Posted tagged ‘John Piper’

Piper Calls Thanksgiving a “Debtor’s Ethic”

December 23, 2014

John Piper, the Debtor’s Ethic, Future Grace— “the Israelites are at their best, though, what is notable about them is not their gratitude, but THEIR FAITH: And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and BELIEVED the LORD, and his servant Moses. Exodus 14:31 To contrast, when Moses behaved badly and struck the rock with his staff, this was his reprimand: And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye BELIEVED ME NOT, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. Numbers 20:12 The LORD doesn’t say that this is because they weren’t grateful enough….”

Daniel Fuller (The Unity of Faith, p 313): “Paul would have agreed with James that Abraham’s work of preparing to sacrifice Isaac was an OBEDIENCE OF FAITH. Paul would have disagreed strongly with Calvin, who saw obedience and works as only accompanying genuine faith…The concern in James 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.”

And then Daniel Fuller quotes Jonathan Edwards: “We are really saved by perseverance…the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity THAT FAITH GIVES TO salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”

Mark McCulley asks– How could we possibly give thanks, when the future hangs in the balance and depends on our future acts of faith?

John Piper—the Bible rarely, if ever, motivates Christian living with gratitude…Could it be that gratitude for bygone grace has been pressed to serve as the power for holiness, which only faith in future grace was designed to perform?… some popular notions of grace are so skewed and so pervasive that certain biblical teachings are almost impossible to communicate. For example, the biblical concept of unmerited, conditional grace is nearly unintelligible to Christians who assume that unconditionality is the essence of all grace.

Piper—… “the conditional promises of grace are woven all through the New Testament teaching about how to live the Christian life. “If you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). “Pursue…sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14)…I find that Biblical thinking behind these kinds of conditional promises is uncommon in the minds of Christians today. Some popular conceptions of grace cannot comprehend any role for conditionality other than legalism.”

Gaffin: In the matter of sanctification, it seems to me, we must confront a tendency, within churches of the Reformation to view the gospel and salvation in its outcome almost exclusively in terms of justification. The effect of this outlook, whether or not intended, is that sanctification tends to be seen as the response of the believer to salvation. Sanctification is viewed as an expression of gratitude from our side for our justification and the free forgiveness of our sins, usually with the accent on the imperfection and inadequacy of such expressions of gratitude.

Gaffin: Sometimes there is even the suggestion that while sanctification is highly desirable, and its lack, certainly unbecoming and inappropriate, it is not really necessary in the life of the believer, not really integral to our salvation and an essential part of what it means to be saved from sin. The attitude we may have — at least this is the way it comes across — is something like, “If Jesus did that for you, died that your sins might be forgiven, shouldn’t you at least do this for him, try to please him?” With such a construction justification and sanctification are pulled apart; the former is what God does, the latter what we do, and do so inadequately. At worst, this outlook tends to devolve into moralism.

Like Daniel Fuller . Gaffin accuses others of being “Galatianists” who teach sanctification by works instead of by faith, and then himself turns our works into that which is a part of our “faith”, because our works are 100 % caused by God’s work in us. Like John Murray, Gaffin insists on defining “justified from sin” (Romans 6:7) as a definitive ontological breach with the power of sin so that we work. He simply assumes that freedom from guilt before the law (as a covenant of works”, as some like to say) is not an adequate motive or basis for the indicative “sin shall not have dominion”

And Gaffin does this while accusing those with “justification and gratitude” priority with teaching a Galatianist “sanctification by works” ! Gaffin puts “union” before both justification and sanctification, and his defacto definition of “union” is the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in us, and in this way gives first place to Christ’s indwelling present and future presence. Why give thanks for the past when now (in this new age) you CAN (and will) obey in a way Adam could not?

The Both/And/Not Arminian Gospel

March 24, 2012

Here’s my question for Piper, Keller, Carson, Ware, Driscoll, and
other young restless Reformed. Was Christ Punished Before Sins Were
Imputed to Him?

1. if Christ is made sin before our sins are imputed to Him, then with what sin is Christ made sin?

2. if Christ is already made sin before our sins are imputed to him,
then what’s the point of God then later imputing to Christ the sins of the elect?

John Piper (Taste and See) disagrees with Arminians for not teaching
that Christ died to purchase faith for the elect. But John Piper does
not disagree with Arminians about propitiation and substitution and
punishment. “If you believe, the death of Jesus will cover your sins.”

Piper’s gospel does not teach that Christ was already punished because of the imputed sins of the elect alone. It still only has a punishment in general, to be assigned later to those who believe.

Even though Piper does insist that Christ also died for the elect to
give them something extra that He will not be giving the non-elect, he fails to publicly tell lost unbelievers that Christ was
punished specifically for the imputed sins of the elect.

When Piper leaves that out (does he ever get to that truth even after with post-conversion folks in conferences they paid to get into?), his gospel will be heard as saying that there was enough punishment done to Christ to save even people who will nevertheless end up being
punished (with the second death).

This both/and/not Arminian message makes the important taking away of
sins to be something other than the punishment of Christ. It makes the real reconciliation to be the Spirit Christ purchased giving people a new nature and then faith to believe, even if they happen to believe a message that says Christ died for every sinner.

The alternatives are to either claim that some of the people who have
never heard the gospel are sovereignly saved anyway, or to claim as
gospel the idea of punishment before any sins are imputed.

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 specific sins of the elect,
then we can easily tolerate a “gospel” which has no election or
imputation in its news.

If the death of Christ is not a result of God’s imputation of specific sins, then it is not the death of Christ which saves sinners. If the atonement is Christ purchasing faith to give elect sinners a portion in a general punishment, then the punishment of Christ is not ultimately what takes sins away.

Did Christ Die For Everybody But Not for Anybody’s Sins?

November 18, 2011

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 that, 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 Arminians about propitiation and substitution and punishment. 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 can we call Piper an Arminian, since he does insist that Christ also died for the elect to give them something extra that He will not be giving the non-elect? It does not matter what we call Piper’s false gospel, if we see that it misses being gospel

The false gospel fails to report that Christ was punished specifically for the elect, and thus it will be heard every time as saying that there was enough punishment done to Christ to save even people who will nevertheless end up being punished.

Thus, even though it has punishment, this false gospel is not about punishment that REPLACES punishment for all whom Christ intended to save. We might call it “respresentative” punishment but we cannot call it “substitutionary” punishment. We could call it “penal” justice but with the qualification that no specific person’s sins were ever legally transferred to Christ. Indeed, the false gospel denies that any specific penality (let alone guilt) for anybody sins was transferred to Christ until “faith causes justification”.

The false gospel says that Christ died for everybody (but the fallen angels?) but it denies that this punishment was for the sins of anybody in particular. So “dead for you” means that now you have an open door, an opportunity to do something with Christ’s death which will lead to your salvation. And the false Spirit taught by the false gospel supposedly will help the elect to believe this false gospel.

Roger Olson’s Christ’s Death as a Risk God Takes

October 23, 2011

Against Calvinism, Zondervan, 2011, Roger Olson

I am glad to have read this volume. It shows how contradictory the compromised Calvinism of Piper, Sproul and Boettner is. Olson does a good job of exposing the problems with modern Calvinism’s traditions like “the free offer’ and “sufficient but not efficient” and “non-arbitrary infralapsarian”. But Olson ignores consistent Calvinists like John Gill and Paul Jewett. Instead of attending to AW Pink or Tom Nettles, he pushes the ideas of “Reformed” people like Berkouwer, James Daane, and Richard Mouw. He spends no time on the Westminster Confession or the London Baptist Confession (first or second).

I have not yet read Mike Horton’s For Calvinism, though I doubt that Horton can fairly present a “mere Calvinism” without the distortions of his sacramental “covenant theology”. I can only hope for the day when Horton writes “Against Lutheranism” and for the day when some big name Calvinist writes “Against Any Idea that Jesus Bore and Propitiated the Sins of Every Sinner”.

We live in a day when not many Calvinists think of Arminianism as the greatest heresy we face. Most Calvinists are far more concerned to warn against eternal security and antinomianism. They worry less about neo-nomianism and the denial of the imputation of Adam’s guilt than they do about “open theism” or the role of men and women in society.

But let me make this “against Roger Olson personally”. Let me quote his conclusions. “If it were revealed to you in a way that you couldn’t question or deny that the true God is actually as Calvinism says, would you still worship him?…I would not because I could not. Such a God would be a moral monster.” (P85) Or as he explains on p 159, “Satan wants all damned to hell and God only wants certain number damned to hell.” Olson has cut through all the sophistry of analogy to human judges who reluctantly condemn criminals. If God has already forgiven some who have committed the same sins but does not “try to” forgive the next person who committed the sins, then Olson is just not going to worship that God.

We are talking about different gods, and it is personal. Either there are many or no gods, or there is one God and all other gods are idols we should not worship. We cannot simply excuse each other with the idea that the other person is not as smart and consistent as I am.

Olson rejects any “necessary connection” between the accomplishment of redemption and the application of redemption. (p150).

He wants to insist that if the redemption by Christ makes the redemption of the elect certain, then this must mean that the elect are born already redeemed and there is no need for faith or the legal application (imputation) of the redemption.

Even though most modern Calvinists have been less than clear about the problems of “eternal justification”, this does not change the fact that Olson‘s need for faith Is an “application” which he thinks has no “necessary connection” to what Christ accomplished. Where Piper double talks about Christ dying in some sense (not propitiation, therefore governmental?) for all sinners, Olson simply denies that Christ purchased faith in the gospel for the elect.

To glory in the cross alone, let us read what Olson writes about the idea “that the same sin cannot be punished twice. That’s false. Imagine a person who is fined by a court $1000 and someone else steps into pay the fine. What if the fined person declines to accept that payment and insists on paying the fine herself? Will the court automatically refund the first $1000? Probably not. It’s the risk the first person takes in paying his friend’s fine.” (P149).

That notion of Christ’s death as a risk God takes is a false gospel. This is what we need to talk about. This is more important than Olson’s defense of prevenient grace (what he calls “partial regeneration”). It is even more important than Olson’s false either-or about Romans 9. (Either redemptive history or individuals, think NT Wright, but see Piper’s best book The Justification of God.)

We can debate the philosophy. When Olson generalizes that “what is necessary cannot be gracious” (p75), we can ask him what makes events certain for God to foresee, if God does not make those events certain? Why even watch the tape, if your reputation as the god that Olson can agree to worship depends on your not changing anything to make events certain? But I think we need to focus on the Cross. Unlike other Arminians who know they cannot believe in penal substitution, Olson wants to hold on to that idea, or at least to the “form of words” about that idea.

If Christ’s death for a sinner does not save a sinner (when legally applied to that sinner in time), and if there is no refund to Christ and yet that sinner fails to believe the gospel and dies in his sin, then the gospel of Isaiah 53 is simply not true.

Isaiah 53:10—When His blood makes an offering for sin, He shall see His seed….

Did Christ’s Death Accomplish Something For Everybody?

May 19, 2011

Mark Driscoll and Bruce Ware and John Piper are fond of saying that they believe everything that “Jesus-loving Arminians” believe, and more! So they teach that the death of Jesus accomplished something for everybody, and then even more for the elect.

I have a simple question. What did Christ’s death really accomplish for those who perish? Did it make it so God could condemn them? No, they were already condemned. Did Christ’s death purchase the non-elect for Christ’s possession so Christ could be their Lord? No, Christ was and is already the Judge and Lord.

I have a simple answer to what is called the “both/and approach”. Christ’s death accomplished NOTHING for the non-elect. God never intended for Christ’s death to do anything for the non-elect.

But the Arminans who think they are Calvinists also still have a question. If no payment has been made for the sins of the non-elect, then how can God have genuinely desired the salvation of all the non-elect?

Here too I have a simple answer. God does not and has not ever desired the salvation of the non-elect. God has commanded us not to sin, and yet God has ordained that we shall sin. You can call this “two wills” if you want to, but it does not in any way show that God has desired the salvation of the non-elect.

Some of these same folks (Jonathan Edwards) who affirm what they call substitutionary atonement seem to think that a door has been opened for the elect that then allows God to do some other (more real) stuff for the elect.They seem to believe that any “imputation” by God is based on what God knows He will do (or has done) in the elect.

They say the “new creation” can’t be legal status. They call imputation “judicial role-play”.

I do not.

Hebrews 10:10 “We have been set apart through the offering of the body of Christ once for all.”
Hebrews 10:14 “By a single offering He has perfected for all TIME those who are being sanctified.”

God justifies and sanctifies the elect on the basis of Christ’s bloody death for the elect. This is parallel to the direct imputation of Adam’s sin. Romans 5:18 tell us that “ one trespass led to condemnation”. This does not mean “opened the door for the possibility of condemnation” .

Is It Trusting Jesus that Connects Us To Jesus?

January 31, 2011

Piper writes: “Trusting Jesus connects us with Jesus…Union is established by believing in Jesus.” p165, What Jesus Demands From the World

Is it correct or helpful to say that exercising faith joins us to Jesus, if we make it clear (in non-evangelistic contexts), that this faith which connects is a gift from God to the elect?

I say no: even if Calvinists talk about faith being given to the chosen in their evangelistic message, they are still leaving out the connection of the elect to Christ in election, they are leaving out the fact that only the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ at the cross, and they are leaving out the fact that the elect are baptized into Christ’s death by God’s imputation and not by the sinner’s faith.

I am NOT saying that the elect are already “saved” before the elect believe. I am saying that the elect are already elect before they believe. I am saying that Christ already died only for the elect before the elect believe. I am saying that God imputes, and not the sinner. God puts the elect in Christ and Christ in the elect, and believing the gospel is the immediate effect of this connection.

Of course Piper also defines faith in complicated contradictory ways. Not only is there a contrast between believing at Jesus and believing to Jesus, but believing is so identified with working that there is no contrast between life-long believing and life-long working.