Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Always running after something new!

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on June 21, 2016 at 2:15 pm

jc_ryle_2

The life of many religious people, I fear, in this age, is nothing better than a continual course of chasing after novelties. They are always morbidly craving fresh excitement; and they seem to care little what it is — if they only get it. All preaching seems to be the same to them; and they appear unable to “see differences” so long as they hear what is clever, have their ears tickled, and sit in a crowd. Worst of all, there are hundreds of young unestablished believers who are so infected with the same love of excitement, that they actually think it a duty to be always seeking it. Insensibly almost to themselves, they take up a kind of hysterical, sensational, sentimental Christianity — until they are never content with the “old paths;” and, like the Athenians, are always running after something new!  – J.C. Ryle

The Confession of Faith on Genesis 3:15

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on June 7, 2016 at 11:40 am

1689leather

Copyright © 2016 Richard C. Barcellos. All rights reserved.

Our Confession cites Genesis 3:15 in two most instructive contexts. Here is Genesis 3:15 and the 2LCF 7.2-3 (which cites the Genesis 3:15 in 7.3) and 2LCF 20.1 (which cites Gen. 3:15).

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel. (Gen. 3:15)

  1. Moreover, man having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace, wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe (Ezek. 36:26-27).
  1. This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament; and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency. (2LCF 7.2-3)
  1. The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance (Gen. 3:15); in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners. (2LCF 20.1)

In 2LCF 7.3 above, the covenant of grace is said to be “revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman.” Genesis 3:15 is cited just after “the seed of the woman.” Genesis 3:15 contains the matter of the gospel (i.e., its rudimentary ingredients). This is a very ancient and well-attested understanding of Genesis 3:15.

Genesis 3:15 in 2LCF 7

In the paragraphs of the 2LCF from chapter 7 above, two of the biblical texts cited were inserted into the quoted text—Ezekiel 36:26-27 and Genesis 3:15. Though our main focus is on Genesis 3:15, it is of great importance to understand why the framers of our Confession utilized Ezekiel 36:26-27 as they did. The citation of the Ezekiel text comes in paragraph 2. Here is that paragraph again:

  1. Moreover, man having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace, wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe (Ezek. 36:26-27). (2LCF 7.2)

Notice the central assertion of the paragraph: “. . . it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace.” This “covenant of grace” is necessary due to “man having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall.” The last clause of the paragraph indicates the efficient cause of sinners receiving the benefits of this covenant—“his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.” It is at this point that Ezekiel 36:26-27 is cited. That text reads as follows:

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezek. 36:26-27)

This is a clear allusion to what Jeremiah calls the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31, which reads, “Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.’” This covenant was concluded or historically ratified by our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems clear, then, that the Confession sees the new covenant as the covenant of grace.[1]

In light of this, it is of interest to note the other texts cited at the end of 7.2 by the Confession. Those texts are John 6:44-45 and Psalm 110:3. John 6:44-45 reads:

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. (John 6:44-45)

These are the words of our Lord. The Old Testament reference in verse 45 is probably a collation of Isaiah 54:13 and Jeremiah 31:34 due to the fact that Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets” (emphasis added). Isaiah 54:13 reads, “All your sons will be taught of the LORD.” Jeremiah 31:34 reads, “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me . . .” Jesus’ words allude to the promised new covenant of the Old Testament. Psalm 110:3 reads, “Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.” This Psalm is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament, about 25 times. Citing these texts (Ezek. 36:26-27; John 6:44-45; and Psalm 110:3) at the end of 7.2 indicates that the framers of our Confession saw the covenant of grace promised in the Old Testament, in Ezekiel 36 and Isaiah 54, Jeremiah 31, and Psalm 110.

Genesis 3:15 in 2LCF 7.3

Our main focus in this section is on the Confession’s use of Genesis 3:15. The citation of this verse comes toward the beginning of 2LCF 7.3. It reads as follows: “This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), . . .” The words “This covenant” clearly refers back to the “covenant of grace” in paragraph 2. The words “is revealed in the gospel” tell us that our framers believed the “covenant of grace” is gospel revelation. In other words, it is good news for sinners, the news of “life and salvation by Jesus Christ” (2LCF 7.2). The covenant of grace is the promised new covenant of Old Testament prophecy.

This covenant of grace is said to be “revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman.” This is where Genesis 3:15 is cited. Notice that the framers assert that the covenant of grace is “revealed . . . in the promise . . .” This is not the same as asserting that the covenant was formally and historically established by the words of Genesis 3:15. In fact, we know this to be the case because of what follows: “and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament.” The completion, or “full discovery,” of the covenant of grace, its formal, historical establishment, waited until the New Testament. It was promised in the Old and brought to completion in the New. It was “revealed . . . first of all to Adam . . . and afterwards [revealed] by farther steps [in the Old Testament], until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament.”

This use of Genesis 3:15 argues that our framers viewed the Bible as organic and progressive, as well as consummated by the truths revealed to us in the New Testament. This suggests that our framers saw a promise/fulfillment motif in the Bible, centering on the gospel, the covenant of grace, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Genesis 3:15 in 2LCF 20.1

  1. The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life, God was pleased to give forth the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect, and begetting in them faith and repentance (Gen. 3:15); in this promise the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed, and [is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners. (2LCF 20.1)

Notice that Genesis 3:15 is cited after acknowledging that “[t]he covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable unto life.” The truth revealed in Genesis 3:15 is necessary if fallen man is to enjoy the “life” proffered by the covenant of works. The life proffered by the covenant of works was not what Adam had via creation but what he could have attained via the covenant of works (cf. 2LCF 7.1-2). That which is contained in Genesis 3:15 is “the promise of Christ, the seed of the woman.” The “seed of the woman” clearly refers to Christ. This promise is “the means of calling the elect . . .” It is a promise in which “the gospel, as to the substance of it, was revealed” and as a gospel promise “[is] therein effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.” According to our Confession, the first revelation of the good news is to be found in Genesis 3:15.

_______________

[1] See Pascal Denault’s, The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology: A Comparison Between Seventeenth-Century Particular Baptist and Paedobaptist Federalism (Vestavia Hills, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2013), chapters 2 and 4.

Ecclesiastical Antinomianism

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on May 31, 2016 at 11:13 am

church

Antinomianism has certainly received its fair share of just criticism in recent years–predominantly on account of its pernicious presence in the pulpits across our land. While the doctrinal forms of Antinomianism are quite pernicious, its practical forms are sometimes even more dangerous; after all, “bad company corrupts good morals.” Yet, for all the attention that theologians have given to battling Antinomianism in the realm of individual Christian belief and experience, there is a widespread form of Antinomianism that requires more attention, namely, ecclesiastical Antinomianism.  – Read it here

%d bloggers like this: