Meet the Puritans

Meet the PuritansBook Review: The 5 Solas Series (Zondervan)Bite-Size Bunyan (5): Profitable Meditations39 Articles—Christ Alone!The Subject of BaptismBook Giveaway: John Bunyan and the Grace of Fearing GodBook Review: Owen on the Christian Life39 Articles—Grace Alone!Book Giveaway: The Valley of VisionThe Word and SacramentsBook Review: The Crisis of British Protestantism

Welcome to Meet the Puritans, where the dead still speak (Heb. 11:4) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/ en Religion alliance@alliancenet.org (Robert Brady) mharris@alliancenet.org (Michael Harris) Wed, 20 Dec 2017 11:29:09 -0500 Wed, 20 Dec 2017 11:38:55 -0500 http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-review-5-solas-series-zondervan By Ryan McGraw<br /> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-review-5-solas-series-zondervan”><img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/styles/blog_banner/public/field/image/old-books-on-shelf_25.jpg?itok=NPDH0kop” alt=”” /></a> <div> <a href=”http://www.zondervan.com/the-five-solas-series-pack”><img alt=”” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/u243/5_solas.jpg” style=”width: 325px; height: 325px; float: left;” /></a></div> <div class=”rteindent2″> <span style=”font-size: 16px; font-family: georgia, serif;”>David VanDrunen, </span><em style=”font-size: 16px; font-family: georgia, serif;”>God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life</em><span style=”font-size: 16px; font-family: georgia, serif;”>, The 5 Solas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015).</span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”>I</span>t may surprise some readers to learn that the <em>Solas</em> of the Reformation (God’s glory, Scripture, grace, faith, Christ) do not appear in this form in the writings of any early Protestant Reformer. A friend of mine, who has done substantial research in this area, struggled to find any explicit reference to the <em>Solas</em> <strong>prior to the nineteenth-century</strong>. The <em>Solas</em> represent the attempts of a later generation to summarize why the Reformation of the sixteenth-century was so important. Even though this fivefold description of Protestant teaching arose after the fact, it continues to be a useful summary of some of the central truths of the Christian faith.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>If the <em>Solas</em> summarize the heart of Protestant teaching, then <em>Soli Deo Gloria</em>, “to God’s glory alone,” is, in some respects, the summary of this summary of Christian doctrine. However, as David VanDrunen illustrates well, our sinful hearts still make it possible to shift the emphasis of <em>Soli Deo Gloria</em> from God to us (171). His treatment of God’s glory as the heart of the gospel, and of all things related to faith and practice, is clear, simple, devotional, and refreshing. This volume is an excellent introduction to a God-oriented view of faith and life that focuses on what unites rather than what divides those who love Jesus Christ.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>VanDrunen’s</span><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”> book unfolds his exalted theme in three sections, treating God’s glory in Reformed theology and in Scripture, concluding with directions to live to God’s glory today. One of his primary aims is to promote “a shift in emphasis” (152) in how we approach <em>Soli Deo Gloria</em>. He contends that it is possible to study the glory of God in a self-centered rather than a God-centered manner (16). While this suggestion may appear to be surprising at first glance, he argues that <em>Soli Deo Gloria</em> first relates to who God is and what he does before it tells us how we should live in order to glorify God. This reorientation does not, however, detract from </span></span><span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>VanDrunen’s</span><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”> overarching goal of teaching believers the implications of <em>Soli Deo Gloria</em> for every area of faith and life. Instead, he highlights the fact that it is possible to detract from the glory of God by putting how we live ahead of who God is and what he does. This makes </span></span><span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>VanDrunen’s</span><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”> presentation of his theme both convicting and encouraging. It is far to easy for believers to lose sight of the fact that <em>Soli Deo Gloria</em> directs us, first, toward considering the glory of the Triune God and, secondarily, to how we should live before him. While we should never pit such things against each other, it is important to keep them in their proper order in light of Scripture. One of the primary ways that </span></span><span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>VanDrunen</span><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”> pushes readers in this direction is by emphasizing the glory of God as Triune, and especially as revealed in the person and work of Christ. This means that our primary response to <em>Soli Deo Gloria</em> should be worship. This emphasis pervades this book and it makes it convicting, edifying, and encouraging to read all at the same time.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>VanDrunen’s</span><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”> treatment of practical Christian living in light of God’s glory is highly insightful as well. In particular, he wrestles seriously with contemporary challenges that believers face in seeking to do all things <em>Soli Deo Gloria</em>. One of these challenges comes through the prevailing distractions accompanying modern technology (117-122). While not denying the value of technology, </span></span><span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>VanDrunen</span><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”> illustrates how the distractions accompanying it can militate against important Christian duties, such as prayer and meditation (122). His counsel in this regard is pastorally sensitive, balanced, and timely for those who desire to live for God’s glory in a contemporary world. His practical treatment of his subject include a number of other useful directions including areas such as self-control (123), developing good communication with our families (125), honoring the Sabbath (125-126), cultivating the fear of God (chapter 7), and other areas. Such teaching makes </span></span><span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>VanDrunen</span><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”> treatment of Soli Deo Gloria a careful God-centered approach to faith and life that prioritizes public worship without neglecting the cultivation of personal godliness in Christ.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><em>God’s Glory Alone</em> is suitable for Christians of all levels of growth in Christ. It is non-technical and largely non-controversial. Even where </span></span><span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>VanDrunen</span><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”> introduces potentially controversial issues, such as the so-called two kingdoms theology (155-157), he does so broadly enough to secure agreement from most readers. The result is that this book presses something important that should unite all Christians. We must learn to marvel at the glory and beauty of the Triune God as well as to live in light of his glory. This book consists in a helpful set of meditations and encouragements that will help us do so.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div class=”rteindent1″> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Carl R. Trueman, <em>Grace Alone: Salvation as a Gift of God</em>, The 5 Solas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017).</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”>T</span>he grace of God stands at the heart of the gospel. Carl Trueman is a gifted scholar and pastor who is able to write for a general audience just as effectively as he can for an academic one. The combination of these things make his book on grace alone an excellent introduction to the grace of the Triune God in saving sinners. This book will strengthen the faith of believers who desire better to appreciate the depths of God’s grace and to live in light of it in a fallen world.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>This book has many strengths. It is well written and compelling. After demonstrating what the grace of God means in light of Scripture, Trueman draws lessons on the grace of God from the teachings of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin. He argues that none wrote about the grace of God more fully and with as wide-reaching influence as Augustine did. Any theology of the grace of God must reckon with his work. Trueman then adds that Aquinas is an unexpected ally for Protestants in unfolding the grace of God. While Protestants will reject many points of Aquinas’ sacramental theology, he introduced important concepts into theology, such as the distinction between habitual and actual grace. He also rooted all grace from God to man solidly in the person and work of Christ. Trueman’s critical evaluation of Aquinas illustrates usefully that, even where an author provokes disagreement at points, Christ has always faithfully preserved the grace of the gospel in every generation of church history. His treatment of Luther an Calvin is more expected in a Reformed context. After an insightful analysis of Luther, Trueman contends that, even though predestination was not a central dogma in Calvin’s theology, his writings on this subject, coupled with his emphasis on union with Christ, highlight the nature of God’s grace to sinners exceptionally well. Both in Trueman’s biblical treatment of grace and in his historical analysis, he explains the glory of God’s grace in Christ to sinners from eternity to eternity, while stressing the Spirit’s work in uniting us to and keeping us in Christ. The last section shows that God communicates his grace to sinners primarily in the context of the church through the Word, the Sacraments, and prayer. This results in a carful balance between the corporate means by which God communicates grace to his people and the need for individuals to know Christ personally. The theological and historical balance in this book is particularly helpful and readers across confessional boundaries will likely profit from reading it.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>There is always room for <em>disagreement</em> with even the best authors on this side of glory. In this case, such disagreements are relatively minor. Trueman relegates the grace of God to human beings after Adam’s fall into sin (48, 101). This assertion stands in contrast to medieval authors, such as Aquinas (99), as well as to post-Reformation Reformed theologians, such as Francis Turretin and Patrick Gillespie (101). Older Reformed authors, in particular, taught that while the terms of the covenant of works between God and Adam were legal, the promise of everlasting life was gracious in that the promised reward was disproportionate to the obedience that God required of them. In light of such nuances, it does not seem necessary to remove grace in every sense of the term from our pre-fall condition in order to safeguard the distinctive nature of God’s redemptive grace, which is Trueman’s primary concern (102). The grace of God may be radically different under the covenant of grace than it was under the covenant of works, but this reviewer is convinced that our Reformed (and medieval) forefathers were correct in appealing to God’s grace in both settings. This is a relatively minor issue, however, since there is no question that the Scriptures stress the free grace of God in redeeming sinners in Christ.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Trueman’s <em>Grace Alone</em> is a good introduction to the grace of the Triune God, which is central to the gospel. He prevents us from truncating the grace of God or from transforming it into a nebulous concept devoid of meaning. The grace of God encompasses every aspect of the gospel, all parts of Christ’s person and work, and the Spirit’s work in every step of the Christian life. Reading this book will promote useful meditation and Spirit-filled prayer and worship in all believers.</span></span></div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”></span></span></div> <div class=”rteindent1″> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Matthew Barrett, <em>God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture</em>, The 5 Solas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016).</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”>S</span>cripture has served as the cognitive foundation of Reformed theology for centuries. Apart from Scripture, there is no saving knowledge of Christ and, ultimately, no true knowledge of God. The importance of Scripture in Reformed theology cannot be overstated, since Scripture is the means by which the Spirit of God brings us into saving union with Christ. It should be no surprise, then, that the doctrine of Scripture has come under assault in every generation of the Christian church. Approaching his topic with particularly solemnity, Matthew Barrett has written one of the best books that this author has read on the doctrine of Scripture. His treatment of the authority of Scripture is well-rounded, carefully nuanced, biblically sensitive, and eminently practical. His heavily research account coupled with his clear and simple writing style makes this volume accessible to the widest possible audience.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><em>God’s Word Alone</em> accomplishes many things in a single volume. Barrett traces the church’s view of the nature, authority, and attributes of Scripture from the early church up to the present day. His treatment is up to date by including an extensive analysis of postmodern and other assaults on the intelligibility of language in relation to the Bible’s view of itself. This includes striking statements, such as, “Even though I walk through the valley of Postmodernism, I will fear no subjectivism, for your Word and Spirit help me” (303). He makes the nature, authority, sufficiency, perspicuity, and other attributes of Scripture inescapably clear by presented both biblical theological and systematic analyses of his themes. Throughout the book he illustrates that, far from being a construct of “fundamentalism,” such a high view of Scripture is integrated into the pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Those familiar with his others writings will rightly expect large amounts of careful research behind this book. In addition to these things, Barrett’s trinitarian focus enables him to stress the gospel of Christ throughout this book. He also interacts fairly, yet critically, with modern theologians, such as Karl Barth, on the question of the nature of Scripture. Barrett’s treatment of such authors is charitable, recognizing what they got right, yet it is bold, clearly distinguishing between truth and error. As a whole, <em>God’s Word Alone</em> is a clear and forceful defense of the self-attesting and self-authenticating authority of Scripture, with its resultant attributes, and the foundational nature of these things for Christian faith and life.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>It is difficult for this reviewer to praise Barrett’s <em>God’s Word Alone</em> adequately. He hopes and prays that this book will not get lost or overlooked due to its inclusion in a series of books on the <em>Solas</em>. This is an excellent piece of historical, biblical, systematic, and practical theology. As such, it is not only a highly readable and non-technical treatment of the doctrine of Scripture, but it is a model of what sound systematic theology should look like. The best part is that it is accessible to believers at every level. Reading this book will bolster your confidence in the Bible and drive to adore and worship the God who reveals himself in its pages.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div class=”rteindent1″> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Stephen J. Wellum, <em>Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Jesus as Savior</em>, The 5 Solas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017).</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”>J</span>esus Christ did not merely proclaim the gospel. Christ himself <em>is</em> the gospel. We must receive Christ and, in him, all the benefits of redemption, if we would receive those benefits at all. While some of those benefits, such as justification by faith alone, are central to the gospel, we can never reduce the gospel to anything less than Christ himself. The burden of Stephen Wellum’s <em>Christ Alone</em> is to press home such great biblical themes, largely in light of biblical theology and historical reflection. He does so persuasively in a way that honors the Savior and that invites all of his readers to do so as well. Like the other volumes in this series, this book aims to reach a broad readership. </span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Wellum’s basic contention in this work is that, “Who Christ is determines what he does; what he does reveals who he is” (107). This simple distinction between Christ’s person and work drives his entire treatment, making his arguments clear and easy to follow. After unfolding the plan of redemption from Scripture, he turns his primary attention to Christ’s threefold office and his work of atonement. Reflecting standard Protestant Christological formulations, he notes rightly that Christ’s priestly office stands out as preeminent (157). While Christ must be our prophet and our king as well as our priest in order to save us, his priestly office marks the climax of his work for us and it informs his other two offices. After defending the penal substitutionary view of the atonement and showing how this aspect of Christ’s work on the cross encompasses all other biblical images related to it (193, 214, 221, 228), he closes his work by defending the exclusivity of Christ as the only way of salvation (276). The author’s treatment of Christology is biblically robust in many areas, though he lacks depth and clarity regarding Christ’s two natures in one person and the bearing that both of his natures have upon his work in relation to his person. Overall, Wellum’s treatment is a helpful introduction to who Jesus is and what he has done.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>The <em>primary area that requires expansion</em> in this volume relates to the author’s development of historical theology. His treatment of historical figures depends heavily on secondary rather than primary source material. While this is a partial necessity in a series like this one, this leads to a lack of precision in relation to some historical terms and movements. For example, the author asserts that some people reject penal substitution in favor of a governmental atonement theory while remaining orthodox (180). He cites the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius as an example. Since this reviewer has some familiarity with Grotius in the context of seventeenth century views on the atonement, he found this assertion puzzling. Grotius denied that Christ was a substitute for sinners, arguing instead that Christ died to restore God’s moral government over the world. It was precisely this aspect of his thought that led some authors, such as John Owen, to associate Grotius with the Socinian heresy. However, careful readers will soon discover that Wellum appears to confuse the Grotian (and Arminian) governmental theory of the atonement with the hypothetical necessity of the atonement (184). Yet many who taught the hypothetical necessity of the atonement retained the idea that Christ was a substitute for his people. Such authors argued that Christ’s atonement was not necessary in an absolute sense on the grounds of God’s essence, but rather it was necessary on the grounds of God’s decree. By contrast, Wellum conflates a governmental view of the atonement with hypothetical necessity, arguing that the latter position broke with “the central theological insight of the Reformation, namely, that God cannot forgive sin without the full payment of our sin by Christ as our penal substitute” (184). While it is true that the governmental view rejected the absolute necessity of the atonement, it is not true that all who rejected absolute necessity adhered to a governmental view or that they denied penal substitution. Examples of those who did not do so include Reformed authors such as William Twisse and Samuel Rutherford. The early John Owen taught hypothetical necessity as well, though he later rejected this view during his disputes with the Socinians. This example illustrates the general limitations that characterize Wellum’s historical analyses.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><em>Christ Alone</em> is a helpful introduction to what the Bible says about who Jesus is and what he has done to save sinners. While it has some limitations in relation to systematic and historical theology, the church always needs more books directing her to meditate on the glory of Christ. The greatest strength of this volume lies in its engagement with relevant passages of Scripture. The author will help readers better know and love Christ as the Word of God presents him.</span></span></div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”></span></span></div> <div class=”rteindent1″> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Thomas R. Schreiner, <em>Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification</em>, The 5 Solas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015).</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”>J</span>ustification by faith alone in Christ alone is not the only theme of the gospel. Yet it must always remain central to any biblical articulation of the gospel. Without the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and unless we receive Christ through faith without works, we cannot be saved. Schreiner’s <em>Faith Alone</em> is a solid and exegetically satisfying defense of justification through faith alone in Christ alone. It is written clearly and its conclusions have the potential to bring much joy and comfort to all who read it. His treatment is full and persuasive while being simple enough for readers of all levels.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>This book has many virtues. The author treats his topic in relation to historical reflection, biblical and theological development, and contemporary challenges. He introduces historical figures from the early church, from early Reformed and Roman Catholic theology surrounding the Protestant Reformation, and from post-Reformation thinkers including John Owen, Richard Baxter, Francis Turretin, Jonathan Edwards, and John Wesley. The obvious omission in this list is any reference to medieval theology, but the author notes repeatedly the limitations of his historical sketch. In addition, the material treating early church views of justification is too dependent on secondary literature to be convincing. However, the general effect of this brief survey of historical theology is useful in getting readers oriented to the subject of justification by faith alone.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Schreiner’s greatest strength in this work lies in his biblical and theological treatment of his subject. He shows decisively the forensic nature of justification as a response to human sin. He argues, both from the Old Testament and from the New, that faith justifies because Christ is the object of faith and that justification involves the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. He excludes the works of the law and human obedience from the grounds of justification in every respect, directing his readers to rest exclusively on Christ in his person and work. He tackles key biblical words and phrases carefully and accurately without limiting his theology of justification by faith in Christ alone to mere word studies. He includes critical interaction with contemporary Roman Catholic authors as well as N.T. Wright in a manner that is simultaneously critical at key points and graciously appreciative of the insights these authors have to offer at others. The tone of Schreiner’s critiques of false views of justification is as refreshing as his fidelity to biblical doctrine. It is not enough to hold to the right things if we do not hold to them in the right way. Schreiner shows readers how to do both at once throughout his book, making him a model scholar and Christian all at once.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Schreiner’s treatment, however, <em>will likely raise questions for some readers at points</em>. For example, he correctly argues that good works are a fruit and evidence of faith. However, he does not adequately make a conceptual distinction between faith and works. He stresses rightly that faith must be living and active in order to be true faith. However, some may conclude from this explanation that faith is equivalent to faithfulness, which differs from treating faith as receptive of the promises of God in Christ. While nothing that Schreiner says in this regard is unorthodox, it runs the risk of being unclear to some extent.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><em>Some readers will also be concerned</em> about Schreiner’s emphasis on justification as eschatological (chapter 12). Yet they should bear in mind that he argues that believers are presently justified through faith in Christ, in which Christ’s righteousness is imputed to them. Whether readers agree with the author fully in relation to his assertion of eschatological justification, he argues that the reason why believers are justified by faith alone in Christ alone in this life is that God announces the sentence of the last day to them beforehand (156). It is important to understand that Schreiner maintains that justification is through faith in Christ alone and that believers stand in Christ’s righteousness as a present reality and not merely an eschatological one. The issue of eschatological justification relates to some of his statements regarding the relationship between works and our justification. While he often makes statements that may alarm readers initially, such as “good works are necessary for justification,” he clarifies these assertions by adding, “these good works aren’t the basis of justification” (210). Faith alone justifies because faith alone lays hold of Christ, who is our righteousness (185, 264). It would have been clearer to state that good works always accompany justification rather than saying that they are necessary “for” justification. Similarly, it is more accurate to say that justification does not depend on good works, but only those who show their faith by their works are justified before God. In evaluating such statements, <u>readers should imitate Schreiner by reading his views in the best light possible</u> even as he does towards those with whom he disagrees.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>While Schreiner may provoke disagreement at points, this reviewer believes that it is an excellent introduction to and forceful defense of an issue that is an essential component of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you read this book correctly, then you will walk away not with a great confidence in faith but with a great confidence in Christ. This is ultimately what justification by faith alone is about. Faith, strictly speaking, does not save. Faith unites us to the Christ who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This book made this reviewer more thankful and joyful in his walk with Christ by reading it. May the Lord use it to lead others to worship and bow before him as well.</span></span></div> <hr /> <div class=”view view-sponsored-ads view-id-sponsored_ads view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4a1c1db7fdb08bd2429c75b69a402cc9″> <div class=”view-content”> <div class=”views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first views-row-last”> <div class=”views-field views-field-body”> <div class=”field-content”><a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/RaisingOurVoice”><img src=”http://www.alliancenet.org/sites/default/files/askwebbanner-raiseourvoice.jpg” width=”461px” /></a><br><a>The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals</a> is member <a href=”http://reformedresources.org/donations/”>supported</a> and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> Meet the Puritans is the <a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/”>Alliance’s</a> voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supported</a> only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supporting Meet the Puritans</a> and the mission of the Alliance. alliance@alliancenet.org (Ryan McGraw) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-review-5-solas-series-zondervan Wed, 20 Dec 2017 11:29:09 -0500 Meet the Puritans http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/bite-size-bunyan-5-profitable-meditations By Bob McKelvey<br /> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/bite-size-bunyan-5-profitable-meditations”><img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/styles/blog_banner/public/field/image/bunyan_wide_4.jpg?itok=lsbxoicj” alt=”” /></a> <div> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”>T</span>his series, “Bite-Size Bunyan,” shares John Bunyan’s writings in summary form. This fifth “bite” concerns Bunyan’s work, <em><a href=”https://books.google.com/books?id=PuNI2FRQN9sC&printsec=frontcover&dq=john+bunyan+Profitable+Meditations&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjPnuWhqIzYAhUG9WMKHdMIC8wQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=john%20bunyan%20Profitable%20Meditations&f=false”>Profitable Meditations</a>, Fitted to Man’s Different Condition: In a Conference between Christ and a Sinner</em> (1661), written to help support his family during his imprisonment, which began in November 1660. The book is basically a confession of faith in verse and marks Bunyan’s first formal attempt at poetry.</span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>While not very long and somewhat clumsy poetically, its personal and experiential theology, creative style, and use of dialogue provide a foretaste to several works, including <em>Grace Abounding</em> (1666), <em>A Confession of My Faith</em> (1672), <em>The Pilgrim’s Progress, I and II</em> (1678, 1684), <em>The Life and Death of Mr. Badman</em> (1680), and <em>The Holy War</em> (1682). As far as poetry goes, this work precedes other “prison” poems soon to come: <em>Prison Meditations</em> (1663), <em>One Thing Is Needful</em> (1665), and <em>Ebal and Gerizzim</em> (1665). </span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>We get a broad taste of Bunyan’s emerging Reformed theology (as already manifested in <em>A Few Sighs from Hell</em> and <em>Law and Grace Unfolded</em>), including such doctrines as sinful depravity, the eternal counsel of redemption, salvation by free grace in Christ from the guilt and power of sin, justification by faith for the forgiveness of sins and imputation of Christ’s righteousness, saints as just and sinful simultaneously, election of sinners to salvation, assurance of grace, perseverance of saints, eternal and irreversible punishment, and the bodily second coming of Christ for consummate salvation and judgment. </span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>That Bunyan sets forth the free offer of the gospel (e.g. “My Mercy’s thine, if thou wilt imbrace”) to all who turn from sin to him (e.g. “from thy evils flie”) does not show the Arminian tendencies of a conflicted Calvinist as some scholars maintain. Bunyan was conviced that God’s sovereign choice exists in Scripture side-by-side (and without contradiction) with the appeal for man to choose. In general, Bunyan also avoids an antinomian demeanor as in: “Christ saves men From Sin, both Guilt and Filth, them to set free, That they in Life and Holiness may dwell.” That being said, he displays the antinomian tendency to stress objective assurance of grace in the promises of Christ at the expense of subjective assurance through the evidences of grace.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>After an introduction defending the use of verse as a vehicle for Scriptural truth, Bunyan sets forth nine sections of poetry, five couched in dialogue and all supported by marginal Scripture references. In the process, he treats the topics of man’s sinful nature, Christ’s gracious atonement, the conversion of sinners to saints, Satan’s assault upon Christian assurance, Christ’s deliberation with depraved sinners, Christ’s consolation for doubting saints, death’s conquest over sinners, the Christian’s conquest over death, and the Day of Judgment for both the sinner and saint.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Bunyan sees fallen man as a servant of Satan, blind to his sin, and ignorant of the judgment to come. God beheld the miserable condition of sinners, and lovingly bought them “to Himself with heav’nly price,” namely the death of Christ to whom we “do run apace” for salvation.  In the process, Bunyan pastorally presents the passion of Christ, as in “Of the Sufferings of Christ” (Stanza XVII, Section II):   </span></span></div> <blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The Wicked Sin’d, the Just did bear the blame<span style=”white-space:pre”> </span></span></span></div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Here is the Myst’ry of the Gospel-love:<span style=”white-space:pre”> </span></span></span></div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>That Christ for us should bear the cursed Shame,</span></span></div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>And Wrath (that we deserved) from above.</span></span></div> </blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>Bunyan then sets forth dialogues between Satan and a struggling Christian, Christ and a presumptuous sinner, and Christ and a doubting soul. The first two serve in part as refutations against a legalistic spirit concerning works and an antinomian spirit concerning grace, respectively, while the third encourages an evangelical spirit concerning grace and works. All three highlight the spiritual turmoil Bunyan he experienced earlier and recorded later in <em>Grace Abounding</em>. </span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Next, death personified claims a sinner for whom it is too late to make peace with God. In the end, the sinner bemoans failing to turn from sin to Christ, not only losing every worldly thing but also falling eternally into a “dreadful Dungeon.” In contrast, the saint emerges victorious through Christ, who “triumph’d over [death] in fight.”  Though Jesus himself died, he rose again and guaranteed that, at his second coming, he will also “Raise up his Dead.” </span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The last section concerns the Day of Judgment at the return of Christ in glory, when saints “with comfort on him gaze,” while the wicked are “banisht from [his] face.” The ungodly vainly blame their state on others, even “daubing preachers” (likely a dig at Restoration Anglicans) who gloss over sin. The final discourse between a saint in heaven and soul in hell gleans from Bunyan’s exposition of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) in <em>A Few Sighs from Hell</em>. In light of the warnings of judgment and promises of glory to come, Bunyan ends by urging us all to profit from this work and “Lift up thine heart to God” for his grace.</span></span></div> <hr /> <div class=”view view-sponsored-ads view-id-sponsored_ads view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4a1c1db7fdb08bd2429c75b69a402cc9″> <div class=”view-content”> <div class=”views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first views-row-last”> <div class=”views-field views-field-body”> <div class=”field-content”><a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/RaisingOurVoice”><img src=”http://www.alliancenet.org/sites/default/files/askwebbanner-raiseourvoice.jpg” width=”461px” /></a><br><a>The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals</a> is member <a href=”http://reformedresources.org/donations/”>supported</a> and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> Meet the Puritans is the <a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/”>Alliance’s</a> voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supported</a> only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supporting Meet the Puritans</a> and the mission of the Alliance. alliance@alliancenet.org (Bob McKelvey) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/bite-size-bunyan-5-profitable-meditations Sat, 16 Dec 2017 04:00:00 -0500 Meet the Puritans http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94christ-alone By Henry Jansma<br /> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94christ-alone”><img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/styles/blog_banner/public/field/image/39_articles_14.jpg?itok=wTCVqX74″ alt=”” /></a> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”>I</span>t is important to notice that the group of articles (9-16) that deal with our salvation in the <em>Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion</em> should close with an <em>anathema</em>—the only time the word appears in the <em>Articles</em>. Articles 17 and 18 should be taken together, as the “also” in the first sentence suggests–the former explaining the ground of salvation in God’s predestinating grace and electing love and the latter explaining the source in the sole Mediator, Christ alone. The logic of the two articles is simple: if salvation is due to our union in the Lord Jesus for our effectual calling, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification and other “innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained to us” (“The Communion Exhortation” in the </span></span><span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>1552/1662 Book of Common Prayer</span><span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>), then it is impossible to be indifferent, but more, it is blasphemous to him. Cranmer’s <em>Reformatio Legum</em> echoes the same language we have here:</span></div> <blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Horrible and insane is the daring of those who maintain that salvation may be hoped for in every religion or sect which men have professed, as long as they strive as hard as they can for innocence and integrity of life according to the light which has been put in them by nature, for plagues of this kind are condemned by the authority of Holy Writ. For there the one and only name of Jesus Christ is commended to us, that all salvation may come to us from him.</span></span></div> </blockquote> <blockquote> <div class=”rtecenter”> <em><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>XVIII—Of Obtaining Eternal Salvation Only by the Name of Christ
</span></span></em></div> <div class=”rtecenter”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.</span></span></div> </blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>Like article 17 that preceded it, article 18 is unchanged from Cranmer’s original. Its original and later titles give us the clue we need that the reference here is not to pagans, but to nominal Christians. Cranmer’s more pastoral consequence of article 17 for the Christian, “We Must Trust to Obtain Eternal Salvation Only by the Name of Christ” becomes 1571’s slightly more abstract, “Of Obtaining Eternal Salvation…” It is Christ alone who saves us. Another clue is a historical one. Few people in England had any non-Christian neighbors at that time. Americans may know of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 perhaps do not realize that the Jews had been expelled from England far earlier: by King Edward I in 1290! Jews were not readmitted to the country until 1656 under Oliver Cromwell and full emancipation in England of their civil rights had to wait until 1858. The article does not address other religions in the modern sense of religious pluralism but remains fixed on the visible Church. </span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>So, we must ask the question, “Does this article have any relevance for us today? Surely no church today is interested in practicing religious oppression!” Here we must be blunt. The worst enemies of the gospel are the ministers and members of the mainline Christian churches. They preach another gospel far removed from the exclusive claims of Christ, instead, their teaching proclaims that every person is saved by the rule of life they create and profess, being morally superior to the baser sort because they make an effort to live by that rule–precisely what the article condemns as accursed! Such blasphemy cannot tolerate the truth thus every opportunity is taken to criticize and condemn those who insist on proclaiming the truth of the gospel. The last twenty years of the Episcopal Church in the United States bears testimony to this intolerance in how it has sought to oppress faithful gospel churches by means of the ecclesiastical inhibition and deposition of its ministers, and by means of the secular courts. The Episcopal Church, as of 2015, has spent <a href=”http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2015/05/what-is-ecusa-spending-on-lawsuits.html”>an excess of sixty million dollars in litigation</a> in their version of an ecclesiastical <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jarndyce_and_Jarndyce”>Jarndyce v. Jarndyce</a>. As the court cases drone on, faithful ministers and congregations are left broken and bereft. New Anglican provinces have arisen, faithful Anglican provinces have provided alternative episcopal oversight to minister and to care for these clergy and churches.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The issue is that it is impossible to share the biblical gospel without sharing the truth claims that it makes. Article 18 rightly explains that we cannot simply relax and assume that some nominal Christian will be saved because they are being faithful in their error. We must share with them the truth of the gospel: eternal life by faith alone in the one Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. To do otherwise is blasphemous because it misrepresents what Christ himself said and overthrows his divine authority. In his farewell discourse to his disciples, the night before the cross, in John 14:6, the Lord Jesus reveals to us the way to God and heaven. He says: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” As God come to earth, Jesus has the right to tell us the way to heaven. Crucially, Jesus also goes onto the negative: “no one comes to the Father except through me.” That is, the only way for human beings to know God as our heavenly Father is through faith and knowledge in Jesus Christ as God and Savior (John 20.30-31). </span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Article 18 also echoes Acts 4:12 when it says: “For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ whereby men must be saved.” “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Here Peter asserts that there is no other Savior except Jesus Christ. The logic is simple and irrefutable: only Jesus saves because only Jesus died for our sins. Peter also proclaims that heaven (that is, God) has appointed and named his Son, Jesus, as the only one with the authority and power to save and rescue sinful human beings. Notice the allusion to predestination and election here: the name of Jesus is, according to God’s divine decree, the name “by which we must be saved.” There can be no human option here like, “I will choose to be saved in my way or by my own god or religion.” Rather, Peter says, “no, God has decreed and fixed that we must be saved only through faith in Christ.”</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Article 18 rightly concludes this section of the Thirty-Nine Articles begun in article 9. And it does so with a supreme comfort to the committed Christian and a particular challenge to the nominal one. The believing Christian can have the assurance that we have Christ and are saved because God himself has decreed it. It is not the quality of our faith, but the power of God who guarantees it. It also shakes the nominal Christian from their vagueness and complacency to declare that there is only <strong>one Way</strong> to be saved because Jesus Christ is the unique and exclusive Savior.</span></span></div> <div> <hr /> <p class=”rtecenter”><span style=”font-size:14px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><em style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”background-color:#d3d3d3;”>Meet the Puritans</span></em><span style=”background-color: rgb(211, 211, 211);”> is a conversation of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider </span><a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/mtp” style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”background-color:#d3d3d3;”>supporting</span></a><span style=”background-color: rgb(211, 211, 211);”> us.</span></span></span></p> </div> <div> <hr /> <p> </p> </div> <div> <em style=”color: rgb(46, 45, 44); font-family: Merriweather; font-size: 18px; box-sizing: border-box;”><u style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>For previous articles in this series, see:</span></span></u></em></div> <div> <ol style=”box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; color: rgb(46, 45, 44); font-family: Merriweather; font-size: 18px;”> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles—intro” style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>Introduction</span></span></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94one-god-trinity-trinity-unity” style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>One God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity (Art. 1)</span></span></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-incarnation-and-atonement” style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>The Incarnation and Atonement (Art. 2)</span></span></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-work-christ” style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>The Work of Christ (Arts. 3-4)</span></span></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-holy-spirit” style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>The Holy Spirit (Art. 5)</span></span></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-rule-faith-1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>The Rule of Faith: Part 1 (Art. 6)</span></span></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-rule-faith-2″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>The Rule of Faith: Part 2 (Art. 7)</span></span></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-rule-faith-3″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>The Rule of Faith: Part 3 (Art. 8)</span></span></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 1 (Art. 9)</span></span></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-2″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><font style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 2 (Art. 10)</span></font></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-3″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><font style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 3 (Art. 11)</span></font></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-4″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><font style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 4 (Art. 12)</span></font></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-5″><font style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 5 (Arts. 13-14)</span></font></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-6″><font style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 6 (Art. 15)</span></font></a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-7″>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 7 (Art. 16)</a></span></span></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94grace-alone”>Grace Alone! (Art. 17)</a></span></span></li> </ol> </div> <p> </p> <hr /> <div class=”view view-sponsored-ads view-id-sponsored_ads view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4a1c1db7fdb08bd2429c75b69a402cc9″> <div class=”view-content”> <div class=”views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first views-row-last”> <div class=”views-field views-field-body”> <div class=”field-content”><a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/RaisingOurVoice”><img src=”http://www.alliancenet.org/sites/default/files/askwebbanner-raiseourvoice.jpg” width=”461px” /></a><br><a>The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals</a> is member <a href=”http://reformedresources.org/donations/”>supported</a> and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> Meet the Puritans is the <a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/”>Alliance’s</a> voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supported</a> only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supporting Meet the Puritans</a> and the mission of the Alliance. alliance@alliancenet.org (Henry Jansma) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94christ-alone Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:01:45 -0500 Meet the Puritans http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/subject-baptism By Patrick Ramsey<br /> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/subject-baptism”><img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/styles/blog_banner/public/field/image/baptism_1.jpg?itok=ujp0SHWJ” alt=”” /></a> <div> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”>T</span>hus far we have noted what the Westminster Standards teach concerning the nature and purpose of baptism, and the relationship between the Word and sacraments. The Standards’ position on these two points suggests that the Assembly rejected the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. In this article, we want to consider a third point: <strong>the subject of baptism</strong>.</span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>According to the Westminster Standards, covenant membership has its privileges, specifically a right to the sacrament of baptism. Sacraments are for those “within the covenant of grace (WLC 172),” and baptism “is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church (WLC 166).” For this reason, unbelievers are not to be baptized until “they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him (WLC 166, WSC 95).” Prior to administering baptism to a child, the <em>Directory for Public Worship</em> directs the minister to inform the congregation that children of Christian parents are “Christians, and federally holy before Baptisme, and therefore are they baptized.”</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Since the recipients of the sacraments, including baptism, are Christians, holy, believers and members of the covenant, it follows that the sacraments are not converting ordinances. George Gillespie employs this argument repeatedly. He marshals twenty arguments to prove that the Lord’s Supper is not a converting ordinance, the second of which is “That which necessarily supposeth conversion and faith, doth not work conversion and faith.” In order to forcefully press home his point, the Scotsman argues from baptism to the Lord’s Supper. After citing Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 41; 8:26-37; 10:47, Gillespie writes: </span></span></div> <blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Now if baptism itself (which is the sacrament of our initiation) supposeth (according to the tenor and meaning of Christ’s institution) that the party baptized (if of age) doth actually convert and believe, and (if an infant) supposeth an interest in Jesus Christ and in the covenant of grace…how much more doth the Lord’s supper, necessarily, by Christ’s institution, suppose that the receivers are not unconverted and unbelieving persons?</span></span></div> </blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>His fourth argument is that an ordinance instituted only for believers is not a converting but a sealing ordinance. He then proceeds to prove that the Lord’s Supper is such an ordinance by demonstrating, from Roman 4:11, that every sacrament, including the sacrament of initiation is a seal of the righteousness of faith. “If therefore a sacrament be a seal of the righteousness of faith, then it is instituted only for believers and justified persons, because to such only it can seal the righteousness of faith.”</span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The fifth argument is also based upon Paul’s discussion of Abraham and circumcision in Romans 4. Abraham’s justification is a pattern of ours and he “was not justified by circumcision, or (as Aquinas confesseth upon the place) that circumcision was not the cause but the sign of justification.” Gillespie again argues from baptism to the Lord’s Supper. “And if God did, by his word, make a covenant with Abraham before he received circumcision, the seal of that covenant, must it not much more be supposed, that they are within the covenant of grace who eat and drink at the Lord’s table.”</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Even more explicit is the fourteenth argument, wherein Gillespie states that since Baptism itself is not a regenerating or converting ordinance—at least administered to those of age—far less is the Lord’s Supper a converting ordinance. Baptism cannot be a regenerating ordinance because in Scripture a profession of faith is a prerequisite for those of age.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Another piece of evidence, therefore, that the Westminster Standards do not embrace baptismal regeneration is their teaching on the subject of baptism. A sacrament that is for Christians, believers and members of the covenant is not compatible with one that confers converting grace.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <u><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>For previous posts in this series, see:</span></span></u></div> <ol> <li> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/nature-and-purpose-baptism”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The Nature and Purpose of Baptism</span></span></a></li> <li> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/word-and-sacraments”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The Word & Sacraments</span></span></a></li> </ol> <hr /> <div class=”view view-sponsored-ads view-id-sponsored_ads view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4a1c1db7fdb08bd2429c75b69a402cc9″> <div class=”view-content”> <div class=”views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first views-row-last”> <div class=”views-field views-field-body”> <div class=”field-content”><a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/RaisingOurVoice”><img src=”http://www.alliancenet.org/sites/default/files/askwebbanner-raiseourvoice.jpg” width=”461px” /></a><br><a>The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals</a> is member <a href=”http://reformedresources.org/donations/”>supported</a> and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> Meet the Puritans is the <a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/”>Alliance’s</a> voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supported</a> only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supporting Meet the Puritans</a> and the mission of the Alliance. alliance@alliancenet.org (Patrick Ramsey) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/subject-baptism Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:22:18 -0500 Meet the Puritans http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-giveaway-john-bunyan-and-grace-fearing-god-0 By Danny Hyde<br /> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-giveaway-john-bunyan-and-grace-fearing-god-0″><img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/styles/blog_banner/public/field/image/book_giveaway_32.jpg?itok=shKAngpi” alt=”” /></a> <p><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><img alt=”” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/u243/bunyan_grace_fearing_god.jpg” style=”width: 280px; height: 433px; float: left;” />We have 2 copies of <em>John Bunyan and the Grace of Fearing God</em> for giveaway. Deadline to register is Friday, December 22.</span></span></p> <p><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Enter <a href=”https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfbxzvUXgIR7gWcG_zSc7o6CKZJlzEmT_7T-uwBpHbuJKfFYA/viewform”>here</a>.</span></span></p> <hr /> <div class=”view view-sponsored-ads view-id-sponsored_ads view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4a1c1db7fdb08bd2429c75b69a402cc9″> <div class=”view-content”> <div class=”views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first views-row-last”> <div class=”views-field views-field-body”> <div class=”field-content”><a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/RaisingOurVoice”><img src=”http://www.alliancenet.org/sites/default/files/askwebbanner-raiseourvoice.jpg” width=”461px” /></a><br><a>The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals</a> is member <a href=”http://reformedresources.org/donations/”>supported</a> and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> Meet the Puritans is the <a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/”>Alliance’s</a> voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supported</a> only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supporting Meet the Puritans</a> and the mission of the Alliance. alliance@alliancenet.org (Danny Hyde) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-giveaway-john-bunyan-and-grace-fearing-god-0 Mon, 11 Dec 2017 21:32:00 -0500 Meet the Puritans http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-review-owen-christian-life By Ryan McGraw<br /> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-review-owen-christian-life”><img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/styles/blog_banner/public/field/image/old-books-on-shelf_24.jpg?itok=6zh0YmpG” alt=”” /></a> <div class=”rteindent1″> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Matthew Barrett and Michael A. G. Haykin, <a href=”https://www.crossway.org/books/owen-on-the-christian-life-tpb/”>O<em>wen on the Christian Life: Living for the Glory of God in Christ</em></a>, Theologians on the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015). 296pp. Paperback.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”><img alt=”” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/u243/barrett_haykin_owen.jpg” style=”width: 200px; height: 299px; float: left;” />A</span>s a minister, I would love to believe that everyone in the church would read John Owen. There are few men whom the Father has used under the Spirit’s blessing to impart to my soul a greater love to Christ than Owen. I suspect that many ministers pray that the Lord would enable them to digest the best of what they read in order to pass on to their congregations even a tenth of what the Lord has given to them. In this book, Barrett and Haykin invite readers to follow Owen on a guided tour of the Christian life. They do so with skill and simplicity, passing on to readers part of the blessing that the Lord gave them in studying Owen’s works.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The topics in this book are well-chosen. The authors note that it is difficult if not impossible to treat every major theme of Owen’s teaching in a single volume. However, they reflect Owen’s greatest legacy to the church by promoting his goal of aiming at the personal holiness of their readers. In contrast to many modern versions of Christian living, the bedrock of Owen’s teaching was the Bible, the Trinity, and the person of Christ (chapters 2-4). This leads to Christ’s glorious work on our behalf (chapter five), God’s sovereignty in our salvation (chapter 6), and the benefits of redemption that come to both the individual believer and the church (chapters 7-9). The striking way in which Owen wove the highest Christian doctrines into warmhearted Christian devotion keeps married what many try to divorce in the church today.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The style of this book is simple and accessible. The authors summarize Owen and digest the best of his thought on Christian living. This is not a scholarly work that sets Owen rigorously in his historical context. Such works have their place and, personally, I have profited from them more in the long run than less scholarly works. Yet not all will have this experience. Ideas need to be understood in context, which requires a lot of work and professional skill. Yet ideas also need to be appropriated and translated for the profit of today’s church. The appendix to the book illustrates the value and power of ministers digesting Owen and mediating his thought to their churches. Haykin provides examples from the long-time pastor of his own congregation as well as several prominent examples from church history. The Lord has used a revival in Owen’s <em>Works</em> to bless the church numerous times in the past and this reviewer hopes and prays that he will do so again and again.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>As with any book on Owen’s theology, this reviewer hopes that reading Owen on the Christian Life will make you want to read Owen himself. Yet this work strikes at the heart of one of the most vital needs of the church today. The church needs to recover a vibrant, scripturally informed, Christ-exalting, trinitarian view of Christian living. Owen is not the only theologian who taught these themes, but he taught them better than most and he speaks prophetically to the needs of the hour. Read this book to use Owen for what God designed him and all other ministers of the gospel to be; namely, instruments of building up the church in unity and maturity to the fullness of the stature of Christ.</span></span></div> <hr /> <div class=”view view-sponsored-ads view-id-sponsored_ads view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4a1c1db7fdb08bd2429c75b69a402cc9″> <div class=”view-content”> <div class=”views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first views-row-last”> <div class=”views-field views-field-body”> <div class=”field-content”><a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/RaisingOurVoice”><img src=”http://www.alliancenet.org/sites/default/files/askwebbanner-raiseourvoice.jpg” width=”461px” /></a><br><a>The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals</a> is member <a href=”http://reformedresources.org/donations/”>supported</a> and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> Meet the Puritans is the <a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/”>Alliance’s</a> voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supported</a> only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supporting Meet the Puritans</a> and the mission of the Alliance. alliance@alliancenet.org (Ryan McGraw) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-review-owen-christian-life Wed, 06 Dec 2017 11:09:41 -0500 Meet the Puritans http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94grace-alone By Henry Jansma<br /> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94grace-alone”><img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/styles/blog_banner/public/field/image/39_articles_13.jpg?itok=d2i7T1_4″ alt=”” /></a> <div> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”>A</span>rticle 17 of the <a href=”http://churchsociety.org/docs/english_prayer_book/24_EPB_articles_religion.pdf”>Thirty-Nine Articles</a> is the longest article of all the articles and marks the transition between what has preceded in articles 14-16 and what follows in article 18. Because of an inflated sense of man’s worthiness before God since the Fall, a stance of humility is necessary when we examine the Bible’s teaching.</span></div> <blockquote> <div class=”rtecenter”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>XVII—Of Predestination and Election
</span></span></div> <div class=”rtecenter”> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.</span></span></div> <div class=”rtecenter”> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.</span></div> <div class=”rtecenter”> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.</span></div> </blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>Before we examine the three sentences that make up the Latin original of the article, it is important to understand that there were only some slight changes made in 1563 and 1571 to Thomas Cranmer’s 1553 original that demonstrates the common mind of the Anglican divines on this biblical doctrine from the time of Cranmer into the 17th century. Their consensus is one voice within the larger chorus of Reformed thinking on the subject that led in just twenty-five years to further clarification in the nine points of the <a href=”http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds3.iv.xiii.html”>Lambeth Articles of 1595</a>, which anticipated the <a href=”https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/confessions/canons-dort”>Canons of Dort</a> by more than twenty years. The Lambeth Articles were intended to supplement article 17 due to the growing influence of Jacob Arminius (1560-1610). The Reformed doctrine of predestination and election is constitutive of Anglicanism. Any suggestion to the contrary reveals more of an alien influence upon Anglicanism rather than the doctrine of the historic formularies. There was little disagreement among the Reformed churches of Europe about the key points of this doctrine. </span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Gerald Bray notes that just a year before Cranmer wrote this article, Martin Bucer gave a series of <a href=”https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=B7xk9zEXq18C&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA1″>lectures at Cambridge on Ephesians</a>, one of the key passages on this teaching [Bray, <a href=”http://www.latimertrust.org/index.php/publications/anglican-foundations/25-fwc”><em>The Faith We Confess</em></a>, 96]. Bucer taught that Anglicans ought to preach predestination boldly and clearly, not to condemn the reprobate, but to encourage the people of God in their sanctification. The wording of the article corresponds very well to what Martin Bucer had in mind and to this day remains one of the most balanced statements of the doctrine and its application to the Christian.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><strong>The first sentence</strong> is a straightforward and uncompromising. Election and predestination are grounded in the eternal decree of God for our redemption. Our redemption was not his response to anything inherent in us: neither in our disobedience in Adam or a foresight of faith or a future obedience. He determined in his secret Trinitarian counsel to deliver us from eternal damnation through the person and work of his Son Jesus Christ. It is only the will of God’s good pleasure and for his glory, as lost men and women are “vessels made to honour.”</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The sentence next describes how God’s eternal decree is worked out as the Holy Spirit works in the redeemed person, “working in due season.” What follows after predestination and election are the remaining logical steps of the doctrine of salvation known as an <em>ordo salutis</em> or “the order of salvation”: </span></span></div> <ul> <li> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><em>Effectual calling</em>: The elect hear God’s calling and obey it by his grace.</span></span></li> <li> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><em>Justification</em>: The elect are then justified by the free gift of God.</span></span></li> <li> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><em>Adoption</em>: The elect are made children of God by adoption.</span></span></li> <li> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><em>Sanctification</em>: The elect are transformed into the image of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.</span></span><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”white-space:pre”> </span></span></span></span></span></li> <li> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><em>Perseverance</em>: The elect possess justification by living a life of good works in the obedience of faith.</span></span></span></span></li> <li> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><em>Glorification</em>: By the mercy of God alone, the elect ultimately obtain everlasting joy in the presence of God.</span></span></li> </ul> <div> <strong style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>The second sentence</strong><span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”> sets the boundary of the doctrine in its uses or application to the Christian. The article repeatedly has made it clear that from start to finish at every step it is God who effects his purpose in the chosen. He does so by the Spirit, through grace, freely, by his mercy. The article’s comfort for the Christian is in how it describes the pattern of salvation which expresses salvation by God’s grace alone. Deciding to trust and follow Christ is because in God’s decree to bring his elect in Christ to glory, caused the Christian to do precisely that. Therefore, the benefits of our election are secure in Christ Jesus. Recalling the person and work of the Holy Spirit of articles 5 and 6, Cranmer sets them out as four biblical principles of the Christian life:</span></div> <ul> <li> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The Holy Spirit mortifies the works of our flesh.</span></span></li> <li> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The Holy Spirit turns our minds to higher things.</span></span></li> <li> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The Holy Spirit establishes and confirms our faith in eternal salvation.</span></span></li> <li> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>The Holy Spirit kindles our love for God.</span></span></li> </ul> <div> <span style=”font-family: georgia, serif; font-size: 16px;”>Cranmer joins Calvin as a theologian of the Holy Spirit. He begins here with the two-fold biblical principle of mortification and vivification: the Holy Spirit helps us to see how we must put to death our old life in rebellion against God and replaces our desire for things earthly with a deeper desire for things heavenly where Christ is. As Romans 12.2 reminds us, so much that we do depend on the renewing of our minds in how we think. We can also see how Christian who may be called to endure terrible affliction and trial in this earthly life, will be strengthened and encouraged as their eternal salvation is reaffirmed in their walk with the Lord Jesus to glory. We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing how that suffering produces endurance (Rom. 5:3). We begin to see more clearly how God’s many providences show his care for us so that we trust him more and more for whatever may lie ahead. We make it our aim to please him (2 Cor. 5:9). </span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><strong>The last sentence</strong> reminds the Christian of the importance of the sufficiency of Scripture. As we teach biblical doctrine, we must apply biblical doctrine within the bounds set by the Scripture. The article underlines the fact that Scripture applies the doctrine of election and predestination to encourage God’s believers. It defends that gospel from ideas of human merit and impresses upon the believer the absolute security we enjoy in the gospel. It is not to be preached to all the world. Pastors must be sensitive in the preaching not to promote unhelpful speculation. We know that those who are not chosen for eternal salvation are condemned, and the article by implication here affirms reprobation or double predestination that article 4 of the Lambeth Articles will confirm later. But the Christian pastor is also reminded that we must take care in how we apply it to specific individuals in the congregations of the local church or in the various hypothetical scenarios of the one who has never heard the gospel. We are not to speculate, but to preach the gospel made possible by God’s gracious predestination.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <em style=”color: rgb(46, 45, 44); font-family: Merriweather; font-size: 18px; box-sizing: border-box;”><u style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-family: georgia, serif;”>For previous articles in this series, see:</span></span></u></em></div> <ol style=”box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; color: rgb(46, 45, 44); font-family: Merriweather; font-size: 18px;”> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles—intro” style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-family: georgia, serif;”>Introduction</span></span></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94one-god-trinity-trinity-unity” style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-family: georgia, serif;”>One God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity (Art. 1)</span></span></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-incarnation-and-atonement” style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-family: georgia, serif;”>The Incarnation and Atonement (Art. 2)</span></span></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-work-christ” style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-family: georgia, serif;”>The Work of Christ (Arts. 3-4)</span></span></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-holy-spirit” style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-family: georgia, serif;”>The Holy Spirit (Art. 5)</span></span></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-rule-faith-1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-family: georgia, serif;”>The Rule of Faith: Part 1 (Art. 6)</span></span></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-rule-faith-2″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-family: georgia, serif;”>The Rule of Faith: Part 2 (Art. 7)</span></span></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94-rule-faith-3″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-family: georgia, serif;”>The Rule of Faith: Part 3 (Art. 8)</span></span></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-1″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-family: georgia, serif;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 1 (Art. 9)</span></span></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-2″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><font face=”georgia, serif” style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 2 (Art. 10)</span></font></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-3″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><font face=”georgia, serif” style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 3 (Art. 11)</span></font></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-4″ style=”box-sizing: border-box; background: transparent; color: rgb(225, 168, 112); text-decoration-line: none !important;”><font face=”georgia, serif” style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 4 (Art. 12)</span></font></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-5″><font face=”georgia, serif” style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 5 (Arts. 13-14)</span></font></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-6″><font face=”georgia, serif” style=”box-sizing: border-box;”><span style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 16px;”>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 6 (Art. 15)</span></font></a></li> <li style=”box-sizing: border-box;”> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94guilt-grace-and-gratitude-7″>Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 7 (Art. 16)</a></span></span></li> </ol> <hr /> <div class=”view view-sponsored-ads view-id-sponsored_ads view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4a1c1db7fdb08bd2429c75b69a402cc9″> <div class=”view-content”> <div class=”views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first views-row-last”> <div class=”views-field views-field-body”> <div class=”field-content”><a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/RaisingOurVoice”><img src=”http://www.alliancenet.org/sites/default/files/askwebbanner-raiseourvoice.jpg” width=”461px” /></a><br><a>The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals</a> is member <a href=”http://reformedresources.org/donations/”>supported</a> and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> Meet the Puritans is the <a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/”>Alliance’s</a> voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supported</a> only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supporting Meet the Puritans</a> and the mission of the Alliance. alliance@alliancenet.org (Henry Jansma) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/39-articles%E2%80%94grace-alone Fri, 01 Dec 2017 11:37:19 -0500 Meet the Puritans http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-giveaway-valley-vision By Danny Hyde<br /> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-giveaway-valley-vision”><img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/styles/blog_banner/public/field/image/book_giveaway_31.jpg?itok=q-i6Agg0″ alt=”” /></a> <p><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><img alt=”” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/u243/valley_of_vision.jpg” style=”width: 200px; height: 316px; float: left;” />Thanks to our friends at The Banner of Truth, we have a copy of <a href=”https://banneroftruth.org/us/store/devotionalsdaily-readings/the-valley-of-vision/”><em>The Valley of Vision</em></a> by Arthur Bennett to give away. </span></span></p> <p><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>This giveaway is for U.S. mailing addresses only.</span></span></p> <p><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Deadline is Friday, December 8.</span></span></p> <p><span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Enter <a href=”https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfz8vsdTIWl0RwN2rG2hAtX4R2gskt6yj8BE79UN_jWHUSYAQ/viewform”>here</a>.</span></span></p> <hr /> <div class=”view view-sponsored-ads view-id-sponsored_ads view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4a1c1db7fdb08bd2429c75b69a402cc9″> <div class=”view-content”> <div class=”views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first views-row-last”> <div class=”views-field views-field-body”> <div class=”field-content”><a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/RaisingOurVoice”><img src=”http://www.alliancenet.org/sites/default/files/askwebbanner-raiseourvoice.jpg” width=”461px” /></a><br><a>The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals</a> is member <a href=”http://reformedresources.org/donations/”>supported</a> and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> Meet the Puritans is the <a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/”>Alliance’s</a> voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supported</a> only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supporting Meet the Puritans</a> and the mission of the Alliance. alliance@alliancenet.org (Danny Hyde) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-giveaway-valley-vision Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:41:26 -0500 Meet the Puritans http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/word-and-sacraments By Patrick Ramsey<br /> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/word-and-sacraments”><img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/styles/blog_banner/public/field/image/baptism_0.jpg?itok=wNFD6G4o” alt=”” /></a> <div> <span style=”font-size: 16px; font-family: georgia, serif;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”>I</span>n the </span><a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/nature-and-purpose-baptism” style=”font-size: 16px; font-family: georgia, serif;”>last article</a><span style=”font-size: 16px; font-family: georgia, serif;”> we looked at the nature and purpose of baptism according to the Westminster Standards. We noted that <strong>the Standards emphasize the sealing function of baptism</strong> and that as a seal it is designed to confirm the baptizand’s interest in Christ and to strengthen faith and all other graces. This suggests that the Standards do not teach baptismal regeneration because a sacrament designed to confirm and not make saints does not confer or convey converting or regenerating grace.</span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Another reason that the Standards do not teach baptismal regeneration is its <strong>teaching on the relationship between the Word and sacraments</strong>. The Standards teach that God uses the Scriptures to convert sinners. The faith, whereby sinners are enabled to savingly believe the Gospel is “ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word (WCF 14.1).” The reading but especially the preaching of the Word is “an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners (WSC 89).” In fact, the ability to convince and convert is evidence Scripture is the word of God (WLC 4).</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>That the Standards do not explicitly relate the work of conversion to the sacraments may be significant, particularly when considered against <strong>the background of the writings of the members of the Assembly</strong>. Richard Vines approvingly cites the teaching of Whitaker, namely that the Word and sacrament are instruments of grace. The difference between the two is that “the Word begins and works grace in the heart (For faith comes by hearing) but the Sacrament is objected to the eye, and doth not begin the work of grace, but nourishes and increases it, for faith is not begotten by the Sacraments, but only augmented.” Vines then uses this same distinction between the Word and sacrament as his third reason to prove that the Lord’s Supper is not a converting ordinance. He writes:</span></span></div> <blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Thus the Word is the only instrument of God to beget faith, or work conversion, and there are many expressions of Scripture, tending to prove it…the Word is the great Charter of Gods Covenant; His Covenant is to make us his, to entertain us as his, and so the Word is a seed of our new birth, and the milk or meat of our spiritual growth. Unto this Covenant or Indenture hang two seals…for their certioration and comfort.</span></span></div> </blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-size: 16px; font-family: georgia, serif;”>George Gillespie concurs with Whitaker and Vines. Profane and scandalous persons are to be excluded from partaking of the Lord’s Supper but not from preaching because the Word is to convert and confirm, while the sacraments are to confirm only. He writes:</span></div> <blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>The word is not only a confirming and comforting, but a converting ordinance…whereas the sacrament is not a converting, but a confirming and sealing ordinance, which is not given to the church for the conversion of sinners, but for the communion of saints. It is not appointed to put a man in the state of grace, but to seal unto a man that interest in Christ and in the covenant of grace which he already hath.</span></span></div> </blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-size: 16px; font-family: georgia, serif;”>Support is garnered for this distinction from notable Reformed theologians. Gillespie says that Ursinus distinguishes between the Word and sacraments as between converting and confirming ordinances. And:</span></div> <blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:16px;”>Paraeus puts this difference between the word and sacraments: that the word is a mean appointed both for beginning and confirming faith,—the sacraments are means of confirming it after it has begun: that the word belongs to the converted and to the unconverted,—the sacraments are intended for those who are converted and do believe, and for none others.</span></span></div> </blockquote> <div> <span style=”font-size: 16px; font-family: georgia, serif;”>The Reformed distinction between the Word and sacraments, as explicated by various Westminster Divines, therefore, provides further evidence that <em><strong>WCF 28.6 should not be interpreted as teaching that baptism conveys initial grace</strong></em>. The Word, and not the sacrament, is set apart by God for conversion.</span></div> <hr /> <div class=”view view-sponsored-ads view-id-sponsored_ads view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4a1c1db7fdb08bd2429c75b69a402cc9″> <div class=”view-content”> <div class=”views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first views-row-last”> <div class=”views-field views-field-body”> <div class=”field-content”><a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/RaisingOurVoice”><img src=”http://www.alliancenet.org/sites/default/files/askwebbanner-raiseourvoice.jpg” width=”461px” /></a><br><a>The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals</a> is member <a href=”http://reformedresources.org/donations/”>supported</a> and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> Meet the Puritans is the <a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/”>Alliance’s</a> voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supported</a> only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supporting Meet the Puritans</a> and the mission of the Alliance. alliance@alliancenet.org (Patrick Ramsey) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/word-and-sacraments Tue, 28 Nov 2017 10:56:43 -0500 Meet the Puritans http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-review-crisis-british-protestantism By Ryan McGraw<br /> <a href=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-review-crisis-british-protestantism”><img typeof=”foaf:Image” class=”img-responsive” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/styles/blog_banner/public/field/image/old-books-on-shelf_23.jpg?itok=KZc-Yqsy” alt=”” /></a> <div class=”rteindent1″> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>Hunter Powell, <a href=”https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-crisis-of-british-protestantism-9781526106735?q=The%20crisis%20of%20British%20Protestantism&lang=en&cc=us”><em>The Crisis of British Protestantism: Church Power in the Puritan Revolution 1638-44</em></a>, Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015). 264pp. Hardcover. $105.00.
</span></span></div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>
</span></span></div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”><span style=”font-size:24px;”><img alt=”” src=”http://www.meetthepuritans.com/sites/default/files/u243/powell_crisis_british.jpg” style=”width: 200px; height: 300px; float: left;” />T</span>his is likely the most significant work written to date on the thorny subject of church power in British Reformed orthodoxy. Powell focuses on debates over the nature of church power primarily from 1638-1644 (p. 2). He aims to redefine and to clarify categories related to debates over church government at the Westminster Assembly. He does so by treating primarily the view of the so-called five “dissenting brethren” in relation to the Scottish commissioners, setting both their historical context. This is such a paradigm shifting work that it is one of the most important books that anyone interested the Westminster Assembly and its theology could take up and read. It shows how Westminster debates over church government were not as neat and tidy as many have assumed and how the question of church polity fits into the broader context of Reformed orthodox theology.
</span></span></div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>
</span></span></div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>This book challenges historical conceptions of Presbyterian polity at the Westminster Assembly. Powell modifies the common narrative of church government debates at Westminster, which often treats these debates as an exercise in how long it took the Assembly to fall in line with the Scots. Instead, Powell shows how the Scots achieved a high degree of unity with the Apologists (Congregationalists who were known later as the Dissenting Brethren) over the question of the seat of church power. While English Presbyterians in the Assembly were divided over whether church power was seated in the local church and was then communicated to Presbyteries, or whether church power was seated in Presbyteries and was communicated to particular churches, the Apologists and the Scots agreed that Christ communicated church power to the congregation as a whole and to its elders directly and in two distinct ways. According to men such as Rutherford on the Presbyterian side and Burroughs on the Congregational side, the only significant difference that existed between them resided in the power of synods, especially with respect to excommunication. The Apologists denied that synods could execute this censure while the Scots affirmed that they could. However, many English Presbyterians opposed both the Scots and the Dissenting Brethren by denying that the elders of local congregations could excommunicate members without a synodical act. This meant that both the Scots and the Dissenting Brethren held minority positions at the Assembly. At the end of the day, the real Grand Debate at the Assembly was not over Presbyterianism vs. Congregationalism, but between the Assembly as a whole and Erastian opponents, which included debates between Presbyterians over the proper seat of church power. The Scots held the tenuous position of attempting to accommodate the Apologists on the one side and of preventing the fracture of the Presbyterian majority on the other side over the question of the seat of church power. The Scots agreed with the Apologists over church power, but they agreed with the Presbyterian majority over the governmental power of Presbyteries.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>This work gives us a unique window into debates at the Westminster Assembly. Part of the reason why Powell’s research creates such a seismic shift in how we read Assembly debates over church government lies in the sources that he used. Previous research relied on pamphlets written by authors outside of the Assembly rather than on records of Assembly debates and the writings of the Westminster divines. Powell guides readers by the hand through the Assembly debates in a way that makes history come to life. The reader can virtually feel the tension in the air and recognize the temperaments and personalities of the divines in their proceedings. He shows that all primary sources are not equal and that we gain a different picture of events when we follow the actors in the story instead of the spectators in the crowd commenting on the play. This does not mean that his historiography is flawless. In comparing the polity of the famed Voetius with the Congregationalists at Westminster and in highlighting Voetius’ enthusiastic endorsement of the Congregationalist John Cotton’s <em>Keys of the Kingdom</em>, Powell makes almost no appeal to primary sources. However, his treatment of the vital subject of church government at Westminster gives a picture of the development of varied versions of Presbyterian polity that Presbyterian ministers in particular bypass to their great detriment.</span></span></div> <div>  </div> <div> <span style=”font-size:16px;”><span style=”font-family:georgia,serif;”>This book is the kind of history that Presbyterian churches in particular need. It forces readers to listen to the Westminster divines and to assess them on their own terms and in their own world. Modern readers may not always like what they find in reading books like this one. Yet this work is necessary to help explain what the Westminster Assembly did and did not intend to say in its affirmation of Presbyterian polity. Presbyterians were not all cut from the same cloth and not all Congregationalists were as far away from some Presbyterianism as we may tend to think. Above all, this book provides us with an admirable example of how the Scots and the Apologists pursued catholic unity in their theology without threatening their distinctives. This provides us with a model of doctrinal precision, spiritual maturity, and catholic charity that has potential to serve the church well today.</span></span></div> <p class=”p3″> </p> <p class=”p3″> </p> <style type=”text/css”> p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px ‘Times New Roman’} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px ‘Times New Roman’; min-height: 15.0px} p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-indent: 36.0px; font: 12.0px ‘Times New Roman’}</style> <hr /> <div class=”view view-sponsored-ads view-id-sponsored_ads view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4a1c1db7fdb08bd2429c75b69a402cc9″> <div class=”view-content”> <div class=”views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first views-row-last”> <div class=”views-field views-field-body”> <div class=”field-content”><a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/RaisingOurVoice”><img src=”http://www.alliancenet.org/sites/default/files/askwebbanner-raiseourvoice.jpg” width=”461px” /></a><br><a>The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals</a> is member <a href=”http://reformedresources.org/donations/”>supported</a> and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.</div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <hr /> Meet the Puritans is the <a href=”http://www.alliancenet.org/”>Alliance’s</a> voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supported</a> only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider <a href=”https://www.alliancenet.org/donate/meet-the-puritans”>supporting Meet the Puritans</a> and the mission of the Alliance. alliance@alliancenet.org (Ryan McGraw) http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/book-review-crisis-british-protestantism Tue, 21 Nov 2017 09:25:58 -0500 Meet the Puritans

Bite-Size Bunyan (5): Profitable Meditations

By Bob McKelvey

This series, “Bite-Size Bunyan,” shares John Bunyan’s writings in summary form. This fifth “bite” concerns Bunyan’s work, Profitable Meditations, Fitted to Man’s Different Condition: In a Conference between Christ and a Sinner (1661), written to help support his family during his imprisonment, which began in November 1660. The book is basically a confession of faith in verse and marks Bunyan’s first formal attempt at poetry.
 
While not very long and somewhat clumsy poetically, its personal and experiential theology, creative style, and use of dialogue provide a foretaste to several works, including Grace Abounding (1666), A Confession of My Faith (1672), The Pilgrim’s Progress, I and II (1678, 1684), The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (1680), and The Holy War (1682). As far as poetry goes, this work precedes other “prison” poems soon to come: Prison Meditations (1663), One Thing Is Needful (1665), and Ebal and Gerizzim (1665). 
 
We get a broad taste of Bunyan’s emerging Reformed theology (as already manifested in A Few Sighs from Hell and Law and Grace Unfolded), including such doctrines as sinful depravity, the eternal counsel of redemption, salvation by free grace in Christ from the guilt and power of sin, justification by faith for the forgiveness of sins and imputation of Christ’s righteousness, saints as just and sinful simultaneously, election of sinners to salvation, assurance of grace, perseverance of saints, eternal and irreversible punishment, and the bodily second coming of Christ for consummate salvation and judgment. 
 
That Bunyan sets forth the free offer of the gospel (e.g. “My Mercy’s thine, if thou wilt imbrace”) to all who turn from sin to him (e.g. “from thy evils flie”) does not show the Arminian tendencies of a conflicted Calvinist as some scholars maintain. Bunyan was conviced that God’s sovereign choice exists in Scripture side-by-side (and without contradiction) with the appeal for man to choose. In general, Bunyan also avoids an antinomian demeanor as in: “Christ saves men From Sin, both Guilt and Filth, them to set free, That they in Life and Holiness may dwell.” That being said, he displays the antinomian tendency to stress objective assurance of grace in the promises of Christ at the expense of subjective assurance through the evidences of grace.
 
After an introduction defending the use of verse as a vehicle for Scriptural truth, Bunyan sets forth nine sections of poetry, five couched in dialogue and all supported by marginal Scripture references. In the process, he treats the topics of man’s sinful nature, Christ’s gracious atonement, the conversion of sinners to saints, Satan’s assault upon Christian assurance, Christ’s deliberation with depraved sinners, Christ’s consolation for doubting saints, death’s conquest over sinners, the Christian’s conquest over death, and the Day of Judgment for both the sinner and saint.
 
Bunyan sees fallen man as a servant of Satan, blind to his sin, and ignorant of the judgment to come. God beheld the miserable condition of sinners, and lovingly bought them “to Himself with heav’nly price,” namely the death of Christ to whom we “do run apace” for salvation.  In the process, Bunyan pastorally presents the passion of Christ, as in “Of the Sufferings of Christ” (Stanza XVII, Section II):   
The Wicked Sin’d, the Just did bear the blame
Here is the Myst’ry of the Gospel-love:
That Christ for us should bear the cursed Shame,
And Wrath (that we deserved) from above.
Bunyan then sets forth dialogues between Satan and a struggling Christian, Christ and a presumptuous sinner, and Christ and a doubting soul. The first two serve in part as refutations against a legalistic spirit concerning works and an antinomian spirit concerning grace, respectively, while the third encourages an evangelical spirit concerning grace and works. All three highlight the spiritual turmoil Bunyan he experienced earlier and recorded later in Grace Abounding
 
Next, death personified claims a sinner for whom it is too late to make peace with God. In the end, the sinner bemoans failing to turn from sin to Christ, not only losing every worldly thing but also falling eternally into a “dreadful Dungeon.” In contrast, the saint emerges victorious through Christ, who “triumph’d over [death] in fight.”  Though Jesus himself died, he rose again and guaranteed that, at his second coming, he will also “Raise up his Dead.” 
 
The last section concerns the Day of Judgment at the return of Christ in glory, when saints “with comfort on him gaze,” while the wicked are “banisht from [his] face.” The ungodly vainly blame their state on others, even “daubing preachers” (likely a dig at Restoration Anglicans) who gloss over sin. The final discourse between a saint in heaven and soul in hell gleans from Bunyan’s exposition of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) in A Few Sighs from Hell. In light of the warnings of judgment and promises of glory to come, Bunyan ends by urging us all to profit from this work and “Lift up thine heart to God” for his grace.


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Meet the Puritans is the Alliance’s voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Meet the Puritans and the mission of the Alliance.

39 Articles—Christ Alone!

By Henry Jansma

It is important to notice that the group of articles (9-16) that deal with our salvation in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion should close with an anathema—the only time the word appears in the Articles. Articles 17 and 18 should be taken together, as the “also” in the first sentence suggests–the former explaining the ground of salvation in God’s predestinating grace and electing love and the latter explaining the source in the sole Mediator, Christ alone. The logic of the two articles is simple: if salvation is due to our union in the Lord Jesus for our effectual calling, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification and other “innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained to us” (“The Communion Exhortation” in the 1552/1662 Book of Common Prayer), then it is impossible to be indifferent, but more, it is blasphemous to him. Cranmer’s Reformatio Legum echoes the same language we have here:
Horrible and insane is the daring of those who maintain that salvation may be hoped for in every religion or sect which men have professed, as long as they strive as hard as they can for innocence and integrity of life according to the light which has been put in them by nature, for plagues of this kind are condemned by the authority of Holy Writ. For there the one and only name of Jesus Christ is commended to us, that all salvation may come to us from him.
XVIII—Of Obtaining Eternal Salvation Only by the Name of Christ

They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
Like article 17 that preceded it, article 18 is unchanged from Cranmer’s original. Its original and later titles give us the clue we need that the reference here is not to pagans, but to nominal Christians. Cranmer’s more pastoral consequence of article 17 for the Christian, “We Must Trust to Obtain Eternal Salvation Only by the Name of Christ” becomes 1571’s slightly more abstract, “Of Obtaining Eternal Salvation…” It is Christ alone who saves us. Another clue is a historical one. Few people in England had any non-Christian neighbors at that time. Americans may know of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 perhaps do not realize that the Jews had been expelled from England far earlier: by King Edward I in 1290! Jews were not readmitted to the country until 1656 under Oliver Cromwell and full emancipation in England of their civil rights had to wait until 1858. The article does not address other religions in the modern sense of religious pluralism but remains fixed on the visible Church. 
 
So, we must ask the question, “Does this article have any relevance for us today? Surely no church today is interested in practicing religious oppression!” Here we must be blunt. The worst enemies of the gospel are the ministers and members of the mainline Christian churches. They preach another gospel far removed from the exclusive claims of Christ, instead, their teaching proclaims that every person is saved by the rule of life they create and profess, being morally superior to the baser sort because they make an effort to live by that rule–precisely what the article condemns as accursed! Such blasphemy cannot tolerate the truth thus every opportunity is taken to criticize and condemn those who insist on proclaiming the truth of the gospel. The last twenty years of the Episcopal Church in the United States bears testimony to this intolerance in how it has sought to oppress faithful gospel churches by means of the ecclesiastical inhibition and deposition of its ministers, and by means of the secular courts. The Episcopal Church, as of 2015, has spent an excess of sixty million dollars in litigation in their version of an ecclesiastical Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. As the court cases drone on, faithful ministers and congregations are left broken and bereft. New Anglican provinces have arisen, faithful Anglican provinces have provided alternative episcopal oversight to minister and to care for these clergy and churches.
 
The issue is that it is impossible to share the biblical gospel without sharing the truth claims that it makes. Article 18 rightly explains that we cannot simply relax and assume that some nominal Christian will be saved because they are being faithful in their error. We must share with them the truth of the gospel: eternal life by faith alone in the one Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. To do otherwise is blasphemous because it misrepresents what Christ himself said and overthrows his divine authority. In his farewell discourse to his disciples, the night before the cross, in John 14:6, the Lord Jesus reveals to us the way to God and heaven. He says: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” As God come to earth, Jesus has the right to tell us the way to heaven. Crucially, Jesus also goes onto the negative: “no one comes to the Father except through me.” That is, the only way for human beings to know God as our heavenly Father is through faith and knowledge in Jesus Christ as God and Savior (John 20.30-31). 
 
Article 18 also echoes Acts 4:12 when it says: “For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ whereby men must be saved.” “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Here Peter asserts that there is no other Savior except Jesus Christ. The logic is simple and irrefutable: only Jesus saves because only Jesus died for our sins. Peter also proclaims that heaven (that is, God) has appointed and named his Son, Jesus, as the only one with the authority and power to save and rescue sinful human beings. Notice the allusion to predestination and election here: the name of Jesus is, according to God’s divine decree, the name “by which we must be saved.” There can be no human option here like, “I will choose to be saved in my way or by my own god or religion.” Rather, Peter says, “no, God has decreed and fixed that we must be saved only through faith in Christ.”
 
Article 18 rightly concludes this section of the Thirty-Nine Articles begun in article 9. And it does so with a supreme comfort to the committed Christian and a particular challenge to the nominal one. The believing Christian can have the assurance that we have Christ and are saved because God himself has decreed it. It is not the quality of our faith, but the power of God who guarantees it. It also shakes the nominal Christian from their vagueness and complacency to declare that there is only one Way to be saved because Jesus Christ is the unique and exclusive Savior.
 
For previous articles in this series, see:

 



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Meet the Puritans is the Alliance’s voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Meet the Puritans and the mission of the Alliance.

The Subject of Baptism

By Patrick Ramsey

Thus far we have noted what the Westminster Standards teach concerning the nature and purpose of baptism, and the relationship between the Word and sacraments. The Standards’ position on these two points suggests that the Assembly rejected the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. In this article, we want to consider a third point: the subject of baptism.
 
According to the Westminster Standards, covenant membership has its privileges, specifically a right to the sacrament of baptism. Sacraments are for those “within the covenant of grace (WLC 172),” and baptism “is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church (WLC 166).” For this reason, unbelievers are not to be baptized until “they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him (WLC 166, WSC 95).” Prior to administering baptism to a child, the Directory for Public Worship directs the minister to inform the congregation that children of Christian parents are “Christians, and federally holy before Baptisme, and therefore are they baptized.”
 
Since the recipients of the sacraments, including baptism, are Christians, holy, believers and members of the covenant, it follows that the sacraments are not converting ordinances. George Gillespie employs this argument repeatedly. He marshals twenty arguments to prove that the Lord’s Supper is not a converting ordinance, the second of which is “That which necessarily supposeth conversion and faith, doth not work conversion and faith.” In order to forcefully press home his point, the Scotsman argues from baptism to the Lord’s Supper. After citing Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 41; 8:26-37; 10:47, Gillespie writes: 
Now if baptism itself (which is the sacrament of our initiation) supposeth (according to the tenor and meaning of Christ’s institution) that the party baptized (if of age) doth actually convert and believe, and (if an infant) supposeth an interest in Jesus Christ and in the covenant of grace…how much more doth the Lord’s supper, necessarily, by Christ’s institution, suppose that the receivers are not unconverted and unbelieving persons?
His fourth argument is that an ordinance instituted only for believers is not a converting but a sealing ordinance. He then proceeds to prove that the Lord’s Supper is such an ordinance by demonstrating, from Roman 4:11, that every sacrament, including the sacrament of initiation is a seal of the righteousness of faith. “If therefore a sacrament be a seal of the righteousness of faith, then it is instituted only for believers and justified persons, because to such only it can seal the righteousness of faith.”
 
The fifth argument is also based upon Paul’s discussion of Abraham and circumcision in Romans 4. Abraham’s justification is a pattern of ours and he “was not justified by circumcision, or (as Aquinas confesseth upon the place) that circumcision was not the cause but the sign of justification.” Gillespie again argues from baptism to the Lord’s Supper. “And if God did, by his word, make a covenant with Abraham before he received circumcision, the seal of that covenant, must it not much more be supposed, that they are within the covenant of grace who eat and drink at the Lord’s table.”
 
Even more explicit is the fourteenth argument, wherein Gillespie states that since Baptism itself is not a regenerating or converting ordinance—at least administered to those of age—far less is the Lord’s Supper a converting ordinance. Baptism cannot be a regenerating ordinance because in Scripture a profession of faith is a prerequisite for those of age.
 
Another piece of evidence, therefore, that the Westminster Standards do not embrace baptismal regeneration is their teaching on the subject of baptism. A sacrament that is for Christians, believers and members of the covenant is not compatible with one that confers converting grace.
 
For previous posts in this series, see:
  1. The Nature and Purpose of Baptism
  2. The Word & Sacraments


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Meet the Puritans is the Alliance’s voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Meet the Puritans and the mission of the Alliance.

Book Giveaway: John Bunyan and the Grace of Fearing God

By Danny Hyde

We have 2 copies of John Bunyan and the Grace of Fearing God for giveaway. Deadline to register is Friday, December 22.

Enter here.



The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is member supported and operates only by your faithful support. Thank you.


Meet the Puritans is the Alliance’s voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Meet the Puritans and the mission of the Alliance.

Book Review: Owen on the Christian Life

By Ryan McGraw

Matthew Barrett and Michael A. G. Haykin, Owen on the Christian Life: Living for the Glory of God in Christ, Theologians on the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015). 296pp. Paperback.
 
As a minister, I would love to believe that everyone in the church would read John Owen. There are few men whom the Father has used under the Spirit’s blessing to impart to my soul a greater love to Christ than Owen. I suspect that many ministers pray that the Lord would enable them to digest the best of what they read in order to pass on to their congregations even a tenth of what the Lord has given to them. In this book, Barrett and Haykin invite readers to follow Owen on a guided tour of the Christian life. They do so with skill and simplicity, passing on to readers part of the blessing that the Lord gave them in studying Owen’s works.
 
The topics in this book are well-chosen. The authors note that it is difficult if not impossible to treat every major theme of Owen’s teaching in a single volume. However, they reflect Owen’s greatest legacy to the church by promoting his goal of aiming at the personal holiness of their readers. In contrast to many modern versions of Christian living, the bedrock of Owen’s teaching was the Bible, the Trinity, and the person of Christ (chapters 2-4). This leads to Christ’s glorious work on our behalf (chapter five), God’s sovereignty in our salvation (chapter 6), and the benefits of redemption that come to both the individual believer and the church (chapters 7-9). The striking way in which Owen wove the highest Christian doctrines into warmhearted Christian devotion keeps married what many try to divorce in the church today.
 
The style of this book is simple and accessible. The authors summarize Owen and digest the best of his thought on Christian living. This is not a scholarly work that sets Owen rigorously in his historical context. Such works have their place and, personally, I have profited from them more in the long run than less scholarly works. Yet not all will have this experience. Ideas need to be understood in context, which requires a lot of work and professional skill. Yet ideas also need to be appropriated and translated for the profit of today’s church. The appendix to the book illustrates the value and power of ministers digesting Owen and mediating his thought to their churches. Haykin provides examples from the long-time pastor of his own congregation as well as several prominent examples from church history. The Lord has used a revival in Owen’s Works to bless the church numerous times in the past and this reviewer hopes and prays that he will do so again and again.
 
As with any book on Owen’s theology, this reviewer hopes that reading Owen on the Christian Life will make you want to read Owen himself. Yet this work strikes at the heart of one of the most vital needs of the church today. The church needs to recover a vibrant, scripturally informed, Christ-exalting, trinitarian view of Christian living. Owen is not the only theologian who taught these themes, but he taught them better than most and he speaks prophetically to the needs of the hour. Read this book to use Owen for what God designed him and all other ministers of the gospel to be; namely, instruments of building up the church in unity and maturity to the fullness of the stature of Christ.


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Meet the Puritans is the Alliance’s voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Meet the Puritans and the mission of the Alliance.

39 Articles—Grace Alone!

By Henry Jansma

Article 17 of the Thirty-Nine Articles is the longest article of all the articles and marks the transition between what has preceded in articles 14-16 and what follows in article 18. Because of an inflated sense of man’s worthiness before God since the Fall, a stance of humility is necessary when we examine the Bible’s teaching.
XVII—Of Predestination and Election

Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.
As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.
Before we examine the three sentences that make up the Latin original of the article, it is important to understand that there were only some slight changes made in 1563 and 1571 to Thomas Cranmer’s 1553 original that demonstrates the common mind of the Anglican divines on this biblical doctrine from the time of Cranmer into the 17th century. Their consensus is one voice within the larger chorus of Reformed thinking on the subject that led in just twenty-five years to further clarification in the nine points of the Lambeth Articles of 1595, which anticipated the Canons of Dort by more than twenty years. The Lambeth Articles were intended to supplement article 17 due to the growing influence of Jacob Arminius (1560-1610). The Reformed doctrine of predestination and election is constitutive of Anglicanism. Any suggestion to the contrary reveals more of an alien influence upon Anglicanism rather than the doctrine of the historic formularies. There was little disagreement among the Reformed churches of Europe about the key points of this doctrine. 
 
Gerald Bray notes that just a year before Cranmer wrote this article, Martin Bucer gave a series of lectures at Cambridge on Ephesians, one of the key passages on this teaching [Bray, The Faith We Confess, 96]. Bucer taught that Anglicans ought to preach predestination boldly and clearly, not to condemn the reprobate, but to encourage the people of God in their sanctification. The wording of the article corresponds very well to what Martin Bucer had in mind and to this day remains one of the most balanced statements of the doctrine and its application to the Christian.
 
The first sentence is a straightforward and uncompromising. Election and predestination are grounded in the eternal decree of God for our redemption. Our redemption was not his response to anything inherent in us: neither in our disobedience in Adam or a foresight of faith or a future obedience. He determined in his secret Trinitarian counsel to deliver us from eternal damnation through the person and work of his Son Jesus Christ. It is only the will of God’s good pleasure and for his glory, as lost men and women are “vessels made to honour.”
 
The sentence next describes how God’s eternal decree is worked out as the Holy Spirit works in the redeemed person, “working in due season.” What follows after predestination and election are the remaining logical steps of the doctrine of salvation known as an ordo salutis or “the order of salvation”: 
  • Effectual calling: The elect hear God’s calling and obey it by his grace.
  • Justification: The elect are then justified by the free gift of God.
  • Adoption: The elect are made children of God by adoption.
  • Sanctification: The elect are transformed into the image of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
  • Perseverance: The elect possess justification by living a life of good works in the obedience of faith.
  • Glorification: By the mercy of God alone, the elect ultimately obtain everlasting joy in the presence of God.
The second sentence sets the boundary of the doctrine in its uses or application to the Christian. The article repeatedly has made it clear that from start to finish at every step it is God who effects his purpose in the chosen. He does so by the Spirit, through grace, freely, by his mercy. The article’s comfort for the Christian is in how it describes the pattern of salvation which expresses salvation by God’s grace alone. Deciding to trust and follow Christ is because in God’s decree to bring his elect in Christ to glory, caused the Christian to do precisely that. Therefore, the benefits of our election are secure in Christ Jesus. Recalling the person and work of the Holy Spirit of articles 5 and 6, Cranmer sets them out as four biblical principles of the Christian life:
  • The Holy Spirit mortifies the works of our flesh.
  • The Holy Spirit turns our minds to higher things.
  • The Holy Spirit establishes and confirms our faith in eternal salvation.
  • The Holy Spirit kindles our love for God.
Cranmer joins Calvin as a theologian of the Holy Spirit. He begins here with the two-fold biblical principle of mortification and vivification: the Holy Spirit helps us to see how we must put to death our old life in rebellion against God and replaces our desire for things earthly with a deeper desire for things heavenly where Christ is. As Romans 12.2 reminds us, so much that we do depend on the renewing of our minds in how we think. We can also see how Christian who may be called to endure terrible affliction and trial in this earthly life, will be strengthened and encouraged as their eternal salvation is reaffirmed in their walk with the Lord Jesus to glory. We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing how that suffering produces endurance (Rom. 5:3). We begin to see more clearly how God’s many providences show his care for us so that we trust him more and more for whatever may lie ahead. We make it our aim to please him (2 Cor. 5:9). 
 
The last sentence reminds the Christian of the importance of the sufficiency of Scripture. As we teach biblical doctrine, we must apply biblical doctrine within the bounds set by the Scripture. The article underlines the fact that Scripture applies the doctrine of election and predestination to encourage God’s believers. It defends that gospel from ideas of human merit and impresses upon the believer the absolute security we enjoy in the gospel. It is not to be preached to all the world. Pastors must be sensitive in the preaching not to promote unhelpful speculation. We know that those who are not chosen for eternal salvation are condemned, and the article by implication here affirms reprobation or double predestination that article 4 of the Lambeth Articles will confirm later. But the Christian pastor is also reminded that we must take care in how we apply it to specific individuals in the congregations of the local church or in the various hypothetical scenarios of the one who has never heard the gospel. We are not to speculate, but to preach the gospel made possible by God’s gracious predestination.
 
For previous articles in this series, see:
  1. Introduction
  2. One God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity (Art. 1)
  3. The Incarnation and Atonement (Art. 2)
  4. The Work of Christ (Arts. 3-4)
  5. The Holy Spirit (Art. 5)
  6. The Rule of Faith: Part 1 (Art. 6)
  7. The Rule of Faith: Part 2 (Art. 7)
  8. The Rule of Faith: Part 3 (Art. 8)
  9. Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 1 (Art. 9)
  10. Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 2 (Art. 10)
  11. Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 3 (Art. 11)
  12. Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 4 (Art. 12)
  13. Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 5 (Arts. 13-14)
  14. Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 6 (Art. 15)
  15. Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Part 7 (Art. 16)


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Meet the Puritans is the Alliance’s voice of Puritan and Reformed Theology. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Meet the Puritans and the mission of the Alliance.

Book Giveaway: The Valley of Vision

By Danny Hyde

Thanks to our friends at The Banner of Truth, we have a copy of The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett to give away.

This giveaway is for U.S. mailing addresses only.

Deadline is Friday, December 8.

Enter here.



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The Word and Sacraments

In the last article we looked at the nature and purpose of baptism according to the Westminster Standards. We noted that the Standards emphasize the sealing function of baptism and that as a seal it is designed to confirm the baptizand’s interest in Christ and to strengthen faith and all other graces. This suggests that the Standards do not teach baptismal regeneration because a sacrament designed to confirm and not make saints does not confer or convey converting or regenerating grace.

Another reason that the Standards do not teach baptismal regeneration is its teaching on the relationship between the Word and sacraments. The Standards teach that God uses the Scriptures to convert sinners. The faith, whereby sinners are enabled to savingly believe the Gospel is “ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word (WCF 14.1).” The reading but especially the preaching of the Word is “an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners (WSC 89).” In fact, the ability to convince and convert is evidence Scripture is the word of God (WLC 4).

That the Standards do not explicitly relate the work of conversion to the sacraments may be significant, particularly when considered against the background of the writings of the members of the Assembly. Richard Vines approvingly cites the teaching of Whitaker, namely that the Word and sacrament are instruments of grace. The difference between the two is that “the Word begins and works grace in the heart (For faith comes by hearing) but the Sacrament is objected to the eye, and doth not begin the work of grace, but nourishes and increases it, for faith is not begotten by the Sacraments, but only augmented.” Vines then uses this same distinction between the Word and sacrament as his third reason to prove that the Lord’s Supper is not a converting ordinance. He writes:

Thus the Word is the only instrument of God to beget faith, or work conversion, and there are many expressions of Scripture, tending to prove it…the Word is the great Charter of Gods Covenant; His Covenant is to make us his, to entertain us as his, and so the Word is a seed of our new birth, and the milk or meat of our spiritual growth. Unto this Covenant or Indenture hang two seals…for their certioration and comfort.

George Gillespie concurs with Whitaker and Vines. Profane and scandalous persons are to be excluded from partaking of the Lord’s Supper but not from preaching because the Word is to convert and confirm, while the sacraments are to confirm only. He writes:

The word is not only a confirming and comforting, but a converting ordinance…whereas the sacrament is not a converting, but a confirming and sealing ordinance, which is not given to the church for the conversion of sinners, but for the communion of saints. It is not appointed to put a man in the state of grace, but to seal unto a man that interest in Christ and in the covenant of grace which he already hath.

Support is garnered for this distinction from notable Reformed theologians. Gillespie says that Ursinus distinguishes between the Word and sacraments as between converting and confirming ordinances. And:

Paraeus puts this difference between the word and sacraments: that the word is a mean appointed both for beginning and confirming faith,—the sacraments are means of confirming it after it has begun: that the word belongs to the converted and to the unconverted,—the sacraments are intended for those who are converted and do believe, and for none others.

The Reformed distinction between the Word and sacraments, as explicated by various Westminster Divines, therefore, provides further evidence that WCF 28.6 should not be interpreted as teaching that baptism conveys initial grace. The Word, and not the sacrament, is set apart by God for conversion.

Book Review: The Crisis of British Protestantism

This is likely the most significant work written to date on the thorny subject of church power in British Reformed orthodoxy. Powell focuses on debates over the nature of church power primarily from 1638-1644 (p. 2). He aims to redefine and to clarify categories related to debates over church government at the Westminster Assembly. He does so by treating primarily the view of the so-called five “dissenting brethren” in relation to the Scottish commissioners, setting both their historical context. This is such a paradigm shifting work that it is one of the most important books that anyone interested the Westminster Assembly and its theology could take up and read. It shows how Westminster debates over church government were not as neat and tidy as many have assumed and how the question of church polity fits into the broader context of Reformed orthodox theology.


This book challenges historical conceptions of Presbyterian polity at the Westminster Assembly. Powell modifies the common narrative of church government debates at Westminster, which often treats these debates as an exercise in how long it took the Assembly to fall in line with the Scots. Instead, Powell shows how the Scots achieved a high degree of unity with the Apologists (Congregationalists who were known later as the Dissenting Brethren) over the question of the seat of church power. While English Presbyterians in the Assembly were divided over whether church power was seated in the local church and was then communicated to Presbyteries, or whether church power was seated in Presbyteries and was communicated to particular churches, the Apologists and the Scots agreed that Christ communicated church power to the congregation as a whole and to its elders directly and in two distinct ways. According to men such as Rutherford on the Presbyterian side and Burroughs on the Congregational side, the only significant difference that existed between them resided in the power of synods, especially with respect to excommunication. The Apologists denied that synods could execute this censure while the Scots affirmed that they could. However, many English Presbyterians opposed both the Scots and the Dissenting Brethren by denying that the elders of local congregations could excommunicate members without a synodical act. This meant that both the Scots and the Dissenting Brethren held minority positions at the Assembly. At the end of the day, the real Grand Debate at the Assembly was not over Presbyterianism vs. Congregationalism, but between the Assembly as a whole and Erastian opponents, which included debates between Presbyterians over the proper seat of church power. The Scots held the tenuous position of attempting to accommodate the Apologists on the one side and of preventing the fracture of the Presbyterian majority on the other side over the question of the seat of church power. The Scots agreed with the Apologists over church power, but they agreed with the Presbyterian majority over the governmental power of Presbyteries.

This work gives us a unique window into debates at the Westminster Assembly. Part of the reason why Powell’s research creates such a seismic shift in how we read Assembly debates over church government lies in the sources that he used. Previous research relied on pamphlets written by authors outside of the Assembly rather than on records of Assembly debates and the writings of the Westminster divines. Powell guides readers by the hand through the Assembly debates in a way that makes history come to life. The reader can virtually feel the tension in the air and recognize the temperaments and personalities of the divines in their proceedings. He shows that all primary sources are not equal and that we gain a different picture of events when we follow the actors in the story instead of the spectators in the crowd commenting on the play. This does not mean that his historiography is flawless. In comparing the polity of the famed Voetius with the Congregationalists at Westminster and in highlighting Voetius’ enthusiastic endorsement of the Congregationalist John Cotton’s Keys of the Kingdom, Powell makes almost no appeal to primary sources. However, his treatment of the vital subject of church government at Westminster gives a picture of the development of varied versions of Presbyterian polity that Presbyterian ministers in particular bypass to their great detriment.

This book is the kind of history that Presbyterian churches in particular need. It forces readers to listen to the Westminster divines and to assess them on their own terms and in their own world. Modern readers may not always like what they find in reading books like this one. Yet this work is necessary to help explain what the Westminster Assembly did and did not intend to say in its affirmation of Presbyterian polity. Presbyterians were not all cut from the same cloth and not all Congregationalists were as far away from some Presbyterianism as we may tend to think. Above all, this book provides us with an admirable example of how the Scots and the Apologists pursued catholic unity in their theology without threatening their distinctives. This provides us with a model of doctrinal precision, spiritual maturity, and catholic charity that has potential to serve the church well today.