The Grace of Law by Dr. Ernest Kevan Reviewed by Guy Davies

Dr. Ernest Kevan (1903-1965) was a Strict Baptist Minister, and Founder and Principle of London Bible College (now London School of Theology). He is best known for his often referenced PhD thesis, “The Grace of Law” which is a study of the Puritan’s understanding of The Moral Law. What follows is Pastor Guy Davies’ (Ebenezer Baptist Church, West Lavington, Wiltshire, England)  review of this work.

GraceLaw

[buy via Amazon]

A confession. I’m something of a chronological snob. Not a full blown one, mind you. I count Augustine, Calvin, Owen and Bavinck among my favourite authors. But I’m a chronological snob none the less. Unless it’s stuff that’s over, say, a hundred years old, I have difficulty in reading anything other than recent publications. This year’s titles and last year’s, yes. The year before that, maybe. But anything before 2009 is so out of date. It’s an unfortunate quirk, I know, but there we are.

What to do, then with a book originally published in the 1960’s and reprinted in 1993. That’s neither decently old or fresh and up to date. Best leave it gathering dust on the shelf. But then I was sent a copy of the author’s biography to review, Ernest Kevan: Leader in Twentieth Century Evangelicals, by Paul E. Brown (Banner of Truth, 2012) . How could I do a proper review of the subject’s life if I wasn’t acquainted with his key book? Time to crucify my chronological snobbery, swallow hard and dust off The Grace of Law. Glad I did too.

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In their historical context the Puritans had to engage with three divergent, yet erroneous views on law of God. They had to avoid the Scylla of the legalists, who taught salvation by law and the Charybdis of the antinomians, who rejected the law as a rule of life for believers. To make things more complicated, they also had to resist the Siren voices of the neonomians, who turned the gospel into a new, easier-to-keep version of the law. That all sounds very seventeenth century. But like the poor, legalists and antinomians are always with us in one form or another. And there is more than a passing resemblance between Richard Baxter’s neonomian conception of the law and the position advocated by Tom Wright and his ‘new perspective’ fellow-travellers. The Puritans provide us with the theological resources to respond to contemporary versions of the heterodox views on the law with which they had to battle.

Kevan ransacked the works of the Puritans in order to recover their thinking on the law of God. He provides a richly detailed and nuanced study of the Puritan view of the law as an expression of God’s commanding authority. Amongst other things he discuses the law and sin, the place of the law in the covenant purposes of God, the law and justification, and grace-enabled Christian law keeping. The Puritans did not regard the law of God as a burden on the believer. Rather, they taught that the joyful keeping of the law is the authentic expression of Christian liberty from the bondage of sin. In the words of William Perkins, “The more we are bound to obedience, the freer we are: because the service of God is not bondage, but perfect libertie.” (Cited on p. 247-248).

The Grace of Law, Kevan’s Phd thesis makes for a demanding, yet rewarding read. If nothing else, his work has helped liberate me from my chronological snobbery against books that either aren’t new enough or old enough to warrant my usual attention. Now I’m ready to make a start on the author’s biography.

GuyDavies

Imputation of Righteousness and Covenant Theology By Walt Chantry

Today is the final day of ARBCA’s General Assembly with Keynote Speaker Walt Chantry. Below is the outline with a sample from his ARBCA Booklet “Imputation of Righteousness and Covenant Theology: An Overview of Romans 5:12-21

Walt ChantryTherefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned — for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

 

But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

 

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I. An Indictment Against Humanity

II. Imputation

III. How Does God Deal With Humanity?

V. Covenant Theology

The Lord of heaven and earth, in His administration of humanity, has appointed for us a head, or a representative. The representative is one of our own, a true human being who is to act for us before God in His system of justice. In other words, the Most High employs the mechanism of collective or corporate management. This is a fact taught in Scripture with which we must all come to terms.

 

We understand this on an earthly level. Some of the decisions which have the most far-reaching impact on your life are made for you by representatives. You cannot act directly in international affairs. You have representatives in Washington. When they make decisions, they are your decisions, whether you like them or not. If your representatives declare war, you are at war. It will do no good to cry, “I didn’t vote for him and I disagree with his behavior in this matter.” Your heads have plunged you into war with all of its consequences. We act corporately.

 

Some of you work for large corporations. It is not possible for every employee to sit down with the CEO or president of the corporation and to negotiate his personal working arrangement. There are representatives who conduct collective bargaining. Your future income and working conditions will rise and fall with the wisdom and effectiveness of the person representing you in collective bargaining.

 

This is even true socially in our families. If fathers act with wisdom in working hard, managing finances with skill, making educational and spiritual decisions with insight, it will have important consequences for their children. Very few children would have chosen the social, economic and emotional consequences which they bear from their parents’ divorce.

V. The Histories of Adam and Jesus

VI. The Teaching Hated

VII. Understanding Covenant Theology

This teaching of Romans 5 and of all the Scripture has been called Covenant Theology. These two great covenants for humanity are described in Chapters 6 and 7 of our London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. Arising from passages like Genesis 2 and 3 and Romans 5:12-21 these two arrangements (covenants), made by God with mankind’s only two federal heads, find all of Scripture organized under them. The understanding that there are only two covenants or two representatives whose actions are imputed to all who were in them gives struct9ure for understanding God’s Word. There have only been two arrangements by which men might have the favor and blessing of God, one in Adam and one in Christ.

 

When God made man, He very clearly published the terms under which innocent man could continue to enjoy God’s favor and blessing. Adam out representative was required to continue in righteousness under a test. Adam failed. His fall plunged us into guilt, shame and misery.

 

God immediately (Genesis 3:15) published a way for sinners, fallen in Adam, to have righteousness and thereby restoration to God’s favor and blessing. It would be by the person and work of another representative, Jesus the coming Savior. This was by grace through faith in the Son of God, whose one act would credit us who believe in him with the righteousness of God.

 

Both of these covenants are in force today. The covenant in which Adam represented us has not been set aside and forgotten. All the arrangements of that agreement are still in force. People are born sinners, condemned by God and die because the Almighty is enforcing the terms of the covenant made with Adam. Unless somehow people are savingly united to Jesus Christ (the second and last Adam), the covenant with Adam will determine their destinies forever and ever. Union with Jesus Christ is a necessity because the first covenant has not been canceled by God. Again we return to the issue that God will deal with you under one of two representatives whom He appointed.

 

Scripture tells us of various historic covenants that followed His arrangement with Adam. He made covenants with Abraham, Moses, David and Christ. But all of these are merely various administrations of the one Covenant of Grace in which Jesus is the appointed representative and in which men are saved by grace through faith in the Messiah.

 

When Adam heard Genesis 3:15, he began to look forward in hope to the seed of the woman (Jesus Christ). The first words out of Adam’s mouth, after God pronounced the curses for the broken covenant, were to call his wife “Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20). Adam, after the Fall, and the patriarchs, and Abraham, and Moses, and David all trusted in a second representative, or covenant head, Jesus Christ. As time went by the arrangement to have one act of one man provide the righteousness of God for believers became more and more plain – but it was one and the same covenant arrangement.

VIII. Imputation & Calvinism

IX. The Influences of the School of Samur

X. One Further Implication

Walt Chantry – Covenant Theology

Today is the second day of ARBCA’s General Assembly with Keynote Speaker Walt Chantry. Below are his lectures on Covenant Theology:

From Sovereign Grace Audio Treasures (which has lots of free mp3s from Walter Chantry):

Covenant Theology:

 

The Covenants: of Works, of Grace:

 

The Covenants: Applications:

 

New Cov’t: Introduction:

 

New Cov’t: The Almighty God:

 

New Cov’t: God’s Dealing With Men:

 

New Cov’t: Ceremonies:

 

New Cov’t: Unity of the Covenants:

 

New Cov’t: Covenants & the Law:

 

New Cov’t: Covenants & The Spirit:

 

The Covenants & Baptism:

Walt Chantry – The Covenants of Works and of Grace

Today is the first day of the 2013 Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA) General Assembly. This year’s Keynote Speaker is Walter Chantry. Walt Chantry was raised in a Presbyterian church, received his B.D. from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1963 from which time he was Pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania until his retirement in 2002 He is currently Editor of Banner of Truth magazine. Below is his booklet “The Covenants of Works and of Grace“. (via Chapel Library)

The Covenants of Works and of Grace by junior

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Samuel & Micah Renihan On Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology & Biblical Theology [PDF]

This material was presented by the authors to students of Westminster Seminary California during a lunch hour on campus in response to their inquiries about how Reformed Baptists view covenant theology. Given the time constraints of a one-hour presentation, the focus of the material was on areas of positive argument for the credobaptist position where it differs from paedobaptism. Key points of covenant theology are absent from this presentation, not because they do not form a part of Reformed Baptist covenant theology, but because there is no disagreement between our position and that of the paedobaptists. For example, there is no discussion of the covenant of works, fully affirmed by the London Baptist and Westminster confessions, and there is no discussion of the definition of a covenant since we agree with the basic definition formulated by Meredith G. Kline: a commitment with divine sanctions between a lord and a servant. Other arguments and significant points were omitted for the sake of time, such as the relation between kingdom and covenant or exegetical discussions of specific key passages around which this dialogue normally revolves. What follows are foundational assertions arguing for a Reformed Baptist view of covenant theology and biblical theology, applied specifically to credobaptism.

Read it here:

Download (PDF, 237KB)

Greg Nichols – The Covenants [MP3 Lectures]

gregnicholsGreg Nichols, author of  “COVENANT THEOLOGY: A Reformed and Baptistic Perspective on God’s Covenants” has a lecture series on “The Covenants“.  Lectures are mp3s, so download and listen!

General Introduction to God’s Covenants – Part 1

General Introduction to God’s Covenants – Part 2

Biblical Revelation of God’s Covenants

Eternal Counsel of Redemption

The Covenant of Grace (The Creation Prohibition)

The Noahic Covenant

The Abrahamic Covenant – Part 1

The Abrahamic Covenant – Part 2

The Old Covenant – Part 1

The Old Covenant – Part 2

The Davidic Covenant

The Messianic Covenant

The New Covenant

John Owen Outline By Brandon Adams

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Brandon Adams has created an Expandable/Collapsible Outline of John Owen’s commentary on Hebrews 8:6-13

In talking with a number of well read people, I have been surprised how many of them are completely unaware of John Owen’s contribution to covenant theology. I had one person ridicule baptists for rejecting “Reformed orthodoxy” in the Westminster Standards because of our view of covenant theology. He then informed me he would “stick with Witsius, Owen, Petto, and Colquhoun.” This man was completely unaware that John Owen rejected the “Reformed orthodoxy” of the Westminster Standards.

Owen rejected the formulation of the Westminster Confession (one covenant, two administrations) and held that the new and the old were two distinct covenants with two different mediators and everything else that follows. I believe he provides a valuable contribution to current debate over covenant theology and everyone who is interested should read him. However, I also know not everyone has time to read through his 150 pages on Hebrews 8:6-13, so I have created a summary outline of Owen’s argumentation. I created it in a collapsible format to make it easier to follow the progress of his arguments. Hopefully this will interest people in reading Owen, which will hopefully lead to a better understanding of covenant theology for us all.

via Jim Renihan “A Useful Tool for Reading John Owen on Hebrews 8″ at The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies

David Kingdon: The Silence That Breaks The Silence

David Kingdon on the New Testament’s silence of infant baptism and the place of John the Baptist in Redemptive History:

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http://audio.christianlibrary.org.au/1/4/347kingdon.mp3

… the question that needs to be put is this: “Is there reason to believe that Reformed paedobaptists have overlooked a key element in redemptive history that calls into question their common assumption that it is possible to jump from circumcision to the baptism of infants?” I believe there is. It is the ministry of John the Baptist which we must now consider.

For full text see David Kingdon’s “John the Baptist: The Silence That Breaks The Silence” from Founders Journal, Spring 2002, pp. 5-16.

 

 

Credo-Baptism During The Reformation

Reformed Forum’s Christ the Center podcast, a while back, interviewed James Dolezal on Credo Baptism during the Reformation, great listen:

” James Dolezal argues for viewing three distinct categories: Anabaptists, general baptists, and particular baptists. The theological differences between these groups are as great as the differences among all forms of paedo-baptism.”

Audio:

 

 

Michael Horton & Jeff Johnson Debate Covenant Theology

Michael Horton (Reformed), Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California and Jeff Johnson (Covenantal Baptist), author of The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism debate “What’s The Difference: Baptist vs. Presbyterian”.

Both men believe that the Mosaic Covenant is in some sense a Republication of the Covenant of Works.

The debate took place at the 2012 Semper Reformanda Conference at Grace Family Baptist Church, Spring, Texas, where Voddie Baucham is an Elder.

(1 hour video courtesy of Brandon Adams via Keith Throop)

Who Speaks for Reformed Baptists (Part 2)

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The 1689 Confession itself best defines a Reformed Baptist Church.

 

Our Confession is the best safeguard for the local congregation and for Reformed Baptists as a whole.

 

In a sea with so many diverse and changeable voices, the Confession tells the world what we, as Particular Baptists (what called themselves) or Reformed Baptists (the more modern term), believe.  It gives us a point of unity and heritage with our like-minded reformed brethren.  It stands as the definitive Statement of Faith for our churches.  Our Confession speaks for us and has stood the test of time.  We should learn from it, study the heritage behind it, and discover in even greater ways from our Particular Baptist forefathers the truths contained in that age old document.  It does a great job defining “the things most surely believed among us.”

by Steve Marquedant for Reformed Baptist Fellowship (full text here)

Part 1 here.

Is Baptism a Secondary Doctrine? Nathan Finn Responds

“Mohler himself uses baptism as one of his examples as a secondary doctrine. How should Baptists, and particularly Southern Baptists, think of the doctrine of baptism (and ecclesiology in general)? Is baptism a second-order doctrine?…But as Southern Baptists, it is important to recognize that a particular understanding of baptism–the full immersion of professed believers–is a core distinctive of our churches and our denomination. While every Southern Baptist I know would agree that baptism doesn’t contribute to our salvation, almost every Southern Baptist I know would argue that confessor’s baptism by immersion is the explicit teaching of the New Testament and that other Christians who sprinkle babies and call it baptism are in error, even if they don’t know it.”

Read the entire article.