But Didn’t Paul Address Everybody as if They were All Christians?

Romans 3:18-19–“There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth will be held accountable to God.”

To those who are still ignorant of the gospel, the apostle Paul was not writing about gratitude and freedom. Yes, we tell everybody that those for whom Christ died are thankful and free and pleasing to God. But Paul (see Romans 3:19) also tells everybody : if you don’t know the gospel and believe it, then you should be shut up to nothing but legal fear, because you are still “under the law”.

If Christ did not die for you, you should be afraid. Being afraid won’t save you. But legal fear is the reasonable response to not knowing the gospel. Because not knowing the gospel means knowing that you are not yet justified and still under the law.

I do not want to preach terror to Christians. But I never assume that everybody is a Christian. A guy can whisper as soft as anything that he was identified with Christ. I say some were, some weren’t, and that already. How do you know? Is it because you were baptised with water by a Reformed church? No, you needed to know if you are one of the ones for whom Christ died before you could rightly be baptized with water.

Don’t say: there you go again on water baptism. Forget the water for now. Do we address the people in church as if we are all elect, who have been believing the gospel all along? Paul did not.

We say: some of you may need to be reconciled. Nobody is born reconciled.

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4 Comments on “But Didn’t Paul Address Everybody as if They were All Christians?”

  1. Jack Miller Says:

    “Is it because you were baptised with water by a Reformed church? No, you needed to know if you are one of the ones for whom Christ died before you could rightly be baptized with water.”

    “Is it because you were baptised with water by a [baptistic] church?” No. Doesn’t one know they’re a Christian because they believe the gospel, whether baptized before or after faith? Yes.

    But how can we be sure that one is rightly baptized if we are depending on one’s personal/subjective testimony, which be definition can’t be objectively verified, as proof of true faith?

    And some who profess faith in Christ and are baptized end up not belonging to the Lord.

    Do Reformed churches sometimes baptized children of believers who later do not come to faith? Yes.

    Do baptistic churches sometimes “unrightly” baptized those who come forward with what seems to be authentic testimonies and yet later we find they were like Ananias? Yes.

    “Fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of faith…”

  2. markmcculley Says:

    How can you know if a child has one parent who professes to be a Christian, if the elders do not make any subjective judgments? Is the judgement of those who ask for communion status less subjective when make by a plurality than by an individual? Should elders ask persons who profess to be Christians what it means to be a Christian? Should elders ask candidates about if they still love the false gospel which teaches that Jesus died for everybody, including those who perish?

    There is a difference between accepting infants without asking them any questions, and accepting non-infants after answering questions. Pointing out the fallibility of all our judgments does nothing to make that difference go away. It’s the difference between assuming that (some) people are born Christians and assuming that people (none) are not born Chrsitians….Baptists can make a distinction between a visible congregation and the “not yet gathered body of the elect which is to come..

    Don’t say: there you go again on water baptism. Forget the water for now. Do we address the people in church as if we are all elect, who have been believing the gospel all along? Paul did not.

  3. markmcculley Says:


    I Cor 5: 4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus with my spirit and with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 turn that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, in order that his spirit be saved in the Day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast permeates the whole batch of dough? 7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch.

    I Cor 10: 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for all of us share that one bread. 18 Look at the people of Israel

    I Cor 11: 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, in order that we not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you gather together you will not come under judgment.

    T. J. Davis, “Discerning the Body: The Eucharist and the Christian Social Body in Sixteenth Century Protestant Exegesis,” Fides et Historia, 38.2 (2005)—“For Luther in 1518/1519 the social aspect directed the individual. By 1523, for Luther, the individual directed the social. Love in the social/spiritual body do not disappear, but they become dependent on faith in the presence of the natural body of Christ, and that faith is now incumbent upon individuals and cannot be lodged in the social body.”

    Reviewing Anthony Hoekema (Created in God’s Image) in his Covenant Theology in Reformed Perspective, p 328, Mark 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.” p 165

    Mark 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?”

    No. 20: Daddy, Why Was I Excommunicated?

    Tom Chantry—1. When Esau sins and asks for forgiveness from God, can I assure him that his sins are forgiven?

    2. When I ask Esau to obey me in the Lord should I get rid of the indicative-imperative model for Christian ethics? On what grounds do I ask him to forgive Jacob? Because it is the nice thing to do? Or because he should forgive in the same way the Messiah has forgiven him?

    3. Can Esau sing “Messiah loves me, this I know” and enjoy all of the benefits spoken of in that song? (“To him belong…He will wash away my sin”)

    4. When Esau prays during family worship to his heavenly Father, what are the grounds for him praying such a prayer? Does he have any right to call God his “heavenly Father”?

    5. Should I desire that Esau have a “boring” testimony? Is it not enough for him to simply say each day that he trusts in the coming Messiah alone for their salvation?

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Rod Rosenbladt: “Someone says, ‘But surely you don’t mean that the pastor should be evangelizing believers from the pulpit?’ Most evangelicals have no category for preaching Christ to a congregation of believers; their only category for preaching the Gospel is the evangelizing of pagans. But important as the latter is, the former is no less important. Think of the inner soliloquy many Christians experience week by week. ‘There may have been grace for me when, as a sinner, I was initially converted. But now, having been given the Spirit of God, I fear that things have gotten worse in me rather than better. I have horribly abused all of God’s good gifts to me. I was so optimistic in the beginning, when the pastor told me that Christ outside of me, dying for me, freely saved me by his death, and that the Holy Spirit now dwelling within me would aid me in following Christ. I looked forward to so much. But it has all gone badly. Others have no doubt done what God equipped them to do, but not I. I have used grace and Christ’s shed blood as an excuse for doing things I probably wouldn’t even have done as a pagan. I have rededicated myself to Christ more times than I can count. But it seems to stay the same, or even get worse, no matter what I do. Whatever the outer limits of Christ’s grace are, I have certainly crossed them. I have utterly, consciously, and with planning aforethought blown it all. I guess I was never a Christian in the first place, because if I had been, I would have made some progress in the Christian life…I’ll try going to church for a while longer, but I think I’ve tried every possible thing the church has told me to do. After that, I guess I’ll return to paganism and ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ for the time I’ve got left. What else is there to do?’ First of all…the pastor realizes that what is needed in this case is not the Law but the Gospel. One of the effects of revivalism in this country has been the common conviction that genuine conversion always shows itself in measurable moral progress (and correlatively, the lack of such progress is evidence that no true regeneration has taken place.) so the still-sinning believer is led to believe that he is not now a believer at all…is the death and resurrection of Christ in our stead strong enough in its effect to save even a Christian”

    Mark Seifrid— “The Law speaks even to us who are regenerate as fallen human beings. Being a Christian means again and again, in all the trials and temptations of life, hearing and believing the Gospel which overcomes the condemnation pronounced on us by the Law and by our own consciences in which that Law is written….But according to the puritan perspective, Law and Gospel do not address the believing human being in radically different ways, but only in differing degrees according to the measures of “grace” present within them. …. The embedding of the Law within grace qualifies law’s demand—while the Law works the death of sinners, it has a different effect on the righteous. The puritans regards the “flesh” is present as a power that exerts partial influence on us.


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