Archive for June 2011

Don’t Confuse Regeneration and Justification

June 28, 2011

As long as our categories for judging saved and lost are “regenerate” and “unregenerate”, we will be assuming (even if we don’t define it) that “union” means regeneration and that union/regeneration precedes justification.

1. We need to define what we mean by “regeneration”. Since the Bible word is “new birth”, we need to think about this new birth in terms of “effectual calling” by the power of the Holy Spirit with the word of the gospel. We need to get away from the idea that “regeneration” is a “change in substance” and that there is a time gap between it and the hearing of the gospel.

2. We need to define “in Christ” in terms of justification. Although the Bible does teach that the sheep are always in Christ by election, Romans 16 teaches that some of the sheep are in Christ before other of the sheep. This change is not a first of all a change of regeneration but legally a change of state before God. To be in Christ in this way is to be justified.

Union with Christ is justification, legal union with Christ and His work and His benefits. Immediately after this legal change, the sheep are born again and believe the gospel, but “union” does not precede justification, because union IS justification.

3. God justifies the ungodly. God does not justify because of faith. God does not justify because God has changed the person’s nature. God changes the person because God has justified the person. The change from a belief in the false gospel to the true gospel is evidence of justification, but it is never the reason for God justifying.

Romans 6:17 “But thanks be to God, that you were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were called…”

Roman 6:20 “When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed?”

As long we define union as regeneration and judge saved and lost by regeneration, we will be tempted to ignore the gospel of justification and judge by morality and immorality.

Romans 6 describes two legal states, one of which is “free from righteousness”. We tend to judge people to be saved on the evidence of morality. But God sees that morality as something to be ashamed of, when those moral people are still in their sins, still not yet justified.

Romans 6 defines the “in Christ” in terms of legally being placed into the death of Christ. Union with Christ is justification. The hope of the justified elect is that God has counted the death of Christ as their death.

I ask you to think about it.Why do you always draw the line between the regenerate and the unregenerate? Why don’t you draw the line between the justified and the condemned? Why don’t you judge by if a person knows and believes the gospel?

I am not denying the absolute necessity for the new birth. I am only saying that the new birth is about Christ in us, not about us in Christ. I am only say that the “new creation” has to do with a change in legal state, and not first of all with a change of Character or nature.

II Corinthians 5:14 “one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh (judging by morality or immorality or by other non-gospel standards)….If anyone is in Christ, there is a NEW CREATION. The old has passed; the new has come.”

“Those who live” means first of all those who are justified. The category of “we died” is not about regeneration but about atonement imputed in order to justification. So also the category of “those who live” is also not about a change of character or nature but about an imputed legal reality, a new and different (than before) judicial state before God.

Permanent Redemption

June 19, 2011

Hebrews 9:12, “Christ entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing a permanent lasting redemption.” As a a permanent lasting punishment does not mean punishing forever but punishment which is final, even so permanent lasting redemption does not mean that Christ is and will be redeeming forever, but rather that by one death, Christ has obtained a redemption which is complete and final. Like a punishment which cannot be reversed, this redemption for the elect cannot be reversed.

This permanent redemption is not the payment of a price without a guarantee that those paid for will be freed from guilt and its consequence death. Biblical redemption secures freedom for each particular elect person so that when that specific person will be (or has been, OT) joined to Christ’s death, they are justified from sin and no longer under law or death.

The false gospel never talks about election, and so it cannot rightly talk about permanent redemption for the elect. It can only talk about redemption on the condition of faith. Some with the false gospel say you can have secure redemption because of your faith, and then lose your faith and then your redemption. Others with the false gospel say that faith is like getting a tattoo that cannot be removed, and that even if you lose your faith, you will still have your redemption.

All in the false gospel are agreed in profaning the redemptive death of Christ. All in the false gospel say that Christ died for every sinner, even those who add that Christ died with extra intent for the elect. All in the false gospel say that Christ is the mercy seat for every sinner. According to this common mercy, many die unjustified but none die without mercy.

The false gospel says that God would have and could have and did have mercy on all sinners, at least until they died. The evil and deceptive gospel says that Christ in His death showed mercy to every sinner, but that such mercy was not enough alone to save any sinner.

A warning to all sinners is not God’s mercy to all sinners. Hebrews 10 is not assuming that God has been merciful to all who are being warned. Many died under the Mosaic law without mercy. Even though the ceremonies of the Mosaic economy proclaimed gospel by the death of Christ and not by our doing, God was never merciful to anybody in the Mosaic covenant except those who were elect in Christ.

Paul’s kinsmen according to the flesh, “Israelites, to whom belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises, “ (Romans 9:4) did not receive mercy unless they were elect. We cannot talk about mercy without talking about election, because there is no mercy except for the elect.

Not all in the family are promised redemption from sin, because “it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God.” (Romans 9:6) Christ’s covenant of blood which secures redemption, and this mercy is only for the elect.

There is no common “covenant” mercy, and then extra special mercy for the elect. “Though they were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election would CONTINUE, not because of their works but because of His call.” (Romans 9:11)

There is no grace for those who are not effectually called. The false gospel claims not to teach salvation by works, but it cannot avoid it because it will not teach calling and election. Some with the false gospel claim to teach both election and universal love, but where there is no election, there is never any love.

What kind of love is it that does not redeem? The gospel is not a conditional promise which warns that love will run out for those who don’t believe. The gospel is that, before they did good or bad, before they believed, the elect were already loved in Christ so that Christ died for them and not for others.

The “Old Creation” Is Not Inside Sinners

June 10, 2011

The justified elect pass over from being part of the old creation to being legally part of the new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, new creation! The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Galatians 6:15 “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but new creation.”

When I think of the “new creation”, why do I think of justification, and not only about regeneration? Well, I ask, why do most Calvinists draw the line between two natures? Where does the Bible talk about the new creation being a new nature?

Where does the Bible talk about union with Christ being a new nature? Why don’t we draw the line between the justified and the condemned?

I am not denying the new birth or the absolute necessity for it. I am only saying that the new birth is not “union with Christ” and that it does not result in something called “the new nature”. The “new man” has to do with a change in legal state.

II Corinthians 5:14 “one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sakes died and was raised. From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh”.

“Those who live” means first of all those who are justified. The category of “we died” is not about a change of substance or nature but about an imputed legal reality.

The new man is not gradual transformation; it’s an either or—- this legal state or that legal state. The new is not continually caused by a “sacramental feeding on Christ” but by God’s imputation of what God did in Christ in His death and resurrection.

Only for those now in Christ legally has the old has passed. For some of the elect, God has already declared the legal verdict. One day, at the resurrection, there will be visible evidence of that verdict.

Carol Hoch Jr: The background of the “new creation language is Isaiah 43:16-21, Is 65:17, and Is 66:22…Should “he is” be supplied in II Cor 5:17a? No–if any person is in Christ, new creation. To insert “he is” in 5:17 wrongly narrows the scope of the new creation to an individual. , p161

The Significance of Newness for Biblical Theology: All Things New, Baker, 1995

John R. W. Stott, Men Made New: An Exposition of Romans 5-8 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966), 45: “This is the crucifixion of our our ‘old self’. What is this ‘old self’? Is it not the old nature. How can it be if the ‘body of sin’ means the old nature? The two expressions cannot mean the same thing or the verse makes nonsense.

The ‘old self’ denotes, not our old unregenerate nature, but our old condemned in Adam life—Not the part of myself which is corrupt, but my former self. So what was crucified with Christ was not a part of us called our old nature, but the whole of us as we were before we were converted. This should be plain because in this chapter the phrase ‘our old self was crucified’ (verse 6) is equivalent to ‘we…died to sin (verse 2).”

The crucifixion of the “old man” refers to a definitive break with the past in Adam and is something God declares to be true of the elect when God justifies them by imputation. God transfers the justified elect from the age of Adam to the age of Christ. The justified sinner is separated legally and positionally from the community of Adam by being placed into the death of Christ to sin.

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices 3:10 and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it. 3:11 Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.

The “new man” in Colossians 3:10-11 is corporate in nature and refers to the new community in which all racial distinctions are dissolved. It is a social structure where there is “neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.” Thus the “new man” in Colossians 3:10 is not something inside an individual, but rather the new community in Christ.

In Ephesians 2:15, the Jewish elect and the Gentile elect have been justified and reconciled, and together in Christ they form the “new man” which is a new redemptive-historical society in which all have free and equal access to God and are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (2:5-6).

Romans 6:6 is still thinking of the two humanities (and their heads) as in Romans 5:12-21.15 The “old man,” then, must be who the elect were “in Adam,” that is, in the old age of guilt, death and judgment. The focus is corporate.Thus, the “old man” is not a sinful nature, not immaterial corruption.

Romans 6 says that the old man “was crucified with Christ.” But how can that be? We were not there at Golgotha and this is surely the time to which the past tense was crucified Answer: the “with Christ” language relates the elect to to the redemptive history of Christ; it is not talking about new birth or Christ indwelling us individually, even those events result from justification.

The “Old man” in Romans 6:6 is not the body of sin because the crucifixion of the “old man” prevents the “body of sin” from dominating us. The two entities are not the same. Those positionally joined to Christ’s body are “dead to sin” in the same way that Christ became “dead to sin”, by means of legal union, justification.

What Good Does It Do For God to See the Train-Wreck Coming?

June 1, 2011

1 Peter 1:20 Jesus Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you

Acts 2:23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Ephesians 1:11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

To an Arminian enemy of the gospel:

It’s interesting that you teach that God has prescience of what humans will decide. What good does that do? If God knows already what humans will decide to do with God, what then could God do about what these humans will decide, without turning it all into a big “charade”?

Your god can see if the sinner will repent. That repentance will then cause your god’s love to work. Your god can see if the sinner will not repent. That lack of repentance will then cause your god’s love not to work. This is what you think keeps the whole thing from being a big show and pretend.

Do you ever wonder if you will keep repenting? Your god knows if you will, but since that god is your puppet, there is nothing your god can do one way or the other to keep you repenting. Are you sure you have repented enough? How do you know?

What you need to do is repent of your legalism that conditions salvation on the sinner. You are telling lies on God. God has already decided if you will repent in this way. But I do not know if you will.

God may have already decided to use these questions as a means of your repentance. Or not. God may use them as a means to harden you in your idolatry.

We do not differ on the need of saved sinners to receive and accept God’s gospel. We differ a. on whether the difference between those who believe is in what the human does with “grace” and b. even more importantly, on what the gospel is.

You deny the imputation of the specific sins of the elect to Christ, and thus you deny that Christ’s death serves as a substitute death and that it effectively propitiates God’s wrath toward specific persons.

So the difference between us is not in the need to believe. We have different gospels in which we believe, and different Gods that we worship. You say that Jesus died to give a person a pardon, but they don’t get it because they didn’t accept it.

II Peter 1:1 (with many other Scriptures) teaches that faith in the gospel is a gift of God to the elect because of Christ’s righteousness. John 10: people don’t believe to become sheep, sheep believe because they are sheep. John 17: Christ gives eternal life (knowing Him) to those Christ loves.

Those who deny that all those for whom Christ died are not Christians. They worship a different Christ. They are idolaters. An “atonement” which does not atone is not an atonement at all. It is merely a pretense on which you can build your false idea of a salvation conditioned on the sinner.

It seems clear that you deny that God puts certain people in Christ. Thus I fail to see how you believe in predestination at all. Do you get to be elect by human choosing? Or does God elect who will be saved?

An “universal provision” is not something that saves any sinner. It does not propitiate God for any sinner. It is not sufficient to save any sinner. You are importing your “depends on the sinner” system onto what the Bible clearly teaches about fore-ordination. Do you think that God planned for the death of Christ to take place in all its prophetic details?

If, on the other hand, you think that God is responding to stuff that God fore-sees
humans doing, where is there any room in there for God to intervene or to respond? Sure, the spectator sees that the train is about to wreck. But that’s what makes it dramatic and not a “charade”. If God were to jump in at any point, so that God would fore-see Himself acting and the sinner responding to God, would that kill the drama?

You teach that your god loves everybody and has done enough to save them, if they decide right. So the sinners tip the balance; they have the final and decisive say. And then you dare to suggest that God deciding EVERYTHING would be a “charade”. So you have human decision to make things real.

If God decides ANYTHING without getting human permission, is that also a pretend and a show? Does your god decide he has a plan, and then sinners decide if the plan will work for them?