Posted tagged ‘atonement’

All Tolerant Calvinists are Practical Liberals

January 28, 2011

what happens
if nothing gets done?

what got done at the cross?
if what happens with it
depends on our execution?

if we are the ones who make the exchange
and put our sins on him
and execute him?

Girardian (death not needed, sacrifice not needed by God) liberals say the cross only happened because we needed victims . I of course do not deny that we like to scapegoat people.

But even the liberal Girardian is saying that something good and necessary happened by us killing a victim

I say this instead— if we did it, then we did nothing. It was not decisive for anything, certainly not for the redemption of any sinner.

And before we get too high and mighty about liberals saying that, so that we forget the gospel and simply take sides with all the “conservatives” who oppose abortion of unborn victims, let us look at Arminian and Romanist conservatives who do still talk about “sacrifice”

The Arminians who sing “nothing but the blood” and “Jesus paid it all” oh so loudly, then tell us it depends on us to accept it.

Arminians don’t think anything happened either.

So why do we think possibly favorably about the “calvinists” who have definite atonement as their “shelf doctrine”? For the glory of Christ, we need to get real about this evil called Arminianism (yes, it’s ordained by God, and it’s evil)

All liberals deny that “mercy-seat” means propitiation (taking away God’s wrath)

They say this is like the Aztecs, paganism, trying to appease God by throwing virgins down into a fire hole (like one of the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies)

They say: God does not change in time from wrath to peace

They say: God does not need to be reconciled, sinners need to be reconciled so the cross is God’s apology to man, or at least “God letting us do it” God being a pacifist, taking it, not as in taking revenge but letting us take revenge on an innocent victim, ie, God Himself

But you don’t have to be a pacifist to be liberal
All liberals deny that God now has wrath on anybody.

Practical liberals downplay the significance of God’s wrath

All Arminians and tolerant Calvinists, no matter how much they talk about “hell”, are practical liberals, because they eliminate the significance of the imputation of sins to Christ and Christ’s death as God appeasing God for those sins.

Profaning the Blood of Christ

June 16, 2010

Those who teach that Christ died for everyone are profaning the blood of Christ. But these false teachers cannot change either the justice or the sovereign effectiveness of the cross, for even their false teaching has been ordained by the same God who designed the glorious death of Christ.

It does not follow that we who believe the true gospel have no purpose or need to refute the false teaching. Our prayer is that we ourselves have been predestined to expose any and all attempts to make Christ’s death common.

Christ’s death is not common for every sinner, because Christ’s death does not have the common ordinary effect of making a salvation conditioned on what sinners do with grace.

Christ’s death is not only about sovereignty but also about justice, because Christ’s death is about not only punishment but also about imputed guilt.

Christ’s death has the uncommon result of entitling every elect person to all the benefits of salvation. Elect sinners might be somewhat wary of any talk of being entitled to anything, since we know that we are still always sinning, but it is simply boasting in Christ.

if we think that our sinning somehow makes us any less entitled to all salvation blessings, then we will also falsely come to think that our not sinning will bring us extra rewards. If our sinning or not sinning comes into the equation, then what Christ did is not enough.


April 16, 2010

Freddy, you are the one who’s queer

How could you do this to me?

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

Derek Webb, singing to Fred Phelps about graveyard protests

Liberals tell us that God does not punish anyone for the sins
of others. And then quote Jeremiah 31: 29—“they shall no longer say: the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But everyone shall die for his own sin.” Ezekiel 18 also teaches that the soul who sins shall die.

Jeremiah and Ezekial wrote to people in exile who were suffering for the sins of an earlier generation. In context, the prophets’ assurances that the solidarity of the present generation to their fathers’ guilt would no longer continue functioned as encouragement to repentance. That specific situation is no reason to contradict other Bible texts which teach corporate responsibility.

For example, Romans 5 is very clear that all humans are born imputed with Adam’s guilt. Only a liberal individualist would deny original sin. There are numerous other examples of corporate responsibility in Scripture. For example, in Joshua 7, thirty-six Israelite soldiers die on account of the sin of Achan, and then his family members are executed with him because of his sin. In II Samuel 2, seven of Saul’s sons are executed for their father’s sins.

What God in his sovereignty ordains gives us humans no excuse to hate or punish sinners. Even though so many soliders have died because of the sins of Bush and Obama, this historical fact does not mean that their deaths are justified. Deuteronomy 24:16 explicitly prohibits humans from killing one person in the place of another: “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers.”

This means that we cannot read the face of providence (as Fred and the Westboro group attempts) and determine that it was divine justice that caused so many Iraqi soldiers to die for their country. God ‘s judgment extends further than ours . God will judge the secrets of our hearts (Romans 2:16, Hebrews 4:12), but we humans cannot and should not try to imitate the coming apocalypse.

Some liberals  think that any notion of God being judgmental in the future only leads to violence now. But historically that is not how the “peace-churches” have understood it. Instead of reading current events as providential judgments, we have quoted Romans 12: 19—“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

In Luke 13: 4-5, the Lord Jesus responded to those attempting to interpret current events: “Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them; do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will likewise perish.” That threat from Jesus is not an endorsement of redemptive violence, not an excuse for us to kill anybody.

God judging justly is one reason we are not to kill. The other reason we are not to kill is that, when the soldiers killed Jesus, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.” (I Peter 2:24) Liberals will tell us that this event was only humans killing another human and that God had nothing to do with it. But I Peter in context assumes that God does indeed punish His Servant for the sins of the others. I have no space left now to reflect on the wonders of Isaiah 53: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; his soul makes an offering for sin…”

As I Peter 3:18 has it, “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous.” There is no need for any of us to be killing, since there is now no other sacrifice for sins. Liberals  will deny that Jesus was punished for the sins of His friends, but it is that very hope which serves as the reason for patience in the face of current tragedies. I Peter 2:21—“leaving you an example, so that you would follow in his steps…when he suffered, he continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

J P Boyce vs Andrew Fuller

April 12, 2010

Read J. P. Boyce in his excellent Abstract of Systematic Theology calls Fuller’s ‘Universalism’.Because Fuller sees the atonement as a symbol indicating sufficiency for all, he presents salvation as being there as a free-for-all. The purpose of the gospel and the evidence of nature is merely to prepare the above-mentioned feast. The food on the table is more than sufficient for those who have the appetite (will) to enjoy it. Fuller,in his The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptance, believes that man is naturally capable of keeping the Law and that the Gospel is merely a kind of law to be obeyed. He therefore teaches that though Christ died symbolically for everybody’s sin, it is efficacious where man’s agency is involved in following law which points to Christ. In this way, Fuller dodges the issue of whether Christ actually died for His elect only or for all sinners.

God’s Love Narrowly Defined: It’s Christ’s Atonement

February 12, 2010

Today we have a guest blogger.

Matthew 5:43-48 says that God’s rain falls on the just and the unjust. Does that mean God loves the vessels of wrath in a sense? I don’t think so. God’s tornadoes fall on the just and the unjust also. I don’t think He is trying to say that God loves the vessels of wrath because it’s clear from Scripture that He hates them (Psalm 5:5, Psalm 11:5, Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:13)).

Also, God’s love in Scripture is defined by Christ’s atoning work on the cross for the elect alone.

The Sermon On The Mount has to do with God’s standards for
the elect. God Himself is not changing, but the standards for His children are. It is no longer an eye for an eye; “You have heard it said in the times of old,” but now I’m raising the bar for you. We should not hate our enemies as David did (Psalm 139:21,22).

Matthew 5:48 cannot mean that God is perfect because He loves His enemies. If God did not love any of His enemies, would that mean God is imperfect? No.

But if a Christian does not love His enemies, is she imperfect? Yes. Because she was given a command and she disobeyed. But God cannot be disobedient. God’s perfection is not measured by any human standard, and He is not bound to do everything He commands His creatures to do.

God always acts according to His own own nature. God always acts justly because God is just. But God does not always love any particular creature, and does not love the vessels of wrath.

Matthew 5:43-47 are commands for the elect. See also Luke 6:35,36 – “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is *kind* to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

I do not think it necessary to explain John 3:16 as D.A. Carson does, because the same definition for “kosmos” in John 3:16 must be inserted into John 3:17. “The world” through Him is the elect, not every person who ever lived.

Defining kosmos as every single person who ever lived in John 3:16,17 results in universalism and wouldn’t make any sense, since there are millions already dead who will die the second death.

Carson argues that it is too cut and dry to say John 3:16 is only a
reference to the elect, and this is why he calls his book, “The Difficult”
doctrine of the love of God. God’s love is supposedly too difficult
to narrow it down to the fact that God loves the elect alone.
Carson is only making something difficult that is in fact simply and clearly laid out in Scripture.

D.A. Carson argues that God loves everyone equally, but also
loves the elect in an extra special way.This so called “love” is a very short fuse that runs out as soon as the vessels of wrath breathe their last. What good is it for God to give you the whole world, and in the end, not save you from his hate and wrath?

God is not willing that any of His elect should perish, but that all the
elect come to repentance. God does not bring destruction upon the earth now because He is still gathering a remnant, and the vessels of wrath live while God gathers that elect remnant.

How could anyone see love for Edom expressed in Malachi 1:4? God lovingly tears down everything they try to build? God lovingly
has indignation against them? I can’t see it.

Whose sins were imputed to Christ? By whom? When?

February 10, 2010

In Taste and See (Multnomah,1999, p325), John Piper endorses the conditional false gospel. “Christ died for all sinners, so that IF you will repent and believe in Christ, then the death of Jesus will become effective in your case and will take away your sins. ‘Died for you,’ means if you believe, the death of Jesus will cover your sins.  Now, as far as it goes, this is biblical teaching.”

Piper then goes on to disagree with Arminians for not teaching that Christ died to purchase faith for the elect. But he does not disagree with the Arminians about propitiation and substitution and punishment. “if you believe, the death of Jesus will cover your sins.”

Piper’s false gospel does not teach that Christ was specifically punished for the elect alone . It still only has a punishment in general, to be assigned later to those who believe.

But  he does insist that Christ also died for the elect to give them something extra that He will not be giving the non-elect.  Piper’s false gospel misses being true gospel in two important and related ways.

First, the false gospel fails to report that Christ was punished specifically for the elect, and when it does that, it will be heard every time as saying that there was enough punishment (death) done to Christ to save even people who will nevertheless end up being punished (with the second death).

Thus, even though it has punishment, this false gospel is not about punishment that replaces punishment for all whom Christ intended to justify. It has punishment without any intention of Christ to save anybody in particular at all.

Piper’s punishment- in- general gospel (with faith purchased extra for the elect) is no gospel in a second and important way.  It makes the important atonement to be something other than the punishment of Christ. It makes the real reconciliation to be the Spirit Christ purchased giving people faith to believe, even if they happen to believe a message that says Christ died for every sinner.

The alternatives here  are to either claim that people who have never heard the gospel are saved, or to claim that general punishment for nobody in particular is the gospel. In any case, it is not the good news about the real meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection.

If we jump ahead to the things Christ has bought for believers, even including their believing, without telling it straight about the punishment of Christ specifically for the elect, then we will continue to believe and teach a gospel which has no election in it and no punishment to release the elect from guilt.

If we jump ahead in that way, we jump over why God’s love for the elect is never described apart from the death of Christ.

If the death of Christ is not that which saves any specific sinner, then the death of Christ does not save sinners. If the atonement is Christ purchasing faith to give elect sinners a portion in a general punishment, then the punishment of Christ was not for salvation.

This false gospel talks about justification by the imputed righteousness, but without ever talking about God’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ. It won’t say whose sins were imputed to Christ.

It refuses to say anybody’s sins were imputed to Christ, because it refuses to say it was the sins of the elect alone which were imputed to Christ. Such a false gospel nullifies the love of God for the elect.

So That We Don’t Have To, Warnock’s Raised With Christ

February 10, 2010

Review of Raised With Christ, by Adrian Warnock (Crossway, 2010)

British preacher Adrian Warnock makes a very sloppy path toward his argument for the baptism with the Spirit being a second experience for Christians.  He does raise some good questions about the connection between the death and resurrection of Christ, and left me with several texts to keep pondering. For example, I Peter 1:11 tells us of the Spirit’s prediction of “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.”  I Peter 3:21 speaks of an “appeal for a good conscience, through the resurrection.”

The point is that the gospel is not the death without the resurrection, or the resurrection without the death.  The good news about one is good news about the other.  Warnock quotes Calvin to this effect:  “When in scripture death only is mentioned, everything peculiar to the resurrection is at the same time included, and that there is a like synecdoche in the term resurrection.” (Institutes 2:16:13, p 75 in Warnock).

Mr. Warnock does well to give us the Ephesians 4:8 quotation of Psalm 68: 18—“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men. In saying, He ascended, what does it mean but that he also descended…?”   Warnock: “Paul explains that, in the one word ‘ascension’, the descent from heaven is implied.”   But Warnock never quotes or comes to terms with the idea of John 3:13:“ No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.”  To think about this would jeopardize his traditional assumptions about immortal souls (p243, in his very messy chapter on “our resurrection bodies”.

The Arminian-Calvinist “middle-camp” (p205) assumptions of Warnock’s gospel come into clear view in his chapter on Romans 4:24–raised because of our justification or raised in order to and for the purpose of our justification?: I do not come to this discussion as an advocate of eternal justification or of justification
at the cross (and resurrection).

Warnock begins badly by asserting that “Jesus’ resurrection was not a result of our justification” (p121) because our sin was not a result of His death. If death is a result of sin, the parallel would be to say that His resurrection is a result of the justification of the elect, even if that is a future justification.

On p 124, Warnock writes: “The answer is that God was displeased
with the sin (imputed) that Christ was bearing but remained pleased
with Jesus’ infinite goodness, which was greater than the sin.” This
is NOT how the apostle Paul explains the requirements of justice.

The sins demand not some philosophical (and non-biblical) idea of some “infinity” or “equivalent”. The sins demand death. The death of Christ was God’s justice, God’s wages for all the sins of the elect.

On p 126, Warnock writes: “The resurrection was necessary to allow the credit of Jesus’ righteousness to be shared with us, for it
demonstrated that the credit was greater than the debt.” But to glory in the cross is to see that the death of Christ cancels the debt for all the elect when they are placed into that death. Romans 6:9-10 are RESURRECTION VERSES: “We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has any dominon over him. For the death he died , he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. “

The reason that the debt of the sins of elect cannot hold Christ is
not some “greater credit”. The reason that the debt of the sins of the elect cannot hold Christ is Christ’s death. Christ died to sin. This does not mean that Christ was born again. And Romans 6 is not talking about our being born again either.

The Triune God caused Christ to die because the Triune God by legal
imputation already did or did not lay the sins of each sinner on
Christ. And this in turn means ONE that Christ is no longer imputed
with those sins, because He has died once for them and will not die
again. It means TWO that it is not sinners (nor their faith nor
their apology) who give their sins to Christ. God gave the sins of
the elect to Christ already, and God already did not give the sins of
the non-elect to Christ.

And you may say— this is all well and good, and I don’t disagree, but we don’t need to say it. The Bible doesn’t say it that way, and we can understand the Bible well enough without saying it that way.  Let us see. Think of a parallel text to Romans 6:9-10. Think of II Corinthians 5:15, which is a text Warnock references on p128. “One has died for all, therefore all have died, and he died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 

Now Warnock has made a very good point about these verses earlier on p 75:  one time Paul writes “died for all” but then at the end he writes “for their sake died and was raised” and so this means that when one is mentioned, the other is implied. I agree.

So what’s my problem with p 124? Am I just another “watch blogger” (p66)? No doubt I will report Warnock on his (p59) one-sided deal in which he “offered God his sinful heart and God gave me His righteousness.  No doubt I will report his confusion about if it’s two or three things being imputed as the righteousness: sometimes it’s the death and the life, sometimes it’s the greater credit of the life, and then finally it’s three things, including a Piper (but not a Bible) quotation to the effect that the resurrection itself is imputed. (see p126).   And I could ask: so perhaps also the intercession is imputed? Is the birth also imputed?  And maybe even is it the person, and not only his work, which is imputed, even if not in the context of what God’s law requires? 

But see Romans 8:3—“What the law could not do, God did by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin-he condemned sin in the flesh.”

Back to II Corinthians 5:15 and the gospel about Christ’s death being the death of those who will be justified.  This is the thing that Warnock does not say, and cannot say. And the reason he cannot say it? He cannot say it because he says something else, and this becomes clear in the next chapter on union with Christ (resurrected with Jesus).  Already on p 124, he has written “so that our guilt COULD now be taken away, and we COULD be counted righteous.”  This “might or might not be” continues in the chapter on union.  On p141, Warnock explains: “Jesus suffered the penalty due our sins so that we do not have to.”


That’s the same false gospel I have been hearing all my life.  All our lives we have been hearing Arminianism, and most people who profess to be Christians profess that what Jesus did (in death and resurrection) sets up a plan which makes it possible for you to give him your sins and then for Him to save you.  And this is the false gospel Warnock proclaims also, even though he boasts of being on the cutting edge of the young, restless and reformed.   He not only professes to have been saved because he believed the (Arminian) gospel.  He still teaches that same Arminian gospel. Or, as Piper has explained it, these people believe not only Arminianism but more!

II Corinthians 5:15 does not teach that Christ died for our sins so that we don’t have to; it says that those for whom Christ died also died with him.  That is substitution, and you cannot teach substitution without confusion unless you describe which sinners Christ died for.

If Christ died for every sinner but some of these sinners will perish,  then that may be a substitution but it not a saving substitution.  II Corinthians 5:15 does not use the word “elect”, but the only other way to understand the identity of the “for” and the “with” is to teach an universalism in which every sinner has died to sin and will be justified.

I think most “middle-camp” tolerant Calvinists would rather live as practical de facto universalists then  dare talk about election in connection with II Corinthians 5.  They want a future judgment for  the elect, even while they quibble with NT Wright about that not being a future justification.   They fear as antinomian any good news which teaches that the elect have already died to judgment when Christ died for them. (See John Fesko’s wonderful book on Justification).  

Another advantage for most “middle camp” evangelicals in not talking about election in II Cor 5 is that they can take the phrase “live for Him who died for them” and use it to lay duties on every sinner they meet. But there is no point in talking about any such duties until a sinner has obeyed the true gospel and repented from the dead works of the false gospel.

Warnock tells us (p141) that “we are saved not only by believing the fact that Christ died for our sins, but by union with the crucified and risen Savour.”  But it is NOT a fact of the gospel tells any particular sinner that Christ died for their sins.  The gospel  does not tell sinners who the elect are; the gospel tells sinners about the elect.   It IS a fact that there was one kind of “union” of the elect in Christ so that already at the cross, long before (or after) they are justified, Christ paid by death for their sins. Faith does not make this aspect of the union happen.

Warnock seems to assume  that God-given faith does make this aspect of the union to happen. That’s why he thinks of giving Jesus his sins. On p 217, when he argues for the giving of the Spirit as a second blessing to be experienced after believing the gospel,  he writes: “ it would be circular to interpret ‘believe and you will receive a work of the Spirit automatically without you being aware of it’, the main effect of which is to cause you to believe.”

His unquestioned assumption is that God-given  faith is the cause of the first salvation.  But the answer to  expose his assumption we read in Galatians 3:13 (which he quotes on p 219)—“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that they would receive the Spirit through faith.”   As Bruce McCormack has so ably pointed out ( What’s At Stake in Justification), regeneration does not precede justification in this redemptive-historical text.  If union is by legal imputation, the forensic  is the cause of the life and efficacy of faith connected with justification.

The Galatians 3 text does not start with believing to get justified, and it does not end with believing more to get the Spirit more.  Galatians 3 starts with “before your eyes Christ publicly portrayed as crucified.”  The opposition between works of the law and hearing by faith has everything to do with the object of faith legally constituting those who then hear.   Yes, there is a promise of the Spirit through faith, but that is because first “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law” SO THAT this will happen. Not so that it might happen, if conditionally….

I run long, and I wanted to briefly describe Warnock’s brief for the Lloyd-Jones view of the experience of the Spirit.  I will not critique that view here, but glimpse at some of the John Piper quotations he strings together. On p 218, “If you assume we believed, why don’t you assume we received the Holy Spirit? ….You talk as if there is a way to know we’ve received the Holy Spirit different from believing… A person who has received the Spirit knows it not just because it’s an inference from his faith in Christ.”

On the Galatians 3 text, Warnock argues: “the Spirit is received by faith. THEREFORE, Paul can’t simply be referring to the Spirit’s role in bringing in faith.” (p219) As we have seen, Paul is referencing Christ crucified and redemption from the law, and not simply faith and receiving the Spirit.  The “therefore” does not therefore really make a coherent argument.  Piper again: “for the NT people, the Holy Spirit was a fact of experience. For many Christians today it is fact of doctrine….Don’t expect to notice any difference; just believe that you have experienced the Spirit.”    There are lots of other soundbites, but I will spare you “it” in this review.

One last thing, which you would think that I as an adventist who teaches “conferred immortality” would have majored on—Warnock’s assumption that all “souls” are immortal. He even has a terrible Spurgeon soundbite for support. P 243: “The resurrection of the dead is something different from the immortality of the soul: that every Christian believes with the heathen, who believe it too… Every mortal man who ever existed shall not only live by the immortality of his soul but… the very flesh in which he walks on earth is as eternal as the soul…”  Spurgeon seems to contradict his own idea of “mortal man”. For sure, he has no clue  that the soul that sins shall die.  He has no idea that the body and the spirit together make up the “soul”. (Genesis 2:7)

When Warnock attacks those who teach “Soul sleep”, he seems not to recognize that his label is a question-begging libel against those who  with the Bible define the soul as the person who “sleeps”. Though at one point he contrasts David who stayed dead with Christ who didn’t  (Acts 2), Warnock assumes what he needs to prove and that is that “raised with Christ” in Ephesians 2 (and Colossians 3) means that immortal spirits are now in heaven. Instead of glorying in the Resurrected One who has Gone ahead as our “public person” (as the old “federal theology” put it), Warnock settles for an over-realised (and Platonic, Roman Catholic, pagan) eschatology.

But that’s enough name-calling from this old “watch blogger”!

Mark McCulley

Third blizzard, winter, 2010