Archive for the ‘faith’ category

Even if you do what you believe (because you believe), and “choose life”, there is no life in the law

January 23, 2017

There is no life in the law of Moses. There is no life in the law of Christ.
There is only life in the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Many who preach sermons in churches could preach the very same sermon in synagogues, because they preach the law and not the gospel. They confuse the law with the gospel, because they think that doing the law brings life. Make your choice, these preachers tell us. Believe the law and then do the law, and if you don’t do the law that means you don’t believe the law.

Deuteronomy 30:11 Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is NOT TOO HARD FOR YOU, nor is it too far away. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and DO IT ?” 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and DO IT” 14 No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to DO 15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 IF YOU OBEY the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and DOING his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live…. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.

But this choice is not as simple as it sounds, which is why legal preachers also cut themselves (and those who listen to them) some slack. They assure us that we need not live by the letter of the law. They say we can choose life and gain life by doing what the law says but at the same without our relying on our believing and on our doing what the law says. We should remain humble and thank God for helping us do the law. We should not sit in judgment those who don’t do the law well, so that others will not judge us when we don’t do the law better.

These preachers have no good news for sinners like me. These preachers have no good news for people like me who are still very unbelieving.

When Jesus preached in a synagogue, Jesus preached about Himself, not about our doing the law. Of those who are guilty before the law , all those for whom Jesus died (the elect) will be freed from that guilt and given life.

Matthew 11: 8 those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces.

Luke 4: 16 Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:
18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me
to proclaim freedom to the captives

Luke 4: 25 But I say to you, there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them—but to one widow outside of Israel. 27 And in the prophet Elisha’s time, there were many in Israel who had serious skin diseases, yet not one of them was healed —only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged.29 They got up, drove Jesus out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Jesus over the cliff.

These who come in soft clothes to the synagogues are not offended at the idea of a new perspective in which they become more inclusive and welcome others to do the law with them. But those in soft clothes in the synagogues get angry when anybody “narrows the covenant” to only those sinners whose hope is not in doing the law but in election by grace. Those in soft clothes in synagogues reject any notion that their own children and other family members will not be given enough grace to do enough of the law to receive life.

Deuteronomy 27: 26 Cursed is everyone who does not DO ALL the things written in the book of the law'”

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 DOING was evil. 20 They do not come to the light, lest their DOING be exposed.

“All who depend on DOING the law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10).

Those who pursue life by doing and obeying the law also accept the consequences of disobeying law. We are all born condemned, even before we do anything good or bad.
Whether we think we are pursuing life by doing or not, we are all born condemned, with no hope except in the gospel.

Hebrews 6:1– “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, 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?”

Faith in the doctrine of Christ’s death and resurrection can be referred to as obedience in the sense that when we believe in Christ we are doing what God command everybody to do. Thus is why the Scriptures sometimes speak of “obeying the gospel.” But doing the law is not faith in the gospel (Romans 3:28). Since whatever is not faith is sin (Romans 14:23 ) , some have concluded that “works of the law” does not refer to failure before the law in general, but rather to a specific kind of sin–the sin of trying to earn life from God by doing the law. But we are all born condemned because of Adam’s sin and also because of all our sins, not only because of the sin of trying to gain life by law. Even though there was never grace for the non-elect, the non-elect also are born condemned before they did anything good or bad, and before they ever attempted to gain life by doing the law. Romans 9:11 For though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything GOOD OR BAD, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works. Law doing is not simply acts one does without faith. “Works” are “anything we do, whether good or bad.”

Romans 3:19 “The law speaks to those who are under the law, in order that every mouth be silenced, and in order that the whole world be held accountable to God. 20 For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by doing commanded by the law. Through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

Jesus has redeemed His elect people from the curse of the law “by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13)

Galatians 3: 12 The law is NOT of faith, rather “The one who DOES them shall LIVE by them.” (Leviticus 18:5)

The logic of “if” is the logic of “or”.

Galatians 2:21 if righteousness and life came through doing the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Christ died for a purpose (all for whom Christ died will be saved) OR righteousness is through our doing the law. No synthesis possible. Christ did not come to help us to get around that antithesis

Galatians 3:18 For IF the inheritance comes by DOING the law, the inheritance does NOT come by promise

Galatians 3:21 For IF a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by doing the law.

Romans 3: 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded.

If our doing the law brings life, then trusting only in Christ’s death is excluded. Faith in Christ’s death and resurrection means “not doing the law”

This is why we cannot say that doing the law because we believe gives us life. We do not receive or keep life by doing the law.

John 7:19 “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law.”

Acts 13: 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption 37 but Jesus who God raised up experienced no corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man Jesus forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; 39 by this Jesus each and every person who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.

II Corinthians 3: 7 Now if the ministry of death, in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at the face of Moses because of the glory, a glory now set aside, 8 how much more will the ministry of the Holy Spirit come in glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! 10 Indeed, what ONCE HAD glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory. 11 if what was SET ASIDE came through glory, much more has the PERMANENT come in glory!

Haldane on Putting to Death the Deeds of the Body

June 3, 2016

Romans 8: 12, 13 — Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13.For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Robert Haldane—This is a consequence drawn from what the Apostle had said with reference to the state of enmity against God, and of the death of those who are in the flesh; and likewise from what He had been showing to be the great privilege of believers, as being not in the flesh but in the Spirit; as having the Spirit of God dwelling in them; and securing the future quickening and raising of their bodies. From all this he infers their obligation to live a holy life, in walking according to the Spirit in the character which he had shown belonged to them. They were not then debtors to the flesh — the state in which they had been by nature, which is a state of corruption, guilt, and weakness — to live after the flesh, either to expect life from its best efforts, or to obey it in its lusts. The ways of the flesh promise happiness, but misery is their reward. On the contrary, it is implied that they were debtors to God, to whom they were under so great obligations as being redeemed from the law of sin and death, to serve and obey Him, in walking according to the Spirit

Galatians 5: 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus HAVE CRUCIFIED the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.

Take the deeds of the body out of the equation, that’s living the gospel, that’s walking after the Spirit

This is not to deny that we are to obedient to the law of Christ, that we are to be moral

But our obedience is not acceptable to God unless and until we take our obedience out of the equation to get assurance or blessing

Our morality is not acceptable to God until and unless we take our morality out of the mix by which we have assurance that we are walking in the Spirit

Romans 8:4 Walking in the Spirit is believing the gospel, and our believing the gospel is not what fulfills the requirement of the law.
We are believing that Christ has fulfilled the requirement of the law

Anybody who thinks walking after the Spirit in part satisfies God’s law is in fact walking after the flesh, “has confidence in the flesh”

The apostle Paul warned the Galatians that more is less, more is NOTHING . If you add more —– ,“Christ will be of NO profit to you.”

Galatians 2:21—if any part of our salvation is by our works, then Christ died to NO purpose.

So you are not obligation to live according to guilt

If you know that you have been imputed with Christ’s righteousness, then you will be living a life of putting to death legal fear. No, we have not “stopped trying” (as the Keswick antinomian soundbite puts it). We are still trying to please God, but only as those who have already pleased God in Christ’s death.

Thomas Boston’s Offer—Grace is a Right Even for the Non-Elect But God won’t Enable Them to Accept It

March 18, 2016

Two peculiar doctrinal statements were especially at the heart of the Marrow controversy. The first concerns the preaching of the gospel to all men indiscriminately—what the Marrow men describe as the “offer” (rather than the “call”). 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, specifically, the phrase, “deed of gift and grant,” it is evident that the statement intends to teach God’s would-be love to all humans who hear the preaching on the condition that they believe. Implied in this statement is the doctrine that Christ died for all humans without exception. The church must “go and tell every man, without exception, that here is good news for him! Christ is dead for him! and if he will take him, and accept of his righteousness, he shall have him”.

The language is odd . “Christ is dead”? And Christ is dead for every human who hears the gospel? Not: “Christ died for every human.” But: “Christ dead for every human.” Contrast this confusing statement concerning the extent of the atoning death of Christ 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, etc. (Canons of Dordt, 2.8).

If what orthodox Reformed theology regards as the external call of the gospel is, in fact, a gracious deed of gift and grant of Jesus Christ to every human who hears the gospel, , Christ must have died for all mankind lost, for every human without exception.

This fundamental statement of the Marrow theology is false on its very face. Christ is not dead! He is not dead in relation to anyone, including the elect. He died, in the past. But Christ is NOT dead. Christ is alive, having risen from the dead. In order to introduce into Reformed churches the doctrine of universal atonement (in support of their heretical teaching of the “offer”), without exposing themselves to the charge of teaching universal atonement, as would have been the case had they explicitly stated that the church may say to every human, “Christ died for you,” the Marrow men resorted to linguistic subterfuge: “Christ is dead for you.” This is despicable theology,

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 eternal non-election of some humans in a
hatred of God for them. 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.

With regard to the Marrow’s assertion that the gospel is a deed of gift and grant to all who hear, 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).

The non-elect unbeliever does not have a warrant to believe in Jesus Christ. He does not have the ability. But neither does he have the right. Faith in Jesus Christ is a privilege, a right earned for the elect by the death of Jesus. “Warrant” implies right. The non-elect hearer
of the gospel has the DUTY to believe in Jesus, but he lacks both the ability and the right. This truth demolishes the theology of the Marrow.

If God in the gospel lovingly offers salvation to all humans without exception, on the ground of Christ’s death for everyone, Christ is not the whole savior. But the sinner himself, by his acceptance of the offered Christ, is instrumental in his own salvation. Indeed, the whole Christ is dependent upon the sinner’s acceptance. The Arminians call this acceptance “free will.” And the Marrow Calvinists call this acceptance “regeneration followed by instrumental faith”. But in both cases, Christ is not the savior because what God does to make the sinner accept Christ is the most fundamental part of salvation.

According to Thomas Boston. the offer is God’s gracious gift of Jesus Christ to all who hear the gospel, including those who are not saved by the gospel. It is not a gift to effectually save anybody, but in such a way as to make Jesus available to all those God predestined to be in the same room with gospel preaching. . 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 his in a sense nevertheless, while the poor man does not accept or receive 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”

Boston comments— This giving, which in light of I John 5:11 is certainly gracious on God’s part, does not, however, put anyone in possession of eternal life. It merely makes it possible for humans to take possession”of eternal life. This giving of eternal life by God in the offer is not to and for the elect, but to and for all who hear the gospel, including those who may be reprobate, and perish. The party to whom eternal life is given by the offer is not the election only, but mankind lost.” In the offer, there is a giving of Christ and salvation to many where there is no receiving, for a gift may be refused.”

http://commongracedebate.blogspot.com/2016/05/review-of-whole-christ.html

 
       

Cain Did not have A Gun, but Cain was Already Under God’s Wrath before Cain killed Abel

December 7, 2015

Matthew 23:29-34 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to Gehenna? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you MURDERED between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will COME UPON this generation.

I John 3:12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Cain was already violent before Cain murdered his brother. Murder is an evil violent deed. Cain murdered Abel because of Cain’s previous status as a condemned sinner and unbeliever in God’s gospel. Cain was a bad tree who thereby necessarily brought forth fruit which was all bad, all unacceptable.I John is not comparing morality with immorality. It is not simply nonviolence that the world hates. It was not morality that Cain hated.

Cain hated Abel’s gospel because that gospel said that even Cain’s best efforts and sacrifices to please God (the best of his fruits, with all sincerity) were an abomination to God. Cain murdered Abel. The world violently persecutes those who believe the gospel and who have passed out of death into life(3:13).

But what does I John have to say about gospel imputation? Isn’t I John about one of the “means of assurance”?: better morality, without being perfectionist about it? I John 4:16 tells the good news of God’s love for “us”, not for those who “went out from us”.

I John 4:17-18 explains that God’s election (love) is “perfected with us, so that we have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in the world. There is no fear in this love”

Imputation is the first way (before all other ways) that the justified elect can be AS Christ IS IN the world. (Check out your commentaries on this: even those who deny that the righteousness of Matthew 5:20 is imputed, even those who deny that the “fine linen” of the saints are by imputation, even most of these commentators agree that I John 4:17 is about legal solidarity with Christ’s obedience even to death).

We can make distinctions where we say, yes my ultimate hope is imputed righteousness (not as that which makes up the difference, but as that which is enough for the elect), but right now my assurance of that verdict also depends on being more non-violent than I used to be (or others still are).

I John 3 is about the difference between a Nicodemus and a prodigal state employee, about the difference between a religious Cain and a religious Abel. Think of the context! Not only the violence but the religion of Cain is evil.

You don’t have to be effectually called to become ashamed of murder. But the reason Cain murdered Abel was that Cain wanted to glory in/ rejoice in (Phil 3:3) his saying yes and in his religion (his idolatry).

Those religious deeds of Cain were motivated by a mercenary spirit seeking assurance by means of saying yes and then acting on that with deeds. But Cain in the flesh “could not please God” (Rom 8:8). To pass over from death to life is to be put into the new creation, to be given a new legal state, in which one’s confidence is not in what God does in you but rather in what God has done in Christ outside you. Only in this way can we be in the world as Christ was in the world.

Two positions: “those who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the mind to the standard of information to which they are committed” (Rom 6:17) so that there are “things of which you are now ashamed” (Rom 6:21).

You may have been ashamed of your violence before (I was a a pacifist long before I submitted to the gospel) . But have you ever been ashamed of your religious beliefs? Have you ever been ashamed of thinking that God needed your forgiveness, or of thinking that Christ’s death was God’s appeasement and apology to you?

The Cains of this world are ready for a self-examination and contrast in terms of being consistent with their theory of nonviolence (shall I ever call the cops, should I shop at Wall Mart?). But they will not come to the light of the gospel of grace, because they love darkness and the light of gospel grace will tell them their deeds are evil, all their deeds, even their moral deeds. (John 3:19)

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

November 8, 2015

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

Mike Horton—To be claimed by water baptism as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. HOW CAN THEY FALL UNDER THE CURSES OF A COVENANT TO WHICH THEY DID NOT BELONG? God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. Yet the instrumental CONDITION is that they must embrace the promise in faith. Otherwise, they fall under the covenant curse without Christ as their mediator….” http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/13/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton/

http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/reformed-theology-vs-hyper-calvinism/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark McCulley—Faith is a work. No, it’s not a work. The debate won’t take you very far. Even if the debate is about if faith comes from fallen man’s freewill contribution, the Calvinist accusation that says “well then it’s a work” does not do much because the Arminians will quickly explain that they never say it’s a work and that they know it’s not a work. https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/does-god-count-the-faith-god-gives-us-as-righteousness-since-faith-is-not-a-work/

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. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/09/14/so-you-want-to-be-declared-a-saint-by-pope-francis-see-your-odds-here/

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.

It’s Not Up To You

September 1, 2015

William Lane Craig, In Pinnock, the Grace of god and the Will of Man, p 157—-“God desires and has given sufficient grace for all people to be saved. If some believe and others do not, it is not because some received prevenient grace and some did not.”

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

For advocates of universal “grace”, God did accomplish all that he intended. For them God did not intend to effectually to redeem anyone. God simply intended to offer and provide “grace” for everyone. And in this, they claim, God was perfectly successful, even if all sinners were to fail to use this “grace”.

These universal offer folks are “lying about Jesus.” Your salvation is NOT up to you.

Not only because your faith is NOT up to you.

But also because the faith God gives the elect is NOT their atonement and NOT the righteousness which saves them.

John 5: 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?”

Most professing Christians (even the “reformed”) read the gospel as an “offer” which depends on the sinner. Some of them say that God enables all sinners to believe (even if they don’t) and others say that God enables only the elect to believe. But both groups together agree that faith saves and that faith is the difference between saved and lost. Neither group teaches in their gospel that Jesus died only for elect sinners.

Far too many “reformed” folks teach a fake view of God’s imputation. They teach that God counts faith as the righteousness. This leaves us with an “as though” version of imputation. But in reality even in the legal sharing between elect sinners and a third party ( Christ!), the relationship is not “as if” but is very real. Between Christ and the Trinity, in the imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ, the imputation does not cause an internal change in Christ (God forbid), but Christ legally (not fictionally) became guilty (under the law) until Christ REALLY died once and then REALLY was no more under the law (Romans 6). And if you think this is ‘contract talk” ” and a bad metaphor over-used, I simply don’t care.

Everybody needs to STOP thinking of imputation as God accepting faith as righteousness. But we won’t get to the bottom of the problem until we start talking about election and the death of Christ being a particular propitiation only for the elect. Whose sins were imputed to Christ? and when were those sins imputed to Christ and by whom? (by God, not by sinners, by God before the propitiation, not after faith)

Acts 3 Now Peter and John were going up together to the temple complex at the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. 2 And a man who was lame from birth WAS CARRIED THERE AND PLACED EVERY DAY at the temple gate called Beautiful, so he could beg from those entering the temple complex. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help.4 Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us.” 5 So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” 7 Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. 8 So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple complex. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had
happened to him.

Ephesians 4: 7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the MEASURE OF the Messiah’s gift. 8 For it says: When He ascended on high,
He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people.

Luke 4–there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. 26 Yet Elijah was any of them—but to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 And in the prophet Elisha’s time, there were many in Israel who had serious skin diseases, yet NOT ONE OF THEM WAS HEALED—only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. 29 They got up, drove Him out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Him over the cliff.

I Peter 1: 1 Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours[b] through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed

Acts 18: 27 he greatly helped those who had believed through grace.
John 1: 12 But to all who did receive Him,
He gave them the right to be children of God,
to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born, not of blood,
or of the will of the flesh,
or of the will of man, but of God.

John 6: 36 But as I told you, you’ve seen Me, and yet you do not believe. 37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day.

II timothy 2:25 Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth

Calvin’s comment on Ephesians 2: 8. For by grace are ye saved. This is an inference from the former statements. Having treated of election and of effectual calling, he arrives at this general conclusion, that they had obtained salvation by faith alone. First, he asserts, that the salvation of the Ephesians was entirely the work, the gracious work of God. But then they had obtained this grace by faith. On one side, we must look at God; and, on the other, at man. God declares, that he owes us nothing; so that salvation is not a reward or recompense, but unmixed grace. The next question is, in what way do men receive that salvation which is offered to them by the hand of God? The answer is, by faith; and hence he concludes that nothing connected with it is our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all commendation, it follows that salvation does not come from us.

Ought we not then to be silent about free-will, and good intentions, and fancied preparations, and merits, and satisfactions? There is none of these which does not claim a share of praise in the salvation of men; so that the praise of grace would not, as Paul shews, remain undiminished. When, on the part of man, the act of receiving salvation is made to consist in faith alone, all other means, on which men are accustomed to rely, are discarded. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ. And so he adds, not of yourselves; that, claiming nothing for themselves, they may acknowledge God alone as the author of their salvation.1

Charles Hodge: The only point in the interpretation of these verses of any doubt, relates to the second clause. What is said to be the gift of God? Is it salvation, or faith? The words καὶ τοῦτο only serve to render more prominent the matter referred to. Compare Rom. 13:11; 1 Cor. 6:6; Phil. 1:28; Heb. 11:12. They may relate to faith (τὸ πιστεύειν), or to the salvation spoken of (σεσωσμένους εἶναι). Beza, following the fathers, prefers the former reference; Calvin, with most of the modern commentators, the latter. The reasons in favour of the former interpretation are, 1. It best suits the design of the passage. The object of the apostle is to show the gratuitous nature of salvation. This is most effectually done by saying, ‘Ye are not only saved by faith in opposition to works, but your very faith is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’ 2. The other interpretation makes the passage tautological. To say: ‘Ye are saved by faith; not of yourselves; your salvation is the gift of God; it is not of works,’ is saying the same thing over and over without any progress. Whereas to say: ‘Ye are saved through faith (and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God), not of works,’ is not repetitious; the parenthetical clause instead of being redundant does good service and greatly increases the force of the passage. 3. According to this interpretation the antithesis between faith and works, so common in Paul’s writings, is preserved. ‘Ye are saved by faith, not by works, lest any man should boast.’ The middle clause of the verse is therefore parenthetical, and refers not to the main idea ye are saved, but to the subordinate one through faith, and is designed to show how entirely salvation is of grace, since even faith by which we apprehend the offered mercy, is the gift of God. 4 The analogy of Scripture is in favor of this view of the passage, in so far that elsewhere faith is represented as the gift of God. 1 Cor. 1:26–31

Steve Baugh, Ephesians Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series– καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, “and this does not originate from you.” There is much popular discussion about the word “τοῦτο” (“this”) and its antecedent in v.8b. It is tempting to take the antecedent as “faith” (i.e., “this faith is not from you “; as Hodge…), even though πίστις (“faith”) is feminine and the demonstrative pronoun is neuter. Grammatically, one could suppose that an abstract idea like “faith” or “believing” could be referenced as neuter, but that would make this rather common construction unnecessarily complicated (cd BDF §131). In Greek, events as a whole are treated as neuter singular things with neuter articles (e.g., το πιστευειν, “believing”), neuter relative pronouns (e.g., Eph. 5:5), or neuter demonstrative pronouns as in v. 8b (also, for example: 6:1; 1 Cor 6:6, 8; Phil 1:22, 28; Col 3:20; 1 Thess 5:18 and 1 Tim 2:1–3). Hence the antecedent of τοῦτο [“this’] is the whole event; “being saved by grace through faith.”