“Our light, knowledge, grace, that we have, are of God’s free gift; and so is all the success that has attended our labours. And, as for our discernment into your hearts, and knowledge of the goodness of your state, they are of God also; which he gives us light to see; and knowledge to judge of, and a persuasion in our own hearts that our judgment of you is true. Moreover, he told me “to speak boldly at Corinth, for he had much people in that city.” And it was by us that ye were called. God may use others, even men of one talent, graceless men, to cast a little light upon his word, and on your minds, and to furnish his spiritual exchangers with some sound expressions for prayer and conversation; but he never uses nor honours these in converting souls to himself; for, “if ye have ten thousand instructors, ye have not many fathers; I have begotten you,” through the gospel; therefore our sufficiency is of God” – William Huntington
It’s a new year but I want that old time religion!
John Gill explains the heart of the Gospel – the doctrine of justification:
Justification is an act of God’s free grace, whereby he clears his people from sin, discharges them from condemnation, and reckons and accounts them righteous for the sake of Christ’s righteousness, which he has accepted of, and imputes unto them. Some very excellent divines have distinguished justification into active and passive.
Active justification is God’s act, it is God that justifies;
passive justification is the same act, terminating on the conscience of the believer;
active justification is strictly and properly justification,
passive justification is improperly so;
active justification precedes faith,
passive justification is by faith.
Again, justification may be considered either in foro Dei, and so it is an eternal, immanent act in God: or in foro conscientiae, and so it is declarative to and upon the conscience of the believer; or in foro mundi, and so it will be notified to men and angels at the general judgement.
The Everlasting Covenant of Redemption
God the Father is the contriver of the scheme and method of our justification; he was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses; (2 Cor. 5:19) he drew the model and platform of it, which is Nodus Deo vindice dignus. It would have remained a puzzling question to men and angels, how should man be just with God? had not his grace employed his wisdom to find out a ransom, whereby he has delivered his people from going down to the pit of corruption; which ransom is no other than his own Son, whom he sent, in the fullness of time, to execute the scheme he had so wisely formed in his eternal mind which he did by finishing transgression, making an end of sin
, making reconciliation for iniquity, and bringing in an everlasting righteousness; which righteousness, being wrought out by Christ, God was well pleased with, because hereby his law was magnified and made honourable; and, having graciously accepted of it, he imputes it freely to all his people, and reckons their righteous on the account of it.
God the Son, as God, is the co-efficient cause of it, with his Father. As he has equal power with him to forgive sin, he also has to acquit, discharge, and justify from it. As Mediator, he is the Head and Representative; in whom all the seed of Israel are justified; as such, he has wrought out a righteousness, answerable to the demands of the law, by which they are justified; and is the Author and Finisher of that faith, which looks unto, lays hold on, and apprehends that righteousness for justification.
God the Holy Ghost convinces men of the weakness, imperfection, and insufficiency of their own righteousness to justify them before God; he brings near, and sets before them, the righteousness of Christ, and works faith in them to lay hold on it, and receive it; he intimates to their consciences the justifying sentence of God, on the account of Christ’s righteousness, and bears a testimony to and with their spirits, that they are justified persons; and hence the saints are said to be justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God; (1 Cor. 6:11) but this testimony of the Spirit is not so properly justification in itself, as an actual perception of it, before granted, by a kind of a reflex act of faith, as Dr. Ames expresses it. Now this is the part which Father, Son, and Spirit, severally bear in justification: the Father has contrived it, the Son has procured it, and the Spirit applies it.
One Last Thing
It is an act of God’s free Grace: Being justified freely by his grace. (Rom. 3:24) It was grace that resolved on, and fixed the scheme and method of justification: and which called and moved Christ to engage as a surety for his people; and which sent him, in the fullness of time, to work out a righteousness for them. And then it was grace in God to accept of this righteousness for them, and to impute it to them, and bestow faith on them to receive it; especially will all this appear to be free grace, when it is considered that these persons are all by nature sinners, and ungodly ones; yea, many of them the chief of sinners.
It is universal and not partial. All God’s elect are justified, and that from all things, as in our text, that is, from all their sins, and are freed from all that punishment which is due unto them. The whole righteousness of Christ is imputed to them; by being hereby justified, they are perfect and complete in him.
It is an individual act, which is done at once, and admits of no degrees. The sins of God’s elect were laid at once on Christ, and he made satisfaction for them at once. God accepted of Christ’s righteousness, and imputed it at once unto his people, who all have their sins and transgressions forgiven at once. The sense of justification, indeed, admits of degrees: for the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; (Rom. 1:17) but justification itself does not. There are several fresh declarations, or manifestations, or repetitions of the act of justification; as at the resurrection of Christ; and again, by the testimony of the Spirit to the conscience of the believer; and last of all, at the general judgement, before men and angels. But justification, as it is an act of God, is but one, and is done at once, and admits of no degrees; and is not carried on in a gradual and progressive way as sanctification is.
It is equal to all, or all are alike justified. The same price was paid for the redemption of one, as for another; and the same righteousness is imputed to one, as to another; and, like precious faith, is given to one, as to another though not to all in the same degree, yet the weakest believer is as much justified as the strongest, and the greatest sinner as the smallest. Though one man may have more sanctifying grace than another, yet no man has more justifying righteousness than another.
It is irreversible and unalterable. It is according to an immutable decree, which can never be frustrated. It is one of God’s gifts, which are without repentance: it is one of the blessings of the covenant of grace, which can never be broken. The righteousness by which the saints are justified is an everlasting one; and that faith, by which they receive it, shall never fail: And though a righteous man may fall into sin, yet he shall never fall from his righteousness, nor shall he ever enter into condemnation, but be eternally glorified.
Justification, though it frees persons from sin, and discharges them from punishment due unto it, yet it does not take sin out of them. By it, indeed, they are freed from sin, insomuch that God sees no iniquity in them to condemn them for it. Though he sees and beholds all the sins of his people, in articulo providentiae, in respect of providence, and chastises them for them; yet in articulo justificationis, in respect of justification, he sees none in them; they being acquitted, discharged, and justified from all. Nevertheless sin dwells in them For there is not a just man upon earth that liveth and sinneth not. (Eccl. 7:20)
It does not destroy the law, nor discourage a careful performance of good works. It does not destroy the law, or make it void; no, it establishes it; for the righteousness by which we are justified, is every way commensurate to the demands of the law; by it the law is magnified, and made honourable. Nor are persons, by this doctrine, discouraged from the performance of good works; for this doctrine of grace teaches men, That denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, they should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. (Titus 2:11, 12) To conclude: If your souls are under the powerful and comfortable influence of this doctrine, you will, in the first place, bless God for Jesus Christ, by whose obedience you are made righteous: You will value his justifying righteousness, and make mention of it at all proper times; you will glory alone in Christ, and will give the whole glory of your justification to him; and will be earnestly and studiously desirous of having your conversations as become the gospel of Christ, and this truth of it in particular.
from MEN’S OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS THEIR GRAND IDOL,
“I am not ignorant, beloved, how this assertion goeth under the foul blur of Antinomianism, that blameless walking according to the law, being established, is a fruit of ignorance, and a cause of men’s not “submitting to the righteousness of God.” And no marvel it goes for such now; for, in the apostle’s time it was accounted so; nay, it was objected against the apostle himself as direct Antinomianism: and, therefore, he was enforced to vindicate himself thus,” Do we make void the law, (saith he) through faith? God forbid!” he takes away the objection they put to him, upon his establishing of God’s righteousness, and his overthrowing our righteousness. It was objected, that hereby he went about to make void the law; and, therefore, it is no marvel it holds still as an objection, that the maintaining of this principle is the overthrowing of the law. But, beloved, I must say to you, as the apostle did in the same case, “God forbid! yea, we establish the law,” that is to say; in its right place. It takes men off from performing duties to corrupt ends, and from the bad use they are apt to make of them; namely, idolizing their own righteousness. And, therefore, he doth not condemn the use of the law, and our righteousness, simply: that which he speaks against here is the establishing of our righteousness. Our own righteousness is good in its kind, and for its own proper uses; but then it proves a fruit of sin, ignorance, and a dangerous stumbling-block, and an idol, when we go about to establish it.”
You can get a better idea of his thought by reading his sermons: Grace Ebooks
CHRISTIAN LIBERTY NO LICENTIOUS DOCTRINE
MEN’S OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS THEIR GRAND IDOL
THE ACT OF BELIEVING IS NOT OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
FREE GRACE THE TEACHER OF GOOD WORKS
THE USE OF THE LAW (vol. 4), “Some, it may be, will object, that all this while it seems that Christ hath not freed us frown being under the law, whereas the apostle saith, “Ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
1. That in respect of the rules of righteousness, or the matter of obedience, we are under the law still; or else we are lawless, to live every man as seems good in his own eyes, which I know no true christian dares so much as think; for Christ hath given no new law diverse from this, to order our conversation aright by; besides, we are under the law, to know what is transgression, and what is the desert of it.” [end quote]
It’s my personal belief that Crisp was dealing with legalism in the church at the time and stressed the Gospel of free grace. This often brings trouble with the vain janglings of legal minded men.
How was it with Cornelius?
Cornelius and his friends whom he had invited over to his house, do nothing but sit and listen. Peter is doing the talking. They just sit and do nothing. The Law is far removed from their thoughts. They burn no sacrifices. They are not at all interested in circumcision. All they do is to sit and listen to Peter. Suddenly the Holy Ghost enters their hearts. His presence is unmistakable, “for they spoke with tongues and magnified God.”
Right here we have one more difference between the Law and the Gospel. The Law does not bring on the Holy Ghost. The Gospel, however, brings on the gift of the Holy Ghost, because it is the nature of the Gospel to convey good gifts. The Law and the Gospel are contrary ideas. They have contrary functions and purposes. To endow the Law with any capacity to produce righteousness is to plagiarize the Gospel. The Gospel brings donations. It pleads for open hands to take what is being offered. The Law has nothing to give. It demands, and its demands are impossible.
Our opponents come back at us with Cornelius. Cornelius, they point out, was “a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people and prayed God always.” Because of these qualifications, he merited the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. So reason our opponents.
I answer: Cornelius was a Gentile. You cannot deny it. As a Gentile he was uncircumcised. As a Gentile he did not observe the Law. He never gave the Law any thought. For all that, he was justified and received the Holy Ghost. How can the Law avail anything unto righteousness?
Our opponents are not satisfied. They reply: “Granted that Cornelius was a Gentile and did not receive the Holy Ghost by the Law, yet the text plainly states that he was a devout man who feared God, gave alms, and prayed. Don’t you think he deserved the gift of the Holy Ghost?”
I answer: Cornelius had the faith of the fathers who were saved by faith in the Christ to come. If Cornelius had died before Christ, he would have been saved because he believed in the Christ to come. But because the Messiah had already come, Cornelius had to be apprized of the fact. Since Christ has come we cannot be saved by faith in the Christ to come, but we must believe that he has come. The object of Peter’s visit was to acquaint Cornelius with the fact that Christ was no longer to be looked for, because He is here.
As to the contention of our opponents that Cornelius deserved grace and the gift of the Holy Ghost, because he was devout and just, we say that these attributes are the characteristics of a spiritual person who already has faith in Christ, and not the characteristics of a Gentile or of natural man. Luke first praises Cornelius for being a devout and God-fearing man, and then Luke mentions the good works, the alms and prayers of Cornelius. Our opponents ignore the sequence of Luke’s words. They pounce on this one sentence, “which gave much alms to the people,” because it serves their assertion that merit precedes grace. The fact is that Cornelius gave alms and prayed to God because he had faith. And because of his faith in the Christ to come, Peter was delegated to preach unto Cornelius faith in the Christ who had already come. This argument is convincing enough. Cornelius was justified without the Law, therefore the Law cannot justify.
Martin Luther, Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians
from True Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton:
All this the apostle puts plainly: ‘Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died’ (Rom. 8. 34). He sets the death of Christ against all the charges that can be brought. It is evident that the court of the law cannot condemn the believer:
(1) Because that court is itself condemned; its curses, judgments, and sentences are made invalid. As men that are condemned have a tongue but no voice, so the law in this case has still a tongue to accuse, but no power to condemn. It cannot fasten condemnation on the believer.
(2) Because he is not under it as a court. He is not under the law as a covenant of life and death. As he is in Christ, he is under the covenant of grace.
(3) Because he is not subject to its condemnation. He is under its guidance, but not under its curses, under its precepts (though not on the legal condition of ‘Do this and live’), but not under its penalties.
(4) Because Christ, in his place and stead, was condemned by it that he might be freed: ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us’ (Gal. 3. 13). It may condemn sin in us, but cannot condemn us for sin.
(5) Because he has appealed from it. We see this in the case of the publican, who was arrested, dragged into the court of justice, sentenced and condemned. But this has no force because he makes his appeal, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ (Luke 18. 13). He flies to Christ, and, says the text, ‘He went down to his house justified’. So the court of the law (provided that your appeal is just) cannot condemn, because you have appealed to the court of mercy.
Gospel justification is an act of the gracious will of God, by which the elect are constituted completely and immutably just, or righteous, in Christ Jesus, by the imputation of his righteousness to their persons. Union with the glorious Mediator is the basis upon which it rests; as no man is justified who is not united to him, so no man is unjustified who is united to him. We have no authority whatever in the Holy Scriptures, to say either that a person who is not in him is righteous, or that one who is in him is unrighteous : it is in him that all the seed of Israel are justified ; because in him they have righteousness. THOUGHTS UPON THE DATE OF JUSTIFICATION
Dr. Sam Waldron and Dr. Richard Barcellos discuss Tom Wells’ book, “The Christian and The Sabbath”.
Please read Dr. Barcellos’ comments on the MCTS Blog.
Within the compass of these verses, we have the most striking description drawn, and by the pencil of the Holy Ghost himself, of the vast difference between Mount Sinai, and Mount Zion; that is, the law, and the Gospel; a Covenant of Works, and a Covenant of Grace. And it is such a description, as is enough under divine teaching, to arrest the heart, with the most sensible apprehension, of the awfulness of the one, and the blessedness of the other; the soul’s approaches unto God.
The first account is of Mount Sinai. And the very solemn and awful demonstrations, of the Lord’s presence, in giving the law; are described in characters so terrible, as even in the recital, makes the flesh to tremble. Moses himself was so overwhelmed, that he said, I exceedingly fear and quake. And all Israel cried out, and said unto Moses, speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die, Exo_20:18-19. Nothing can be more plain, than that the leading design of the Lord, in those manifestations, of thunderings, and lightnings, and the like, were to impress the Church of God, with an holy awe and reverence, in the consciousness of the divine presence. And also to shew them, the blackness, darkness, dread, and horror, which every soul must feel, through divine teaching, when brought under the conviction of having broken the Lord’s precepts.
And, on the other band, in the most blessed and gracious description, given of Mount Zion, the Church is taught the high privilege of the Lord’s redeemed ones, who now may come, and who indeed do come, to the assembly of the first-born; yea, to God himself the Judge of all, when coming in the name of Jesus., the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling. And here is implied, in being come, that there is an holy familiarity, and acquaintance, in this approach; a birth-right, by the new-birth; a redemption, an adopted-character, by Jesus’s blood, and righteousness; and the Covenant faithfulness of God the Judge of all. So that this is the Gospel privilege of God’s redeemed ones: their stated daily, hourly, minutely mercy; to which they are supposed to come boldly, and find mercy, and grace to help in all time of need, Heb_4:16.
One point I would beg however to remark, on this different description of those Mounts, in the dispensation of the Law and the Gospel. The Holy Ghost hath most graciously and blessedly taught the Church, in this divine scripture, from the different manifestations in which the Lord was pleased to make himself known to Old Testament saints, and New Testament believers; how blessed an alteration is made, in the mode of worship, by the open revelation of Christ; but it must not be understood from thence, that the way of acceptance with God in Christ, differed in the Old Testament Church from the New. Both were one, and the same. The former, was a shadow of good things to come; but then, as now, the body was Christ. And blessed be God, our fathers, both under the Law, and before the Law, as well as their children under the Gospel, in every ministration, and in every service, had an eye to the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World.
Their services, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, yea, the Book of the Law, and all the people, were sprinkled with blood, Exo_24:6-8; Heb_9:19-22. And hence we find Old Testament saints chanting their hymns of salvation to God, and the Lamb. Job knew, that his kinsman Redeemer lived, Job_19:25. David sung his dying love song, in the believing views he had of a Covenant ordered in all things and sure; and which was all his salvation, and all his desire, 2Sa_23:5. And indeed, all the faithful, in every age of the Church, from the first dawn of revelation, in Abel’s faith offering, down to Zachariah’s day at the Altar of Incense, in the moment of Christ’s coming, blessed God, in the soul-living expectation of the mercy promised, Luk_1:72.
Reader! learn to estimate, the high privileges of redemption in Jesus; and be it your daily song of thanksgiving, and praise, that you are not come to the Mount that might be touched, (that is on which the Lord by his descent might be said to touch, though not touched by man,) and that burned with fire; but you are come to Jesus the Mediator; and to the blood of sprinkling!
Oh! the blessedness, the preciousness, the unspeakable greatness of the mercy! Jesus, your Jesus, if so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious; to whom coming, 1Pe_2:3-4. And in, And through, and by Jesus, to God the Judge of all.
“Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel” (II.5) Canons of Dort
Free Offer or Well Meant Offer of the Gospel,
“God not only delights in the penitent but is also moved by the riches of his goodness and mercy to desire the repentance and salvation of the impenitent and reprobate.” Orthodox Presbyterian Church statement