No Thanks

The FV argument I am addressing here is not one that Jacob Moya used in the CoW debate. Rather, it comes from Douglas Wilson — who is, if not the Godfather of the FV, at least a capo!  In “The Federal Vision in One Easy Lesson,” Wilson boils the FV down to the denial of merit in the covenant of works:

Had Adam passed that probationary period of testing, the only appropriate response for him would have been to turn to God and give thanks for his deliverance. … That’s it? Is that that nub of the matter between the Federal Vision and its critics? Yes, that’s it. There are other issues, certainly, but they all flow, one way or another, out of this one.

My first response to the assertion that Adam would have owed thanks is “Nuh-uh.”  If we want to see what it would have looked like for Adam to have fulfilled his covenant, all we have to do is look at the success of the 2nd Adam, who in John 17, claimed his prize, the wages due his meritorious effort.

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

There it is — no sign of “thanks” (or even “please”!), nor any mention of grace.

One might object that Christ is in a slightly different boat than Adam, being the eternal Son of God and all — the Creator, not just a creature.  (Although I hear the FV claiming that Christ was also in a merit-free, grace-only relationship with his Father, so if Adam would have needed to give thanks, Jesus’ high priestly prayer was presumptuously rude!)

So my second response to the assertion that Adam would have owed thanks is “So what”!  Wilson’s argument for grace over against merit, relies on a faulty presupposition that the appropriateness of thanks necessarily implies the presence of grace.

The last time you were in a store and the clerk handed you your purchases, did you say “thanks”?  Or in a restaurant, when a waitress set your food in front of you?  When you submit work to your boss, does he ever say — or even owe — thanks?  In any of these situations, was there grace involved? If Wilson is correct, then there must have been!  But if grace is not the only proper cause of thanks, Wilson’s argument that the CoW was gracious, not meritorious, is groundless.

The confusion created when the FV wants to assert that God’s covenants with the two Adams must have been gracious (“could God ever act ungraciously?”) seems to be the conflation of grace with politeness, for the word “graciousness” can imply either.

So yes, Adam owed God a debt of gratitude for voluntarily (uGraciously) condescending to create him in covenant, and enduing him with power and ability to fulfil that covenant; and out of respect, reverence, and just plain good manners, Adam may even have owed God thanks in the claiming of the reward duly earned.  But that does not turn the Covenant of Works into a Covenant of Grace.

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62 Responses

  1. I am generally unmoved by anything in the FV and avoid the conversations altogether. It seems rather clear how wrong they are. But good points.

    One note though: Mama done raised me right good. I say thanks to clerks and servers all the time. I thank my subordinates at work as well. And my superiors (well, the more thoughful ones at least) thank me for my work. I get your point, but it may be lost on your example since civility may get in the way of understanding.

  2. Well done.

    Also, have you read Brian Schwertley’s Auburn Avenue Theology: a biblical Analysis? A friend of mine sent it to me recently, and while I haven’t finished it, I have been very impressed so far. He really does a great job of exposing their anti-Christian understanding of the covenant. I thought his analysis dovetailed nicely with your exposure of Wilson’s nonsense.

    Sean

  3. Beware Schwertley otherwise. After all, DJ Kennedy was orthodox on justification in the anti-FV sense, too, but from what I’ve read Schwertley, like Kennedy, scares the W2K bejeezus out of me.

  4. I don’t know who Schwertley or Kennedy are, but I’m grateful that there are anti-FV Reconstructionists out there like Joe Morecraft, to keep users of the gateway drug of theonomy from graduating to the hard stuff (and eventually getting pooped out the bottom of the reformation as RC or EO)

  5. I get your point, but it may be lost on your example since civility may get in the way of understanding.

    That’s the whole point, actually — civility has gotten in the way, because of FV, and I’m getting it out of the way.

  6. Rube,

    You don’t know who D. James Kennedy is (well, was)? Yes, you do, don’t you?

    You can keep Morecraft (whoever he is) and I’ll take Clark. He’s a “twofer.” My wife taught me how to shop.

  7. I guess I’ve heard the name around before, and I learned this past week that he’s the author of Evangelism Explosion. Remember, though, I’m relatively new to this Reformed thing — I don’t have a complete set of trading cards yet.

  8. This argument has the same hole I have pointed out to you before, Rube. It never went away. Receiving rewards for obedience cannot preclude grace. This is clearly demonstrated by the Reformed position on the Christian’s rewards, namely, that they are 1. given for what is done in the body (WCF XXXIII) and 2. not a matter of merit, but rather of grace (HC 63). So if you are going to avoid arbitrariness while asserting that the Father’s relationship with His Son is one of merit, you are going to have to come up with some substantiation other than the reward Jesus received for obedience.

    Luke 2:40,52 clearly says that Jesus grew in His Father’s grace. Whatever definition you ascribe to charis, you cannot say it necessitates sin because Christ knew no sin. Certainly grace can be given in spite of sin, but *God doesn’t need sinners in order to be gracious*. The position that *God does need sinners in order to be gracious* cannot be defended without either throwing out Luke 2:40,52 and other scriptures, or concluding that Jesus was a sinner.

    What does it mean that God gives grace to the humble? It sounds like grace is God’s *response* to humility. Proverbs 3:4 explicitly puts it this way. But you wouldn’t say that humility *merits* grace, would you? That would be absurd.

    Check it out: Proverbs 3:1-4,34, Matthew 23:12, Luke 2:51-52, 14:11, 18:14 Philippians 2:8-9, James 4:6,10, and 1 Peter 5:5-6 all have a common theme. Grace and exaltation is God’s response to humility, love, and faithfulness. How does that work with your hermeneutic? Luke 2:51-52 tells us that Jesus obeyed and grew in His Father’s grace, paralleling Proverbs 3:1-4. Philippians 2:8-9 says that Jesus received a reward of exaltation for humility, paralleling the other passages. Now, however you define charis or the relationship between humility, faithfulness, grace, and exaltation in Luke 2 and Philippians 2, can you do it in a way that is consistent with the other passages? I don’t think you can. I think you will insert an arbitrary distinction between the passages referring to Jesus and all the others. But the texts themselves offer no such distinction with regard to the relationship between humility, faithfulness, grace, and exaltation, only parallels. There certainly *is* a distinction between the *magnitude* of Jesus’ exaltation and that of ours. He is given a name above all others. But the *relationship* between humility, faithfulness, grace, and exaltation is the same. In all the passages, grace and exaltation is God’s response to humility, love, and faithfulness.

  9. […] Proverbs: from Father to Son While formulating a response to this, I thought of some things I hadn’t before. Compare the following 2 passages: Proverbs 3:1 My […]

  10. “What does it mean that God gives grace to the humble? It sounds like grace is God’s *response* to humility.”

    No. Just because it says that God “opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble” does not mean that God looks to see if men are proud or humble, and based on that decides whether to oppose them or give them grace. You are assuming things there.

    All it says is that those to whom God gives grace are those who are also humble. These two groups of people are the same. That’s all it says. It could just as easily mean that those to whom God gives grace BECOME humble as a result.

    It does not say, “If you are humble, then God will reward you with grace,” as you seem to be implying.

  11. 1. given for what is done in the body (WCF XXXIII) and 2. not a matter of merit, but rather of grace (HC 63)

    Your identification of WCF 33.1 and HC 63 is unjustified. By HC 62, HC 63 is obviously talking about the reward of imputed righteousness, which our good works can in no way merit, and which God then rewards with eternal life. Whatever WCF 33.1 is talking about, it is NOT talking about “OK, you did good (enough), you are rewarded with eternal life!”

    Luke 2:40,52 clearly says that Jesus grew in His Father’s grace.

    Luke 2:52 clearly says that Jesus grew in man’s grace. And it lumps God’s grace in together. And by parallelism, Luke 2:40 is talking about the same sense of charis. Your agenda requires you to unify this charis with, say, Eph 2:8. Mine doesn’t.

    *God doesn’t need sinners in order to be gracious*

    No, God can be polite with or without sinners.

    The position that *God does need sinners in order to be gracious* cannot be defended without either throwing out Luke 2:40,52 and other scriptures, or concluding that Jesus was a sinner.

    Or taking charis in Luke 2:40,52 in a different sense than most other uses — I propose definition number one in the Strongs’ lexicon.

    an arbitrary distinction between the passages referring to Jesus and all the others

    Only as arbitrary as the distinction between man and God-man.

    There certainly *is* a distinction between the *magnitude* of Jesus’ exaltation and that of ours.

    Whoa! It seems heretical to me to assert that the difference between Christ’s and our exaltation is only quantitative, not qualitative.

    BTW, you haven’t at all addressed the central point of the post, which is that Wilson’s argument “thanks–>gracious covenant” is fallacious. Do you say thanks to waitresses for fulfilling their end of the Works-based Covenant of Restaurants?

  12. All it says is that those to whom God gives grace are those who are also humble.

    Actually, that is not all Proverbs 3:1-4 says. It says, “keep my commands… for *they* (the commands) will bring prosperity. Let love and faithfulness (i.e. keeping commands) never leave you… *THEN* you will *win favor* and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

    It is clear from the text that faithfulness *wins God’s favor*. Notice how this favor is with *both* God and man. Does your interpretation work with the favor of men? Are we faithful *because* we have been granted man’s favor, or are we granted man’s favor *because* of our faithfulness. How does the text indicate that the cause of God’s favor is *different* than the cause of man’s favor?

    It could just as easily mean that those to whom God gives grace BECOME humble as a result.

    I agree that grace is initiated by God before any good thing like humility could possibly be present. There are those who reject God’s grace, but there are those who by God’s grace humble themselves and God gives *more* grace as a result. (John 1:16)

    It does not say, “If you are humble, then God will reward you with grace,” as you seem to be implying.

    That is exactly what the Phil 2 passage says of Jesus. The other passages say “humble yourself, and God *will* exalt you.” You don’t humble yourself because you *have been* exalted. Humility comes first. Suffering before glory. The Lord Jesus taught us this (Luke 24:26). Anyway, you prove that you have an inconsistent exegesis of the text because you wouldn’t say that Jesus humbled Himself *because* God gave Him grace. You are being arbitrary.

  13. By HC 62, HC 63 is obviously talking about the reward of imputed righteousness, which our good works can in no way merit

    Who said anything about *merit*? Certainly not me. I only pointed out that WCF XXXIII clearly states that we receive rewards for what is *done* in the body and then pointed out that those rewards are *not* merited by us, but rather a gift of grace. I used HC 62 to support that latter, but did I really need to? Do you think we *merit* those rewards for what is *done* in the body? And how is HC 63 “obviously” talking about the reward of “imputed righteousness”? How could it mean that since the reward is given *in a future life* (paralleling WCF XXXIII). How could this be imputed righteousness? Isn’t imputed righteousness given *in this life* and if it is not given *in this life*, how could it be given *in a future life*? What are you, a universalist? ;b

    Or taking charis in Luke 2:40,52 in a different sense than most other uses …

    …arbitrarily

    I propose definition number one in the Strong’s’ lexicon.

    Not only are you being arbitrary in your understanding of charis, you are arbitrarily choosing a lexicon that does not define charis in reference to sin at all, which I thought was your cat’s meow. If you wanted to demonstrate that grace can only be understood in reference to sin, you would have to be pickier about your source. Look! It also defines charis as “recompense, reward” in definition 4! Are you sure you want to use Strong’s? Doesn’t it concern you that I am saying rewards/recompense from God to His children for obedience *is fundamentally gracious* (WCF XXXIII, HC 62) and there it is in the Greek – THE SAME WORD FOR GRACE, REWARD, AND RECOMPENSE! *gasps* I don’t see how that linked helped you…

    No, God can be polite with or without sinners.

    I love it when you start joking around instead of addressing the issues. It reveals to me that you *know* you have no valid argument. I already knew you had no valid argument, but now I know you know.

    Only as arbitrary as the distinction between man and God-man.

    Is the God-man distinct from ordinary man *in every way*? No, so you are indeed being arbitrary. Here is your argument in a nutshell:
    – God gave charis to Jesus.
    – Jesus is distinct from ordinary man.
    – Therefore the sort of charis God gave Jesus is distinct from the sort of charis God gives ordinary man.
    This argument can be seen as obviously fallacious if one were to insert something like “flesh” in the place of charis (like the gnostics did). Since Jesus is not distinct from man *in every way*, the scriptures’ use of charis in reference to Him vs man logically *may or may not be distinct*. You need something else other than the fact that Jesus is distinct from ordinary man to substantiate this distinction. Another example is the fact that you and I are distinct, but that doesn’t mean the scriptures’ use of charis in reference to us is distinct. This is because we are not distinct *in every way*. And in the absence of any proof of the alleged distinction, you’ll have to pardon me if I understand charis to mean the same thing in both cases. Isn’t that what we do with every other word?

    Whoa! It seems heretical to me to assert that the difference between Christ’s and our exaltation is only quantitative, not qualitative.

    With regard to some things, like *exaltation*, quality and quantity are directly related (the more the better), so that isn’t what I was saying at all. I was only saying that the *relationship* between humility, faithfulness, grace, and exaltation is the same in the case of both Jesus and ordinary man. Just like the relationship between cutting and bleeding is the same in the case of both Jesus and ordinary man.

    BTW, you haven’t at all addressed the central point of the post, which is that Wilson’s argument “thanks–>gracious covenant” is fallacious. Do you say thanks to waitresses for fulfilling their end of the Works-based Covenant of Restaurants?

    Only if they are gracious to me. ;b If they are rude and merely fulfill the work of bringing me my food and taking my money, then no, I do not. But your analogy is unclear because your question puts me in the place of Adam and the working waitress in the place of God, even though it is the waitress that has to work in order to receive her payment, which reverses the analogical roles. The question more fitting Wilson’s analogy is, “Would the working waitress be obligated to thank me *for the work she had done*? Of course not. If she thanks me at all, she is merely thanking me for the *opportunity to work*, which when applied to man obeying God, translates back to Pelagianism.

  14. And how is HC 63 “obviously” talking about the reward of “imputed righteousness”?

    I guess it’s not obvious if you have anti-active-imputation blinders on.
    HC62: “But why cannot our good works be the whole, or part of our righteousness before God?” answer: because your righteousness is not good enough — you need perfect, imputed righteousness. HC63 “What! do not our good works merit, which yet God will reward in this and in a future life?” answer: You already asked that question, and I’ll tell you again: your righteousness was graciously imputed to you — you cannot merit any contribution to it.

    I love it when you start joking around instead of addressing the issues.

    I wasn’t joking at all. That is the only way I can see God being ‘gracious’ without sin: polite, excellent, affording joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.

    Only if they are gracious to me. ;b If they are rude and merely fulfill the work of bringing me my food and taking my money, then no, I do not.

    So you admit that the sense of ‘graciousness’ that compels thankfulness is ‘politeness’?

    define charis in reference to sin at all, which I thought was your cat’s meow

    That can only be because you didn’t actually read all of the posts I wrote since FV:H&S, in which I laid out at least three distinct senses I see for charis

    your analogy is unclear

    You miss the point. It’s not about analogy, it’s about the fact that Wilson’s argument relies on the unproven (and untrue) assumption that “thanks implies grace.” And to assert that the special case of thanks from Adam does imply grace, is to beg the question.

    It also defines charis as “recompense, reward” in definition 4!

    Whaddya know! One definition for grace is reward for merit! OK, you win, I declare Adam to have been in a Covenant of Grace*

    *Strong’s definition 4.

  15. PS, if I learned anything from Seinfeld, it’s that Jackie O. had “grace”, but Elaine did not. I wonder if it’s because Jackie had humility?

  16. It is clear from the text that faithfulness *wins God’s favor*

    I love how you discarded KJV,NASB,ESV’s “find favor”, in favor of NIV’s “win favor”. It’s funny because you’re scrambling for ways to express the concept that we merit grace from God! You want so badly to get this concept across, but you’re hobbled by the fact that, for your, merit is a four-letter word! That’s what you get for your monocovenantalistic galawspel, mingling works and grace. Kline scores again:

    The irony of all this is that a position that asserts a continuum of “grace” everywhere ends up with no genuine gospel grace anywhere. An approach that starts out by claiming that a works principle operates nowhere ends up with a kind of works principle everywhere.

  17. I guess it’s not obvious if you have anti-active-imputation blinders on…

    That’s your “response”? I could just as easily say “You have your active-imputation lenses on.” This sort of “argumentation” doesn’t get anyone anywhere. You didn’t even address the fact that the reward is said to be in part given *in a future life* (paralleling WCF XXXIII). How could this be imputed righteousness? Isn’t imputed righteousness given *in this life* to all who will receive it?

    So you admit that the sense of ‘graciousness’ that compels thankfulness is ‘politeness’?

    I don’t think “politeness” is the right word to describe it because politeness is merely external. It speaks to the way you outwardly treat someone, regardless of whether or not you have any inward affection toward them. I don’t see how that could apply to God’s relationship with His children.

    Politeness does not prove grace (it could be mere niceties covering a hard heart), but rudeness certainly proves the hard heart. So, one could not validly conclude from my statement about the rude waitress that I equate “grace” with “politeness”.

    That can only be because you didn’t actually read all of the posts I wrote since FV:H&S, in which I laid out at least three distinct senses I see for charis

    Yes I did. That is why I said, “Certainly grace can be given in spite of sin, but *God doesn’t need sinners in order to be gracious*.” You are very concerned to define clearly where God gives grace in spite of sin (dgrace) and where he gives grace outside the context of sin (ugrace). I have no problem with *those* distinctions. Jesus was not a sinner, so God’s grace to Him was not “dgrace”. There, we agree. But you want to call it “mgrace”, which is absurd. If it is merited, grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:6). The grace given the Son by the Father is “ugrace”, to use your convention.

    You miss the point. It’s not about analogy, it’s about the fact that Wilson’s argument relies on the unproven (and untrue) assumption that “thanks implies grace.”

    Your only attempt to prove that statement was with a faulty analogy.

    And to assert that the special case of thanks from Adam does imply grace, is to beg the question.

    This accusation actually supports Wilson since his point was that the debate stems from *presuppositions* on both sides concerning the Adamic covenant. The difference is that our presuppositions lead to cohesiveness and yours lead to absurdities like “mgrace”.

    One definition for grace is reward for merit!

    Again, you import merit into the conversation. Who said anything about merit? But as I have demonstrated and you have yet to address, God’s rewards to His children for their obedience is fundamentally gracious. Just answer this question. Do you believe the rewards God gives His children for personal obedience are merited?

    I love how you discarded KJV,NASB,ESV’s “find favor”, in favor of NIV’s “win favor”. It’s funny because you’re scrambling for ways to express the concept that we merit grace from God!

    First, the other translations use the causal conjunction “so”, *SO*either way my point stands. Keeping God’s commands results in more grace. In fact, “Obey *so* you will find favor” is of greater causal emphasis than, “Obey, and then you will win favor” because the latter doesn’t explicitly say that the winning is the result of the obeying (though it would have to be the result of something in order to be *winning*), while the former explicitly states that obedience is a *cause* of favor. It says it right there. Here’s more: Daniel 9:13 “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth.” What? Didn’t anyone tell Daniel that God’s favor cannot be *sought* by law keeping?

    Secondly, I never said grace could be merited. YOU DID. And you haven’t proven that the relationship I assert between faithfulness and reward constitutes merit. I have asked you repeatedly to reconcile the fact that Jesus and those in Him are both rewarded for personal obedience, but you arbitrarily call the one merit and the other, well what do you call it?

  18. “Deuteronomy 28:1-14

    And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

    Verse 1-14. If thou shalt hearken diligently. Although Israel’s inheritance and continued enjoyment of the promises was not a matter of legal merit, there was a connection between the nation’s corporate piety and her prosperity. For the OT theocratic kingdom prefigured the consummate kingdom of God, in which righteousness and glory are to be united. Accordingly, to keep the message of the typical-prophetic picture clear, God allowed the Israelites to enjoy the blessings of the typical kingdom only as they, and especially their official representatives, exhibited an appropriate measure of the righteousness of the kingdom. Since any righteousness that Israel possessed was a gift of grace from the God of her salvation, the principle which informs Deut 28 has no affinities with a religion of works-salvation (see on 6:1-3).” ~ Meredith Kline on Deuteronomy

  19. Well as we discussed today (offline), this may be early Kline, and he may have repented of this view, but clearly you can see that he views the Mosaic covenant not as purely merit-based, but typological and Christological — prophetic of the strict justice of the covenant with the second (and first) Adam.

    Anyways, even though it’s called a republication of “the” covenant of works, obviously it’s not the same covenant as the Adamic covenant — it deals with sinful people, it involves sacrifice and atonement, and it does not have eschatological consummation as its end. I think it’s more accurate to call it a covenant which republishes the principle of works. Again, not strictly merit-based (because sinners can only produce works tainted with sin, not meritorious obedience), but a works-based quid-pro-quo that God established: if Israel does works A,B,C, then God has obligated himself to respond with rewards X,Y,Z.

    (BTW, your link doesn’t work.)

  20. I don’t think “politeness” is the right word to describe it because politeness is merely external. It speaks to the way you outwardly treat someone, regardless of whether or not you have any inward affection toward them.

    What makes you think that? Is it the same thing that makes you think “rote obedience” when I say “meritorious works”? I once read a very good definition of etiquette (I think from a classic Emily Post book), something about flowing naturally from genuine concern and consideration for the comfort and well-being of others. Very Phil 2:3. So there’s no reason to think that God’s graciousness couldn’t be perfect, virtuous, meritorious politeness — the mutual respect and esteem which existed within the trinity from eternity past.

  21. This accusation actually supports Wilson since his point was that the debate stems from *presuppositions* on both sides concerning the Adamic covenant.

    You just don’t know enough logic to know when you’re beat, do you? I realize Wilson argued from a disputed presupposition. It went like this:
    1. Presuppose Adam would have owed thanks
    (1.5: unstated presupposition/axiom: thanks implies grace)
    2: Therefore, Adam was in a gracious covenant.

    The problem is that I showed, by multiple direct counterexamples, that 1.5 is not true. So it falls back on Wilson (or you seem to want to stick up for him) to logically connect thanks and grace.

    And even then the argument still rests on presupposition 1, which I have reason not to believe, based on Christ’s example in John 17. When God obligates himself to reward specified conditions, a worthy servant can claim the prize which God obligated himself to — graciously (politely), even without saying “thanks”.

  22. Here is the link again:

    Meredith Kline on Deuteronomy

    So you admit there could be a “not strictly merit-based” yet “works based” covenant? I agree (though I wouldn’t use the word “works” since it is confusing considering the writings of Paul, but James obviously had no problem using it). This is what I have been saying here. Grace is not opposed to obligation.

    When you have a chance, I still have a lot of unanswered questions in the comment right before the Kline quote on Deuteronomy:

    1. How can the reward in HC 63 be imputed righteousness when it is said to be given in a future life?

    2. Are God’s rewards to His children in response to their obedience “merited” by them or are they still gifts of God’s pure grace?

    3. How do you handle the Proverbs 3 and Daniel 9 verses cited which clearly state that God’s favor can be *sought* or *found* via law keeping? Would this concept fit into your “not strictly merit-based” yet “works based” covenant?

    4. New question: if there could be a “not strictly merit-based” yet “works based” covenant, would that mean that the relationship I assert between faithfulness and reward does not necessarily constitute merit?

  23. But you want to call it “mgrace”, which is absurd. If it is merited, grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:6)

    And Rom 11:6 is exactly why my distinction is not arbitrary; because Jesus was completely worthy (=meritorious), and received charis, Luke 2 must be using the word in a different sense. Jesus’ reward, and Adam’s hypothetical reward, were the result of strict justice — it would have been injustice for God to renege on the obligations he placed on himself in response to perfect obedience.

  24. Just answer this question. Do you believe the rewards God gives His children for personal obedience are merited?

    Fortunately, God does not reward us for our defiled personal obedience. We are rewarded for Christ’s personal obedience. The rewards we receive in this life include justification, adoption, sanctification, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the holy ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance to the end. The benefits we receive after this life include resurrection and glorification. None of the above is due to our personal obedience.

    As for any other “rewards”, we are not in a covenantal situation like Israel, where God has obligated himself to give deterministic payback for obedience. We may be enriched, we may be impoverished; we may be blessed, we may endure suffering. Christ was the most obedient man ever, and even children know he lived a life of poverty and suffering, and died a painful and shameful death.

  25. RE: “politeness”:

    What makes you think that?

    The dictionary. Nothing in there about genuine affection, only the “appearance of consideration” (2b). Politeness can “[flow] from genuine concern and consideration for the comfort and well-being of others”, but it needn’t. It can be merely external. You’ve affirmed the consequent here. “If genuine concern then politeness” does not imply “If politeness then genuine concern.”

    You just don’t know enough logic to know when you’re beat, do you?

    LOL! I can’t believe you think you’ve “beat” me when you have left so much unaddressed. You still haven’t successfully answered my response to your accusation that I am equivocating on charis. You are making an arbitrary distinction. You cannot prove why we should take the definition of charis to mean something different with regard to Jesus. Your only “point” is that He is God-man and we are merely man. So? Does that mean we should take the definition of “beard” to mean something different with regard to Jesus? Show me a syllogism proving charis means something different with regard to Jesus than it means with regard to ordinary man.

    The problem is that I showed, by multiple direct counterexamples, that 1.5 is not true.

    Which counterexamples have been countered by me here and subsequently ignored by you. Wilson is saying that Adam would have owed God thanks *for Adam’s own personal obedience*, not merely *the opportunity to obey*, which all your analogies are reduced to. That implies efficacious grace which brings about obedience to the faith (Rom 1:5). You are saying that Adam would not have been *able* ( much less obligated ) to thank God (honestly) for Adam’s own personal obedience because it would not have been a result of God’s efficacious grace, but rather something of Adam’s own doing apart from efficacious grace. In a word: Pelagianism.

    So it falls back on Wilson (or you seem to want to stick up for him) to logically connect thanks and grace.

    Specifically, it falls back on Wilson to logically prove that thanking someone for giving you x, implies they have given you x. That seems fairly elementary to me. X, in Wilson’s example, is *Adam’s own personal obedience*. You don’t believe that had Adam stood, it would have been because God gave x to Adam, but rather because Adam conjured up x out of thin air. Now, had Adam conjured up x out of thin air, he certainly would not have been *able* (much less obligated) to thank God (honestly) for giving x to Adam, only for giving Adam the *opportunity* to conjure up x out of thin air. In a word: Pelagianism.

    And even then the argument still rests on presupposition 1, which I have reason not to believe, based on Christ’s example in John 17.

    Your understanding of Christ’s example in John 17 – 1) *presupposes* that there is no such relationship between faithfulness and reward that is *not* based on merit, and 2) neglects numerous other scriptures where Jesus thanks His Father and expresses His utter dependence upon Him (even in John 17), as well as scriptures speaking of God’s response to ordinary man’s obedience with exaltation and glory. Even the apostle Paul states that neglecting his own personal obedience would “disqualify” him (1 Cor 9:27). He was confident that his works done in the body were known to God and that he would thus be favorably recompensed on judgment day (2 Cor 5:10-11).

    And Rom 11:6 is exactly why my distinction is not arbitrary; because Jesus was completely worthy

    But those in Christ must still show *themselves* worthy of the kingdom of God in order to walk with Him, dressed in white (2 Thes 1:5; Rev 3:4). So again, you have again failed to make a distinction. Jesus’ worthiness does not imply “earning God’s favor” any more than our worthiness implies “earning God’s favor”. Rather, we are worthy *because of God’s favor*. You can’t “earn” something you already have. Note that God’s favor was on Jesus first (Luke 2:40), and then through faithfulness, Jesus grew in His Father’s favor (Luke 2:51-52).

    Jesus’ reward, and Adam’s hypothetical reward, were the result of strict justice — it would have been injustice for God to renege on the obligations he placed on himself

    Non sequitur. The falsehood of “not x” does not imply the exclusivity of x for the mere fact that there could be factors involved other than x. You are basically saying, if *not x* is false, then *only x* is true. So, the hypothetical “injustice” of God for neglecting His promises does not imply that His faithfulness to His promises is a matter of “strict justice”. For example, Heb 6:10-12 says that it would be unjust for God to forget the labors of His Church and not grant them their promised inheritance, but that doesn’t reduce our inheritance to “strict justice”, does it? And it would be unjust for me to become a deadbeat dad and leave my family high and dry, but that doesn’t make my love and care for them a matter of “strict justice” does it?

    Fortunately, God does not reward us for our defiled personal obedience.

    Once again, in an effort to hold up your flawed system, you reject the clear teaching of scripture and the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF XXXIII.1 and accompanying proofs). Further, you should have faith that Jesus has died for your defilement, and thus, your personal obedience is no longer defiled. Those whom the Son sets free shall be free, not merely in word, but indeed.

  26. Only a few final comments from me, as this “conversation” has gone far past the point of diminishing returns.

    Nothing in there about genuine affection, only the “appearance of consideration” (2b)

    Two can play at that game. Polite is a synonym of Gracious, and vice-versa. Do you teach your kids to be polite, or just act polite?

    More fundamentally, when I say “politeness”, you are choosing to respond as if I had meant “rote politeness”, when obviously I would not ascribe hypocritical behavior to God; just as when I say Covenant of Meritorious Works, you cry “rote obedience!”, when I mean personal, entire, exact, and perfect (i.e. meritorious) obedience.

    As for distinctions, another applicable distinction besides God vs. man is sinner vs. sinless; fallen vs. unfallen; worthy vs. unworthy. But you fail (refuse) to allow that distinction, continually equating our situation with that of unfallen Adam and Christ; putting our “personal obedience” in the same category as theirs. It’s just nonsense, and I’m not buying it.

  27. On “politeness” – fine. This is a red herring anyway. I acknowledge that there is a modern usage of the word “gracious” that simply means “good manners”. But this is certainly not the context in which the scriptures use the word, as I am sure we would both agree.

    Sinner vs. sinless: I certainly allow that distinction. I explicitly said, “I have no problem with *those* distinctions…” referring to “ugrace” (grace outside the context of sin) and dgrace (grace in the context of sin). But that doesn’t mean the definition of grace is different in each case any more than the definition of “flesh” is different in the case of pre-fallen “flesh” (pfflesh) and sinful “flesh” (sflesh). How about pfwater and swater? It’s still h2o, isn’t it?

    continually equating our situation with that of unfallen Adam and Christ

    I never said our situations were *equal*. In fact, I explicitly affirmed, and I’ll do it again gleefully, that “There certainly *is* a distinction between the *magnitude* of Jesus’ exaltation and that of ours.” And had Adam stood, he would have done so without having been forgiven of sin. There are certainly more distinctions, but I only need to provide one to disprove your statement.

    But some distinction does not imply only distinction. They broke covenant *like* Adam (Hos 6:7). Jesus had to be made *like* His brethren in every way in order to propitiate God’s wrath on their behalf (Heb 2:17). And yes, I know “in every way” doesn’t mean “in every way imaginable”, but it certainly allows for *some* comparison, hmm?

    putting our “personal obedience” in the same category as theirs

    You don’t do that? Don’t you put all obedience in the category of “Law” (except obedience to the commands to believe/trust/rest/have faith/etc)?

    It’s just nonsense, and I’m not buying it.

    Translation: “I have nothing to counter your arguments with.” I asked you to “Show me a syllogism proving charis means something different with regard to Jesus than it means with regard to ordinary man”, I have cited and made inferences from numerous scripture passages, the WCF and the HC for support to the contrary, the majority of which you haven’t touched, and this is the sum of your response? “It’s just nonsense…”? *Saying* it’s nonsense and *demonstrating* it to be nonsense are two different things. There’s a distinctive for you. ;b You wanna talk about nonsense, how about God, at the same time with the same group of people, both demanding and forbidding self-righteousness? Now that’s nonsense…

  28. But this is certainly not the context in which the scriptures use the word, as I am sure we would both agree.

    Maybe not precisely, but definition number 1 for charis:

    that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech

    is a long way off from definition 2a:

    of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

    And, definition 1 fits fine within a sinless context (like Luke 2, or pre-creation), whereas “turning” requires sin (and “turning to Christ” requires not being Christ!)

  29. Don’t you put all obedience in the category of “Law”

    No. In a covenant of works, obedience is the lever for justification/condemnation, or blessing/cursing, or keeping/losing land. But true believers are not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned; therefore their obedience is in an entirely different category. CoW obedience has the purpose of winning rewards that God has specified. CoG obedience (defiled and unworthy though it is) is the grateful response to rewards God has already given. You can keep your works-based covenant; I’m just thankful I get to rest. So thankful, in fact, that I’m going to go work now…

  30. I hesitate to address these last two comments since you have yet to address half of what I have already posted. So let me first ask again. Show me a syllogism proving charis means something different with regard to Jesus than it means with regard to ordinary man. I’d also like an answer to my rejoinder that the reward in HC 63 is said to be in part given in a future life and can therefore not be referring to “imputed righteousness”. I would also like a response to WCF XXXIII.I and the accompanying proofs that clearly state that recompense is given for what is *done in the body* whether good or evil. You say, “God does not reward us for our defiled personal obedience.” This is not biblical or confessional. These issues are all related to my first comment on this thread, but for all your typing, you haven’t adequately addressed them.

    that which affords joy, pleasure… etc.

    First, this is hardly a definition in the first place. It more describes the *effect* of charis. Children afford joy and pleasure, etc. so I guess this could be one of the definitions under children.

    Second, the word is only translated “pleasure” twice, and that only in the KJV (Acts 24:27,25:29), and that only in reference to the <charis of a pagan king. The modern translations get this right and simply translate it “favor”.

    Third, grace in the context of sin *may* turn sinners to Christ, but if it is *common grace* it doesn’t. Therefore, 2a is not a complete definition of grace. In the context of the sinless Adams, grace was not something that turned them from their sin, obviously. But it certainly was something that exerted the Father’s holy influence upon the soul. The Son could do nothing on his own. He was utterly dependent upon the Father (John 5:19).

    CoW obedience has the purpose of winning rewards that God has specified. CoG obedience (defiled and unworthy though it is) is the grateful response to rewards God has already given.

    First, are you saying that CoG obedience is not in the category of “Law”? What, is it in the category of “Gospel”? It’s gotta be one or the other, right?

    Second, the point at which Adam became ungrateful to God for what God had already given him is the point at which Adam fell. He believed the lies of the serpent and wanted more than what God had given him. Thus, your description of “CoG obedience” applies in the CoW.

    Third, I have asked you already to prove that what you have described as “CoW obedience” does not apply in the CoG, contra WCFXXXIII.I and accompanying scripture proofs. So this is merely a reassertion of what I have repeatedly asked you to substantiate.

    You can keep your works-based covenant; I’m just thankful I get to rest.

    Gee thanks. Actually, as I have said, *I believe in continuing in the covenant by grace through faith, which faith is not even of ourselves lest we even think about boasting in ourselves. Your assessment of my position as a “works-based covenant”, like much of what you have put on this thread, presupposes exactly what I have asked you to prove, namely, that that there is no such relationship between faithfulness and reward that is *not* based on merit, but rather, fundamentally gracious.

    And since you brought up “resting”, is “resting” obedience our Father’s instruction? Doesn’t He instruct us to rest in Him and His work for us? But, if I reject that work and try to erect a righteousness of my own, am I still resting? No. Is this lack of resting sin?

  31. First, are you saying that CoG obedience is not in the category of “Law”? What, is it in the category of “Gospel”?

    Yes. Law is “Do this and you will live.” Gospel is “It is done; you are alive.”

  32. Show me a syllogism proving charis means something different with regard to Jesus than it means with regard to ordinary man.

    I don’t know how to do that without presupposing a particular definition for charis. Why don’t you show me how by giving a syllogism proving charis means the same thing wrt Jesus as to us.

  33. the reward in HC 63 is said to be in part given in a future life and can therefore not be referring to “imputed righteousness”.

    In this life, this reward is imputed righteousness. In the future life, we receive the rewards for meritorious righteousness, including eternal life.

    Note also that Q63 is unchanged as follows:

    Q63. What! do not our good works merit, which yet God will reward in this and in a future life?

    A. This reward is not of good works, but of grace.

    This is because Q63 is a rhetorical device, using language of surprise to ask Q62 all over again. So the answer to 62 is also the answer to 63, and vice versa: Our good works cannot be part of our righteousness, because they are imperfect and defiled with sin.

    And I know you will dispute my substitution of “good works” for “merit” in A63, but my point stands using your preferred language, i.e.

    Q63. What! Are not our good works worthy, which yet God will reward in this and in a future life?

    A. This reward is not of worth, but of grace.

  34. contra WCFXXXIII.I and accompanying scripture proofs.

    I imagine this is about the same as Rom 2:14-15, when unbelieving gentiles (without access to special revelation) “do by nature things required by law…their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.”

    God may indeed look at defiled obedience , and say “such-and-such an action is good — incompletely, and only in a sense,” but what reward is then received (other than the reward of God’s mitigated approbation itself)?

    This is not to put the defiled obedience of pagans into precisely the same category as the defiled obedience of Christians; because in the end, the the reward due to the pagan for the sum total of his good and evil, is death. And that is the only reward due to us as well, but by grace alone, and not at all due to our works, we receive the reward due to Christ’s obedience.

  35. A little more clearly wrt HC63. You think the question means:

    Q63_FV: But we know that good works are rewarded in this and a future life — doesn’t that mean that good works are meritorious?

    A63_FV: No, good works are rewarded not because they are meritorious, but out of grace.

    But Q62 bars that interpretation because only absolutely perfect, sinless, undefiled righteousness can be approved before the tribunal of God.

    So what it really means is like I said:

    Q63_TR. What! do not our good works merit, which yet God will reward in this and in a future life?

    A63_TR. This reward is not of good works, but of grace.

  36. Rube, I too would like this to end soon. I am going to be picky here with what I address so that it doesn’t get buried in other comments. If there is something else up there you have countered with that I haven’t responded to, and you would like me to, let me know.

    I asked you to show me a syllogism proving charis means something different with regard to Jesus than it means with regard to ordinary man. This is your response:

    I don’t know how to do that without presupposing a particular definition for charis. Why don’t you show me how by giving a syllogism proving charis means the same thing wrt Jesus as to us.

    First, finally. You finally admit that you have no substantiation for the distinction you are making. You just hold an indefensible belief. That should at least give you pause.

    Secondly with regard to your counter request, is it really that uncommon for us to take a word to mean the same thing in its various contexts in the absence of any exegetical evidence to the contrary? When we read, “There was evening and there was morning, the first *day*, and we read elsewhere, “for in six *days* the Lord God made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is…”, isn’t it typical for us to take that word *day* to mean the same thing in both contexts in the absence of any exegetical evidence to the contrary? Here is my syllogism:

    – If there is no exegetical evidence to the contrary, we understand word X to mean the same thing in its various contexts.
    – There is no exegetical evidence to the contrary (by your own admission in the quote above)
    Therefore, we understand word X to mean the same thing in its various contexts.

    Insert any word you want into X and the argument remains valid, unless you can show me a fallacy. It remains sound if you do not reject a premise.

    If you reject premise 1, you leave the door wide open to arbitrarily understand any word in scripture to mean anything we want.

    If you reject premise 2, you recant your previous statement quoted here, and then you must either provide the syllogism previously requested in order to support the distinction you are making with regard to the use of charis in its various contexts, or cry uncle.

  37. There is no exegetical evidence to the contrary (by your own admission in the quote above)

    Nice try. What I meant was, I don’t know how to construct such an argument to which you will not respond “that’s only because you assumed your preferred meaning of charis”.

    Look, at some level, you get to the point where sensible people look at words and derive meaning, and then look at different sentences with some of the same words, and derive a different meaning. It’s just what makes sense.

    Take anybody (who is not already blind with the Federal Vision), show them Eph 2:8,9 and then Luk 2:40,52, I’ll give you 100:1 they’ll react with surprise — because they were thinking about one sense of grace in Eph, and then reading Luk brought in a use of the word that doesn’t fit with the Eph usage.

    C’mon, at some point don’t you ever step back and say “Whoa? What have I been doing to language?”

  38. There is no exegetical evidence to the contrary

    Google is your friend. Well, not your friend in this case, but you know what I mean.

    Berkhof warms up on all the atypical uses of charis (including Luk 2), before concluding with the most common use:

    The word “grace” is not always used in the same sense in Scripture, but has a variety of meanings. [Describe some meanings…] A more prominent meaning of the word, however, is favour or good-will, Luke 1:30; 2:40, 52; Acts 2:47; 7:46; 24:27; 25:9. [Describe some more meanings…] In most of the passages, however , in which the word charis is used in the New Testament [as opposed to the previous mention of Luk 2:40,52], it signifies the unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, affected through the agency of the Holy Spirit. While we sometimes speak of grace as an inherent quality, it is in reality the active communication of divine blessings by the inworking of the Holy Spirit, out of the fulness of Him who is “full of grace and truth,” Rom. 3:24; 5:2, 15; 17:20; 6:1; I Cor. 1:4; II Cor. 6:1; 8:9; Eph. 1:7; 2:5, 8; 3:7; I Pet. 3:7; 5:12.

    Easton is even better, specifically using Luk 2’s generic use of charis to highlight how different is Paul’s particular, technical use:

    Grace in Justification: This meaning of charis was obtained by expanding and combining other meanings. By the opposite process of narrowly restricting one of the meanings of the word, it came again into Christian theology as a technical term, but this time in a sense quite distinct from that just discussed. The formation of this special sense seems to have been the work of Paul. When charis is used with the meaning “favor,” nothing at all is implied as to whether or not the favor is deserved. So, for instance, in the New Testament, when in Luke 2:52 it is said that “Jesus advanced … in favor with God and men,” the last possible thought is that our Lord did not deserve this favor. Compare also Luke 2:40 and Acts 2:47 and, as less clear cases, Luke 1:30; Acts 7:46; Hebrews 4:16; 12:15,28. But the word has abundant use in secular Greek in the sense of unmerited favor [as opposed to Luk 2, which illustrates merited favor], and St. Paul seized on this meaning of the word to express a fundamental characteristic of Christianity. The basic passage is Romans 11:5-6, where a definition is given, “If it is by grace, it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.” The fact that the word is used in other senses could have caused no first-century reader to miss the meaning, which, indeed, is unmistakable. [Here in the 21st century, however…] “Grace” in this sense is an attitude on God’s part that proceeds entirely from within Himself, and that is conditioned in no way by anything in the objects of His favor. So in Romans 4:4. If salvation is given on the basis of what a man has done, then salvation is given by God as the payment of a debt. But when faith is reckoned for what it is not, i.e. righteousness, there is no claim on man’s part, and he receives as a pure gift something that he has not earned. (It is quite true that faith involves moral effort, and so may be thought of as a sort of a “work”; it is quite true that faith does something as a preparation for receiving God’s further gifts. But it simply clouds the exegetical issue to bring in these ideas here, as they certainly were not present in Paul’s mind when the verses were being written.) “Grace” then, in this sense is the antinomy to “works” or to “law”; it has a special relation to the guilt of sin (Romans 5:20; 6:1), and has almost exactly the same sense as “mercy.” Indeed, “grace” here differs from “mercy” chiefly in connoting eager love as the source of the act. Of course it is this sense of grace that dominates Romans 3-6, especially in the thesis 3:24, while the same use is found in Galatians 2:21; Ephesians 2:5,8; 2 Timothy 1:9. The same strict sense underlies Galatians 1:6 and is found, less sharply formulated, in Titus 3:5-7. (Galatians 5:4 is perhaps different.) Outside of Paul’s writings, his definition of the word seems to be adopted in John 1:17; Acts 15:11; Hebrews 13:9, while a perversion of this definition in the direction of antinomianism is the subject of the invective in Jude 1:4. And, of course, it is from the word in this technical Pauline sense that an elaborate Protestant doctrine of grace has been developed.

    All my emphasis and [asides], of course — it was hard to resist bolding the whole paragraph! I love especially that side note about “clouding the exegetical issue” with the concept that faith is obedience, because that was “certainly not present in Paul’s mind when the verses were being written”!

  39. So you reject premise two. Please substantiate that rejection. And if the small volume cited was supposed to be substantiation, all I saw were assertions. Maybe I missed the argument. Perhaps you could condense it into a syllogism or two. And if the names of the people making said assertions is supposed to make said assertions conclusive, then that would be an appeal to authority. And as I am sure you are aware, since even I am aware of this and I don’t even know enough about logic to know when I am “beat” ;b , an appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. Anyway, if you can’t condense it into a syllogism, it isn’t an argument. It is as I said: a list of assertions with an appeal to authority.

  40. That’s all you ever have to say when people disagree with you: “assertions, assertions, assertions”! I don’t see why I should spend any more energy satisfying you, when you refuse to see what is unmistakably obvious.

  41. That’s all you ever have to say when people disagree with you: “assertions, assertions, assertions”!

    Are you saying it is not true that all you have done is asserted your position without substantiating it? Ok, fine. Where was your argument? If I am only “saying” you have merely asserted your position without substantiating it, and this is not true, you should have no problem restating the argument you made earlier. If you have a case, you should have no problem stating it in a syllogism.

    you refuse to see what is unmistakably obvious.

    Again, if it is so “obvious”, it should be simple to put it into a syllogism. I could just as easily say my position is “unmistakably obvious”, but that isn’t really an argument, is it?

  42. an appeal to authority is a logical fallacy

    If we’re not going to allow appeals to authority, how do you know that charis even means ‘grace’, instead of ‘jellyfish’? Could it be from the “assertions” of people who wrote greek-english lexicons? When it comes to questions of ancient greek etymology, do you expect me to give your objections equal weight as the educated views of, I don’t know, somebody who knows greek, or better yet, somebody who is recognized as an authority in the usage of greek?

    But to shut you up, here is the syllogism:

    Rom 11:6a: “if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works”:
    Rom 11:6b: “it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”:
    Define g=”by grace”, and w=”based on works”
    Pa: g => ~w
    Pb: w => ~g
    I.e. “based on works” and “by grace” are mutually exclusive.

    Luk 2:40,52: charis was upon boy Jesus, based on
    (v39) obedience to the Law
    (v40,47) wisdom
    (v51) obedience to parents
    (v40,52) personal growth (more than just height/weight)

    In short,
    PJW: God’s favor was upon boy Jesus because of his works

    (which by the way were meritorious — that’s why God favored them)

    All together:
    PJW: w
    Pb: w => ~g
    C: ‘grace’ (Luk 2) is no longer ‘grace’ (Rom 11)

    And then you object to PJW, saying something about gracious response to faithfulness, and round and round it goes…

  43. P.S. Why does Rom 11:6 say “no longer”? When was God’s favor based on works?

  44. Wow — 12 hours and no reply! I’m surprised you weren’t ready to pounce on the syllogism you were demanding for so long and must have anticipated!

  45. I was working in the yard all day today and then we had family over and I just got the kids to bed and family out the door. Sorry for the delay…

    The most glaring problem is that you didn’t conclude PJW via syllogism. You just asserted it (“in short”) after a list of verses you think support PJW. And of course, I reject it. Try forming a syllogism concluding PJW. Also, you mistook Jesus’ *parents*law keeping in Luke 2:39 to be Jesus’ own law keeping. The favor of God was upon the infant Jesus before he ever obeyed one Law. Jesus abided faithfully in that favor and consequently, Jesus grew in His Father’s favor.

    Here is another proof for the above. Was it a manifestation of God’s favor upon the infant Jesus when He saved Him from Herod’s sword? Yes, it was. And what had the infant Jesus done to merit that favor? Nothing. The favor of God was upon the infant Jesus before he ever obeyed one Law.

    This correlates with God’s dealings with His Old Covenant people. He did not choose them due to their righteousness. He did not give them the land due to their righteousness (Deut 9). His choosing of them to be His treasured possession and His giving them of the Promised Land were His gracious fulfillment of the promise he made to Abraham (Deut 7). And then, He required them to be righteous. But that doesn’t mean His dealings with them became “based on merit”. You only think it does because you are presuming that grace and obligation are opposed to one another. But the scriptures do not say this, they actually say the opposite. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). The *much* that is given here is the Kingdom (Luke 12:32). Now neither “given” in those two verses is charizomai, but I am sure you would take the giving of the Kingdom to be gracious. But how could it be based on grace when much is required of those to whom the Kingdom is given?

    Finally, you are equivocating on the word “works”. You asked why Romans 11:6 states, “no longer based on works”. That is a great question. This statement indicates that *something* was at one time based on works. Now, is Paul speaking of the Adamic covenant here? No, he is speaking of Israel (vs 1). Now you have a problem. The Confession states that God’s people “under the Law” were under the CoG, and not under the Law as a covenant of works to be justified or condemned (WCF VII.v; XI.vi;XIX.vi). So what did Paul really say when he said, “if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace?” Whatever he means (and I think you know what I think he means), he cannot be saying that there was a time in Israel’s history when justification was based on obedience to the Law’s obligations. Not if WCF VII.v, XI.vi, and XIX.vi are true.

  46. Also, as shown earlier, Prov 3 says that ordinary man will grow in God’s favor if they obey His Law. But you wouldn’t say that God’s favor upon ordinary man is based on works.

  47. The most glaring problem is that you didn’t conclude PJW via syllogism.

    Ha! Neither did I conclude Pa or Pb via syllogism. Nor did you conclude either of the premises of your (exegesis-free) syllogism, via syllogism. At some point, to avoid infinite (and infantile!) regress, you have to just stop and understand the words.

    you mistook Jesus’ *parents*law keeping in Luke 2:39 to be Jesus’ own law keeping

    OK, you got me on that one. But the clear intent of the entire passage Luke 2:39-52 is that God’s grace is conditioned on the excellent works and character of the boy Jesus (not the other way around).

    The favor of God was upon the infant Jesus before he ever obeyed one Law.

    “Before” the infant Jesus ever obeyed one Law given to Moses, he did obey his Father. Though he was in the form of God, he made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant. From all eternity, the second person of the trinity deserved the favor of his father, because of his intrinsic, personal perfection.

    This correlates with God’s dealings with His Old Covenant people. He did not choose them due to their righteousness

    Yeah, that’s grace fer ya!

    Now, is Paul speaking of the Adamic covenant here? No, he is speaking of Israel (vs 1). Now you have a problem.

    No, you have the problem. Rom 11:6 (plus your monocovenantal agenda) forces you to admit that God’s relationship with Israel was based on works, to the exclusion of grace. Whatever “based on works” meant for Israel, in that sense, their ‘grace’ is distinct from Pauline grace.

    The Klinean bi-covenantal system meshes perfectly with this. Israelites’ justification came through faith by Pauline grace, by virtue of the Abrahamic covenant, and their prosperous tenancy in the promised land was theirs to corporately keep or lose, based on their performance in the Mosaic covenant.

    That was fun. I’d love to see how you can hurt yourself trying to interpret Rom 4:4 — hypothetical category? ceremonial works “of the Law”? non-elect only? And into which verse does Christ fit — 4:4 or 4:5?

  48. God’s rewards to His children for their obedience is fundamentally gracious

    Officer: Sir, are you aware that in the state of California, it is illegal to pay for sex?

    Student of Ron: Absolutely, officer!

    O: Who is this in your car?

    SoR: I picked this nice young lady up just around the corner there, where all those other young ladies are standing.

    O: And did she just do to you what I think she did?

    SoR: Boy, did she ever!

    O: And did you just giver her that wad of cash?

    SoR: Of course! She showed herself worthy of it!

    O: How do you mean?

    SoR: Well, I told her what would please me, and she certainly did!

    O: And when you told her what would please you, did you also obligate yourself to give her a specified reward?

    SoR: That very same wad of cash which you so astutely pointed out just before, officer.

    O: And if she didn’t obey?

    SoR: Well then obviously, no reward for her, as she would not have been worthy.

    O: And if she only exhibited ‘rote obedience’?

    SoR: Oh, I would have known if her heart wasn’t in it — no rewards for a mere outward show.

    O: OK, step out of the car, I’m placing you under arrest.

    SoR: What ever do you mean? How could you possibly think that my reward for her obedience is anything but fundamentally gracious? I told her what to do, I promised a reward if she would do it, then she did it with all her heart, mind, and soul, and then I graciously and freely, out of my own personal magnanimity, elected to give her a gift (in the exact same quantity as I had obligated myself)!

    O: Sir, are you going to step out of the car, or am I going to have to use force?

    SoR: How about this: can you give me a syllogism?

  49. Har, har, har! Guffaw, chortle, giggle!

    Oh man was that funny! Hahahahahaha!!!!

    Silly Federal Visionists twisting common sense! Hahahahahaha…

    I was teaching 7 and 8 year olds this morning who got the point. Hahahahahahah…

  50. Ha! Neither did I conclude Pa or Pb via syllogism. Nor did you conclude either of the premises of your (exegesis-free) syllogism, via syllogism

    Right, and you are free to reject any premise and ask for substantiation. The thing is, the premise you rejected is a universal negative, so you are the one who needs to prove the positive Rube! I am saying “there is no exegetical evidence to the contrary” and the only way I can “prove” this is to copy and paste the entire bible here. We have been through this before. The onus is upon the one asserting the positive to prove said positive.

    But the clear intent of the entire passage Luke 2:39-52 is that God’s grace is conditioned on the excellent works and character of the boy Jesus

    Clear to you. When I see grace first and then obedience, I see “the other way around”. When I see Luke paralleling Proverbs 3, which was written to ordinary man telling them how to grow in God’s grace, I see “the other way around” since God’s grace is not “conditioned on the excellent works and character ” of ordinary man but rather “the other way around”. This is “clear” to me, but that isn’t an argument.

    Yeah, that’s grace fer ya!

    I know. That is why I pointed it out. But then God places so many requirements on His people, one in your paradigm has to make up a bizarre (and unconfessional) system under which God both forbids and demands self righteousness to the same people at the same time (though, to be fair, for different reasons. But even self righteousness for land is refuted by Deut 7).

    No, you have the problem. Rom 11:6 (plus your monocovenantal agenda) forces you to admit that God’s relationship with Israel was based on works

    But the confession says it wasn’t, so no, I am not forced to admit anything. You are equivocating on “works” here. You are the one who is forced to admit you hold so many unconfessional confessions.

    Whatever “based on works” meant for Israel, in that sense, their ‘grace’ is distinct from Pauline grace.

    Or Pauline “works” is distinct from Rube-ine “works”. Paul is really saying that grace is *no longer* conferred via *ceremonial* works. That doesn’t mean grace wasn’t conferred via ceremonial works in the Old Covenant. When the ceremonies were expired *and replaced with other ceremonies*, those old ceremonies no longer conferred God’s grace. But the *new ceremonies* do confer God’s grace (not by any power in them, etc. of course), right?

    their prosperous tenancy in the promised land was theirs to corporately keep or lose, based on their performance in the Mosaic covenant.

    But their *entrance* to the land was based on grace. How could their *continuance* be based on works? Grace came first, so whatever obligations they met (which, as old-school Kline notes above, would have themselves been of God’s grace), they did so in the context of grace *JUST LIKE NEW COVENANT MEMBERS*. This is why the apostle has no problem drawing parallels from Israel’s apostasy to New Covenant apostasy. They are the same thing, only New Covenant apostasy brings stricter judgment because to whom much is given, much is required.

    I’d love to see how you can hurt yourself trying to interpret Rom 4:4 — hypothetical category? ceremonial works “of the Law”? non-elect only? And into which verse does Christ fit — 4:4 or 4:5?

    It doesn’t hurt me at all to simply read a few verses later to get the context of what Paul is getting at. Romans 4:9 makes no sense in your paradigm. Neither does verse 10 for that matter – or most of that chapter. These are just inserted sentences that obstruct Paul’s explanation of his doctrine of justification. What has circumcision or uncircumcision to do with the doctrine of justification by faith apart from works? But sentences like that are sprinkled all over Paul’s letters. We have been through this before as well. You will never find Paul talking about justification by faith apart from works outside the context of Jew/Gentile conflict.

    Check out vs 16: “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.”

    What? The promise comes by faith to “those who are of the law”? I wonder who *those* folks are?

    And ironically, first century “legalists” were actually antinomians. They thought their historical relationship to Abraham was sufficient to be right with God. They neglected the weightier matters of the Law. They were those to whom the oracles of God were handed down by angels, but they did not keep them. But Jesus and Paul both point out that they need to be Abraham’s *spiritual* children by a living, active, and obedient faith.

    Christ fits into 4:5. Why is that so hard, because Jesus never sinned? But He was made sin for us (2 Cor 5:21), and God justified Him (1 Tim 3:16). Jesus didn’t think His historical relationship to Abraham was sufficient to remain in God’s favor, like those referred to in Romans 4. The relationship is certainly significant, but Jesus also had the faith of Abraham and therefore abided in God’s love via faithful obedience (the works of Abraham).

    And that last example is not worthy of a response. I find it grotesque that you would compare my view of the relationship between us and God with the relationship between a prostitute and her john. You do realize that your analogy put our Holy God in the place of the one paying for sex, don’t you. Feel free to delete this paragraph if you decide to do the right thing and delete the entry it refers to.

  51. As usual, Echo, your contributions to the conversation are quite sophisticated and provocative. What would we do without your insight? Thanks so much.

  52. Let me add that the analogy using the figures of a waitress and one paying for food service was a sufficient analogy and was already addressed by me here. The only reason I see to switch over to such a perverted storyline is to personally attack me and to solicit juvenile responses such as we have seen with Echo.

  53. Wow, Ron, you are getting so strained and desperate! I would pay $7 a head for the men of our church to just listen to you and I read this transcript! You wanna go halvsies with me? I think I might be able to pull some strings so we could be the undercard for H&S: Baptiterian on Oct 4…

  54. FWIW, the point of the analogy is to highlight your evasiveness on the point of whether a “reward” is a payment or a gift. You can easily write analogous analogies, like “Sir, are you paying that child to work in your sweatshop?” Or “Sir, are you bribing that judge?” Or “Sir, are you purchasing that congressman’s vote?”

    The point is, there is a difference between a merited reward (Rom 4:4) and a gift (Rom 4:5); between works and grace (Rom 11:6); sometimes God operates in the former mode (Covenant of Works), and sometimes in the latter (Covenant of Grace), but your agenda compels you to fudge that distinction, just like the john, or the sweatshopper, or the briber, or the lobbyist.

  55. I find it grotesque that you would compare my view of the relationship between us and God with the relationship between a prostitute and her john. You do realize that your analogy put our Holy God in the place of the one paying for sex, don’t you.

    Do you find it more or less grotesque than putting our Holy God in the place of someone who pays for murder? Which adds another analogy to the pile: “Sir, did you pay for that hit?”

  56. And personally, I find it grotesque that you would compare the gift of justification by grace alone through faith alone, to whatever it means for us to “win” favor from God by our personal obedience.

  57. Back to the meat — so much to choose from here, it’s like a Brazilian BBQ!

    You are equivocating on “works” here.

    How can that be, when you’re the one who is always pushing for winning favor through good works of personal obedience to the moral law, but whenever Paul discounts “works” you duck behind ceremonial works.

    But their *entrance* to the land was based on grace. How could their *continuance* be based on works?

    Because God said so. Isn’t that what you covenantal nomists are all about: get in by grace, stay in by works? Same with Adam, who was brought into covenant by virtue of God’s voluntary condescension, but only remained in covenant while he was perfectly, personally, and entirely obedient. Not the same with Christ, because, being the eternal Son of God, there was never a beginning cause for God’s favor; never a transition from non-favor into favor. Christ’s perfect works and God’s favor are as co-eternal as the Trinity itself. (Although the favor is logically (if not chronologically) consequent to the merit)

    But the confession says it wasn’t, so no, I am not forced to admit anything.

    That’s called pitting the confessions against the scriptures. If your understanding of the confessions is correct, then Rom 11:6 is wrong. Rom 11:6 clearly makes works and grace exclusive. So either it’s talking about Israel’s works “of the law”, or it’s talking about good works of personal obedience to moral law. (Or you come up with some other alternatives)

    If the former, then the Jews were justified (or at least “chosen”) by their rote obedience to ceremonial laws. If the latter, then perhaps the Israelites obtained/retained God’s favor with personal obedience, but that works-based-covenant is in effect no longer. I don’t think you are happy with either of those outcomes.

    It makes much more sense to understand Rom 11:6 just generally about covenants, rather than about the mosaic covenant specifically. Bottom-line, your system cannot hold Rom 11:6 because you force yourself to have both works and grace principles operating all the time, and the whole point of Rom 11:6 is to make them exclusive, not coincident.

    Christ fits into 4:5. Why is that so hard, because Jesus never sinned?

    Because he did work, and because of his work, God was obliged to reward him. John 17.

    But He was made sin for us (2 Cor 5:21), and God justified Him (1 Tim 3:16).

    Nonsense! When Christ was made sin for us, God the Just didn’t justify that sin, he punished it; and when God the Justifier vindicated Christ, he was not vindicating our sin, he was vindicating Christ’s own personal obedience. Man! It’s not enough for you to conflate works and grace, now you have to conflate good works and wicked works?

    We have been through this before as well. You will never find Paul talking about justification by faith apart from works outside the context of Jew/Gentile conflict.

    And I have rejected that thesis before as well. There is no stronger statement of justification by faith apart from works than Eph 2:8-9, and the only references to Jew/Gentile relationship are not to conflict present in the Ephesian church, but as of a problem already solved.

    Jesus didn’t think His historical relationship to Abraham was sufficient to remain in God’s favor

    Of course he didn’t; but he did think the perfect completion of his assigned labors was sufficient to obligate his Father to pay the reward that the Trinity had agreed upon from all eternity.

  58. Ron,

    I wouldn’t laugh if I didn’t have a reason.

    Juvenile: that’s an interesting word. The theological ideas you espouse are aptly described in this way, and responded to in kind.

    E

  59. Guys
    The FV is about as relevent as the hoola-hoop.

  60. But perhaps more entertaining?

  61. I am sorry I don’t check this blog more often. Good stuff.

  62. Welcome back, although you’re a little late to the party! The booze ran out and I turned off the lights a month ago!

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