Archive for January 2011

What Must I Do To Prove that You Already Married Me?

January 31, 2011

Titus 3:14—“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”

Even though it is popular to be against individualism, and thus FOR making transparent and public what we keep private, I have no intention here of talking much about my marriage to my wonderful wife Linda. I am trying to make a point against self-righteous puritans who condition everything on our perseverance.

My wife tells me– “I already married you. What more do you want?” And of course I reply: everything!

Puritans are not sure if you are married yet. If they are consistent and not simply self-righteous, puritans are also not sure if THEY are married yet. The more they talk against carnal security and the more they insist on the inevitability of mandatory fruit, the more puritans need to ask themselves: am I the fourth dirt in the parable, or one of the other three?

I am not saying that married people don’t want more of each other. I am not even denying at this point that what we do now is a condition of staying married. Although I would like to think that’s true, the analogy breaks down between our marriage to each other and God’s love for the justified elect.

I am not an Arminian, and I don’t believe that the justified elect lose their salvation, and therefore I don’t think that Christians have to do stuff to stay in the new covenant. But my point right now is that I am not a puritan, and I don’t believe that the justified elect have to do stuff to prove to themselves or to God that they are real Christians.

Puritans tend to let you in the front door by faith alone, but then after they allow you a little time, they will let you out the back door if your faith is still alone. In addition to faith, they ask: what have you done for me lately? It would be like my wife saying to me: sure, I married you for love, but now I want to see the big house with the bird nests in the big back yard.

I am not denying that a husband could do more. I also agree that a husband SHOULD do more. There is always more! But how much does a husband have to do in order to show himself and his wife that he really married the wife?

What would you do now if you found out that you didn’t have to do anything?”

When I walked down that aisle , what was my thinking? Was it probation, so that I had so much time to prove to Linda’s parents that I was not worth-less? No. So was my mind thinking: now that I am married, I don’t need to love her? It’s not strictly necessary?

We need to ask the question: necessary for what? I do not say that works are not necessary for justification but that synergism is necessary for “sanctification”, because that difference cannot account for the biblical idea of sanctification by the blood (Hebrews 10:10-14). Our works are not necessary to obtain God’s blessings. Romans 4:4—“To the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due”. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has elected the elect in Christ and has blessed the elect in Christ with every spiritual blessing.

Works are needed. Wives need their husband to work for them. Husbands need their wives to work for them. Love works. But works are not needed to prove that we are already married. It might sound good for Dan Fuller to teach that we grow by the same “faith alone” as we get justified by “faith alone”. But when the faith by which we grow is never alone, then that means that the faith by which we get justified is never alone. And this means that faith alone really means with the addition of works.

I know I don’t deserve to have Linda as my wife. But I also know that I will never ever in the future deserve to have Linda as my wife. And you can redefine “justice” until it becomes less strict and never use the word “merit”, but at the end of the day I will still never deserve to be married to her.

BUT I AM married to her. When I do something for her, this is not mortgage payments on a note which can never be burned. I am not like Jacob who had to work seven more years after he got married.

Married is married. What we do doesn’t get us more married. And what we do doesn’t prove that we are married. The elect are saved by Christ’s work. When the elect become justified, they are married to Christ. Christians share in what Christ has, not because of what they do but because they are now married/justified.

The puritans tend to say that you are in the house despite of who you are and what you have done, but now that you are in, there is a covenant which now expects more of you because you could now do more if you wanted to. The subtext is even more threatening— maybe you are in, and maybe you are not in, and we shall wait and see what you want to do and then what you do, and we will never say it specifically about you, but we will say in a general way— there are some folks who were never in the house in the first place.

Sure I have been working now for a long time (but with what motives and what results?) but how am I to know that I will keep working from now on in (so let me die first before I do something which will prove to me and everybody that I was never married in the first place!)


Is It Trusting Jesus that Connects Us To Jesus?

January 31, 2011

Piper writes: “Trusting Jesus connects us with Jesus…Union is established by believing in Jesus.” p165, What Jesus Demands From the World

Is it correct or helpful to say that exercising faith joins us to Jesus, if we make it clear (in non-evangelistic contexts), that this faith which connects is a gift from God to the elect?

I say no: even if Calvinists talk about faith being given to the chosen in their evangelistic message, they are still leaving out the connection of the elect to Christ in election, they are leaving out the fact that only the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ at the cross, and they are leaving out the fact that the elect are baptized into Christ’s death by God’s imputation and not by the sinner’s faith.

I am NOT saying that the elect are already “saved” before the elect believe. I am saying that the elect are already elect before they believe. I am saying that Christ already died only for the elect before the elect believe. I am saying that God imputes, and not the sinner. God puts the elect in Christ and Christ in the elect, and believing the gospel is the immediate effect of this connection.

Of course Piper also defines faith in complicated contradictory ways. Not only is there a contrast between believing at Jesus and believing to Jesus, but believing is so identified with working that there is no contrast between life-long believing and life-long working.

I Want a Public Funeral Where Christians are Angry At Death

January 28, 2011

Luke 24: 36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence

I Corinthians 15: 39 ALL FLESH IS NOT THE SAME FLESH, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.

I Corinthians 15: 49 And as we have borne the image of the manof dust, we shall also bear[f] the image of the heavenly Man. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that FLESH AND BLOOD cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

We don’t need to be happy when somebody is dead. As he explained, “ If I die before the trumpet sounds, I want a loud public funeral. I don’t want a quiet private exit. I don’t want them to think of me ‘as I was’. I want them to think that I am now dead. I want somebody to preach about the resurrection.” P 77

When a Christian is dead, we still have hope. R and I differed about a secondary part of that hope. He still believed in a conscious “intermediate state” for the “souls”. And to avoid assuming that the trajectory toward truth runs in only one direction (my way), let me describe my position as R might: I still believe that there is no intermediate conscious state, and part of the reason I think that is because most everybody who teaches such a conscious state thinks that death is our friend.

But R and I agree: the body is not our enemy, and death is not our friend. There are many wonderful things in this book, and I am already hoping that Rainbow’s family will soon publish other parts of his work. I even hope for a sequel called Glory to Earth!

When I read him describe the second coming on p 75, I wanted to ask: will Christ get all the way down here to earth, or only as far as the meeting in the air?

Revelation 21: 2-3 “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man…”

Let me list a few of the topics R addresses:
Is there healing now for the justified elect, and what does this have to do with spiritual warfare? p38
If sickness is no longer a consequence of sin (as it was in the Mosaic covenant), why then must Christians experience physical death? P 40 In what sense can sin be a punishment for sin?
Why are Lutherans wrong about the communication of attributes and ubiquity, and why is Christ present here now only in His deity but not in His humanity? P 64

R does a good job of showing the problems not only with Platonism but also with materialism. As he warns, “The materialist thinks that what is not public is not sin.” p 83 And then R attempts to steer a middle way between Platonism and materialism. As he points out, at least the Pharisees were not Platonists: but as those who believe in material resurrection, the Pharisees often became legalists, imposing extra-biblical rules on people. They were not Gnostics, not antinomians.

If I could talk with R today, I would argue with him that, in his concern for the body being consecrated to God, he also goes too far toward legalism. But then, as a fellow “Anabaptist”, I would argue that he does not go far enough in warning Christians about killing other bodies. He not only does not say anything against military “service”, but tends to assume its legitimacy. He is far more concerned about us not killing ourselves with immoderate drinking and eating.

Here are some topics we could discuss:
He extrapolates from “not work, not eat” to ruling out the idea of retirement. P 92
Some of his rules sound very “Methodist”, as if we should become bourgeois capitalists with a puritan work ethic. For example, “A Christian may be wealthy but may not live wealthy”. P 133. Or this: “We must say no to sleep”. P 127

Sometimes he even seems to be saying that we should only have enough sex for survival and procreation and to avoid immorality. P 95. Stoics ask, Can you do without it? But all that being said, R asks thoughtful and important questions. He even dares to write about “freedom from marriage”. P 129. That is not something you hear very often from those who practically equate the family with church, either by baptizing infants or by teaching parenting instead of the gospel.

To end on a positive note, R does a good job of telling the truth about death in its complexity. Yes, we want a loud funeral where people are sad and not fake, where people are angry at our “last enemy, death”. But our life here and now before death, and before the resurrection to come, is not ultimately important to us. Because Jesus Christ is risen, and we comfort one another with these words: we shall always be with the Lord.

As his daughter writes in the appendix about his recent death: we are waiting. One day the Lord shall always be with us.

P 134—“Martyrdom is not suicide… The mystic Teresa of Avila undertook a missionary journey to the Muslims to achieve martyrdom. She came back alive and disappointed…Somebody today could attempt martyrdom by preaching in the streets of Tehran, but that is not God’s will.”

Resurrection means that we
have in our future realities
which have the bad taste
to still be visible, for instance
unique and individual
resurrected blood vessels

so that between now
and then is not a difference
where what matters is not matter

why do you want to go to heaven
without waiting to get back
your own live eyeballs
new and improved
that day immortal and “spiritual”

eyeballs completely controlled
by the Holy Spirit of Christ

advocates of the incorporeal
talk about a landless land and a timeless time
up there
inhabited only by full essences
a world all clean
refined and very light
where time and space
will not matter

a matter-less world with no touching
that helps us
avoid awkward truths
like that conspicuous hole in the ground
when we’re dead
and waiting for the resurrection,

Imputation Of Sins to Christ First, Which is Denied by Andrew Fuller

January 28, 2011

Romans 3:25–”Christ Jesus, whom God put forth as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith…”

Andrew Fuller (Reply to Philanthropos, Complete Works,II, p499) comments: “There would be no propriety in saying of Christ that He is set forth to be an expiatory sacrifice THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, because He was a sacrifice for sin prior to the consideration of our believing in Him. The text does not express what Christ WAS as laying down His life , but what He IS in consequence of it.”

Though Andrew Fuller affirmed a particular atonement in a certain sense– in that the atonement will procure faith for only the elect–he is not willing to say that Christ was only the propitiation for the elect alone. Instead of telling the plain truth, that Christ either already died for a sinner or already did not, Andrew Fuller wanted to say that Christ died for all sinners in some sense.

And this universal sense advocated by Andrew Fuller has to do with propitiation. He denies that Christ in the past propitiated the Tri-une God for the sins of any specific person. Rather, Andrew Fuller teaches that Christ died to make an offer of propitiation to every sinner.

According to Andrew Fuller, this is the nature and design and intent of what Christ did, that there could be propitiation now if the Holy Spirit were to cause a sinner to accept the offer of propitiation and thus join themselves to Christ through faith .

Fuller asserted an universal conditional sufficiency in Christ’s death for all sinners. It is a sneaky and subtle doctrine, but Andrew Fuller was a sneaky and subtle man, much like John Wesley, using words like “imputation” in ways meant to confuse those who had a different meaning for the words.

What does Andrew Fuller accomplish by shifting from what Christ DID back then over there to who Christ Is and what He can do here and now if the Spirit helps a sinner to take up the offer?

Andrew Fuller changes the meaning of the propitiatory death of Christ. With the Arminians, he makes the propitiation to be dependent on the sinner having faith. The sneaky part is that, with the Calvinists, Andrew Fuller also makes the having faith part be dependent on what God (now?) procures by means of Christ’s death.

With the Socinians, Andrew Fuller ends up putting the emphasis on grace as opposed to justice. God is sovereign now to procure faith for sinners with Christ’s death. The idea that God has already been justly propitiated for a sinner (or not) is no longer in the picture.

Andrew Fuller is opposing the gospel of God being justified in justifying the ungodly. He is opposing justice in the name of grace.

Two comments. First, even though Fullerites want to say that the only way to be consistent in teaching a definite propitiation (what Christ WAS as laying down his life) is to teach an eternal justification, where the elect only subjectively find out that they were always justified, I do not (and Abraham Booth did not) teach that any unbeliever is justified.

All the justified elect are people who believe the gospel. Belief in the gospel is an immediate consequence (not a condition) of Christ’s death being imputed to an elect sinner. “Through faith” in Romans 3:25 does not mean “conditioned on faith”. Faith for the elect is what justice demands AFTER righteousness is imputed to them. I do not say it “their right” but it is Christ’s right because of what Christ WAS AND DID.

So I can and do say to any unbeliever, unless you believe the gospel, you are not yet justified. But I also say to those unbelievers: your believing is not something you can or will do unless Christ died for you, and you will never know if Christ did until you believe the gospel.

Second comment. Look again at what Andrew Fuller is saying with his sophistry about what Christ is as opposed to what Christ was. Fuller is teaching that God is governmentally sovereign and therefore God can do whatever God wants to do now with what Christ did then.

If so, why did Christ die? To make it possible? So that propitiation “might” happen? To ask such questions leads to another question. If God is so sovereignly superior to justice in His government, why did Christ need to die at all?

If the meaning was only to be assigned later, is that meaning a matter of justice or only arbitrary?

All Tolerant Calvinists are Practical Liberals

January 28, 2011

what happens
if nothing gets done?

what got done at the cross?
if what happens with it
depends on our execution?

if we are the ones who make the exchange
and put our sins on him
and execute him?

Girardian (death not needed, sacrifice not needed by God) liberals say the cross only happened because we needed victims . I of course do not deny that we like to scapegoat people.

But even the liberal Girardian is saying that something good and necessary happened by us killing a victim

I say this instead— if we did it, then we did nothing. It was not decisive for anything, certainly not for the redemption of any sinner.

And before we get too high and mighty about liberals saying that, so that we forget the gospel and simply take sides with all the “conservatives” who oppose abortion of unborn victims, let us look at Arminian and Romanist conservatives who do still talk about “sacrifice”

The Arminians who sing “nothing but the blood” and “Jesus paid it all” oh so loudly, then tell us it depends on us to accept it.

Arminians don’t think anything happened either.

So why do we think possibly favorably about the “calvinists” who have definite atonement as their “shelf doctrine”? For the glory of Christ, we need to get real about this evil called Arminianism (yes, it’s ordained by God, and it’s evil)

All liberals deny that “mercy-seat” means propitiation (taking away God’s wrath)

They say this is like the Aztecs, paganism, trying to appease God by throwing virgins down into a fire hole (like one of the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies)

They say: God does not change in time from wrath to peace

They say: God does not need to be reconciled, sinners need to be reconciled so the cross is God’s apology to man, or at least “God letting us do it” God being a pacifist, taking it, not as in taking revenge but letting us take revenge on an innocent victim, ie, God Himself

But you don’t have to be a pacifist to be liberal
All liberals deny that God now has wrath on anybody.

Practical liberals downplay the significance of God’s wrath

All Arminians and tolerant Calvinists, no matter how much they talk about “hell”, are practical liberals, because they eliminate the significance of the imputation of sins to Christ and Christ’s death as God appeasing God for those sins.

Regeneration? Even if Paul Washer Can’t See It, He can See Where It’s Not

January 26, 2011

Even if Arminian Southern Baptists can’t agree with Calvinist Southern Baptists about regeneration being before faith, or about regeneration being purchased for the elect by Christ, they can still all unite in faith that the Jesus who died for everybody and the Jesus who died only for those who are saved are in the end one and the same Jesus.

Because in the end, it’s not the death that matters. It’s regeneration, and most of us think we can see that! And even if Paul Washer doubts that you personally are regenerate, at least we all can see that those who teach a non-Lordship gospel are not yet regenerate.

With Paul the Apostle (not the Washer), I want to say something in my sarcasm: “then let the knife slip, cut the whole thing off”.

Or this, praising the true and only Jesus: “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has died to me, and I have died to the world.” Galatians 6:14.

Walk by this rule.

Choose Your Antithesis Carefully

January 26, 2011

Josh Moody, pastor of College Church , No Other Gospel, Crossway, p 170

“Living as a godly Israelite in Old Testament times was not legalistic; salvation was always by faith because the promise came first. But trying to live under Moses, when Christ has arrived, is legalism….

p171–” Justification was always by faith…But now that Christ has arrived, the operation of this justification by Christ HAS BEEN REVEALED…Christ now says, ‘with me you can’ and we find that by His Spirit we do and we want to do.”

This is Josh Moody manipulating language to ignore the discontinuity of the covenants. Instead of pointing to a change of covenants, he writes about “the revelation” of what supposedly always there. And more importantly, instead of explaining a change of covenants, he describes a change in “us”, so that we now can and want to do the law.

Part of the problem here is using a word like “legalism” which can mean almost anything and nothing. Does it mean semi-Pelagianism but not Arminianism, so that Moody can assure us that “now that Faith has come” Christ has died for you all?

His claim here is that in the Old Covenant there were godly folks who did not live “legalistically”, even though “the operation of” justification by faith had not been revealed.

So let me see. 1. Some were justified by grace through faith in the righteousness of Christ in the Old Testament. I certainly agree with that. But 2. He says that some of the godly were not “legalistic” during the old covenant despite the lack of new covenant revelation. How this is possible, he does not explain. If he simply means that no true Christian is ever a legalist, that is certainly not what he argues elsewhere in his book. But if he wants to say that the revelation has now released the justified elect from “legalism”, how can he think that the justified elect in the old covenant were also free from this “legalism”? Moody is ignoring the change of covenants.

Perhaps it was not “legalistic” for the justified elect under the Mosaic covenant to do what the Mosaic law told them to do. It was not for them a means of justification. So when Moody speaks of “trying to live under Moses when Christ has arrived”, he is not thinking of “legalism” as trying to be justified by the law.

Am I therefore saying that Moody needs to define “legalism”, and state his different definitions when he changes his meanings?

But there is still a problem. In Galatians 3, when Paul is writing about “before faith came, the law was our cop”, he was not only revealing a change in covenants and in redemptive history. In these same verses, Paul is concerned with individuals “getting justified” by Christ, concerned about individuals being baptized by God into Christ

Even though I don’t think it’s right for Moody to ignore the difference between the old and new covenants (thus only stressing that now people can do the law and want to), the solution here is not only to see that the old covenant law is not the same as the new covenant law. The solution is to remind us that, even during the time of the new covenant, there are many non-elect folks for whom Christ never died and who have never been baptized into Christ.

Even though Moody says often that he doesn’t want to assume that everybody is a Christian, as a “minister of the church” he doesn’t seem to be able to keep from telling his readers that God loves them and that Christ died for them. p42–“Christ was cursed for me and you.” p100–“The only way to realize that you’re okay is to realize that God loves you and that Christ died for you as you are.” p160–“We preach to people that they are sinners until they believe it, and then we preach to them that Christ died for their sins.”

Of course Moody might even agree that election and definite atonement are something to be added “on top of the gospel we already believe” (much like circumcision!) but he certainly does not believe that these truths are the gospel. And so he offers a gospel on terms that evangelicals can accept, the same gospel as preached by Billy Graham (whose false gospel Moody claims that God the Holy Spirit uses,p16).

In my conclusion, I am not any less judgmental than Moody is. I am simply making an “old fashioned point” (p16) that not everybody who talks about Jesus believes in the Jesus revealed in the Bible. The difference between Moody and me is that we have different gospels. I quote Moody: “if I believe something wrong and teach others to believe something wrong, I am under God’s judgment. That
is a thought so strange to modern ears that it feels like, with this passage, we are entering an alien world.” (p39)

Moody rightly asks why the Galatians were tempted to add their works to Christ’s righteousness (faith). Moody rightly answers that this temptation does not come from the faith which fears God, but comes from the fear which does not trust the cross to be enough to justify. But if Jesus died for everybody, and not everybody is justified, then those who trust this false Jesus should be afraid. They will need to be careful to complete their faith with works, and thus we have Moody’s stress on the “now in the AD we can and want to”.

If Jesus died for everybody, and not everybody is saved, then we need to be fearful about if we have enough faith, since as Moody explains it, “faith is the relational glue that attaches us to Christ.” (p150). Moody is enough of a manipulator not to be talking about the topic of Jesus dying only for the elect. And since he is not teaching that, he is teaching that Jesus did die for everybody.

If you think that kind of antithesis is unfair, then I will use one of his analogies: if you can’t go by train (because the train doesn’t go there), you have to go by car, and you can’t go by train and by car at the same time. If the only kind of atonement revealed in the Bible is definite and effectual (for the sheep, and not for those who will not believe, John 10), then there is no atonement revealed in the Bible for everybody, and you can’t have it both ways, no matter what John Stott or Martyn Lloyd-Jones or anybody tried to do. I have no more interest in being rude than Moody does, but when it comes to the thing that really matters, the cross, then I want to take my stand on what the Bible says that cross does.

You can say all matter of true things about the difference between law and gospel (and I have no doubt that the false teachers in Galatia did so), but you have no legitimate right to say them, if you avoid the offense of the cross being A. for the elect alone and B. being alone effectual, being the difference, since Christ’s death was not for everybody. And the true things you say about the cross, or about law and gospel, end up not being true things, just like the doctrine of the false teachers in Galatians.

You can say that Christ died for everybody and not be a “semi-Pelagian” or “soft legalist”. My point is not merely that evangelicalism is inherently Arminian. My point is that, if Christ’s death was the righteousness intended and obtained for everybody, then it’s not His death but our faith which must make the difference. And if that is so, we need to be very afraid.

Let me end with one more quotation from Moody: “Nobody comes along and says that you don’t need faith. They just say it’s not faith alone. But if it’s not faith alone, then it is faith plus law; and if it is by law, then it is no longer by promise; then it is no longer by faith. The message of faith and works is really a message of work; it is simply legalism” (p157)

Let me say something different. Nobody comes along and says that Jesus didn’t need to die. They just say that Jesus died for everybody but that it doesn’t work unless the Spirit causes you to consent to it. They just say that, even if you are not elect and even if the Spirit doesn’t cause you to consent to it, Jesus loves you and died for you and offers to save you, but His death didn’t take away your guilt and it doesn’t work, because you didn’t have faith in it.

But if Jesus died for everybody, then it is that death PLUS you being changed so that you can and want to, and if the difference of the new covenant is regeneration, then the promise is not about Christ alone or His death alone; and if it is about your being changed (so that grace is not cheap and Jesus is King), then salvation is not by Christ’s death. The message of His death plus your regeneration is really at the end a message about your regeneration.

And even if Arminians can’t agree with Calvinists about regeneration being before faith, or about regeneration being purchased for the elect by Christ, then they can still all unite in faith that the Jesus who died for everybody and the Jesus who died only for those who are saved are one and the same Jesus. Because in the end, it’s not the death that matters. It’s regeneration, and we can see that!

No “one or the other” here. No “this or that” needed. So choose your antithesis carefully.