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Annie Oakley
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VIII. Can the elect fall from the church and may the reprobate always remain in it?

This question has already to a certain extent been answered in what we have said of the unchangeableness of election, and of the perseverance of the saints. The elect when they are once truly in the church of the saints, may indeed sometimes fall, but they never wholly and finally depart from it; not wholly, because they never so fall that they may become the enemies of God and the church; nor yet finally, because they do not continue in apostacy, but do most certainly at length repent and turn to God. “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.” “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (Is. 42:3. John 10:28.) But all the reprobate, and hypocrites do at length go out of the church, and with the gifts which they had, they lose also those which they seemed to have. “They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.” (John 2:19.)

Obj. But the saints have also fallen into sin, as David, Peter, &c.,
Ans. They fall, but not totally, nor finally. Peter fell, but not totally nor finally, for he retained in his heart the love of Christ, although he denied him through fear of danger. He also afterward acknowledged his fall, and wept bitterly over it. Augustin says; “Peter’s faith did not fail in his heart , when he ceased to make confession with his mouth.” Nor did David fall totally; for being reproved of God by his prophet, he did truly repent, and gave evidence that his faith was not wholly lost, but merely slumbered for a time. Hence he prayed, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” Ps. 51:13.) The saints, therefore, never wholly fall. But hypocrites, and the reprobate at length wholly, and finally fall away in such a manner, that they never return to repentance: and because the love of God was never in them, they were never of the member of the elect. Hence it is not to be wondered at, if they at length wholly fall from the church.

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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
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IX. What is the use of this doctrine?

The use of this doctrine is, first that all the glory of our salvation may be attributed to God. “What hast thou, that thou didst not receive.” (1 Cor. 4:7.) And secondly, that we may have sure, and certain comfort. This consolation we shall not want, if we do not doubt in reference to the things here taught: and especially if everyone of us be firmly persuaded, that the decree of God concerning the salvation of the elect be wholly unchangeable; and also that he himself is one of the number of the elect, a living member of the invisible church, and that he shall never depart from the communion of the Saints.

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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
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Question 55. What do you understand by "the communion of saints"?

Answer: First, that all and every one, who believes, being members of Christ, are in common, partakers of him, and of all his riches and gifts; (a) secondly, that every one must know it to be his duty, readily and cheerfully to employ his gifts, for the advantage and salvation of other members. (b)

(a) 1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
1 Cor.1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom.8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
1 Cor.12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
1 Cor.12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Cor.6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

(b) 1 Cor.12:21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
1 Cor.13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
1 Cor.13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Philip.2:4-8 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

chestnutmare #48516 Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:20 AM
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Annie Oakley
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Exposition

The articles of the Creed which we have yet to consider, treat of the benefits of Christ which have been, and shall be conferred upon the church by the Holy Ghost. The term communion expresses the relation between two or more persons, who have the same thing, or possession in common. The foundation or ground of this communion is the thing which is Common. The term itself signifies the possessors, few or many, who have common fruition in one, or many things. The communion of saints therefore, is an equal participation in all the promises of the gospel; or it is the common possession of Christ, and all his benefits; and the bestowment of the gifts which are given to each member for the salvation of the church. It signifies then,
1. The union of all the saints with Christ , as members with the head, which is effected by the Holy Ghost, who dwells in the head, and in the members, conforming and making them like unto their glorious Head, yet preserving a proper proportion between the head and the members; or, it is a union of the church with Christ, and of the members one with another; which union with Christ extends to his whole person, including both, his divine and human natures; for communion with the person of Christ i s the foundation of communion in his benefits, according to what is said: “I am the vine; ye are the branches.” “Abide in me, and I in you.” “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his.” “He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit.” “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath Given us of his Spirit.” (John 15:4, 5. 1 Cor. 12:18. Rom. 8:9. Cor. 6:17. 1 John 4:18.)

2: A participation in all the benefits of Christ. The same reconciliation, redemption, justification, sanctification, life and salvation, belong to all the saints by and for the sake of Christ. They have in common all the benefits which are necessary for their salvation. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” &c. (Eph. 4:4.)

3. The distribution of special gifts. These particular gifts which are bestowed upon some members of the church for the salvation of the whole body, for the gathering of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edification of the church, are also common to the whole church: yet they are at the same time so distributed to all its members that some excel in one particular kind of gifts, whilst others again excel in other respects; for there are different gifts of the Spirit, and “to every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (Eph. 4:7.)

4. The obligation of all the members to devote all the gifts which have been conferred upon them to the glory of Christ, their Head, and to the salvation of the whole body, and of every member mutually.

From what has now been said, we may readily see how vain is the exposition of those, who make the communion of saints to consist in the subsistence of Christ's body in and with our bodies. This opinion is refuted by the often-repeated comparison of the head and the members, which, although they are united in the closest manner, nevertheless, subsist with out any mixture or confusion. From this we may also easily judge of the communion which we have in the sacraments; for they seal nothing different from what the word promises. The same error is also refuted by the consideration, that it is necessary that this communion should continue for ever. It is to this end that Christ communicates himself to us, that he may dwell, and remain in us. Hence the communion of Christ is such as his dwelling in us is, which being spiritual is to last for ever. Wherefore his communion must also be perpetual. This argument is conclusive, and has driven some to the notion of ubiquity, in order that they might overthrow- it; for to maintain that other corporeal communion, they are constrained to affirm that Christ continually dwells bodily in the saints.

Believers are called saints in three respects: by the imputation of Christ's righteousness; by the beginning of conformity to the law which is commenced in them; and by their separation from the rest of the human race, being called of God to the end that they may truly know and worship him.

Hence we may now understand what we mean when we say, I believe in the communion of saints; viz, I believe that all the saints (to the company of whom I am firmly persuaded that I belong) are united to Christ, their head, by his Spirit, and that gifts are bestowed upon them from the head, including such as are the same in all and necessary for their salvation, as well as those which are diverse and variously bestowed upon every one, and which are requisite for the edification of the church.

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Annie Oakley
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Question 56. What believest thou concerning "the forgiveness of sins"?

Answer: That God, for the sake of Christ's satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, neither my corrupt nature, against which I have to struggle all my life long; (a) but will graciously impute to me the righteousness of Christ, (b) that I may never be condemned before the tribunal of God. (c)

(a) 1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
2 Cor.5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2 Cor.5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

(b) Jer.31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Ps.103:3,4 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Ps.103:10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
Ps.103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Mic.7:19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Rom.7:23-25 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

(c) Rom.8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

chestnutmare #48518 Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:21 AM
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Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley
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Exposition

Concerning the forgiveness of sins we must consider:

What it is: By whom it is granted:

On account of what it is granted:

Whether it comports with the justice of God:

If it is gratuitous:

To whom it is granted: and

How and when it is given.

I. What the forgiveness of sins is.


The forgiveness of sins consists in the purpose of God, not to punish the sins of the faithful on account of the satisfaction of Christ. Or, it is the pardon of deserved punishment, and the bestowment and imputation of the righteousness of another, even Christ. It is more fully defined in this manner: To be the will of God which does not impute any sin to the faithful and elect; but remits unto them both the guilt and punishment of sin, loves them just as much as if they had riot sinned, delivers them from all the punishment of sin, and freely grants them eternal life in view of the merits and intercession of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our mediator Bait although God remits unto us our sins for the sake of the merits of his Son, yet he still afflicts us in this life, not, indeed, that he may punish us, hut that he may chastise us as a father. Neither must we suppose, because God does not punish our sins, that they are not displeasing to him, for the sins even of the most holy greatly offend him, although he does not punish them for their sins, for the reason that he has punished them in his Son. For God does not so remit sins as if he did not regard them as sins, or were not displeased therewith; but because he does not impute them unto us, nor punish them in us, and because he accounts us righteous on account of the satisfaction of another, which we apprehend by faith. It is, therefore, the same thing to have the remission of sins, and to be righteous.

Obj. The law does not only demand that: we avoid sin, but also that we do good. Therefore it is not sufficient that sin be pardoned, but it is also necessary that perfect obedience be rendered to the law that we may be just.
Ans. Even the omission of doing good is sin; for he that can do good and does it not, is a sinner, and accursed. (James 4:17.) This forgiveness is granted unto us, because Christ has sufficiently satisfied for all our sins. Hence we have in Christ perfect remission of all our sins in such a way, that we are accounted righteous in the sight of God by his merits alone.

II. By whom forgiveness of sins is granted.

Remission of sins is granted by God alone, who, as the prophet says, (Is. 48:25.) “blotteth out our transgressions.” This is done by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; for we are baptized in the name of the three persons of the Godhead. That we are baptized unto the remission of sins, is evident from the baptism of John. And the Scriptures plainly affirm of Christ, that the Son of man hath power to forgive sins. (Matt. 9:6.) So also it is said of the Holy Ghost that he was tempted, offended and grieved on account of sin; and hence he also has power to forgive it; for no one can forgive sin, except the person against whom it is committed, and who is offended thereby. Christ likewise speaks in express terms of the sin against the Holy Ghost. The reason why no one but God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, can forgive sin, arises from this, that none but the offended party can remit sin. Now no one is offended at sin except God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Therefore no one else can forgive sin; consequently no creature can grant any thing which rightfully belongs to God. Hence David said, “Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.” (Ps. 51:6.)

Obj. But the apostles also, and the church, remit sins, as it is said, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and what soever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.” Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” (Matt. 18:18. John 20:23.) Therefore it is not true that none but God can forgive sins.
Ans. The apostles forgave sin in as far as they announced the forgiveness of God. So the church forgives sin, when she, according to the command of God, pronounces forgiveness to the penitent. So likewise one neighbor remits sin to another, when he pardons private offences. But God alone frees us from the guilt of sin by his own authority; he alone cleanses us from all impurity by the blood of his Son, and remits all sins, original and actual, whether they be sins of omission or of ignorance, as it is said, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities.” “There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” (Ps. 103:3; Rom. 8:1.)

III. On account of what is forgiveness granted!

God forgives our sins out of his pure mercy, and free love towards us; and on account of the intercession and satisfaction of Christ applied by faith. Intercession could not be made without satisfaction, because that would be to ask of God to yield somewhat of his justice. “Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” “The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” “For it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell in Christ; and , having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself.” “Ye are come to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things, than that of Abel.” “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace.” (1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 1:7; Col. 1:19, 20; Heb. 12:24; Eph. 1:7.)

IV. Whether forgiveness of sins comports with the justice of God.

It belongs to God, as a most righteous judge, not to permit sin to pass by with impunity, so that he cannot remit it, unless some sufficient satisfaction be made. Hence God cannot grant the forgiveness of sins out of his clemency, which would conflict with his justice, for the reason that he would then suffer it to pass by unpunished; but he has punished it most sufficiently in Christ. God then pronounces us righteous, and such as are not to be punished in view of the perfect satisfaction of Christ, which does net conflict with his justice and truth.

Obj. 1. The justice of God demands that he who sins, should be punished. Therefore that forgiveness which is granted without a sufficient punishment of the sinner, conflicts with the justice of God.
Ans. It would, indeed, conflict with the justice of God, if he were not to punish sin at all, neither in the sinner, nor in any one else, who might endure punishment in the sinner’s room and stead.

Obj. 2. But to punish the innocent in the place of the guilty is also repugnant to the justice of God.
Ans. This objection would have force, 1. If the innocent one were unwilling to endure the punishment which would be required. 2. If he were not of the same nature with the guilty. 3. If he were not able to undergo a sufficient punishment. 4. If he could not come forth from this punishment; for God would not have the innocent to perish for the guilty. 5. If he were not able to renew and regenerate the sinner, and give him faith so that he might embrace his benefits. But all these conditions meet in Christ, as is clearly evident from the following portions of Scripture: “Christ hath loved us and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour.” “I lay down my life for the sheep.” “He was wounded for our transgressions, and was bruised for our iniquities.” “Christ died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “I lay down my life that I might take it again.” “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it.” “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Eph. 5:2; John 10:15; Is. 53:5; 2 Cor. 5:15. John 2:19; 10:17. Eph. 5:25; Tit. 2:14.)

V. Is the forgiveness of sins gratuitous?

Although God does not extend unto us the forgiveness of our sins, unless a sufficient satisfaction be made, yet he nevertheless grants remission freely, because he does not demand satisfaction from us, but from Christ upon whom our sins were laid.

Obj. But if God forgive sins for the sake of the satisfaction of Christy” it is not free.
Ans. It is, indeed, free in respect to us; for it is with out any satisfaction on our part, although not without the satisfaction of another. To this it is objected; he that grants pardon upon this condition, does not grant it freely; for it is an established rule, That whatever any one does through another, he seems to do through himself. Therefore we ourselves give this satisfaction, by paying it through Christ. Ans. But God also gives this price, or ransom for us, that is, he gave Christ to be our satisfier and mediator; for he was not purchased by us. “God so loved the world that he gave his,” &c. (John 3:16.)

VI. To whom is the forgiveness of sins granted?

The forgiveness of sins is extended to all and only the elect; because it is given to such as believe. In as much now as the reprobate never do truly believe, they never receive the forgiveness of sins. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” “To him gave all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (John 3:36, Acts 10:43.) All the elect, however, do not always enjoy the forgiveness of sins, but all those that believe always have it; for none have the remission of sins, but those who believe that they have it. But all the elect do not always believe this: but then first when they are converted, and made the possessors of a true faith. Yet they always have the remission of sins, in respect to the purpose of God. Even infants have faith in possibility and inclination, although not actually. Hence they also have the forgiveness of sins.

VII. How and when the forgiveness of sins is granted.

The forgiveness of sins is granted and received by faith alone, which the Holy Spirit works and kindles in us. It may be said then, that the forgiveness of sins is granted at the time when it is received by faith. God has, indeed, determined from everlasting to pardon the sins of those whom he has chosen in Christ, for the sake of his satisfaction, but he pardons the sins of every one, and of all that believe in Christ, at the time when he accounts them as righteous, and works in their hearts by the Holy Spirit a sense of this pardon, so that they may forever remain certain in regard to it. The decree of God, therefore, concerning the forgiveness of sins is everlasting, but the execution of it takes place at the time when we apply to ourselves by faith the forgiveness which the gospel offers unto us. It is in the same way that God always loves his people, but he does not shed abroad this love in their hearts before their repentance. But those who do truly repent obtain at length the testimony of their conscience, by the Holy Spirit which is given unto them, that they are beloved of God, and so enjoy the forgiveness of sins.

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