Archive for September 2012

Does the Death of Jesus Save Those Who Don’t Perish?

September 29, 2012

A Reformed sacramentalist tells us that “Baptism is not a sign that points to the person being baptized.”

There are two separate questions here. One is about the claim that the sign is from God to us, rather than from us to God. Of course for those of us believe in sovereign grace, that sounds good. Take it in the direction of saying we don’t do anything. But of course the same folks who talk about the objectivity (or the “realism”) of the “sacraments” are the people who are most concerned to stress synergism (or 100% God and 100% man) in “sanctification” and (in the case of the federal visionists who are all sacramentalists) the conditionality even of final justification. So why this concern, when it comes to “sacrament”, to say it’s all God?

But the second and more important question concerns what the sign says. If the sign is from God to us, is the sign saying that those being baptized are promised something that that those not baptized are not promised? ( Given the idea that infants are baptized not to enter “the covenant” but because they are already “in the covenant”, does that mean that infants born to credobaptists who are not baptized are nevertheless in “the covenant”?)

If the sign is from us to God, again, is the sign saying that we have
assurance of justification already (before baptism) or is it saying
that we receive baptisim in order to find (more) assurance?

To simplify my question, if the sign (from God, or from man) is simply about an objective promise by God, why not give the sign to everybody? How will we find out if folks are “covenant-breakers” or not, unless we put them all in the covenant to begin with? Why restrict the sign only to those with assurance? Why restrict the sign only to those born to a parent who is a church member? Why not baptize everybody, as the Constantians did?

(And as a historical side-note, this conclusion can be reached by folks who do not assume the unity of all covenants as one covenant. At least some Plymouth Brethren –following the lead of Darby– taught that all infants born to members of the “universal church” could be baptized, not as a sign of anything about them except the fact that we are all born dead in sins–ie, it doesn’t matter who’s a believer or not yet, because we can be sure that everybody is born guilty and corrupt, and if that what “baptism” means, then baptize anybody you want.)

To say it again as simply as I can, if “the promise” (as if it there were only one promise in all covenants !) is a conditional promise, which says, if you believe, then efficacy, and then life, why not make put that sign, that conditional promise, on everybody? (Why with-hold it from those who won’t be hearing the gospel as much as other folks, if the sign itself is objectively preaching the gospel?) But on the other hand, if “the promise” is not conditional, but it’s saying that the sign has efficacy in that the sign itself is telling us that the person being baptized WILL believe, then what has happened to the claim about objectivity and it not being about the person?

Of course, if the sign is saying that you are “covenantally elect”, without promising anything about assurance of faith or decretal election, then what does that mean objectively? Does it mean that those being baptized are under a “covenant of works” that folks who did not get the sign are not under? One, even if that were the case, the sign would be subjective, saying something about the persons being baptized, that they are under threat of greater sanctions than people not baptized.

Two, unless they confuse works and faith, works and grace, as much as the federal visionists do, other Reformed folks need to be a lot more clear about the nature of the grace found “in the covenant” for the non-elect. If they don’t want to say that Christians stop being Christians, if they don’t want to say that the regenerate stop being regenerate, the non-FV folks need to interact
more with Engelsma and the “non-conditional covenant” folks.

Calvin on I Peter 3—What then ought we to do? Not to separate what has been joined together by the Lord. We ought to acknowledge in baptism a spiritual washing, we ought to embrace therein the testimony of the remission of sin and the pledge of our renovation, and yet so as to leave to Christ his own honor, and also to the Holy Spirit; so that no part of our salvation should be transferred to the sign.

Is Calvin saying that the testimony is only that as many as the Holy Spirit calls will be saved? Or does Calvin mean something different and more? Does Calvin mean that baptism testifies that the person receiving will be given the Holy Spirit and will be saved? I would like to say the first, but I think Calvin and his
followers want to both eat their cake and still have it at this point. They want to say it’s not about the person but only an universal (condition?) from God, but at the same time, they want to say, it’s not a condition, it’s a promise, and when you get in doubt and nothing else works, then you can remember that those the pope ordained have baptized you, and that’s something you can stand on. But then again, we need to “leave Christ his honor….”

Calvin: “Doubtless when Peter, having mentioned baptism, immediately made this exception, that it is not the putting off of the filth of the flesh, he sufficiently shewed that baptism to some is only the outward act, and that the outward sign of itself avails nothing. — Calvin Comm 1 Pet 3.21

I want to think of an analogy to the argument for effective definite atonement. Those who say that Christ died for all, even for those who will perish, must end up logically consistently with the conclusion that even those who don’t perish were not saved by Christ’s death either. Maybe they were saved by intercession, by the Holy Spirit, by faith, etc, but if Jesus died for those who perish, then it’s not the death which keeps anybody from perishing. Note–I say
analogy here. I am not saying that all who do the dialectic on baptism are logically inherently Arminian on the atonement ( of course some, maybe even many are).

If water baptism is only “the outward act” to some, then it’s only the “outward act” to all. If the “outward” act has no efficacy for some, then it has no efficacy for anybody, and then the ‘efficacy” has to be found somewhere else besides in the water baptism. Two quick notes on this. One, Leithart and his associates don’t like it when you talk about external and internal aspects of baptism, or visible and invisible aspects of “church”–but I don’t know if he would criticize
or somehow accomodate Calvin’s use of the word “outward”.

Two, “the sign of itself” avails nothing. If Kobe Bryant and I together score 40 in a game, and Kobe scores 40 of them, I can say that “by myself” I did not score much, but does this mean that I then go on to talk about our “shared efficacy” when the coach never let me off the bench? Would it not be be more honest to say– it was not the water sign which had the efficacy? But to say that, one would need to agree that the word “baptism” does not involve water in texts like I Peter 3 and Romans 6 and Colossians 2. And if you do that, the
consensus (Moo, Beasley Murray, Silva, etc) seems to be that you’re agnostic and you might as well go back to being a Plymouth Brethren or some other kind of Zwinglian.

The “Reformed” guy writes that “this distinction is valuable because when baptism’s primary meaning is subjective, our attention is drawn to the state of our own hearts. But when baptism’s primary meaning is to point to the
promises, our attention is drawn to those promises and their author.

Notice the word “primary”. Primary meaning. He wants to keep some of the subjective, because he does not want to give the sign to just anybody and all, and also he does not want it to be only a condition but also some form of comfort and assurance for those being baptized. So how does he know when to talk about the “primary” objective meaning, and when to talk about the
subjective meaning?

I know the answer. It’s a situation ethic (a little like that old assurance trick– don’t just look to Christ, look to your life, and then, and now don’t just look to your life, look to Christ, and it’s not a trick, it’s maturity and balance, or so I am told) When he’s bashing credobaptists, he talks about “it’s not about the person”. But when he’s talking to federal visionists, he talks about “non-primary distinctions” between the outward and the inward etc.

Orthodox on the Gospel, But Still Hating Enemies?

September 27, 2012

Some of the most “orthodox on the gospel” folks I know are also the same folks who read Chronicles (if my people) as if it were talking about a covenant of works with America. And some of the folks who agree with me that Muslims don’t care if they are being killed for Christian reasons or secular ones, well, these folks have no clue about what the gospel is.  Here I am talking about quaker and mennonite and roman catholic pacifists. They don’t believe the gospel, they don’t know the gospel, but they do know we shouldn’t kill.

That is not only a disappointment to me, but a puzzle. People who have the same gospel have different politics, and people who have the same politics have different gospels. And I ask myself, how can they know so much about the grace of God and think the way they do about their enemies? And they ask themselves about me, how can he be so “conservative” when it comes to gospel doctrine, and still not see the right of America to do whatever it takes to protect Israel from the Muslims?

I could say there are different kinds of “conservative”. Neo-cons who want their version of ” economic liberalism” are not the same as Luther and Calvin when it comes to politics. But what I usually say is this–you can believe the gospel without wanting to “conserve” that which has come about with the passing of time..

Psalm 109 Be not silent, O God of my praise!
2 For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues.
3 They encircle me with words of hate,
and attack me without cause.
4 In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer.
5 So they reward me evil for good,
the enemy  6 “Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
8 May his days be few;
may another take his office!
9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow!
10 May his children wander about and beg,
seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11 May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
13 May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
15 Let them be before the Lord continually,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!
16 For he did not remember to show kindness,
but pursued the poor and needy
and the brokenhearted, to put them to death.
17 He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!
He did not delight in blessing; may blessing be far from him!
18 He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;
may curses soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones! 18 He wore cursing like his coat—let it enter his body like water

and go into his bones like oil.
19 Let it be like a robe he wraps around himself,
like a belt he always wears.”  (end of enemy’s speech)

20 Let this be the Lord’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil against me.

21 But You, Yahweh my Lord,
deal kindly with me because of Your name;
deliver me because of the goodness of Your faithful love.
22 For I am afflicted and needy;
my heart is wounded within me.
23 I fade away like a lengthening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak from fasting,
and my body is emaciated.[f]
25 I have become an object of ridicule to my accusers;[g]
when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn.

26 Help me, Lord my God;
save me according to Your faithful love
27 so they may know that this is Your hand
and that You, Lord, have done it.
When they rise up, they will be put to shame,
but Your servant will rejoice.
29 My accusers will be clothed with disgrace;
they will wear their shame like a cloak.
30 I will fervently thank the Lord with my mouth;
I will praise Him in the presence of many.
31 For He stands at the right hand of the needy
to save him from those who would condemn him.

When Christians attempt to act as God’s agents in holy war, they have confused  the American nation with a church. It is inconsistent with the new covenant law of Christ for citizens of the kingdom of heaven to kill for the sake of another kingdom. Those being killed might not even know they are being killed for “secular” (not “holy”) reasons.

We don’t drown you for your views on baptism but rather for your political sedition in sharing those views publicly and acting on them. The Magisterial Reformation praxis is not inherent in being Christian.

We don’t kill your for being Muslim. We kill you before you can kill us, because you would kill us simply because we are Christians. There is no other reason you could possibly have for killing us except that we are not Muslims.

Psalm 58:6 O God, break the teeth in their mouths;

tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!
7 Let them vanish like water that runs away;
when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.
8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime,
like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.
9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Assurance By Purgatory in This Life?

September 20, 2012

Certain puritan experimentalists (and quakers) move the “purgatory” into this life, before the first death. Max Weber called it a work-ethic to confirm to ourselves that we are elect.

The Persistence of Purgatory (Richard K Fenn) traces Western attitudes toward time back to the myth of Purgatory. As popular understandings of Purgatory became increasingly secularized, the lifespan of the individual became correspondingly purgatorial. No time could be wasted. Fenn demonstrates the impact of Purgatory on the preaching of Richard Baxter and William Channing, but he also argues that John Locke’s views can only be understood when placed within the context of a belief in Purgatory.

Roman Catholics like Sungenis will always talk about a “difference” between a paradigm with quid pro quo conditions and  the  “in the family now” paradigm with “mysterious conditions”. But I would shift the paradigm comparison to that between those who teach that Christians are imparted with the divine nature and thus enabled to meet “conditions in the covenant” and those who refuse any notion of “conditionality” except that which depends on Christ’s finished work.

Even though the revivalist family is not so strict as to demand perfection, it does keep asking its members to ask themselves— am I the fourth dirt in the parable, or one of the other three?

I am neither an Arminian nor a federal visionist, and I don’t believe that the justified elect lose their election, and therefore I don’t think that Christians have to do stuff to stay in (internally in?) the new covenant. Those “in the family” tend to let you by faith alone, or even without that if you are an infant, but then after a while, they will let you out the back door if your faith is still alone. In addition to faith, they ask—what have you done lately?

It’s like my wife saying to me—the wooing doesn’t stop now. Sure, I married you already but now I want to see the big house with the bird nests in the big back yard. I am not denying that a husband should do stuff for his wife. But I ask the revivalist– how much does a husband have to do in order to keep the wife! Is it always just a little bit more than what I have done already?

When I walked down that aisle 33 years ago, was I thinking— now that I am married, I don’t need to love her? It’s not strictly “quid pro quo” necessary? I need to love her, but it’s “mysteriously conditional?

Our works are not necessary to obtain God’s blessings. Romans 4:4—“To the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due”.

What I do for my wife is not like mortgage payments on a note which can never be burned. I am not like Jacob who had to work seven more years after he got in the family (and that after seven years already)

Married is married. What we do doesn’t keep us married.There is no cause-effect relationship between our works and some second final justification, because the elect are saved by Christ’s work. Christians share in what Christ has, not because of what they do but because they are still married to Christ.

The federal visionists warn us that the new covenant now expects more of us because we COULD now do more if you wanted to. Despite talk of the divine assistance available, the subtext is threatening and ominous– it’s not strict and perfect we want, but we shall wait and see what you do, and we will never say it specifically about you, but we will say in a general way–not enough recently, maybe out of the family now….

Sure it’s great that water baptism has united me to Christ but how am I to know that I will keep covenant from now on in (so let me die first before I do something which will put me out of the covenant, let me die sooner rather than later). This is what I mean by purgatory now, before the first death.

If the Sheep Can Turn Jesus Down, His Death is a Zero

September 19, 2012
  1. Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

    Many Neo-Calvinists will not talk about election when they are talking about Christ’s death and love. Instead they talk about “covenant conditionality”. They will only say, “if you put your life-long trust in Him,” and will not spell out the antithesis between sheep for whom Christ died and goats for whom Christ did not die.

    On the one hand, everyone in their congregation is spoken to as one of the “us” Christ loves. On the other hand, listeners are warned that the ultimate efficacy of Christ’s intention depends on God making us obedient “in the covenant family”

    At issue here is not only the extent of Christ’s love but the nature of Christ’s love. God’s love never goes unrequited. God does not love everybody, but everybody God loves also loves God back.  If God loved everybody, but stopped loving those who didn’t love back and only continued loving those who loved back, that would be a very different kind of love than the love God actually has for the elect.

    It does no good to say that God took the initiative in loving 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. If Christ’s love is only one step which then depends on our being enabled to make an adequate response, then Christ’s love amounts to zero.

    Galatians 2:20 does not say that the Son of God loved you and gave Himself for you. Nor does that 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 your obeying the law as the way you put your trust in Christ, then Christ’s love amounts to nothing and His death was for no purpose.

    In our relationships, we try to woo the lovely. We attempt to become lovely to those who are lovely to us. In the same way, the false gospel of Roman Catholicism depends on our becoming more lovely. But what good is a love for the unlovely which depends on our becoming lovely at some point? A love which CAN amount to nothing always DOES amount to nothing.

    If we think we can do one lovely thing to cause God’s imputation to happen, 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 haven’t really believed that God loves the unlovely.

    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.”  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. John 10 does not say, “If you put your trust in and believe.” John 10:26—”you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice.”

    But Neo-Calvinists don’t deny election. Sure, John 10:29 tells how “My Father has given them to me”. Doug Wilson and Leithart only ask us not to talk about election when we are talking about Christ’s covenant love and death..

Is Abrogation of the Law the Gospel? No, We Uphold the Law

September 10, 2012

Christ’s death is not obedience to the law. Christ’s death is satisfaction to the law. Christ’s death is not abrogation of the law .

Jeremiah 23: 6 This is what He will be named: The Lord Our Righteousness.

Jeremiah 33:16 Judah will be saved and this is what she will be named: the Lord Our Righteousness

Romans 3: 25–This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles
also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”

The law is not the gospel. The gospel is not the law. The gospel, however,  IS ABOUT THE SATISFACTION OF GOD’S LAW.. Though law and gospel are not the same thing, they are not opposed because they never claim to have the same function.

Law says what God demands. Gospel says how Christ by his Death (one act of righteousness) satisfied that demand for the elect. The law never offered life off probation:. only one sin would put Adam and his seed under its curse, and no matter how many acts of obedience to the law, the law could never promise everlasting life.

The antithesis does NOT understand Romans 10:4 in terms of abrogation. The “end of the law” is Christ’s death. Romans 6: 7 a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, WILL NOT DIE AGAIN. Death NO LONGER rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin ONCE for all time. There is no remainder left for the Spirit enabled Christian to do. The gospel says DONE. The gospel does not say “to be done by the life of Christ in the elect”.  But neither does the gospel say– “no  need for Christ to have ever satisfied the law by his death.”

teele and Thomas, Romans: an interpretative outline: “In order to free believers from the guilt or condemnation of sinChrist gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin, and thereby legally put sin away and thus freed His people from its guilt. As a result of Christ’s sacrificial work, the just requirement (demand) of the law has been fulfilled (fully met) in those who are joined to His death.”

Charles Hodge—-“Romans 8:3 refers to the sacrificial death of Christ and to the condemnation of sin in Him as the sinners’ substitute, and Romans 8:4 refers to justification by Christ’s death in satisfaction of the law.”

Tom Nettles, By His Grace and For His glory—-The idea of an offer based on infinite sufficiency for all sinners involves a shift in the understanding of the sacrificial death. Although Jesus’ death is spoken of as His 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 notion of sufficiency for the non-elect arises, the emphasis shifts from the Son’s death to what Christ actively accomplished

Lee Irons—The obedience of Christ cannot be reduced to the perfect life of Christ, as if it excluded his death. For Christ’s death, Paul teaches in Romans 5:18, was “the one act of righteousness” antithetically parallel to the one transgression of Adam. As he says in Philippians 2:8, Christ was “obedient unto death.”

Many people tend to think that when the Father sent the Son to die on the cross to forgive sins, he was in some sense “breaking the law.” Like, because of Jesus, God is letting our law-breaking somehow slide. The god preached in this kind of scenario can only forgive sins by in some way compromising his holiness. In other words, God sort of tips the scales towards his mercy and away from his righteousness— bending the rules. God sacrifices one part of his self (holiness) in order that we might take advantage of another (love).

But the true God has declared that he will by no means clear the guilty So God instead makes guilty people righteous! But to do this in a way that is just, God must make a righteous person guilty. And he accomplishes this, the Bible reveals, by punishing our sin by punishing his son Jesus. In this way, all sin is accounted for. Whether by the second death of the non-elect or by the wrath of the cross, every single sin is accounted for. It wouldn’t be very loving at all for God to have broken his own laws to save us. An atonement made by a law not perfectly satisfied is no atonement at all. If God broke his law to save me, I am not saved.

Christians sin, and therefore their “fulfillment of the law” (see for example, Romans 13) cannot ever satisfy the law. But the law will not go unsatisfied. There is no antinomian bypass around the law.

The law, once satisfied by Christ’s death, now demands the salvation of all the elect, for whom the law was satisfied. God the Father would not be just, and God the Son would not be glorified, if the distribution of the justly earned benefits were now conditioned on the imperfect faith of sinners. Yes, faith is necessary for the elect, but even this faith is a gift earned by the righteousness of God in Christ’s work.

This is how the law/gospel antithesis explains Romans 3:31 (no, we uphold the law). The law is not nullified but honored by Christ. The only way that its requirements will ever be fully satisfied in the elect (Romans 8:4) is by the imputation of what Christ’s death

If the law were the gospel, even saying that there’s law (in the garden and now) would be “legalism”. But God is a legalist against legalism. God has told us that the law is not the gospel and that it never was the gospel. Romans 11:5—“So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is not on the basis of works; otherwise grace would not be grace.”

The legalist identifies law and gospel, and then reduces the demand to including what the Spirit does in the elect. But what God does in us (by grace) must be excluded from the righteousness, because Christ’s righteousness is Christ’s death as
satisfaction of God’s law.

The comparison between Adam and Christ is that the guilt of Adam’s one act of disobedience is imputed to the elect and that the righteousness of Christ’s one act of obedience is imputed to the elect. Adam and Christ were NOT born under the same law. Christ was born under the Mosaic law, but Adam was not. Christ came to die to win immortality for the elect. Adam was threatened with death for disobedience, but was never promised immortality no matter what he would ever do.

The elect who have been justified have died to law when they are placed into the death of Christ, a death to law because of law. If on top of the death taking away sins, Christ’s law obedience also needs to be imputed, then isn’t this saying instead by the death the elect are brought to a new life under law, which then needs to be vicariously kept by Christ?

The guilt of the elect imputed by God to Christ is not the same as the guilt of Adam imputed by God to all humans, but the nature of the imputation of guilt is the same in both cases. We must teach an external (judicial) imputation. The most basic solution to all our problems is not a regeneration of our insides (though that is necessary for other reasons, for example, so that we hear and believe the gospel), because the most basic problem we have is that apart from the the death of Christ, God counts everyone’s sins against them.

Emphasis on the external and forensic must have priority when we consider II Corinthians 5:21. “Become the righteousness of God in Christ” is about having an external righteousness imputed to us. Because that is so, the “made sin” of the first part of the verse must be seen as about external guilt being imputed to Christ.

In other words, if the first part (made sin) is about some “inner corruption”, then 1. that says that Christ needed to be born again. God forbid! but 2. it would say that our righteousness is something found in us, or something in our faith, or something in Christ indwelling us.. The gospel is first of all about LOOKING to Christ outside us..

This is not denying that regeneration is important, but it’s saying that the miracle of the new birth a result of God’s legal imputation. Romans 8: 3 For God HAS DONE what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.

This doesn’t mean that Christ’s obedience to the law prior to His death is of no consequence. II Corinthians 5:21 explains that “he made him to be sin who knew no sin” . This assumes that Christ kept the law before His legally being put under the law for the sins of the elect imputed to Him. Even before His death, Christ “knew no sin”. So that’s not unimportant. But the penal satisfaction for the elect comes by Christ’s death which is what satisfies God’s law.

If you Don’t Agree that Mormons are already Saved

September 10, 2012

a new Calvinist: But again, people are not consistent. Consider an Amyraldian, someone who believes that people are totally depraved, God elects some before the foundation of the world, God effectually calls those dead in their sins, and God causes those whom he calls to persevere. Oh, and Christ died for all men. Is this consistent? No. Is it compatible with believing in Christ alone for salvation? I’m pretty sure it is.

mark:  My point here is not a historical investigation of which old Calvinists said what about 4 pointers. I can find some very tolerant stuff in Machen, Warfield, and Smeaton, but I am not all that interested now (or ever)  in figuring out which old Calvinists did “the antithesis” and which ones denied that Amyraldianism was heresy.

My interest in how these  Calvinists” can be “pretty sure” that themselves are being consistent when they assure us that people who teach that Christ died for everyone are nevertheless teaching the gospel.

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?

3. Does God ever impute the sins of the elect to Christ?

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 ever teach 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 with the second death.

The Amyrauldian message makes the important taking away of sins to be something other than the punishment of Christ. It insists that Christ was punished for everybody. The Amyrauldian message makes the real reconciliation to be the Spirit Christ purchased giving people a new nature and then faith to believe, even if they then happen to believe a message that says Christ died for every sinner.

If we jump ahead to that Christ has bought for “believers” (Mormon believers, Roman Catholic believers, unitarian believers, Muslim believers, what degree of heresy leaves you less than pretty sure?), even including their believing, without telling it straight about the punishment of Christ specifically for the sins of the elect, then we can easily tolerate a “gospel” which has no election .

“Inbetween Calvinists” relegate the idea of election to a family secret which only explains how you believed (not what you believed).

Since I became a Mormon, I stopped doing drugs and that proves that I really believe it, and now I am finding out that God elected me to believe it and the Holy Spirit effectually called me by the somewhat inconsistent truths found in Mormonism. And the Holy Spirit will keep me persevering in Mormonism. Perhaps in time I will become a less consistent Mormon, but I would go very very slow on telling me anything about election or the imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ, because that kind of talk might just make me a more consistent Mormon. And I can tell you right now that if you don’t agree with me that I am already a Christian, your talk about election is not going to be viewed by me as being gracious or about grace.

But we were not talking about Mormonism but about Amyrauldianism. 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 so that a general punishment will then be effective for them, then the punishment of Christ is not ultimately what takes sins away.

Does God save sinners apart from the gospel?

Which part of Arminianism is the gospel?

If you are four parts correct, and simply also deny that Christ’s death is what actually saves any sinner,  is that the gospel?

What “degree of inconsistency” can you find in the middle between “Christ died for everyone but not everyone is saved” and the truth that “all for whom Christ died will be saved by Christ”? What’s in-between the two alternatives?

Killed Because of His Doctrine

September 9, 2012

Doctrines as Reasons for Joy

there’s this person who did a work
and before you know if that work was for you,
you must know and agree with the doctrine
of what He did

if you don’t know what the person did,
you know neither the person
nor if that person
did anything for you

commitment to the imperative
to know the person cannot come
before we know the indicative
of what he got done

since we are children of Abraham
remember that Abraham knew what the seed had to do
Abraham knew that he himself was not going
to bring in the righteousness

one result of election
is submission to the doctrine of righteousness
obtained by Christ for the elect alone
and then imputed by God

the test of the exodus out of the false gospel
is not our testimony that
“we know the person”
the same one the crowd knows

we are not called to a tragic imperative
“to know the person” without knowing which person
the sheep don’t follow the wrong
person taught in the wrong doctrine

i still want to know,
how did a nice man like Jesus
get himself killed
if it was not the offense of his doctrine?

yes, it’s fact He died
but there are many possible options
to explain that fact,
and these doctrines divide

they hated His doctrine
so much they wanted Him dead
but that was a long time ago
and now the person is in all our hearts

and now there is so much more immorality
let’s worry about that
and not be so anxious about
Him being king of our doctrine

you say you merely gather
around a person
you give reasons
why your doctrines are not doctrines
and you thank your god you are not
like those doctrine persons

with great reasons
Jesus the person
faced the Father’s silence
with great tears

for this I was born
it’s the reason I came
to satisfy Our demand
for righteousness

that death because of
Christ’s doctrine
that there will be no justifying
which is not just

we have reasons for our joy
and these doctrines cause us to
judge by the gospel
Christ and Him crucified