How was it with Cornelius?

Law and gospel

How was it with Cornelius?

Cornelius and his friends whom he had invited over to his house, do nothing but sit and listen. Peter is doing the talking. They just sit and do nothing. The Law is far removed from their thoughts. They burn no sacrifices. They are not at all interested in circumcision. All they do is to sit and listen to Peter. Suddenly the Holy Ghost enters their hearts. His presence is unmistakable, “for they spoke with tongues and magnified God.”

Right here we have one more difference between the Law and the Gospel. The Law does not bring on the Holy Ghost. The Gospel, however, brings on the gift of the Holy Ghost, because it is the nature of the Gospel to convey good gifts. The Law and the Gospel are contrary ideas. They have contrary functions and purposes. To endow the Law with any capacity to produce righteousness is to plagiarize the Gospel. The Gospel brings donations. It pleads for open hands to take what is being offered. The Law has nothing to give. It demands, and its demands are impossible.

Our opponents come back at us with Cornelius. Cornelius, they point out, was “a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people and prayed God always.” Because of these qualifications, he merited the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. So reason our opponents.

I answer: Cornelius was a Gentile. You cannot deny it. As a Gentile he was uncircumcised. As a Gentile he did not observe the Law. He never gave the Law any thought. For all that, he was justified and received the Holy Ghost. How can the Law avail anything unto righteousness?

Our opponents are not satisfied. They reply: “Granted that Cornelius was a Gentile and did not receive the Holy Ghost by the Law, yet the text plainly states that he was a devout man who feared God, gave alms, and prayed. Don’t you think he deserved the gift of the Holy Ghost?”

I answer: Cornelius had the faith of the fathers who were saved by faith in the Christ to come. If Cornelius had died before Christ, he would have been saved because he believed in the Christ to come. But because the Messiah had already come, Cornelius had to be apprized of the fact. Since Christ has come we cannot be saved by faith in the Christ to come, but we must believe that he has come. The object of Peter’s visit was to acquaint Cornelius with the fact that Christ was no longer to be looked for, because He is here.

As to the contention of our opponents that Cornelius deserved grace and the gift of the Holy Ghost, because he was devout and just, we say that these attributes are the characteristics of a spiritual person who already has faith in Christ, and not the characteristics of a Gentile or of natural man. Luke first praises Cornelius for being a devout and God-fearing man, and then Luke mentions the good works, the alms and prayers of Cornelius. Our opponents ignore the sequence of Luke’s words. They pounce on this one sentence, “which gave much alms to the people,” because it serves their assertion that merit precedes grace. The fact is that Cornelius gave alms and prayed to God because he had faith. And because of his faith in the Christ to come, Peter was delegated to preach unto Cornelius faith in the Christ who had already come. This argument is convincing enough. Cornelius was justified without the Law, therefore the Law cannot justify.

Martin Luther, Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians

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Easter

THERE is no day commanded in scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord’s day, which is the Christian Sabbath. Festival days, vulgarly called Holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be continued. Nevertheless, it is lawful and necessary, upon special emergent occasions, to separate a day or days for publick fasting or thanksgiving, as the several eminent and extraordinary dispensations of God’s providence shall administer cause and opportunity to his people.

As no place is capable of any holiness, under pretence of whatsoever dedication or consecration; so neither is it subject to such pollution by any superstition formerly used, and now laid aside, as may render it unlawful or inconvenient for Christians to meet together therein for the publick worship of God. And therefore we hold it requisite, that the places of publick assembling for worship among us should be continued and employed to that use. – Directory of Publick Worship

John Brown on the Antichrist

HALL

“The above characteristics drawn from Scripture cannot be wholly found in the heathen Emperors of Rome, much less in the fanciful Danitish-Antichrist of popish writers, or the Armillus of the Jews, or the Daggial of the Mahometans. The Mahometan system may indeed be considered as a lesser antichrist, but neither contain all the characteristics applicable to it. It does not sit in the Church, nor appear to men to have a power equal to God’s. It allows no idolatry, nor is it notable for the persecution of the saints, nor was it established by lying wonders, but by the power of the sword. Actually, every characteristic is clearly found in the papacy.” – John Brown of Haddington, “Dictionary of Bible Characters”, p. 125

Roman Church?

babylon-myth

Francis Turretin on why the Church of Rome is not a true Church of Christ:

7. Because Antichrist sits in her.

XXI. Seventh, Antichrist sits in her, the author of the great apostasy described by the apostle in 2 Thess. 2 who, under the pretext of a vicar, professing himself be in the place of Christ (anti christou), by impiously usurping the authority of the Lord betrays himself to be really Antichrist (antichriston), the rival of him and an opposing and self-exalting enemy (antikeimenon, kai, hyperairomenon) who, sitting in the temple of God as if he were God, exalts himself above all that is called God (to wit, emperors, kings and princes of the earth, and departed saints in heaven) and shows himself that he is God. That all these criteria of Antichrist can be found in the Roman pope can easily be gathered from a comparison of both, as has been proved at length in our Disputation 7, “De Necessaria Secessione,” Opera (1848), 4:147-77.

8. Because she is Babylon.

XXII. Eighth, she is the mystical Babylon, from which the pious are commanded to come out (Rev. 18:4) as a most corrupt society diametrically opposed to the mystical Zion, the true church of Christ, and incompatible (asystatos) with it. Both the description of John proves and our opponents themselves do not deny that by Babylon is meant no other than Rome. John’s description (Rev. 17) belongs exactly to her alone, especially as to the two marks by which he distinguishes her: that she is a seven-hilled (eptalophos) city, who “sitteth on seven mountains” (v. 9); and that she obtains power over the kings of the earth (v. 10). It is evident that she is seven-hilled and in the time of John no other except herself was the mistress of the world, the head of the earth and the queen of nations, who on this account was called by the Greeks “the ruling city” (basileuousa polis).

–– Francis Turretin, “Institutes of Elenctic Theology” Vol. 3, p, 133

Papal Simony

papacy

‘Simony’ (corruption and sale of ecclesiastical offices) and ‘nepotism’ (favouritism shown by the popes to their ‘nephews’) had long been in vogue but had increased greatly in the course of the preceding century. It was scarcely ever claimed any longer that any pope had been elected without simony; legation reports gave precise details of payments and promises of high honours made during the elections. The sales of ecclesiastical offices, of both high and medium rank, had become recognized practice; the cardinals themselves pressed the pope to resort to this well-tried means when money was short. A further well-known custom, and one that was bitterly contested, especially abroad, was ‘pluralism’ – the bestowal of three, four and up to as many as ten or fifteen high offices on a single favoured individual; it was forbidden under canon law but practised widely without compunction. In Luther’s day there was hardly a cardinal who did not enjoy the rich rewards of four of five highly lucrative offices, in many cases aboard; usage permitted these to be transferred to members of family, thus creating a further nepotism within the great nepotism of the popes. But the establishment of their nephews and cousins in high office by the popes, which had been going on for centuries, now developed on a really big scale; the papal families became great Italian landowners. Duchies and even kingdoms were demanded for the clan. These had to be wrested from someone and this necessitated wars and campaigns, which were waged with all the means of ‘ecclesiastical power’, including excommunication and interdict. Italy became a battlefield, above all when the foreign powers – France, Spain, Germany – were drawn in. Source: Luther by Richard Friedenthal

Sacramental Controversy

“Sacraments had provoked controversy among Christians ever since Paul rebuked the church at Corinth for irregularities at the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20-34). The rudiments of medieval baptismal doctrine emerged in the course of contention between Augustine and covenantthe Donatists in the early fifth century. Roman eucharistic doctrine was shaped by the ninth-century that erupted when Radbertus of Cobie in France affirmed a sacramental transmutation producing the natural body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. In the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 the Church decided officially that the substance of the bread and wine was transmuted into the body and blood of Christ, but neither this definition of transubstantiation nor explanations of the seven sacraments at the Council of Florence in 1439 could put an end to controversy. Fifteenth-century theologians continued earlier disputes between the Dominicans, who argued that sacraments themselves contained and conveyed grace, and the Franciscans, who said that God conferred grace directly whenever the sacraments were administered. Sacramental controversy was no innovation of the sixteenth-century reformers.” E. Brooks Holifield, The Covenant Sealed: The Development of Puritan Sacramental Theology in Old and New England, 1570-1720

The Iron Hoop

pope“The infallibility is the iron hoop around the Church of Rome.

In every variety of outward circumstances, and amid the most furious conflicts of discordant opinions, that Church is and must ever be the same. Change or amendment she can never know. She cannot repent, because she cannot err. Repentance and amendment are for the fallible only.

Far more marvelous would it be to hear that she had changed than to hear that she had been destroyed. It will one day be told the world, and the nations will clap their hands at the news, that the Papacy has fallen; but it will never be told that the Papacy has repented.

She will be destroyed, not amended.” – J. A. Wylie

Will the world remember the Pope’s words concerning “climate change” when they are proven false?

“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Rev. 18

dividerIt may seem “mean or hateful” to post such things about the Roman system and the Papacy. These posts are not from a place of anger, bitterness or mean-spirited gutter snipping, but to warn against this false system of works and faith. They are neither historical or biblical and therefore should be condemned as false.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

What is sola scriptura?

By James Whitetornbible

“The doctrine of sola scriptura, simply stated, is that the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the regula fide, the “rule of faith” for the Church.  All that one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture and in no other source.  That which is not found in Scripture is not binding upon the Christian conscience.  To be more specific, I provide the following definition:

The Bible claims to be the sole and sufficient rule of faith for the Christian Church.   The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement.  Their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation.  Their authority is not dependent upon man, Church or council.  The Scriptures are self-consistent, self-interpreting, and self-authenticating.  The Christian Church looks at the Scriptures as the only and sufficient rule of faith and the Church is always subject to the Word, and is constantly reformed thereby.”

“Positively, the doctrine teaches that the Bible is sufficient to function as the sole, infallible rule of faith for the Church.  Negatively, it denies the existence of any other rule of faith as being necessary for the man of God.”