Faith is Not a Work but only An Instrument, therefore we can say that Faith is a Condition? No!, by Tianqi Wu

Mike Horton—“The New Testament lays before us a vast array of CONDITIONS for final salvation. Not only initial repentance and faith, but perseverance in both, demonstrated in love toward God and neighbor ” God of Promise, p 182

Mike Horton—To be claimed by water baptism 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 the instrumental CONDITION is that they must embrace the promise in faith. Otherwise, they fall under the covenant curse without Christ as their mediator….”

Mike Horton–As Packer explains it, “love is not the whole story” . We are faced with mystery — and the two guardrails that keep us from careening off the cliff in speculation. God loves the world and calls everyone in the world to Christ outwardly through the Gospel, and yet God loves the elect with a saving purpose and calls them by His Spirit inwardly through the same Gospel (John 6:63–64; 10:3–5, 11, 14–18, 25–30; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:28–30; 2 Tim. 1:9). Both Arminians and hyper-Calvinists ignore crucial passages of Scripture, resolving the mystery in favor of the either-or. Either election or the free offer of the Gospel, conditioned on God giving faith to the sinner.

Mike Horton–While it is among the sweetest consolations for believers, election is not the whole story of God’s dealing with this world. Does God love everybody, or is His kindness simply a cloak for His wrath — fattening the wicked for the slaughter, as some hyper-Calvinists have argued? Scripture is full of examples of God’s providential goodness, particularly in the Psalms: “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made …. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm. 145:9, 16) The doctrine we are talking about has come to be called “common grace,” in distinction from “saving grace.” Some have objected to this term (some even to the concept), insisting that there is nothing common about grace: there is only one kind of grace, which is sovereign, electing grace. However, it must be said that whatever kindness God shows to anyone for any reason after the fall, can ONLY be regarded as gracious. Once again, we face two guardrails that we dare not transgress: God acts graciously to save the elect and also to sustain the non-elect and cause them to flourish in this mortal life. .

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

Tianqi Wu— Unbelief of the gospel is sin. If God justifies us on the condition we don’t sin the sin of unbelief, then Christ’s death is not what saves us.. But a common obfuscation is to say “faith is not a work” and thus argue that it does not violate “grace alone” to make faith part of the reason God justifies us. Many people think Romans 4 is teaching that God counts our believing as righteousness. Some variations of this I’ve seen:

1, they think our believing satisfies the law, because our believing is obeying
2, they think our believing doesn’t satisfy the law, but God graciously counts it as satisfied the law
3, they think our believing doesn’t satisfy the law, but God counts it as righteousness, because believing is what God considers real righteousness

In all these views, faith works as a work that forms our righteousness.

But the main reason that “faith is not a work” is that we are not justified because of our faith. Faith is not part of our righteousness. God does not count our believing as righteousness, God counts what he announces in the gospel (Christ’s death provided by God for those elected in Christ and appointed to eternal life) to the recipients . The gospel announces Christ’s death as the righteousness of the elect who will believe this gospel. Faith in the true gospel is itself a benefit given by God along with the imputation of righteousness. (Faith in the gospel is a gift obtained by Christ for those he redeemed by his blood. II Peter 1;1 To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ)

We should not identify Christ’s death on the cross with justification, because justification (like faith) is a spiritual blessing given by means of the righteousness of the cross. Once we realize this, it takes away the objection against “application”of (imputation of ) the reconciliation accomplished at the cross as the basis for (in order to) justification. If the “new heart” is not immediately given at the cross (or even immediately given at the birth of each elect after the cross), then it is conceivable that “forgiveness of sins” is also not immediately given at the cross. ”

Stoever, A Faire and Easy Way, explains that “John Cotton professed himself unable to believe it possible for a person to maintain that grace works a CONDITION in him, reveals it, makes a promise to it, and applies it to him, and still not trust in the work. Even if a person did not trust in the merit of the work, he still probably would not dare to trust a promise unless he could see a work…”

“Grace and works (not only in the case of justification) but in the whole course of our salvation, are not subordinate to each other but opposite:as that whatsoever is of grace is not of works, and whatsoever is of works is not of grace.

Mark McCulley—Faith is a work. No, it’s not a work. The debate won’t take you very far. Even if the debate is about if faith comes from fallen man’s freewill contribution, the Calvinist accusation that says “well then it’s a work” does not do much because the Arminians will quickly explain that they never say it’s a work and that they know it’s not a work.

Explore posts in the same categories: atonement, election, faith

Tags: , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

10 Comments on “Faith is Not a Work but only An Instrument, therefore we can say that Faith is a Condition? No!, by Tianqi Wu”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    James Haldane, The Doctrine of the Atonement, p 115–”When does the act of justification take place? In time or before time? Like every other purpose of God, justification was God’s purpose before the ages, and like the act of creation, justification is an act carried out in time. We may as well talk of eternal resurrection as talk of eternal justification,”
    James Haldane, p 114—”Faith is not the persuasion that we are of the elect, or that our sins are pardoned. Neither of these can be known previous to our believing. Election can only be known by our calling. We are never required to believe anything but what is true independently of our believing.

  2. I wish i could follow all the quotes and the point if there is one, very difficult but Michael Horton’s quote explains all the false doctrine in Presbyterianism and pseudo-Calvinism. what covenant?

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Tianqi Wu–If we devalue the body, then we will not only devalue the future resurrection, but also devalue Christ’s death
    Christ lost his life in this age. Christ bore the curse of the covenant breaker, cut off from the land of the living
    Those redeemed by him and to him will have to wait until He returns to enjoy the full benefit of the kingdom (bodily resurrection and immortality, face-to-face with the Lord and reunion with all believers, living on the new earth) that comes with the never ending age to come.
    But Christ was raised because of our justification. The next age has come into the present. Christ didn’t wait until the end of this age to be raised. He was raised after three days. During these three days, his body was preserved by God from decay. He was no longer under wrath of God after he died, because he was no longer imputed with sin, having died to sin, because he had paid the sins imputed to him in full because of the loss of his life.
    The elect who have now already been redeemed to become sons (washed and sanctified by blood, reconciled to God, died to sin), have note yet obtained the redemption belonging to sons (glorification, inheritance of earth). They have died to sin, to the law, and to the world, and are guarded by God until their resurrection on the last day.
    As Christ is already raised from the dead and even reigns now, so the justified elect have been declared righteous and because Christ is now (absent in His humanity from earth) seated in heaven, the justified elect are now legally “seated with Him”. There will be a future visible manifestation/consummation of this legal reality by resurrection to glory and heavenly Jerusalem coming to earth).
    So in the one regard, the believer is “dead” (not dead in Adam, but dead in Christ) – to sin as damning guilt, to law as relationship of works, and to this present age as home. But in the other regard, the believer is “alive” in Christ – to God
    Being joined to Christ’s death results in a new relationship – belonging to the risen Christ. By the power of Christ’s Spirit in regenerating and converting the one imputed with his death , hears and believes the gospel, which kills his old false hope and gives him a new living hope. Not only has the believer given up on the world, but also the world will reject the believer, as it rejected the Master.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Tanqi Wu– You must have confidence in the flesh in order to find peace in salvation conditioned on the sinner. Definite atonement a is the only gospel of peace for sinners enlightened about the real condition of their flesh – a lost cause, a sinking ship. Some sinners have merely transferred their confidence from one kind of flesh to another kind – from outward conduct to inward experience, from inward experience to “objective” sacrament

  5. 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

  6. markmcculley Says:

    In theory, there is no curse for those in Christ Jesus, but in practical reality, you have to obey the warnings or you won’t be in Christ Jesus. Which would mean you were never in Christ Jesus, because justification was in Christ’s death alone, but sanctification is not in Christ’s death alone but also in your daily dying, and if you don’t die daily, then you won’t stay sanctified, and you won’t stay in the covenant, which means that you were never justified. Justification itself is by Christ’s death alone, but the assurance of it depends on how you obey the warnings so as to not lose your sanctification.
    Since our context is not legalism but antinomianism, we don’t need all that justification stuff, we need sanctification
    The gospel depends on the situation, the gospel depends on those who hear it, and now in our situation, we need the gospel to be the law, and we need the gospel to be what condemns people–because many are born in the church and many are born in the covenant, so what will condemn them is not the law, because what will condemn them is the gracious but conditional promise of the covenant, what will condemn them is “grace”— a grace common between those who believe and those who don’t believe. Grace for everybody, but believing for some.
    John Barclay—-“Luther was incredibly anxious about any notion of circularity—that we give back to God so that God can give further again to us. Luther was anxious about any language of obligation or obedience if it implied trying to win favor with God. As a result, some Protestants believe it’s inappropriate for God to expect something in return, because it would somehow work against grace. They believe a gift should be given without any expectation of return. However, that can lead to notions of cheap grace—that God gives to us and doesn’t care about what we do. On the other hand, the Calvinist and, in different ways, the Methodist–Wesleyan traditions have rightly understood that the gift of God in Christ is based on conditions, in a sense. While there is no prior worth for receiving the gift, God indeed expects something in return. Paul expects those who receive the Spirit to be transformed by the Spirit and to walk in the Spirit. As he puts it, we are under grace, which can legitimately lead to obedience, even obligation.”

    Fesko on Barclay’s book—Barclay argues that incongruity shouldn’t eliminate reciprocity. “Paul makes it clear that faith also involves action ([Galatians 5:6), arising from and made possible by the Christ-gift (2:20), and that in such action eternal life remains at stake (5:21; 6:8)” (406 n. 40). Barclay argues that a person can also lose the Christ-gift: “Since the warnings [Gal. 5:21; 6:8] are directed to the believing community, it is clearly possible to lose all the benefits of the Christ-gift.” The incongruous gift of Christ is supposed to elicit congruity in the lives of its recipients (440).

    Fekso—As critical as Barclay is of Sanders’s covenantal nomism (in by grace, stay by covenant faithfulness), how does this new gift paradigm truly differ?

    • markmcculley Says:

      Schreiner review of Barclay—I am not persuaded that there is no polemic against doing in Galatians. Faith is set against doing, even if the doing is circumscribed by Torah (Gal 3:1–9). The contrast is particularly strong in Gal 3:12 where the law, in contrast to faith, is characterized by performance. The reference to uncircumcision does not negate what is said since people can boast in what they do (get circumcised) or what they do not do (uncircumcision). That is why Paul trumpets the cross as his only boast (Gal 6:12) and the new creation is the rule by which all should live (Gal 6:16). Additionally, Barclay does not reflect enough on the difference between promise and law. Law does not avail since it focuses on what human beings do (or more precisely fail to do), while the promise stresses what God in Christ does for believers…..

      When it comes to Romans, Barclay sees a pronounced emphasis on the superabundance of grace. In Romans, like Galatians, Paul sees God’s grace as incongruous so that it is granted to the unworthy, and fitting, in that it changes those who are its recipients. The incongruous grace of God continues to be given in Jesus Christ. At the final judgment there will be evidence that those who have received God’s grace have changed. Hence, God’s grace is unconditioned (given to the unworthy), but not unconditional (those who have received such grace are transformed).

      On the other hand, he is not convincing when he says that there is no polemic against a Jewish conception of works in Rom 4:4–5. Has not Barclay already shown that some would not agree with Paul’s notion of an incongruous gift? In these verses we see a different conception of grace. Some Jews certainly depended on their works for vindication; otherwise, the boasting of the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18:9–14) does not relate to anyone. Barclay thinks Paul has an exegetical but not a polemical purpose in Rom 4:4–5, but that is a very unlikely splitting of categories. Paul writes about matters present in people’s lives. In the same way, it seems as if Barclay strains to deny any sense of trusting in one’s own righteousness in Rom 9:30–10:8. In Barclay’s reading of Rom 10:3, Paul speaks of confirming or validating one’s righteousness instead of establishing or achieving righteousness. He does not think Paul criticizes an attempt to be righteous by works or human achievement. The issue is that some believed that Torah observance made one a fitting recipient of God’s kindness. Paul does not criticize works-righteousness “but the criteria by which worth is defined” (p. 541 n46). This is a possible reading, but it is a very fine distinction. It seems likely that people would boast about meeting such criteria. Indeed, Paul sets boasting and works over against faith in Rom 3:27–4:5.

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Many Lutherans make our “dying” (sacramental experience) more important than the one finished death of Christ for the elect alone. They turn even “death” into a work-therapy for sinners. This is ironic, given that they boast in their “theology of cross”. When I was in the snare of universal atonement, I felt guilty for “killing” “Jesus” trying to save me and “wasting” his blood for me by not trusting enough in it to make it work for myself. I was all about “low anthropology”, about us murdering God showing our total depravity and need for Jesus… But the irony, or contradiction inherent in all this “theology of cross” of mine is that I never actually believed in total depravity (and thus never believed in need for Jesus). I was merely refining partial depravity over and over again – since whatever degree of depravity I admitted, I made my confession of that depravity my righteousness, so that though Christ died for all, the death worked for me because I finally confessed my depravity (killing Jesus) while others did not. I made my supposed lack of self-righteousness my righteousness. How dumb I was! It’s only in the gospel that I for the first time faced the reality of sin – God had chosen an elect to display his unconditional grace and Christ came with their sins imputed and died for their sins alone, and that sin-taking-away death was THE reason (alone, sufficient) that they are justified before the holy God. No more “theology of cross”, here is the real cross, one that does not depend on the sinner, but is wholly of God. Not our “dying”, not our apology for “killing Jesus”, not preaching “killing and making alive” now, not our “exchanging sins” – but God punishing the God-man with death for the sins of God’s elect, happened and finished outside all sinners. Tianqi Wu

    case in point The Lutheran thinks that thee old adam is the bad nature which was drowned in his water bpatism, but which still needs to continue to be drowned so that he can be continually justified. The Lutheran doesn’t think that there is a before and after of justification–he thinks justification is continuing and can be lost

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Vos—We find that there is real gospel under the theocracy. The people of God of those days did not live and die under an unworkable, unredemptive system of religion, that could not give real access to and spiritual contact with God. Nor was this gospel-element contained exclusively in the revelation that preceded, accompanied, and followed the law; it is found in the law itself. That which we call ‘the legal system’ is shot through with strands of gospel and grace and faith (Vos, 1948, 129)

    Vos–Evidence that in this sense conditions are attached to the covenant of grace: 1.The Scriptures speak in this way: John 3:16, 36; Rom 10:9; Acts 8:37; Mark 16:16; and in many other places.
    2.If there were no conditions, there would be no place for threats, for threatening only makes sense to those who reject the conditions; that is to say here, those who do not walk in the God-ordained way of the covenant.
    3.If there were no conditions, God alone would be bound by this covenant, and no bond would be placed on man. Thereby the character of the covenant would be lost. All covenants contain two parts.”

    Vos—Is faith, in its turn, again tied to something else? Evidently not, for otherwise we would get an infinite series, and nowhere would there be an absolute beginning where the grace of God intervenes. Therefore, we say that the covenant of grace is conditional with respect to its completion and final benefits, not as concerns its actual beginning.

    Vos—”The idea of commitment is employed in order to deny fellowship the name of covenant. But this whole objection immediately collapses as soon as one makes a distinction between the initial assent of faith and the ongoing exercise of faith. Faith is the ongoing activity that unlocks continual access to the good things of the covenant

    Vos—The presumption is always that the children of the covenant, who are under the covenant bond, will also be led into covenant fellowship. Election is FREE, but it is not on that account ARBITRARY. Therefore, we say: of those born under the covenant, not only is it REQUIRED WITH DOUBLE FORCE that they believe and repent, but it is likewise expected with a double confidence that they will be regenerated in order to be able to believe and repent.

    Vos–If for a long time he remains unconverted and unbelieving, the covenant relationship does not immediately end, and the requirement also does not cease, and the comfort likewise is not removed. But for the person himself, by his unbelief and impenitence, that comfort DIMINISHES with every moment

  9. markmcculley Says:
    Storms vs Horton—Horton’s argument is best seen in his treatment of the notoriously difficult Hebrews 6 passage. He contends that the blessings listed in vv. 4-5 are experienced neither by the “saved” nor the “unsaved” but by those persons who belong to the covenant community but who have not been regenerated or come to saving faith in Christ. Horton believes that a “covenant child” (i.e., the child of a believing parent who was baptized as an infant into the covenant of grace and thus is exposed to the “sanctified sphere of the Spirit’s work” can experience everything mentioned in vv. 4-5 without being saved.

    In other words, by virtue of infant baptism, a person can become a “member” of the covenant without “truly embracing the word that is preached” (37). It is to such persons that the warning passages, threatening the consequences of apostasy, are addressed. Such a person “belongs to the covenant community and experiences thereby the work of the Spirit through the means of grace, and yet is regenerate” . He faults the other views for failing to recognize “a category for a person who is in the covenant but not personally united by living faith to Jesus Christ” . Such persons, “born into the covenant of grace….merely to belong to the covenant externally but to embrace the reality that the covenant promises and conveys by the Spirit through the word and sacraments” (37).

    This is evidently why Horton feels no need to exegete in detail the many passages that speak of “falling away” or “making shipwreck of faith” or the like. All such folk who “fall” in this way are unregenerate “members” of the covenant by virtue of their baptism as infants of believing parents who, in the final analysis, utterly reject the promises of cleansing and forgiveness that both baptism and the Eucharist proclaimed.

    Storms– I find this entirely unpersuasive. There is no indication in the New Testament that anyone was regarded as a member of the New Covenant (as promised in Jeremiah 31 and instituted by Christ at the last supper) apart from a personal, conscious act of faith in the redemptive work and resurrection life of Jesus Christ. …
    Horton’s attempt to connect the warnings with the supposed spiritual benefits of infant baptism (one of which he identifies as the “sealing” of the Spirit is perhaps the principal flaw in all forms of traditional covenant theology.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: