Archive for July 2010

The Work of the Spirit Necessary

July 28, 2010

Sometimes I get heard as saying that only the death and resurrection of Christ are necessary and that the work of the Spirit (in us) is not important. I do play the two works off against each other. I do make a distinction. But this is not because I don’t think the Holy Spirit is needed.

My concerns are these. 1. The Holy Spirit is Christ’s Spirit, and Christ’s gift. Christ puts us into the Spirit; the Spirit does not put us in Christ (even though this is what most Calvinists seem to say, when they put faith before God’s imputation of righteousness). “Because you are sons, then Christ gives you the Spirit.” Galatians 4.

God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the ungodly elect results in their new birth. I Cor 6:11 “you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” By the Spirit? I Tim 3:16–Christ’s justification is by the Spirit, it’s His resurrection. His resurrection is because justification (depending on if we are born before or Christ’s justification, our justification is before and after His justification, but always because of His justification.

2. The work of the Spirit is needed but not as the righteousness God accepts to justify the ungodly. It is necessary for a different reason  One part of the gospel tells us the source of faith and the nature of faith. John 3:1-12 tells us about the new birth being necessary. John 3:13-18 tells us about God’s love in giving the Son for elect sinners.

II Peter 1:1 To those who have obtained a faith equal with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

3. I therefore do not deny that the work of the Spirit (the new birth) is also part of the gospel and thus the object of faith. (When unthinking preachers deny that election is part of the gospel, and reduce it to only being the reason why people believe the gospel, they end up leaving election out.)

I don’t want to leave the new birth out of the gospel, but I want to say that faith is the result and not the condition, that– in the true gospel– faith excludes itself as being the cause or condition or any part of the righteousness earned by Christ for the elect and imputed in time to the elect.

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Christians who Sin?, or the Redeemed in Hell?, by David Bishop

July 19, 2010

C.S. Lewis has argued that we cannot truly love God unless we are first free to truly hate Him. And so in books like Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man, The Screwtape Letters, Perelandra, Out of the Silent Planet, That Hideous Strength, and A Pilgrim’s Regress, Lewis writes that God can only reveal the true depth and richness of His love to a creature who is free to choose to love Him.

In The Great Divorce, for instance, he presents his readers with six citizens of Hell who are given the opportunity to take a journey to Heaven for a day (how they got this opportunity he doesn’t bother to explain, but oh well). While in Heaven, the six are offered the choice to either remain in Heaven or to return to Hell. Of the six, only one chooses to stay, and that only after an angel first asks for permission to destroy the lust that clings to this one’s shoulder in the shape of a lizard.

(Lewis apparently wants us to believe that Christ’s finished work wasn’t enough to deal with lust. Lewis also apparently wants us to believe lust looks the part of a lizard.)

The Great Divorce is supposed to be a warning against those who would remain in their sin while calling themselves a Christian. Lewis would have done well to heed the warning himself, for in The Great Divorce he presents the idea one can be redeemed, purchased by the blood of Christ, and yet still somehow find himself a citizen of Hell.

What Lewis does here, and what every single Arminianist does along with him, is try to make God less than God; as though somehow God is helpless to do anything that is contrary to almighty man and his almighty free will. “But you’re making man into a robot,” the Arminianist will argue when confronted with God’s sovereignty.

Never mind the fact that the Arminianist is making God into a robot by arguing for man’s sovereignty. “But you’re making man into a robot!” To which I say, and? What is your point? That God should be the robot instead of man? How very blasphemous of you. ”

Is not God free to do as He wishes, and especially with respect to His creation? What sort of God is not free to do so? Even the pagans, with their many gods know better. Has anyone ever presented the story of a Zeus who is not able to do with man whatever he wishes? What of Vishnu, is he so helpless he cannot do as he pleases? What of Ra, has he ever been a man that he should respect man’s will? And yet many the “civilized” man who calls himself a Christian will give more honor to a Zeus, to a Vishnu, to a Ra than he will to the one and only Jehovah.

Here we have the most fantastic news in the universe. The God who has created all that exists, the One who is eternally omniscient, almighty, omnipresent and a terror to behold, this God, this One, has chosen a few mortals to be His children. And yet, many who would name themselves His children will argue, “not until He first checks in with me, He doesn’t.” What sort of nonsense is that?! It’s beyond nonsense, it’s absurd.

Hebrews 2:10 begins:”For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things. . .”

For whom are all things. Not only from whom, although all things are indeed also from Him, but rather for Him. Nothing that exists, nothing that has ever existed, nothing that ever will exist, exists for any other reason than Him. He is the reason for it all. I exist for Him. For Him! The elect exist for Him. The non-elect exist for Him. Satan exists for Him. All the angels, elect and reprobate exist for Him. The stars, the planets, the galaxies, all the viruses and bacteria in the universe, every plant, every animal, every rock, every thought, every concept, every minute and every second exists for Him.

There is nothing that does not exist for Him. It is all His to do with as He pleases, and what He pleases is to do the Father’s will. And what is the Father’s will? That the Son shall be glorified. Therefore, all that exists, exists for Him.

Now how in the world can any mere creature, designed and created for Him, expect to be taken seriously by shaking his tiny fist and saying, “Not by the will of my chinny-chin-chin”? And it’s not like the proud Arminian is the only little porker hiding in the straw house either.

Many “Calvinists” also take sides against God by conditioning hell on the sinner. They write like this: “Sinners who refuse and continue to believe salvation conditioned on themselves, against God’s promise, shut themselves out of the kingdom of heaven.”

No, they do not! There is no difference between this and Lewis’ idea that Hell is locked from the inside. No one can shut himself out of the kingdom of heaven. No one can lock the doors of Hell. God is the one who shuts people out of the kingdom of heaven. God is the one who locks people into Hell.

Sinners who refuse the Gospel do so because God has made them do so. He is the one who blinds, He is the one who deafens, He is the one who shuts, and He is the one who locks.

If I could have a conversation with Lewis, I suspect it would go something like this:

Lewis: You would be making man into a robot.

Me: And? Is it your contention that God is the robot? I am His creature, He is the Creator. If you want to say that makes all men a robot, then so be it, I’m a robot.

Lewis: But if you’re robot, then you’d have to admit you can’t honestly love God.

Me: I admit no such thing. I was a robot that had been pre-programmed to hate God. God reprogrammed me to love Him. How is it now that I don’t honestly love Him?

Lewis: Yes but, you can’t know God’s love to the fullest extent.

Me: How is that? I had been a robot pre-programmed to sin. God rescued me from my programming by dying for my bad output on a cross. He reprogrammed me with the knowledge of where I had been and where I am now. How is that I don’t know God’s love to the fullest extent?

Lewis: But. . . but. . . y-you’d make God responsible for evil.

Me: He created Satan, didn’t He? Let’s say for a moment you’re right, and God, using only His foreknowledge, knew Satan would sin. Very well, He created Satan knowing full well Satan would sin and would cast the universe into chaos, didn’t He? He created Satan knowing full well what sin would do to His creature, man, didn’t He? And yet He created him anyway. How does that not make Him responsible for evil?

Two Tolerant Soundbites Examined

July 19, 2010

Consider these two soundbites from a tolerant Calvinist: “People like to
ask this silly useless question: does a person have to believe in the
sovereignty of God to be saved. If God isn’t sovereign, nobody is going to be saved. So what difference does the question make?

“People ask this question: can a person with Arminian faith already be in a state of salvation? Faith doesn’t save. Neither Arminian or Calvinist faith saves. So what difference does the question make?”

Do not be fooled by these two soundbites. Notice that the speaker has not answered either question. Though we agree that only the sovereign God can save, do we believe that God is “so sovereign” that God can save a person without at the same time causing that person to believe in His sovereignty?

The speaker avoids the question. He has not answered it, even though we might infer his answer from his describing the question as “silly and useless.”

Though we agree that faith does not save, if we agree that salvation
results in faith, then is it not good and proper to ask what’s the object
of a saved person’s faith? When God saves a person, does God make what that person believes to be different than it was before?”

Romans 6:17–“But thanks be to God, that you were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed.”

Cain and Abel

July 5, 2010

I John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared;

mark: except in our direction? Are people who ask how many works or how much sin, even by their questions, not even pretending to have a different orientation now?

“but we know that( when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is”.

mark: But are we enough (don’t ask how much) like him already that you can see the results in morality even in contrast with the relatively religious Jew or Muslim? Are we even now seeing Him more, and one aspect of “grace” is that which causes a better performance on our part?

12We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

mark: What is the evil deed here? What is the righteous deed? Is the evil deed the murder? No, even though murder is an evil deed, Cain murdered Abel because of Cain’s status as an unbeliever in God’s gospel. Cain is a bad tree who thereby necessarily brings forth fruit which is all bad, all unacceptable, all dis-approved. So it’s not a matter of more and more, but of either/or. There are those who abide in God’s gospel and those who do not.

I John is not comparing morality with immorality. It is not mere morality that the world hates. It was not morality that Cain hated. Cain hated Abel’s gospel because that gospel said that even Cain’s best efforts to please God (the best of his fruits, with all sincerity) were an abomination to God.

Cain’s works were evil, according to God’s gospel, which Abel believed. For this reason, Cain murdered Abel. For this reason, the world hates those who believe the gospel of imputed righteousness. (3:13)

But what does I John have to say about gospel or imputation? Isn’t it about one of the “pegs of assurance”?: better morality, without being perfectionist about it? I John 4:16 is about the good news, God’s love for “us”, not for those who “went out from us”. God’s election is “perfected with us, so that we have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in the world.”

I John 4:17 does not use the word imputation, but that is the only way the elect can be as He is in the world. (Check out your commentaries on this: even those who deny that the righteousness of Matthew 5:20 is imputed, even those who deny that the “fine linen” of the saints are by imputation, even most of these commentators agree that God’s love here results in the elect having legal union with Christ’s obedience even to death).

Now we can make distinctions where we say, yes my ultimate hope is imputed righteousness (not as that which makes up the difference, but as that which is sufficient for the elect), but right now my assurance of that verdict also depends on this new morality with which I have been graced.

But I John 3 is about the difference between a Nicodemus and a prodigal publican, about the difference between Cain and Abel. Both may be moral, both may be religious, but when the gospel points out that even the morality and the religion of Cain is nothing but evil deeds, there you will see hostility to God and God’s people who believe the gospel.

You don’t have to be effectually called to become ashamed of murder. But the reason Cain murdered was that He wanted to glory in/ rejoice in (Phil 3:3) the deeds done by his false god in his body. Cain refused to put to death those deeds (Rom 8:13), even though “religious and moral” deeds by an unbeliever are an abomination to God.

Those deeds were motivated by a mercenary spirit seeking assurance by means of deeds. Cain in the flesh “could not please God” (Rom 8:8), not even with his morality and religious worship.

To pass over from death to life is to receive a new direction, in which one’s confidence is not in what God does in you but rather in what God has done in Christ outside you. Only in this way can we be in the world as Christ was in the world.

Two positions: “those who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the mind to the standard of doctrine to which they are committed” (Rom 6:17) so that there are “things of which you are now ashamed” (Rom 6:21).

You may have been ashamed of immorality before, but not of your false worship and not of your assurance based partly on your works that you thank God that you can do, not like the publican.

The Cains of this world are ready for a self-examination and contrast in terms of their morality. But they will not come to the light, because they love darkness and the light of the gospel will tell them their deeds are evil, all their deeds, even their moral deeds. (John 3:19)

Abel “does what is true”. Abel abides in the gospel. Romans 4:4 “now to the one who works, his wages are counted as what is due.”

God Saw the Tape Already, and That’s Why He Chose You?

July 5, 2010

M. R. DeHaan (Eternal Security, p12)—“If God knew that you would be lost, then why would He choose you in the first place? Why save you in the first place, if He knew that you would be lost?”

Harold Barker (Secure Forever, p117)—“If God knew that we would stop believing and thus lose our salvation, then why did God choose us?”

These old time Arminians think that the future is fixed and that God gets to see the tape of what will happen. After God sees what will happen (ie, if you will believe and keep believing), then God chooses those who will believe.

I hope all who read this know that this is not what the Bible means by “foreknowledge”. But my question now is: when God reacts to what man decides, what difference does God’s reaction make? Since the tape that God got to see was of a fixed future, how can that tape (that fixed and knowable future) be changed by God’s choice?

PS: Dehaan’s grandson is not an old time Arminian: he has a different false gospel. I heard it at Cypress Gardens: for the current DeHaan the cross is God’s apology to all of us for the world being so bad.

A Fake god who Cannot Save

July 5, 2010

The Arminian says that Christ did not bear the sins of anybody but sin itself.

The Arminian excuses God by saying that those who are lost are those God couldn’t save.

The reason the Arminian judges God for “with-holding” the grace that could have saved the non-elect is not so much that the Arminian thinks that God “owes” any sinner something. Rather, the reason the Arminian accuses the true God in this way is that the Arminian has a fake god who cannot save anybody. The Arminian has a fake god who cannot cause the unwilling to will anything.

The Arminian says that love is without reason if love is not conditioned on the sinner accepting it.

Most Calvinists agree with Arminians that the important thing about faith is its source and not its object; they disagree about the source—the Arminian crediting man’s faith to receive the faith, the tolerant Calvinist crediting their mutual god as the source of the Arminian’s faith.

Most Calvinists agree that Arminians have a new nature from God: even though the Arminians have a hypothetical view of the atonement, the Calvinists agree that the Arminian’s new nature is not hypothetical.

Most Calvinists agree with Arminians that works are not prescriptive but descriptive of those with a new nature with a resulting changed life: even though they together acknowledge that these works are still sinful, they will not confess themselves as habitual sinners.

Most Calvinists agree with Arminians that faith results in salvation.
Though these Calvinists deny that faith results in the new birth, the same Calvinists agree that faith results in justification and that faith is credited as the righteousness. But any faith which results in justification is not the true faith which is the immediate result of
the justification of the ungodly.

God has a purpose for evil. God has a purpose for evil theology.

The new birth is not to be confused with God’s adoption of children. Galatians 4: 6—“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba Father.”

The “eternal life” of justification and adoption are not to be confused with the new birth. John 5:24-25 “As many as hear my word and believe in Him who sent me have eternal life. They do not come into judgment, but have passed from death to life.” However, there is no time gap between eternal life and the new birth produced by the hearing of the word of the gospel.