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Three Reformers

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
November 6, 2023 1:00 am

Three Reformers

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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November 6, 2023 1:00 am

Beacon pastors present brief biographies of three men in church history- John Wycliffe, Ulrich Zwingli, and Benjamin Keach.


Well, I was going to say before I introduce the speakers for tonight, I'm going to say a couple of things, but it occurred to me that in a sense we've already introduced it by the hymns we have sung. It was a great introduction to what we're doing tonight, hymns that many of God's people do not know, have not heard, have not sung, and that's a pity because these hymns point us back to the Reformation, and two of them, of course, were authored by Martin Luther. And I'm going to take the time to read the paragraph in our bulletin this morning that focuses on the work that God did through Martin Luther on October 31, 1517.

A German monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the chapel door at Wittenberg, more correctly Wittenberg, Germany. These were items that Luther wanted to discuss publicly in the university community where he taught. They involved various doctrines and practices of the church in Rome, which Luther had come to believe were contrary to scripture.

And we have heard, if you've been here for any length of time, a number of explanations of how it was he came to understand the truth of the gospel, but we go on. Luther had no thought of starting a worldwide religious movement. All he intended was frank discussion about the various teachings which Luther believed ought to change. Because of the recent invention of movable type and the development of the printing press in The Providence of God, Luther's theses were printed and distributed all over Europe within a few days. And a movement of religious reformation began which shook the established church and forever changed the history of the Western world. Please join us in giving thanks to God for the great revival of biblical truth known as the Protestant Reformation.

Tonight we're going to take three figures that God used at that time in chronological order, starting with Wycliffe, Pastor Latour is going to tell us about him, who was greatly used in bringing the scriptures to people to be able to have them and to read them. Followed by a vignette of Zwingli by Pastor Carnes, the Swiss reformer, who was contemporaneous with probably the tail end of Luther's life and during the time when Calvin was active. And then finally we're going to move back to England and take up Benjamin Keats which Pastor Strength is going to tell us about, greatly used in that further reformation to take a couple further steps. We find the Protestant Reformation in Europe kind of got, what should I say, got stalled out in certain areas and there was great persecution for people who had come to a Baptist position in Europe as there was at times in England. But in England there was that further cultivation of the reformation to come to some additional truths, not gospel, not quite as foundational yet very important such as the proper subjects and mode of baptism. And all of these, surprising to many people, founded upon the doctrines of grace which have become so misunderstood and foreign in our day and yet were really the foundation of the Protestant Reformation. Without that understanding there would not have been a Protestant Reformation.

One more word before we turn it over to these men to come. It rather baffles me from time to time when I listen to the radio program The Lutheran Hour which I enjoy hearing on Sunday mornings, at least part of. And I remember hearing that when I was a boy living in Illinois in the 1950s, The Lutheran Hour. And solid men preaching the word of God and yet men who did not follow the founder of their church, Martin Luther, in his understanding of the doctrines of grace. I hear a lot of Arminianism in The Lutheran Hour.

Poor Martin Luther wouldn't have been happy about that. So anyway, enough said and we will start with Pastor Bob Luteur. The second verse of the final assignment we sang moments ago and near the end of it says, no man can glory in thy sight. All must delight, confess thy might and live alone by mercy.

I'm sure it's the prayer of the other two men that we'll be sharing tonight that will do more than just spit back information to you, but give you a peek into what made these men instruments in God's hands. John Wycliffe was a man of God characterized by conviction, courage and confrontation. John Wycliffe has been called the Morning Star of the Reformation. The Morning Star is actually the planet Venus which appears before the sun rises.

And while darkness still dominates the horizon, the Morning Star is unmistakably visible. Darkness dominated the horizon in the 14th century, the century of Wycliffe. He was born in 1330 and died in 1384, almost exactly 100 years before Luther was born. By his teenage years, he was at Oxford. Before long, Wycliffe took his place among the faculty. Initially, he lectured and wrote in the field of philosophy, but the tug of biblical studies pulled on him. He applied himself rigorously to the study of theology and scripture.

As he did, he realized how much the church had veered off in so many wrong directions. In the 1370s, Wycliffe produced three significant works as countermeasures to the church's corruption. The first one, On Divine Dominion, that came at papal authority. Wycliffe was at a loss to find biblical warrant for the papacy. In fact, he argued that the papacy conflicts with and obscures the church's true authority, and that's scripture. The second major work was On Civil Dominion. Here, he targeted the Roman Catholic Church's assertion of authority over the English crown and nobility.

He saw no reason for England to be obliged to support a corrupt church. In his third major work, On the Truth of Sacred Scripture, he further developed the doctrine of the authority of the scriptures. These three works were crucial to the setting of the stage for the Reformation. Two faculty members visiting at Oxford returned Wycliffe's writings to their home city of Prague.

This, in turn, influenced Jan Hus. He would go on to be a second morning star of the Reformation. Martin Luther's early writings also revealed the fingerprints of Wycliffe.

Yet, as important as these works are, they pale in comparison to his most important contribution, the Wycliffe Bible. Reformation began with translation. In his book, On the Truth of the Sacred Scripture, Wycliffe called for the Bible to be translated into English. According to Roman Catholic law, translating the Bible into an unrefined common language was a heresy punishable by death. It's almost impossible to imagine why a church would want to keep God's word from people unless that church wanted to hold power over the people.

Wycliffe was more convinced of the power of the word of God than the power wielded by the papal office. Consequently, he and a group of colleagues committed themselves to making the word of God available. Not only did the Bible need to be translated, it also had to be copied and distributed.

This was before the printing press, so copies had to be made painstakingly by hand. Despite the challenges, hundreds of Bibles were produced and distributed to Wycliffe's troop of pastors. They preached across England as the word of God made its way to the people. Wycliffe's followers were called Lollards by the papacy.

This was a derogatory term, meaning mumblers. They were pockets of reform, not only in England, but across Europe. Wycliffe instructed them, quote, go and preach, it is the sublimest work, but imitate not the priests whom we see after the sermon sitting in the alehouse or at the gaming table.

After your sermon has ended, visit the sick, the aged, the poor, the blind, and the lame, and help them. Without the intellectual support of Oxford and the protection of the ruling class, his followers were forced to work with great caution. Not unlike the early Christians and the Roman Empire, they were heard of only when they came to the notice of the authorities. For more than 100 years, the bishops sought them out, seizing their fragments of manuscript Bibles, attempting to force them to recant and burning some of them at the stake. Wycliffe's preachers persevered, however, as far afield as Scotland. Wycliffe preached the same message of God's grace in Christ that sounded again in the Reformation 200 years later. He said, quote, have a remembrance of the goodness of God, how he made you in his own likeness, and how Jesus Christ, both God and man, died so painful a death upon the cross to buy your soul out of hell, even with his own heart's blood, and to bring it to the bliss of heaven. His preaching is concentrated in these few words from his sermon entitled A Short Rule of Life for Priests, Lords, and Labors. And listen to this quote, if you would.

At the end of the day, think about how you have offended God and how graciously God has saved you, not for your deserve, but for his own mercy and goodness, and pray for grace that you may dwell and end in his true service and real love, and according to your skill, to teach others to do the same. Wycliffe's instruction to people seeking salvation anticipated the words of Luther, Calvin, and Knox, quote, trust holy in Christ, rely altogether on his sufferings, beware of seeking to be justified in any other way than by his righteousness. Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation, end of quote. Wycliffe defined the church as the predestined body of the elect. The doctrine of election, going back to Augustine, had been rejected or ignored by the medieval church.

Why? Because it was a threat to the authority of the church and its sacramental system as the only means of salvation. Wycliffe wrote, neither place nor human election makes a person a member of the church, but divine predestination in respect of whoever with perseverance follows Christ in love. As these words make clear, Wycliffe accompanied his insistence on the doctrine of predestination with equal emphasis on the necessity for Christians to live according to the Bible's teaching and that they follow Christ's teaching by example. His greatest contribution to church history was his elevation of the Bible to its supreme place and his insistence that it be made available to all Christians in their own language. In his book, The Truth of Holy Scripture, Wycliffe declared that scripture was divinely inspired in every part, that it was the source of doctrine and the standard of life for all people, from peasants to kings and popes. These efforts in translating, copying, and proclaiming the Bible in English were driven by a singular motive expressed by Wycliffe in this way.

Quote, it helps Christian men to study the Bible in that tongue which they know best. There were two Wycliffe translations. The second and far superior was by John Purvey, an Oxford disciple of Wycliffe, completed about 1395, a decade after Wycliffe's death.

It was a translation of a translation, a Latin Vulgate translated into English. Wycliffe's vision and Purvey's Bible prepared the way for the work of William Tyndale and the translators of the Geneva Bible in the 16th century and the King James Version of 1611. In his final years, Wycliffe endured falling out of favor with the church and the nobility in England. Of course, he had long ago fallen out of favor with the pope. Yet Wycliffe declared, quote, I am ready to defend my convictions even under the death.

He remained convinced of the authority and centrality of scripture and devoted to his life calling to help Christians study the Bible. The so-called Babylonian captivity, and that was the relocation of the papacy to Avignon in 1309. This so-called Babylonian captivity was followed by the Great Schism. That was the division of Western Christendom in 1378 by the creation of two popes.

It's important to get that, one in Rome and one in Avignon. John Wycliffe saw this as a hopeful sign, saying that, quote, Christ hath begun already to help us graciously and that he hath clothed him the head of Antichrist and made the two parts fight against each other. My only response to that is what bold courage he had. In 1415, long after Wycliffe's death in 1384, the Council of Constance, which condemned Jan Hus to death, declared Wycliffe a heretic. His bones were exhumed and burned, and the ashes were put in the river Swift. But the reforming efforts of Wycliffe could not be quenched by the flames or stopped by a council's declarations.

This morning's star shone brightly against the horizon, signaling the soon coming of daylight. An unusual tribute to Wycliffe occurred in 1533 when the Protestant reformer John Frith was burned at the stake. Shortly before his martyrdom, Frith praised the sincere life of John Wycliffe. It is the first recorded use of the word sincere in English to refer to a person.

Previously, the word was used to describe the purity of physical things, things whole and unadulterated. It was a good word for a later Protestant use for the morning star of the Reformation. As history has revealed, John Wycliffe's bones were much more easily dispersed than his teachings, for out of a sea of controversy and angry disputation rose his greatest contribution, the English Bible.

All praise be to God. Ulrich Zwingli is known as the third man of the Reformation. Martin Luther, John Calvin get the main press. But Zwingli was a significant figure in the Reformation that took place in Switzerland.

He was born on January the 1st, 1484. He was a contemporary to Martin Luther. He was born just a few months earlier than Luther. And despite the fact that they lived 500 miles away, God worked in the heart and life of Martin Luther in a similar way. He worked in the heart of Ulrich Zwingli to bring about Reformation.

John Calvin, 25 years later, came on the scene. But Zwingli and Luther were contemporaries. Zwingli was born into a farming family.

He was the third in the 11 children born to that family. His father was well-to-do, was able to afford a solid education for him. He earned a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and had an incredible aptitude for language and a hunger for scripture. He took Erasmus' New Testament and copied the entire New Testament and memorized 75% of the Greek New Testament.

Absolutely astounding. He's known for, again, he was a priest. He served a church in the Roman Catholic system. And yet, he was a man committed to expositional preaching. He preached through the book of Matthew. And apart from two or three other of the gospels, in the book of Revelation, he preached through the entire New Testament expositionally in churches that we would say, well, I'm amazed that the man kept his head, to be honest with you.

Incredible man of courage and conviction and resolve. According to Christian History magazine, priests in that day were unfamiliar with the scriptures. Unfamiliar with the scriptures.

Amazing. So he's the third man of the Reformation, brought reformation to Switzerland, where Luther was in Germany. And again, God was working in these two different men, although they didn't collaborate together. And one of the things that strikes me about not just Zwingli, but these other men that God used, they were not consciously aware of the magnitude of the work that God had called them to. They had no idea the impact they would have, the influence they would have, and how it would reverberate down through the centuries.

Listen to what, I have this, I hope I have this. This is what Zwingli said when people said, well, you just, you learned from Luther, you copied Luther, you guys got together. This is what Zwingli wrote, quote, before anyone in the area had ever heard of Luther, I began to preach the gospel of Christ in 1516. I started preaching the gospel before I had ever heard Luther's name. Luther, whose name I did not know for at least another two years, had definitely not instructed me.

I followed holy scripture alone. So again, he's preaching the gospel of Christ in 1516, and Luther does not nail his 95 theses on the door of the castle in Wittenberg, Germany until 1517. So again, I'm amazed that God was working in similar ways in the hearts of two men, separated by 500 miles, but all to bring about a reformation of gospel truth. They did get together, Luther and Zwingli, and discussed 15 articles of faith.

And of those 15 articles of faith, they were agreed on 14 of the 15. The one they could not come to agreement on was on their position of the Lord's table. Luther believed that Christ was present at the table in the elements. Now, his position was not the same as the Roman Catholic Church of Transubstantiation, that the elements became the blood in the body of Christ in a mystical way, but he believed that Christ was present in a mysterious way in the elements. And Luther, that was his position, Zwingli differed.

He held to a memorial that we view the table in a memorial way, a commemorative way, and they could not come to agreement on that. And I found it sad that something, I wouldn't call it peripheral, but it wouldn't be at the heart and core of the gospel, but they had a falling out. To the point where Luther questioned if Zwingli could even be a Christian. Because he said, as he looked at the issue, that it had, that it impinged on the whole doctrine of the Incarnation. And he was saying that Zwingli was denying the Incarnation.

They were talking past each other, unfortunately. Well, in 1531, Zurich attempted to force the individual Swiss states to accept reform preaching. The Catholic forces rebelled, leading to the Battle of Capel, where Zwingli was killed. He died when he was 47 years of age. There is a statue in Zurich, Switzerland, of Zwingli, and in one hand he's holding his Bible close to his chest, and in his other hand he has a sword.

Interesting. He was, I'm amazed that he was able to continue to function as a priest in the Roman Catholic system without, as I said, without losing his head. He wasn't bashful about his convictions.

Here's a couple of things that I found quite interesting. It says, ten other men joined Zwingli to make an appeal to the system, the Roman Catholic system, appeal to the bishop of Constance, calling on him to allow clerical marriage. The bishop was not inclined to grant this request.

Are you ready for the reason? He wasn't inclined to grant this request in part because he and others enjoyed substantial income generated from fines imposed on priests with concubines and children. So in 1522, Zwingli secretly married Anna Reinhard, a widow of nine years.

She brought three children into the marriage, and they had, some said three, another place I read said four, but three or four children of that union. And he married her in secret in 1522. And then in 1524, there was a public ceremony. Luther gets a lot of notoriety from the 95 theses that he posted. Well, Zwingli had 67 articles that he assembled and wanted to debate the Roman church over.

And this is the heart of those 67 articles. He affirmed Christ as the sole head of the church, salvation by faith alone, and that Christians were free with regard to works not mandated by Scripture. He repudiated the authority of the pope, transubstantiation in the sacrificial character of the mass, the worship of saints, purgatory, fas, monastic vows, and pilgrimages. You say, how did he remain a priest with contrary convictions about all those things?

Well, he did. So they called a council to come, and I'm told that there were 600 clergy and citizens that came to this debate. But the bishop of Constance refused the debate, stating that there were not fit matters for a town council.

These were not fit matters for a town council to discuss and that a future church council would address them. Zwingli maintained that the Christian community as a whole, not a council of bishops, was under the direct lordship of Christ and fairly represented by duly constituted civil authority. So in the absence of arguments against his conclusions, the town council declared Zwingli the winner. No debate. They didn't want to debate him.

The town declared him the winner. Here's a little bit more about this difference between Luther and Zwingli about the Lord's table. Zwingli denied Christ's bodily presence, arguing that Christ is enthroned in heaven in his perfect humanity, and he can't be in his humanity two places at the same time. A pretty logical argument against Luther's insistence that Christ is present in the mass or in the Eucharist, or we call it the Lord's table, and Zwingli says Christ in his humanity can't be two places at the same time. And Luther insisted on a literal interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11, 24, where Jesus says, This is my body. And Luther said, the words of Christ said, This is my body.

He's present at the table. And that's where they had a major falling out. Zwingli desperately wanted the affirmation of Luther, and yet Luther pretty much washed his hands of Zwingli, and even at the very end really questioned whether the man was even a Christian. Zwingli enjoyed music.

He could play several instruments, including the violin, a harp, a flute, a dulcimer, and I do not know what a hunting horn is, but he played a hunting horn, I'm told. Well, that's what I have concerning Ulrich Zwingli, and I just want to conclude my remarks for us to have an appreciation that at times God is working in our lives in ways that we are unaware of the impact He wants to have in and through us. And that impact may be immediate, it may be a week, a month, it may be years out. I don't think Luther, nor Zwingli, nor Calvin had any idea that their lives would have this kind of impact and would reverberate through the centuries and shape Christianity the way it has. These men, they were flawed. Zwingli was, he was sympathetic to the Anabaptists and yet he held his mouth, did not speak against the law that was passed and anybody who insisted on adult baptism was to die, was convicted of a capital punishment and they were to be killed. Now, in principle, Zwingli didn't agree with that, and yet he did not oppose it outwardly. And so he's got blood on his hands, I think, from his silence there. The Anabaptists, they insisted on a true church, on believer's baptism, what we would hold dear to, and they were willing to die on that hill.

So I think there were some extremes with the Anabaptists, but in part I think we would agree with their position. So that's what I have to tell you about Ulrich Zwingli. Well, good evening. Unless you were fond of 17th century Baptist history, you may not be familiar with this man, but he has undoubtedly impacted the worship that we have enjoyed here even this evening. His name was Benjamin Keach. He was a pillar in the early days of the Baptist way and the man stood with a spine that was similar to that of an oak.

He was equipped with a quick-witted brain and he was a wordsmith who could write to nurture both soul and lightening of the mind. It was this man who became known as the excellent Benjamin Keach who was responsible for the introduction of hymnody into the singing services or a part of the service of the local church. And it is him who will forever stand as a fatherly pillar in the early days of the particular Baptist movement. And one thing that we need to understand about these days is that we do not descend from the Anabaptists, but we descend through the separatists. Now, one thing important to understand about that, though, is the Anabaptists brought great enmity against us from the reformers. And the reason is, is because the Anabaptists had the bright idea that they were going to take over Munster, Germany and bring in the kingdom of God on earth by force.

And this led Luther and the rest of the reformers to be deeply bothered by fellowshipping with those who might be known as the Baptists. We are not Anabaptists. We are Baptists. There is a difference there.

Back in my trail of blood days, I would say we just dropped the Anna and became that is wrong. We are Baptists descending through the separatist traditions. And I say this to say that what we find from these man is a great deal of minds that are descending from Anglicanism or Puritanism.

We find that influenced in the way that they handle the scriptures broadly reaching back into larger separatist thought. Keatsch was known for his writing abilities in the theological world. He wrote brilliant works such as The Marrow of Justification, The Everlasting Covenant, A Gold Mine Open, which is really quality work, his Tropologia, another beautiful work and a display of glorious grace. But he also had a great mind for writing fictionary works. As a matter of fact, he wrote a book called The Travels of True Godliness, which vastly, vastly outsold John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress early on.

It was way, way more popular. Benjamin Keatsch was born in February 29th of the year 1640 to two godly Anglican parents who were not very wealthy and so they could not afford to give him a quality education. So he was thrown into the world of trade. At the age of 15, Keatsch came to know Christ and through his personal examination of infant baptism, became convinced that it was an unbiblical practice. This led Keatsch to joining a general Baptist or an Armenian Baptist church in Winslow, Buckinghamshire in England. It was there that his brilliant mind and his commitment to holiness were discovered by the congregation after observing him for three years. There they would decide to call him into the ministry at the age of 18.

A few years after this, in the late 1680s, Keatsch, following the death of his first wife, would move to London and would marry a woman by the name of Susanna Partridge. Through this relationship, he would become affiliated with some men who were extremely precious to me, William Kiffin and Hansard Knowles. These are the men who I would equate with being the pillars, the fathers of our tradition. From this, he would become convinced of the doctrines of grace and he would join the ranks of the particular or the reformed or the Calvinistic Baptists. Now the early years of this man's ministry were full of relative ease. It was, however, with the restoration of King Charles II to the throne and the rise of Lord Clarendon that persecution would arise. In 1664, Keatsch was charged with preaching as a dissenting minister and was threatened to be trampled to death by horses. Now God spared them of that, but they did sentence Keatsch to endure a torturous imprisonment. However, this difficulty did not discourage him and once he was released, he later that year published a book called The Child's Instructor, which promoted regenerate church membership, believer's baptism, the spirituality of the call to ministry over a mere physical, spiritually disconnected, intellectualistic call, and the use of persuasion that that was the superior means to conversion over that of force by the hand of the state.

Now when the government got a hold of this, here's what they said about his work. In the court, they found him guilty of writing seditiously, wickedly, and maliciously and that Keatsch was a seditious, heretical, schismatic person who was evilly and maliciously disposed and disaffected to his majesty's government and the government of the Church of England. From this, he was placed in stocks or the pillory where they would publicly embarrass or shame those who belonged in the pillory and in this instance, they took his book and they lit it on fire beneath his nose to where he had to breathe in this smoke for some time. Now an interesting thing about this is the Anglicans who charged him, their lead minister walked up and began to insult Mr. Keatsch and it was at that time that the local townspeople began to press the Anglican minister to be quiet because he was a drunkard and a man of lawlessness and they never did revile the brilliant Mr. Keatsch.

It was at that place while he was in stocks that he began preaching the gospel of grace and would not be silenced though they threatened him greatly. With us having insight into the context of Keatsch's time as well as the brilliance and the commitment of his mind to the defense of the word of God and its truth, I want to find us stepping into one of the most significant controversies surrounding Benjamin Keatsch which was his defense of the doctrine of justification against the falsehoods of the famed Richard Baxter who many of us may be more familiar with. Now I could have went with William Kiffin and wrote on his defense of baptism against the departure of Brother Bunyan but I decided that this would be a more important controversy for us to think about here tonight. Benjamin Keatsch, William Kiffin, Hansard Noles, John Gill, these are men who thought themselves to be inheritors of the Reformation. They stood in line with the 16th century fathers and their position on the doctrine of justification by faithful own. Keatsch was so dedicated to this doctrine that he wrote six books on the subject in a six year period which you can find online today and those are the books that I cited earlier. Now Keatsch's commitment to the Protestant and biblical doctrine of justification was for two reasons according to Dr. Tom Nettles. First, he was committed to this doctrine because it gives glory to the perfections of Christ and it exalts Christ. Second, that sinners may have comfort no other way. In his work on the parable of the lost son, Keatsch compares the best robe given to the prodigal son to the robe of justification given to believers and Keatsch says that the righteousness of Christ which is put on them that believe in Jesus is to their justification before God. His commitment was to declaring that the whole work of making peace is solely to our Lord Jesus Christ, not to see others do it. His thought was not merely theological but pastoral and its implications as he says this, it is the righteousness, the death and the merits of Christ that give believers ease, comfort and hope at the hour of death and will give boldness in that day of judgment and when death looks grim upon the soul, only the righteousness of Christ suffices as our plea against them all and then yields a believer sweet help and peace. Baxter, on the other hand, held a neo-nomian view.

Now neo-nomian means a new law as opposed to the Old Testament law. Keatsch says that of Baxter's view that he is purporting nothing but a new piece of potpourri. Baxter argued that Christ's death is the cause of our opportunity for justification and that in Christ's death we are offered forgiveness for our breaking of the old law and that through Jesus' work, now notice this now, through Jesus' work, Baxter says, God now accepts repentant sinners by the new law of grace with repentance, faith and sincere obedience as their righteousness. Alston Walker summarizes Baxter's position in saying sinners are justified insofar as they obey the gospel terms and live holy lives not by the active and passive obedience of Jesus Christ imputed to them by faith. According to Baxter, there was division between the covenant of grace and the covenant of redemption which also separates Christ's work from the matter of our own justification. By this, Baxter is teaching that the believer is not righteous because he grasped Christ's righteousness by faith but that the believer's own faithful obedience is his righteousness. So Keats argues that obedience flows from our justification while Baxter argues that justification flows from our obedience.

And Keats says this is nothing more than potpourri among us. Just an aside here, the covenant of redemption is the eternal plan of God to redeem his people. This is what the Bible calls and we affirm as the doctrine of election. The covenant of grace is the new covenant which is holy of and in Christ alone. So we who are God's elect are redeemed by the merit of the new covenant which is totally offered through Christ.

And to separate these things as Baxter did results in a doctrine, one writer says, that is disastrous and dangerous to the souls of men and is a perversion of the gospel of grace. Baxter taught that God sent Christ to keep the old law and that by Jesus fulfilling the law a new and easier law is given for us to keep so that we might be justified in keeping it. He believed that God entered a covenant with us at our infant baptisms and that we will be justified and saved if we perform our covenantal vows to the end sincerely. To this, Keats responded that Christ lived and died in the place of the elect and that all the requirements for our salvation are found and satisfied in Christ alone. Furthermore, since only believers are in Christ, Keats says, then only believers should be baptized.

Now Keats was not afraid to speak clearly and plainly as he leveled a serious charge against Baxter in saying, thus potpourri is now revived among us and justification by works asserted by these law and work mongers. I cannot call them gospel ministers. It is a hard case, my brethren, that these degenerate Presbyterians or any pretending to be gospel preachers should deny Christ to be our common head and the surety of the elect. Keats was a bulldog when it came to the gospel of grace. In Keats' mind, it was clear that this system promoted the same system of legalism as seen in the Jews of Christ's time and furthermore, it robbed Christ of his glory. He says it robbed God of his wisdom.

It robbed the gospel of its ministry and it robbed the church of her assurance. He writes, if this is true, then we are not under grace but under a law that will keep us in doubts and bondage as long as we live. He says if we have no other righteousness than this, our own obedience, which is either within us or wrought by us, we shall certainly drop into hell when we come to die. Keats was not, however, arguing against the presence of work within the life of the believer. Keats was teaching that holiness comes from our justification. Not that we lived holy to achieve justification but that our holiness flows from the river of righteousness which is bestowed upon the church by Christ for them. In his work, The Marrow of True Justification, Keats says, the faith of the operation of God will soon purify your hearts and cleanse your lives. This grace will teach you to deny all ungodliness and worldly lust.

It will teach you to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present evil world. We do not tell you that you must be holy and then believe in Jesus Christ but that you must believe in him that you may be holy. You must first have union with him before you can bring forth fruit to God.

You must act from life, not for life. This is the position which sparked delight in the heart of the reformers and life within the souls of all who truly believe in Christ. That we are justified by an, as Luther calls it, an alien righteousness that is not of our own and that our hope for holiness doesn't come from us but to us and through us by God's grace. The pastoral heart of Benjamin Keats declared this with the zeal of a shepherd speaking heavily against wolves that his sheep might safely be kept at rest in the gospel of grace. It was Calvin that said that all pastors need two voices, one for the wolf and one for the sheep and Keats held two very close to him. The doctrine of assurance found in Christ's substitution alone is the cradle that nurtures all the children of the Reformation and to Keats it was a truth worth fighting for. In the summer of 1704 the elderly and dying Benjamin Keats who endured much hardship in witnessing the deaths of his first wife several children, cultural unrest, civil war, persecution and controversy lay upon his deathbed and he called his friend Joseph Stinnett and asked if he would preach 2 Timothy 1-2 at his funeral.

And 2 Timothy 1-12 reads, I know whom I have believed and then persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Now although Stinnett was too ill to preach on the day of Keats' funeral it is apparent that in Keats we see a man who was enraptured by the gospel of grace. May this be the anthem of us all.

Soli Deo Gloria. Now I'll close with this hymn written by Keats. It says to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant. Now Keats pushes him into the church stating that it is through hymns that we are taught doctrine and that by writing hymns we might be equipped to argue against false teachers.

I think that's a pretty good rule of thumb to keep when we choose our music for our worship as well. The hymn says this, Thy honor in each attribute he sought to glorify yet did his undertaking suit our wants all to supply. In everything to such degree do glory thou dost gain and we relief unto the full through him Lord do obtain. In him justice and mercy meet and gloriously do shine both equally in splendor fit as both alike divine. As a mediator he was Lord exactly qualified most wise and just yet merciful that so he might divide an equal part in a right way unto each party so that God might be just yet justify and pardon sinners too. To God he is a friend most dear nay of so near a kin his express image he does bear yet we may say again. But to us he is related to our nature he did take from hence he knew well what to do an equal peace to make.

This is the brilliant and marvelous Mr. Keach. Well I thank all of these three men for the good work they have done to present this material to us tonight. We've learned a little bit more about two men from the Reformation whose names we've heard we're familiar with them but don't know all of the details of their lives. And then one tonight that probably most of us have not heard about before but now you have and that's very helpful indeed. It was a surprise to me I suppose 20 years ago or so I've forgotten when I began to realize that even people who hold to Reformation doctrine are susceptible to grave error in regard to the doctrine of justification by faith but it creeps in in surprising ways. And always we must be on guard and a man like Richard Baxter who's read today and is appreciated today for much of his writing could be so terribly and dangerously wrong on that vital subject is something of a shock but indeed that is the case so we must always test everything by the word of God and keep testing everything by the word of God. Thank you gentlemen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-09 12:29:36 / 2023-11-09 12:45:57 / 16

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