The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘law

Of law and gospel

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‘Do this and live’

Every gospel preacher, wanting to emphasise that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, will have contrasted this gospel with the attempt to gain salvation by works. It is worth reflecting, therefore, on the fact that when the Lord Jesus Christ is asked by a lawyer ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ he answers, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ When the lawyer repeats the two great commandments, concerning loving God and loving your neighbour, Jesus says, ‘You have answered correctly; do this and you will live’ (Luke 10: 25-28). When a rich young man asks him virtually the same question, Jesus tells him ‘If you would enter life, keep the commandments’ (Matt 19:17). He then, in the one case by a personal challenge and in the other by a parable, quickly reveals the spiritual bankruptcy of both men. However valid the principle, they cannot fulfil it.

Why does Jesus start here?

Mostyn Roberts offers an answer. It will get your brain working, but it’s stimulating stuff.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 5 May 2012 at 22:17

On the law of God

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The law of God is good and wise
And sets his will before our eyes,
Shows us the way of righteousness,
And dooms to death when we transgress.

Its light of holiness imparts
The knowledge of our sinful hearts
That we may see our lost estate
And seek deliv’rance ere too late.

To those who help in Christ have found
And would in works of love abound
It shows what deeds are his delight
And should be done as good and right.

When men the offered help disdain
And wilfully in sin remain,
Its terror in their ear resounds
And keeps their wickedness in bounds.

The law is good; but since the fall
Its holiness condemns us all;
It dooms us for our sin to die
And has no pow’r to justify.

To Jesus we for refuge flee,
Who from the curse has set us free,
And humbly worship at his throne,
Saved by his grace through faith alone.

via Heavenly Worldliness.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 10 January 2012 at 19:31

Posted in Christian living

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The bud and the bloom

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Let us beware of despising the Old Testament under any pretence whatever. Let us never listen to those who bid us throw it aside as an obsolete, antiquated, useless book. The religion of the Old Testament is the germ of Christianity. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the bud. The New Testament is the Gospel in full flower.— The Old Testament is the Gospel in the blade. The New Testament is the Gospel in full car.—The saints in the Old Testament saw many things through a glass darkly. But they all looked by faith to the same Saviour, and were led by the same Spirit as ourselves. These are no light matters. Much infidelity begins with an ignorant contempt of the Old Testament.

Let us, for another thing, beware of despising the law of the Ten Commandments. Let us not suppose for a moment that it is set aside by the Gospel, or that Christians have nothing to do with it. The coming of Christ did not alter the position of the Ten Commandments one hair’s breadth. If anything, it exalted and raised their authority. (Rom. iii. 31.) The law of the Ten Commandments is God’s eternal measure of right and wrong. By it is the knowledge of sin. By it the Spirit shows men their need of Christ, and drives them to Him. To it Christ refers His people as their rule and guide for holy living. In its right place it is just as important as ” the glorious Gospel.”—It cannot save us. We cannot be justified by it. But never, never let us despise it. It is a symptom of an ignorant and unhealthy state of religion, when the law is lightly esteemed. The true Christian “delights in the law of God.” (Rom. vii. 22.)

J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 5:13-20)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 28 October 2011 at 09:00

Indicatives and imperatives

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Justin Taylor has provided a helpful set of links to the ongoing discussions between William Evans and Sean Lucas at Reformation21 and Kevin DeYoung and Tullian Tchividjian at the Gospel Coalition. Having made reference to a couple of these before, being persuaded of how important the issues are, and therefore having an ongoing interest in the matter, I thought others might appreciate following the discussion. Taylor summarises:

William B. Evans and Sean Michael Lucas have been engaged in a profitable discussion over at Reformation 21 on sanctification and the gospel. Here are their exchanges:

Rick Phillips also added a helpful and important post summarizing seven assertions about the relationship between justification and sanctification.

As I’ve mentioned before, Kevin DeYoung and Tullian Tchividjian have been engaged in a longer—though less direct—discussion addressing similar issues:

UPDATE: Kevin DeYoung appears to have discovered a new grammatical/theological category. According to the URL for his penultimate piece in his conversation with Tullian, he is actually discussing “inidactives.” No wonder these guys are in danger of talking past each other! From now on we must consider the indicatives, the imperatives, and the fearsome and yet to be designated inidactives.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 19 August 2011 at 09:07

The law of love and the love of law

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I liked this article from Kevin DeYoung, concluding:

Preachers must preach the law without embarrassment. Parents must insist on obedience without shame. The law can, and should, be urged upon true believers—not to condemn, but to correct and promote Christlikeness. Both the indicatives of Scripture and the imperatives are from God, for our good, and given in grace.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 19 August 2011 at 08:45

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Spurgeon looks within

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Spurgeon, in his autobiography, writes as follows:

I have found, in my own spiritual life, that the more rules I lay down for myself, the more sins I commit. The habit of regular morning and evening prayer is one which is indispensable to a believer’s life, but the prescribing of the length of prayer, and the constrained remembrance of so many persons and subjects, may gender unto bondage, and strangle prayer rather than assist it.

To say I will humble myself at such a time, and rejoice at such another season, is nearly as much an affectation as when the preacher wrote in the margin of his sermon, “Cry here,” “Smile here.” Why, if the man preached from his heart, he would be sure to cry in the right place, and to smile at a suitable moment; and when the spiritual life is sound, it produces prayer at the right time, and humiliation of soul and sacred joy spring forth spontaneously, apart from rules and vows.

The kind of religion which makes itself to order by the Almanack, and turns out its emotions like bricks from a machine, weeping on Good Friday, and rejoicing two days afterwards, measuring its motions by the moon, is too artificial to be worthy of my imitation.

Self-examination is a very great blessing, but I have known self-examination carried on in a most unbelieving, legal, and self-righteous manner; in fact, I have so carried it on myself. Time was when I used to think a vast deal more of marks, and signs, and evidences, for my own comfort, than I do now, for I find that I cannot be a match for the devil when I begin dealing in these things. I am obliged to go day by day with this cry,—

“I, the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me.”

While I can believe the promise of God, because it is His promise, and because He is my God, and while I can trust my Saviour because He is God, and therefore mighty to save, all goes well with me; but I do find, when I begin questioning myself about this and that perplexity, thus taking my eye off Christ, that all the virtue of my life seems oozing out at every pore.

Any practice that detracts from faith is an evil practice, but especially that kind of self-examination which would take us away from the cross-foot, proceeds in a wrong direction.


Thanks, Pyros.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 17 May 2011 at 22:09

Review: “From the Finger of God: The Biblical and Theological Basis for the Threefold Division of the Law”

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From the Finger of God: The Biblical and Theological Basis for the Threefold Division of the Law

Philip S. Ross

Christian Focus (Mentor), 2010, 448pp., paperback, £12.99

ISBN 9781845506018

With wit, verve and insight, Mr Ross sets himself against the apparently-growing consensus that the threefold division of the law is without basis in Scripture and illegitimate in theology, taking in as he does so some of the typical corollaries of such a position. He begins with a demonstration of the historical validity of this perspective, before leading us on a sequential trawl through the Scriptures, beginning with Moses, heading swiftly and surely to the New Testament and the experience and teaching of Christ and his apostles, reaching satisfying and searching conclusions, not least in the central matters of the gospel. While the scholarly depth and breadth of research is readily evident, the book is straightforward to read (helped by that lively style). Those who themselves hold to the author’s perspective will find much to encourage, instruct and stimulate, not least in those areas where there may be different nuances of understanding. Those who disagree must face and reckon with the gracious but forthright challenge that Mr Ross holds out. An excellent book, and warmly recommended.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 11 March 2011 at 08:42

Mining the past

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Too often while reading contemporary authors on the law in the life of believers, I find myself asking the question, “Haven’t these guys read the great minds of the past on this issue?”

So asks Rich Barcellos, before supplying a few key statements from some of the theological giants who have wrestled with these issues before.

UPDATE: And there’s more.

UPDATE: More again.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 18 November 2010 at 17:48

God’s free love, freely returned

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God loves us freely (Hosea 14.4). According to Jeremiah Burroughs,

This is the solid foundation of all Christian comforts, that God loves freely. Were his love to us to be measured by our fruitfulness or conduct towards him, each hour and moment might stagger our hope; but he is therefore pleased to have it all of grace, “to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed,” Rom. iv. 16. This comforts us against the guilt of the greatest sins, for love and free grace can pardon what it will. This comforts us against the accusations of Satan drawn from our own unworthiness. True, I am unworthy, and Satan cannot show me to myself more vile than, without his accusations, I will acknowledge myself to be; but that love which gave Christ freely, gives in him more worthiness than there is or can be unworthiness in me. This comforts us in the assured hope of glory, because when he loves he loves to the end, and nothing can separate from his love. This comforts us in all afflictions, that the free love of God, who has predestinated us thereto, will wisely order all things for the good of his servants, Rom. viii. 29-39 ; Heb.xii. 6.

Our duty therefore is, 1. To labour for the assurance of this free love. It will assist us in all duties; it will arm us against all temptations; it will answer all objections that can be made against the soul’s peace; it will sustain us in all conditions, into which the saddest of times may bring us, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Though thousands be against us to hate us, yet none shall be against us to hurt us.

2. If God love us freely, we should love him thankfully, 1 John iv. 19, and let love be the salt to season all our sacrifices. For as no benefit is saving to us which does not proceed from love in him, so no duty is pleasing to him which does not proceed from love in us, 1 John v. 3.

3. Plead this free love and grace in prayer. When we beg pardon, nothing is too great for love to forgive: when we beg grace and holiness, nothing is too good for love to grant. There is not any one thing which faith can manage to more spiritual advantages, than the free grace and love of God in Christ.

4. We must yet so magnify the love of God, as that we turn not free grace into wantonness. There is a corrupt generation of men, who, under pretence of exalting grace, do put disgrace upon the law of God, by taking away the mandatory power thereof from those that are under grace, a doctrine most extremely contrary to the nature of this love. For God’s love to us works love in us to him; and our love to him is this, that we keep his commandments; and to keep a commandment is to confirm and to subject my conscience with willingness and delight to the rule and preceptive power of that commandment. Take away the obligation of the law upon conscience as a rule of life, and you take away from our love to God the very matter about which the obedience thereof should be conversant. It is no diminution to love that a man is bound to obedience, (nay, it cannot be called obedience if I be not bound to it,) but herein the excellency of our love to God is commended, that whereas other men are so bound by the law that they fret at it, and swell against it, and would be glad to be exempted from it, they who love God, and know his love to them, delight to be thus bound, and find infinitely more sweetness in the strict rule of God’s holy law, than any wicked man can do in that presumptuous liberty wherein he allows himself to shake off and break its cords. (An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea, 654-655)

So, have you been loved freely by the God of all grace? Are you assured of it? Do you love him thankfully in response? Do you plead this love and grace of God in prayer? Do you magnify his love by finding sweetness in the rule of his holy law?

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 5 November 2010 at 12:36

Caution on Sailhamer

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Several men of note have been falling over themselves to commend John Sailhamer’s The Meaning of the Pentateuch.  David Murray applies a necessary brake to the adulation by identifying a significant problem.  He quotes an early paragraph:

The Pentateuch is a lesson drawn from the lives of its two leading men, Abraham and Moses. The Pentateuch lays out two fundamentally dissimilar ways of “walking with God” (Deut. 29:1): one is to be like Moses under the Sinai law, and is called the “Sinai covenant”; the other, like that of Abraham (Gen.15:6), is by faith and apart from the law, and is called the “new covenant” (page 14).

Says Murray:

I read the passage again and again, just to make sure I had not misunderstood. How can you write 600+ pages on the Pentateuch and go so wrong in such a fundamental way at the very outset? Sailhamer is saying that there were two ways to be saved in the Old Testament. Like Moses, you could be saved by obeying the law. Or, like Abraham, you could be saved by believing in the Gospel.

That leaves me with three possible conclusions. First, Moses is in hell, having tried and failed to be saved by keeping the law. Or, second, there are two groups of people in heaven who have been saved in totally opposite ways. There are those like Moses who were saved by the works of the law, and there are those like Abraham who were saved through faith in the Messiah. Hard to see how there can be much fellowship when some are praising themselves and others are praising Christ. The third possible conclusion is that Sailhamer is wrong.

Ouch.  Murray runs with the third conclusion for a few more paragraphs, then concludes:

I’m going to force myself to keep reading, hopefully to the end of the book, as I’m sure that there is much to learn from Sailhamer’s extensive work. But it’s hard to see how Sailhamer can correct this fundamental error without contradicting himself or greatly confusing his readers.

I was hoping to get hold of Sailhamer.  I may still do so, as there will doubtless be vast quantities for me to learn.  However, I am not now half so eager, as this seems like a disastrous stance, and – as Murray says – surely such a fundamental error does not leave much to build on.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 11 February 2010 at 11:51

Doing and not doing

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A few weeks ago I preached on the righteousness of God in Christ.  Some people struggle to submit to the righteousness of God, and – in the matter of their standing with God – need to stop doing and start believing.  Encouragingly, Walter Marshall, in The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, makes the same point against both neonomianism and outright legalism, without giving any grounds for antinomianism:

The difference between the law and gospel does not at all consist in this, that the one requires perfect doing, the other only sincere doing, but in this, that the one requires doing, the other not doing but believing for life and salvation. Their terms are different, not only in degree, but in their whole nature.

HT: Ray Ortlund.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 9 February 2010 at 15:31

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Law and grace at Sinai

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 25 February 2009 at 09:24

Posted in While wandering . . .

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The end of the conference

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Gary Brady – among others – has been blogging the Affinity conference on The end of the law? It sounds like an interesting if not entirely encouraging environment.  Here are Gary’s reports on the various sessions (with some alternative views), and his summary:

  1. Robert Letham
  2. Iain D Campbell (who also comments here)
  3. Douglas Moo (who is very tall)
  4. Paul Helm (see here also)
  5. Chris Bennett (a variant view here)
  6. Michael Horton
  7. Summary

According to Adrian Reynolds (who also blogged the conference, more sympathetic to NCT than Gary, and who would like to see the moniker Bovinian applied to adherents of NCT), a straw poll taken over the meal tables suggests that the conference was split about 50-50 between NCT and more orthodox perspectives.  Whether or not that also reflects a generational gap I am not sure is clear, but it does seem de rigeur among many younger pastors.  If this is so, I do think it is a potentially devastating problem.  Adrian also quotes the staggeringly unhelpful comment from Chris Bennett when someone forthrightly suggested that without the law people will not know how to live: “We just need to trust the Spirit and chill out a bit.”

Unrelatedly, I think, Kim Riddlebarger gives us the Canons of Dort on the inadequacy of the law, and comments upon it, with some helpful insights from Professor John Murray as to what the law can and cannot do.  He also does jokes (Riddlebarger, that is, although I am sure that Professor Murray also did the funnies at times).

Also floating around are some comparisons between the Heidelberg Catechism and the Larger Westminster Catechism on the Lord’s day, with the implication that the Heidelberg is to be preferred:

Heidelberg Catechism

Question 103. What does God require in the fourth commandment?

Answer: First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained; and that I, especially on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, to hear his word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord, and contribute to the relief of the poor. Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by his Holy Spirit in me: and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Question 115: Which is the fourth commandment?

Answer: The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Question 116: What is required in the fourth commandment?

Answer: The fourth commandment requires of all men the sanctifying or keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, expressly one whole day in seven; which was the seventh from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, and the first day of the week ever since, and so to continue to the end of the world; which is the Christian sabbath, and in the New Testament called the Lord’s day.

Question 117: How is the sabbath or the Lord’s day to be sanctified?

Answer: The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to betaken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.

Question 118: Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?

Answer: The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.

Question 119: What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required, all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.

Question 120: What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?

Answer: The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself, in these words, Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: from God’s challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it;Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Question 121: Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?

Answer: The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment, partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it, and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments, and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it, for that there is less light of nature for it, and yet it restrains our natural liberty in things at other times lawful; that it comes but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it;and that Satan with his instruments much labor to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.

The end of the law?

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This week, Affinity will be hosting a conference under the title, The End of the Law? It is a clever title – clever in its calculated ambivalence.

I had hoped to attend, but am unable to do so because of other pressing commitments.  As regular readers of this blog will know, I have profound concerns over what is called New Covenant Theology, and the antinomianism which I am persuaded is inherent in it.  I am concerned that the calculated ambivalence of the Affinity conference points to a talking shop in which various perspectives on the law of God will be propounded.  That is not to say that there is not some scope for discussion about the precise nature of the covenant of grace (for example, while it looks as if there will be a robustly Reformed Presbyterian perspective delivered, I am not sure that an equally robust Reformed Baptistic view will be presented), but the enduring validity of the moral law must not be put up for grabs.  The abiding nature of God’s law is not an in-house discussion: it is a matter of truth and error (albeit not, in every manifestation, heresy).  That said, I have a book by a ‘New Covenant’ theologian on my shelf in which his best arguments against bestiality are that you cannot have sex outside marriage, you cannot marry an unbeliever, it is almost universally illegal in the eyes of the civil magistrate to marry an animal (or vegetable), and therefore the latter two considerations make sex with an animal a breaking of God’s law (because those latter two principles of marriage to an unbeliever and obedience to the civil magistrate are mentioned in the New Testament).  However, if you and your sister are both Christians and you live in a country which permits marriage between siblings, then there is apparently nothing in the ‘new covenant’ to keep you from marrying.  I kid you not.

I am not suggesting that this is where all participants in the Affinity conference are heading, or even those who will be setting forth a less than Scriptural perspective.  However, it indicates the trend and tendency of this teaching, and where the next generations will be taking it.  We are already seeing a casual and widely assumed antinomianism characterising evangelicalism: the working assumption seems often to be that the ten commandments are passé.

Over the last few weeks, several blogs have been quoting from the great believers of the past.  Again, there is not absolute uniformity, but – despite the various currents – there is a plain river of orthodoxy which we must not pollute.

Gary Brady on Calvin and the third use of the law.

Martin Downes on Thomas Boston; Calvin on being confronted by the law; Calvin on the first use of the law; on the righteousness of the law; Bolton on law and gospel and assurance; Bolton again on the substance of the moral law.

R Scott Clark on Calvin and the law and gospel; Ursinus on the same; a pan-Protestant scan on the same; and points us to some Marrow theology.

This is a point for holding fast in our day, with a love and affection for those with whom we differ, but with a love and reverence for the heavenly Father whose character is made known in the law; for the Son who obeyed and honoured and fulfilled the law in his life and death; and for the Spirit, whose office is to write that law upon the fleshy tablets of our renewed hearts.  This is no time for ambivalence, clever or otherwise.


Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 3 February 2009 at 10:55

Counting up

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David Dickson lay dying on his bed, persecuted by the government of the day and under sentence of banishment.  A friend came to see him, who had known him for about fifty years.  As he sought to comfort the dying man, the friend asked how things were with his soul.  David Dickson replied: “I have taken all my good deeds and all my bad deeds, and thrown them together in a heap before the Lord, and fled from both, and laid hold of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in him I have sweet peace.”

David Dickson was a true Christian, and he knew how to count up.  How would you answer under the same circumstances?

Most of us like to think of ourselves as good people, especially when someone suggests that we are bad.  We are very quick to defend ourselves if someone exposes a flaw in our work or our character.  There is almost always a “Yes, but . . .” in which we pile up our good deeds against whatever counts against us.  We play this counting game in our families, at school, at work, and with friends.  We do it all the time.  We do it with God.

God’s law reveals our pride, unbelief and sin.  Do you use God’s name to curse?  Then you have broken God’s law.  Do you use the Lord’s day to worship God?  If not, you have broken God’s law.  God’s law exposes disobedience and dishonour to parents, anger, hatred, murder, lust, adultery, greed, envy, theft, lies, gossip, slander, and covetousness.  It points out sins in our hearts and in our lives.  And what do we do?

“Yes, but . . .”  We begin to pile up all the things that we think count in our favour.  We’re trying to tell God that he’s got nothing on us, that we’re actually good enough to please him.

How wrong we are!  God’s standard is pure and perfect.  He requires, with perfect fairness and justice, absolute righteousness from us.  Trying to make up for our sin with so-called good deeds is like trying to polish a dirty car with an oily rag: you can redistribute the mess, but nothing gets any cleaner.  In fact, God’s Word tells us that all our efforts at righteousness – the best we have to offer – are like filthy rags that cannot cover our sin.

Our good deeds simply are not good enough.  They may soothe the conscience somewhat, but they cannot satisfy a holy God.  However, God – in his great mercy – has himself provided a perfect righteousness in Christ Jesus.  He is willing to forgive both our sins and our poor attempts to cover them, and to put to our account the perfection of his Son, Jesus Christ, who came to this world to save sinners by dying in their place, suffering the punishment that we deserve, that we might obtain his righteousness.

This is the good news: that God has provided for sinners – through Christ Jesus – a perfect righteousness, offered to all who repent of their sins and trust in Christ for salvation.

David Dickson knew how to count up.  He took all the deeds he knew were bad, and all the deeds he thought were good, and he threw them all aside, and turned to Christ.  He died with peace and joy, trusting in Jesus Christ and his righteousness.  What about you?

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 17 October 2008 at 10:49

Redeeming the time, and reminders why we should

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My aunt died last Monday.  My father’s only sibling, a few years older than him, she had a stroke at some point on Sunday.  At first, the news seemed not to be so bad.  Then by Monday morning things were going downhill, and continued so for a few hours.  She fell asleep in Jesus at about 5.30pm on Monday evening.  Although she had not been well, this was not remotely expected, and it was a severe shock for my father.

I wasn’t aware of most of this.  I had been out early to pick up Rich Barcellos.  We came back home, and I knew that my aunt was not well, but there was still no indication of this to come.  Rich and I were meeting a friend of his in London that evening, and I gave him a 30 minute sprint from Victoria via Westminster Chapel, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Whitehall with its various sights, and then Trafalgar Square.  We went from there to a restaurant, which is where my father called with the sad news about my aunt.  It felt a little odd to be sitting there engaged in sometimes deep and sometimes fun conversation, with that in the back of my mind.  Truth be told, my greatest grief is for my father and his grief.  I immediately relieved him from all regular duties other than those which he wished to maintain, as there is a vast amount of administrative and practical work for him to do.

Our Ministerium took place on Tuesday.  Rich was preaching, and several of the more senior men (like my father and Achille Blaize) were missing through other responsibilities and ill-health.  Still, we had a good turnout, with several new faces there, giving us about eighteen altogether.

Rich taught in the morning, giving us a systematic, Biblical and historical theological overview of issues relating to the law.  There were lots of careful distinctions that he made.  One had the sense that we were getting the tip of the iceberg – there was a looming mass of study lying behind the little that he was able to deliver in the hour available.  The lunch proved that many issues had been raised, and then in the afternoon he got to the meat of what I had asked him to address: the modern face of antinomianism.  Here Rich focused on New Covenant Theology, and – in a very irenic spirit – outlined some of its particular features, and identified several ‘warning lights’ of which we should be aware.  This was much more of a sermon, and God gave our brother measures both of light and heat as he pressed home precious truths on our hearts.

We had a very good discussion time, in which issues relating to the trajectory of the movement, the relationship between the character and will of God, the theological implications of antinomianism, and the like, were raised and addressed.

For those interested in the issues, Rich had been preaching over the weekend at Emmanuel Church, Salisbury.  Those four addresses are available online, and there is – at points – a good degree of overlap with regard to some of the issues to do with antinomianism.  For a more detailed record of the ministry, see Simon Musing Field for a rundown of the first session (with the second to follow in due course).

The rest of this week is ramping up.  Tomorrow morning first thing I have a meeting, then in the afternoon I am off to South Wales – Brynmawr to be precise – where I am preaching in the evening.  I return home late.  Friday I hope to be able to start preparing for the Lord’s day (now all three ministries) before having another meeting in the evening.  Saturday morning we have a special prayer meeting at church, and then again I will have opportunity to prepare for Sunday.  There is lots of other stuff on the to do list, and some books that need to be read too.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 9 October 2008 at 00:08

The Christian and the law

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The Calvinistic Methodists of Wales published advice for the societies under their care, in which they gave the following counsel:

Let us show that we have been with Jesus, by our gentle, kind, forgiving and loving behaviour towards our opponents.  And although it is by Christ alone that we have been saved, yet let us show our love for him for redeeming and delivering us freely by his life and death, by sincerely obeying all the commandments, loving the law as that rule of our new life in Christ, which we renounce as a covenant by which we come to God to obtain life.

What a wonderfully balanced statement of a healthy saint’s perspective on the law of God: with regard to our standing before God, it can only condemn us, and from that condemning power Christ has freed us; with regard to our living before God, it continues to direct us, and we love it accordingly.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 1 September 2008 at 10:33

The rebel and the king

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Consider the man born into a family of terrorists.  The man’s father had rebelled against the King of the kingdom in which he lived, and – having so rebelled – all his posterity were brought up to hate and fight the King who ruled in this kingdom.  It is to this family that the man belongs.  Having been falsely taught all his life that the sovereign is cruel, vindictive, proud and unjust, and hating him as a tyrant accordingly, he has racked up a long list of foul crimes and misdemeanours against the King, all of which bring him under sentence of death.  This life of rebellion takes its toll on the terrorist, cut off as he is from all that makes life worth living in the kingdom.  His misery and wretchedness increase day by day as he slowly loses his foolish fight.  Finally, he receives an overture of peace from the King.  The King knows of the rebel’s appalling condition, and has had compassion on the man.  Together with his son, the Prince, and his Lord Chancellor, the King has devised a way by means of which, without any detriment to the King’s justice and glory, the rebel might be entirely forgiven, and – even more – brought into the King’s royal family.  He publishes this offer by means of his ambassadors.  At first, the terrorist cannot believe that such an offer can be true.  After all has heard and believed of this king and his character, after all he has done to merit death, can the alleged tyrant really be ready to forgive all his sins and actually adopt him as his own?  Then the Lord Chancellor himself comes to press upon him the reality of the king’s free and gracious offer: the Prince himself will take the entire punishment that the law demands and which the rebel deserves.  The rebel, finally persuaded, gratefully accepts his merciful terms and embraces all that is bound up in leaving his life of crime.  The Lord Chancellor conducts him back to the King’s palace, where he is inducted into the life of a true son of the King, dearly beloved of the sovereign, and heir to all that the Prince himself is entitled to receive.  Overwhelmed, scarcely believing his mercies, he yet knows that to him now belongs all the freedom of the kingdom.  However, it is worth noting that while his relationship to the King has altered radically in some respects, there are some underpinning realities which have not altered.  The King has become his father, with all the blessings involved in his adoption.  The weight of the law as an instrument of condemnation has ceased to hang over him.  But has the father now ceased to be a King?  By no means!  And is the ex-rebel any less obliged to obedience to the law of the kingdom because he has been delivered from its condemnation?  By no means!  His obligations to obedience have been by no means reduced, but only heightened.  He is all the more obliged – love and gratitude and position all oblige him – to embrace and obey the law of his King and his father.  He has all the obligations that belong to him as one under the royal authority, as well as all the obligations that belong to him as an adopted son, overwhelmed by gratitude for the undeserved privileges bestowed upon him.  It is the same law that was in place while he was a terrorist, the very same law as condemned him to death for treason.  The law has not changed, and he now cheerfully obeys that law both as a subject under its royal authority and as a son in his father’s household.  The royal law is still in effect, is as potent and extensive as it ever was, except that now it is profoundly, readily, willingly embraced by one who has come to have that law truly impressed upon him as the continuing standard of life in the kingdom of his father, which his father the King, his natural son, the Prince, and the Lord Chancellor have all seen fit to honour in bringing him from the condemnation of death to life and to liberty.

Allegories are imperfect, and this one no less than most, but I am that rebel.  I have been condemned by God’s law.  And yet, by grace, I have been redeemed from my sins through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, atoning for my ungodliness, being called by the Father and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.  God having justified me through faith, I have been set apart to him, called to a life of holiness, and adopted into his family.  I am no longer condemned by the law, but the law still exposes sin in me.  I am no longer condemned by the law, but the law still expresses my Father’s will for what is right and holy and just.  I am no longer condemned by the law, but that law no longer presses upon me from without, rather springs up from within, having been written on my heart.  I am no longer condemned by the law, but have come to recognise it as good and just, and embrace it with a willingness and readiness to obey it in all its parts.  It is that law that is now written not on tablets of stone, but on the fleshy tablet of my heart.  It is as a son, as a redeemed man, that the law becomes my delight as well as my duty.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 19 August 2008 at 10:33

The law and the gospel

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With thanks to Martin Downes, this snippet from Iain D. Campbell punches above its weight. In his slim but profound treatment of The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1987), Sinclair Ferguson states clearly that Jesus makes plain “that our attitude to the law of God is an index of our attitude to God himself. If we treat the law lightly and encourage others to do so (if we have a settled and consistent attitude of antagonism toward it), we show that we are strangers to the promise of the new covenant in Christ. But if we love and keep even the least of the Lord’s commandments, and we encourage others to do so as well (if we have a settled attitude of obedience), that is a sure mark that we love Christ and belong to his kingdom” (77).

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 6 May 2008 at 15:19

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