Good Friday and Propitiation


“God put forward Christ as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Romans 3:25

Liberals and Neo-orthodox have historically blanched at the idea of Christ’s sacrifice being a propitiation for the sin of the elect. … a means by which the turning away of God’s just wrath is accomplished.

Their objection is with the idea of an angry God who needs be appeased. The find in the idea of propitiation the idea of a volcano God who needs a fair virgin to be cast into the volcano before the volcano God can be satisfied. They are offended by this kind of God.

The Biblical Christian responds by noting that unlike the volcano God the God of the Bible is a God of justice who has promised that the soul that sinneth shall surely die. If God forsakes His opposition to sin … His anger against sin then God forsakes His attributes of Justice and Holiness. If God is not angry with and against both sin and sinner God is not God. Besides all this we have the explicit testimony of the Scripture that God is angry with the wicked every day and that God hates the wicked. Becuase of this God needs be propitiated and the Cross of Jesus Christ is where we find the propitiation of God that man could never provide.

The liberal and neo-orthodox still tend to see this as not only unbefitting of God but also as not fair. Some have even styled the Son providing propitiation as “Divine child abuse” by the Father. A few things are missed though.

1.) Jesus is not just some aimless wandering Jewish Rabbi that God seizes and throws on a cross. The Son came to do the will of the Father. The Father and the Son in eternity past covenanted to redeem a people. The Father agreed to send the son to do the work of Redemption and the Son agreed to do the work of Redemption so gaining the inheritance of a people by His own name.

2.) The Liberal and neo-orthodox are appalled at the anger of the Father but they miss that it is the love of the Father who sent the Son to be the appeasement (propitiation) for a people who without the work of the Son would never know the comfort of God’s love nor relief from the Father’s just anger.

3.) The liberal and neo-orthodox miss the fact that God’s anger is spilled out on God Himself as incarnated in the God-Man Jesus the Messiah. God loves us so much that He bears His own Just anger against us upon Himself there at and in the Cross. This is why we can say that we are saved by God, from God, for God to God, to God be the Glory.

4.) Of course, all this bears upon the reality that unless one closes with the Son, that is, unless one looks to the Son for safety and for mediation with and introduction unto the Father that person is eternally without hope and without God. God will not provide salvation for anyone who is not under the umbrella of the Son’s Cross Work because apart from Christ the Father’s wrath abides.

Unless Christ is a propitiation for our sins on that Good Friday Cross we are still in our sins. Expiation alone (the removal of sin) is not enough. God is a personal God who is personally angry with personal sinners. God must be propitiated or we of all men are to be pitied.

Those who reject propitiation, while doubtlessly well intended, are not Christian.


Isaiah 46;9 Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ 11 calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country. Yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

Psalm 33:11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.

Psalm 102:26 They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou change them, and they shall be changed. 27 But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall have no end.

James 1;17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

All of these passages, and others like them that we will be referencing alike teach that there is no change in God.

The fact that God is changeless is called immutability. Theologians thus speak of the immutability of God. 

“Whatever is changeable is not the most high God,” and “that which truly is is that which unchangeably abides.”

Augustine of Hippo

There is a reason that God speaks of Himself as immutable and that is because mutability in God … changing in God would imply that God was not a perfect being. Change implies as going from worse to better or from better to worse or as to something different but as God is perfection there can be no going from worse to better, better to worse or going to something different. God is absolute perfection and therefore improvement, deterioration, or transformation into something other is impossible.

Now before we get rolling here on God’s immutability we must note that all because we note that God is immutable that does not mean that we are teaching that God immobile. The God of the Bible is not the God of Aristotle… “The unmoved mover.” God enters into relations with man and He is active in the affairs of man working for the benefit of His people and the destruction of the wicked.

Berkhof offers here,

“There is change around God, change in the relations of men to Him, but there is no change in His Being, His attributes, His purpose, His motives of action, or His purpose.”

As we speak of the Aseity of God so it is true of God’s immutability. God is free from all change … all improvement. In the words of A. W. Tozer,

“All that God is He always has been, and all that He has been and is He ever will be.”

The theologian Theissen offers,

“In essence, attributes, consciousness, and will God is unchangeable.”

We might ask,

Where is God’s immutability seen in the doctrine of our salvation? Well, we know that God is perfectly Just. Crime must be visited with its penalty or God is unjust. God consistently promised throughout Scripture that the wages of sin is death. Sin deserves death and a God who has promised death for sin, being immutable must visit sin with death or else he is neither just nor immutable. In brief, if God doesn’t visit sin with penalty then God de-gods himself. But God is also merciful and as God is immutable in His mercy neither can His mercy be called into question. So, God being immutable visits sin with its Just consequence in offering up Himself in the 2nd person of the Trinity in order that His immutability is not brought into question as He reveals that He is both Just and Justifier … both just and merciful, to those who have faith in Jesus.

God’s immutability in His Holiness and Justice and mercy find their consistency in the death of Christ.

Christian, would you like to see God’s immutability? Then look to the Cross. There at the Cross, it is screamed that God changes not. If there ever may have been a place for God to renege on His immutability it would have been with the Cross, but there at the Cross we see that God changes not.

Because of God’s immutability, we can trust that God’s promises will come to pass. Whenever I lay a loved believer in the grave I think of God’s immutability. This is not the end. God has promised eternal life. God is immutable. There will be a resurrection from the dead.

Whenever I have troubles and trials I think of God’s immutability. He has promised He will never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised that all that comes from the Father’s providential hand is for my good. God is immutable. If God says that then it is true.

Now we may ask,

What about those times where Scripture uses language like, “God relented,” or “God repented,” or in some translations, “God changed His mind?”

Examples, (And we can’t get at them all)

Immutability and Abraham’s Prayer (Gen. 18:16-33)

1.) God from eternity past determined to destroy Sodom
2.) God also from eternity past determined that Abraham would intercede for Sodom
3.) God determined from eternity past upon His interaction with Abraham to the end that He would spare Sodom if 10 righteous could be found

So, here in this narrative passage, you have a God, if read one way, is constantly changing His mind (50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10) but if read in the broader context that God predestines the end (Sodom’s destruction) as well as the means to the end (a prayer that Sodom not be destroyed if x amount of the righteous could be found in Sodom) than God’s immutability is seen as abiding.

As an aside this should encourage us in our prayer life. No, God’s mind is not changed by our prayers, as if we could bend the immutable God’s will to our mutable ends, but it may well be the case that the ordained end that God has ordained may well include the ordained prayers of God’s people to that end. So, God may well ordain some result but only in the context of His ordaining prayer as a temporal means to that result.

Another example,

Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: “LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.” So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people. (Exod. 32:11-14)

So, here we have in this narrative passage that “God relented,” but in other passages we get this,

“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it. (Num. 23:19-20)

And again, “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent”(1 Sam. 15:29).

So, how do we harmonize these kinds of passages so that God’s immutability is sustained?

Well, first note that most of the passages that teach that God’s repents, relents, or changes His mind come in the context of narrative passages … often passages that have to do with God relenting from visiting sin with judgment. While the places where we get the bald statements that God changeth not is what we might call didactic passages. Passages, that have as their express purpose to say something about the character of God.  We would offer here that this is a case where the didactic passages are the more clear passages where the narrative passages are the less clear passages and so the less clear must be read in light of the more clear.

But aside from that observation, consider this prayer of Moses. If we understood this prayer of Moses the way that those who want to deny God’s immutability we would be left with a pretty small God and an awfully big Moses. Here we have the all-wise Sovereign of the universe resolved upon destroying Israel but Moses intervenes just in time to convince God how unreasonable that would be. Moses puts before God some truths that God didn’t think of. Whew, what a lucky God that He had Moses around. Do we really want to conclude that God

1.) In a fit of impulsive anger, God forgot the consequences of His proposed actions upon His reputation? (That Egypt would speak ill of Him)

2.) In a fit of impulsive anger, God forgot His promises to the patriarchs?

God forgetting consequences and promises would mean that God was not omniscient … not all knowing. So, to interpret these texts the way that some seek to do gives us a God that is neither

a.) Immutable           b.) Omniscient   c.) Longsuffering   d.) Merciful

To make these narrative texts control the didactic texts is to give us a God who is pretty small.

So, we read these texts which seem to deny God’s immutability as texts that are using what is called phenomenological language. For example, Scripture speaks of God as having a might right arm. Scripture speaks of the finger of God. Scripture speaks of God having wings. But very few people I know want to make these passages contradict the passage that teaches that God is Spirit. No, we all understand that the text is describing God phenomenologically. God is being spoken of from the way man comprehends these matters. The purpose of the author of the text when it speaks of God’s mighty right arm is to communicate that God’s might is not limited. Just so we would say that the purpose of texts where God proposes instantaneous judgment, only to be “appealed to out of such judgment” is to communicate both God’s Holiness (He cannot abide sin) and God’s Mercy (God provides a High Priest to intercede). So, in the usage of phenomenological language God the inspired writer of Scripture is seeking to make a theological statement regarding the character and nature of God and His relation to man. The literature in these narratives that deal with Judgment and relenting is not used as a how-to manual to assemble a lawnmower but rather it is literature used to describe events as they appear to the observer.

This is not uncommon in Scripture. The Bible speaks of sunrises and sunsets as does the guy on the Weather channel.  This is the way that it phenomenologically appears to us. Scripture frequently in its narratives describes events in terms of how they appear to the observer.  But these phenomenological narrative descriptions cannot overturn the explicit didactic assertions.

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent”

Malachi 3:6 

“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

Isaiah 46:10

 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;

It seems to me that the flavor of theology called Dispensationalism has a serious problem with God’s immutability because in their theology they actually believe that God’s real intent to set up the Messianic Kingdom was foiled by the Jews refusing Christ as their King. At that point, God went to plan “B” and introduced the Church. For the Dispensationalist God neither determined His will (there goes omnipotence) nor did God know His plan would be foiled (there goes omniscience) and God was forced to change His mind in favor of a new plan (there goes Immutability).

And of course Dispensationalism also has a problem with how God’s plan of salvation changes from dispensation to dispensation.

Those who fiddle and play with God’s law as applicable to and for man from the Old Covenant and the New Covenant need to be warned about this matter of God’s immutability. If God has one law for His people in the old Covenant and another law for His people in the new covenant well, some can easily see a denial of God’s immutability there. Yes, yes, I understand all the arguments that seek to escape that point but let the warning be raised that when you change God’s law in its applicability and enforcement, in ways inconsistent with an expressed Word you are treading on the thin ice of denying Gods immutability.

The Biblical understanding of Immutability stands as opposed to Arminian doctrines of the immutability of God. For the Arminian God does not change in His being but God does change in His knowledge and will. For example the Arminian believes that God will is changed all the time. God’s will is for all men to be saved but God’s will is not immutable because some men aren’t saved. God’s will is not immutable. God’s decisions are too a great extent dependent upon the actions of man. Man acts and God reacts.

The Biblical understanding of Immutability stands as opposed to pantheistic denials of the immutability of God. For the pantheist, God is in tandem with man eternally becoming as opposed to owning absolute being. In its Hegelian expression pantheism teaches that the unconscious absolute is gradually coming into conscious personality in man. God through and with man becomes God.


Cash value of this doctrine  … wherein does this doctrine provide for us comfort and strength?

1.) The immutability of God guarantees that his character and all moral distinctions will never fail. God is and ever will be Holy, Just, Sovereign, Patient, Good, Merciful … Because God is immutable God will always be God. Immutability is implied in the “I am-ness” of God.

2.) The immutability of God is a great consolation to all who put their trust in Him. The immutable God will make good on all His promises.

3.) God is constant and His affections do not cool. He immutability is a stern warning to all who reject His mercy … to all who seek to make Him other than He is … to all who raise up Idols and call those idols God.

Advent Snippets Over The Years

“There is quite a postmillennial flavor that comes through in Mary’s Magnificat. The Eschatological “NOW” age is dawning and with that “NOW” age comes the King and the Kingdom and the consequence of the arrival of the King will be the real end of the wicked who are characterized as proud, rich, and mighty oppressors of God’s lowly people. There is then a corresponding lifting up of God’s people who have been oppressed and are lowly and hungry.

The age to come in Christ has come and is now rolling back this present wicked age. The expectation is that this rolling back, while Spiritual in its most fundamental Kingdom expression, is a rolling back that is corporeal and tangible and so postmillennial at the same time. Real wicked men who are of their Father the devil and who are chiefs in synagogues of Satan are brought down and God’s persecuted oppressed righteous are raised up.

To deny postmillennial eschatology is to deny the heart of Mary’s expectations in her Magnificat.”


The celebration of Christmas means the King has come and with the coming of the King there is the Kingdom He brings. When Christmas rolls around each year it is a celebration not only of Salvation won but also of Triumph guaranteed. The King has come and now all lesser Kings must make obeisance. With the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ the age to come has come face to face with this present evil age and is rolling the present evil age back as the epochs of time pass by.

Christmas is a time to renew our confidence that though the wrong seems yet so strong God is the ruler yet and has set His resurrected Regent on Mt. Zion to rule over the affairs of men.

Merry Christmas and let’s do Battle for the already victorious King of Kings.


It’s Christmas Eve day!

Mary is 9 Months pregnant and w/ Joseph is looking for quarters.
The Shepherds are getting ready for “just another day at the office.”
The Kings of the East are plodding along day after day

Herod is a minor league Middle East Despot not a great deal different from your current average, Barack, Hussein or Mohammed.

And yet despite all this “normalcy,” it is just hours until the birth of he who taketh away the sins of the world.


In the Genesis record, God said, “Let their be light” (Gen 1:3) and that light appears overcoming the darkness, saturating the creation realm with God’s authority.  In Isaiah the Servant of the Lord was promised to be a light both to Israel and to the Nations who were not yet covenanted with God as Israel was,

“I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness,
I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations.” Isaiah 42:6

He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light of the nations
So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

In the Gospel accounts, that Servant of the Lord promised … the Lord Christ is the Redemptive light come to inaugurate a new age, a new realm, and a glorious new day as from the Father of lights (James 1:17). He is the light who enlightens every man (John 1:19) Christ is the new covenant age light that shines in the darkness (John 1:5). The Apostles saw He who was the radiance of the glory of God (Hebrews 1:1) as the glory of the One and only who came from the Father (John 1:1-4). As the age to come Light, the followers of the Lord Christ never walk in darkness (John 8:12). Christ as the Redemptive light of the age to come demonstrated and revealed itself with a white-hot intensity at the transfiguration wherein even His clothing became dazzling white (Mark 9:1-4).  In the crucifixion He who is “the Light of the World” is snuffed out and as on cue, the light goes out for three hours Christ (Matthew 27:45). Light is picked up again in John’s Revelation wherein John the Revelator falls as dead as before a supernova God-man (Rev. 1:14-17). Finally, as the Scripture started with light, it forms an inclusio by ending with He who is the light, as it closes with the motif of Christ as the light which illuminates the new Jerusalem.  He who ever was very light of very light remains the light of the world (Rev. 22:4).


Covenantal Succession … Covenantal Nurture

It is the assumption of Scripture that infants are genuine members of the covenant.  That is the reason why in the text before us this morning parents are commanded to nurture their children in terms of Christian covenantal thinking.

There is no debate on that point when we consider the Old Testament. All concede that Circumcision was the sign and seal that indicated membership in the Covenant. It is only in the New Testament where we begin to find widespread and sometimes heated disagreement that NT infants, just as their OT counterparts, are to be branded with a brand that indicates that they are genuine members of the covenant. In the NT, so the reasoning goes of those who go their own way on this matter, infants are not members upon birth, of the covenant.

Of course, if those who demur with us on this point are correct this means that one of the purposes of Jesus death and resurrection was to the end that infants of covenant parents would be expelled from a covenant in which they had previously been a party too before the death and resurrection of our Lord Christ.  This is an odd way to think about a “New and Better” covenant.

Covenant succession merely holds that God’s general way of collecting the Church is via His gathering into the Church the children of His children.

Causes of the decline of Covenant succession

1.) Social Contract theory as applied to the Church

According to this understanding of social order theory long established in the Enlightenment West, each person is by nature an independent locale of sovereign self-authority,  having full legal capacity to act on their own behalf and so not subject to the authority of another. In this theory, each atomized individual is absolutely equal to every other atomized individual and so by sovereign “right” authorized to act upon his own determination.

With this theory, man’s natural liberty was held as being the privilege to do whatever he wanted to do.  In this theory man himself determines what shall be given up in order to live in civil society. Man, as the individual sovereign is everywhere supreme.

Well, you can see how this social contract theory, when adopted by the Church would lead to the idea that it is the individual man himself who does or does not consent to belong to this community of faith.

Whether as pertaining to a broader social order or as pertaining to the Church an objection must be raised to this theory that we believe has had such a baleful influence upon both the social orders of men and upon the Church of Jesus Christ.  Men have never existed as sovereign atomized individuals using their own sovereign free will to determine whether they will or will not be a party to a social contract or to being claimed by God in Baptism. Instead, men are born as members of peoples, as well as Churches as ordained by Him. So, just as men do not choose their own civic obligation but are born to it so men who are born to believing parents do not choose their belonging to the Church but are ordained by God to that end.

2.) Revivalistic Assumptions vs. Scriptural Assumptions

With the first great awakening as followed by the 2nd great awakening, the emphasis as it relates to speaking about conversion moved from the covenantal nurture of children in the covenant to having a dramatic personal emotional experiential encounter with Jesus.

Louis Bevins Schenk in his book on “The Presbyterian Doctrine of Covenant Succession writes,

“The presumption of regeneration in the case of children of the covenant, based upon the covenant promises, was largely displaced by the Church’s practice of recognizing as Christians only those who gave ‘credible evidence,” satisfactory to themselves of regeneration.”

This is the conversion mindset in which most of our churches think today. From evangelism programs like “Romans Road,” “Evangelism Explosion,” or the “Four Spiritual laws,” this is the contemporary Church’s understanding of how conversion occurs. Before this time the whole idea of “altar calls” that have become famous with Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham would have been a curious phenomenon.

However, while never denying that God deals with some people like this — particularly those who come to Christ as adults — this isn’t the model that we find emphasized in Scripture as it pertains to covenant children. In Scripture, the parents are to lay hold of God’s promises that God will be God to us and to our children for a thousand generations and then are to train their children up in the faith in light of God’s promises. In this model, the whole idea of a dramatic conversion experience slips away in favor of covenantal nurture.

3.) Datable Conversionism vs. Covenant Succession Conversionism

Consistent with what was just mentioned the whole ascendancy of a datable conversion became the be all end all for much of the Church. The idea is that “every Christian knows the day they were ‘born again.'” This stands in contrast to the idea of covenantal succession where God

4.) The failure of Covenantal Nurture

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Too often the cash value of baptism to many who are party to the contemporary Church is that they have kept their religious responsibility to their children. They have had them Baptized.

This is why the form distinctly says, in the charge we just read that parents

“must, therefore, use the sacrament for the purpose that God intended and not out of custom or superstition.”

While we are of the persuasion that in Baptism God has placed His claim upon us we are not of the persuasion that Baptism entered into apart from covenantal nurturing laid upon us as parents guarantee our child is right with God.

Listen to the 19th century Southern Theologian R. L. Dabney on this point,

The instrumentalities of the family are chosen and ordained of God as the most efficient of all means of grace—more truly and efficaciously means of saving grace than all the other ordinances of the church. To family piety are given the best promises of the gospel,.. How, then, should a wise God do otherwise than consecrate the Christian family, and ordain that the believing parents shall sanctify the children? Hence, the very foundation of all parental fidelity to children’s souls is to be laid in the conscientious, solemn, and hearty adoption of the very duties and promises which God seals in the covenant of infant baptism. It is pleasing to think that many Christians who refuse the sacrament do, with a happy inconsistency, embrace the duties and seek the blessing. But God gives all his people the truths and promises, along with the edifying seal. Let us hold fast to both.

~ R.L. Dabney

So, if we are to return to a time where covenantal succession is again the norm in our families and in our churches and among our people we must once again practice covenantal nurture. We must teach our children the Scriptures. We must catechize our children. We must anticipate and answer their objections before they have those objections that we know will arise. As we are teaching our children God’s judgments, statutes, and laws we must point out to them how the culture and too often the visible Church wars against those judgments, statutes, and laws. We must introduce our children to systematic thinking because there is nothing non-systemic and non-systematic in the thinking of God. We must dip and saturate our children in a Christian Worldview that they will see non-Christian worldviews as strange, exotic and ugly.  As parents, we must love them, and not provoke them. We must live out before them the majesty of God’s grace that has redeemed us for the sake of the finished work of Christ alone.

Some areas to keep an eye on in order to practice covenantal nurture,

a.) Protect your children from the culture,


The media is a messaging machine and that messaging is seldom based on a Christian world and life view. As such children need not be exposed to Media until they are far far older and have the ability, as coming from covenantal nurturing, to identify and sniff out the false theology behind the false messaging.

Neil Postman in his now classic work warning against the danger of modern Media wrote,

“But it is much later in the game now, and ignorance of the score is inexcusable. To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple.”

If we are going to practice covenantal nurture in hope of covenantal succession we must understand that technology is, as a rule, no friend of Covenantal succession.

Public Schools

“I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.” ― Martin Luther

I am as sure as I am of the fact of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social, nihilistic 4. ethics, individual, social, and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.

Dr. A.A. Hodge

b.) Protect your children from unexamined friendships

From the youngest of ages, it is your role to be the portal that all must pass through in order to get to your children.  You must be aware that other children of other families may not share the same Christian confession that you own. This means you must be sharp to watch out that friendships are not cemented with those who will, perhaps quite apart from malicious intent, challenge the truths that you are seeking to instill within your children from Scripture. You are seeking to nurture and disciple your children in the Christian faith. If you allow your children large swaths of “playtime” with other children — even other children from Christian homes of a different confessional stripe — you are courting a bad result in your efforts of covenantal nurture.

The Message of Covenantal nurturing

The message to our children that we must start with in terms of covenantal nurturing is that God provided Christ as the one who would fulfill all the law’s obligations as laid upon the sinful children of Adam and who would give to those same children the righteousness of Jesus Christ to those who would in faith rest in Christ’s righteousness alone as their acceptability to God.

The covenantal nurturing message to our children is that God is at war with unbelieving man and has reconciled Himself to unbelieving man by the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is only by the reconciling work of Jesus Christ in His work on the Cross whereby we and they can have peace and blessing with and from God.

We must nurture our children in the way of a faith that rests in Christ’s work alone in Justification but then also teaches them that in Sanctification their faith is to work as they turn to the law and to the testimonies for God’s word on how they shall live as Christians.

We must remind our baptized children that God’s claim is upon them and so they are to grow in the Christian faith. Our challenge is not that they might decide to become Christian but that they would know God’s eternal claim upon them and become what they have already been freely declared to be in Baptism.

We must nurture them to learning of God’s character. His Sovereignty, His Justice, His Wisdom, His Holiness, His Goodness, His Mercy, and His Grace.

We must nurture them to trust in God’s Word and God’s promises as opposed to their experiences, emotions, and mystical revelations. We must nurture them what it means to be a kind and caring people while at the same time warning them against the dangers of a suicidal altruism.

We must nurture them in the ways of taking godly dominion to every area the sovereign God calls them and of the great truth of our postmillennial hope.

We must nurture them in the truth that repentance is a life long project. But then that even our repentance needs repenting over. We must model before them a humility that seeks to shed every ounce of that ugly sin of self-righteousness. We must demonstrate to them what it means to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought and to consider not only our needs but the needs of others. We must pray that they will see us on our knees praying for Wisdom and that they will hear us honestly attest ourselves to as being not yet wise.

God grants us His grace for what parent could possibly think themselves sufficient unto such a calling?

But God is Faithful and being faithful we anticipate that even in all our failures with our children He will be to our seed and their seed the God who calls them to Himself.

How Is It That We Are “Not Under Law?”

Romans 6:14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

When St. Paul writes about not being “under the law,” he is not at that point teaching us that being Christian means being antinomian. The not being under the law that Paul is referencing here has to do with the freedom from the condemnation of the law that is a reality for all those outside of Christ. Man, as being mortal is always governed by some law and so it is literally not possible to be free from law in the sense of having a lawless existence.

Freedom from the condemnation of the law is the good news the Gospel brings. Outside of Christ, we are forever burdened by the accusation of God’s law that we are guilty of not keeping God’s law. In Christ, we are free from that accusation (and the condemnation following) that we are guilty of because of our violating God’s law, and we are free from the condemnation of God’s law precisely because Christ is the one, in His crucifixion, who, as our substitute, already received in Himself the penalty and condemnation that was properly designed for us due to our breaking of God’s law.

Having been set free from the condemnation of God’s law we are now at liberty to walk in terms of God’s law without any fear because there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We are those who no longer walk consistent with our sinful former appetites but who now walk according to our law honoring desires as we are new creations.

That God’s law still functions in our life is the great presupposition of Scripture. After all, how could we ever successfully honor the call to lay aside sin

in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  (Ephesians 4:22)

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us … (Hebrews 12:1)

unless there was a standard by which we could know whereby that sin is determined? If we are not under law in the sense that the law no longer exists for the Christian then there is no possibility for us to sin, since without law sin does not exist. If we are not under law in the sense that the law no longer exists for the Christian then right and wrong and good and bad really are only existential social constructs with the result that every Christian does what is right in their own eyes.