“Reformed” Versions of the False Gospel–None are Justified who Do Not Yet Believe the True Gospel

Faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus is not the cause or condition of justification. I have read discussions about distinctions between conditions, where it is explained that faith is an “instrumental” condition. However a mainline term that may be, I don’t agree with that explanation of faith.

My problem is not that the traditional “instrumental” language can be misunderstood. Any explanation of faith’s necessity that I give can also be misunderstood. And I do believe that faith in the true gospel (which includes “for the elect alone”) is necessary evidence that a person has passed from a state of condemnation to a state of justification. All who are gospel believers are justified, none are justified who are not gospel believers. None are born again who are not gospel believers, none are justified who are not born again

This faith in the true gospel is not a knowledge that a person has been justified all along, or assurance that a person has been justified from the time of the cross or before a person was born. This faith in the gospel, which includes understanding of the gospel, is the result of being born again, which is the result of being imputed by God with the merits of Christ’s death. God’s legal imputation, the Holy Spirit’s work in us, our faith, God’s declaration that we are justified—all these blessings happen at the same time, and not from before the ages began (also not at the same time when Christ died and rose)

In the false gospel which tells all sinners that Christ died for them, faith is misunderstood as making the difference between saved and lost. Even in cases where the fine print tells you that this making-the- difference faith is a result of predestination and regeneration, the credit for salvation does not go to Christ. The credit may go to the Holy Spirit or to predestination, but it cannot go to Christ, if Christ died for all sinners but only some sinners are saved.

In the fine print, in “Reformed” versions of the false gospel, glory may go to God for predestinating the Holy Spirit to give us faith. But in “Reformed” versions of the false gospel it is no longer Christ’s death which saves, if it is taught that Christ died for all sinners, but that some of these sinners are lost. Though they may talk of Scripture alone, the “Reformed” false teachers end up with a canon within a canon, where what the Scripture says about the elect in Christ and therefore being elect in His death becomes segregated out from the gospel and thus unspoken and denied.

Instead of saying that Christ died only for the elect and not for the non-elect, “Reformed” versions of the false gospel leave out the word election and say that Christ died only for believers. But this is teaching that it is faith which makes the ultimate difference and not Christ.

If they want to keep the “thoroughly reformed” happy, “Reformed” versions of the false gospel sometimes say that Christ died for his “covenant” people, but then later they will make it clear that this “covenant” is conditional and that “his people” are the believers, so these “Reformed” versions of the false gospel still bring everything back to our believing.

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2 Comments on ““Reformed” Versions of the False Gospel–None are Justified who Do Not Yet Believe the True Gospel”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    D.M. Lloyd-Jones from “The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors”:

    “At this point I would make a comment, and put it in the form of a question. Is there not a real danger of our becoming guilty of a very subtle form of Arminianism if we maintain that correct doctrine and understanding are essential to our being used by the Spirit of God? It is sheer Arminianism to insist upon a true and correct understanding as being essential.

    The case of the young Harris disproves this. For eighteen months he was used in this mighty manner while still not merely confused, but actually wrong in his doctrine. The same, of course, is true in the case of John Wesley. I remember speaking once in the Anniversary at the Central Hall, Westminster.

    I said that John Wesley was to me the greatest proof of Calvinism. Why? Because in spite of his faulty thinking he was greatly used of God to preach the gospel and to convert souls! That is the ultimate proof of Calvinism – predestination and election. It certainly comes out quite clearly in the case of the young Howell Harris.”

    “I would sum up this section like this. One of the greatest proofs of the truth of the doctrines emphasized by Calvin, what is known as ‘Calvinism’ – though I have already said I do not like these terms – is John Wesley. He was a man who was saved in spite of his muddled and erroneous thinking. The grace of God saved him in spite of himself. That is Calvinist! If you say, as a Calvinist, that a man is saved by his understanding of doctrine you are denying Calvinism. He is not. We are all saved in spite of what we are in every respect. Thus it comes to pass that men who can be so muddled, because they bring in their own human reason, as John Wesley and others did, are saved men and Christians, as all of us are, because it is ‘all of the grace of God’ and in spite of us.”

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Horton: To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? If faith is the only way into membership (693), then why all the warnings to members of the covenant community to exercise faith and persevere in faith to the end?
    God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. Yet they must embrace the promise in faith. Otherwise, they fall under the covenant curse without Christ as their mediator. The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ

    Engelsma: Horton affirms that God promises saving grace in Christ to every baptized baby. For a Reformed theologian, it is the same as to affirm that God promised saving grace to Esau in his circumcision. This affirmation implies that God failed to keep His promise. His promise failed. Grace is resistible, inefficacious, and impotent. The reason, they will say, is the unbelief of Esau. Whatever the reason, grace does not realize itself in one to whom God is gracious. Regardless of the reason for grace’s impotence, the teaching is heretical.
    If God promises saving grace to both Esau and Jacob, as Horton affirms, but the promise fails because of Esau’s unbelief, then the conclusion necessarily follows that grace succeeded in the case of Jacob, not because of the inherent, sovereign power of grace itself, that is, because of God, but because of Jacob’s acceptance of grace


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