Archive for August 4, 2009

The Crazy Idea of Justification Not by Works

August 4, 2009

from  Sam Leith, London Teegraph 2005:

“Roughly put, antinomianism is the idea that justification by faith liberates you from the need to do good works…It can be seen, in some way, as the squaring of a tricky theological circle: the Calvinist idea that the Elect have been singled out for salvation as part of the divine scheme long before any of them were twinkles in the twinkles in their ancestors’ eyes. if justification by faith, rather than by works, is the high road to heaven, the logical extreme of the position is that works don’t matter at all.

“Divine grace, over which we have no control, brings about faith. Faith brings about salvation. Ergo, if you’re not touched by grace, there’s nothing much you can do… If, on the other hand, you are one of the Elect, whoop de doo: no amount of bad behavior is going to prevent Jesus seeing you right. This is a pretty crazy view to take, most of us would agree, and historically it has tended to be discouraged by both civic and religious authorities for rather obvious reasons.”

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Piper says he’s also an Arminian

August 4, 2009

In Taste and See (Multnomah,1999, p325), John Piper endorses the conditional false gospel. “Christ died for all sinners, so that IF you will repent and believe in Christ, then the death of Jesus will become effective in your case and will take away your sins. ‘Died for you,’ means if you believe, the death of Jesus will cover your sins. Now, as far as it goes, this is biblical teaching.”

Piper then goes on to disagree with Arminians for not teaching that Christ died to purchase faith for the elect. But he does not disagree with the Arminians about propitiation and substitution and punishment.

Piper’s false gospel does not teach that Christ was specifically punished for the elect alone . It still only has a punishment in general, to be assigned later to those who believe. But  he does insist that Christ also died for the elect to give them something extra that He will not be giving the non-elect?  Piper’s false gospel misses being true gospel in two important and related ways.

First, the false gospel fails to report that Christ was punished specifically for the elect, and when it does that, it will be heard every time as saying that there was enough punishment done to Christ to save even people who will nevertheless end up being punished. Thus, even though it has punishment, this false gospel is not about punishment that replaces punishment for all whom Christ intended to save. It has punishment without any intention of Christ to save anybody in particular at all.

Piper’s punishment- in- general gospel (with faith purchased extra for the elect) is no gospel in a second and important way.  It makes the important atonement to be something other than the punishment of Christ. It makes the real reconciliation to be the Spirit Christ purchased giving people faith to believe, even if they happen to believe a message that says Christ died for every sinner.

The alternative here is to either claim that people who have never heard the gospel are saved, or to claim that general punishment for nobody in particular is the gospel. In any case, it is not the good news about the real meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection.

If we jump ahead to the things Christ has bought for believers, even including their believing, without telling it straight about the punishment of Christ specifically for the elect, then we will continue to love a gospel which has no election in it and no punishment to release the elect from guilt. If we jump ahead in that way, we jump over why God’s love for the elect is never described apart from the death of Christ.

If the death of Christ is not that which saves any specific sinner, then the death of Christ does not save sinners. If the atonement is Christ purchasing faith to give elect sinners a portion in a general punishment, then the punishment of Christ was not for salvation. The false gospel which nullifies election also nullifies justification by the punishment of Christ.

The false gospel which nullifies justification by the punishment of Christ nullifies justification by the righteousness of Christ. It talks about justification by the imputed righteousness, but without ever talking about God’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ. It won’t say whose sins were imputed to Christ.

It refuses to say anybody’s sins were imputed to Christ, because it refuses to say it was the sins of the elect alone which were imputed to Christ. Such a false gospel nullifies the love of God for the elect. But God’s grace by which God gives Christ to be punished for the elect will not be nullified.