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What are the “keys of the Kingdom”?

Matt 16:18-19 And I tell you,  you are Peter, and  on this rock  I will build my church, and  the gates of  hell  shall not prevail against it. I will give you  the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and  whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed  in heaven.”

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David VanDrunen: The Nature of Justifying Faith

David VanDrunen writing on justifying faith writes a lucid and clear article (found here) to help understand the contrasting Paul makes between works and faith versus faith and reason. Starting out with a quick over view of Romanism and NPP he then begins a quick but sufficient exegetical discussion of the Pauline use of Habakkuk 2:4 (more…)

R. Scott Clark Blog

Dr Clark has brought back his blog Heidelblog at http://heidelblog.net. I highly recommend for anyone who would be interested in reading more on Reformed Theology.

D. G. Hart – A Confessing Theology for Postmodern Times

Reading A Confessing Theology for Postmodern Times

The only men evangelicals recognized as having some authority were the prophets and apostles who wrote the Bible…to put it another way, the only legitimate authority in this world was God’s, a presumption that made rebellion against a king alright but posed a few dilemmas when the ox being gored was headship in the home.  – p. 115

Bible-onlyism threaten all earthly authorities, but ironically it made the individual sovereign. – p.115

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Paedo-Communion Can’t Be A Reformed Position

I have been dialoging with a friend who believes that children should take Communion before they’ve made any profession of faith. I’ve tried to listen to the arguments and the reasoning from Scripture. There are a many hurdles that prevent me from embracing this doctrine. In this post I will discuss one that is not the primary but significant reason. I can see how Calvin must have felt over splits in the church over the Supper. An event that is supposed to bring union however causes division is very sad. Yet it is important to have a consistent theology that comes out of our Holy Scripture.

The challenge is based in how we regard the Supper as the body and blood of Christ. The debate goes back to Radbertus and Retramnus in the Medieval Church (circa 860). Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, Memorial? The Reformed response has been to deny all but to embrace the tension by recognizing the distinction between “accidents” and “substance”. A quick review of this old debate will be helpful.

The debate/conflict between Radbertus (d860) and Retramnus (d868) was in regards to the presence of Christ in the Supper. Radbertus who was well read in Scripture and the classics wrote a significant amount. His most famous work “The Body and Blood of the Lord” was the first treatise on “the Lord’s Supper”. Later the Lutherans would reprint this work as part of their case against the Zwinglians.

In short the argument of Radbertus was:

  •  at consecration Christ’s humanity is made miraculously present in the Supper.
  • at consecration a miracle happens
  • strongly emphasized sacrementum with mystery
  • Christ is God and he becomes the Supper. Whoever eats worthily will have eternal life.
  • The elements do not change in corporeal appearance and taste
  • The miracle changes not the accidents (things that can be changed but do not change what the object is. (Example you can have a red car or a blue car, the color changes but you still have a car))
  • The miracle also changes the substance (what makes an object what it is)
  • The faithful can perceive the change not with the senses but spiritually.
  • The purpose of the supper is to transform the Christian spiritually.
  • Only the faithful can actually partake, everyone else just eats.
  • Christ is eaten through faith, this later would be the argument for transubstantiation.
  • Even though this mystery occurs the lamb remains alive and whole. He is truly sacrificed each day in the mystery. In the 860s it is the beginning of the Eucharistic sacraments.
  • Hoc est corpus meum –  this is my body. argued for a complete ontological identity between the body and the elements of the Eucharist.

Retramnus wrote at the request of Charles the Bald. 1 book with 101 paragraphs. In 843 he wrote De Corpore at Sanguine (same name but different book). A summary of points of his argument:

  • Radbertus is eliminating the sacrament and making it the thing signified.
  • The body that Christ was born with and resurrected with is at the right hand of the Father. This is the body we feed on by faith but that body is represented to us in a figure in the elements that are not substantially changed at consecration.
  • the figure is a kind of overshadowing that reveals its intent under a veil. Truth however, has no veil.
  • Truth is a representation of clear fact not obscured by shadowy images. If the mystery of the sacrament is not performed by any figurative sense it’s not a mystery.
  • If the sacrament is a mystery then there must be a figure.
  • Exhibits one thing externally to the senses but proclaims one thing different to the mind of the faithful. Christ’s body is revealed.
  • At consecration something does happen – Retramnus says the elements become the body of Christ figuratively. It is literally bread and wine but they become to the soul Christ’s body and blood.
  • He wasn’t trying to remove Christ but ensure his presence.
  • If transubstantiation is true then there is nothing because faith is not operating and faith is the essence of the Supper. By definition faith is not sight, if it’s not faith it’s not a sacrament.
  • Radbertus has put the presence of Christ in jeopardy.
  • Appeal to baptism as a parallel. No one said baptism is transubstantiated the power comes from the Holy Spirit operating through the water. He’s not in it but operates through it. If its transubstantiated its not a sacrament. If it remains unchanged it is a sign and not the thing. They are not drinking and eating the body of Christ by faith.
  • It is admittedly a mystery, part of being a mystery is that an explanation is not attainable or needed.
  • If you try to explain the “how” you will erase the mystery. If this is true then how could the disciples eat the body as Christ was standing there?
  • Only the Spirit could feed the soul with the body of Christ.
  • Identification of the sign with the thing signified.

The Reformed view is that you are eating the body of Christ by the Spirit through the elements. As discussed above, faith in an integral part of the Supper. If those who hold to Paedo-Communion want to embrace transubstantiation then they are not Reformed and there is a different discussion all together. However, if they want to remain in the Reformed community it appears there is the big problem in regards to faith and its role in the Supper. The Reformed view is that we are only able to partake in the real body of Christ our Lord by faith. Therefore children who do not have faith are not feeding on the body and blood of our Lord. If the child is not feeding on the body and blood of Christ then the discussion needs to include a description of what is happening to the non-believer who partakes of the Supper.

In summary, a significant short coming of the paedo-communion position is that they have ignored the role of faith for those who participate in the Supper in order to partake in the blood and body of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Beza on Predestination

A COMPLETE SUMMARY OF CHRISTIANITY
(SUMMA TOTIUS CHRISTIANISMI)

Theodore Beza

Geneva, 1555
trans. William Whittingham (1575)

revised by R. Scott Clark (2002).

The question of God’s eternal Predestination is not curious, or unprofitable, but of great importance, and very necessary in the Church of God.

p. 2

THE FIRST CHAPTER.

1. In De bono perseverantiæ (On the Good of Perseverance), Augustine, chapter 14, says, that they who opposed him as adversaries in this question, alleged that the doctrine of predestination hindered the preaching of God’s word, and caused it to be unprofitable. As if (he says) this doctrine had hindered the Apostle Paul to do his duty: who so oftentimes does commend unto us, and teach Predestination, and yet never ceases to preach the word of God. Also says moreover: As he that has received the gift, can better exhort and preach: so he that has received this gift, does hear the Preacher more obediently, and with greater reverence, etc. We do therefore exhort and preach, but they only which have ears to hear do hear us quietly, and to their comfort: and in those that have them not, this sentence is fulfilled, that hearing with their ears they do not hear, for they hear with the outward sense, but not with the inward consent. Now why some men have these ears, and others not, it is, because it is given to some to come, and to others not. Who knew God’s counsel? must that be denied which is plain and evident, because that cannot be known which is hid and secret? Again in the 15th chapter, I pray you (says he) if some under the shadow of predestination give themselves to slothful negligence, and as they are bent to flatter their flesh, so follow their own lusts, must we therefore judge, that this which is written of the foreknowledge of God is false? Now surely this is very handsome, and to the purpose, that we shall not speak that which by the Scripture is lawful to speak. Oh we fear (say you) lest he should be offended, which is not able to understand, and take it. And shall we not fear (say I) lest whiles we hold our tongue, he that is able to take the truth, be taken and snared with falsehood and error? Also in the 20th chapter of the same book he writes in this sort, If the Apostles, and Doctors of the church which came after them, did the one and the other, both teaching the eternal election of God purely and truly, and also retaining the faithful in godly life and manners: What moves our adversaries (seeing they are overcome with the manifest and invincible truth) to think they speak well, saying, although this doctrine of predestination be true, yet it ought not to be preached to the people? Nay, so much the rather it is good to be thoroughly preached, that he that has

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A Proper Way to Interpret Acts

>This is based off the book The Message of Acts by Dennis Johnson PhD.


In the book of Acts we see so many unique events. Sometimes they are unique only to the book of Acts. The question is how are we to discover and apply the message of Acts in light of these events? Here are some guidelines to keep in mind while studying Luke’s second book of Acts:

1. Read Acts in the Light of Luke’s Purpose
Luke is writing about the climax of God’s redemptive acts in history. Just as in the OT and Gospels, when God acts it is center stage. If we try to turn the book of Acts into a manual of church polity or mission policies we may only end up in frustration. The purpose of Acts is more profoundly practical. God’s Spirit unveils the identity of the church between Jesus’ two comings, the divine power at work in this church, the results of that powerful Presence, and the environment in which we are to pursue our mission until “this same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heave. 1.11
2. Read Acts in the Light of the New Testament Epistles
Luke is both a historian and a theologian. He interprets the events and indicates their significance. The fact that he communicates this significance through the genre of historical narrative rather than essay has both advantages and limitations. One advantage is that as Luke shows how different the Christian faith is from religions rooted in mysticism, mythology or speculation. The gospel of Christ is not abstract theory or poetic symbol. It is the account, attested by witnesses. of the personal God’s intervention in history to rescue human beings.
One limitation, on the other hand is that the genre of historical narrative itself permits theological explanation only indirectly, through the placement of material, the recounting of sermons, and verbal allusions to OT text and themes. Luke doesn’t jump in to clear up all possible misunderstandings.
3. Read Acts in the Light of the Old Testament
Luke not only mentions OT passages and their fulfillment. He has embedded in his own narrative style echoes of Hebrew ways of speaking. This reinforces that he is wriitng in the tradition of Hebrew prophetic history pointing to the climax in the work of the Messiah.
OT themes are common occurences as well. the Spirit, the servant, holy judgment, dispersion, persecution of the prophets demonstrated the risen Lord in his church.
4. Read Acts in the Light of Luke’s First Volume
You must see how Acts draws together Luke’s other volume (the Gospel of Luke). Luke’s Gospel closes with Jesus prophesying and the anticipation is answered in Acts.
In the Gospel Jesus receives the Spirit when anointed in his baptism to proclaim good news. In Acts the church receives the Spirit from the glorified Jesus and declares the wonders of God.
In the Gospel Jesus is the servant of Isaiah’s Servant Song. In Acts the church is the servant-witness foreseen by Isaiah. In the Gospel Jesus is “the Lord” in Acts his glory and authority as Lord are displayed by his resurrection from the dead.
5. Read Acts in the light of Its Structure
Luke writes Greek really well. As a result we must pay attention to the way he has crafted his works together. It is wise to note four structural signals which Luke points our way through his account.
1. Acts 1.8 and 9.15 – promise of spirit and witness to the ends of the earth.
2. Summary statements – snapshots of the church life
3. Repeated Accounts – device from narration in OT
4. The Prominence of Preaching – illustrates growth with samples of preaching