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Robert Rollock’s Treatise on Justification

(c) The University of Edinburgh Fine Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

ROBERT ROLLOCK (1555–1599), the first Regent and Principal of the University of Edinburgh, is best known to present-day students of historical theology for the role he purportedly played in the development of Reformed federalism by virtue of the relatively unprecedented, mature treatment of a pre-Fall covenant of works discovered in his writings.

Breno Macedo provides some interesting biographical information and discussion of Rollock’s doctrine of the Covenant of Works in a 2015 GPTS Conference lecture. Aaron Clay Denlinger and Noah Phillips translated Rollock’s short Treatise on Jusitification and published it in 2016 edition of the Mid-America Journal of Theology. A few points are worth noting.

He defines justification as

a pronouncement of God our Judge, delivered in keeping with his authority, by which, in keeping with his grace and according to sinful and believing man’s faith in Christ, he remits sins and imputes his own righteousness to man, to the end of man’s own eternal life as well as the glory of his grace and that righteousness of his that he freely imputes to man.

He then notes “At this point it may be asked whether justification is perfectly completed in this life?” He answers

[T]hose [benefits] which we have said do not inhere in man are perfected and summed up in this life itself. “We are already,” 1 John 3:2 says, “sons of God.” We have then already been predestined. We have then already been justified. But those benefits which we have said do inhere in man are not completely perfected in this life, even if they have begun. From these considerations it is surely clear that justification is perfected and summed up in this present life, but is not fully manifested in the same.

The question remains whether Christ will in the future, on the day of judgment, justify those who have believed in this life? And if so, is it not true that justification is actually perfected in the life to come rather than in this life? I respond that Christ will not, on that day of judgment, justify believers. He will, rather, declare on the basis of their works that they have believed and have been justified in this life. Indeed, the verb “justify” sometimes has the meaning of “declare justified.” James uses the word in this very sense when he speaks of the man who is justified according to his works…

But justification, someone will say, is a judicial sentence of life. And life is not perfected until Christ’s second coming. Is it not the case, therefore, that justification itself will not be perfected until Christ’s second coming? I respond that it is one thing for the judicial sentence of life to be complete, and another thing for life itself to be perfected. The sentence of life is surely complete already in this life, but life itself will not be perfected until Christ’s second coming. This argument, therefore, is fallacious and captious.

Second, regarding union with Christ, Rollock acknowledges that at a certain point in time, Christ is applied to us so that we may be regenerated, after which we are justified. Thus we are united to Christ prior to faith, though this union is completed by our restipulation in faith.

The benefits of God that are given to us in Christ in time are effectual calling, justification (which comprehends adoption), and, finally, regeneration or glorification. Each of these benefits comes to us through the application to us of Christ and his grace; or rather, each of these benefits constitutes an application of Christ and his grace to us. The application of Christ to us has a twofold character: there is, first of all, God’s application of Christ to us; secondly, there is our application to ourselves of Christ, who has already been applied to us by God. The first application, therefore, is God’s; the second is our own. The application which we ourselves make of Christ to us is generally called faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit is always yoked with God’s application of Christ to us. Through the Spirit, God works in us our own act of application, or rather the instrument of that application—that is, our faith…

In regeneration (about which we also now speak), finally, God’s work consists in an even closer application of Christ to us, uniting us to him just as a body is joined to its head. With this work of God the Holy Spirit is once again joined. In this work of application God unites us, first of all, to Christ in his death, for the mortification of our own flesh. He further unites us to Christ in his resurrection from death, for the vivification of our spirits. Our own work of application in regeneration consists in laying hold—by that faith stirred up in us through the Holy Spirit—of that Christ who has been united to us in his death and in his life. In this twofold work of application—first of God, then of us—by which Christ is joined to us as a head to its body, our regeneration is seen. For by one and the same work Christ is united to us as our head and we are regenerated or renewed.

Compare with Union with Christ is the New Covenant.

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Stephen Cunha on Trinity Foundation Radio

May 8, 2018 6 comments

The Trinity Foundation has started a podcast. Episode 2 is an interview with Stephen Cunha, the author of a critique of Richard Gaffin’s doctrine of justification titled The Emperor Has No Clothes. I recommend the book (and the podcast). (For more details, see here, here, and here).

Cunha is very kind, clear, and level-headed. He explains how he was a member of Gaffin’s congregation, but left after learning more about Gaffin’s doctrine of justification. He wrote a paper explaining his reason for leaving, which eventually became the book.

In addition to the theological issues, Cunha also makes a couple of important observations. First, he recounts coming across someone online who said they had a hard time reading the book and eventually stopped reading it, not because they disagreed necessarily, but simply because Cunha was a layman and Gaffin’s theology has received the stamp of approval from many respectable reformed theologians. Cunha rightly points out this is not a Berean attitude. Along this same line, Cunha comments on the atmosphere in Philadelphia

Some people might say ‘Well how can a lay person think that they can possibly challenge somebody who has a doctorate in theology from Westminster Seminary?” and my only answer to that would be that I think spiritual truths are spiritually discerned… you can have all the technical knowledge, all the training in the world, and be brilliant, but the spiritual truths are spiritually discerned. The Holy Spirit helps to illuminate Scripture so I think even the simplest believer who may not even have any academic degree at all or may not be super intellectual or sophisticated, can understand the deepest truths of Scripture.

And I think in this area in the Westminster – I live in the Philadelphia area – and I’m not trying to slam Westminster Seminary here because I don’t think it’s exclusive to Westminster Seminary, but I think there is an attitude that I picked up from my time here that – it was quite explicit from some people, because we’re surrounded by Westminster students and professors in the area, and there’s this attitude that they are so intellectually smart – and many of them are, many of them are academically gifted – that we have to listen to everything that they say and you can’t question what they’re saying.

Second, he notes that

[T]he reformed world, and even to some degree, the OPC – they do tend to be thought leaders. And I’m concerned that some of this teaching might eventually spill over into other evangelical communities.

There is no “eventually” about it. John Piper explicitly references Gaffin to support his understanding of the final judgment. “Gaffin’s exegetical efforts in By Faith, Not by Sight and the careful work of many other scholars, and my own efforts to understand Scripture persuade me that this is the true biblical understanding of the function of works in the final judgment.” Piper wrote a troubling foreword to Tom Schreiner’s book Sola Fide. Schreiner is a leading figure in what is known as Progressive Covenantalism. He has co-written The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance with Ardel Canedy. Canedy has contributed a chapter to the volume “Progressive Covenantalism” titled “Covenantal Life with God from Eden to Holy City” in which he argues that “the formulation of covenant stipulations remains the same across the covenants… From Adam’s habitation of the Edenic garden with access to the tree of life to inheritance of our eternal habitation, God’s holy city…” He rejects the law/gospel distinction rooted in the Covenant of Works/Covenant of Grace distinction as “an exaggerated contrast.” He spends 4 pages recounting the “intramural” debate within the OPC/reformed world on the law/gospel antithesis (one of Cunha’s main criticisms of Gaffin is his rejection of this antithesis). So it has absolutely “spilled over into other evangelical communities” so much that it is apparently now a foundational pillar of Progressive Covenantalism (with a firm root at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary).

So be a Berean. Take up your Bible, read, and ask the Holy Spirit to provide the spiritual illumination necessary to understand it. (Note: that illumination may come by means of what other believers – even those super intellectual academic ones – have written).

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R. Scott Clark’s Inconsistent Hermeneutic

February 14, 2018 2 comments

R. Scott Clark employs a non-typological interpretation of Old Testament restoration prophecies in order to defend the practice of infant baptism. The error of this interpretation is demonstrated by other paedobaptists explaining the correct typological interpretation.

MP3 version

For more, see:

Sources:

Chrysostom on 1 Cor. 7:14

January 1, 2018 3 comments

Chrysostom held to the legitimacy interpretation of 1 Cor. 7:14.

Ver. 12. “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord. If any brother have a wife that believeth not, and she is content to dwell with him, let him not leave her. And if any woman hath an husband that believeth not, and he is content to dwell with her, let her not leave him.”

For as when discoursing about separating from fornicators, he made the matter easy by the correction which he applied to his words, saying, “Howbeit, not altogether with the fornicators of this world;” so also in this case he provideth for the abundant easiness of the duty, saying, “If any wife have a husband, or husband a wife, that believeth not, let him not leave her.” What sayest thou? “If he be an unbeliever, let him remain with the wife, but not if he be a fornicator? And yet fornication is a less sin than unbelief.” I grant, fornication is a less sin: but God spares thine infirmities extremely. And this is what He doth about the sacrifice, saying, (S. Matt. v. 24.) “Leave the sacrifice, and be reconciled to thy brother.” This also in the case of the man who owed ten thousand talents. For him too He did not punish for owing him ten thousand talents, but for demanding back a hundred pence from his fellow-servant He took vengeance on him.

Then lest the woman might fear, as though she became unclean because of intercourse with her husband, he says, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the husband.” And yet, if “he that is joined to an harlot is one body,” it is quite clear that the woman also who is joined to an idolater is one body. Well: it is one body; nevertheless she becomes not unclean, but the cleanness of the wife overcomes the uncleanness of the husband; and again, the cleanness of the believing husband overcomes the uncleanness of the unbelieving wife.

How then in this case is the uncleanness overcome, and therefore the intercourse allowed; while in the woman who prostitutes herself, the husband is not condemned in casting her out? Because here there is hope that the lost member may be saved through the marriage; but in the other case the marriage has already been dissolved; and there again both are corrupted; but here the fault is in one only of the two. I mean something like this: she that has been guilty of fornication is utterly abominable: if then “he that is joined to an harlot is one body,” he also becomes abominable by having connection with an harlot; wherefore all the purity flits away. But in the case before us it is not so. But how? The idolater is unclean but the woman is not unclean. For if indeed she were a partner with him in that wherein he is unclean, I mean his impiety, she herself would also become unclean. But now the idolater is unclean in one way, and the wife holds communion with him in another wherein he is not unclean. For marriage and mixture of bodies is that wherein the communion consists.

Again, there is a hope that this man may be reclaimed by his wife for she is made completely his own: but for the other it is not very easy. For how will she who dishonored him in former times and became another’s and destroyed the rights of marriage, have power to reclaim him whom she had wronged; him, moreover, who still remains to her as an alien?

Again in that case, after the fornication the husband is not a husband: but here, although the wife be an idolatress, the husband’s rights are not destroyed.

However, he doth not simply recommend cohabitation with the unbeliever, but with the qualification that he wills it. Wherefore he said, “And he himself be content to dwell with her.” For, tell me, what harm is there when the duties of piety remain unimpaired and there are good hopes about the unbeliever, that those already joined should so abide and not bring in occasions of unnecessary warfare? For the question now is not about those who have never yet come together, but about those who are already joined. He did not say, If any one wish to take an unbelieving wife, but, “If any one hath an unbelieving wife.” Which means, If any after marrying or being married have received the word of godliness, and then the other party which had continued in unbelief still yearn for them to dwell together, let not the marriage be broken off. “For,” saith he, “the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife.” So great is the superabundance of thy purity.

What then, is the Greek holy? Certainly not: for he said not, He is holy; but, “He is sanctified in his wife.” And this he said, not to signify that he is holy, but to deliver the woman as completely as possible from her fear and lead the man to desire the truth. For the uncleanness is not in the bodies wherein there is communion, but in the mind and the thoughts. And here follows the proof; namely, that if thou continuing unclean have offspring, the child, not being of thee alone, is of course unclean or half clean. But now it is not unclean. To which effect he adds, “else were your children unclean; but now are they holy;” that is, not unclean. But the Apostle calls them, “holy,” by the intensity of the expression again casting out the dread arising from that sort of suspicion.

Homily XIX on Corinthians

Israel as a Parenthesis in God’s Plan

December 31, 2017 1 comment

As I was preparing for Part 5 of the Reformed Northwest Podcast series on 1689 Federalism, it ocurred to me that 1689 Federalism’s view of Israel and the church is, in a sense, the inverse of Dispensationalism’s. Dispensationalism teaches that God’s plan has always been for the nation of Israel and that the church is a parenthesis in that plan. Once the church is raptured away, God will resume his plan with Israel. 1689 Federalism teaches that God’s plan has always been for the glorification of Christ in the redemption of the church (promised in Gen. 3:15) and that the nation of Israel was a temporary, typological event in redemptive history. Of course, we don’t mean precisely the same thing by “parenthesis” (i.e. “Plan B”), but I think it’s decently helpful rhetoric to help people understand the position. Please listen to the podcast to hear the full explanation.

Here is how I put it on Twitter.

brandon_adams
The first typological Abrahamic promise was given in order for us to
better understand the second, anti-typological promise of Christ.
Dec 17, 2017, 10:51 AM
brandon_adams
Contrary to Dispensationalism, the Church was not a parenthesis in God’s plan. If anything, the nation of Israel was.
Dec 17, 2017, 2:44 PM

A reformed paedobaptist responded:

acmills237
Don’t read the scriptures, the fathers, or the reformers and you’ll come up with this view. twitter.com/brandon_adams/…
Dec 28, 2017, 11:35 AM

This was disappointing given the presence of the Augustine quote in my initial tweet. I sent him a link to numerous quotes from Augustine making the same point. He replied

acmills237
@brandon_adams One down, how many more to go?
Dec 28, 2017, 11:42 AM

I find this kind of tone very unedifying, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to show more support for the statement. The issue is whether Israel was/is the church, or whether Israel was a type of the church.

Early Church

Melito of Sardis

“On the Passover” was a sermon about the typology of the Passover by Melito of Sardis (d. 180), a Hellenistic Jew who converted to Christianity. He goes into great detail to explain what a “model” (type) is (“a preliminary sketch [of] the future thing out of wax or clay or wood”). I highly recommend taking a few minutes to read the whole thing (here is a slightly better translation, but it is only a portion). Here are some excerpts:

The law is old, but the gospel is new; the type was for a time, but grace is forever…

The one [the sheep] was the model; the other [Christ] was found to be the finished product…

35. Beloved, no speech or event takes place without a pattern or design; every event and speech involves a pattern–that which is spoken, a pattern, and that which happens, a prefiguration–in order that as the event is disclosed through the prefiguration, so also the speech may be brought to expression through its outline.

36. Without the model, no work of art arises. Is not that which is to come into existence seen through the model which typifies it? For this reason a pattern of that which is to be is made either out of wax, or out of clay, or out of wood, in order that by the smallness of the model, destined to be destroyed, might be seen that thing which is to arise from it–higher than it in size, and mightier than it in power, and more beautiful than it in appearance, and more elaborate than it in ornamentation.

37. So whenever the thing arises for which the model was made, then that which carried the image of that future thing is destroyed as no longer of use…

39. Therefore, if it was like this with models of perishable objects, so indeed will it also be with those of imperishable objects. If it was like this with earthly things, so indeed also will it be with heavenly things. For even the Lord’s salvation and his truth were prefigured in the people, and the teaching of the gospel was proclaimed in advance by the law.

40. The people, therefore, became the model for the church, and the law a parabolic sketch. But the gospel became the explanation of the law and its fulfillment, while the church became the storehouse of truth.

41. Therefore, the type had value prior to its realization, and the parable was wonderful prior to its interpretation. This is to say that the people had value before the church came on the scene, and the law was wonderful before the gospel was brought to light.

42. But when the church came on the scene, and the gospel was set forth, the type lost its value by surrendering its significance to the truth, and the law was fulfilled by surrendering its significance to the gospel. Just as the type lost its significance by surrendering its image to that which is true by nature, and as the parable lost its significance by being illumined through the interpretation,

43. so indeed also the law was fulfilled when the gospel was brought to light, and the people lost their significance when the church came on the scene, and the type was destroyed when the Lord appeared. Therefore, those things which once had value are today without value, because the things which have true value have appeared…

45. The Jerusalem here below once had value, but now it is without value because of the Jerusalem from above. The meager inheritance once had value; now it is without value because of the abundant grace. For not in one place alone, nor yet in narrow confines, has the glory of God been established, but his grace has been poured out upon the uttermost parts of the inhabited world, and there the almighty God has taken up his dwelling place through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen.

Justin Martyr

Written around 150AD, Dialogue with Trypho is a Christian apologetic against the Jews. Justin shows how the church is the true circumcision, the true Israel, promised to Abraham, and prophesied throughout the Old Testament.

“No,” I said, looking towards Trypho, “since, if the law were able to enlighten the nations and those who possess it, what need is there of a new covenant? But since God announced beforehand that He would send a new covenant, and an everlasting law and commandment, we will not understand this of the old law and its proselytes, but of Christ and His proselytes, namely us Gentiles, whom He has illumined, as He says somewhere: ‘Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard Thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped Thee, and I have given Thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, and to inherit the deserted.’ What, then, is Christ’s inheritance? Is it not the nations? What is the covenant of God? Is it not Christ? As He says in another place: ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.’ (CXXII)

“As, therefore, all these latter prophecies refer to Christ and the nations, you should believe that the former refer to Him and them in like manner… ‘Therefore, saith the Lord, I will raise up to Israel and to Judah the seed of men and the seed of beasts.’ And by Isaiah He speaks thus concerning another Israel: ‘In that day shall there be a third Israel among the Assyrians and the Egyptians, blessed in the land which the Lord of Sabaoth hath blessed, saying, blessed shall my people in Egypt and in Assyria be, and Israel mine inheritance.’ Since then God blesses this people, and calls them Israel, and declares them to be His inheritance, how is it that you repent not of the deception you practise on yourselves, as if you alone were the Israel, and of execrating the people whom God has blessed? For when He speaks to Jerusalem and its environs, He thus added: ‘And I will beget men upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall inherit you, and you shall be a possession for them; and you shall be no longer bereaved of them.’ ”

“What, then?” says Trypho [the Jew]; “are you Israel? and speaks He such things of you?”…

I continued: “Again in Isaiah, if you have ears to hear it, God, speaking of Christ in parable, calls Him Jacob and Israel. He speaks thus: ‘Jacob is my servant, I will uphold Him; Israel is mine elect, I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall any one hear His voice in the street: a bruised reed He shall not break, and smoking flax He shall not quench; but He shall bring forth judgment to truth: He shall shine, and shall not be broken till He have set judgment on the earth. And in His name shall the Gentiles trust.’ As therefore from the one man Jacob, who was surnamed Israel, all your nation has been called Jacob and Israel; so we from Christ, who begat us unto God, like Jacob, and Israel, and Judah, and Joseph, and David, are called and are the true sons of God, and keep the commandments of Christ.” (CXXIII)

“I wish, sirs,” I said, “to learn from you what is the force of the name Israel.” And as they were silent, I continued: “I shall tell you what I know… the name Israel signifies this, A man who overcomes power; for Isra is a man overcoming, and El is power. And that Christ would act so when He became man was foretold by the mystery of Jacob’s wrestling with Him who appeared to him, in that He ministered to the will of the Father, yet nevertheless is God, in that He is the first-begotten of all creatures… But Israel was His name from the beginning, to which He altered the name of the blessed Jacob when He blessed him with His own name, proclaiming thereby that all who through Him have fled for refuge to the Father, constitute the blessed Israel. But you, having understood none of this, and not being prepared to understand, since you are the children of Jacob after the fleshly seed, expect that you shall be assuredly saved. But that you deceive yourselves in such matters, I have proved by many words. (CXXV)

[T]hose who were selected out of every nation have obeyed His will through Christ,—whom He calls also Jacob, and names Israel, —and these, then, as I mentioned fully previously, must be Jacob and Israel. (CXXX)

Jacob was called Israel; and Israel has been demonstrated to be the Christ, who is, and is called, Jesus. (CXXXIV)

“And when Scripture says, ‘I am the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, who have made known Israel your King,’ will you not understand that truly Christ is the everlasting King? For you are aware that Jacob the son of Isaac was never a king. And therefore Scripture again, explaining to us, says what king is meant by Jacob and Israel: (Is. 43:1-4). Then is it Jacob the patriarch in whom the Gentiles and yourselves shall trust? or is it not Christ? As, therefore, Christ is the Israel and the Jacob, even so we, who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ, are the true Israelitic race. Is. 65:9-12

Such are the words of Scripture; understand, therefore, that the seed of Jacob now referred to is something else, and not, as may be supposed, spoken of your people. For it is not possible for the seed of Jacob to leave an entrance for the descendants of Jacob, or for [God] to have accepted the very same persons whom He had reproached with unfitness for the inheritance, and promise it to them again; but as there the prophet says, ‘And now, O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the Lord; for He has sent away His people, the house of Jacob, because their land was full, as at the first, of soothsayers and divinations;’ (Is. 2:5f) even so it is necessary for us here to observe that there are two seeds of Judah, and two races, as there are two houses of Jacob: the one begotten by blood and flesh, the other by faith and the Spirit. (CXXXV)

[T]he true spiritual Israel, and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (who in uncircumcision was approved of and blessed by God on account of his faith, and called the father of many nations), are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ, as shall be demonstrated while we proceed. (XI)

Blessed therefore are we who have been circumcised the second time with knives of stone. For your first circumcision was and is performed by iron instruments, for you remain hard-hearted; but our circumcision, which is the second, having been instituted after yours, circumcises us from idolatry and from absolutely every kind of wickedness by sharp stones, i.e., by the words [preached] by the apostles of the corner-stone cut out without hands… But you do not comprehend me when I speak these things; for you have not understood what it has been prophesied that Christ would do (CXIV)

Irenaeus

Written around 180AD, Against Heresies argues (amongst other things) that the God of the OT is the same God of the NT.

Chapter XXV.—Both covenants were prefigured in Abraham, and in the labour of Tamar; there was, however, but one and the same God to each covenant.

1. For thus it had behoved the sons of Abraham [to be], whom God has raised up to him from the stones, and caused to take a place beside him who was made the chief and the forerunner of our faith (who did also receive the covenant of circumcision, after that justification by faith which had pertained to him, when he was yet in uncircumcision, so that in him both covenants might be prefigured, that he might be the father of all who follow the Word of God, and who sustain a life of pilgrimage in this world, that is, of those who from among the circumcision and of those from among the uncircumcision are faithful, even as also “Christ is the chief corner-stone” sustaining all things); and He gathered into the one faith of Abraham those who, from either covenant, are eligible for God’s building. But this faith which is in uncircumcision, as connecting the end with the beginning, has been made [both] the first and the last. For, as I have shown, it existed in Abraham antecedently to circumcision, as it also did in the rest of the righteous who pleased God: and in these last times, it again sprang up among mankind through the coming of the Lord. But circumcision and the law of works occupied the intervening period.

[Editor’s Note:  the Gentile Church was the old religion and was Catholic; in Christ it became Catholic again: the Mosaic system [starting with circumcision, per Irenaeus] was a parenthetical thing of fifteen hundred years only. Such is the luminous and clarifying scheme of Irenæus]

[…]

3. For it was requisite that certain facts should be announced beforehand by the fathers in a paternal manner, and others prefigured by the prophets in a legal one, but others, described after the form of Christ, by those who have received the adoption; while in one God are all things shown forth. For although Abraham was one, he did in himself prefigure the two covenants, in which some indeed have sown, while others have reaped; for it is said, “In this is the saying true, that it is one ‘people’ who sows, but another who shall reap;” but it is one God who bestows things suitable upon both—seed to the sower, but bread for the reaper to eat. Just as it is one that planteth, and another who watereth, but one God who giveth the increase. For the patriarchs and prophets sowed the word [concerning] Christ, but the Church reaped, that is, received the fruit. For this reason, too, do these very men (the prophets) also pray to have a dwelling-place in it, as Jeremiah says, “Who will give me in the desert the last dwelling-place?” in order that both the sower and the reaper may rejoice together in the kingdom of Christ, who is present with all those who were from the beginning approved by God, who granted them His Word to be present with them.

Chapter XXII.—Christ did not come for the sake of the men of one age only, but for all who, living righteously and piously, had believed upon Him; and for those, too, who shall believe.

…2. For it was not merely for those who believed on Him in the time of Tiberius Cæsar that Christ came, nor did the Father exercise His providence for the men only who are now alive, but for all men altogether, who from the beginning, according to their capacity, in their generation have both feared and loved God, and practised justice and piety towards their neighbours, and have earnestly desired to see Christ, and to hear His voice. Wherefore He shall, at His second coming, first rouse from their sleep all persons of this description, and shall raise them up, as well as the rest who shall be judged, and give them a place in His kingdom. For it is truly “one God who” directed the patriarchs towards His dispensations, and “has justified the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith.” For as in the first we were prefigured, so, on the other hand, are they represented in us, that is, in the Church, and receive the recompense for those things which they accomplished.

Cyprian

Written in 248AD, Testimonies Against the Jews explains the relationship between Christianity and Judaism.

Preface

[T]he Jews, according to what had before been foretold, had departed from God, and had lost God’s favour, which had been given them in past time, and had been promised them for the future; while the Christians had succeeded to their place, deserving well of the Lord by faith, and coming out of all nations and from the whole world…

8. That the first circumcision of the flesh is made void, and the second circumcision of the spirit is promised instead.

In Jeremiah: “Thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah, and to them who inhabit Jerusalem, Renew newness among you, and do not sow among thorns: circumcise yourselves to your God, and circumcise the foreskin of your heart; lest my anger go forth like fire, and burn you up, and there be none to extinguish it.” Also Moses says: “In the last days God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God.”…

19. That two peoples were foretold, the elder and the younger; that is, the old people of the Jews, and the new one which should consist of us.

In Genesis: “And the Lord said unto Rebekah, Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy belly; and the one people shall overcome the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” (Gen 25:23) [Note: This interpretation is found in numerous early church writings that I read]. Also in Hosea: “I will call them my people that are not my people, and her beloved that was not beloved. For it shall be, in that place in which it shall be called not my people, they shall be called the sons of the living God.” (Hos 2:23; 1:10)

Augustine

See extensive quotations here.

Reformers

As I explain in Calvin vs 1689 Federalism on Old vs New, the magisterial reformers’ perceived need to defend the state church model led them to depart from the Augustinian understanding of Israel. However, it can still be found in some (notably Congregationalists, who were not led astray by a need to defend a state church).

Owen

Answerably unto this twofold end of the separation of Abraham, there was a double seed allotted unto him; — a seed according to the flesh, separated to the bringing forth of the Messiah according unto the flesh; and a seed according to the promise, that is, such as by faith should have interest in the promise, or all the elect of God… It is true, the former carnal privilege of Abraham and his posterity expiring, on the grounds before mentioned, the ordinances of worship which were suited thereunto did necessarily cease also. And this cast the Jews into great perplexities, and proved the last trial that God made of them; for whereas both these, — namely, the carnal and spiritual privileges of Abraham’s covenant, — had been carried on together in a mixed way for many generations, coming now to be separated, and a trial to be made (Malachi 3) who of the Jews had interest in both, who in one only, those who had only the carnal privilege, of being children of Abraham according to the flesh, contended for a share on that single account in the other also, — that is, in all the promises annexed unto the covenant. But the foundation of their plea was taken away, and the church, unto which the promises belong, remained with them that were heirs of Abraham’s faith only.

The Oneness of the Church

 

The persons with whom this covenant is made are also expressed: “The house of Israel, and the house of Judah.”… Wherefore this house of Israel and house of Judah may be considered two ways:
[1.] As that people were the whole entire posterity of Abraham.

[2.] As they were typical, and mystically significant of the whole church of God.

Hence alone it is that the promises of grace under the old testament are given unto the church under these names, because they were types of them who should really and effectually be made partakers of them…

In the second sense the whole church of elect believers is intended under these denominations, being typified by them. These are they alone, being one made of twain, namely, Jews and Gentiles, with whom the covenant is really made and established, and unto whom the grace of it is actually communicated. For all those with whom this covenant is made shall as really have the law of God written in their hearts, and their sins pardoned, according unto the promise of it, as the people of old were brought into the land of Canaan by virtue of the covenant made with Abraham. These are the true Israel and Judah, prevailing with God, and confessing unto his name.

Hebrews 8:8 Commentary

Samuel Mather

The whole nation of the Jews. They were a typical people; their Church-state being very ceremonial and peculiar to those legal times, (Therefore now ceased and abolished) did adumbrate and shadow forth two things.

  1. Christ himself; hence Christ is called Israel, Isa. 49.3. By Israel is meant Christ, and all the faithful, as members of him their head.
  2. They were a type of the Church of God under the New Testament. Hence the Church is called Israel, Gal 6.16 and Rev 7. The twelve tribes of Israel are numbered up by name, to shew forth the Lord’s particular care of every one of his people in particular. That place is not meant properly of Old Israel, because it relates to the times of the Antichristian locusts; compare cap 7. with cap. 9.4.The analogy lies in this, that they were a peculiar people to the Lord, chosen and singled out by him from all the world: So is Christ the Lord’s chosen, Behold my servant whom I have chosen, mine elect in whom my Soul delighteth: So are all the Saints, 1 Pet 2.9. A royal nation, a peculiar people, gathered from among all nations, Rev 5.9. Hence the enemies of Israel were typical enemies; as Egypt and Babylon under the Old Testament, types of Antichristian enemies under the New: And the providences of God towards that people of Old, types and shadows of his intended future dispensations towards his people under the New; as you will see further when we come to speak of typical providences.

Samuel Mather on Israel as a type of the Church

Jonathan Edwards

That nation, that family of Israel according to the flesh, and with regard to that external and carnal qualification, were in some sense adopted by God to be his peculiar people, and his covenant people… On the whole, it is evident that the very nation of Israel, not as visible saints, but as the progeny of Jacob according to the flesh, were in some respect a chosen people, a people of God, a covenant people, an holy nation; even as Jerusalem was a chosen city, the city of God, a holy city, and a city that God had engaged by covenant to dwell in. Thus a sovereign and all-wise God was pleased to ordain things with respect to the nation of Israel…

That nation was a typical nation. There was then literally a land, which was a type of heaven, the true dwelling-place of God; and an external city, which was a type of the spiritual city of God; an external temple of God, which was a type of his spiritual temple. So there was an external people and family of God, by carnal generation, which was a type of his spiritual progeny. And the covenant by which they were made a people of God, was a type of the covenant of grace; and so is sometimes represented as a marriage-covenant.

Jonathan Edwards on the Nation of Israel as a Type of the Church

John Erskine

…as things were termed unclean, which were types or emblems of moral impurity, so the Jews were termed holy, not only because they were separated from other nations, but because they typified real Christians, who are in the fullest and noblest sense a holy nation, and a peculiar people (a). Types are visible things, different in their nature, from the spiritual things which they typify. If then the Jewish dispensation was typical, we may safely conclude, that the holiness of the Jewish nation being intended to typify the holiness of the Christian church, was of a different nature from it. And it is for this reason, that the Jewish dispensation is called the flesh and the letter, because persons and things in that dispensation, typified and represented persons and things under a more spiritual dispensation. (a) 1 Pet. ii. 9.

John Erskine’s “The Nature of the Sinai Covenant” (17-21)

Present Day

Gentry

Why is there so much judicial imagery in the book of Revelation? In Revelation 5, while he’s seated on the throne, he hands out a seven-sealed scroll, which I believe represents God’s divorce decree against Israel. It’s his bill of divorcement against Israel. He is divorcing this harlot so that He can take a new bride, the church. That’s the judicial imagery in Revelation.

@1:17:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sy7cEW4MJac

Strimple

All evangelical Christians are accustomed to viewing the Old Testament sacrifices and feasts and ceremnonies as being types, that is, teaching tools pointing forward to the work of Christ. Why then should the elements that we will consider now – the land of Canaan, the city of Jerusalem, the temple, the throne of David, the nation Israel itself – not be understood using the same interpretive insight that we use in interpreting the sacrifices and ceremonies?…

The true Israel is Christ… Since Christ is the true Israel, the true seed of Abraham, we who are in Christ by faith and the working of his Spirit are the true Israel, the Israel of faith, not of mere natural descent (Gal 3:7-9, 26-27, 29). Too often in meditating on this wonderful truth, we omit the all-important link in the chain of redemption that Christ himself is. We say: `Yes, the nation of Israel was the people of God in the old covenant. Now in the new covenant the believing church is the people of God.’ And thus we quickly run past (or we miss the blessed point entirely) the fact that we Christians are the Israel of God, Abraham’s seed, and the heirs to the promises, only because by faith, we are united to him who alone is the true Israel, Abraham’s one seed (Gal 3:16).

Three Views on the Millenium and Beyond (86-89)

Kline

[T]he socio-geo-political sector of the Israelite kingdom of God was a part of the total system of kingdom typology established through the covenantal constitution given to Israel in the law of Moses… Israel as a geo-political kingdom is… expressive of the restorative-redemptive principle, it is…a type of the antitypical kingdom of Christ, the Redeemer-King… This kingdom of Israel – not just the temple in its midst, but the kingdom of Israel as such, the kingdom as a national geo-political entity – was a redemptive product of God, a work of divine restoration, given as a prototype version of the kingdom of God in the perfect form it was to attain under the new covenant in the messianic antitype of that Israelite kingdom.

Comments on an Old-New Error

Horton

Chris Whisonant brought to my attention a rather pertinent quote from Michael Horton’s Pilgrim Theology.

Paul’s contrast between the heavenly and earthly Jerusalem in the allegory of Sarah and Hagar (Gal 4:21-31) redraws the boundaries of Israel around Jesus Christ. Earthly descent no longer means anything, since the Mosaic covenant is no longer in force and it could never annul or revise the earlier Abrahamic covenant, which promised blessing to the nations through the seed of Abraham and Sarah. As a result, the Jew-Gentile distinction no longer has any religious or ecclesial significance (Gal 3:15-4:7). It is the promise, not the law, that determines inheritance – and this is true now for everyone. “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the chidren of the promise are counted as offspring” (Rom 9:8). The church is not a parenthesis in the history of redemption between national Israel’s rejection and embrace of the kingdom. Rather, the national theocracy was a parenthesis in what Paul calls the mystery of the church (Eph 1:9; 3:4; 5:32; Col 1:26). The church is Israel – the truly circumcised remnant within the nation that clung to God’s promises even through the exile, now with natural branches broken off and foreign branches grafted in.

Clark

Israel was not, however, God’s natural Son. That much was evident in the wilderness, in Canaan and finally in the ejection when God changed the name of his “son” Israel to “Lo Ammi, not my people” (Hos 1.9-10)

God disinherited his adopted, temporary, national “son” Israel as a national people precisely because God never intended to have a permanent earthly, national people. After the captivity, they had largely fulfilled their role in the history of salvation. As a sign of this fact, the Glory-Spirit departed from the temple. This is because their chief function was to serve as a type and shadow of God’s natural Son, Jesus the Messiah (Heb 10.1-4).

It is the argument of this essay that Jesus Christ is the true Israel of God and that everyone who is united to him by grace alone, through faith alone becomes, by virtue of that union, the true Israel of God. This means that it is wrong-headed to look for, expect, hope for or desire a reconstitution of national Israel in the future. The New Covenant church is not something which God instituted until he could recreate a national people in Palestine, but rather, God only had a national people temporarily (from Moses to Christ) as a prelude to and foreshadowing of the creation of the New Covenant in which the ethnic distinctions which existed under Moses were fulfilled and abolished (Ephesians 2.11-22; Col 2.8-3.11).

The Israel of God

A former student of R. Scott Clark’s noted how he expressed this in class.

brianonstead
Dr. Clark taught in class that Israel was the parenthesis, not the church and that The church is the Israel of God.
Dec 29, 2017, 12:22 PM
brianonstead
He would add qualifications to that whereby he differs with Baptists, but he at least holds to this basic truth.
Dec 29, 2017, 3:38 PM
brianonstead
He said it in the context of where covenant theology differs from Dispensationalism. Dispy says that the church is the parenthesis and Israel is the main show, so to speak. However, cov theo holds to the opposite.
Dec 29, 2017, 3:41 PM

Where Clark and Horton “differ with Baptists” is they try to argue that “theocratic Israel” (the parenthesis) is only Mosaic and is somehow distinct and separate from Abraham’s descendents in the Covenant of Circumcision. But this distinction is entirely untenable. As Irenaeus noted, the parenthetical intervening period began with circumcision. A more biblical version of Clark’s statement above would be “God only had a national people temporarily (from Abraham to Christ) as a prelude to and foreshadowing of the creation of the New Covenant.” The magisterial reformers argued for national holiness and thus a national church from Abraham because theocratic Israel is thoroughly Abrahamic (see Gen 17:7; Ex. 2:24-25; 6:6-7; 19:4-6; Ezek 16:8; Deut 4:32-40; 29:10-13; Ps. 147:19-20; Amos 3:1-2; Hosea 1:9; Deu 7:12-13; Jer 11:3-5). So is true Spiritual Israel. Both are the offspring of Abraham – one as type, the other as antitype. Both correspond to two different Abrahamic promises, as Augustine explained at the beginning. Acknowleding this undoes Horton and Clark’s paedobaptistism. They want to argue that Israel was the Church and that Israel was a type of the Church, but they cannot have their cake and eat it too.

For further reading:

Overview of 1689 Federalism on the Reformed Northwest Podcast

December 21, 2017 4 comments

I recently joined the Reformed Northwest Podcast for a 5-part overview of 1689 Federalism. I’d love to hear any comments/thoughts/feedback/criticism/disagreement you may have.

Categories: 1689 federalism Tags:

Galatians 3 vs Romans 4

December 17, 2017 1 comment
Galatians 3
Romans 4
6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”
9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well,
16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world…
17 the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.
14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.
18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
13…did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world… 16 to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
Categories: Specific Passages