Posted tagged ‘Andrew Fuller’

Christ Offered His Death to God One Time Only

May 22, 2016

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.

A W Pink–The description given of Him as “High Priest” in Hebrews 7:26 has no reason whatever if it does not treat of what He was here upon earth. Understanding it to describe one of Christ’s perfections while He was here in the world, it is full of significance.

George Smeaton declare, “Hebrews 7:26, 27 show Christ on earth, as both Priest and Sacrifice. The ‘such’ of verse 26 refers not back to verses 1-25, but to verse 27, The qualifications described, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, are descriptive of what He was here on earth when brought into contact with sin and sinners”.

Once upon a time, in once place, there was not only a death but a ritual legal death given by God the Son. No other death is the effectual sacrifice to God. Romans 6: 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all time

AW Pink— “Made higher than the heavens” in Hebrews 7:26. Who was? The first part of the verse tells us:–our “High Priest”! Note also that the last clause of verse 27, “this He did once, when He offered up Himself”. In what specific character is Christ there viewed? Why, as “High Priest”. As we are told in Hebrews 2:17, “He was a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation (Greek) for the sins of the people”, and as Romans 3:25 plainly declares, He made propitiation AT THE CROSS. So again, in Hebrews 4:14 we read, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens”.

HE DID NOT ENTER HEAVEN TO BECOME A PRIEST. Christ was “Priest” when He “passed into the heavens”.

Pink–There is no excuse whatever for a mistake at this point, and our only reason for laboring it is that many who have boasted so loudly of their orthodoxy have systematically denied it. That Christ’s sacrifice was a priestly one is clear from Ephesians 5:2, “Christ . . . hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God”: not only as a “sacrifice” but as “an offering”, and none offered to God the sacrifices of Israel save the priests.

Pink–That Christ did NOT become Priest after He entered into heaven is also unequivocally established by Hebrews 9:11, 12, “But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands . . . by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, HAVING OBTAINED eternal redemption for us”.

Pink–Therefore we say that they who teach Christ became priest after His ascension are unconsciously or consciously, ignorantly or maliciously, corrupting the Truth of God and denying one of the most cardinal articles of our holy faith.

Romans 3:25–”Christ Jesus, whom God put forth as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith…”

Andrew Fuller, an enemy of the gospel (Reply to Philanthropos, Complete Works,II, p 499) comments: “There would be no propriety in saying of Christ that He is set forth to be an expiatory sacrifice THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, because He was a sacrifice for sin prior to the consideration of our believing in Him. The text does not express what Christ WAS as laying down His life , but what He IS in consequence of it.”

Though Andrew Fuller affirmed a particular atonement in a certain sense– in that the atonement will procure faith for only the elect–he is not willing to say that Christ was only the propitiation for the elect alone. Instead of telling the plain truth, that Christ either already died for a sinner or already did not, Andrew Fuller wanted to say that Christ died for all sinners in some sense. The Marrow people say it this way—Christ is dead for you. But Christ is not dead. Christ died only the one time. Christ certainly does not go back and die again if you choose to accept him! Christ is not “timelessly dying”.

Andrew Fuller denied that Christ in the past propitiated the Tri-une God for the sins of any specific person. Rather, Andrew Fuller promoted the lie that Christ died to make an offer of propitiation to every sinner. According to Andrew Fuller, this is the nature and design and intent of what Christ did, that there could be propitiation now if the Holy Spirit were to cause a sinner to accept the offer of propitiation and thus join themselves to Christ through faith .
Andrew Fuller asserted an universal conditional sufficiency in Christ’s death for all sinners. It is a sneaky and subtle doctrine, but Andrew Fuller was a sneaky and subtle man, much like John Wesley.

What did Andrew Fuller accomplish by shifting from what Christ DID ONE TIME back then over there to who Christ Is and what He can do here and now if the Spirit helps a sinner to take up the offer?

Andrew Fuller changed the meaning of the propitiatory death of Christ. With the Arminians, Andrew Fuller makes the propitiation to be dependent on the sinner having faith. The sneaky part is that, with the Calvinists, Andrew Fuller also makes the having faith part be dependent on what God (now?) procures by means of Christ’s death.

Andrew Fuller ends up putting the emphasis on sovereignty as opposed to justice. God is sovereign now to procure faith for sinners with Christ’s death. The idea that God has already been justly propitiated for a sinner (or not) is no longer in the picture. Andrew Fuller opposed the gospel of God being justified in justifying the ungodly. Fuller set aside justice in the name of grace.

Two comments. First, even though those who follow Andrew Fuller claim that the only way to be consistent in teaching a definite propitiation (what Christ WAS as laying down his life) is to teach an eternal justification, where the elect only subjectively find out that they were always justified, I do not (and Abraham Booth did not) teach that any unbeliever is justified.

All the justified elect are people who believe the gospel. Belief in the gospel is an immediate consequence (not a condition) of God’s imputation of the righteousness of Christ’s death to the elect. “Through faith” in Romans 3:25 does not mean “conditioned on faith”. Faith for the elect is what justice demands AFTER righteousness is imputed to them. Faith as a gift to the elect is Christ’s right because of what Christ WAS AND DID.

So I can and do say to any unbeliever, unless you believe the gospel, you are not yet justified. But I also say to those unbelievers: your believing is not something you can or will do unless Christ died for you, and you will never know if Christ did until you believe the gospel.

Andrew Fuller was teaching that God is governmentally sovereign and therefore God can do whatever God wants to do now with what Christ did then. If so, why did Christ die that one time ? To make something possible? So that propitiation “might” happen?

To ask such questions leads to another question. If God’s sovereignty makes justice unnecessary in His government, why did Christ need to die at all? If the meaning was only to be assigned later, is that meaning a matter of justice or only arbitrary?

Andrew Fuller, Mark Jones, and “Sin against Grace”

May 6, 2015

Andrew Fuller responded to the challenge from Dan Taylor, a General Baptist, in a book entitled Reply to Philanthropos, published in 1787. Fuller, in an 1803 letter to John Ryland Jr., recounted the impact that Taylor’s argument had on him. “I freely own that my views of particular redemption were altered by my engaging in that controversy.”

Andrew Fuller had sought to answer Taylor “without considering the sufficiency of the atonement in itself considered” as a sufficient ground for universal gospel invitations, but Fuller came to the conclusion that he could not. Andrew Fuller began make preaching to everybody depend on the sufficiency of grace for everybody. Instead of asking, can I accept if Jesus did not die for me, Andrew Fuller asked, can I accept if God does not give me the ability and will to accept?

In his attempt to say that lost people are lost only because of themselves, Andrew Fuller taught a common prevenient ability to believe (his false gospel). Fuller claimed that all sinners are given the “moral ability” to accept “union with Christ”.

In our post-Barth/Torrance world, it is more and more common to think of all sin as sin against grace. This tends to remove the antithesis between law and grace . We are given the guilt trip of “you killed Jesus attempting to love you and offering to save you”

Only Christians sin against grace. I have no problem saying that chastisement is Fatherly grace, but I question a Deuteronomic providential correlation between our sins against grace and our chastisements. When a Christian sins against grace, that Christian is still sinning against law.

William Lane Craig, In Pinnock, the Grace of god and the Will of Man, p 157—-“God desires and has given sufficient grace for all people to be saved. If some believe and others do not, it is not because some received prevenient grace and some did not. The efficacy of God’s grace is UP TO US, because every person is moved by God in a measure sufficient for salvation.”

It does not matter if you believe in original sin, if you also believe in “common grace”

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

For advocates of universal grace, God did accomplish all that he intended. But God did not intend to effectually to redeem anyone. God simply intended to provide “grace” for everyone. And in this, they claim, God was perfectly successful, even if all sinners were to fail to use the “prevenient grace”. The law itself was grace. The threat of death to Adam was grace. There was enough “grace” so that Adam “could have” not sinned. And they teach that there is “enough grace” now for every sinner.

https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/must-grace-have-been-bestowed-on-your-children-before-you-can-teach-them-gods-law/

Carl Truman, Perspectives on the Extent, p 59—“I have no problem telling somebody, ‘Christ died for your sins’, if I have made it clear how the statement connects to the overall teaching on salvation.”

Carl Truman—“But what does it mean to say to someone, Christ died for you, if that fact in and of itself, makes no difference? ….Surely the answer is John 3:16, not ‘Christ did and did not die for you, depending on what you mean.”

p 58–“Listeners might ask, what does it mean to say that Christ died for all, if not all are saved.”

Luther, works, 22:169—-“Christ bears all the sins of the world from its beginning. This means that Christ also bears your sins, and offers you grace.”

Gerhard–If the non-elect are condemned because they do not believe on Christ, it follows that to the non-elect also the death of Christ pertains”

Mike Horton: “Jewish branches that did not yield faith were broken off to make room for living Gentile branches that share the faith of Abraham in Christ. And yet he adds, “They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you” . The whole tree is holy, but dead branches will be pruned. The whole church of Corinth is addressed as “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1:2)….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 DID NOT BELONG? 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…

In Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement, John Hammet writes —”By Christ dying for all sinners, God treats all sinners fairly. But for the sinners for whom God has a second purpose, God is more than fair. God is fair to all but does not give to all equally, because for some sinners Christ dies to give them the Holy Spirit, and this is more than fair but never less than fair.

RC Sproul in his book on the Holiness of God (p 111) writes: “Mercy is not justice, but also is not injustice. We may see non-justice in God, which is mercy, but we never see injustice in God.” I appreciate Sproul’s distinction between law and gospel, between justice and mercy. But I disagree with Sproul when he teaches that God’s command to Adam not to eat of the tree was grace.

The Father does not love us because of Christ, The Father elects us in Christ because of the Father’s love for Christ. The Father elects us in Christ because of the Father’s love for elect sinners.

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

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.

Jesus, the incarnate Son of God in the flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election.

“All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.”

http://www.alliancenet.org/christward/does-god-the-father-love-you-because-of-jesus#.V6sBFZgrKM8

Bavinck—“Christ is a gift of love from the Father and that love precedes the sending of the Son. The Son did not move the Father to forgiveness, because electing love originated with the Father Himself.” 2:365

Hammet lists “possible purposes for the atonement”—-Besides dying to forgive everybody (but not doing it) and buying extra faith for some, to whom God is more than fair, so they will exercise faith to ask and to receive the forgiving, which depends on them asking.
the other four possible purposes, p 190
1. to make a “sincere offer”
2. to make condemnation just
3. to provide ‘common grace”
4. to reveal God’s gracious character

To me, the most offensive “extra purpose” is that which claims to make judgment just!
1. We are born condemned, and don’t need the gospel to make it fair for God to condemn us.

2. Most people, many people never hear the gospel—-so even if you say that Jesus died to forgive all these people if they accept the “grace” , if they do not hear—-is their judgment unjust? A lot of evangelicals, not only Billy Graham, seem to think so, and they fall back on ideas of ‘doing what you could with what you got”.

3. This all amounts to “natural grace” . The ” light”of John 1:9 and Titus 2:11 is not seen as law but as gospel. This turns grace into law, and faith into works, and contradicts Christ who said He came to save and not condemn.

An Arminian always denies that he is Semi-Pelagian—-“I also believe in sovereign grace and in total depravity.God has not surrender the control to humans, because God has GIVEN the control to humans. The Holy Spirit has been gracious to every person who rejects the gospel, because God’s prevenient grace has eliminated total depravity for every person who rejects the gospel. Every person who rejects the gospel is no longer depraved, but has been given a faith-decision to make. Prevenient grace means that no sinners are now totally depraved, but that does not mean I don’t believe in total depravity.”

II Thessalonians 2: 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers BELOVED BY THE LORD because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, in order that you obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tom Nettles—”The Arminian idea of free will is not demanded by the Bible at all, but only by the inference drawn from the no-grace-no-justice assumption…. The piggy-backing of grace onto the command does not come from any element in the text….The whole idea of obligatory grace is contrary to the biblical presentation of grace as pure

http://booksataglance.com/author-interviews/response-from-tom-nettles-regarding-prevenient-grace-gods-provision-for-fallen-humanity-by-w-brian-shelton

http://booksataglance.com/book-reviews/prevenient-grace-gods-provision-for-fallen-humanity-by-w-brian-shelton

Mark Jones—-According to Geerhardus Vos, who comments on Philippians 2:9, “Echarisato means that God bestowed it as a gracious gift, not, of course, in the specific sense of the word ‘grace,’ implying that there was any unworthiness in Christ which God had to overlook, but in the more general sense implying that this was an act in which the graciousness, the kindness of God manifested itself. We have the example of Philippians 2:9. Paul uses the Greek word, “echarisato.” The same Greek word appears earlier in Philippians 1:29, where believers are “freely/graciously given” the privilege of both believing in and suffering for Christ. Was Paul sowing confusion into the minds of the Philippians by using the same word in different senses? Of course not…”

The OPC Report Philippians 2 (lines 796 ff)
“Federal Vision proponents have argued that Philippians 2 rules out the notion of merit in regard to Christ’s obedience, because in 2:9 Paul uses the word echarisato, which etymologically derives from the word for “grace,” charis, to describe God’s giving the name above every name to Christ. This indicates, they claim, that the Father exalted the Son not meritoriously but graciously.This argument as it stands fails, however. One reason it fails is its fallacious reasoning that etymological derivation determines the meaning of a word apart from context. The context of Phil 2:5- 11 shows that MERIT CANNOT BE ELIMINATED from Paul’s teaching here. The context is one of “work rendered and value received.”The Father exalted the Son because the Son perfectly fulfilled his course of obedience. The Son obeyed, therefore the Father exalted him.”

….Robert Letham: “In Protestant scholasticism, long entrenched by the time of Westminster, condescensio was used for God’s accommodation of himself to human ways of knowing in order to reveal himself. This was closely related to gratia Dei (the grace of God), the goodness and undeserved favor of God toward man, and to gratia communis (common grace), his nonsaving, universal grace, by which, in his goodness, he lavishes favor on all creation in the blessings of physical sustenance and moral influence for the good. These are the clearest senses of the terms for the Assembly…” (The Westminster Assembly, 225-26).

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/04/a-gracious-response-to-rick-ph.php#sthash.i1UlUON4.dpuf

Mark Jones—“Divine grace is not merely God’s goodness to the elect in the era of redemptive history. … Divine grace is a perfection of God’s nature, and thus a characteristic of how he relates to finite creatures, even apart from sin. In the garden, the grace of God was upon Adam; in the “wilderness,” the grace of God is upon his Son, the second Adam. God’s graciousness may be summarized simply as what he is in and of himself.”

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

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…With the gospel and in Christ, united to him, the law is no longer my enemy but my friend.”

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

http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2015/04/amyraut-one-more-time.html

The Gospel for the Right “Sort of People” Who Accept the “Offer”?

March 22, 2014

Matthew Barrett, Salvation by Grace, Presbyterian and Reformed, 2013, p 78.

“Hoeksema argues that there can be no well meant offer of the gospel, which would imply and desires the salvation of the nonelect, for Scripture is clear that God determines to harden the hearts of the nonelect, not to save them. In fact, says Hoeksema, God does not even desire the salvation of of the nonelect, nor does God act favorably toward the nonelect, but only acts to further their sentence to destruction. When the gospel is preached it is simply a promise meant only for the elect. The only thing the nonelect receive in hearing this message is condemnation.”

A few responses from Mark McCulley

Throughout Barrett’s book the reference to “historic” or “traditional” Calvinism is used as a code word to mean the “universal sufficiency” view of Andrew Fuller. He wants to equate “old Calvinism” with the contested idea that “God loves everybody, at least enough to WANT TO save them. Barrett does not discuss the writing of Gerstner, Gordon Clark, and others who agree with Hoeksema in denying that God loves everybody.

Barrett simply quotes Anthony Hoekema, with whom Barrett agrees. From Hoekema’s Saved by Grace: “The Bible teaches that God seriously desires that all who hear the gospel should believe in Christ and be saved. To our finite minds it seems impossible that election and this should both be true… One type of rational solution is that of Hoekseam and the hyper-Calvinists. Since the Bible teaches election, it cannot be true that God desires the salvation of all to whom the gospel comes. Therefore we must say that God desires the salvation only of the elect among the hearers of the gospel. This kind of solution may seem to satisfy our minds, but it completely fails to do justice to Scripture passages (Ezekial 33:11, Matthew 23:37, II Corinthians 5:20, and II Peter 3:9).”

His finite mind is simply not satisfied with any idea that God loves some sinners and does not love other sinners, so he assumes that only other minds perhaps more finite than his own would be satisfied with a rational solution. His view does, you must remember, come along with some Bible texts referenced in parenthesis. But nowhere does either he show from the Bible that God loves the nonelect or desires the salvation of the nonelect. They simply begin with that assumption and then argue in a circle back to it.

Those who advocate the “free offer” are intentionally use the word “will” in a double sense so as to sneak in their assumption without making an argument for it. God’s law does not depend on the ability of humans to keep it for that law to be legitimate. God can and does command all sinners to believe the gospel. Barrett writes as if Hoeksema somehow denies that responsibility depends on ability, and that this is somehow in parallel to the Arminian argument that inability to keep the law would mean that we have no duty to keep the law.

But Hoeksema nowhere makes this argument, and Barrett is projecting it onto Hoeksema to avoid the read question which is about God’s supposed desire to save all sinners. Barrett assumes that God loves all sinners. When Hoeksema denies that, Barrett accuses Hoeksema of making duty depending on ability.

Barrett is doing exactly what Andrew Fuller did, which is confusing the gospel with the law, by making duty depend on God’s supposed desire to save that person. Instead of merely saying that God commands all sinners to believe the gospel, the Andrew Fuller assumption is that God commanding you to believe the gospel, must mean that God wishes (unsuccessfully in many cases) that you would believe the gospel.

In what way do we make a distinction between the command to believe the gospel and the gospel itself? is the command itself part of the gospel? Is the gospel in the end no different from law, with commands and “conditions”? In what way do we make a distinction between the promise of the gospel and the gospel itself? What is the promise of the gospel? Is the promise of the covenant that God loves everybody, or is it a promise that God only loves those in the covenant? Or only the elect in the covenant?

I will ask two questions.

1. Does God desire the salvation of the sinners who never hear the gospel? Barrett keeps saying that God desires the salvation of all who hear the gospel. What about those who never hear the gospel? Does God want them to be saved as well? If the gospel in the end is also the law, so that only those who hear the gospel can justly be condemned, how can those who never hear “the gospel” be justly destroyed by God? And why, if God really loved them, did God not send somebody with the gospel to these people? If Jesus died in order to condemn those who resist them, how can God condemn those who never heard of Jesus? Now it will be argued that these questions are another topic, and not appropriate for the book Barrett wanted to write.

If there can be no sin unless God has first somehow loved us and desired our salvation, then this changes everything about how we approach the Bible. Instead of beginning with our plight (before the law), the Andrew Fuller approach begins with good intentions from God, in which God’s love, is supposedly universally sufficient but in the end not enough to be the solution.

2. “When the gospel is preached it is not a free offer to whomever will believe, but rather it is simply a promise meant only for the elect”. What if I flip the phrases around here in the structure of this sentence? What if I “deconstruct” the implied difference? Are there any elect who will never believe the gospel? Are there any non-elect who will believe the gospel? How can the gospel be good news for who will perish to be told that those who won’t believe will perish? Thus far I leave out the word “election” (the word most Calvinists want to leave out when they do evangelism), but my point is that Barrett has not yet argued for a real difference between those who believe and those who are elect. The gospel is good news for those who believe. The gospel is good news for the elect. There’s no ultimate difference, unless you are somehow ashamed of the word “election” and want to leave it out.

Nathan Finn-”Chun agrees with scholars who emphasize greater continuity than discontinuity between Edwards’s understanding of the atonement and the moral government view of the New Divinity theologians. Fuller embraced governmental language and was actually much closer to Edwards, who also allowed for a governmental aspect . Both men combined a universal sufficiency with a particular efficacy, the limitation being in God’s covenantal design rather than in the nature of propitiation itself.”

Andrew Fuller (Reply to Philanthropos, Complete Works,II, p499) comments: “There would be no propriety in saying of Christ that He is set forth to be an expiatory sacrifice THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, because He was a sacrifice for sin prior to the consideration of our believing in Him. The text does not express what Christ WAS as laying down His life , but what He IS in consequence of it.”

Andrew Fuller made a distinction between “covenantal intent” and “the nature of the atonement itself”. We need to examine Fuller’s controversy with Abraham Booth, and take sides with Abraham Booth.

This is NOT a question about the duty of the non-elect to have faith in the gospel, and the related question of “two kinds of ability” (as argued by Edwards and Fuller). All that talk about “ability” and “sufficiency” is a distraction from the greater question about the nature of the atonement. While I don’t see much in the Bible about the “duty” of unbelievers to believe the gospel, I don’t deny that all sinners are commanded to believe the gospel. Nor do I need to connect that command to some philosophical account of “ability”.

Election is God’s love, and when the Bible talks about God’s love, it talks about propitiation. I John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” If all we can stipulate is that the appeasement of wrath will not work without our faith, then it’s not enough to add on that God sent His son to purchase our faith. The nature of the cross as God’s propitiatory love will not be proclaimed.

You can use the word without agreeing with the Bible about what it means. A propitiation for the non-elect amounts to nothing. Since there is only one propitiation, a propitiation for the elect which is also the same thing for the non-elect, amounts to nothing.

Those who defend the “offer” justify their version of grace (God loves everybody and wants everybody to be saved) as being the only perspective possible to us. We have to know we believe, before we can know if we are elect. I agree that knowing our election before we believe is impossible. Knowing our election is not our warrant to believe. (See Abraham Booth, Glad Tidings). But this is no excuse for leaving the doctrine of election out of the doctrine of redemption and propitiation by the cross. And it certainly no excuse for telling everybody that God loves them and wants to be their Father!

“All You Have to Do is Accept It”, but there is no Substitute to Receive It For You?

December 22, 2013

Matthew 1: 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Alec Motyer, p 251, From Heaven He Came—Isaiah’s “Behold, my servant shall succeed” matches the great cry, “It is finished (John 19:30) and forces us to ask what “finished” means in John and what “succeed” means in Isaiah. On any “open-ended” view of the atonement–that is, that the work of Christ only made salvation possible rather than actually secured salvation–“finished” only means “started” and “succeed” only means “maybe, contingent on God contributing something else “in” the sinner

Isaiah 53: when his blood/life makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his blood/life to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Clergy who condition salvation on the sinner talk out of both sides of their mouths. First, “all you have to do is receive it”. But and However, then “receiving it will cost you everything for the rest of your life.”. First, there was “for you a substitute”. But and However, there is “no substitute to receive it for you” and His substitution won’t work without your receiving and accepting it. God is “open in order for us to be open to God.”

Yes, it’s true that nobody is justified before they believe the gospel. But the question we need to face is—WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? Jesus Christ, not every year, not every week, but one time, for all time, once in history was a substitute but only for “his people”. “His people” are the elect,those whom the Father gave the Son to die for. All “his people” will come to believe the true gospel and be justified. The death of Christ as a substitute for His people not only puts away their sins but legally guarantees that these elect won’t need a substitute to believe the true gospel for them, makes sure that these elect themselves believe the true gospel.

Philippians 1: 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

Romans 5:11 “We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the atonement.”

Many today teach that the only reconciliation which really matters is our “receiving which applies again today ” Christ’s death. They teach that Christ died as a substitute for many who will not believe the gospel and who will perish.

It’s one thing to say that Christ’s death is good news, and another to say WHY Christ’s death is good news. Christ’s death saves not only because of God’s sovereign will but also because of God’s justice.

The difference between the “but it’s on you to receive it” folks and those who teach that many do not believe because they are not Christ’s sheep (John 10) is NOT about the need of the Spirit’s work or faith in the gospel. Those who believe the true gospel do not disagree about justification being through faith. We do NOT teach that the elect are free from condemnation before being “baptized into Christ”. We do deny that either water or the Holy Spirit “baptizes” us INTO Christ. Legal identification into Christ is by God’s imputation.

Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too will walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like His.

Our resurrection is both like and unlike Christ’s resurrection. Our resurrection is unlike His in that we still have a future resurrection to come. But our resurrection is like His because His one resurrection counts legally as our resurrection when God places us into Christ and His resurrection.

Our death is both like and unlike Christ’s death. His death is unlike ours because His death was because of the imputation of our sins to Him. Our death is unlike His death because our death is His death. We die in the sense that His death is legally transferred to us. Christ died without remorse or repentance and only because of our sins. And the only way we are already dead now, before we die our own deaths, is when God counts Christ’s death for us legally.

“We have been united with Christ in a death like His” Even though there was a transfer going both ways, the death of Christ is the only death that ultimately matters. Even though Christ died only because of our sins, and even though we died only because He died, that one death counts for all who have come to believe the true gospel.

The elect are not justified as soon as Christ bore their sins. Romans 6 teaches us that the elect must be placed into Christ’s death. Until the elect are “baptized” into Christ’s death, they remain under the wrath of God.

Some accuse us of thinking there is no need for faith. They claim that it is not logical for us to teach such a need for faith. If the substitution has already been made, then all for whom it was made should logically already be justified. If the righteousness has already been obtained, then all for whom it was earned should logically already be justified by it.

We do NOT teach justification apart from faith. Neither do we teach that faith is a mere recognition that we were already justified.

What is it that those who make the accusations are teaching about Christ’s death? Even though clergy like Andrew Fuller agree that Christ died to gain faith for the elect, even though they agree that even our receiving is God’s gift aloe, but they make this purchase of faith to be the only thing that is limited about Christ’s death The “but some don’t receive it ” folks do not want to teach that Christ’s substitution under God’s wrath was limited only to the sins of the elect. They can correctly say that they teach “limited atonement” but they do NOT teach that Christ’s propitiation for sins was limited to “His people”

Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Andrew Fuller: Begging the Question About “Covenantal Union” and The Nature of Atonement Imputation

August 23, 2013

Nathan Finn–“Chun agrees with scholars who emphasize greater continuity than discontinuity between Edwards’s understanding of the atonement and the moral government view of the New Divinity theologians. Fuller embraced governmental language and was actually much closer to Edwards, who also allowed for a governmental aspect . Both men combined a universal sufficiency with a particular efficacy, the limitation being in God’s covenantal design rather than in the nature of propitiation itself.”

Romans 3:25–”Christ Jesus, whom God put forth as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith…”
Andrew Fuller (Reply to Philanthropos, Complete Works,II, p499) comments: “There would be no propriety in saying of Christ that He is set forth to be an expiatory sacrifice THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD, because He was a sacrifice for sin prior to the consideration of our believing in Him. The text does not express what Christ WAS as laying down His life , but what He IS in consequence of it.”

Andrew Fuller makes a distinction between “covenantal intent” and “the nature of the atonement itself”. While Abraham Booth is today often accused of saying that Christ “became literally a sinner”, that is a distraction from the important debate about the nature of God’s imputation of the elect’s sins to Christ.

Abraham Booth did not use the careless language of Tobias Crisp (or of Luther) about Christ becoming a sinner. Booth rejected any idea of Christ having a fallen human nature. But Booth did teach that “imputation” has two aspects. First, and always, God counts and declares the truth about a person. But second, and sometimes, God puts into effect a legal solidarity between persons. Thus God counted the sins of the elect to Christ, and then counts the death of Christ to the elect.

Using the word “literal” here is not helpful, because it begs the question of what is “actual”. The righteousness of Christ is His death and that death is real, so why would it be a fiction for God to count that death as the death of the elect? Thus the two senses of “imputation”. First, a legal “transfer” (although I prefer sharing, since it’s still Christ’s death). Second, on the basis of that REAL TRUTH, God then declares the justified elect sinner to be righteous, to be justified.

But of course many like Fuller (and Edwards) dismiss this account, and say it doesn’t matter because in the end it’s all based on “union” anyway. But this only begs the question by moving their assumptions about the legal not being “real” enough into the “union question”. Their assumption is always that “union” is not legal. The not yet argued presupposition is that “union” is something (they can’t exactly say what) which is “more than legal”. This is why we need to examine Fuller’s controversy with Abraham Booth, and take sides with Abraham Booth.

This is NOT a question about the duty of the non-elect to have faith in the gospel, and the related question of “two kinds of ability” (as argued by Edwards and Fuller). That is another distraction from the greater question about the nature of the atonement. While I don’t see much in the Bible about the “duty” of unbelievers to believe the gospel, I don’t deny that all sinners are commanded to believe the gospel. And (unlike Edwards) I don’t need to connect that command to some philosophical account of “ability”.

This is not even a question about the optimism of the post-millennial fantasies of Edwards and Andrew Fuller. It’s a question about the justice of God, and about the justice of God in Christ dying for the sins of the elect imputed to Christ by God. If the sins of the elect are not “really” justly imputed to Christ, then the death of Christ itself is not that which “really” makes God both just and the justifier of the ungodly. Instead we would have to look away from the cross itself, and look to what God is now doing in terms of some kind of “covenantal intent”.

Though Andrew Fuller affirmed a particular atonement in a certain sense– in that the atonement will procure faith for only the elect–he is not willing to say that Christ was only the propitiation for the elect alone. Instead of telling that plain truth, that Christ either already died for a sinner or already did not, Andrew Fuller wanted to say that Christ died for all sinners in some sense. This universal sense advocated by Andrew Fuller has to do with the nature of propitiation. He denies that Christ in the past propitiated the Trinity for the sins of any specific person. Rather, Andrew Fuller teaches that Christ died to make an offer of propitiation to every sinner.

According to Andrew Fuller, what’s important is the “covenantal design and intent” of what Christ did, that there could be propitiation now if the Holy Spirit were to cause a sinner to accept the offer of propitiation and thus join themselves to Christ through faith .

Fuller asserted an universal conditional sufficiency in Christ’s death for all sinners. It is an old and subtle doctrine, but Andrew Fuller was a very subtle man, much like John Wesley, using words like “imputation” in ways meant to mislead those who had a different meaning for the words.

What does Andrew Fuller accomplish by shifting from what Christ DID back then over there to who Christ Is and what He “Can” do here and now if the Spirit helps a sinner to take up the “offer”?

Andrew Fuller changes the meaning of the propitiatory death of Christ. With the Arminians, he makes the propitiation to be dependent on the sinner having faith. The subtle “hybrid” part though is that (with the Calvinists) Andrew Fuller also makes the having faith be dependent on what God obtained by means of Christ’s death.

Andrew Fuller ends up putting the emphasis on grace as opposed to justice. God is sovereign now to give faith to elect sinners because of Christ’s death. The idea that God has already been JUSTLY propitiated for a sinner (or not) is no longer in the picture. Andrew Fuller’s notion of “sovereign grace” is opposing the gospel of God being justified in justifying the ungodly. He is opposing justice in the name of grace.

Two comments. First, even though Fullerites want to say that the only way to be consistent in teaching a definite propitiation (what Christ WAS as laying down his life) is to teach an eternal justification, where the elect only subjectively find out that they were always justified, I do not (and Abraham Booth did not) teach that any unbeliever is justified.

All the justified elect are people who believe the gospel. Belief in the gospel is an immediate consequence (not a condition) of God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect (not of God’s imputation of the elect’s sins to Christ).

“Through faith” in Romans 3:25 does not mean “conditioned on faith”. Faith for the elect is what justice demands AFTER righteousness is imputed to them. I do not say it “their right” but it is Christ’s right because of what Christ WAS AND DID. Once sins were imputed to Christ, then Christ died by the law because of these sins, and now Christ is free and justified before the law.

So I can and do say to any unbeliever, unless you believe the gospel, you are not yet justified. But I also say to those unbelievers: your believing is not something you can or will do unless Christ died for you, and you will never know if Christ did until you believe the gospel.

Second comment. Look at what Andrew Fuller is saying with his distinction between what Christ is as opposed to what Christ was. Fuller is teaching that God is governmentally sovereign and therefore God can do whatever God wants to do now with what Christ did then.

If so, why did Christ die? To make it possible? So that propitiation “might” happen? To ask such questions leads to another question. If God is so sovereignly superior to justice in His government, why did Christ need to die at all? If the meaning and effectiveness of the propitiation was only to be assigned later, is that meaning a matter of justice or only arbitrary?

Romans 5:11 “We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the atonement.”

Galatians 4:5-6 –”to redeem those who were under the law, so that we would receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Edwards and Andrew Fuller use the concept of “covenantal union” to say that the atonement which really matters is the application of Christ’s death. They deny that the “union” is legal. They insist that the legal is “based on the union”. The logic leads to the “atonement” not being what Christ did to satisfy the law, but instead the application of “the covenantal intent”.

It’s one thing to say that Christ’s death will be effective, and another to say WHY Christ’s death must be effective. Christ’s death saves not only because of God’s sovereign will but also because of God’s justice.

Although the gospel teaches that God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, the gospel does not teach that all the elect were justified as soon as Christ bore those sins. Romans 6 explains how the elect must come into legal union with Christ’s death. Until the elect are “placed into” that death, they remain under the wrath of God.

But folks like Andrew Fuller use “union” talk to change the meaning of the atonement and accuse the rest with thinking there is no need for faith. If the substitution for sins has already been made, they say, then all for whom it was made should logically already be justified. If the righteousness has already been obtained, then all for whom it was earned should logically already be justified by it.

There is no justification apart from faith. Faith in the gospel is NOT a mere recognition that we were already justified. But those who follow Andrew Fuller tend to deny any distinction between the atonement and the legal application of the atonement.

At the end of the day, these folks locate the efficacy of the atonement not in Christ’s propitiation itself but only in the efficacy of regeneration and faith to “covenantally unite” people with that propitiation. Though they may formally agree to some “legal aspect” to “union”, for all practical purposes they ignore or deny the reality that God already imputed the sins of only the elect to Christ.

In this way, the followers of Andrew Fuller make way for the idea of some “universal sufficiency” in Christ’s propitiation. And when it turns out that this ‘sufficiency” is not enough to save the non-elect, they answer: “well, you can’t say that there’s double jeopardy until after a person has been married to Christ by faith. Then, and only then, they say, could you say that a person was dying for the same sins twice.”

The followers of Andrew Fuller teach universal sufficiency and an offer (to everybody I guess who is not already dead) . They claim that we can teach everybody that “Christ is dead for you” without that meaning that Christ has died for your sins, because according to Andrew Fuller, Christ’s death for sinners is not the same thing legally as Christ’s death to pay for the specific sins of sinners. God did not really impute specific sins, according to Fuller, Edwards and the New England Theology.

A Commercial View of the Atonement?

June 9, 2013

Do you understand the nature of the atonement? It’s one thing to say that the atonement is always effective, and another to say why the death of Christ for the elect must be effective. The death saves not only because of God’s sovereign will but also because of God’s justice. Even if the death is not for everybody but it’s a “death in general” for the elect to be applied particularly by the Spirit, then the justice of God is not being taught.

Now this can be caricutured. As in, if I had committed one more or less sin, and if there had been one or less elect person, then Christ would have suffered more or less. That cannot be, since it is the death which saves. (In saying that, I hope I am not being dismissive of the sufferings or of the active obedience. The same caricature could be applied to “active obedience”. if there were one more elect, then Christ would have had to do x amount of duties to the law that this one more elect was supposed to do. No, there is only one death, one obedience, one resurrection etc…)

And yet we must be careful in dismissing a “commercial view” of the atonement, not only because Christ can and does do things by measure (healing some but not others) but because the Bible does talk about being bought by blood and belonging. We need to talk about sins being imputed.

The best discussion in print on this is by Tom Nettles in By His Grace and For His glory. Check out his chapter on Christ Died for our Sins, According to the Scriptures. Nettles refutes the Dordt formula (sufficient/ efficient) while at the same time being honest about the history of most Calvinists liking it.

Nettles quotes Andrew Fuller: “We could say that a certain number of Christ’s acts of obedience becomes ours as that certain number of sins becomes his. In the former case his one undivided obedience affords a ground of justification to any number of believers; in the latter, his one atonement is sufficient for the pardon of any number of sins or sinners.

Nettles explains that Fuller “misconceives the biblical relation of imputation. Justification should not be considered as analogous to atonement but rather to the imputation of Adam’s sin”.

More from Nettles’ refutation of Andrew Fuller and “sufficient for all”.
Error one: it’s tantamount to identifying the doctrine of effectual calling with atonement. What one really means by definite atonement is that the difference is not in the atonement but in the Spirit’s work of calling.

“A second error is subtle in nature and involves a shift in the understanding of the sacrificial death. Although Jesus’ death is spoken of as passive obedience–and though the concepts of reconciliation and propitiation are defined as activities accomplished in the Father’s setting forth God the Son–when the sufficiency of the death of Christ arises, the emphasis shifts from the Son’s passive obedience to what he actively accomplished by his infinite divine nature.”

Nettles quotes John Dagg and Abraham Booth against the “sufficient” general view of the atonement. Here’s some from Booth’s Divine Justice Essential to the Divine Character, book3:60
“While cheerfully admitting the sufficiency of Immanuel’s death to have redeemed all mankind, had all the sins of the whole human species been equally imputed to Him, we cannot perceive any solid reason to conclude that his propitiatory sufferings are sufficient for the expiation of sins which he did not bear, or for the redemption of sinners whom he did not represent. For the substitution of Christ, and the imputation of sin to him, are essential to the scriptural doctrine of redemption by our adorable Jesus…

And from Dagg (Manual of Theology, p330): “Some have maintained that, if the atonement of Christ is not general, no sinner can be under obligation to believe in Christ, until he is assured that he is one of the elect. This implies that no sinner is bound to believe what God says, unless he knows that God designs to save him…

“Faith to Apply”?

June 22, 2012

The Faith Needed Is Purchased by Christ For the Elect Alone

Romans 5:11 “We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the atonement.”

Many today teach that the only “atonement” which really matters is the “faith which applies” Christ’s death. Therefore, no double jeopardy, they say, unless somebody for whom Christ died has been “united to Christ.” In other words, they teach that Christ died for some who will perish.

It’s one thing to say that Christ’s death will be effective, and another to say WHY Christ’s death must be effective. Christ’s death saves not only because of God’s sovereign will but also because of God’s justice.

The difference between the “faith to apply” folks and those who teach that many do not believe because they are not Christ’s sheep (John 10) is NOT about the need of the Spirit’s work or faith in the gospel. Even though at the end of the day, we have different gospels (objects of faith), we do not disagree about justification being through faith. Neither side teaches eternal justification, or justification apart from faith, even though the “faith to apply” folks claim that this makes the rest of us inconsistent.

We do NOT teach that the elect are free from condemnation before being “baptized into Christ”. Although John Owen taught that God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, John Owen did not teach that all the elect were justified as soon as Christ bore those sins. Owen taught with Romans 6 that the elect must come into legal union with Christ’s death. Until the elect are placed into that death, they remain under the wrath of God.

But those who accuse us of thinking there is no need for faith claim that it is not logical for us to teach such a need for faith. If the substitution has already been made, then all for whom it was made should logically already be justified. If the righteousness has already been obtained, then all for whom it was earned should logically already be justified by it.

But we do NOT teach justification apart from faith. Neither do we teach that faith is a mere recognition that we were already justified.

What is it that those who make the accusations are teaching about the atonement? Some like the Torrances think that saying that Christ died only for the elect leads to denying the need for faith. Some like Andrew Fuller agree that Christ only died to gain faith for the elect, but they make this purchase of faith to be the only thing that is limited about God’s intention in the atonement.

The “faith to apply” folks do not want to teach that Christ’s substitution under God’s wrath was limited only to the sins of the elect. They can rightly say they teach “limited atonement” but they do not think that the propitiation is limited.

The “faith to apply” folks do teach that the atonement is unlimited in its ability to condemn everybody. (Andrew Fuller himself regarded the transfer of the sins of the elect to Christ as figurative and as not legally possible.) But they all teach that the atonement is unlimited in its proclamation of God’s offer to love everybody. But despite that general love, and general propitiation, some of them add that Christ’s death did not purchase faith for everybody.

Those who teach “faith applies” are confusing “regeneration” and the work of the Spirit with the atonement and imputation. But Romans 6 never tells us that “regeneration” places the elect into Christ’s death. Romans 6 never tells us that it’s the work of the Spirit that puts the elect into Christ’s death.

“Substitution” and “regeneration” are not the same thing. Substitution has to do with “all died” (II Cor 5:15) when this means that Christ alone died for the elect, without the elect being there, so that His death legally counts for them to take God’s wrath away from them.

The “faith to apply” folks claim that we who teach substitution only for the elect should agree that the elect can go free before they are converted and believe the gospel. They want to put us in that box, so they can then deny that the death of Christ is the effective and just difference between saved and lost. Thus they accuse—if no efficacy to set free before faith and without faith, then no legal efficacy by itself.

The “faith to apply” folks locate the efficacy of the atonement not in propitiation, not in Christ’s bearing the sins of the elect, but in the efficacy of “faith applying”.

And we would could answer back: what do you need the death for, if the real thing is the new birth and the indwelling? And it’s a good question, but I am sure that they think the incarnation (if not the death) is a necessary prelude to “faith applying”.

But this is their argument: you can’t say that there’s double jeopardy until after a person has been married to Christ by “faith applying”. Only then, they say, could you say that a person was dying for the same sins twice. But otherwise, it is claimed, you can teach everybody that “Christ is dead for you” without that meaning that Christ has died for your sins, because according to them, Christ’s death for sinners is not the same thing legally as Christ’s death to pay for the sins of sinners.

How can they say that Christ’s death for sinners is not enough payment for the sins of these other sinners? Listen carefully to their answer: “Baptism into Christ’s death is what makes Christ’s death the death of the sinner”. Unless we want to say that Christ’s death is legally effective without faith, then they tell us that something after Christ’s death is what makes Christ’s death legally effective.

I hope you think that through. Unless we want to go the way of those who teach eternal justification (or justification of all the elect at the time of the death and resurrection of Christ), we must agree that many of the elect (all those born after Christ’s death) for whom Christ died are nevertheless born in their sins, under the sentence of death. Of course we would stipulate that God’s justice demands that they will not die in that unjustified state.

But how can we explain that temporary legal condemnation when we are also teaching a substitution by Christ for their specific sins? It depends on what the Bible means about “being placed into Christ”.

The “faith applies” folks think placed into Christ means “Christ in us”. But the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is not imputation.Not indwelling but imputation is taught in Romans 6.

God the Father’s legal imputing of Christ’s death to the elect places them into Christ. No, the word “imputing” is not in Romans 6. But neither is the word “Spirit” or the words “regeneration” or “indwelling”. But the meaning of Romans 6 is God’s imputing.

I Cor 1:30— because of God you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.