The Man of God…

“This is a growing tendency to ‘deem it of prime importance that they should enter upon their ministry accomplished preachers, and of only secondary importance that they should be scholars, thinkers, theologians.’ ‘It is not so,’ he is reported as saying, ‘that great or even good preachers are formed. They form themselves before they form their style or peaching. Substance with them precedes appearance, instead of appearance being a substitute for substance. They learn to know the truth before they think of presenting it… They acquire a solid basis for the manifestation of their love of souls through a loving, comprehensive, absorbing study of the truth which saves souls.’ In these winged words is outlined the case for the indispensableness of Systematic Theology for the preacher. It is summed up in the propositions that it is through the truth that souls are saved, that is accordingly the prime business of the preacher to present this truth to men, and that is consequently his fundamental duty to become himself possessed of this truth, that he may present it to men and so save their souls. It would not be easy to overstate, of course, the importance to a preacher of those gifts and graces which qualify him to present this truth to men in a winning way—of all, in a word, that goes to make him an ‘accomplished preacher.’ But it is obviously even more important to him that he should have a clear apprehension and firm grasp of that truth which he is to commend to men by means of these gifts and graces.”

– B.B. Warfield, The Man of God (Vol. 1)


Owen on Hebrews 11:6

“Many in all ages have attempted thus to please God without faith, and yet continue to do so. Cain began it. His design in his offering was to please God; but he did not in faith, and failed in his design. And this is the great difference always in the visible church. All in their divine worship profess a desire to please God, and hope that so they shall do,—to what purpose else was it to serve him?—but, as our apostle speaks, many of them seek it not by faith, but by their own works and duties which they do and perform, Romans 9:32. Those alone attain their end who seek it by faith. And therefore God frequently rejects the greatest multiplication of duties, where faith is wanting…”

The Moral Law…

“Be careful, then, how you think. False premises produce false conclusions, even when one’s reasoning is logically sound. If you assume that the moral law had a beginning at Sinai, you might as well assume that the law had an end at Calvary. But we know that all sinned before Sinai, therefore breaking some commandment—some law—as Romans 4:15 and 5:13 indicate. Before the commandments were given in plain, written form ‘on tables of stone,’ the moral law must have been known in some other form. Otherwise the sins of lawbreakers could not have been punished.”

Getting the Garden Right?

“If we deny Adams’s place as as federal head of a covenant that would either vindicate or condemn him according to his works, then we remove the possibility for mankind to fall in him. And if that is the case, we remove the reason for the incarnation of the eternally begotten Son of God. In fact, we remove the reason for God’s wrath towards mankind and man’s spiritual deadness in sins and trespasses, More than that, we remove the biblical framework within which to understand the category of imputation, so vital to Paul’s argument concerning Adam and Christ in Romans 5. If we fail to grasp this foundation, we will be building on sand from the start.”

“Necessary Consequences Don’t Work for Covenants…

Too many times, systematic conclusions are included in covenant theologies without an actual necessity in the conclusion. For example, circumcision was given to Abraham as a seal (Romans 4:11). Putting aside for now the full meaning of this text in its context, some conclude that therefore all covenants have seals and apply the term to baptism, not as an illustration to explain baptism, but as a part of their theological system to be received and believed. Some have noted that blood is spilled in connection with a covenant and conclude therefore that apart from a blood-ritual there is no covenant. Some have noted that families are included in covenants and have concluded therefore that families are a necessary feature of all covenants.

Each of these conclusions may be true. The point is simply that they are not necessarily true because the features of one covenant cannot be used to determine the features of another covenant. There is no natural necessity, inference, or proportion between things instituted, things positive, things supernatural, things covenantal. And systems built on inferences derived from covenants, which are neither natural nor necessary, will therefore contain unnecessary, and likely illegitimate, consequences. As Nehemiah Coxe said, because covenants are instituted by God and do not arise from any natural state,

“… our Knowledge and Understanding of them, must wholly depend upon Divine Revelation…seeing the nature of them is such as transcends common Principles of Reason or natural Light.”

This distinction between creation and covenant, with its methodological implications for consequences, does not deny the analogy of faith. The limitation of the details of one covenant to the institution of the covenant is not the same as the limitation of the details of one covenant to one passage of Scripture. The Word of God may speak of one covenant in many places, and they are all to be consulted and considered as constituting the final word on the matter.

~ Samuel Renihan, The Mystery of Christ

Covenant Theology: Methodology & Hermeneutics…

“One way in which this balance has not been maintained in the past is by covenant theologies that equate the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants with the new covenant, or covenant of grace, based on the continuity of salvation throughout them and their contribution to the progressive revelation of Christ and his mission. The problem is that in such a system, a progression of covenants becomes one covenant, and the system therefore controls, reduces, and flattens out the progressive nature of the biblical material from which it is derived. That which stays the same has wrongly reinterpreted that which changes. 

In covenant theology, where covenants are not a part of the created order, the system of covenant theology is especially and necessarily dependent on, and determined by, the biblical data. And the covenant theologian, or student of covenant theology, must maintain the proper balance between the law and the gospel, substantially and historically. Salvation is indeed by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, as it has been ever since its announcement in Genesis 3:15. But the relation of each subsequent covenant to this promise must be considered individually, and any system raised from these details must account for the ongoing progress of history.”

~ Samuel Renihan, The Mystery of Christ

Samuel Renihan on Typology…

“A cursory definition of typology as correspondence and escalation may give the impression that typology is simply a shift from one end of a scale to another. It paints types and antitypes as two ends of a spectrum. The type is dark, grey, and as we move up the scale or cross the spectrum, the type becomes colorful and vibrant until it reaches the point of being the antitype. However, that is not the full and true nature of typology as presented by the Scriptures. The Bible contrasts types and antitypes as two different things. Its language is that of shadows and substances, pictures and realities. The escalation of typology is not merely quantitative, but qualitative. Types are pictures of antitypes. Antitypes are other and greater than the types.”

Covenants Are Not Natural Arrangements…

“Because covenants are not natural arrangements, the specific nature and details of any given covenant are no more and no less than what God makes them to be. Their details cannot be discovered, determined, or defined apart from God’s sovereign institution because they do not exist apart from God’s sovereign institution. They are not natural. The parties of the covenant and their respective commitments are limited to that which God has instituted.”

~ Samuel Renihan 

“A Child of Promise”

“The power of the Spirit is strongly manifested in the lives of both Isaac and Christians. Isaac’s miraculous birth took place when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90. Paul says in Romans 4:19-20 that Abraham contemplated his own body and Sarah’s womb and realized that they were both basically dead as far as producing children was concerned. It was humanly and physically impossible for them to have children together, yet Abraham did not waiver in unbelief but grew strong in faith and trusted God to give what he promised. Thus, by the supernatural power of the Spirit, Abraham and Sarah were enabled to have a baby boy. His birth was not according to the physical powers of the flesh in that the flesh was unable to produce his conception. It was the power of the Holy Spirit through faith that made Isaac a ‘child of promise.’ It is the same with believers today. Believers, like Isaac, are children of promise, because they too have gone through a supernatural birth. They have been supernaturally born again by the Spirit of God. This is another strong argument that Paul is not thinking in terms of the genealogical principle of natural childbirth when it comes to defining who now are the ‘children of promise.’ In the New Covenant, the children of promise are those born supernaturally according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh (verse 29).”

Calvin on Regeneration…

“Therefore, in a word, I describe poenitentia [repentance| as regeneration, of which the goal is none other than that the image of God, defiled and nearly wiped out in us by the transgression of Adam, is restored in us. And this restoration is not completed in one moment or in one day or one year; but with continual, yes, even slow steps God removes corruption from his elect.”