New Foundation Fellowship

Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel

Following a lengthy discussion, Brenda Redshaw (of this site), asked me to look into what Fox had to say concerning Romans chapter 7. In searching for “Rom. vi” or “Rom. 7” I turned up very few references. So I turned to searches for the concepts or phrases Fox used when he identified Romans 7 in his writing. There may be a better approach, or I perhaps could have used better phrases. I hope all readers will do their own searches and contribute what they find of significance. Here is what I found.

Fox does not deal with Romans 7 exclusively but brings together concepts from chap. 6 (“newness of life”), chapter 7 (“oldness of the letter”), chapter 8 (“the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death”), chapter 10 (“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness’ sake.”), and many other parts of the Bible. Fox’s associations of scripture passages range the full gamut of the scriptures. See for example:

And as Moses in the old covenant sprinkled the people with the blood, the life of beasts; so Christ our high priest sprinkles the hearts and consciences of his people in the new covenant with his blood, his life, from their dead works, that they may serve the living God in newness of life:' and as the blood of the old covenant was the life of the beasts, so the blood of the everlasting covenant is the life of Christ the Lamb, ordained before the foundation of the world, who is the great shepherd of his sheep, through the blood of his everlasting covenant he makes his saints perfect in every good work to do his will, working in them that which is well pleasing in his sight.' (Works, Vol. V, pp.362-363)

Here we have the Pentateuch, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Hebrews, and Romans all rolled together to form the picture of the distinction between the newness of life and the oldness of the letter. Fox used this distinction over and over, portraying the contrast between those who live by the law of life in Christ Jesus and those who live by some other law. See his comment in Vol. 7 (pp. 88-89 )

For ye may see, how far many may go, and did go, and were led out of many things; yet did turn again into the world. So mind your present guide, and your present condition, and your call, what ye are called from, and what ye are called to; for whom the Lord hath called and chosen, are the Lord's freemen. And so, abide every one in your calling with God, where God hath called you, and there walk in newness of life, and not in the oldness of the letter; for he that turneth from him that calleth, walks not in the life of God. Therefore, all Friends, walk in the truth and in the love of it up to God; and every one in particular mind your guide, that ye may grow up in wisdom, and improve your own talents, and the gift which God hath given you. And take heed of words without life, for they tend to draw you out of the power to live above the truth, and out of your conditions; which nature will not have peace, except it have words. But every particular submit to that which is of God in you, to guide you to God.

Paul contrasted life under the law (portrayed in Romans 7) with life under Christ who is the end of the law for Righteousness sake (Romans 8 and 10). His rhetorical question and answer, which many quote as proof that man can’t live righteously before God, that sin will be taken care of finally at some future time, is:

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 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. (Rom. 7:24-25)

But for Fox, Romans 7 is not the end of the story. Like Edward Burrough, Fox could say, “But of that birth are we which hath no crown, no glory, nor rest under the sun: a birth is brought forth amongst us which is heir of another kingdom, and possessor of another crown, whose glorying is in the Lord all the day long; and he is our refuge, our rock, and our fortress against all our enemies.” (Vol. III, p. 6) In epistle CIV, Fox exhorts Friends to dwell in the power of God and to know (that is experience) the power of God to keep you. In epistle CV, he spells out how this is to be done.

CV.—Concerning the Light. (To be read amongst Friends.) All Friends every where, keep your meetings waiting in the light which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ; so will ye receive power from him, and have the refreshing springs of life opened to your souls, and be kept sensible of the tender mercies of the Lord. And know one another in the life, (ye that be turned to the light,) and in the power, which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, who is your light, who is your life; that ye may all in the life see Christ to reign in you, who is the truth, from whence ye have light. Here the old serpent is chained, and put into the bottomless pit, and Christ is known to reign, and ye to reign with him; heirs with him, joint-heirs, and heirs of God. Here is the dominion received and witnessed of the world that is without end, and the promise of life from the Father of life to you, who are turned to the son, who to the Father is the way, who is the mediator between the Father and you. All wait to receive the everlasting priest, the everlasting covenant of God, of light, life, and peace; into which covenant no sin, no darkness, nor death comes, but the blessing of the only wise God, the Father of life, here is known, where no earthly man can approach. But he that is of God knows God's truth; and he that is of the devil, doth his lusts, who was a murderer from the beginning, in whom is no truth, who in it abode not. So he it is that speaks a lie, and speaks of himself, and not God's word; for he is out of the truth. But ye that are turned to the light walk in the light, walk in the truth, where no darkness is; with which light, that never changeth, ye may come to see that which was in the beginning, before the world was, where there is no shadow nor darkness. In which light as ye wait, ye will come to receive into your hearts the word of faith, which reconciles to God, and is as a hammer, to beat down all that is contrary; and as a sword, to divide the precious from the vile; and as a fire, to burn up that which is contrary to the precious: which word is pure, and endureth for ever; which was in the beginning, and is now again witnessed and made manifest. Therefore wait in the light, that ye may all receive it, the same word that ever was, which the scriptures were given forth from.

Thus, with Fox’s admonition, we do not find ourselves in a state of impotency having to wait for some future time when Christ will take away sin. Neither are we consigned to struggle and failure until some further work of grace descends upon us. Fox wrote in Vol. III:

Every man that cometh into the world, though they be in the first Adam, have a light from Christ the second Adam, the bishop of their souls. So every one being turned to the light which Christ the second Adam hath enlightened them withal, they shall see the bishop of their souls, Christ the power of God, which is immortal, and brings the immortal soul into the immortal God. Christ is their sanctification, who sanctifies their spirits, and bodies, and brings the soul up into God, from whom it came, whereby they come to be one soul. For in the lusts of the world, and the affections of it, is the war against it, and there are the powers of wickedness. The soul must be in the higher power, higher than the flesh, which stains the man, spirit and body, and the powers of wickedness. So the light being turned to, man receiveth the spirit of God, which sanctifies him, the spirit of sanctification in Christ Jesus the sanctification and redemption. So every man that cometh into the world has a light from Christ Jesus, the way out of the fall, the second Adam, and receiving the light he receives his redemption and sanctification, whereby his spirit, body, and soul are sanctified. (p.168)

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Comment by Brenda Redshaw on 2ndMo. 5, 2018 at 16:45

Isa 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Ellis preaching holiness and righteousness does not come from the devil. Opposing it does. I preach nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing us from ALL sin so that we can walk in newness of life - a sin free life which is the pearl of great price and is what Fox and the apostles taught and you object to this calling it poison.  It is the only way to life because a man who still sins is in darkness. May God have nercy.

Comment by Brenda Redshaw on 2ndMo. 6, 2018 at 1:32

Sorry, that came out too big, I wasn't shouting.

Comment by Brenda Redshaw on 2ndMo. 11, 2018 at 16:38

After doing a lot of reading, Ellis, I have found that what you are claiming regarding the interpretation of Romans 7, is not the one that the early Quakers espoused.

The position you are holding, is that the man in Romans 7 is an unbeliever, a person who does not have any faith at all, has never come to Christ for forgiveness and indeed does not believe that He exists. The man calls himself carnal "14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin."

Robert Barclay in his Apology, mentions the carnal state, when he is discussing the source of authority for the Christian which is the immediate and inward revelation by the Spirit:

§I. It is very probable, that many carnal and natural Christians will oppose this proposition; who being wholly unacquainted with the movings and actings of God's Spirit upon their hearts, judge the same nothing necessary; and some are apt to flout at it as ridiculous; yea, to that height are the generality of Christians apostatised and degenerated, that though there be not anything more plainly asserted, more seriously recommended, nor more certainly attested to, in all the writings of the holy Scriptures, yet nothing is less minded and more rejected by all sorts of Christians, than immediate and divine revelation; insomuch that once to lay claim to it is matter of reproach. Whereas of old none were ever judged Christians, but such as "had the Spirit of Christ" (Rom. 8:9)."

He is calling them Christians who are blind to the actions of the Holy Spirit in revelation, carnal and natural, which is his term referring to the 'old man' who has not been crucified according to Romans 6. The carnal follower of Christ is in a state where he has fallen from his first love and has apostacised because he did not carry on to perfection, like the Galatian believers who started well but then began to trust in the flesh to sanctifiy them instead of God's way which is by faith and the entering up into the flaming sword for cleansing and deliverance from the old man and carnal nature.

A man who has never come to Christ does not know nor will he call himself a sinner as the man in Romans 7 does. He will also never say that he delights in the law in his inward parts. I am afraid that your interpretation does not stand up to scripture, or Robert Barclays words.

Barclay will distinguish them often, by calling some 'true Christians'  as opposed to the false ones who really cannot claim the name of Christian. So there is a condition where man is required to seek a 'second blessing' or further state whereby he will be enabled to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. 

Comment by Allistair Lomax on 2ndMo. 11, 2018 at 17:31

@Brenda

In your last post you said;


"After doing a lot of reading, Ellis, I have found that what you are claiming regarding the interpretation of Romans 7, is not the one that the early Quakers espoused."

I'm sorry, Brenda, since most of Ellis' post consists of quotes from Fox and other early Friends, I can't see anything that Ellis has written that would lead you to draw the conclusion that have arrived at, above.

Comment by Brenda Redshaw on 2ndMo. 11, 2018 at 18:16

Hi Allistair

 The dispute that Ellis and I are having is whether the man in Romans 7 is an unbeliever, which Ellis claims is what the early Quakers taught, and if this were true then my claim and that of other holiness preachers is false, that the man is a carnal believer who comes to the crisis state of impotency with the cry to God to deliver him from sin:

Ellis wrote "Thus, with Fox’s admonition, we do not find ourselves in a state of impotency having to wait for some future time when Christ will take away sin. Neither are we consigned to struggle and failure until some further work of grace descends upon us."

But Fox is writing in the quotations about the state we are in if we have reached Romans 8 and are in the Spirit. Ellis is denying that here is a stage in between the unsaved and the enlightened believer. Barclay however, refutes that and calls them carnal Christians.

It is so important to get this right. The sinfulness of man is so powerful that it will hide the truth so that a man will not see himself as carnal.

Comment by Allistair Lomax on 2ndMo. 11, 2018 at 18:23

You have made this point on several occasion. Now is the time to desist from our own striving, be still and quiet, and wait in Christ's Light to see what is revealed. 

Comment by Brenda Redshaw on 2ndMo. 11, 2018 at 18:38

Thanks Allistair. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. I believe that the Lord is requiring me to speak.

Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 2ndMo. 11, 2018 at 21:20

Brenda, if you look at the entire chapter of Romans 7, you will see that Paul is teaching his readers how the law prepares a person to become ready to receive Christ; he is walking his readers through the process step-by-step, showing how the coming of Christ within is the fulfillment of the law. The manner in which he is doing this is to examine and detail the inward process as it proceeds in a typical way; he is not talking about a particular person but instead is talking about what typically a person feels and thinks as he subjects himself to the law and finds himself inadequate to carry it out, thereby needing to be delivered by the power of God, that is, Christ. 

Barclay and other Friends did not consider "carnal-minded" or "fleshly" people to be Christians; they could be Christians in name only. See the last sentence in the passage you quoted: "Whereas of old none were ever judged Christians, but such as 'had the Spirit of Christ' (Rom. 8:9)." To have the "Spirit of Christ" is not possible for the carnal or fleshly-minded. This distinction between true Christians (or believers) is also evident in Fox's first opening, "if all were believers, then they were all born of God and passed from death to life, and that none were true believers but such (Nickalls, 7)." There is no "second blessing," in Quaker understanding; there is only the second birth, being born of the spirit, passing from death to life: all terms for the one event of Christ coming to us within. Now, once that has happened, then we are believers (and not before); then we know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom [he] has sent (Jn. 17:3). Once that has happened, then we know to wait upon the Lord for every good thing, and in doing so, we grow in faith (which is what the first epistle of John documents in figurative language, i.e. "little children, young men, and fathers." There is one particular event that happens and changes us forever, and then we grow by acting responsibly by waiting to receive Christ; Friends call this self-discipline keeping in "the daily cross." I hope this gives you the information to put your mind at rest.

Comment by Brenda Redshaw on 2ndMo. 12, 2018 at 11:45

Hello Patricia and thank you for your response which I very much appreciate. I will address the first part firstly. As you can see, I am passionately interested in the early Quakers and the doctrines they taught, and whether they are the same as what has been taught in Quakerism since the days of its decline, and especially the NFF and the teachings of Lewis Benson, which were of great value in reviving early Quakerism, although it did not occur in the manner of the early Church which we saw in Fox's time, in that the power of God has been missing, in bringing about significant changes to the societies it has occured in or the spreading of the gospel in mission, and certainly looks like it is dying out..

I am in agreement with you that Paul is depicting the process of coming to Christ, and it does not matter much to me whether he was referring to himself or not. I wonder whether you will describe the typical person though when you say that the person is subjecting themselves to the law in order to be acceptable to God

If Paul is describing a Jew then we must take into account what Paul says in other places regarding his opinion of himself as a Jew obeying the law and his opinion of himslef was very high as that type of Jew assumes that rigid obeyance is all that is required to make a man right with God,

Phil 3: 4 even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

We must also take into account, if assuming that the process belongs to the Jew coming to Christ, that in 1st century Judaism, the idea of sin was concerning the failures of a nation not an individual.

But if Paul was speaking of a typical pagan without any knowledge of God including His law, how does that tie in? A man like this does not say 'I delight in the law in my inward parts'.

Comment by Patricia Dallmann on 2ndMo. 12, 2018 at 13:23

Your question, Brenda, is to whom is Paul speaking: Jew or pagan. In the first verse of this chapter, Paul identifies to whom he is speaking: "for I speak to them that know the law." 

Though Paul is a Jew and is "entitled" to have confidence in the flesh, and lists his reasons in Philippians 3:4-6, he surrounds that claim on either side with testimony that devalues such confidence in the flesh. Verse three reads: "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." On the other side of the verses you quoted are verses seven through nine, which also underscore the devaluing of gains of the flesh: 

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." 

So it is clear, that though Paul excelled in qualities of the flesh, he no longer considered himself to be, as you say, the "type of Jew [that] assumes that rigid obeyance is all that is required to make a man right with God," and furthermore, he strove to convince other Jews that they too must come to the same conclusion as had he. 

Now one last point, and then you will be on your own, finding your answers by acting with integrity and studying the Scriptures and early Friends writings, just as everyone in New Foundation Fellowship does and has done for decades. We do not discuss matters to engage in strife, and we do not cherry-pick verses to support an erroneous contention, nor do we welcome those who do. 

Your last point was the following: "in 1st century Judaism, the idea of sin was concerning the failures of a nation not an individual." Paul was moving people beyond the faith of first-century Judaism, as had been other prophets, even in the Old Testament. One passage that was important to the 17th c. Quaker prophets was Jeremiah 31:31-34. I'll not render the full passage, but it is worth looking up. The passage distinguishes the old covenant "made with their fathers" (that is to say with the tribe/nation/collective) and the new covenant, which is one in which God's law is put in our "inward parts" and written in our hearts. The movement from collective to individual is also underscored in the preceding verses 29-30 of Jeremiah 31: 

In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge. 

So, the movement toward individual responsibility and the individual's knowing God is presented even in the Old Testament, and is certainly evident as telos in the New Testament.  

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