Posted tagged ‘Tim Keller’

Why Two Way Love Is Not the Grace of the Gospel

November 16, 2013

William Blake

If Moral Virtue was Christianity
Christ’s Pretensions were all Vanity

In The God of Promise and the Life of Faith: Understanding the Heart of the Bible (Paperback) footnote 6 on p244, Scott Hafemann writes: ” The position I am advocating is based on a reassessment of the traditional Lutheran, Calvinistic and dispensational view of the relationship between the Law and the Gospel. The traditional view saw a conflict between the two, with the law viewed narrowly as God’s demand for sinless obedience as the ground of our salvation, while the gospel called for faith In God’s grace in Christ, who kept the Law perfectly in our place.”

Hafemann does not understand correctly the antithesis he is opposing. Yes, the law is the divine demand for perfection (and also for satisfaction for sins). But he is wrong to focus on a demand for perfection being replaced by a demand for faith. The only accptable “end of the law” is not faith but the righteousness obtained and imputed by God. .

Hafemann is inattentive to three facts about the divine alien righteousness. First, Christ died under the curse of God’s law only for the elect alone. Second, faith has as its object not just any Jesus or any “grace”, but the Jesus who satisfied the law for all who will be justified (and not for the non-elect). Third, this faith is not only a sovereign gift but a righteous gift, given on behalf of Christ and His law-work (Philippians 1:29; John 17).

When Hafemann makes the difference to be between a demand for faith and a demand for obedience, the only thing left to discuss Is the nature of faith. Does faith include love and works or not? If faith loves and works and faith is an instrument, why can’t love and works of faith also be instruments? Since faith is a result of regeneration, won’t that faith include works?

Of course Hafemann does discuss the object of faith. His theme is that the law/gospel antithesis is wrong to put all the emphasis on the past. He denies that the past work of Christ is sufficient or the only object of faith. He insists that we look also to the life of Christ in us, and to the future work of Christ in us.

To his credit, Hafemann openly acknowledges his differences with Luther and Calvin’s law/grace antithesis. He thinks his different gospel is more biblical.

I think we would all see the difference between the two gospels if we stopped explaining the antithesis by talking only about “faith alone”.

The real point of the law-gospel antithesis is not “conflict”. It is non-identity. The law is not the gospel. The gospel is not the law. The gospel, however, is about the satisfaction of God’s law for God’s elect.

Though law and gospel are not the same thing, they are not opposed because they never claim to have the same function. Law says what God demands. Gospel says how Christ satisfied that demand for the elect. The law never offered life off probation;y one sin would put you under its curse, no matter how many acts of obedience to the law you had.

Hafemann thinks that the antithesis understands “Christ to bring the law to an end in the sense of abolishment”. But the antithesis does NOT understand Romans 10:4 only in terms of redemptive-historical abrogation. The “end of the law” is Christ completing all that the law demanded, so that there is no remainder left for the Spirit enabled Christian to do. Romans 10:4 is also first about redemptive-historical fulfillment.

The gospel says DONE. The gospel does not say “to be done by the life of Christ in the elect”.

Hafemann reduces the law/gospel antithesis to the abolishment of strict law, and says that what the Spirit does in us helps satisfy the law enough. This misses what the gospel says about Christ’s complete satisfaction of the law for the elect.

Christians sin, and therefore their “fulfillment of the law” (see for example, Romans 13) cannot ever satisfy the law. But the law will not go unsatisfied.

Back to footnote 6 on page 244: “In this view, the law itself taught a legalism that Adam and Israel failed to keep but that God continues to demand in order to drive us to the gospel”. Hafemann does not define this “legalism”.

Is “legalism” a demand for perfection? If God demands perfection, is God therefore a “legalist”? It seems to me that the only alternative to a demand for perfection is either no law at all or a “new” softened-down demand which calls only for imperfect righteousness so that “grace” makes up the difference.

Hafemann is simply following the direction of the Torrances who reject the “contract God” who demands perfection and operates by justice. The Barthians put “grace” and not justice into the pre-fall situation of Adam.

There are some who think that even talking about law’s demand for perfection is “legalism”. But God has told us that the law is not the gospel and that it never was the gospel. Romans 11:5–”So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is not on the basis of works; otherwise grace would not be grace.”

It is Hafemann who is the legalist, because he identifies law and gospel, and then reduces the demand to including what the Spirit does in the elect. What God does in us (by grace) is necessary for a different reason than the satisfaction of God`s law. What God does in us keeps us believing the gospel, but our believing the gospel is not what satisfies the law.

Read carefully what Hafemann writes about the “obedience of faith” (p 188): “Still others consider obedience to God’s law to be the necessary evidence of faith. For them, if one believes, then obedience becomes the mandatory sign of something else, namely faith, which is the human response to God’s grace that actually saves us. Faith must lead to obedience as a sign that it is real.”

While that it is an accurate description of many Calvinists who talk about assurance, it is not biblical assurance. We do not work to get assurance. We must have assurance before our works are acceptable to God. We must be saints before we can offer proper thanks and worship to God. We must make our calling and election sure before we take the first step of obedience in which God can delight.

Through faith in Christ we are sanctified by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:10-14), even before we do good works. Because they do not understand the distinction between Christ’s obedience for us alone for sanctification and our works after we are saints, most folks continue to seek a way to build Spirit-wrought obedience into acts that will help sanctify them

The Spirit works faith in the hearts of saints through the preaching of the gospel even after they are saints. Continuing faith is not a condition but a result of sanctification. Saints are commanded to continue to have faith but this faith is still never a work. It’s an anti-work because it has no inherent goodness or holiness. Faith itself is nothing in sanctification. Only Christ and His finished work counts in sanctification.

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.

God “Allows” Bad Stuff, Tim Keller Tells us, But Loves Everybody

April 23, 2011

Tim Keller— “We are an interfaith gathering today, and I freely acknowledge that every faith has great resources for dealing with suffering and injustice in the world. …Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s Son, divinity became vulnerable to andinvolved in suffering and death. He didn’t come as a general or emperor; he came as a carpenter…..True, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the cross is an incredibly empowering hint. It’s only a hint, but F U grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength. ”

http://discover.redeemer.com/docs/service_of_remembrance.pdf

Keller is a PCA clergyman who has signed on to the Westminster Confession which explains in its chapter 3, first paragraph: “God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will freely ordain whatever comes to pass.” This is not “allowing”.

Paragraph three of the confession chapter 3: “By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death.”

For the manifestation of His glory—that is how the Bible itself explains it. Romans 9:13 declares “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Romans 9:22 tells the truth: “God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory.”

The Bible was written to those who believe the Christian gospel (not the message of tolerance and loves everybody), so when Bible readers see a “loves us”, they need to ask the question Tonto asked the Lone Ranger: “who’s the us?”

According to the Bible, God does not love all sinners, and that love is never conditioned on the sinner. God has ordained evil things to happen to both the non-elect and the elect, but the promise of Romans 8:28 is that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

In What Way Did Jesus Cross Over From the Dominion of Sin?

April 13, 2011

Romans 6:7–“For one who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death He died to sin He died to sin once for all…”

Most students of Romans 6 agree that “death to sin” means not only legal status but ultimately the death of the sin nature. For them this means that the justified elect are not free yet, even though there is now no condemnation. Lloyd Jones warns us that any other reading (Haldane’s for example) of Romans 6 is hasty triumphalism and will cut the moral nerve which moves on to MORE THAN “justified from sin”.

Christ was never under the power of sin in the sense of being unable not to sin. Christ was always unable to sin. The only way Christ was ever under the power of sin is by being under the guilt of sin. The guilt of the elect’s sins was legally transferred by God to Christ.

Christ’s death to sin was death to the guilt of sin, and since the elect are united with a death like his, the death of the elect is also a death to the guilt of sin. And this is what Romans 6:7 teaches: “For one who has died has been justified from sin.”

Yet many commentators tell us that “set free from sin” must mean the elect’s sanctification by the Spirit so that the justified elect cannot habitually sin (or that their new nature cannot sin) They tell us that justification was in Romans chapter five and that chapter six must be about something MORE if it’s to be a REAL answer to the question “why not sin?”.

But Christ was never under the power of habitual sin or any sin, and the death of the elect is like His death.

Romans 6:10, “For the death He died He died to sin.” When the justified elect consider themselves dead to sin and alive to God, they think of themselves as dead to the guilt of sin. Death to the guilt of sin means legal life before God.

Romans 6:14 does not say, For sin shall not be your master, because the Holy Spirit has changed you so that you cannot habitually sin, but only occasionally and always with repentance. Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not by your master, because you are not under law but under grace.”

I have no desire to talk now about which law we were under and which law we were not. Nor do I have any interest at this point in discussing what is now God’s rule of life for Christians (except to say that God DOES have commandments for Christians.) But to understand the nature of the justifying death of Christ, we must see that being joined to that death means “not being under law”.

Sin not having dominion over the elect simply means the guilt of sin being removed from the elect. Why would those not content with this explanation of Romans 6:14 think that their living is better and more important than Christ’s death? (Or as they say, some soteriological theory or information about Christ’s death). What does Christ’s death do? If Christ’s crossing from death to life does nothing for you unless you add your own kind of crossing to it, then what did Christ’s death really do?

If our crossing is our accepting His crossing, then His crossing is not our crossing, and God has not yet joined us to His crossing. We only have a crossing of our own, which we plan on adding to Christ’s crossing work.

I agree that Christ also died to purchase every blessing, including the giving of the Spirit and our believing the gospel. But it is being joined (by God’s placing the elect into ) to the death which frees from guilt. Christ’s death is the exodus “accomplishment” which causes the elect to become justified when God imputes that death to them and they cross over from the dominion of sin.

If Getting Out Depends on Your Accepting It, Then Your Giving Jesus Your Life is More Important than Jesus Being Put in the Ocean of Wrath

April 13, 2011

One idea common to the coalition of Arminians and the “confessional Reformed” is that God is holy and that propitiation is needed. God is offering Jesus as the expiation of the sins of both Israelites and
Egyptians. You don’t need to work. All you need to do is make the exchange: throw Jesus into the ocean of wrath, and you too can be transferred into His Kingdom.

The common false gospel is that Jesus the mediator at the cross made it possible for anybody to be saved from hell. Therefore, hell is a result of human actions and of the human failure to accept God’s offer.

Though the coalition gives a certain priority to the “man in the middle”, it says nothing about individual election. Its solution is that a specific sinner’s faith “lets” what God did at the cross work for that specific sinner. No works righteousness is required, no quality faith is necessary, because there is nothing to do BUT…”to give Jesus your life”, which of course means that faith alone is never alone.

Even though it becomes clear in the false gospel that what Christ did for you won’t save you if you don’t believe, what is not so clear is exactly what the Christ the redeemer did. Were the specific sins of the elect transferred to Christ, so that Christ already bore them?

Well, no we can’t talk about that, because that would mean talking about election, and even though “we” are all Christians here (but maybe there’s somebody who has not yet accepted), we don’t talk about individual Israelites being chosen or individual Egyptians not being chosen.

Whatever it was that Christ did, the common false gospel assumes that Christ did it for every sinner, even for those sinners who perish. What Christ did becomes a necessary but not sufficient condition, because God does not forgive sin without first showing God’s anger at our lack of perfection.

But if God’s purpose is simply to make the forgiveness of sin possible, if God’s purpose is to make a general statement about the need for punishment of imperfection, what has become of substitution? In a general atonement which plans for the possibility of all sinners being saved, Christ can be the most important person on the team, doing what is necessary to win, but this false Christ can never do anything without the rest of the team.

Because Christ being God and being put in the ocean of wrath means infinite possibilities and opportunities. You too can be on his team, even if you just try it, if you with all your doubts just join us in our story. And then we will say to the Egyptians: our God loves you also, and the only reason that you are not equally saved along with us is you yourselves. Christ’s death is not the difference.

The false Christ of the false gospel still depends on a moment’s decision from sinners to let Christ’s death save them.

Tim Keller Contradicts the Westminster Confession

January 6, 2011

Who’s the Us?

Dear Editor,
In his letter about evil, Scott Conley claims that the Bible says that God “allows” evil but does not say why. Then he quotes the celebrity Tim Keller: “we now know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us.”

Keller is a Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) clergyman who has signed the Westminster Confession which explains in its chapter 3, first paragraph: “God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, ordain whatever comes to pass.” This is not “allowing”.

The second paragraph identifies the error: “ Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.”

Keller ignores and contradicts this confession when he assures the people of New York City that we don’t know why. Paragraph three of the confession chapter 3: “By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death.”

For the manifestation of His glory—that is how the Bible itself explains it. Romans 9:13 declares “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Romans 9:22 tells the truth: “God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory.”

The New Testament was written to those who believe the Christian gospel, so when its readers see a “loves us”, they need to ask the question Tonto asked the Lone Ranger “who’s the us?”

According to the Bible, God does not love all sinners, and that love is never conditioned on the sinner. God has ordained evil things to happen to both the non-elect and the elect, but the promise of Romans 8:28 is that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”