Archive for February, 2010

The Punishment of Jehu

February 23, 2010

I happened to come across an alleged Biblical contradiction. The alleged contradiction is explained thus:

Let’s set up the problem clearly:

1. Elijah announced a dynastic judgment on Ahab’s line and household. God told Jehu to execute this judgment, which he did. Jehu is commended by YHWH for executing the house of Ahab in 2 Kings 10.30:

The LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”

2. But then, a century later, in Hosea 1.4, Jehu is punished for the massacre!

Then the LORD said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. (NIV)


The allegation is that God’s express commendation (earlier) is incompatible with/contradicts God’s (later) ‘negative judgment’ on Jehu for the same events, as expressed in Hosea 1.4.

(source)

The source I’ve linked above provides some possible solutions, but I think the easiest explanation is found by looking at a verse that the problem’s statement overlooks.

In addition to killing the house of Ahab in Jezreel, Jehu also killed a significant part of the royal family of Judah (by God’s providential decree, but not by God’s command to Jehu):

2 Chronicles 22:7-9
And the destruction of Ahaziah was of God by coming to Joram: for when he was come, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab. And it came to pass, that, when Jehu was executing judgment upon the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah, and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah, that ministered to Ahaziah, he slew them. And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.

2 Kings 10:12-14

And he arose and departed, and came to Samaria. And as he was at the shearing house in the way, Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, Who are ye? And they answered, We are the brethren of Ahaziah; and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen. And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them.

This murder God did not permit to go unpunished, but brought judgment on Jehu’s line with a Jezreel of their own. Jehu was right to kill Ahab and his family, but not the family of David.

Thus, God commended and blessed Jehu:

2 Kings 10:30 And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.

My friend Fred Butler will be happy to notice that “fourth generation” here was taken fairly literally:

2 Kings 15:12 This was the word of the LORD which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.

1) 2 Kings 10:35 And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead.

2) 2 Kings 13:9 And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash [aka Jehoash] his son reigned in his stead.

3) 2 Kings 14:16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.

4) 1 Kings 14:20 And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.

Leading finally to the destruction of the entire family of Jeroboam:

1 Kings 15:25-30
And Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned over Israel two years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin. And Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha smote him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon. Even in the third year of Asa king of Judah did Baasha slay him, and reigned in his stead. And it came to pass, when he reigned, that he smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according unto the saying of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite: because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.

One final note. Passages like these highlight two things. First, God is punishing the sins of Jehu upon Nadab. Second, God is also punishing the sins of Jeroboam upon Nadab. But, note that Jehu himself is not some innocent God-fearing man who is getting punished for nothing. He walked in the way of his father and did evil in the sight of the LORD. Had he repented, God would have spared him, for God is rich in mercy. So do not use the sins of your fathers as an excuse for your lack of repentance. Don’t follow your fathers’ evil ways, but follow the paths of righteousness that it may be well with you.

-TurretinFan

Temporary Faith – Philadelphia Confession of Faith

February 23, 2010

This faith [saving faith], although it be different in degrees, and may be weak or strong, yet it is in the least degree of it different in the kind or nature of it, as is all other saving grace, from the faith and common grace of temporary believers; and therefore, though it may be many times assailed and weakened, yet it gets the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.

(Heb. 5:13, 14; Matt. 6:30; Rom. 4:19, 20; 2 Pet. 1:1; Eph. 6:16; 1 John 5:4, 5; Heb. 6:11, 12; Col. 2:2; Heb. 12:2)

– Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Chapter 14, Section 3

Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.

(Job 8:13, 14; Matt. 7:22, 23; 1 John 2:3, 3:14, 18, 19, 21, 24, 5:13; Rom. 5:2, 5)

– Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Chapter 18, Section 1

Q.119. What is temporary faith?
A. Those who for a short time take joy in certain portions of the Word of God, believing certain promises belong to them.
Scr. “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” 2 Peter 2:20
Q.120. Where does temporary faith fall short of saving faith?
A. Temporary believers have not the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them.
Scr. “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” — Romans 8:9 See also Hebrews 6:4-9

– Philadelphia Baptist Catechism, Q/A 119-20

Unloading 17 More Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 10/17

February 23, 2010

Steve Ray has a list of more than 35 loaded Questions for “Bible Christians” (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). I originally planned to respond to just 35 of them, but the series seems to have been of interest, so in this extension, I’m responding to three more numbered questions in his list, plus fourteen “bonus questions” that take the form “Where does the Bible say … .” I’m trying to provide the answers in the same common format as the original series, for easy reference. This is number 10/17.

Where does the Bible . . .
. . . tell us the name of the “beloved disciple”?

Simple Answer(s):

1) The Bible doesn’t say “the name of the disciple whom Jesus loved is [x].”

2) The Bible does tell us that the disciple whom Jesus loved is the author of the Gospel of John:

John 21:20-24
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

3) While no verse of the text tells us that the author’s name is John although all the copies of the gospel title it the gospel “according to John.”

Important Qualification(s):

We have additional historical evidence that it was John’s gospel. Nevertheless, nothing important about what believe hangs on whether it was John or some other of Jesus’ disciples that wrote the book.

– TurretinFan

Temporary Faith – Menno John Bosma

February 22, 2010

In 1907, Menno John Bosma explained the concept of Temporary Faith this way:

What is temporary faith?

It is a receiving of the word straightway with joy, often caused by artificial methods.

What is lacking in a person having temporary faith?

A regenerated heart and therefore godly sorrow for sin and absolute surrender to Christ.

The name temporary faith is derived from the parable of the Sower, wherein Jesus describes those who are like seed sown on rocky places, and declares they endure only for a time.

Matt. 13:20, 21: “And he that was sown upon the rocky places, this is he that heareth the word, and straightway with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while; and when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, straightway he stumbleth.”

This temporary faith may last a shorter or longer time, sometimes till death, sometimes its true nature will be sooner discovered, as Jesus says in days of persecution or tribulation, or it may and often does fail when the stimulus and excitement which has produced it is taken away. An example of temporary faith is found in the history of Demas, who was once a companion of Paul, Col. 4:14, later he forsook him, “having loved this present world.” II Tim. 4:10.

In what does temporary faith differ from saving faith?

Jesus says they who endure for a while have no root in themselves.

In this their principal difference from those having saving faith is found. True believers have the true root of faith in the depths of their hearts, implanted within them when they were born again by the Holy Spirit. Temporary believers lack this true principle of faith, for they were never regenerated; their faith does not therefore proceed from the depth of their hearts and control the whole soul, but is much more a temporary affection of the emotions; it is not accompanied by sincere sorrow for sin as saving faith is, but straightway, when the emotions have been stirred, it receives the promise and assurances of the Bible with joy, it is sure of salvation without having forsaken the old sinful life, it applies and appropriates something to itself that does not belong to it. A peculiarity of temporary faith is that it is intent wholly on its own enjoyment and salvation, but cares little or nothing for the honor of God, it is selfish.

Temporary faith differs from saving faith therefore in character as well as in duration.

When is temporary faith most likely to be found?

In stirring times, as in periods of war, famine and pests, and especially during some man-made revivals of religion when people are agitated and excited but not deeply convicted, not changed in heart.

– Menno John Bosma, Exposition of Reformed Doctrine, pp. 196-97

Notice that for Bosma the difference is not simply one of duration (i.e. that temporary faith doesn’t last) but one of kind (arising from an unregenerate heart).

– TurretinFan

Evangelicals and Idols: a Reformed Response

February 22, 2010

Over at the mixed-religion blog Evangel, Matthew Milliner (a doctoral candidate in art history at Princeton University, and apparently a member of the PCUSA) has attempted to argue that the rejection of icons of Christ is a defect in Christology. When faced with the argument that icons inherently involve an implicit Nestorianism (or perhaps Monophysitism), one of Mr. Milliner’s responses was:

This argument, furthermore, was itself deemed heretical by the universal church, which (unless Protestantism sprung from the sixteenth century ex nihilo) includes Protestantism.

(source)

In the comment box there, Steve Hays has already demonstrated one of the holes in this argument (namely that icon-rejecting Protestants are themselves at least a part of the universal church), but there are several other holes in the argument:

1) The Iconoclastic Council of 754 with 338 bishops in attendance unanimously condemned the use of images of Christ.

2) The later council of 787 to which Mr. Milliner was appealing was convened to try to overthrow the earlier council. Like the council of 754 it called itself an ecumenical council, but it wasn’t universally received.

3) In fact it was initially rejected in the west by, for example, the council of Frankfurt (called by Charlemagne) of 794. Naturally, as with all these sorts of disputed topics, folks have tried to argue that Frankfurt actually rejected a bad translation of the council of 787.

4) It was also rejected by various bishops in the East including, most famously, Patriarch John Grammatikos (also known as John VII of Constantinople or John the Grammarian) (patriarchate from 837-43).

5) We might also add that the entire argument that something was “deemed heretical by the universal church” is the sort of polemic claim that has been popular since the 4th century, but which always begs the question of the definition of the bounds of the church. When the church is defined to include only iconophiles, then one gets one result, when the church is defined to include only iconoclasts, a second result, and when both are included, a third result.

– TurretinFan

Unloading 17 More Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 9/17

February 22, 2010

Steve Ray has a list of more than 35 loaded Questions for “Bible Christians” (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). I originally planned to respond to just 35 of them, but the series seems to have been of interest, so in this extension, I’m responding to three more numbered questions in his list, plus fourteen “bonus questions” that take the form “Where does the Bible say … .” I’m trying to provide the answers in the same common format as the original series, for easy reference. This is number 9/17.

Where does the Bible . . .
. . . explain the doctrine of the Trinity, or even use the word “Trinity”?

Simple Answer(s):

1) The Bible doesn’t use the word “Trinity.”

2) The Bible doesn’t have a special section called “Explanation of the Trinity” though the entire Bible reveals the Trinity to us.

3) The triune name is given in Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Important Qualification(s):

We could write, and many fathers of the church – from ancient to modern times – have written, a huge treatise on the Trinity from Scripture. Among the many verses that we would and they have relied on would be:

John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

Matthew 3:16-17
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Mark 1:9-11
And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

John 1:32-34
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

– TurretinFan

Temorary Faith – Robert Rollack

February 21, 2010

Next followeth a temporary. Of this faith ye have these texts : Matt. xiii. 20, 21, But he that received the seed in stony ground, is he who heareth the Word, and by and by receives it with joy, yet hath no root in himself, but is for a time, and when persecution and trouble ariseth because of the Word, is offended presently. To the same purpose read Luke viii. 13. Of this faith see also Heb. vi. 4, 5, For it cannot be, that they which have been once enlightened, and tasted of the good Word of God, and of the powers of the world to come, if they fall away, &c. To conclude, of this faith ye have John v. 35, He, namely, John, was a burning and a shining candle, and ye would for a time have rejoiced in his light. The reason of the name is this; it is called Temporary, because it endures but for a time, because it hath no root.

It hath the same object with justifying faith, and which is properly so called, namely, Jesus Christ with his benefits, offered in the word of the Gospel and in the Sacraments; wherein it differs from historical faith, which hath for the object thereof the universal truth. It hath the same subject with justifying faith: for it hath its seat both in the mind, and also in the will and heart.

Last of all, it hath as many parts of nature as the justifying hath. For it is a knowledge of the understanding, conjoined with both the judgments of the mind, and it is the apprehension of the will or heart, whereout followeth also the stirring of the affections, as of joy, delight, &c.

But that I may speak a little more largely of this apprehension, which is in temporary faith, and of this joy. First, it is certain, by the Scripture, that these things are in the temporary faith, For Christ saith in Matthew, That he, which is but for a time, doth receive the Word, and that with joy. And in John, the Jews are said to have rejoiced for a time in the light of John Baptist. And to the Hebrews, there is attributed to this faith, not only the enlightening of the mind, but also the taste of the heart, and that performed not only by the Word, but also by the Spirit; for he saith, “They which have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost.” Therefore, in temporary faith, there is indeed a kind of apprehension; there is indeed a certain joy, wherein temporary faith differeth from historical faith. For in historical faith, these things are not indeed, but he that hath it doth feign, and dissemble, and lie, in his outward profession, that he hath these things; wherefore he is a shameless hypocrite. But he that hath temporary faith hath these things indeed—apprehension, I say, and joy, after a certain manner, neither doth he so feign or lie, as he that hath an historical faith; yet he is a hypocrite, because this apprehension and this joy are not sincere, albeit after a certain manner they be true.

I say, they are not sincere, because they are not for that cause for which they should be, that is, they are not for Christ himself, offered in the preaching of the Gospel; they are not for God’s sake, they are not for his glory, nor for those heavenly benefits of Christ, his righteousness and eternal life; but they are for other causes, as for the newness of the Gospel, which is to be understood in that place, John v. 35, He was a burning and a shining candle, and ye would have rejoiced for a time in his light, namely, for the newness of the matter. Secondly, they be, because of a licentiousness to sin, which men by and by snatch to themselves, upon the hearing of free justification by Christ, and Christian liberty. To conclude, they are for riches, honours, and other commodities of this life. Now, seeing the temporising professor hath these causes propounded to himself in hearing and receiving the Word, and in rejoicing, it must needs be that these are not sincere in him. For nothing is done sincerely, unless it be done in respect of the glory of God. And herein differs Temporary Faith from Justifying. For the Justifying Faith doth all things for Christ himself, for God himself, for the heavenly and spiritual benefits of Christ, as much as it can for man’s infirmity.

Out of this, therefore, it follows, that the temporiser is also a hypocrite, seeing he is not sincere, and that the temporary faith is hypocritical, seeing it is not sincere. Out of that again, that it is not sincere, another thing followeth, namely, that it is not sound and firm; for nothing that is not sincere can be sound. For those causes upon which it depends are not sound; as, for example, those worldly things, as riches, honours of the world, &c. In which thing temporary faith differeth from justifying faith; for justifying faith, as it is sincere, so it is sound. For of that it is said, Col. ii. 5, And the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. For justifying faith is, as it were, a solid body, consisting of three dimensions, length, breadth, depth, for it possesseth the depth and lowest of the heart; but temporary faith is not a body with three dimensions, but only a surface, sticking in the upper part of the heart; for it is not either a sound light, enlightening all the heart, or a sound apprehension, arising from the bottom of the heart; or, to conclude, a sound joy possessing the whole body, but all these things are only superficial in the temporary faith. Whereupon, Heb. vi. 4, that apprehension of heavenly things which is therein, is compared to tasting, or slight touching, seeing that the heart doth but, as it were, with the tip of the tongue, lightly taste those heavenly things, and not quite drink them up, and receive them into itself.

Again, out of this, that temporary faith is not sound, another thing also followeth, namely, that it doth not endure for ever, but only for a time. For that which is not sound, is not durable and perpetual; but only temporary. Wherein also it differeth from justifying faith, which, as it is sound, so it is perpetual and constant. From this property this faith took her name, and was called temporary; now this property doth presuppose the two others going before; namely, first, that it is not sound; secondly, that it is not sincere, albeit it be in some sort true.

While I consider somewhat more diligently of the cause of these three properties, I find that it is not to be imputed so much to those outward things for which this faith doth apprehend Christ in the Word, and rejoiceth in him, as to the inward evil affection of the heart. For the heart of man, as Christ saith, is stony ground; that is, it is neither good nor honest of its own nature. Now, we measure this goodness and honesty, chiefly by simplicity and sincerity, which is opposed to hypocrisy and dissembling. Therefore, a deep hypocrisy, which is contrary to sincerity, possesseth the heart of man. Now, the heart, so affected, doth believe, apprehend and rejoice, not sincerely, for a true cause, for which it ought to do these things, but for other worldly causes. It followeth, therefore, that the cause of these evils doth lurk in the heart. Wherefore, if any man will not be a temporiser, let him above all things look to his heart, and sift and examine it diligently, night and day, so long till he feel that the faith of Christ takes root in the bottom of his heart, and doth throughout possess the whole heart, as much as may be.

Out of these things which we have spoken, touching the properties of this faith, and of the cause of them, a mark may be taken, whereby any one may discern true and justifying faith from temporary. And that is, sincerity; in a word, sincerity in doing, in believing, in apprehending, in rejoicing, and in doing all things throughout the whole course of the life. Now, sincerity is known by this, if all things be done and performed by us for God and for Christ, whether those things be of small or great moment. Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, 1 Cor. x. 31. By these things which have been spoken, it is easy to gather a definition of this faith. For temporary faith is a knowledge in the mind, and an apprehension in the will, of Christ with all his benefits; but yet temporary, or enduring but for a time. And thus much of temporary faith.

– Robert Rollock, “A Treatise of God’s Effectual Calling,” in Select Works of Robert Rollock, pp. 207-10

The Cost of What?

February 21, 2010

My friend Dr. White posted a link earlier today to an article by Tim Rogers (link to article). The article is titled, “The Cost of Following Christ.”

One might expect, then, that the article would explain someone’s struggle in view of persecution for being a Christian. What a surprise, then, when the article is mostly a complaint that my friend Dr. White has criticized Dr. Ergun Caner. After all, my friend Dr. White has never (and would never) criticize Dr. Caner for following Christ.

The article points out that there is a ten part video that aims to show that Dr. Ergun Caner was never a devout Muslim. If the article had simply noted that much of that ten part video is absurd, I’d agree (it seems that most of the ten part video series is criticism of Caner for not using the correct pronunciation of various words), I’d agree.

Frankly, I think one should be careful about trying to silence criticism of Caner, given his apparent propensity to report facts inaccurately. Listen to the following two clips and let me know if you can reconcile the two of them.

Unloading 17 More Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 8/17

February 21, 2010

Steve Ray has a list of more than 35 loaded Questions for “Bible Christians” (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). I originally planned to respond to just 35 of them, but the series seems to have been of interest, so in this extension, I’m responding to three more numbered questions in his list, plus fourteen “bonus questions” that take the form “Where does the Bible say … .” I’m trying to provide the answers in the same common format as the original series, for easy reference. This is number 8/17.

Where does the Bible . . .
. . . provide a list of the canonical books of the New Testament?

Simple Answer(s):

1) Of course, there’s an uninspired list provided in the front of most Bibles.

2) If someone had their Bible (assumed in the question) but their Bible didn’t have that list, one could go through and create such a list quite easily.

3) But if the question is simply asking whether one of the books of the Bible includes an inspired list of the books of the New Testament, then of course the answer is that no one book provides such a list.

Important Qualification(s):

1) Some of the books of Scripture to the canonicity of other books:

1 Timothy 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. [Deuteronomy 25:4] And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. [Luke 10:7]

2 Peter 3:15-16
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

2) Paul’s epistles sometimes more and sometimes less explicitly claim divine inspiration

1 Corinthians 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 13:10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.

3) Some books of Scripture refer the reader back to other books of Scripture

2 Peter 3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

Acts 1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,

– TurretinFan

Temporary Faith – Ralph Erskine

February 20, 2010

(4.) There is a temporary faith, that goes beyond all the former, and is effected by the common operation of the Spirit of God: nor is it merely taken up with the truth of the gospel, but also hath some relish of the goodness and sweetness of it; and hence the stonyground hearers are said to receive the word with joy, Matthew xiii. 20.; yet this belief hath no root, no abiding principle: it is not the faith of the promise that takes place in the children of promise.—Here is the most subtile deceit in the matter of faith: some people may take hold of Christ, as it were, and really get some sap and virtue from him, for their refreshment, and yet never get in to him. They are like the ivy, that grows up by the tree, and clasps about the tree, and draws sap from the tree, and yet grows upon its own root, and is never one and the same with the tree: so here, some professors may receive Christ, in the promise, by a temporary faith, they clasp about him closely, and draw some sap and virtue from him; but still they are never rooted in Christ, but rooted in the old Adam; still rooted in the old covenant, were never cut off from the old root, and ingrafted into Christ, but only draw virtue from Christ to maintain their old-covenant fruit. I imagine it will be a hard chapter for some here to read, How shall I know but I am one of these that have only that faith which takes hold of Christ, like an ivy to the tree, drawing sap from him, without ever being rooted in him ? I shall offer you but one key for the opening of this difficulty, and you have need to have it opened; for it as much as your eternal salvation is worth, to mistake here. If you have no other but that temporary faith, you may believe and be damned with the devil, but cannot believe unto salvation.

The key for opening the matter, then, is this question, What know you of the difference betwixt righteousness In Christ, and righteousness From him?

Temporary faith may say, From the Lord I have righteousness and strength; but true faith says, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.”—Temporary faith may get many things from him, but true faith gets all things in him, and is complete in him.—Temporary faith, being without root, never rooted in him, hath nothing in him, but from him; but true faith being rooted in Christ, whatever it gets from him, it rests not there, but looks to what is in him,and glories in that: “In him shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” See Isa. xlv. 24, 25. 1 Cor. i. 30, 31. What think you the Popish way of believing unto salvation is? Indeed the refined of them go as far as some professed Protestants; they own there is no salvation but by Christ; and though they do not believe, with application, that they have any righteousness in him, yet they build upon a righteousness from Christ, saying, “It is he that gives a man power to do, and then sprinkles the man’s doings with his blood, upon which he merits their life and salvation.” So many such Papists amongst us, they believe that Christ only can save them, and they go to him to be saved from sin, and for grace to do better; and if they find power to do better, then- they hope they shall be saved; while yet they may be damned, and go to the devil, though they should escape all the pollutions of the world, and that even through the knowledge of Christ, not from their own strength, but from the strength and virtue of the knowledge of Christ, 2 Peter- ii. 20. But true faith comes first to Christ for righteousness, and gets a righteousness in him for justification and eternal salvation: and being rooted in Christ, grows up in him, and hath all in him; and hence can rejoice in him, even when it finds nothing but emptiness in itself; for, it is the nature of it to go out of itself to Christ in the free promise. Hence also temporary faith receives Christ conditionally, but true faith receives him freely as he is offered. Temporary believers take him for a Saviour: but, how ? even in this conditional way, if I be a servant to him, he-will be a Saviour to me; and so he serves him, and thereupon expects salvation from him: thus he bears the root, and the root bears not him. But true faith receives Christ freely for righteousness and strength both, saying, Even so I take him, both for righteousness, that he may be a Saviour to me; and for strength, that he may make me a servant to him, to serve as a son, not as a hireling. Temporary faith and legal faith believes Christ will save- me upon condition of my good behaviour for the time to come; in case I serve him, then he will save me: but gospel-faith takes Christ upon gospel-terms, as he is exhibit in the gospel promise, saying, O I dare not promise any thing to him, but I take him as promising all things to me: and, blessed be sovereign grace, that all is in the promise; for, if any thing depended upon my good behaviour and future service, I fear all would be cast loose; therefore I take a Christ for all, and a promise for all: and, O well is me, that he hath promised all, for I can promise nothing; therefore, I will rely upon the promise of salvation, 1 will rely upon the promise of sanctification. And, in this way of taking the promise freely, he comes to be furnished for a better behaviour, than all the legal and conditional believers in the world; for, as he believes the promise, so he lives upon it.

– Ralph Erskine, “The Pregnant Promise,” in The Sermons and Other Practical Works of Ralph Erskine, pp. 237-40


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