Wednesday, May 04, 2005

former Xanga posts

Thursday, April 21, 2005

THE COMPREHENSIVE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

American Christianity is a fake. It has the form of godliness, but denies its power. Why? Because it thinks that Christ is less than Lord.

What do I mean by this? I mean simply that we fail to apply the lordship of Christ in every area of life and thought. I know we are all guilty of this. In fact, every time we sin, we are failing to apply Jesus' lordship to our lives. But it seems that we are not being transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Right now, I am extremely frustrated with the "Christian" school I work for. We have people on the board who makes rules, but do not follow them. We have compromise all over the place. Why make rules if you won't follow them yourself? Furthermore, there is a tremendous lack of discipline at the school I work for, and especially at the "church" that the school is associated with.

Are we striving to obey in our sanctification? Are we grieved by our sin and our sinfulness? Is sin utterly sinful to us? Do we long to become more holy?

Jesus is Lord over every area of life and thought. We need to strive to be hard workers at our jobs, to be excellent husbands and wives to our spouses, to be wonderful and exemplary fathers and mothers to our children, and to set godly examples.

We need to furthermore be bold when compromise comes. I know we need to balance this with patience and love when it comes to fellow brethren. I know I need to grow in this area. But when compromise is pervasive, when lack of discipline is pervasive, and then when others try to deceive you (and themselves) into thinking that everything is all right--that is when it is time to be bold. "The righteous are as bold as a lion."

We need to rigorously apply the Bible to all of life. There is an antithesis between unbelieving thought, and believing thought. It touches upon every aspect of our being and life. There will always be a clash between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.

We should be utterly disturbed by compromise.

May Christ be exalted in our lives, in every area, and in every thought. May we be jealous for His lordship.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

WHY WE MINIMIZE SIN

Woe to us, because we live in a culture that minimizes sin. It is the prideful human tendency to make sin lighter than it really is. We all do it. But especially here in America.

Especially among evangelical Christians, there is a tendency to look at sin as less serious than it really is. We willingly lie to ourselves and teach ourselves that it is OK, because at least we're not like that other person over there. "Sure, I've stolen, but at least I haven't murdered." Then the murderer says, "Sure, I've murdered, but at least I haven't murdered like a serial-killer." Then the serial killer says, "Sure, I have serially-murdered, but at least I didn't torture them." And then, my friends, Hitler says, "Sure, I killed and tortured six million of them, but at least they were Jews." Where does it all end?!

We need to see sin for what it is. The only way this will happen is if the Word of God is applied to our hearts. We need to read it and study it prayerfully, asking the Holy Spirit to transform us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We need to be slain by the Law of God, and transformed by the gospel of Christ. Read Romans 7 and Paul's description of sin. The Law came that sin would become utterly sinful.

Notice, please, that it is the Law that condemns and convicts, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Have you lusted after a woman? Then you've committed adultery with her. Have you hated someone? Then you've murdered them. Have you coveted something? Then you've stolen it. Paul says that the Law is spiritual! Romans 7:13 says that "in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good [the Law], so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful."

The holy Law of God displays God's holy character. As we study the Law, we begin to see, by God's grace applied, our utter sinfulness. We begin to see the utter holiness of God. Christianity today has too low a view of God and too high a view of man. We are so trapped in our sinfulness, that our sinfulness permeates to the very core of our being. It takes a miracle of sovereign grace to free us from our sin. And even after we have been freed, regenerated, and born again, we still are slowly being released from the power of sin as we are being transformed more and more into Christ's image.

Let us stop deceiving ourselves. Our sin is wickedly evil and disgusting. It makes a mockery of the holiness of God. It breaks His holy Law. It nailed Christ to the cross.

May God grant us the eyes to see our sinfulness, and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Jesus is indeed the true Savior--He saves us not only from sin's penalty, but also from its power in our lives as well!


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

THE ACTIVE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST A NECESSITY

Brothers and sisters in Christ, is it not extremely hard to believe what is going on in Reformed circles these days? Can you believe that people who are calling themselves "Reformed" are denying the imputation of Christ's righteousness? The imputation of the righteousness of Christ is essential to biblical and Reformed doctrine.

The active obedience of Christ is the fact that Christ perfectly fulfilled the Law of God by obeying it in its every aspect. He did this for His elect. God the Father imputes Christ's Law-keeping to us, and regards us as if we kept the Law of God perfectly. The active obedience was necessary for His passive obedience, which is Christ's death on the cross. So in justification, we are imputed Christ's righteousness and His death on the cross, forgiving our sins.

However, those who are denying active obedience are saying that all justification is is merely the forgiveness of sins. But, as Sproul has rightly said, if that is all justification is, then we would be like Adam in the Garden again. We would be back to square one. But what positive righteousness would we have to commend us before the Father?

Granted, I believe that in justification, much more than just Christ's fulfilling of the Law and His death on the cross is imputed to us. In fact, all of Christ's life, death, and resurrection are imputed to us. In fact, it is the entire work of Christ that is imputed to us. But I still think the active/passive obedience distinction is helpful, because Christ did indeed come to obey the Law. There are several passages which mention this. Scripture mentions that Christ had to be "under the Law" to redeem those under the Law. Our Lord tells John the Baptist that it is proper to baptize Him "so as to fulfill all righteousness."

I believe that those who are denying active obedience are on deadly ground spiritually. They have a low view of their own sinfulness. We need to love the truth in order to be saved. We need to get a glimpse of our utter sinfulness, and the utter holiness of God. When we, by God's grace, see it, then we will cling to justification by faith alone by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone with all of our being.

May the Lord bring to repentance those who are denying the work of Christ. May He open their eyes to the glory of Christ and to the utter beauty of His redemptive work.



Thursday, March 31, 2005

THOUGHTS ON TERRI SCHIAVO

Today, Terri Schiavo has died. It is an extreme tragedy that we have added to our holocaust here in the U.S.A., the land of the oppressed and the home of the cowardly. We have come so far from what our founding fathers' ideal was.

However, something struck me recently. I was talking to a brother in Christ recently. I said to him, "Doesn't this whole Terri Schiavo thing anger you?" I'll never forget his response. He said, "Of course--but it's no different than all the murdering of babies that our nation has done for a long time." In other words, he has a good point. Why are we Christians suddenly becoming outraged and jumping on the frustration bandwagon now, when we should have been outraged and determined to fight injustice ages ago?

Folks, it's not just Terri Schiavo. Every day, thousands of babies are killed. Our nation legalized this thirty years ago. This is a legacy of autonomy. Man suppresses the truth of God's Law, which is written on his heart, and he replaces it with self-law. It is not up to the courts to decide what is right and what is wrong. Ethics reflects God's character. God is the standard of goodness. I know He is outraged with this country. How do I know this? Because He is a God of justice and wrath. Scripture says He by no means clears the guilty, but Has mercy on those who call upon His Name.

Brothers and sisters in Christ: It is the Church that is the glory of the world. God restrains evil primarily through the influence of the Church. But the Church is sitting on her thumbs. She is doing nothing. She is ignoring the Great Commission. But when she seems to obey the Great Commission, she preaches a man-centered gospel of "Jesus can make you happy."

People need to be crushed by the Law of God, so that sin becomes utterly sinful, as Paul says in Romans 7. They need to know that they are under God's holy wrath and displeasure. They need to be told that Christ is their only remedy, not only from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin (and ultimately from the presence of sin). They need to be told that Christ is the Only One Who can save them from their willing self-deception. They need to be told to love the truth, so as to be saved.

We need to learn to think God's thoughts after Him, to be transformed through the renewing of our minds, to test and approve what God's good, pleasing, and perfect will is. And we need to teach others repentance, and preach repentance.

I believe that the Bible teaches that the Church will succeed in her task in history--but not until she gets off of her thumbs and preaches the gospel of no compromise. Christ is Lord over every area of life and thought, whether someone is a believer or an unbeliever. This is absolutely true, for everyone, whether believer or unbeliever. The absolute fact is, that the only way of salvation is in Christ alone, by faith alone, and by God's grace alone.

May God open up the Church's eyes to her task, and grant her repentance to perform it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


WELCOME TO THE U.S.A.: THE LAND OF THE OPPRESSED AND THE HOME OF THE COWARDLY

I am extremely outraged at what is going on with the Terri Schiavo case. Isn't it obvious that man's standards of good and evil are arbitrary? What makes man the final determiner of what a life is and what isn't?

We live in a society that only cares about itself. To illustrate this, consider the fact that my wife and I have decided to be a "full quiver" family. (That is, we want to have as many children as the Lord gives us, and we do not practice birth control.) My wife has agreed to not have any alcoholic drinks while she is breastfeeding or pregnant. Recently, one of our family members said to her, "So you're not going to have any drinks unless you're not pregnant or breastfeeding?!" He asked the question in a way that just thought that was so tough. Poor her, he seemed to say.

But my wife and I see it differently. It is a small sacrifice to make for the joy of raising children. But our society is cowardly when it comes to having children. They do not see children as the precious gift from the Lord that they are. Scripture tells us that they are a heritage, and that he who has a quiver-full of them is blessed. (A quiver is what holds arrows for an archer. It can hold a lot of arrows!) Scripture also tells us that children are arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior.

DREAMS CHANGE

When I first got married, my dream was to finish seminary, go to Philadelphia to finish my doctorate in theology, and then go to Spain and serve there. But the Bible says, "In a heart a man plots his course, but it is the Lord that determines his steps." God had a different plan. Since then I have grown immensely in my understanding of doctrine and practice, and the Lord has blessed us with two children. He has shown me the need to work hard to support my family.

So we moved to Georgia to teach at a classical Christian school. But our understanding of the vitality of the Lord's Supper and the necessity of a biblical church has grown as well. So we are moving back to California to return to our church.

I will be teaching in another Reformed school in California. For how long? Only the Lord knows. The main thing is that I need to support my family. This may mean I'll only work in the Reformed school world for only a time, or it could mean that I will end up teaching in public schools. I will be going for my credential as well. But the Lord determines my steps.

Through all of this, what have I learned? I'll tell you.

Do you know what my dream is? To love my wife and family and to support them. To serve in the true church of our Lord and enjoy the means of grace. To persevere until the end, along with my family. My dream is to serve the Lord wherever He has me. May He be praised in my life.

7 comments:

WTRA said...

On April 6th you spoke against those who deny the imputation of the active obedience of Christ.

You state in an introductory fashion, "Can you believe that people who are calling themselves "Reformed" are denying the imputation of Christ's righteousness?"

Those who hold to the opposing view do not deny the 'imputation of Christ's righteousness'.

They simply define Christ's righteousness differently. I felt your statement so early on in your post could have been misinterpreted by some to be pulling an emotional string to get people on your side early.

Let me quote a paragraph of yours:

"However, those who are denying active obedience are saying that all justification is is merely the forgiveness of sins. But, as Sproul has rightly said, if that is all justification is, then we would be like Adam in the Garden again. We would be back to square one. But what positive righteousness would we have to commend us before the Father?"

"merely the forgiveness of sins", "merely"? I understand you believe more is imputed, but is forgiveness of sins such a small matter to be considereded, 'merely'.

If I may interupt myself, and lovingly guide you, please be wary while in the blogosphere to not add unneeded adjectives that 'push' things your way.

Back to my comments...

Sproul is a godly man, but what makes his statement true... or valid?

Is being like Adam in the garden a bad thing? What was lacking? If there is something lacking (such as a glorified body) was it absolutely needed, and or unable to be given apart from redemption?

I realize I am asking hypotheticals, but is not your opposite views based on the opposite hypotheticals?

And to finish my comments on this particular quote of yours, and a very crucial points is... Is positive righteousness needed (or should I say mandated by Scripture)?

I desire to comment further but have lack of time... perhaps you can reply to what I have said thus far...

I would love to see clear scripture passages to defend your view.

In closing, though my comments may appear staunchly opposed to your views, I am actually not sure of my views concerning this. I have, however, not seen much scriptural support for your view. I desire to see otherwise.

Josh Brisby said...

WTRA,

Thank you for your comments. I understand why you wish to remain anonymous. There certainly has already been much controversy on this matter.

To answer you, I would refer you to the Reformed confessions on this matter. I do not wish to sound like I'm just trying to avoid this, but I believe that the Reformed confessions do a great job, and have saved the time on this subject. Of course, check the Scriptural citations in the confessions. You can find them online as well. (You can do a Google search.) Check the Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession of Faith. I believe that the above confessions are clear on the subject, as were the Reformers. What's important, of course, is the Scriptures that they cite. Please study the Scriptures they cite on the subject.

Also, the truth is that many of the Federal Vision folks DO indeed deny active obedience, and therefore deny a cardinal aspect of imputation. Yes, positive righteousness is needed, because the Law of God is God's perfect requirement that we are to obey. This is His holy standard. As I stated, along with Sproul Sr.: If there is no positive righteousness credited to us, then we are back to square one. But also, it was necessary for Christ to keep the Law perfectly because otherwise He could not have been our perfect substitute.

I believe that those who deny active obedience, and who turn justification into a process, have not been given a glimpse of their own sinfulness, or of God's holiness. Once we are given a glimpse of how sinful we are, and how holy God is, we will wish to cling to the doctrine of imputation by our fingernails. It is ALL of the work of Christ, and the Person of Christ, that is imputed to us--not just His death and resurrection. I appreciate Charles Hodge's point here.

May the Lord guide us by His powerful Word. May He sanctify us by His truth. His Word is truth.

Josh Brisby

WTRA said...

Again, not much time... But I investigated the WCF and the LBCF.

Apparently you were not aware that the WCF allows for both positions.

Here is an excerpt that can be found in its entirety at http://www.peterwallace.org/essays/intent.htm

"There were several matters on which the Westminster Divines were not fully agreed. In some cases, like the matter of the supralapsarian versus infralapsarian debate or with respect to the timing of the millennium, the Confession remained more or less silent. Others, however, had to be addressed. It is interesting to note that wherever they could, they found ways of allowing for a diversity of views among sound Reformed men. They did this by adopting wording that could be interpreted in different ways.

Perhaps the best known example is in the chapter on justification. The Thirty-Nine Articles asserted that the "whole obedience and satisfaction" of Christ was imputed to the believer in justification, but William Twisse, Richard Vines, and Thomas Gataker objected to this language being included in the new confession. They did not believe that the active obedience of Christ was included in justification... After some debate, the Assembly decided to use simply the language of "the obedience and satisfaction" of Christ, which could be interpreted either way. Twisse, Vines, and Gataker would understand this to refer solely to the passive obedience of Christ, while the majority would understand it to include both the active and the passive obedience of Christ."

One thing I will note here is this statement in the above quote:
"they found ways of allowing for a diversity of views among sound Reformed men" and then give our present discussion as an example.

Do you beleive that (if all other things being equal) you can call those who deny the imputation of the active obedience => sound reformed men?

The LBCF clearly states 'active obedience', but gives even fewer verses than the WCF did.

Here are all the verses:
1 Cor 1:30-31
2 Cor 5:19-21
Acts 10:44
Acts 13:38-39
Eph 1:7
Eph 2:7-8
Gal 2:16
Jer 23:6
Phil 3:9
Rom 3:22-28
Rom 4:5-8
Rom 5:17-19
Rom 8:30
Tit 3:5
John 1:12

The LBCF uses no new passages other than John 1:12 which I think we both would agree do not address our topic squarely.

I have studied these passages in context.

Are there others I should consult?
If not, could you explain to me how these verses defend the imputation of Christ's active obedience?

Josh Brisby said...

WTRA,

Sorry it's taken so long for me to respond to your last comment--I've been a busy hubby, daddy, teacher, and student, all at the same time!

To answer your last question: I admit, being a Reformed Baptist (although I am also a former Westminsterian Presby as well), that I do not know a lot of the history behind the WCF. I am rather surprised by what you mentioned above, but I will say this, to answer your question: If any of the signers of the WCF did not believe in active obedience, then I would say that they were NOT sound Reformed men. But we have to be careful. Consider this:

Charles Hodge (and I agree with him here) says that ALL of Christ is imputed to us in our justification: His life, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession, etc.; ALL of the work of Christ is imputed to us. He does not deny active obedience, but he makes clear that it is all of Christ that is credited to us in justification.

I agree with this. The reason why I think the doctrine of active obedience is helpful is because it places an important focus for the times. In other words, Christ did more than just die for His elect. He also lived for them and obeyed the Father's Law for them.

We cannot dichotomize or separate the active obedience from His passive obedience. Christ's passive obedience on the cross never would have been acceptable before the Father had He not also kept the Law perfectly. What I am saying is, perhaps some framers of the WCF had more of a view that Charles Hodge had, and perhaps they wanted to make clear that ALL of Christ's obedience: His whole life, death, resurrection, and everything--> is imputed to us.

To answer your questions, now, on the verses, I think one verse which particularly sticks out to me is when Jesus tells John the Baptist to baptize Him because "it is proper to do this to fulfill all righteousness." What did He mean here if this was not part of His active obedience? Christ was keeping the Law and entering the ritual cleansings required. Consider also Matthew 5:17ff. Christ "fulfills" the Law and the Prophets because they point to Him, and He is the one who not only keeps the Law, but He also writes it on the hearts of the regenerate, causing them to obey the Law in sanctification (Romans 8:1-4). Before, the Law was powerless (Romans 7) because our sin nature weakened it. But Christ came to fulfill the Law; in fact, we obey it because He obeyed it.

I do not understand why there are those denying the active obedience of Christ--especially because these same people try to place union with Christ over imputation--when in fact it is BOTH union with Christ and imputation. Because we are in union with Christ, this is why we keep the Law--because He kept the Law for us.

Josh Brisby

WTRA said...

You state, "If any of the signers of the WCF did not believe in active obedience, then I would say that they were NOT sound Reformed men."

I am fearful that you mistake me for someone who denies His active obedience. I don't. I am looking for scripture that says or even implies clearly that it is imputed to us.

In your comment above, you admit that you go beyond the divines.

Your comment regarding Hodge simply presents him (and yourself) as those that hold to a more extensive or exhaustive view of imputation. But that only introduces another potential argument. I am most concerned to learn of Biblical support for Christ's active obedience being imputed, regardless of the amount or extent. I am not saying I need the 'golden passage', but at least some passages that would support it.

You continue, "I agree with this [regarding Hodge]. The reason why I think the doctrine of active obedience is helpful is because it places an important focus for the times. In other words, Christ did more than just die for His elect. He also lived for them and obeyed the Father's Law for them."

I agree that, "Christ did more than just die for His elect. He also lived for them and obeyed the Father's Law for them."

My thoughts have been that He did this, not to impute it to us, but so that He could be our perfect sacrifice. He needed to be perfect to be a valid sacrifice. His active obedience was necessary. But was it imputed?

This is what I am looking for. I believe in the active obedience of Christ. I am just not sold on the concept that it was imputed to us.

You state, "Christ's passive obedience on the cross never would have been acceptable before the Father had He not also kept the Law perfectly."

I agree!!!

You state, "What I am saying is, perhaps some framers of the WCF had more of a view that Charles Hodge had, and perhaps they wanted to make clear that ALL of Christ's obedience: His whole life, death, resurrection, and everything--> is imputed to us."

Reading the article, and assuming its veracity, does not allow for your view. Simply put, there were some divines, sound reformed men (in my opinion), that denied the imputation of Christ's active obedience. Unless you have better sources you'd like to reference, this appears to be an attempt to reinterpret history.

Jesus' baptism:

This passage does not discuss imputation at all. He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. His baptism was necessary to fulfill all righteousness. This could easily follow the rest of scripture and simply be discussing the things which needed to be done to make Him the perfect sacrifice. Imputation is not discussed. His baptism was part of His active obedience, but where does it discuss it being imputed to us?


Matthew 5:17ff simply does the same thing. proves that Christ did what was necessary to become the perfect sacrifice. Again, nothing of imputation is mentioned.

You state, "I do not understand why there are those denying the active obedience of Christ--especially because these same people try to place union with Christ over imputation--when in fact it is BOTH union with Christ and imputation. Because we are in union with Christ, this is why we keep the Law--because He kept the Law for us."

Simply put, I don't. I agree with your comments completely.

Another quick thought before I leave...

With no clear passages that speak of Christ's active obedience being imputed, is it possible that the fruit of the Spirit could instead be our positive acts... tipping the scales since they are not really ours but God-enabled fruit?

Just a thought that would still allow for a person to hold to the Covenant of Works, yet deny the imputation of Christ's active obedience.

Josh Brisby said...

Firstly, let us consider something. Is Christ's resurrection imputed to us? Is His crucifixion? What about His resisting temptation?

The point is, as I and Charles Hodge stated before: It is ALL of Christ that is imputed to us. His entire work is imputed to us, and imputation is tied into our union with Christ. In other words, since Christ's resurrection is imputed to me, I am also in union with Him in His resurrection, which is why I receive a resurrection body, as well as walk in newness of life here and now.

Since His crucifixion is imputed to me, I am also in union with Him in His crucifixion, which means that I die spiritually to sin, and that death no longer has power over me spiritually.

Since His ascension and high priestly work is imputed to me, I am in union with Him as my Great High Priest, and He ever lives and intercedes for me.

And, since His keeping of the Law is imputed to me, I am in union with Him in the keeping of the Law.

In other words, imputation is inseparable from union with Christ. Romans 8:1-4 speaks of our keeping the Law because Christ kept the Law, as does Matthew 5:17ff.

The prooftexts are there, especially Romans 8:1-4 and Mt 5:17ff. We cannot separate imputation from union with Christ. This is why these men who deny that active obedience is imputed do not see the texts--because they fail to understand that imputation and union with Christ are inseparable. (Example: Dunn's article "Imputation or Union with Christ?")--> A biblical article would be entitled, "Imputation and Union with Christ."

Finally, you made the following comment:

"With no clear passages that speak of Christ's active obedience being imputed, is it possible that the fruit of the Spirit could instead be our positive acts... tipping the scales since they are not really ours but God-enabled fruit?
Just a thought that would still allow for a person to hold to the Covenant of Works, yet deny the imputation of Christ's active obedience."

Yikes! A few thoughts here. First of all, Heidelberg Catechism questions 60-62 answer this point well, but especially question 62. Since I believe this is so important for this dialogue, I will place it here:

62. Q. But why cannot our good works be the whole or part of our righteousness before God?

A. Because the righteousness which can stand before the tribunal of God must be absolutely perfect and wholly conformable to the divine law, while even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.

I think the Heidelberg is right on here. In other words, not only is it dangerous to say that "in some mysterious sense" our works contribute to our justification, it is also heretical.

Let me be clear. Those who say that there is "some mysterious sense" in which our works contribute to our justification, not only are in error, they are in heresy. (They are also unconfessional, but that's the least of my concern here.)

Why is it heresy? Because it takes away from the finished work of Christ.

Our works contribute NOTHING to our justification, because our justification has the work of Christ as its foundation. It is Christ's work, and Christ's work alone. Anything else will not stand before the Holy God of the universe.

Josh Brisby

Josh Brisby said...

Just another thought: Consider how in Romans 8:1-4, we have both imputation and union with Christ. In verse 1, we have imputation: "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,"--but then comes the connection of imputation to union with Christ--> "BECAUSE through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the Law of sin and death." Then continue reading vv. 3-4 to see how union with Christ is tied into our sanctification.

Josh Brisby