More on Manhattan: Who will be Paul to Packer, Duncan, and Mohler?

Several days ago I posted a quote from John Calvin that I applied to the Manhattan Declaration (“And at this day I wish there were more judgment in some good men, who, by seeking to be extremely kind to wicked men, bring great damage to the whole church.”)  This quote spurred me on in a particular direction of thought that was brewing in my mind.

Galatians 2:11-14 contains Paul’s brief mention of his gospel-confrontation with Peter.  Several things jump out at me.  First of all, Paul confronted Peter for eating with false teachers.  That’s right: eating.  having a meal.  For this act, it was worth the risk of rupturing apostolic fellowship.  One thing I notice about this is that Paul lived what he taught.  In 1 Cor. 5:11 Paul commanded that believers were not even to eat with those who perverted the gospel.  In Galatians 2:11-14 we see how Paul lived what he taught, and how he responded to those who disobeyed the apostolic commands.  Even when they were themselves other apostles.  So I have to wonder, if it is wrong to even eat with gospel-perverters, is it okay to enter into dialog and release joint statements of unity?  It seems that is doing overtly what table-fellowship merely implies.  You write books, lead schools, preach sermons about the gospel:  but will you stand for it?

Secondly, it was public.  Yes Paul confronted Peter “to his face”  but it was also “before them all.”  What Peter did publicly, Paul rebuked publicly.  Paul saw no reason to be coy or demure about the nature of Peter’s error and blasted it with the same boldness that Peter committed it with.  The M.D. was proclaimed with all the fanfare and ribbons that such a group of “Christian” leaders could muster.  If they are in error, Packer, Duncan, and Mohler should be denounced with just as much public clarity.

Thirdly, and here is where many have failed in my estimation, Paul clearly denunciated Peter’s sin as sin.  Peter was “condemned” because he was acting in “hypocrisy.”  Paul did not say, “Well it is just not right for me”, “I just don’t think it is best”, “It just is not very prudent at this time”.   No,  Paul “condemned” Peter.  Paul did bashfully say, “It is wrong for me” he clearly stated, “It is wrong for anyone!”  Peter was “to be blamed.”

So as much as I have appreciated the clarity and conviction of statements by MacArthur, Sproul, and some others; I wonder who is going to step up and actually be a Paul?   Will it be MacArthur? Sproul?  Piper?  Ferguson?  Dever? Or (gulp…) Driscoll?  (And it has to be someone like one of these men: someone with recognizable cache within the community of faith.)  Who is going to say “You were wrong and you need to repent?”  Who is going to do so publicly with conviction and authority?  If no one does so, why not just stop the charade of all the Gospel Coalitions, Together for the Gospels, etc.?  Because clearly, if one of these men cannot take the stand for the gospel that Paul did, they are united around something else.

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Sunday: Am I a Bearer of the Cross?

The call to follow Christ is all-inclusive.  The followers of Christ must have no reluctance and reservations; they must abide with him and thus share in his salvation, dwell in his light, profess his truth, and draw on his life.  Though the threat of opposition and even violent death mat cast its shadow on such crossbearing, the faithful know that no one will snatch them out of the hand of the master.  Believers no longer have the right to dispose of their lives as they see fit.  Hence they take up the cross of self-denial and join the Man of Sorrows.  As partakers of grace they yield to death their old lives– vast complexes of sinful reactions– and make also their suffering conformable to the example of Christ.  For to be a cross-bearer is to have rendered all authority to Christ.  The life of the cross-bearer is not one of austere imitation but rather one of conformity rooted in reconciliation.

G.C. Berkouwer, Studies in Dogmatics, “Faith and Sanctification” (p. 139, 143)

I pray that one day the life that I live might be the life of Christ living in me.  But I need more practice dying.

Wilhelmus a Brakel on the Communion of the Saints: Earthly and Heavenly

Believers on earth acknowledge the glorified saints as their brothers and sisters.  They love them, highly esteem them, follow their conversation upon earth, join them, jointly bowing down before the throne with them, giving honor and glory to the Lord, and longing to be with them in the state of perfection.  They do know, however, that the saints in heaven have not been vested with the worthiness of being worshipped,  Neither has God delegated to them the task to help others, not has He appointed them to be intercessors.  They therefore refrain from rendering any religious honor unto them or beseeching of them that they would pray for us.

The Christian’s Reasonable Service (Ch. 26)

A rather healthy view.

Job 17:3: An Advent Prayer?

My scheduled Bible reading took me through Job 17 today.  I am using the NIV for my “read-through” this year and was struck by verse 3:

Give me, O God, the pledge you demand.
Who else will put up security for me?

Given the time of year, I immediately was impressed that Job had offered a succinct Advent prayer.  Here, the man of faith buffeted by an unleashed Satan pleads for the only help he knows is worth having: God Himself.

Already in Job it is apparent that he and his “friends” were quite familiar with the idea of total depravity:

Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?  (4:17)

Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God? (9:2)

Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.
He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.
And do you open your eyes on such a one and bring me into judgment with you?
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.  (14:1-4)

What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?
Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight;
how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks injustice like water!  (15:14-16)

How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure?
Behold, even the moon is not bright, and the stars are not pure in his eyes;
how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm! (24:5-6)

A theology of sin in Job must center on these teachings: no man is pure, right, or able to stand before God.  Instead, man is unclean, abominable, corrupt, a maggot and a worm.  If God is incomparably righteous and man is incurably wicked, the only hope for man is one which God Himself must provide.  If man is to meet the righteous demand of God, God Himself must somehow provide the pledge He demands.  Hence Job’s prayer for the provision of Christ: the surety of a better covenant.

But is this what Job is really praying for?