Archive for December, 2009

Freedom from Justification by the Law!

December 30, 2009

Here is a gem from one Obadiah Sedgwick, Westminster Assembly member:

They [believers] have immunity or freedom from justification by the Law, from all legal trials for life.   Although you are not freed from the Law as it is a rule for life, yet you are freed from the Law as it is a Covenant of life; although you are not freed from the Law as it is the image of the good and holy will of God, yet because you are under the Covenant of grace, you are freed from the Law as it is a reason of salvation and justification.  The Covenant of grace takes you off from that Court and Bar which pronounceth life upon your own good works, and pronounceth death upon your own evil works; Rom. 3:28, We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law.  Gal. 3:11, No man is justified by the Law in the sight of God, for the just shall live by faith.  As the law calls for perfect and personal righteousness of our own; so the Law will not justify you, it will not give life unto you, unless it finds that righteousness in you; you live not, if you be not perfectly righteous; absolution is pronounced upon your own perfect innocence, and condemnation is pronounced upon any defect or breach.  And verily on this account no living man can or shall be justified; therefore here is comfort, that being in Christ, and in this Covenant of grace, ye are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses; see the Apostle, Acts 13:39.  Your life doth not lie now in your own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ; nor doth it depend on your own works, but upon the obedience of Christ.  That expression of Luther is an excellent expression … ‘Though my works have been very good, yet not those but Christ doth justify me; and though my works have been very ill, yet the righteousness of Christ can and will justify me; my evil works shall not damn me, and my good works cannot acquit me; it is Christ, it is Christ, and not the Law which justifies me.’

Obadiah Sedgwick, The Bowels of Tender Mercy Sealed in the Everlasting Covenant (London: Printed by Edward Mottershed, for Adoniram Byfield, 1661), 81.

I’m actually writing up Sedgwick on the free offer (some excellent sermons on Rev 3:20) at the moment and this was in my notes – thought it was worth sharing!

Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering?

December 12, 2009

John Murray’s commentary on Romans is a rare treat.  Murray’s commentary was faithful to the Scottish Reformed tradition in which he was raised.  It was also a continuation of the great works in the Old Princeton tradition of theologians who were master exegetes.  There is much in the work that is valuable on the subject of the free offer but Murray’s comments on Romans 2:4 “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” are particularly pertinent.

Murray observes that this verse teaches that “God suspends the infliction of punishment and restrains the execution of his wrath.  When he exercises forbearance and longsuffering he does not avenge sin in the instant execution of wrath.” 

But what is the point of this suspension of wrath – and is it related to the goodness and love of God?  Yes, “It needs to be noted that the apostle does not think of this restraint as exercised in abstract from the riches of God’s goodness, the riches of his benignity and loving-kindness.  There is a complementation that bespeaks the magnitude of God’s kindness of which the [outward] gifts of covenant privilege are the expression.  It is a metallic conception of God’s forbearance and longsuffering that isolates them from the kindness of disposition and of benefaction which the goodness of God implies.”

Of course included in the outward “gifts of covenant privilege” is the free offer of the gospel and the spirit of Rom 2:4 should animate the free offer.