Posted tagged ‘Reformed’

Chuck E. Cheese Tokens–Does your church PAY OUT with SACRAMENTAL CURRENCY?

May 10, 2017

“I said it was only a bread-god.’ The priests were wroth that I so contemned their god.”

Calvin (3:2:24) —-Christ is not outside us but dwells within us. Not only does Christ cleave to us by an indivisible bond of fellowship, but grow MORE AND MORE into one body with us, until He becomes completely one with us

Luther– “Christ daily drives out the old Adam MORE AND MORE in accordance with the extent to which faith and knowledge of Christ grow. For alien righteousness is not instilled all at once, but it begins, makes progress, and is finally perfected at the end through death (“Two Kinds of Righteousness,” LW 31: 299)

Doug Moo–There is no need to set Paul’s “juridicial” and “participationist” categories in opposition to one another (see Gaffin, By Faith Not By Sight, p 35-41). The problem of positing a union with Christ that precedes the erasure of our legal condemnation before God ( making justification the product of union with Christ) CAN BE ANSWERED IF WE POSIT, WITHIN THE SINGLE WORK OF CHRIST, TWO STAGES OF “JUSTIFICATION”, one involving Christ’s payment of our legal debt–the basis for our regeneration–and second our actual justification.” (Justification in Galatians”, p 172, Understanding the Times)

Heidelberg Catechsim Q. 76. What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ?

A. It is not only to embrace with believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; BUT ALSO, BESIDES THAT TO BECOME MORE AND MORE UNITED TO HIS SACRED BODY, by the Holy Spirit, who dwells both in Christ and in us; so that we, though Christ is in heaven and we on earth, are notwithstanding “flesh of his flesh:….

Austrian economics (Mises) teaches that “If people value something, it has value. if people do not value some­thing, it does not have value. There is no intrinsic about it.”

If you define church by its “sacraments” and define sacrament not as your remembering but as God (through the church) handing out grace, then the distribution by your church of the “means of grace” is the way your church “pays out”.

Although there is no objective grace from God in what your church does, if you think that its sacrament has value for you, then you will try to find a church with an “ordained minister” (with a “vocation” as “called by God”) in order for you to receive “more and more” union with the presence of Christ.

Many people think that, if there is no sacrament, there is no church. They also think that If there is no ordained preacher to hand out grace in sacraments), there is no church

When you have a birthday part for your grandchildren at Chuck E Cheese, they give you “tokens” which you can use to play the games at Chuck E. Cheese. The tokens have no value anywhere else, but you can use them play skee ball and shoot baskets while you eat junk food at the party. In this sense, the sacraments in your church function as its “money”.

The basic difference between sacramental churches is how much your faith is involved in your obtaining grace from the sacrament. Though Lutherans teach that your “faith alone” along with their sacrament will give you grace from God, Lutherans also teach that their sacrament will give more and more curse to those who do not believe in the sacrament.

The Reformed tend to teach that only those who believe in the sacrament get to go to heaven and eat Jesus. The Reformed teach that God is NOT PRESENT in the sacrament for those who don’t believe in the sacrament, but even the Reformed also teach that some people end up dead because of the sacrament, because unbelief “eats and drinks judgment” .

John Calvin—“The integrity of the sacrament lies here, that the flesh and blood of Christ are not less truly given to the unworthy than to the elect believers of God; and yet it is true, that just as the rain falling on the hard rock runs away because it cannot penetrate, so the wicked by their hardness repel the grace of God, and prevent it from reaching them

Unlike the Roman Catholic church, the sacramental protestants do not teach that the church makes certain Christ’s presence in the sacrament. The sacramental protestants teach that the word of God (as preached by ordained preachers) guarantees the objective sanctions of the sacrament.

For the Protestants, the sacraments are not about us (taking or eating or remembering). For the Protestants, the sacraments are about the ordained preachers. While these Protestants mock “memorial societies”, they claim that “the church” (defined by ordained preachers) is the “living body of Christ”.

Though Lutherans teach that the humanity of Jesus is now everywhere present, they also teach that the humanity of Jesus shows up on earth in a specific time and place predictably when an ordained preacher is involved. Unlike the Lutherans, the Reformed teach that the humanity of Jesus is present only in heaven, but the Reformed teach that those who believe in the sacrament will at certain times and places (where there are ordained preachers) be taken up to heaven to be more and more with Jesus.

For the Reformed, the preachers are necessary but not enough—to nourish on Jesus you need faith in the sacrament and this faith will make the distance between heaven and earth disappear (at certain times and places, where ordained preachers are present). So it’s never only your faith, and it’s never only the preachers. But the Reformed church pays out in grace if you believe that the sacrament is a means of grace. And if you don’t believe that the sacrament gives grace, then you get nothing.

John 3: 8 The wind blows WHERE IT PLEASES and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

John 4: 19 “Sir,” the woman replied, “I see that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain,yet you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus told her, “Believe Me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father NOT on this mountain and NOT in Jerusalem…..an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 20: 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

If a basketball team “puts in a lot of effort” but still loses, where is the value? If something has no value to you,, it has no value, unless somebody else values it enough to pay you for it. It really does not matter how much “work was put into it”.

People often value things that have no value to God.

Proverbs 15:8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD”

Philippians 3: 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider those things shit, in order that I gain Christ 9 and be found in Him

Romans 6:20 ”For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those thing is death”

Luke 16:15 That which is highly esteemed among humans is abomination in the sight of God.

Sacramentalists don’t trust liberals because as traditionalists they rightly connect suspicion of the nation-state with skepticism about preachers and the church. The majority culture always opposes any attempt of the “sects” to judge what the gospel is, without the authority of other people, including the catholic creeds.

Forget trying to know what the gospel is and who is a Christian, and instead come to the sacrament where the preacher will tell you personally that the grace is “for you” (even though it won’t be if you don’t believe in the sacrament)

Calvin- Institutes 4:17:5 For there are some who define the eating of the flesh of Christ, and the drinking of his blood, to be, in one word, nothing more than believing in Christ himself. But Christ seems to me to have intended to teach something more express and MORE SUBLIME in that noble discourse, in which he recommends the eating of his flesh—viz. that we are quickened by the true partaking of HIM, which he designated by the terms eating and drinking, lest any one should suppose that the life which we obtain from him is obtained by simple knowledge. For as it is not the sight but the eating of bread that gives nourishment to the body, so the soul must partake of Christ truly and thoroughly, that by his energy it may grow up into spiritual life. According to them, to eat is merely to believe; while I maintain that the flesh of Christ is eaten by believing and that THIS EATING is the fruit of faith…the Lord was pleased, by calling himself the bread of life, not only to teach that our salvation is treasured up in the faith of his death and resurrection, but also, by virtue of true communication with him, his life passes into us and becomes ours, just as bread when taken for food gives nourishment to the body.

Philip Cary—Catholics don’t worry about whether they have saving faith but whether they are in a state of mortal sin—so they go to confession. Reformed Protestants don’t worry about mortal sin but about whether they have true saving faith—so they seek conversion. Luther points to the words “for you,” and insists that they include me.

Since I was born to a Canaanite family.I come with faith alone, without water, without clergy, without Christian parents, without promises to those born in the covenant, and also DENYING THAT I will or can come more and more near by agreeing with the tradition about the “real presence.”

When Jesus passed the bread around the table during that Passover before His death, was the bread ontologically identical to the substance of the living body that was doing the passing?
His body was doing the passing, but was it also being passed out? .Jesus said– “this is” my body…

Stop Your Doing is NOT the Gospel

September 18, 2015

The new evangelical often has an either/or mindset. Either the fundamentalism we left, or what we are now. The truth is that there are many false gospels, many ways to be lost, and just because you have rejected one wrong way does not mean that you now believe the true gospel.

When one has abandoned the scoldings of “first legalism” (no wine or TV) for the moral pep talks of “ordinary attendance in a confessional community” preachers, one has only exchanged one form of moralism for another.

The evangelical who used to be a fundamentalist now often thinks that grace means that theological doctrine doesn’t matter when it comes to saved and lost.

In a “covenant of grace” where grace is conditional but not merited, it’s not helpful to judge individuals saved or lost based on their gospel doctrines.

Unless we tell all people without exception, without respect of persons, that God demands a perfect righteousness and that God provided this righteousness only for the elect, then we still have a man-centered legalistic cult. It may be a happier kind of cult. But it still is not submissive to God’s gospel.

But don’t I understand that “covenant of grace” people are given grace to meet the conditions? And in the PCA (as opposed to Reformed Baptist) set of conditions, it all begins with the Chuck Swindoll idea that God does not demand righteousness but only the faith to “not-perform”.“

“Start stopping your doing”

Where the old legalism said that it was saved because it out-performed others, the new legalism claims to have done it the right way now by not doing, and to have performed not-performing where others were still trying to perform. Very often in both cases the finished death for the elect of Jesus Christ is not even in the picture

Does Penal Satisfaction Mean that God’s Law Gets the Last Word?

August 2, 2013

From my experience in most Reformed churches, there is so little attention to election (especially when talking about covenant and baptism), they would have no problem with clergy assurances of “for you”. So I appreciate any sensitivity to “safeguard the particularity”. In many Reformed congregations, it seems that the only safeguarding is the exclusion of infants without one professing parent from the first “sacrament”.

So I won’t say that denial of penal satisfaction is “not Reformed”. Rather I will say it is not the gospel. If the gospel is about what the clergyman (and the Holy Spirit) do with it, there was no need for Christ to have died. You worry about law having the last word, but you need to see that the gospel is about Christ having satisfied the law. If you make Christ’s death anything other than that, Christ died to no purpose. (Galatians 2:21). If atonement were by means of preaching, justification is not by the bloody death of Christ. When the Bible denies that salvation is by the law, that denial is that salvation is by the Holy Spirit enabling us to keep the law. It is not being denied that the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ and that Christ died to satisfy the law.

No alliance with Lutherans should keep us silent about Jesus dying for the sheep and not the goats. Why then do so many Reformed preachers talk about the “indicative done” in the context of “you” and never in terms of the Westminster Confession: “for all those whom the Father has given the Son” ?

The problem cannot be a “sectarian” sociology which thinks of the church as only those who profess to be justified. Reformed Confessions teach that “the covenant” community must by nature and should include some of the non-elect for whom Jesus did not die and who will not believe the gospel. We also know good and well that not every baptized member even of a “sectarian” community is one for whom Christ died. Of course Norman Shepherd insists that we not talk about election, because every baptized person in church is a Christian. But why is it that so many who oppose Shepherd, and who make a distinction between substance and administration, why is it that they don’t talk about election either?

Being “pastoral” does not give “special priests” the right to assure their hearers that Christ will not be a judge to them. Only the bloody death of Jesus Christ (not the sermon or the sacrament) has for the elect silenced the accusations of God’s law. Of course there is a distinction (in time and otherwise) between that death and the imputation of that death to the elect so that they are justified, but that imputation is not effected by sermon or sacrament.

Obeying the gospel is not the condition of salvation, but a blessing made certain for the elect by the righteousness of Christ. It is not for sure that “you” who are in attendance will be saved. Salvation is promised to all who believe the gospel of salvation conditioned on the blood alone.

The law-gospel antithesis (not by our law-keeping) will do no good if we “flinch at this one point”. If we do not talk about particular atonement, then the people who hear will NOT look outside themselves for the righteous difference which pleases God. If Jesus Christ died for everybody but only “enabled God” to save (in the preaching event) a fraction of these people , then these people will certainly look to themselves for the difference between lost and saved.

The only way you can tell people that the gospel is “outside of you” is to tell them that the gospel they must believe to be saved EXCLUDES even their believing as the condition of salvation. The only condition of salvation for the elect is Christ’s death for the elect. Unless you preach that Christ died only for the elect, you encourage people to make their faith into that “little something” which makes the difference between life and death! They must believe that their believing is not the righteousness that satisfies God’s law.

Do we believe that the glory of God in the gospel means that all for whom Christ died will certainly be saved? Or has that truth become too “rationalistic” for us? Or is it not our job to be that zealous for God’s glory in this manner?

Would this kind of preaching take the grace of God out of the hands of those who hand out the sacrament and who say there is no salvation outside the church as they define it? The gospel itself is God’s power of salvation. No Holy Spirit, no efficacy. No gospel, no efficacy.

The glory of God does not depend on human decisions, and the gospel must not become a victim of alliances or coalitions or hybrids which agree not to talk about the extent of the atonement. Because to do that is to also agree to disagree about the nature of the atonement, and that leaves room for a false gospel in which salvation becomes what God does in the sinner. And I don’t care if you say that’s Christ in the sinner, or grace in the sinner, it does not follow the rule of Galatians 6, which is to glory in the cross alone

There is Only the One Israel Now, So You Don’t Want or Need what the Judiazers Offer You

October 8, 2012

Galatians 3:16 Now the promiseS were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to seedS,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your seed,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean–the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul A covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promiseS of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that THE PROMISE by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those AS MANY AS WHO believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we would be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus YOU are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For AS MANY AS YOU many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.

I am not somebody who reduces the Abrahamic promises to one promise. I am all for noticing the various promises, beginning in Genesis 12. Abram will become a great nation (goy, polis), and he can’t have a great nation without land, territory for many people, mostly all biologically related to Abram, a land with no other altars allowed except to Yahweh the King. God also promises blessings for other nations based on their relation to Abram’s nation, with curses for those nations which don’t relate favorably to Abram’s nation.

So I am not the one reducing all these promises to one promise. I deny that the Abrahamic covenant is the new covenant. I deny that the Abrahamic covenant is “the covenant of grace” or “part of the covenant of grace” or “an administration of the covenant of grace”. Since I know how to talk about the continuity of the Abrahamic covenant to the Mosaic covenant and to the new covenant without saying that they are one covenant, I very much want to notice the various promises associated with Abraham, and to see how they are fulfilled in the circumcision of Christ on the eighth day (Luke 2).

Circumcision is not simply about “spiritual cleaning”. The sign of circumcision is not even only about pointing to the bloody sacrifice of Christ, which cuts the justified elect off from legal solidarity with Adam. Circumcision is an initiation rite for priests, and every male in Abraham’s family (even if one parent did not go testify before the presbytery!) was obligated by Abrahamic law to be circumcised as a sign that Abraham’s family consisted of consecrated priests.

So circumcision was a sign of many things, but  not a sign to any person in particular (except Abram himself )of  election to justification and eternal life and faith in the gospel.

What belonging to Abraham’s family means now and what it meant then is not the same thing. Zwingli and other Reformed folks like to start with what they think it means now and then read that back as if that were what belonging to Abraham’s family meant then. Thus they notice the promise about the one seed which will bring in the righteousness, but they don’t notice some of the other promises.

To put it a different way, instead of saying “you already have what the judiasers offer”, better to say” what the judiasers offer, you don’t need, and couldn’t have anyway.” There is no more Abrahamic economy, and you can be children of Abraham now in only one way, not in the ways you could be before.

Now that Christ has been born and circumcised, it’s not possible for every jewish male infant to be born as types of the birth to come. The land promise needed for the jewish people to remain the genetic incubator for the Seed is now abrogated.
Many Reformed paedobaptists (besides Meredith Kline and Gary North) don’t like talking about the bothersome “intrusive” stuff ( negative sanctions) which otherwise does not fit with their neat straight-line continuity?

We should all agree about that the Abrahamic covenant is one unit (all or nothing), but paedobaptists can’t stay with that, because they need to harmonize (homogenize) covenants  so that we then identify the Abrahamic covenant with the new covenant (or with “the covenant of grace”)

Sure,  the promises to Abraham are typological. But they put  non-Abrahamic people out of the territory, to make room for the biological-political heirs of Abraham. Why not talk about all the promises, unless your confessions have already told you what “that one promise” is?

So is the “inheriting the world” promise about Christ (the one seed) bringing in the righteousness so that the world belongs to Him and His elect? Or is “inheriting the world” about some conditional promise being made to everybody with one parent who professes to be Christian? Galatians 3 speaks of a promise given to “as many as believe”, and not about a promise given to the children of as many as who believe.

We need to notice the different “seed of Abraham”.   Galatians 3 talks about the one seed, not the many, but then it ends with the many who believe the gospel. So two different seeds are in Galatians. But the seed born to the seed are not in Galatians 3, and the only way they can get there is in the collective imagination of some paedobaptists (not Lutherans or Roman Catholics but Reformed)

I am glad to recognize (as I have many times) that the Abrahamic covenant included by design many who were non-elect. Being circumcised and getting in was not the only thing one had to do to “stay in”. But if Reformed folks want to argue that the new covenant people of God are the same set as the people who were in the Abrahamic covenant, they are going to have to make their case.

These Reformed folks need to back up to the beginning by affirming that Christ did not die for any non-elect people.  If it is not Christ who kept all the conditions of the elect being in (and staying in) the new covenant, then we need to hear a lot more from these folks about the kind of “conditionality” involved in the new covenant. Is “election” simply a corporate thing, with which individuals to be decided later?

Is the new covenant “unbreakable” only in the sense that the covenant stands even if no individuals do what they have to do to “get connected” (and stay connected) with Christ’s death? If water baptism has no efficacy for the non-elect, what efficacy did water baptism have for the elect? Does water baptism promise that anybody will believe? Does water baptism cause anybody to believe? The gospel promises grace only to those who believe the gospel. It’s not the faith given to the elect which causes grace to be given. It’s grace that gives faith to the elect, and those who are never given faith in the gospel were NEVER given grace.

Ephesians 2 says covenantS, plural. The text in no way proves that the Abrahamic covenant is the new covenant, or that the Abrahamic covenant is “the covenant of grace.”. Nobody I know denies that the promise of the gospel concerning the one seed is one of the Abrahamic promises. But Reformed folks ignore the other promises, as they ignore other covenants.

When God says “not all Israel is Israel”, God is not saying “you gentiles can now be the kind of Israel you always wanted to be, the kind that there was before Christ was born”. Rather, there is only one kind of Israel now, and you can be in this Israel, and if Jews want to be in Israel now, this is the only Israel even for them now.

So sure, there’s continuity, but don’t ignore the great redemptive-historical change. Before those in the Abrahamic covenant could be in Israel and then become strangers to Israel. But now there is an Israel, the only Israel, and those in that Israel know the Lord.

Jews who don’t believe the gospel aren’t Israel anymore. They were ( in a real sense) before Christ was born. But not anymore. Only as many as are called by the gospel (Acts 2) are now the rightful heirs. If your children are among the “as many as God shall call”, they too are rightful heirs. If not, not.

Many Reformed folks like to associate credobaptism with dispensationalism. It makes for a simple equation, and then they don’t have to think too much! But  many of us credobaptists are NOT dispensationalists (who just don’t know it). There is only one Israel now and it’s the justified elect of God. Nor am I am of the tribe (John Murray, many amills as well as postmills) that says God has promised those with Abraham’s DNA something extra in the future. There is only one Israel, not a different second Israel which has been promised some land the others of us have not. There is only one Israel, not a different second Israel which are children born to one professing Christian, who are not yet allowed to eat at Israel’s table.  The dividing wall is gone.

Does Faith have “Instrumental” Efficacy?

August 1, 2010

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 gospel 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 immediate result of being born again, which is the immediate 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. Faith is not thought of as merit but it is thought of as “instrumental” condition. 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. We need to put a stop to the double talk which tells all sinners that Christ died for them, but then explains later (not to everybody but only to those who have already professed Christ) that Christ died for some people to get them something different and more for them than He did for everybody else.

This kind of double talk implicitly 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, “Reformed evangelicals” agree to the heresy that Christ died for everybody. Even if they don’t explicitly say that Christ’s death 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.

In their fine print, the glory may go to God for predestinating the Spirit to give us 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 gets left out of the gospel.

Instead of saying that Christ died only for the elect and not for the non-elect, The new kinder and gentler Calvinists leave out the e word and say that Christ died for believers, which means all of us, which then means 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 Scripture, 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.”

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

Sometimes of course 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 heresy.

Of course they won’t tell you it’s heresy, but in select groups (for example, 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 anything you already believe. 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 prevenient gift was not to make your faith possible. Now you know God made sure you believed.

Faith is not something you bring to the gospel. Faith is something that the gospel brings to the elect. It is necessary for us to HEAR the gospel. 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… I know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, forseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham.”

More Reformed that I Used to Be, or the Gospel?

August 10, 2009

The Reformed mainline often has an either/or mindset. Either what we left, or what we are now. It does not seem to occur to these relativists that a third alternative is possible. The truth is that there are many false gospels, many ways to be lost, and just because you have rejected one wrong way does not mean that you now believe the true gospel.

When one has abandoned the scoldings of “first legalism” (no wine or TV) for the moral pep talks of “the discipleship in a confessional community” preachers, one has only exchanged one form of moralism for another.

The Reformed person who used to be a fundamentalist now thinks that grace means that theological doctrine doesn’t matter when it comes to saved and lost. In a covenant where grace is conditional but not merited, it’s not helpful to judge individuals saved or lost based on the evidence of their gospel doctrines.

Unless we tell all people without exception, without respect of persons, that God demands a perfect righteousness and that God provided this righteousness only for the elect, then we still have a man-centered legalistic cult. It may be a happier kind of cult. But it still is not submissive to God’s gospel.

But I don’t see that the covenant people are given grace to meet the conditions? And in the PCA lite (as opposed to Reformed Baptist) set of conditions, it all begins with the Chuck Swindoll idea that God does not demand righteousness but only the faith to “not-perform”. As the old blues song goes, “start stopping”…!

Where the old legalism said that it was saved because it out-performed others, the new legalism claims to have done it the right way now, and to have performed not-performing where others were still trying to perform. But in neither case is the finished for the elect performance of Jesus Christ even in the picture.