Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Session 4 - Phil Johnson Part Deux

This session was to be about the Trinity in salvation. Phil chose as his text Galatians 4:1-7. He stated that redemption is all about the Trinity. It was not invented as a doctrine in the fourth century; what was already understood among the orthodox community was codified so as to combat errors. This passage affirms the eternal existence, deity and distinction of each member.

A right understanding of this passage of scripture hinges on a correct understanding of the Trinity. The Incarnation ripped the veil off the mystery of the Godhead.

Phil decided that it was proper to give some background of the letter to the Galatian churches so as to set this up. The Judaizers had come and posited that keeping the law was an advanced form of Christianity. What they were doing, however, was to lead away from Christ and to what sinners must do to make themselves acceptable to God. Galatians 2 / Acts 15 – the Judaizers were perhaps even representing the Jerusalem church, but they were teaching the Gentiles Pharisaical ideas.

Phil gave a brief summary of Galatians. In chapters one and two Paul defended his apostolic credentials. He states that all the other disciples recognized his authority. In 2:16 he starts his doctrinal defense of justification by faith. In chapter three, Paul points out that even in the OT it was justification by faith alone, in verses 6 and 17, even before the law. This is parallel to Romans 4. In fact, in verses 22-23, we see God putting us under a guardian, in a sense, to make sure his elect would get to where He had them going, to faith.

In verse 24 of chapter three, we see the purpose of the law, to set the moral standard too high to meet. This keeps Jesus in His role as redeemer, and points to the exceeding sinfulness of sin. In verse 28, Phil said that Paul was pointing us to the fact that we are all now spiritually equal with Abraham as being an heir. This verse is not talking about our roes being changed, however.

This leads us to chapter 4, Paul’s whole culmination and defense against the Judaizers. Paul’s approach in his letters is always doctrine, then practice. Paul was summing up and saying the doctrine of the Judaizers was anti Christian. They affirmed a bunch of good things, but the addition of circumcision ruined it all. They were saying that, “Christians must live in accordance with the law”. It was not that circumcision was sinful in itself, but that it was taught to be a must.

J. Gresham Machen said the modern view sees the Judaizers error as slight, but it is not slight at all. The liberals of his day were doing the same things.

The process according to Paul was
1. Belief
2. Justification
3. Keeping the law

The Judaizers, modern and ancient, said this, in effect
1. Belief
2. Keeping the law
3. Justification

It seems as if Paul was the only one to understand and articulate this clearly. Paul says that Christ is greater than Judaism, and that going back to Judaism is going back under the guardian, going back to elementary school.

Being an heir we stand on equal ground with Abraham, but there is much more; we are heirs with Christ! The full enjoyment of our inheritance is not for children. Children are under authority; they are told what to do. The advent of Christ was our appointed time for adulthood. Christianity is advanced Judaism, nor vice versa. We have a more exalted privilege, and adult privilege. The law was elementary, but faith in Christ brings adulthood.

Paul was writing to Gentiles about the Hebrews and the law, but he includes them in the discussion. In chapter four, verse three, the “elements” Paul refers to are religions in general, he is telling the Gentiles that they are also adopted. The law is the same as paganism in the sense of following it without faith in Christ is futile.

What does this have to do with the Trinity? The Trinity revealed is the biggest difference between the OPT and the NT, it is the most prominent, distinct difference. Ask a Jew; their biggest problem with Christianity is the Trinity specifically, or the deity of Christ, which brings the same idea.

This passage shows the three persons of the Trinity working together since eternity to affect our salvation. Phil gives three points here.

Redeemed by Christ

Christ is our substitute in every conceivable sense (Galatians 3:13 / 2 Corinthians 5:21). We benefit from His action as of we did it.

Adopted by the Father

Vs.5 – We have a share in Christ’s inheritance. We are elevated to full adult privilege, we are truly coming into it, and to go back is unbelief.

Indwelt by the Spirit

Vs.6 – We take this too lightly – not only are we united with Christ, but we become the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:17,19).

We cannot begin to fathom this…


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Even So... said...

Is it about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins?

Is it about the Triune God?

Is it about grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone?

Is it about Jesus Christ being the Son of God, theanthopos, the God-man?

Craver Vii said...

I saw the same Islamic propaganda in a few spots this evening. I just deleted mine. It looks like it's impersonal, but if there's a real person on the other side, I hope they have the good sense to check out links like The Good News of God's Grace you have in the right column of your blog.

Thanks again for the conference notes. Tonight, I'll look at Galatians 4.

Even So... said...

Hey, Craver, yeah I just saw it over at Calvinist Gadfly also...

Hopefully I will get the Q & A session up tomorrow...