They Thought They Were Safe

There is no need to waste time talking about works until we know if a person has repented of Arminianism. If a person still thinks she was saved as an Arminian, then she has not yet obeyed the gospel, no matter how much knowledge she has or how many works she has. Many works prove nothing!

We first test ourselves to see if we have excluded works as being any part of our righteousness before God. To include the works (done it is said by the Spirit) in the righteousness is evidence all by itself that a person still believes a false gospel.

Along with legalism comes indifference about the question of election and about the truth that Christ did not die for the non-elect. Such things don’t matter to the legalist, since what got done on the cross is not enough anyway for the legalist.

Legalists put the stress on the nature and quality of faith, but not on the righteousness complete by Christ which should be the only object of faith. Those with false gospels debate about if faith is alone or if faith includes works. They squabble about the “instrumentality” of faith alone. But the false gospels all fail to see that the sovereignty of God without the completed righteousness of God is still not good news.

There are many false gospels and only one true gospel. There are many different ways to be “legalist”. The only way not to be legalist is to know that the law demands perfect righteousness and that the gospel joyfully explains how Christ satisfied that demand for the elect. One certain result of the righteousness earned by Christ is that the elect will believe this gospel and not any false gospel.

The workers who came before the the judgment in Matthew 7 were sure that their works were characteristic enough. They were not antinomians and they were not insincere. They probably believed in election also (or at least the unconditional right of Israel to the land!). But instead of pleading a Christ who got done a perfect righteousness, they pleaded their characteristic deeds.

They didn‘t say they had “faith alone”. They were not into “easy believism”. They didn’t say that their obedience was a “second step” added to their faith. They thought they were safe. Yet despite their false assurance, they were lost.

Why? Was it because they lacked enough “characteristic obedience” or was it because they trusted in the false gospel? They never were saved and we know that because they never believed the revealed gospel.

They trusted a comfortable gospel because they, like all legalists, had flattered themselves about their obedience being acceptable. We who are Christians now must confess that we too once did the same thing, and that it is only because Christ died for us that we came to repent of that comfortable gospel.

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4 Comments on “They Thought They Were Safe”

  1. David Bishop Says:

    Great points! Something you said though. It once prompted me to ask my pastor the same question I’m about to ask you. Isn’t testing ourselves to see if we have excluded works itself a work?

    That aside, great points again. And faith alone is also the reason why many of the elect are and have been persecuted.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    One accusation says that Calvinists who say that Arminians are lost are making that repentance a legal condition. And when we say “result”, they say a rose by any other name is still legalism.

    So the solution often is to simply rehearse the facts of the gospel and say that “if you believe, you know” and that “faith is not the issue”.

    But we are to make our individual calling sure, not by works, but before works. II Peter 1.

    I think the distinction here is between faith in the gospel before you know if you are elect (before you know you are going to believe) and then faith in the gospel after you know that you have faith. That difference is not only about time and logic: there is a change in psychology once you believed the gospel and have passed from death to life.

    The gospel is not ever “Christ died for you”, not ever “you in particular are called and elect”. Not even after we know we believe, the gospel is still not “Christ died for you”. Yes, we need the gospel after we are Christians, but it’s still the same gospel.

    Repentance is a result of faith in the gospel. And how could we know that we repented,if we did not stop accepting Arminians as Christians, or if we would start again to accept them as Christians.

    So:
    1. We need to keep on not accepting Arminians as Christians the rest of our life, or confess that we are not yet born again.
    2. We need to keep on believing the gospel the rest of our lives. Faith is not a tatoo, that we put on and then can’t take off, even if we wanted to.

    If we are justified, we can’t stop believing the gospel. (But notice the if.) John 6:29: “this is the work of God, that you believe…”

  3. David Bishop Says:

    New birth is not the result of understanding the gospel. Rather, understanding the gospel is the immediate result of new birth.

    • Allan Gibbs Says:

      Nicedemis¶ There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
      2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
      3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee.UNLESS A MAN IS BORN AGAIN -HE CANNOT EVEN SEE-THE KINDOM OFGOD;
      4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
      5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, SEEING IS EQUATED WITH ENTERING he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
      6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.


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