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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Saturday, April 14, 2007
From the Pen of Walter Marshall (1692)
This excerpt, taken from "The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification: Growing in Holiness By Living In Union With Christ" - written by Walter Marshall and first published in 1692. The whole thing appears as a single paragraph in chapter four, but I will post it in clips, and attempt to simplify each thought in a brief summary beneath them as they come...

The faith which philosophers commonly treat of is only a habit of the understanding, by which we assent to a testimony on the authority of the testifier. Accordingly, some would have faith in Christ to be no more than a believing the truth of things in religion, on the authority of Christ testifying them.

He is saying that some people regard faith as an intellectual assent to the truths of the gospel. These, he says, have a settled and right opinion about Christ's authority and confuse this certainty for faith - as though one could become justified by merely believing in the validity of the gospel.

But the apostle shows that the faith by which we are justified is faith in Christ's blood (Rom. 3:24, 25), not only in His authority as a testifier. And though a mere assent to a testimony were sufficient faith for knowledge of things, which the philosophers aimed at, yet we are to consider that the design of saving faith is not only to know the truth of Christ and His salvation, testified and promised in the gospel, but also to apprehend and receive Christ and His salvation, as given by and with the promise.

Here Walter expounds the same thought with a little more clarity. He shows that assenting to the truth of a thing is nothing more than having correct knowledge about a thing - and suggests that saving faith is more than simply having a correct understanding of the gospel, that salvation is the result of receiving Christ
through the promise, and in this way receiving salvation.

Therefore, saving faith must necessarily contain two acts, believing the truth of the gospel, and believing on Christ, as promised freely to us in the gospel, for all salvation.

Plainly stated, it is self evident that in order to receive the promise one must have a correct understanding of, and a full assurance in the validity of the gospel before one is able to receive the promise - but that while the former is a necessary precursor to receiving the promise, it is not to be confused with receiving the promise - for one can assent to all the truth and imagine themselves to be in possession of saving faith, when in truth they are only in possession of the saving facts.

By the one, it receives the means in which Christ is conveyed to us; by the other, it receives Christ Himself, and His salvation in the means,

Here he eloquently states the very distinction, a right understanding of the gospel is the means by which Christ can be conveyed to us - but just as having a horse is a means of transportation, it is not the same as actually being transported somewhere by that means. So too unless Christ is received, one is not saved, even if one is in possession of the means by which one may be saved.

Personally, I think this is where some free-gracers mess up - being convinced that faith is an ability to [1] believe that Christ is real and that [2] the gospel is valid - and imagining that by believing these things to be true they are saved; that is, they think God is obligated to save them because they have managed to believe that the truth is true.

as it is one act to receive the breast or cup in which milk or wine are conveyed, and another act to suck the milk in the breast and to drink the wine in the cup.

Here Walter draws the distinction metaphorically - a nursing babe might receive the means to nurse, but that is not the same as nursing. A person might receive wine, but that is not the same as drinking it.

And both these acts must be performed heartily with an unfeigned love to the truth and a desire of Christ and His salvation above all things.

What Walter is getting at here is that genuine faith consists of both the right understanding of the gospel (which ends up being the means) and also the genuine turning to Christ that is supposed to follow that understanding.

This is our spiritual appetite, which is necessary for our eating and drinking Christ, the food of life, as a natural appetite is for bodily nourishment.

No one follows through to Christ unless they have a spiritual hunger - that is, there are plenty of people out there who believe the gospel is true, but have no personal hunger for Christ, and lacking such a hunger they either fall away when the going gets tough, or having never had genuine faith but having become intellectually convinced that they are genuine believers - (that is, having become woefully deceived into thinking their intellectual assent is actually saving faith) they attempt to approximate the Christian life even though it is obvious to themselves that they only hunger that they have is not driven by love of God but rather by the fear of God.

Our assenting to, or believing the gospel, must not be forced by mere conviction of the truth, such as wicked men and devils may be brought to, when they had rather it were false. Neither must our believing in Christ be only constrained for fear of damnation, without any hearty love and desire towards the enjoyment of Him;

That is to say: Let us not confuse the fear of hell with the love of God, for both can empower a man to act religiously.

but we must receive the love of the truth by relishing the goodness and excellency of it; and we must 'account all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, and count them but dung, that we may win Christ and be found in Him' (2 Thess. 1:10; Phil. 3:8, 9), esteeming Christ to be all our salvation and happiness (Col. 3: 11), 'in whom all fullness dwells' (Col. 1:19).

Ah - instruction here! How do we receive the love of the truth and all these other fine Christian traits? By approximating them in our practice? No, we receive the love of the truth (et. al) by meditating on the truth as found in God's word.

And this love must be to every part of Christ's salvation - to holiness as well as forgiveness of sins. We must desire earnestly that God would create in us a clean heart and right spirit, as well as hide His face from our sins (Ps. 51:9, 10);

Jesus saved us, not only from sin's penalty, but also from sin's power - we are not supposed to be enslaved to sin - and this salvation from sin's power is received in the same way all things are received spiritually - through the gospel; that is, through [1] being convinced that Christ will save us, and [2] receiving that salvation through faith.

not like many that care for nothing in Christ but only deliverance from hell.

An apt description of a false convert - he cares nothing about being delivered from sin, all he wants is to avoid sin's consequences.

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled (Matt. 5:6). The former of these acts does immediately unite us to Christ, because it is terminated only on the means of conveyance, the gospel; yet it is a saving act, if it be rightly performed, because it inclines and disposes the soul to the latter act, whereby Christ Himself is immediately received into the heart.

The former act refers to hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and the latter act refers to being filled. Walter interprets this passage from a soteriological angle - those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are those who are pursuing - not an escape from hell, but deliverance from sin - and it is these who will be filled (that is, saved from sin). Amen? Amen.

He that believes the gospel with hearty love and liking, as the most excellent truth, will certainly with the like heartiness believe on Christ for salvation. They that know the name of the Lord will certainly put their trust in Him (Ps. 9:10).

Those who love the gospel are typically the same people who are eventually saved through it.

Therefore in Scripture saving faith is sometimes described by the former of these acts, as if it were a mere believing the gospel; sometimes by the latter, as a believing on Christ, or in Christ: 'If you believe in your heart, that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved' (Rom. 10:9). 'The scripture says, that whoever believes on Him, shall not be ashamed' (v. 11). 'Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God' (1 John 5:1). 'These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God' (v. 13).

He explains how the error (confusing assenting to the facts for saving faith) is typically made - because while the whole of scripture presents the whole of the gospel, yet a person can err by rejecting the whole of the gospel in favor of a few verses taken out of context and made to be the whole of the puzzle when in fact they are only pieces of the bigger picture.

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posted by Daniel @ 9:19 PM  
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