Archive for March 2012

We Stop Sinning When We Die, but That’s It Until Jesus Comes Back Here Again

March 30, 2012

We stop sinning when we die, but we are not resurrected until Jesus comes again. Now Christ is seated in heaven (Acts 2:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:13). None of the justified elect are now in heaven. None of the justified elect have ascended to a place from which they never descended. (John 3:13)

Psalm 110:1–”The Lord says to my Lord; Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The justified elect do not share God’s throne and do not sit at God’s right hand.

An ascent directly into heaven from death without a resurrection would be Plato’s pagan idea of death as the release of an immortal soul. Gnostics teach going to heaven without resurrection. Some of these gnostics are preterists, but most of them simply do not think straight about the need for the second coming of Christ.

They also hold onto unbiblical ideas about what “soul” is. Since they do not know that the living soul is body plus breath (Genesis 2:7), they tend to think of the “immortal soul” and they cannot deal with reality of Christ the servant pouring out His soul unto death (Isaiah 53). Since they change Christ’s death into “spiritual death”, they also tend to change Christ’s bodily resurrection into “going to heaven.”

Ephesians 1:20 describes God’s mighty power “which He exercised in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and enthroned Him at His right hand in the heavenlies.” See also I Peter 1:21, 3:22; Eph 4:8-10; and I Timothy 3:16

Acts 3:15–”You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead.”

Because You Went After It the Right Way? Romans 9:32

March 27, 2012

Romans 9:32–”Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone.”

In order to perform its killing function, the Mosaic covenant was law demanding perfection with the power to condemn. Law is not only a tutor that “reveals” sin or makes people aware of sin. Romans 5:20 says that the law entered that sin would increase, not simply knowledge about sin would increase.

The law does not only “kill” by making us thinking of things to do that we would not have thought of before. Another way that the law kills is that it is used by idolaters (all of us by nature) to try to justify ourselves before God. We think–I did it, or I did enough of it. The law kills, leads to death, and if no gospel, law only does that. The elect while still under the law are taught by the gospel to SEE that they are condmend and legally dead before God

Romans 7 verse 9: “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” We were dead by nature, and already guilty in Adam sinners. This “I died” of Romans 7 is something besides the death we were born with as guilty under the law.

It’s life to see that you are legally dead before God and to see that any and all righteousness gaine by us keepng law (Phil 3:9) is insufficient to stand before God. Only Christ by His death for the elect has satisfied the requirement of law and obtained a righteousness for the elect, so that law now demands that the elect be given every blessing of salvation.

But did the Mosaic law-covenant announce clearly that it was a “killing instrument” and not the gospel? If it didn’t, who could blame any Jew for using the law wrong, attempting to live by keeping it?

Romans 3:27 Boasting is excluded by a law of faith. For we conclude
that a man is justified by FAITH APART FROM WORKS

Romans 4: 16 This is why the promise is by faith, in order that the
promise be according to grace,

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of doing law for righteousness to AS
MANY AS WHO BELIEVE. 5 Moses writes about the righteousness that is
from doing law: The one who does these things will live by them. 6 But
there is a righteousness that comes through faith

Galatians 3: 11 Now it is clear that no one is justified BEFORE GOD by
the law, because the righteous will LIVE BY FAITH 12 But the law is
not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live
by them.

One important text about law is Romans 9:32–”They did not seek if by faith, as if it were by works of law.”

Some who focus only on redemptive history say that there is no difference between law and gospel, but only a right way and a wrong way of pursuing the law, and that the gospel is the right way of pursuing the law.

A good rebuttal to this idea is an essay by David Gordon in WTJ (Spring 1992): “Why Israel did not obtain Torah Righteousness; A note on Romans 9:32.”

Gordon writes that the verse should be translated not “as if it were”, but “because the law is not of faith” in line with Gal 3:12. “The qualification works-and-not faith in Gal 3:10-13 is parallel to the qualification works and not faith in Romans 9:32.”

“If one group attained what the other did not, the difference between them might lie in the manner in which they pursued it. This is NOT what Paul says however. The two groups did not pursue the same thing (the gentiles pursued nothing). Paul’s point therefore is NOT that the Gentiles pursued righteousness in a better manner (by faith) than the Jews. Rather, God’s mercy gives what is not even pursued.”

“When Paul asks why the Jews did not attain unto the Torah, his answer addressed the NATURE of the law- covenant (Torah demands perfect obedience), not the nature of the PURSUIT of the law-covenant.”

Those who say “we cause the death of Jesus to save us, and we do it the right way, with the faith and not works” do not understand the gospel. We don’t do it ANY way. God did it. God did it by imputing only the sins of the elect to Chrsit, God does it only by imputing Christ’s death to the elect so that the elect will no longer be legally ungodly (under law) before God but instead justfied by God before God.

Sufficient for All, Efficient for Believers?

March 24, 2012

I certainly agree that the death of Jesus Christ is the only and entirely complete judicial satisfaction for the sins of anyone. But this satisfaction was never intended to be enough for the sins of the non-elect. It’s not enough to talk about the guaranteed success of the atonement for the elect, because we need to talk about the justice of the atonement and to do that we need to talk about God’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ.

It might sound rhetorically neat to say that Christ’s death is enough for the non-elect, but until somebody can tell me what Christ’s death did for the non-elect, all you have is deceptive language.

I Peter 1:18–“knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

The Bible uses “commercial” language to talk about the blood of Christ being precious. One death once for all time is the only death Christ had to die for those whose sins were imputed to Him. God’s justice demanded the death of Christ because certain specific sins had been charged to Him by God the Trinity. This is not to say that Christ would have had to die twice if there had been more elect.

The old formula from Lombard was used in the political compromise of the Synod of Dordt, “sufficient for all, efficient for the elect”. In our day many who think themselves more prudent than God don’t want to talk about the word “elect” so instead they say— sufficient for all, efficient for the believer.

What we really need to see is not only the extent of the atonement but its nature. You can’t understand the nature of the atonement without knowing about its extent. But you can know about the extent and still not know about the justice of the atonement. What do people mean by “sufficient for the elect”?

If we don’t understand how Christ’s death is enough for the elect, denying that Christ’s death works for the non-elect will not explain the gospel. Why did Christ need to die for the elect?

The regeneration of the elect does not satisfy God’s justice. Nor is it the Holy Spirit’s application of benefits from Christ’s death which appeases God’s wrath. God’s wrath has already been appeased or not, and justification is what happens when the elect are legally joined to that death. There is no “union” which is more “real” than this legal counting. The legal counting is based on the elect being eternally united to Christ by election and by Christ’s real death for their sins alone.

We need to talk about Christ being “made sin” (II Cor 5:21) by the imputation of all the sins of the elect, and not only about Christ being made a “sin-offering”. The atonement has commercial and legal merit, not only because Christ can and does do things by measure (healing some but not others) but also because the Bible speaks about being bought by blood from the accusations of the law..

One good discussion in print on this is by Tom Nettles in By His Grace and For His glory and his chapter on “Christ Died for our Sins, According to the Scriptures.” Nettles questions the formula (sufficient/ efficient) used by Dordt while at the same time being honest about the history of its use.

Nettles quotes Andrew Fuller: “We could say that a certain number of Christ’s acts of obedience becomes ours as that certain number of sins becomes his. In the former case his one undivided obedience affords a ground of justification to any number of believers; in the latter, his one atonement is sufficient for the pardon of any number of sins or sinners.

Nettles explains that Fuller “misconceives the biblical relation of imputation. Justification should not be considered as analogous to atonement but rather to the imputation of Adam’s sin”.

I encourage you to read more of Nettles. Error one: the tradition leading from Edwards to Andrew Fuller tends to identify regeneration and effectual calling as the “real union” and then it tends to identify this “application” with the atonement itself. What many Calvinists mean by definite atonement is that the “real union” makes the atonement definite. Thus they make the Spirit’s work to be the real difference instead of Christ’s death. These same folks tend to question the traditional tulip. See for example the new book by Todd Billings on “union”

Nettles: “A second error is subtle in nature and involves a shift in the understanding of the sacrificial death. Although Jesus’ death is spoken of as passive obedience–and though the concepts of reconciliation and propitiation are defined as activities accomplished in the Father’s setting forth God the Son–when the sufficiency of the death of Christ arises, the emphasis shifts from the Son’s passive obedience to what he actively accomplished by his infinite divine nature.”

Nettles quotes John Dagg and Abraham Booth against the “sufficient” general view of the atonement. Booth’s Divine Justice Essential to the Divine Character, book 3:60

“While cheerfully admitting the sufficiency of Immanuel’s death to have redeemed all mankind, had all the sins of the whole human species been equally imputed to Him, we cannot perceive any solid reason to conclude that his propitiatory sufferings are sufficient for the expiation of sins which he did not bear, or for the redemption of sinners whom he did not represent. For the substitution of Christ, and the imputation of sin to him, are essential to the scriptural doctrine of redemption by our adorable Jesus…

And from Dagg’s Manual of Theology, p330: “Some have maintained that, if the atonement of Christ is not general, no sinner can be under obligation to believe in Christ, until he is assured that he is one of the elect. This implies that no sinner is bound to believe what God says, unless he knows that God designs to save him.”

The Both/And/Not Arminian Gospel

March 24, 2012

Here’s my question for Piper, Keller, Carson, Ware, Driscoll, and
other young restless Reformed. Was Christ Punished Before Sins Were
Imputed to Him?

1. if Christ is made sin before our sins are imputed to Him, then with what sin is Christ made sin?

2. if Christ is already made sin before our sins are imputed to him,
then what’s the point of God then later imputing to Christ the sins of the elect?

John Piper (Taste and See) disagrees with Arminians for not teaching
that Christ died to purchase faith for the elect. But John Piper does
not disagree with Arminians about propitiation and substitution and
punishment. “If you believe, the death of Jesus will cover your sins.”

Piper’s gospel does not teach that Christ was already punished because of the imputed sins of the elect alone. It still only has a punishment in general, to be assigned later to those who believe.

Even though Piper does insist that Christ also died for the elect to
give them something extra that He will not be giving the non-elect, he fails to publicly tell lost unbelievers that Christ was
punished specifically for the imputed sins of the elect.

When Piper leaves that out (does he ever get to that truth even after with post-conversion folks in conferences they paid to get into?), his gospel will be heard as saying that there was enough punishment done to Christ to save even people who will nevertheless end up being
punished (with the second death).

This both/and/not Arminian message makes the important taking away of
sins to be something other than the punishment of Christ. It makes the real reconciliation to be the Spirit Christ purchased giving people a new nature and then faith to believe, even if they happen to believe a message that says Christ died for every sinner.

The alternatives are to either claim that some of the people who have
never heard the gospel are sovereignly saved anyway, or to claim as
gospel the idea of punishment before any sins are imputed.

If we jump ahead to the things Christ has bought for believers, even
including their believing, without telling it straight about the
punishment of Christ specifically for the specific sins of the elect,
then we can easily tolerate a “gospel” which has no election or
imputation in its news.

If the death of Christ is not a result of God’s imputation of specific sins, then it is not the death of Christ which saves sinners. If the atonement is Christ purchasing faith to give elect sinners a portion in a general punishment, then the punishment of Christ is not ultimately what takes sins away.

Is Doing the Precept the Righteousness, and the Death Only Paying the Penalty?

March 23, 2012

A focus on “the active obedience” of Christ can become a distraction from the death of Christ as that which frees the elect from sin and law and death. I have no big problem saying that Christ’s life of obedience also is imputed. But I am looking for texts, not only for what tradition says.

This question makes me uncomfortable. because Norman Shepherd and federal vision and NT Wright deny the active obedience. But I think the debate about the active obedience being imputed CAN BE a distraction from three big facts. It doesn’t have to be.

1. It CAN BE a distraction from Adam’s sin imputed to humans. Wright does not have any place in his theology for original sin as Adam’s original guilt. Who does? We should be talking about that more.

2. It’s a distraction from the sins of the elect being imputed to Christ. This is the main thing. This is more important even that saying that Christ’s death is only for the elect or saying the Christ’s death is effective to save all for whom He died. This is about justice, about the justifying of God not only the justifying of sinners.

This also makes us think about the difference between the atonement itself and the justification which happens in time when the atonement is imputed to the elect. The atonement and justification are not the same thing.

Of course it’s true that, if God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, then Christ only died for the elect. But we need to think not only about Christ’s successful death but also about the justice of Christ’s death.

Focusing on “active obedience” CAN sometimes distract from this. Because lots of folks who are all currently heated up about the “active obedience” almost never talk about Christ’s just death for the elect only. I think of Piper and Sproul and many in the PCA.

To be distracted from the truth that the atonement was only for the elect is also to be distracted from the truth that justification is not conditioned on faith as its preliminary cause. Many of the same folks who fight with NT Wright about faith not being the “active obedience” then turn around and say that God counts faith as the righteousness, and teach that the righteousness is “appropriated” by the condition of faith.

On the one hand, I don’t want to be a distraction by debating “active obedience as vicarious law-keeping” (or by debating if there was a “covenant of works” with Adam.) I want to take sides with these folks against the new perspective.

But on the other hand, most folks on both sides of that debate don’t even believe in Christ’s just death only for the elect. If they did, they would teach it.

3. A focus on doing as the righteousness CAN imply that the death of Christ is not the righteousness. I don’t think active and positive should be split up, not only because the death was active and the obedience passive, but because I want to get away from any idea that the remission of sins is because of the death and that the positive blessing is because of the life.

I see two serious problems with the tradition. 1. The supposed proof texts don’t show vicarious law obedience. They show law obedience. As for ”saved by his life” in Romans 5:10 that’s “saved by his resurrection”.

Problem 2. Which law is being obeyed, which we were supposed to obey? Christ kept the Mosaic law, which none of us were ever under. And more than that, Christ was under unique (only for Him) requirements from God when He became incarnate.

The “new perspective” only wants justification to be about our status and not about the legal record of Christ’s obedience to death (His merits, the righteousness). I don’t think the texts in question (Romans 4, Philippians 3) say that we share only in Christ’s verdict. We share in the obedience that lead to that verdict. Not only the verdict, but the righteousness (the legal value of Christ’s death) was for the elect.

If you don’t want to say that the death of Christ was imputed, since that’s not the exact wording of Scripture, use Romans 6 language and say “placed into the death”. God the Father putting the elect into Christ’s death results in the verdict—–justified, dead to sin, and dead to the law.

Smeaton on I Peter 4:1

March 12, 2012

I Peter 4:1– “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm
yourselves with the same way of thinking, for as many as have suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin”

George Smeaton, p 444, Apostles Doctrine of the Atonement—“Peter recapitulates after completing the intervening parenthesis (3:19-22). When he resumes his previous expressions, he can only refer to Christ’s vicarious sufferings in the flesh. He bids Christians to
realize the fact that, in Christ’s sufferings as their surety, they were co-crucified. Here then we have another instance in which Peter and Paul use nearly the same phraseology in speaking of our death to sin.

Any other explanation is unnatural. Those who represent the expressions as alluding to what Christ encountered in his earthly life from men, and explain the second clause of the believer suffering in Christ’s cause and after His example, can produce nothing to satisfy the forcible terms here as to ceasing from sin.

The meaning of the expression “has ceased from sin” will be that, that we suffered as one person with Christ. Peter considers Christians as one person with Christ, when we died with Christ. There are two modes of speaking in reference to the atonement, either of which presupposes the other. We may say, “Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust” or we may say”he that has suffered in the Surety, or in the obedience unto death finished by HIm as a public person, has been discharged from sin.” The person who is regarded at the divine tribunal as crucified with Christ is absolved from sin, dead to sin.

The apostles, when they connect our sanctification with the death of Christ, always presuppose His surety-satisfaction in our stead. This
enables us to meet the only plausible objection to the interpretation now advanced, ie, that the word “flesh” must be taken in two different senses in the two different clauses of this verse. By no means. It has the same sense in both, denoting Christ’s representative suffering, and our act considered as one with Him in God’s account.

The Creation is for the Purpose of the Redemption of the Elect

March 12, 2012

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…”

The “common grace” theory supposes that God has a second purpose for
history, an intermediate cultural purpose. But “all things were created for Christ”. (Colossians 1:16) Jesus Christ “is before all things” (Colossians 1:17).

Jesus Christ is first in the counsel of God, logically before the
decree of election (and non-election). The elect are chosen in Christ
before the foundation of the world, and this means that logically
Christ was before the elect in the counsel of God.

Those 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.

Not only Arminians but many who call themselves Calvinists want to
place election after the decree to make atonement, so that the
atonement will not be restricted to the elect. They think of election
as something that causes the elect to believe, but they will not teach an atonement only for 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 Christ is first. 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.”

This means that the creation is for the purpose of the redemption of
the elect. This also means that God does not have a second “cultural
only” purpose for the creation.

God’s purpose in history is to bring glory to Jesus Christ. He is not simply the one who makes election work. Jesus Christ Himself is first. Jesus Christ Himself is chosen first, before all the others. 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

The “I was never lost” doctrine of Stanley C Phillips

March 4, 2012

a review of The Eternal Vital Union, by Stanley C. Phillips, (Gospel Mission)

First, because he makes so much fun of others who attempt to write books, I want to ask Stanley if he thinks he is a baby-doctor
that God needs his help to write a book to explain the gospel? Doesn’t Stan know that God can teach this stuff even to infants without us having to pay to get help from Stan?

Stan is a big advocate of “experience”, in which “God visits
you” and we then have “the mind of Christ” and all this before and
without any doctrine of the gospel. So why did he write this huge book of doctrines? If we disagree, he’s simply going to say we don’t get it because we are “inexperienced”.

The book has a lot of preacher soundbites which don’t hold up very well if you ask questions. Stan writes: “Life does not start at conception, because life starts at creation”. Sounds neat, doesn’t it? But when did creation begin? It turns out that Stan believes in the pre-existence of human “souls” and thus he doesn’t think that the elect “souls” ever started to have eternal life. Stan thinks the elect were never lost.

Stan doesn’t deny the resurrection of the physical body (as the
preterists do or as the old “two-seed-in-the-spirit” teaching of Daniel Parker did), because he says there is “interstitial” interacton between the “two men”. In other words, there is internal “warfare”.

Stan works with the assumption that regeneration is not a change or a renewal but an ontological “implanation” into the container of the body of the “new self” which of course is not new but which has eternally pre-existed. I am not going to use the word “gnostic” here because that word has come to function mostly as an insult. And I don’t want to be impolite to Stan. Indeed, I rather like him, and I want to understand what he is saying with which I so much disagree.

There is a old-new schizophrenia happening here, and if you question the assumptions about what is “old man” by saying that old man is the old legal status of condemnation, you will be accused of denying that Christians continue to sin. But don’t forget that this theory of the Primitive Baptists operates in the interests of eternal justification or “justification at the cross”. In other words, even though you are still sinning, you were never lost! You were never guilty, and you never had the wrath of God abiding on you in history.

In some respects, Stanley sounds a lot like the “exchange theory of
sanctification” identified with some folks from Dallas Seminary. After justification, supposedly, there is a second step of “identification”. The Keswick view agrees that the “addition” of a new self inside the person is not by our act of will but says that the consciousness of this “new man” does depend on our wills. Stanley agrees with the distinction between the ontological reality and the “reckoning” of that reality, but he doesn’t think the recognition is the result of human decision.

But the result is nevertheless two men (or two minds, old and new) inside of another man. There is  some ambiguity, because sometimes he writes as if the old man is the body (the flesh) on the outside, but at other times he’s saying that there is an old mind inside. So nothing has changed before the second coming, except there has been an addition of a new nature which does not change. Stan misreads I John 3 in the interests of assuming an ontological biological addition, and never seriously considers the idea of two legal states for Cain and Abel.

This speculation is not new To Stanley Phillips and he
quotes several other older Primitive Baptist writers who agree with
his thinking. One important question I have about this is what they
think of Christ as incarnate? Do they still think Christ is still incarnate, with a physical body? Do they think Christ had (or has) two wills, two minds “two men on the inside”? How would that work?

Even more importantly, do they think that Christ Himself was under the guilt of the elect and under the wrath of God, and that Christ’s death was a “propitiation” and a reconciliation toward God? Did Christ himself pass from wrath to favor in history? Or heaven forbid, does Stan think tht Christ passed from being an “old man” to becoming a “new man”? Did Christ himself become “by experience” regenerate? Or does Stan agree with Harold Camping that Christ was “eternally dead” and that the cross over there back then was only for the sake of the elect recognizing what was already true.

When you begin saying that the elect were never lost, you should expect to have to answer some questions! I am glad that Stan does acknowledge that he doesn’t know what happens to the “soul” of Christ between death and resurrection. That is way more humble than most of those who endorse the Roman Catholic tradition of the immortality of the “soul”.

The Primitive Baptist is correct to object to telling a person who may not be elect that Christ died for them. But the Primitive Baptist is wrong to think that our experience tells anybody that they are “sensible sinners” now born again because they are “struggling with two natures” and thus “hopefully” elect.

The gospel says that the true Christ died for the elect alone. The gospel does not tell you to first found out if your are regenerate because you are “mourning for your sins” and thus likely to be elect (before and without the gospel, the power of God which causes the elect to hear it).

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

The justified elect are not two men inside of another man. The justified elect are not two minds inside of a body “container”. When the elect are justified, they become part of the larger “new man” 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 man” on your inside 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 sake 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 an implantation and/or addition of a “seed substance” 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 creation is a legal result of God’s imputation in time of what God did (for the elect alone) 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 is not something inside an individual.

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.The “old man” is not a sinful nature, and it’s not our corruption.

Romans 6 says that the old man “was crucified with Christ.” But how can that be? We were not there at Golgotha. Stan reads II Tim 1:9 (who has saved us, according to his purpose given us in Christ before the ages) as saying that the “has” means the past, but to him, this “past” has no before and after. Stan argues that life did not begin at conception but at the creation, but to him there is no creation, because life is eternal “in the seed”. And so the past is really eternal and the “He saved us” comes to mean “we were never lost”.

My Answer: the “ crucified with Christ” language is talking about imputation by which God legally places the elect into the death of Christ which for them alone, and was for their sins alone. Romans 6 is about the legal relationship of the elect to to the redemptive history of Christ, the last Adam. Romans 6 is NOT talking about new birth or Christ indwelling us individually, even those events result from justification. 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.

All well and good, Mark, and we like your emphasis on justification. But we also like Stan’s emphasis on regeneration and ontological transformation, and what does it seriously matter if he uses some language about that (old man/new man) that we would rather he didn’t use?

My answer is that those who teach eternal justification always end up making the gospel about something else than what Christ did at the cross. They always end up focusing on what they think (“experience”) Christ is doing in them. In Stan’s case, he thinks Christ is making him more humble by causing to doubt and hope instead of resting in assurance.

I quote from p 105 of Stan’s “The Eternal Vital Union”. “The mediatorial work of the last Adam met all the claims of the law and satisfied divine justice in behalf of the chosen seed. BUT as the transgression of the first man Adam did not disqualify his family for heaven, neither did the obedience and death of the last Adam impart to his chosen seed qualification for the enjoyment of heaven.”

Again, I am not denying the need for regeneration and glorification for the justified elect to be able to live in the new heaven and earth. And Stan is not denying the need for Christ to have died to satisfy justice for the elect, even though Stan cannot explain how Christ was ever under the wrath of God, and even though he denies that the elect were ever condemned.

So why is all this important? Stan has a “more than”. He does not deny the doctrine about Christ’s death, but a. he thinks you can be regenerate apart from ever hearing that gospel. and b. he thinks the gospel is about being getting a “new man” inside of you. So do the Roman Catholics. So do the self-righteous puritans who base their assurance on their change of behavior and attitude. (Even when they “slip into sin”, they don’t want to and they mourn about it.)

Instead of focusing on what Christ did in history, Stan focus on our inward selves, because history to him is about what happens in us inwardly. He can make no sense of a propitiation, or a legal justification from wrath to favor, because his gospel is not about what Christ did but about his searching inside himself to find the person of Christ there, as evidenced by his own struggle with two natures.

from Glad Tidings, by Abraham Booth

p 182, “If by ‘an awakened sinner’ it is taught that no one is
commanded to depend on Christ for pardon and peace unless possessed of a more holy disposition, he must necessarily be more solicitous to
find evidence of that prerequisite existing in his own heart, than to
understand and believe what the gospel says concerning Christ.”

p 223, “The Scriptures will not permit our concluding that any pious
affections are possessed by sinners before they receive the truth and
believe in Christ. If we really love and revere God, it is because He
first loved us, because there is forgiveness with him, because that
love for the elect has been revealed in the glad tidings of
reconciliation.”

p 228–”For sensible sinners to think that they dare not and ought not
to believe and embrace Christ, till they be more deeply humbled, and
do more thoroughly repent of their sins, and be “more fit’ to receive
him; this is but a gilded deceit and a trick of a false heart.”

p 238 “According to fatalism, the word of truth having no influence, is of no use in the work or regeneration, the salutary and important
change being produced entirely without it…To imagine that a
preparation of the mind, merely to receive the truth, is a change so
great as to describe the expressions ‘born again’ or ‘born of the
Spirit’ or ‘born of God’ is unwarrantable”

p 247 “Now the question is: Do the Scriptures lead us to conclude that
the mind and the conscience are brought into the new state by an
immediate divine energy, without the medium of either the law or the
gospel? I think not. It is written: by the law is the knowledge of
sin. When the commandment came, sin revived and I died.”

If We Don’t Believe one of the “Hyper” Points, does that Mean We are not “Hyper”?

March 1, 2012

Many of those who critique “hyper-Calvinism” like to lump several ideas together, with the conclusion that if you hold one of these ideas, you most likely hold all the other ideas. And it doesn’t matter anyway, because they will stick the label “hyper” on you even if you believe in only one of the ideas.

I could reverse this by saying that there is a “hyper” package and that if a person fails to believe one of the points, then that person shouldn’t be called “hyper”. But then that raises the question: how many points can you not believe and still be “hyper”?

Of course the greater question is which points go together in your list of what defines “hyper”. There are some like Curt Daniel who say that the simple unwillingness to use the word “offer” (since it’s often associated with the idea that God desires in some way to save the non-elect) makes you a “hyper”. Others would say that the willingness to use the word “election” when you are talking about the gospel makes you “hyper”. And many think that even affirming effective definite atonement makes you “hyper”.

I propose that we don’t use the word “hyper” and simply specify the objections. “Strict Baptists” ( a specific denomination with its own magazine and organization in England) bases the duty of the non-elect on the ability of the non-elect. Since they know that the non-elect have no ability, they deny that the elect have any duty to believe the gospel.

I don’t need to call these people “hyper”. Rather, I will say that they have a false gospel which attempts to discover regeneration and ability before one is warranted to believe the gospel. The problem here is not mainly the power to believe the gospel. The problem is more about WHAT IS THE GOSPEL.

Of course nobody has the duty to believe that Christ died for him or her, or that Christ died for everybody. Christ did not die for everybody. And we can and should say that in the gospel. But without turning the gospel into a law, we can tell everybody the good news that Christ died for the elect alone.

Christ’s death for the elect alone is good news. It’s gospel to say that all for whom Christ died will be saved. It’s not gospel to tell people falsely that Christ died for them. And this is true, whether you are an Arminian saying that based on the idea that Christ died for everybody or whether you are saying it as a Strict Baptist who thinks we can know we are elect and regenerate before we believe the gospel.

So let’s not use the word “hyper”. Let’s talk about what the gospel is. And when Calvinists get the gospel wrong, for example by teaching that the elect are never under the wrath of God (eternal justification), then let’s specify the error instead of merely throwing out the label “hyper” which is nothing but an insult and a label and not an explanation.

Right now I want to quote from Matthew McMahon, a person who lumps different ideas together and makes them into a “hyper” package which he then critiques. I reference McMahon, not because he’s the worst of the guys who do this. (That would be Phil Johnson, a person who has clearly not repented of his Arminianism.) Indeed, McMahon can be very careful and seems to know the history of debates about “offers” etc.

Here’s the quotation: “What the Hyper-Calvinist is really saying is this: Hyper-Calvinism believes that knowledge of the extent of the atonement is a prerequisite for faith in the work of Christ. Again, the sinner must obtain and understand his subjective experience of the work of Christ for him personally. If he does not have this, then he is commanded to believe something that may not be true at all. The Hyper-Calvinist cannot stomach this.”

Now, I could object to the phrase “what he is really saying”. This means, he’s not saying it, but he should say it if he were consistent with other things he says, or at least I think so. I think we need to be careful when we do this, to realize what we are doing and to acknowledge what we are doing. But notice I say: we. We all do this. It’s our way of disagreeing. We point to one thing in common that we don’t believe, and then we say, if you believe one thing, then logically you have to believe this other thing, which we agree we don’t believe.

So let the “really saying” pass. Let the label “hyper” pass. The problem with the McMahon quotation is that he is lumping together two things and confusing them. One thing is knowledge of the extent of the atonement. Another thing is knowledge (because of some experience) that a person has that he is elect. These are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.

It is one thing in the proclamation of the gospel to say that you need to know the extent to know the nature and intent of the atonement. I think this is true. I know many say that most of the Bible doesn’t talk about the extent, and then they go to Acts or to the Old Testament to argue from the “silence about election” they perceive there to argue for a gospel which must necessarily leave out election.

I won’t do that debate here, except to say a. that the argument often becomes an exercise in simply saying that the Bibe doesn’t talk about election. Period. And b. It becomes an argument that it honors Christ to talk about His Atonement before we ever talk about Election (or whose sins were imputed to Christ).

But again, I don’t want to talk about that now. There are 400 essays on this blog talking about that. In cynical but realist terms, it amounts to saying—let’s keep preaching the same Arminian gospel we claim to have been saved by, since we never repented of that, but only added some things to that. Or as I say it: let’s accomodate Arminians, beause I too am also an Arminian. (See John Piper for an explicit statement to that effect.)

But like I said, two paragraphs back, I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about Mcmahon’s confusion of two ideas. The extent of the atonement and the idea that “the sinner must obtain and understand his subjective experience of the work of Christ for him personally. ”

I don’t believe that second thing. Most of the people I know who believe that the gospel talks about the extent of the atonement don’t believe that second thing. We know you can’t have an experience of knowing you are elect before you believe the gospel. So we don’t believe that second thing.

But Mcmahon puts the two things together. Without argument, he simply assumes that if you talk about extent in the gospel, then you will
be one of those persons trying to find your election in some experience before you think you can believe the gospel.

By the way, while I don’t oppose the language of “duty” and “command”, that language is not necessarily how the Bible talks about the gospel. And more importantly, if you are elect being effectually called, and you understand your problem, and you begin to understand the gospel (election is good news, not bad news!), then “duty” is not really the most apt word–rather, you WANT TO believe the gospel, it’s your delight, it’s your only hope.

I want to wrap up. To review, McMahon is saying two things and confusing them.

One thing: “Hyper-Calvinism believes that knowledge of the extent of the atonement is a prerequisite for faith in the work of Christ.”

Second thing: “The sinner must obtain and understand his subjective
experience of the work of Christ for him personally. If he does not
have this, then he is commanded to believe something that may not be
true at all.”

Of course the second thing involves the “what is the gospel question”. The Strict Baptist is correct to object to telling a person who may not be elect that Christ died for them. But the Strict Baptist is wrong to think that the gospel tells anybody they are elect. The gospel says that the true Christ died for the elect alone. The gospel does not tell you to first found out if your are elect and it certainly will not tell you that you are elect before you believe it.

from Glad Tidings, by Abraham Booth

p182, “If by ‘an awakened sinner’ it is taught that no one is commanded to depend on Christ for pardon and peace unless possessed of a more holy disposition, he must necessarily be more solicitous to find evidence of that prerequisite existing in his own heart, than to understand and believe what the gospel says concerning Christ.”

p223, “The Scriptures will not permit our concluding that any pious affections are possessed by sinners before they receive the truth and believe in Christ. If we really love and revere God, it is because He first loved us, because there is forgiveness with him, because that love for the elect has been revealed in the glad tidings of reconciliation.”

p228–”For sensible sinners to think that they dare not and ought not to believe and embrace Christ, till they be more deeply humbled, and do more thoroughly repent of their sins, and be “more fit’ to receive him; this is but a gilded deceit and a trick of a false heart.”

p235–”The energy of the Holy Spirit applying the word of reconciliation to their hearts, the truth is believed and their enmity subdued, in the same instant. The gospel is the instrument whereby God brings the person forth in a new birth. We are said to be born of the Spirit, nowhere said to be born of the word, but “I have begotten you THROUGH the word.”

p238 “According to fatalism, the word of truth having no influence, is of no use in the work or regeneration, the salutary and important change being produced entirely without it…To imagine that a preparation of the mind, merely to receive the truth, is a change so great as to describe the expressions ‘born again’ or ‘born of the Spirit’ or ‘born of God’ is very unwarrantable…It is too hastily assumed that the mind is prepared to receive the light of spiritual knowledge before the truth have any influence on it.”

p247 “Now the question is: Do the Scriptures lead us to conclude that the mind and the conscience are brought into the new state by an immediate divine energy, without the medium of either the law or the gospel? I think not. It is written: by the law is the knowledge of sin. When the commandment came, sin revived and I died…

p249 “For an ‘awakened sinner’ to be persuaded to be persuaded that regeneration is effected without the instrumentality of divine truth, is to give an injurious direction to his prayers and expectations. He will pray for something under the notion of ‘regeneration’ in which the knowledge of Christ and a regard to His atonement have no concern…Neglecting the testimony of God concerning Jesus, he will be ready to look inside himself for some impulse to produce the important change.”.