Archive for December 2013

“All You Have to Do is Accept It”, but there is no Substitute to Receive It For You?

December 22, 2013

Matthew 1: 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Alec Motyer, p 251, From Heaven He Came—Isaiah’s “Behold, my servant shall succeed” matches the great cry, “It is finished (John 19:30) and forces us to ask what “finished” means in John and what “succeed” means in Isaiah. On any “open-ended” view of the atonement–that is, that the work of Christ only made salvation possible rather than actually secured salvation–“finished” only means “started” and “succeed” only means “maybe, contingent on God contributing something else “in” the sinner

Isaiah 53: when his blood/life makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his blood/life to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Clergy who condition salvation on the sinner talk out of both sides of their mouths. First, “all you have to do is receive it”. But and However, then “receiving it will cost you everything for the rest of your life.”. First, there was “for you a substitute”. But and However, there is “no substitute to receive it for you” and His substitution won’t work without your receiving and accepting it. God is “open in order for us to be open to God.”

Yes, it’s true that nobody is justified before they believe the gospel. But the question we need to face is—WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? Jesus Christ, not every year, not every week, but one time, for all time, once in history was a substitute but only for “his people”. “His people” are the elect,those whom the Father gave the Son to die for. All “his people” will come to believe the true gospel and be justified. The death of Christ as a substitute for His people not only puts away their sins but legally guarantees that these elect won’t need a substitute to believe the true gospel for them, makes sure that these elect themselves believe the true gospel.

Philippians 1: 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

Romans 5:11 “We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the atonement.”

Many today teach that the only reconciliation which really matters is our “receiving which applies again today ” Christ’s death. They teach that Christ died as a substitute for many who will not believe the gospel and who will perish.

It’s one thing to say that Christ’s death is good news, and another to say WHY Christ’s death is good news. Christ’s death saves not only because of God’s sovereign will but also because of God’s justice.

The difference between the “but it’s on you to receive it” folks and those who teach that many do not believe because they are not Christ’s sheep (John 10) is NOT about the need of the Spirit’s work or faith in the gospel. Those who believe the true gospel do not disagree about justification being through faith. We do NOT teach that the elect are free from condemnation before being “baptized into Christ”. We do deny that either water or the Holy Spirit “baptizes” us INTO Christ. Legal identification into Christ is by God’s imputation.

Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too will walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like His.

Our resurrection is both like and unlike Christ’s resurrection. Our resurrection is unlike His in that we still have a future resurrection to come. But our resurrection is like His because His one resurrection counts legally as our resurrection when God places us into Christ and His resurrection.

Our death is both like and unlike Christ’s death. His death is unlike ours because His death was because of the imputation of our sins to Him. Our death is unlike His death because our death is His death. We die in the sense that His death is legally transferred to us. Christ died without remorse or repentance and only because of our sins. And the only way we are already dead now, before we die our own deaths, is when God counts Christ’s death for us legally.

“We have been united with Christ in a death like His” Even though there was a transfer going both ways, the death of Christ is the only death that ultimately matters. Even though Christ died only because of our sins, and even though we died only because He died, that one death counts for all who have come to believe the true gospel.

The elect are not justified as soon as Christ bore their sins. Romans 6 teaches us that the elect must be placed into Christ’s death. Until the elect are “baptized” into Christ’s death, they remain under the wrath of God.

Some accuse us of thinking there is no need for faith. They claim that it is not logical for us to teach such a need for faith. If the substitution has already been made, then all for whom it was made should logically already be justified. If the righteousness has already been obtained, then all for whom it was earned should logically already be justified by it.

We do NOT teach justification apart from faith. Neither do we teach that faith is a mere recognition that we were already justified.

What is it that those who make the accusations are teaching about Christ’s death? Even though clergy like Andrew Fuller agree that Christ died to gain faith for the elect, even though they agree that even our receiving is God’s gift aloe, but they make this purchase of faith to be the only thing that is limited about Christ’s death The “but some don’t receive it ” folks do not want to teach that Christ’s substitution under God’s wrath was limited only to the sins of the elect. They can correctly say that they teach “limited atonement” but they do NOT teach that Christ’s propitiation for sins was limited to “His people”

Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

If You Don’t Duck Under Their Campbellite Water, Then Maybe You Won’t Inherit???

December 21, 2013

I Corinthians 6: Do you dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Romans 6: 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too would walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death LIKE his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection LIKEW his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin would be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been justified from sin. John Murray comments: “The death of Christ is not a process and neither is our conformity to His death a process. We are in the condition of having become conformed to His death.” p 218, commentary on Romans

Acts 2:38 is the favorite prooftexxt for those who believe that water baptism is literally “in order to” the legal remission of sins, and that water baptism is an essential ingredient of salvation. In what sense can water baptism remit sins? I Peter 3:20 In the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Water Baptism is like the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, which did not really or literally atone for sin but were representations of Jesus Christ who would eventually come into the world and actually atone for sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Hebrews 10:1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Hebrews 10: 19 Therefore, brothers,[c] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Christ said, “This IS my body” when He took the bread. When He took the cup, He said, “This IS my blood.” Christ’s literal body was His fleshly body, and not the bread itself, nor the breaking of that bread, nor the body of His disciples with him. His human blood was still circulating in His human body, and was not the liquid in the cup.

Since it is not possible for an external ordinance to do an internal work or an invisible declaration (imputation) or to render real satisfaction (atonement) to the broken Law of God , water baptism cannot do these things. Water can only represent the remission of sins by the death of Christ (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22, 26, 28). Christ put away sins by the sacrifice of Himself. Water baptism no more remits sins than the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament.

Ephesians 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

The serious legalist concludes from the above
1. The wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience, and we know who they are because they continue to sin, and even on purpose.
2. In reality it makes no sense that God is going to punish the condemned non-elect for these sins and not also punish the justified elect for the same specific sins.
3. Therefore, the serious legalist concludes that the justified elect don’t commit these sins, or at least not for long, and never on purpose.

I thank God for another gospel, one in which Christ’s life in justified sinners gives us assurance that sin shall not be our master, because we are not under law but under grace. This true gospel teaches us to fear God and God’s law, because we know that not even Christ in us causes us to satisfy God’s law and we trust in the death of Christ as that which answers the demands of God’s holy law.

Those who are without Christ are under the wrath of God for the very same sins which we who are justified before God continue to commit. Our hope is not that we are no longer coveting idolaters, but that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Why Didn’t you Give the Little Baby Jesus a Bed in Your House?

December 12, 2013

Many sentimental religious songs have those who sing them confess themselves as “maggots” for having put Christ on the cross. But I question this theology. First, if we all put Christ on the cross, then Christ died for all sinners, and that is the false gospel, which teaches that Christ’s death is not enough to save all for whom He died.

Second, nobody but God has the ultimate power to put Christ on the cross. If we all are supposed to feel bad about crucifying Christ, is God the Trinity also to “feel sorry” about it? May it never be! Acts 2:23-24, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

The Bible teaches that God’s sovereignty does not eliminate the accountability of sinners. Certain specific lawless men killed Christ. But also, God gave Christ up to die for the sins of the elect alone. God and not man determined for whom Christ would die. Both the creation and the incarnation was means for Christ’s death of Atonement.

God’ sovereign plan does not eliminate the accountability of “the lawless men”, or of the “you” Peter is addressing in Acts 2. Specific humans two thousand years ago purposed that Christ would die. This means that not all humans purposed that Christ would die. His mother Mary, for example, did not kill or intend to kill Christ.

We did not ourselves put Christ on the cross. Nor are we the ones who impute our sins to Christ. We do not get to decide when and if we put our sins on Christ. We do not get the opportunity to contribute our sins so that then Christ contributes His righteousness. Neither election nor non-election is conditioned on our sins. It might sound heroic of us to say that damnation is all our fault, but that tends to be one of the ways that we also get to say that our salvation was conditioned on our contribution.

Although believers are commanded to reckon what God has already reckoned, we can never be the original reckoners.. Yes, those specific lawless men were guilty of what they did, But the cross is not what condemns. The cross is about the gospel, and the gospel is not the law,

Even though the gospel is Good news for the elect, the gospel is not what condemns the non-elect. Rejecting the cross is not what condemns the non-elect, because they are all already condemned in Adam .

The false gospel which says that Jesus Christ died for every sinner is neither true nor good news.. The false gospel limits the judicial effects of a supposedly universal death into even more guilt for those who don’t satisfy the new conditions (faith, obedience, perseverance) which supposedly make that death effective.

Alec Motyer, “Stricken for the Transgression of My People”

December 11, 2013

Isaiah 53 yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

verse 4, we thought x
verse 6, we were correct or we were wrong?

p 261, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, Crossway, 2013, ed Gibson and Gibson

Alec Motyer—Verse 6 is a corrective to the misinterpretation of verse 4. Personal conversion has taken place, yet nothing is said about hearing and responding to the truth. There is no reference to personal decision, commitment or faith. It is the secret history of every conversion, the real story of “you did not choose me but I chose you”. It is also the death knell to any open-ended understanding of the atonement which seeks to posit a disjunction between redemption accomplished and applied.

Could any whose iniquities the Lord laid on His Servant fail to be saved? Could that laying-on prove ineffectual? Were any iniquities laid on the Servant save with the divine purpose of eternal salvation? The “we” of these crucial verses were locked into a failure to grasp what the Servant was all about, but our iniquities were laid by Yahweh on His Servant, and THIS is what led to our “seeing”. The atonement itself, and not something outside the atonement, is the cause for any conversion.

The Lord Himself is at work. he is the Agent behind the bruising (verse 10) and the Guarantor and Apportioner of the results (verse 12), by making sure that the Servant is rewarded as he deserves. The Servant’s reward arises not from His righteousness, nor even from His shocking suffering, but solely from His sin-bearing death. His death, that and nothing else, ensures the results of redemption applied.

The Servant is not just the Procurer of the results of His death. He is also the adminstrater of the results of His death. The Servant is not like others who died, but lives to administer the atonement he accomplished by His death. The Servant is not engaged in further self-offering. He is administering the fruits of a past historical act.

Isaiah’s “Behold, my servant shall succeed” matches the great cry, “It is finished (John 19:30) and forces us to ask what “finished” means in John and what “succeed” means in Isaiah. On any “open-ended” view of the atonement–that is, that the work of Christ only made salvation possible rather than actually secured salvation–“finished” only means “started” and “succeed” only means “maybe, contingent” on God contributing something else in the sinner