Archive for August 2011

God Does Not Woo Sinners—“If We Don’t Love Him Back, then Christ’s Love Amounts to Nothing?”

August 29, 2011

Since nobody much talks about elect and non-elect, the truth that Christ died for His sheep cannot be understood as denying that Christ died also for goats. So the Arminians tell us.  But what about the Neo-Calvinists who will not talk about election when they are talking about Christ’s death and love?

When they will only say, “if you put your trust in Him,” and will not spell out the antithesis between sheep for whom Christ died and goats for whom Christ did not die, they doubletalk about God’s love. On the one hand, everyone listening to them is regarded as one of the “us” who Christ loves. On the other hand, listeners are being warned that Christ’s love depends on them “putting their trust in”.

At issue here is not only the extent of Christ’s love but the nature of Christ’s love. If Christ’s love is often unrequited, then even His love for those who love Him back is of a very different nature than the biblical love which never lets go of  those God gave His Son.

It does no good to say that God took the initiative, or even that God loved the unlovely. In our own relationships, one of us often takes the first step. But if the other person does not respond , it amounts to nothing.

Think about that. I say it quite seriously. If Christ’s love is an initiative which depends on our response, then Christ’s love amounts to nothing. Galatians 2:20 does not say that the Son of God loved you and gave Himself for you. Nor does the text give clergy the authority to extrapolate that God loves you and gave Himself for you. Rather, the next verse says “if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” If Christ’s love depends on you keeping the law to put your trust in Him, then Christ’s love amounts to nothing and His death was for no purpose.

God loves the unlovely. In our relationships, we love (and try to woo) the lovely. We become lovely to those who are lovely to us. In the same way, the false gospel depends on our becoming more lovely. If we don’t become lovely enough to at least put our trust in the love of the false Christ of the false gospel, then that love fails. What good is a love for the unlovely which depends on them becoming lovely at some point? A love which CAN amount to nothing always DOES amount to nothing.

I say this first because we are unlovely sinners who cannot respond to initiatives. If we think we can do one lovely thing to respond, then we presume that God is wooing us. We think God is appealing to the part of us which God finds lovely. So then, no matter what we say, we don’t really believe that God loves the unlovely. We can’t believe it.

Second, I say that a love which CAN fail amounts to a meaningless nothing, because such a love disregards the cross and the death by which Christ paid for the sins of the elect alone.  Neo-Calvinists think of election and definite redemption as two different things, because they think of love and propitiation for the elect as two different things.

Not so the Scripture! John 10 does not say that the good Shepherd loves the goats so that they can become sheep if they respond. John 10:12 says that “he who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” Notice the antithesis. The good shepherd does not act like the hired man. The hired man’s love amounts to nothing.

How do we know the Shepherd loves the sheep? “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Does this mean that the Shepherd dies as a representative of the sheep along with the sheep? No. The Shepherd is not only the leader, not only the first to die. The Shepherd dies as a substitute for the sheep. Because the Shepherd dies, the sheep do not die. So John 10 does not separate Christ’s love and Christ’s death. Christ loves those for whom He dies. Christ dies for those He loves.

So what’s my point? Did Christ love and die for everybody? No, He did not. John 10 makes this clear and simple. It does not say, “If you put your trust in and believe.” John 10:26, “But you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice.” It’s not, if you put your trust in me, then you will become my sheep. Ok, Ok, the Neo-Calvinists reason, we also believe in election. We too know that John 10:29 tells how “My Father has given them to me”. We just don’t happen to talk about that when we are talking about Christ’s loving and dying.


God’s Election is God’s Love

August 29, 2011

Election is God’s love, and when the Bible talks about God’s love, it talks about propitiation. I John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

If all we can stipulate is that the appeasement of wrath will not work without our faith, then it’s not enough to add on that God sent His son to purchase our faith. The nature of the cross as a propitiation will not be proclaimed.

Since there is only one propitiation, a propitiation for the elect which is also the same thing for the non-elect, amounts to nothing. We need to stop playing with words and tell the truth.

Do you love the gospel of election, or do you hate the doctrine and avoid it? Yes, Christ loved the church to be gathered on that final day, but visible churches now have as members individuals not written in the lamb’s book.

Those who want to avoid the gospel want you to give yourself to Christ without knowing anything about election. Then they will teach you that all who give themselves to Christ were given to Christ. They will justify this as being the only perspective possible to us. We have to know we believe, before we can know if we are elect. I agree that knowing our election before we believe is impossible. Knowing our election is not our warrant to believe. (See Abraham Booth, Glad Tidings). But this is no excuse for leaving the doctrine of election out of the doctrine of redemption and propitiation by the cross.

Dying in Arminianism Is Unforgivable Sin

August 28, 2011

Everybody has to believe the gospel before they die, or they will die in their sins. Not believing the gospel before you die is unforgivable sin. Once a person has been justified, that person is no longer capable of committing unforgivable sin.  That means they are not going to die as Arminians. They didn’t start the Christian life as Arminians, and they are not going to become Arminians now.

To say that Jesus Christ died for some who will perish is to impugn the character of God; it’s to call God an unfaithful liar. The Holy Spirit does not tell us lies about Christ and Christ’s character.  Since none for whom Christ died will perish, the Holy Spirit does not lead any justified person into that lie.

Those who conclude that not all for whom Jesus Christ died will be saved are rejecting the Holy Spirit’s testimony about Jesus Christ. Look at Matthew 1:21. Read John chapter ten.  Satan’s messengers teach little children the false gospel that Christ died for those who will perish, but those who God justifies will not die believing that lying false gospel.

A Christian is a person who is concerned with the glory of Jesus Christ. A Christian does not tell lies about Jesus Christ. But most who profess to be Christians have no concern or worry about telling sinners that Jesus died for all of them. Even most of the “Calvinists” are glad to leave sinners with that false impression.

What is the gospel? Can you have a promise of grace, without knowing who Christ is and what Christ did? It’s not a mere matter of the “whole counsel” to talk about the intent and extent of the death of Jesus . To say that the effectiveness of Christ’s death depends on the sinner is nothing but a lie, an untruth, a false gospel.

What is the gospel? So universalism is heresy, but Arminianism is not? Where do you draw the lines? Why do you draw them where you do? Certainly you don’t have to draw lines where John Owen and Toplady drew them, but it seems rational for you to know what your gospel is and your boundaries.

When you say that there is such a thing, after all, as an Arminian coming to realize that the Calvinists are right after all, this simply begs the question,  assuming not only that you are now a Christian but that you were one back when you were an Arminian. It also assumes that you are no longer deny that election is part of the gospel.

How important is it to you for you to know that you were a Christian then? Have you ever repented of conditioning salvation on the sinner then, or do you still excuse not only in yourself then but in others now? Phil 3–a persecutor of the church, as to the law blameless, I was certainly not very well taught, Chafer was my rabbi, and I was inconsistent then (as I am still am). But whatever gain I had then, don’t ask me to deny that I had it then, for certainly I don’t need to lose what I had then to gain being Reformed now.

There’s no need to count everything loss when there’s a crack of inconsistency in everything anyway, a touch of “not yet” gray, so there is no need to suffer the loss of my former profession or to repent of it so that I count my Arminianism as  rubbish….

What is the gospel? You think that the notion that Chafer was not even a
Christian “highly implausible”. So what about Mother Teresa? Billy Graham? Joel Osteen? What makes something plausible to you? Numbers? Does your standard for what’s reasonable have anything to do with the gospel? What is your election-free gospel?

You are not being honest with yourself here: you DO judge saved and lost. You judge some Arminians to be saved. You are not as agnostic as you pose. To be honest and rational with yourself, you need to ask: by what standard do you judge? Inerrancy? The virgin birth? Not being an universalist? What is the gospel?

Candidates For Grace? An Offer But You’ve Got to Make it Personal For You?

August 27, 2011

Jesus Christ either already died personally for you, or He did not.  All those for whom Christ died will believe the gospel, but their believing is NOT what makes Christ’s death “personal for them”.

The gospel is not an invitation for you to “write your name in the blank” . The gospel  tells about Christ’s death being the death of those who will be justified.  This is the verything that  the false gospel does not and cannot say.

The false gospel has to talk only about “candidates for grace” because the false gospel  in rebellion against God wants to tell sinner that grace is conditioned on the “candidate”   It says “our guilt CAN be taken away, and we COULD be counted righteous.”  The “could be” means  “might or might not”, depending on the decision of the sinner: “Jesus suffered the penalty due our sins so that we DON’T HAVE TO.”

That’s the same false gospel I have been hearing all my life.  All our lives we have been hearing Arminianism, and most people who profess to be Christians profess that what Jesus did (in death and resurrection) sets up a plan which makes it possible for you to give him your sins and then for Him to save you.

The Arminian idea is that God has a “plan” or a “proposal” that has “potential” if you opt in. Or to say it the way they sometimes say it, if you don’t opt out. Arminians start with the assumption of the universal fatherhood of God, of God’s love for everybody. But then if something goes wrong with the relationship with their god that their god “made possible”, it’s your fault.

There was potential, but what you did (or didn’t do) was the “deal-breaker”.  The more traditional Arminians think that their god saw the train coming (your opting out or not opting in), but there was nothing their god could or would do to change anything. The more modern arminian god is simply surprised that things didn’t work out.  But in both cases, you are flattered as the one who gets to make the deal, as the one who gets to put your sins on their god or not. You are seen as the final exchanger and imputer.

II Corinthians 5:15 does not teach that Christ died for our sins so that we don’t have to; it says that those for whom Christ died also died with him.  That is substitution, and you cannot teach substitution  unless you describe which sinners Christ died for.  To teach substitution, you actually have to say that all for whom Christ died will definitely and justly go free!

If Christ died for every sinner but some of these sinners will perish,  then that may be some sort of “substitution” but it not a saving substitution.  II Corinthians 5:15 does not use the word “elect”, but the only ALTERNATIVE way to understand the identity of the “for” and the “with” is to teach an universalism in which every sinner has died to sin and will be justified.

I think most “ tolerant Calvinists would rather live as practical de facto universalists then  dare talk about election in connection with II Corinthians 5.   They fear any good news which teaches that the elect have already died to judgment when Christ died for them will cause moral problems down the line.

The advantage for most evangelicals in not talking about election in II Cor 5 is that they can take the phrase “live for Him who died for them” and use it to lay duties on every sinner they meet. But there is no point in talking about any such duties until a sinner has obeyed the true gospel and repented from the dead works of the false gospel. Until after that, we are all simply guilty, born in guilt, dead in guilt.

Some teach that “we are saved not only by believing the fact that Christ died for our sins, but by union with the crucified and risen Jesus.”  The idea is that the decision of the sinner (after she is regenerated) will make the union happen. But the gospel does not tell sinners who the elect are; the gospel tells sinners about election, and that some already are elect and some are not.

It IS a fact that there was one kind of “union” of the elect in Christ so that already at the cross, long before (or after) they are justified, Christ paid by death for their sins. Faith does not make this aspect of the union happen.

Dan Fuller Teaches that Faith Is Works, And Thus Never Alone

August 25, 2011

I quote from Dan Fuller’s Unity of the Bibe (p181):

“In commenting on Genesis 2:17 -do not eat from that tree–Calvin said, `These words are so far from establishing faith that they do nothing but shake it.’ I argue, however, that there is much reason for regarding these words as well suited to strengthen Adam and Eve’s faith

Fuller: “In Calvin’s thinking, the promise made in Genesis 2:17 could never encourage faith, for its conditionality could encourage only meritorious works. `Faith seeks life that is not found in commandments.’ Consequently, the gospel by which we are saved is an unconditional covenant of grace, made such by Christ having merited it for us by his perfect fulfillment of the covenant of works.

Dan Fuller comments: “I have yet to find anywhere in Scripture a gospel promise that is unconditional.”

More from Unity (p310): “If Abraham was not declared forgiven until ten years later, was he still a guilty sinner when he responded positively to God’s promises in Genesis 12:2-3 and also during the following years up until 15:6?”

Fuller (p313): “Paul would have agreed with James that Abraham’s work of preparing to sacrifice Isaac was an obedience of faith. He would have disagreed strongly with Calvin, who saw obedience and works as only accompanying genuine faith…James’ s concern in 2:14-26 was to urge a faith that saves a person, not simply to tell a person how they could demonstrate their saving faith…Calvin should have taught that justification depends on a persevering faith, since he regarded Abraham as already justified before Genesis 15:6.”

Is Sunday the Day they put up the Carl McIntire Monument in DC?

August 24, 2011

Or did the earthquake and hurricane

shake the foundations?

when we deny that each atom of the bread
contains God completely,
the old order clergy explain that it makes no difference
what sectarians think is happening

because history tells us, the tradition,
the story that works
(not for the sectarians ,we kill them)
that Christ is fully present in the bread

the chaplains defend the narrative
thank god for constantine
and all those who kill to make it possible for us to worship
in peace

the heroes,
who stand between us
and the chaos of apocalypse and liberalism
thankful we do not have to be shaken just now

the soldiers are cheap, their lives also,
they kill for us so that we don’t have to
the clergy cost more but they comfort us

the priests are paid to tell us about the one church
for all times and all places,.
to tell us that sectarians are atheists posing as protestants

Leithart (page 333): “The Creator made man to participate in and prosecute His wars.” Of course Leithart is not only describing what God has predestined; his concern is ethics.

Either Leithart is right or we pacifists are right. According to Leithart, Adam’s problem was that he was a pacifist in regard to Satan. If Leithart is right, as we get to  “newer administrations of the one covenant”, (as the ideology likes to say it),  the more responsibility all of us have to kill for the sake of “the covenant”.

And thus Leithart contextualizes Jesus, so that His dying at the cross (rather than killing) is particular, specific, and unique, and not an example for anybody.

I remember the old days when theonomists mocked Ron Sider for his leading questions: is God a Marxist? Ron never said God was, but he kinda implied it. And so today, the theonomists ask the leading question: is turning the other cheek a rebuke of self defense or the defense of others?

How could we possibly think that what Jesus said in the Sermon was for all Christians in all places and for all times? We know that church history is not an empty parenthesis, and we know that Augustine was a Christian, and thus we know that Augustine’s version of “Just War” was also the politics of Jesus.

Does it Honor Christ to Put the Atonement Before the Election?

August 20, 2011

Ephesians 1:9-11–” making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ 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…”

“All things were created for Christ”. (Colossians 1:16) Christ “is before all things” (Colossians 1:17).

Lutherans (and others who say that Christ died for every sinner) think that they honor Christ by saying that the decree for Christ to die is before the decree to elect some sinners. They claim in this way to put Christ before election.

Lutherans want to equate election  with preaching, and so they teach  that the atonement was not restricted to the elect. They think of election as something that causes some to believe, but they will not teach an atonement only for the specific sins of the elect.

But election in Christ is first! The death of Christ is not the cause of God’s election in love. God’s election in love is the cause of the death of Christ.

Jesus, the incarnate, the eternal Son of God in the flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election. “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.” Jesus is not simply the one who makes election work. Jesus Himself is first.

Jesus Himself is chosen first, before all the other elect. All the other elect were chosen in Jesus Christ, and not apart from Jesus Christ. Those God loves are “chosen in Him”. Ephesians 1:4

God only has one purpose in history, and that is to bring glory to Jesus Christ. God does not have a second cultural purpose (“kingdom” ?) which doesn’t have anything to do with Christ.

The Gospel Does Not Tell Sinners who the Elect Are; The Gospel Tells Sinners about Election

August 17, 2011

Warnock tells us (p141) that “we are saved not only by believing the fact that Christ died for our sins, but by union with the crucified and risen Savour.”  But it is not a fact of the gospel tells any particular sinner that Christ died for their sins.  The gospel  does not tell sinners who the elect are; the gospel tells sinners about  election.

Election means that one aspect of  the  “union” of the elect in Christ is at work already at the cross, long before (or after) they are justified, Christ paid by death for their sins. Faith does not make this union happen.

Many evangelicals seem to assume  that God-given faith does make the union to happen. That’s why they talk about giving Jesus their sins.

On p 217, Warnock argues for the giving of the Spirit as a second blessing to be experienced after believing the gospel: “ it would be circular to interpret ‘believe and you will receive a work of the Spirit automatically without you being aware of it’, the main effect of which is to cause you to believe.” His unquestioned assumption is that God-given  faith is the cause of the first salvation.

We must talk about election, and not only when we talk about the order of salvation by which an elect person gets credited with Christ’s righteousness.  We must talk about election also when we think of the history of redemption and what Christ did and for whom Christ died.

Galatians 3:13-14 —“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that they would receive the Spirit through faith.”   As Bruce McCormack has so ably pointed out ( What’s At Stake in Justification), regeneration does not precede justification in this redemptive-historical text.  If union is by legal imputation, the forensic  is the cause of the life and efficacy of faith connected with justification. The righteousness imputed causes the hearing of the gospel. It’s not some active “believing is working” that causes the righteousness to be imputed or to be effective.

The Galatians 3 text does not start with believing to get justified, and it does not end with believing more to get the Spirit more.  Galatians 3 starts with “before your eyes Christ publicly portrayed as crucified.”  The opposition between works of the law and hearing by faith has everything to do with the object of faith legally constituting those who then hear.

Yes, there is a promise of the Spirit through faith, but that is because first “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law” SO THAT this will happen. Not so that it might happen, if conditionally…. The blessing promised to Abraham is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the elect are those promised that blessing.



If the Righteousness Christ Earned Is Not For the Elect Already, It’s Too Late

August 6, 2011

We often hear the phrase “election is not salvation” so that “election is UNTO salvation”. Or that “election is not the gospel” but that election is what causes people to believe the gospel. I want to criticize these often-stated contrasts.

Of course the word “salvation” can be used in different senses. But if the righteousness Christ earned is not for the elect until the elect believe, it makes no difference if you say that the righteousness was earned only for the elect or also for others besides the elect. In any case, it is not the righteousness which is the cause of believing.

The effect of denying election in the gospel is to make Christ’s work of obedience not be the ONLY cause of salvation,. It makes the work of the Spirit in the sinner causing the sinner to believe becomes not a result but a condition of Christ’s work.

This false gospel will end up not glorying in the cross but putting the Spirit’s work in the sinner in the determinative place. This false gospel, in which Christ‘s work is not the cause, will also say that “election is not the gospel” but only that which makes sinners believe the gospel.

John Reisinger, Intolerant of the True Gospel

August 1, 2011

John, you say that, while Arminians may THINK that their salvation is conditioned on them, they are saved and their salvation is not conditioned on them. After all, you say, you are not “stingy with the love of God”. Does this mean that God loved the elder brother but left him in his legalism?

Since I know that you profess  God loves everybody, even those God won’t save,  I am sure that you would say that God does love “in some way” that elder brother.But is that elder brother saved?

Must the one who came home from the hog pen confess that the elder brother is his brother? Back in the days when I became an universalist, I said yes: all are brothers. What do you say? I do not ask if you think he was reprobate in the secret counsels of God. Rather I ask,is a legalist converted but still left in his legalism?

Are the “good people” saved also, despite their being deceived about their sins and about the gospel? What do you say? Is the love of God so weak that it cannot save a person  and still leave that person an Arminian?

My answer is that the love of God is so powerful that it CONVERTS the sinner. The sinner is not saved BECAUSE OF his turning from sin, but the converted sinner does turn from sin. The sinner is not saved BECAUSE OF his faith in the gospel, but the converted sinner does have faith in the gospel. The sinner is not saved BECAUSE he understands and submits to the righteousness established in Christ’s death for the elect, but the converted sinner will understand and submit to that righteousness.

The converted sinner will believe the gospel  BECAUSE OF THAT RIGHTEOUSNESS.  What God did at the cross is not merely “potential”. The power of the cross “crucifies” sinners so that they understand that salvation is not conditioned on the sinner. We should not presume that any person who does not know this is our brother or sister.

John, you rightly can and do make this distinction: not because of, but necessary. It will happen, and until it does, then we cannot say that the gospel has converted a man. But you won’t say it when it comes to submitting to effective atonement. Which means you won’t say it when it comes to being a legalist. Because anybody who says that Christ died for everybody but some of them are not saved MUST be looking to the sinner as the difference between saved and lost.

Even if the legalist gives his god or election the “credit” for the difference, he MUST locate that difference in himself and not in what Christ did at the cross.

I understand that you believe that Jesus died only for some. But you think knowing about this death is not necessary. It is the cause, sure; but you don’t think they need to know it’s the cause.

I cannot help thinking of some of my “strict baptist” friends. I do not call them “hypers” (I like to be more specific) but they say that people can be converted without hearing the gospel. They say that the infant John the Baptist was, and that people can be converted “directly” without the message of the cross. So they think it doesn’t matter if the elect hear the true gospel or the Arminian gospel or any gospel.

I reject this. I know that the reprobate will refuse the gospel. I know that the elect must be made alive in regeneration (on account of imputed righteousness) before they will submit to the gospel. But I also know that people need to hear the gospel before they can believe it. (I Peter 1:22-23). To obey the truth, they must hear the truth.

To believe the Word, they must hear the Word. Those who have never heard anything but the Arminian gospel have not yet heard the gospel, and are still lost in their sins.

I know you are not an universalist like I was. You will not say that all men are your brothers. You are very right to focus on the elder brother’s refusal to say that the one who came home was his brother. My question: WERE they brothers? If the elder brother goes on like he is, never repenting of his legalism, is he in the family of God?

Your assumption, suited to your purpose of attacking “these people” who say that Arminians are lost, is that both are brothers. But that is a false assumption. Though Cain and Abel are brothers in the flesh, both creatures of God, made in the image of God, both are not saved. The one who came home is saved; the elder brother is not saved. They ultimately do not have the same home or the same gospel or the same God.

We need to know what the gospel is. And we need to say that those who reject the gospel are condemned already. John 3:17-21 “He who DOES THE TRUTH comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

There is no pleasing God without faith in God’s gospel. We “do the truth” only when we confess that salvation is not caused by our deeds but “done in God”. The “good works” of Christians  not “good works” unless the sinner has understood that his salvation is conditioned on what God did at the cross and not on these works. Faith must exclude itself as the condition of salvation, or it is not faith in the gospel and is not pleasing to God.

Workers must exclude works as the condition of salvation, or  the people who do them are elder brothers, not yet in the family of God, but still lost in their sins. Elder brothers do not “do the truth”. They can talk much of their works, but they will not bring these works to the light of the true gospel, for the true gospel would say that their works were not acceptable.