Friday, June 1, 2012

Malcolm Yarnell's Private Hell Of Not Knowing The Truth Which Brings Unity

Malcolm Yarnell: The Grace of Unity: A Prayer for the Southern Baptist Convention

"This unity is a gift of grace worked in us through sanctification on the basis of the truth of Scripture."

It comes as quite a shock, I am sure, to those who know Yarnell, that he is still not sanctified in the truth. One day, he hopes to know the truth and attain to the unity that is a grace gift given to those who know Christ... but then, referring to John 17, a Scripture that Yarnell's Arminianism does not accept, (that God has given Jesus a people from before the foundations of the world who will, not might, believe) is absurd.

He is right, coming to the truth in Scripture is the only basis for unity. It is indeed a grace worked in each one by the Spirit. We pray that one day Yarnell will arrive at unity with the body of Christ. Until then, he and his fellow dissemblers will continue to be driven by every wind of  the doctrines of their vain imagination.

Notice the dance around TUAD's questions? Yarnell denies his doctrines are associated with Arminianism and with impudent pride aligns his Traditionalism (non-Calvinists, Biblicists, or simply Baptists) against Calvinism. Keathley's Molinism, no problem, Calvinism, no way. Lemke's rejection of original sin... no problem, God's sovereignty, get thee behind me Yahweh.

The promise of salvation through God's electing choice is the clear doctrine of Scripture. TUAD is simply directing attention to the fact that a true hope only exists in God's decree to save. Yarnell, cannot put it together. He thinks that man's choice has determined God's voice. Instead of all things coming forth from his Eternal Word, Yarnell must have the first and final say as to what God does. We can preach Christ and Him crucified for sinners only as long as his death actually saved those for whom John 17 makes it available. Unfortunately, even though Jesus contradicts Yarnell, Yarnell requires that Jesus must have prayed for the whole world. The fact is, for unity to exist in the body of Christ, we must agree with Jesus who only prayed for those who he was given out of the world before the world began. Until Yarnell actually reads and understands Scripture, he will not be able to answer such a fundamental question as to the material facts of salvation.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Could It Happen? Part 2

We can draw from the confessions that man as created was:

very good, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, upright, perfect, righteous, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change, and in communion with God.

Let's take a look:
1. very good: there was no imperfection in man
2. reasonable: perfect reasoning, that is, rational capabilities
3. immortal: perfect state of being
4. knowledge: perfect objective truth
5. righteousness: perfect actions
6. holiness: perfect innocence
7. will: perfectly natural and free
8. communion: perfect fellowship with God

So how could it happen that a perfect man able to act upon his environment would break communion with God? According to the confessions, man, righteous and holy, by the liberty of their own will chose to disobey a direct commandment of which man had perfect knowledge including the consequences for doing so.
Adam and Eve's acts prior to their sinning were righteous simply. They were virtuous, without sinful action. The were also without sin- they were holy. The first refers to their relationship to each other and to God. The second, their essential being, having within no evil as man created in the image of God.

Often the fall is stated as man's stretching out his hand from some inner motive which he naturally possessed. One way of looking at this is to say that the desire was naturally good. Another is to say that man had within him concupiscence. The latter we can dismiss for it has to do with inordinate desire and from the description of man in his primal state, created in the image of God, there was nothing in man but perfect good. The former, then, is the only basis upon which we can say for certain that man acted. But if it was a right desire, created in perfect goodness, then how did man act upon that and break the commandment that he knew perfectly with true knowledge, was rebellion against God and that it would cause his death?

The confessions say that he was deceived. But that begs the question that if man was perfect in knowledge, holy, and with a rational mind and as the understanding goes, the highest perfection of all God's creatures, created in His image, how did that happen?

We might at this point want to reflect upon Jude:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

Genesis three tells us that the Devil, in the form of a serpent, deceived Eve and that she then turned and did likewise and gave to her husband. The power of the Devil is not to be taken lightly. We see in him an ability that we only vaguely understand. He deceived the angels who beheld God in Glory and are mightier than man. Despite the miraculous exodus experiences, he persuaded many against the Lord who had freed them from bondage. We see further wondrous powers when in the temptation of Christ he translates the Lord, in what can only be described as a supernatural event, to a high place and shows him the kingdoms of the world.
With this in view and knowing what we know of man can we rightly say that man of the liberty of his own will without any kind of compulsion willingly chose death over life? There are terms we have to explore.

If by liberty of their own will we mean that man without any influence from outside him chose to rebel, where does the rebellion come from? We are immediately thrown upon the waves of confusion if we say that man from within rebelled without any compelling influence from without, for we have the description of man; he was created in perfect goodness, thoroughly. There was nothing in him that he should rebel. Not knowingly, anyway. We are left then to define compulsion.

What must be meant by that is that man was not forced against his willingness to act upon what he knew to be true. Then why did he act? He was perfect in rational thinking, full of knowledge and holy. Then what compelled him? Compulsion, then, may be by means of what is not forced but by what is presented. But that leaves us again at the first step of Adam's perfection. He was able to discern good and knew of the evil that was to be rejected. How then does that evil become to him a thing compelling?

We find that Scripture says Eve saw the fruit as good for food and for attaining knowledge. Indeed, it essentially was good, for it was the knowledge of God, albeit forbidden for man to attain. The question is how does she come to see it as such to be desired for attaining? As something good, she could have merely acted upon her natural proclivities, compelled by them as it were, she does as she was created to do. But, she would do so in direct contradiction to her better knowledge. What then changes that her natural desire becomes unnatural, that the ordinate desire becomes concupiscence?

Whatever compelled Adam then looms even greater in his case, for he knew the command also, and the penalty for breaching it. Perhaps that he saw the woman not die? We can only speculate as to what Eve said to Adam, just as we can only speculate as to the whole conversation that preceded her eating the fruit. Yet even if we knew what she taught him it would not answer our question. Again, Adam was perfect, with a rational mind, righteous, holy, and full of knowledge and knew the consequences as Eve also knew. Even seeing Eve alive, he, having communion with God, that is, face to face knowledge of Him, though challenged, does not answer just how it is that he reasons contrary to the holiness within or against the perfect knowledge he has of God without and also acquires a desire not natural to him. Death has been threatened, but death does not occur to Eve. However, even we in our fallenness would seek to reconcile the facts, wouldn’t we? Adam doesn't, he seeks no answers from another counselor, he makes no attempts at defense of what he surely knows, unlike Eve, or at least it is not recorded. Though he knows to do these things, he doesn't. Why? What overriding compulsion has entered into him?

So we are stopped at this: what man of rational mind knowing what would happen if he ate would eat? How is it that he believes the lie if indeed in his perfect knowledge he knew better? Seeing that there is nothing natural in him that can bring forth such rebellion, though we have the testimony of Scripture that he does act with culpability, how is it that he chooses against all he knows to be true? Some might say that the Devil and Eve caused doubt to arise. Ah, but how so? From where? Adam was created in the image of God and had a rational mind, able to discern good from evil, he knew the consequence, he was in communion with God. If doubt enters in, then it cannot be said that it was without compulsion in that Adam would not have chosen to allow doubt in, would he? As we can observe, doubt is not natural to the perfection which was in the image of God. So, from where would doubt arise?

Questions, questions, questions... the only answer seems to be some form of compulsion, mysterious though it is.

Compulsion in the sense of forcing against ones will can be eliminated. Adam is held culpable. A compulsion which has spiritual affect by powers unknown could effect it, though. We must be warned again: the ability of the enemy is not to be slighted. Something happened to Adam, and Eve, as God permitted, inflicted by the Devil, which caused their natural abilities to be impaired or they would not have sinned.

Then by that we know another thing. And it is the natural ability of the will. Adam was not forced and God's holding him accountable is the testimony to that, yet Adam cannot be rightly said to have had a choice, either. Choice, to be real, has to be grounded in truth. Deception is not a form of truth. It is the presentation of what truth is not.

Johnathan Edwards has deftly said that the will is simply the mind choosing its own highest good. Adam we know was created with a perfect mind, rational, with knowledge and given a commandment to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. How then do we explain that a good mind, perfect in all its faculties, would choose against itself unless prior to the eating of the fruit Adam's mind was corrupted by something without? The temptation in the Garden is beyond simple reckoning. It could not have been merely the exercise of debate raising doubt as some speculate, or even the manipulation of objects in the environment by illusion. There was something which happened more deeply considered. And we find some clues in the NT, again.

The devil and his demons can effect change in the natural world in ways that we cannot begin to understand:

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.

In this I am not saying that Adam and Eve were demon possessed. I am saying that the powers of darkness are above and beyond what we naturally think and those powers were practically greater in the Garden only having been diminished by the curse upon the Devil. As with the story of Job, where the power is given over natural events and even a person's body, the Devil can be empowered beyond the common reckoning. It is supernaturalism. In that I think is a clue to what might have happened in the Garden. The snake allurement should not be slighted as being less than what it is, a supernatural event which should clue us into a deeper reality of what the deception was all about.

Compulsion doesn't require force. It may simply be the presentation of false choice. In the case of the fall, no choice was given Adam and Eve by God. The choice was presented by the Devil. By some power he was able to make the tree appear not merely pleasing to the eye for food. That is only half the story. It was also made desirable for the attainment of wisdom and knowledge. No fruit was given by God for that, and Eve well knew that to be true. Neither the tree for food or for wisdom were choices presented by the fiat of God's creation. The tree's fruit had been forbidden as food and God had given man perfect knowledge for all matters concerning life. The pair lacked nothing. How then does a desire which previously had no basis in reality come into existence for something unneeded? Whatever happened to Adam and Eve was in addition to, or perhaps a subtracting from, what naturally occurred within or without them.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How Could It Happen? Part 1

1. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptations of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.

1. Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.

2. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.

2. Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.

3. They being the root of mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by original generation.

3. They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.

4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

5. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

5. The corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

6. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.

1. It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create or make of nothing the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.

1. In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.

2. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Besides this law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

2. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, rendering them fit unto that life to God for which they were created; being made after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it, and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change.

3. Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which whilst they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

I will try to work through these chapters of these historic confessions (1646 WCF and the 1689 LBCF) in a couple of posts. In this first one I will just ask questions and give an answer and then ask you to consider how could it happen? An answer to that is found somewhat in the confession, but I am not asking simply to repeat the description of the actions of the subtlety of the serpent, but what had to happen to man or his environment for that deception to work given man's state. There are major implications for how we view other anthropological doctrines as well as how we view soteriology. I contend that if you get the fall wrong, you will not clearly understand the means of salvation.

Think about it and in this first part define the terms which describe man's state. We'll take up more later.

What was the state of man before the fall?

The answer given in these two confessions is: very good, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, upright, perfect, righteous, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change, and in communion with God.

What does that mean?

Considering what that means, how could the fall happen?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Carried Home By The Christmas Child

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:3-5).
I'm not fond of the expression "eternal security" because of the way the doctrine is abused by antinomians and people who think it's possible to own Jesus as Savior without bowing to Him as Lord. I prefer to speak of the perseverance of the saints, because that expression better captures the gist of what the doctrine entails.
via Pyromaniacs: The Perseverance of the Saints.

Following up on the last post, I am pleased to include this note from the brother man, the big cheese, the master pyro-techy, Phil. My verbosity in the last post not withstanding, another verbal avalanche, I fear, is in the making as hints of dissent appear to challenge the Faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Perseverance, security, preservation, whatever you want to call it, is another aspect of the Faith that is sometimes captured in that pestilence known as Calvinism by the kudzu known as the TULIP. See, when I wrote about Faith in terms of justification, there is far more to what the definition of Faith is than I could possibly get into such a short note. One of the divergences of the variegated reality of Faith, is its eternal nature. Or, as the kudzu would invade it, the P. This thing, having begun, goes on and on and on, running as it were on an eternal charge supplied by the only Energizer, the Holy Spirit.

We have, or should have, heard the parable of the wheat and tares. There is a reason that the parable was taught, and why we are admonished not to judge by the outward appearance but with righteous judgement.

To be fair, even though it should not be, many judge wrongly and think themselves in the right and able to inspect another's fruit. They believe in judging by the outward, in other words, when God clearly tells that it is the heart and not the appearance that matters. The fact is that the Pharisees, like Paul, were Jews of Jews, of the circumcision (an outward slice of reality), according to righteousness, from what could be seen, blameless. They had all the good outward signs. Paul makes his boast about that fact and then... calls it all dung at the very same time calling for a life of righteousness.

Mysterious, isn't it? Not at all, if we consider that a man is not justified, that is perfected, by the works of the law, at all, but by the perfected work of Christ. Then who are we to judge? We are told not to. We are only to judge ourselves, and not by the outward, but by the Faith. Are you believing in Christ's obediences, active and passive, or do you fall into the category of Hebrews 10, rejecting the final work of Christ as the only good and holy thing, by making his blood as common as your works that must be done over, and over, and over so as to establish themselves but never achieving the end?

Security, perseverance, preservation, they're all good, bibly terms. But like all other Scripture, men will often twist them to their own destruction, and thus arises a need to distinguish meaning... and perhaps avoid one word or the other out of a desire not to confuse issues.

That said, the fact is that security, preservation, perseverance, all share a common word group. They all simply mean saved or some variant of it. As in Titus 3:5 where the aorist indicative of the verb sozo (sode-zo) means having been saved we are being saved and will be saved, or simply, "He is saving" us now. It is obvious from the context, in fact, it is explicit, that not only the initial but the continuance and consummation of salvation rests in Christ. Yet, the apostle doesn't pull punches, filling in the blank "What must we do," with the commandment to live holy and righteous lives commending the Faith before the people and by that glorifying our Father, as the Commandment says.

So it doesn't matter what you use. But it does matter what you mean when you use it. If you are saying that salvation can fail, you have joined the club of Hebrews in the book by that name who reject the perfecter and the means by which he perfects. If you believe you are not bound by the perfecting of holiness in the fear of God, likewise, for Hebrews 12 instructs us about the pathway of sonship and the requirements of good works. In either case there is only the fearful expectation, that of wrath. You may well do well and look good, but unless your salvation rests entirely upon Christ's doing, you're one of those who have gone out from us because you are not really of us. Still, if one is of the Faith, he will show those works which accompany it. Here in is the trick, however. The process and fruit of sanctification, is not one that is seen, really. And being that it's the renewing of the inward man, one man's fruit cannot be judged by another. Yet...

Is it really hard to understand the prescriptive demands of the law of righteousness as binding upon believers? No, that is only natural. One who loves God, John says, following the words of his Sovereign, will keep his commandments. It makes perfect sense when we understand that we are secured by faith, because faith does what it is by nature. It loves, it rests safely protected, in that love, guarded in the strong tower of God's love spread abroad in the heart, seated eternally in the eternal throne of heaven in Christ, now, by those who by good doing demonstrate that they are children of God, joint heirs with Christ, known for good works, as Ephesians defines it.

Preserved, protected, secured, guarded, pick your term. Scripture defines salvation as eternal life, as belonging to the Eternal One, and he gives it to whom he chooses. But since it is his life and not our own, it does what he did, striving always to be pleasing to the Father. Those who make salvation to depend on man's character and not Christ's, his sacrifice and not man's, so that man merits it in any way, in any sense, whether in securing to begin with, or securing it so that it is not lost, are simply denying that Christmas was once and can never be repeated. In short, they cannot stand to be carried home to God by a baby.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Myth Of The Two-Natured Christian?

The Myth Of The Two-Natured Christian « 5 Point Salt.

The discussion is not so simplistic as the ADMIN at 5 Point Salt contends. Let's tackle a few of the questions Morey asks:

Isn’t it true that the two-nature theory actually puts forth three individual forces in the Christian?

No more than Christ's dual nature makes him filled with three individual forces.

Who then is forgiven?

The person. Paul repeatedly says I in Roman 7. He does not relegate the different aspects of his person to separated realms of distinct personhood. Rather, though he personifies sin, he takes full responsibility for it being his, part of who he is as person. It is an absurd rejection of literary device to discount as unreal what is being discussed simply because anthropomorphic terms are employed.

The old man will never be saved while the new man doesn’t need saving. Who then shall be saved?

Again, the person. It is to make a false dichotomy, a category error, to claim that different attributes constitute different persons. The old man and the new man constitute one person, Simul Iustus et Peccator.

The new man is perfect so he never sins. And neither am I responsible for sin for I do not do the sinning, but the old man does it. Who then is responsible for sin?

Again, the person. Same bifurcation error as above.

Morey makes the same errors repeatedly. What he ends up doing is destroying the concept of personhood and by fiat the hypostatic union of Christ. For, who was rewarded with a kingdom? The Son of Man, with a human nature, or the Son of God, with a divine nature, or the person of Jesus? What the theory does is to confuse why Paul would say that he beats his person into submission? Why? If there is no contest within? If there is no struggle? If there is no old nature, no new nature, but just a new creation, what is Paul's instruction touching upon? But Paul does characterize it as a struggle against a nature. The reality is that there is a struggle and it is against a nature prone to wander. So it must be answered: From where does sin come from in the new creature if indeed all things have passed away and all things have become new according to such an understanding? In the comment thread is a tongue-in-cheek, but not very adroit, reference to the fall. If it were true that Adam and Eve had concupiscence within them, then God is Yin and Yang, both good and evil, for they were created in his image. That sidesteps the issue. From where does sin come in the new creation, if what is meant by that is that we no longer bear within our bodies sin, if not that there remains a principle still active within man that is contrary to the nature in us, i.e., a new mind, recreated in the likeness of the Son?

I think part of the confusion comes from the reality of what is said here about the corporate nature of the passages in question about the new man, and that individual experiential reality of Christian life that Paul is referring to in Romans. Much of what Paul is saying concerns relationships in the church. Then, what does Romans 6 have to do with Romans 7? To simply state that there are not two natures suggests that there are not two forces as the 5 Point post indicates. However, it is the confusion of terms as noted in Herrick. What is meant by nature? What is meant by forces. What is meant by old man, new man? Because in the experiential reality of sanctification we experience what Paul is describing individually.

Simply, if there were no contest, we could dismiss altogether the terms. But, we need some words to describe what is going on within the believer. Paul's personification doesn't need to indicate a dual nature as in there being twin ruling principles. But, we need some words for what it is we fight against. Should we describe it as forces opposed to one another? Again, Paul's description elsewhere is that of a contest, beating down the flesh with purpose as if engaged in battle with a real personal enemy. How then should we define it? With what words? The fact remains that within every believer there resides the remnants of the effects of sin. Namely, that we have temptations of mind and of body that are evident in the experiential life of every believer. Can we say that it is not me who sins? Paul did. But, Paul was also quick to point out that it was he who needed to be set free from the compulsions of the flesh. Paul's juxtaposition is not, then, that it was not he, the person, who did not sin. Rather his desire was not to sin. He then was disavowing any association with sinful desire as being in opposition to himself. His claim is that Christ has set him free from that bondage that he was formally under. He is not saying that force no longer abides in him or that it no longer exerts any influence. He says:

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Is in perfect accord with what he is saying in the previous chapter. His mind is fixed on Christ in contrast to the mind still fixated on the flesh. He goes on:

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

What? The body is dead? Paul makes no pretense that the body of sin that he lives in has been done away. In fact he further says:

...we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh...For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

If there is no potential of debt to the flesh, if it is no longer a threat, if Paul no longer lives in it, why the admonition? Why the appeal to patience? Why is it only firstfruits and not the whole harvest? Why the suggestion that the body is not yet redeemed if by meaning that it has been put away, it in no sense is still hanging on? That is because it is a hope, the not-yet that is. The status of all believers this side of the grave or the parousia is that we still find this law working in us, the law of sin and death, in our bodies, that is the flesh, but that through Christ we have been set free from the condemnation of the acts that our flesh, which all too often defeats us. So that, we are more than conquerors, unable, even by the sin we commit to be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is the condemnation then, and not the force within that has finally been put away in the now while we remain until his appearing when we shall finally be like him and the flesh is redeemed. So that, in the end the old man will be save as the new man, one person.

And there I go again. Should I have said compulsions of sin warring against the mind of Christ in my members? See, the language of a personification is a literary device to help explain the condition. One might ask with Paul, do I serve sin, or do I serve Christ? How can one not then begin to see sin as personified? Then, we are justified in calling it a nature just as if it were a person.

Above I mentioned the hypostatic union of Christ's natures. There is a likeness of that when we say that Christ was filled with the Holy Spirit from conception forward. Does the indwelling of the Holy Spirit make Christ schizophrenic? A tri-personality. No! When the believer is regenerated there is the immediate imputation of the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ. Does that then mean we are schizophrenic as Christians? That we are at once tri-persons? Again, no. Then it does no good to try to make Christians to be so because one believes that we have a duality in nature. Yet, we must be careful not to confuse terms. Nature has many meanings when it comes to its use theologically. Perhaps we should say attributes.

We might say things like the nature of love. When we do, we do not mean that it is an entity existing beside the person whose loves, do we? Likewise, we do not think of God whose nature is love, as a being with multiple natures. Instead we think of God as possessing in his person, that is his nature, the attribute of love. So, we need not think that because we call it the sin nature that man has multiple natures, i.e. personalities, anymore than we think of a man who loves as having multiple natures. Instead, we speak of man as a whole, possessing in his being a multiplicity of attributes all of which constitute one person. So, when Paul speaks of enemies within and enemies without, he is not just speaking of men who oppose him, just as David was not speaking of men who opposed him when he pleaded with God to search him to find any wicked way in him:

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

David many times speaks in anthropomorphic terms when describing the enemy of sin within him as him a mortal enemy, or enemies. Indeed, armies of such. He recognized that there was within him things contrary to the nature of God's Spirit within him, things that warred against him and his love of the things of God. And, there we go again. We slip back into the anthropomorphic description because we cannot go to war except that it is a force against which we go to battle. Or, that is to say, an army, and that made up of men equipped for battle. The dualism is completed in Paul's visually referencing the Christian in complete armor. The fact is that Paul spoke, not just of those who as men fought the truth, but also of the spiritual powers in heavenly realms, thoughts that war against the truth of God of which we are to take captive.

There is simply no getting around the language. Call it a nature, a force, make it what you will. The fact remains that there is a struggle, a war against the remaining strongholds of sin in our members. And that is not just enemies of Christ within the body of Christ, nor those from without who would want to destroy the church. We are to take care to ourselves, also. Routing the enemy within where we find him and destroying him by the Spirit.

So let's answer the Romans passages:

Rom 6:11 Why would I have to consider it if it is true that there is no such nature in me? Why wouldn't Paul just say, you're dead to sin, no such nature any longer exists in you? Because, sin still remains. Call it what you will, nature, or the flesh, or any other designation is just other words that describe the reality that if any one says he is without sin, he is a liar and the truth is not in him. The recognition that there is this duality of nature is requisite of true faith. To deny that we still have a sin nature, or that the "old-man" is still active is a denial of the faith. By using those terms we do not nullify the forensic declarations that we are new creatures. By regeneration that is true. But a new ruling principle in us has not eviscerated the flesh with its passions. That is hte work of the Spirit by which he sanctifies the believer. Without that fight we are as Hebrews 12 declares, bastards, and not true sons. Where Jesus struggled without, our greatest enemy is within. In our struggles we dare not forget that. And, we must also thank God that he purges us through scourging.

Rom 6:12 Why the effort, why the beating into submission? If there is no sin there, I would reign, there would be no fight, no threat at all that sin would ascend. What passions of whom? There isn't a him who has passions? Then, why does Paul personify it as having passions? A nothing doesn't have passions, a personality does. That is not to say we are schizophrenic. On the other hand, a person who does not do what he wants, and does what he does not want to do, of which we are all guilty, is considered pathological. Compulsive behavior is a reality. The forensic reality is also that we have been set free as Romans 8 declares. The experiential reality is that it is not yet made manifest. Paul could say that he was without guilt but not without blame. The reason, was not who he was in and of himself, rather, his claim was positional, in Christ. It is in Christ, where the new-man is in its eschatological reality. Not here, not now.

We could repeat this exercise for each statement thats quoted out of Romans. But they are non sequiturs if there remains no longer sin which indwells the believer. It is set up against Paul's full discourse to deny a principle still at work in us. Call it what you may. But you cannot escape its reality.

Let's hear Abraham Kuyper on the Old Man/New Man reality:

It is true that our former connection brings us in frequent contact with him. On such occasions he often entices us by his cunning, but not to our delight; and being only half willing, our souls protest; and as soon as the sin is committed we are filled with self-loathing and contrition.

And this reversal of our affections is not our work, but that of the Holy Spirit. Not that we deny that He often uses us as instruments, or prompts us to exert ourselves, but the changing of our inclinations is not our work, but the direct operation of God the Holy Spirit.

How it is performed we can understand but partly. Essentially it is a mystery, just as much as regeneration. Being God, the Holy Spirit has access to our heart, He discovers our personality, the nature of our affections, and in what way their action may be reversed. But our inability to fathom this mystery does not in the least affect our faith in the matter.

Since the dying of the old man is effected, not by our good works, but by the implanting of a disposition and inclination repugnant to the old man, our own work is entirely out of the question; for our own heart is inaccessible to us. We have no power over our inward person; we lack the means to create another inclination; and when we deny this we are self-deceived. God the Creator alone can do this, and in doing it He is irresistible. Hatred against the old man, once having entered the soul, is a power that simply overwhelms us. Even when enticed by him; we can not but hate him.

The seventh chapter of Romans is very instructive in this respect. St. Paul says, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man,” (Rom vii. 22) i.e., after my inward affections. There is indeed another law in his members, which brings him into captivity to the law of sin; but he has not the least love or sympathy for that law, but with the law of his mind wars against it.

Any other representation contradicts this positive testimony, uttered by the mouth of the most excellent of the apostles, under the seal of the Holy Spirit. He that believes embraces the Son, and can not but receive impressions and be swayed by influences that cause his affections and inclinations to become radically changed. A believer is internally wrought upon. All his former dealings with the old man—pride, hardness of heart, deceit, and thirst for revenge—now fill him with horror; what was formerly to him the pride of life and the lust of the eyes is now vexation of spirit, as he realizes how shameful and abominable it is.

So he gradually dies to the old man, until, in the hour of death, he is fully delivered. God’s child remains the old man’s grave-digger until the hour of his own departure.

Nevertheless he dies to him so completely that at last he loses all confidence in him, thoroughly convinced that he is without excuse, an abominable wretch, a reprobate, and a deceiver, capable of all evil. And when occasionally he indulges in scornful mirth at the old man’s pride and practises, it is not in boastfulness of his own work or of his fellow men, but glorying only in the gracious work of his God.

Or of John Bradford:

For this end (I mean that we might be coupled and married thus to Christ, and so be certain of salvation, and at godly peace with God in our consciences,) God hath given his holy word, which hath two parts, as now the children of God consisteth of two men; one part of God's word being proper to "the old man," and the other part of God's word being proper to "the new man." The part properly pertaining to "the old man" is the law: the part properly pertaining to "the new man" is the gospel.

And finally I add Thomas Boston:

DOCTRINE I. There is in believers united to Christ a new man, a holy principle; and an old man, a fountain of sin.

I. Why the holy principle and the corrupt nature in believers are called the new and old man?

1. They are called men, because each of them possesseth the whole man, though not wholly. There are by their means two I's in every believer, Rom. vii. 15. "For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate that do I." There is not one part of the man that is in Christ, but grace has a part of it, and corruption has a part of it: as in the twilight there is light over all, and darkness over all too, the darkness being mixed in every part with the light. So my renewed part is I, a man having an understanding enlightened, a will renewed, affections spiritualized, using my body conformably: but my unrenewed part is I too, having an understanding darkened, a will rebellious, affections corrupted, and using my body accordingly.

2. They are called the new and old man, for two reasons.

(1) Because the new nature is brought in upon the corrupt principle, which was the first possessor. The corrupt nature is of the same standing with ourselves from the conception and birth, and possessed us alone till our union with Christ by faith. And then only came in the new nature, and that made the former old.

(2) Because of their different originals; the one being in us from the corrupt first Adam, the other from the holy second Adam. So the believer, looking on the corruption of his nature, may call fallen Adam father; and on the new creature in him, he may call Christ father. The second Adam coming after the first, made the first old: so the produce of them in us is the old and new man accordingly.

II. How the believer comes to be thus split in two, two men. This is done by virtue of his union with Christ, from whence ariseth a communication of grace to him from Christ, 1 Cor. i. 30. "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." Concerning which two things are to be noted.

1. That in the moment of one's union with Christ by faith, there is communicated to him, out of the fulness of grace in the man Christ, a measure of every grace in him, as the wax impressed receives every point in the seal, John i. 16. "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." Eph. iv. 13. "Till we all come -- unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." And thus is the new creature formed, being a new man perfect in parts, entire or having all its members, no grace totally wanting.

Hence it is that the new man is formed immediately after Christ's image, so that it is the very picture of the man Christ, as Eve was of Adam. Therefore the forming of it is said to be the forming of Christ in the believer, Gal. iv. 19.

2. That yet there is not then, nor during this life, communicated to the believer a full measure of any grace, 1 Cor. xiii. 9. "For we know in part." So all the graces being imperfect, though they remove sin as far as they go, they cannot fill up the room in any part, mind, will, or affections. And thus is there an old man left in the believer still, Rom. vii. 14. which is the image of the first Adam, from whom the corruption composing it is derived.

USE 1. Hence see, that the believer's life while here cannot miss to be a struggling life, Gal. v. 17. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." The believer is like Rebekah in another case, the two men struggle in him; and like the two armies in the Shulamite.

2. See here the rise of the peace and easy life of it most men have. The flesh in them has no competitor. In the state of glory, grace has all, so there is a perfect peace: in the state of nature, corruption has all; so there is peace too; except what is marred by the struggle between the flesh in one part lusting, and the flesh in another part fearing, as in Balaam, 2 Pet. ii. 15. "who loved the wages of unrighteousness." Compared with Numb. xxii. 18. "If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more." Whereas the struggle in the believer is betwixt the flesh and Spirit in the same part willing, and willing the same thing of their proper motion, Rom. vii. 15, 16. forecited.

To deny the duality, is, simply put, to deny the necessity of sanctification and the operations of it by the Holy Spirit. It is to deny the historical track of Calvinistic thought. It is not a myth, it is the life we now must live.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bloggerites Beware: Killer Filter On The Loose

Thanks to Blogger you'll never again say Yuck!

Look! Could I have egg bacon, spam and sausage, without the spam?

On another note, a good way to filter out unwanted information that might change your mind is to try Confirmation Bias Filters. You'll not ever again experience the anxiety of cognitive dissonance. You'll always be right about vanilla and can forget forever the taste of liver icecream!