Monthly Archives: April 2011

What is the grace received by every covenant baby and professing believer in baptism?

The Apostle Paul urges Christians not to receive the grace of God in vain. Paul knew that ultimately, behind whether or not a professing Christian received the grace of God to eternal life or in vain, lies the God’s decision whether or not to give irresistible and unconditional grace to bring that person to eternal life. But he also knew that Christians were responsible and needed to be encouraged to make the right choice.

So what is the grace given in baptism? Many answers are possible.

Perhaps I’ll blog about more Biblical answers to the question later.

The Resurrection/Forgiveness of David

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” [from Romans 4]

This is a transitional moment for David. Later, Paul places him squarely with Christ against the Israelite unbelievers. From Romans 11:

And David says,

“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and bend their backs forever.”

Since Jesus is introduced in Romans 1.3 as “born of the seed of David according to the flesh,” one might guess that David represents the best in Israel all along. But no, after the introduction and before the blessedness of not having sins counted against him in Romans 4, David pretty much stands for unbelieving Israel. For in Romans 2 we read,

You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

And this reminds us of what happened to David after he sinned with Bathsheba.

As Nathan told David: “because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die” (2 Sam. 12.14; NASB).

And so David prays what we now know as Psalm 51, which Paul uses as his next OT quotation to show the unfaithfulness of Israel:

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

“That you may be justified in your words,
and prevail when you are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

The story of David and Bathsheba fits perfectly. The reign of Solomon is described in a way that shows that God has completely fulfilled the promises made to Abraham. And how did Solomon come about? David sinned and lost a son before being given Solomon, or, more literally, “Peace.”

Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon Peace. And the LORD loved him and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

For David “would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in” David a coveting for Bathsheba (c.f. Romans 7). Yet God fulfilled all his covenant promises to the Patriarchs not through David’s faithfulness but through this very unfaithfulness, though it required the death of his firstborn son. And so God’s son, the greater David does the same as his infant type:

For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”

This too, of course, is from David (2 Samuel 22.50; Psalm 18.49).

Slave masters you must not let capture you in Proverbs

Evil woman:

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
to preserve you from the evil woman,
from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.
Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes (Proverbs 6)

Evil woman who is not your wife; also known as Folly:

Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be led astray always in her love.
Why should you be led astray, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord,
and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is led astray (Proverbs 5)


Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler,
and whoever is led astray by it is not wise (Proverbs 20)

Desire to not work

The desire of the sluggard kills him,
for his hands refuse to labor. (Proverbs 21)


The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust. (Proverbs 21)



An obvious comment about “FV” and Presbyterian polity

MOP and Meyers « Green Baggins.

  1. Stacked and biased study committees never work well unless they can also terminate the operations of real church courts. I’m sure many could vote for a report at the GA level and still vote honestly, according to their ordination vows, when dealing with real court process. This is an opportunity for people to repent of stacked study committees. They shouldn’t waste the opportunity.
  2. A vote on a committee report at the GA level does not have the authority to amend the doctrinal standards of the PCA.

Back when the GA approved a report on “the space of six days” language in the Westminster Standards, you never heard opponents of the decision feeling bound to respect it. Nor did those who agreed with it ever act like they were obligated to do so.

Of course, there was a time when proposals for study committees did not include the names of all the members of the proposed committee. They simply trusted the moderator to nominate them. That changed after the FV “Study” Committee was appointed.

I’m glad to see again that a Presbyterian pastor has been vindicated from false allegations. Not the first time. Doubt it will be the last.

Word and Feast

“The word without the bread is not enough to open our eyes to the living, risen Jesus. The Word without bread is detached from real life; the bread without the Word turns into a magic act. But when the scriptures are taught and the bread is broken, then Jesus can be known.”–Peter Leithart, The Four

via Resurrectio et Vita.

Salvation for all through increased trespass

Consider Romans 5.12-21 to what Paul says in Romans 11. Note phrases in bold only and phrases in bold and italics:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

“Now” is historical, not “existential” in Romans 8.1

A. Romans 1.18-3.20: All humanity degrading from sin to sin and (mentioned briefly) not only is the Jew just as much entangled but the Law brought acquaintance with sin rather than helping the situation.

B. Romans 3.21ff: “But NOW the righteousness of God has been manifested… …to show his righteousness at the present time,”

C. Romans 3.24ff: Christ is put forward as a propitiation.

D. Romans 3.27-31: Faith-law v. Works-law. We don’t overthrow the Law by Faith but rather establish the Law.


A. Romans 7.7-25: Law increased the sinfulness of sin in “me.”

B. Romans 8.1: “There is therefore NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

C. Romans 8.3: “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh…”

D. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

One other possible outcome: personal faith is a mind set on the Spirit.

My imagination or Paul’s?

When I wrote “When Israel’s sin requires a son to die” I thought I was just being fanciful.

But consider the next “as it is written”:

For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

“That you may be justified in your words,
and prevail when you are judged.”

So Paul quotes David in Psalm 51 confessing his sin with Bathsheba which cost him his son.

Go figure.

The potential for idolatry via “the visible church”

Reading this document that I wrote about fifteen years ago, it strikes me as open to certain possible snares. There is a kind of tribalism that is abhorrent to the Gospel mandate of love for God and his people. In John’s letters he talks of those who refuse teachers from the wider Church. That can happen.

But when one catches a vision of the Church as a real historical institution, like Israel except transnational, one can also abuse the concept. One can claim loyalty to “The Church” while not actually loving the real local people in one’s own life.

The thing about “the visible Church” is that it is not actually visible. You can’t see transcontinental, inter-generational organizations any more than you can see God’s decrees or the secrets of a persons heart. The only part of the Church  you can see, hear and experience in other ways are the Christians you know in their capacities and offices.

And you are supposed to love them.

An exposition of chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, “Of the Church”

Back in seminary I took the course on the Westminster Confession taught by Dr. David Calhoun. One of our assignments was to pick a chapter from the Confession and write a sermon on the content of it. This is what I turned in. Got an A. (Sadly, I was always better in my theology classes than in my exegesis classes.)

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