Galatians 2:1-10; Paul, Titus & The Issue of Circumcision

Galatians 2 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. 2 And I went up [a]by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.6 But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God [b]shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, [c]Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.

This morning we are considering this first half of Galatians 2. Next week we will finish the chapter and will then roll into the advent season with four sermons consistent with that theme.

There are matters here that we need to absorb in our 21st century context.

You will recall that the the book of Galatians is in many ways the book of Romans with the difference that the book of Romans Paul is dealing with the same issues in a much more systematic fashion whereas in Galatians St. Paul is dealing with the same issues as in a triage situation. There is a danger of the central doctrines of the Gospel being abandoned due to subterfuge and deception. Enemies as termites are in the Church in Galatia seeking to eat away the foundation and so recast the new and better covenant in the image of the old and worse covenant. There is an attempt to re-imagine the faith once delivered forever unto the saints. There is an attempt put people into a intolerable bondage and all this as in the name and under the authority of Jesus the Christ.

In this book Paul uses some of his roughest language in order to defend the Gospel which he sees at being at immediate risk. He asks the Galatians “Who has cast a spell (bewitched you).” He says of his enemies that given their hyper concerns for circumcision as an absolute ceremonial law necessity for salvation he wishes that they would just go the whole way and emasculate themselves. He says that if anyone should preach another Gospel than the one he is preaching let them be eternally cursed/damned.

Certainly not very nice.

This startling language reminds us that there is a time and a place for everything under the sun, including defiant, militant, and shocking language. It reminds us of Calvin’s quote;

The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both.”

Now we live in a epoch in the history of the Church where frankly there is a need for the unrelenting usage of the voice required for driving off the wolves as by the clergy. As sheep you need to realize that when your shepherd throws rhetorical left hooks and uppercuts it is in the interest of protecting you. This is what St. Paul does in the book of Galatians because the Gospel is at stake.

Before wading in the matter at hand consider St. Paul here. Here is a man’s man. Perhaps one of the greatest heroes who has ever walked the planet. The man was a genius – one of those original thinkers who comes around every two or three generations. On top of that he was implacable and un-moving. He took all the outrageous slings and arrows of a determined enemy and did not budge. He considered not the opinion of man unless that opinion was consistent with the Word of God. He was beaten down… hounded relentlessly, scarred, shipwrecked, and stoned. According to Scripture he was not much to look at. Some scholars think he was a physically unimposing specimen and not very eloquent of speech. Yet, Scripture breathes with the man’s heroic humility. He was self-effacing and only for the sake of the Church would he speak of his accomplishments.

Parents …. if you want a hero for your sons, consider putting the Apostle Paul in their pantheon of heroes.

When we come to chapter 2 the battle has already underway.

There are 4 issues that St. Paul addresses here. Some of these 4 will overlap somewhat but we will look at them as 4 issue all the same because there are some slight nuances that are subtle enough to consider in their own right.

Paul time stamps the events with the mentioning of his going to Jerusalem again 14 years later with Barnabas taking Titus along with them. There is some debate among the scholars (as there always is on almost anything) as to exactly when and what the 14 years is later. We won’t get into the weeds of that debate and will just offer that a strong though not complete consensus believes that Paul is speaking of here the famous Jerusalem council mentioned in Acts 15. The reason that it is believed that the Jerusalem council that is being referred to here is because there is a good deal of overlap between Acts 15 and the issues that are swirling here in Galatians 2. Then there is the fact that you have some of the same players mentioned in Acts 2 that we find central to Acts 15.

In vs. 2 when Paul says that he went “and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain,” the meaning here is not that Paul was fearful that he might have been in error but rather the concern that the other Apostles, though perhaps agreeing in principle with him, might have gone soft due to the politics of the situation seeking to try to keep the peace with the Judaizing party that had crept into the Church. We learn from Acts 15 that Paul learned that he was not running in vain and the Church leadership of Peter and James was with him on the matter of grace alone.
Here then we bump up against the first issue in this section.

I.) Issue #1 – The Matter of Titus (vs. 2-3)

They brought Titus with them to Jerusalem because he was a living incarnation of the issue at hand. Titus was a Greek and so uncircumcised and yet this Titus had expressed faith in Christ and was counted as among the Redeemed.

The issue at hand though was … “Is this to be allowed.”

Circumcision had been a sign of the old covenant but the old covenant had passed and a new and better covenant had been issued in by the Lord Christ. Circumcision was a blood right exercised upon the source of life. However, with the coming of Christ all blood rights had ended with the shedding of His blood and by His being cut off that which was typological in the OT was fulfilled in Christ. Christ was THE source of life which in his death had been cut off as the fulfillment of all the lesser cuttings at the source of life prefigured in the OT cutting of circumcision.

By demanding that circumcision be continued – that Titus be circumcised – the enemies of the Gospel wanted to return to the OT shadows. In point of fact the Judaizing- Pharisee party wanted to return to a Talmudism that found salvation being grounded in works. By this demonic desire to return to a Talmudic faith the enemy would have overturned the Gospel of free grace.

Understand that had they been successful in this attack on the centrality of Christ alone they would have overthrown Baptism and God’s sovereign grace and so salvation would have been redefined. The Judaizers said “be circumcised, keep the ceremonial law, and then you can come to Christ.”

This is what Titus’s presence was all about. If a Gentile Christian like Titus present in the very heart of the Hebrew Church in an Convocation led by Hebrew Christians was not compelled to be circumcised, then the principle was established and no Gentile would be forced to be circumcised.

Understand that the kerfuffle here was about the fact that Gentiles were coming in without being circumcised. They were pulling their hair out over this. All this angst over Gentiles coming into the covenant and yet not a peep in the NT about these same people being told that their children were no longer members of the covenant which is what we are being asked to believe if the Baptists are right about excluding children.

Anyway … this is the issue surrounding Titus’s presence. Titus was a symbol of the conflict. Is the Gospel Christ alone or is the Gospel in concert with the Judaizing impulse?

This is an issue we as Theonomist must keep before us. We desire to honor the Law and we should but we learn here in Galatians that it is possible to go to far. It is possible to go so overboard with the law that we find ourselves wasting away again in Judaizing-ville. We need to ask ourselves careful questions about the applicability of the law lest we fall into this Galatians error. We need to develop principles to teach us where and when the general equity of the law continues and when the law has been eclipsed in the new and better covenant.

Well, we know how the issue with Titus turned out @ the Jerusalem council.

10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus [b]Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

Salvation would be by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

This moves us to the next issue here in Galatians 2

II.) Issue #2 – The Problem of Subversion – vs. 4

4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage)

Clearly, St. Paul is dealing with the problem of 5th columnists in their midst. In the early Church existed poseurs whose work was not to build the church up but to tear it down. In today’s language we would refer to these types that Paul mention as FBI plants or “controlled opposition.”

Paul calls them “false brethren” which means they were not brethren at all. Neither were they simply misguided. They had an agenda. They were epistemologically self-conscious about what they were seeking to achieve. They were trying to kill the church.

Before we continue down this path let me briefly mention that here we find one more example in Scripture wherein there is support for the truth of and reality of conspiracy theory. Paul is speaking of a conspiracy here. Listen to the language here. “False brethren.” “Secretly brought in.” “Came in by stealth.” “To spy out our liberty.” “That they might bring us into bondage.” St. Paul could guest host for Alex Jones and the Info Wars.

I only bring this up because so many in the Church today want to dismiss conspiracy theory as one legitimate tool in which to understand reality. If St. Paul could, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, identify a Conspiracy then I can say that the Bible teaches explicitly that men act in a conspiratorial manner in order to advance an predetermined agenda contrary to what it looks like on the surface.

The conspiracy unto subversion here was to overthrow the liberty from the ceremonial law that Christians have in Jesus Christ. Once we are in Christ we are delivered from the ceremonial law.

We would add that we likewise have been saved from the accusatory power of the law. The law can no longer condemn those in Christ Jesus. The Gospel is that though we are great sinners we have been delivered from the law of sin and of death. The law now points us to Christ as the one who has stood in our place and took upon Himself the just accusation that fell upon His people. The law now points us to Christ as the one who has paid for all of our sins, rebellions, and guilt. We walk in that kind of liberty.

Oh blessed liberty that we have in Jesus Christ. To not only be forgiven of that which I hate most about myself but also to be reckoned with the obedience of Jesus Christ is sweet liberty indeed.

The false brethren wanted to steal all that way and put upon all believers again a yoke of bondage that would make them miserable their whole lives and they were doing it by means of the most subtle of subversion.

This is the way fifth columnists usually roll when they bring their rank heresy into the Church. They are subtle. They sprinkle their heresy in all the nicest phrases. They dress it up to look pleasing and to sound reasonable. This is what in our time R2K has done. This is what Federal Vision has done. This is what the New Perspective on Paul has done. This is what Dispensationalism has done. These fifth columnists always sound fair but when one gets close enough they always smell foul.

If the early Church closest to the death of Christ had to deal with this it should be no surprise that the Church in every generation will have to deal with fifth columnists acting conspiratorially with the intent of re-fashioning the Church.

Note, before we move on that this subtlety is a always a matter of a worldview shift. Whatever direction there heresy is attempting to run, it can not run in that direction apart from significant worldview shifts. This is why we bang so hard here on knowing what you believe and why you believe it and what you don’t believe and why you don’t believe it. You need to have that ever growing ability to sniff out the fifth columnists conspiratorialists.

This brings us to issue #3

III.) Issue #3 – The Territorial Arrangement (vs. 7-8)


7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),

Here we see that the work is divided. It was not that Paul couldn’t evangelize Jews or that Peter couldn’t evangelize Gentiles, it was merely a matter where the emphasis of their ministry would be.

Now were Peter and Paul living today they would be accused of “racism” because of this arrangement. “How dare you divide people up according to their race/ethnicity?”

Don’t you two know that “Jew” and “Gentile” are a social construct?

We will speak more to this point next week but notice that while there is a respect of both people groups there is no agenda communicated here for there to be some kind of required assimilation between the two so that the distinctions of “Jew” and “Gentile” would disappear in a kind of pork sausage matzo ball soup.

Indeed, even upon conversion we know that often Jew and Gentiles did not worship together. Sure, there were times they would but there was no requirement to that end. There was nothing immature about a congregation that was a uniquely Gentile congregation nor about a congregation that was a uniquely Jewish congregation.

Hear Theologian John Frame on this matter;

“Scripture, as I read it, does not require societies, or even churches, to be integrated racially. Jews and Gentiles were brought together by God’s grace into one body. They were expected to love one another and to accept one another as brothers in the faith. But the Jewish Christians continued to maintain a distinct culture, and house churches were not required to include members of both groups.”

John Frame,
“Racism, Sexism, Marxism”

Jew and Gentiles were one spiritual body in Christ. Peter would minister among the Jews and Paul among the Gentiles and their respective church plants would all be one in Christ but the existence of the oneness in that Spiritual body in Christ did not require an assimilation that would result in the disappearance of both Jew and Gentile. John Calvin (Sermon on 1 Corinthians 11:2-3)

“Regarding our eternal salvation, it is true that one must not distinguish between man and woman, or between king and a shepherd, or between a German and a Frenchman. Regarding policy, however, we have what St. Paul declares here; for our, Lord Jesus Christ did not come to mix up nature, or to abolish what belongs to the preservation of decency and peace among us….Regarding the kingdom of God (which is spiritual) there is no distinction or difference between man and woman, servant and master, poor and rich, great and small. Nevertheless, there does have to be some order among us, and Jesus Christ did not mean to eliminate it, as some flighty and scatterbrained dreamers [believe].”

And here we see that order. Paul would go to the Gentiles and Peter would go to the Jews. Territorial issues are resolved and the unity of Christ is kept intact.

I need to keep my powder dry for next week on this subject but the abject idiocy and recklessness of the putative “White-Hat” churches is maddening beyond speech. It can only be explained by God sending a delusion upon them to blind them lest they see with their eyes, turn, and be saved.

IV.) Issue #4 – The Agreed Upon Requirement

10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.

We need to speak on this so as to demonstrate that the OT law was still in force even though it is clearly noted in this text that the ceremonial law has been eclipsed.

The law throughout Scripture had required just this.

(Ex. 23:10-11; 30:15; Lv. 19:10, Dt. 15:7-11)

The prophets required this.

(Je. 22:16, Dn. 4:27, Am. 2:6-7)

It is found in the words of Jesus

(Mt. 7:12, Lk. 6:36, 38; John 13:29

The law continues to have its impact. Here we see that there is attention paid to these commandments of God.

When you combine this with the law that was placed upon the Gentile converts in Acts 15

(that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual[j] immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.)

You see that the law had abiding validity. The law answers the question that is being answered here, “How shall we then live.” The law, in its third use, is a guide to life and applies to every area of life. The Law is Holy, Righteous and Good, when used lawfully. The Law is where we find our delight both day and night. There is no dialectic between law and grace such as the R2K cognitively challenged want to posit when used lawfully. The law is the means of God that He has ordained whereby grace restores nature in the believer who is saved by a grace alone that in the finished work of Christ, God’s ordained law was honored – that law that taught; “that the without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin.”

So, on this issue we see that there that, in the words of Jonathan Edwards, “the Law and Gospel doth sweetly comply.”

Conclusion;

Re-cap

Therefore having looked at the 4 issues covered in Galatians 2:1-10 let us resolved to move in terms of a proper understanding of these issues.

Galatians 2:11-21

11 Now when [d]Peter had come to Antioch, I [e]withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing [f]those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.

14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, [g]why do you compel Gentiles to live as [h]Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not [i]justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died [j]in vain.”

I.) The Case Behind Paul’s Rebuke of Peter

It has become the cause celebre recently to use this passage to prove that in the new covenant God designed that Christians should no longer have a concern to honor the ethnic identity which God assigned to them. The reasoning goes that in the new covenant since the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile has been broken down (Eph. 2:14) therefore all considerations of how we belong to a nation or a people as among Christians is no longer a matter of consideration. This passage in Galatians is brought forward in order to prove this cockeyed theory.

So, we ask what is Galatians 2:1-11 all about if it is not about the errant suggestion, so popular as among the modern Gnostics in the Church, that ethnicity was abolished in the cross so that it no longer is to be a consideration among Christians.

Now, before we tease this out let us say as effusively as we can that the Scripture’s clearly teach that in Christ all believers have a spiritual bond that is not to be disregarded. Indeed, that truth forms the heart of Paul’s rebuke here in Galatians 2. Clearly, the Scripture teaches that if we lift anything, including our belonging to our family or people group, above our allegiance to Christ we are guilty of some kind of idolatry. This is why Christ teaches that;

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me;

(Matt. 10:27)

Our highest love then is set on Christ. He is the treasure that is to be gained at the loss of everything else if necessary.

However, Christ does not teach that in order to love him we must disorder our natural loves. He only insists that our natural loves do not rise above our love and allegiance to Him as our summum bonum.

Indeed, Christ demonstrates the necessity for the fifth commandment to be honored when He teaches as against the very same opposition that St. Paul faces in Galatians 2;

“But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— Mt. 15:5

Here Jesus is clearly teaching the importance to honor family.

Paul reinforces this teaching of Jesus when he writes to Timothy;

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

I Timothy 5:8 

So, as we come to Paul here in Galatians 2 we understand that Scripture has taught that our family/our people group is important and is to honored but not as above Christ.

And here we find the nub of the matter in Galatians 2. The Judiazers had lifted their ethnic identity above the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so much that they were insisting that if one wanted to be a Christ follower one had to first become a Judaizer. In other words Paul resists Peter here because it was the Judaizers who were insisting that Gentiles had to cease being Gentiles and become amalgamated so as to be cultural Jews.

The Judaizing sin was to insist that all the world had to be a Talmudic Jew to be a disciple of Christ.

In Galatians, Paul was the one in favor of the Church being comprised of Jew and Gentile but with the truth that these two could come together for worship and fellowship. The Judaizers and Peter were arguing that in order to be justified one had to become a socio-cultural Jew and keep the same Talmudic dietary laws. Paul, on the other hand, was reasoning that one could remain an ethnocultural Gentile and still be Christian. The Judaizers and Peter were the ones trying to force an integrated uniformitarian Church and Paul resisted them to their face and insisted that one could have a Gentile diet and be justified … Gentiles could be segregated and have their own Church. (see also Acts 15).

Peter is practicing an unbiblical favoritism because he is communicating to the Gentiles that they have to reject the new covenant in favor of the Talmudic interpreted old covenant. Paul resists Peter to his face not because Peter withdrew from table fellowship with the Gentiles but rather because by refusing table fellowship with the Gentiles Peter was favoring a talmudic interpreted old covenant over the new and better covenant. Peter was denying the Gospel in favor or Talmudism.

Now why do we conclude that the issue for Paul in Galatians 2:11f was not his desire for an amalgamationist Gospel but rather the issue for Paul was standing against Judaizing impulses? In other words, we are saying that this whole mess in Antioch that required rebuking Peter was not about the desire to eliminate Jewish and Gentile real ethnic distinctions but rather it was about going after the Talmudic/Judaizing attempt to redefine the Gospel as a different Gospel.

Keep in mind that among the Judaizers there were man made restrictions and stipulations when it came to table habits. These had been handed down from generation to generation by the Judaizing Rabbis who were seeking add to God’s Word. For example the Rabbis had set up a rule where meat consumed by Jews had to be processed in a definite way when purchased by a Gentile vendor. Another example had to do with washing the hands before eating — a washing not for ordinary hygienic reasons but for fear lest the hands be contaminated by contact with a Gentile (Mt. 15:1ff, Mk. 7:1ff).

So, the threat to the Gospel here in Galatians 2 is not the threat of upholding the everywhere taught in Scripture idea that there are distinct nations that remains. No, the threat to the Gospel that finds Paul so vehement about is the threat that the free grace of the Gospel was going to be changed out for a Talmudic Judaizing Gospel.

No one less than the greatest Theologian in the post Bible canon era, St. Augustine, could offer here;

“Difference of race or condition or sex is indeed taken away by the unity of faith, but it remains embedded in our mortal interactions, and in the journey of this life the apostles themselves teach that it is to be respected, and they even proposed living in accord with the racial differences between Jews and Greeks as a wholesome rule.”

St. Augustine on Galatians 3:28

So, away with this cultural Colonialism that keeps rearing its head in the cultural Marxist Church today. Away with this notion that Bono sang of when he envisioned “one day all colors bleeding into one.” If Jesus, right at this very moment, can remain a descendant of Judah and David then the Gospel does not include the stripping off of our creational identities.

And just in case in needs to be said, away with the idea that Christianity forbids us from having table fellowship and friendships with fellow Christians of different tribes, tongues, and nations who share a like precious faith.

Summing up this point let us observe that if we were to posit that instead of Gentile table partners the case had been that the table partners in Antioch had been Jews who were not Judaizers, and so non-observant, the complaints of those Judaizers coming from James would have been the same.

The issue here is not eating with Gentiles
The issue here is non-Talmudic lifestyles

Now, we need a sermon on Ephesians 2 in order to cement this but that will have to wait for another time.

Before moving on to the next point let us make an observation here brought up by vs. 14;

II) The Character of Paul’s Rebuke of Peter

14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, [g]why do you compel Gentiles to live as [h]Jews?

Paul’s rebuke of Peter reminds us that nobody in the Church has a status that allows them to be counted as untouchable. If someone is in terrible error then they need to have, out of even love for them,  their ears boxed. Nobody gets a pass when it comes to error of this magnitude. Not even Peter … not even the Pope of Moscow, not even the R2K Escondido lads and not even those — whoever they may be — accounted today to be pillars in the Church. I hope that if I ever am in error of this magnitude someone would love me enough to metaphorically box my ears.

Note the manner Paul rebukes Peter. It is right out in the open before God and man. There is no passive aggressive campaign to undercut Peter. There is no gossip behind Peter’s back. Paul grabs the Mic, and says what he has to say and then drops the mic. There is no more to be said.

Peter’s sin was public and thus so was Paul’s rebuke. It needs to be said here that this provides a template for us when people write or speak publicly. If they are putting themselves out there publicly then it is proper to respond in public — especially when the issue is of great magnitude.

III.) The Content of Paul’s Rebuke of Peter

15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not [i]justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

The context here points in the direction that what we have said so far is exactly the case. You see my friends the issue here is not the idea that the new covenant requires ethnic and cultural assimilation. The issue here is the character of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is the connection between verses15-16 and what went previously. What is being argued here is this;

If a Jew who, having turned to Christ, has learned that strict and exacting obedience to legal requirements — human and divine — will not bring him into the Kingdom, tries, nevertheless, to impose such legalism upon the sinner Gentiles, his effort to place this burden upon them has no excuse.

If we were to paraphrase the verses above into a language that might make more sense to us we would offer;

“Though we are by birth, race and descent Jews who are a highly privileged people, and not nekulturny sinners of Gentile descent, yet, when we learned that our works done in obedience to the law –both divine and human — could never be adequate to make us righteous in God’s sight, and that this standing could be attained only by trusting in Jesus Christ, even we, who in self esteem were always looking down on the Gentile goyim, began to se that before God we were not any better than they. Hence, even we embraced Christ by a living faith, in order that by means of the exercise of faith we might receive as a free gift, that standing of being ‘not guilty, but righteous’ in God’s sight. It was by faith in Christ and His merits, and definitely not by our obedience to the law, that we received this blessing of being righteous, for by works done in obedience to law — human or divine — no weak earthly, perishable human, whose works never reach the goal of perfection, will ever be able to attain to the standing of righteousness before God.”

If this is an accurate free hand rendering of vs. 15-16 we see the abject silliness in seeking to make Galatians 2 prove that the new covenant demands ethnic assimilationism. A thousand times “NO.” Galatians 2 is about the attempt of the Judaizers to deny Justification by faith alone.

The verb “to justify” used here in the passive voice of the Greek verb — hence to be justified — occurs here for the first time in St. Paul’s epistles and is used three times to boot in these two vs.

So, we should ask what is Galatians 2 teaching about “to be justified.” As we examine this keep in mind that the word “justified” has different senses. The context has to be examined.

In Galatians 2:15-16 the three passive verbs of dikaios are used in the typical forensic/judicial sense. In this context justification is best defined as that free and gracious act of the Father, whereby on the alone basis of Christ’s accomplished mediatorial cross work, the Father declares the sinner as meeting all the requirements of His just Law and so is legally just in God’s court — and the latter accepts this by faith. Whereas prior the sinner was — subjectively speaking — judicially under condemnation, now He is justified.

This reminds us that our standing with God is based upon God’s judicial declaration wherein He accepts the blood atoning work of Jesus Christ as our substitute. Justification screams that we are righteous by works but not our work. We are righteous by the works of Jesus Christ. Therefore our works as a consideration are (thank God) not part of the equation. Christ fully meets the demands of God’s law — both the demands for perfect obedience and the demand that past accrued guilt — both natural and actual — be paid with the price of blood.

Conclusion

Briefly, since we are over time now, we want to articulate here something so obvious that it might be missed the way that a fish misses the importance of the water all around him — and that because the water is just so much part of his environment that he can’t see it.

The obvious thing we need to say is that the kind of Judaizing-Talmudism which brought this whole conflict on, hates with a mad passion Biblical Christianity. It is the case here in Galatians 2. It is the case in Acts 15. Judaizing-Talmudism remains in opposition to Biblical Christianity. We would do well to keep that in mind.

Let us continue to pray that God in Christ might grant redemption to the Judaizers-Talmudists as well as the useful idiots in the Church who continue to do their bidding.

 

 

 

 

 

Christianity & Civil Liberty

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Gen. 1:1

You alone are the LORD. You created the heavens, the highest heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all things, and the host of heaven worships You. Neh. 9:6

The Scripture teaches here that God is. This of course immediately means that materialism, which teaches that God isn’t, is not true. It is this simple truth that God is that leads to so much when it comes to this issue of Christian Liberty/Freedom.

The fact “God is” answers the question; “Why is it that only Christianity can support social orders that can be described as genuinely having liberty.”

And the answer to that is it is only Christianity that provides the religious and ideological framework wherein liberty can be nurtured. It is only Christianity that consistently repudiates the notion of materialism that is so prevalent in the West.

Read your dystopian novels and the one thing you see consistent about them is that the dystopia being described has no place for a personal extra-mundane spiritual being. In brief they are materialistic. When you have materialism for your worldview — when you deny the God of the Bible then only humanist force can provide the principle of order and regulated or ordered liberty as informed by transcendent non-material truth is crushed. Sisley Huddleston caught this in his little record called “France; The Tragic Years.” Huddleston wrote,

Not only had Russia fallen a victim to the conception of a purely materialist universe, in which force alone counted, not only had Russia become a vast prison in which all the liberties of which we were wont to boast were suppressed, in which a group of men, sitting in the Kremlin, had forged a system of terrorism, of totalitarianism, dependent on an army of police and spies, but outside Russia, in almost every country, the missionaries of Bolshevism had made large numbers of converts.

Sisley Huddleston

A generation prior to Huddleston the great Christian theologian and Churchmen J. Gresham Machen could write touching also on the relation to materialism and liberty;

“Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist.”

J. Gresham Machen
Christianity & Liberalism

Materialism is the wench mother of all slave orders because materialism is the idea that all that is, is matter and that a personal extra-mundane God does not exist. This materialism in turn leads to the civil bondage that Huddleston speaks of as being directed by “force alone” and Machen doubts, that where present, the remnants of liberty can subsist.Where materialism gains footing then humans are just matter in motion and have no significant meaning. As such the idea that little instantiations of matter in motion should have freedom or liberty is irrelevant to those who see themselves as bringing in the materialist Utopia.

In the kind of world where there is no being who is situated in or relating to a region beyond the material world to whom we will all one day be answerable and to whom alone can provide order, meaning, and definition by His revelation the only option left is Orwell’s boot stamping on a face forever.

So, here we see the connection between spiritual freedom and civil freedom. Men who are in rebellion against God are in bondage to themselves as their own gods. The consequence is the bondage that they have in themselves they translate into everything they touch. Men in spiritual bondage create social orders that are characterized by the killing of liberty and so civil bondage.

R. J. Rushdoony says much the same;

“Society changes only as the members of society change, only as men and women are regenerated by Jesus Christ. Apart from regeneration, a society can have some material progress, but no real advantage or freedom for most men as a rule. The areas of freedom have been the areas of Christian faith, and, as that faith wanes, freedom wanes….

Freedom has only come to a people, as they have become, one by one, free men in Jesus Christ. As a people advance into freedom in Christ, they move their society and country into that freedom, and as a people drift into unbelief and sin, their country declines into slavery.”

R. J. Rushdoony

… as a people drift into unbelief and sin, their country declines into slavery.”

And that is because spiritual slavery translates into civil bondage.

One more from a different voice so that you can see that there is a wide testimony supporting my contention that spiritual bondage always leads to civil bondage. This one from the masterful wordsmith Malcolm Muggeridge;

People, that is to say, are never enslaved unless they have become slaves already. They swim into the Great Leviathan’s mouth (a reference to the Statist Tyrant) He does not need to chase them.”

Malcolm Muggeridge

Farewell to Freedom?

So how can we summarize so far as to the last two weeks?

We have noted that only Christianity can support liberty and this is because only Christianity gives us a extra-mundane personal God who has made Himself and His will known so that we have an authority outside of us by which we can know what ordered-liberty looks like.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible

We have noted that absent this what the West has, generally speaking, adopted are forms of Materialism. Materialism insists that man is not made in the image of God but rather is just matter in motion. Man therefore has no intrinsic value that has to be honored by those who have captured social-orders as gods to run the social order to the end of building a Utopia. Man having no intrinsic value has no need to be given liberty/freedom as authorized and defined by God.

As such all social orders where men are in spiritual bondage will result in civil bondage as sure as night follows day.

Though civil bondage may be the rule, genuine Christians who have been set free from their sin and misery can never have their spiritual freedom/liberty taken away. Their sin no longer masters them and so they are free indeed.

The only thing that can reverse civil bondage is Reformation characterized by heralding Jesus Christ. Political rallies, activism and/or voting campaigns have their place as a “hold my beer” kind of rear guard action. They are useful in delaying the tyrant but they can never of themselves usher in civil order freedom because they are dealing with symptoms and not the disease.

Listen to RJR in support of that statement;

The ballot box has a very important function in a free society, but it can never be expected to do anything more than to reflect the character, the desires, and the will of the people. If the people who vote are of weak or bad character, if their desires are larcenous and envious, and if their will be perverse and evil, the election results will merely reflect their own nature on a broader scope.
This means too that people who expect to reform the state or country by means of the vote, by elections, are headed for failure and disillusionment. Reformation must begin in the lives of the people in order to show up in the ballot box.

RJR

Elsewhere he noted;

Freedom is not a natural fact but a religious principle, and the decline of Freedom is an aspect of the rise of false faiths, false forms of “Christianity,” as well as other varieties of faith…. For all too long, those who have believed the most have been Marxists, Keyensians, fascists, and humanists generally. Their ‘freedom’ has been slavery, for ‘the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel (Prov. 12:10)…. If Christians lose their freedom, they will only have themselves to blame, and their indifference to the Author of true liberty, the Lord our King.

RJR
Roots of Reconstruction — pg. 55

Written in 1980

However, let us say again that where spiritual freedom begins to multiply in a social order there you can be sure that civil order freedom will soon follow. This is in defiance to R2K reasoning who wants to suggest that though men can be spiritually free their spiritual freedom dare not translate into the civil realm breathing Christian defined liberty into all social order institutions. How do I know this? They tell us.

“I asked David Van Drunen a question that I believe goes right to the heart of this issue. I asked him what God would think of a nation whose magistrate and people had become overwhelmingly (and sincerely) Christian, and who decided to confess Christ in the common realm, in the formerly secular realm. I asked if God would be displeased with that, and Van Drunen said yes, he thought God would be displeased with that. “

Doug Wilson

Talk about the problem of fifth columnists.

Let us add something here. Of course all of this is worldview warfare. Materialism vs. Christianity;

Bertrand Russell has not exaggerated in summing up the present significance of Marxism somewhat as follows: dialectical materialism is God; Marx the Messiah; Lenin and Stalin the apostles; the proletariat the elect; the Communist party the Church; Moscow the seat of Church; the Revolution the second coming; the punishment of capitalism hell; Trotsky the devil; and the communist commonwealth kingdom come.”

― Robert A. Nisbet

The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom

So, yes it can be argued that the Scriptures are primarily about how God has provided the means for fallen man to be rescued from their sin and misery. Yes, the Scriptures are primarily about the finished work of Jesus Christ. Perhaps it can even be said that the Scripture weren’t written primarily to be a cookbook that if followed will give you your “best life now.”

However, having admitted all that we would still say that if people are indeed rescued by so great a salvation Scripture also teaches that people who embrace the whole of Christianity are a people who thirst for ordered liberty in their personal life, their family lives, their church lives, their community lives and their social-order lives.

Christians who are content with civil order bondage should be thought of as being either immature Christians or not Christians at all. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Conclusion:

 

“The Scriptures clearly teach that human government is of divine ordination and does not have its origin in any social compact or contract, as Hobbes and Locke taught, nor was it created by man himself to meet the needs of his society. Rather does Christian theism insist that government was ordained of God for man and that its just powers come from Him and not from man. Government is not ordained primarily to defend human liberty but to ensure that kind of society necessary for man to carry out those duties which he owes to God alone.”

C. Gregg Singer

We would only add that any society where man is free to carry out those duties which he owes to God alone is a society that is defined by regulated freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heidelberg Catechism Sermon — Lord’s Day 30 (Q. 81-82)

This morning we are going to have a sermon based on the Catechism. Preaching the Catechism, once upon the time, is something you would find every Lord’s Day in at least one of the Sermons – morning or evening.

So, as we come to the Table of our Lord we turn to Lord’s Day #30. You can find that in the back of your Psalters if you wish to follow along. We will be looking at Questions 81 & 82.

The Catechism has already spent some time looking at the Eucharist. Here in Q. 81 it asks us;

Question 81: For whom is the Lord’s Supper instituted?

In asking this question the implication is clearly that the Table is not intended for just everyone. The table has a definite audience for which it is appropriate.

Interestingly, when it answers this question the first clause is;

Answer: For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins,6

Here, we are reminded of the Hospital nature of the Church. The Church is a place for healing and comfort. It isn’t always to be a gymnasium where the strong work out. Nor is it to always be an armory where people are armed for the battle. The Church, as the Eucharist proclaims is also a hospital where sin sick sinners, who are sorrowful for their sins come and find the medicine of the Eucharist to eat the bread of forgiveness and to drink the drink of Eternal life.

The catechizers – Olevanius and Zacharias – give us the Scripture to support this part of the answer;

6 Matt. 5:3, 6, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

This “Poor in Spirit” is to whom the Eucharist is pointed. We come to the table as those who understand our sin and further are genuinely sorrowful for our sin.

Brethren, it is so easy for us – especially in this Gomorrahian culture – to fall into the habit of seeing the sins of everybody else and become blind to the reality that we are ourselves sinners. I know I fall into this. We being looking around and see what a mess everything is and we begin to think that we are pretty good.

But the catechism here cuts off at our knees and reminds us that those who are to come to the table are those who are sorrowful for their sins.

So, the question that requires being asked is… “Are you sorrowful for your sin?” “Do you recognize that you are a poor sinner, like all other poor sinners, except that you have been favored with grace?”

It is true that we are more than conquerors. It is true we are defined as those who, along with St. Paul, are forgetting those things which are behind and are pressing ever onward to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. But the same Paul who could rejoice in those realities could also say that he remained the chief of sinners.

And so we come to the table truly sorrowful for our sins.

We see ourselves besotted with pride. We see our self-centeredness and our desire for self-aggrandizement. We see that we love ourselves above our love to God and our love to our kin, friends, and fellow saints. And we are truly sorrowful that we do not meet the standard of God’s Holy righteousness that we are always called to.

We cannot be a people overwhelmed by God’s pardon over and over again unless we are also the people who are at the same time overwhelmed with our sin.

This disposition has the felicitous consequence of working in us what we all so desperately need and that is the need to be familiar with the virtue of being humble. If we are truly sorrowful for our sin, then it is less likely that pride will be a sand that gets in the gears of all of our relationships.

But the catechism does not stop there… it goes on to say that we come not only as genuinely sorrowful for our sins but also we come trusting that these sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ and further that their remaining impact (infirmities) are covered by His passion and death.

7 Ps. 103:3, Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.

So there is a dialectic in the table … a push me pull you if you please. On one hand we come truly sorrowful for our sins but on the other hand we also come trusting that the sins we are truly sorrowful for are forgiven for the sake of Christ.

So we see here that the table preaches Christ. It reminds that God is Holy. That man is sinful. That the only medicine for our sin is Christ in our place. Christ for us. Christ our righteousness. Christ as the one who reconciles us to God. Christ as our mediator and sacrifice. Christ as our redemption and ransom.

So, as you often hear me say, we come to the table convinced that we are great sinners but yet not without knowing that Christ is a greater savior.

And so is married a right estimation of ourselves and a right estimation of Christ for us, the hope of glory.

And yet we are not done yet with the Catechism’s question about for whom the Lord’s Table is instituted.

And who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy;8

Here we are taught that the table has a medicinal effect. It has the effect of strengthening our faith when taken in faith for those who come with that desire. The table is to those who earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened and their lives more holy what eating a power pellet does for certain video game characters. You know… they eat the pellet and they find themselves filled with a greater strength than they had had heretofore.

Those are the people for whom the Lord’s Table is instituted.
1.) For those who are are truly sorrowful for their sin
2.) For those who at the same time are trusting that these sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ and further that their remaining impact (infirmities) are covered by His passion and death.
3.) And who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened, and their lives more holy;8

1 Pet. 2:11–12, Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Notice then that the table speaks to Christ outside of us when it talks about how are sins are covered for the sake of Christ while at the same time the table speaks of Christ in us when it talks about the desire to have our faith more and more strengthened and our lives more Holy.

The Catechism thus is not lopsided. It speaks both to the finality of Christ for us outside of us and to the ongoing sanctification wrought by the Spirit of Christ in us as our faith is more and more strenthened.

Before pushing on let us note that if all this is already true then why would any Christian be casual about attending consistently a Church where Word and Sacrament – the means of Grace – are faithfully set forth?

Anyway …. Q. 81 ends with a warning;

but hypocrites, and such as turn not to God with sincere hearts, eat and drink judgment to themselves.9

Ps. 50:15–16, And call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me. But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare My statutes, or that thou shouldest take My covenant in thy mouth?

If the table is medicine for the believer who is truly sorrowful for their sin it is also like eating plutonium enriched uranium and drinking some of Putin’s famous poisoned tea for those who hypocrites who take the table not turning to God with sincere hearts.

The table is a high risk, high reward reality. It is a high risk for those who are professional Christians who are merely playing at Christianity and it is a high reward for those who are sincere in their faith.

Brother and Sisters I can’t see into your heart. I don’t know … and can’t know for sure who and who might not be being sincere – who is and who is not playing the hypocrite. But God knows… and I promise you that the table is the last place you want to be gambling.

If you are here and insincere in your faith … if your attitude about sin is casual … if you are just playing at Christianity please have mercy on yourself and don’t come to the table.

Titus 1:16, They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Now, having faithfully given this warning, allow me to say again that the table is for sinners. It’s just not for sinners who are content to remain in their sin. The table is not for those who have no interest in pursuing Christ. But the table is for those who are weary and heavy laden. It is the place where, along with the Word, find Christ and His promises that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

So, it is not my intent to scare you away from the table little flock. However, neither is it the case that I can allow you to come to the table without being a faithful shepherd giving the warnings of Scripture against an approach that amounts trying to have both fellowship with devils while having fellowship w/ God.

91 Cor. 10:20, &c, But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

1 Cor. 11:28, &c, But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

Question 82 continues to clarify the matter flipping the approach from Q. 81. Q. 81 asked who is the table for. Q. 82 asks the Q. “Who is the table not for.”

Question 82: Are they also to be admitted to this supper, who, by confession and life, declare themselves unbelieving and ungodly?

The catechism is nothing if not thorough. Who is to come. Who is not to come.

You might think this is Captain Obvious territory. Yet, the Church is full of people who come to the table who by confession and life declare themselves unbelieving and ungodly.

Note how the question breaks this down.

Those whose confession (their thinking) and those who are ungodly (their behavior) are not to be admitted to the table.

Answer: No; for by this, the covenant of God would be profaned and His wrath kindled against the whole congregation;10 therefore it is the duty of the Christian church, according to the appointment of Christ and His apostles, to exclude such persons11 by the keys of the kingdom of heaven till they show amendment of life.

Note here several matters,

This question presupposes that the Church has a role in determining who and who does not come to the table. We get this by the wording “Are they also to be permitted.” This implies that there is some kind of authority that is permitting and not permitting.

The answer then gets explicit when it talks about it being the duty of the Christian Church, according to the appointment of Christ and His apostles, to exclude such persons11 by the keys of the kingdom of heaven till they show amendment of life.

11Matt. 18:17–18, And if he (the person who doesn’t belong at the table) shall neglect to hear them (Church officers), tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

I’ve had to be a part of banning people from the table twice. It is never easy to go through this process but love for God, love for the sinner and love for the whole congregation requires such action when necessary. And to be honest, I’ve probably failed terribly for not pushing that envelope more often. There is nothing more than the prospect of Church discipline that will turn someone vehemently hostile.

So, who is it that should be banned from the table per the Catechism answer?

1.) Those whose confession is wrong
2.) Those whose life (behavior) is wrong

The confession error would include anyone who is promulgating doctrine that is contrary to our confessions. So, for example, Arminians, Unitarians, WOKE Christians, R2K etc. should not be allowed to come to the table per this Q & A.

If Luther had succeeded at excising James from the cannon Luther should not have been allowed to come to the table. Similarly, if anyone advocates adding to the cannon beyond the list we find in the Belgic Confession would likely have to join Marcion for deleting from the cannon by not being permitted to come to the table.

But it is not just confession but it is life as well.

And here the questions are more difficult.

It is easy to say that, for example, those who support abortion w/ no repentance, or those who are homosexual or transgender w/o repentance are not to be permitted in coming to the table. However, what about Christians who send their children to Government schools who have both been warned and who can make other arrangements? Does this raise itself to the level of not permitting someone to come to the table? Now … we see how difficult this matter can be.

The catechism tells us what will happen if the Church and her officers don’t do our work here. What happens is that the

God’s wrath is kindled against the whole congregation;

People in Corinth were coming to the table who should not have been coming to the table and St. Paul tells them.

1 Cor. 11:30–31, For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

There are corporate covenantal consequences for allowing those who flaunt God’s grace either by errant confession or life. God’s wrath is kindles against the whole congregation.

Congregation, you should want your church officers to take this seriously lest you be part of a congregation where God’s wrath is kindled because people are coming to the table who are turning God’s grace into license.

Clearly, we should add here, that if you are part of a congregation where the officers aren’t meeting their responsibilities in this area you should think deeply about being part of that congregation.

101 Cor. 10:21, Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

Which is just to say you can’t have feet in both worlds without consequences.

But let us end by reminding ourselves that all of this is so God’s name – His covenant – might not be profaned. It is all in pursuance that God and the things of God might be kept sacred.

We do not want to scare anyone away from the table. We want to communicate that the grace of God is generous and plenteous for those who are truly sorrowful for their sin. It is only those who have hardened themselves against God’s standard – only those who desire to turn God’s grace into a license to sin who are warned off from the table – for their own sake and the sake of the congregation and most importantly for the sake of God’s reputation.

And so as we head to the table we say Come and find satisfaction in Christ. Come and be reminded that a smoking flax He will not snuff out and a bruised reed he will not break. Come … taste and see that the Lord is good. Be fed by His grace and find here the medicine of grace to continue the fight.

Considering Tyranny

“Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, Who write misfortune (violence), Which they have prescribed. To rob the needy of justice, And to take what is right from the poor of My people, That widows may be their prey, And that they may rob the fatherless.” 3. And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?

Isaiah 10:1-3

Here in Isaiah, the Prophet picks up a sub-theme he had begun in chapter 1.

Hear the word of the Lord,
    you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
    you people of Gomorrah!

Your rulers are rebels,
    partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
    and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
    the widow’s case does not come before them.

Isaiah 1:10, 23

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter….

23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
but deny justice to the innocent.

Isaiah’s complaint here is about the ruling class in Judah – likely what we call legislators – were continually writing laws that today we would describe as anarcho-tyranny. That is laws were being passed that were manifestly unjust towards the needy, poor and have nots and so tyrannical while at the same time the lawless were exempt from law and so were allowed to be anarchistic. They were in short perpetrating the most egregious wrong under legal forms. It is the perversion from the seat of judgment that is being rebuked by the Prophet.

It is the same old story where God is cast out of consideration among the high born and among the political sock puppets of the high born. They who rise to these positions of political power and influence eventually think themselves as exempted from the ordinary lot of the little people even eventually concluding that they are not answerable to any God.
However, Isaiah tells them in vs. 3 that they will be the first to be visited with God’s judgment. Where will they turn in their day of Desolation? What good will all their power be in that day of visitation?

Isaiah brings back the reality of the God who remembers all before the potentates and sovereigns of Judah. He reminds them there is a God who sits in heaven and sees and who will mete out the whirlwind of divine justice in repayment for that wind of graft and injustice the Kings, Princes, and Leaders did sow.

In this warning Isaiah reminds his listeners and us today that there are many things which God appears to pass by in this life but which in point of fact is merely being set aside till that final day of visitation. How many have been the godly righteous through the centuries who counted on this reality. How many Christians suffered under the rule of a Nero or a Bishop Laud, or a Catherine Medici or Julian the Apostate or a King Charles I counting on the reality that God would not forget to bring a day of visitation upon wicked tyrants who would not repent.

Calvin offers here,

Accordingly, visitation must here be understood to mean the judgment by which God, in opposition to the waywardness and insolence of the ungodly, will bring them back like deserters. But if the judgments of God be so dreadful in this life, how dreadful will he be when he shall come at last to judge the world! All the instances of punishment that now produce fear or terror, are nothing more than preparations for that final vengeance with which he will thunder against the reprobate, and many things which he appears to pass by, he purposely reserves and delays till that last day. And if the ungodly are not able to bear these chastisements, how much less will they be capable of enduring his glorious and inconceivable majesty, when he shall ascend that awful tribunal, before which the angels themselves tremble! (Calvin)

So what this passage is dealing with is the reality of Tyranny and tyrants … of usurpation and Usurpers. The Prophet makes the case that God will by no means acquit the tyrant. God will have His way with the wicked who have oppressed His people and who have overthrown His law in favor of a completely subjective law that serves their own purposes and feathers their own nests. By this passage we can authoritatively say that “God Hates Tyrants,” and promises that there will be a payday some day unless they repent now.

And so today as we take up this matter we want to hold out again to the tyrants who might stumble across this message that will receive them as His own if they will but repent and trust Jesus Christ. If they will but end with their Tyranny and usurpation against God and His just law they can be assured that they will be received but should they spurn this offer from the Sovereign of the universe then they this warning will for eternity ringing in their ears.

Webster 1828 Dictionary defines TYR’ANNY as

1. Arbitrary or despotic exercise of power; the exercise of power over subjects and others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice, or not requisite for the purposes of government. Hence tyranny is often synonymous with cruelty and oppression.
We learn from this just what we read in the passage from Isaiah. Here as in Isaiah the point is that authority and power are be exercised in a illegitimate fashion inasmuch as they are exercised as inconsistent with God’s law revelation.

This is possibility of tyranny is a reality whether or not one holds that God’s law is revealed via natural law or whether one holds that God’s law is to be considered as being revealed via Holy Writ. In both of these positions there is the conviction that Tyranny and tyrants are possible and as such the governing rule of such men has no legal or moral legitimacy. There is nothing in their rule that compels or requires obedience.

Of course tyranny and the tyrant remains a problem for modern man. Indeed, we live right now under circumstances not completely different from Israel experience during Isaiah’s time. Americans likewise have those in leadership who decree unrighteous decrees and who write misfortune. The West is covered with tyrants and here in this country we have been living under tyranny of one degree or another for 150 years with each passing year finding the tyranny ever increasing in degree and substance.

There was a time when the Reformed Church above all other churches would lift its voice regarding tyrants, tyranny and Usurpers and Usurpation. There was a time when ministers would mount their pulpit and cause the walls to shake with their voices raised to heaven decrying tyranny. Such days have long since passed as the church as been declawed, defanged and tamed. Today we are told from seemingly every quarter that we must not raise our voices against tyrants and tyranny. We must “keep in our lane” we are told, completely ignoring the driving habits of our Fathers who joined with Isaiah and said things like we hear from the Divine Samuel Rutherford in his Lex Rex;

“Tyranny being a work of Satan, is not from God, because sin, either habitual or actual, is not from God: the power that is, must be from God; the magistrate, as magistrate, is good in nature of office, and the intrinsic end of his office, (Romans 13:4) for he is the minister of God for thy good; and, therefore, a power ethical, politic, or moral, to oppress, is not from God, and is not a power, but a licentious deviation of a power; and is no more from God…”

Samuel Rutherford- Lex Rex. p. 34

Or from

Calvinist Francis Hotman who posed this rhetorical question,

If a state was once free, but later was conquered by a tyrant, was it not lawful to overthrow the tyrant and revert to that ancient Independence?”

The nature of wicked princes is much like to warthogs, which if they be suffered to have their snouts in the ground, and be not forthwith expelled, will suddenly have their snouts in all the body; So they if they be obeyed in any evil thing be it ever so little will be obeyed in all at length.”

John Ponet

Magisterial Reformer

When therefore the supreme ruler has become a tyrant, he must be deemed by his own perjury (as against the covenant document with the people) to have freed people from their oath, and not to the contrary, when the people assert their rights against him.”

Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos

(Thought to have been written by a one of two men … both of whom were Calvinists)

As often as the Magistrate commands anything that is repugnant EITHER to the worship which we owe unto God OR to the love which we owe unto our neighbor, we cannot yield thereunto with a safe conscience. For as often as the commandment of God and men are directly opposed one against another, this rule is to be perpetually observed; that it is better to obey GOD than men.”

Theodore Beza

Calvin’s Successor in Geneva

Resistance to tyrannical governors was, according to (Calvinist Pierre) Viret, a legitimate act of self defense. He even endorsed the use of disinformation if the tyrant were persecuting as analogous to resisting a band of robbers. If the political leader acted like a criminal, Viret thought he should be treated like a one, and the citizens were justified in resisting him.”

The Political Ideas of Pierre Viret

Robert Dean Linder — p. 131

The Calvinist Peter Martyr stipulated that others in the public weal, who were in ‘place and dignity lower than princes’ and yet in positions of responsibility to ‘elect the superiors,’ have power by existing laws to govern the commonwealth. If, therefore, a prince does not preform his covenant as promised, ‘it is lawful to constrain and bring him into order and by force compel him to fulfill the conditions and covenant which he had promised, and that by war when it cannot be otherwise done.’

And who does Martyr include in his list of “others in the public weal’ who had a responsibility to keep an eye on wandering Magistrates?

Why Peter Martyr includes “Ministers of the Churches,” as those who had a responsibility to keep an eye on wandering Magistrates.

Loyal shoulders should sustain the power of the ruler so long as it is exercised in subjection to God and follows His ordinances; but if it resists and opposes the divine commandments, and wishes to make me share in its war against God, then with unrestrained voice, I answer back that God must be preferred before any man on earth.”

-John of Salisbury, Policraticus, 1159

“The Lord does not give Kings the right to use their power to subject the people to tyranny. Indeed when Liberty to resist tyranny seems to be taken away by princes who have taken over, one can justly ask this question; since kings and princes are bound by covenant to the people, to administer law in truest equality, sincerity and integrity; if they break faith and usurp tyrannical power by which they allow themselves everything they want: is it not possible for the people to consider together taking measures in order to remedy the evil?”

John Calvin

Sermon I Samuel Chapter 8

“…when constitutional limited government is abandoned, tyranny is a result. And citizens have a right to resist tyranny.”

– Robert Godfrey

(2010 Ligonier Regional Conference)

“When Tyranny is abroad, submission is a crime.”

Rev. Andrew Elliot

Election Sermon, 1765

Coming in the context of the English “Stamp Act”

Today that kind of preaching is largely considered “out of place.”

And my friends … my family in Christ, Tyranny is abroad and I for one will not submit. For almost 50 years we have put up with the work of the Tyrants who have tortured and killed the judicially innocent while inhabiting their sanctuaries of life. It has seemingly ended but our tyrant in chief of this country stands before God man and laments that it is a dark day in our history that this small portion of tyranny has come to an end.

But for every one portion of tyranny that seemingly passes us by our Luciferian tyrants prepare for us another crown of illegitimate and immoral law to press down upon our brows by passing legislation that overturns our political covenant as a people.

In the typical fashion of the Usurper and Tyrant our rulers pass an omnibus like legislation this week attacking our political covenant that was arrived upon in the darkness of hidden counsels and presented and passed without the opportunity to even fully read and dissect the legislation that has no passed the US Senate. No amendments were allowed to be offered to this legislation which had more the character of a drive by shooting in Chicago then well thought out and crafted legislation And all of it is fouled with the smell of control that the tyrant so much loves and which the Christ lover hates.

Tyranny now covers what has been called our charter of negative privileges. That document growing out of English common law that was itself so influenced by Biblical law. That document that was committed to explaining what the Federal Government could NOT do to the people in their states organized. That document that is commonly called our Bill of rights but perhaps should be more properly called the Bill of Prohibitions.”

What happened this week is just the kind of thing that Isaiah was seeing in his time. Legislators who decree unrighteous decrees, and those who write misfortune (violence), Which they have prescribed. To rob the needy of justice.

With the tyrants work this week the Federal Government has broadened its ability to infringe the God ordained assignment to keep and bear arms. With the tyrants work this week all that is left of the Due Process guaranteed in the 5th amendment is the Cheshire’s cat’s smile. With the tyrants work this week the Federal Government has weakened your 6th amendment right to face your accuser. Let’s not even talk about the 9th and 10th amendments.

With the voice of Patrick Henry from long ago; I ask friends, what means this legislative action, if its purpose be not to force us into submission?

All of this, if allowed to stand, is the State once again seeking to arise to the position of the most high with the goal of being God walking on the earth. It is the state’s play for divinity … for the right to control the way only God does control. It is this aspect of all of this tyranny that should give the Biblical Christian unrest and cause Him to call out to the God of War. It is this that should energize the clergy across the land to lift their voice to decry wickedness and tyranny in high places. Why should the clergy of all people sit by and remain silent in the face of the State’s attempt to be a god that ranks itself before the only one God? God people can never acquiesce to being controlled by and so serving a God besides the God of the Bible.

Our voices remain mute and our actions are not concentrated because we have lived under long term incremental tyranny and we have adjusted ourselves to the increments of tyranny so that one no longer even notices the next ratcheting up of the tyranny. This gun bill that is being shoved down our throats is just the next instantiation in a long line of tyranny but very few people are screaming ruddy murder. We have become inured to the reality that the FEDS are usurpers and now we just roll with whatever the most recent punch is that they deliver in our direction.

This is so because we have become a Christless people. Having abandoned our great King we no longer have a King to whom we owe a allegiance which would provide us with the solid grand upon which to stand in order to defy Tyrants and Usurpers. We have become so malleable and weak that we even gladly surrender our own seed to the maw of the God-State that we are currently living under.

I am so weary of this Christ-less tyranny. So weary of having to adjust in order to find a way to accommodate it. So weary of having to bow my knee to jackanapes, mountebanks, and blaggards when it should be the tyrants who are the ones bowing their knees to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

From Abraham Lincoln to Woodrow Wilson to FDR and nearly every President since then the tyranny has continued to inflate so that the intolerance of it all screams to the heavens.

And the Church? The Church is like C. S. Lewis’ Lady of the green kirtle who casts spells in order to put people to sleep when they begin to become aroused about the nature of their peril in living under her tyranny. The visible Church is largely useless in this hour having herself decided to now be a servant of the Tyrant that at least a few of us so despise.

If we wish to be free—if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which our Christian Fathers and we have been so long contending—if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must prepare to fight! I repeat it, sir, we must prepare to fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

Patrick Henry