If You Talk about Election, then the Sinner will think He needs to Know he’s elect before he can believe

Tom Nettles on Andrew Fuller’s notion of “sufficient for all”.—–Error one: it’s tantamount to identifying the doctrine of effectual calling with atonement. What one really means by definite atonement is that the difference is not in the atonement but in the Spirit’s work of calling. A second error is subtle in nature and involves a shift in the understanding of the sacrificial death. Although the concepts of reconciliation and propitiation are defined as activities accomplished in the Father’s setting forth God the Son–when the idea of the sufficiency of the death of Christ arises, the emphasis shifts from the Son’s death to what he accomplished by his infinite divine nature.”

Abraham Booth, Divine Justice Essential to the Divine Character, book 3:60– “While cheerfully admitting the sufficiency of Immanuel’s death to have redeemed all mankind, had all the sins of the whole human species been equally imputed to Him, we cannot perceive any solid reason to conclude that his propitiatory sufferings are sufficient for the expiation of sins which Christ did not bear, or for the redemption of sinners whom Christ did not represent. For the substitution of Christ, and the imputation of sins to Christ, are essential to the scriptural doctrine of redemption by our adorable Jesus…”

Dagg (Manual of Theology, p 330): “Some have maintained that, if the atonement of Christ is not general, no sinner can be under obligation to believe in Christ, until he is assured that he is one of the elect. This implies that no sinner is bound to believe what God says, unless he knows that God designs to save him…”

Reformed—And why should the unbelievers believe that the good news applies to him if he can’t know that it applies to him unless he is among the elect, which is something he can’t know until he is first granted the grace of saving faith to begin with?

mark: And why do you presume that the gospel is good news for every sinner, unless you beg the question? Christ’s death does not apply to the non-elect. The non-elect will never be placed into Christ’s death. But since we don’t know (and can’t know) that any sinner is non-elect, why should that fact keep any sinner from believing the truth of the gospel? Must we change the gospel in order to make it more attractive to people who don’t like the gospel?

Reformed– If we are talking to an unbeliever about the gospel, what do we tell that person? Do we tell him that Christ died only for His elect, that faith in Christ is a gift of God given only to the elect, and that if he is elect he will believe? (All of this is, of course, biblically true, and in the course of a conversation with an unbeliever it may be appropriate to bring up such truths. But it is “good news” only to one who has already through sovereign grace come to believe).

mark— I am going to tell him the truth, and not keep secret what God has revealed, not only because I love the truth which gives glory to God in all God’s attributes, not only because I am “macho” or “confrontational” but because I do not believe that the Holy Spirit uses what is false to bring life to sinners dead in their sins. Knowledge of the truth is very important to the power of the gospel.

Reformed—But then would you go on and tell him that he has a duty to believe, while also telling them that he doesn’t actually have the ability to believe (which, of course, he doesn’t if he is currently unregenerate)?

mark: I am not Arminian, so I do not assume that duty depends on ability. Do you? I know only a couple of “hyper-Calvinists”, and both of them agree with the Arminians that responsibility depends on ability. It seems a very strange jump to get from your idea that “Christ’s death is enough for you” to get to a presumption of ability for all sinners. Are you advocating some idea of ‘common” prevenient “grace” that has been purchased for all sinners by Christ’s death? If not, why are you basing duty (to obey the law or to believe the gospel) on ability?

Reformed –If I were a perceptive unbeliever on the receiving end of such a “gospel” presentation, I would want to ask something like this: “You are telling me that I must believe in Christ for the forgiveness of my sins. But on what basis should I believe in Him? After all, I may be a reprobate, in which case Christ did not die for the forgiveness of my sins, nor does He in any sense of the word offer me His forgiving grace.

mark: Unbelievers tend not to be epistemologically self-conscious as they could be, but I can see nothing but good in presenting the truth that our salvation is not in our hands. Christ’s death has NOT now declared God’s desire to save everybody or that Christ has done enough to save everybody. To teach those two ideas as gospel may very well be what sinners want to hear, but those two ideas are not the truth and they are not what any sinner needs to hear. And again, you beg the question about “the sense of the word offer”. I have already agreed not to use the word, but I do not agree that “universal objective sufficiency” is the meaning of the word offer.

Reformed– So you are telling me I must believe in Christ for the forgiveness of my sins. But even if I wanted to how could I unless God were to first give me a special direct revelation of my election?

mark: How do you breathe without knowing when you will stop breathing and die? We agree that we don’t who is elect before they believe. I don’t know it. and you don’t know it. I guess you think you can solve the “problem” by not talking about election at all. But your telling sinners that “Christ’s death is enough for you” is not the truth and it also does not change the equation. Because at the end of the day, despite your assurances and your silence about election, it’s going to come out that Christ’s death which you say is enough is not enough and then it’s going to look like it all comes down to the sinner or what God does in the sinner.

The gospel is not a special revelation about who is elect. The gospel is what God effectually reveals to the elect in such a way that they believe the gospel about Christ’s death for the elect. The logic of “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin” is not that Christ died for every sinner, and that every sinner had an “opportunity” to be saved, if they accepted “the offer”. No. The logic rather is that now and always there has been only sacrifice that really takes away sin, and that’s the sacrifice of Christ’s death.

Reformed— Election and limited atonement are vital doctrines that undergird the gospel and strengthen the faith of believers. But unbelievers need to hear the simple law and gospel.

mark: The Arminian gospel turns out to never be that simple. Hypothetical universalism is not simple either. “Christ died for everybody” is a complex falsehood, very commonly believed. It’s not like most people have not already heard that lie.

Reformed– Christ is the all-sufficient Savior of sinners just like you and me, who died to pay the penalty for sin and rose from the dead so that all who believe in Him might have eternal life.

mark: It’s a shifty way of not talking about election. Romans 9:11— “Though they were not yet born and had done nothing good or bad-in order that God’s purpose of ELECTION would continue, not because of works but because of His call.” Unlike some tricky Reformed clergy who say “His covenant people” (where the idea is covenant is not governed by election, and the word election is not used), you go for “sinners like you and me”. But Christ’s death does not save non-elect sinners nor was Christ’s death intended to save (or condemn) non-elect sinners. Christ did not simply bear “sin” in a collective general “more or less, depending on what sinners decide” sense that Arminians assume. Christ’s death was not simply “representative” but a substitution, and all for whom He died will be saved

It’s so weird that you, on one hand, want a detailed Reformed creed which teaches so many wonderful truths about who Christ is, but then, on the other hand, want a “least common denominator” any Jesus will do, when it comes to the gospel. At the end of the day, it sounds to me like you not only think “the enough for everybody” gospel is true and enough, but you DO NOT want to talk to us sinners about what God has revealed about election. it’s as if you think our talking about Christ actually one day saving all for whom He died will get in the way of God’s effectual call.

Herman Bavinck, Sin and Salvation, volume 3, Reformed Dogmatics, 2006, p 469—-”The center of gravity has been shifted from Christ and located in the Christian. Faith (not the atonement) has become the reconciliation with God.”

Jonathan Gibson, From Heaven, p 358—-“Election and the Atonement do not operate on separate theological tracks. What God has joined together, let no theologian separate. Affirming union with Christ before the moment of redemption accomplished counters any disjunction between the effect of Christ’s death and the effect of His resurrection. (Those who put union later) sound as if Christ’s death might lead to the death of some sinners, but not also to their resurrection. … if one, then the other. if death with, then resurrection with.”

The “problem” to which those who misuse the Lombard formula (sufficiency/efficiency appeal is in fact solved by the biblical proclamation that every one who believes on the Christ who saves by His death will be forgiven and pass from death to life. . This proclamation is not grounded in Christ’s having died sufficiently for all humans. This proclamation is based on Christ’s having died sufficiently and efficiently for all the elect, no matter how enormous their iniquity. And that sufficient and efficient death has purchased faith for all the Father gave the Son.

DGH—-Not everyone agreed with Edwards— Nathaniel Taylor’s psychology differed. For him, motives were distinct from choice or volition, and volition caused action. Taylor’s psychology was tripartite, consisting of the affections, will, and understanding; Edwards’s was dual, consisting of the affections (emotions/will) and understanding.

DGH—Is anyone willing to stake salvation on any of these puritan speculations? http://oldlife.org/2016/03/30/the-less-worthy-bits-of-puritanism

mark– Did you ever notice that the puritans who hate the “commercial metaphor” for Christ’s death, are the very same puritans who most insist on the speculation that Christ’s death is “infinite and sufficient” and therefore there’s no need to talk about election in the gospel. These puritans are also often the very same people who say that “sanctification increases” and God’s love and grace goes up the more we obey, The same people who never have a good word to say about Tobias Crisp never have a bad word about John Wesley or Andrew Fuller or puritans like Richard Baxter. .

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.”

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/04/can-humans-merit-before-god-2.php

According to the Marrow theology, in the preaching of the gospel God in Jesus Christ, “God moved with nothing but his free love to mankind lost, hath made a deed of gift and grant unto them all, that whosoever shall believe in this his Son, shall not perish, but have eternal life” . As confusing as the language is, the phrase, “deed of gift and grant,” intends to teach God’s would-be love to all humans who hear the preaching on the condition that they believe.

Contrast this confusing statement concerning the extent of the atoning death of Christ with the clear language of the Canons of Dordt— For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father. (2.8).

Christ died once for time, back then, over there, not here, not now but in the past.. Christ is alive, having risen from the dead. In order to introduce into Reformed churches the doctrine of universal atonement, the Marrow men resorted to linguistic subterfuge: “Christ is dead for you.” The Canons of Dordt make plain that the “offer” does not mean a gracious effort on God’s part to save all who hear, in view of a love of God for all hearers and with the desire to save them all. Head one of the Canons confesses the non-election of some humans . Head two confesses that Christ died for the elect alone, according to God’s lasting love for them. Heads three and four confess that the saving call of the gospel, that which has its source in God’s election, is for some hearers of the gospel, not for all without exception.

Head two of the Canons teaches that Christ “purchased” for the elect, not only forgiveness and eternal life, but also faith itself (Canons 2.8). Faith in Jesus Christ is a privilege, a right earned for the elect by the death of Jesus. “ If God in the gospel lovingly offers salvation to all humans on the basis of Christ’s death for everyone, Christ is not the whole savior. The sinner himself, by his acceptance of the offered Christ, is instrumental in his own salvation. Christ is no longer the savior because what God the Holy Spirit does to make the sinner accept Christ is the more fundamental part of salvation.

According to the puritan Thomas Boston. the offer is not a gift to effectually save anybody, but merely a way to make Jesus available. Boston uses the example of the gift of money to a poor man: “Even as when one presents a piece of gold to a poor man saying, ‘Take it, it is yours’; the offer makes the piece REALLY HERE IN A SENSE nevertheless, while the poor man does not accept it, it is not HIS IN POSSESSION nor hath he the benefit of it; but, on the contrary, must starve for it all, and that so much the more miserably, that he hath slighted the offer and refused the gift”

And thus the gospel is converted into law, an instrument of condemnation under the pretense of glad tidings to sinners Christ never knew or died for.

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6 Comments on “If You Talk about Election, then the Sinner will think He needs to Know he’s elect before he can believe”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    http://www.the-highway.com/sufficiency.html

    David Alvord —“Do I simply agree to being a sinner, or am I convicted and broken over my guilt? Christ died on the cross for an elect people. Have you pondered your own state in regards to this particular redemption? Has your assent to this truth caused you to throw yourself at the foot of the cross for mercy?

    Alvord is correct. The gospel when effectual does make you ask—am i elect? Though we can’t know if we are elect before we believe the gospel promise and are justified , God can teach us to fear God and to know that God’s law can only be satisfied by Christ’s death. The death of Christ either was for us already or it was not. If the death was for not for us, then the death will not be imputed to us and we will never be justified. Believing the gospel involves assenting to these truths about God’s sovereignty.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    So what’s my point? Christ did not die for “us” if you think “us” means everybody.. John 10 makes this clear and simple. It does not say, “If you put your trust in and believe.” John 10:26, “But you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice.” It’s NOT if you put your trust in me, then you will become my sheep.

    Yes, many “Calvinists” reason, we also believe in election. We know that John 10:29 tells how “My Father has given them to me”. We just don’t we should talk about that when we are talking about Christ’s loving and dying. When we talk about Christ’s love, we stay with the “if you trust in Him”, and don’t get into the business of them not being able to trust if they are not elect. Christ knew who was not elect,
    https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/the-problem-with-us-theology-2/

  3. markmcculley Says:

    all those now in Christ were born in Adam, not all those in born in Adam will ever be in Christ

    For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all the elect die, so also in Christ shall all the elect be made alive. But besides the elect there are also non-elect who died in Adam.

    God knows who God has already elected for salvation. The elect are born guilty, and the elect are not born already born again. The elect can come to assurance through the gospel that they are elect. The non-elect can learn that they are condemned but they cannot learn in this life that they are non-elect

  4. markmcculley Says:

    http://www.semperreformanda.com/creeds/synod-of-dordt/

    Rejection of the Errors of those–

    Who teach that God the Father appointed his Son to death on the cross without a fixed and definite plan to save anyone by name, so that the necessity, usefulness, and worth of what Christ’s death obtained could have stood intact and altogether perfect, complete and whole, even if the redemption that was obtained had never in actual fact been applied to any individual.
    For this assertion is an insult to the wisdom of God the Father and to the merit of Jesus Christ, and it is contrary to Scripture. For the Savior speaks as follows: I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them (John 10:15, 27). And Isaiah the prophet says concerning the Savior: When he shall make himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days, and the will of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:10). Finally, this undermines the article of the creed in which we confess what we believe concerning the Church.

    Who teach that the purpose of Christ’s death was not to establish in actual fact a new covenant of grace by his blood, but only to acquire for the Father the mere right to enter once more into a covenant with men, whether of grace or of works.
    For this conflicts with Scripture, which teaches that Christ has become the guarantee and mediator of a better–that is, a new-covenant (Heb. 7:22; 9:15), and that a will is in force only when someone has died (Heb. 9:17).

    Who teach that Christ, by the satisfaction which he gave, did not certainly merit for anyone salvation itself and the faith by which this satisfaction of Christ is effectively applied to salvation, but only acquired for the Father the authority or plenary will to relate in a new way with men and to impose such new conditions as he chose, and that the satisfying of these conditions depends on the free choice of man; consequently, that it was possible that either all or none would fulfill them.
    For they have too low an opinion of the death of Christ, do not at all acknowledge the foremost fruit or benefit which it brings forth, and summon back from hell the Pelagian error.

    Who teach that what is involved in the new covenant of grace which God the Father made with men through the intervening of Christ’s death is not that we are justified before God and saved through faith, insofar as it accepts Christ’s merit, but rather that God, having withdrawn his demand for perfect obedience to the law, counts faith itself, and the imperfect obedience of faith, as perfect obedience to the law, and graciously looks upon this as worthy of the reward of eternal life.
    For they contradict Scripture: They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ, whom God presented as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood (Rom. 3:24-25). And along with the ungodly Socinus, they introduce a new and foreign justification of man before God, against the consensus of the whole church.

    Who teach that all people have been received into the state of reconciliation and into the grace of the covenant, so that no one on account of original sin is liable to condemnation, or is to be condemned, but that all are free from the guilt of this sin.
    For this opinion conflicts with Scripture which asserts that we are by nature children of wrath.

    Who make use of the distinction between obtaining and applying in order to instill in the unwary and inexperienced the opinion that God, as far as he is concerned, wished to bestow equally upon all people the benefits which are gained by Christ’s death; but that the distinction by which some rather than others come to share in the forgiveness of sins and eternal life depends on their own free choice (which applies itself to the grace offered indiscriminately) but does not depend on the unique gift of mercy which effectively works in them, so that they, rather than others, apply that grace to themselves.
    For, while pretending to set forth this distinction in an acceptable sense, they attempt to give the people the deadly poison of Pelagianism.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    I John 2: 14 I have written to you, children,
    because you have come to know the Father.
    I have written to you, fathers,
    because you have come to know
    the One who is from the beginning.
    I have written to you, young men,
    because you are strong,

    Calvin—faith is not bare or cold knowledge, since no man can believe who has not been renewed by the Spirit of God.

    https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/calvinregeneration.html

    I John 5: 1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him.

    When a person believes the gospel, that person can know until after he believes, if he is elect and God loves him. Does this mean that this person is still hating God as they believe the gospel? Does this not knowing if he’s elect mean that the person when first believing the gospel is in both Adam and in Christ ( the cat both dead and not dead)? How can a regenerate person be ungodly? How can an unregenerate person believe the gospel? Does this mean that sinner need to become godly in order to believe the gospel? Or does this mean that a person needs to be justified already before they believe the gospel?

    mark’s answer: No, a person who does not yet believe the gospel is not yet justified. Even though they are in Christ by election they are not yet in Christ’s death and not yet legally in Christ.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    election is easy

    all you need to do know is that you are a Christian

    and then you know you are elect

    all you need to know is that God loves you

    even if you disagree with God about who God is

    in spite of that, because you know you believe in the God

    you believe in, you know you are a Christian

    if you must think about such things

    Some “Calvinists” believe in a “limited atonement” in that they say that “”Jesus only died for those He knew He would enable to ask Him to die for them”

    ie, if you ask Jesus to die for you, He will

    that is “limited atonement”, but it’s not what the Bible teaches about the nature of propitation for the imputed sins of the elect


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