Posted tagged ‘anabaptists’

I am NEITHER MENNONITE NOR REFORMED

May 12, 2019

Romans 3:19 law speaks…in order that every mouth be shut and the
whole worl subject to God’s judgment. 20 For no one will become justified in God’s sight by their works of law, because knowledge of sin comes through law…..God’s righteousness has been revealed….that is, God’s righteousness through FAITH IN Jesus Christ to ALL WHO BELIEVE

The doctrine of justification in God’s sight after our condemnation in God’s sight is the doctrine of the true gospel news. It is not the same doctrine as “never condemned in God’s sight”. It’s not the same doctrine as “justified before faith in God’s righteousness”

Even though I think it’s sin (in this new covenant age of Christ as
lawgiver) for anybody to kill anybody, I am not Mennonite. I believe that the God revealed in the Bible imputes Adam’s guilt to us all, so that we are all born guilty in sin before God. This means that we are all born condemned before God and unable to do anything good before God. I believe that the only hope for any sinner is God’s election of some sinners. God’s election is God’s love for a
sinner,and that election is not a result of any decision made by that sinner. God’s love to a sinner is not a consequence of that sinner’s worth.

The hope of election is that all sinners Christ hss elected have been
died for by Jesus Christ. Election determines non-election, and therefore also designates those for whom Christ did not die. Christ died as a legal substitute only for the elect. This elction is not a mere matter ot God being sovereign add effective in whar God attempts to do. Christ’s death for the elect alone is a matter of God’s justice. God’s nature is not to leave sin unpunished. God’s justice teaches is that every sin imputed to Christ will in time NOT BE IMPUTED to elect sinners for whom Christ died

As a matter of justice, Jesus Christ was not merely a sacrifical offering. Being imputed with the guilt of the elect, by Christ’s nature asjust God, Christ by just necessity had to die for all the sins of all the sinners Christ loves. Divine Justice now demands that all those sinners one day be justified before God. Romans 4:25 teaches that Christ died BECAUSE OF sins. Romans 4:25 also teaches that Christ’s resurrection from death was BECAUSE OF justification. .

Justice says that all the elect for whom Christ died either have now
or will be justified. Christ Himself wss justified by His death, and
is no longer under sin. God’s law has no more to demand from Christ.
God’s law does demand the eventual justification of all for whom Chrsit died.

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 time

2 Corinthians 5:20–“we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is
appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to
God.” 21 God made the One WHO KNEW NO SIN TO BECOME SIN, in order that
we would BECOME the righteousness of God in Him.

I Corinthians 1:30– “No one can boast in God”s presence. 30 It is from
God that you are in Christ Jesus who BECAME God-given wisdom for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.

If Jesus never obtained or BECAME the righteousness for the elect, then
there is no news. If Jesus never BECAME the redemption of the elect, there is no news. THE GOSPEL OF JUSTIFICATION IS GOOD NEWS

Hebrews 9:12–“Christ entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus SECURING a permanent redemption

Hebrews 9:28–“Christ having been offered ONCE IN TIME 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.”

Christ was not justified by becoming born again. Christ was justified by satisfying the righteous requirement of divine law for the sins imputed to Christ. Christ was justified by His death. Christ needed to be justified because Christ legally bore the guilt of His elect. This guilt demanded Christ’s death. Christ was not justified because of His resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was God’s delcaration of Christ’s justification, and that because of Christ’s death for sins imputed.

No elect sinner has yet been glorified or given immortality, and so sin still has power in justified sinners. Justified sinners still sin. Sin never had any power over Christ Jesus, except for the power of guilt imputed to Christ. Christ’s resurrection demonstrates that imputed guilt no longer has
any power over Christ,

I Peter 1:21 For you were called to this,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an EXAMPLE
so that you should follow in His steps.
22 He did not commit sin,
and no deceit was found in His mouth;
23 when He was reviled,
He did not revile in return;
when He was suffering,
He did not threaten
but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.

I am a pacifist. God gives life. God takes life, We are not God. The killing done by humans in their death penalty and wars has nothing to do with any God specifically revealed in the Bible. It’s not worship of Jesus which motivates any attempt to overcome evil with evil.

But I am not Mennonite, and not only because of what I think the Bible teaches about the sovereignty of God’s election and the justice of Christ’s atonement. I am not Mennonite because I teach the securiity of those who have now been justified before God. Divine justice demands that those now justified before God stay justified before God.

Even though the sheep (the elect) were born “already condemned” before
God, just like other humans, in each case, with every INDIVIDUAL who is elect, God by means of the Holy Spirit AND THE TRUTH teaches these unconverted and guilty sinners. In time the condemned before God elect become the justified before God elect.

God effectually calls by the power of the true gospel these elect sinners so that they willingly believe this same gospel. This gospel teaches not only election but also regeneraton to believe when God imputes Christ’s righteousness.

Those who have not yet repented of worshipping the false unjust God who fails to save any sinner for whom Christ died give no evidence of being justified yet. In fact, their ignorance and/or unbelief of the gospel is evidence that they are not yet justified before God.

John 3:36 The one who believes in the Son has lasting life,but the one who does not believe in the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on them.

2 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

Romans 8:10–”Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of
sin,the Spirit is life BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.

I believe that each and every sinner God justifies (immediately as God imputes Christ’s death to them) CONTINUES TO BELIEVE the true gospel, and that all who truly believe as God’s gift purchased by Christ will remain repentant about false gospels, so much so that they will not regard as Christians those who continue in false gospels which teach that Jesus Christ supposedly died for everybody but where there is no justice.

John 10: the sheep hear his voice. The Shepherd calls his own sheep by individual names and leads them out. 4 When the Shepherd has brought all HIS OWN outside, the shepherd goes ahead of them. The sheep follow the shepherd because they recognize his voice.5 They will never follow a stranger. Instead they will run away from strangers, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

I am not Mennonite because Mennonites teach that Christ died for everybody, including the goats. They teach that not all for whom Christ died will be saved. They teach that future justification is determined not by Christ’s just death and resurrection but by our own decisions and morals. About this doctrine, the Reformed are not much different. Though many of them will teach that election will cause people to make correct decisions, it turns out that if a person believes in some version of “no election and died for everybody”, the Reformed still think of this as a “close enough” salvation decision.

For their assurance, anyway, the Reformed look to their own improved moral performance, even though they have a different standard for what murder means than the Mennonites do. To the extent that they talk about election, the Reformed use that doctrine either to claim that their own children are born Christians or use the doctrine of election to explain why they are inevitably
morally superior (not by themselves but with God’s assistance)

I am not Mennonite. I disagree with their Dordrecht Confession of Faith (1632)—-“The Son of God tasted death and shed His precious blood for all men and obtained forgiveness of sins for all mankind; thus becoming the cause of
salvation for all those who, from Adam unto the end of the world, each in his time, believe in and obey God.”

I disagree with this deceptive false gospel. Christ did not die for all sinners. Christ did not die to make it possible for the Holy Spirit to cause sinners to obey enough in order to be sure of their decision to be saved. All the sinners for whom the true Chrsit died wiil be saved, not because of their obedience but because of Christ’s death.

John 10:26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them lasting life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.

Most Reformed people agree with the Mennonites that Christ died for all sinners. The Dordrecht Confession teaches that–“God has declared all men without distinction, who through faith, as obedient children, heed, follow,and practice what the same contains, to be His children and lawful heirs; thus excluding no one from the precious inheritance of lasting salvation, except the disobedient, the stiff-necked and obdurate, who through their own sins make themselves unworthy of lasting life.

Logically, consistently, this means that those who do have lasting life still had Jesus died for them but that their sins made them unworthy. But the Reformed folks argue that logically God saves those with an “inconsistent gospel”. Thus they rationalize that others are being too rational. This comes back to the Reformed saying that God’s sovereignty means that you don’t need to agree on what the gospel is. Believe your own gospel, because in the end they think folks are already justified bofore they know any gospel.

In the assumption that Jews by sin have removed their children from “the covenant”, the Reformed assume that “election” and “covenant” mean that Christ has died for their own children. But like the Mennonites, the Reformed do not believe that it’s the justice of Christ’s death that saves anybody. They assume that their “the covenant” is the new covenant, but they also teach that some who are brought as infants into that “new covenant” will leave that covenant and then face “even worse sanctions” than those who were never born “in the covenant”.

Though the Reformed children may (or may not) have been taught in some catechism class that Christ died for everybody but also “died for the elect in a special way”. They have NOT been taught that God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, nor have they been taught that justice demands that all for whom Christ died will be imputed with Christ’s death (because justice demands that Christ’s death be imputed by God to those sinners for whose sins Christ died)

If there is one practical difference between Mennonites and Reformed that I still notice, it might be that some of the Reformed still superstitiously believe in “eating the body and blood of their Savour”. Since Mennonites do not talk about God at all that much, but instead talk about what they thmselves could and should be doing, they lean much less on sacramental mumbo jumbo. Some of the Reformed act as if they needd no hope in any second coming of Christ to earth. Not only do they plan to go straight to heaven when they die, but they also believe in the “real presence” of Jesus by which they (if they have a clergyman certified by other clergymen to do the hocus pocus) gives them the ability to climb up to heaven in their “sacrament” and “eat and drink Jesus up in heaven”.

Becoming Reformed these days has NOTHING to do with teaching that Christ died only for the elect. The Reformed clergyman may on occasion teach that election helped you to believe in some Christ who died for everyone. Then they will teach you that this faith (in whichever Christ you believed in) was given to you and caused you to be united to the true Christ.

The Reformed not only don’t teach election in Sunday morning worship. They don’t teach at any time that God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ. Instead the Reformed teach that Christ’s death has “infinite and sufficient” potential for all sinners. Instead of teaching election, the Reformed teach that even the water adminstered by the “Roman Catholic Church” can have saving efficacy, not necessarly at the time of the watering, but at some later point.

It is not a problem for Reformed people to accept the infant baptism of the “Roman Catholics” because they teach that they and their children became Christians without hearing and believing the gospel. They take the “sovereignty of God” to mean that God does not need the gospel as a means to effectually call sinners.

Though they accept “faith before regenertion” as one “good enough gospel”, it’s not that big a deal to them, because many of the Reformed think that Christians are Christians already without conversion or gospel. Along with the rest of ritual Christendom, the Reformed teach that water baptism is not something they do but rather something that God does. They believe that God does not save apart from water baptism (apart from “the true church”).

Becoming Reformed these days has nothing to do with the good news of election and atonement. You can agree with all the five points of the Arminians, and still be considered “Reformed” if you agree that “the church” includes those who do not yet believe the gospel. To do this, you have to (implicitly) agree that God’s covenant with Abraham is the very same covenant as the new covenant, and then you have to agree that this “the covenant” is not for the elect alone. This takes thinking about election out of the equation, and puts the accent on finding assurance in children doing the “ordinary” things they are supposed to do, like “regularly be handed the sacrament as a means of grace”.

Was Esau born in “the covenant of grace”, but then later lose his justification in Christ? No. God’s wrath is not an expression of God’s love. God’s wrath is not a response to human negative 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. The promise of the gospel is for as many as who believe the gospel. The promise of the gospel is for as many physical chidren of Abraham as the Lord our God will call, for the elect among the Jews and not for the non-elect among the Jews. The promise is for your children, as many of those children as the Lord our God will call by the gospel, in spite of parents. The promise of the gospel is for the elect alone and not for the non-elect. Therefore nobody knows if they are elect until after they understand and believe the true gospel. Election by God is not the same thing as justification before God.

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.”

God does NOT promise saving grace in Christ to every baptized baby. God did NOT promise saving grace to Esau in his circumcision. God made not only one promise but many differnt promises. God’s grace is NOT ineffectual. But many of the Reformed are now teaching a “common grace” that does not save some of those to whom God “wants to be” gracious.

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 only from hearing and not receiving the message of grace.”

The Mennonites teach that Christ only died to eliminate Adam’s sin from being imputed to anybody, and in much the same way the Reformed teach that no infant can be condemned only for sin imputed from Adam. These same Reformed teach the possible regeneration of infants (and adults) who have never heard the true gospel of Christ having died for the elect alone.

Mike Horton, Justification, volume 2,(New Studies in Dogmatics)-“a person can become a member of the covenant of grace without truly beleiving the gpspel All persons in the covenant are to be threatened with the consequences of apostasy. Some belong to the covenant community and experience thereby the work of the Spirit through the sacramental means of grace and yet have never believe the gospel. Thus we Reformed have a category for a person who is in the covenant but this has nothing to do their faith in the gospel.

Horton, p450—“The Holy Spirit grants us faith to be united to Christ.”

Horton, p455–“There is no union with Christ which is not union with the visible church”

Horton, p467–”Calvin goes beyond Luther by stressing the more and more aspect of salvation.”

To justify their false practice, Reformed folks need to flatten out all post fall covenants down into one covenant. Even though they are reluctant to water teenagers and adults who “have not professed” the gospel, they want to keep holding onto their own baby baptisms

Scott Clark — “the Lord gave his covenant promise or the covenant of grace (they are synonyms).”

Since “the covenant of grace” is something invented by the Reformed, “one covenant of grace” turns out to be the false idea that God only made one promise to Abraham. Reformed folks prefer not to talk about election, and would rather talk about “the covenant”. “Election” practically to them means that “my physical children begin life in the covenant” and therefore we never have to talk about non-election.

Romans 9:6 “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” Romans 9 teaches that some of ethnic Israel were predestined to serve in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Those who served this way were not necessarily ”justified before God” and given lasting life. And ethnic Jews not in the genealogy of Jesus are not necessarily “never saved”. Not only is there a difference between being in the genealogy and not being in the genealogy, but also a DIFFERENCE between being elect to justification or not being one of those for whom Christ would die to justify.

God did not make one lump and then leave the rest, God made two lumps.

Romans 11:1 I ask then–has God rejected His people? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.

Philippians 3 If anyone else thinks they has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised as a child of Abraham the eighth day; of the nation of Israel.

Ethnic Israel as a whole was not chosen for justification before God but some in Israel were chosen to be in Christ’s genealogy. Those in “the Reformed church” are not chosen as a group to be justified. Not only the Mosaic covenant but also the Abrahamic covenant have promises that only have to do with the role of the nation in God’s historical plan. Their election to be children of Abraham was utilitarian, like creation or redemption from Egypt, not like redemption from the guilt of sin before God.

Something in one of the promises to Abraham can be a “type or picture” of some other promise to Abraham. Those who believe the gospel are promised lasting life. Those who escape Egypt are not all promised lasting life. The children of those who have lasting life are not promised lasting life.

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 (693), 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 FAALL UNDER THE COVENANT CURSE without Christ as their mediator. The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response.

To repeat, one last time. I am not Mennonite and I am not Reformed. I believe that the justice of God demands that all for whom Christ died (with their sins imputed to Him) will be justified.

Either you are justified or you are not justified. If you are justified now, you don’t need to be justified in future. If you are not justified now, then you need to be justified. You either are already elect or not, but even if you are elect, if you don’t know the gospel yet, then you are not justified yet.

Reformation Day

October 16, 2013

I always have mixed feelings about Reformation Day. One the one hand, as an adventist who believes that we must all wait for the advent to be conscious together (Hebrews 11:40), I am glad to get away from the premature idea of “all souls day”. On the other hand, heirs of the radical reformation dislike the lack of attention to the variety of reformations and to the protestant persecution of anabaptists.

Yet I want to take time to remember, not the story of Luther and Calvin, but the significance of being protestant. Though the Lutherans and Calvinists continue by means of infant water baptism to undermined the doctrine of justification by grace alone, we live in a time when most evangelicals are neither Lutheran nor Calvinist but reassure themselves with their family virtues and patriotic rituals. Reacting to what they call “secularism”, many now often sing the praises of the pope and anything that is “religious”.

Let us remember that the pope is still the single greatest cause of Christian disunity. Not only does the pope continue to reject the authority of the Bible and justification by faith alone, but also to insist that any Christian unity must recognize the authority of papal tradition. The success of Calvin and Luther, limited though it was, was that they refused to collaborate or be included in the false unity which taught that the grace of justification must be maintained by our own works, instead of the death of Christ alone, outside of us. Despite their many failures, at this point we must appreciate the fidelity of Luther and Calvin to the theology of Romans 3:20-21–“For through the law comes the knowledge of sin, but now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed.”

The state Reformers understood that grace through our works is a rebellion against God’s way of grace. Justification through our law-keeping means not more obedience but more sin. Romans 5:20–“But law came in, with the result that sin increased.” Not the knowledge of sin increased— sin increased! The result of unity around the law-salvation of the pope is always more sin. To be protestant means saying that we are justified not by our life together or by our works, but only because of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have “become the righteousness of God in Christ” by God’s imputation of the one man’s obedience, even unto death. The Christian life is not the way we make payments back on our justification; the Christian life is the party the Father gives the returning prodigal. Neither our justification nor our life as Christians depends on our moral progress. Indeed, all our works are only acceptable if we are already justified before God.

This is good news! This is radical grace, not the grace with strings attached and “fine print” later. Our unity depends only on the cross where the son of God died for all those elect sinners who will be called out and gathered as God’s ecclesia. In the days of persecution, some anabaptists met together in little boats out on the river, away from the easy reach of the magistrates. Today our unity does not depend on getting more folks to leave their big barges and climb into our little boats with us. But neither does unity depend on us going ashore where we can be included in their rituals with them. We must not impatiently substitute our idea of unity for the biblical hope of unity.

I Corinthians 15:3 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ…. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep… 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Jesus is already Lord and will reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. After the second death, after the death of death, after the end of death, ruling will be ruled out “so that God may be all in all”. Though we remember the failures of the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, let us not ourselves become elder brothers who refuse to enjoy the prodigal’s party. Though we have good reasons not to attend their meetings (see I Corinthians 14), we do well to remember that we are justified in spite of our meetings and our religion, alone by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ did. We are not saved because of our faith, because our faith is not Christ’s righteousness, even though our faith is God’s gift to us based on Christ’s righteousness. (II Peter 1:1)

Apart from the death of Christ, you and I have no more “spiritual capital” than the pope or the protestants who go to war to support capitalism. Being in this small canoe together is no sign of assurance based on our moral progress! We have been called out, set apart, constituted as holy, but not because God is going to enable us to meet the requirement of God’s new covenant law. Our fidelity to anabaptist rules about war, or water, or the Lord’s Supper is not something which can add to or subtract from the accomplished atonement of Jesus Christ.

Grace for the woman caught violating family values, parties for parasites back for more money, food for the brothers who send Joseph down to Egypt, this is grace! Grace for the protestants who made martyrs of the anabaptists. Grace for those who used to be legalists who put their hope in their martyrdom rather than in Christ alone!

The nation-states have always appreciated the moralism of the churches to produce for them “good citizens”, but those nation-states have nothing to gain from the good news of grace. The rulers are happy when we repress ourselves in methodist fear of losing our salvation. The NSA and Homeland Security are glad for us to police ourselves. But what do those institutions which operate by the ABCs of this age have to gain from our teaching grace, and by our living as though we believed in grace?

William Blake

The Moral Virtues in Great Fear
Formed the Cross & Nails & Spear
And the Accuser Standing By
Cried out Crucify Crucify

If Moral Virtue was Christianity
Christ’s Pretensions were all Vanity

The gospel of justification does not complicate the simple difference between approving and disapproving killing. That is why we are anabaptists, and not only protestants. But the Roman Catholics can have no experience of unity in the gospel until and unless they learn the difference between what they are doing and what God DID in Christ’s death (Romans 8:3) to unify all the elect in Christ. And since none of our different churches died on the cross for us, the unity of those who do trust in what God did in Christ does not depend on our keeping each other in the same church.

The Roman Catholics (and many of the “Protestants”) agree doctrinally that the doctrine of grace alone through faith alone is NOT the doctrine on which their church stands or falls. They celebrate their doctrine that their “sacrament” is not what they do but what God is doing. Thus they exclude those of us who read no “sacrament” in the Scripture. Even though they cannot explain rationally their doctrine of “union with Christ”, they still want us to agree that we take Christ in by our eating of the bread and drinking of the cup.

Though Roman Catholics and Protestants and Anabaptists may have different doctrines, they all are always attracted to use coercion for “the greater good”. All three groups tends to be identified with a prescribed set of practices rater than with ideas and doctrines about what God did in Christ.

Is our hope that that these groups will come live in our little canoe with us? Do we “envision” (as missional entrepreneurs) that these folks will “shop” at our church, and see what we see, and do what we do? Or can we learn that faith is God’s gift and not the lack of a rational argument against faith? Faith is not about how much we make ourselves do or how much we can make ourselves believe. Faith is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ causing us to look to Jesus Christ so what we depend on what Jesus Christ already did by His death and resurrection so that we do not depend on what we believe that Jesus Christ is doing in us and in our church.

Grace is not for the nice people. Grace is also not useful the way parents and politicians want it to be. Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus Christ has already done enough so that we don’t have to con ourselves into believing that God has to “show up” every Sunday in the presence of authorized clergy?

For freedom Christ has made us free. We don’t have to have Jesus “warm up our hearts” in our daily quiet time. Romans 6 even says we don’t even have to sin to get more grace. Romans 5—we stand in grace. We talk about how we do church, because we have learned that it’s a mistake to think that our doing church is God doing church. So now that we know that, what are we going to do? What are we going to do, now that we know that our doing is not what causes God to bless us? II Cor 5:19—not counting their sins against us!

But surely there’s got to be more to life than “merely” that, doesn’t there? More than “only” NOT having our sins imputed to us? At the end of the day, I say, NOT SO MUCH. Who in our day cares about NOT having sins credited to them? Who cares about that? Can’t we now get over that basic fact, and get on with it, and concern ourselves now with moral progress? Our sins are not counted against us. Do you hear that anymore? Who in our age now is so selfish and individualistic to still care about if their sins are counted against them? WE ARE. I Am.

But isn’t it dangerous for God to not count our sins against us? Maybe it’s so, maybe it’s not. Maybe there’s a not yet aspect of our justification in which God’s work in us by the Holy Spirit will be brought in as an additional factor, so that we can now still have various forms of motivations, including the beauty of threats and the loss of assurance, and whatever else that works to get us on the move…But the parasites and the prodigals say to the elder brothers, take it up with the Father…argue with the Father…

But wouldn’t it be better now, in the present fight against secularism and liberalism, to keep a stoic stiff upper lip and not “rock the boat” about grace, and accept the “tension” between grace motives and other motives? So what if some works are not done from a clean conscience but done in order to keep clean the conscience clean? Why rock the boat just because grace happens to work for you, when being a pastor of a group which is more than a small sect means that we get along with people who operate out of different motives. .

But those on the shore want to rock our little boat. If you really believe in grace, they tell us, you could get alone with the rest of us, with other doctrines, with other motives. And we say: the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and this little boats is not theirs, though they kill us, though they command us to bring our babies to their big churches, though they cut us off from their “means of grace”. If God has elected those who are predestined to grace, this does not prove that God has predestined them to be the mediators who hand out that grace.

Of course the Magisterial Reformers failed in many ways. They went back to the local magistrate to keep the “peace” which is maintained by the “order” which is ensured by authorized violence. Protestants have not been very gracious. Don’t just look at Lutheran Germany, look at the guns owned by the Protestants of America, at the crusades of armed democracy. In the name of grace, God’s law has been reformed, modified, cheapened, so that the life and example of Jesus Christ can be ignored.

We dare not let the politicians and the teachers of virtue turn the story of Jesus into some general truth about everybody having God for their same father so that we all accept each other, no matter what our motives may be. Philippians 3: Beware of evil workers—“we boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh”.

Sacraments Do Not Dispense Grace

March 16, 2011

I do not agree that, when we hear Christ preached, that we then hear Christ preaching. I do not agree that when we hear an “ordained” “minister” absolving our sins, that we then hear Christ forgiving our sins.

WHO IS HEARING? Are the non-elect not hearing, because they don’t care about their sins? Are the non-elect hearing “you are forgiven”?

Is it “pietism” (or “being a baptist”) to warn people that the New Testament is written only to Christians? It’s ironic to say that Christians doing politics must do so as if they were not Christians, but then not make such a distinction for those “taking the sacrament”.

The assumption, the pretense, the official lie, is that everybody observing the sacrament is an exile from the world and a Christian. Otherwise the sacramentalist would have to speak to the church as if were the world.

And then the sacramentalist would need to think more about water giving salvation to pagans who are not children, and about the supper being converting for those halfway in. Even if there is no faith, is there no blessing?

To the extent sacramentalists use “the covenant” to argue for sacraments, the redemptive-historical political distinction between the old and new covenants collapses. And no attention is given to the differences between the promises of a covenant. Reformed folks tend to focus on one undefined positive promise (is it that my child should assume already that he is a Christian?) and to ignore the fine print about “covenant curses” for those who “participate in the sacrament. Call them “negative sanctions”— God may break you off if you don’t observe the sacramental rituals.

They do not want us to talk about “dead” Christians as if some internal work of the Spirit needed to be done, but rather asks if people are “observant” at the sacraments. I am glad that not all paedobaptists agree with him on that. If you are faking it at the “sacrament”, then God can kill you. That argument in itself does not prove that it is a sacrament or that God is the agent in the Supper or in the water. Those questions have to be answered biblically and not by confessional presupposition.

Fear God Means Leave the Wrath to God

February 27, 2011

Dear Editor, Lancaster Sunday News,

How dare you lecture the Amish (and the rest of us) about what the Bible says about justice! Defending the status quo secular regime, you argue that the Amish have “to know from the Bible that its criminals must not be allowed to escape just punishment.” This conclusion assumes that there is only one way to read the Bible, and that this way is natural law with selective appeals to the Bible.

The Anabaptist tradition has not read the Bible your way, and the historical result has been patience to wait for God’s justice. Your impatience with Amish forgiveness sounds like you know what to do. You will do to criminals what God would do if God were still alive to do it!

But there is more to your argument: you are not really saying that God is out of business. You are claiming that God has made agents of the status quo regime. “The Bible does teach that Christians should submit to governors.” Of course you have no notion of appealing to Romans 13 when discussing the American rebellion against King George, or the regime changes in Iraq or Egypt. Your argument defines “submit to” in a way that would encourage collaboration and obedience to Hitler.

If your editorial board is going to start relying on the authority of the Bible (not for yourselves but for the Amish), then you need to begin with some exegesis. Romans 13 cannot be understood apart from its context. Romans 14 urges the overcoming of judgment among brothers and sisters. Romans 12:19 commands Christians not to avenge themselves but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is Mine….”

I understand that you may not believe in God, or at least not in the God of wrath revealed in the Bible. Perhaps this is why you are so concerned to do what you think God would do in this situation if God were real enough to reveal standards your secular state could really follow. Or maybe you are just impatient with alternative ways of reading the Bible.

The context of submitting to the powers that God has ordained is important. 1. There is a difference between God ordaining evil to happen and God approving that evil. 2. There is a difference between submitting to the powers and agreeing that these powers are following God’s standards Satan does God’s work.

The Bible commands Christians to never exercise vengeance but to leave it to God. You can claim that the justice you advocate is not vengeance and not God’s wrath. But then Romans 13:4 (context!) says that the magistrate “is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

Notice that the governors are executing the specific function which Romans 12:19 commanded Christians to leave to God. Though this does not prove that none of the governors are Christians, it does prove that none of them are obeying God at this point! And the text teaches us that God uses this disobedience (not leaving it to God) as wrath. God does not have to approve of the standards of the unforgiving secular regime in order to restrain sin with more sin.

This may sound more complicated than it is. The editorial page wants the Amish to go by the Bible, but not as the Amish have interpreted it but as non-Anabaptists do. But in the meanwhile, the editorial page has no notion that secular judges would go by either the Old or New Testaments.

So go by the Bible, which means letting us do it our way, which is not the way the Bible tells Christians to do it. Of course we will celebrate you for forgiving a murderer if that man is already dead. But if the criminal still lives, then we must have our justice now and not wait for God. Not only will this protect our families, but our wrath has already determined what the crime “deserves”.

In none of your appeal to the Bible do you refer to the death of Jesus Christ at the hands of Rome’s secular justice. James 1:19 “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires.” Psalm 76: 10—“Even human wrath shall praise you, for you are to be feared. Who can stand before you when your anger is roused?”