The Impeccability of Jesus Christ

The impeccability of Christ is an important, though debated point. It involves not only the sinlessness of our savior, but whether it was possible for him to sin. As we consider the issue, we turn to F. W. Kremer’s article, “The Impeccability of the Lord Jesus Christ” published in Reformed Quarterly Review, Volume 26, April 1879.

We discuss the tendency to consider Christ’s humanity independently of his divinity. It’s not merely that people recognize the natures are distinct, but that they implicitly acknowledge that his humanity can be abstracted from his divinity. In the abstract, we could acknowledge that Jesus’s human nature had the capability of sinning. For example, his body was physically capable of taking a sword and murdering someone. But we cannot consider Christ’s human nature in the abstract. He is the second person of the trinity who has assumed a true body and a reasonable soul. Sin involves a moral agent. Does the human nature of Christ constitute a full moral agent apart from the person of the son? This also raises serious issues regarding God’s decree. Throughout the episode, we maintain that if it was possible for Christ to sin, it was possible for Christ to fail.

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Buswell and Van Til

David Owen Filson joins us to speak about Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, theologian and former president of Wheaton College and Covenant College and Seminary. Buswell was involved with the early modernist-fundamentalist controversy and the founding of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, though he joined the Bible Presbyterian Church when it split with the fledgling OPC over premillennialism and teetotalism. He continued to be an interlocutor with members of the OPC and faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Interestingly, he coined the term “presuppositionalism” while debating with Cornelius Van Til over apologetic and theological method.

Dr. Filson is teaching pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He previously spoke on the subject in episode 316, January 17, 2014

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Vos Group #47 — The Place of Prophetism in Old Testament Revelation

We continue our #VosGroup series in pages 185–188 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider the unfolding of God’s plan as it moves from the period under Moses to that of the prophets. Prophetism marks an epochal movement in OT revelation. In other words, the “new happenings” of God’s mighty deeds in redemptive revelation bring enduring advancement toward consummation—each epoch builds upon and brings advancement to what has proceeded.

The new feature is “the organization of the theocratic kingdom under a human ruler” (185). God is seeking to confer himself on a holy people through a holy king in a holy theocratic realm. As such, Prophetism is a “Kingdom-Producing Movement (186–187). This is a critical point to grasp: prophetism is attached to the advancement of the theocratic kingdom. Prophetism therefore has no independent significance. Its entire rationale grows out of the producing and advancement of the theocratic kingdom of Jehovah.

This comes into even greater clarity as we recognize that the Word is the instrument of Prophetism (187–88). The essence, formally, of prophetism is that it “restricts” itself to the Word of God—the Word from the mouth of Jehovah. The Word of God “in reality did more than anything else towards the spiritualizing of the relation between Jehovah and Israel” (187).

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The Trinity, Language, and Human Behavior

Pierce Taylor Hibbs speaks about language and the Trinity. His book, The Trinity, Language, and Human Behavior: A Reformed Exposition of the Language Theory of Kenneth L. Pike is available in P&R Publishing’s Reformed Academic Dissertations series. Hibbs describes Kenneth Pike’s linguistic theory and compares it to the theology of Cornelius Van Til, demonstrating shared Trinitarian themes.

Pierce Hibbs is the Assistant Director of the Theological English Department at Westminster Theological Seminary. He writes at wordsfortheologians.org.

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The Free Offer of the Gospel

In this episode, we speak about the free offer of the gospel. The real point in dispute in connection with the free offer of the gospel is whether it can properly be said that God desires the salvation of all men. This issue was related to several theological controversies of the 1940s and stemming back decades earlier. Much of this particular issue comes the split of 1924 within the Christian Reformed Church which led to the formation of the Protestant Reformed Church under the leadership of Herman Hoeksema.

For some, the antithesis is so absolutized that there can be no real transition from wrath to grace and no free offer of the gospel. Cornelius Van Til spoke of the antithesis as an ethical rather than metaphysical antithesis. In a letter to Jesse de Boer, he indicated that it was merely another way to speak of total depravity.

As we walk through a study committee report delivered to the 15th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, we are confronted with the great mystery of God’s will and his infallible revelation to us in Scripture.

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The Purposes of the Lord’s Supper

The first paragraph of chapter twenty-nine in the Westminster Confession of Faith sets forth the institution of Lord’s Supper and the uses and ends for which it is designed:

Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in his church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.

In this episode, we discuss the five purposes of the Lord’s Supper detailed in the confession:

  1. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper as a commemorative ordinance for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death.
  2. The Lord’s Supper is a confirmatory sign (cf. Rom. 4:11) for the purpose of sealing all the benefits procured by Christ’s death unto true believers.
  3. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper for the spiritual nourishment and growth of believers in him.
  4. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper for believers for their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him.
  5. Finally, Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper to be a bond and pledge of believers’ communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.

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Vos Group #46 — Summary of Revelation in the Period of Moses

We continue our #VosGroup series in pages 175–182 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider ancestor worship and animism before moving to a summary of Part I of the entire book and specifically, revelation during the period of Moses.

The movement from the Abrahamic to the Mosaic is a movement from lesser to greater directness of access to God. This “greater access” appears especially when we consider what Vos called the “typical proportions” that Moses acquires in an “unusual degree” of Moses. And Exodus 32–34 is key in this regard. Not only does Moses offer himself vicariously to make atonement for sin (Ex. 32:30–33), illustrating the Melchizedekian priesthood of Christ, but he gains access to God in an unprecedented way.

God promises Moses “the divine presence and rest” in the land (33:12–14). God speaks to Moses “face-to-face (33:11)” in the tent of meeting and shows Moses his “glory” as he hides him in the cleft of the rock and declares his name (33:14–20). What Abraham saw in the form of a smoking firepot and a blazing torch, Moses sees in fellowship on a mountain—a mountain that looks back to the mountain of Eden and upward and forward to Mount Zion.

The essence of the covenant bond—the secret of God’s friendship—is with Moses in a unique way, as a sort of first-fruits in the Old Covenant. Moses sees God, knows God, fellowships with God. In fact, Exodus 34:27ff. Moses is on the mountain with God for 40 days and nights without food or water and his transformed in his countenance. He does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

A second major theme that Vos develops is that the tabernacle is a concentrated theocracy. That is to say, the tabernacle dwelling of God is the end to which the entire Exodus aspires–the reality to which it is directed. Finally, all of this conspires to help us recognize that the sacrificial system is a means to a higher end of fellowship with God.

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The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine

We speak with Dr. Stephen G. Myers about Ebenezer Erskine and the important events of Presbyterian history with which he was involved.Dr. Myers is Professor of Historical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In his book, Scottish Federalism and Covenantalism in Transition: The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine, he touches upon many significant issues, including the Marrow Controversy, the relationship of law and grace, covenant theology, and church-state relations. In learning about this era of Presbyterian history, we come to understand how Erskine also serves to refine modern understandings of still controversial theological issues.

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Pastoral Care During the Reformation

William VanDoodewaard speaks to us about Martin Bucer, John Knox, and the development of pastoral care during the Reformation. Dr. VanDoodewaard is professor of church history at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author of 1 & 2 Peter: Feed My Sheep (Welwyn Commentary Series), The Quest for the Historical Adam, and The Marrow Controversy and Seceder Tradition.

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