Reformed Theology

Reason #ILostCount - I'm not going back"I'm not going back" is a refrain at our house, and we have reasons...we usually make up a number (reason #848) but I just lost count.

And I'm not going back.

My daddy died last week and  I know that he's with Jesus.  I heard another refrain:  If you want to see Jesus, you need to be holy.

Here's the thing - if you're holy enough to get yourself into heaven - raise your hand.

I'm not.

I'm not holy enough - far, far from it.  To paraphrase Mark Driscoll - this kind of teaching leads to either pride or despair.  Pride (I got this) or despair (I can't do this.)

Reason #ILostCount

When Dad got to heaven, I know that he lived his life in faith in Christ.  He never pointed at his works; he pointed to Jesus and the cross.

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (Romans 3:28 ESV)

What is "law?"  Law (simple explanation) is God's character codified.  In the law, we learn God's character, and His standard for holiness.  God is perfect and His law is perfect.

We are not and we cannot be, this side of the grave.

Since we are not perfect, how do we see Jesus?  How are we justified?

We are justified by faith, and not by works.

Yes, sanctification is a thing and for a person who is justified by faith, that faith will be evidenced by sanctification.

I asked a Sunday School student - do you do your chores because you are part of your family?  Or do you do your chores in order to become part of your family?

Do we obey the law because we belong to Christ?  Or do we obey the law in order to belong to Christ?

The difference is worth an eternity.

On thinking that God only has one begotten son – the rest of us are children by adoption – and that Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers…This is pretty long, and it’s worth the read.

Our church is doing "Adoption month."  Yes, an entire month on the topic of adoption - and I had the following story a few months ago...it's great.

 PROOF” by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones - is a reworking of TULIP - I like the book.

“Because I’m Yours”

I never dreamed that taking a child to Disney World could be so difficult – or that such a trip could teach me so much about God’s outrageous grace.


Our middle daughter had been previously adopted by another family.  I [Timothy] am sure this couple had the best of intentions, but they never quite integrated the adopted child into their family of biological children.  After a couple of rough years, they dissolved the adoption and we ended up welcoming an eight-year-old daughter into our home.

For one reason or another, whenever our daughter’s previous family vacationed at Disney World, they took their biological children with them, but they left their adopted daughter behind with a family friend. Usually – at least in the child’s mind, this happened because she did something wrong that precluded her presence on the trip.

And so, by the time we adopted our daughter, she had seen many pictures of Disney World and she had heard about the rides and the characters and the parades.  But when it came to passing through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, she had always been the one left on the outside.  Once I found out about this history, I made plans to take her to Disney World the next time a speaking engagement took our family to the south-eastern United States.

I thought I had mastered the Disney World drill.  I knew from previous experiences that the prospect of seeing cast members in freakishly oversized mouse and duck costumes somehow turns children into squirming bundles of emotional insecurity.  What I didn’t expect was that the prospect of visiting this dreamworld would produce a stream of downright devilish behavior in our newest daughter.  In the month leading up to our trip to the Magic Kingdom, she stole food when a simple request would have gained her  a snack.  She lied when it would have been easier to tell the truth. She whispered insults that were carefully crafted to hurt her older sister as deeply as possible — and as the days on the calendar moved closer to the trip, her mutinies multiplied.

A couple of days before our family headed to Florida, I pulled our daughter into my lap to talk about her latest escapade. :I know what you’re going to do," she stated flatly.  “You’re not going to take me to Disney World, are you?”  The thought actually hadn’t crossed my mind, but her downward spiral suddenly started to make some sense.  She knew she couldn’t earn her way into the Magic Kingdom — she had tried and failed that test several times before — so she was living in a way that placed her as far as possible from the most magical place on earth.

In retrospect, I’m embarrassed to admit that, in that moment, I was tempted to turn her fear to my own advantage.  The easiest response would have been “If you don’t start behaving better, you’re right, we won’t take you”  But by God’s grace, I didn’t.  Instead I asked her, “Is this trip something we’re doing as a family?”

She nodded, brown eyes wide and tear-rimmed.

“Are you part of this family?”

She nodded again.

“Then you’re going with us.  Sure, there may be some consequences to help you remember what’s right and what’s wrong — but you’re part of our family and we’re not leaving you behind.

I’d like to say that her behaviors grew better after that moment.  They didn’t.  Her choices pretty much spiraled out of control at every hotel and every rest stop all the way to Lake Buena Vista.  Still, we headed to Disney World on the day we promised, and it was a typical Disney day.  Overpriced tickets, overpriced meals, and lots of lines, mingled with just enough manufactured magic to consider maybe going again someday.

In our hotel room that evening, a very different child emerged.  She was exhausted, pensive, and a little weepy at times, but her month-long facade of rebellion had faded.  When bedtime rolled around, I prayed with her, held her, and asked, “So, how was your first day at Disney World?”

She closed her eyes and snuggled down into her stuffed unicorn.  After a few moments, she opened her eyes every so slightly.  “Daddy,” she said, “I finally got to go to Disney World.  But it wasn’t because I was good.  It’s because I’m yours.”

It wasn’t because I was good…it’s because I’m yours.

That’s the message of outrageous grace.

Outrageous grace isn’t a favor your can achieve by being good; it’s the gift your receive by being God’s.

Ponderings courtesy of C. Michael Patton.

Double Imputation means that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us.

imputed: To pass into one's account.  I can think I have $10,000 in my account, but until it's imputed to my account, it's in my imagination.

If the doctrine of "Double Imputation" meant that my sin is imputed to Christ and His righteousness is imputed to me, I'd be good.

But "Double Imputation" means that Christ's righteousness is imputed to me...and so is the sin of Adam.

I am not only guilty of my sin...I'm "accounted guilty" for eating the fruit in the garden.

I know a person who looks at a certain doctrine and "just can't believe that." and I'm in the same boat here.  I try to "get it" and just can't.

I'm going to cite Patten's article, and respond with my thoughts...

Most particularly, the doctrine of imputation is being questioned. This is quit understandable.

It's important to MY thoughts that I make the distinction that it's not "imputation" - it's "DOUBLE imputation I struggle with.

Perhaps John Calvin defines Original Sin most concisely as “The deprivation of a nature formerly good and pure.” More specifically, from a Reformed Evangelical perspective, it refers to the fall of humanity from its original state of innocence and purity to a state of corruption and guilt (distinguished later). It is the cause of man’s translation from a state of unbroken communion before God to one of spiritual death and condemnation.

I'm in full agreement.  Because of Adam, sin entered into the world and we are all sinners - in our own right.  We are sinners, and it's because of our nature that we inherited from Adam.

We inherit the nature, not the sin.

Patten refers to Romans 5:18 and says

Romans 5:18 states that the transgression of Adam resulted in our condemnation. So then, we are not only destined to die physically because of Adam’s sin, but we are also condemned to eternal death.

But he doesn't quote it, or verse 19.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousnessleads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners

The "for" at the beginning is there for a reason.

Because of Adam's sin we were MADE SINNERS - it doesn't say we were made guilty of Adam's sin.

At the end of the day, I just don't see it.

We inherit the nature, not the sin.  Maybe someday I'll be able to buy into the doctrine.  But not this day.

One of the "Solas" of the Reformation, - "by grace alone."

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9, ESV)

Grace is the beginning of faith, it's the means of salvation

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6)

Works avail nothing - grace brings about works, not the other way around.  Grace cannot be earned.

My pastor put it:

Jesus got what we deserved...so that we could get what HE deserved.

If we are doing it, it's not grace.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (1 Peter 3:18)

 

"The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination" by Lorraine Boettner

For a beginner to Reformed theology, this book will give the basics of TULIP in an accessible way. If you are firmly already in the "ANTI-" camp, don't bother reading the book, you'll hate it. But if you want to learn about the theology, with an open mind, this is a great place to start.

This book begins at the beginning. Boettner teaches in this book that all of "TULIP" stands or falls together and starts with the "T" - total depravity.

For Boettner, the sovereignty of God is something to be glorified, not hated. We deserve nothing from God, and the idea that He saves some at all is a testament to goodness.

Each segment is supported with Scripture, and explained thoroughly.

There is a little bit of "here's where the other side is wrong" - and sometimes in not very graceful language - but even those are framed in "here's why from Scripture"

I read the Amazon reviews and there were a few of "one-star" reviews. ALL of these were not based on the writing of the book, but on their disagreement with Calvinism.

So...Im reading in 1 Thessalonians....v. 4

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction

The conviction, the power and the Holy Spirit came not as the result of our choice, but of God's choice.

😉

2 Comments

Even infants, who have no personal sin of their own, suffer pain and death. Now the Scriptures uniformly represent suffering and death as the wages of sin. It would be unjust for God to execute the penalty on those who are not guilty. Since the penalty falls on infants, they must be guilty; and since they have not personally committed sin, they must be guilty of Adam's sin.

("Reformed Doctrine of Predistination" by Lorraine Boettner)

I've never seen "imputed sin" in Scripture, but I'm starting to see how they get there.

The "wages of sin is death" - did that mean spiritual death, or temporal death? (Note: there is a whole different topic of whether or not physical death was on earth before the fall)

anyway, if human beings did not die on earth before the fall, and the wages of sin is (including) temporal death, we are suffering the wages of Adam's sin.

If a Just God would not punish a person (save Jesus, who voluntarily stood in our place) for the sin of another, does this logic place the guilt of Adam's sin on us, since we are paying the penalty?

On this Resurrection Sunday, I am reminded that

The assurance that Christians can never be separated from the love of God is one of the greatest comforts of the Christian life. To deny this doctrine is to destroy the grounds for any rejoicing among the saints on earth; for what kind of rejoicing can those have who believe that they may at any time be deceived and led astray? If our sense of security is based only on our changeable and wavering natures, we can never know the inward calm and peace which, should characterize the Christian.

(From "Reformed Doctrine of Predestination" by Loraine Boettner)

When Jesus died on that cross, He bought us with His blood. When He rose, the conquered death.

We live because He died, we die to ourselves because He lives.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Fine then. "double imputation:" check

But while we are not personally guilty of Adam's sin, we are, nevertheless, liable to punishment for it. "The guilt of Adam's public sin," says Dr. A. A. Hodge, "is by a judicial act of God immediately charged to the account of each and every one of his descendants from the moment he begins to exist, and antecedently to any act of his own. Hence all men come into existence deprived of all those influences of the Holy Spirit upon which their moral and spiritual life depends . . .. and with an antecedent prevailing tendency in their natures to sin; which tendency in them is itself of the nature of sin, and worthy of punishment. Human nature since the fall retains its constitutional faculties of reason, conscience and free agency, and hence man continues to be a responsible moral agent.

Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
by Loraine Boettner

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I have long considered "imputation of Adam's sin" one of those points of "I don't think I quite buy that piece" of Reformed theology. Frankly, I have enough sin of my own to take responsibility for; I don't need Adam's also.

But...reading the paragraph above, maybe I can buy into the way Hodge describes it.

Because Adam sinned, I stand condemned. Not because I am guilty of Adam's sin...but because Adam's sin also made me a sinner.

From the moment I was "human" I was living under the curse of Adam and Eve.

Because Adam sinned, I was born cursed.