Archive for January 2010

Ignorance or Belief In Jesus

January 29, 2010

Curtis Hutson, Salvation Plain and Simple, p13—“Jesus Christ took all my sins, past, present, and future, and bore them in his own body.”  P21—“The worst sin in the world is not trusting Jesus Christ as Savour, and that is the only sin for which a man will die the second death.”

One irony here is that, If Curtis Hutson died believing this, then he will die the second death. If you die while ignorant of the true gospel, you will die believing a false gospel, and you will die in your sins.  When he says that “Jesus took all my sins”, that is the outside of the tomb. The words sound beautiful. But the words are contradicted by his idea that you will die for the sin of not trusting (and that you will live if you don’t sin that sin).  This false gospel is not only trusting in a different Jesus, but also is trusting in trusting.

Hutson denies the aloneness of Christ’s work for the elect alone. He not only denies election, but also says that the death of Jesus becomes insufficient if you sin by not trusting in it.   In his false gospel, the death of Jesus is not enough, is inadequate for the purpose of saving the ungodly from the sin of not trusting.

But I know many “grace” folks who think that Hutson’s problem is only ignorance, and that it does not rise to the level of unbelief and rebellion.  They explain the irony.  When I say that Hutson does not believe the true gospel, and that he will die because of his unbelief, they think I am agreeing with Hutson that the sin for which a man will die is unbelief.

Two quick responses. One, according to John 3:17 and Romans 5:21, we are born already condemned in Adam. According to Romans 8:7-7, we are born unable to please God, unable to trust God.  So we don’t have to wait to be guilty until we hear the gospel and then sin against it.  Two,  the Bible teaches that God gives the elect knowledge and trust in Christ “for the sake of Christ” (Phil 1:29) and “through the righteousness of God and of Jesus our Lord” (II Peter 1:1).

Jesus never died for anybody’s sin of dying in unbelief.  Jesus never died for all sins. Jesus died only for the sins of the elect. The elect do not die in unbelief. Jesus did not die to take away the guilt of final unbelief by the elect but Jesus did die in order to give the Spirit to the elect so they will (not might have an opportunity to) believe and therefore not die in unbelief.

Hutson contradicts himself. First, he says that Jesus died for all sins. Second, he says that final unbelief is a sin which will kill you.

Unlike most “grace” folks, I agree with the second statement. Final unbelief will kill you. Remember what I wrote already. First, we are born guilty, even if we never heard the gospel and never disbelief the gospel. Second, non-election is not God’s response to sins, because  the elect are ordained to be sinners also.   But, having said that (twice), I do agree that dying unbelief is a sin  and that those who commit  it will die the second death.

Romans 10:3–.”for they being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their won righteousness, were not subject to the righteousness of God.”   Most of the Jews were not in the unconditional new covenant, and most of them were not saved. You cannot be ignorant of the gospel and still be saved.  Neither can you at the same time believe in your own righteousness and also in God’s righteousness for salvation.  It is an ignorant contradiction. This “doctrinal flaw” is not merely something God will scrape off you during your sanctification or at the judgment on resurrection day.

II Corinthians 6:15—“What part has a believer with an unbeliever?” But “grace” folks tell me that sovereign grace will save people no matter what they believe or don’t believe.  (These same folks often have a problem saying that grace will save people no matter what they do, because they are self-righteousness enough about their continuing efforts in the local church, and in Arminian evangelism, and in being more moral than their pagan neighbors).  These folks have made “grace” a soundbite which eliminates boundaries between belief and unbelief.  Some of the “new covenant” folks are so “gracious” that they seem to assume that almost everybody ( even fundamentalists who they thank God they aren’t)  will be imputed with righteousness.

Almost everybody. And who knows where the line is!  If you just say that Jesus is Lord.  But you have to really mean it.  But Ephesians 4:18 warns us of those who are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of their heart.”  But “grace” folks say to “cut them some slack”. It’s not hardness of heart but inconsistency; it’s not rebellion but not being able to read difficult Banner of Truth books.

“Alienated from God” is a very harsh thing to say, isn’t it? It does not merely describe a sincere believer who will need to be adjusted and have some doctrinal mistakes scraped off someday.  The alienated person has no knowledge of the true God and does not believe the gospel. Paul knew about being alienated because Paul did not ‘grow into” better doctrine.  Paul used to be lost. Paul used to be not saved.  I Timothy 1:13—“I acted ignorantly in unbelief.”  The idea is not that we all still act ignorantly in unbelief, and that God will be gracious to us all anyway.

Colossians 1—“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus…Of this you heard before in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you…it is bearing fruit and growing, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant…

Does God Count the Apology as the Cleaning?

January 28, 2010

From Facebook’s Preaching Christ Crucified discussion:

Is a symptom of Piper’s error the way he speaks of the atonement and/or who it’s for  – making faith the righteousness? Seems you told me in times past that this is what Piper does in his book on imputed righteousness.

It’s confused, like John Murray’s commentary on Romans. First, he does a good job of showing why faith cannot be the righteousness. Second, he assumes that Gen 3:15 and Romans 4 are teaching that God counts the faith as if it were the righteousness, it being an “instrumental condition”.

I am serious. Murray’s reasons why faith is not the righteousness are excellent.  But then he takes it all away: my theology say but the text says. He needed to ask himself again if he was right about what the text said. The object of faith is what is imputed, not the message but the righteousness that the message talks about.

The worst part of Piper is his illustration. Son fails to clean the room. Dad cleans the room for the son. Thenthe  son apologises. Therefore, Piper says, dad’s cleaning is the righteousness and not the apology, therefore I will count the apology as the righteousness. Makes no sense…

Scott Price wrote on January 20, 2010 at 6:42am

Wow, Piper blows it on the example. That’s just plain and simple conditionalism, like Arminians do. So much for him being a ‘7 pointer’. That’s what I can’t figure. You mentioned his work on Romans 9 was great and he claims to believe in double predestination but yet has this 2 wills of God thing goin on.

Though people hold a mix sometimes of good and error, BUT it seems the shift is from the  cross to preaching it to shave off the offense of it.

There seems to be a big concern in the minds of some to want to psychologically condition the mind of the hearer to feel more comfortable about the cross instead of offended by it. There is no doubt that the Spirit of God uses the offense of the cross in true preaching.

The Amyraldian gives lips service to sovereign grace and widens the door of the Atonement more than God Himself does and he thinks he is actually helping the sinner.  They think if Christ only died for the elect how can the hearer know he is elect and thus they adjust their message and it does not become about the cross and Christ anymore, it becomes  what is available on conditions.

Did You Kill Jesus?

January 25, 2010

Many religious songs have those who sing them confess themselves as “maggots” for having put Christ on the cross. But I question this sentimentality. First, if we all put Christ on the cross, then Christ died for all sinners, and that is the false gospel.

Second, nobody but God has the ultimate power to put Christ on the cross. If we all are supposed to feel bad about crucifying Christ, then is the Triune God also to apologise? May it never be! Acts 2:23-24, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

The Bible teaches that God’s sovereignty does not eliminate the accountability  of sinners. Certain specific lawless men killed Christ. But also, God gave Christ up to die for the sins of the elect alone. God and not man determined for whom Christ would die.

Christ purposed that He would die. The Triune God purposed that Christ would die.

This does not eliminate the accountability of “the lawless men”, even if they were soldiers, or of the “you” Peter is addressing in Acts 2.  Troops should not be supported, when they refuse God’s standards.

Specific humans 2000 years ago purposed that Christ would die. This means that not all humans purposed that Christ would die. His mother Mary, for example, did not kill or intend to kill Christ.

We did not  ourselves put Christ on the cross,  because we are not the imputers. We do not get to decide when and if we put our sins on Christ. We do not get the opportunity to contribute our sins so that then Christ contributes His righteousness. Neither election nor non-election is conditioned on our sins.

Although believers are commanded to reckon what God has already reckoned, we can never be the original reckoners (imputers).

Yes, those specific lawless men were guilty of what they did. Even though they did not know what they were doing, they could be forgiven for that sin without being justified and forgiven of all their sins.

The cross is not what condemns. Good news for the elect, the gospel is not what condemns the non-elect. Rejecting the cross is not what condemns the non-elect, because we are all already condemned in Adam . The false gospel which says that Jesus Christ died for every sinner is not gospel. The false gospel turns a supposedly universal death into guilt for those who don’t meet  conditions which supposedly make that death effective.

Reading Tom Nettles

January 20, 2010

I was a 5 point Calvinist for a long time before I was converted. I did believe that God only intended Christ to die for the elect, and also that all of these elect would be saved. But I still did not understand the nature of the atonement.
It’s one thing to say it’s effective, and another to say why it must be effective.
The death saves not only because of God’s sovereign will but also because of God’s justice. That is what I did not understand, and I think it’s what Piper still does not understand. Even if the death is not for everybody but it’s a “death in general” for the elect to be applied particularly by the Spirit, then the justice of God is not being taught.

Now this can be caricutured. As in, if I had committed one more or less sin, and if there had been one or less elect person, then Christ would have suffered more or less. That cannot be, since it is the death which saves.
In saying that, I hope I am not being dismissive of the sufferings or of the active obedience.

The same caricature could be applied to “active obedience”. if there were one more elect, then Christ would have had to do x amount of duties to the law that this one more elect was supposed to do. No, there is only one death, one obedience, one resurrection etc…

And yet we must be careful in dismissing a “commercial view” of the atonement, not only because Christ can and does do things by measure (healing some but not others) but because the Bible does talk about being bought by blood and belonging. We need to talk about sins being imputed.

The best discussion in print on this is by Tom Nettles in By His Grace and For His glory. Even though I disapprove his defense of Andrew Fuller, Nettles is quite good on refuting the “offer”. His book makes Macarthur and Phil Johnson and a lot of the double talking Calvinists mad, and that’s reason enough to buy it.

Check out his chapter on  Christ Died for our Sins, According to the Scriptures. Nettles  refutes the Dordt formula (sufficient/ efficient) while at the same time being honest about the history of most Calvinists liking it.

Nettles quotes Andrew Fuller: “We could say that a certain number of Christ’s acts of obedience becomes ours as that certain number of sins becomes his. In the former case his one undivided obeidence affords a ground of justification to any number of believers; in the latter, his one atonement is sufficient for the pardon of any number os sins or sinners.

Nettles explains that Fuller “misconceives the biblical relation of imputation. Justification should not be considered as analogous to atonement but rather to the imputation of Adam’s sin”.

More from Nettles’ refutation of Andrew Fuller and “sufficient for all”.

Error one: it’s tantamount to identifying the doctrine of effectual calling with atonement. What one really means by definite atonement is that the difference is not in the atonement but in the Spirit’s work of calling.

“A second error is subtle in nature and involves a shift in the understanding of the sacrificial death. Although Jesus’ death is spoken of as passive obedience–and though the concepts of reconciliation and propitiation are defined as activities accomplished in the Father’s setting forth God the Son–when the sufficiency of the death of Christ arises, the emphasis shifts from the Son’s passive obedience to what he actively accomplished by his infinite divine nature.”

Nettles quotes John Dagg and Abraham Booth against the “sufficient” general view of the atonement. Here’s some from Booth’s Divine Justice Essential to the Divine Character, book3:60

“While cheerfully admitting the sufficiency of Immanuel’s death to have redeemed all mankind, had all the sins of the whole human species been equally imputed to Him, we cannot perceive any solid reason to conclude that his propitiatory sufferings are sufficient for the expiation of sins which he did not bear, or for the redemption of sinners whom he did not represent. For the substitution of Christ, and the imputation of sin to him, are essential to the scriptural doctrine of redemption by our adorable Jesus…

And from Dagg (Manual of Theology, p330): “Some have maintained that, if the atonement of Christ is not general, no sinner can be under obligation to believe in Christ, until he is assured that he is one of the elect. This implies that no sinner is bound to believe what God says, unless he knows that God designs to save him…

Mark Karlberg Against Infant Salvation Conditioned on the Sinner

January 20, 2010

Reviewing Anthony Hoekema (Created in God’s Image) in his Covenant Theology in Reformed Perspective, p328, Karlberg quotes Hoekema:

“To be sure, all infants are under the condemnation of Adam’s sin as soon as they are born. But the Bible clearly teaches that God will judge everyone according to his or her works. And those who die in infancy are incapable of doing any works, whether good or bad.” p165

Karlberg comments, “this view appears to be something less than consistent Calvinism. Is not the basis of salvation the sovereign, electing purpose of God in Christ, rather than any consideration of human performance either in the case of adults or infants?”

L. Berkhof: No Union before Justification

January 15, 2010

The next time you hear that same old Calvin quotation (as long as outside us, 3:11:10), please read L Berhof back to the quoter. (from his systematic, p452)

“It is sometimes said that the merits of Christ cannot be imputed to us as long as we are not in Christ, since it is only on the basis of our oneness with Him that such an imputation could be reasonable. But this view fails to distinguish between our legal unity with Christ and our spiritual oneness with Him, and is a falsification of the fundamental element in the doctrine of redemption, namely, of the doctrine of justification. ”

“Justification is always a declaration of God, not on the basis of an existing (or future) condition, but on that of a gracious imputation–a declaration which is not in harmony with the existing condition of the sinner. The judicial ground for all the grace which we receive lies in the fact that the righteousness of Christ is freely imputed to us.”

Immediate Imputation

January 12, 2010

The late E.W. Johnson preached a series of messages at Calvary Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, AR in the late 50’s, which were published by Baptist Reformation Review in 1972

Johnson’s article was an attack on “federalism”. It opposed the primacy of the legal transfer and makes imputation depend on corruption or regeneration. It took sides with Andrew Fuller against Abraham Booth. It sided with Augustine and Calvin against  John Murray .

Of course we baptists are not bound to what any of those guys said, not even John Gill. But I bring up the name John Murray, since he did not believe in a covenant of works, and yet he still taught the immediate imputation of guilt from Adam to all humans (Jesus Himself excepted.)

So teaching an immediate imputation of the death of Christ (ie, logically before regeneration, and not because of regeneration) is not a result of having a covenant of works. Nor is it a result of denying that all God’s elect understand and believe the gospel.

But EW Johnson lumped all who taught immediate imputation into his “Primitive Baptist category”. And Johnson always pontificated more against what he called hypers than against the Arminians. There is very little theology on the Searching Together site, but this terrible imputation essay is one still there.

Interesting that those who are so indifferent to the true and false  are nevertheless so certain about a less important place for imputation. And thus they proclaim, and do not explain.
Wheaton’s Henri Blocher’s view of original sin is that Adam’s sin opened the door so that the rest of us other sinners COULD BE imputed with our own sins, and thus condemened. Thus a mediate imputation.

Andrew Fuller taught that this “door” has been opened for all sinners, including the non-elect. But even some who affirm substitutionary atonement seem think that a door has been opened for the elect that allows God then to do some other (more real) stuff for the elect.They seem to believe that any “imputation” by God is based on what God knows He will do (or has done) in the elect. They call imputation “judicial role-play”.

I do not.

Hebrews 10:10 We have been set apart through the offering of the body of Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:14 By a single offering He has perfected for all TIME those who are being sanctified.

The justified elect are sanctified by the imputation of Christ’s bloody death. This is parallel to the direct imputation of Adam’s sin. Romans 5:18 “as one trespass led to condemnation” does not mean “opened the door for the possibility of condemnation” . John 3:18″ the one who does not believe is condemned already.”

Evangelicals All Kind of Like Conditions

January 8, 2010

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 alternatives here  are 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 believe and teach 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.

This false gospel 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.

Defining Union With Christ

January 8, 2010

Anytime somebody talks about “union with Christ” we need to ask them to define it. They should not be allowed to list various aspects of “union” but then only use one of those aspects as their working definition.  If they say that “union is by faith”, then they are identifying “union” with God’s effectual call that results in faith in the gospel.

The effectual call only takes place by means of Christ’s justification.  There are not two “unions” here, one which is by faith, and another which is legal. The effectual call which results in faith is the gospel is a result of legal union with Christ in God’s imputation of righteousness.

Present union with Christ is legal. The already justified Christ gives the Spirit. It is not the Spirit who gives Christ. It is not the Spirit who makes Christ’s work effective. It is not the Spirit who makes Christ present.

We do not contemplate God’s gift of faith as getting us close to Christ so that he may justify us. Only the already elect in Christ for whom Christ died are baptised  (without water) by God the Father into Christ’s death and only then do they begin to have faith in and trust Christ.

It is not effectual calling that causes righteousness to be credited to us. It is union with Christ by means of righteousness imputed and forgiveness declared that creates the effectual call to fellowship and communion.

I Corinthians 1:9–”God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I Corinthians 1:30–”God is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”

Galatians 3:17–” in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham comes to the Gentiles, so that we receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

Romans 8:10–”the Spirit is life because of righteousness”

The Spirit does not give us life so that we can get righteousness. We trust Him who justifies the ungodly. Romans 4:5.

The Object of Faith is Imputed

January 5, 2010

Galatians 3:5-8 quotes Genesis 15:6, which tells us that Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him as righteousness.  Luther tells us that to have faith is to have Christ indwelling, and tells us that God really is pleased with the faith God has given us, and this faith is really righteous in God’s sight.

But Luther does not explain how this righteous faith (produced by God in the water of regeneration) satisfies the law of God . And since Luther taught that, if you were a sinner, Christ had died for you, then Luther’s message cannot be that the elect were saved by Christ’s death alone.

To begin to understand Genesis 15:6, we need to know that “as righteousness” should be translated “unto righteousness”. (See Robert Haldane’s commentary, Banner of Truth). That’s important to see, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t explain the imputation.

Whether we see imputation as the transfer of something, or if we see imputation as the declaration of something ( without a transfer, or after a transfer), what is the “it” which is being imputed? No matter if we have gone to great lengths to say that it is not credited as righteousness but only unto righteousness, what is “it” and why is God imputing “it”?

The “new perspective”  tells us the imputation is without a transfer, and that it only means declaring that certain folks are in the covenant. In this way of thinking, “it is imputed” simply means that God declares people just without talking about how and why they got that way.

“It” has an antecedent, but the antecedent is not faith alone. God imputes the righteousness revealed in the gospel to a person justified by the gospel.

“Faith” in Galatians 3:5-8 is defined in two ways: not by works of the law, and the gospel preached to Abraham. God did establish a conditional covenant with Abraham. In Genesis 17, he warned that anybody not circumcised would be cut off from the covenant. But that conditional covenant with Abraham is not the gospel God preached to Abraham.

God did not say to Abraham: if you believe, then I will bless you. God said, I will bless you without cause, not only so that you will believe but also so that in your offspring there will be one who will bring in the righteousness for the elect alone required by the law.

The “it” which is imputed by God to Abraham is the obedient bloody death of  Abraham’s seed  Jesus  Christ for the elect alone.