Archive for May 2015

Andrew Fuller, Mark Jones, and “Sin against Grace”

May 6, 2015

Andrew Fuller responded to the challenge from Dan Taylor, a General Baptist, in a book entitled Reply to Philanthropos, published in 1787. Fuller, in an 1803 letter to John Ryland Jr., recounted the impact that Taylor’s argument had on him. “I freely own that my views of particular redemption were altered by my engaging in that controversy.”

Andrew Fuller had sought to answer Taylor “without considering the sufficiency of the atonement in itself considered” as a sufficient ground for universal gospel invitations, but Fuller came to the conclusion that he could not. Andrew Fuller began make preaching to everybody depend on the sufficiency of grace for everybody. Instead of asking, can I accept if Jesus did not die for me, Andrew Fuller asked, can I accept if God does not give me the ability and will to accept?

In his attempt to say that lost people are lost only because of themselves, Andrew Fuller taught a common prevenient ability to believe (his false gospel). Fuller claimed that all sinners are given the “moral ability” to accept “union with Christ”.

In our post-Barth/Torrance world, it is more and more common to think of all sin as sin against grace. This tends to remove the antithesis between law and grace . We are given the guilt trip of “you killed Jesus attempting to love you and offering to save you”

Only Christians sin against grace. I have no problem saying that chastisement is Fatherly grace, but I question a Deuteronomic providential correlation between our sins against grace and our chastisements. When a Christian sins against grace, that Christian is still sinning against law.

William Lane Craig, In Pinnock, the Grace of god and the Will of Man, p 157—-“God desires and has given sufficient grace for all people to be saved. If some believe and others do not, it is not because some received prevenient grace and some did not. The efficacy of God’s grace is UP TO US, because every person is moved by God in a measure sufficient for salvation.”

It does not matter if you believe in original sin, if you also believe in “common grace”

Wesley, Working Out Our Own Salvation—“Allowing that all persons are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing that there is no man in a state of nature only. There is no man, unless he has quenched the Holy Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace he has.”

For advocates of universal grace, God did accomplish all that he intended. But God did not intend to effectually to redeem anyone. God simply intended to provide “grace” for everyone. And in this, they claim, God was perfectly successful, even if all sinners were to fail to use the “prevenient grace”. The law itself was grace. The threat of death to Adam was grace. There was enough “grace” so that Adam “could have” not sinned. And they teach that there is “enough grace” now for every sinner.

In Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement, John Hammet writes —”By Christ dying for all sinners, God treats all sinners fairly. But for the sinners for whom God has a second purpose, God is more than fair. God is fair to all but does not give to all equally, because for some sinners Christ dies to give them the Holy Spirit, and this is more than fair but never less than fair.

RC Sproul in his book on the Holiness of God (p 111) writes: “Mercy is not justice, but also is not injustice. We may see non-justice in God, which is mercy, but we never see injustice in God.” I appreciate Sproul’s distinction between law and gospel, between justice and mercy. But I disagree with Sproul when he teaches that God’s command to Adam not to eat of the tree was grace. I also disagree that grace is “non-justice”. Grace for the elect is always given on the basis of justice.

Hammet lists “possible purposes for the atonement”—-Besides dying to forgive everybody (but not doing it) and buying extra faith for some, to whom God is more than fair, so they will exercise faith to ask and to receive the forgiving, which depends on them asking.
the other four possible purposes, p 190
1. to make a “sincere offer”
2. to make condemnation just
3. to provide ‘common grace”
4. to reveal God’s gracious character

To me, the most offensive “extra purpose” is that which claims to make judgment just!
1. We are born condemned, and don’t need the gospel to make it fair for God to condemn us.

2. Most people, many people never hear the gospel—-so even if you say that Jesus died to forgive all these people if they accept the “grace” , if they do not hear—-is their judgment unjust? A lot of evangelicals, not only Billy Graham, seem to think so, and they fall back on ideas of ‘doing what you could with what you got”.

3. This all amounts to “natural grace” . The ” light”of John 1:9 and Titus 2:11 is not seen as law but as gospel. This turns grace into law, and faith into works, and contradicts Christ who said He came to save and not condemn.

An Arminian always denies that he is Semi-Pelagian—-“I also believe in sovereign grace and in total depravity.God has not surrender the control to humans, because God has GIVEN the control to humans. The Holy Spirit has been gracious to every person who rejects the gospel, because God’s prevenient grace has eliminated total depravity for every person who rejects the gospel. Every person who rejects the gospel is no longer depraved, but has been given a faith-decision to make. Prevenient grace means that no sinners are now totally depraved, but that does not mean I don’t believe in total depravity.”

II Thessalonians 2: 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers BELOVED BY THE LORD because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, in order that you obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tom Nettles—”The Arminian idea of free will is not demanded by the Bible at all, but only by the inference drawn from the no-grace-no-justice assumption…. The piggy-backing of grace onto the command does not come from any element in the text….The whole idea of obligatory grace is contrary to the biblical presentation of grace as pure

Mark Jones—-According to Geerhardus Vos, who comments on Philippians 2:9, “Echarisato means that God bestowed it as a gracious gift, not, of course, in the specific sense of the word ‘grace,’ implying that there was any unworthiness in Christ which God had to overlook, but in the more general sense implying that this was an act in which the graciousness, the kindness of God manifested itself. We have the example of Philippians 2:9. Paul uses the Greek word, “echarisato.” The same Greek word appears earlier in Philippians 1:29, where believers are “freely/graciously given” the privilege of both believing in and suffering for Christ. Was Paul sowing confusion into the minds of the Philippians by using the same word in different senses? Of course not…”

The OPC Report Philippians 2 (lines 796 ff)
“Federal Vision proponents have argued that Philippians 2 rules out the notion of merit in regard to Christ’s obedience, because in 2:9 Paul uses the word echarisato, which etymologically derives from the word for “grace,” charis, to describe God’s giving the name above every name to Christ. This indicates, they claim, that the Father exalted the Son not meritoriously but graciously.This argument as it stands fails, however. One reason it fails is its fallacious reasoning that etymological derivation determines the meaning of a word apart from context. The context of Phil 2:5- 11 shows that MERIT CANNOT BE ELIMINATED from Paul’s teaching here. The context is one of “work rendered and value received.”The Father exalted the Son because the Son perfectly fulfilled his course of obedience. The Son obeyed, therefore the Father exalted him.”

….Robert Letham: “In Protestant scholasticism, long entrenched by the time of Westminster, condescensio was used for God’s accommodation of himself to human ways of knowing in order to reveal himself. This was closely related to gratia Dei (the grace of God), the goodness and undeserved favor of God toward man, and to gratia communis (common grace), his nonsaving, universal grace, by which, in his goodness, he lavishes favor on all creation in the blessings of physical sustenance and moral influence for the good. These are the clearest senses of the terms for the Assembly…” (The Westminster Assembly, 225-26).

Mark Jones—“Divine grace is not merely God’s goodness to the elect in the era of redemptive history. … Divine grace is a perfection of God’s nature, and thus a characteristic of how he relates to finite creatures, even apart from sin. In the garden, the grace of God was upon Adam; in the “wilderness,” the grace of God is upon his Son, the second Adam. God’s graciousness may be summarized simply as what he is in and of himself.”

Richard Gaffin, by Faith not by Sight, p 103–”The law-gospel antithesis enters NOT BY VIRTUE OF CREATION

….. but as the consequence of sin…The gospel is to the purpose of removing an absolute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the believer…With the gospel and in Christ, united to him, the law is no longer my enemy but my friend.”

Paul Helm—“We may note that one thing that the Amyraldian proposal does is to weaken connection between the plight of the race in the fall of Adam. For now the responsibility of each of the non-elect comes simply from hearing and not receiving the message of grace.”