Saturday, November 7, 2020

A Commentary On Romans 3:24-26

(1.) It is for the glory of his grace (Romans 3:24): Justified freely by his grace--dorean te autou chariti. It is by his grace, not by the grace wrought in us as the papists say, confounding justification and sanctification, but by the gracious favour of God to us, without any merit in us so much as foreseen. And, to make it the more emphatic, he says it is freely by his grace, to show that it must be understood of grace in the most proper and genuine sense. It is said that Joseph found grace in the sight of his master (Genesis 39:4), but there was a reason he saw that what he did prospered. There was something in Joseph to invite that grace but the grace of God communicated to us comes freely, freely it is free grace, mere mercy nothing in us to deserve such favours: no, it is all through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. It comes freely to us, but Christ bought it, and paid dearly for it, which yet is so ordered as not to derogate from the honour of free grace. Christ's purchase is no bar to the freeness of God's grace for grace provided and accepted this vicarious satisfaction.

(2.) It is for the glory of his justice and righteousness (Romans 3:25,26): Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, &c. Note, [1.] Jesus Christ is the great propitiation, or propitiatory sacrifice, typified by the hilasterion, or mercy-seat, under the law. He is our throne of grace, in and through whom atonement is made for sin, and our persons and performances are accepted of God, 1 John 2:2. He is all in all in our reconciliation, not only the maker, but the matter of it--our priest, our sacrifice, our altar, our all. God was in Christ as in his mercy-seat, reconciling the world unto himself. [2.] God hath set him forth to be so. God, the party offended, makes the first overtures towards a reconciliation, appoints the days-man proetheto--fore-ordained him to this, in the counsels of his love from eternity, appointed, anointed him to it, qualified him for it, and has exhibited him to a guilty world as their propitiation. See Matthew 3:17,17:5. [3.] That by faith in his blood we become interested in this propitiation. Christ is the propitiation there is the healing plaster provided. Faith is the applying of this plaster to the wounded soul. And this faith in the business of justification hath a special regard to the blood of Christ, as that which made the atonement for such was the divine appointment that without blood there should be no remission, and no blood but his would do it effectually. Here may be an allusion to the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifices under the law, as Exodus 24:8. Faith is the bunch of hyssop, and the blood of Christ is the blood of sprinkling. [4.] That all who by faith are interested in this propitiation have the remission of their sins that are past. It was for this that Christ was set forth to be a propitiation, in order to remission, to which the reprieves of his patience and forbearance were a very encouraging preface. Through the forbearance of God. Divine patience has kept us out of hell, that we might have space to repent, and get to heaven. Some refer the sins that are past to the sins of the Old-Testament saints, which were pardoned for the sake of the atonement which Christ in the fulness of time was to make, which looked backward as well as forward. Past through the forbearance of God. It is owing to the divine forbearance that we were not taken in the very act of sin. Several Greek copies make en te anoche tou Theou--through the forbearance of God, to begin Romans 3:26, and they denote two precious fruits of Christ's merit and God's grace:--Remission: dia ten paresin--for the remission and reprieves: the forbearance of God. It is owing to the master's goodness and the dresser's mediation that barren trees are let alone in the vineyard and in both God's righteousness is declared, in that without a mediator and a propitiation he would not only not pardon, but not so much as forbear, not spare a moment it is owning to Christ that there is ever a sinner on this side hell. [5.] That God does in all this declare his righteousness. This he insists upon with a great deal of emphasis: To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness. It is repeated, as that which has in it something surprising. He declares his righteousness, First, In the propitiation itself. Never was there such a demonstration of the justice and holiness of God as there was in the death of Christ. It appears that he hates sin, when nothing less than the blood of Christ would satisfy for it. Finding sin, though but imputed, upon his own Son, he did not spare him, because he had made himself sin for us, 2 Corinthians 5:21. The iniquities of us all being laid upon him, though he was the Son of his love, yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, Isaiah 53:10. Secondly, In the pardon upon that propitiation so it follows, by way of explication: That he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth. Mercy and truth are so met together, righteousness and peace have so kissed each other, that it is now become not only an act of grace and mercy, but an act of righteousness, in God, to pardon the sins of penitent believers, having accepted the satisfaction that Christ by dying made to his justice for them. It would not comport with his justice to demand the debt of the principal when the surety has paid it and he has accepted that payment in full satisfaction. See 1 John 1:9. He is just, that is, faithful to his word.

Excerpts taken from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Freedom And Liberation From The Law

[Romans 7] 7:25 The Law is holy and its commandment is holy and just and good (12). But sin, that diabolic power, manifests itself in its true colors (12) by using just that good Word of God to rouse in man the dormant will of opposition to God which destroys him. Paul illustrates this working of the Law (as misused by the power of sin) from his early life (7-13). Paul also shows us the working of the Law from his own experience with the Law as a Christian (14-25). It was contact with the Law, confronting him as the commandment, that first gave sin its deadly power in his life (9-11). Paul as a Christian, when confronted by the Law, becomes a man rent by an agonizing struggle (14-24) from which only Christ can and does release him from this hard fought struggle (25).

Martin Franzmann and Walter H. Roehrs, Concordia Self-study Commentary [commentary on Romans], p. 131

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Love One Another As Christ Has Loved Us

"The “as I have loved you” part of the command is not an issue of degree (“as much as I have loved you”) but an issue of relationship (“in the same way that I loved you”). When so understood, the command can be fulfilled. The Lord was saying, “Just as my love held you together in the past, so now in my absence, your love for each other must hold you together. You are family.” It is in this sense that His words can be called a charter for the local church. His words were a command because He wanted them to stop competing and start teaming up like brothers. His words were a provision because He knew they would need each other after He went away. They would not be alone. They would have each other. If they would stand together as brothers, they could withstand the attacks of the enemy and spread the Gospel far and wide. Their love and unity would show the world that they were His disciples (v. 35)."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 104-105

Monday, October 19, 2020

How The Gospel Brings About Unity

"One of the defining characteristics of modern cults is the turning of the convert against his family, and the cutting off of that convert from his parents. The true gospel does not do that. We teach young converts to honor their fathers and mothers, even when those parents oppose the Gospel. Unlike the modern cults, the alienation comes only when unbelieving parents disown, expel, or disenfranchise believing children. In such cases, the family of the local assembly is all the more important. The original family has cast out the new believer."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 98

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Pillar And Ground Of The Truth

"The word pillar (στῦλος, stylos) would have special significance to the Ephesians in that their city was the site of the Temple of Diana which had 127 marble pillars upon which announcements were regularly affixed. The local church was a pillar upon which the truth was to be held up that all might see it. By “truth” (ἀληθεία, alētheia) Paul means the full revelation of God in Christ as [1 Timothy] verse 16 makes clear...The church is a household called to manifest the truth in its message and to conform to it in its conduct. Paul adds that the church is the “support” or buttress (ἑδραίωμα, hedraiōma) of the truth. The church, the Apostle implies, exists to maintain the faith and protect it from all danger."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 49

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Office Of Overseer Or Overseership In 1 Timothy 3:1?

 "It should be noted that 1 Timothy 3:1 does not use the term "office." The term ἐπίσκοπος ("office of overseer," NASB) is rare in secular Greek and never has the sense of "office." Knight (The Pastoral Epistle, 153) has "position of overseer." The NIV is perhaps best: "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer...." As Schweizer (Church Order in the New Testament, 171-80) notes, nowhere in the New Testament do the apostles refer to elders or deacons as "officers." This is striking in that the Greek language has a wealth of terms for “office” or “officer,” e.g. ἀρχή (“one at the head, ruler”), ἄρχων (“ruler”), τιμή (“position of dignity”), τέλος (“power of office”), λειτουργός (“priestly office”), πρᾶξις (“public office”), ἱερατεία (“priest’s office”). The caution of the apostles is due to the fact that they viewed the work of elders and deacons as tasks, functions or ministries, not as official platforms that distinguished the leaders from the people in a clergy-laity fashion. If by office, however, one simply means a formally recognized position with appropriate duties, then the elders and deacons were “officers” in the church. Cf. David Mappes, “The New Testament Elder, Overseer, and Pastor,” BS 154 (April 1997): 169."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 41

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Non-Christians And Church Attendance

"Nowhere in the New Testament is there any indication that the church met to preach the gospel. Rather the church met to worship, to teach the word, to pray, to have fellowship. The meeting of the church was to edify believers and to glorify God. But it was not to preach the gospel to unbelievers. Rather the saints went out into the world to preach the gospel. … there is no biblical mandate for an “evangelistic service” when the church comes together. There is a mandate to equip the saints to preach the gospel. The work of Christians is not to invite unbelievers to church so that they might hear the gospel. It is to preach the gospel themselves."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 132

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Conversion Entails Spiritual Change

"If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions—if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before—then I think we must suspect that his “conversion” was largely imaginary; and after one’s original conversion, every time one thinks one has made an advance, that is the test to apply. Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in “religion” mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better; just as in illness “feeling better” is not much good if the thermometer shows that your temperature is still going up."

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 207

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Examining The Catholic Doctrine Of The Real Presence In Light Of Scripture

        "Christ becomes present in the Sacrament of the Altar by the transformation of the whole substance of the bread into His Body and of the whole substance of the wine into His blood...This transformation is called Transubstantiation.” (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 379)

        The Apostle Paul's language of "proclaim His death" and "until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26) logically suggests that the body of Jesus Christ is physically absent from the world at this point in time. He will return again to establish everlasting peace. If transubstantiation is true, then this passage of Scripture has been violated and devoid of substance because Christ would be coming down from heaven on a daily basis by the command of ordained ministerial priests.

        The Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that they would not see Him in the flesh after His ascension into heaven (John 7:33; 16:10; Acts 1:8-9). If He comes down from His throne at the command of a priest, then He would be contradicting Himself because He would be descending on a daily basis for believers to behold under the appearance of bread and wine.

        Paul stated that Christ is sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Colossians 3:1). If he believed in the Roman Catholic doctrine of the real presence, then it would have been perfectly reasonable for him to provide an exception to that idea. But he does not. Paul said elsewhere, "...even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer." (2 Corinthians 5:16).

        If belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ during communion is meant to be an article of the Christian faith, then why is this notion not found in the biblical accounts of the Last Supper? These contexts do not say anything about Him being physically present in the church in future generations. In fact, Jesus warned His disciples of people who would claim to have encountered Him after His physical departure from this world and to not be fooled by seemingly miraculous signs performed in such scenarios (Matthew 24:23-26).

        What can be inferred from the text of Scripture is Christ being present amongst believers in a spiritual sense (Matthew 18:20; 28:20). He is made present in our minds as we bring into remembrance the significance of His atoning work. Christ does not need to come down from heaven to be orally consumed in order to impart grace or nourish our faith.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Distinguishing Between Water Baptism And Baptism Of The Holy Spirit

Which Spirit also filled John the Baptist even from his mother’s womb; and it fell upon those who were with Cornelius the centurion before they were baptized with water. Thus, cleaving to the baptism of men, the Holy Spirit either goes before or follows it; or failing the baptism of water, it falls upon those who believe.

Anonymous Treatise on Re-baptism (254-257 A.D.)