Posted tagged ‘faith alone’

“Faith Alone” in What?

January 17, 2015

Faith alone can be misunderstood. Even though Romans 5:1 tells us, “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus is not the cause or condition of justification.\

Of course I have read discussions about distinctions between conditions, where it is explained that faith is an “instrumental” condition. However confessional that term may be, I don’t agree with that explanation of faith. My problem is not that the traditional “instrumental” language can be misunderstood. Any explanation of faith’s necessity that I give can also be misunderstood.

I believe that faith in the true gospel (which includes “for the elect alone”) is necessary evidence that a person has passed from a state of condemnation to a state of justification. This faith in the gospel is not a knowledge that a person has been justified all along, or assurance that a person has been justified from the time of the cross or before a person was born. This faith in the gospel, which includes understanding of the gospel, is the result of being born again, which is the result of being imputed with the merits of Christ’s death.

In the false gospel which tells all sinners that Christ died for them, faith is misunderstood as making the difference between saved and lost. Even in cases where the fine print tells you that this making-the- difference faith is a result of predestination and regeneration, the credit for salvation does not go to Christ. The credit may go to the Holy Spirit or to predestination, but it cannot go to Christ, if Christ died for all sinners but only some sinners are saved.

Much Amyraldian double talk says that Christ propitiated the wrath of God for all sinners but that Christ also died extra for the elect to give them the faith to get the benefit of Christ’s propitiation. In other words, there is no antithesis with the false gospel of Arminianism. Since they still want to be thought of as evangelicals, and still want to have influence on evangelicals, Amyralidans agree to the heresy that Christ died for everybody. Even if they don’t explicitly say that this was to take away the wrath for every sinner, by their silence about the question, they go along with what everybody already understands, which is that “faith alone” makes the difference.

They can try to put boundaries around that, and say that the object of faith is important. They can even imply that Mormons and open theists are not evangelicals, and maybe not even justified But they are still agreeing, sermon after sermon, every time that they do not say “for the elect alone”, that it is faith alone which makes the difference. And when they do that, there is no Christ alone left.

In the fine print, the glory may go to God for predestinating the Holy Spirit to give faith. But it is no longer Christ’s death which saves, if Christ died for all sinners, and some of these sinners are lost. And though we may talk of Scripture alone, we end up with a canon within a canon, where what the Scripture says about the elect in Christ and therefore being elect in His death becomes segregated out from the gospel and never proclaimed or discussed.

Instead of saying that Christ died only for the elect and not for the non-elect, they leave out the word election and say that Christ died for believers, which comes to mean that” faith alone” makes the difference and not Christ.

If they want to keep the “thoroughly reformed” happy, they might say sometimes that Christ died for his covenant people, but then later they will make it clear that the covenant is conditional and that the his people are believers, so that it will all come back to “faith alone”.

According to Romans 3 and 4, “faith alone” is “not works”. The point of faith alone is “grace alone”. And according to Scripture, we cannot say grace alone without saying “for the elect alone”. Romans 9:11, “though they were not yet born and had done nothing good or bad-in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of His call.” Please notice the connection between “not because of works” and election.

When “evangelicals” attempt to leave out the “for the elect alone” and discuss the gospel without talking about election, then mostly all they can do is say “not because of works but because of faith alone”. Sometimes they do talk about the “but because of his call”. They say that the reason you believe is not your freewill but God’s effectual call. Even if you believe the false gospel that Christ died for every sinner, Reformed evangelicals will tell you that God effectually called you to believe that.

In select groups (for examples “Reformed” conferences that charge you big dollars) they will explain a more educated and precise view of things which you might want to add on to what you already believe without needing to repent of false gospel. Before you believed in a faith alone gospel, and now you still believe in a faith alone gospel but now you know that the faith came from God, and that this was not only “prevenient or common” grace to make your faith possible but that it made sure that you would being to believed that Jesus died for everybody.

The point of faith alone is “not by works”. Faith is not something you bring to the gospel. Faith is something that the gospel brings to the elect. I am not saying we have to hear a preacher or a sermon. But it is necessary for us to HEAR the gospel, and that this HEARING is not works but faith. Galatians 3: 5-8, “ Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. I know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, for seeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham….”

Since this text does not talk about election, and since it does talk about faith four times, what then is the gospel preached to Abraham that we should preach? First, notice that faith is a hearing produced by God by means of the gospel. The power is not in us but in the gospel message. I Corinthians 1: 18, “for the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” I am sometimes falsely accused as advocating that the gospel be given to the elect alone. At other times I am falsely associated with those who attempt to “prepare” people to introspect to see if they are elect. (But I don’t want to get distracted by what might be said. If you want to explore that kind of thing, read Abraham Booth’s “Glad Tidings” and “Divine Justice Essential to the Divine Character”, in which he fully answers the slanders of Andrew Fuller).

The truth is that I believe the full gospel needs to be proclaimed to all sinners (and not just those who have the bucks to get into Reformed conferences). The gospel is only good news for the elect, but we don’t know who the elect are until they have believed the gospel. The promise of the gospel is not for the children of the flesh but for the children of the promise, but we don’t know who the children of the promise are until they have been called. As Romans 9: 7 reminds us, not all are offspring of Abraham because they are his offspring. As Acts reminds us time after time, the promise is for “as many as“ are called. (2:39, 4:4 ). Since Romans 8:30 teaches us that as many as He called were also predestined, I see no reason to leave out the idea of election from the idea of calling.

Those who don’t want to talk about election leave Christ out of the idea of election. It is not enough to talk about calling and election, if election is simply to make sure that some sinners have faith alone. If the object of the faith alone is a false gospel which says that Christ loves everybody and desires to save everybody but that faith is some kind of condition of this salvation, then the faith alone is not in the true Christ but is instead in faith alone The message (for the elect alone) is to be proclaimed to elect and non-elect alike, but it (the message) is the power of God to the elect alone.

Galatians 3: 5-8 does not use the word election but it does talk about God’s calling. It’s not simply that God was powerful with Abraham, but also that God preached the gospel to Abraham. The word of the cross is the power of God. I Corinthians 2:12,“ Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we would understand the things freely given us by God.” I Corinthians 2:12 explains that the elect are given the Spirit to UNDERSTAND the things freely given us by God. One of the blessings given by God in Christ is understanding the word of the cross, which word I Cor 1 calls the power of God.

Romans 1:16, “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Evangelicals understand this as teaching that salvation is conditioned on faith alone. Evangelicals don’t understand the gospel. The gospel of “for the elect alone” needs to be proclaimed to every sinner because that very gospel message is the power of God which saves and causes elect sinners to believe. The gospel proclaimed to a non-elect sinner is not the power of God for salvation, but rather “to those who are perishing, a fragrance from death unto death.” (II Cor 2:16).

The idea of election goes along with the idea of not works. Romans 9:11, “In order that God’s election might continue, not because of works.” Romans 11: 5, “So too at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. But if it by grace, it is no longer by works; otherwise grace would be no more grace.” Does the apostle Paul not understand that you can say “not by works “ without talking about election? Why does Paul not just say: “by faith and not by works”? Why does he bring in this idea of a remnant? Paul writes about election in order to explain what he means by faith. Paul does not regard faith as a substitute for works. Paul does not believe that God imputes or regards or credits faith as if faith were what the law required.

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God Does Not Count Faith as the Righteousness, by Horatius Bonar

April 29, 2013

God reckons the believing person as having done all righteousness, though he has not done any, and though his faith is not righteousness. The work of Christ for us is the object of faith; the Spirit’s work in us is that which produces this faith: Without the touch of the rod the water would not have gushed forth; yet it was the rock and not the rod, that contained the water.

The bringer of the sacrifice into the tabernacle was to lay his hand upon the head of the sheep or the bullock. But the laying on of his hand was not the same as the victim on which it was laid. The serpent-bitten Israelite was to look at the uplifted serpent of brass in order to be healed. But his looking was not the brazen serpent. We may say it was his looking that healed him, just as the Lord said, “your faith has saved you”; but this is figurative language. It was not his act of looking that healed him, but the object to which he locked. So faith is not our righteousness.

Faith is not our saviour. It was not faith that was born at Bethlehem and died on Golgotha for us. It was not faith that loved us, and gave itself for us; that bore our sins in its own body on the tree; that died and rose again for our sins. Faith is one thing,  Jesus the Christ is another. Faith is one thing, and the cross is another. Let us not confound them, nor ascribe to a poor, imperfect act of man, that which belongs exclusively to the Son of the Living God.

Faith is not perfection. Yet only by perfection can we be saved; either our own or another’s. That which is imperfect cannot justify, and an imperfect faith could not in any sense be a righteousness. If it is to justify, it must be perfect. It must be like “the Lamb, without blemish and without spot” . God has asked and provided a perfect righteousness; He nowhere asks nor expects a perfect faith. An earthenware pitcher can convey water to a traveller’s thirsty lips as well as one of gold; nay, a broken vessel, even if there be but “a sherd to take water from the pit” (Isa 30:14), will suffice.

Faith is not satisfaction to God. In no sense and in no aspect can faith be said to satisfy God, or to satisfy the law. Yet if it is to be our righteousness, it must satisfy. Being imperfect, it cannot satisfy; being human, it cannot satisfy, even though it were perfect. That which satisfies must be capable of bearing our guilt; and that which bears our guilt must be not only perfect, but divine. It is a sin-bearer that we need, and our faith cannot be a sin-bearer. Faith can expiate no guilt; can accomplish no propitiation; can pay no penalty; can wash away no stain; can provide no righteousness.

Faith is not Christ, nor the cross of Christ. Faith is not the blood, nor the sacrifice; it is not the altar, nor the laver, nor the mercy-seat, nor the incense. It does not work, but accepts a work done ages ago. For never shall we put off that Christ whom we put on when we believed (Rom 12:14; Gal 3:27). This divine raiment is “to everlasting.” It waxes not old, it cannot be rent, and its beauty fadeth not away.

Nor does faith lead us away from that cross to which at first it led us. Some in our day speak as if we soon got beyond the cross, and might leave it behind; that the cross having done all it could do for us when first we came under its shadow, we may quit it and go forward; that to remain always at the cross is to be babes, not men.

But what is the cross? It is not the mere wooden pole, or some imitation of it, such as Romanists use. These we may safely leave behind us. We need not pitch our tent upon the literal Golgotha, or in Joseph’s garden. But the great truth which the cross embodies we can no more part with than we can past with life eternal. . I am always at the manger, and yet I know that mere incarnation cannot save; always at Gethsemane, and yet I believe that its agony was not the finished work; always at the cross, with my face toward it, and my eye on the crucified One, and yet I am persuaded that the sacrifice there was completed once for all; always looking into the grave, though I rejoice that it is empty, and that “He is not here, but is risen”.

Man, in his natural spirit of self-justifying legalism, has tried to get away from the cross of Christ and its perfection, or to erect another cross instead, or to setup a screen of ornaments between himself and it, or to alter its true meaning into something more congenial to his tastes, or to transfer the virtue of it to some act or performance or feeling of its own  Faith does not come to Calvary to do anything. It comes to see the glorious spectacle of all things done, and to accept this completion without a misgiving as to its efficacy. It listens to the “It is finished!” of the Sin-bearer, and says, “Amen.” Where faith begins, there labour ends, — labour, I mean, “for” life and pardon. Faith is rest, not toil. It is the giving up all the former weary efforts to do or feel something good, in order to induce God to love and pardon; and the calm reception of the truth so long rejected, that God is not waiting for any such inducements, but loves and pardons of His own goodwill, and is showing that goodwill to any sinner who will come to Him on such a footing, casting away his own performances.

Faith is the acknowledgment of the entire absence of all goodness in us, and the recognition of the cross as the substitute for all the want on our part. There is no dividing or sharing the work between our own belief and Him in whom we believe. The whole work is His, not ours, from the first to last. Faith does not believe in itself, but in the Son of God. Like the beggar, it receives everything, but gives nothing.  It rejoices in another, not in itself. Its song is, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by His mercy He saved us.”

“He was raised again because of our justification” (Rom 4:25) is the clear statement of the word. The resurrection was the visible pledge of the righteousness obtained (and in time imputed by God to all the elect) . The doctrine of our being justified by an infused resurrection-righteousness or, as it is called, justification in arisen Christ, is a clear subversion of the Surety’s work when “He died for our sins, according to the Scriptures,” or when “He washed us from our sins in His own blood,” or when He gave us the robes “washed white in the blood of the Lamb.”

It is the blood that justifies (Rom 5:9). It is the blood that pacifies the conscience, purging it from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:14). It is the blood that emboldens us to enter through the veil into the holiest, and go up to the sprinkled mercy-seal It is the blood that we are to drink for the quenching of our thirst (John 6:55). It is the blood by which we have peace with God (Col 1:20). It is the blood through which we have redemption (Eph 1:7), and by which we are sanctified (Heb 13:12). It is the blood which is the seal of the everlasting covenant (Heb 13:20). It is the blood which cleanses (1 John 1:7) and  which gives us victory (Rev 12:11). It is the blood which is the purchase-money or ransom of the church of God (Acts 20:28).

“Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27), is a well-known and blessed truth; but Christ IN US, our justification, is a ruinous error, leading man away from a crucified Christ — a Christ crucified FOR US. . The risen Christ in us, our justification, is a  theory which subverts the cross.

Neither Your Faith Nor Your Works Make the Difference

July 30, 2012

Mark Dever writes, “justification is not the same kind of merely
objective act that propitiation is…Christ’s giving of Himself satisfied the demands of the Father’s judgment against us. He did it alone; we played no part in it. Justification, however, includes us and our faith in a way that propitiation did not. We must believe in order to be justified.“ (It is Well, Crossway, 2010)

I agree that propitiation and justification are different, but I would deconstruct the difference as Dever locates it. Like most Calvinists, he and Lawrence (his co-author) have not considered the idea of a “justification through faith” in which the regeneration and faith of the elect are the immediate result of God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect.

Of course Dever and Lawrence have heard of federal union (which they may equate with eternal justification), but they see no other alternative to a justification conditioned on what God does in the elect sinner in causing that sinner to believ

Yes, it’s true that the elect are only justified when they believe,
but it is not being honest to the truth of eternal election in union
with Christ to say that faith is the instrumental condition of
justification. But it does make Arminian evangelism easier.

Who are the we? Who are the us? The New Testament letters were written for those who were already believing the gospel. Of course this “mail for Christians” is also meant to be read and proclaimed to those who have not yet believed the gospel (elect and non-elect)

The pastors Dever and Lawrence, who first did these sermons in their
Southern Baptist church, do a good job of making a distinction between Christians and non-Christian “friends”. But they refuse to talk to these friends about election or about how the effectiveness of the cross not only satisfies justices but causes the elect to believe. Instead, they tell non-Christians that they “can be” saved if they trust Jesus (even the false Christ who died without anybody’s sin being imputed to Him at the time).

They write as if faith is the way to get sins imputed to Christ, as if the lost sinner is the one who is the imputer. On page 200, they
ask:”what will you do with your sins?” On page 213, they ask: “But did Jesus die for you? It depends. Do you know yourself to be
unrighteous?” Is it adding to the gospel (and therefore a false gospel of addition) to tell sinners that making your faith to be the
difference between saved and lost is not only incorrect theology but
unrighteousness based on self-sufficiency?

It’s NOT an addition to the gospel or an optional extra to explain this truth. We should not flatter sinners in their pride that their decision makes the difference.

My plea is not that the lost have to learn what an Arminian is before
they can believe the gospel. My plea is that those who teach the
gospel show how Christ’s death is effective for the elect by showing
how the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ by God, and not by
the sinner.

It is well and good to tell the sinner that if she understands herself to be self-righteous, then she has a substitute. But part of
self-righteousness is any idea that we cause Christ to become our
substitute because God make us believers.

God makes the elect to become believers because the elect died in
union with Christ, so that His death is their death. This book makes
“baptism” in Romans 6 to be a symbol of our faith (instead of God
placing the elect into Christ’s death). On page 111, Lawrence writes
the assumption: “through faith, sinners like you and me are brought
into union with Christ so that our sins are credited to him.”

Why do I call this Arminian evangelism? Don’t the Arminians say that
all the sins of all sinners have already been credited to Christ, and
that this is ineffective? Well, no, Arminians would NOT agree that it’s ineffective. Arminians simply say that the whole thing is ALSO conditioned on faith. While the Calvinist disagrees with the Arminian about the source of this faith, as long as the Calvinist does not talk of a federal union in which God has already credited the sins of the elect to Christ, they can share the same gospel.

They can also agree not to mention that the non-elect sinner cannot
believe the true gospel. They can very much agree not to mention that
the non-elect CAN believe the false gospel that teaches falsely that God loves everybody and that Christ died for everybody.

Beware of Gaffin’s “Mysterious Math”

November 27, 2011

Salvation by works is the problem.

The unionists (Gaffin) say
1.”definitive sanctification” and “progressive sanctification” are also by grace, not by works.
2. But then they also say that the “grace-works” antithesis is removed once you are “united” and justified.
3. And then finally they say that justification is not by synergy, but that sanctification is by synergy.

p73, Gaffin, By Faith Not by Sight—“Here is what may be fairly called a synergy but it is not a 50/50 undertaking (not even 99.9% God and 0.1% ourselves). Involved here is the ‘mysterious math’ of the creator and his image-bearing creature, whereby 100% plus 100% =100%. Sanctification is 100% the work of God, and for that reason, is to engage the full 100% activity of the believer.”

My conclusion is not about motives about the results of this kind of “unionism”.
1. Justification is not seen as part of the “union”.
2. “Union” is defined by antithesis so that “union” is not justification, not sanctification, not any of the benefits, but rather the presence of the person of Christ (naked, alone, without His benefits).
3. “Union” is nevertheless conditioned on “faith”, and faith means not only Christ already indwelling but already a “break with sin”, and that “freedom from sin” is defined NOT IN FORENSIC TERMS but in ontological terms.
4. The Holy Spirit’s work in us is read into Romans 6. Christ’s “break with sin” is read out of Romans 6. Justification is left out of “union”, and “sanctification” is put back into “union” and not seen as only a result. The second Adam theme is being confined to Romans 5.
5. So supposedly we have this “double grace”, and sanctification is by grace also. But also sanctification is a synergy, where works by grace are different than works without grace, and thus sanctification by grace is by both grace and works.

Beware of “mysterious math”.

If You Don’t Talk About Election, Then You are Not Teaching “Not by Works”

November 9, 2011

According to Romans 4:5, faith alone is “not works”. The point of faith alone is “grace alone”.

“To the one who does NOT work but trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, it is counted as righteousness.”

And according to Romans 9:11, we cannot say grace alone without saying “for the elect alone”.

“Though they were not yet born and had done nothing good or bad-in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of His call.”

I want you to see the connection between “not because of works” and election. When evangelicals attempt to leave out the “for the elect alone” and discuss the gospel without talking about election, then mostly all they can do is say “not because of works but because of faith alone”.

Even if you believe the false gospel that Christ died for every sinner, “Reformed evangelicals” will tell you that God effectually called you to believe that heresy.

Of course they won’t tell you it’s heresy, but in select groups (for examples, conferences that charge you big dollars) they will explain a more educated and precise view of things which you might want to add on to what you already believe without needing to repent of a false gospel.

Before you believed in a faith alone gospel, and now you still believe in a faith alone gospel but now you know that the faith came from God.

Galatians 3: 8, “ And the Scripture, forseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham….

Faith is hearing produced by God by means of the gospel. The power is in the true gospel, not a false gospel. I Corinthians 1: 18, “for the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, IT is the power of God.”

The true gospel needs to be proclaimed to all sinners (and not just those who have the bucks to get into Reformed conferences). The gospel is only good news for the elect, but we don’t know who the elect are until they have believed the gospel.

It is not enough to talk about calling and election, if election is simply to make sure that some sinners have faith alone. If the object of the faith alone is a false gospel which says that Christ loves everybody and desires to save everybody but that faith is some kind of condition of this salvation, then this faith alone is not in the true Christ but is instead in faith alone.

“Faith alone” is not the condition of justification, but to see that, we need a message which tells us about God’s election.

Romans 1:16, “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Evangelicals understand this as teaching that salvation is conditioned on faith alone. Evangelicals don’t understand the gospel.

Election is God’s idea. This idea goes along with the idea of not works. Romans 9:11: “In order that God’s election might continue, not because of works.”

Romans 11: 5, “So too at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. But if it by grace, it is no longer by works; otherwise grace would be no more grace.”

Doesn’t the apostle Paul understand that you can say “not by works “ without talking about election? Why doesn’t he just say: “by faith and not by works”? Why does he bring in this idea of a remnant? Paul writes about election in order to explain what he means by faith. Paul does not regard faith as a substitute for works.

God imputes the righteousness revealed in the gospel to a person justified by the gospel. The “it” which is imputed by God to Abraham is the obedient bloody death of Christ Jesus for the elect alone. The righteousness of God obtained by Christ is imputed unto the elect alone.

Dan Fuller Teaches that Faith Is Works, And Thus Never Alone

August 25, 2011

I quote from Dan Fuller’s Unity of the Bibe (p181):

“In commenting on Genesis 2:17 -do not eat from that tree–Calvin said, `These words are so far from establishing faith that they do nothing but shake it.’ I argue, however, that there is much reason for regarding these words as well suited to strengthen Adam and Eve’s faith

Fuller: “In Calvin’s thinking, the promise made in Genesis 2:17 could never encourage faith, for its conditionality could encourage only meritorious works. `Faith seeks life that is not found in commandments.’ Consequently, the gospel by which we are saved is an unconditional covenant of grace, made such by Christ having merited it for us by his perfect fulfillment of the covenant of works.

Dan Fuller comments: “I have yet to find anywhere in Scripture a gospel promise that is unconditional.”

More from Unity (p310): “If Abraham was not declared forgiven until ten years later, was he still a guilty sinner when he responded positively to God’s promises in Genesis 12:2-3 and also during the following years up until 15:6?”

Fuller (p313): “Paul would have agreed with James that Abraham’s work of preparing to sacrifice Isaac was an obedience of faith. He would have disagreed strongly with Calvin, who saw obedience and works as only accompanying genuine faith…James’ s concern in 2:14-26 was to urge a faith that saves a person, not simply to tell a person how they could demonstrate their saving faith…Calvin should have taught that justification depends on a persevering faith, since he regarded Abraham as already justified before Genesis 15:6.”

What Must I Do To Prove that You Already Married Me?

January 31, 2011

Titus 3:14—“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”

Even though it is popular to be against individualism, and thus FOR making transparent and public what we keep private, I have no intention here of talking much about my marriage to my wonderful wife Linda. I am trying to make a point against self-righteous puritans who condition everything on our perseverance. But it is close to Valentine’s Day, and I have been married to my beautiful wife for 33 years, and I like the analogy of the marriage metaphor.

In our marriage, I am the one who likes to write the poetry. I am the verbal romantic who likes to joke about needing to earn points from my wife. And she is the one who calms me down by saying: “I already married you. What more do you want?” And of course I reply: everything!

Puritans are not sure if you are married yet. If they are consistent and not simply self-righteous, puritans are also not sure if THEY are married yet. The more they talk against carnal security and the more they insist on the inevitability of mandatory fruit, the more puritans need to ask themselves: am I the fourth dirt in the parable, or one of the other three?

I remember the time before I was married. Even up there on the platform before the “I do”, I was still anxious. It was not too late for Linda to open her eyes and see me as I was, and then call the whole thing off. So what I am saying?

We are married now. It’s too late now to stop it. Despite our two children, Romanists could “annul” it and say it never happened, and most Protestants could divorce and call the remarriage a new picture of Christ and His elect, but we have already been married.

Or, as my wife jokes: I already married you. What more do you want? I am not here denying that we don’t want more of each other. I am not even denying at this point that what we do now is a condition of staying married. Although I would like to think that’s true, the analogy breaks down between our marriage to each other and God’s love for the justified elect. Right now, I am denying that what we do counts as evidence that we are or are not already married.

I am not an Arminian, and I don’t believe that the justified elect lose their salvation, and therefore I don’t think that Christians have to do stuff to stay in the new covenant. But my point right now is that I am not a puritan, and I don’t believe that the justified elect have to do stuff to prove to themselves or to God that they are real Christians.

Puritans tend to let you in the front door by faith alone, but then after they allow you a little time, they will let you out the back door if your faith is still alone. In addition to faith, they ask: what have you done for me lately? It would be like my wife saying to me: sure, I married you for love, but now I want to see the big house with the bird nests in the big back yard.

I am not denying that a husband could do more. I also agree that a husband SHOULD do more. There is always more! But how much does a husband have to do in order to show himself and his wife that he really married the wife? Notice, I am not even talking right now about keeping the wife!

I suppose in today’s Reformed culture, Gerhard Forde would be called an “antinomian”. Certainly he had a false Lutheran gospel based on water regeneration and faith, instead of on Christ’s propitiation. But Forde used to love this question: what would you do now if you found out that you didn’t have to do anything?”

When I walked down that aisle 33 years ago, what was my thinking? Was it probation, so that I had so much time to prove to Linda’s parents that I was not work-less or worth-less? No. So was my mind thinking: now that I am married, I don’t need to love her? It’s not strictly necessary?

We need to ask the question: necessary for what? I do not say that works are not necessary for justification but that synergism is necessary for “sanctification”, because that difference cannot account for the biblical idea of sanctification by the blood (Hebrews 10:10-14). But I do say that our works are not necessary to obtain God’s blessings. Romans 4:4—“To the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due”. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has elected the elect in Christ and has blessed the elect in Christ with every spiritual blessing.

Works are needed. Wives need their husband to work for them. Husbands need their wives to work for them. Love works. But works are not needed to prove that we are already married. It might sound good for Dan Fuller to teach that we grow by the same “faith alone” as we get justified by “faith alone”. But when the faith by which we grow is never alone, then that means that the faith by which we get justified is never alone. And this means that faith alone really means with the addition of works.

I know I don’t deserve to have Linda as my wife. But I also know that I will never ever in the future deserve to have Linda as my wife. And you can redefine “justice” until it becomes less strict and “family-law” and never use the word “merit”, but at the end of the day I will still never deserve to be married to her.

BUT I AM married to her. And these “points” I joke about getting from her when I do something for her, they are not mortgage payments on a note which can never be burned. I am not like Jacob who had to work seven more years after he got married (and that after seven years and her sister!)

Married is married. What we do doesn’t get us more married. And what we do doesn’t prove that we are married. There is no cause-effect relationship between our works and our salvation, because the elect are saved by Christ’s work. When the elect become justified, they are married to Christ. Christians share in what Christ has, not because of what they do but because they are now married/justified.

The puritans tend to say that you are in the house despite of who you are and what you have done, but now that you are in, there is a new covenant which now expects more of you because you could now do more if you wanted to. The subtext is even more threatening and ominous: maybe you are in, and maybe you are not in, and we shall wait and see what you want to do and then what you do, and we will never say it specifically about you, but we will say in a general way: there are some folks who were never in the house in the first place.

And the more consistent (less self-contradictory puritans, think Schreiner and Caneday) will say to themselves: sure I have been baptized (at least by a Trinitarian Romanist but was that good enough?) and sure I have been working now for a long time (but with what motives and what results?) but how am I to know that I will keep working from now on in (so let me die first before I do something which will prove to me and everybody that I was never married in the first place!)