grace, and may obtain the benefit of the death of Christ.

My comments – So, there is no rational bases to restrict the phrases “Our sins” and “our iniquities” to the elect alone, but it is clear that Calvin means to include the WHOLE HUMAN RACE and by this he means everyone included in the human race.

Dean, this just scratches the sufface on Calvin. I can cite many more from both his commentries and sermons that will support the argument that Calvin had a universal view of the substitutionary death of Christ, that upon the condition of faith any member of the human race can posses this gracious benefit secured by Christ in their place. Now, certainly Calvin understood that because of depravity no man will lay hold on this grace apart from the effectual drawing by the Father of elect to Christ, but never the less, Christ substituted for the WHOLE HUMAN RACE in his death. The limit is in the effectual application to the elect, not in the substitutionary death itself.
Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

My speculation on what is meant by “corporate justification”.

September 6, 2007 § 1 Comment

Earlier today I attempted to comment on Andy Gilman’s question for Pastor Doug Wilson concerning his statement defining “corporate justification”

Here is Pastor Wilson’s statement:

“…corporate justification is God’s forensic declaration that the human race has been legally and covenantally reconstituted in Christ, the last Adam. The Church, as the bride of Christ, is the instantiation of that blessing in the world, for the world.”

Here is Andy Gilman’s question:

” …corporate justification is God’s forensic declaration that the human race has been legally and covenantally reconstituted in Christ, the last Adam. The Church, as the bride of Christ, is the instantiation of that blessing in the world, for the world.”

I don’t understand how these two sentences fit together. In the first sentence, the human race is “legally and covenantally reconstituted in Christ,” and in the second sentence, the Church is said to be an instance or example of “that blessing in the world, for the world.”

The first sentence indicates that the “human race” is “legally and covenantally reconstituted in Christ.” Is “legal and covenantal reconstitution in Christ” the same blessing the second sentence is talking about, when it ascribes it to the Church? If so, then why is it said to be given to the “human race” in the first sentence? In Doug’s view, is corporate justification a blessing enjoyed by the whole human race, or is it limited to the church? And what does it mean to be “legally and covenantally reconstituted in Christ?”

I generally think of myself as possessing reasonably good reading comprehension, but I don’t get this.”

I will now add the comment I attempted to submit at Green Baggins. I am posting this here on my blog because WordPress wouldn’t let me post it at Green Baggins for some reason.
My comments:

Andy,

This is the first time that I have seen this formulation by Pastor Wilson concerning “corporate” justification, but I think I may understand what he is trying to get at. Pastor Wilson, I’m sure, will correct me if I’m wrong.

Andy, you said: “I don’t understand how these two sentences fit together. In the first sentence, the human race is “legally and covenantally reconstituted in Christ,” and in the second sentence, the Church is said to be an instance or example of “that blessing in the world, for the world.”

In the first sentence we may possibly have what Vermigli would call “incarnational union”. Or we could also call “incarnational” representation. Christ, the God-man, represents the entire human race (this means every individual member thereof, not just as some abstract “class”) in at least 3 ways:

1. Christ took the human nature that is common to all in Adam (sin excepted).

2. Christ obeyed the law of God perfectly, the law that every member of the human race is duty bound to obey. Through his obedience he grew in favor with God and thus maintained that paternal/covenantal relationship with the Father that Adam and all his posterity forfeited.

3. Christ willing suffered the death (i.e. penalty) that every member of the human race deserves. He suffered the wrath of God as a member of the human race in the place of the human race. Christ bore “our” sins in his body on the tree, thus becoming the penal substitute for the human race.

John Calvin said this: “Luke goes still farther, showing that the salvation brought by Christ is common to the whole human race, inasmuch as Christ, the author of salvation, is descended from Adam, the common father of us all.” (Institutes Book 2, Chapter 13, paragraph 3)

Through this “incarnational” representation, all the legal obstacles have been removed so that upon the condition of faith any member of the human race may be forgiven and delivered from the penalty of the law. Christ is the Justified One and all who are in Christ have the promise of justification upon the condition of faith.

W.G.T. Shedd said this: “Christ’s death as related to the claims of the law upon all mankind, cancels those claims wholly. It is an infinite “propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John 2:2….This one offering expiated “the sins of the whole world,” and justice is completely satisfied in reference to them. The death of the God-man naturally and necessarily canceled all legal claims. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2:437, 438.

Now, in Pastor Wilson’s second sentence we have the normal means through which the benefits secured for the human race are administered. i.e. the Church who are the covenant people of God. Every baptized member of the Church of Christ bears a covenantal union with Him. They have signed and sealed to them in baptism the promise of God that upon the condition of faith they have all the benefits that Christ secured for them as members of the human race.

Now, I know that many will not be satisfied if I just stop here, so I will state the special union that the elect (i.e. decretaly elect) have with Christ. God sovereignly grants to the elect alone the regeneration and faith by which they infallibly possess all the benefits given to them in Christ.

Well that’s my shot at it.

Again, this just my attempt to express what may be contained within the idea of “corporate justification”, and therefore I may be way off the mark of what Pastor Wilson and other FV advocates are trying to say.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

Worth Quoting – Ignatius on the Divinity of Christ

August 17, 2007 § Leave a comment

We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For “the Word was made flesh.” Being incorporeal, He was in the body; being impassible, He was in a passible body; being immortal, He was in a mortal body; being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts.

Ignatius (A.D. 35-107) Epistle to the Ephesians, Chapter 7

To someone such as myself, who was raised in a heretical religious teaching, quotes such as these are significant. I was raised to believe what historically would be called “Monarchism” (for more info on Monarchism, go here). I was raised to believe that Jesus Christ was just a man, a perfect man, but still just a man. I was told that the early Church believed the same thing and that the “true” Christian doctrine of Christ had been corrupted at Nicea. So when I read such clear teaching such as this from Ignatius, I am reminded of just how gracious God has been to me and my family by delivering us from such darkness.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

The Athanasian Creed (A.D. 500)

July 14, 2007 § Leave a comment

Whoever wills to be in a state of salvation, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith, which except everyone shall have kept whole and undefiled without doubt he will perish eternally.

Now the catholic faith is that we worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is One, the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit; the Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated; the father infinite, the Son infinite, and the Holy Spirit infinite; the Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet not three eternals but one eternal, as also not three infinites, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one infinite. So, likewise, the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty; and yet not three almighties but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God; and yet not three Gods but one God. So the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; and yet not three Lords but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be both God and Lord; so are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, there be three Gods or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and the Son, not made nor created nor begotten but proceeding. So there is one Father not three Fathers, one Son not three Sons, and one Holy Spirit not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less, but the whole three Persons are coeternal together and coequal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity is to be worshipped. He therefore who wills to be in a state of salvation, let him think thus of the Trinity.

But it is necessary to eternal salvation that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The right faith therefore is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man. He is God of the substance of the Father begotten before the worlds, and He is man of the substance of His mother born in the world; perfect God, perfect man subsisting of a reasoning soul and human flesh; equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who although He be God and Man yet He is not two but one Christ; one however not by conversion of the Godhead in the flesh, but by taking of the Manhood in God; one altogether not by confusion of substance but by unity of Person. For as the reasoning soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life eternal, and they who indeed have done evil into eternal fire.

This is the catholic faith, which except a man shall have believed faithfully and firmly he cannot be in a state of salvation.

(My comment: Of all the early creeds, I would have to say that this one is my favorite. – Terry W. West)

Worth Quoting – St. Ambrose on the Son’s Eternity

July 9, 2007 § Leave a comment

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” “Was,” mark you, “with God.” “Was”—see, we have “was” four times over. Where did the blasphemer find it written that He “was not.” Again, John, in another passage—in his Epistle—speaketh of “That which was in the beginning.” The extension of the “was” is infinite. Conceive any length of time you will, yet still the Son “was.

St. Ambrose Bishop of Milan (A.D. 337-397)

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Christology category at The Reformed Christian Muse.