Good People

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

Good PeopleWe have many ideas about what a person has to do to get to heaven.  Some believe we must follow the “Golden Rule,” and do good deeds which will eventually outweigh the bad we have done, tipping the scales in our favour….after all, we are all basically good people…right?

If we assume we are good people we are also assuming a standard for what we consider good.  Since we assume there is an absolute standard for what is good there must be an absolute standard giver.  The Bible repeatedly states that God has given mankind a holy, universal Law, that is written on our hearts and our conscience bears witness to this Law.  This Law is revealed and summarized in the Ten Commandments.  When we look at God’s Law, we must understand that we have all sinned in some way or another; remember, you don’t have to break all Ten to be guilty of breaking the Law.  The Bible warns, For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”

“… it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”  Hebrews 9:27

Let’s look at a few of the Commandments and see how we fare:

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Have you ever taken God’s name in vain?  If you have, you are a blasphemer and can not enter the Kingdom of God.

“Honour your father and mother.” Have you always honoured your parents in a respectful manner?  In a way that God would consider honouring?

“You shall not steal.” Have you ever taken something that didn’t belong to you (irrespective of its value)?  What do you call someone who takes something that doesn’t belong to them?  A thief – You cannot enter God’s Kingdom.

“You shall not bear false witness.” Have you ever told a lie?  Just one?  What do you call someone who told a lie?  A liar.  The Bible warns that all liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire.

You and I are guilty of sinning against God by breaking His Law, and because we have a conscience, we have sinned “with knowledge.” Isn’t it true that when you steal, lie, etc. you know that it’s wrong?  Does the fact that you have sinned against God bother you?  The punishment for breaking God’s Law is Hell.  Eternal Death.

“Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail.[1]”

WHAT MUST YOU DO TO BE SAVED FROM THE PENALTY OF BREAKING GOD’S LAW?

There is good news, there is a GOSPEL. God the Father has given us a mediator in Jesus Christ who is the incarnation of God.  Jesus took upon Himself man’s nature, becoming subject to the Law of God, and perfectly obeying the Law in thought and deed for His entire lifetime on earth.  While on earth Christ took the sins of His people upon Himself, and suffering the punishment due to all their sins paid the penalty by dying on the Cross, “…for the wages of sin is death.”

By dying in place of His people Jesus Christ became the mediator between God and man and revived in His people the righteousness, holiness and true knowledge lost as a consequence of sin.

As we find ourselves before a holy God we are convicted for breaking His righteous Law.  The Holy Spirit moves in the soul to bring us to acknowledge our guilt and brokenness before God and His righteousness.  We come to hate sin and find Jesus Christ precious.  The Holy Spirit convinces the broken sinner of the shamefulness of sin and then brings the offender to a place where they can, “repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

If you feel the weight of sin on your heart and have come to see the blackness of your soul in the light of God’s Law…if you have been brought to a place where you dread the judgement of the trice holy God, BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!  If you believe that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins the Bible assures us that, “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

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[1] quote taken from a sermon by Jonathan Edwards titled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

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It’s all in black and white…and grey!

It's all in black and white...and grey!I read this article once a year! Posted for your enjoyment.

Presuppositional Apologetics in conversation by Cornelius VanTil

We have first the non-Christian, who worships the creature rather than the Creator. We shall call him Mr. Black. Mr. Black may be a very “decent” sort of man. By God’s common grace he may do much that is “good.” Even so he is, as long as he remains in his unconverted state, black in the sight of God.

On the other hand we have a representative of those who have, by the grace of God, become worshipers of the Creator-Redeemer, called Mr. White. Mr. White is far from what, judging him by his name, we should expect him to be. But he is washed in the blood of the Lamb. In Christ he is whiter than snow. Mr. White is the Reformed Christian.

But, strangely enough, there is a third party, an Arminian, called Mr. Grey. Of course, in Christ Mr. Grey is as white as is Mr. White. Mr. Grey thinks that Mr. White is too severe in his evaluation of Mr. Black. Mr. Black is not all that black. It is not pedagogically wise to require of Mr. Black that he make a complete about-face. Surely no such complete revolution is necessary in the field of science and in the field of philosophy. Many of Mr. Black’s followers have valiantly defended the existence of God against materialism, atheism, and positivism. Even in theology many of these disciples of Mr. Black have sprung to the defense of God when he was attacked by the God-is-dead theologians. Mr. Grey, therefore typifies the Aquinas-Butler method of defending Christianity.

Let us now note the difference between the way Mr. White and the way Mr. Grey approach the unbeliever, Mr. Black, with the gospel of Christ.

Let us say that Mr. Black has a toothache. Both Mr. White and Mr. Grey are dentists. Mr. White believes in a radical methodology. He believes that Mr. Black should have all the decayed matter removed from his tooth before the filling is put in. Mr. Grey is a very kind-hearted man. He does not want to hurt Mr. Black. Accordingly, he does not want to drill too deeply. He will, therefore, take only a part of the decayed matter out of the tooth and then fill it.

Naturally Mr. Black thinks this is marvelous. Unfortunately, Mr. Black’s tooth soon begins to decay again. He goes back to Mr. Grey. But Mr. Grey can never bring himself to do anything radical. As a consequence he is never able to resolve Mr. Black’s toothache problem.

Let us now suppose that instead of coming to Mr. Grey, Mr. Black had gone to the office of Mr. White. Mr. White is radical, very radical. He uses the X-ray machine to diagnose Mr. Black’s condition. He drills deeply. All of the tooth decay is removed. The tooth is filled. Mr. Black never need return. This simple illustration points out a basic truth.

The Bible says that man is spiritually dead in sin. The Reformed creeds speak of man’s total depravity. The only cure for this spiritual deadness is his regeneration by the Holy Spirit on the basis of the atoning death of Christ. It is therefore by means of the light that Scripture sheds on the natural man’s condition that Mr. White examines all his patients. Mr. White may also, to be sure, turn on the light of experience, but he always insists that this light of experience derives, in the first place, from the light of Scripture. So he may appeal to reason or to history, but, again, only as they are to be seen in the light of the Bible. He does not even look for corroboration of the teachings of Scripture in experience, reason, or history, except insofar as these are themselves first seen in the light of the Bible. For him, the Bible, and therefore the God of the Bible, is like the sun from which the light that is given by oil lamps, gas lamps, and electric lights is derived.

Quite different is the attitude of the Arminian. Mr. Grey uses the Bible, experience, reason, or logic as equally independent sources of information about his own and therefore about Mr. Black’s predicament. I did not say that for Mr. Grey the Bible, experience, and reason are equally important. Indeed they are not. He knows that the Bible is by far the most important. But he none the less constantly appeals to “the facts of experience” and to “logic” without first dealing with the very idea of fact and with the idea of logic in terms of the Scripture.

The difference is basic. When Mr. White diagnoses Mr. Black’s case he takes as his X-ray machine, the Bible only. When Mr. Grey diagnoses Mr. Black’s case he first takes the X-ray machine of experience, then the X-ray machine of logic, and finally his biggest X-ray machine, the Bible. In fact, he may take these in any order. Each of them is, for him, an independent source of information.

Let us first look briefly at a typical procedure generally followed in evangelical circles today. Let us, in other words, note how Mr. Grey proceeds with an analysis of Mr. Black, and at the same time see how Mr. Grey would win Mr. Black to an acceptance of Christianity. We take for this purpose a series of articles which appeared in the January, February, and March, 1950, issues of Moody Monthly, published by the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. The late Edward John Carnell, author of An Introduction to Christian Apologetics and Professor of Apologetics at Fuller Theological Seminary, was the writer of this series. Carnell’s writings were among the best that appeared in evangelical circles. In fact, in his book on apologetics Carnell frequently argues as we would expect a Reformed apologist to argue. By and large, however, he represents the Arminian rather than the Reformed method in apologetics.

When Carnell instructs his readers “How Every Christian Can Defend His Faith,” he first appeals to facts and to logic as independent sources of information about the truth of Christianity. Of course, he must bring in the Bible even at this point. But the Bible is brought in only as a book of information about the fact of what has historically been called Christianity. It is not from the beginning brought in as God’s Word. It must be shown to Mr. Black that it is the Word of God by means of “facts” and “logic.” Carnell would thus avoid at all costs the charge of reasoning in a circle. He does not want Mr. Black to point the finger at him and say: “You prove that the Bible is true by an appeal to the Bible itself. That is circular reasoning. How can any person with any respect for logic accept such a method of proof?”

Carnell would escape such a charge by showing that the facts of experience, such as all men recognize, and logic, such as all men must use, point to the truth of Scripture. This is what he says: “If you are of a philosophic turn, you can point to the remarkable way in which Christianity fits in with the moral sense inherent in every human being, or the influence of Christ on our ethics, customs, literature, art, and music. Finally, you can draw upon your own experience in speaking of the reality of answered prayer and the witness of the Spirit in your own heart. . . . If the person is impressed with this evidence, turn at once to the gospel. Read crucial passages and permit the Spirit to work on the inner recesses of his heart. Remember that apologetics is merely a preparation. After the ground has been broken, proceed immediately with sowing and watering.”1

It is assumed in this argument that Mr. Black agrees with the evangelical, Mr. Grey, on the character of the “moral sense” of man. This may he true, but then it is true because Mr. Grey has himself not taken his information about the “moral sense” of man exclusively from Scripture. If, with Mr. White, Mr. Grey had taken his conception of the moral nature of man from the Bible, then he would hold that Mr. Black will, as totally depraved, misinterpret his own moral nature. True, Christianity is in accord with the moral nature of man. But this is so only because the moral nature of man is first in accord with what the Bible says it is, i.e., originally created perfect, it is now wholly corrupted in its desires through the fall of man. If you are reasoning with a naturalist, Carnell advises his readers, ask him why, when a child throws a rock through his window, he chases the child and not the rock. Presumably even a naturalist knows that the child, not the rock, is free and therefore responsible. “A bottle of water cannot ought; it must. When once the free spirit of man is proved, the moral argument — the existence of a God who imposes moral obligations — can form the bridge from man to God.”2

Here the fundamental difference between Mr. Grey’s and Mr. White’s approaches to Mr. Black appears. The difference lies, as before noted, in the different notions of the free will of man. Or, it may be said, the difference is with respect to the nature of man as man. Mr. White would define man, and therefore his freedom, in terms of Scripture alone. He would therefore begin with the fact that man is the creature of God. This implies that man’s freedom is a derivative freedom. It is a freedom that is not and cannot be wholly ultimate, that is, self-dependent. Mr. White knows that Mr. Black would not agree with him in this analysis of man and of his freedom. He knows that Mr. Black would not agree with him on this any more than he would agree on the biblical idea of total depravity.

Mr. Grey, on the other hand, must at all costs have “a point of contact” in the system of thought of Mr. Black, who is typical of the natural man. Just as Mr. Grey is afraid of being charged with circular reasoning, so he is also afraid of being charged with talking about something that is “outside of experience.” So he is driven to talk in general about the “free spirit of man.” Of course, Mr. Black need have no objections from his point of view in allowing for the “free spirit of man.” That is at bottom what he holds even when he is a naturalist. His whole position is based upon the idea of man as a free spirit, that is, a spirit that is not subject to the law of his Creator God. Carnell does not distinguish between the biblical doctrine of freedom as based upon and involved in the fact of man’s creation, and the doctrine of freedom, in the sense of autonomy, which makes man a law unto himself.

Of course, Mr. Black will be greatly impressed with such an argument as Mr. Grey has presented to him for the truth of Christianity. In fact, if Christianity is thus shown to be in accord with the moral nature of man, as Mm. Black himself sees that moral nature, then Mr. Black does not need to be radically converted to accept Christianity. He only needs to accept something additional to what he has always believed. He has been shown how nice, even how important, it would be to have a second story built on top of the house which he has already built according to his own plans.

To be sure, the evangelical intends no such thing. Least of all does Carnell intend such a thing. But why then does the “evangelical” not see that by presenting the non-Christian with Arminianism rather than with the Reformed faith he compromises the Christian religion? Why does Carnell not see that in doing what he does, the non-Christian is not really challenged either by fact or by logic? For facts and logic which are not themselves first seen in the light of Christianity have, in the nature of the case, no power in them to challenge the unbeliever to change his position. Facts and logic, not based upon the creation doctrine and not placed in the context of the doctrine of God’s all-embracing Providence, which culminates in the redemption through Christ, are without significant relation to one another and therefore wholly meaningless.

It is this truth which must be shown to Mr. Black. The folly of holding to any view of life except that which is frankly based upon the Bible as the absolute authority for man must be pointed out to him. Only then are we doing what Paul did when he said: “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (I Cor. 1:20).

As a Reformed Christian, Mr. White therefore cannot cooperate with Mr. Grey in his analysis of Mr. Black. This fact may appear more clearly if we turn to see how Mr. Black appears when he is analyzed by Mr. White in terms of the Bible alone.

According to Mm. White’s analysis, Mr. Black is not a murderer. He is not a drunkard or a dope addict. He lives in one of the suburbs. He is every whit a gentleman. He gives to the Red Cross and to the United Fund campaigns. He was a Boy Scout; he is a member of a lodge; he is very civic minded; now and then his name is mentioned in the papers as an asset to the community. But he is spiritually dead. He is filled with the spirit of error. Perhaps he is a member of a “fine church” in the community, but nevertheless he is one of those “people that do err in their heart” (Ps. 95:10). He lives in a stupor (Rom. 11:8). To him the wisdom of God is foolishness. The truth about God, and about himself in relation to God, is obnoxious to him. He does not want to hear of it. He seeks to close his eyes and ears to those who give witness to the truth. He is, in short, utterly self-deceived.

On the other hand, Mr. Black is certain that he looks at life in the only proper way. Even if he has doubts as to the truth of what he believes, he does not see how any sensible or rational man could believe or do otherwise. If he has doubts, it is because no one can be fully sure of himself. If he has fears, it is because fear is to be expected in the hazardous and ambiguous situation in which modern man lives. If he sees men’s minds break down, he thinks this is to be expected under current conditions of stress and strain. If he sees grown men act like children, he says that they once were beasts. Everything, including the “abnormal,” is to him “normal.”

In all this, Mr. Black has obviously taken for granted that what the Bible says about the world and himself is not true. He has taken this for granted. He may never have argued the point. He has cemented yellow spectacles to his own eyes. He cannot remove them because he will not remove them. He is blind and loves to be blind.

But do not think that Mr. Black has an easy time of it. He is the man who always “kicks against the pricks.” His conscience troubles him all the time. Deep down in his heart he knows that what the Bible says about him and about the world is true. Even if he has never heard of the Bible, he knows that he is a creature of God and that he has broken the law of God (Rom. 1:19, 20; 2:14, 15). When the prodigal son left his father’s house he could not immediately efface from his memory the look and voice of his father. That look and that voice came back to him even when he was at the swine trough! How hard he had tried to live as though the money with which he so freely entertained his “friends” had not come from his father! When asked where he came from he would answer that he came “from the other side.” He did not want to be reminded of his past. Yet he could not forget it. It required a constant act of suppression to forget his past. But that very act of suppression itself keeps alive the memory of the past.

Mr. Black daily changes the truth of God into a lie. He daily holds the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). But what a time he has with himself! He may try to sear his conscience as with a hot iron. He may seek to escape the influence of all those who witness to the truth. But he can never escape himself as witness bearer to the truth.

His conscience keeps telling him: “Mr. Black, you are a fugitive from justice. You have run away from home, from your father’s bountiful love. You are an ingrate, a sneak, a rascal! You shall not escape meeting justice at last. The father still feeds you. Yet you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not recognizing that the goodness of God is calculated to lead you to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Why do you kick against the pricks? Why do you stifle the voice of your conscience? Why do you use the wonderful intellect that God has given you as a tool for the suppression of the voice of God which speaks to you through yourself and your environment? Why do you build your house on sand instead of on rock? Can you be sure that no storm is ever coming? Are you omniscient? Are you omnipotent? You say that nobody knows whether God exists or whether Christianity is true. You say that nobody knows this because man is finite. Yet you assume that God cannot exist and that Christianity cannot be true. You assume that no judgment will ever come. You must be omniscient to know that. Yet you have just said that all man declares about ‘the beyond’ must be based upon his brief span of existence in this world of time and chance. How, then, if you have taken for granted that chance is one of the basic ingredients of all human experience, can you at the same time say what can or cannot be in all time to come? You certainly have made a fool of yourself, Mr. Black,” says Mr. Black to himself. “You reject the claims of truth which you know to be the truth, and you do that in terms of the lie which really you know to be the lie. It is you, not Mr. White, who engages in circular reasoning. It is you, not Mr. White, who refuses to face the facts as they are. It is you, not Mr. White, who crucifies logic.”

It is not always that Mr. Black is thus aware of the fact that he lives like the prodigal who would have eaten of the things the swine did eat, but who knew he could not because he was a human being. Mr. Black is not always thus aware of his folly. This is, in part at least, because of the failure of evangelicals and particularly of Reformed Christians to stir him up to a realization of this basic depth of his folly. The Reformed Christian should, on his basis, want to stir up Mr. Black to an appreciation of the folly of his ways.

However, when the Reformed Christian, Mr. White, is to any extent aware of the richness of his own position and actually has the courage to challenge Mr. Black by presenting to him the picture of himself as taken through the X-ray machine called the Bible, he faces the charge of “circular reasoning” and of finding no “point of contact” with experience. He will also be subject to the criticism of the Arminian for speaking as if Christianity were irrational and for failing to reach the man in the street.

Thus we seem to be in a bad predicament. There is a basic difference of policy between Mr. White and Mr. Grey as to how to deal with Mm. Black. Mr. Grey thinks that Mr. Black is not really such a bad fellow. It is possible, he thinks, to live with Mr. Black in the same world. Mr. Black is pretty strong. It is best to make a compromise peace with him. That seems to be the way of the wise and practical politician. On the other hand, Mm. White thinks that it is impossible to live permanently in the same world with Mr. Black. Mr. Black, he says, must therefore be placed before the requirement of absolute and unconditional surrender to Christ. Surely it would be out of the question for Mr. White first to make a compromise peace with Mr. Black and then, after all, to require unconditional surrender to Christ! But what, then, about the charge of circular reasoning and about the charge of having no point of contact with the unbeliever?

A. A Consistent Witness

The one main question to which we are to address ourselves now is whether Christians holding to the Reformed Faith must also hold to a specifically Reformed method of reasoning when they are engaged in the defense of the faith.

This broad question does not pertain merely to the “five points of Calvinism.” When Arminians attack these great doctrines (total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints) we, as Calvinists, are quick to defend them. We believe that these five points are directly drawn from Scripture. But the question now under discussion is whether, in the defense of any Christian doctrine, Reformed Christians should use a method all their own.

People easily give a negative reply to this question. Do we not have many doctrines in common with all evangelicals? Do not all orthodox Protestants hold to the substitutionary atonement of Christ? More particularly, what about the simple statements of fact recorded in Scripture? How could anyone, if he believes such statements at all, take them otherwise than as simple statements of fact? How could anyone have a specifically Reformed doctrine of such a fact as the resurrection of Christ? If together with evangelicals we accept certain simple truths and facts of Scripture at face value, how then can we be said to have a separate method of defense of such doctrines?

Yet it can readily be shown that a negative answer to these questions cannot be maintained. Take, for example, the doctrine of the atonement. The Arminian doctrine of the atonement is not the same as the Reformed doctrine of the atonement. Both the Arminian and the Calvinist assert that they believe in the substitutionary atonement. But the Arminian conception of the substitutionary atonement is colored, and as Calvinists we believe discolored, by the view of “free will.” According to the Arminian view, man has absolute or ultimate power to accept or to reject the salvation offered him. This implies that the salvation offered to man is merely the possibility of salvation.

To illustrate: suppose I deposit one million dollars to your account in your bank. It is still altogether up to you to believe that such wealth is yours, and to use it to cover the floor of your house with Persian rugs in place of the old threadbare rugs now there. Thus, in the Arminian scheme, the very possibility of things no longer depends exclusively upon God, but, in some areas at least, upon man. What Christ did for us is made to depend for its effectiveness upon what is done by us. It is no longer right to say that with God all things are possible.

It is obvious, therefore, that Arminians have taken into their Protestantism a good bit of the leaven of Roman Catholicism. Arminianism is less radical, less consistent in its Protestantism than it should be.

Now Mm. Grey, the evangelical, seems to have a relatively easy time of it when he seeks to win Mr. Black, the unbeliever, to an acceptance of “the substitutionary atonement.” He can stand on “common ground” with Mr. Black on this matter of what is possible and what is impossible. Listen to Mr. Grey as he talks with Mr. Black.

“Mr. Black, have you accepted Christ as your personal Savior? Do you believe that he died on the cross as your substitute? If you do not, you will surely be lost forever.”

“Well now,” replies Mm. Black, “I’ve just had a visit from Mr. White on the same subject. You two seem to have a ‘common witness’ on this matter. Both of you believe that God exists, that he has created the world, that the first man, Adam, sinned, and that we are all to be sent to hell because of what that first man did, and so forth. All this is too fatalistic for me. If I am a creature, as you say I am, then I have no ultimate power of my own and therefore am not free. And if I am not free, then I am not responsible. So, if I am going to hell, it will be simply because your ‘God’ has determined that I should. You orthodox Christians kill morality and all humanitarian progress. I will have none of it. Good-by!”

“But wait a second,” says Mr. Grey, in great haste. “I do not have a common witness at this point with the Calvinist. I have a common witness with you against the Calvinist when it comes to all that determinism that you mention. Of course you are free. You are absolutely free to accept or to reject the atonement that is offered to you. I offer the atonement through Christ only as a possibility. You yourself must make it an actuality for yourself. I agree with you over against the Calvinist in saying that ‘possibility’ is wider than the will of God. I would not for a moment say with the Calvinist that God’s counsel determines ‘whatsoever comes to pass.’

“Besides, even less extreme Calvinists like Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., virtually agree with both of us. Listen to what Buswell says: ‘Nevertheless, our moral choices are choices in which we are ourselves ultimate causes.’ Dr. Buswell himself wants to go beyond the ‘merely arbitrary answer’ in Romans 9:20, 21, which speaks of the potter and the clay, to the ‘much more profound analysis of God’s plan of redemption’ in Romans 9:22-24, in which Paul pictures Pharaoh as ‘. . . one who, according to the foreknowledge of God, would rebel against God.’”3

“I understand then,” replies Mr. Black, “that you Arminians and more moderate Calvinists are opposed to the determinism of the regular, old-style Calvinists of the historic Reformed Confessions? I am glad to hear that. To say that all things have been fixed from all eternity by God is terrible! It makes me shudder! What would happen to all morality and decency if all men believed such teaching? But now you Arminians have joined us in holding that ‘possibility’ is independent of the will of God. You have thus with all good people and with all liberal and neo-orthodox theologians, like Barth, made possible the salvation of all men.

“That means, of course, that salvation is also possible for those too who have never heard of Jesus of Nazareth. Salvation is therefore possible without an acceptance of your substitutionary atonement through this Jesus of whom you speak. You certainly would not want to say with the Calvinists that God has determined the bounds of all nations and individuals and has thus, after all, determined that some men, millions of them, in fact, should never hear this gospel.

“Besides, if possibility is independent of God, as you evangelicals and moderate Calvinists teach, then I need not be afraid of hell. It is then quite possible that there is no hell. Hell, you will then agree, is that torture of a man’s conscience which he experiences when be fails to live up to his own moral ideals. So I do not think that I shall bother just yet about accepting Christ as my personal Savior. There is plenty of time.”

Poor Mr. Grey. He really wanted to say something about having a common testimony with the Calvinists after all. At the bottom of his heart he knew that Mr. White, the Calvinist, and not Mr. Black, the unbeliever, was his real friend. But he had made a common witness with Mr. Black against the supposed determinism of Mr. White, the Calvinist, so it was difficult for him, after that, to turn about face and also make a common testimony with Mr. White against Mr. Black. He had nothing intelligible to say. His method of defending his faith had forced him to admit that Mr. Black was basically right. He had not given Mr. Black an opportunity of knowing what he was supposed to accept, but his testimony had confirmed Mr. Black in his belief that there was no need of his accepting Christ at all.

It is true, of course, that in practice Mr. Grey is much better in his theology and in his method of representing the gospel than he is here said to be. But that is because in practice every evangelical who really loves his Lord is a Calvinist at heart. How could he really pray to God for help if he believed that there was a possibility that God could not help? In their hearts all true Christians believe that that God controls “whatsoever comes to pass.” But the Calvinist cannot have a common witness for the substitutionary atonement with Arminians who first make a common witness with the unbeliever against him on the all-important question whether God controls all things that happen.

It must always be remembered that the first requirement for effective witnessing is that the position defended be intelligible. Arminianism, when consistently carried out, destroys this intelligibility.

The second requirement for effective witnessing is that he to whom the witness is given must be shown why he should forsake his own position and accept that which is offered him. Arminianism, when consistently carried out, destroys the reason why the unbeliever should accept the gospel. Why should the unbeliever change his position if he is not shown that it is wrong? Why should he exchange his position for that of Christianity if the one who asks him to change is actually encouraging him in thinking that he is right? The Calvinist will need to have a better method of defending the doctrine of the atonement therefore than that of the Arminian.

We have dealt with the doctrine of the atonement. That led us into the involved question whether God is the source of possibility, or whether possibility is the source of God. It has been shown that the Arminian holds to a position which requires him to make both of these contradictory assertions at once. But how about the realm of fact? Do you also hold, I am asked, that we need to seek for a specifically Reformed method of defending the “facts” of Christianity? Take the resurrection of Christ as an example — why can there be no common witness on the part of the Arminian and the Calvinist to such a fact as that?

Once more Mr. Grey, the Arminian, pushes the doorbell at Mr. Black’s home. Mr. Black answers and admits him.

“I am here again, Mr. Black,” begins Grey, “because I am still anxious to have you accept Christ as your personal Savior. When I spoke to you the other time about the atonement you got me into deep water. We got all tangled up on the question of ‘possibility.’

“But now I have something far simpler. I want to deal with simple facts. I want to show you that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is as truly a fact as any fact that you can mention. To use the words of Dr. Wilbur Smith, himself a ‘moderate’ Calvinist but opposed to the idea of a distinctively Reformed method for the defense of the faith: ‘The meaning of the resurrection is a theological matter, but the fact of the resurrection is a historical matter; the nature of the resurrection body of Jesus may be a mystery, but the fact that the body disappeared from the tomb is a matter to be decided upon by historical evidence.’4 The historical evidence for the resurrection is the kind of evidence that you as a scientist would desire.

“Smith writes in the same book: ‘About a year ago, after studying over a long period of time this entire problem of our Lord’s resurrection, and having written some hundreds of pages upon it at different times, I was suddenly arrested by the thought that the very kind of evidence which modern science, and even psychologists, are so insistent upon for determining the reality of any object under consideration is the kind of evidence that we have presented to us in the gospels regarding the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, namely, the things that are seen with the human eye, touched with the human hand, and heard by the human ear. This is what we call empirical evidence. It would almost seem as if parts of the gospel records of the resurrection were actually written for such a day as ours when empiricism so dominates our thinking.’5

“Now I think that Smith is quite right in thus distinguishing sharply between the fact and the meaning of the resurrection. I am now only asking you to accept the fact of the resurrection. There is the clearest possible empirical evidence for this fact. The living Jesus was touched with human hands and seen with human eyes of sensible men after he had been crucified and put into the tomb. Surely you ought to believe in the resurrection of Christ as a historical fact. And to believe in the resurrected Christ is to be saved.”

“But hold on a second,” says Mr. Black. “Your friend the Calvinist, Mr. White, has been ahead of you again. He was here last night and spoke of the same thing that you are now speaking about. However, he did not thus distinguish between the fact and the meaning of the resurrection. At least, he did not for a moment want to separate the fact of the resurrection from the system of Christianity in terms of which it gets its meaning. He spoke of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as rising from the dead. He spoke of the Son of God through whom the world was made and through whom the world is sustained, as having risen from the dead. When I asked him how this God could die and rise again from the dead, he said that God did not die and rise from the dead but that the second person of the Trinity had taken to himself a human nature, and that it was in this human nature that he died and rose again. In short, in accepting the fact of the resurrection he wanted me also to accept all this abracadabra about the trinitarian God. I have a suspicion that you are secretly trying to have me do something similar.”

“No, no,” replies Mr. Grey. “I am in complete agreement with you here against the Calvinist. I have a common witness with you against him. I, too, would separate fact from system. Did I not agree with you against the Calvinist, in holding that possibility is independent of God? Well then, by the same token I hold that all kinds of facts happen apart from the plan of God. We Arminians are in a position, as the Calvinists are not, of speaking with you on neutral ground. With you, we would simply talk about the “facts” of Christianity without immediately bringing into the picture anything about the meaning or the significance of those facts.

“It makes me smile,” continues Mr. Grey, “when I think of Mr. White coming over here trying to convert you. That poor fellow is always reasoning in circles! I suppose that such reasoning in circles goes with his determinism. He is always talking about his self-contained God. He says that all facts are what they are because of the plan of God. Then each fact would of necessity, to be a fact at all, prove the truth of the Christian system of things and, in turn, would be proved as existing by virtue of this self-same Christian system of things. I realize full well that you, as a modern scientist and philosopher, can have no truck with such horrible, circular reasoning as that.

“It is for this reason that, as Arminian evangelicals, we have now separated sharply between the resurrection as a historical fact and the meaning of the resurrection. I’m merely asking you to accept the fact of the resurrection. I am not asking you to do anything that you cannot do in full consistency with your freedom and with the ‘scientific method.’”

“Well, this is delightful,” replies Mr. Black. “I always felt that the Calvinists were our real foes. But I read something in the paper the other day to the effect that some Calvinist churches or individuals were proposing to make a common witness with Arminian evangelicals for the gospel. Now I was under the impression that the gospel had something to do with being saved from hell and going to heaven. I knew that the modernists and the ‘new modernists,’ like Barth, do not believe in tying up the facts of history with such wild speculations. It was my opinion that ‘fundamentalists’ did tie up belief in historical facts, such as the death and resurrection of Jesus, with going to heaven or to hell. So I am delighted that you, though a fundamentalist, are willing to join with the liberal and the neo-liberal in separating historical facts from such a rationalistic system as I thought Christianity was.

“Now as for accepting the resurrection of Jesus,” continued Mr. Black, “as thus properly separated from the traditional system of theology, I do not in the least mind doing that. To tell you the truth, I have accepted the resurrection as a fact now for some time. The evidence for it is overwhelming. This is a strange universe. All kinds of ‘miracles’ happen in it. The universe is ‘open.’ So why should there not be some resurrections here and there? The resurrection of Jesus would be a fine item for Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Why not send it in?”

Mr. Grey wanted to continue at this point. He wanted to speak of the common witness that he had, after all, with the Calvinist for the gospel. But it was too late. He had no “common” witness left of any sort. He had again tried to gallop off in opposite directions at the same time. He had again taken away all credibility from the witness that he meant to bring. He had again established Mr. Black in thinking that his own unbelieving reason was right. For it was as clear as crystal to Mr. Black, as it should have been to Mr. Grey, that belief in the fact of the resurrection, apart from the system of Christianity, amounts to belief that the Christian system is not true, to believe in the universe as run by Chance, and to believe that it was not Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who rose from the dead.

To be sure, in practice the Arminian is much better in his witness for the resurrection of Christ than he has been presented here. But that is, as noted already, because every evangelical, as a sincere Christian, is at heart a Calvinist. But witnessing is a matter of the head as well as of the heart. If the world is to hear a consistent testimony for the Christian faith, it is the Calvinist who must give it. If there is not a distinctively Reformed method for the defense of every article of the Christian faith, then there is no way of clearly telling an unbeliever just how Christianity differs from his own position and why he should accept the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. We are happy and thankful, of course, for the work of witnessing done by Arminians. We are happy because of the fact that, in spite of their inconsistency in presenting the Christian testimony, something, often much, of the truth of the gospel shines through unto men, and they are saved.

B. The Authority of Scripture

“But how can anyone know anything about the ‘beyond’?” asks Mr. Black.

“Well, of course,” replies Mr. Grey, “if you want absolute certainty, such as one gets in geometry, Christianity does not offer it. We offer you only ‘rational probability.’ ‘Christianity,’ as I said in effect a moment ago when I spoke of the death of Christ, ‘is founded on historical facts, which, by their very nature, cannot be demonstrated with geometric certainty. All judgments of historical particulars are at the mercy of the complexity of the time-space universe. . . . If the scientist cannot rise above rational probability in his empirical investigation, why should the Christian claim more?’ And what is true of the death of Christ,” adds Mr. Grey, “is, of course, also true of his resurrection. But this only shows that ‘the Christian is in possession of a worldview which is making a sincere effort to come to grips with actual history.’”6

By speaking thus, Mr. Grey again seeks for a neutral point of contact with Mr. Black. For Mr. Black, history is something that floats on an infinitely extended and bottomless ocean of Chance. Therefore he can say that anything may happen. Who knows but the death and resurrection of Jesus as the Son of God might issue from this womb of Chance? Such events would have an equal chance of happening with “snarks, boojums, splinth, and gobble-de-gook.” God himself may live in this realm of Chance. He is then “wholly other” than ourselves, and his revelation in history would then be wholly unique.

The Arminian does not challenge this underlying philosophy of Chance as it controls the unbeliever’s conception of history. He is so anxious to have the unbeliever accept the possibility of God’s existence and the fact of the resurrection of Christ that, if necessary, he will exchange his own philosophy of the facts for that of the unbeliever. Anxious to be genuinely “empirical” like the unbeliever, he will throw all the facts of Christianity into the bottomless pit of Chance. Or, rather, he will throw all these facts at the unbeliever, and the unbeliever throws them over his back into the bottomless pit of Chance.

Of course, this is the last thing that such men as Wilbur Smith, Edward J. Camel!, and J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., want to do. But in failing to challenge the philosophy of Chance that underlies the unbeliever’s notion of “fact,” they are, in effect, doing it.

This approach of Mr. Grey’s is unavoidable if one hold to an Arminian theology. The Arminian view of man’s free will implies that “possibility” is above God. But a “possibility” that is above God is the same thing as Chance. A God surrounded by Chance cannot speak with authority. He would be speaking into a vacuum. His voice could not be heard. If God were surrounded by Chance, then human beings would be too. They would live in a vacuum, unable to hear either their own voices or those of others. Thus the whole of history, including all of its facts, would be without meaning.

It is this that the Reformed Christian, Mr. White, would tell Mr. Black. In the very act of presenting the resurrection of Christ or in the very act of presenting any other fact of historic Christianity, Mr. White would be presenting it as authoritatively interpreted in the Bible. He would argue that unless Mr. Black is willing to set the facts of history in the framework of the meaning authoritatively ascribed to them in the Bible, he will make “gobble-de-gook” of history.

If history were what Mr. Black assumes that it is, then anything might happen, and then nobody would know what may happen. No one thing would then be more likely to happen than any other thing. David Hume, the great skeptic, has effectively argued that, if you allow any room for Chance in your thought, then you no longer have the right to speak of probabilities. Whirl would then be king. No hypothesis would then have any more relevance to facts than any other hypothesis. Did God raise Christ from the dead? Perchance he did. Did Jupiter do it? Perchance he did. What is Truth? Nobody knows. Such would be the picture of the universe if Mr. Black were right.

No comfort can be taken from the assurance of the Arminian that, since Christianity makes no higher claim than that of rational probability, “the system of Christianity can be refuted only by probability. Perhaps our loss is gain.” How could one ever argue that there is a greater probability for the truth of Christianity than for the truth of its opposite, if the very meaning of the word “probability” rests upon the idea of Chance? On this basis, nature and history would be no more than a series of pointer readings pointing into the blank.

In assuming his philosophy of Chance and thus virtually saying that nobody knows what is back of the common objects of daily observation, Mr. Black also virtually says that the Christian view of things is wrong.

If I assert that there is a black cat in the closet, and you assert that nobody knows what is in the closet, you have virtually told me that I am wrong in my hypothesis. So when I tell Mr. Black that God exists, and he responds very graciously by saying that perhaps I am right since nobody knows what is in the “Beyond,” he is virtually saying that I am wrong in my hypothesis. He is obviously thinking of such a god as could comfortably live in a closet. But the God of Scripture cannot live in a closet.

When confronted with the claims of God and his Christ, Mr. Black’s response is essentially this: Nobody knows — nevertheless your hypothesis is certainly wrong and mine is certainly right! Nobody knows whether God exists, but God certainly does not exist and Chance certainly does exist.

When Mr. Black thus virtually makes his universal negative assertion, saying in effect that God cannot possibly exist and that Christianity cannot possibly be true, he must surely be standing on something very solid. Is it on solid rock that he stands? No, he stands on water! He stands on his own “experience.” But this experience, by his own assumption, rests again on Chance. Thus standing on Chance, he swings the “logician’s postulate” and modestly asserts what cannot be in the “Beyond,” of which he said before that nothing can be said.

Of course, what Mr. Black is doing appears very reasonable to himself. “Surely,” he says, if questioned at all on the subject, “a rational man must have systematic coherence in his experience. Therefore he cannot accept as true anything that is not in accord with the law of non-contradiction. So long as you leave your God in the realm of the ‘Beyond,’ in the realm of the indeterminate, you may worship him by yourself alone. But as soon as you claim that your God has revealed himself in creation, in providence, or in your Scripture, at once I shall put that revelation to a test by the principle of rational coherence.

“And by that test none of your doctrines are acceptable. All of them are contradictory. No rational man can accept any of them. If your God is eternal, then he falls outside of my experience and lives in the realm of the ‘Beyond,’ of the unknowable. But if he is to have anything to do with the world, then he must himself be wholly within the world. I must understand your God throughout if I am to speak intelligently of any relationship that he sustains to my world and to myself. Your idea that God is both eternal and unchangeable and yet sustains such relationships to the world as are involved in your doctrine of creation and providence, is flatly contradictory.

“For me to accept your God,” continues Mr. Black, “you must do to him what Karl Barth has done to him, namely, strip him of all the attributes that orthodox theology has assigned to him, and thus enable him to turn into the opposite of himself. With that sort of God I have a principle of unity that brings all my experience into harmony. And that God is wholly within the universe. If you offer me such a God and offer him as the simplest hypothesis with which I may seek to order my experience as it comes to me from the womb of Chance, then the law of non-contradiction will be satisfied. As a rational man I can settle for nothing less.”

All this amounts to saying that Mr. Black, the lover of a Chance philosophy, the indeterminist, is at the same time an out-and-out determinist or fatalist. It is to say that Mr. Black, the irrationalist, who says that nobody knows what is in the “Beyond,” is at the same time a flaming rationalist. For him only that can be, which he thinks he can exhaustively determine by logic must be. He may at first grant that anything may exist, but when he says this, he at the same time says, in effect, that nothing can exist and have meaning for man but that which man himself can exhaustively know. Therefore, for Mr. Black, the God of Christianity cannot exist. For him the doctrine of creation cannot be true. There can be no revelation of God to man through nature and history. There can be no such thing as the resurrection of Christ.

Strangely enough, when Mr. Black thus says, in effect, that God cannot exist and that the resurrection of Christ cannot be a fact, and when he also says that God may very well exist and that the resurrection of Christ may very well be a fact, he is not inconsistent with himself. For he must, to be true to his method, contradict himself in every statement that he makes about any fact whatsoever. If he does not, then he would deny either his philosophy of Chance or his philosophy of Fate. According to him, every fact that he meets has in it the two ingredients: that of Chance and that of Fate, that of the wholly unknown and that of the wholly known. Thus man turns the tools of thought, which the Creator has given him in order therewith to think God’s thoughts after him on a created level, into the means by which he makes sure that God cannot exist, and therefore certainly cannot reveal himself.

When Mr. White meets Mr. Black he will make this issue plain. He will tell Mr. Black that his methodology cannot make any fact or any group of facts intelligible to himself. Hear him as he speaks to the unbeliever:

On your basis, Mr. Black, no fact can be identified by distinguishing it from any other fact. For all facts would be changing into their opposites all the time. All would be ‘gobble-de-gook.’ At the same time, nothing could change at all. Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? He clearly has. I know you cannot see this even though it is perfectly clear. I know that you have taken out your own eyes. Hence your inability to see is at the same time unwillingness to see. Pray God for forgiveness and repent.

But what will be the approach of the Arminian, Mr. Grey, on this question of logic? He will do the same sort of thing that we saw him do with respect to the question of facts. Mr. Gray will again try to please Mr. Black by saying that, of course, he will justify his appeal to the authority of the Bible by showing that the very idea of such an appeal, as well as the content of the Bible, are fully in accord with the demands of logic. Listen to him as he speaks to the unbeliever.

“You are quite right in holding that nothing meaningful can be said without presupposing the validity of the law of non-contradiction,” says Mr. Gray.7 “‘The conservative ardently defends a system of authority.”8 But ‘without reason to canvass the evidence of a given authority, how can one segregate a right authority from a wrong one? . . . Without systematic consistency to aid us, it appears that all we can do is to draw straws, count noses, flip coins to choose an authority. Once we do apply the law of contradiction, we are no longer appealing to ipse dixit authority, but to coherent truth.’9 ‘The Scriptures tell us to test the spirits (I John 4: 1). This can be done only by applying the canons of truth. God cannot lie. His authority, therefore, and coherent truth are coincident at every point. Truth, not blind authority, saves us from being blind followers of the blind.”10

“‘Bring on your revelations!’” continues Mr. Grey. “‘Let them make peace with the law of contradiction and the facts of history, and they will deserve a rational man’s assent.”11 ‘Any theology which rejects Aristotle’s fourth book of the Metaphysics is big with the elements of its own destruction.”12 ‘If Paul were teaching that the crucified Christ were objectively foolish, in the sense that he cannot be rationally categorized, then he would have pointed to the insane and the demented as incarnations of truth.’”13

“Well,” says Mr. Black, “this is great news indeed. I knew that the modernists were willing with us to start from human experience as the final reference point in all research. I knew that they were willing with us to start from Chance as the source of facts, in order then to manufacture such facts of nature and of history as the law of non-contradiction, based on Chance, will allow. I also knew that the famous neo-orthodox theologian, Karl Barth, is willing to remake the God of historic Christianity so that he can change into the opposite of himself, in order that thus he may satisfy both our irrationalist philosophy of Chance and our rationalist philosophy of logic. But I did not know that there were any orthodox people who were willing to do such a thing. But you have surprised me before. You were willing to throw your resurrection into the realm of Chance in order to have me accept it. So I really should have expected that you would also be willing to make the law of non-contradiction rest upon man himself instead of upon God.

“I am extremely happy, too, that not only Arminian fundamentalists but also less extreme or moderate Calvinists, like Buswell, Carnell, and Smith, are now willing to test revelation by a principle that is wholly independent of that revelation. It is now only a matter of time until they will see that they have to come over on our side altogether.

“I do no like the regular Calvinists. But they are certainly quite right from their own point of view. Mr. White claims that I am a creature of God. He says that all facts are made by God and controlled by the providence of God. He says that all men have sinned against God in Adam their representative. He adds that therefore I am spiritually blind and morally perverse. He says all this and more on the basis of the absolute authority of Scripture. He would interpret me, my facts, and my logic in terms of the authority of that Scripture. He says I need this authority. He says I need nothing hut this authority. His Scripture, he claims, is sufficient and final. The whole thing, he claims, is clear in the light of Scripture.

“Now all this looks like plain historic Protestantism to me. I can intellectually understand the Calvinist on this matter of authority. I cannot understand you. You seem to me to want to have your cake and eat it. If you believe in scriptural authority, then why not explain all things, man, fact, and logic, in terms of it? If you want with us to live by your own authority, by the experience of the human race, then why not have done with the Bible as absolute authority? It, at best, gives you the authority of the expert.

“In your idea of the rational man who tests all things by the facts of history and by the law of non-contradiction, you have certainly made a point of contact with us. If you carry this through, you will indeed succeed in achieving complete coincidence between your ideas and ours. With us, you will have achieved complete coincidence between the ideas of man and the ideas of God. The reason for this coincidence of your ideas with ours, and for the coincidence of man’s ideas with God’s, is that you, like we, then have a God and a Christ who are virtually identical with man.

“Do you not think, Mr. Grey, that this is too great a price for you to pay? I am sure that you do not thus mean to drag down your God into the universe. I am sure that you do not thus mean to crucify your Christ afresh. But why then halt between two opinions? I do not believe Christianity, but, if I did, I would stand with Mr. White.”

C. Proofs for the Existence of God

When Mr. Black objects against Mr. White that unconditional surrender to the authority of Scripture is irrational, then Mr. Grey nods approval and says that, of course, the “rational man” has a perfect right to test the credibility of Scripture by logic. When the Bible speaks of God’s sovereign election of some men to salvation this must mean something that fits in with his “rational nature.” When Mr. Black objects to Mr. White that unconditional surrender to Scripture is rationalistic, then Mr. Grey again nods approval and says that, of course, genuine human personality has a perfect right to test the content of Scripture by experience. When the Bible speaks of God controlling by his counsel whatsoever comes to pass, this must mean something that fits in with man’s “freedom.” God created man and gave man a share in his own freedom; men therefore participate in his being.

But what of natural or general revelation? Here surely there can be no difference, you say, between the requirements of Mr. White and Mr. Grey. Here there is no law and no promise; here there are only the facts of nature. How can you speak of any requirement at all with respect to them? Here surely Mr. White can forget his “five points of Calvinism” and join Mr. Grey in taking Mr. Black through the picture gallery of this world, pointing out its beauties to him so that with them he will spontaneously exclaim, “The whole chorus of nature raises one hymn to the praise of its Creator.”

Let us think of Mr. White as trying hard to forget his “five points.” “Surely,” he says to himself, “there can be nothing wrong with joining Mr. Grey in showing Mr. Black the wonders of God’s creation. We believe in the same God, do we not? Both of us want to show Mr. Black the facts of creation so that he, too, will believe in God. When Mr. Black says, ‘I see no meaning in all I have seen, and I continue, just as I was, confused and dismayed,’ Mr. Grey and I can together take him to the Mt. Wilson observatory so he may see the starry heavens above. Surely the source of knowledge for the natural sciences is the Book of Nature which is given to everyone. Do not the Scriptures themselves teach that there is a light in nature which cannot be, and is not, transmitted through the spectacles of the Word? If this were not so, how could the Scriptures say of those who have only the light of nature that they are without excuse?”

So the three men, Mr. White, Mr. Grey, and Mr. Black, go here and there and everywhere. Mr. White and Mr. Grey agree to share the expense. Mr. Black is their guest.

They go first to the Mt. Wilson observatory to see the starry skies above. “How wonderful, how grand!” exclaims Mr. Grey. Then to the marvels of the telescope they add those of the microscope. They circle the globe to see “the wonders of the world.” They listen to the astronauts speaking down to the earth from the vicinity of the moon. There is no end to the “exhibits” and Mr. Black shows signs of weariness. So they sit down on the beach. Will not Mr. Black now sign on the dotted line?

As they wait for the answer, Mr. Grey spies a watch someone has lost. Holding it in his hand he says to Mr. Black: “Look around the world: contemplate the whole and every part of it: you will find it to be nothing but one great machine, subdivided into an infinite number of lesser machines, which again admit of subdivisions, to a degree beyond that which human senses and faculties can trace and explain. All these various machines, and even their minute parts, are adjusted to each other with an accuracy which forces admiration from all men who have ever contemplated them. The curious adapting of means to ends, throughout all nature, resembles exactly, though it much exceeds, the productions of human contrivance, of human designs, thought, wisdom, and intelligence. Since, therefore, the effects resemble each other, we are led to infer, by all the rules of analogy, that the causes also resemble one another. The Author of Nature is somewhat similar to the mind of man, though possessed of much larger faculties, proportioned to the grandeur of the work, which he has executed.

“Now, Mr. Black, I don’t want to put undue pressure on you. You know your own needs in your own business. But I think that as a rational being you owe it to yourself to join the theistic party. Isn’t it highly probable that there is a God?

“I’m not now asking you to become a Christian. We take things one step at a time. I’m only speaking of the Book of Nature. Of course, if there is a God and if this God should have a Son, and if this Son should also reveal himself, it is not likely to be more difficult for you to believe in him than it is now to believe in the Father. But just now I am only asking you to admit that there is a great accumulation of evidence of the sort that any scientist or philosopher must admit to be valid for the existence of a God back of and above this world. You see this watch. Isn’t it highly probable that a power higher than itself has made it? You know the purpose of a watch. Isn’t it highly probable that the wonderful contrivances of nature serve the purpose of a god? Looking back we are naturally led to a god who is the cause of this world; looking forward we think of a god who has a purpose with this world. So far as we can observe the course and constitution of the universe there is, I think, no difficulty on your own adopted principles, against belief in a god. Why not become a theist? You do want to be on the winning side, don’t you? Well, the Gallup poll of the universe indicates a tendency toward the final victory of theism.”

When Mr. Grey had finished his obviously serious and eloquent plea, Mr. Black looked very thoughtful. He was clearly a gentleman. He disliked disappointing his two friends after all the generosity they had shown him. But he could not honestly see any basic difference between his own position and theirs. So he declined politely but resolutely to sign on the dotted line. He refused to be “converted” to theism. In substance he spoke as follows: “You speak of evidence of rationality and purpose in the universe. You would trace this rationality or purpose back to a rational being who is back of the universe who, you think, is likely to have a purpose with the universe. But who is back of your God to explain him in turn? By your own definition your God is not absolute or self-sufficient. You say that he probably exists; which means that you admit that he may not exist. Probability rests upon possibility. I think that any scientific person should come with an open mind to the observation of the facts of the universe. He ought to begin by assuming that any sort of fact may exist. I was glad to observe that on this all-important point you agree with me. Hence the only kind of god that either of us can believe in is one who may or may not exist. In other words, neither of us does or can believe in a God who cannot not exist. It was just this sort of God, a God who is self-sufficient, and as such necessarily existent, that I thought you Christian theists believed in.”

By this time Mr. White was beginning to squirm. He was beginning to realize that he had sold out the God of his theology, the sovereign God of Scripture, by his silent consent to the argument of Mr. Grey. Mr. Black was right, he felt at once. Either one presupposes God back of the ideas of possibility or one presupposes that the idea of possibility is back of God. Either one says with historic Reformed theology on the basis of Scripture that what God determines and only what God determines is possible, or one says with all non-Christian forms of thought that possibility surrounds God. But for the moment Mr. White was stupefied. He could say nothing. So Mr. Black simply drew the conclusion from what he had said in the following words:

Since, in your effort to please me, you have accepted my basic assumption with respect to possibility and probability, it follows that your God, granted he exists, is of no use whatsoever in explaining the universe. He himself needs in turn to be explained. Let us remember the story of the Indian philosopher and his elephant. It was never more applicable than to the present subject. If the material world rests upon a similar ideal world, this ideal world must rest upon some other; and so on, without end. It were better, therefore, never to look beyond the present material world. In short, gentlemen, much as I dislike not to please you, what you offer is nothing better that what I already possess. Your God is himself surrounded by pure possibility or Chance; in what way can he help me? How could I be responsible to him? For you, as for me, all things ultimately end in the irrational.

At this point Mr. Grey grew pale. In desperation he searched his arsenal for another argument that might convince Mr. Black. There was one that he had not used for some time. The arguments for God that he had so far used, he had labeled a posteriori arguments. They ought, he had thought, to appeal to the “empirical” temper of the times. They started from human experience with causation and purpose and by analogy argued to the idea of a cause of and a purpose with the world as a whole. But Mr. Black had pointed out that if you start with the ideas of cause and purpose as intelligible to man without God, when these concepts apply to relations within the universe, then you cannot consistently say that you need God for the idea of cause or purpose when these concepts apply to the universe as a whole. So now Mr. Grey drew out the drawer marked a priori argument. In public he called this the argument from finite to absolute being. “As finite creatures,” he said to Mr. Black, “we have the idea of absolute being. The idea of a finite being involves of necessity the idea of an absolute being. We have the notion of an absolute being; surely there must be a reality corresponding to our idea of such a being; if not, all our ideas may be false. Surely we must hold that reality is ultimately rational and coherent and that our ideas participate in this rationality. If not, how would science be possible?”

When Mr. Grey had thus delivered himself of this appeal to logic rather than to fact, then Mr. White for a moment seemed to take courage. Was not this at least to get away from the idea of a God who probably exists? Surely the “incommunicable attributes of God,” of which he had been taught in his catechism classes, were all based upon, and expressive of, the idea of God as necessarily existing. But Mr. Black soon disillusioned him for the second time. Said he in answer to the argument from Mr. Grey, “Again I cannot see any basic difference between your position and mine. Of course, we must believe that reality is ultimately rational. And of course, we must hold that our minds participate in this rationally. But when you speak thus you thereby virtually assert that we must not believe in a God whose existence is independent of our human existence. A God whom we are to know must, with us, be a part of a rational system that is mutually accessible to, and expressive of, both. If God is necessary to you, then you are also necessary to God. That is the only sort of God that is involved in your argument.”

“But Mr. Black, this is terrible, this is unbearable! We do want you to believe in God. I bear witness to his existence. I will give you a Bible. Please read it! It tells you of Jesus Christ and how you may be saved by his blood. I am born again and you can be born again too if you will only believe. Please do believe in God and be saved!”

Meanwhile, Mr. White took new courage. He realized that he had so far made a great mistake in keeping silent during the time that Mr. Grey had presented his arguments. The arguments for the existence of God taken from the ideas of cause and purpose as set forth by Mr. Grey had led to pure irrationalism and Chance. The argument about an absolute being as set forth by Mr. Grey had led to pure rationalism and determinism. In both cases, Mr. Black had been quite right in saying that a God whose existence is problematic, or a God who exists by the same necessity as does the universe, is still an aspect of, or simply the whole of, the universe. But now he felt that perhaps Mr. Grey was right in simply witnessing to the existence of God. He thought that, if the arguments used are not logically coercive, they may at least be used as a means with which to witness to unbelievers. And surely witnessing to God’s existence was always in order. But poor Mr. White was to be disillusioned again. For the witness-bearing done by Mr. Grey was based on the assumption that the belief in God is a purely non-rational or even irrational matter.

Mr. Black’s reply to the words of Mr. Grey indicated this fact all too clearly. Said Mr. Black to Mr. Grey: “I greatly appreciate your evident concern for my ‘eternal welfare.’ But there are two or three questions that I would like to have you answer. In the first place, I would ask whether in thus simply witnessing to me of God’s existence you thereby admit that the arguments for the existence of God have no validity? Or rather do you not thereby admit that these arguments, if they prove anything, prove that God is finite and correlative to man and therefore that your position is not basically different from mine?”

Mr. Grey did not answer because he could not answer this question otherwise than by agreeing with Mr. Black.

“In the second place,” said Mr. Black, “you are now witnessing to Christ as well as to God, to Christianity as well as to theism. I suppose your argument for Christianity would be similar in nature to your argument for theism, would it not? You would argue that the Jesus of the New Testament is probably the Son of God and that he quite probably died for the sins of men. But now you witness to me about your Christ. And by witnessing instead of reasoning you seem to admit that there is no objective claim for the truth of what you hold with respect to Christ. Am I right in all this?”

Again Mr. Grey made no answer. The only answer he could consistently have given would be to agree with Mr. Black.

“In the third place,” said Mr. Black, “you are now witnessing not only to God the Father, to Jesus Christ the Son, but also to the Holy Spirit. You say you are born again, that you know you are saved and that at present I am lost. Now, if you have had a special experience of some sort, it would be unscientific for me to deny it. But, if you want to witness to me about your experience, you must make plain to me the nature of that experience. To do that you must do so in terms of principles that I understand. Such principles must needs be accessible to all. Now if you make plain your experience to me in terms of principles that are plain to me as unregenerate, then how is your regeneration unique? On the other hand, if you still maintain that your experience of regeneration is unique, then can you say anything about it to me so that I may understand? Does not then your witness-bearing appear to be wholly unintelligible and devoid of meaning? Thus again you cannot make any claim to the objective truth of your position.

“Summing up the whole matter, I would say in the first place, that your arguments for the existence of God have rightfully established me in my unbelief. They have shown that nothing can be said for the existence of a God who is actually the Creator and controller of the world. I would say in the second place that using such arguments as you have used for the existence of God commits you to using similar arguments for the truth of Christianity with similar fatal results for your position. In both cases you first use intellectual argument upon principles that presuppose the justice of my unbelieving position. Then, when it is pointed out to you that such is the case, you turn to witnessing. But then your witnessing is in the nature of the case an activity that you yourself have virtually admitted to be wholly irrational and unintelligible.”

When Mr. Black had finished, Mr. White was in great distress. But it was through this very distress that he at last saw the richness of his own faith. He made no pretense to having greater intellectual power than Mr. Grey. He greatly admired the real faith and courage of Mr. Grey. But he dared keep silence no longer. His silence had been sin, he now realized. Mr. Black had completely discomforted Mr. Grey, so that he had not another word to say. Mr. Black was about to leave them established rather than challenged in his unbelief. And all of that in spite of the best intentions and efforts of Mr. Gray, speaking for both of them. A sense of urgent responsibility to make known the claims of the sovereign God pressed upon him. He now saw clearly, first, that the arguments for the existence of God, as conducted by Mr. Grey, are based on the assumption that the unbeliever is right with respect to the principles in terms of which he explains all things. These principles are: (a) that man is not a creature of God but rather is ultimate and as such must properly consider himself instead of God the final reference point in explaining all things; (b) that all other things beside himself are non-created but controlled by Chance; and (c) that the power of logic that he possesses is the means by which he must determine what is possible or impossible in the universe of Chance.

At last it dawned upon Mr. White that first to admit that the principles of Mr. Black, the unbeliever, are right and then to seek to win him to the acceptance of the existence of God the Creator and judge of all men is like first admitting that the United States had historically been a province of the Soviet Union but ought at the same time to be recognized as an independent and all-controlling political power.

In the second place, Mr. White now saw clearly that a false type of reasoning for the truth of God’s existence and for the truth of Christianity involves a false kind of witnessing for the existence of God and for the truth of Christianity. If one reasons for the existence of God and for the truth of Christianity, on the assumption that Mr. Black’s principles of explanation are valid, then one must witness on the same assumption. One must then make plain to Mr. Black, in terms of principles which Mr. Black accepts, what it means to be born again. Mr. Black will then apply the principles of modern psychology of religion to Mr. Grey’s “testimony” with respect to his regeneration and show that it is something that naturally comes in the period of adolescence.

In the third place, Mr. White now saw clearly that it was quite “proper,” for Mr. Grey, to use a method of reasoning and a method of witness-bearing that is based upon the truth of anti-Christian and anti-theistic assumptions. Mr. Grey’s theology is not Reformed. It is therefore based upon the idea that God is not wholly sovereign over man. It assumes that man’s responsibility implies a measure of autonomy of the sort that is the essence and foundation of the whole of Mr. Black’s thinking. It is therefore to be expected that Mr. Grey will assume that Mr. Black needs not to be challenged on his basic assumption with respect to his own assumed ultimacy or autonomy.

From now on Mr. White decided that, much as he enjoyed the company of Mr. Grey and much as he admired his evident sincerity and basic devotion to the truth of God, yet he must go his own way in apologetics as he had, since the Reformation, gone his own way in theology. He tried to make an appointment with Mr. Black then to see him soon. Meanwhile he expressed to Mr. Grey his great love for him as a fellow believer, his great admiration for his fearless and persistent efforts to win men to an acceptance of truth as it is in Jesus. Then he confessed to Mr. Grey that his conscience had troubled him during the entire time of their travels with Mr. Black. He had started in good faith, thinking that Mr. Grey’s efforts at argument and witnessing might win Mr. Black. He had therefore been quite willing, especially since Mr. Grey was through his constant study much more conversant with such things than he himself was, to be represented by Mr. Grey. But now he had at last come to realize that not only had the effort been utterly fruitless and self-frustrating but, more than that, it had been terribly dishonoring to God. How could the eternal I AM be pleased with being presented as being a god and as probably existing, as probably necessary for the explanation of some things but not of all things, as one who will be glad to recognize the ultimacy of his own creatures? Would the God who had in paradise required of men implicit obedience now be satisfied with a claims-and-counter-claims arrangement with his creatures?

From the dialogue given above, the reader can for himself discern why we have advocated what seems to us to be a Reformed as over against the traditional method of apologetics. The traditional method, the method practiced by various Christians for centuries, was constructed by Roman Catholics and Arminians. It was, so to speak, derived from Romanist or Arminian theology. Just as Roman Catholic and Arminian theology compromises the Christian doctrines of Scripture, of God, of man, of sin, and of redemption, so the traditional method of apologetics compromises Christianity in order to win men to an acceptance of it.

The traditional method compromises the biblical doctrine of God in not clearly distinguishing his self-existence from his relation to the world. The traditional method compromises the biblical doctrine of God and his relation to his revelation to man by not clearly insisting that man, as a creature and as a sinner, must not seek to determine the nature of God, otherwise than from his revelation.

The traditional method compromises the biblical doctrine of the counsel of God by not taking it as the only all-inclusive ultimate “cause” of whatsoever comes to pass.

The traditional method therefore compromises the clarity of God’s revelation to man, whether this revelation comes through general or through special revelation. Created facts are not taken to be clearly revelational of God; all the facts of nature and of man are said to indicate no more than that a god probably exists.

The traditional method compromises the necessity of supernatural revelation in relation to natural revelation. It does so in failing to do justice to the fact that even in paradise man had to interpret natural revelation in the light of the covenantal obligations placed upon him by God through supernatural communication. In consequence, the traditional method fails to recognize the necessity of redemptive supernatural, as concomitant to natural, revelation after the fall of man.

The traditional method compromises the sufficiency of redemptive supernatural revelation in Scripture inasmuch as it allows for wholly new facts to appear in Reality, new for God as well as for man.

The traditional method compromises the authority of Scripture by not taking it as self-attesting in the full sense of the term.

The traditional method compromises the biblical doctrine of man’s creation in the image of God by thinking of him as being “free” or ultimate rather than as analogical.

The traditional method compromises the biblical doctrine of the covenant by not making Adam’s representative action determinative for the future.

The traditional method compromises the biblical doctrine of sin, in not thinking of it as an ethical break with God which is complete in principle even though not in practice.

In spite of these things, this traditional method has been employed by Reformed theologians, and this fact has stood in the way of the development of a distinctly Reformed apologetic.

VI. Conclusion

It has become even more apparent now that our Reformed pastor cannot, as he defends the Christian faith, cooperate with the Arminian any more than he could cooperate with the Roman Catholic.

The Arminian as well as the Roman Catholic fails to present to the believer a challenge to the effect that he needs a radical conversion. Neither the Arminian nor the Roman Catholic so much as gives the unbeliever the opportunity of seeing what the gospel really is. They do not direct the all-revealing searchlight of the Scripture toward him. They do not even show him the face of the Great Physician lest this Great Physician should say that the heart of the natural man is desperately wicked and that no man knows the depth of that wickedness except the Great Physician, who would heal all his diseases.

Of course we are speaking primarily of systems rather than men. Many Roman Catholics, and especially many Arminians are much more biblical than are their systems. Therein must all rejoice. But the Reformed Christian must be true to his Lord. He must love sinners with a deep compassion. But he must not love sinners more than he loves Christ. The more truly he loves sinners the more uncomprisingly will he require of them that they must be saved on God’s terms, not their own. It is Christ, through his Word in Scripture, who must diagnose their disease even as it is Christ who heals only those who confess that their disease is what the Great Physician says it is.

Notes

Moody Monthly (January, 1950), p. 313.
Ibid., p. 343.
J. O. Buswell, Jr., What Is God? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1937), pp. 50, 53, 54.
Wilbur M. Smith, Therefore Stand (Boston: Wilde, 1945), p. 386.
Ibid., pp. 389, 390.
E. J. Carnell, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), p. 113.
Ibid., p. 114.
Cf. ibid., p. 57.
Ibid., p. 71.
ibid., p. 72.
Ibid., p. 73.
ibid., p. 178.
Ibid., pp. 77, 78.

Election

Election

Here are eleven things expressly taught in the Word of God about election:

1. Election is “IN CHRIST.” No less than fourteen times in the first fourteen verses of Ephesians chapter one the Holy Spirit expressly tells us that every benefit and blessing of grace that comes to sinners from God is in Christ.

2. Election is UNTO SALVATION. Certainly, there is a sense in which it must be said that God’s elect were saved from eternity (Rom. 8:29); but we must never be deceived into thinking that election is salvation. Election is unto salvation. Election is not, as some teach, unto “Christian service.” Election is unto salvation.

3. Election is an act of pure, absolute, DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY. God has mercy on whom he will have mercy (Rom. 9:11-18). God was not moved by anything outside Himself to choose the people He chose to save.

4. Election took place in ETERNITY. God did not choose His people in time, but before time began, in eternity. He chose us before the foundation of the world, from the beginning, when nothing existed except God Himself in the tri-unity of the eternal Godhead.

5. The source and cause of election is God’s eternal LOVE for His people. He loved us freely, from everlasting, before ever the earth was made. Our love to Him is not the cause of His love toward us, but the result (Jer. 31:3; 1 Jn. 4:19).

6. God’s election was an act of free, UNCONDITIONAL grace. Grace is always free and unconditional. The moment a condition is put to it, it ceases to be grace. To say that God chose us because of something He foresaw in us, or foresaw we would chose to do, is to frustrate the grace of God, making it the reward of our work (Rom. 11:6).

7. Election is God’s PERSONAL choice of specific sinners to eternal life in Christ. Here is a sweet cordial of grace which shall never cease to amaze and rejoice the hearts of believing sinners – The Lord God chose me to eternal salvation in Christ, because He loved me with an everlasting, unconditional love!

8. Election is IRREVERSIBLE. “The gifts and callings of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). Those who were chosen to salvation in eternity shall not be unchosen in time!

9. Election is EFFECTUAL. There is no possibility that one of God’s elect shall perish (2 Tim. 2:19).

10. Election is DISTINGUISHING. To talk of universal love in God toward reprobate men is to talk nonsense. Read Isaiah 43:1-4! 11. Election is BLESSED, for it is the cause of all blessedness (Ps. 65:4; Eph. 1:3-6).

Don Fortner

Futurism – The Roman Catholic Counter Reformation

candles7

The Catholic Counter Reformation – Futurism
Up to this point, Rome’s main method of attack had been largely frontal: openly burning Bibles and heretics. Yet this warfare only confirmed in the minds of Protestants the conviction that papal Rome was indeed the Beast power that would “make war with the saints” (Revelation 13:7). Therefore a new tactic was needed, something less obvious. The sought after solution was found in the Jesuit Order.
Eleven years earlier, on August 15, 1534, Ignatius Loyola founded a secret Catholic order called the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits.
At the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church gave the Jesuits the specific assignment of bringing Protestantism back to the “Mother Church.” This was to be done not only through the Inquisition and through torture, but also through theology and deception.
Two Jesuits named Francisco de Ribera and Robert Bellarmine invented the system called FUTURISM.
Futurism places the coming of Antichrist just 7 years before the end of time.
The Christians were hindering his coming, and they will be raptured out before his appearance.

Like Martin Luther, Francisco Ribera also read by candlelight the prophecies about the Antichrist, the little horn, the man of sin, and the beast of Revelation.
He then developed the doctrine of futurism. His explanation was that the prophecies apply only to a single sinister man who will arise up at the end of time. Rome quickly adopted this viewpoint as the Church’s official position on the Antichrist.
In 1590 Ribera published a commentary on the Revelation as a counter interpretation to the prevailing view among Protestants which identified the Papacy with the Antichrist. Ribera applied all of Revelation to the end time rather than to the history of the church. Antichrist, he taught, would be a single evil person who would be received by the Jews and who would rebuild Jerusalem.
Ribera denied the Protestant Scriptural Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2) as seated in the church of God-asserted by Augustine, Jerome, Luther, and many reformers. He set on an infidel Antichrist, outside the church of God.
The result of [Ribera’s] work was a twisting and maligning of prophetic truth.
Following close behind Francisco Ribera was another brilliant Jesuit scholar, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine of Rome. Between 1581-1593, Cardinal Bellarmine agreed with Ribera in his work Polemic Lectures Concerning the Disputed points of the Christian Belief Against the Heretics of this Time.
The futurist teachings of Ribera were further popularized by an Italian cardinal and the most renowned Jesuit controversialists. His writings claimed that Paul, Daniel, and John had nothing whatsoever to say about the Papal power. The futurists’ school won general acceptance among Catholics. They were taught that antichrist was a single individual who would not rule until the very end of time.

The Duty of Children

A. W. Pinkpink

1. The Duty Itself: “Obey Your Parents.” This means a humble subjection to their authority and control, with a ready performance of what they require. It is the same as giving “honor” to your parents (Exod. 20:12), which connotes valuing highly and revering one’s parents (Lev. 19:3, 14). The disposition of a godly child is a combination of love and fear which moves him to obedience. We may further describe four elements. The first three are active obedience, while the fourth is passive obedience.

A. Reverence. Begins with reverence for God, the Parent of us all (Acts 17:28). True reverence results in an earnest desire to behave yourselves in everything you do with a view toward pleasing your parents.

1) With respect to your speech. You should speak reverently of your parents both in their presence and absence. Give them honorable titles like “father” and “mother” and “lord” because these recognize the dignity of their office. Good examples include Isaac (Gen. 22:7), Jacob (Gen. 27:18), David (1 Sam. 24:8; 26:18), Solomon (1 Kings 2:30), Rachel (Gen. 31:35). You should speak when spoken to, wait to hear your parents speak first, and never to speak in their presence without a good reason for it. When they are not around, speak of them in such a way that all who hear conclude that you regard them highly.

2) With respect to your behavior. Rise for your parents, as for the elderly (Lev. 19:32). Although king, Solomon bowed to Bathsheba; and although a prince, Joseph to Jacob (1 Kings. 2:19; Gen. 46:29). Seek your parents’ prayers for blessing. Avoid rude and haughty looks. The eye that mocks his father and scorns obedience to his mother shall be picked out by ravens and young eagles (Prov. 30:17). Even when parents are deceased you should give them honor.

B. Obedience proper. Not only reverent speech and conduct before parents is required, but a heartfelt submission to their authority and hearty compliance with all their commands. Even Jesus submitted Himself to His mother and step-father (Luke 2:51). He who was their Creator, and to whom angels were subject, was subject to Mary and Joseph!

1) Pay close attention to their teaching. Love for your parent’s joy should move you to listen carefully to all they teach, whether spiritual or otherwise. This applies equally to both sons and daughters. A foolish child is a grief to his parents.

2) Perform their commands. Don’t talk back! This immediate and silent obedience is the main duty of the text. You should obey as the centurion’s men (Matt. 8:9). Examples include Samuel (1 Sam. 3:5-8), David (1 Sam. 16:12; 17:17, 20), Jacob and Joseph (Gen. 28:5; 37:14; 42:2-3), Isaac (Gen. 22:6); the Rechabites (Jer. 35:8-19), Abraham’s children (Gen. 18:19), and Solomon (1 Kings 2:3; 3:3; 1 Chron. 22:11). Yet this is not to be a blind obedience (Prov. 14:15), especially as you grow up to exercise some moral discernment of your own. Then your obedience should be reasonable, such as is according to God’s Word. That is, you should comply in everything that does not involve sin.

3) Depend upon their advice. Parents naturally have more experience, ability, and a right to rule their children than the children themselves. The prodigal son would not listen to his father’s advice until he had learned by experience of the bad consequences of his foolish choice and had grieved his father. Therefore, as a child you cannot spend money without your parents’ consent, you cannot choose friends disagreeable to your parents, and you must be content to dress the way your parents want.

a. In your choice of a career. Your parents should guide you in this, as the examples of David and the children of Jonadab prove (1 Sam. 16:11, 19; 17:17; Jer. 35). Generally this means following in your parents’ footsteps.

b. In your choice of a spouse. Parents should “sway much” in this matter. Examples include Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 24:6-7, 63-67; 28:1-3; 29:11, 18-19), Ruth (Ruth 2:21-23; 3:1-6, 18), Ishmael and Samson (Gen. 21:21; Judg. 14:2), Tamar and Shechem (2 Sam. 13:13; Gen. 34:11-12). Parents are wiser than you, more objective than you, and should not have their children taken away without their consent. This would be a kind of stealing. To take a wife against her father’s will is a disparagement of him. This is the most important decision you will make in your life; how can you leave your parents out of it? In the case of their choosing someone for whom you have no feelings, be sure that your lack of feelings are not without reason. If after much prayer you still find yourself unwilling to marry their choice for you, then try to persuade your parents in a reverent way to seek someone else for you to marry. Surely you cannot be expected to marry someone whom you do not love. In the case of parents choosing an ungodly partner for you, you must humbly refuse. The best counselors agree that though you do not have the right to choose a partner for yourself without your parents’ consent, you do have the right to refuse one chosen for you.

4) Follow their good example. Imitate whatever is good in them. This is why the wise man charged his son to observe his ways (Prov. 23:26). Follow them as they follow Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). Do not follow them in their errors as an excuse for your sin. Mere tradition received from parents is no reason to sin against God (Ezek. 20:18-20). Solomon, Asa, and Timothy are your examples here (1 Kings 3:3; 2 Kings 22:2; 1 Kings 15:11; 2 Tim. 1:5). In other words, try to be like your dad. This is the way you pay greatest honor to him.

C. Heartfelt gratitude and endeavor to repay them. You owe much to your parents.

1) Respecting their benevolence. Show a gratefulness for their kindness and supply of your needs. Be eager to repay their provision in any way that you can. The smallest thing you can do is to acknowledge their parental love and care. Without this you are not truly spiritual but wicked. Piety must begin at home by showing your appreciation for your parents. Treasure their wise sayings, rehearse before others what they have done well, and choose their religion, if it be right. Preserve their good name.

2) Respecting their poverty. Cover or bear with their faults, do what you can to supply their needs, and defend their reputation. Noah and Lot, Isaac and Jacob had their faults as parents, and their children covered them (Gen. 9:21-23; 27:12; 28:5; 37:10). So did Jonathan, Jesus, Jacob, Ruth, Joseph have parents with faults and needs, and they moved to their aid. Philo says that old storks who cannot fly any longer are brought food by their brood, and we should imitate their example. Especially should you be concerned about your parents’ spiritual needs, so that if they are not Christians, with all humility and prudence you should use fit means to lead them to Christ. The best you can do for your parents will not be sufficient to repay them for their love. When your parents die, see that they have an honorable burial in a decent Christian manner.

D. Submission to parental discipline. As a child, you must bear your parents’ rebukes with humility. Because you were born sinful, you need them.

1) Their admonitions. Nothing should shame you more than your father’s reprimand, and you should amend in response to it. Even when they rebuke you wrongly in matter and manner, you should bear with it, as Joseph did (Gen. 37:10). Moses heeded his father-in-law’s advice (Exod. 18:13-24), but Eli’s sons slighted his (1 Sam. 2:25). Only fools will not hear rebuke (Prov. 13:1; 2:23, 34-35; 15:5). Be patient with parental restrictions on your food, drink, clothing, and recreation. Learn self-denial and patience. Isn’t it inappropriate to rage against those who love you best?

2) Their corrections. I mean real punishments inflicted upon you. Realize they do this out of love and aim for your good. There is biblical warrant for corporal discipline (Prov. 13:24; 22:15; 19:17; Heb. 12:9), and if you will not be reformed by it, your parents have a right to call in the magistrate (Deut. 21:18-21). When you are corrected, you should be too ashamed even to look into your parent’s face. Though you need not tolerate others to spank you, your parents have this right for the purpose of delivering your soul from hell. Pray that God will bless this means of grace to your good. Do not become bitter toward your parents for disciplining you. Your parents have a responsibility with God’s authority to maintain His government in your life.

2. The Extent of This Duty: “In All Things.” This must not be understood as universal and absolute obedience to parents, for that is our duty to God alone. God is the only One free to give whatever laws He pleases which all are absolutely bound to obey. You are to obey your parents in all things acceptable to the Lord (Eph. 6:1, 5-6; Col. 3:22-23). If parents were not sinful, absolute obedience could be rendered them, but they are fallen and fallible. This text proves that the only obedience to be rendered parents is that which is consistent with the Lord’s pleasure, and He cannot be pleased when you choose to obey them rather than Him. Yet even in wrong things they command you to do, you may show your submission by suffering the penalty with cheerfulness (1 Pet. 2:19-20). In all legitimate things, you must honor your parents as much as you can.

3. The Motive to This Duty: “For This Is Well Pleasing to the Lord.” This is the best motive possible for anything. The Lord vigorously enforces the fifth commandment here and elsewhere (Eph. 6:1-3). Our heavenly Father has supreme authority. Anything He requires is eminently reasonable and good. Those who seek His pleasure above all things are not only pleasing, but well pleasing, to Him. In pleasing the Lord you will ultimately please your parents and yourself besides. This is the way to your true happiness. In keeping God’s commandments there is exceedingly great reward (Psa. 19:11; Gen. 15:1). All parents due to their high and holy office deserve the obedience of their children. Disobedient children are unworthy of being considered Christians, and are worse than ordinary unbelievers and brute beasts. Obedience to parents is not an arbitrary thing, but a solemn divine commandment with the greatest of rewards and punishments attached. As children of Christian parents, having high privileges, you have greater responsibilities to fulfill your duty. Lack of natural affection of your parents is so monstrous that it is severely punished by God (1 Sam. 4:11; Deut. 21:20-21). The old Romans would put those who murdered their parents into a large ox-hide bag together with a live dog, a rooster, a poisonous snake, and an ape. Then they would beat them bloody, throw them into the Tiber River. That shows how abominable parricide was even to the heathen.

The Mystery of Godliness

John Gill’s comments on 1 Timothy 3.16 help to drive home the mystery of the incarnation, of Christ’s holiness and the power of the Gospel to save wretched sinners.

the mystery of godliness,

What follows is so, the incarnation of Christ, his birth of a virgin, the union of the two natures, divine and human, in his person; this is a mystery, which though revealed, and so to be believed, is not to be discerned nor accounted for, nor the modus of it to be comprehended by reason: and it is a great one, next, if not equal, to the doctrine of a trinity of persons in the divine essence; and is a mystery of godliness, which tends to encourage internal and external religion, powerful and practical godliness in all the parts prayerholyand branches of it; and is so beyond all dispute and doubt.

God was manifest in the flesh;

not God essentially considered, or Deity in the abstract, but personally; and not the first nor the third Person; for of neither of them can this or the following things be said; but the second Person, the Word, or Son of God; see ( 1 John 3:8 ) who existed as a divine Person, and as a distinct one from the Father and Spirit, before his incarnation; and which is a proof of his true and proper deity: the Son of God in his divine nature is equally invisible as the Father, but became manifest by the assumption of human nature in a corporeal way, so as to be seen, heard, and felt: and by “flesh” is meant, not that part of the body only, which bears that name, nor the whole body only, but the whole human nature, consisting of a true body and a reasonable soul; so called, partly to denote the frailty of it, and to show that it was not a person, but a nature, Christ assumed; and the clause is added, not so much to distinguish this manifestation of Christ from a spiritual manifestation of him to his people, as in distinction from all other manifestations of him in the Old Testament, in an human form for a time, and in the cloud, both in the tabernacle and temple. This clause is a very apt and full interpretation of the word “Moriah”, the name of the mount in which Jehovah would manifest himself, and be seen, ( Genesis 22:2 Genesis 22:14 ) .

Justified in the Spirit;

either by the Spirit of God, making his human nature pure and holy, and preserving it from original sin and taint; and by descending on him at his baptism, thereby testifying that he was the Son of God; and by the miracles wrought by his power, which proved Jesus to be the Messiah against those that rejected him; and by his coming down upon the apostles at Pentecost; and who in their ministry vindicated him from all the aspersions cast upon him: or else it is to be understood of the divine nature of Christ, in distinction from his flesh or human nature; in the one he was manifest and put to death for the sins of his people, which were put upon him, and bore by him; and by the other he was quickened and declared to be the Son of God; and being raised from the dead, he was justified and acquitted from all the sins of his people, and they were justified in him; he having made full satisfaction to justice for them.

Seen of angels;

meaning not ministers of the Gospel, and pastors of churches, who are sometimes so called; but the blessed spirits, the inhabitants of heaven: by these he was seen at his birth, who then descended and sung praise to God on that account; and in the wilderness, after he had been tempted by Satan, when they ministered unto him; and in the garden upon his agony and sweat there, when one appeared and strengthened him; and at his resurrection from the dead, who rolled away the stone from the sepulchre, and told the women he was risen from the dead; as also at his ascension to heaven, when they attended him thither in triumph; and now in heaven, where they wait upon him, and worship him, and are ministering spirits, sent forth by him to do his pleasure; and he is seen by them the ministry of the Gospel; into the truths of which they look with pleasure, and gaze upon with unutterable delight and admiration; especially those which respect the person and offices of Christ. Some copies read, “seen of men”, but that is implied in the first clause:

preached unto the Gentiles;

the worst of men, and that by the express orders of Christ himself; and which was foretold in the prophecies of the Old Testament, and yet was a mystery, hid from ages and generations past:

believed on in the world;

among the Jews, and in the nations of the world, so that he was preached with success; and faith in Christ is the end of preaching; though this is not of a man’s self, but is the gift of God, and the operation of his power: and it was a marvellous thing, considering the reproach and ignominy Christ lay under, through the scandal of the cross, that he should be believed on as he was. This can be ascribed to nothing else but to the power of God, which went along with the ministry of the word.

Received up into glory;

he was raised from the dead, and had a glory put upon his risen body; he ascended in a glorious manner to heaven, in a cloud, and in chariots of angels, and was received there with a welcome by his Father; and is set down at his right hand, and crowned with glory and honour, and glorified with the glory he had with him before the world was.

AGAINST TRANSUBSTANTIATION

FIFTY-FIVE THESES AGAINST TRANSUBSTANTIATION
Rev. Prof. Dr. F.N. Lee

First. Together with Holy Scripture, I assert the real presence of Christ, personally, at His Sacraments and in His Word and through His Spirit. Exactly that assertion of the omnipresence there of the Son of God, impels me to deny His physical presence in and under the sacramental elements, or even in the Bible as His Holy Word. Christ Himself insists against any view of a merely `local presence’ either in Jerusalem or in Samaria: “God is Spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:20-26.

Second. Long before the incarnation of God the Son, He was indeed really present at the Old Testament preachings of His Word and at the administration of His Sacraments of Circumcision and of the Passover. Moreover, such presence must have been Spirit-ual and could not have been fleshly or physical. For the Son had then not yet become flesh.

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False doctrine, a plague.

Third. John chapter six has nothing to do with the Lord’s Supper, which was instituted only later at the very end of Christ’s earthly ministry. The RC Church and other groups which appeal to that passage to try to establish that Christ is physically present in the bread and the wine at His Supper, err greatly. For John 6:9-13 is not sacramental. Nor is it an account of transubstantiating bread and fishes into Himself, but rather a description of His miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two small fishes into many more untransubstantiated loaves and fishes sufficient to feed about five thousand mature men and perhaps also their womenfolk and their children. John 6:10 cf. Matt. 14:14-21 & Mark 6:36-44 & Luke 9:14-17.

Fourth. From John 6:26 onward, Jesus said to the folk: “Truly I tell you, you seek Me …because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” Then, in 6:32, Jesus implied that He Himself is the bread from heaven. He did not anabaptistically bring His flesh with Him from heaven-but only His Own Person, and indeed in a Spirit-ual way. He took upon Himself flesh for the first time not in or from heaven, but only from and within the womb of Mary as His earthly mother.

Fifth. In 6:33, He says that the bread of heaven is not His earthly flesh but He Who [personally and now incarnately] came down to give life to the world. When in 6:34, the believers said to Him `Lord, give us this bread evermore!’- Jesus did not pick up a piece of earthly bread and turn it into Himself. Instead, in 6:35, He said to them `I am the bread of life’ [and not `I will become the bread of life’]; he who comes to Me [and not `he who comes to a piece of earthly bread that I will turn into Myself] shall never be hue.” Yet the latter indeed does happen, between Masses, to those that from time to time come and receive the RC Mass.

Sixth. In John 6:48f, Jesus added: “I am that bread of life.” He did not say: `Earthly bread will become Me.’ Of Himself He then said: “This is the bread that comes down from heaven [not `that earthly bread will become Me just whenever an earthly priest so alleges’]. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever [not `even if any man eats the Mass on earth, he might still end up in hell’]. And the bread that I will give [not `the bread which an earthly priest may give’], is My flesh which I will give for the life of the world.”

Seventh. In John 6:52-58, “the [unbelieving] Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, `How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”‘ This shows that they had a carnal, cannibalistic, materialistic, and `localized presence’ misunderstanding of what Jesus was saying.

Eighth. In 6:53, “Jesus said to them,`Very truly I tell you, unless you keep on eating the flesh of the Son of man and keep on drinking His blood [not `unless you from time to time keep coming to Mass’], you have no life in yourselves. Whoever keeps on eating My flesh and keeps on drinking My blood, has everlasting life. “‘ That cannot truthfully be asserted of all who are merely regular communicants. “For My [then and there untransubstantiated!] flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who keeps on eating My flesh and keeps on drinking My blood [rather than keeps on having the dark-red wine withheld from him by a creaturely earthly priest], keeps on dwelling in Me [not physically but spiritually!], And I in him [not physically but spiritually!] ….

Ninth. Jesus then insisted: “`He who keeps on feeding on Me [and not `he who from time to time consumes transubstantiated bread and wine’], even he shall keep on living by Me [not `by the Mass’]. This is that bread which came down from heaven [and not `you must physically eat my flesh which came forth from Mary!’] …. He who keeps on eating of this bread [namely the Christ from heaven], shall continue living for ever [and not `might end up in heaven after a reasonable term in purgatory, yet could possibly still end up in hell for ever’]!”

Tenth. In John 6:61f, when even His disciples kept on murmuring about this, Jesus said to them [altogether Proto-Calvinistically and totally untransubstantiatingly]: “It is the Spirit Who keeps on enlivening! The flesh profits not at all! The words which I have spoken (or keep speaking) to you, they are Spirit and they are life! But there are some of you who do not believe” [such as Judas Iscariot whom Rome would have us believe nevertheless physically ate and drank the Divinity and also the very flesh and blood of Christ]. Compare John 6:64-71.

Eleventh. Literalistic transubstantiation would imply Judas was a God-eating cannibalistic infidel who here physically ate God and the flesh and drank the blood of Jesus, Who had as then not yet died. But He would then (against His Own Word in Lev. 26:29 & Dent. 28:53) have had to have given a piece of His flesh and siphoned off some of His blood for Judas’s faithless consumption thereof!

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Twelfth. While insisting on Christ’s Spirit’s presence during preaching (I Cor. 2:1-4. c f. Gal. 3:1) and at water baptism (Acts 1:5 cf. I Cor. 12:13), I deny (even with the RC Church) that Jesus is physically present in or under the baptismal water. Similarly, while insisting on His Holy Spirit’s presence at His Supper, I deny that Jesus is physically present in or under the sacramental bread and wine. Indeed, I particularly deny that either the water or the wine become transubstantiated into His physical blood.

Thirteenth. It is obvious when Christ instituted the Supper and metaphorically or non-physically yet really called the bread His flesh-that His Own flesh had not yet been broken. He was, even after His consecration of the elements, in fact Himself still physically holding in His hand that which the Holy Bible still called bread and wine. Matt.26:26-29 & Mark 14:22-25 & cf. I Cor. 10:17f & 11:23-28.

Fourteenth. I heartily agree that the Ante-Nicene Fathers with their high view of Holy Scripture taught the real presence of our Saviour at His Table. For they believed what Holy Scripture here teaches. The Ante-Nicenes, holding with Holy Scripture to Christ’s Spirit-ual presence, therefore denied His physical presence in the bread and the wine. Indeed, even no Post-Nicene Church Father advocated transubstantiation-until Radbertus in 831, and more particularly Lanfranc in 1049 A.D. Nor was this false theory ever Eastern-Orthodox theory-nor even official RC theory until it became so in 1215 A.D.

Fifteenth. After the completion of the New Testament Scriptures, Clement of Rome (who was later regarded by the RC Church as her fourth pope), wrote around A.D. 99 to his “dear brethren” alias to his fellow Christians in his Letter to the Corinthians (cps. 1 & 40) that “it behooves us to do all things in order, which the Lord has commanded us at stated times. He has enjoined gifts and services to be performed …at the appointed times and hours.” Cf I Cor. 16: If. There is no mention of John 6:32-63; nor even of the Lord’s Supper; and still less of transubstantiation.

Sixteenth. Perhaps around A.D. 100, one reads in The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (ch.14): “On the Lord’s [Day] gather yourself together and break bread [but not `Physically eat the flesh of Christ’], and give thanks! …. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: `In every place and time, present to Me a pure offering!’ [Mal. 1:11 ]. Again, there is no mention of John 6:32-63; and still less of transubstantiation.

Seventeenth. Around A.D. 107, Ignatius wrote in his Letter to the Philadelphians (ch. 4): “Take heed then to have but one Eucharist! For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood.” The later and longer (Pseudo-)Ignatian version adds: “One loaf also is broken to all.” Once again, there is here no mention of John 6:32-63; and still less of transubstantiation.

Eighteenth. In his Epistle to the Trallians (ch. 8), Ignatius declares: “Be renewed in faith; THAT is the flesh of the Lord – and in love; THAT is the blood of Jesus Chris!” Here again, there is no mention of John 6:32-63; nor of transubstantiation; and still less of any withholding of the cup from the laity.

Nineteenth. Irenaeus pointed out in his Epistle To Smyrna 6:2 to 7:1 that heretics “have no regard for love; no care for the widow or the orphan or the oppressed; of the bond, or of the free; of the hungry, or of the thirsty [cf. Acts 6:1f & I Cor. 11:21A. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not profess the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ Who suffered for our sins.” Here, there is no mention of John 6:32-63; nor of transubstantiation. Interestingly, in the Longer Version, there is no mention whatsoever even of the Lord’s Supper.

Twentieth. Not in the Ignatian but in the later Pseudo-Ignatian `longer version’ of an Epistle to the Ephesians (ch. 5), one reads: “If any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God.” But even then, there is no mention of John 6:32-63 and still less of transubstantiation. Indeed, none of the extant writings of the Apostolic Fathers-those authorities who knew the Apostles personally -even once quote from John chapter six to prove anything at all!Pope Francis celebrates Mass during meeting with Augustinian priests in Rome

Twenty-first. In the A.D. 165 Justin Martyr’s First Apology (ch. 65), Justin says that “bread and a cup of water and wine are brought to the presiding brother. He receives them and presents praise and glory to the Father of all things through the Name of His Son and of the Holy Ghost …. And when he [the one presiding] has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people express their assent. And when the one presiding has given thanks and all the people have assented, they whom we call deacons give to each of those who are present a portion [not of any transubstantiated flesh or blood but a portion] of the bread and wine mixed with water.”

Twenty-second. Justin adds in ch. 66: “This food is called among us Eucharistia, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true …and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink” and still less as bread and wine transubstantiated into blood-yet indeed as uncommon bread and drink! “We have been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His Word and from which our [own] blood and flesh by assimilation [but not by transubstantiation] are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus Who was made flesh …. Jesus commanded them to do as follows: `He took bread [and not at all His flesh nor His blood] and gave thanks and said, “This do in remembrance of Me: this is My body [not `this becomes My body’].””‘

Twenty-third. Notice here that Justin claims that the elements (although not common bread and common drink) are indeed truly “bread” and “drink” and not physical flesh and blood. As even Gelasius Bishop of Rome observed in A.D. 490: “By the Sacraments we are made partakers of the divine nature, and yet the substance and nature of bread and wine do not cease to be in them.”

Twenty-fourth. Justin concludes in ch. 67: “On the day called Sunday, all …gather together to one place, and the Memoirs of the Apostles or the Writings of the Prophets are read …. Then we all rise together and pray …. When our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought” etc. Here again, there is no mention whatsoever of John 6:32-63; nor of transubstantiation.

Twenty-fifth. In Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho the Jew (ch. 41), he says that the Old Testament “offering of fine flour …was prescribed to be presented …as a type of the bread of the Eucharist, the celebration of which our Lord Jesus Christ prescribed in remembrance of the sufferings He endured” precisely “so that we may give thanks to God for having created the world for us” and “for having destroyed completely the principalities and powers by Him Who suffered according to His will …. Of the offerings given to Him in every place by us (the nations)-the offerings, that is of the bread of the Eucharist and likewise of the cup of the Eucharist – of these He foretells (in Mal. 1:11). Here again, there is no mention of John 6:32-63; nor of transubstantiation.

Twenty-sixth. In ch. 70, Justin defends Christians against the false charge of their enemies that God’s people were cannibals and drinkers of human blood. He does so, by saying that Isaiah 33:13-19 alludes “to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers.”

Twenty-seventh. In ch. 117, Justin told the Jew Trypho that “God, anticipating all the gifts which we bring through this Name and which Jesus the Christ enjoined us to present, i.e. the bread and the cup in the Eucharist, and which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the world, bears witness that they are well-pleasing to Him.” Here again-there is absolutely no mention of John 6:3263; nor of transubstantiation.

Twenty-eighth. Also the A.D. 180 Theophilus in his Letters to Autolycus (111:4) rebukes the “godless lips [which] falsely accuse us who are worshippers of God and are called Christians …that we eat human flesh.” However, if it had then been their teaching that in the Eucharist the bread and wine cease to exist by getting transubstantiated into human flesh and blood – Theophilus could not here have resented the false accusation of the Pagans that Christians are cannibals, as being “most barbarous and impious” (as he here indeed does).

Twenty-ninth. At that same time, in his Against Heresies IV: 17:5f, Irenaeus wrote that Jesus “took that created thing bread and gave thanks and said `This is My body [not “this becomes My body”]!’ …. It behooves us [Christians] to bring a present to God, and in all things to be found grateful to God our Maker in a pure mind and in faith without hypocrisy-in well-grounded hope, in fervent love-presenting the first-fruits of His Own created things. And the Church alone presents this pure gift to the Creator-presenting it to Him with thanksgiving. But the Judaists do not offer thus. For their hands are full of blood. For they have not received the Word through Whom it is presented to God_ We [Christians] give His own to Him, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit.” Hence we Christians present to the Triune God His Own creatures of bread and wine. And we proclaim the fellowship of the flesh with the spirit, in that the flesh of every believing human being is receptive to the Spirit. Here again in Irenaeus, neither John 6:32-63 nor tansubstantiation are mentioned at all.

Thirtieth. Around A.D. 190, in his Instructor (I:6), Clement of Alexandria repeatedly mentions John six (but not in connection with mature faith nor as regards the Lord’s Supper). Yet in his Instructor, Clement does say that “blood is figuratively termed wine” and that “the Lord’s blood is figuratively represented as milk” and that Christ “washes …His garment in wine [and] His robe in the blood of the grape” (Gen. 49:11). Indeed, in II:2, Clement distinctly says that “to drink the blood of Jesus is to become partaker of the Lord’s immortality” (which no apostate from the eucharist ever did) – “the Spirit being the energetic principle of the Word, as blood is of flesh …. The mixture of both-of the water and of the Word- is called Eucharist, renowned and glorious grace; and they who by faith [and not ex opere operato] partake of it, are sanctified.”

Thirty-first. So too in Clement’s A.D. 194 Stromata (I:1 & 10 and IV:26): “The Saviour, taking the bread, first spoke and blessed. Then, breaking the bread, He presented it so that we might eat it according to reason, and that knowing the Scriptures we might walk obediently …. Moses says Melchizedek King of Salem, Priest of the Most-High God, who gave bread and wine – furnished consecrated food for a type of the Eucharist.” Here, there is no transubstantiation but only the ProtoProtestant doctrine of the real Spirit-ual presence of God at the Lord’s Supper to the eye of faith.

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Thirty-second. In his A.D. 207 Against Marcion III:19-22, Tertullian wrote that “God …called His body bread” and that “He has given to His body the figure of bread, Whose body the Prophet of old [Jer. 11:19] figuratively turned into bread …. With this agrees also the prophecy of Malachi [ 1:11 ]: `I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord [to the Judeans]; neither will I accept your presents. For from the rising of the sun [in the East] even unto the going down of the same [in the West] -My Name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place a gift shall be presented to My Name, a pure presentation’ -such as the ascription of glory and blessings and praises and hymns.” No mention here of the Lord’s Supper, and still less of the Mass!

Thirty-third. Also again in his Against Marcion IV:40, Tertullian insists: “The Law prefigures His passion …. Moses had declared that there was a sacred mystery: `It is the Lord’s Passover’ [Lev. 23:5]…. When He [viz. Jesus Christ] so earnestly expressed His desire to eat the Passover, He considered it His Own Feast …. Having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body by saying, `This is My body’ [and not `this now becomes My body’] that is, the figureof My body. Yet there could not have been a figure, unless there were first a veritable body.”

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Thirty-fourth. Tertullian continues: “In order however that you may discover how anciently wine is used as a figure for blood, turn to Isaiah [63:1] who asks, `Who is this that comes from Edom, from Bosra, with garments dyed in red, so glorious in His apparel, in the greatness of His might? Why are Your garments red, and Your raiment like his who comes from the treading of the full wine-press? … He represents the bleeding condition of His flesh under the metaphor of garments dyed in red-as if reddened in the treading and crushing process of the winepress from which the labourers descend reddened with the wine-juice like men stained in blood.”

Thirty-fifth. “Much more clearly still, does the book of Genesis [49:11] foretell this, when (in the blessing of Judah out of whose tribe Jesus Christ was to come according to the flesh), it even then delineated Christ in the person of that patriarch, saying: `He washed His garments in wine, and His clothes in the blood of grapes.’ In His garments and clothes, the prophecy pointed out His flesh and His blood in the wine. Thus did He now consecrate His blood in wine- Who then (by the patriarch) used the figure of wine to describe His blood.”

Thirty-sixth. We would also cite Tertullian’s On the Resurrection of the Flesh (ch. 37), where he declares “`The flesh profits nothing’ [John 6:63] …. W e ought therefore to desire Him in order that we may have life, and to devour Him with the ear and to ruminate [or `chew the cud’] on Him with the understanding and to digest Him by faith. Now just before the passage in hand, He had declared His flesh to be `the bread which comes down from heaven’ [John 6:5 I] …. Because He perceived that they were going to be scattered from Him, He says: `The flesh profits nothing.”‘ A stronger argument against the later error of transubstantiation, is hard to imagine!

Thirty-seventh. Only in the A.D. 251f Cyprian do we find the very first beginnings of unbiblical sacramentalism in relation to the Lord’s Supper. This is clear from his statement in his Treatises IV: 18. There he writes: “We ask that this bread should be given to us daily – so that we who are in Christ and daily receive the Eucharist for the food of salvation, may not by the interposition of some heinous sin be prevented …from partaking of the heavenly bread …. He Himself predicts and warns, `I am the bread of life which came down from heaven. If any man eat of My bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread which I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world’ [John 6:58]. When therefore He says that whoever shall eat of His bread shall live for ever, as those who partake of His body and receive the Eucharist by the right of communion are living, so on the other hand we must fear and pray lest any one …being withheld from communion and separated from Christ’s body-should remain at a distance from salvation.”

Thirty-eighth. Nevertheless, in other cases, Cyprian cites from John chapter six with no reference to the Lord’s Supper whatsoever. See for instance his Epistles 72(73):11 and his Treatises II:7 & IV: 14 & XII:I :T:22 & XI:3:T:19.

Thirty-ninth. Yet even in Cyprian, there is still no trace of the mass or of any transubstantiation. Consider, for instance, his Epistle 63:2f (62:2f) to Caecilius, where Cyprian insists: “Nothing must be done by us but what the Lord first did on our behalf, as that the cup which is offered in remembrance of Him should be offered mingled with wine …. We find in Genesis [9:20f] also, in respect of the Sacrament in Noah, this same thing was to them a precursor and figure of the Lord’s passion; that he drank wine …. Noah, setting forth a type of the future truth, did not drink water but wine, and thus expressed the figure of the passion of the Lord.PoperyCardinals

Fortieth. He continues: “Also in the priest Melchizedek we see prefigured the Sacrament of the offering of the Lord-according to what Divine Scripture testifies and says: `And Melchizedek King of Salem brought forth bread and wine ` [Genesis 14:18] …. Our Lord Jesus Christ,” he explains, “offered a sacrifice to God the Father – and offered the very same thing which [the High Priest] Melchizedek had offered, that is, bread and wine – to wit, His body and blood.”

Forty-first. Cyprian goes on: “In the blessing of Judah, also this same thing is signified, where there also is expressed a figure of Christ …. When the blood of the grape is mentioned [Gen. 49:11], what else is set forth than the wine of the cup of the blood of the Lord? … When the water is mingled in the cup with wine, the people is made one with Christ, and the assembly of believers is associated and conjoined with Him on Whom it believes …. In this very Sacrament, our people are show to be made one – so that in like manner as many grains collected and ground and mixed together into one mass make one bread, we may know that there is one body with which our number is joined and united.”

Forty-second. Also in his Epistle 75(69) to Magnus, Cyprian says: “When the Lord calls bread which is combined by the union of many grains, His body-He indicates our people whom He bore as being united. And when He calls the wine which is pressed from many grapes and clusters and collected together, His blood-He also signifies our flock linked together by the mingling of a united multitude.” Clearly, Cyprian is devoid of transubstantiationism.

Forty-third. The A.D. 254 Origen, in his Commentary on Matthew XI: 14, states: “The food which is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer, as respects its material part, goes into the stomach; but as regards prayer which is added to it, according to the proportion of faith, profits. It enlightens the mind which beholds that which is profitable. Nor is it the matter of the bread but the words spoken over it which profit men who do not eat unworthily. And these things I speak of the typical and symbolical body No worthless person is able to eat it. For if it were possible for one who continues worthless to eat of Him Who became flesh, Who was the Word and the living bread – it would not have been written that `every one who eats of this bread shall live for ever’ [John 6:51 ].” This is the very opposite of transubstantiation!

Forty-fourth. Also in Origen’s Commentary on John, and specifically on chapter six thereof, there is no hint of ex opere operato sacramentalism. Nay more, in 1:23 & VI:26 & X:13 (“the Word of God is not flesh and flesh only”), there is not even a hint of it referring to the Lord’s Supper. So too the remaining references to John chapter six in Origen’s Commentary on Matthew (XII:5 & XII:33 & IV: 14).

Forty-fifth. Also in the A.D. Novatian’s Treatise Concerning the Trinity (ch. 14), the whole thrust is against transubstantiation. Asks Novatian: “If Christ is only man-how is it that `even as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself [John 5:26] – when man cannot have life in him[self] after the example of God the Father, because he is not glorious in eternity but made with the materials of mortality?If Christ is only man-how does He say: `I am the bread of eternal life which came down from heaven’ [John 6:51], when man can neither be the bread of life (he himself being mortal)? Nor could He [then] have come down from heaven-since no perishable material is established in heaven!”

Forty-sixth. The A.D. 265 Gregory Thaumaturgus in his Twelve Topics 10:E cites John 6:55f only to establish Christ’s Deity and without reference to His Supper. The A.D. 315 Lactantius in his Divine Institutes IV: 15 refers John chapter six – simply to the miraculous but not at all to the Sacrament of the Eucharist. And the A.D. 320 Eusebius in his Evangelical Demonstrations VIII: 1, states that Christ “gave again to His disciples the symbols of the divine economy- and appointed them to eat bread as a symbol of His Own body.”

Forty-seventh. This brings us to Nicaea. (A.D. 325). Suffice it to say that even a century later, also the great Augustine follows his fellow-African theologians the older Tertullian and Cyprian in their non-transubstantiationistic theory of Christ’s real presence at the Lord’s Supper. Thus he says that Judas ate only the bread of the Lord, while the other apostles ate the Lord Who was the bread. Indeed, in his 25`h Treatise on the Sixth Chapter of John, he rhetorically asks: “Why do you prepare the teeth and the belly?” And then he himself answers: “Believe-and you have eaten!” See too his Christian Doctrine III:3f

Forty-eighth. It was only in A.D. 831 that (by Radbertus in his book The Body and Blood of the Lord) one first finds propounded the most novel notion that “the substance of bread and wine is effectually changed (efcaciter interius commutatur) into the flesh and blood of Christ”-so that once the priest has consecrated it there is “nothing else in the eucharist but the flesh and blood of Christ.” Transubstantiation was never accepted in any part of the Church Catholic whether Greek, Roman, or Proto-Protestant (alias Culdee or Waldensian etc.), until the Roman Church proclaimed it dogmatically as an article of her faith at the 4th Lateran Council in 1215.

Forty-ninth. Even since A.D. 831, many Roman Catholics still opposed such transubstantiation. So: Ratramnus, Berengarius, John Scotus Eriguena, Rabanus Maurus, Walafrid Strabo, Christian Druthmar, Florus Magister, Eusebius Bruno (Bishop of Angers), Frollant (Bishop of Senlis), and Elfric. Also, according to the famous RC Cardinal Bellarmine in his De Sacramento Eucharistea (111:5 and 4 dII q.6 art. 1,2 and q. 3 art. 1,2 and I:5) – even the celebrated Cardinal Cameracensus said: “Transubstantiation cannot be proved from Holy Writ …. To this Cardinal Roffensis, Cardinal Cajetan and also Scotus all concur.” Indeed, the RC scholars Gabriel, Nicolus, Cusanus, Tapper, Hessel and others all present the “Protestant” interpretation of John 6:54. See Dr. P.G. Logan’s Ph.D. dissertation The History and Doctrine of Transubstantiation, Sydney, 1994, pp. 84f.

Fiftieth. As Dr. Calvin says in his Commentary on John 6:53f “This sermon [of Christ] does not refer to the Lord’s Supper, but to the continual communication which we have apart from the reception of the Lord’s Supper …. As far as young children are concerned, Christ’s ordinance forbids them to participate in the Lord’s Supper – because they cannot yet try themselves or celebrate the remembrance of the death of Christ …. It is wrong to expound this whole paasage as applying to the Lord’s Supper.”

Fifty-first. In his Institutes of the Christian Religion (IV:18:5), John Calvin argues: “If Christ is sacrificed at each mass, He must cruelly be slain every moment in a thousand places. This is not my argument, but the apostle’s: `Nor yet that He should offer Himself often’; `for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world’ (Heb. 9:25f)… Though they [the Roman theologians] insist a hundred times that this sacrifice is bloodless (anaimakton), I will reply that it depends not on the will of man to change the nature of sacrifice. For in that way, the sacred and inviolable institution of God would fall. Hence it follows, that the principle of the apostle stands firm: `without shedding of blood is no remission’ (Heb. 9:22).

romanismandthereformation

Fifty-second. The true presence of our Saviour in the Lord’s Supper, then, is aptly professed in the Westminster Confession of Faith (29:2): “In this Sacrament, Christ is not offered up to His Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sins of the quick or dead (Heb. 9:22f); but only a commemoration of that one offering up of Himself, by Himself, upon the cross, once for all, and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same (I Cor. 11:24-27). So that the Popish sacrifice of the mass-as they call it-is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect (Heb. 7:23-27 & 10:11-18).”

Fifty-third. Westminster says (29:6): “That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called Transubstantiation by consecration of a priest or by any other way is repugnant not to Scripture alone but even to common sense and reason; overthroweth the nature of the Sacrament; and hath been and is the cause of manifold superstitions, yea of gross idolatries(Acts 3:21; I Cor. 1:24f; Luke 24:6,39).

Fifty-fourth. The words of the Westminster Confession (29:7) aptly summarize the eucharistical teachings of the Holy Scriptures as well of the Ante-Nicene Church: “Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible element in this Sacrament (I Cor. 11:26f), do then also inwardly by faith really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but Spirit-ually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified and all benefits of His death: the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet as really but Spirit-ually present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses (I Cor. 10:16).”

Fifty-fifth and finally. Let all heed Jesus, Who said: “The hour is coming, and is now, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit…. …. God is Spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit …. It is the Spirit Who enlivens. The flesh profits nothing. The words which I spoke to you, they are Spirit!” John 4:23f & 6:63.

Evangelical Grace

London Baptist Confession of Faith:

This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things. ( Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:18; Ezekiel 36:31; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Psalms 119:6; Psalms 119:128 ) chp. 15.3

John Gill:

Special faith in Christ is of the operation of the Spirit of God:
he produces it by his mighty power in the soul;
he enlightens the mind,
reveals the object,
brings near Christ, his righteousness and salvation, and
enables the sensible sinner to look unto him,
lay hold on him,
and receive his as his Savior and Redeemer;
hence he is called the Spirit of faith (2 Cor. 4:13);
because he is the author of it, who begins and carries on, and
will perform the work of faith with power:
the principal use of which grace is to receive all from Christ, and
give him the glory.

God has put this honor upon it, to constitute and appoint it to be the receiver-general of all the blessings of grace.

It receives Christ himself as the Father’s free-gift;
it receives out of the fulness of Christ,
even grace for grace,
or and abundance of it;
it receives the blessing of righteousness from the Lord of justification;
it receives the remission of sins through his blood, according to the gospel-declaration;
it receives the adoption of children,
in consequence of the way being opened for it through the redemption which is in Christ;
it receives the inheritance among them that are sanctified,
the right unto it, and the claim upon it; and to this post it is advanced,
that all the glory might redound to the grace of God; it is of faith, that it might be by grace (Rom. 4:16).

(FAITH IN GOD AND HIS WORD: HE ESTABLISHMENT AND PROSPERITY OF HIS PEOPLE: A Sermon, Preached at a Wednesday’s Evening Lecture, in GREAT EAST-CHEAP, Dec. 27, 1753.)

Again, The London Baptist Confession of 1689 reads;

ch.14

The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts,”

“By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God himself”

“and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth thus believed”

ch.15
“This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin”

The idea that all men everywhere must repent is biblical, BUT, the repentance required of the reprobate is legal. All men are guilty of breaking God’s law and therefore must repent of their deeds and they never do. Sure, unsaved people feel guilt or regret over their sins but they still rage against the holy and living God. Only the elect are given the “evangelical grace” of repentance and faith that leads to eternal life.

John Gill’s comments on Acts 20.21 are useful in understanding this subject and so, I post them below.

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks,…. To the Jews first in their synagogue, and then to both Jews and Greeks, or Gentiles, in the school of Tyrannus; opening and explaining to both the nature and use, urging and insisting upon, and proving by undeniable testimonies the necessity,

of repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ: the former of these is not a legal repentance, but an evangelical one; which flows from a sense of the love of God, and an application of pardoning grace and mercy, and is always attended with hope, at least of interest in it, and as here with faith in Christ Jesus:

it lies in a true sight and sense of sin, as exceeding sinful, being contrary to the nature and law of God, and a deformation of the image of God in man, as well as followed with dreadful and pernicious consequences; and in a godly sorrow for it, as it is committed against a God of infinite purity and holiness, and of love, grace, and mercy; and it shows itself in shame for sin, and blushing at it, and in an ingenious confession of it, and forsaking it: and the latter of these is not an historical faith, or an assent of the mind to whatsoever is true concerning the person, office, and grace of Christ; but is a spiritual act of the soul upon him;

it is a looking and going out to him, a laying hold and leaning on him, and trusting in him, for grace, righteousness, peace, pardon, life, and salvation. Now these two were the sum of the apostle’s ministry; this is a breviary or compendium of it; a form of sound words held fast and published by him: and as these two go together as doctrines in the ministry of the word, they go together as graces in the experience of the saints; where the one is, there the other is; they are wrought in the soul at one and the same time, by one and the same hand;

the one is not before the other in order of time, however it may be in order of working, or as to visible observation; repentance is mentioned before faith, not that it precedes it, though it may be discerned in its outward acts before it; yet faith as to its inward exercise on Christ is full as early, if not earlier; souls first look to Christ by faith, and then they mourn in tears of evangelical repentance, Zec 12:10 though the order of the Gospel ministry is very fitly here expressed, which is first to lay before sinners the evil of sin, and their danger by it, in order to convince of it, and bring to repentance for it; and then to direct and encourage them to faith in Christ Jesus, as in the case of the jailer, Ac 16:29 and this is, generally speaking, the order and method in which the Holy Spirit proceeds;

he is first a spirit of conviction and illumination, he shows to souls the exceeding sinfulness of sin, causes them to loath it and themselves for it, and humbles them under a sense of it; and then he is a spirit of faith, he reveals Christ unto them as God’s way or salvation, and works faith in them to believe in him. Moreover, these two, repentance and faith, were the two parts of Christ’s ministry, Mr 1:15 and are what, he would have published and insisted on, in the preaching of the word, Lu 24:47 so that the ministry of the apostle was very conformable to the mind and will of Christ. [end quote]

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Impassibility

Impassibility (from Latin in-, “not”, passibilis, “able to suffer, experience emotion”) describes the theological doctrine that God does not experience pain or pleasure from the actions of another being. – Wiki

Sermons on the subject here.

The Lord’s Supper

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is preached through the sacraments or ordinances as well as the preaching of the word. Grace is conveyed in the same manner in baptism and the Lord’s Supper as it is conveyed in the preaching of the word of God. Not in the means (like Calvin) or the work performed (Roman Catholic), they convey the Gospel just like preaching of the word conveys the Gospel.

1689leatherFrom the London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689:

“…for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of himself in his death, confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him…” 30.1

“…Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed…”

“…spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death; the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of believers…” 30.7

This is what, if I’m not mistaken, Bullinger taught and has been largely forgotten.

A Baptist Catechism:

Q. 95. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?

A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation. (Rom. 10:17; James 1:18; 1 Cor. 3:5; Acts 14:1; 2:41,42)

Q. 98. How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effectual means of salvation?

A. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them or in him that administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ and the working of His Spirit in them that by faith receive them. (1 Peter 3:21; 1 Cor. 3:6,7; 1 Cor. 12:13)

Q. 107. What is the Lord’s Supper?

A. The Lord’s Supper is a holy ordinance, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, His death is showed forth, and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of His body and blood, with all His benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace. (1 Cor. 11:23-26; 10:16)

Q. 108. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper?

A. It is required of them that would worthily (that is, suitably) partake of the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves, of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body; of their faith to feed upon Him; of their repentance, love, and new obedience: lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves. (1 Cor. 11:27-31; 1 Cor. 5:8; 2 Cor. 13:5)

May the Lord bless you as you feed, spiritually, upon Him.

jm