The Mind of Judas, Part 3 of 3

Written by Michael W. Pursley

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There comes a time in our lives where once we commit ourselves to a course of action, where we have intentionally and unconditionally bound ourselves to a position of commitment, that outside of some unmerited act of grace from heaven, we have now come to a place where there is simply no withdrawal.

And so it is, from the time that Judas met with the Jewish leadership and committed himself to the betrayal of his Lord, his time and ability to completely and cleanly withdraw from his course of action had essentially come to an end.

Now, for the first time Jesus has two groups seeking his destruction, the Jewish leaders and a member of his own twelve. While it appears from all practical purposes that Jesus’ ministry was on the verge of dismal failure, Jesus here instead uses the to occasion to bring his ministry to a stunning climax which both fulfills the Father’s will, and completes the prophetic intent of scripture. This latter is an extremely important consideration, because one has to ask, why didn’t Jesus who knows all things from the Father, why doesn’t he go to Judas and have a heart to heart talk with him? Why doesn’t he confront Judas regarding his actions? Why doesn’t Jesus at least stop him from committing so egregious an action; from letting Judas kill the Messiah, the Savior of Israel? Did Jesus not realize, that he was consigning Judas to bearing the guilt of killing the Son of God? –except “that the scriptures might be fulfilled.”

Perhaps another interesting question is, if Judas thought that he had cleanly succeeded in negotiating the betrayal unbeknownst to Christ? I certainly would not have wanted to have been Judas’ conscience at this point. Guilty? Unbelievably so. Jumpy? Like a cat on a hot tin roof. Every kind word Jesus directed to Judas would have been seen as accusatory. Every act of kindness from Jesus would have seemed doubly suspicious. The mind of the betraying disciple would have been working overtime analyzing and re-analyzing every word, action and expression. On one side, looking to see if he was discovered, on another, looking for justification for his actions, and on another, pitying his poor victim, and yet another, looking to the future to see how he may betray Christ; for “from that time he sought opportunity to deliver him unto them.” Matthew 16:26.

I think that it is safe to assume that Judas never wanted Jesus to die. For we find that when the death sentence had been pronounced upon Jesus, Judas hurried to undo the blasphemous transaction bitterly exclaiming, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”  –Matthew 27:4. We say this to his dubious credit, for the sentiment shows that this betrayal was not a simple act of revenge; it was much more complex than that.

Needless to say, for Judas, the anxiety levels were most likely close to intolerable. Something had to give. By looking to force the situation and thereby defusing it, Judas’ had instead made it both more unstable and more intolerable, especially for himself; for now, life was no longer about Jesus and the kingdom of God, it was about himself, and the state he found himself in, –which meant that he had to be miserable.

The next scene clearly involving Judas after his sell-out, occurs during the last supper. Typically, it is John’s Gospel that deals with the scene most elaborately as well as giving it a descriptive theological interpretation. It is found in John 13:21-30:  “After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered,“It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.”

For all the disciples to ask Jesus if they were the one who was going to betray him, shows that this group, on this evening, had an exceptionally unsettled state of mind. Remember, the disciples are on hostile territory and they are hunted. Despite the miracles, things seem to be gong badly. They have been hearing over the last several days that their life together was coming to an end. And instead of sounding confident and victorious, Jesus is sounding sorrowful, pensive, perhaps even resigned. Now, on this particular evening, with these ongoing statements of death bothering them, they are introduced to yet another dimension –death is by betrayal. And worse, it was going to be an inside job, for one of them, one of the trusted twelve, is doing it. I find it interesting that Judas wasn’t the first to inquire, “Is it I?” Instead he waits; finally, with a sinking heart, Judas asks, “Is it I?” It must have been to the worst of his expectations that Jesus says “yes.” But if he had any question as to whether Jesus really meant it was him, that was about to be dispersed. For the final clarion note on this matter is about to sound. And with awful finality, Jesus looks at him and says, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

It’s over, the gig is up. Now it is time for Judas to go to his new masters and to deliver on his side of the bargain. Judas might have even felt a sense of relief at this turn of events. Whatever delusions of jealousy, or pride, feelings of being slighted or snubbed, however melt into insignificance, for “then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him.” The resolve that Judas now felt was not his own, it was Satan’s. The last flame of grace once strong, growing weaker, now at once flickers and dies away. John noting this, completes the description…“And it was night.” Yes, Jesus and the disciples were experiencing a night of discouragement, and even depression. But for Judas it was different. For Judas was experiencing an altogether different kind of night; for him it was a night of eternal spiritual darkness and for those who experience it, this is a darkness co-inhabited with Satan. This darkness is like no other darkness. For as John expresses it, this is the night of the soul, this is a night to which there is no morning.

What feelings might Judas now be experiencing? Did he feel Satan’s giddiness sliding through his soul? Was he feeling hatred for his old master and for the stupid disciples? Or was he simply looking forward to a new life somewhere else? Perhaps, he just felt numb, like he lost part of himself but in haziness of mind not quite knowing how to place it. We don’t know. I am sure there was a smothering of some feelings. But what we do know is that he was bent upon finishing his singular task; which was to give up the future whereabouts of Jesus.

This he did. At once, the Jewish priests and leaders began rounding up their posse of devoted and loyal followers from their celebrations of high passover. And this had to be a difficult task at best. But here we look around and ask, where was Judas at this point, did they keep him there? Did they give him some simple task, so he wouldn’t revert back to Jesus and warn him? Did they treat him with disgust after he gave them the information they had required? Did they treat him as a traitor or renegade, which is typical treatment for those kind of people by their new benefactors? We don’t know. But we do know this, that he stayed close to the action. For as soon as judgment is pronounced, we find Judas back again in front of the same leaders in desperate appeal; “for I have betrayed innocent blood” Matthew 27:4. I think that the Pulpit Commentary describes Judas’ sentiments precisely.

“By speaking of “blood,” he showed that he knew the murder was certain. Judas seems to have had no faith in Christ’s Divinity, but he had perfect assurance of his holiness and innocence, and felt, and endeavored to make the rulers feel, that an iniquitous sentence had been passed, and that a guiltless person was condemned to death. This consideration added to the bitterness of his regret.” But it was too late.

As is often the case, the consequences of his actions were going forward now with a life of their own. The situation for Judas was now unresolvable. For he who thought himself the master of the situation, now finds he has badly over played his hand. His dreams of success for this venture and for himself, utterly destroyed.

There is one more thing here worth noting; Satan may enter his victim, but that does not mean that the victim completely loses his conscience. In fact, quite often the reverse is true. The conscience may often be overstimulated, leading to a breakdown of judgment and healthy perspective. In the end the overburdened conscience lends itself to desperation and to desperate acts of violence, degradation and death. In the final awful scene Judas both pronounces and executes judgment on himself; “And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.” –Matthew 27:5

“Wicked men see little of the consequences of their crimes when they commit them, but they must answer for them all. In the fullest manner Judas acknowledged to the chief priests that he had sinned, and betrayed an innocent person. This was full testimony to the character of Christ; but the rulers were hardened. Casting down the money, Judas departed, and went and hanged himself, not being able to bear the terror of Divine wrath, and the anguish of despair.” –Matthew Henry Concise Commentary.

Hence we see that Judas died as he had lived, believing to the end that he alone was the “Captain of his own ship.”

[Originally, I had planned to stop here, but I must write a postscript. It would not be complete unless we look at the differences between the repentance of Judas and Peter. I say this for if we look closely, each had effectively betrayed Christ, and Peter did so while calling curses down upon himself. (see Mark 14:71). Here, I must confess that there was a time in my life where I thought that there just might be a possibility that Judas would also be saved. It all seemed so unfair! Each had repented! Each repentance looked remarkably similar. Only the end of each repentance was different, and that could be explained as due to temperament or state of mind. But there was one vast underlying divergence. And it is this divergence that we shall look at in our postscript as we look at: “The Repentance of Judas… and Peter.” –MWP]

The sin that is called the sin unto death, or the unpardonable sin in the Old Testament

Taken from, Light Shining in Darkness
Written by, William Huntington
Edited for thought and sense.

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“Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.” — Exod. 23:20-21.

This was the caution, and the unpardonable sin is in it…

…but they presumed, and rebelled against him at the entrance of Canaan, and would not obey him. Acts 7: 39.

Yes, they despised him, and made a captain over them, to return again to Egypt; thus they refused the Captain of our salvation, and then provoked him by going up the hill, after he had sworn in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest. Thus, says Paul, they tempted Christ, they provoked and grieved him forty years, and by choosing a new captain, despised him; and then went up to sight contrary to his word, oath, and commandment; and thus they provoked and despised the Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ; so they entered not into the promised land because of unbelief; for he, having delivered them out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them which believed not: and in this sense it may he truly said that they to whom the gospel was first preached entered in not because of unbelief.

This sin is called the sin unto death, because every other sort of sinner has had repentance unto life granted them; but these transgressors find no place of repentance, yes, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance, and therefore it is called the sin unto death; because such a one sins out of the reach of the covenant and promise of life; yes, such a one sins against the living God in Christ and the promise of life him; against the Lord Jesus Christ, and eternal life by him; against the Spirit of God, and all his regenerating operations; and against the everlasting Gospel and all life and immortality brought to life through that; and to such the Gospel is the smell of death unto death in the worst sense; for the sinner, being dead in sin and dead in law when the gospel finds him, and being guilty of the great transgression against it after it was professed by him, it must then leave him twice dead, plucked up by the roots; that is, dead at Horeb and dead at Zion, and without hope either in the law or in the gospel.

The Mind of Judas, Part 2 of 3

Written by Michael W. Pursley

 

images (2)How did it happen? A fit of passion? Some festering need for revenge? Some uncontrollable urge which, in the heat of the moment, overmastered the will? A Satanic impulse that took possession of the heart? Can there be some resident evil in the human psyche which completely explains this betrayal of Christ?

There are a number of interesting things about the story of Judas, but one of which that strikes us first is the unlikelihood that those thirty pieces of silver would be the underlying motivation for the betrayal of Christ. Think about this, the Jewish priests and leaders were being offered the chance of a lifetime; the one unassailable thorn in their side, was about to be handed to them. Their growing existential nightmare of loss of influence, power, money, position, prestige, and significance, was about to be handed them on a platter, so to speak. Here was a chance to play the game on their turf; here was a chance for them to use the home field advantage; here was a chance for them to play the game they new best, to push the levers of power, to use the great geopolitical and religious machine they set up in the name of God and Israel, and to quietly but efficiently neutralize their opposition. What would they not have paid for the opportunity? “…You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative…” John 11:49-51.

This was a dream too good to be true! The Jewish leaders and priests were describing this deal in terms of saving “the whole nation.” –Thirty pieces of silver? Save the nation? What a deal! I am going to guess here, with just a little sanctified imagination perhaps, but I am going to guess that the leaders did not offer Judas that sum of money. You see, from their perspective, they had no idea what he was thinking, the Jewish leaders knew that Judas knew that they wanted Jesus, and they knew that Judas knew they wanted Jesus bad, real bad. This was not a secret. What was also not a secret, was that the priests had almost unlimited funds which they could commit to this project; they had and could use the treasury of the Nation. I would not be surprised if these leaders spilled that kind of money over lunch. No, I think that they asked Judas how much he wanted.

But why 30 pieces of Silver? The word used in Matthew 26:15 ἀργύρια simply means “silver coins.” There were several coins circulating in the system at that time which could have been used. But I think that most likely it was the Tyrian shekel. Interesting to note, that because Roman coinage was only 80% silver, the purer (94% or more) Tyrian shekels were required to pay the temple tax in Jerusalem. The money changers referenced in the New Testament Gospels (Matt. 21:12 and parallels) exchanged Tyrian shekels for common Roman currency. This would, I think be the more likely coin that they would have had in hand. Also, Matthew does indicate that prophecy was fulfilled in regards to this exact amount by “what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet.” (Jeremiah 32) Namely, “They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me” (Matthew 27:9–10).

However, there may be an even deeper prophetic meaning attached here. In Exodus 21:32, 30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave. A number of scholars see the significance of this, and suggest that Matthew may also be saying that “Jesus’ death is a ransom, the price paid to secure a slave’s freedom.” Matthew 27:7 may even hint at the idea that “Jesus’ death makes salvation possible for all the peoples of the world, including the Gentiles.”

Once again, outside of the parameters of prophetic interpretation given by Matthew, we may never know precisely why the exact reason for 30 silver coins. But there maybe some other, additional considerations some from Judas’ perspective worth reflecting on. First, when Judas met with the Jewish officials, they most likely did not know his purpose for being there, so I am sure that they were hardly happy to see him. For Judas represented Jesus at that point, and did so until he finished stating his purpose for coming. With this in mind, Judas may have certainly felt himself on shaky footing during the discussion. He may have felt that this was the most dangerous part of the equation. He might have been afraid that he could have been put in jail at any moment. He might have even been a little “roughed up” on the way in or even during the interview. One thing for certain is that for Judas to have accepted 30 coins for the betrayal of Christ, does not bespeak the fact that he felt that he was entirely negotiating from a position of strength. And it is quite possible that even the Jewish leaders wondered as to whether Judas was as sharp as he thought he was. As such, there may have also been another possibility. The money may have only been a monetary “binder” into a larger agreement with the leaders. This could have certainly been the case if Judas had serious doubts about whether Jesus was truly the Messiah, sent from God.

From Judas’ perspective, this was a classic, if not the ultimate game of “playing each side against the middle.” On one side, Judas could be seen as putting Jesus into the position of rightfully assuming the Kingship of the nation, thereby Judas would be awarded for his sagacity, foresight and courage to precipitate the momentous and necessary event. And on the other hand, if Jesus was a fraud, then he, Judas would be rewarded by the Jewish leaders for his keen insight and remarkable courage to come forward. But whatever was in Judas’ mind at this point, one thing was for sure, the game was afoot, the betrayal was committed to, and purpose would soon be crystallized into action.

“Thirty pieces of silver”
Burns on the traitor’s brain;
“Thirty pieces of silver!
Oh! it is hellish gain!”

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The Mind of Judas, Part 1 of 2

Written by, Michael W. Pursley

 

Judas Iscariot (76.7 x 56cm, 2009)I do not believe that Judas sold his Lord with the objective of obtaining thirty pieces of silver.

The complexity of his actions, the far-reaching extent or measure of its effects, the utter badness of his betrayal of Jesus, a close friend, prevents such a supposition; it is inconsistent with his past avarice. The acceptance of so paltry an amount is conclusive to my mind that money was not the primary object.

I believe that the mind of Judas could have been at this time animated by an actual demon; this consideration alone suits our Lord’s description, “Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself (I, even I the Holy One of God) not choose you, the twelve (you the twelve to myself -ἐξελεξάμην) , and yet one of you is a devil?

I know that there are many who are willing to believe that this diabolic or demoniacal influence Judas experienced was merely a passion. –That it was something which swept over the mind in gusts, something which could happen to anybody, especially to those who operate impulsively, whereby their will is overcome.

However, even though a certain impulsiveness or compulsion may certainly have been involved, I think that we can see that the simple passion of avarice was not the basis of such a state, or of such a plan. This action was not that of simple passion; it is rather the want of passion. What I am saying is that what took place did not happen from a passion that came in gusts; rather, it was the working out of a heart existing completely under the control of one stronger than itself. As such, it could happen to any one of the sons of fallen Adam. For in its context, was not Peter a second Judas? Did he not betray his Savior with curses, as have we?

In the narrative as it took place, I maintain that the actions and passions involved were symptomatic and systemically part of a larger issue, an issue of a different kind, of a more malevolent kind of issue. Everything about the narrative I believe demonstrates that the motives which led Judas to the betrayal of the innocent Lamb of God, were inherent and came to the fore of his mind gradually and methodically until in the end, when the purpose and the course of action took possession and control of his thinking.

We do not see from the narrative any suggestion of an emotional outburst, such as what we saw just earlier with the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her bottle of expensive ointment, where it is exclaimed,” Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:8-10).

However, if the inconsequential acquisition of a mere thirty pieces of silver will not explain the deed of Judas with any reliable conclusiveness, what then, does explain it?

First, let us admit that unless it is revealed to us through some act of Divine Providence, we will never know the entire mind of Judas, even in heaven. For the mind is God’s providence and he will reveal what he reveals, but there are certain tantalizing clues that may point as to what the intent of Judas’ motive might have been.

1. There was an atmosphere which permeated all of Judas’ actions, and that was one of “self-interest.” Judas kept the money the disciple collected (see John 12:39). To this extent we see from the above passage referenced in Matthew 26, that the concern for Judas was the collection of funds, which was considered paramount, even over the overt and public act of charity for their Master and teacher. If one thinks about the dynamics of this situation, as well as the thoughts and words of Judas and the disciples, this was an exceptionally disrespectful denigration and lack of consideration of one’s own Rabbi.

2. There was also a heightened sense of mission among the disciples, including Judas. As Jesus and John the Baptist had readily propounded, the Kingdom of God had come, and the Kingdom of God has come with power. This power was obviously concentrated in the person of Jesus. The fascinating aspect for Judas was that it was a raw physical power which could be conferred to his deputies, namely his disciples. Like them, Judas must have experienced the power of the “force.” And this had to be a power which both amazed and awed all of them, including Judas (see John 10:17).

Obviously, this period was both a heady and scary time for the disciples. Things were happening faster and faster on all fronts. The fact that there was an unpredictable end coming, an end for the quiet world which they well knew, was obvious. For Judas, seeing the end coming like a freight train, must have especially galling. To watch Jesus, being undiplomatic to the powers that be; to watch Jesus, instead of courting the powers of Israel, confronting, denouncing and making enemies as fast as he possibly could, must have seemed to Judas like a lesson in self-destruction.

Seen in this context, Judas must have been beside himself; an emotional wreck. I am sure that he must have quantitatively analyzed that over here is raw power, and over there, the Judicial, legislative and Executive powers; why must Jesus needlessly antagonize all of these levers of power? But by the time of the betrayal, Judas must have also realized that these two cultures were never going to homogenize. There was too much hatred between the two; with each side irretrievably irretractable; each side vociferously proclaiming its irreconcilable differences. Each side trying to lay its own axe to the roots of the other’s tree. It was now apparent, one side in the end, had to win. Dominance and submission, must now be the name of the game.

3. There must have been another angle playing around in Judas’ mind. It was the fact, that with the confirmation of power, there were at least two new implications which presented itself. As he thought about it, it was now obvious that Jesus had enough power to wipe out both the Jewish leadership, and the Roman occupiers. How so? If Jesus was who he said he was, than his power, was both unlimited and inexhaustible. Which meant… the Jews didn’t have a chance. Which also meant that Jesus would have all the power of Government, and that he would be the defacto second David. It also meant that the Romans didn’t have a chance either, and that would mean that the populace, thankful that they had a savior from the evil empire, would see their way to crowning him king; without any problem. Further, with Jesus’ ability to heal the sick, feed the poor, and raise the dead, the thought of an everlasting kingdom no longer looked so far-fetched. And with Jesus’ hatred of the leadership, and compassion for the poor, this whole thing might look like a cake-walk, if put together carefully.

4. But what if he was wrong? What if the scenario failed? Obviously, all he needed was a fuse; Jerusalem was already a powder-keg. But what would happen if he stood up for Jesus in dramatic fashion and Jesus called him down? Not only would it be completely humiliating, but his credibility would be forever shot. And further, it was entirely plausible that Jesus would do exactly that. Hadn’t that just happened the day before? (see John 12:7) That was a situation which had worked out very badly. No Jesus didn’t want to be pushed… He always pushed back, and in ways that were never foreseeable. No this was a situation that had to be handled delicately. For if Jesus did not cooperate, the Jewish leaders would take out their wrath on all of them, but especially on the one who had caused them grief. No, for Judas the scenario had to be seen as both initiated by him alone, but in complete compliance and cooperation with the Jewish leaders own wishes and desires. That way if something did go wrong with the Jews, they might take it out on the others, but for him, he at least had his own get out of jail free ticket. If he could just find a way.

5. Was there was yet another interesting implication? Since he had been given power, and was in solid with the disciples, there was also the consideration that there would be plenty of power sharing with the disciples in the New Kingdom. Who cares if Jesus loved like the top three disciples, of which Judas was not? He was at least part of the top twelve, and besides, all the money of the New Kingdom would pass through his hands. The permutations of those kind of sums was mind-boggling; for with the money, lies the power. This meant that the faster he, Judas, did something, the faster he could get rich. Maybe he would write a book on it; “Investing tips with Judas,” or say, “Investing for Eternity,” or maybe even, “How I Landed the BIG ONE.”

6. How could he, Judas, therefore force Jesus into a certain position, in which Jesus would have to defend himself, take charge over his worst enemies (the Pharisees and the Priests), while not necessarily compromising his own position with the Lord? Yes, how could he do that, and yet at the same time, keep himself off the hook with the now ruling parties, –just in case if things happen to turn out badly? This must have become a time-consuming question, as well as an emotional one, for it involved betrayal. And while he could justify betrayal in any number of ways, the fact of the matter was, that it was betrayal none the less. Fortunately, he had seen that Jesus was good at forgiving, and if he had a good excuse ready, perhaps he could smooth it out. Besides, if things went altogether badly, at least he had the cover of plausible deniability.

Judas Iscariot (76.7 x 56cm, 2009)

PART 5. The Law Remains as a Rule of Walking for the People of God

Taken and adapted from, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom
Written by Samuel Bolton

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The law, in the substance of it, remains in force as a rule of walking to the people of God.

By the law is meant the moral law comprehended in the Decalogue or Ten Commandments. By the substance of it, I mean the things commanded or forbidden which are morally good or evil, and cannot be changed or abolished. For what is the law in the substance of it but that law of nature engraven in the heart of man in innocency? And what was that but the express idea or representation of God’s own image, even a beam of His own holiness, which cannot be changed or abolished any more than the nature of good and evil can be changed? And that the law thus considered remains as an unchangeable rule of walking to believers I am now to prove.

The Testimony of the New Testament

We read in Matt. 5:17-18: Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfil; for verily I say unto you. Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’ This seems to be very full and very plain for the continuance of and obligation to the law. And yet there are corrupt readings of these words, and as sinister interpretations. Some would have it to be understood that Christ would not abolish the law until He had fulfilled it. Indeed, He was ‘the end of the law’, as the apostle speaks in Rom. 10:4, but we must understand this to mean ‘the perfecting and consummating end’, not ‘the destroying and abolishing end’ of the law. In Christ the law had an end of perfection and consummation, not of destruction and abolition. It is to be noted that in this verse Christ gives a stricter exposition of the law, and vindicates it from the corrupt glosses of the Pharisees, which surely speaks the continuance, not the abrogation, of the law. And agreeable to this is the language of the apostle in Rom. 3:31: ‘Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.’ How? Not for justification, for in this respect faith makes it void, but as a rule of obedience, and in this respect faith establishes it. Further, the apostle tells us ‘that the law is holy, just and good’ and that ‘he delighted in the law of God after the inward man’ and also that ‘with the mind I myself serve the law of God’ (Rom. 7:12, 22, 25). With this agrees James 2:8: ‘If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture… ye do well’. What law this was, he shows in the eleventh verse to be the Decalogue or moral law. Likewise: ‘He that saith I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar’ (1 John 2: 4); also: ‘Sin is the transgression of the law’ (1 John 3: 4).

Therefore, since Christ, who is the best expounder of the law, so largely strengthens and confirms the law (witness the Sermon on the Mount, and also Mark 10:19); since faith does not supplant, but strengthens the law; since the apostle so often presses and urges the duties commanded in the law; since Paul acknowledges that he served the law of God in his mind, and that he was under the law to Christ (1 Cor. 9:21); I may rightly conclude that the law, for the substance of it, still remains a rule of life to the people of God.

But I would add further arguments, beginning with this: If ever the law was a rule of walking, then it is still a rule of walking: this is clear. Either it is still such a rule, or we must shew the time when, as such, it was abrogated. But no such time can be shewed. If it is said that it was abrogated in the time of the Gospel by Christ and His apostles, we reply that no such thing can be proved. It was not so abrogated at that time. If Christ and His apostles commanded the same things which the law required, and forbade and condemned the same things which the law forbade and condemned, then they did not abrogate it but strengthened and confirmed it. And this is what they did: see Matt. 5:19: ‘He that breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but he that shall teach and observe them shall be called (not legal preachers, but) great in the kingdom of heaven.’

Therefore, in that Christ Himself expounded and established the law, by His word and authority, as shown in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Matthew, it shows us the continuance of it; for had it been His will utterly to abolish it, He would rather have declared against it, or have suffered it to die of itself; and would not have vindicated it, and restored it to its purity from the glosses of the Pharisees. All this clearly speaks to us of the continuance of, and obligation to, the law.

As with Christ, so with the apostles: instead of abolishing, in their doctrine they establish it, frequently urging the duties of the law upon the churches and people of God: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves’ (Rom. 12. 19). Why? ‘For it is written. Vengeance is mine’. Likewise, in Rom. 13. 8-10. there the apostle repeats the commandments of the second table, not to repeal or reverse any of them, but to confirm them as a rule of walking for the saints. He comprehends them all in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, for love is the fulfilling of the law.’ As Beza writes: Love is not perfected except as the fulfilling of the law.’ See also 1 Thess. 4. 3, 4, 7: ‘This is the will of God… that ye should abstain from fornication… that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter; because that the Lord is the avenger of all such.’ See also Eph. 6. 1: ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord.’ The apostle here presses this duty from the authority of the precept, and persuades to it from the graciousness of the promise, ‘for this is the first commandment with promise’ – a conditional promise (as Beza says), as are all such promises as are found in the law. As full and plain are the words of the apostle in Rom. 3. 31: ‘Do we abrogate the law? No, we establish it by faith.’ Though it carries another sense, it bears this sense also, that though we disown the law in respect of justification, yet we establish it as a rule of Christian living.

Again, in Matt. 3. 10 we read: ‘the axe is laid to the root of the tree; every tree which brings not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire’; and in Matt. 5. 22: Whosoever shall say to his brother; Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.’ In these and sundry other places, so some learned and holy divines tell us, the comminations and threatenings of the New Testament are not of the nature of the Gospel, but are confirmation of the law, and plainly demonstrate to us the continuance of the law under grace. Thus Daniel Chamier distinguishes in the Gospel between the doctrine of the Gospel and the grace of the Gospel, between the preaching of the Gospel by Christ and the apostles and the law of faith or spirit of life in Christ. The preaching or doctrine of the Gospel, he tells us, contains two things, first the promise of grace, and second, the confirmation of the law. And he shows that all those commutations and threats which we read in the Scriptures of the New Testament in no way belong to the nature of the Gospel properly so called, but are the confirmation of the law, and declare the continuation of it now under the Gospel as an exact rule to direct Christians in their walk and obedience.

Five Proofs of the Binding Nature of the Law

Before I proceed to the rest of the arguments, I will mention what objectors say to this. Some of them say that, though the law is a rule, yet it is a rule which we are free to obey or not to obey: it is not a binding rule. There are various opinions about this. Some say that it binds us no further than as we are creatures. I answer: if so, why then are they not bound? I hope they are creatures as well as Christians. Others say that it binds the flesh but not the spirit; it binds the unregenerate part, but not the regenerate part of a man, to obedience, for the regenerate part is free. I answer: here is a dangerous gap, open to all licentiousness; witness the opinions of David George and the Valentinians. Others say that the law is not a binding rule at all and that believers are no more under the law than England is under the laws of Spain; that Christians are no more bound to the obedience of the law than men are bound to the obedience of the laws of another commonwealth than their own; to speak otherwise, they say, overthrows Christian liberty.

Now if this be true, it strikes down all. If it be a rule, but not a binding rule, a rule binding to obedience, it will be of small use. We will end this cavil, therefore, before we go any further, and show that the law is indeed a binding rule, and that it binds Christians, not as men, but as Christians. I will give five arguments in proof of this:

  1. That which being observed, causes the consciences of regenerate men to excuse them, and which, not being observed, causes their consciences to accuse them, is binding on the conscience. But it is the law of God which thus causes the consciences of the regenerate to excuse or else to accuse them. Therefore the law of God is that which is binding on the Christian conscience.
  2. That which has power to say to the conscience of the regenerate Christian, This ought to be done, and that ought not to be done, is binding on the conscience. But the law of God has this power. Therefore, though it cannot say that this or that ought not to be done on pain of damnation, or on pain of the curse; or this or that ought to be done in reference to justification or the meriting of life; yet it shows it ought to be done as good and pleasing to God, and that this or that ought not to be done, as things displeasing to Him.
  3. The authority by which the apostles urged Christians to duty binds the conscience to obedience. But the apostles used the authority of the law to provoke Christians to their duty (as in Eph. 6. 1-2). Therefore the law is the rule by which Christians must walk.
  4. If the law of God does not bind the conscience of a regenerate man to obedience, then whatever he does which is commanded in the law, he does more than his duty; and so either merits or sins, being guilty of will-worship. But in obedience to the law he is not guilty of will-worship, neither does he merit: ‘When ye have done all those things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do’ (Luke 17. 10).
  5. Either the law binds the conscience of Christians to obedience, or Christians do not sin in the breach of the law. But they sin in the breach of it, as says 1 John 3. 4: ‘Sin is the transgression of the law’. Therefore, the transgression of the law is sin. Or look at it thus: If Christians are bound not to sin, then they are bound to keep the law. But Christians are bound not to sin; therefore they are bound to keep the law. I know that objectors will agree that Christians are bound not to sin, but that they will deny that they are bound to obey the law; but I will prove my point in this way: If he that breaks the law sins, then Christians are bound to keep the law if they are not to sin. But he that breaks the law does sin, as says the apostle: ‘Sin is the transgression of the law’ (1 John 3. 4), and ‘Where no law is there is no transgression’ (Rom. 4. 15). Therefore Christians are bound, if they would avoid sin, to obey the law.

And now, being driven against the wall, the objectors have no way to maintain the former error but by another. They tell us plainly that believers do not sin: ‘Be in Christ and sin if you can. ‘But the apostle tells them that they sin in saying this: ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us’ (1 John 1. 8). Nay, We ‘make him (that is, God) a liar’ (v. 10). ‘If we say’, includes the apostles as well as others, for ‘there is no man who sins not’ (1Kings 846). ‘In many things we offend all’ (James 3. 2).

Five Further Arguments for Obedience to the Law

But if this will not silence them, then they say that God sees no sin in those who are believers. But what is this? It is one thing to sin, and another for God not to see sin. Indeed, He sees not sin, either to condemn believers for sin, or to approve and allow of sin in believers. He sees not sin, that is, He will not see sin to impute it to us when we are in Christ. But if this does not convince the objectors, then they say: Though believers sin, and though God sees it, for He sees all and brings all into judgment, yet God is not displeased with the sins of believers. I reply:

  1. Certainly, perfect good must forever hate that which is perfect evil, and the nearer it is to Him, the more God hates it. In a wicked man, God hates both sin and sinner, but in a believer. He hates the sin, though He pities and loves the poor sinner. He is displeased with sin, though He pardons sin through Christ. But we will follow this no longer. Thus much must suffice for the proof and vindication of the first argument.
  2. If the same sins are condemned and forbidden after Christ came as were forbidden before He came, then the law, in respect of its being a rule of obedience, is still in force; but the same sins are thus condemned and forbidden. That which was sin then is sin now. I speak of sin against the moral law. Therefore the moral law is still in force to believers as their rule of obedience.
  3. If the same duties which were enjoined in the law are commanded believers under the Gospel, then the law still remains as a rule of direction and obedience. But the same duties are commanded under the Gospel as were enjoined under the law, as I have already shown (e.g. Rom. 13. 9-10 and Eph. 6. 1). Therefore the law still remains as a rule of obedience under the Gospel.
  4. If the things commanded in the law are part of holiness and conformity to God, and if this conformity to the law is required of us, then we conclude that the law is still in force. But the things commanded are part of Christian holiness, and conformity to the law is required of us. Therefore the law is still in force. That the things commanded are part of our holiness, I suppose is granted. If so, that this conformity to the law is required of us, it is easy to prove. That which we are to aspire to, and labor for, and after which we are to endeavor both in our affections and actions, in our principles and practices, that, surely, is required of us. But this is all the same with conformity to the law of God. That we are to aspire to such conformity in our affections is clear from Rom. 7. 22, 25, where the apostle shows us that he delighted in the law of God, and that he served the law in his mind. Nay, it was his purpose, aim, desire, and endeavor of heart, to be made conformable to that law which he says is ‘holy, just, and good’. Though he fell short of it, yet he aspired after it; which shows we too are to aspire after it in our affections. And it is equally plain that we are to endeavor after conformity to it in our actions. Take both together: ‘Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments’ (Ps. 119. 4-6). He has respect to them in his heart and affections; and he seeks conformity to them in life and actions. And this was his duty, because God had commanded: ‘Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!’
  5. It cannot be part of our freedom by Christ to be freed from obedience to the law, because the law is holy, just, and good. Surely it is no part of our freedom to be freed from that which is holy, just, and good! Consider it in this way: That cannot be part of our freedom which is no part of our bondage. But obedience and subjection to the moral law in the sense I have shown was never part of our bondage. Therefore to be freed from obedience to the law cannot be part of our freedom. I will prove that it was never part of our bondage.

That cannot be part of our bondage which is part of our glory…

But obedience and conformity to the law, both in principle and in practice, is part of our glory; therefore it cannot be part of our bondage. Again, that cannot be said to be part of our bondage which is part of our freedom. But to obey the law is part of our freedom, as we read in Luke 1:74: ‘That we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.’ I shall proceed no further upon this. It is plain enough, that the law in the substance of it remains a rule of walking or obedience to them in Christ.

Just a Bit O’ History… Psalm 71: The ‘My Psalm’ of the Persecuted

death-of-calvin

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The 7 1st Psalm

The 71st Psalm was asked for on his death-bed by Philip de Morny, known as Plessis de Morny, a man of illustrious rank, chivalrous spirit, and sincere piety, who cast in his lot with the Huguenots, and stood by them in every extremity.

Philip escaped the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre by the aid of a Catholic friend, taking refuge in England. Returning to France towards the end of 1573, he participated during the next two years with in the campaigns of the future Henry IV of France, then only King of Navarre. He was taken prisoner by the Duke of Guise but was ransomed for a small sum, paid by Charlotte Arbaleste, whom he married shortly afterwards at Sedan.

His last years were saddened by the loss of his only son and his devoted wife in 1606, but he spent them in strengthening the Huguenot organization and was chosen as a deputy in 1618 to represent the French Protestants at the Synod of Dort. Prohibited from attending by Louis XIII he contributed materially to its deliberations by written communications. He died in retirement on his estate of La Forêt-sur-Sèvre, Deux-Sèvres.

There on his deathbed, with prayer being ended, Morny desired they would read unto him the 71st Psalm, giving testimony of the infinite pleasure which he took in it, and of his experience of it for his own consolation. He said he was persuaded of an eternal life by the demonstration of the Holy Spirit, more powerful, more clear, and more certain than all the demonstrations of Euclid, repeating two or three times the words of the Psalmist, 116:10, ‘I believed, therefore have I spoken.’

The 7 1st Psalm

In thee, O Lord, I trust: let me never be ashamed.

Rescue me and deliver me in thy righteousness: incline thine ear unto me and save me.

Be thou my strong rock, whereunto I may always resort: thou hast given commandment to save me: for thou art my rock, and my fortress.

Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked: out of the hand of the evil and cruel man.

For thou art mine hope, O Lord God, even my trust from my youth.

Upon thee have I been stayed from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be always of thee.

I am become as it were a monster unto many: but thou art my sure trust.

Let my mouth be filled with thy praise, and with thy glory every day.

Cast me not off in the time of age: forsake me not when my strength faileth.

For mine enemies speak of me, and they that lay wait for my soul, take their counsel together,

Saying, God hath forsaken him: pursue and take him, for there is none to deliver him.

Go not far from me, O God: my God haste thee to help me.

Let them be confounded and consumed that are against my soul: let them be covered with reproof and confusion, that seek mine hurt.

But I will wait continually, and will praise thee more and more.

My mouth shall daily rehearse thy righteousness, and thy salvation: for I know not the number.

I will go forward in the strength of the Lord God, and will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.

O God, thou hast taught me from my youth even until now: therefore will I tell of thy wondrous works,

Yea even unto mine old age and gray head, O God: forsake me not, until I have declared thine arm unto this generation, and thy power to all them that shall come.

And thy righteousness, O God, I will exalt on high: for thou hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!

Which hast showed me great troubles and adversities, but thou wilt return and revive me, and wilt come again, and take me up from the depth of the earth.

Thou wilt increase mine honor, and return and comfort me.

Therefore will I praise thee for thy faithfulness, O God, upon instrument and viol: unto thee will I sing upon the harp, O Holy one of Israel.

My lips will rejoice when I sing unto thee, and my soul which thou hast delivered.

My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness daily: for they are confounded and brought unto shame, that seek mine hurt.

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Written by John Ker, D. D.
Taken from, “The Psalms in History and Biography,”
Wikipedia, and other sources.
Edited for thought and sense.

Closer Look at Donald McGavran’s People Movement Missionary Approach versus Conglomerate Church Approach

The Domain for Truth

Donald McGavan

A big name in missiology is Donald McGavran.  According to Wikipedia Dr. McGavran was

a missiologist who was the founding Dean (1965) and Professor of Mission, Church Growth, and South Asian Studies at the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary.

(Source)

He was also someone important because of his People Movement Approach towards Missions.  While McGavran did not live long enough to see the Insider Movement, I do think the Insider Movement would not be what it is without McGavran’s People Movement Approach.  I also think that some of the things he has to say about his approach in contrast to what he calls the conglomerate church approach is not fully biblical and at times I don’t see how his model necessarily avoid the very problems that McGavran fault with the conglomerate model.  I think his approach shouldn’t be altogether dismissed but instead can benefit from the following criticisms being offered.  In what follows…

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