The Priority of Christ’s Death

Posted November 12, 2017 by markmcculley
Categories: atonement, baptism, election, union with Christ

Tags: , , , ,

Why do I keep writing each month on this blog? Why do I care? What’s it really about? What I most care about is God imputing elect sinners with Christ’s death. To me, all my contention is not only about “justification priority”. It all comes down, for me, to “atonement priority”.

Yes, I am against “ecclesiology” becoming the gospel (whether it’s NT Wright or Carl Truman dismissing the “Zwinglians”) But my basic concern is that Christ’s atoning death is outside us sinners. Atonement is not what happens in us experimentally. God’s imputation of Christ’s atonement is not the atonement. The gospel is first of all about Christ’s death for the sins of the elect imputed. If it’s not about that, it’s not the gospel. I object to any idea that we believe in Christ “as a person” without knowing something about the nature of Christ’s atonement. I object to the “experimental” focus on “more and more heartfelt trust” because that “in me” displaces the good news about the the success of Christ’s death.

The atonement has to be defined.—propitiatory offering, satisfaction of God’s law

WCF—“The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he, through the eternal Spirit, ONCE OFFERED UP up to God, hath fully SATISFIED the justice of His Father; and PURCHASED, not only reconciliation, but everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all THOSE WHOM THE FATHER HAS GIVEN UNTO HIM. ”

Whatever it is that joins us to Christ’s atonement (even if it’s “personal presence” as the unionists say), is not the atonement, and is not the object of faith. Christ’s righteousness was obtained once for all time, and is not being accomplished by the Holy Spirit regenerating us or indwelling us. In that sense Christ’s “finished work” has priority over the present intercession or the coming Resurrection Day. God’s present work is based on God’s work already done in Christ. This is not to deny the necessity or importance of the Holy Spirit but to say that Christ gives the Holy Spirit. It is not the Holy Spirit who gives Christ.

The law-gospel antithesis is not about saying the law is not necessary. The law-gospel antithesis is about saying that the gospel is not the law. The gospel is not about the sinner’s unfinished and incomplete obedience to the law. The “unionists” oppose this as “false polarization”. But to include the works of Christians into the final declared justification is to include the works of Christians into the “atonement”.

There has always been a view among some Reformed that they can teach “the indicative of what Christ has accomplished” without addressing the question of the extent of the atonement. But the nature of Christ’s righteousness cannot be clearly taught without saying that only the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ.

If Christ in some sense bore the sins of sinners who are eventually not justified, then Christ’s death cannot be taught as that which totally satisfies the demands of God’s law in a “complete” atonement” . Not talking about Christ’s death in terms of election (but only in terms of “covenant”) results in a very GRAY “now but not yet ” gospel which brings into the mix ( in our conscience and before God) books of the works of sinners (enabled somewhat by the Holy Spirit) .

Calvin — “When in scripture death only is mentioned, everything peculiar to the resurrection is at the same time included, and that there is a like synecdoche in the term resurrection.” (Institutes 2:16:13)

Fesko—“The resurrection does more than prepare its object for undergoing the judgment. The resurrection of the church is not the anticipation of the issue of judgment, but is de jure the final judgment.”

1 Timothy 3:16 “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.”

If you are going to put your hope in two kinds of righteousness, it certainly would make sense to have two aspects of justification. But there is only one justification, and it is based on Christ’s death (and resurrection).

How was Christ justified? Not by becoming born again by the Holy Spirit. Christ was justified by satisfying the righteous requirement of the law for the sins imputed to Christ. Christ was justified by His death. Christ needed to be justified because Christ legally took the guilt of His elect, and this guilt demanded His death. Christ was not justified because of His resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was God’s declaration because of Christ’s death.

Romans 6:9–“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”

Christ was declared to be just, not simply by who He was as an incarnate person, but by what Christ had done in satisfaction to the law. No righteousness was shared to Christ from others, because Christ earned His own justification by His own death. Romans 4:24-25 –Righteousness will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was handed over because of our sins and raised because of our justification.

The legal value and merit of Christ’s death is shared by God with the elect sinner, as Romans 6 says, when they are placed into that death. So there’s only the one righteousness. In the case of the justified elect, Christ’s one death is legally shared with them by God, and this one death is enough, because counted to them that one death completely satisfies the law for righteousness. (Romans 10:4)

Romans 6:7–“For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

The Norman Shepherd (“federal vision”) problem creeps in when people begin to think that since Christ was justified by what Christ did, then the elect also must be justified by what they are enabled to do. But there are NOT two justifications, one now by imputation, and another in the future, where we will be justified like Christ was. We are ONLY justified by what Christ did, and NOT by what Christ is now doing in us. Christ is not to be justified by what Christ will do, because Christ has already been justified by His obedience to law (even to death)

Hebrews 9: 26 now Christ has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (27 as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, the judgment) 28 so also the Messiah, HAVING BEEN offered ONCE to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

When Hebrews 9:28 tells us that Christ “appears a second time not to deal with sin,” this is not a denial of a future judgment after death for the non-elect. The Triune God will deal with the sin of the non-elect.

The point of Hebrews 9:28 is that the sins of the elect have already been dealt with once at the cross. This was not a provisional dealing with, the efficacy of which is yet to be determined by what God does in some of the sinners for whom Christ died.. Even the elect sinner’s faith in the gospel is a result and not a condition of Christ’s past dealing with sin and God having placed that sinner into Christ’s death.

Hebrews 9:26-28 depends on this one time dealing with sins in the past. The point is eliminated by those who teach that Christ was given for everybody and that sins now are dealt with by the Holy Spirit’s giving to some what was done for all.

Our faith does not impute Christ’s righteousness to us. Nor does God wait for our faith before God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us.

What is imputed to us? Christ’s atonement is imputed to us. It’s not the present status and work of Christ which is imputed to us. It’s the merit of Christ’s finished work of law satisfaction which is imputed to us. “Merely” Christ’s atonement. “Only” Christ’s righteousness.

I am not interested at all in any “common grace” or “prevenient grace” in which “baptism” fails to save those joined to Christ’s death.

“therefore all died.” 2 Corinthians 5:14 Smeaton—Paul uses two expressions interchangeably; that is, “He died for all”, and “all died in Him.” Paul is describing the same thing from two different points of view. The first of these expressions describes the vicarious death of Christ as an objective fact. The second phrase speaks of the same great transaction, in terms that indicate that we too have done it. So then, we may either say, “Christ died for us”, or “we died in Him.” Both are true. We can equally affirm that He was crucified for us, or we were co-crucified with Him. We are not referring here to two acts-one on Christ’s side and another on ours. Rather,we have but one public representative, corporate act performed by the Son of God, in which we share as truly as if we had accomplished the atonement ourselves.

Theopolis Institute– “Baptism didn’t fit nicely in an order of salvation chain in Reformed theology. But now that we understand baptism to bring one into union with Christ, it means the person baptized has all the benefits of Christ as long as he abides and remains in that union.”

Gaffin — “Paul does not view the justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification of the believer as separate, distinct acts but as different facets or aspects of the one act of incorporation with the resurrected Christ….
“A person is engrafted into union with the resurrected Christ. As a result of this union, one is justified, adopted, sanctified, glorified–and all the other benefits of this union—at the moment one has faith in Christ. BUT“…for Paul the justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification of the believer are future as well as present.”

Theopolis Institute—Most people are taught in Reformed churches to think linearly about salvation but “…if ‘washing’ on which ‘regeneration’ is directly dependent in Titus 3:5, refers to BAPTISM, then what Romans 6:3 teaches concerning BAPTISM as a sign and seal of incorporation with the resurrected Christ, and so the implications of that incorporation, will have to be brought to bear. Soteriology didn’t simply have “implications” on ecclesiology. Soteriology is ecclesiology. To be BAPTIZED into the Christian church is to be BAPTIZED into Jesus Christ. Historically, Reformed theology had a significant amount of ambiguity over what BAPTISM accomplished. If BAPTISM justified the child then, the child would be in the “golden CHAIN” and couldn’t fall away. Yet, the fact remained that many who are baptized did (and still do) fall away.

As I have argued many times in this blog, nobody gets away from “causal relationships” between “links”. One side can say the other side has “links” and their own side is “organic” (no causes, no links) but then they assume that “union” means “Christ in us” has priority and then they have to answer the question about what “causes” union. Does the Spirit’s gift of faith cause the union, or is the Spirit’s gift of faith the result of union? If the Spirit baptizes us into Christ, is that “Baptism” that which is administrated by church clergy? One side can accuse the other side—you look within, we look outside, but if neither side is pointing to Christ’s finished atonement outside us but instead pointing to “more and more indwelling and enabling”, they are both looking at the life of sinners, of Christians, instead of looking to Christ’s death.

Most Lutherans and Reformed folks are NOT looking to Christ’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ. Many of them are telling us to “look to our baptism”. Some Reformed and “sovereign grace” folks seem to think that God saves without the gospel. Some even have the patronizing sectarian idea that “others are not as well well taught ”…

Do we need to know the nature of the atonement to know the gospel? Yes. Do we need to know the extent of the atonement to know the nature of the atonement? Yes. If we think that the nature of the atonement is what God does by grace “in us”, does knowing the extent of such an “atonement” teach us the gospel? No.

Christ’s atoning death is outside us sinners. God’s imputation of Christ’s atonement is not the atonement. Whatever it is that joins us to Christ’s atonement (even if it’s regeneration or indwelling or “personal participation” as the unionists say), is not the atonement , and not the object of faith. The gospel is about Christ’s death for the sins of the elect imputed. I object to the objection to “different links” because “union” tends to turn out to always mean “ Christ in me” instead of “I died in Christ” or I am “justified in Christ”. The “union” party often does not deny but simply displaces the good news about the justice and the success of Christ’s death.

Beale—“initial justification and consummative justification (twofold justification) are grounded in believers’ union with Christ, the former coming by faith, and the latter through the threefold demonstration of the bodily resurrection, evaluation of works, and public announcement to the cosmos.” (525 NTBT)

Westminster Confession, Chapter 3: VI. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

Without the clear teaching (in the WCF) about redemption for the elect only, the propitiatory offering (Ephesians 5) will continue to be seen (as it is by “evangelicals”) as something conditioned on what God does in the sinner. God has offered to God a righteousness in Christ so that God’s justice requires each person for whom Christ died be given all the blessings of “salvation”, including the effectual call and faith in the true gospel.

Machen: From the cold universalism of the Arminian creed we turn ever again with a new thankfulness to the warm and tender individualism of …the gospel. Thank God we can say, as we contemplate Christ upon the Cross, not just: “He died for the mass of humanity, and how glad I am that I am amid that mass,” but: “He loved me and gave Himself for me; my name was written from all eternity upon His heart, and when He hung and suffered there on the Cross He thought of me, even me, as one for whom in His grace He was willing to die.

If we go back behind NT Wright and Gaffin (meeting with Federal Visionists, Faith not Sight) or even Daniel Fuller and Cranfield (the law misunderstood) we get to Norman Shepherd “The prophets and apostles viewed election from the perspective of the covenant of grace, whereas Reformed theologians of a later day have tended to view the covenant of grace from the perspective of election. The result of this, is that the reformed preacher no longer says “Christ died for you” – but, when these words are construed, not from the point of view of election, but of the covenant, then The Reformed evangelist can and must say on the basis of John 3:16,”Christ died for you.”

But Christ did not die “for you”. Christ died only for the elect. You cannot know if you are elect until you believe the gospel. And the good news is that Christ died only for the elect, and this is good news because the death of Christ really really did take away the sins of the elect (both guilt and punishment). Does this mean that elect people don’t sin? No. It means that their sins are paid for in advance. I realize that this is not good news for most people who describe themselves Christian. They want a religion that really makes people better than they otherwise would be. But the good news (only for those who believe the gospel is that our salvation is not conditional on our ever in this age getting any better.

Jeremiah 32:40 “I will put fear of Me in their hearts so they will never again turn away from Me.”


Letter to My Local Pca Pastor

Posted October 13, 2017 by markmcculley
Categories: atonement, election, liberals

Tags: ,

Last night I went to see Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames, a program co-sponsered by you and your congregation. What I saw and heard was a false gospel and a false Christ.

The cross was presented as something that the devil did to Jesus. There was no presentation of “sin” as that which demands the justice of God so that God gives the Son to satisfy justice for the sins of His people.

The cross was presented in the first five minutes as something that MADE NO DIFFERENCE at the end. Since it was clearly said several times that Jesus died for every person, nobody in the audience could conclude that the difference between saved and lost was Christ’s death on the cross.

(Big deal! he died for those in hell too)
Time after time, the difference was said to be what the listeners did. So there was no good news at all last night, but only commands to believe in a false Christ and a false gospel.

In the end Satan gets people for whom Jesus died. That ideas brings dishonor and reproach to Jesus and His work. Care you more for the approval of other clergy persons than do you do for the honor of Christ?

The entire presentation was one long appeal to the flesh, to the natural mind. Sample statements:
You all got a “knower”.
You got to humble yourself.
You got to have the courage to say the prayer.
It’s up to you in the next 60 seconds.
He’s the path, but you are the chooser.
You got to really mean it.
If you will stand up, you will be a “special person”.
God will not throw it in your lap.
It’s God’s gift, but your accepting the gift is the difference.
If you say this after me, your name will be written in the book.
And most infamously: “just do it!”
And then people clapped when they did it.

And I cried.

Before I was converted, I was more theologically sophisticated than other folks, and I would have been “righteously offended” . But I cried, helpless, not knowing what to do or to say. “God, do you want me to stand up and interrupt when they say that Jesus died for those who go to hell?” Maybe I should have. I don’t want to be a fatalist. I don’t want to shirk my responsibility to the truth. But then again, I want people to be offended at the gospel, not at me. It wasn’t my meeting. It wasn’t my church. It wasn’t my Christ who was being “pitched”.

The trouble is that you don’t preach the gospel because you don’t preach particular redemption. Thus you avoid the offense of saying that the difference between saved and lost is the death of Jesus (and that all those for whom Jesus died will be brought to faith in the true gospel and saved from the sin of idolatry involved in believing the false gospel.)

You may on occasion talk in code language that reassures some people that you believe what the WCF says about particular redemption. But you avoid the antithesis. Thus you avoid the truth. You agree that you only have another interpretation but speak peace to those who say that God is neither wise nor holy nor just in saving all for whom Jesus died.

I think you tolerate and sponsor what you really believe. If you think of Heaven’s Gates as the gospel, or even as “pre-evangelism”, then you do not really believe the gospel. “Unconditional grace” without preaching the just and effective death of Christ is not the gospel, but merely lawlessness. Romans 1:17–“in the gospel a righteousness is revealed”…

What was “sin” in the presentation? Doing drugs, social drinking, not going to church, and, ultimately, not accepting Jesus. But Romans 10:3 teaches us that it is sin to try to establish our own righteousness instead of submitting to the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God is not out there to be taken at people’s discretion.

The righteousness of God demands that those for whom Christ died will not only stop hating God and His righteousness but also that all of the elect be forgiven for their sin of hating God and His righteousness. When you abridge the gospel, you substitute your own wisdom for that of God.

What am I to do when nineteen clergymen say to the town in which I live that this is the gospel? I am not a pessimist: I do not believe that Satan ultimately rules even this present age. . But I know that Satan is behind the presentation I saw last night. Satan does not wear a red cape. He substitutes a false gospel for the real one and calls it grace

Must Grace Have Been Bestowed on your Children before you can teach them God’s law?

Posted October 4, 2017 by markmcculley
Categories: covenants, election, piper

Tags: , , , ,

Was Esau born in the covenant of grace, but then later lost his justification in Christ and therefore failed to “enter heaven”?

Hebrews 12: 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. 15 Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many. 16 And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal.

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

For the promise is for you in spite of yourself, as many Jews as the Lord our God will call, in spite of them being Jews, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect. The promise is for your children, as many children as the Lord our God will call, in spite of parents, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect. The promise is for all who are far off, as many non Jews as the Lord our God will call, in spite of them being born outside any covenant, for the elect alone and not for the non-elect

Since our duty is not based on our ability, the soundbite from Augustine (give what you command, and command what you will) is wrong if it’s understood to say that Christians now CAN obey the law at least enough to make it “congruent” or “fitting” (Jonathan Edwards) for God to bless us. The Augustinian soundbite is also wrong if it is used to imply that God in neo-nomian fashion now lowers the standard of the law to the level of what we in the new covenant are now gifted to do IMPERFECTLY.

The law is not the gospel, grace is not the law, and the ability to keep the law is not grace. It’s still too late for justified sinners to keep the law in order to “enter heaven” Those who are already saints are commanded to obey God’s law but not as a condition of covenant blessing.
Romans 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.

Freedom from the law by Christ’s death imputed is necessary before we do any good works or worship acceptable to God

Those who reduce all post-fall covenants to one covenant of grace tend to say that their children need to have been born in grace in order to be taught the law. Like the Arminians who assume that the duty to believe the gospel implies the ability to believe the gospel, these like John Murray work their way from assumptions about the new capacity of regenerate disposition to denial of antithesis between law and grace for those born “in the covenant”

Mark Jones–When I ask my children to obey me in the Lord should I get rid of the indicative-imperative model for Christian ethics?

There is one divine standard, in this new covenant age, according to which both believers and non-believers are accountable. There are not two different standards. The commandment for children to obey their parents shows no distinction of believers and non-believers, and neither does the commandment to parents to raise their children according to God’s Word.

Do Christians and Their Unbaptized Children Pray to the Same God?

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, even apart from sin. In the garden, the grace of God was upon Adam.”

John Murray, The Covenant of Grace— “The continued enjoyment of this grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The relation established implies mutuality. The conditions in view are not conditions of bestowal. They are simply the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing and of the covenant relation is inconceivable….the breaking of the covenant is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

Richard Gaffin, by Faith not by Sight, p 103–”The law-gospel antithesis enters NOT BY VIRTUE OF CREATION..but as the consequence of sin…The gospel is to the purpose of removing an absolute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the believer…”

Gaffin— Having been called effectively involves having been regenerated, but the two are not identical. The exercise of the Spirit’s energies in calling produces an enduring change… marked anthropologically by a new and lasting disposition inherent in them, what Scripture calls a new “heart.” That is, at the core of my being, I am no longer against God and disposed to rebel against his will but, now and forever, for him and disposed in the deepest recesses of whom I am to delight in doing his will….The Holy Spirit’s work in the justified ungodly does not MERELY consist of an ongoing countering activity within those otherwise only disposed to be thoroughly resistant and recalcitrant. The definitive change MAINTAINED in believers by the Spirit provides a stable basis WITHIN THEM for renewing and maturing them according to their inner selves (2 Cor. 4:16). The Reformed use of “habitual” to describe this irreversible change, seems appropriate and useful. ”

Leithart–“God can and does reward appropriate (albeit imperfect) human response. God’s unmerited love, then, does not nullify reciprocity. . . . God’s love is bestowed prior to conditions and is undeserved, yet there are conditions for its continuance”

Leithart: The big difference between the word and baptism is that the word offers God’s grace to everyone-in-general while baptism declares God’s favor TO ME . Baptism wraps the gift of forgiveness and justification and puts MY NAME on the package. Like the gospel, BAPTISM REQUIRES a response of ENDURING faith. Faith involves believing what baptism says ABOUT YOU…The self-imputation of “righteous” is based on the baptismal declaration that we are “justified from sin” by union with the death and resurrection of Jesus. And I can’t, of course, live a life of unbelief and disobedience, and expect baptism to rescue me at the end. Such a life would betray my baptism…..

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.”

John Piper–How then can I say that the judgment of believers will not only be the public declaration of our differing rewards in the kingdom of God, according to our deeds, but will also be the public declaration of our salvation – our entering the kingdom – according to our deeds? When some deeds are exposed at the judgment as a person’s way of life, they will be the evidence that their faith was not transforming and they will not be saved.” (Future Grace, p 366)

Mike Horton: To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? If faith is the only way into membership, then why all the warnings to members of the covenant community to exercise faith and persevere in faith to the end? 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. The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ.”

Here are several good responses to the related ideas that duty implies ability, or that ability eliminates distinctions between teaching children law and assuming that grace bestowed is necessary to teach children law.

Engelsma: Mike Horton affirms that God promises saving grace in Christ to every baptized baby. This 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. God’s promise failed. Grace is resisted. Grace is 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, only because of grace causing Jacob to accept grace.”

Tom Nettles—”The idea of universal atonement is not demanded by the Bible at all, but is often assumed as an 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.”

Mark Seifrid— “The Law speaks even to us who are regenerate as fallen human beings. Being a Christian means again and again, in all the trials and temptations of life, hearing and believing the Gospel which overcomes the condemnation pronounced on us by the Law and by our own consciences in which that Law is written….But according to the puritan perspective, Law and Gospel do not address the believing human being in radically different ways, but only in differing degrees according to the measures of “grace” present within them. …. The embedding of the Law within grace qualifies law’s demand—while the Law works the death of sinners, it has a different effect on the righteous. The puritans regards the “flesh” is present as a power that exerts partial influence on us.

Paul Helm—“One thing that the Amyraldian proposal does is to weaken connection between the plight of the race in the fall of Adam. For the Amyraldians the responsibility of each of the non-elect comes simply from hearing and not receiving the message of grace.”

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

Steve Yang– Murray argues that those who crucified their old self with Christ are no longer under the dominion of sin (Romans 6). He says that “it is wrong to use these texts to support any other view of the victory entailed than that which the Scripture teaches it to be, namely, the radical breach with the power and love of sin which is necessarily the possession of every one who has been united to Christ. Union with Christ is union with him in the efficacy of his death and in virtue of his resurrection – he who thus died and rose again with Christ is freed from sin, and sin will not exercise the dominion” (143). Murray further writes, “the Christian] must reckon himself to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ his Lord. It is the faith of this fact that provides the basis for, and the incentive to the fulfillment of, the exhortation, ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body…’” (146).

Murray’s usage of Scripture, however, has failed to prove that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit necessarily changes a person in a progressive sense. His usage of Romans, for instance, is unwarranted for the reason that he assumes that by “the dominion of sin” Paul has an ontological change in mind. However, when Paul wrote “so you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11) the verb he chose to use was logi,zesqe, which means to “consider”, to “count”, to “credit” or to “reckon”. Such a verb is not used in an ontological sense, but in a positional sense. Paul also uses this very verb to describe the manner in which Abraham was counted righteous by God God accounted, or declared, Abraham righteous even though Abraham ontologically wasn’t. Murray’s usage of this passage undermines his own assumptions by reaffirming the positional aspect of God’s blessings.

The freedom from the dominion of sin, which Paul speaks of, is the freedom from the condemnation of sin and from the guilt of falling short of the law’s demands. Whereas Murray would seem to suggest that sanctification is conforming to the law (by the Spirit’s help), Paul’s claim is that “we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, IN ORDER TO serve. Whereas Murray would suggest that being freed from the dominion of sin means that the believer has newly attained ability to keep the law, Paul, on the contrary, suggests that such freedom means Christians are absolved from the law’s demands. All the law could do is condemn, kill, and destroy. And it is for this very reason that in Rom. 7:7 Paul anticipates the objection that “doesn’t such a view suggest that the law is sin?” the view that the freedom from the dominion of sin only means that the Spirit aids us in obeying the law would never draw one to raise the objection that the law is sin (in fact, quite the contrary). If one were in line with Pauline theology, one would have to expect answer to similar objections in which Paul faced. The fact that John Murray does not seems to attract such objections only suggests that John Murray is not reading the Apostle Paul correctly.

Stoever, A Faire and Easy Way, p 64 – 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 to trust in the work. If a person did not trust in the merit of the work, he would at least be tempted to trust in the right of it to the promise, and he probably would not dare to trust a promise unless he could see a work.

By Means of Christ’s Death or By Any Means God Decides?

Posted September 3, 2017 by markmcculley
Categories: good works

Tags: , , ,

Grace bypasses our works. The gospel is not grace plus works enabled by grace. The gospel says–grace OR works. It’s not grace for justification and salvation, but works for the other stuff. Either you support yourself, or you live by grace.

If God already decided to forgive some sins and some sinners, does it matter if God has also decided to forgive sins by means of Christ’s death or not by means of Christ’s death?

Does it matter if God uses Christ’s death as wrath and law satisfaction? Or is God by nature only sovereign, so that Christ’s death tells us nothing about God’s nature or about it being necessary for God to satisfy His justice for those God forgives?

If we agree that Christ’s death saves, does it matter if we agree about the meaning of Christ’s death? By means of Christ’s death or by any means God decides?

Romans 3: 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ Jesus as a propitiation ( through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness)

Galatians 2: 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

Hebrews 1: 3 After making purification for sins, Christ sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Hebrews 7: 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he DID THIS ONCE FOR ALL WHEN HE OFFERED UP HIMSELF.

Hebrews 9: 25 Christ did not offer Himself many times, as the high priest enters the sanctuary yearly with the blood of another. 26 Otherwise, Christ would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now Christ has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of Himself

Hebrews 10: 10 we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all…12 This man, after offering one permanent sacrifice for sins, sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Christ is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool. 14 By one offering Christ has perfected those who are sanctified.

It’s not grace for justification and salvation, but works for the Christian life. It’s not grace for justification but works for raising your family. It’s not grace for justification but works for making money and keeping that money safe from your enemies. Either you support yourself, or you live by grace. Either you lean on the lasting arms of God or you lean on your own sufficiency to add something to the mix.

Romans 1: 17 The righteous will live by faith

Romans 3: 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ Jesus as a propitiation ( through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness)

Romans 4:16 The promise is by faith, in order that the promise be according to grace, to guarantee the promise.

Galatians 2:20 The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing

if anybody is first in the new covenant and then out, then God is neither sovereign nor just (to Christ, whose death paid for all the blessings of salvation

Romans 4: 4 Now to him that works the reward is not counted grace, but what is due

Romans 8:32 “God the Father did not even spare or keep back His own Son but handed over His Son for us. How then will God the Father not also WITH THE SON GIVE us everything

John 10: 17 This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life in order to take it up again.

John 17: 4 I have glorified You on the earth
by completing the work You gave Me to do.
Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence

Yes, the Father loves the Son
But also the Father will give the Son what the Son is due
The Father loves the Son because the Son gives the Father what the Father is due

2 Peter 1: 17 For when the Lord Jesus Christ received honor and glory from God the Father, a voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory:
This is My beloved Son.
I take delight in Him!

Isaiah 42 “This is My Servant; I strengthen Him,
this is My Chosen One; I delight in Him.
I have put My Spirit on Him;
He will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry out or shout
or make His voice heard in the streets.
3 He will not break a bruised reed,
and He will not put out a smoldering wick;
He will faithfully bring justice.
4 He will not grow weak or be discouraged
until He has established justice on earth.

Grace to the elect was not grace to Jesus Christ
Christ did what Christ was obligated to do to save His elect
God the Son by His death appeased God’s wrath and purchased blessings

To save those the Father gave Him, the Son had a duty to die for them

Isaiah 53: 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many

Little or Much, Your Dead Works are an Abomination to God

Posted August 6, 2017 by markmcculley
Categories: good works

Tags: , ,

Psalm 127: Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain.
2 unless the Lord builds the house, it’s a waste of time to get up early and stay up working. God gives sleep to the one God loves.

The Roman Catholic “church” taught that God says what God says about us because we are what we are. The false church said that God can only call people righteous, if people truly are righteous, inside and out. Rome taught that justification was a matter of cooperation with the divine grace infused into us by means of the water baptism done by the Roman Catholic “church”.

A later development in some Roman Catholic theology was idea of “covenant grace” by William of Ockham (also later by Gabriel Biel) that taught that God does not say that we are just because we REALLY ARE just. This different false gospel taught something new. This different false gospel promised those “who do what little one can do” that God would not deny grace to them.

We may not do much, this false gospel taught, but we do a little something. We don’t do nothing.

But the Bible teaches that God’s justification is by Christ’s death.

To make this point, the Bible teaches that God’s justification IS NOT BY OUR WORKS

The Bible teaches that, if we do something, God has done nothing.

Galatians 2:21 if righteousness comes through our works, then Christ died for nothing.

Romans 3: 28 a person is justified by faith apart from works

Do not assume that God is on your side. Do not assume that God loves you. Do not assume that there are least SOME things you do that God will always see in a positive way. Do not assume that at a minimum God must accept at least your worship even if not your sins. Do not assume that your worship and works are not sins.

Do not assume that, if you do your little bit, then God will do the rest. Do not assume that, if you do your best, then God’s grace will accept your best as good enough. Do not assume that, if you are sincere, then God will count your good motives as having DONE ENOUGH THINGS.

Do not assume that your motives are good. If your motive is to do something so that God can take that something and then do what God could have done without you, then your motive is not good but instead is self-righteousness and hatred of the God revealed in the Bible.

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 to get assurance of justification before God is that works done before and without assurance of justification before God are NOT pleasing to God Works attempted before God without assurance of justification before God will not be accepted by God.

Works attempted before God without assurance of justification are DISPLEASING to God. Even if the works attempted are not attempted in order to gain assurance before God, without assurance of justification before God, all works are an abomination to God.

The Bible calls such works “dead works”, not only because they are works done by those still legally condemned before God but also because those dead works do not lead to life but to death.

Romans 6:20,21–”when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed. The end of those thing is death.”

Romans 10: 2 I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but NOT ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE. Because they disregarded the righteousness FROM GOD and ATTEMPTED to BUILD THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, they have not submitted themselves to God’s righteousness. ….The righteousness from the law is that the one who DOES THINGS will live by THINGS DONE

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

Isaiah 1 Your appointed feasts I hate. Your religious ceremonies are a trouble unto me.

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

Matthew 23:27 You are like unto whited tombs, which indeed appear beautiful on the outside, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness

John 3:19 Even though the light has come into the world, people loved the darkness rather than the light because even their works were evil.

John 3:20 People with dead works hate the light of the gospel and do not come to the light because they don’t want their dead works to be exposed as dead works

Romans 4:4 To the one who works, forgiveness is not considered a gift. To the one who works, forgiveness is considered something owed.

Romans 10: 5 There is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 Now if being chosen is by grace, then being chosen is not by works. Otherwise works cease to be works Otherwise grace ceases to be grace. 7. Many did not find what they were looking for, but the elect did find grace. The rest were hardened, 8 as it is written:
God gave them a spirit of insensitivity,
eyes that cannot see
and ears that cannot hear

God the Father made a different promise to Christ than God made to the fathers

Posted July 6, 2017 by markmcculley
Categories: election

Tags: , ,

I Peter 1: 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from THE FATHERS, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 Christ was chosen before the creation of the world but was revealed at the end of the ages

Even if God had chosen to save each and every human sinner by Christ’s death, it would still not have been foolish for God to create humans (and the world) in order that Christ would become incarnate and die for humans that God created to be sinners.

Fathers Abraham and David are NOT in heaven because they are still dead right now.

Acts 13: 32 And we ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our FATHERS. 33 God has fulfilled this for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm:
You are My Son;
today I have BECOME Your Father.
34 Since God the Father raised the Son from the dead, never to return to decay, God the Father has spoken in this way, I will grant you the faithful covenant blessings made to DAVID 36 David fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed. 37 But the One God raised up did not decay.

God the Father elects some sinners in Christ because of the Father’s love for Christ. God the Father elects some sinners in Christ because of the Father’s love for those sinners.

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

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

Christ’s election obligates Christ to die under God’s law.

Isaiah 53:10
Yet the Lord was pleased to crush the Servant severely.
You make Him a restitution offering,
The servant will see His seed, He will prolong His days,
and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished.
11 The servant will see the accomplishment out of His anguish,
and He will be satisfied with His knowledge.
My righteous Servant will justify many,
and He will carry their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will GIVE HIM THE MANY as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil,
BECAUSE He submitted Himself to DEATH,
and was counted among His sinners
He bore the sin of many
and interceded for His sinners

Did God create time? Or did God always have time?

Did God create His sovereignty ? Or did God always have sovereignty?

Before the ages when God elected Christ and Christ’s people, hadn’t that election already happened always before?

God made more than one promise to Abraham.
God promised Abraham that Abraham would have many children.
God promised land to Abraham and his children

Genesis 13: 15 for I will give you and your offspring all the land that you see for this lasting age

Genesis 17:8 And to you and your future offspring I will give the land where you are residing—all the land of Canaan—as a lasting possession, and I will be their God.”

Genesis 17: 19 But God said, “ Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will name him ISSAC I will confirm My covenant with ISAAC as an lasting covenant for his future offspring.

Genesis 17: 20 As for Ishmael, I will certainly bless him; I will make him fruitful and will multiply him greatly. Ishmael will father tribal leaders, and I will make Ishmael into a great nation.

Genesis 22:17 I will indeed bless you (Abraham) and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies. 18 And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you (Abraham) have obeyed My command.”

Since the apostle Paul took Scriptures with plural “seed” to mean the singular, can’t we also translate the many seed into one seed?

Galatians 3:8 Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and told the good news ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you.

Galatians 3:16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.

Galatians 3:18 For if the inheritance is from the law, the inheritance is no longer from the promise. But God granted the inheritance TO ABRAHAM through the promise.

Galatians 3: 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.

Even the apostle Paul knew that “seed” was the plural collective.

Ephesians 1:4-5. 4 For God chose us in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 God predestined us TO BE ADOPTED through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace that God favored us with in Christ.

God the Father elects some sinners in Christ because of the Father’s love for Christ. God the Father elects some sinners in Christ because of the Father’s love for these sinners.

was the promise of the new covenant made to both Christ and Christ’s elect?

Psalm 72:17
May his name endure forever;
as long as the sun shines,
may his fame increase.
May all nations be blessed by him
and call him blessed.

Genesis 3: 15 Then the Lord God said
I will put hostility between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.

Your believing will not Cause you to be Born Again

Posted July 1, 2017 by markmcculley
Categories: atonement, death, election, faith, imputation

Tags: , ,

John 3:18 He that believes not is condemned ALREADY

John 3:36 The one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God REMAINS on them

Not all sins, not all sin, was laid on the Savior
But every sin which was laid on Christ has been paid for by Christ’s death
No sin is not paid for by our believing

The believer who points to their believing and says that this believing made peace
is not yet believing the true gospel.
Different believers believe different gospels

Even if you don’t think your believing is the righteousness,
if you believe that Christ’s righteousness was for everybody
then you certainly don’t think it’s Christ’s righteousness which saves.

I Peter 2:24 who his own self bore OUR sins in his body on the tree
I Corinthians 15 Christ died FOR OUR SINS according to the Scripture

The cross is not about how God COULD save somebody
The cross is about how God WILL save all for whom Christ died
The cross is not about sinners already being saved before they believe
The cross is not about sinners being saved without knowing or believing.

The cross is about Christ having been imputed with all the sins of those God loves
The cross is about Christ’s death one time taking away God’s wrath for those sins
The cross is about God imputing Christ’s death to the elect and giving them faith
in that death as the righteousness which will save and give every blessing

II Peter 1:1 Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ:To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours THROUGH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Christ’s blood means Christ’s death
Christ’s righteousness means that Christ’s death
satisfies God’s wrath against sins

God does not buy God’s love for His people
God’s love for His people causes God to buy His people
Christ’s righteousness pays for God’s people

Romans 5: 8 But God proves His own love for US in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have NOW been declared righteous by His blood, we WILL BE SAVED through Christ from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the DEATH of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, WILL WE BE SAVED by His resurrection

Christ’s righteousness does not mean something else extra
besides Christ’s death satisfying God’s wrath
Christ’s righteousness is not Christ doing what Adam was supposed to do
God’s grace does not save apart from Christ’s death

Ephesians 1:7 in Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to His grace

All for whose sins Christ died were first objects of God’s love
God’s elect are not loved because they believe
God’s elect believe the gospel only because of God’s grace

Those who believe the gospel are free from condemnation
passed from death to life
but not because they believe and not because God saw that they would believe
believing the gospel is a gift of grace purchased by Christ’s death

Romans 8: If God is for us, who is against us?
32 God did not even hold back His own Son
but handed Him over for US all;
how will God not also ( along with His Son) GIVE us everything else?
33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?
God is the One who justifies.
34 Who is the one who condemns?
Christ Jesus is the One who died,
but even more, has been raised;
Christ Jesus also is at the right hand of God
and intercedes for us.

All for whom Christ died will in time believe the gospel
the gospel is not that Christ died for all sins and all sinners
you can’t know if Christ died for you until after you believe the gospel

But how can you believe if you don’t know first if Christ died for you?
The gospel is not that Christ died for you
Christ died for the elect to give them the gift to believe

Those who believe are those for whom Christ died
we have no Bible to say that Christ died for anybody who never believes the gospel

Hebrews 9:12 Christ entered once into the holy place, HAVING OBTAINED PERMANENT REDEMPTION for US

But how can you believe if you don’t know if God will give you believing?

how can you take a breath without knowing if God will give you another breath?

why would you not want to breathe?

why would you insist on knowing that Jesus died for you before you would believe?

would you like it better if Jesus died for everybody even though not everybody will be saved from God’s wrath?

would you like it better if at least your believing was not a gift God gives also along with the death of Jesus?

would you like it better if it wasn’t the death of Jesus that made the difference but instead your believing?

would you like it better if God loved those who will perish under God’s wrath just as much as God loved those who God will save?

would God be more righteous to you if Christ’s death was not enough to turn sinners into those who believe what God says about Christ’s death?

would God be more righteous to you if God did not care what you believe about believing making the difference?

Does Christ’s righteousness depend on what you do with that righteousness?