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

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.

Carl Truman, Perspectives on the Extent, p 59—“I have no problem telling somebody, ‘Christ died for your sins’, if I have made it clear how the statement connects to the overall teaching on salvation.”

Carl Truman—“But what does it mean to say to someone, Christ died for you, if that fact in and of itself, makes no difference? ….Surely the answer is John 3:16, not ‘Christ did and did not die for you, depending on what you mean.”

p 58–“Listeners might ask, what does it mean to say that Christ died for all, if not all are saved.”

Luther, works, 22:169—-“Christ bears all the sins of the world from its beginning. This means that Christ also bears your sins, and offers you grace.”

Gerhard–If the non-elect are condemned because they do not believe on Christ, it follows that to the non-elect also the death of Christ pertains”

Mike Horton: “Jewish branches that did not yield faith were broken off to make room for living Gentile branches that share the faith of Abraham in Christ. And yet he adds, “They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you” . The whole tree is holy, but dead branches will be pruned. The whole church of Corinth is addressed as “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1:2)….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 DID NOT BELONG? 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…

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.

The Father does not love us because of Christ, The Father elects us in Christ because of the Father’s love for Christ. The Father elects us in Christ because of the Father’s love for elect sinners.

God’s justice in Christ is NOT the cause of God’s love, but it is the necessary means of God’s love.
Justification is not election, but trying to teach imputation without election is failing to teach imputation and the justice of Christ’s death for imputed sins.

The death of Christ is not the cause of God’s election in love.
God’s election in love is the cause of the death of Christ.

Jesus, the incarnate Son of God in the flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election.

“All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.”

Bavinck—“Christ is a gift of love from the Father and that love precedes the sending of the Son. The Son did not move the Father to forgiveness, because electing love originated with the Father Himself.” 2:365

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.”

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33 Comments on “Andrew Fuller, Mark Jones, and “Sin against Grace””

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Brian Armstrong’s dissertation, “The Calvinism of Moïse Amyraut: The Warfare of Protestant Scholasticism and French Humanism” (ThD diss., Princeton University, 1967), available in a more popular format as Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy: Protestant Scholasticism and Humanism in Seventeenth-Century France (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969). This view gained considerable popularity in 1979 with the publication of R. T. Kendall’s dissertation, Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979). Among other works sympathetic to this thesis, two stand out as key sequels to these earlier treatments: Alan C. Clifford, Atonement and Justification: English Evangelical Theology 1640–1790—An Evaluation (London: Oxford University Press, 1990); and G. Michael Thomas’s The Extent of the Atonement: A Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus (Carlisle, England: Paternoster, 2002). Most recently, Kevin D. Kennedy has furthered this theory by condensing salient portions of an earlier Peter Lang publication as “Was Calvin a Calvinist? John Calvin on the Extent of the Atonement,” in Allen and Lemke, Whosoever Will, 191–212

  2. markmcculley Says:

    One way some folks try to protect justification by merely grace
    is to allow some notion of “merit in sanctification”
    the blessings we get from God are given in Christ
    the blessings are rewards to Christ, but grace to us
    the blessings are not grace to Christ,and the blessings are not “less than strict” rewards to us
    so “rewards of grace” is a contradiction, either way you look it
    whether you are thinking of Christ’s death as supererogation (justice demands rewards)
    or whether you are thinking of our works after “sin is removed from them” so that they “kind of” merit reward
    all grace to us
    all reward to Christ

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Amyraut—“Sin seems to have changed not only the whole face of the universe, but even the entire design of the first creation, and if one may speak this way, seems to have induced to adopt new councels”

    and thus God becomes the God who declares not the end from the beginning but the end from the fall

    the fall is conditioned on the sinner, and the creation is either plan a or no plan at all

    did God make the world, and then decide (after man decided) what to do with the world

    why must we deny that death is God’s work also?

    why must we deny that the fall of Adam is God’s work also?

    why must we keep talking about what Adam “could have done” or “might have done”?

    was God’s plan a to be glorified in a church of human Adams who never sinned? (Ephesians 3:20)

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Trent—Canon 6.
    If anyone says that it is not in man’s power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil as well as those that are good God produces, not permissively only but also propria et per se, so that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of St. Paul, let him be anathema

  5. markmcculley Says:

    if it was grace that made Adam obey for a while, what was it that made Adam sin—-the failure of grace?

    the idea that God desires to save the non-elect is not grace in any way—it perverts the true in the interests of a false gospel

    Law is not grace. Grace is not law. Romans 9: 11 For though her sons had not been born yet or done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to election might stand— not from works…. Romans 9: 5 there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. 6 Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace. Galatians 3: 12 But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed

    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.”

    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 offer and provide “grace” for everyone. And in this, they claim, God was perfectly successful, even if all sinners were to fail to use this “grace”.

    Where is the grace in God’s death threat to Adam? Was Adam supposed to keep “the covenant” by faith or by works? If “grace” gave Adam the ability to never sin (against the one law), did “grace” fail?

    Is there another sense of “grace” in which works and faith can be combined, and the antithesis between law and gospel overcome?

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Today many sound like Socinians when they worry about “law having the last word”, but we need to see that the gospel is about Christ having satisfied the law. If you make Christ’s death anything other than Christ’s satisfaction of law, then Christ died to no purpose. (Galatians 2:21). If atonement is now and by means of preaching (Forde), justification is not by the finished bloody death of Christ.

    When the Bible denies that salvation is by the law, that denial is that salvation is by the Holy Spirit enabling us to keep the law. It is not being denied that the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ and that Christ died to satisfy the law.

    No alliance with Lutherans should keep us silent about Jesus dying for the sheep and not the goats. Why then do so many Reformed preachers talk about the “indicative done” in the context of “you” and never in terms of the Westminster Confession: “for all those whom the Father has given the Son” ?

    The law-gospel antithesis (not by our law-keeping) will do no good if we “flinch at this one point”. If we do not talk about particular atonement, then the people who hear will NOT look outside themselves for the righteous difference which pleases God. If Jesus Christ died for everybody but only “enabled God” to save (in the preaching event) a fraction of these people , then these people will certainly look to themselves for the difference between lost and saved.

    The only way you can tell people that the gospel is “outside of you” is to tell them that the gospel they must believe to be saved EXCLUDES even their believing as the condition of salvation. The only condition of salvation for the elect is Christ’s death for the elect. Unless you preach that Christ died only for the elect, you encourage people to make their faith into that “little something” which makes the difference between life and death! They must believe that their believing is not the righteousness that satisfies God’s law.

    Do we believe that the glory of God in the gospel means that all for whom Christ died will certainly be saved? Or has that truth become too “rationalistic” for us? Or is it not our job to be that zealous for God’s glory in this manner?

    Would this kind of preaching take the grace of God out of the hands of those who hand out the sacrament and who say there is no salvation outside the church as they define it? The gospel itself is God’s power of salvation. No Holy Spirit, no efficacy. No gospel, no efficacy.

    The glory of God does not depend on human decisions, and the gospel must not become a victim of alliances or coalitions which agree not to talk about the extent of the atonement. Because to do that is to also agree to disagree about the nature of the atonement, and that leaves room for a false gospel in which salvation becomes what God does in the sinner. And I don’t care if you say that’s Christ in the sinner, or grace in the sinner, it does not follow the rule of Galatians 6, which is to glory in the cross alone

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Scott Clark’s Summary of Some of Robertson’s Concerns

    In response to the claim that grace does not “make demands, it just gives” (his summary), he responds that grace does make demands. When our Lord said “take up your cross,” that was a demand. Further, he adds, “all Gods demands are gracious and grace.” He argues that Jesus is “full of grace and truth–and I don’t regard him as having a split personality. Is there any word or action of Christ which is not grace?”

    He alleges that Tullian redefines grace “to such an extent that it just does not fit the scriptural use.” He complains that Tullian is guilty of setting up a false (which he puts in scare quotes for reasons not clear to me) dichotomy analogous to the false dichotomy between the love of God and the justice of God. He sees Tullian divorcing grace from God. He suspects that preaching in the States must be more than just moralistic therapeutic deism and legalism. He doesn’t seem entirely confident about the validity of the hermeneutical distinction between law and gospel.

    It also all depends on what you mean by law, and gospel. Did Jesus fail to distinguish between law and gospel when he said; if you love me you will keep my commands? Was the Sermon on the Mount, law or gospel? Was it helpful tips for practical living or a set of social and moral demands we must live out? I am not really sure that this hard and fast distinction between law and gospel actually works, because I am not sure it is absolutely biblical.

    As we read on, it becomes clear that he’s not just unsure about the distinction. He doesn’t like it. “There is no doubt that the term law is used in different ways in the Bible, but in the sense of the just and fair expression of the character of God, I think that this is as much part of the Good News as anything.”

    He argues that grace “demands that those who are saved live a holy life (2 Timothy 1:9) that it “makes the most incredible demands on me because Christ who is grace makes those demands–I am to repent, take up my cross and follow him. I am to be prepared to lose my life for his sake.”

    Robertson’s post reflects the strange intransigence of too many in the Reformed world when it comes to law and gospel. Like too many others he treats the distinction as some sort of hermeneutical novelty, some strange intrusion into Reformed theology from the outside. Robertson may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the distinction but our classical theologians weren’t. For Theodore Beza, making this distinction wasessential to interpreting God’s Word. According to William Perkins, we cannot preach God’s Word without first reckoning with this fundamental hermeneutical question.

    What Robertson misunderstands is that the law/gospel hermeneutic is not a set of conclusions. It is a question that begins with the recognition that God speaks to sinners in distinct ways in his Word. “Do this and live” is not the same sort of speech as “It is finished.”

    To sinners, the demand for absolute (not relative) righteousness is not good news because, after the fall, we cannot perform it. The law is good, holy, and just. We, however, are not. T

    The good news announces God’s gracious salvation of sinners. In the history of redemption, before Christ was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, the promises were clothed in types and shadows. They looked forward to fulfillment. After the incarnation, the good news announced the arrival of salvation. The law demands works. Grace receives a gift. These are distinct categories.

    It may seem pious to say that all of God’s Word is grace but it’s not particularly pious because when we do that, as evident even in Robertson’s post, we tend to turn the good news into bad news. Yes, for those of us who are under grace, the law is a gift. It guides, it norms, and by God’s grace we do learn to love the law but it never becomes gospel. It always remains law. Now that the curse has been extinguished, the record of debt has been nailed to the cross (Col 2:14) we are free, by grace, to see ourselves honestly before the law (because our standing before God is not at stake), confess our sins, to turn from them, to die to self, and to seek to live to Christ, in union with Christ, by the power of the Spirit.

    Earnest Kevan wrote of the Grace of Law. There are truths therein but there are also crucial omissions. One of his omissions was the law/gospel distinction, which English Reformed (Puritan) writers such as Perkins, Ames, and Twisse thought to be essential.

  8. markmcculley Says:

    they write–in order for something to be a type, it must be a real means of grace for the people of God living in the time of its use …. In the nature of the case, a means of grace is governed solely by grace. How can something defined by merit in contrast to grace communicate grace to the one who performs it? (MM 130-31 n23).

    Lee irons—In other words, all types must typify grace. Therefore, they argue, the works principle or merit cannot be typified in the OT. Response: This principle (that all types must typify grace and cannot typify the works principle) would rule out Adam from being a type of Christ. And what about the types prefiguring the day of judgment throughout the OT? For example, Noah’s flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues of Egypt, the conquest of the Canaanites, the expulsion of Israel from the land in the exile. These are not symbols of grace but of wrath.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Pink, Divine Covenants– many have been led astray when considering the typical teaching of Israel’s history and the antitype in the experience of Christians, by failing to duly note the contrasts as well as the comparisons between them. It is true that God’s deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt blessedly foreshadowed the redemption of His elect form sin and Satan; yet let it not be forgotten that the majority of those who were emancipated from Pharaoh’s slavery perished in the wilderness, not being suffered to enter the promised land.

    “Behold, the days come saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord” (Heb. 8:8,9).

    God’s dealings with Israel at Sinai were not a parallel with His dealings with His people under the gospel, but a contrast!

    Law and Grace at Sinai.

    Mark Jones—We also need to recognize that there are conditional promises in Scripture. A promise doesn’t somehow lose its promissory value because there are conditions attached. And this principle is not limited to the OT. Just read 1 Peter 1 (esp. 1:8; 1:9; 1:17; 2:2; 2:19-20; 3:1-2; 3:7; 4:14; 5:7; 5:9-10). Right conduct in Peter leads to blessing. Peter hasn’t somehow becomes a Judaizer!

    mark mcculley–The nation of Israel was not a “church” in the same way that members of the New Covenant are “God’s people”. Only individual true believers existed within OT Israel, which was only a “type” of a NT church. Type and antitype are not the same.

    Mark Jones—What a perversion to treat the law as a burden when we are talking in the realm of having been redeemed. Notice the rewards: prosperity, life, and righteousness! … Moses is assuming belief and thus they are in a position to be righteous as they keep his commands.

    mark mcculley asks: Was the nation of Israel justified before God, titled to the life of the age to come, and born again? If so, why did their “sanctification” result in exile, in which they are cut off and the Gentiles grafted in?

    What did the Judiazers misunderstand? Were the judiazers already justified, but did not understand that, and needed to learn that “as they keep his commands” is not in order to earn justification but as a means to get extra blessings and to show their thanks for justification?

    No. I deny that legalists are already justified before God. I deny that those who do not understand justification believe in justification. I deny that those who do not believe in justification are already justified.

    So what did the Judiazers misunderstand? They confused “type” with “antitype”. They confused being redeemed from Egypt with being redeemed from sin. They confused being in the Mosaic covenant with being in the new covenant. They confused freedom from Egypt (or Rome) with being free from guilt and having the life of the age to come.

    The Mosaic covenant is NOT an administration of the new covenant of grace.

  10. markmcculley Says:

    Those who think of all sin as against grace also tend to think that grace needs to be reciprocated in order to be effective. For example, Leithart writes—
    As foreconditional, God’s love is prior to all human response. God’s love initiates all love (200): “Humans would not exist, let along be beneficiaries of divine love, but for the free decision of God to create and sustain us. . . . Since divine love is a gift, creatures cannot earn it. Divine love toward humans is always undeserved.” Yet this doesn’t mean that God’s love is “indifferent or strictly unconditional.” He “can and does reward appropriate (albeit imperfect) human response. God’s unmerited love, then, does not nullify conditions, evaluative judgment, justice or reciprocity. . . . God’s love is bestowed prior to conditions and is undeserved, yet there are conditions for its continuance” (202).

    One of the consequences of this position is that it’s possible to have and then to lose God’s love. As Peckham points out, this is explicitly stated in various places: “God’s hesed is repeatedly characterized as everlasting (Jer 33:11; Psalm 136) on the one hand, and yet it may be forfeited and withdrawn (Jer 16:5; Compare Ps 77:8; 88:11; 89:49). Divine hesed is extremely steadfast, reliable and enduring, and yet. . . ‘God’s hesed is conditional, dependent upon the good repait of the covenant relationship that it is up to Israel to maintain’ . . . Thus divine hesed is ‘from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him’ (Ps 103:17)” (83-4, quoting Katherine Sakenfeld). In Hosea 9:17, Yahweh says “I vame to hate them there” and “I will love them no more.” Jeremiah 16:5 says, “I have withdrawn My peace from this people, My lovingkindness and compassion” 196). Jesus promises love from the Father and Son to those who love and obey Him (John 14:21, 23; 16:27), and urges His disciples to remain in His love by keeping His commandments (John 15:9-10).

    Elsewhere, referring to Jeremiah, he qualified this by noting that “the people continue to be viewed as God’s ‘beloved,’ yet the love relationship is ineffective and broken. Thus it appears that divine benevolence, which stems from God’s foreconditional love, is maintained, while his beneficence is interrupted by the beloved’s apostasy. In this way, foreconditional divine love is subject to conditions within the actual history of the relationship” (198).

    Still, he’s absolutely right in His claim that God’s love demands reciprocity, and that when His love is met with indifference or hostility, God may withdraw: “God never removes his love from anyone who wishes to receive his love. HOWEVER, the object(s) of God’s love may reject intimate relationship with God and, if persistent in such a rejection, FORFEIT reception of divine love altogether. . . . If I finally spurn God’s love, his love may continue to shine like the rays of the sun, but, by my own decisions, I am completely shaded from its light and warmth as if I have locked myself in a windowless basement” (213).

  11. markmcculley Says:

    . dg hart—If the law is gracious, then it must be salvific. But then there is Paul’s stop sign, the law is not of faith. Must be a different kind of grace. What the law-is-gracious crowd forget is that Rome says salvation is entirely gracious — good works and all. The language of grace clarifies nothing. In some cases it obscures, as in “grace before the fall.”

  12. markmcculley Says:

    John Calvin—“The integrity of the sacrament lies here, that the flesh and blood of Christ are not less truly given to the unworthy than to the elect believers of God; and yet it is true, that just as the rain falling on the hard rock runs away because it cannot penetrate, so the wicked by their hardness repel the grace of God, and prevent it from reaching them. ”

    the reality of Christ’s body and blood do not come physically to the elements, but that “the Spirit truly SPIRITUALLY UNITES things separated in space” (Calvin).

    Following a phrase of Augustine, the Calvinist view is that “no one bears away from this Sacrament more than is gathered with the vessel of faith”.


    those who partake by faith receive benefit from Christ, and the unbelieving are condemned by partaking,

    The success becomes a a gift for us
    The gift carries moral, not legal, obligations—gratitude

    Is the Giver entitled to be disappointed?
    Did the Giver say he will not withdraw the gift?
    Does the Giver use his disappointment or the threat of withdrawal to extract some gratitude from us?
    Does the giver say—if you are not grateful, then it was not grace I gave you?

  13. markmcculley Says:

    How does he accept such imperfect obedience? Consider the following:
    Christians have pure hearts.
    If you are a Christian, you have a pure heart (1 Tim. 1:5). If you want to worship God, you need a pure heart (Ps. 24:4). Those who are pure in heart, and only those, will see God (Matt. 5:8). And we should constantly desire to receive the gift of a renewed purified heart (Ps. 51:10).
    Christians are good and righteous.
    Zechariah and Elizabeth are described in the following way: “And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Lk. 1:6). Joseph of Arimathea is similarly described as a “good and righteous man” (Lk. 23:50). Christians are slaves of righteousness (Rom. 6:18). We hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matt. 5:6).
    Christians are blameless.
    Paul writes to the Philippians: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” (Phil. 2:15). Paul expects that children of God should be blameless. He is not here saying: you are blameless because of your justification, but be blameless, innocent, and without blemish because of your conduct.
    How can Christians be all of these things?
    Because God accepts less – often, a lot less (i.e., “small beginnings”) – than perfection from us because of his Son and for the sake of his Son, who is glorified in us (Jn. 17:10).
    God is our Father. Parents will no doubt understand the joys that our children can bring to us in their obedience, even if their obedience falls short of what Christ would have offered to his own parents. God is not a hard task-master, reaping where he hasn’t sown (Matt. 25:24). He remembers we are dust (Ps. 103:14), and treats us accordingly.
    As our Father, he accepts less than absolute perfection because he accepted absolute perfection in our place. Moreover, our works are pleasing to God because we (i.e., our persons) are pleasing to God as a result of our identity in Christ. There is a “person-work” order in our Christian life.
    In God’s sight, we are good, righteous, blameless, and pure in heart. Indeed, we are to purify ourselves because of our hope in Christ’s return (1 Jn. 3:3). If we can’t admit these truths about ourselves, then we can’t admit what the New Testament explicitly says of God’s people. And that’s not good.
    The obedience we offer to God does not have to be sinless obedience or perfect obedience, but it must be sincere obedience. Sincere obedience means we may be called “blameless.” The Westminster Confession of Faith sums up this principle well:
    “Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections” (WCF 16.6).
    In our imperfection, we may please God. God rewards imperfect works, according to the riches of his grace, because he is our Father. (Even if the devils would perform good works, God would delight in these works, according to Charnock and Witsius).
    The fact that our works are tainted with sin does not invalidate them as good works. Just as the fact that we have indwelling sin does not mean we cannot be called good, holy, righteous, etc. It is wrong-headed, I believe, to suppose that we exalt the grace of God by suggesting that the only righteousness pleasing to God is Christ’s righteousness. This is a radical form of substitution that would confuse any honest reader of the Scriptures.
    God manifests his grace not only in providing a perfect (imputed) righteousness that can withstand the full demands of his law, but also an inherent, imperfect righteousness that he declares to be both good and pleasing.
    What’s the pastoral benefit?
    We should encourage Christians that God accepts sincere obedience. The “divine acceptilatio” explains why and how we can be zealous for good works (Tit. 2:14). Children should be encouraged that obedience to their parents pleases the Lord (Col. 3:20).
    Because we are accepted in Christ, God really does call us good. We really do have pure hearts. We really are blameless. We really can please God in our imperfection (Heb. 11:5). And that, to me, really is good news. This view reflects the already-not yet theology whereby we are now pure in heart but one day will be pure in heart. We are good, but we wait to be good.
    Do we want to say that the widow’s offering in Luke 21:1-4 was not pleasing to God, but instead “filthy rags”? Was God pleased with Joseph of Arimathea in Mark 15:43? What about the woman in Matthew 26:7ff? What about the mother who patiently teaches her children the things of the Lord? And the wife whose good conduct wins over her husband (1 Pet. 3:1).
    Are we allowed to pray the words of the Psalmist (Ps. 18:20-24)? Or are these words only true of Christ?
    The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
    21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
    and have not wickedly departed from my God.
    22 For all his rules were before me,
    and his statutes I did not put away from me.
    23 I was blameless before him,
    and I kept myself from my guilt.
    24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
    Yes, as Christians, we often sin (1 Jn. 1:8). And we can act shamefully at times. The power of indwelling sin is real. Nothing above is intended to deny how vile we can be. But how amazing that notwithstanding the very powerful indwelling sin that remains in us, God thinks more of our obedience than we do. This keeps us from despair regarding obedience and highlights that the Reformed have historically done the most justice to the grace of the gospel.
    God accepts imperfection because he is a gracious Father, who has a perfect Son, who sends his Spirit into our hearts (Gal. 4:6). Why are we called righteous and good? Why are our imperfect works acceptable and pleasing to God? The answer: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
    Pastor Mark Jones would like to thank the many Reformed theologians from the past who have written on this issue.
    There is a word used by Arminius: acceptilatio. The concept behind the word is good, but he places it in the wrong category, namely, justification. Imperfect faith is “accepted” as righteousness. This is what distinguishes Arminians from the Reformed on the crucial doctrine by which the church stands or falls.
    So in debates with Remonstrant (i.e., Arminian) theologians, the Reformed and the Remonstrants seemed to agree on the formal cause of justification, i.e., imputation. But they differed on the material cause. What is imputed to the believer, our act of faith or Christ’s righteousness apprehended by faith? The Reformed held to the latter, whereas the Arminians typically held to the former. But even on the so-called “formal cause” there was an important difference between the two camps: for the Arminians, imputation is an aestimatio – God considers our righteousness (i.e., faith) as something that it is not (i.e., perfect). The Reformed, however, view imputation as secundum veritatem – God considers Christ’s righteousness as our righteousness, precisely because it is, through union with Christ. The verdict that God passes on his Son is precisely the same verdict he passes on those who belong to Christ – but only through imputation.
    So in saying that God accepts our imperfect obedience, we must be careful not to bring this “acceptilatio” into the realm of justification, but keep it in the realm of sanctification.

  14. markmcculley Says:

    Cunha—The foreword to the recently published second edition of Gaffin’s By Faith, Not By Sight[15] is written by Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) pastor Mark Jones and is, unfortunately, fully consistent with the understanding that there has been no positive change in Gaffin’s teaching on justification.

    The selection of Jones to write the foreword, a man who has on more than one occasion publicly suggested that works of evangelical obedience have some efficacy in justification, is itself noteworthy. Jones gushes at the beginning of the foreword that “It is a unique privilege and a remarkable providence to write a foreword for a book that has been so deeply influential in my own theological thinking.” He then attempts to defend Gaffin’s views on soteriology, and especially justification, largely on the basis of historical theology….

    Jones says that Reformed theologian Peter Van Mastricht (1630-1706) taught that there are three stages of justification and that in the third and final stage “in which believers gain possession of eternal life, good works have a certain ‘efficacy,’ insofar as God will not grant possession of eternal life unless they are present.”

    Jones goes on to say that, based on what he discerns to be a shared view on Paul’s teaching in the first half of the second chapter of Romans, both Gaffin and Van Mastricht “hold firmly to the Reformed view that good works are a necessary condition (consequent, not antecedent, to faith) for salvation.”

    Cunha— When I first read this last statement, I was struck by Jones’s sudden shift from the word “justification” to the word “salvation” at this place. The word “salvation” can be used to denote something broader than the word “justification” (e.g. encompassing sanctification and glorification), but, based on the context, is clearly being used here as an equivalent term for justification….

    Jones suggests, approvingly that both Van Mastricht and Gaffin stretch justification out into multiple stages and that good works are in some way efficacious in the final stage. Such a scheme violates the antithesis between works (Law) and faith (Gospel) with respect to justification. This is entirely consistent with the explicit denial of the Law/Gospel contrast expressed by Gaffin in By Faith, Not By Sight.

  15. markmcculley Says:

    Leithart—. Double predestination says that human beings are predestined by God’s decree to either salvation or reprobation, but if human beings are what they are at the end, then it seems God created two different sorts of human beings.One sector of the human race is eternally considered in Christ, the other is by decretal definition Christless and Spiritless.

    Stephen Holmes : “It was not just a removal of Christ from the being of the reprobate, but a prior removal of Christ from the being of the created world that was the problem. In the light of what God has done in Christ , how can this fail to affect any given human being, how anyone can fail to be saved”

    Leithart– The problem underlying the problem of reprobation is a failure to understand creation and a reflects persistent nature/grace dualism in Reformed theology. If creation exists only by the continuous work of the Father’s Word and Spirit, then there is no one anywhere, reprobate or elect, who is not the recipient of God’s gift and the object of His care.

  16. markmcculley Says:

    Bavinck—“Christ is a gift of love from the Father and that love precedes the sending of the Son. The Son did not move the Father to forgiveness, because electing love originated with the Father Himself.” 2:365

    where would you go in your car if the car could go again? and how long would you be there? and what would you be doing when you got back from going? (these are some of the questions my mom always asked me when she was wanting me to postpone gratification, endure, for now exist and do without, and then later….

    Philippians 4: 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

    thanks for what you sent, but I didn’t need it

    but i guess you need a thank you, and you will also receive reward from God for sending it to me (though you don’t need that it either)

    11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content…. Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship….. even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

    I meet lots of people who think Christians are basically narcissistic. As opposed to our selfishness, these non-Christians claim willingness to be damned if any other person is going to be, They are even willing to say there is no such thing as wrath or damnation if anybody besides them would have to suffer it. They seem to agree with Kant’s position—-that any action done with self-interest is suspect, any fact believed while thinking that those who believe that fact will be rewarded is a suspect fact.

    I do get it. I myself suspect myself, and everybody else, including those who think “morality means no reward”.

    I suspect that those who think that “Calvinists want to get paid”, also want to get paid for not being Calvinists.

    But Jesus talked about reward, about good stuff like resurrection and immortality for those Jesus loved. The Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5-7.

    Would it be less narcissistic to say–well, Jesus loves me because I love him, and He would love you too, if you only would—-

    • markmcculley Says:

      A gift, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is something handed over “gratuitously, for nothing.” Bunk, says John Barclay, at least if you have the slightest knowledge of antiquity. Gifts in the ancient world, it is universally acknowledged, were given “with strong expectations of return – indeed, precisely in order to elicit a return and thus to create or enhance social solidarity.” This context, as you can imagine, is vital to understanding what Paul was doing when he spoke about grace, the subject of Barclay’s book Paul and the Gift. The alternative is to assume that what gifts mean in our world is what they meant in Paul’s world, and to misread virtually all the evidence as a result.
      Starting with Marcel Mauss and Claude Levi-Strauss, and finishing with Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Derrida, Barclay surveys the anthropology and history of the “gift”, and does so with his eye firmly on the ball (which, in this case, is the way gifts functioned in the ancient world). For those of us accustomed to thinking that gifts are essentially things given without expecting a return, his summary of the material here is hugely important. Perhaps the most striking way of making the point would be to cite a number of his examples, the (subversive) parallels between several of which and various New Testament texts should be obvious:

      Invite your friend, but not your enemy,
      to dine; especially be cordial to
      your neighbour … Love your friends,
      visit those who visit you, and give
      to him who gives, but not, if he does not.
      We give to a generous person, but no-one gives
      to someone who is stingy …
      (Hesiod, Works and Days, 342-359).

      As Aristotle sees it, a generous person will give lavishly but certainly not indiscriminately, “so he can give to the right people at the right time, and where it is noble to do so” (Nicomachean Ethics 1120b3-4) … Aristotle clearly spoke from a great height when he said that the person who wants to be “magnificent” will not waste money on objects of small importance, like Odysseus who claimed to give alms often to the homeless (Nicomachean Ethics 1122a26-27, citing Homer, Odyssey, 17.420).

      In a revealing mix of categories, Theognis warns that it would be futile to do favours to the despicable poor since, unlike the good, they will never repay (Theognis, 105-112). Indeed, giving specifically or only to the poor would be a gift-without-return, since even their gratitude would be worth nothing.

      Seneca describes the gift-exchange system as a ball-catching game, whose point is to keep the ball (the gift) continually circulating back and forth (De Beneficiis 2.17.3-5; 2.32.1; 7.18.1); although he will offer a particular Stoic definition of what constitutes a return, Seneca shares with all his contemporaries the assumption that gifts are meant to be reciprocal, not unilateral.

      Those who criticise Sanders’s work tend to assume that if salvation is contingent on human works or worth, either in initial election or in final salvation, one cannot speak of “grace” in its proper form as “free”, “sheer” or “pure”, on the assumption that oneperfection of grace, its incongruity, is its defining characteristic … We can now see why these debates misfire. Taking one perfection of grace (its priority) as its defining characteristic, Sanders found it everywhere, but assumed, sometimes against the evidence, that another perfection (incongruity) was wrapped up in the definition of the term. Taking this other perfection (incongruity) as its very essence, his critics highlighted Jewish texts that spoke of a congruous grace, and concluded that such texts were not speaking consistently of grace at all. Neither side scrutinised carefully enough what they meant by “grace” and why they defined it as they did.

      • markmcculley Says:

        n defiance of human failure, God gives grace to the utterly unworthy idol worshipers of Gentile cities around the Mediterranean. Because grace erupts, cause-less, in the event of Jesus’ death and resurrection, it can therefore be given to anyone ….No preparation is necessary, and no conditions must be met before the gift of Christ may be received.

        A modern dictionary defines “gift” as something delivered to a recipient “gratuitously, for nothing.” Yet, according to John Barclay’s new book Paul and the Gift, It is Paul—not intuition or common sense or objective, timeless instinct—who is almost single-handedly responsible for making it seem obvious to most of us in the modern West that God’s grace excludes human working.

        For many 1st-century readers, God upheld his fidelity to Israel by distributing his grace to those who are worthy of it. For them this did not make God’s grace any less gracious. To define grace otherwise—to say that God gives it in disregard for the worth of its beneficiaries—they thought would be to open the door to moral chaos and anarchy, to snip the thread that links human pursuit of virtue with the deep structures of creation and providence.

        It was not “Lutheran theology” but Paul who undermined human religion’s quest to climb its way into divine favor. Opposing the “Judaizers” of his day, Paul in the 1st century anticipated Martin Luther’s struggles against a petty and fastidious medieval Catholicism in the 16th.

        Barclay grants that Luther mistakenly thought that Paul’s target in his Galatians epistle was self-reliant boasting (if that were the burning issue, “it is hard to see why Paul would discount both circumcision and uncircumcision”).

        Over against the “new perspective,” Barclay understands Paul to be unleashing a “bizarre,” even “dangerous” definition of grace . For Paul, grace is incongruous—it is a gift that does not “fit” or “match” the worth of those to whom God gives it. In defiance of human achievement, God gives grace to a supposedly successful but actually bankrupt person like Paul (the acme of Paul’s human “achievement” had actually set him against God’s church).

      • markmcculley Says:

        we sin in response to other people’s sin

        but does our sin result in God’s wrath

        or does God’s wrath result in our sinning

        or, if sin is both cause and result, which is first?

        chicken or egg?

        is a hand out the same thing as a hand over?

        Romans 1: 18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, 19 since what can be known about God is evident among them,because God has shown it to them. 20 For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and HANDED OVER the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

        24 Therefore God HANDED THEM OVER in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves.25 They HANDED OVER the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator….26 This is why God HANDED THEM OVER to degrading passions. For even their females HANDED OVER natural sexual relations[p for unnatural ones…

        28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God HANDED THEM OVER to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.

        Romans 8: 32 God did not even spare His own Son
        but HANDED HIM OVER for us

        where there is no sin, there is no wrath

        where there is no sin, there is no grace

        where there is sin, there must be wrath

        where there is sin but also grace, there must be wrath on the Son

        where there is wrath on the Son, and the Son’s death is imputed to the sinner, there must be no wrath on the sinner

        where there is sin but no grace, there must be wrath on the sinner

        where there is sin, there is nothing about God which says there must be grace

        where there is sin, there might not be grace

        where there is sin and no grace, there will be wrath on the sinner

  17. markmcculley Says:

    F YOU —-promises have consequences, laws have consequences
    the theology of glory is a prosperity theology
    prosperity theology is a “possibility theology”
    sarcasm alert
    have you “actualized” your “potential”?
    1. make sure you have oil in your lamps
    if you don’t, there will be consequences
    if you do have oil, be sure to thank god for his grace in causing you to have oil in your lamp
    2. exercise your faith in the gospel
    appropriate by faith being united to Christ
    act on your option to accept the offer which is sufficient if you meet the conditions of the gospel
    3. F YOU as a legalist elder brother welcome those your Father welcomes, then the consequence is that you get to be at the party
    but F YOU as a legalist elder brother do NOT welcome those your Father welcomes, then you will NOT get to be at the party
    but you “sinned against grace”, against “potential”
    you excluded yourself, since God excludes nobody but “offers” to save the non-elect
    and despite your legalism, we must assume that you are a Christian
    because God is your father
    and your baby brother was already a Christian before he left home
    circumcised as a baby because he was born a Christian,
    just like you were
    otherwise the law could not have commanded you to obey the law and the gospel could not have commanded you to obey the gospel

  18. markmcculley Says:

    John Murray, The Covenant of Grace— “How then are we to construe the conditions of which we have spoken? The continued enjoyment of this grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. For apart from the fulfillment of these conditions the grace bestowed and the relation established are meaningless. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The relation established implies mutuality.”

    Murray—“But the conditions in view are not conditions of bestowal. They are simply the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing and of the covenant relation is inconceivable….Viewed in this light that the breaking of the covenant takes on an entirely different complexion. It is not the failure to meet the terms of a pact nor failure to respond to the offer of favorable terms of contractual agreement. It is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

    Murray–“It should be noted also that the necessity of keeping the covenant is bound up with the particularism of this covenant. The covenant does not yield its blessing to all indiscriminately. The discrimination which this covenant exemplifies accentuates the sovereignty of God in the bestowal of its grace and the fulfillment of its promises. This particularization is correlative with the spirituality of the grace bestowed and the relation constituted and it is also consonant with the exactitude of its demands.”

    Murray—“A covenant which yields its blessing indiscriminately is not one that can be kept or broken. We see again, therefore, that the intensification which particularism illustrates serves to accentuate the keeping which is indispensable to the fruition of the covenant grace.”

  19. markmcculley Says:

    Non-elect unbelievers sin against the gospel, but not against grace. Only elect but not yet justified sinners sin against grace. There was never any grace for the non-elect.

    Even unbelievers sin against the gospel, but they are born condemned under the law. I John 3:12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.
    What is an evil deed? What is a righteous deed? Is the evil deed here the murder? No, even though murder is an evil deed, Cain murdered Abel because of Cain’s status as a person born as condemned sinner
    Cain was a bad tree who thereby necessarily brought forth fruit which was all bad, all unacceptable. So it’s not a matter of more and more, but of either/or. There are those who abide in God’s gospel and those who do not.
    I John is not comparing morality with immorality. It is not mere morality that the world hates. It was not morality that Cain hated. Cain hated
    Abel’s gospel because that gospel said that even Cain’s best efforts to please God (the best of his fruits, with all sincerity) were an abomination to God.
    Cain’s works were evil, according to God’s gospel, which Abel believed. For this reason, Cain murdered Abel. For this reason, the world hates those who believe the gospel and who have passed out of death into life

  20. markmcculley Says:

    Capon—Jesus did not locate Gehenna outside the realm of grace.

  21. markmcculley Says:

    the confusion of creation and redemption is the confusion of creation and grace, the confusion of justice and mercy

    God’s justice in Christ is NOT the cause of God’s love, but it is the necessary means of God’s love. justification is not election, but trying to teach imputation without election is failing to teach imputation and the justice of Christ’s death for imputed sins.

    order, hier-archy, justice—does God “owe justice” to Himself or does God have an “indifferent freewill” and no character or nature?

    Job 41: 11 Who confronted Me, that I should repay him?
    Everything under heaven belongs to Me.

    Psalm 11: 7 For the Lord is just. The Lord loves justice

    God owes justice even to us because God owes justice to Himself

    don’t repay, so God can repay

    if you repay, God will repay you

    timing question–why can’t we repay now?

    motives?— we can’t work as a condition, but we can work as a result and a response?

    not work to enter it, but work once have entered?

    I Peter 3: 8 Now finally, all of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble,9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the CONTRARY, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, IN ORDER THAT you inherit a blessing.

    10 For the one who wants to love life
    and to see good days
    must keep his tongue from evil
    and his lips from speaking deceit,
    11 and he must turn away from evil
    and do what is good.
    He must seek peace and pursue it,
    12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and His ears are open to their request.
    But the face of the Lord is against
    those who do what is evil

    I Thessalonians 4: 6 This means one must not transgress against and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger of all these offenses, as we also previously told and warned you. 7 For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification. 8 Therefore, the person who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who also gives you His Holy Spirit.

    I Thessalonians 5: 15 See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone

  22. markmcculley Says:

    I do feel the pain of not being able to talk about all that needs to be said about Hebrews 10 or Romans 11 or John 15.

    mcmark–Is all sin against Grace?

    To sin is to transgress God’s prescriptive will. Prior to Moses, that will was written on the heart alone; afterwards, it was specified by the letter “so that transgression might abound” (Rom 5.20).

    mcmark—My point would be that there doe have to be grace for there to be sin. Sin is lawlessness (I John). Where there is no grace, there is law. There was no grace before the fall.

    To focus this in two ways. First, even though the gospel has with it the command to believe, that command does not turn the gospel into law. The promise of the gospel is to be published to everybod, but the promise is to as many believe the gospel. The command of the gospel does not make the gospel law. And the conditional promises of the law in the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants does not turn law into grace.

    Scott Clark—“Both the command to “do and live” and the command “believe” reveal the will of God. They are both imperatives. What this means is that not every biblical imperative is “law.” ….Both the command to “do and live” and the command “believe” reveal the will of God. They are both imperatives. What this means is that not every biblical imperative is “law.” … There is a false premise in the initial question. If all imperatives are “law” then the imperative “believe” is a law and the act of faith must be “obedience.” The false premise is this: if imperative, then law. This doesn’t follow.”

    I agree with Scott Clark’s basic point (commands don’t turn gospel into law, or faith into work) even though he would very much disagree with me about the complex nature of the Abrahamic covenant and I would dissent from his (traditional) use of the word “condition” . And more importantly, we would disagree about “common grace”, and certainly about any notion that God has a non-rational desire to be gracious to the non-elect.

    That leads to my second focus. God does not have grace to all sinners, but God’s laws apply to all sinners. Even the non-elect are commanded to believe the gospel. A person does have to make a profession of faith in order for God to have the right to sovereign justice over that person. And this was my point-where Horton asks how can we teach somebody something without having them in “the covenant” first (how can you be cursed by the covenant if you are not in the covenant, how can you be apostate from the covenant if you are not in the covenant, etc), I am insisting that each human creature, both those in the new covenant and those outside the new covenant, is not free from the commands of the New Covenant mediator, and that only those placed into the death of the New Covenant mediator
    are no longer under condemnation.

    They did not have to be placed into “the covenant of grace” in order for the condemnation to be justified. Jesus did not die for all sinners. But all sinners are commanded by the Lord Jesus. Jesus did not die for everybody in order to make it right for Jesus to then condemn. (“You had your chance”) Even those who never hear the gospel (or its imperative) are “already condemned”.

    John 3: 17 For God did not send His Son into the world in order to condemn the world, but that the world would be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God. 19 “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who LIVES BY THE TRUTH comes to the light

    There is a command to believe and be saved, and Jesus indicates that to transgress this command is to incur condemnation (e.g. John 3.18 et al)

    mcmark—-I would be interested in a discussion about some sinners being “more condemned” than other sinners. I still have much to learn about that. I know that there is no such thing as one Christian being “more justified” than another Christian, but there does seem to be some difference from this on the condemnation side. But my point (with which I think you would agree) is that those “already condemned” remain condemned (if and when they hear the gospel) “because they have not believed”. But they did not have to hear the gospel in order to be already under the law. Or as I said above, Jesus does not have to die for everybody and make sure they get the “offer” in order to make it fair for them to be destroyed on the last day. Adam before his sin did not have to be under grace in order to be under law and in order for his sin to be sin. Christians sin against grace, but those without grace still sin. Children born without Christian parents are promised salvation if and when they believe the gospel. Children born with parents who profess to believe the gospel are already condemned until and when God calls them effectually by the gospel (Acts 2, as many as called)

    mcmark: If God does not have grace to one of God’s creatures, does God have a right to command that creature and to judge that creature as a sinner?

    Certainly. Esau.

    Exactly, and this was Tom Chantry’s response to the claim of Mark Jones that he could not really be a parent or teach the law without presuming his children to be Christians. Esau was a member of the Abrahamic covenant, Esau was never a member of the new covenant. Esau was not cursed by the gospel. Esau was accountable to God’s law.

  23. markmcculley Says:

    What good is an incomplete justification? If the justification is incomplete because you did not complete it, then you end up end up being condemned by God’s “grace” and not by God’s law. Instead of hearing the gospel and being condemned by it, on this theory, you would have been better off not hearing the gospel and then you could not be condemned by your lack of faith in condemning it. If you had not heard the gospel, then, God could not have condemned you! Those who teach that all sin is against grace have a don’t ask and don’t tell kind of gospel.

    Tiessen agrees with the Arminians that Chrsit’s death gets rid of many sins for everybodybut not all the sins of anybody because he thinks it’s faith which unites you to Christ. Many Arminians think the only sin which condemns anybody is lack of faith. Yhey think that the good news was that God loved you but you didn’t have faith in God’s grace for you.

    Tiessen—I propose that one of the universal benefits of Christ’s atoning death is the forgiveness of sins of ignorance. Because any and all sin deserves God’s judgment, namely, death, everyone who sins objectively, having done what is morally wrong by God’s standard, deserves to be punished. Before the law of God, they stand guilty. When God chooses not to punish us for unintended sin, however, he does not simply say: “That is OK, it doesn’t matter.” It does matter, and it violates God’s holiness and disrupts the shalom, the total well being, of God’s creation. When God, the Judge of all moral beings, chooses not to punish us for that unintended moral violation, his own holiness is preserved, I suggest, by the fact that Jesus paid the penalty for sin. He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29), and he remains righteous by justifying a person in regard to the sin done in ignorance, because Christ bears the penalty (cf. Rom 3:23-25).

    Tiessen—Of course, I am not here speaking of the complete justification that leads to eternal life, simply of acts for which God does not hold the ignorant sinner accountable. But, nonetheless, I am suggesting one of the ways in which Jesus satisfied the just wrath of God against sin, is in his providing a sacrifice of atonement which God applies to sins of ignorance, that is to say, to acts which, though sinful, were done in good faith (as per Rom 14). This was typified in the old covenant provision of sacrifices for sins done unintentionally (Lev 5:17-19; Num 15:22-28), particularly in the annual offering of the high priest, in the Holy of Holies, which was for his own sin and “for the sins committed unintentionally by the people” (Heb 9:7).

    Tiessen–“Of much greater magnitude than God’s forbearance of sins done in ignorance is God’s forgiveness of sins done deliberately. No provision was made for these sins in the old covenant sacrificial system. Yet that is precisely what God does to all whom he graciously justifies, not on account of their own righteousness, but on account of the righteousness of Jesus, in whom they are incorporated by faith. That absolution of blatant rebellion, of acts done in violation of our own conscience, is only possible on the part of the Righteous God, because God sees believing sinners, not in their sinful selves, but as covered in the righteousness of Christ. ”

    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). Andrew Fuller claimed that all sinners are given the “moral ability” to accept “union with Christ”. It is now more and more common to think of all sin as sin against grace. This tends to remove the antithesis between law and grace .

    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.”

    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.”

    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.”

    Tom Nettles—”The idea of universal atonement is not demanded by the Bible at all, but only by the inference drawn from a no-grace-no-justice assumption…. The piggy-backing of grace onto the command to believe the gospel does not come from the Bible. The whole idea of obligatory grace is contrary to the biblical presentation of grace.

  24. markmcculley Says:

    God’s wrath is not an expression of God’s love. God’s wrath is not a response to human bad response to God’s grace. Those who are justified are no longer under God’s wrath. And those still under God’s wrath were born condemned, already under God’s wrath. God’s wrath for the non-elect is not subject to change

  25. markmcculley Says:

    Tianqi Wu–God had predestined the death of Jesus at the hands of lawless men. who had no right to kill Jesus Human beings do not have “inalienable” right to life and freedom. As the Creator, God has total ownership of human beings and can give or take away according to his perfect will The difference is between “intrinsic rights for the individual” (which we do not have) and “duty to each other in God’s moral order” (which we do have).
    …. If everybody has “inalienable rights”, do these rights include grace? What is a right is deserved. What is a right is not grace. The “opportunity to get a chance for grace” is not a right . Christ’s atoning death for elect sinners was offered to God alone . Christ’s death was not made to or for all sinners who have been wronged by other sinner.

    I Kings 2: 46 Then the king commanded Benaiah and he went out and struck Shimei down, and Shimei died. So the kingdom was established in Solomon’s hand.

    Sasse–You said: ‘You do not have some human right, some abstract thing given to you by God or something like that.’ Actually, that’s exactly what America declares we do have: People are the image-bearers of God, created with dignity and inalienable rights. This declaration of universal dignity is what America is about. Madison called our Constitution ‘the greatest reflection on human nature.’ Our western heritage sees people not as tribes but as individuals of limitless worth.

    If we want God to do unto you as you have done to others, we don’t want the grace revealed in the gospel of Christ’s death

    I Corinthians 15: 56 Now the sting of death is sin,
    and the power of sin is the law.

  26. markmcculley Says:

    John 15: 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin. Now they have no excuse for their sin.

    2 Corinthians 2: 14 But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.15 For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. And who is competent for this ?

  27. markmcculley Says:

    For von Balthasar hell is a Christological reality. We can only be certain that its population numbers one. On Holy Saturday we commemorate the Sheol of the Old Testament becoming the hell of the New one. Hell is a product of the redemptive work of Christ, “a product which henceforth must be ‘contemplated’ in its own ‘for itself’ by the Redeemer, so as to become, in its state of sheer reprobation that which exists ‘for him’: that over which, in his Resurrection, he receives the power and the keys.” Christ has power over death and hell because he suffered their fullness

  28. markmcculley Says:

    Lee Irons—The Jesus Storybook Bible presents a sentimental gospel, trading the true gospel of a holy God’s just wrath against human rebellion being satisfied by the propitiatory sacrifice of his Son, for the imitation “look alike” gospel of God’s sappy, tearful, undying, unconditional love for “his children” (all humanity). we are told, not that sin is rebellion against God deserving his wrath. Rather, “not being close to God was like a punishment,” and so, by implication, the punishment Jesus took was “not being close to God.” That seems a far cry from saying that Jesus bore God’s wrath in our place. If God’s love is primary, if the root of sin is distrust in God’s love, and if the human race is merely wandering from God rather than condemned under his punitive wrath, then it is hard to see what prevents us from taking the next logical step, namely, denying that Christ bore the wrath of God

  29. markmcculley Says:

    Hosea 1 : Hosea went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 Then the Lord said to him:
    Name him God Sows (Jezreel), for in a little while
    I will bring the bloodshed of Jezreel
    on the house of Jehu
    and put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.

    6 She conceived again and gave birth to a daughter, and the Lord said to him:
    Name her No Compassion,[Lo-ruhamah)
    for I will no longer have compassion
    on the house of Israel.
    I will certainly take them away.
    7 But I will have compassion on the house of Judah,
    and I will deliver them by the Lord their God.

    8 After Gomer had weaned No Compassion, she conceived and gave birth to a son. 9 Then the Lord said:
    Name him Not My People ( Lo-ammi)
    for you are not My people,
    and I will not be your God

    10 Yet the number of the Israelites
    will be like the sand of the sea,
    which cannot be measured or counted.
    And in the place where they were told:
    You are not My people,
    they will be called: Sons of the living God.

    Romans 11: 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off in order
    that I be grafted in.” 20 True enough; they were broken off by
    unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.
    21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare
    you either. 22 Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity:
    severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in,
    because God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from your native wild olive and against nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these—the natural branches—be grafted into their own olive tree?

    Romans 9: 22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to
    make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? 23 And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory— 24 on us, the ones He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As He also says in Hosea: I will call Not My People, My People,
    and she who is Unloved, Beloved
    26 And it will be in the place where they were told,
    you are not My people,
    there they will be called sons of the living God.[q]

    27 But Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: 10:22-23
    Though the number of Israel’s sons
    is like the sand of the sea,
    only the remnant will be saved;
    28 for the Lord will execute His sentence
    completely and decisively on the earth.

    Hosea 2:23 I will sow her in the land for Myself,
    and I will have compassion
    on No Compassion;
    I will say to Not My People:
    You are My people,
    and he will say, “You are My God.”

    Matthew 21:43
    Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be takenaway from you
    and given to a nation producing its fruit.

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