January 31, 2006
Posted by Tony Byrne at 1/31/2006 02:36:00 PM
The spirit of anti-intellectualism is prevalent today. The modern world breeds pragmatists, whose first question about any idea is not "Is it true?" but "Does it work?" Young people tend to be activists, dedicated supporters of a cause, though without always inquiring too closely either whether their cause is a good end to pursue or whether their action is the best means by which to pursue it.John Stott, Your Mind Matters (Downers Grover, IL: IVP, 1972), 7–8.
Posted by Tony Byrne at 1/31/2006 09:12:00 AM
January 30, 2006
January 28, 2006
Posted by Tony Byrne at 1/28/2006 08:05:00 AM
January 26, 2006
[Are] we truly to believe that in eternity the denizens of hell, while screaming their hatred for God, will be able to say with Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). Surely not!"James White, Debating Calvinism, p.177.
Comments and Commentaries:NRS Galatians 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
2) The unbelieving elect cannot say these things about themselves.
3) Therefore, Christ did not die for them.
Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians. Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 41. (Nashville: Nelson, 1990), 92.The death of Christ was the focus of early Christian preaching, and it is that as well throughout Galatians (cf. 1:4; 3:1, 13; 6:12, 14). Later in Galatians Paul will speak of Christ's death as redeeming us from the "curse of the law" (see also Col 2:14) and from "the world" (see Col 2:20), and elsewhere in his letters he emphasizes Christ's death as saving us from our sins (esp. Rom 7:14-25). Here, however, Paul speaks of Christ's death and our spiritual identification with that death as releasing believers from the jurisdiction of the Mosaic law - much as he does later in the somewhat garbled illustration of Rom 7:1-6 which concludes: "so, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another.... Now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we might serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."The συν prefix of the verb συνεσταύρωμαι highlights the believer's participation with Christ in his crucifixion. Paul is undoubtedly not here thinking of a literal physical death on the part of the Christian, but of his or her spiritual identification with Christ's death on the cross. The perfect tense of the verb signals the believer's once-for-all act of commitment, with that act having results and implications for the present.The versification of the KJV has accustomed Protestants to read "I have been crucified with Christ" as the beginning of v 20, and that tradition has been followed by many moder Protestant translations (so ASV, RSV, NIV). Critical editions of the Greek text, however, are almost unanimous in placing Χριστω συνεσταύρωμαι with the material of v 19. And if that be its rightful place, as we believe it is, then Paul's argument in this verse as to believers being released from the jurisdiction of the Mosaic law is fourfold: (1) that it was the law's purpose to bring about its own demise in legislating the lives of God's people; (2) that such a jurisdictional demise was necessary in order that believers in Christ might live more fully in relationship with God; (3) that freedom from the law's jurisdiction is demanded by the death of Christ on the cross; and (4) that by identification with Christ we experience the freedom from the law that he accomplished.
See Calvin's CommentariesI am crucified with Christ. This explains the manner in which we, who are dead to the law, live to God. Ingrafted into the death of Christ, we derive from it a secret energy, as the twig does from the root. Again, the handwriting of the law, "which was contrary to us, Christ has nailed to his cross." (Colossians 2:14.) Being then crucified with him, we are freed from all the curse and guilt of the law. He who endeavors to set aside that deliverance makes void the cross of Christ. But let us remember, that we are delivered from the yoke of the law, only by becoming one with Christ, as the twig draws its sap from the root, only by growing into one nature.
R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, and to the Philippians (Augsburg, 1961), 116.Συν in the verb denotes faith, for it alone joins us to Christ crucified "with" him.
John Stott, Only One Way: The Message of Galatians (Downers Grove: IVP, 1968), 65.Perhaps now it is becoming clearer why a Christian who is 'justified in Christ' is not free to sin. In Christ 'old things are passed away' and 'all things are become new' (2 Cor. 5:17, AV). This is because the death and resurrection of Christ are not only historical events (He 'gave himself' and now 'lives'), but events in which through faith-union with Him His people have comes to share ('I have been crucified with Christ' and now 'I live'). Once we have been united to Christ in His Death, our old life is finished; it is ridiculous to suggest that we could ever go back to it. Besides, we have risen to a new life.
Curtis Vaughn also understands the context. He says,
Curtis Vaughn, Galatians: A Study Guide Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972), 54–55.Verse 20 describes the new life into which Paul came when he renounced the law and turned to Christ. It was in essence a life of identification with Christ, both in death and in resurrection. The former, identification in death, is expressed by the opening words: I have been crucified with Christ (ASV). Believers, by virtue of their corporate union with Christ, were included in his death (cf. Rom. 6:6). What he experienced, they experienced. This may be seen as yet another reason why the law has no claim on Paul. Phillips: "As far as the Law is concerned I may consider that I died on the cross with Christ." The tense of the verb (perfect) speaks of an act accomplished at some point in the past but having abiding results.But Paul's Christian experience involved not simply an identification with Christ in his death; it was also an identification with him in life. I have been crucifed with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me (verse 20a, ASV). The sense is that Paul no longer thnks of himself as having a separate existence from Christ. Christ has become the source, the aim, and the motivating principle of all that he does (cf. Phil. 1:21). "As in the old days the law had filled his horizon and dominated his thought-life, so now it is Christ. Christ is the sole meaning of life for him now; every moment is passed in conscious dependence on Him" (Cole, p. 83).
Donald K. Campbell, "Galatians," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983), 596.Basic to an understanding of this verse is the meaning of union with Christ. The doctrine is based on such passages as Romans 6:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:13, which explain that believers have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into Christ and into the church, the body of all true believers. Having been thus united to Christ, believers share in His death, burial, and resurrection. Paul could therefore write, I have been "crucified with Christ" (lit., "I have been and am now crucified with Christ"). This brought death to the Law.
Richard B. Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption (Phillipsburg: P & R, 1978), 52–53.The notion of resurrection with Christ is not difficult to see in these verses. Their affinity especially with the passage in Romans 6:3ff. appears at several points. Verse 20 contains the only other reference in Paul to crucifixion with Christ (cf. Rom. 6:6). Having died "that I might live to God" (v. 19b) is reminiscent of Romans 6:10f. The death to the law spoken of (v. 19a) is correlative with the death to sin (cf. Rom. 7:4, 6 with 6:6, 18, 22). Therefore, since this death is described in terms of solidarity with Christ in his crucifixion, the life which forms its pointed contrast (v. 20) should be understood in terms of solidarity in his resurrection. Moreover, since this life is obviously life in individual, existential union with Christ ("Christ in me"), the co-crucifixion and the co-resurrection in view are likewise primarily experiential in nature.In these verses Paul writes in the singular, using himself and his experience as illustrative of all believers. This justifies understanding the "we" statements in the other passages examined distributively and as applying individually to every believer.
Anthony Hoekema, Saved by Grace (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 60.(2) We appropriate and continue to live out of this union through faith. It is important to remember that the only way in which we can appropriate union with Christ is by faith. Though, as we saw, it is the Spirit who brings us into this living union, we can only grasp and continue to enjoy this union by faith. By nature we are "old selves," enslaved to sin and alienated from God, but as we exercise our faith Christ can and does live in us. Through faith we actualize and experience our having been made new creatures in Christ.In Galatians 2:20 Paul writes, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." So strongly does Paul here express the truth of union with Christ that he affirms that there is a sense in which he is no longer living, but Christ is living in him. Yet in another sense he does still live: "The life I live in the body, I live by faith." He no longer lives as one who is a slave to sin; he now lives as a person in whom Chirst dwells. But he can only become aware of and draw power from that indwelling of Christ through faith. Faith means living in the joyful awareness that Christ lives in us.
The Nature of White's Confusion:
Ver. 20. I am crucified with Christ,.... Not literally, for so only the two thieves were crucified with him, but mystically; Christ was crucified for him in his room and stead, and so he was crucified with him, and in him, as his head and representative. Christ sustained the persons of all his people, and what he did and suffered was in their name, and on their account, and so they were crucified and suffered with him, as they are said to be buried with him, and to be risen with him, and to sit together in heavenly places in him. Moreover, their old man was crucified with him; when he was crucified, all their sins, the whole body of them, were laid upon him, and he bore them, and bore them away, destroyed and made an end of them; they received their mortal wound by his crucifixion and death, so as never to be able to have any damning power over them;
Peter Toon, The Emergence of Hyper-Calvinism in English Non-Conformity, 1689-1765 (London: The Olive Tree, 1967), 117.The doctrine of eternal union was a favorite doctrine of the doctrinal antinomians and is a theme to which the Hyper-Calvinists often turn.
Curt Daniel, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Edinburgh, 1983), 264.Joseph Hussey accepted that a mark of Antinomianism, which he believed in, was the doctrine of union before faith.
January 17, 2006
January 9, 2006
January 7, 2006
January 5, 2006
With the tenth commandment, questions frequently arise about the relationship between stealing and coveting, since their territory seems to overlap. There is one primary difference. Stealing is linked completely to the act itself, in which someone takes that which belongs to another. Coveting (hamad), however, has to do with an attitude deep within. It involves desires that are so strong one is willing to reach out and take, or commit other unacceptable acts, to satisfy those desires.J. W. Marshall, "Decalogue," in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, eds. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2003), 178–179.
After nine commands that either focus on God or outer behavior, the tenth command enters the realm of the heart and mind. This prohibition does not focus on outward, visible actions. It concentrates instead on a person's thoughts, motives and attitudes. Covetous thoughts motivate and inspire, frequently producing action that will violate one of the previous nine commandments.
Laws legislate actions, not thoughts or attitudes, precisely because the former can be monitored whereas the latter cannot. The act of coveting cannot be witnessed, only becoming visible when that internal craving is acted upon. This tenth commandment's shift to the interior dimension of the human life lessens the probability that the Decalogue functioned as an actual set of laws in ancient Israel. It does, however, demonstrate that God's covenant never depends solely upon adherence to external details. The Decalogue begins with a command that insists there be no God before Yahweh. Like coveting, one's loyalty to God also begins as an internal posture that only secondarily becomes evident in external practice. Thus two commandments that are essentially rooted in the heart and mind of the covenant people encircle a set of principles that properly order worship and community relationships.
NKJ Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet."
Posted by Tony Byrne at 1/05/2006 10:55:00 AM
In the interests of what has been called the "simplicity" of God, theologians have been careful not to sever God's essence and attributes such that He might be thought of as a complex being. That is to say, God is not compounded of parts or a mere collection of elements, as if His attributes are but faculties or qualities pieced together to constitute a multifaceted whole. He is rather a living unity characterized by all His perfections. The notion of God's simplicity has prompted not a few to speak of essence and attributes as in some sense identical. Herman Bavinck argued that "every attribute is identical with God's being. He is what has has."
More recently, Carl Henry has echoed Bavinck's perspective: "The divine essence is not to be differentiated from the divine attributes, but is constituted by them; the attributes define the essence more precisely."
Again, Henry writes: "God's being is not the bearer of the divine attributes; rather, God's essence and attributes are identical....God is, in short, the living unity of his attributes." Therefore, each attribute is consistent with the others. No attribute or perfection is inferior or superior to another. All attributes are equally ultimate. God is not more holy than He is omniscient. Neither is He more loving than He is sovereign (contrary to much contemporary evangelical thought). Consequently, we should not exalt one attribute to the exclusion or subordination of another, but rather the one God in the unity of all His perfections.
This identity of essence and attribute, however, does not mean that the latter are but our subjective projections into God as a consequence of how we experience Him. The Lutheran Francis Pieper, like Bavinck and Henry, argued that in God essence and attribute are not separate but "absolutely identical." But unlike them he appears to deny that God's attributes are objective and real. Since human reason cannot comprehend God as the infinite and absolute simplex, "God condescends to our weakness and in His Word divides Himself, as it were, into a number of attributes which our faith can grasp and to which it can cling."
However, although Bavinck, Henry, and others like them insist upon an objective reality to the divine attributes, certain of their statements compromise that claim. For example, Bavinck contends that "one and the same thing is said whether it be stated that God is eternal or that he is immortal or good or just." Likewise, Henry writes: "God's wisdom is his omnipotence, God's omnipotence is his justice, God's justice is his love, and so on."
But if there is no genuine differentiation between the attribute of omnipotence and the attribute of justice, neither is there between God's love and His wrath. But if that be true, I have no certain assurance that what the Bible says is God's love for me is not, in fact, His wrath. It simply cannot be that God's love and wrath are identical. If they were, heaven and hell would be one and the same experience and we should have no preference for one above the other! Whereas it is true that because God loved us in Christ He caused His Son to endure that divine wrath which we deserved, that is not to say that God's love is His wrath. Likewise, using Henry's own example, whereas God's wisdom is compatible with His omnipotence, and His omnipotence always used wisely in the accomplishment of His purposes, wisdom and omnipotence are not identical in God's being.
It would appear, then, that out of a desire not to sever God's attributes from His essence has come a tendency to deny any genuine difference among the attributes themselves. We are, therefore, confronted with a need to avoid two extremes. On the one hand, we must not represent God as complex, as if to say His attributes are appendages of His being. They are co-ultimately the qualities or perfections which constitute what He is. On the other hand, we must not permit the simplicity of God's being to negate all distinguishable differences among the many attributes.
Would it not be preferable to say that God's attributes are the divine nature itself in its many and varied relations? For example, when the Divine Being is conceived in relation to time, He is eternal, or the attribute of eternity is manifest. When the Deity is to us in our sin the source of unmerited salvific favor, we may say that He is gracious, or that the attribute of grace is manifest. When He is or acts in relation to space, we speak of Him as omnipresent, and so on. It would be misleading, on the other hand, to say that in His relation to space God is omnipotent, or in relation to us in our sin He is eternal. But if God's attributes are identical, this is precisely what one must say. Yet, what could these assertions possibly mean? Then, again, it may be that what Bavinck and Henry mean to say is something to the effect that it is the omnipotent, omniscient, wrathful God who loves, and it is the wise, omnipresent, jealous God who is gracious, and so on. If this be the case, no objection is forthcoming. But to say that omnipotence is love or that wrath is grace is at best confusing, at worst theologically destructive.
Having briefly considered this problem of the relation between essence and attribute, as well as the distinctions among the attributes (when properly defined), we may have here encountered precisely that limit noted earlier beyond which the finite cannot fathom the infinite. Ronald Nash has recently concluded that the notion of divine simplicity should simply be rejected as incoherent and of no practical value in deepening our understanding of the being of God. This does not mean that we can no longer speak of God's essence and attributes. It is rather a sense that the discussion concerning them in their mutual relations has reached something of a theological impasse. I, for one, am not ashamed to say that I have no wholly satisfactory solution to the problem.
January 2, 2006
- Tony Byrne
- I am an evangelical Christian with a B. A. in Biblical Studies from Criswell College. My basic doctrinal positions are Baptistic, Calvinistic and Premillennial. One of my preoccupations is researching and blogging primary sources that relate to my exploration into the revealed will of God as viewed in Calvinistic history.
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