What Did You Learn When You Claim to Have Been Converted?

Question: what new doctrine did you learn from the Scripture that convinced you that you had never heard the “true gospel” before?

“>mark: I could say that all the Bible is new to me. I could say seeing that the Galatian heretics were five pointers. I could say Hebrews 9:14 on “dead works”, or I Peter 1:22-25 on conversion and regeneration. But in the interests of time, let me give you several verses from Romans.

First, Romans 1:17, I saw that the gospel reveals more than “sovereign grace”: it reveals a “righteousness”. Before when I said that freewiller Mennonites I had joined were saved by sovereign grace, I was teaching grace but not righteousness. I was saying that sovereign grace would save people even if those people continued all their life not to believe the gospel. I made the gospel a license for rebellion against the gospel.

Grace would save them even if they didn’t submit to the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. (It is quite common now for Mennonites to reject “penal atonement” in any form: even the plain clothes conservative Mennonties do it.)

Next: Romans 3:18: no fear before either eyes. I was busy teaching “no performance, no fear”. I know now that God will not deny Himself in saving sinners. I learned that God is so perfect that His demand for a perfect righteousness cannot be satisfied except by what happened outside of us at the cross, and that God will not save those who won’t submit to that truth. The only ones who submit to that truth are those whom God causes to submit to it.

>Next: Romans 6:17-20. How can I talk about that in short space? The context is Romans 5: we are not first condemned for our sinful conduct but by imputation of Adam’s sin. Even so, in Romans 6, we are not saved by OUR BETTER LIVING. We are not saved BY BELIEVING. We are saved by imputed DEATH: the elect for whom Christ died also died with Him, and we must reckon on this as the only condition of salvation and not on our faith.Next: Romans 7:5-6. I learned that you cannot use works to get assurance because works done without assurance are not pleasing to God. In John 3:17-20, the Pharisees like Nicodemus got assurance from their works. But the light of the gospel exposes our “good works” as sins.

>Next: Romans 8:13. “Put to death the deeds” includes putting to death assurance by works and blessing by works. Before I had read this text only in terms of morality. Certainly we are to be moral. But morality can be done in the flesh: in the context of Romans, preaching the gospel to yourself every day is essential in “mortification”. So I can no longer use Romans 8:13 to create doubt and legal fear in Christians. Nor James and I John.

“>To doubt that you are saved because of what you did or didn’t do is to take the focus off of what Christ did. While we need to be warned of a “dead faith”, it is not “double talk” for me to deny that assurance is from the cross and not from our “mortification”. Living by the gospel is confidence in the gospel. So I can agree that Christians have sinful doubts and degrees of assurance, but I no longer think that we get assurance ALSO by works.

“>Goodness! Next text will be my last for now: Romans 10:1-3. I saw that Arminians and Calvinists who would not submit to the righteousness of God (but only to grace and no performance), ALSO inherently were trying to “establish their own righteousness”. They were “neonomians”.

“> While I spent all my time talking about “new covenant”, I failed to see the main thing: God demanded one performance–the only solution to my lack of performance was the death of Christ. Our faith does not satisfy God. Death in hell does not satisfy God. But the death of Christ satisfies God. Those imputed with that death will be saved. Those who don’t know or submit to that gospel won’t be saved.

We must learn to have our perspective agree with God’s perspective. It is not true from  that faith is the difference between saved and lost. Faith in the false gospel leaves people lost. Faith in the true gospel is a result of the righteousness, the death of the cross for the elect.

We can’t know that we are elect before we believe the gospel (no matter how much “repentance” we produce) But we can know, and must know that the difference between saved and lost is not faith, but the righteousness revealed in the gospel. We can and must know that Christ established a righteousness for the elect (without knowing we are elect!) by God’s imputing their sins to Christ and that God imputes the death of Christ to the elect (without knowing yet if we are elect )

>Arminians say that we need to know that we were involved in the imputation. So they then say that everybody was imputed with the death, but that the death does nothing unless the sinner does something.

“>People are lost because of sins even if they never hear of Christ. But those who hear of Christ but deny that Christ’s death is what saves also deny Christ and are condemned for that sin also. This includes the Galatian heretics who believed in the resurrection and in particular redemption.

“>The context of John 3:17-20 is Nicodemus. Before I was converted, I was like Nicodemus; he was sincere and moral but only regeneration can cause a man to bring his “good deeds” into the light and call them dung.

> Question: You re-write you conversion history every time you change your doctrinesmark: no. I do not “reinterpret” my old conversion. I repudiate that old conversion as more wicked than the immorality of the non-religious. I changed Gods. Before I was an idolater who insisted on my own standard of who was saved and lost. I was not submitted to God . I took sides with myself against God.

“> I am not “re-narrating” my conversion. I am denying that I was converted when I trusted the Arminian gospel.

“>We dare not be contemptuous of “doctrine” and “theology”. Knowing God is learning to honor His glory in His every attribute; universal atonement dishonors every attribute of God. We are saved as long as believe the gospel. If we do not continue to believe the gospel, we were never saved.

“>Question: must a person wait until he is absolutely sure of salvation before he starts to obey the clear precepts of God’s word?

>mark: We cannot do our duty without assurance, cannot acceptably work without assurance. Those who say duty can be done without assurance must ignore what Heb 9:14 and Romans 7:5-6 say about “fruit unto death”.

;”>I do not have “absolute” assurance. Assurance has degrees, and depends on Bible study and attention to the gospel. But the difference between assurance by works and assurance by the gospel is not a matter of degree, but a matter of kind. Those two kinds of assurance are in competition. Assurance by works tries to say that the ground of the gospel is not works but that the ground of assurance IS…works.

“>I John 3 explains that Cain murdered Abel because Cain’s doing his duty was not accepted. He could not do his duty because he was not justified. Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God.

“>Thus we must oppose the “modesty and humility” that lacks assurance and says “I don’t doubt God but doubt me”. When you say that, then you must still think “me” has something to do with saving you. Glory only in the cross.

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2 Comments on “What Did You Learn When You Claim to Have Been Converted?”

  1. David Bishop Says:

    Hebrews 10:1-2 got the ball rolling for me. That text stripped salvation of any and all possibility of human merit. I was still lost at the time I came to understand it, because I still didn’t understand just how or what Christ alone had merited, but I had come to understand one thing, it could only be Christ alone who had once and forever merited whatever He had merited.

    Romans 6:3 finished the job. “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” I realized Christ alone had merited the only righteousness God would ever accept, and by grace alone, God’s saves His people by freely crediting Christ’s righteousness to their account. All the lights came with that.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Robert Haldane —The expression, walking not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, in the verse before us, is generally interpreted as referring exclusively to the practice of good or of wicked works. It is supposed that the Apostle in Romans 8:4 is guarding his doctrine of gratuitous justification from abuse, by excluding all claim to union with Christ, and to exemption from condemnation, where there is not purity of conduct… There are many different paths in the broad way; that is, many ways of walking after the flesh, all of which lead to destruction. Seeking acceptance with God by works of righteousness, either moral or ceremonial, is incompatible with union to Christ and freedom from condemnation.

    This way of going about to establish their own righteousness, by those who profess to have received the Gospel, and who have even a zeal of God, is probably that by which the greater number of them are deceived. There is the greatest danger lest the fleshly wisdom, under the notion of a zeal for God and of regard for the interests of virtue, should set men on the painful endeavor of working out their salvation, in part at least, by keeping the law as a covenant, thus attending to its requirements for justification.

    In this self-righteous way of the flesh Paul himself walked before his conversion, and it was this same way of walking according to the flesh which he so strenuously opposes in his Epistle to the churches of Galatia….Paul, then, appears to be here prosecuting his main design, which is to prove that believers are to be justified, not by works of righteousness which they have done, of whatever description. In the sense here ascribed to it, the word flesh is employed in the beginning of the fourth chapter of this Epistle. Flesh, in that place, cannot signify immoral conduct; for that Abraham was justified by wicked works could never be supposed. It must there signify works, moral or ceremonial, as is proved by the rest of that chapter.

    In the Epistle to the Galatians, the terms flesh and spirit are likewise used in this acceptation. ‘Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?’ ‘Having begun your Christian course by receiving the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ, are ye seeking to be made perfect by legal works of any kind?’

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