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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Is Purgatory a Biblical Doctrine? | Main | Useful Links for Mid-May 2009 »

    The Doctrine of Republication (of the Covenant of Works)

    thelawisnotoffaith-rt.jpgThe Law Is Not of Faith by Bryan D. Estelle, J.V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Editors)

    [Hodge says] "God entered into a covenant with Adam", "the promise annexed to that covenant was life," "the condition was perfect obedience," and the penalty of this covenant was death." The covenant of works predicated on the command "This do and thou shalt live,"(Lev. 18:5) required perfect obedience by Adam and established a principle of strict justice or merit... The Work of Christ is a real satisfaction, of infinite merit, to the vindicatory justice of God; so that he saves people by doing for them, and in their stead, what they are unable to do for themselves, satisfying the demands of the law on their behalf, and bearing its penalty in their stead." -

    ...The law of Moses was, in the first place, a re-enactment of the covenant of works [but that is not its only function]. A covenant is simply a promise suspended upon a condition. The covenant of works, therefore, is nothing more than the promise of liffe suspended on the condition of perfect obedience.

    ...As the gospel contains a renewed revelation of the law, so the law of Moses contained a revelation of the gospel. It presented in its priesthood and sacrifices, as types of the office and work of Christ, the gratuitous method of salvation through a Redeemer. This necessarily supposes that faith and not works was the condition of salvation.

    To affirm that in some sense the covenant of works is republished at Sinai is not to say that there is a different way of salvation in the Old Testament from the New. The Doctrine of republication is not in any way dispensationalism...Reformed theology, in the doctrine of republication merely points the redeemed sinner to Christ as the one who has fulfilled the broken covenant of works and has redeemed him from the curse of the law.

    [Amandus Polanus (1561-1610)] cites four reasons for this repetition of the covenant of works in the Mosaic covenant:

    1. That God by all means might stir up men to perform obedience.
    2. That every mouth might be stopped, and all the world might be made subject to the condemnation of God for not performing perfect obedience (Rom 3:19)
    3. That he might manifest man's sin, and naughtiness (Rom 3:19:20; 7:7-11)
    4. That he might thrust us forward to seek to be restored in the covenant of gracer (Gal 3:22, 5:23).

    When we come to the pages of the NT, Jesus does not emerge on stage divorced from antecedent redemptive history. In fact, it is against the backdrop of the theme of the probation and exile of God's son that so many of the seemingly disparate statements about Jesus cohere and make sense....Unlike God's disobedient son [Adam], Jesus was perfectly obedient to the will of his Father. in fact, one of the exegetical flags that alerts the reader that Jesus is retracing Jesus steps, especially as it relates to the Mosiac covenant, is that, in his temptation, Jesus responds with three quotations from Deuteronomy (6:13, 16, 8:3) Jesus obedience, however, was not merely in his wilderness temptation, but was throughout his life and culminated in his crucifixion. It was because of this obedience unto death that Jesus' heavenly Father gave him the name that is above every name (Phil. 2:5-11). In terms of the antecedent preredemptive and redemptive history, or Adam's and Israel's failure, Jesus the faithful Son successfully passed the probation, yet though he was faithful and obedient, he nevertheless suffered exile on behalf of his bride, the covenant people of God (Heb. 13:11-12)...

    We should not miss the implied comparison between Adam and Israel (Rom 5:12), in that both transgressed expressly revealed commands, whether Adam's transgression of the prohibition to eat from the tree of knowledge or Israel's transgression of the Torah, the stipulations of the Mosaic covenant.

    Calvin writes, "The covenant made with all the patriarchs is so much like ours in substance and reality that the two are actually one and the same. Yet they differ in mode of dispensation" (2.10.2). "We cannot gainsay that the reward of eternal salvation awaits complete obedience to the law, as the Lord has promised (2.7.2). The problem, however, with this covenant of obedience is, because of man's sinfulness, "righteousness is taught in vain by the commandments until Christ confers it by free imputation and by the Spirit of regeneration" (2.7.2).

    Salvation has always been by grace through faith in Christ ...all of God's people, whether in the OT or the NT, participate in the same spirituale foedus ... the outward OT adminstration of the spiritual foedus is marked by shadows and types of Christ. The foedus legale is based upon a works principle but no one is able to fulfil its obligations except Christ....

    Hodge appealed to Christ's and the apostle Pauls's own examples: "Our Lord assured the young man who came to Him for instruction that if he kept the commandments he should live [eternal life]. And Paul says (Rom. ii. 6) that God will render to every man according to his deeds...""This deliverance [by Christ] did not stem from the abbrogation of the law or "by lowering its demands". Freedom from the law came by the work of Christ. "He was made under the law that He might redeem those who were under the law." Through his passive and active obedience, "he endured all that the law demands..."

    While Christ ... offered the rich young ruler an impossible offer of salvation by works to humble him, in the old covenant ... the purpose of this hypothetical offer was to meet and break down pride, since the Israelites "swelled with mad assurance in themselves saying, 'All that the Lord commandeth we will do,' and be obedient, Exod. xix 8"

    Excerpts from The Law Is Not of Faith by Bryan D. Estelle, J.V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Editors)


    Scripture Proofs

    "...Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?...If you would enter life, keep the commandments." Matthew 19:15-17

    "For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them." Romans 10:5

    "You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD." Leviticus 18:5

    "But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me." - Hosea 6:7

    "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." James 2:10

    For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." - Galatians 3:10-12 (quoting Deut 21:23, Deut 27:26, Hab 2:4, and Lev 18:5; also see Is 32:15, 44:3; Jer 11:3; Ezek 18:4; Joel 2:38; Matt 5:19; John 7:39; Acts 5:30; Gal 2:6, 4:5, 5:4; Rom 1:17, 4:9, 15-16, 10:5; Heb 10:38; 2 Peter 2:1; Rev 22:3)

    "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." Galatians 4:4

    "For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us..." Rom 8:3-4

    "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Matthew 5:17 ... This means that although Jesus was ontologically perfect as God, he still needed to obey the law from our side in order to impute his perfect righteousness as a human to us. Otherwise we downplay the necessity of the incarnation.

    "John would have prevented him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.'" Matthew 3:14-15


    "In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek." - Hebrews 5:7-9

    Posted by John on May 14, 2009 12:53 PM

    Comments

    Hi Nick

    Somehow your comment was lost in which you suggested to us that it is improper exegesis to suggest that Jesus would extend an offer to people that could not be done. That he would somehow be disingenuous in extending such a hypothetical offer.

    Yet the God of the Bible does this all the time when he issues moral commands to us.

    Consider,do you really believe that, by your natural powers, you have the moral ability to obey God's command to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as your self?

    If you can, then what need have you of a Savior? But if you cannot obey God's commands, Nick, then may I suggest that according to your own logic, God must be disingenuous in asking you to obey the commands perfectly.

    Whenever you say that a command signifies the abilty to carry it out then together with Martin Luther I’ll write Romans.3:19, 20 over the top of it all which says "...through the law comes knowledge of sin.". In other words, the commands of God exist in order to show not our ability but our inability... but our inability to repay our debt to God does not take away our accountablity to do so. If you borrowed $100 million to fund your new company and then went to squander it in a week of wild living in las vegas, your inabilty to repay the debt does not allieviate you of your responsibility to do so. Our condition is similar. We owe a debt we cannot repay. Our inability to do so does not stop God from commanding it. But in his mercy he does for us what we cannot do for ourselve in Christ.

    'if thou art willing' is a verb in the subjunctive mood, which asserts nothing...a conditional statement asserts nothing indicatively." "if thou art willing", "if thou hear", "if thou do" declare, not man's ability, but his duty. Nothing more is signified by verbs in the imperative mood than what ought to be done, and that what is done or can be done should be expressed by words in the indicative.

    the commandments are not given inappropriately or pointlessly; but in order that through them the proud, blind man may learn the plague of his impotence, should he try to do as he is commanded.

    Notice that at the end of the passage to the rich young ruler, Jesus affirms this very interpretation: He says what is impossible with man (faith and repentance) is possible with God. Only by God's grace is faith in the gospel and obedience to God possible. Otherwise we do not need a Savior but rather someone who can merely help us save ourselves.

    got the book, "great" read, packed with so much! gulp! burp! oops, excuse me!

    You said:"Consider, do you really believe that, by your natural powers, you have the moral ability to obey God's command to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as your self?"

    I think you are misunderstanding that command, the point of it was not the moment you take your eyes off God you are damned. There never was a requirement of sinless perfection in anything Jesus or Paul taught regarding the Christian life. As for Jews, only certain grave sins could have them cut off, otherwise they simply needed to repent to be restored to good standing again.

    And this in no way takes away from Christ being Savior, because it's only though him we are made capable of keeping His commandments. This never was about "our own natural powers," as if somehow we were trying to get past God through some back door.

    But this is getting away from a proper exegesis of the Rich Man account:
    Mk 10:
    "20"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."
    21Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." "

    There is no indication the Boy was telling a lie here, Jesus responded favorably, merely stating there was "one more" thing He demanded from him. The point of the story has nothing to do with God giving impossible demands, nor is it getting to Heaven by sneaking around Christ. If your interpretation was correct, we would expect to see Jesus sternly rebuke this man for lying about keeping an impossible command.
    The point about "impossible" later in the account is that what seems like a demand too much for a human to bear, is in fact possible with God's grace, and that's why Jesus immediately says to the Apostles for abandoning everything to follow him obediently they would inherit eternal life.

    Nick

    You said >>> "If your interpretation was correct, we would expect to see Jesus sternly rebuke this man for lying about keeping an impossible command."

    Well, Jesus does not always do what we expect. So when people are wrong, do you merely expect Jesus to sternly rebuke them.? There are often other ways of getting a truth across that are equally as effective. I believe it is absolutely true that if someone obeys the commandments they would have eternal life. But it simply cannot be done except in the case of Christ, who fulfiled the law and was sinless. This was the reason Hebrews 5 says that his sacrifice was accepted.

    Again if you have a debt you cannot repay, the creditor still has the right to ask you for it, even if it is impossible for you to come up with it. And this is why Jesus has this encounter. Rom 3:19 says the purpose of the law is to reveal sin.

    In light of purpose of divine legilslation reveled in texts like Rom. 3:19, the whole context of this story beceoms clear. Jesus knew the young man's heart and so did not name the sin of coveting in his first list. The one sin the man deeply struggled with was that very thing.

    And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God ." When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

    He went away sad and Jesus turned to the disciples telling them a rich man has as much difficulty getting into heaven as a camel through the eye of a needle. The disciples understood the gravity of this statement and wondered whether anyone could then be saved. The standard was too high then for anyone, they rightly understood.

    The plain implication is that no one can be saved apart from the sovereign work of God in turning their hearts to Him. they are in bondage to sin until Christ set them free. No one comes to faith in Christ unless God grants it (John 6:65) and all to whom God grants it, will believe (John 6:37).

    I agree with you that the disciples had to reliinquish all but this does not happen apart from the Holy Spirit turning our heart of stone to a hear to flesh.. No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart from the Holy Spirit.

    "The saving power of the cross does not depend on faith being addded to it; its saving power is such that faith flows from it" - J.I. Packer.


    John: Well, Jesus does not always do what we expect. So when people are wrong, do you merely expect Jesus to sternly rebuke them? There are often other ways of getting a truth across that are equally as effective.

    Nick: Even if there was no explicit rebuke, something in the text would have to indicate Jesus wasn't happy (eg Evangelist commentary on the situation). The Mark 10 account says after the Rich Man said he kept those teachings that Jesus "loved him," which is a far cry from a liar (or even Pharisee) whom Jesus was rebuking. The text itself should be our guide, not assumptions.

    And you're also cutting off Jesus mid sentence with the "with God all things are possible." There's more to the teaching. The standard was not too high in that Jesus was making impossible demands, for Peter immediately says to Jesus that he and the apostles have indeed given up all for Christ. And Christ's response is that they and whomever else would give up their life for Him would inherit eternal life.

    None of this conflicts with "no one can be saved apart from the sovereign work of God in turning their hearts to Him," that is true at all times but never precludes keeping Christ's commandments to enter Heaven.

    Nick:

    It is obvious from the Text (to me at least) that Jesus used this encounter as a teaching tool and that He already knew what the outcome would be prior to engaging the rich young ruler. By revealing the man's covetousness, which he already knew existed in the man, Jesus thereby gives him the sharpest rebuke possible.

    On the contrary, I believe the sovereignty of God DOES indeed conflict with your proposal. For it is Christ who both attains and maintains our justification for us. We do not maintain our own just standing before God. Our "giving up all" is solely because of the grace of God we have Christ - thus the statement "what is impossible with man is possible with God" extends to this as well. It is grace itself that we desire, believe, obey and persevere.

    Let the Text be your guide, not assumptions. :)

    By saying that we must obey God's commands to get into heaven, are you proposing that Jesus is not a complete Savior but only helps us to save ourselves? Or are you saying that those who are children of God will obey God's commands because the grace of God is in them?

    Paul elsewhere teaches that if one is to be circumcised he is "obligated to keep the whole law". (Gal 5:3) The same principle is a work here. Paul teaches that THE reason we cannot rely on the law is because you would have to keep it perfectly in order for it to be beneficial, which is an impossible supposition since the law can only be a "ministry of death" in a postlapsarian world (Gal 2:21, 2 Cor 3:7)

    Revealing his covetousness has nothing to do with this being a hypothetical or even impossible demand. The man had kept what Jesus originally asked, and Jesus simply asked for one more demand. The demand was in no way impossible or hypothetical, the man simply chose money over Christ. There was nothing impossible or hypothetical about leaving his money right then and there.

    As for your talk about Jesus 'not being a complete savior', that is true in one sense but not in another. Jesus is not our savior in the sense His good works will be judged -in place of our own- at the Final Judgment (where we'll be justified or condemned according to our acts, Mat 12:36-37). He is a savior in that His grace makes it possible to keep His commandments (Gal 6:7-9; Phil 2:12-13).

    I think you are confusing Paul's point about the Law, he is referring to the Mosaic Law only, nothing to do with pre-lapsarian. In the Gal 5:3 reference you gave it says "circumcistion" which didn't exist at the time of Adam. The Judaizer heresy was linking salvation to the Mosaic Covenant, when Paul points out to do so is an implicit rejection that Christ came and did away with the Law. This has nothing to do with keeping the Law perfectly, because Gal 2:21 plainly says if righteousness came by Law there was no need for Christ to come in the first place, and Paul infact did keep the law flawlessly in Phil 3:6, but he calls that dung at the end of the day because that legal righteousness according to Law is not what saves.

    Nick

    Thank you for your time...

    You said >>>>Revealing his covetousness has nothing to do with this being a hypothetical or even impossible demand.

    Actually Nick, it has everything to do with it. Revealing the impossible demands of the law is the way I and many others share the gospel all the time. People will ask if a good person can make it to heaven and I answer certainly a good person can go to heaven, but there is no one who fits that criteria. Which opens the door to explaining Christ. Paul seems to agree with me in Rom 3:19, 20:

    "Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin."

    Paul explains the REASON that works of the law do not justify ... because the purpose of the divine legislation is to reveal sin. Not because there is something inherently wrong with the law. Again Paul states that the law convicts every human being of sin, NOT that we can obey it.

    As for Galatians 5:3, perhaps it is you who are actually missing the point. If someone loved God all their life what need would they have for a Savior? None. You need a Savior because of sin. If someone were actually sinless (i.e. loving God) it would mean there is nothing to be saved from to begin with.

    "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." Galatians 3:10-12 (quoting Deut 21:23, Deut 27:26, Hab 2:4, and Lev 18:5)

    Circumcision was not viewed as a simple cleansing ceremony but brought with it the obligation to obey the whole law as we also read clearly in Acts 15:5:

    "But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses."

    Hence, this slavery is the obligation which the law imposed for personal performance of the covenant of obligations: "All that the Lord has spoken we will do." Ex. 24:3)

    So it can clearly be shown from the Text that the law imposes an exacting obligation to fulfill all of its commandments and statutes personally. One must finish off performance of the whole law as the only alternative to Christ's mediation and divine grace. A circumcised Gentile must fulfill the obligation of the whole law through actual complete performance of its commandments, not merely through a general pattern of behavior with understandable exceptions or with the intent to obey. It is ironic that Paul says in Rom. 7:6 that in Christ we have been severed from the law, but he says in Gal 5:4 that those who come under the law have been "severed from Christ"

    You said: Gal 2:21 plainly says if righteousness came by Law there was no need for Christ to come in the first place

    Indeed and that is my whole point. But this reveals where we differ. The problem is not from the law but the human heart. We will not obey God's law because it reveals our sin. That is why it won't save -- not because the law is inadequate. That is why James says, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." James 2:10

    Your further descriptiuon of what you believe about justification is problematic. It concerns me greatly that you believe this. If I understand you correctly you have embraced the NPP position which means afraid our positions are irreconcilable on that point. This position on justification was last year declared "harmful to the vitals of religion" in the PCA General Assembly. I hope I have misunderstood you. Having diffent views on the covenant of works is one thing ... people can be inconsistent on this ... but what you are saying about justification really strikes at the very heart of the gospel.

    Either you affirm that Jesus saves completely or that He is merely helping us to save ourselves. There is nothing we can do to maintain our own just standing before God.

    What was impossible about the demand to give up his money and follow Christ? That's not an impossible command. A few verses later we see the Apostles doing that very thing, and Jesus said they or anyone else who does so will inherit eternal life.

    God doesn't give impossible demands, it's not His nature. The Law couldn't save because it was never designed to, even if kept perfectly. There is no impossible demand here. Paul said the Law was the "ministry of death" because it inherently lacked the power to save, while the "Holy Spirit of life" was the only thing that ever saves (2 Cor 3).

    The Law was meant as a sort of map to point to Christ, but never did it have the promise of salvation attached. If it did, it would require God to revoke previous promises, especially that to Abraham (Gal 3:15-18).

    You said: "One must finish off performance of the whole law as the only alternative to Christ's mediation and divine grace."

    What amazed me when I started studying Paul is that he never talks like this. Paul never says it's either the Law or Christ, he never says "perfect obedience" or the "alternative" of Christ mediation. That's a false dilemma.


    You said: "The problem is not from the law but the human heart. We will not obey God's law because it reveals our sin. That is why it won't save -- not because the law is inadequate."

    The Law never promised eternal life in the first place, that's Paul's THESIS. His biggest proof is Gal 3:15-18 which says if God attached a promise of salvation to the Law, then His previous promise to Abraham would have to be pushed aside. And we know God doesn't do that.


    Don't worry, I have not embraced the NPP position. I've actually embraced something far more "serious": Papism.

    Nick,

    you said >>>> What was impossible about the demand to give up his money and follow Christ? That's not an impossible command.

    Of course it is. Jesus even says it is impossible for men in the same breath. 'what is impossible for men is possible for God'. Further, there are very few things in the Bible more clear than this. Unregenerate people cannot understand spiritual truth, they are by nature hostile to Christ and will not obey the law (1 Cor 2:14, Rom 8:7). Jesus himself says that no one can believe in Him unless God grants it (John 6:65). We obey, not in order to be saved but because God has already done a work of grace in us. It demonstrates the reality of God's finished work. What Jesus asks is an impossible command apart from His grace. Left to his own fleshly devices, he simply will not come. The saving power of Christ does not depend on faith or obedience being addded to it, Christ's saving power is such that faith and obedience inevitably flows out from it.

    You said, >>> God doesn't give impossible demands, it's not His nature.

    Is this assertion simply your speculation or does it come from exegesis? Again, the passage Ro.3:20 "...through the law comes knowledge of sin." - from a passage where Paul is proving that both Jews and Gentiles are both under sin.

    Nick with this in mind... consider this ... commands in the Scripture are in the imperative mood which declare, not man's ability, but his duty. The commandments are not given inappropriately or pointlessly; but in order that through them the proud, blind man may learn the plague of his impotence, should he try to do as he is commanded. Nothing more is signified by verbs in the imperative mood than what ought to be done, and that what is done or can be done should be expressed by words in the indicative. As an example, if you borrow $10 million to set up a company and squander it in a week of wild living in vegas, your inability to repay does not alleviate you of the responsibility to do so. Your creditor still has every right to ask you for the money even though you cannot repay. The commands of God are the same. He commands what we have a responsibility to obey, but after the fall, as Augustine said, we are "not able not to sin" (non posse non peccare). We are unable to pay the debt so Christ does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves.

    Again imperative passages, by which is signified, not what we can do, or do do...but what we ought to do, and what is required of us, so that our impotence may be made known to us and the knowledge of sin may be revealed in us. The passages of Scripture you cite are imperative; and they prove and establish nothing about the ability of man, but only lay down what is and what not to be done. Does it follow from: 'turn' that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from "'Love the Lord you God with all your heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can, by nature, love with all your heart? What do arguments of this kind prove, but that the 'free-will' does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power.

    You cannot have it both ways. We are either saved by Jesus alone or Jesus plus something we add to it, in which case Jesus is no longer a Savior.

    Lastly, I will disagree with you about your statement about the law. The Scripture speaks repeatedly about the promise of life resulting from perfect lawkeeping including the very passage we are discussing. Scripture actually reveals two ways that one might be saved. These two antithetical covenants can be filtered down to "Do this and live" (Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5) and "The just shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 10:6; Galatians 3:11).

    Consider this passage which teachs this very thing:
    "...the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." - Galatians 3:12

    {aul quoting the old testament trth that the one who obeys the law shall live. "Do this and live"

    All unbelievers (now) are under this covenant. They will be judged according to what they have done in the body according to works, and it won't be pretty because they will not have a mediator. Those who trust in Christ alone, on the other hand, can be assured that they have a perfect Savior who saves them from all their sin. In the new covenant in Christ's blood God remembers not to treat us as our sins justly deserve.

    Either your view of God's law is too low, to think we can obey it, or you think of yourself too highly.

    Solus Christus
    John

    He did not say it was impossible in the same breath, rather he said and meant how difficult it was for those who served gold.

    Also, none of this was said or intended to be done by one's own power, for after Jesus says how difficult it is goes onto tell the Apostles they would inherit eternal life for giving up their own lives of Him. There is no indication this man was "unregenerate," otherwise the turn to the Apostles at the end telling them they would likewise inherit eternal life wouldn't make sense.


    As for Rom 3:20 and others, I never denied the law exposes sin and all men have fallen, that is clearly true. The problem is that you take this to mean Jesus was demanding utter sinlessness from the Rich Man, and that's wrong. When the Bible says people like Paul and Elizabeth "kept the Law flawlessly" (Phil 3:6; Lk 1:5f) it does not mean they never sinned, it merely means they repented when they did sin.

    Your example of squandering $10 million does not fit your case, because it is indeed possible to pay back $10M. It is not easy to do so (depending on your income), but it is not flat out impossible or even hypothetical. Not only that, but Scripture gives clear examples where debts (sins) were simply forgiven (eg Mat 18:23-35).


    You said: Does it follow from: 'turn' that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from "'Love the Lord you God with all your heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can, by nature, love with all your heart? What do arguments of this kind prove, but that the 'free-will' does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power.

    Nick: You are introducing a factor I never held to. I've never said good works were possible apart from grace, nor does "free will" mean you don't need God's grace.


    You said: You cannot have it both ways. We are either saved by Jesus alone or Jesus plus something we add to it, in which case Jesus is no longer a Savior.

    Nick: This is a false dilemma. We are plainly saved by Jesus working through us, Phil 2:12-13. Jesus is never "savior" in the sense of precluding required good works on our part.


    I don't know of any passages that attach eternal life to perfect (utterly faultless) lawkeeping.
    I think you are misunderstanding Paul's point, he is never saying there are "two antihetical covenants," but one and only one that ever did save. I'd like to see how you interpret Gal 3:15-18.

    The OT only promised termporal (earthly) blessings, hence the "do this and live" means keep the Mosaic Law and receive a easy and prosperous life, where as the Hab 2:4 promise looks beyond this life to Heavenly rewards.

    Paul's point is the (earthly) righteousness from the Law never saved, while the (divine) righteousness from God was what always did save. Paul is talking of two different righteousnesses, NOT two different ways to receive ONE type of righteousness (Rom 10:4-5).


    You said: "Consider this passage which teachs this very thing:
    "...the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." - Galatians 3:12"

    The Mosaic Law certainly required faith, it's absurd to suggest an atheist Jew properly keeping the law. What Paul is saying is that the Law is temporally based while Christian faith looks beyond the here and now to Heavenly rewards (Heb 11:16,26). That is precisely what Hab 2:4 is about, Habakuk needing to persevere in faith trusting in better things to come than temporal rewards (Heb 10:35-39 drives this home).

    You said: "All unbelievers (now) are under this covenant."

    That is impossible, the Mosaic Covenant is literally over with, it doesn't exist anymore. That's the reason why Paul says it is so bad to get circumcised, because such an act implicitly denies Christ came and abolished the Old Covenant.

    And everyone, Christians and non Christians are judged according to how they lived their life. That's what the Final Judgement passages are all about. No final judgement passage has Christians getting any kind of pass, rather it is time to glorify them precisely because their good works gave Glory to God in this life.

    Nick

    The analogy I made about someone's inability to repay the $10 million was simply to make a point. You rebute my point by saying that amount can be repaid, BUT THE AMOUNT IS IRRELEVANT!!! Make the debt $100 billion then. The idea is the same. This is a running theme throughtout scripture. Note the analagous parable Jesus tells of a servant who is unable to repay his debt:

    Matthew 18:23-35
    "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. "And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents. "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had..."

    When when someone owes a debt they cannot repay, we are still perfectly in the right to ask them to repay, as in Jesus parable. So instead of simply defending your theological position, it is time to begin acknowldgeing that you are wrong here. The Bible makes perfect sense that God asks us many things in his law which we are morally incapable of doing. That is why he sends Jesus to do for us what we are unable to do for ourselves. Including:Christ’s full obedience to all the prescriptions of the divine law…AND willing obedience in bearing all the sanctions imposed by that law against his people because of their transgression.

    You said, >>>He did not say it was impossible in the same breath, rather he said and meant how difficult it was for those who served gold.

    Nick, please look more carefully at the Text. Are you trying to say that Jesus meant that salvation is ONLY impossible for rich people but possible for everyone else? Do you not see the absuridy of that statement? The disciples did not understand it that way. When Jesus gave the camel analogy, the disciples we amazed at how high the standard was for anyone. "Who then can be saved?" Jesus answered, "with man this is impooibe with with God all things are possible"

    I do not mean to say that the continuing use of commands (the law) after the fall of the human race reveals another way of salvation in addition to the covenant of grace revealed to Abraham and fulfilled in Christ, but rather, it serves to bind all men under sin and thus serve the pedagogical purpose of driving them to Christ who alone has fulfilled the broken covenant of works (Rom 5:19). The impossibility of it drives sinners to a Savior. If someone never sinned they would not need a Savior.

    You keep saying there were blameless people in the Scripture and that this somehow is in itself salvific. But consider when Paul says he was blamless and now recognizes it all as rubbish compared to Christ, the clear meaning of this is that he must repent not only of his bad works but of trusting in his good works as well - because he also recognized he was covetous in Rom 7.

    Paul likewise comments of his fellow Jews who have rejected Christ:

    "...being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."

    Furhermore, I showed you a passage which plainly shows that there is a righteousness that comes through the law:

    "For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them." Romans 10:5

    This is Paul quoting Lev 18 showing that those who do the law, that is abide by it will live. But if you look at the context of the verse he is contrasting the righteousness based on works with the righteousness based on faith because of the impossibility of submitting to the former:

    But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) or "'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

    you said >>> Jesus is never "savior" in the sense of precluding required good works on our part.

    So are you then saying that Jesus work is insufficient to save and that our works make up for where Jesus' merit was not sufficient enough for us? This is the Galatian heresy which says

    "Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"

    In other words, Paul condemns those who believe, as you do, that Jesus was insufficient to pay our full debt and that we must somehow, in turn, maintain our own just standing before God. Trusting in Jesus may have been good enough for the past but now we must make up for his lack by adding our works to what Jesus did. What sins do you think Jesus has not yet paiud for? Nick, if this is what you believe then I fear you do not know Christ. You will appear before God wihout a mediator becuase you are still trusting in your own righteousness.

    I previ\ously said:>>> "All unbelievers (now) are under this covenant."

    You answered>>>> That is impossible, the Mosaic Covenant is literally over with, it doesn't exist anymore. That's the reason why Paul says it is so bad to get circumcised, because such an act implicitly denies Christ came and abolished the Old Covenant.

    I did not say they were under the Mosiac covenant but the covenant of works made with Adam in the garden. "But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me." - Hosea 6:7

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