On Gospel Motives, and Not Being Born Christians

If you were operating out of legal fear instead of gospel motives, how then do you know you were justified all along?”

How do I know I am elect and now justified? Because I believe the gospel. Did my believing the gospel cause justification to happen? No! Did God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness result in me believing the gospel? Yes.

Even those who were born Jewish were not born converted. So what shall we think about those who testify that ” I was born justified, or I was justified but did not know the gospel”, or “I believe it now but I don’t repent of what I believed then” or saying that “I know that I believed the gospel then even though all that time I was operating out of legal fear”?

Was Peter as a disciple s operating out of legal fear?. Maybe he was and maybe he was not. Well, you could say, Peter sure got bad results, since he ended up betraying the Lord three times. That’s why he messed up so bad, because of his legal fears.

But we all still sin. We are still all getting bad results. The justified elect are still habitual sinners. They are still not doing so well in terms of morality, when they are measured by God’s standard.

The gospel is NOT that you are elect (or that I am). NOT: that God loves you (or me). But: God loves as many as are believing the gospel of Christ’s effectual death for the elect.

The gospel can’t tell you that you are elect until you are believing it already. If you confess yourselves as still being motivated by legal fear, then exactly how has the gospel made you to submit to the Lord and His doctrine?

Either God is pleased with you or not. How do you know? Are you believing the gospel? You need to know this before you try to please God. You can’t please God with what you do if you are not already introduced and accepted to God in Christ..

The legal fear of God is for people who are not born justified and who are not yet Christians. Christians need not and should not be threatened with destruction. When a person is operating out of legal fear, that person may have a very dutiful prayer and Bible reading life, but it’s all an abomination to God, dead works coming from a dead person.

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD
That which is highly esteemed among humans is abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15

Romans 6:20,21–”when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed. The end of those thing is death”

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7 Comments on “On Gospel Motives, and Not Being Born Christians”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    This all or nothing—no inbetween— “dead or alive” fundamentalism.

    Luke 16:15— That which is highly esteemed among humans is abomination in the sight of God.

    Hebrews 6:1– “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from DEAD WORKS, and of faith toward God”

    Hebrews 9:14–”How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from DEAD WORKS to serve the living God?”


  2. markmcculley Says:

    Any idea that we cause Christ to become our substitute because God make us believers…is self-righteousness. God makes the elect to become believers because the elect died in union with Christ, so that His death is their death. But most Calvinists write with the following assumption: “through faith, sinners like you and me are brought into union with Christ SO THAT our sins are credited to him.”

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Grace is not for the nice people who are living right. Grace is not what causes us to live right. None of us lives right yet. Grace is not useful the way parents and politicians want it to be. For freedom Christ has made us free. We don’t have to have Jesus “warm up our hearts more” .. Romans 6 says we don’t even have to sin to get more grace. Romans 5—we stand in grace. What are we going to do, now that we know that our doing is not what causes God to bless us

  4. markmcculley Says:

    George Eliot describing a preacher resigned to the status quo. To me she sounds more than a little like Mencken


    Let him be ardent and imaginative on the coming advent of Christ, but cold and cautious toward every other infringement of the status quo. Let him be hard and literal in his interpretation only when he wants to hurl texts at the heads of unbelievers and adversaries, but when the letter of the Scriptures presses too closely on the genteel Christianity of the nineteenth century, let him use his spiritualizing alembic and disperse it into impalpable ether.

    Let him set up as an interpreter of prophecy, and rival Moore’s Almanack in the prediction of political events, tickling the interest of hearers who are but moderately spiritual by showing how they may have their Christian graces nourished by learning precisely to whom they may point as the “horn that had eyes,” “the lying prophet,” and the “unclean spirits.”

    In this way he may gain a metropolitan pulpit; the avenues to his church will be as crowded as the passages to the opera; he has but to print his prophetic sermons and bind them in lilac and gold, and they will adorn the drawing-room table of all evangelical ladies, who will regard as a sort of pious “light reading” the demonstration that the prophecy of the locusts whose sting is in their tail, is fulfilled in the fact of the Turkish commander’s having taken a horse’s tail for his standard, and that the French are the very frogs predicted in Revelation.

    Pleasant to the clerical flesh under such circumstances is the arrival of Sunday! Somewhat at a disadvantage during the week, in the presence of working-day interests , on Sunday the preacher becomes the cynosure of a thousand eyes, and predominates at once over those with whom he dines.He has an immense advantage over all other public speakers. The platform orator is subject to the criticism of hisses and groans. Counsel for the plaintiff expects the retort of counsel for the defendant. The honorable gentleman on one side of the House is liable to have his facts and figures shown up by his honorable friend on the opposite side. Even the scientific or literary lecturer, if he is dull or incompetent, may see the best part of his audience quietly slip out one by one. But the preacher is completely master of the situation: no one may hiss, no one may depart.

    Like the writer of imaginary conversations, he may put what imbecilities he pleases into the mouths of his antagonists, and swell with triumph when he has refuted them. He may riot in gratuitous assertions, confident that no man will contradict him; he may invent illustrative experience; he may give an evangelical edition of history with the inconvenient facts omitted:–all this he may do with impunity, certain that those of his hearers who are not sympathizing are not listening.

    For the Press has no band of critics who go the round of the churches and chapels, and are on the watch for a slip or defect in the preacher, to make a “feature” in their article: the clergy are, practically, the most irresponsible of all talkers.

    The great majority of his published sermons are occupied with the political interpretation of prophecy, and the criticism of public events; and the spiritual and practical exhortation, is tacked to them as a sort of fringe in a hurried sentence or two at the end. He is copious on the downfall of the Ottoman empire

    George Eliot—He has much of that literary talent which makes a good journalist–the power of beating out an idea over a large space. His writings have, indeed, no high merit. We feel ourselves in company with a voluble retail talker, whose language is exuberant but not exact, and to whom we should never think of referring for precise information or for well-digested thought. ”

    Theodore D. Bozeman, “Inductive and Deductive Polities”, Journal of American History, December 1977, p 722–Materially comfortable, the old school carried forward traditional Calvinist support for business and professional vocations. Having supported from the beginning a version of Protestantism supportive of property, the Old School leadership had incentive enough for worry about social instability… Old School contributions to social analysis may be viewed as a sustained attempt to defend the inherited social structure…The General Assembly found it necessary to lament the practice of those who ‘question and unsettle practice which have received the enlightened sanction of centuries’… Social naturalists assumed that the laws of society were not merely true, that is, given in the scheme of nature. They bore too the humbling force of prescription; they demanded compliance. The desire was to draw the ought out of the is…to make facts serve a normative purpose.”


    • markmcculley Says:

      Mencken—I daresay the extent of the bigotry prevailing in America, as it has been revealed by the campaign, has astounded a great many Americans, and perhaps even made them doubt the testimony of their own eyes and ears. This surprise is not in itself surprising, for Americans of one class seldom know anything about Americans of other classes. What the average native yokel believes about the average city man is probably nine-tenths untrue, and what the average city man believes about the average yokel is almost as inaccurate.

      A good part of this ignorance is probably due to the powerful effect of shibboleths. Every American is taught in school that all Americans are free, and so he goes on believing it his whole life — overlooking the plain fact that no Negro is really free in the South, and no miner in Pennsylvania, and no radical in any of the dozen great States. He hears of equality before the law, and he accepts it as a reality, though it exists nowhere, and there are Federal laws which formally repudiate it. In the same way he is taught that religious toleration prevails among us, and uncritically swallows the lie. No such thing really exists. No such thing has ever existed.

      This campaign has amply demonstrated the fact. It has brought bigotry out into the open, and revealed its true proportions. It has made it plain that this theology is not merely a harmless aberration of the misinformed, like spiritualism, chiropractic of Christian Science, but the foundation of a peculiar way of life, bellicose, domineering, brutal and malignant — in brief, the complete antithesis of any recognizable form of Christianity. And it has shown, finally, that this compound of superstition and hatred has enough steam behind it to make one of the candidates for the Presidency knuckle to it and turn it upon his opponent — basely to be sure, but probably wisely. (“The Eve of Armageddon,” Nov. 5, 1928) https://oldlife.org/2016/09/12/mencken-day-2016

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Cary, Good News for Anxious Christians, p 84–” We need to love our neighbors, not our motivations. So it would be perverse to wonder whether you had the wrong motivation for seeking their good. If what you’re trying to accomplish really is good for your neighbor, then that’s good enough. For Christian love is about the good of your neighbor, not how good your heart is.

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