Evangelicals All Kind of Like Conditions

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.

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10 Comments on “Evangelicals All Kind of Like Conditions”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Jonathan Edwards “Every vessel that is cast into this ocean of happiness is full, though there are some vessels far larger than others; and there shall be no such thing as envy in
    heaven.”

    Mark Jones quotes Flavel —An Antecedent Condition signifying no more than an Act of ours, which though it be neither perfect in every degree, nor in the least meritorious of the benefit conferred; nor performed in our own natural strength; yet according to the constitution of the Covenant, is required of us in order to the blessings consequent

    Mark Jones—“Flavel makes a further distinction between faith ‘essentially’ considered and faith considered ‘organically and instrumentally.’ Faith essentially considered refers to obedience, ‘and in that respect we exclude it from JUSTIFYING our persons, or entitling us to the saving-mercies of the New Covenant.’ HOWEVER, faith “organically” considered refers to its instrumentality,..Rutherford speaks well for Reformed theologians when he says: ‘conditions wrought in us by grace, such as we assert, take not one jot or title of the freedom of grace away.Before critiquing Piper, I think Irons needs to read more carefully on the different senses of ‘condition’ in the Reformed tradition.”

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/07/rewarding-our-children-for-obe.php

  2. markmcculley Says:

    http://www.challies.com/articles/is-forgiveness-conditional-or-unconditional

    I have two short responses

    1. God’s love is not conditional, because God gives faith and repentance to all whom God loves.

    2. We are not God, and there is no “parity” between our attitude to other sinners and the Holy Sinless God’s forgiveness of sinners.

    how should we forgive? On conditions or without conditions? If we don’t forgive, will that prove we never believed ? but 3. did you ever notice that the people who make our forgiveness of other sinners conditional on those sinners (which God does not), think that they are meeting the conditions of salvation WITHOUT ACTUALLY FORGIVING. The OFFER to forgive (now the potato is in your hands) means these people can get assurance without forgiving but only OFFERING to forgive.

    Did Jesus die for all the future sins of the justified elect? Did Jesus even die for their sin of not loving their enemies? Did Jesus die for their sin of not forgiving their brothers and sisters?

    Tianqi Wu Then we see the parable of unforgiving servant is not threatening the believer God will revoke forgiveness if you don’t forgive your brother likewise (if this is true, then time to join the Arminians!) but describing by a human analogy how sinful it would be to not forgive your brother when you have been forgiven by God.

    1, in the parable, the master forgives monetary debts, but not sinful conduct (the servant being unmerciful)

    2, in the parable, the master’s forgiveness of debt is by master’s absorption of the loss which he can change mind about later, not by an complete, settled payment by a mediator.

    Some of those who divide sin into sin against law and sin against grace, says sin against law is forgiven, IF you do not sin against grace

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Bradley Green, Covenant and Commandment, IVP, 2014, p 63—-“According to Meredith Kline, we are saved by a works principle (Christ’s work for the elect), but Kline thinks that Christ’s work must be kept totally and utterly sequestered from Abraham’s work and from our work. …Kline imports unnecessary categories when he says that there are no conditions (hence not a necessity of obedience) related to the heavenly realm where grace reigns. Does it not make more sense to simply say that within a gracious covenantal relationship God moves his covenant people to obey him.?

    mark mcculley–I am reporting, not agreeing with Green or John Frame or Gaffin. Have you ever noticed that the folks who want to say that there was “grace” in the garden before the fall are the same persons who want to say that grace after the fall includes law and conditions?

    John Frame (law and gospel) —“It is impossible to say that the law is excluded from the message of the gospel.”

  4. markmcculley Says:

    ohn Murray, The Covenant of Grace— “How then are we to construe the conditions of which we have spoken? The continued enjoyment of this grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. For apart from the fulfillment of these conditions the grace bestowed and the relation established are meaningless. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The relation established implies mutuality.”

    Murray—“But the conditions in view are not conditions of bestowal. They are simply the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing and of the covenant relation is inconceivable….Viewed in this light that the breaking of the covenant takes on an entirely different complexion. It is not the failure to meet the terms of a pact nor failure to respond to the offer of favorable terms of contractual agreement. It is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

    Murray–“It should be noted also that the necessity of keeping the covenant is bound up with the particularism of this covenant. The covenant does not yield its blessing to all indiscriminately. The discrimination which this covenant exemplifies accentuates the sovereignty of God in the bestowal of its grace and the fulfillment of its promises. This particularization is correlative with the spirituality of the grace bestowed and the relation constituted and it is also consonant with the exactitude of its demands.”

    Murray—“A covenant which yields its blessing indiscriminately is not one that can be kept or broken. We see again, therefore, that the intensification which particularism illustrates serves to accentuate the keeping which is indispensable to the fruition of the covenant grace.”

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Vos–Evidence that in this sense conditions are attached to the covenant of grace: 1.The Scriptures speak in this way: John 3:16, 36; Rom 10:9; Acts 8:37; Mark 16:16; and in many other places.
    2.If there were no conditions, there would be no place for threats, for threatening only makes sense to those who reject the conditions; that is to say here, those who do not walk in the God-ordained way of the covenant.
    3.If there were no conditions, God alone would be bound by this covenant, and no bond would be placed on man. Thereby the character of the covenant would be lost. All covenants contain two parts.”

    Vos—The covenant of grace is not conditional concerning the covenant benefits. Let us say, for example, that justification is a covenant benefit….But now, what about faith itself? Is faith, in its turn, again tied to something else? Evidently not, for otherwise we would get an infinite series, and nowhere would there be an absolute beginning where the grace of God intervenes. Therefore, we say that the covenant of grace is conditional with respect to its completion and final benefits, not as concerns its actual beginning.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    In theory, there is no curse for those in Christ Jesus, but in practical reality, you have to obey the warnings or you won’t be in Christ Jesus. Which would mean you were never in Christ Jesus, because justification was in Christ’s death alone, but sanctification is not in Christ’s death alone but also in your daily dying, and if you don’t die daily, then you won’t stay sanctified, and you won’t stay in the covenant, which means that you were never justified. Justification itself is by Christ’s death alone, but the assurance of it depends on how you obey the warnings so as to not lose your sanctification.
    Since our context is not legalism but antinomianism, we don’t need all that justification stuff, we need sanctification
    The gospel depends on the situation, the gospel depends on those who hear it, and now in our situation, we need the gospel to be the law, and we need the gospel to be what condemns people–because many are born in the church and many are born in the covenant, so what will condemn them is not the law, because what will condemn them is the gracious but conditional promise of the covenant, what will condemn them is “grace”— a grace common between those who believe and those who don’t believe. Grace for everybody, but believing for some.

    https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/jones-on-conditions/

  7. markmcculley Says:

    it’s the ‘conditional covenant” of Lillback and Gaffin and Westminster Seminary

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=116

    http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_88.html

    https://standardbearer.rfpa.org/articles/unconditional-covenant-contemporary-debate-and-protestant-reformed-seminary-6

    if the “reformation” was merely the rediscovery of what Augustine knew, and nothing new,
    then the reformation is still wrong about justification

    the five solas have no tulip,
    the five solas leave room for the atonement to be limited by the sinner

    and even the tulip leaves room for grace to be defined as God creating our response to Christ’s death
    but God’s grace chose the elect and gave Christ to die as the propitiation only for those elect

    if grace is defined as only that which causes us to “live and appropriate” a death by Christ for everybody
    then grace is not located in Christ’s death but in us

    if grace is defined as God’s working sanctification in us so that we become “more and more” saints,
    then the glory does not go to Christ alone but also to us working because Christ is working in us

  8. markmcculley Says:

    http://upper-register.typepad.com/blog/2015/10/response-to-mark-jones-on-faith-as-a-condition-of-justification.html

    Lee Irons—It wasn’t a treatise on justification but was part of a debate over paedobaptism. Philip Cary, the credobaptist, had argued that the new covenant or the gospel covenant is absolute or unconditional—a position that was even held by some paedobaptists, most notably John Owen. Flavel disagrees and argues that the gospel covenant is conditional upon faith. I happen to agree with the paedobaptist (Flavel) against the credobaptist (Cary) in this particular debate. Flavel’s entire discussion of the various meanings of the word “condition” has to do with paedo- vs. credo-baptist debates over covenant theology, e.g., questions like whether the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision was the same in substance with the new or gospel covenant, and whether the new or gospel covenant is conditional. The precise question of the role of faith (instrumental vs. conditional) in justification is not directly in view (although justification is mentioned several times and Flavel even attaches an appendix critiquing the hyper-Calvinist doctrine of eternal justification, but, again, only to argue that faith is a condition in the obvious sense that it is necessary for justification).

    So much for Flavel. What about the other quotes? The Charnock quote is one isolated sentence in a sermon on the holiness of God; the topic of justification is not at hand. Charnock provides no elaboration, so one cannot be sure what he intended. I could not locate the Manton quote. That leaves the Owen quote. And guess what? In the context, Owen is not really endorsing the position that faith is best defined as the condition of justification. The sentence in bold in the block quote below is the one quoted by Jones. But Jones takes that sentence out of context against the drift of Owen’s whole argument, which is that faith is best viewed as the instrument rather than the condition of justification. We receive the righteousness of Christ by the instrumentality of faith. Faith is the merely that by which we receive, apprehend, lay hold of, and appropriate Christ’s imputed righteousness.

    “Some do plead that faith is the condition of our justification, and that otherwise it is not to be conceived of. As I said before, so I say again, I shall not contend with any man about words, terms, or expressions, so long as what is intended by them, is agreed upon. And there is an obvious sense wherein faith may be called the condition of our justification. For no more may be intended thereby, but that it is the duty on our part which God requireth, that we may be justified. And this the whole scripture beareth witness unto. Yet this hindereth not, but that as unto its use, it may be the instrument whereby we apprehend or receive Christ and his righteousness. But to assert it the condition of our justification, or that we are justified by it as the condition of the new covenant, so as from a pre-conceived signification of that word, to give it another use in justification exclusive of that pleaded for, as the instrumental cause thereof, is not easily to be admitted; because it supposeth an alteration in the substance of the doctrine itself.

    “The word is no where used in the scripture in this matter; which I argue no farther, but that we have no certain rule or standard to try and measure its signification by. Wherefore it cannot first be introduced in what sense men please, and then that sense turned into argument for other ends. For thus on a supposed concession, that it is the condition of our justification, some heighten it into a subordinate righteousness, imputed unto us, antecedently as I suppose, unto the imputation of the righteousness of Christ in any sense, whereof it is the condition. And some who pretend to lessen its efficiency or dignity in the use of it in our justification say, it is only causa sine qua non, which leaves us at as great an uncertainty as to the nature and efficacy of this condition as we were before. Nor is the true sense of things at all illustrated, but rather darkened by such notions” (The Works of John Owen, vol. 5, p. 113).

    The terminology of “condition” is clearly problematic for Owen. He’s not comfortable with it. He’s squirming all over the place. He allows that it can be used in a harmless sense, but he points out that the word “condition” is nowhere used in Scripture in relation to justification. The term does not help but rather darkens understanding. Once you speak of faith as a condition of justification, faith can all too easily be heightened into a subordinate righteousness. Those who try to soften the term condition by saying it is only a causa sine qua non do not add clarity but only leave us with just as much uncertainty as to the nature and efficacy of this so-called condition. He’ll allow someone to say faith is the “condition” of justification, but only if “condition” is understood as synonymous with “instrument”!

    All of that is to say, the best of the Reformed tradition generally thinks it is better and safer to define faith as the instrument of justification rather than as the condition of justification. The fact that faith is the instrument of justification follows from the reality of what justification is—not entering a right relationship to God, but receiving the gift of the imputed righteousness of Christ, as Owen argued:

    “Whereas therefore the righteousness wherewith we are justified is the gift of God, which is tendered unto us in the promise of the gospel, the use and office of faith being to receive, apprehend, or lay hold of and appropriate this righteousness, I know not how it can be better expressed than by an instrument, nor by what notion of it more light of understanding may be conveyed unto our minds …. If we are justified through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, which faith alone apprehends and receives, it will not be denied but that it is rightly enough placed as the instrumental cause of our justification” (Ibid., p. 112).

    I am willing to grant that Jones is right on the narrow point that some Reformed theologians did on occasion use the language of faith as a “condition” of justification. But that doesn’t contradict my claim in context. My claim in context was that Reformed theology never “viewed” (i.e., defined) faith as a condition in Piper’s sense, as one condition that can be numbered along with other conditions including evangelical obedience, with faith being the sole condition for entering a right relationship to God and evangelical obedience being the condition for attaining heaven. That is the larger context that I was dealing with in my original post.

    I also grant that Jones is entirely correct that the term “condition” can be used in a variety of senses (antecedent, consequent, sine qua non, essential, organic, and I am sure the scholastics could come up with more!), and that, depending on which sense is in view, the statement “faith is the condition of justification” can be intended in an orthodox sense. But I would urge people, if they use it, to immediately clarify the sense in which they are using it. Preferably, we should not use it at all. It’s too ambiguous, as Owen said. We should use instrument instead—just as the Westminster Confession does. Besides, if faith is an instrument, then it is in some sense a condition. But not every condition is a mere instrument. So “instrument” is better because it is more precise.

    I’d like to conclude with another quote from Owen on why it is dangerous to ascribe to faith the efficiency of a condition with respect to justification, if that conditionality is not clearly defined and circumscribed in purely instrumental terms:

    “For we ascribe the efficiency of an instrument herein unto our own faith; when they say only that it is a condition, or causa sine qua non, of our justification. But I judge that grave and wise men ought not to give so much to the defense of the cause they have undertaken, seeing they cannot but know indeed the contrary. For after they have given the specious name of a condition, and a causa sine qua non, unto faith, they immediately take all other graces and works of obedience into the same state with it, and the same use in justification; and after this seeming gold hath been cast for a while into the fire of disputation, there comes out the calf of a personal inherent righteousness, whereby men are justified before God, virtute foederis evangelici, for as for the righteousness of Christ to be imputed unto us, it is gone into heaven, and they know not what is become of it” (Ibid., p. 106).

    In no way am I claiming that Piper is guilty of denying the imputed righteousness of Christ, but it is worrisome that his faulty gloss of justification as “entering a right relationship to God” fails to mention it.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Powell—Faith alone therefore is the instrumental condition of salvation. Not just of entering into a right relationship with God, but of the attainment of the eternal kingdom. This is necessarily true, for the one contains the other. If one has entered into a right relationship with God by faith in the Messiah, then the state of attaining the eternal kingdom in principle is already there

    http://www.medwardpowell.com/2015/10/we-distinguish-conditions-of-salvation/

    Mark Jones quotes Flavel —An Antecedent Condition signifying no more than an Act of ours, which though it be neither perfect in every degree, nor in the least meritorious of the benefit conferred; nor performed in our own natural strength; yet according to the constitution of the Covenant, is required of us in order to the blessings consequent

    Mark Jones—“Flavel makes a further distinction between faith ‘essentially’ considered and faith considered ‘organically and instrumentally.’ Faith essentially considered refers to obedience, ‘and in that respect we exclude it from JUSTIFYING our persons, or entitling us to the saving-mercies of the New Covenant.’ HOWEVER, faith “organically” considered refers to its instrumentality,..Rutherford speaks well for Reformed theologians when he says: ‘conditions wrought in us by grace, such as we assert, take not one jot or title of the freedom of grace away.Before critiquing Piper, I think Irons needs to read more carefully on the different senses of ‘condition’ in the Reformed tradition.”

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/07/rewarding-our-children-for-obe.php

    Vos–Evidence that in this sense conditions are attached to the covenant of grace: 1.The Scriptures speak in this way: John 3:16, 36; Rom 10:9; Acts 8:37; Mark 16:16; and in many other places.
    2.If there were no conditions, there would be no place for threats, for threatening only makes sense to those who reject the conditions; that is to say here, those who do not walk in the God-ordained way of the covenant.
    3.If there were no conditions, God alone would be bound by this covenant, and no bond would be placed on man. Thereby the character of the covenant would be lost. All covenants contain two parts.”

    Vos—The covenant of grace is not conditional concerning the covenant benefits. Let us say, for example, that justification is a covenant benefit….But now, what about faith itself? Is faith, in its turn, again tied to something else? Evidently not, for otherwise we would get an infinite series, and nowhere would there be an absolute beginning where the grace of God intervenes. Therefore, we say that the covenant of grace is conditional with respect to its completion and final benefits, not as concerns its actual beginning.

    Irons– The second confusing terminology is his use of the word “conditions.” He wants to say that faith is the sole condition of entering into a right relationship with God. But if we replace “entering into a right relationship with God” with “being justified,” then it is not true that faith is the sole condition, since faith is related to justification not as a condition but as a means. Faith has never been viewed as a condition of justification in Reformed theology or in the Reformed confessions. Paul himself never uses the prepositional phrase dia + accusative, “justified because of faith.” Instead he uses dia+ genitive or ek + genitive, “justified by faith.” Faith is not the ground of justification, but the means by which we are justified, by which we rest upon Christ and receive the gift of his imputed righteousness. Faith is a purely passive and receptive instrument. It is an open hand that receives the gift. In this it is the exclusive means or instrument by which we are justified, since we do not receive the righteousness of Christ by works of obedience, even by Spirit-wrought works of obedience. And even faith itself is a sovereign gift of God. So it is simply wrong to say that faith is the condition of justification.

    http://upper-register.typepad.com/blog/2015/10/faith-alone-and-the-importance-of-precise-terminology.html

  10. markmcculley Says:

    http://heidelblog.net/2016/02/imperative-indicative-law-and-gospel/

    Scott Clark—There is a corollary here to law and gospel. Both make promises but they do so on the basis of DIFFERENT CONDITIONS to be met. When the condition to be met is obedience, then it seems that we are talking about the law, about performance, about “do this and live.” This is what some older Reformed theologians called an antecedent condition. According to the Reformed understanding, Christ has fulfilled the antecedent condition of obedience (i.e., the covenant of works) for the the elect or for the believer, in the his place, as his substitute. The believer receives the benefit of what Christ has done by grace alone, through faith alone.

    In Reformed theology faith has frequently been called the condition of the covenant of grace but it is not a condition of the same sort as obedience or “do this and live.” For this reason, Herman Witsius (1636–1708) preferred to call faith the instrument of the covenant of grace rather then a condition. Faith, as Luther said, is an empty hand. It receives what someone else has done for us.

    The imperative “believe” refers not to the law but to the gospel. It is a call to receive freely what Christ has done for us. In this respect faith has a unique, once-for-all role in salvation that repentance does not have. Repentance does not receive Christ, his obedience, and his grace. Insofar as faith is the sole instrument of salvation it is perfect.

    MARK—we don’t keep believing? Our faith is perfect?


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