Archive for August 2010

The IT Counted, Credited, Reckoned

August 25, 2010

Romans 4:24-25 “IT will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised up for our justification.”

Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare His own Son but delivered him up for us all, how will He not also WITH HIM graciously give us all things?”

1. Christ and His work are credited. This is my way of saying that we can distinguish but never separate His person and work. Also we can distinguish but never separate his death and his resurrection (and also the life of obedience before His death).

2. Though this sounds difficult, we are saying that God counts according to truth. God counts righteousness as righteousness! This sounds too simple, and it is, so we bring in two factors. a. The righteousness counted as righteousness is not our righteousness (not our works of faith) but legally “transferred” to us when Christ marries us, so that what is His is still His but now ours also. b. Justification is not only the righteousness, but the righteousness imputed to the elect.

3. Imputation means two things. One, the transfer. Two, the declaration. God is justified, declared to be just, without transfer. God is counted as just because God is just.

Some exegetes relate Romans 5:13-14 to infants, but I think it’s about the Mosaic law–until then, there are no commands like Adam had commands. But this means that 1. the Mosaic covenant leads to death. 2. Most importantly for the context, this means that God is NOT counting the sins in between against them. So why are they dying? They are dying because of Adam’s sin imputed to them (verse 12)

Romans 5:12-13, whatever else we say about it, is in support of verse 12 and the imputation of sin. No sins of their own counted: no matter, Adam’s sin is counted against them.

The elect have been born guilty, condemened, not justified. They are unrighteous ( prior to justification). Therefore, the crediting of Christ’s righteousness to them must be done if God is to save them. In fact, this is how God saves them, by crediting them with Christ’s righteousness

This righteousness by which the elect reign and which leads to life (of the quality and quantity of the ages to come) is not what God works in us, but imputed.

Guilt to Adam, then corruption. Righteousness to the elect, then regeneration. So many people have that wrong, even people who believe in sovereign predestination. Augustine, for example, thinks of sovereign regeneration is the righteousness. And even Calvin, on the first Adam side of things, puts corruption before guilt. In other words, Calvin taught a mediate imputation of guilt. First, he said, we got corruption from Adam, and then the guilt.

But I say (with federalism) that it would not be just for God to give us corruption from Adam until first God legally gave us Adam’s guilt. If we don’t get the first Adam side right, it will make it hard to understand the Christ (last Adam) side of things.

Romans 5:17 we “receive” the free (for no cause) gift of righteousness, not by faith, but passively, by imputation.

If we have Faith Alone, do we need For the Elect Alone?

August 18, 2010

Is faith alone important? What’s the point of it? According to Scripture, faith alone is “not works”. The point of faith alone is “grace alone”. And according to Scripture, we cannot say grace alone without saying “for the elect alone”. Romans 9:11, “though they were not yet born and had done nothing good or bad-in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of His call.”

I want you to see the connection between “not because of works” and election. When evangelicals attempt to leave out the “for the elect alone” and discuss the gospel without talking about election, then mostly all they can do is say “not because of works but because of faith alone”.

Even if you believe the false gospel that Christ died for every sinner, Reformed evangelicals will tell you that God effectually called you to believe that heresy. Of course they won’t tell you it’s heresy, but in select groups (for examples, conferences that charge you big dollars) they will explain a more educated and precise view of things which you might want to add on to what you already believe without needing to repent of a false gospel.

Before you believed in a faith alone gospel, and now you still believe in a faith alone gospel but now you know that the faith came from God,

Galatians 3: 5-8, “ Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. I know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, forseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham….

Since this text does not talk about election, and since it does talk about faith four times, what then is the gospel preached to Abraham that we should preach? First, notice that faith is a hearing produced by God by means of the gospel. The power is in the true gospel, not a false gospel. I Corinthians 1: 18, “for the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, IT is the power of God.”

The true gospel needs to be proclaimed to all sinners (and not just those who have the bucks to get into Reformed conferences). The gospel is only good news for the elect, but we don’t know who the elect are until they have believed the gospel. The promise of the gospel is not for the children of the flesh but for the children of the promise, but we don’t know who the children of the promise are until they have been called.

As Romans 9: 7 reminds us, not all are offspring of Abraham because they are his offspring. As Acts reminds us time after time, the promise is for “as many as“ are called. (2:39, 4:4 ). Since Romans 8:30 teaches us that as many as He called were also predestined, I see no reason to leave out the idea of election from the idea of calling

It is not enough to talk about calling and election, if election is simply to make sure that some sinners have faith alone. If the object of the faith alone is a false gospel which says that Christ loves everybody and desires to save everybody but that faith is some kind of condition of this salvation, then this faith alone is not in the true Christ but is instead in faith alone.

We don’t bring faith to the true gospel, because the true gospel brings faith (hearing) to the elect. The message (for the elect alone) is to be proclaimed to elect and non-elect alike. This message of good news is the power of God to the elect alone.

I Corinthians 2:12,“ Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we would understand the things freely given us by God.” Freely given by God does not mean that God has made an offer of a free gift if we accept it by faith alone. Freely given by God does not mean that we don’t have to work for it, but that the alone condition is faith.

“Freely given” means “sovereignly given”, given ‘”without a cause”, given by God to the elect chosen and loved in Christ. I Cor 2:12 explains that the elect are given the Spirit to UNDERSTAND the things freely given us by God. The elect don’t bring faith to the gospel, because the power of the gospel brings hearing to the elect, so that they understand not only that things are given by God, but also that these things are given freely, sovereignly.

Faith alone is not the condition, but to see that, we need a message which tells us about God’s election.

Romans 1:16, “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Evangelicals understand this as teaching that salvation is conditioned on faith alone. Evangelicals don’t understand the gospel. T

Election is God’s idea. This idea goes along with the idea of not works. Romans 9:11, “In order that God’s election might continue, not because of works.” Romans 11: 5, “So too at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. But if it by grace, it is no longer by works; otherwise grace would be no more grace.”

Doesn’t the apostle Paul understand that you can say “not by works “ without talking about election? Why doesn’t he just say: “by faith and not by works”? Why does he bring in this idea of a remnant? Paul writes about election in order to explain what he means by faith. Paul does not regard faith as a substitute for works.

Galatians 3:5-8 quotes Genesis 15:6, which tells us that Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him as righteousness. Everybody from Martin Luther to John Murray reads this as saying that faith alone is imputed as the righteousness.

Of course there are different explanations. Luther reminds 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.

John Murray not only taught that Christ died in some sense only for the elect, but also taught that faith alone for nine reasons could not be the righteousness imputed. I like his reasons, and you can look them up in his commentary on Romans. But still, at the end of the day, Murray claimed that every honest exegete would have to agree with him that Genesis 15 does teach that the faith alone is what God imputes.

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”?

“It” has an antecedent, but the antecedent is not faith alone. God imputes the righteousness revealed in the gospel unto the righteousness of a person justified by the gospel. In context, “faith” in Galatians 3:5-8 is defined in two ways: not by works of the law, and the gospel preached to Abraham.

God’s 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 Christ Jesus for the elect alone. The righteousness of God obtained by Christ is imputed unto the elect alone.

God is More (not less) Than the Boss of Us

August 9, 2010

The Truth is More Than God’s Sovereignty

Romans 3:3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though everyone were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

I know some Calvinists (I was one of them) who think it is enough to say that God is sovereign. In this emphasis, sometimes they even project their own ego onto God, and sound like they think of themselves as sovereign also (at least sovereign representatives of the Sovereign).

But the truth of the gospel is not only God’s sovereignty but also God’s righteousness. This means that the gospel is not only about the justification of the elect sinner but also about the justification of God.

I have no use for the “freewill theodicy”. But that does not mean that I am dismissive of efforts to justify God. To justify God does not of course mean that we make God just. Rather, it means that we declare that God is just.

When God justifies an elect sinner, then God not only declares sovereignly that this sinner is just. God is justified in justifying the elect sinner because 1. Christ died because of the imputed guilt of that elect sinner and 2. God then righteously, justly, constituted that elect sinner to share in that death (Christ’s righteousness) so that the elect sinner is legally righteous. Because of these two facts of history, God is justified in justifying elect sinners.

It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t look just. The elect sinners go free. Christ, who did not sin, died. This is why we are tempted to say that the whole thing is only about God’s sovereignty and then tell people to shut their mouths and ask no questions. But the Bible itself does not take that attitude. The Bible tells us how God thinks. The Bible justifies God.

For example, Romans 3, 6, and 9 deal with possible objections to God justifying sinners. Romans 9 does not only ask: “who are you to talk back to God”. Romans 9 explains that it is inappropriate for that which is made to sit in negative judgment on the maker. That which is made is instead to make the positive judgment that God has the righteous right to harden as many as God hardens.

Romans 6 deals with the objection that God justifying sinners will cause sinners to rationalize their sins, so that they not only say that their sins were predestined but also that they say that more sins result in more grace.

The Romans 6 answer is that grace is either grace or not. There is not more or less grace, but either grace or no grace. More sin does not get the elect more grace, because all those God justly justifies have all the grace any other elect person has. If you have grace, then you are justified from sin, and if you don’t have grace, you are a sinner “free from righteousness” (6:20).

While unbelievers trust in God to help them to sin less, those who have been delivered to the gospel know that there are only two kind of sinners, two states—guilty sinners and justified sinners (justly justified by Christ’s death to sin.)

The theodicy of Romans 3 announces that God is true even if every man is a liar. We justify God because God has revealed Himself. And God has revealed that God is more than sovereign. God’s words reveal God to be Righteous and Just. And God’s word is justified in history by what God did when Christ gave Himself up to death on the cross because of the imputed guilt of the elect. “That you  be justified!”

We were wrong: God was right and God is still right. God prevails, but it is not only a matter of “might makes right” or “sovereignty always wins”. We have no right to make a negative judgment on God, since it is God who will be making a negative judgment on many sinners. But we are called to make a positive judgment, that God prevails.

Not only does God do everything God pleases to God. God’s pleasure is holy pleasure. What God pleases to do is right. And there is no better proof of that than the way God justifies elect sinners. The wisdom of the cross shows God’s righteousness. It is fair. It is just for God to not only let elect sinners go free but also to give them faith and all the other blessings of salvation.

Yes, it is grace to these sinners, but still it is just for God to do it, because of what Christ got done in his obedience even unto death. As Isaiah 53 explains, the righteous servant will be satisfied. God will be just to Christ. And God is just to justify elect sinners for the sake of Christ.

Psalm 116:11—“I said in my alarm, ‘All mankind are liars’” Not only is God justified, but sinners are wrong. Sinners are condemned. We see this in Romans 1:25 already. All of us sinners have been people who “exchange the truth for a lie”.

It is idolatry to only know a God who is sovereign. The true God is also just and righteous. It is unbelief and rebellion to deny that God is just and righteous. Psalm 51:4-6—“Against you have I sinned and done what is evil, so that you are justified in your words and blameless in your judgment..Behold you delight in truth…” Two things go together: God is just and true, we are wrong and false.

The gospel is good news for the elect, but not without also being first bad news. You can call this “methodism” if you want. You can call it “law before gospel” if you wish. But part and parcel of justifying God (and trusting God’s true gospel) is taking sides with God against our-selves. We can’t both be right. God is right, and we are wrong. If God is right, then we are wrong.

If we ever get to thinking that God is sovereign but wrong, then we show not only that we are wrong but also that God has not yet called us by the gospel to the truth. We do not only confess that God is going to get God’s way, that God is going to win; we learn to confess that the way God acts and judges is just. We make a positive judgment about God. That is a result, and not a condition of God having justified us.

God is true. Which is to say: God is God. To reject the righteousness of God (His attribute, not only Christ’s saving work and gift) is to reject the true God. Romans 3:3 tells us that God’s faithfulness proves that God is the true God. Isaiah 42:3—“He will faithfully bring forth justice.” Isaiah 45:19—“I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness. I did not say to the seed of Jacob, seek me in vain. I the Lord speak the truth. I declare what is right”.

Getting in a dispute or debate or argument with the true God shows us just how dumb we become! The irony every time is that our lies, rationalizations, self-deceptions only result in the truth of God being all the more justified, declared. And then, when we try to say, “well at least our falsehoods are making God look more faithful”, we are brought face to face with the fact of Romans 3:5—God is the righteous judge of us. God is not only “the boss of us”, because God is judging us and will judge us. And that right there shows that God is not unjust for judging sin to be sin.

God is not some impartial “fair” judge. God takes sides with Himself. God takes sides against sinners. And the only sinners that God justifies are the elect who God has constituted as righteous by placing them into the death (to sin, to guilt, not only to punishment) of Christ.

God is not some neutral “outside” arbitrator. God is one of the parties in God’s lawsuit against sinners. Sinners are defeated by God’s triumph. The God we have offended by being sinners (exchanging truth for idolatry) is the God who will judge all sinners. Some sinners God hardens. Other sinners have their names written in another book, because God has elected them in Christ.

Not Understanding to Understand?, Works is Grace?, by David Bishop

August 9, 2010

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was an amateur philosopher, an intellect and a poet. He was a prolific writer, a contemporary and correspondent of George Bernard Shaw, as well as a man who considered Atheism the religion of “the mad man.”

First and foremost, however, Chesterton was a Roman Catholic; and as such, he was a man who detested Calvinism, and made no effort to hide it. In fact, he devoted a great portion of his career arguing that all Calvinists are lunatics.

Chesterton’s shocking inconsistencies, blatant misrepresentations and outright deceptions aside, he nevertheless managed to state one fact about Protestantism that remains true to this day.
“The genuine Protestant creed is now hardly held by anybody –
least of all by the Protestants. So completely have they lost faith
in it, that they have mostly forgotten what it was.”

Indeed they have. And most of what they have replaced it with is no newer than Chesterton’s Catholicism itself. Consider Herman Bavinck, for example. Bavinck writes:”Mystery is the vital element of Dogmatics. It is true that that the term ‘mystery’ in Scripture does not indicate abstract-supernatural truth in the Romish sense; nevertheless, the idea that the believer would be able to understand and comprehend intellectually the revealed mysteries is equally unscriptural. On the contrary, the truth which God has revealed concerning himself in nature and in Scripture far surpasses human conception and comprehension. In that sense Dogmatics is concerned with nothing but mystery.”

Now where have I heard that before? “His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight; he sees two different things at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young, and old age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he cannot understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.”
– G. K. Chesterton ,”Orthodoxy”

So then, if I am to understand Chesterton and Bavinck here, then I must first ensure I do not understand them. For only when I do not understand them shall it be that I then do understand them. But if I begin by understanding them, it will then be that I do not understand them.

Say what? This is completely nonsensical,

In a 2002 Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference, pastor and author Steven Schlissel stated the following: “Western Christendom was not built up by the method of individual conversions; rather, it was a way of life that the people accepted as a whole, often by the decisions of their rulers. When accepted,Christianity affected the whole life of society by the change of their institutions and laws. It is easy to condemn this type of corporate Christianity as superficial, external or even sub-Christian, but at least it means that Christianity is accepted as a social fact affecting every side of life and not merely as an opinion or a specialized group activity or a hobby. If we want to know how a nation uniformly Christian has become anti-Christian, we need look no further than this individualized conception of God’s dealings . . ”

Who does Schlissel think the Catholics were persecuting for all those centuries, if not the individually converted, faithful few? Chesterton, being ever the obedient Catholic, and thus a citizen of corporate Christianity, would have adored Schlissel. Speaking of the modern world and how it is “not evil; in some way the modern world is far too good”, Chesterton writes of Christianity, “(it was) shattered at the Reformation.”

In his book, “St. Thomas Aquinas”, Chesterton goes even further when he writes of Martin Luther’s “barbarity”: “It had one theory that was the destruction of all theories; in fact it had its own theology which was itself the death of theology. Man could say nothing to God, nothing from God, nothing about God, except an almost inarticulate cry
for mercy and for the supernatural help of Christ. Man could
not trust what was in his head anymore than a turnip.”

Chesterton’s argument is silly. If man could say nothing to God, then what use to Luther was his many prayers? And if man could hear nothing from God, then just who was Luther listening to during his careful study of Scripture? And if man can say nothing of God, then what precisely was Luther talking about when he spoke of his theology?

The similarities between Schlissel’s theology and Chesterton’s philosophy do not end at corporateChristianity. In his book, Law and Gospel In Covenant Perspective, Norman Shepherd writes:
“. . . the Lord God deals with the power and corruption of sin
by teaching his people how to live happy and productive lives.”

Chesterton is in full agreement. In part four of his essay, Education: Or the Mistake About the Child, he writes, “The difference between Puritanism and Catholicism is not about whether some priestly word or gesture is significant and sacred. It is about whether any word or
gesture is significant or sacred. To the Catholic every
other daily act is dramatic dedication to the service of good or evil. To the Calvinist no act can have that sort of solemnity, because the person doing it has been dedicated from eternity, and is merely filling up his time until the crack of doom.”

There is a great chasm separating the Romanist from the Protestant. While the Romanist works in order to rest, the Protestants rests in order to work. (See Hebrews 4)

“. . . the only great English poet ever went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven made by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination. . . . He was damned by John Calvin; he was almost saved by John Gilpin.”
– G K Chesterton, “St. Thomas Aquinas”
“Calvinism held that God had indeed made the world, but in a special sense, made the evil as well as the good: had made an evil will as well as an evil world. On this view, if a man chooses to damn his soul alive, he is not thwarting God’s will but rather fulfilling it . . .
The new Calvinist taught that God originates the whole work of damnation commonly attributed to Satan. One looked back to
the first day when a devil acted like a god, the other looked
forward to a last day when a god acted like a devil.”
– Orthodoxy

” ‘If once a man is born it is too late to damn
or save him.’ That is the fundamental and subterranean secret;
that is the last lie of hell.” – Education: Or the Mistake of the Child

Shepherd and Schlissel are now following Rome into salvation by works, rather than by sovereign grace.

“The biblical nature of the covenant means that man is
compacted into a covenant of mutual obligations, and is
therefore accorded a decisive role in securing its promises.
Man is required to fulfill what is due and to request thereupon
his due. This turns Christianity into a congregation of obeyers
rather than a congregation of believers.”
– Steven M. Schlissel, “A New Way of Seeing?”

“We have thought too long only in terms of covenant blessings.
The covenant of grace curses people who have the privilege of
being among God’s people on earth, distinguished from the world,
and yet don’t live up to what He teaches.”
– Randy Booth, “The Sensible Covenant”, Backbone of the Bible: Covenant in Contemporary Perspective

“To be covenantlly united with God, although intended by God
to bring favor and blessing to His chosen people, carries as well
the threat of judgment and curse. God’s covenant involves
blessing and cursing, depending upon whether one is a covenant- keeper or a covenant-breaker.” – Randy Booth

The Federal Visionist pretends to be a Reformer. In fact, however, he despisies the gospel of grace and wants to return to the grace of law. While they formally reject initial justification by works on one hand, they proclaim men can only remain justified by doing good works. they must “live up to it.” This was Chesterton’s argument, and is even today the Pope’s argument. Unlike the unbelieving Protestant however, Chesterton was at least honest enough to call his philosophy what it was – Catholicism.

Scripture is very clear on this subject of justification by works.
“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never,
by the same sacrifices continually offered every year, make
perfect those who draw near.”, – Hebrews 10:1

If a man’s work could justify him, then there would be no need for him to offer works every day, every week, every year, year after year after year. If his work was good enough to justify him, he would have been once and for all justified, with no need to perform any more works. But the fact that he does indeed strive to be a good man for God, proves he shall never be a good man to God. The only righteousness God accepts is that acquired by Christ Himself, His own very righteousness, and none else. The only sacrifice pleasing to God is the blood of His Son, shed upon the cross, and nothing else.

For the Atheist, the Nihilist and the Materialist, God is dead. For the Catholics, the Federal Visionists and the Chesterton’s of this world, God is a feeble, old man, leaning heavily upon the cane of man’s free will.

Those who play at being both Protestant and Romanist have forgotten they do so at His bidding. It is a terrible thing to fall in the hands of the living God.

Does Faith have “Instrumental” Efficacy?

August 1, 2010

My problem is not that the traditional “instrumental” language can be misunderstood. Any explanation of faith’s necessity that I give can also be misunderstood.

I believe that faith in the true gospel (which gospel includes “for the elect alone”) is necessary evidence that a person has passed from a state of condemnation to a state of justification. This faith in the gospel is not a knowledge that a person has been justified all along, or assurance that a person has been justified from the time of the cross or before a person was born.

This faith in the gospel, which includes understanding of the gospel, is the immediate result of being born again, which is the immediate result of being imputed with the merits of Christ’s death.

In the false gospel which tells all sinners that Christ died for them, faith is misunderstood as making the difference between saved and lost. Faith is not thought of as merit but it is thought of as “instrumental” condition. Even in cases where the fine print tells you that this making-the- difference faith is a result of predestination and regeneration, the credit for salvation does not go to Christ.

The credit may go to the Holy Spirit or to predestination, but it cannot go to Christ, if Christ died for all sinners but only some sinners are saved. We need to put a stop to the double talk which tells all sinners that Christ died for them, but then explains later (not to everybody but only to those who have already professed Christ) that Christ died for some people to get them something different and more for them than He did for everybody else.

This kind of double talk implicitly says that Christ propitiated the wrath of God for all sinners but that Christ also died extra for the elect to give them the faith to get the benefit of Christ’s propitiation. In other words, there is no antithesis with the false gospel of Arminianism.

Since they still want to be thought of as evangelicals, and still want to have influence on evangelicals, “Reformed evangelicals” agree to the heresy that Christ died for everybody. Even if they don’t explicitly say that Christ’s death was to take away the wrath for every sinner, by their silence about the question, they go along with what everybody already understands, which is that faith alone makes the difference.

They can try to put boundaries around that, and say that the object of faith is important. They can even imply that Mormons and open theists are not evangelicals, and maybe not even justified. But they are still agreeing, sermon after sermon, every time that they do not say “for the elect alone”, that it is faith alone which makes the difference.

In their fine print, the glory may go to God for predestinating the Spirit to give us faith. But it is no longer Christ’s death which saves, if Christ died for all sinners, and some of these sinners are lost. And though we may talk of Scripture alone, we end up with a canon within a canon, where what the Scripture says about the elect in Christ and therefore being elect in His death gets left out of the gospel.

Instead of saying that Christ died only for the elect and not for the non-elect, The new kinder and gentler Calvinists leave out the e word and say that Christ died for believers, which means all of us, which then means that faith alone makes the difference and not Christ.

If they want to keep the “thoroughly reformed” happy, they might say sometimes that Christ died for his covenant people, but then later they will make it clear that the covenant is conditional and that the his people are believers, so that it will all come back to faith alone.

According to Scripture, faith alone is “not works”. The point of faith alone is “grace alone”. And according to Scripture, we cannot say grace alone without saying “for the elect alone”. Romans 9:11, “though they were not yet born and had done nothing good or bad-in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of His call.”

I want you to see the connection between “not because of works” and election. When “Reformed evangelicals” leave out the “for the elect alone” and try to discuss the gospel without talking about election, then mostly all they can say “not because of works but because of faith alone”.

Sometimes of course they do talk about the “but because of his call”. They say that the reason you believe is not your freewill but God’s effectual call. Even if you believe the false gospel that Christ died for every sinner, Reformed evangelicals will tell you that God effectually called you to believe that heresy.

Of course they won’t tell you it’s heresy, but in select groups (for example, conferences that charge you big dollars) they will explain a more educated and precise view of things which you might want to add on to what you already believe without needing to repent of anything you already believe. Before you believed in a faith alone gospel, and now you still believe in a faith alone gospel. But now you know that the faith came from God, and that this prevenient gift was not to make your faith possible. Now you know God made sure you believed.

Faith is not something you bring to the gospel. Faith is something that the gospel brings to the elect. It is necessary for us to HEAR the gospel. This HEARING is not works but faith.

Galatians 3: 5-8, “ Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham believed God… I know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, forseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham.”