Archive for the ‘arminians’ category

Were You Born Justified and Then Later “Saved”?

June 12, 2017

There are preachers who teach the sovereignty of God who teach that God can justify (and has already justified) sinners who God has not taught the gospel. While these preachers assure us that these justified people will know and believe the gospel some day they also teach teach that God’s sovereign justice means that all the elect are justified before and without believing the gospel.

When these preachers teach that there are only two states, they are not talking about the difference between justification and condemnation. To them, the difference between “not being able to acceptably worship God” and “being saved” is NOT the difference between before and after justification. The eternal justification preachers teach that “saved” means “have learned the gospel”. They don’t think “saved” means “justified before God.”

Those who now think they are “saved” can talk about how other people “thought they were saved before they were saved until they were saved” But it turns out that some of these people think they were born justified before they knew the gospel. They think they were justified before they were “saved”. They think they were justified back when Jesus finished dying on the cross.

Phil 3:9–“and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that righteousness which comes through faith…

God has not yet forgiven any sinners who God has not yet taught the gospel.

II Corinthians 4: 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ

The truth of the gospel is not only God’s sovereignty but also God’s righteousness. This means that the gospel is not only about the justification of the elect sinner but also about the justification of God.

Palm 116:11—“I said in my alarm, ‘All mankind are liars’” The gospel gives all the honor and glory to God. In the gospel God is justified, and sinners who still don’t believe the gospel are still condemned. We see this in Romans 1:25 . All of us have been people who “exchange the truth for a lie”.

To pass over from condemnation to justification is to learn the gospel in which one’s confidence is not in what God’s sovereignty does in you but rather in what God has done in Christ outside you. Christ only died for the elect. Christ only died for those who will believe the gospel. One of the blessings of the gospel is that God teaches the elect the gospel and causes them to believe the gospel. Those who were once slaves of sin “become obedient from the mind to the standard of doctrine to which they are committed” (Rom 6:17) so that there are “things of which you are now ashamed” (Rom 6:21).

Before you were justified You may have already believed in God’s sovereignty and also been ashamed of immorality, without ever knowing God’s gospel about justification. The Cains of this world are ready for a self-examination and contrast in terms of their morality or their assent to God’s sovereignty. But as long as they have not come to the light of the gospel , they still love darkness and their evil deeds are still charged against them.. (John 3:19)

It is idolatry to only know a God who is sovereign. The true God is also righteous.

Psalm 51:4-6—“Against you have I sinned and done what is evil, so that you are justified in your words and blameless in your judgment…Behold you delight in truth…” Two things go together: God tells the truth, we were born in the wrong.

II Thessalonians 1: 6 It is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you 7 and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, 8 taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t OBEY THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS

II Thessalonians 2: 10 They perish because they did not accept the love of THE TRUTH IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. 11 For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, 12 so that all will be condemned—THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE THE TRUTH but enjoyed unrighteousness.

The gospel is good news for the elect, but not without also being first bad news. The gospel does not tell the elect that they are elect. The gospel does not tell the elect that they are already justified. The gospel does not tell the elect that all the elect are already justified. You can call it “law before gospel” if you wish. But part and parcel of justifying God (and trusting God’s true gospel) is taking sides with God against our-selves. Before justification, God and us can’t both be right. God is right, and we are wrong.

If we ever get to thinking that God is so sovereign that God justifies elect sinners before teaching them the gospel, then we takes sides against what the Bible teaches about the difference between election, atonement, and justification. We should not only confess that God is going to get God’s way, that God is going to win. We need to learn to confess that the way God acts in history . God justifies God in history (by means of Christ’s death in history) God justifies his elect in history. Believing the gospel is not a condition for God placing the elect sinner into Christ’s death. Believing the gospel is not a condition for God imputing Christ’s death to the elect sinner. But believing the gospel is also not the “evidence and result” of having been born justified, All those who do not yet believe the gospel are not yet justified. And all those who are justified before God believe the gospel.

Romans 3:22 –“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe”. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood THROUGH FAITH. This was a demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just AND the justifier of the one WHO HAS FAITH IN JESUS

Romans 4:13–“the promise did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith….

God is true. God is God. To be ignorant of the righteousness of God (His attribute, not only Christ’s saving work and gift) is to an idolater, to be one who still does not know the true God. Romans 3:3 tells us that God’s faithfulness proves that God is the true God. Isaiah 42:3—“He will faithfully bring forth justice.” Isaiah 45:19—“I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness. I did not say to the seed of Jacob, seek me in vain. I the Lord speak the truth. I declare what is right”.

Many who teach the sovereignty of God speak of “blessed inconsistency” instead of realizing that knowledge of how God justifies is wonderful knowledge of God!

Many who teach the sovereignty of God also engage in rationalizations and self-deceptions. They tell us, “well at least our being justified before we know the gospel shows us the sovereignty of God. We can’t be bothered to look back to any passing from death to life. Why bother with talking about before and faith in the gospel, or about “when in condemnation” or “before justification”. Since the Arminians confuse faith with Christ’s righteousness, we won’t make that mistake. We will exalt the sovereignty of God by teaching that justification is independent (before and without) God teaching us the gospel

But God is not a respecter of persons. God takes sides with Himself, against all those not yet imputed with Christ’s death. The only elect sinners that God has already justifies are those God has placed into the death of Christ.

Romans 8:10–”but if Christ is in you.., the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

II Peter 1:1, “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Romans 4:24 Righteousness will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was handed for our trespasses (past and future) and raised for our justification (past and future)

ROMANS 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who WERE ONCE slaves of sin HAVE BECOME obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, HAVING BEEN justified from sin, HAVE BECOME slaves of righteousness.

Romans 16:7 “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow countrymen and fellow prisoners. They are noteworthy in the eyes of the apostles,and they were also in Christ before me.” Christ being in us is not the same reality as us being in Christ, and the Apostle Paul does not say that these other elect were born again before him. Paul say they were “in Christ” before him. That’s not the new birth or election. That’s justification

God is not some neutral arbitrator. God is one of the parties in God’s lawsuit against sinners. The God we have offended by being sinners (exchanging truth for idolatry) is the God who will judge all sinners.

Eternal justification preachers falsely reason from the fact that God’s imputation of Christ’s death is before faith to a conclusion that God’s justification is also before and without faith in the gospel. But the imputation of Adam’s sin and condemnation are two distinct matters, and condemnation is the result of God’s imputation of Adam’s sin.

God’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ is distinct from God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect (Romans 6 baptized–not water, not with the Spirit– into the death). Eternal justification folk have nothing to say about justification in the before and after of Romans 6 and Ephesians 2. T

They tend to assume that Galatians 2 (despite its context) is not talking about justification (freedom from guilt, positive legal standing in Christ) but about the new birth (learning the gospel).

God’s imputation of Christ’s death results in God’s effectual calling, faith and justification. God’s declaration of justification is not apart from God’s creating hearing by faith in God’s gospel.

Cunha, p 83—” To say that faith is merely an awareness of justification that has occurred prior to faith is to define faith in a way that is foreign to Scripture….

David Clarkson, Of Faith, p 75—Faith at first relies on Christ, not as one that has pardoned my sin, but as one through whom pardon is to be obtained. The persuasion that sin is pardoned is a consequence of faith. Faith is not the persuasion that my sin is pardoned.

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,”

Romans 8: 12 We are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die.

Believing a false gospel is flesh, and if you believe a false gospel, you are going to die. Being immoral is flesh, and if you believe and confess the true gospel, you believe and confess the forgiveness of your immorality (past and future)

You will notice that I have not talked about the nature of faith and assurance. I cannot talk about everything all at once. I don’t make distinctions between me “really believing” and other people “only having their heads stuffed with intellectual doctrines”.

My question is about the object of knowledge. What is the gospel? Does the gospel tell us that all the elect are already justified? No, it does not. Does the gospel tell us that being “saved” is not justification but the new birth? No, it does not. Does the gospel tell us that Christ’s righteousness is Christ keeping the law Adam and Moses were supposed to keep? No, the gospel is about Christ’s death as the basic difference between those who will be justified and those who will not be justified. All for whom Christ died will be justified.


Did Christ’s Death At least Give Everybody an Incomplete Justification?

August 5, 2016

What good is an incomplete justification? If the justification is incomplete because you did not complete it, then you 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 not accepting the grace “God” had for you. Had you not heard the gospel, 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.”

God decreed the non-election of the non-elect before the ages, and so God excluded certain humans from salvation, even while ordaining these humans to be sinners.

It is not necessary to preach law before gospel until despair is created, and only then the gospel as hope. This one-two step can be a way of assuming or implying that sinners can actually take sides against themselves without any hope of forgiveness.

True repentance is not produced by the law only, however, but by the revelation of the gospel. Since the justice of God is a part of the gospel, there is no need to preach law separately before gospel.

But even the non-elect are commanded to believe the gospel
Believing the gospel is NOT believing that “God has grace for me” or that “God has grace for everybody”

The promise of the gospel is that as many as believe the gospel will be justified, so that anybody who says I believe the promise but I don’t believe that there is grace for me….is not yet believing the promise

The non-elect do NOT “exclude themselves” from election. The gospel is not the law, and we are born condemned, so that those who never hear the gospel are still condemned. Rejection of the gospel is not the basis of condemnation ,John 3:18-20 teaches that there is no escape from condemnation except by the gospel.

John 3: 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.

Terrance Tiessen agrees with the Arminians that Christ’s death gets rid of many sins for everybody but 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. They 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.”

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 (Leviticus 5:17-19; Numbers 15:22-28), particularly in the annual offering of the high priest, which was for his own sin and “for the sins committed unintentionally by the people” (Hebrews 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.”

In his attempt to say that lost people are lost only because of themselves, Andrew Fuller taught a common prevenient moral ability to believe (his false gospel).

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.”

Horton–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.

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.

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

April 1, 2016

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?

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.”

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.

Since God is Sovereign, Does It Even Matter how precise you are about the Gospel?

January 30, 2016

Tolerant Calvinists i tell us that, while Arminians may THINK that their salvation is conditioned on them, those Arminians are still saved and that this their salvation is not conditioned on them. After all, they say, they are not “stingy with the love of God”.

Does this mean that God loved the elder brother in spite of his legalism? Since most of those tolerant Calvinists claim that God has an universal “non-saving love” for all sinners, I am sure they would say that God does love “in some way” that elder brother.

But is that elder brother justified before God? Must the one who came home from the hog pen confess that the elder brother is his brother? Back in the days when I became an universalist, I said yes: all are brothers.

What do you say? I do not ask if you think the elder brother was non-elect in the secret counsels of God. Rather I ask—is a legalist already regenerate and justified while still left in his legalism? Are “good sincere people” saved also, despite their being deceived about their sins and about the gospel?

Is the love of God so weak that it cannot save a person who remains a legalist? In spite of his legalism? Is the love of God so weak that it cannot save a person who remains an Arminian? In spite of his Arminianism?

My answer is that the love of God is so powerful that it CONVERTS the sinner. The sinner is not saved BECAUSE OF his turning from from the false or BECAUSE OF his faith in the true gospel, but the sinner CONVERTED BY GOD does have faith in the gospel. The sinner is not saved BECAUSE he understands and submits to the righteousness obtained by Christ’s death for the elect, but the converted sinner will understand and submit to that righteousness.

The converted sinner will believe the gospel BECAUSE OF THAT RIGHTEOUSNESS. Romans 8:10– the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” What God did at the cross is not merely “potential”. The power of true doctrine cross is used by the Holy Spirit to “crucify” sinners so that they understand that salvation is not conditioned on the sinner. We should not presume that any man who does not know this is our brother.

But tolerant Calvinists won’t say this when it comes to submitting to effective atonement. Sometimes some of them suggest it when it comes to those “who only walked the aisles” But they won’t say it about it legalists. And all Arminians are legalists.

Because anybody who says that Christ died for everybody but some of them are not saved MUST be looking to the sinner as the difference between saved and lost. Even if the legalist gives his god or election the “credit” for the difference, he MUST locate that difference in what he thinks his god is doing in himself and not in what Christ did at the cross.

I understand that you believe that Jesus died only for some. But you think knowing about this death is not necessary. It is the cause, sure; but you don’t think they need to know that it’s the cause.

Tolerant Calvinists like to sneer at “hyper_Calvinists” un-named and un-defined) but in effect they agree with the Primitive Baptists that people can be converted without hearing the gospel. Either that, or these tolerant Calvinists think that Christ died for you and everybody” is still the gospel.

They say John the Baptist was, and that people can be converted “directly” without the message of the cross. So they think it doesn’t matter if the elect hear the true gospel or the Arminian gospel or any gospel.

I reject this. I know that the non-elect will refuse the gospel. I know that the elect must be made alive in regeneration (on account of imputed righteousness) before they will submit to the gospel. But I also know that people need to hear the gospel before they can believe it. (I Peter 1:22-23).

To obey the truth, they must hear the truth. To believe the Word, they must hear the Word. Those who have never heard anything but the Arminian gospel have not yet heard the gospel, and are still lost in their sins.

We are not liberals. We know that not all men are our brothers. It is good and necessary to focus on the elder brother’s refusal to say that the one who came home was his brother. My question: WERE they brothers? If the elder brother goes on like he is, never repenting of his legalism, is he in the family of God?

The tolerant Calvinist assumption, adapted to their purpose of being intolerant and attacking “these people” who say that Arminians are lost, is that both brothers in the parable are brothers in Christ, not only in the flesh. But that is a false assumption.

Though Cain and Abel are brothers in the flesh, both creatures of God, made in the image of God, not both were justified before God. The one who came home was justified; the elder brother is still in condemnation. They ultimately do not have the same home or the same gospel or the same God.

We need to know what the gospel is. And we need to say that those who reject the gospel are condemned already. John 3:17-21 “He who DOES THE TRUTH comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

There is no pleasing God without faith in God’s gospel. We “do the truth” only when we confess that salvation is not caused by our deeds but “done in God”. The “good works” of Christians are necessary but they are not “good works” unless the sinner has understood that his salvation is conditioned on what God did at the cross and not on these works. Faith must exclude itself as the condition of salvation, or it is not faith in the gospel and is not pleasing to God.

Workers must exclude works as the condition of salvation, or they are not ‘good works” and the people who do them are elder brothers, not yet in the family of God, but still lost in their sins. Elder brothers do not “do the truth”. They can talk much of their works, but they will not bring these works to the light of the true gospel, for the true gospel would say that their works were not acceptable.

All Christians are Saints, but Roman Catholics are Not Christians

September 24, 2015

Seeking sainthood in the Catholic Church? If you’re from outside Western Europe, things are looking up. A Harvard University study suggests both an uptick in saint-making and a larger portion of new saints coming from outside Western Europe, thanks to increasing competition for worshipers around the world from Protestant religions. Sainthood is quite an exclusive club for American Catholics. Pope Francis’s plans to canonize a Spanish missionary next week will be only the 11th canonization of anyone with close ties to America. During his trip to the United States later this month, the pope will canonize Junipero Serra, who spread Catholicism in modern-day California. Declaring Serra a saint — meaning the Catholic Church recognizes that a person has made it to heaven and can intercede for those on earth.

Proverbs 15:8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD”

Romans 6:20 ”For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those thing is death”

Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we now bear FRUIT FOR GOD. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear FRUIT FOR DEATH.”

Luke 16:15 That which is highly esteemed among humans is abomination in the sight of God.

Being set apart by God for God is not the same thing as being “moral”. Morality is not “sanctification” because those who are not yet justified before God by Christ’s death are not yet sanctified, not by the blood and not by the Holy Spirit.

The Bible teaches a distinction between “dead works” (works done with unacceptable motives, like gaining assurance) and “fruit unto God” (works that are pleasing to God without being “necessary”)

Our justification is not by our works, not even by our works after faith and justification. If we are already justified, then it’s too late for us to be justified by works. If we think we will lose our justification if we don’t work, then we do not yet understand what God’s justification is.

When Roman Catholics (and most Protestants) do not yet understand what God’s justification is, that is the result of God not having yet justified most professing Christians. According to John 10, the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice and do not follow strangers, and this includes legalist and Arminian Protestants as well the pope who claims to be “the vicar of Christ”. If we think that our works will give us the evidence that we are saints, then we have not yet believed the gospel, which is the good news about being joined to Christ’s death and NOT ABOUT OUR WORKS.

Romans 3: 27 “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. 28 For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

Even after we are justified saints, we are not yet glorified, not yet raised from the first death and given immortality. But neither is the rest of salvation conditioned on our morality and works. Our future resurrection from death is not about God enabling us to do what is required, but about God doing for us what we cannot and never will do.

Most professing Christians condition salvation on what God does in the sinner. Even many Augustinians define grace as God doing in us what God requires in us, instead of defining the gospel by Christ’s death as satisfaction of God’s law.

Is Assurance Necessary for Us to Be Moral, or is morality necessary for Us to have Assurance, or do we have a Situationist Gospel in which the Answer Depends on Who’s Listening?

With its emphasis on “knowledge” and “calling”, II Peter One reverses legalism by commanding us to examine our works by making our calling and election sure. Those who know Christ are commanded to become become fruitful, but not in order to find out if they know Christ (or are known by Christ.

But many assume an assurance of calling based on our morality. To do that, they attempt to isolate one verse and ignore the context of II Peter 1, which begins in the very first verse with the idea that faith is given because of Christ’s righteousness. They makes their “works of faith” the assurance.

Their assurance of Christ’s atonement is only as good as their confidence in their own works. Their “faith” turns out to be assurance in God causing them to be moral, not assurance in Christ’s death because of the sins of the elect imputed.

By what gospel were we called? Was it the gospel of “characteristic obedience” or was it the gospel of “Christ paid it all for the elect”?

Legalists warn against thinking you are justified if you are not “sanctified” (following moral rules) . But they are trying to be saints without first being justified by Christ’s death alone. They have not yet submitted to the gospel which teaches a righteousness not our own, a righteousness found in Christ’s death. Instead the legalists give their idol god the glory for creating in them a righteousness of their own.

We do not work to get assurance. We must have assurance before our works are acceptable to God. But even many professing “Reformed” folks think of faith as the “condition” that saves them. Yes, they disagree (somewhat) about the source of faith, but they both are way more concerned about the condition faith leaves you in than they are in the object of faith.

We get “results”, they boast. We are seriously and sincerely moral. This false gospel makes everything conditional, not on Christ’s death, but on us—-if the Holy Spirit enables you do enough things right, then God promises not to break you off.

The true gospel explains that the justification of the ungodly does not happen apart from the imputation of Christ’s death and that faith is created by hearing the gospel. The true gospel tells us that it is the righteousness ALONE (Christ’s death bearing sins, apart from any works of faith created in us ) which satisfies the requirement of God’s law. (Romans 8:4)

The moralist does not test her works by the gospel doctrine of righteousness. Hebrews 9:14 and Romans 7:4-6 teach us, that a person not yet submitted to the righteousness revealed in the gospel is still an evil worker, bringing forth fruit unto death.

Hebrews 6:1– “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”

Hebrews 9:14–”How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The problem with using works “done after you are in the family” to get assurance that you are a saint is that works done without assurance are not pleasing to God. The light of the true gospel of free grace exposes our “good works” as “dead works”. And “dead works” are sins.

John 3:19– “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Certainly God commands us all to be moral. But morality can be done in the flesh, by people who are not yet justified. To doubt that you are justified or will be justified because of morality or immortality is to take the focus away from Christ’s one-time-done death for elect sinners.

“Union with Christ” is NOT a Result of Faith

September 23, 2015

IT is NOT faith which unites the elect to Christ. God’s imputation of Christ’s death puts the elect in Christ

Tom Schreiner—“Do we say that faith is our righteousness, or is it the case that faith justifies us because it unites us with Jesus Christ, who is our righteousness? I would say the latter. Our faith justifies us because it unites us with Jesus Christ, in whom we find forgiveness of sins, and the righteousness of God is given to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). In one sense, I think it is almost simple if I explain it this way. Why is it that faith justifies us? It can’t be because it is our faith. What justifies us is clearly the object of our faith. It is not our faith itself that justifies us. ”
Questions for Tom Schreiner.

Is faith also a blessing of salvation? Does faith also depend on “union”? Or does “union” depend on faith”? Is it the faith that God the Holy Spirit gives us that unites us to Christ which then causes God to impute righteousness to us?

Are we the imputers, or is God the imputer? Does God’s imputation depend on us? Does God’s imputation depend on first God regenerating us? Isn’t regeneration also a blessing of salvation? Did Christ die to purchase regeneration for the elect? Or does the Holy Spirit give us faith in order to make the death of Christ work?

Many “Reformed” people teach us that “faith unites us too Christ”, and then after that, God imputes Christ’s righteousness. Some “Reformed” even say that God counts this “uniting faith” for something it really isn’t—they say God counts faith as righteousness.

A liberal view is that faith really pleases God so that God forgets the believer’s sins. The curse for sin is not a judge passing a death sentence or an offended king showing his wrath, but a father letting his wayward son learn the hard lesson, so that the son will finally give up on himself, remember the father’s goodness, and come home. The acts of salvation in history are therefore God’s means of reminding men his mercy, of which the death of Christ is the supreme revelation. In this view, the one and only sin becomes unbelief of the “offer” of the gospel.

An Arminian view is that faith unites us to Christ, causes Christ to be present in us, and that then as a result the death of Christ covers those united from God’s judgment. In the Passover: the esinners themselves applied the blood of the lamb to their houses and escaped the plague of death. In this view, “Christ is dead for you”, and the death of Christ is sufficient enough to make an offer but not enough to cover any sin, unless one first “exercises the faith” which “unites us to Christ.

I am not saying that either of these views deny the fact that God’s election decided for whom Christ would die. I am saying that Christ’s atoning does not have decisive priority in these two false views. .In both views, faith becomes the condition of “union” and “union” the condition of imputation. The Arminian view make us the oned who impute the righteousness to ourselves. And for all practical purposes, this view makes our faith our saving righteousness.

Hanko—by making faith the condition of salvation, faith is set outside the benefits of the atonement. if the atonement is for every sinner, but faith is not for every sinner, then faith cannot be a blessing given by means of the atonement. Then faith is not one of the blessings of Christ’s death, but becomes a condition for making Christ’s death effective. One cannot have it both ways. Faith is either part of salvation or a condition to salvation; but both it cannot be.

Mike Horton—Even if it is granted that justification is an exclusively forensic declaration, the rest of the order of salvation has usually been treated in Reformed theology as the consequence of an entirely different event the implantation of new life in regeneration.” (Covenant and Salvation p 216)

Calvin (3:2:10)–”Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with Him in the gifts with which he has been endowed.”

Bruce McCormack—”The problem with such statements is that one of the ‘gifts’ he speaks of–regeneration–is very difficult to distinguish conceptually from that ‘union’ which is supposed to give rise to BOTH justification AND REGENERATION….Calvin’s break with Medieval Catholic views was not as clean and complete as he himself obviously thought. For where regeneration is made— if only logically–to be the root of justification, then the work of God in us is once again made to be the ground of the divine forgiveness of sins.” p 110, “What’s At Stake in Current Debates Over Justification?”,

Jonathan Gibson, “The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of Christ”, From Heaven He Came, p 352—”Some conclude that the efficacy of Christ’s work occurs only at the point of faith, and not before. This ignores the fact that union with Christ precedes any reception of Christ’s work by faith

L Berkhof . (systematic, p 452)
“It is sometimes said that the merits of Christ cannot be imputed to us as long as we are not in Christ, since it is only on the basis of our oneness with Him that such an imputation could be reasonable. But this view fails to distinguish between our legal unity with Christ and our spiritual oneness with Him, and is a falsification of the fundamental element in the doctrine of redemption, namely, of the doctrine of justification. ”
“Justification is always a declaration of God, not on the basis of an existing (or future) condition, but on that of a gracious imputation–a declaration which is not in harmony with the existing condition of the sinner. The judicial ground for all the grace which we receive lies in the fact that the righteousness of Christ is freely imputed to us.”
What does “union” mean?

Is “union” both forensic and non-forensic?

Once you have defined “union”, will you consistently use the word “union” in the way you defined it?

Or will you be thinking of “union” only as “a result of faith”?

If “faith-union” is a result of faith, and if faith is a result of regeneration, where do faith and regeneration come from?

Is the problem with saying that “sanctification results from (is evidence of) justification” the fact that we are either justified or we are not?

Are we not also either “united to Christ” or not?

Please define “union”. Do you mean “in Christ”? Or do you mean “Christ in us”?

Is there a difference in those two phrases? Why do you say “union” when you could be saying “in Christ” and “Christ in us”?)

When you deny that “sanctification” is a “mere consequence” of the forensic, did you mean to deny that “sanctification” is a consequence of the “merely forensic”?

What do you have against any “sola” which points to merely Christ’s extrinsic righteousness imputed to the elect?

If “sanctification” is “more than” than “mere evidence”, does that mean that “sanctification” is also more than a result of “union”?

Is “sanctification” is in someway identical to “union”?

Does “union” flow result from transformation?

Is “union” the same thing as transformation?

If “union” is a result of faith, was faith a result of transformation?

If union is transformation, and union must come before God’s imputation, how is it that God is any sense justifying the ungodly?

If becoming children of God only means being born again so that we are freed by regeneration from corruption, what is the need for those who are no longer ungodly to be justified or adopted?

Why is Grace Conditioned on an One Time Decision So Popular?

December 22, 2014

Arminian Charlie Bing asks us why “Lordship salvation” is so popular. He explains that it’s because we want to contribute something to our salvation. Bing is right. Bing wants to contribute his faith to salvation, and opposes those who want to contribute both faith and works to salvation.

Bing writes: “Lordship theology is a necessary result of strong determinstic Calvinism, because in this view God elects some to salvation and gives them faith to believe. That divine gift of faith cannot fail, therefore a it guarantees a persevering life of submission to Jesus as Lord if one is truly saved.” I am not going to waste my time talking about what we mean by “determinism” or “Calvinism”. Even though I believe in the absolute sovereignty of God and that Christ died bearing the sins of all the elect to take those sins away and to give all the elect the gift of faith, the first question that always needs to be asked is this—what is the object of faith?

I agree with Bing that most “Calvinists” today have faith in their future perseverance in obeying the Lord. ( I don’t agree with him about this being a necessary inherent result. We who believe in “federal theology” are not Augustinians.) Even though, like Roman Catholics, these “Calvinists” want to give God’s grace the credit for enabling them to persevere in obeying, the faith of these “Calvinists” does not have as its object the death of Christ as making the only difference in “taking away sins”. These “Calvinists” are way more interested in regeneration than they are in the atonement.

My own opinion is that we will never stop finding assurance in our WORKS of faith until we also stop finding assurance in our FAITH. Works of faith are not our righteousness. But neither is faith our righteousness. All who are gospel believers are justified before God, and none are justified who are not gospel believers. None are born again who are not gospel believers, and none are justified who are not born again. But believing the gospel is not our righteousness.

The object of Bing’s faith is his faith. I am not going to try to persuade Bing that this “makes faith a work”. I agree with the Bible that faith is “not works”. I don’t need to say that “faith in faith” turns faith into a work. All I need to say is that faith is not the object of faith. If you think salvation is conditioned on your faith, then you have a false gospel.

Putting regeneration before faith in the order of salvation does not mean putting regeneration before an inevitable life of obedience. No matter how confident you are about how much God has enabled you to obey, your obedience is never going to be perfect enough to satisfy God’s law. And Bing’s one time decision is not enough to satisfy God’s law either, not least because that one time decision to “exercise faith” had the wrong object—he believed in a false gospel. It would not improve the situation to change the condition from a one time decision for faith into many decisions for faith!

The Arminians who oppose “Lordship salvation” are in no better place before God than the “Calvinists” who cannot have assurance because they cannot know if they will continue to keep their “covenant conditions”. Even though some Arminians don’t trust in their “commitment”, they do trust in their decision. They teach that Christ died for all sinners, and that this death makes no difference for most of the sinners for whom Christ died.

But Bing assures us—- Christ’s death DOES make a difference for us who make that decision. It would be more truthful for him to say that his decision made the difference, since his false gospel teaches that Jesus died for all sins (except presumably the sin of not making the decision)

Bing believes that Christ died for the sins of all those who persevere in Lordship salvation. I know that those in the Arminian “free grace” group are divided about the question of the salvation of those who believe in “Lordship salvation”. But since they assume that most of those “into Lordship” now had “already made the decision”, the anti-Lordship Arminians can agree that those “now into Lordship” are already saved and can’t be lost. It’s like a tattoo–become an atheist after that one time decision, and you don’t lose ever-lasting life. Become a “Lordship Calvinist” after that one time decision, and you don’t lose ever-lasting life.

The debate comes in when these Arminians think about those who grew up “in the Lordship gospel” and therefore never made that “one time decision”. But in any case, these Arminians teach that Christ died for the sins of all sinners including the sinners who teach “Lordship salvation”. But some of the anti-Lordship Arminians teach that Christ did not die for the sin of believing in works instead of believing in your own one time decision.

Since they deny that “the one time decision” is a gift of God, they can’t look to God to cause anybody to make the one time decision. And since they say that the one sin Jesus didn’t die for is the sin of believing in works, some of them find it difficult to be very hopeful about some of those who teach “Lordship salvation”.:

The solution is not to teach “discipleship by works” but “salvation without works”. All the blessings of salvation were earned for the elect by Christ in His death. God gives none of us anything apart from Christ’s propitiation. Christ’s death is not the reason God loves the elect but God’s love does not give any blessing to anybody apart from the merits of Christ’s death. The rain and sunshine God gives the non-elect are not blessings for them, nor is the gospel a blessing for the non-elect, even though the gospel promises salvation to anyone who believes it. The non-elect are not going to believe the gospel, and them listening to the gospel is not a blessing for them.

I will not at this time get into the question of how much the non-elect ever understand the gospel. Bing seems to understand the idea that God has an elect and that God gives these elect faith, but since he does not know that Christ’s effective death is the object of faith, he makes his decision the object of his decision Bing understands that Christ’s death makes no difference to some people but what he does not understand is that his notion of Christ’s death makes no difference for anybody, since his notion is that the decision makes the difference.

The solution is not to put our law-keeping on the back end of salvation instead of the front end. As long as our law keeping is imperfect, putting in qualifiers like “pattern of life” does not change the basic idolatry of trusting in what God enables us to do instead of in Christ’s death. And Bing denying that God enables us to believe, and saying that believing is the only thing we need to do, does not change a false gospel into a true gospel. Denying the enabling does not make faith in faith the good news.

Bing is very condescending to the “young restless and Reformed”. He informs us that most of them probably do not “understand the entire package”. Certainly more folks quote Piper and Carson then actually understand their dialectic. But surely Piper and Carson and other “Lordship teachers” do understand “the package”. They understand that they are teaching that God wants to save all sinners and that God also gives “persevering commitment” only to the elect. These teachers understand themselves to be warning that ever-lasting life depends on your forgiving others and keeping the commands (not perfectly but as a pattern of life)

What good would it do for me to explain that folks like Bing “don”t really understand” the implications of what they are teaching? Would that kind of tolerance make me look good? Would that kind of tolerance make God look better in their eyes?

Bing is a bright fellow. Why should I doubt that he understands what he is teaching about Christ having died for all the sins of all sinners, and thus the only sin being left is not making the decision?

Bing thinks that some Christians “make Jesus Lord”. Many Calvinists think that the Lordship of Jesus means that all Christians will not be as sinful as they were and as others still are. But Jesus is Lord of the Doctrine of the gospel, and the Bible does not teach that not sinning increases grace. Nor does the Bible teach that grace increases not sinning. When Romans 6:14 teaches that some are not under law but under grace, that refers not only to not being under the old covenants but also refers to those who have been placed into Christ’s death as having been justified before God.

There is now no condemnation for those not under the law because Christ was under the law for those who are justified before God. We do not need to have a fake view of our sins, of our being still sinners, in order to rejoice in God’s justification of the ungodly. Those who have been justified are no longer ungodly and no longer totally depraved, but they are not justified because of becoming less sinful and more godly. To the contrary, the justified elect are now godly sinners because they are justified. Justified sinners are not imputed with Christ’s death because they are born again. They are born again because they are imputed with Christ’s death.

The solution to the false gospel is not “less worldliness”. The solution to the false gospel is not more involvement in the world or less involvement in the world. The solution to the false gospel is not understanding the pacifism demanded by “taking seriously” the Sermon on the Mount. Nor is the solution to the false gospel denying the difference between the covenants and then “understanding” that the commands of the Sermon on the Mount are about our attitude and not about real life, and so in this way lower the standard so that we can think we are persevering in obedience.

Nor is the solution to say that the function of the law is only to show us our need of grace outside ourselves because God does not see the sins of Christians. The solution is not to deny any need to confess our sins. The gospel solution is to call our sins what they are without excusing our sins and we cannot do this if our gospel hope is about our not sinning so much as we used to and so much as others sinners do.

The solution to the prevailing teaching of salvation by works is not to teach that an one time decision is sufficient. Nothing is enough but Christ’s death as the satisfaction for all the sins of the elect. Our faith is not enough, whether we teach that God gives faith or if we deny that God gives faith. Our works are not enough to help save but trusting in works in addition to Christ’s death is leave you in the condemnation into which we are all born.

Our decision is not enough to save us but trusting in a decision leaves you still guilty before God. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through my decision, then Christ died for no purpose. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through God enabling me to persevere in the covenant, then Christ died for no purpose.

Bing and the Arminians who oppose “Lordship salvation” do not want us to trust “just any Jesus”. But they do want us to trust in a false Jesus “as one who died for our sins”. Jesus did not die for every sinner’s sins. Trusting in a Jesus who died for one sinner without that death making any difference for that one sinner is not trusting the Jesus revealed in the Bible. It is another gospel, which is not the gospel. Trusting like that is nothing else than idol worship.

It makes no difference if you call this idolatry “easy” or “not easy”. There is no ultimate difference between the Arminians who teach salvation at the cost of one decision and the Arminians who teach salvation at the cost of everything you have and do. Nor is there any final difference between the Arminians who deny that God gives faith and the Calvinists who teach that God causes them to be less sinful and that this being less sinful is part of the commitment of faith and a necessary result of faith.

But wait a minute. isn’t what I am a teaching also a decision? Have I not decided to follow the Jesus who justifies the ungodly by the merits of His death? Is my theology finally and ultimately any different from those who decide that salvation is conditioned on faith alone (which is never alone!)? Isn’t the only difference some stuff about election?

I agree with Bing that most of those who teach anything about election are also teaching that the gift of faith turns out to be the gift of not sinning (as much or too much). So the difference between the true and the false is not just any something about “election” but about the nature of Christ’s death . Instead of relating Christ’s atonement to “justification” in a different way than I do to “sanctification” or “discipleship”. I think the good news is that Christ died to forgive us our sin of not obeying His commands. But I also think that Christ never died to forgive those who live and die without ever knowing and believing the gospel.

Keeping Christ’s commands does not make us Christians. Not keeping Christ’s commands does not prove that we are not Christians. If sin proved that we are not Christians, then none of us are Christians. But does believing a false gospel prove that we are not Christians?

Certainly believing a false gospel is sin. But it’s not a sin we can sin and still be Christians. All Christians sin, but not all sin is believing a false gospel. Believing a false gospel is what we did before we were Christians. The elect have always been elect but the elect have not always been Christians. Some of the elect are still not Christians yet.

In the “early church”, there was a popular notion of waiting to become a Christian. The idea was combined with the idea of becoming a Christian by becoming watered by the church. The idea was to delay becoming a Christian so you could keep sinning before that. The idea was that Christians stop sinning. Therefore folks like Constantine-despite agreeing that their killing was sin-delayed being watered because they thought of water as some kind of medicine that would keep them from sinning. Since Constantine did not want to be kept from sinning yet, he delayed the water.

The teaching of ‘Lordship salvation” is not inherently related to some idea of “baptism as a means of grace”. But “Lordship salvation” is teaching that there will be less sinning after one becomes a Christian. You might want to “wait as long as you can” before you will need to make a ‘commitment” and “stop sinning”, but who knows about accidents and “cutting it close”, so the idea is that we “surrender” and ask God to begin enabling us to persevere in keeping the commands and the conditions of the covenant. Some of this goes with the idea of being able to be in a “new covenant” which continues to be as conditional as the old covenants. Even many “Calvinist” credobaptists like Tom Schreiner also teach “conditionality in the covenant”.

Lordship “Calvinists” tend to quote each other agree with each other. They divide the world into two camps, one in which they include themselves with all the “good Arminians” who teach that salvation is conditioned on “something more than an one time decision” and then put in the only other camp the Arminians who say that salvation results from walking to the front of a meeting one time and making a decision. Anybody else who disagrees with them about “not sinning causes more sanctification” and “sanctification as the evidence of justification” is dismissed as a “hyper Calvinist” who probably teaches eternal justification and who denies that God sees the sins of Christians.

Whatever–why should they be bothered with anybody who is not as “classic” and “mainline” as they are? Especially when we live in a world where so many professing Christians are so worldly and so sinful, and not really interested “in the things of the Lord”. The Pharisees and those who teach “Lordship salvation” are interested in the right things. Even if they still sin some, they do not sin as much as others do. And some of them are sincere because they do not sin as much as they used to sin. They are pretty sure of that. Not for sure sure. But mostly sure….

The specific context of I John 5 says “born of God” and not “justified by God”. But we cannot leave justification and atonement out of our thinking.

I John 3:6 and 9 are not saying that we have a “new nature that never sins”. Those verses are saying that those who believe the gospel have their minds set on the Spirit, and not on the flesh (see Romans 8:5-8) What do we believe? What is the object of our faith? Do we only believe that we have been born again, and NOW WE ARE ABLE? Do we believe our decision makes the difference?

I John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

But read on

Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony of God concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us LASTING life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life

a. We not only believed in the testimony of what the Spirit will do in us, but of “LASTING life” in the SON.

b. Is this “LASTING life” the new birth? No, it is not. Arminians think “eternal life” is the “new birth”. When the Bible says ” believe and you will have LASTING life”, Arminians understand the promise to mean “believe and then you will get the new birth”. (That is the way Billy Graham explains it in his book “How to Be born Again”)

c.The new birth is the cause of faith in the gospel. “LASTING LIFE” has to do with justification, with the life of the age to come, the permanent final legal life which results from being a justified saint.