Calvin on the 3rd Use of the Law

Law, Quote

Calvin’s catechism, Instruction In Faith, of 1537 offers a fantastic section (17) on what is most often referred to as the 3rd use of the Law (Sanctification):

Just as Christ by means of his righteousness intercedes for us with the Father in order that (he being as our guarantor) we may be considered as righteous, so by making us participants in his spirit, he sanctifies us unto all purity and innocence. For the spirit of the Lord has reposed on Christ without measure – the spirit (I say) of wisdom, of intelligence, of counsel, of strength, of knowledge and reverential fear of the Lord – in order that we all may draw from his fullness and receive grace through the grace that has been given to Christ. As a result, those who boast of having the faith of Christ and are completely destitute of sanctification by his spirit deceive themselves. For the Scripture teaches that Christ has been made for us not only righteousness but also sanctification. Hence, we cannot receive through faith his righteousness without embracing at the same time that sanctification, because the Lord is one same alliance, which he has made with us in Christ, promises that he will be propitious toward our iniquities and will write his Law in our hearts (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10; 10:16).

Observance of the Law, therefore, is not a work that our power can accomplish, but it is a work of a spiritual power. Through this spiritual power it is brought about that our hearts are cleansed from their corruption and are softened to obey unto righteousness. Now the function of the Law is for Christians quite different from what it may be without faith; for, when and where the Lord has engraved in our hearts the love for his righteousness, the external teaching of the Law (which before was only charging us with weakness and transgression) is now a lamp to guide our feet, to the end that we may not deviate from the right path. It is now our wisdom through which we are formed, instructed, and encouraged to all integrity; it is our discipline which does not suffer us to be dissolute through evil licentiousness.

(By: Nick Kennicott)

Confessing the Faith: The 1689 Baptist Confession for the 21st Century

Christian Education, Ministry, News, The Church, Theology


The truths that this confession promoted fell out of favor for much of the twentieth century, but in the last fifty years there has been a great recovery of gospel truth among Evangelicals and once again there are those deeply committed to the doctrines of this confession. The English language, however, has changed over time, and just as there are phrases in the Authorized Version (1611), also known as the King James Version, that are no longer as clear as they once were due to linguistic change, so it is the case with the 1689 Confession. For this reason, this new rendition of the confession by Dr. Reeves is indeed welcome. He has sought to render it readable by the typical twenty-first-century Christian reader, but with minimal change and without sacrificing any of the riches of the original text. I believe he has succeeded admirably in both of these aims.

From the Foreword
Michael A.G. Haykin
Professor of Church History
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, KY 


“It is a good cause to make more accessible to our generation the great truths embodied in the 1689 Baptist Confession, and Stan has done good work in bringing them into the English of the 21st Century.”

Sam Waldron
Pastor of Heritage Baptist Church
Owensboro, KY

 “It is my hope and prayer that this edition of the Confession will help many individuals, churches, and church planters. May many read and profit from this and may its contents become the things most surely believed among many more!”

Richard Barcellos
Church Planting Pastor
Palmdale, CA

Get it here.

(HT: Dr. G)

(by:Nicolas Alford)


Does God Require Obedience? (Part 2)

Christian Living, Law, The Church, The Gospel, Theology

I cannot read the Bible without the profound sense that we are constantly being called to yield to Christ as Lord in order to inherit eternal life. Of course, we cannot overemphasize the fact that salvation cannot be earned by works of the law. Salvation is by grace through faith; it does not come from ourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). But the Bible, in loud, symphonic nature, resounds with the truth that the faith which justifies also sanctifies (Acts 15:9). In other words, if we build a firm foundation (Luke 6:46-49), the foundation doesn’t sit there by itself – we build something upon it! All our faith in Christ produces obedience (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Gal. 5:6; Hebrews 10:35-36; 11:8). So with a little help from John Piper, I want to provide a list of texts that point to different aspects of necessity in the life of a true disciple. In other words, the Bible points to numerous proofs, or fruits, that help us to determine whether or not we have true, saving faith in Jesus Christ. These are the works of obedience that flow out of genuine faith in Jesus Christ. In the words of the Apostle James, “By my works I will show you my faith . . . faith apart from works is useless . . . faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:18, 20, 26).

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of doing good works:

Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

John 5:28-29: “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

Romans 2:6-10: “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of obedience:

John 3:36: “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

John 14:15: “Jesus said, ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’”

Romans 6:12,14: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions… For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

1 John 2:4: “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity to forgive others:

Matthew 6:12, 14-15: “‘Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…’ For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Note: The eternal significance of this forgiveness in Matthew 6 is made plain in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. Jesus is not merely talking about losing fellowship. He is talking about losing God if we go on through life with an unforgiving spirit.

Matthew 18:32-35: “Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity not to live according to the flesh:

Romans 8:12-14: “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Galatians 5:19-21: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of being free from the love of money:

Luke 18:18-22: “And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.”’ And he said, ‘All these I have kept from my youth.’ When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of love to the Father and to the Son:

John 8:42: “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here.’”

Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

1 John 2:15: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity to love others:

Galatians 5:6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity to love the truth:

2 Thessalonians 2:10: “The Lord Jesus will kill all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity to bridle the tongue:

James 1:26: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of perseverance:

Mark 13:13: “He who endures to the end will be saved.”

Luke 9:62: “Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of walking in the light:

1 John 1:7: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of repentance:

Luke 5:32: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Acts 3:19: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.”

(By: Nick Kennicott)

Does God Require Obedience?

Christian Living, Law, The Gospel, Theology

law_gospelReformed Theology has always held the relationship between the Law of God and the gospel to be so tightly interwoven that to lose or disregard one is to misrepresent the other. It has become very unpopular in evangelicalism to speak of the Law of God in a favorable light, but there’s no doubt in reading the Bible that God actually does require something of His people!
The neo-Calvinism movement that seems to dominate the publishing houses these days appears to make the same mistakes as New Covenant Theology and her cousin, Dispensationalism. “Gospel-Centered” everything is easy to find, but while it seeks to keep the gospel central, the trend has actually migrated to gospel exclusivity. The Reformed Confessions have always highlighted the importance of an inseparable union between the Law and the gospel. John Coquhoun penned the classic, A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel and endorsed what was the mainstream puritan understanding as popularized by John Calvin with regards to a Christian’s relationship to the Law of God. Coquhoun wrote:
All who are united to Christ, and justified for his righteousness imputed to them, are dead to the law as a covenant; not that they may be without law to God, but that they may be under the law to Christ; not that they may continue in disobedience, but that they may be inclined and enabled to perform sincere obedience in time, and perfect obedience through eternity, to the law as a rule of life. One design of their being delivered from the obligations of the law in its Federal form is that they may be brought under the eternal obligation of it as a rule of duty in the hand of the adorable Mediator (p. 260).
Undoubtedly, the silent cancer of self-righteousness is an ever-present reality that Christians must be aware of and seek to destroy. Yet, a resolute striving for holiness is not the enemy! Indeed, as Coquhoun remarks, the Christian has an obligation to the Law of God as holiness is sought. Yes, we rely upon the imputed righteousness of Christ and not our own for our salvation. Praise God! But does that free me from an obligation to live according to God’s Law, not only out of a heart of thankful obedience, but also when I don’t quite feel like it?
The Bible repeatedly calls me to a morally upright life as I am sanctified by the Law of God, not so that God will approve and accept me, but because He already has. “We have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel” (Justification), therefore our lives are not to be lived as “to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4) (Sanctification). The Bible is filled with language that binds Christians to specific duties and moral obligations. These aren’t commands we ignore and say, “I can’t do these things perfectly, but thank God that Jesus did them for me so that I need not worry about them…” And surely we need not fall into moralism which teaches, “It’s up to me to do my part since Jesus has already done his.” Rather, we must balance our obligation to the law and our freedom in the gospel and say, “I will strive to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, realizing that I need Christ’s finished work applied and His ongoing grace to strengthen and enable me to live as obediently as I am able in this life, for His glory.”
(By: Nick Kennicott)