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Social Media Testifies To The Covenant Of Works

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:

In Colossians 2:8 Paul warned the Colossians Christians not to be taken captive by unbelieving ways of thinking (philosophies) nor by “the stoicheia (στοιχεῖα) of the world.” The noun stoicheia is usually translated with something like “elemental principles” or the like. That is a possibility but it leaves unanswered the question, what are the elemental principles? Sometimes it is argued that it is a reference to the principles of physics or natural science. There is a good case to be made, however, by analogy with his use of the same term in Galatians 4:3, 8 in a similar context, that by it he simply means “law”and specifically, in this case, natural law. The study of physics does teach us something about the existence of natural laws. If we drop a coin from a height it will do what it does, in the ordinary providence of God, by nature. According to the traditional Reformed understanding of Scripture, God instituted a law in the garden, which we call in the Belgic Confession (Art. 14) “the commandment of life.” Just a few years after that, Reformed theologians began calling the “commandment of life” a “covenant of works,” which nomenclature was adopted by the British Reformed at Westminster (WCF 7.2; 19.1, 6).

The essence of the covenant of works is the promise of life on condition of “perfect and personal obedience.” In the words of our Lord Jesus, “Do this and live” (Luke 10:28). The same law God gave to Adam is written upon the conscience of every human being, testifying to him that he is under personal obligation to perform perfect obedience to the natural, moral law which is inscribed on his conscience. Paul discusses this at length from Romans 1:18–2:15. The traditional Reformed explanation of this passage was that the same law God gave to Adam before the fall is substantially the same law revealed at Sinai and the same law revealed in nature.

In this space I have argued that apart from the covenant of grace administered in Christ’s visible, true church there is only a covenant of works. In that communion, where redeemed sinners gather together for worship and fellowship, grace predominates. The law is preached in its various uses and the gospel is announced and made visible in the sacraments. Life, however, apart from the administration of the covenant of grace, apart from God’s free acceptance of believers by grace alone, through faith alone, for Christ’s sake alone, is a covenant of works—not for acceptance with God but for life in this world.


Previously Featured Posts

Bill Hybels Resigns from Willow Creek

By Bob Smietana - Posted at Christianity Today:
Former leaders have accused the church of failing to adequately address several allegations against Hybels, including inappropriate comments, private meetings with female staffers in his hotel room and at his home, intrusive hugs, and, in one case, an unwanted kiss.Megachurch pastor “accelerates” October retirement weeks after former colleagues went public with misconduct allegations.

Bill Hybels has stepped down as senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago-area megachurch he founded over 40 years ago, citing the controversy over recent allegations against him.

Many in the wider Christian community have been confused by those allegations, he said, and the controversy has distracted his church’s leaders from their mission and has hurt the church’s ministries. “They can’t flourish to their fullest potential when the valuable time of our leaders is divided.”

Hybels, who previously planned to retire in October, revealed the…

The Gospel Is The Remedy For Racism

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:

Racism is sin. There can be no hedging or qualifying here. To regard another image bearer as inferior because of his ethnicity is sin and has no place in the church of Jesus Christ. God’s Word is clear about the only remedy for racism: the good news of Jesus Christ.
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:23–29; NASB). N…

Two Lessons from Two Radically Different Funerals

By Jordan Standridge - Posted at The Cripplegate:

Funerals are a gift from God. I know that sounds crazy, but they are a God-given tool to force us to reflect on the brevity of life, and how finite we are as human beings. I truly do believe that humans should attend as many funerals as possible during their lives, it is that good for your soul.

I have the privilege of attending two last Friday, and they could not have been more different from each other.

The first was of a believer. One of the sons (who is an elder at our church) gave the eulogy, and the other son, who is a Presbyterian pastor, gave the message. At least 100 people were there.

The second was of a non-believer. I had the privilege of giving the message at this one to a crowd of 10 people at the local funeral home.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the incredible difference between the two funerals. Both individuals were in their 80s, both had lived long lives full of experiences, and yet, the outcome of their fune…