Collect for Good Friday

April 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen

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Atonement and Common Grace

August 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Dr. R. Scott Clark has written and article on this very subject that has been published in Table Talk.
http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/atonement-and-common-grace/
It is worth a read.

If anyone is interested in reading on this subject more, a large amount of primary source material can be found at the following website.
http://calvinandcalvinism.com/

Blessings,
Terry W. West

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Worth Quoting – Jacobus Kimedoncius on Christ Died for All Men

August 16, 2008 § Leave a comment

“At this day we are slandered of Malicious men of a new crime that is feigned against us, as though we should deny that Christ died for all men. An impudent reproach.”

Jacobus Kimedoncius (A.D. 1550-1596)

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 35 – Of the Gospel

August 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

I just recently discovered that my denomination, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, has to extra chapters added to it’s version of the Westminster Confession of Faith. I was pleasantly surprised by the language of chapter 35 “Of the Gospel”. The same two chapters were amended to the WCF in 1903, but as far as I can tell the ARP has not adopted 1903 version of the WCF, but rather has just amended to it’s WCF chapters 34 and 35. The other amendments to chapters 16, 22, and 25 that are in the 1903 WCF are not present in the ARP’s version. Below is the text of ARP’s chapter 35 “Of the Gospel”:

Chapter 35

Of The Gospel

I. GOD in infinite and perfect love, having provided in the covenant of grace, through the mediation and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, as way of life and salvation, sufficient for and adapted to the whole lost race of man, doth freely offer this salvation to all men in the gospel.

Rev. 22:17. I John 2:1-2. John 3:16. Acts 2:38-39. Matt. 11:28-30. Heb. 2:9. II Cor. 5:14-19. Luke 24:46-47. Tit. 2:11.

II. In the gospel God declares his love for the world and his desire that all men should be saved; reveals fully and clearly the only way of salvation; promises eternal life to all who truly repent and believe in Christ; invites and commands all to embrace the offered mercy; and by his Spirit accompanying the word pleads with men to accept his gracious invitation.

Matt. 28:19-20. Acts 13:38-39, 48. Acts 4:12. II Pet. 3:9. John 6:37-40. Matt. 11:28-30. John 17:3. Mark 1:14-15. Acts 16:31. Acts 17:30. Acts 2:38. Rev. 22:17. Gal. 2:16-20. Ezek. 33:11. Rom. 1:16-17. Isa. 1:18. Rom 4:5. Luke 13:34.

III. It is the duty and privilege of everyone who hears the gospel immediately to accept its merciful provisions; and they who continue in impenitence and unbelief incur aggravated guilt and perish by their own fault.

Heb. 2:3. Matt. 10:32-33. Heb. 12:25. Luke 12:47-48. Acts 13:46. Heb. 10:29.

IV. Since there is no other way of salvation than that revealed in the gospel, and since in the divinely established and ordinary method of grace faith cometh by hearing the word of God, Christ hath commissioned his church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinances of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth.

Acts 4:12. I Cor. 16:1-2. Matt. 28:19-20. Matt. 9:36-38. Acts 1:8. Acts 13:2-4. Rom. 10:13-15. Col. 3:16. Heb. 10:19-25. Rev. 22:17. Gal. 3:28. Col. 1:28-29.

“He bore…the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race….”

January 1, 2008 § Leave a comment

Q37: What do you understand by the word “suffered”?
A37: That all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race; in order that by His suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice, He might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the grace of God, righteousness and eternal life.

I want to revisit this Q&A from Lord’s Day 15 of the Heidelberg Catechism. I have already posted this but did not comment on it. This clearly shows a more moderate Calvinistic view of the suffering of Christ for the sin of the “whole human race” than is found to be more popular today. This same idea of sufficiency is also expressed in the Cannons of Dort here:

The Canons of Dort, Second Head of Doctrine
The Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby – Articles of Faith

Article 6
And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.

If we compare these two statements from the 3 Forms of Unity can we not properly infer that the unbelief and rejection of the gospel is “wholly to be imputed” to the unbeliever because there is nothing lacking in the atonement for him because the unbeliever, being a member of the human race, Christ in his place bore his wrath against his sin according to Q&A 37?

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

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

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