Number of Visitors to site

Your 'avatar' tells me you follow my blog

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Receiving God’s gift of righteousness

But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. 1 Samuel 13:14

Samuel the prophet and king maker, announced King Saul's rejection for his repeated and wilful incompetence as a King. In his place would come, not Israel’s choice but God’s choice, King David. Saul had built a monument to his own supposed greatness (1 Sam. 15:12), whereas David made himself vulnerable to human vindictiveness, confessing publicly to an entire nation (Psalm 51: 4) his dreadful fall, into adultery and murder.

The psychology of love

In commenting on the verse above (1 Sam. 13:14), Harry Ironside says:

David's songs of joyous confidence in the God of his salvation . . . have been loved by pious Jews and devout Christians throughout all the centuries since.
How, then, can we say - of those who still sing the words of God in the Christian era - that they are not saved? St. Paul said the pious Jew had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Rom 10:2). This was because he was still seeking to establish his own righteousness and did not trust the name of Jesus as the Son of God, or call upon Him to be saved (Rom 10:9). This is a conundrum. How can someone love the Word of God and not be saved? Is it possible?

St. Paul is saying (in the epistle to Rome) that in the light of all God has revealed in the New Testament, if a person does not love Jesus as His redeemer and saviour and friend, he must be trying to 'get in good with God' by his own efforts, or think himself worthy of God's acceptance, on the basis of his merits. The religious Jew has no sacrifice to offer, no Temple to claim God's presence in, and no Messiah to be his intermediary. Yet, he loves singing the Psalms, apparently!

But, does the unsaved Jew love to sing the Psalms because he loves the secure feeling that following a ritual gives him? Or, because he loves the aesthetics of the liturgy? If he's not saved, then do we not have to say he does not love the God of whom he sings? This makes me ask, What does it mean to "love" something or someone? It is to experience deep affection or intense desire for another, including "to love God." Or in another definition, it is to have an intense emotional attachment to something, as "he loves his house." Yet a third emphasis may mean to be highly or immoderately fond of some art form, as "he is in love with Japanese painting." Is the pious Jew or churchgoer in love with God, when he seems to love singing, or is he merely in love with the experience of being in community, of engaging in moving music, or because he gets a buzz from using a pattern of evocative poetic words?

The Christian and blind justice

The same questions have been asked about Christians too, who seem to love singing hymns on Sunday, yet more or less forget God during the week. The Apostle Paul's resolution of this puzzle, is to say, in effect, 'You don't love God until you hate sin, and search for true righteousness in your life (Rom. 10:3).' 'You don't find that righteousness until you recognise your need for a righteous quality outside of yourself.

The prophet Samuel passed by the attractive sons of Jesse in looking for another King to anoint, because he knew appearances are deceptive, and said,

The LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. KJV 1 Sam. 16:7
We sometimes hear the saying, “Justice is blind.” It’s a similar thought to Samuel’s. Good looks, influential friends, fashionable dress, outgoing personality – all these may hide rather than reveal true character - best to be blind to all of that! Such qualities may lure a jury into making a superficial and distorted judgement, in favour of a guilty defendant. But not God, He sees us through and through. He knows we need a righteous quality outside of ourselves, if we are going to survive judgement day, some day.

This righteousness from God results from believing Jesus is who He said He is ("My Lord and my God," John 20:28). It comes from believing that He, as the only sinless human, was yet treated as a sinner by His Father and for our sakes (2 Cor 5:21). It results from believing that God raised Him from the dead, in order to show divine approval of His sacrificial death (Rom. 4:25). When we believe these things in our individual hearts, Paul says we receive a quality of righteousness from God Himself - His righteousness - as stated in Romans 10:10

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Look at the context of Romans 10, and you'll see it's all about God's righteousness versus our righteousness. Oil and water don't mix. Our righteousness doesn't wash with God. We receive His righteousness when we hear this Word, believe it, and receive it ("submit to it" Rom 10:3). In practical terms, we are saved, when we confess it to others, Rom. 10:9. Paul says when we believe this message in the heart, we "receive the Spirit." Gal 3:2. This is the oil of God's anointing, 1 John 2:20. He says the result of this anointing is "the righteousness of the law" will be "fulfilled in us," Rom 8:4. It must be fulfilled in us, because Paul says we have, in the act of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ - in that act we have "become the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Cor 5:21. This is what the preacher John Wesley experienced in Aldersgate St. London, when he found his heart "strangely warmed" by the testimony of Martin Luther, who had made the same discovery.

The gift of righteousness

John Wesley was a good churchman, a missionary, a pious and religious man, and a preacher - yet he had not understood this Gospel!! You may be in the same position as he was. If so, you need to be born again. This reminds me of the godly bishop Handley C.G. Moule (1870) who preached the need to be born again one Sunday morning, and said, "You may even be a deacon in this church, yet not be born again!" For such evangelical words, John Wesley was denied many an Anglican pulpit, because it cast doubt on the teaching that we are born again when we are baptised in water as infants. But, Jesus never meant us to take his words about the new birth as referring to literal water, in John 3: 5.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
No, He was referring to the moral cleansing which takes place when God's righteousness is received as a gift (Rom 5:18). We are born again, not by water, but as St Peter says,
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.1 Pet. 1:23
and as St James says,
Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth . . . James 1:18a
Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as producing that new birth, and describes His coming on the future day of Pentecost as the experience of an inner living water:
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)John 7:47-39.


This is the Gospel. All else is fake Gospel. Jesus invites us:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Rev 3;20.
The door is your heart. When you believe the Gospel about God's righteousness (not yours) - and how you obtain it - you ask the risen Lord Jesus Christ to come in to your heart. Take God at His word: He will. You may not feel any different; that will come later. Confess who Jesus is to you, to your wife, your friend, your neighbour - and the experience will produce a saving relationship, first with God and then with others:
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Rom 10:9
Do it today:
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Cor 6:2.

Francis Dillingham, the “great Grecian.”

Personal background

He was born in Dean, Bedfordshire. His birthdate seems to be uncertain. After the 1611 translation was finished, he took a ‘living’ in Dean, Bedfordshire where he was born. We know little of his early years. Dillingham matriculated in 1583 and became fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, during the years 1594 and 1601. He was a member of the first Cambridge company (1 Chronicles, II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs). Edward Lively was the planner and organisor, upon whom all the Hebrew group there depended. Among the names of the able translators, Francis Dillingham’s stood out.(1)

A moderate Puritan

One of the co-translators in this company was Thomas Harrison(2) and both men studied together at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

This was a seminary recently founded for Puritan ministers, whose Master was Laurence Chaderton, also a member of the same company of translators. These men believed the Church of England needed more radical reformation than most were prepared to give it. They opposed the wearing of special priestly dress, and replaced the altar with a communion table. Candles were ‘out’; neither a cross, nor a crucifix. Kneeling to receive the communion elements was frowned upon. Rather, “they took [it] sitting on benches around the communion table . . . passing both from hand to hand.” Anything not prescribed in the New Testament was suspect, and was seen as unhelpful to true spirituality. Frances Dillingham and Thomas Harrison were “young apostles . . . burning with the idea of a renewed, reformed and holy world.”(3)

His debating powers

Francis Dillingham made a famous name in Cambridge for his mastery of Greek, though he was set to work on the Hebrew Old Testament, when translating the KJV. Thomas Fuller wrote of Dillingham in The History of the University of Cambridge since the Conquest,

"My father was present in the bachelor's school, when a Greek act was kept between Francis Dillingham and William Alabaster, to their mutual commendation . . . a disputation so famous, that it served for an era or epoch, for the scholars in that age, thence to date their seniority."

William Alabaster wrote an epic poem (book length) in Latin to Queen Elizabeth 1st, which was praised by Edmund Spenser, esteemed by many as Englands’ greatest poet. The poet Robert Herrick called Alabaster’s theological writings “the triumph of the day,” and “one only glory of a million.” Dillingham evidently moved in exalted company.

The term “bachelor” (in the quotation above) originally referred to someone apprenticed to a knight. Later, in the University setting of the Middle Ages, it came to describe an apprentice-educator, the first step (hence ‘graduation’) towards becoming a master (a teacher). Thomas Fuller was referring to the ceremony, which marked the final steps of seniority - in the creation of masters and doctors - where the students were treated to a special dialogue between the two ‘fellows’ of Emmanuel College. Says Olga Opfell

The Greek Act, always the climax of the academic year. New rushes were laid on the floors, new gravel was put on the quads, the streets were swept. People appeared in best dress, processions were formed, bells tolled. Sometimes the tedium of disputations was lightened by comic touches. But all was seriousness when Dillingham maintained his thesis in a famous debate with William Alabaster of Trinity.”

This particular dialogue stood out from the rest - before or since - because it showed an unusual mastery of Greek. The two men engaged orally, based on a script they had previously written and memorised. [Such writing was a growing University discipline since the recent availability of printed books].

Dillingham took the debating art to a higher level again, extemporising his speech at will to out-match a similar attempt by his colleague to improvise. He was so skilful In doing this, that the event was celebrated after by referring to him as “the Great Grecian.” The ceremony became remembered more by the dialogue, than for the main reason for being there!! Think of the analogy of a brilliant pianist who plays a piece from memory, but then improvises on the main themes, without diminishing the quality, as a way of entertaining his audience. Or a famous President, who reads his State of the Union speech off the word screen, then seamlessly ad-libs to make it that much more exciting for the listener. Anyone who has studied a little Greek will know just how difficult ad-libbing would be, when Greek is not his first language.

His knowledge of Koine Greek

Erik DeVietro (in the KJV Only debate, 2.54 pm, July 17th, 2010) doubts whether scholars like Dillingham would have understood the nuances of Koine Greek (as compared to Classical). This is a furphy. The chief sources used to interpret the common Greek of the ancient world (after Alexander the Great) were then well-known: (1) the OT Septuagint in Greek; (2) the New Testament itself, and (3) the Patristic writings (early Christian):
“Christian writers in the earliest time tended to use a simple register of Koiné , relatively close to the spoken language of their time, following the model of the Bible. After the 4th century, when Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire, more learned registers of Koiné influenced by Atticism came also to be used.”
“Atticism” was the more difficult classical Greek of earlier centuries, with which Dillingham would also have been thoroughly familiar. If there was ever a body of men working together, who had studied not only Classical Greek, but the ‘church fathers’ - and knew them intimately - the KJV translators were that body. They thus had easy access to the meaning and nuance of Koine Greek words every time they read an early Christian Greek author. What is, for the vast majority of contemporary scholars, a secondary source of Greek knowledge, for them was a first-hand source. Some of them lived in the tomes of early Greek and Latin writers. The later discoveries of how that language was used in newly discovered early papyri, has since enhanced this knowledge through the writing of such scholars as Adolph Deissmann. Yet, even of this Moulton says of his work:
Deissmann's discovery gives me a thrill which I should like to pass on to you. It proves nothing else than this: that the Book is the only book written in the language of daily life, in the very language in which the people talked at home, in the very language in which they communicated their deepest thoughts one to another.
In other words, Dillingham found an intelligent reading of a Koine Greek writer to be a ‘breeze,’ compared to such Greek Tragedian poetry of Aesychylus and Sophocles, with its rarer words and more complicated syntax!!

The status of Christian marriage

Francis Dillingham was a diligent writer of divinity, on both polemical and practical topics. He published a Manual of the Christian faith, drawing his material from a knowledge of the church fathers. He also tackled a variety of treatises relating to contentious points being argued in the Protestant controversy with Rome.

The marriage of clergy was forbidden under the Lateran Council, 1123. Early Anglican Church clergy under Henry VIII (1530) were still required to be celibate, under threat of imprisonment or death. This requirement was later revoked, yet some Anglo-Catholic priestly orders require their members to remain celibate to this day, as do orders of all brothers and sisters. The debate was very much alive in Dillingham’s day. He said, “Papists teach that ministers may not have wives. Is this catholic? Many hundred years after Christ priests had wives.” (1) Thus, although unmarried himself, he advocated in 1609 marriage for clerics, publishing A Golden Key, Opening the Lock to Eternal Happiness. The key was Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 6:14 “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

A house divided cannot stand. How should that house then stand where man and wife are divided, one drawing this way, another that that? . . . The misery of the age is that . . . men enquire after wealth, not after religion in a woman. Hence it is that some live discontentedly, and come in the end to great misery (1)
He taught that a prudent and wise woman would know that her husband is her head, and so she would subject herself to him (Eph. 5:24). “No marvel then, though many men have not their wives in subjection, for they have married fools which know not their place. . . . A wise woman, saith Solomon . . . buildeth the house, but the foolish destroyeth it with her own hands." Says Gustavson, “Though Dillingham doubtless hoped his sermons would change the ways of love, unwise luckless men have gone on wooing and wiving foolish females to this day.”

Defender of the Protestant faith

One of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation reaction to Martin Luther was the Jesuit scholar Cardinal Bellarmine who became personal theologian to the Pope. His Disputationes established him as Rome's foremost apologist on doctrine and papal power. James insisted every subject in his realm needed to swear an oath of allegiance to himself, as Sovereign head of church and state - the Pope ridiculed him for it. The controversy with King James 1st as to who was head of the Church in England made his writing very important to Dillingham, who studied it carefully and picked up every concession he could find to the Protestant faith, in Bellarmine’s writings. However, the latter was moderate in his defence of papal power. For example, he denied the Pope had the right of temporal power (outrageous! thought the Pope). His eschatology, too, was quite friendly to the premillennial faith!

The third section discusses the Antichrist. Bellarmine gives in full the theory set forth by the Church Fathers, of a personal Antichrist to come just before the end of the world and to be accepted by the Jews and enthroned in the Temple in Jerusalem—thus endeavoring to dispose of the Protestant exposition which saw in the pope the Antichrist.

Dillingham’s privileged life

Dillingham was fortunate enough to gain a rich benefice at Wilden. Livings like Dillingham’s were rare. To achieve this he doubtless had to write excellent letters to influential persons, and perhaps tap family connections. Senior clergy were often near the poverty line, and complained they had insufficient income to meet the basic needs of their families, and even less to build an essential library. Not so Francis Dillingham; he died a single and wealthy man in 1625.

1. Paine, Gustavus S. (1977/1959) The men behind the King James Version, MI: Baker, pp. 69, 58 -61.
2. Thomas Harrison: see my blog entry Jan. 2nd 2011.
3. Nicolson, Adam. (2003) Power and glory: Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Lon: Harper. p. 131.1.

This is 7/52. Previous Next Index