The Gospel Is Outside You

Your antithesis (not by works in us) will do no good if you do not confess particular atonement. If Jesus Christ died for everybody but only “enabled God” to save those who meet further conditions, then people will certainly look to themselves for the difference between lost and saved.

The only way you can tell people that the gospel is “outside of you” is to tell them that the gospel they must believe to be saved excludes this believing as the condition of salvation. The only condition of salvation for the elect is Christ’s death for the elect.

No debated language about outside “covenants” or “sacraments” should be allowed to obscure this gospel truth. Unless you preach that Christ died only for the elect, you encourage people to make faith into that little something that makes the difference between life and death!

I am not looking for another discussion about Calvin and Luther on the extent of the atonement. I am not even looking for something “classical” enough that you can influence people to sign. I am asking you if you believe that the glory of God in the gospel means that all for whom Christ died will certainly be saved.

Or is that too “rationalistic” for you? Would that perhaps take the grace of God out of the hands of those who give the sacrament and reserve it for the Father who has reserved a people for himself and given them to Christ? (Romans 11:4-6)

The glory of God does not depend on human decisions, and the gospel must not become a victim of an “evangelical” alliance which in the name of universal atonement conditions salvation on the sinner.

Maybe a token in the direction of a proper repentance would be for you to stop quoting a pagan like C S Lewis. Talk about taking away with one hand what one gives away with the other! You quote Lewis: “The Pantheist’s God does nothing, demands nothing. He is there if you wish for him, like a book on a shelf. He will not pursue you.”

If you really want a reformation, you would quote Lewis on how he conceives of this pursuit continuing into purgatory.

How is the god of Lewis different from the pantheist’s god? In the Screwtape Letters, Lewis confessed that ‘the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of God’s scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will…would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish, He can only woo…”

Do you and C. S. Lewis have different gods or only different doctrines? Lewis not only made an idol of human ability but lowered the demand of the law (and the gospel, which tells how Christ satisified the law).

God will not save those whom God does not teach to trust only in the Righteousness established for the elect at the cross. Romans 10:3 “Those who are ignorant of God’s righteousness seek to establish their own righteousness, and do not submit to the righteousness of God.”

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2 Comments on “The Gospel Is Outside You”

  1. Eileen Beckett Says:

    Thanks, I really like this post. In such subtle ways ‘conditionalism’ is rampant in Christendom isn’t it and the majority don’t recognize it. It is of the flesh to look to ourselves for any part of our salvation………..for salvation is of the Lord! Not many understand what that means!

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Westminster Confession, Chapter 3: VI.
    Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
    Chapter 8, V.
    The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up to God, hath fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.

    Hebrews 10:14
    For by one offering, He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

    Dear Michael Horton,

    You seem to be under the impression that you can teach “the indicative declaration of what Christ has accomplished” (Modern Reformation, September1999,p4) without addressing the question of the extent of the atonement. But the nature of Christ’s righteousness cannot be clearly taught without saying that only the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ.

    If Christ bore the sins of every individual, but not each of them is saved, then Christ’s blood cannot be taught as that which actually satisfies the demands of God’s law in a “complete atonement” (p30). If the blood does not “set apart” the elect from the non-elect, then something unholy sinners do or decide is that which sets apart.

    In the ambiguity resulting from your failure to agree with God and the Westminster Confession about particular atonement, the propitiatory offering (Ephesians 5:2, 25-26) will continue to be seen by many “classical evangelicals” as something offered to individual sinners, for them to accept or reject.

    In other words, the universal duty to believe the gospel will become a law which conditions salvation not on the cross but on the sinner.

    But the Westminster Confession to which you subscribe rightly describes the cross as an offering made to God. God has not introduced a new less strict law by which we may be saved. God has offered to God a righteousness that entitles each elect person to all the blessings of salvation, including the effectual call and faith in the true gospel.

    There is no need for Satan to attack a doctrine which is not even being taught by “Reformed” celebrities like yourself. You spend more time defending Calvin on the sacrament than you do attacking the hypothetical (useless) universal (on condition) atonement heresy.

    Why is this so? I think first of the “myth of the influence”. Perhaps you think that if you avoid the offense of the cross: (Gal 6:14–it saves, and it alone, and therefore all for whom Jesus died will be saved), you will be able to persuade those who condition salvation on themselves to talk more correctly about God or about election or union with Christ.

    But any idea of “union” which enables sinners to meet conditions to get in on the “alien righteousness” is NOT a biblical picture of election/union and certainly is not the gospel. It is the outside righteousness of the cross itself which makes certain the salvation of the elect.

    Better to be confessing Christ’s effectual atonement even if it leaves one outside the church catholic!

    So I cannot think that it is only your alliance with Lutherans and evangelicals that keeps you silent about Jesus dying for the sheep and not the goats. Why then do you preach about the “indicative done” in the context of “you” and never in terms of the Westminster Confession: “for all those whom the Father has given the Son” ?


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