Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Newton and Double Imputation: "My breaches of the law are His, and His obedience mine."

Wow! what a great line from Newton's hymn, "Great God From Thee" that I can't get out of my head. "My breaches [a violation as of a law] of the law are His, and His obedience mine." We sang the musical setting in chapel this morning from "By Thy Mercy" -- a recent CD recorded by the guys at Indelible Grace Music

Here's Newton's text. It's Hymn No. 119 in Gadsby's Hymns [1834]. I'd encourage you to order a copy of Gadsby's Hymns and read it along with your Trinity hymnal. Here's the web address where you can order Gadsby's hymns

Hymn No. 119 Access to God in Christ-[Eph. 2:18; 3:12; Hebrews 10:19]
1. Great God! from thee there's nought concealed,
Thou seest my inward fraom;
To thee I always stand revealed
Exactly as I am!

2. Since I can hardly, therefore, bear
What in myself I see;
How vile and black must I appear,
Most holy God, to thee!

3. But since my Saviour stands between,
In garments dyed in blood,
'Tis he, instead of me, is seen,
When I appraoch to God.

4. Thus, though a sinner I am safe;
He pleads, before the throne,
His life and death on my behalf,
And calls my sins his own.

5. What wondrous love, what mysteries,
In this appointment shine!
My breaches of the law are his,
And his obedience mine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spurgeon, Total Depravity defined, a question, and how the doctrine changes us

Since in January GBC will begin exploring the Doctrines of Grace, I thought it might be helpful to begin early by asking and attempting to answer a question related to the first of these five doctrines, Total Depravity. First a classic quote on Calvinism from Charles Spurgeon:

"There is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation."

What is Total Depravity?
[Genesis 6:5; Romans 1:18-3:21; Romans 7:18; 8:7-8; Romans 14:23; Ephesians 2:1-3]

Definition 1: "Total depravity means that our rebellion against God is total, everything we do in this rebellion is sin, our inability to submit to God or reform ourselves is total, and we are totally deserving of eternal punishment." TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism

Definition 2: "Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them, whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body." The 1689 London Baptist Confession

Definition 3 "All people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and slaves to sin; without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform" The Canons of Dort [1619]

Can't unbelievers do good things?

"We recognize that the word 'good' has a broad range of meaning. We will use it in the restricted sense to refer to many actions of fallen people which in relation to God are in fact not good. For example, we will have to say that it is good that most unbelievers do not kill and that some unbelievers perform acts of benevolence. What we mean when we call such actions good is that they more or less conform to the external pattern of life that God has commanded in the Scripture. However, such outward conformity to the revealed will of God is not righteous in relation to God. It is not done out of reliance on him or for his glory. He is not trusted for the resources, though he gives them all. Nor is his honor exalted, even though that's his will in all things [I Corinthians 10:31]. Therefore even these 'good' acts are part of our rebellion and are not 'good' in the sense that really counts in the end -- in relation to God." TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism

How does the doctrine of Total Depravity change us?

"''But surely we must not tell the sinner that he cannot respond unless God first does a work of regeneration in him!' someone argues. 'That will make him complacent, or even despairing.' On the contrary, that is exactly what the sinner needs to know. For it is only in such understanding that sinful human beings know how desperate their situation is, and how absolutely essential God's grace is. If we are hanging on to some confidence in our spiritual ability, no matter how small, we will never seriously worry about our condition. There will be no sense of urgency. There will be time to believe later on. But if we are truly dead in sin, as the Bible says we are, then we will find ourselves in near despair. We will see our state as hopeless apart from the supernatural and totally unmerited working of the grace of God . . . Far from keeping us away from Christ, the true knowledge of radical depravity helps us abandon ourselves to his grace."
James Montgomery Boice and Philip Graham Ryken, The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel