Posted tagged ‘universal atonement’

Most Ameriicans Think You Get to Vote On If Christ’s Death Works For You

January 2, 2019

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/sns-201812240019–tms–cthomastq–b-a20181225-20181225-column.html

Cal Thomas, in his column for Christmas 2018, claims that his readers are free to accept or reject the claim of the gospel, but not free to “reinvent” the gospel. “To change the message to fit your beliefs and
choices” The column presumes that Cal Thomas himself has a true definition of the gospel. But the reality is that Cal Thomas has a
false gospel, which is not a version of the true gospel, but bad news which has no hope for anybody.

Here is the Cal Thomas version—“Like a gift under the tree, the transaction is not complete until the one for whom the gift isintended receives it. If anyone refuses a gift, the transaction is incomplete, its purpose thwarted.

This is a version of the gospel quite different from the original “on whom God favors”. It is “another gospel”, which is not the gospel. Instead of being about Christ’s deathfor the sins of those of God’s good pleasure, the faals gospel of Cal Thomas changes the theology into something about human good pleausre, something about “peace tothose who use their free will correctly”

The Thomas perversion of the gospel is not about us depending on God, but about God depending on us to complete God’s purpose and mission. According to Thomas, the death of Jesus can and does fail because what Christ did now all depends on our choices

On the one hand, Thomas seems to disapprove of a “world in which humans choose to live as they please, rather than be transformed.”. On the other hand, Thomas teaches a false gospel in which even the success of Christ’s incarnation and death depends on how “humans choose to live”. Where the Bible teaches that we sinners are unable to live right or choose right, and need God to transform us and change our wills, Thomas agrees with the world that we are aallowed to “choose what weplease”. The false god Thomas worships is not permitted to change our decisions but intead merely leaves us with “the consequences of unbelief”.

Thomas has no idea of us having being born in original sin, in guilt and shame before God and unable to make right decisions.Thomas seems not to want us to be atheists and depend only on ourselves (we need big armines), but Thomas also only wants an idol god who will gives us rules and decisions so that the outcome depends on us . For Thomas, the only sin that matters is “unbelief of the good news”. For Thomas, either other sins never matter or all those other sins have been provided for, but the bad news is that Thomas does not believe that God interferes with “belief or unbelief”

According to Thomas, Christ may have entered the world without our consent, but nevertheless that means nothing unless we ourselves vote Jesus into our own hearts, and for that “transaction”, Jesus does not
have his permission to “enter into our hearts” unless first our hearts (which presumably need to be transformed) “let Jesus in”.

This is not only a hopeless message but also a false message, one in which Thomas has substituted his own worldly American ideas about how God must deal with humans.

Luke 2: 13: “Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest
heaven, and peace on earth to people God favors

John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me,15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.

Ephesians 1:5 God predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace that God favored us with in the Beloved.

Romans 9: 22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction?

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Why Didn’t you Give the Little Baby Jesus a Bed in Your House?

December 12, 2013

Many sentimental religious songs have those who sing them confess themselves as “maggots” for having put Christ on the cross. But I question this theology. First, if we all put Christ on the cross, then Christ died for all sinners, and that is the false gospel, which teaches that Christ’s death is not enough to save all for whom He died.

Second, nobody but God has the ultimate power to put Christ on the cross. If we all are supposed to feel bad about crucifying Christ, is God the Trinity also to “feel sorry” about it? May it never be! Acts 2:23-24, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

The Bible teaches that God’s sovereignty does not eliminate the accountability of sinners. Certain specific lawless men killed Christ. But also, God gave Christ up to die for the sins of the elect alone. God and not man determined for whom Christ would die. Both the creation and the incarnation was means for Christ’s death of Atonement.

God’ sovereign plan does not eliminate the accountability of “the lawless men”, or of the “you” Peter is addressing in Acts 2. Specific humans two thousand years ago purposed that Christ would die. This means that not all humans purposed that Christ would die. His mother Mary, for example, did not kill or intend to kill Christ.

We did not ourselves put Christ on the cross. Nor are we the ones who impute our sins to Christ. We do not get to decide when and if we put our sins on Christ. We do not get the opportunity to contribute our sins so that then Christ contributes His righteousness. Neither election nor non-election is conditioned on our sins. It might sound heroic of us to say that damnation is all our fault, but that tends to be one of the ways that we also get to say that our salvation was conditioned on our contribution.

Although believers are commanded to reckon what God has already reckoned, we can never be the original reckoners.. Yes, those specific lawless men were guilty of what they did, But the cross is not what condemns. The cross is about the gospel, and the gospel is not the law,

Even though the gospel is Good news for the elect, the gospel is not what condemns the non-elect. Rejecting the cross is not what condemns the non-elect, because they are all already condemned in Adam .

The false gospel which says that Jesus Christ died for every sinner is neither true nor good news.. The false gospel limits the judicial effects of a supposedly universal death into even more guilt for those who don’t satisfy the new conditions (faith, obedience, perseverance) which supposedly make that death effective.

Does Finding Assurance in the Mirror of Christ Mean Don’t Think About Election?

May 23, 2012

Calvin—“The persons, therefore, whom God has adopted as his children, he is said to have chosen, not in themselves, but in Christ; because it was impossible for him to love them, except in him … if we are chosen in him, we shall find no assurance of our election in ourselves; nor even in God the Father, considered alone, abstractly from the Son. Christ therefore, is the mirror, in which it behooves us to contemplate our election; and here we may do it with safety…. Thus we have a testimony sufficiently clear and strong, that if we have communion with Christ, we are written in the Book of Life” (3/24/5).

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

To glory in the cross is to see that the death of Christ cancels the debt for all the elect when they are placed into that death. Romans 6:9-10: “We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has any dominon over him. For the death he died, he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.“

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

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

Let’s think about a text parallel to Romans 6:9-10. Think of II Corinthians 5:15: “One has died for all, therefore all have died, and he died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Even so called Calvinists talk about one-sided deals in which the ony thing they “contributed” was their sins. “I offered God my sinful heart and God gave me His righteousness.” But God is the only imputed, and God already imputed your sins to Christ or not. Romans 8:3—“What the law could not do, God did by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin-he condemned sin in the flesh.”

II Corinthians 5:15 teaches us the gospel about Christ’s death being the death of all those who will be justified. Those who attempt to find assurance in Christ but without thinking about election have a false Christ, a false Christ who did not die only for the elect, a false Christ whose death does not save. The false gospel can only tell us that Christ died “so that our guilt COULD now be taken away, and we COULD be counted righteous.” This “might or might not be” false gospel always conditions the imputation of sins to Christ on the faith of the sinner. The false gospel says: “Jesus suffered the penalty due our sins so that we do not have to.”

SO THAT WE DO NOT HAVE TO

In a few words that’s the same false gospel I have been hearing all my life. Most people who profess to be Christians profess that what Jesus did (in death and resurrection) sets up a plan which makes it possible for you to give him your sins and then for Him to save you. Most so called Calvinists not only professes to have been saved because they believed this false (Arminian) gospel. Most so called Calvinists continue to teach that same “so that we don’t have to” false gospel.

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

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

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

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

The false gospel is a “but” gospel. It says that “we are saved not only by believing the fact that Christ died for our sins, but by union with the crucified and risen Savour.” But the true gospel does NOT tell any particular sinner that Christ died for their sins. The gospel does NOT tell sinners who the elect are; the gospel tells sinners about election and substitution.

It is a gospel fact that there was one kind of “union” of the elect in Christ already at the cross. Before (or after) the elect are justified, Christ paid by death for their sins. Faith does not make this election happen. Faith in a false Christ is not a mirror to give us assurance that we belong to the true Christ. Only faith in the Bible revealed Christ gives us assurance that we are elect.

Galatians 3 does not start with believing to get justified, and it does not end with believing more to get more of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 3 starts with “before your eyes Christ publicly portrayed as crucified.” T Yes, there is a promise of the Spirit through faith, but that is because first “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law” SO THAT this will happen. Not so that it COULD OR MIGHT happen.

Wittmer’s Response to Rob Bell–What Did Christ Really Do for Those Who Won’t be Saved?

November 14, 2011

Christ Alone, Edenridge Press, 2011 (preface by Michael Horton)

Among the Arminian “evangelical” answers to Rob Bell’s popular book Love Wins, Michael Wittmer’s Christ Alone was one of the better written and more focused reflections. Dr Wittmer has written several other books in recent years, not least Heaven is a Place on Earth. Wittmer probably would not describe himself as an Arminian, and might even think of himself as some kind of Calvinist. But his theology shows the false hope of any “gospel” which claims that Christ died for all sinners but then makes the salvation of sinners depend on something else besides Christ’s death.

Since I have already agreed that Wittmer would not think of himself as an Arminian, I want to keep that label on hold and have you hear Wittmer for yourself. On p 138, he summarizes: “We stand in God’s courtroom, guilty for Adam’s sin and for our own, awaiting God’s just sentence of condemnation. But before the sentence can be read, the Son of the Judge steps forward and announces that he wishes to be damned to hell in our place. Contrary to Bell, this Son is not rescuing us from his evil Father, for it was the Father who sent the Son to save us. Neither is this a bipolar God who loves unrepentant sinners while they are alive and then switches gears at their death…God is just, so he will punish those who die under his wrath. But he lovingly sent his Son to bear His wrath in their place.”

What should we say to this summary? Should we label Wittmer an Arminian for saying that the Son bore God’s wrath for those who will end up dying under God’s wrath? Should we ask why Michael Horton is endorsing this false Christ and this false gospel? Should we comfort ourselves at the fact that Wittmer is not a Barthian or an universalist, and that he teaches conversion, and a transition from wrath to God’s favor?

My response to Wittmer is very much the same as his to Bell. This is “not enough gospel”. (p146) If the cross does not add anything to the non-elect but more wrath, then for the non-elect the death of Christ is no gospel at all.

I wish Wittmer could hear his questions to Bell come back to himself. On p 147, Wittmer concludes: “if there is no looming threat of wrath and hell, then there is little for God to do except be generally kind to everyone.” I agree with this logic. Not even the elect are born safe, except in the decree of God. The wrath of God abides even on the elect until they are justified by means of Christ’s death. Even the elect need to hear and believe the gospel. But I want to think about that phrase “for God to do”.

What does God need to do? What has God done for those who are saved that God has not done for those who will not be saved? Since Wittmer is an “evangelical” and does not think of himself as an Arminian, he does not speak of what Christ has done for the elect and what Christ has not done for the non-elect. (Even though the Confessions to which Michael Horton subscribes speak of that difference, in his preaching that difference is given no attention.)

Evangelicals want to stick to what they can agree on. Sin and wrath are real. God really had to do something about this if anybody would “possibly” be saved. Whatever it was that Christ did was done for all sinners. This is why I am asking evangelicals like Wittmer to listen to themselves when they talk back to Rob Bell.

Listen: p146–“If the cross doesn’t add anything that we couldn’t already learn from Jesus’ life and ministry, and if Jesus’ words and deeds don’t tell us anything we couldn’t already learn from nature, then forcing Jesus to go to the cross seems to be a genuine case of divine child abus…The God of Love Wins (title of book by Rob Bell) doesn’t win because the stakes are so low that there is little for him to win.”

So what’s the difference between the God of Wittmer and the God of Rob Bell? First, since wrath is real, there is something to win and something to lose. Second, the God of Wittmer, who dies for all sinners, even those on whom God’s wrath will ultimately abide, does win some. And plus, on top of that, even the ones the God of Wittmer loses, God attempted to win, because Christ died for them.

Or as evangelical Lewis Sperry Chafer explained the message: Christ died for all their acts of sin, so they won’t die for any acts of sins, but many of them will die for their “attitude of sin”, since they thought they were too good to need what Christ did for them. Since they think they don’t need what Christ did for them, then Christ’s death won’t do anything for them.

Both Wittmer and Bell have pointed to the possibility of “divine child abuse”. Bell is Socinian enough to put grace in competition with justice, and to deny that there is any real forgiveness if Christ had to die for God to forgive. Wittmer is not a Socinian, and thus suggests that Bell’s Christ had no reason to die.

But what was the point of Christ dying for the non-elect? Wittmer is very clear that he thinks that Christ did die for everybody. Wittmer is very very clear that he thinks that not everybody will be saved. Even though Wittmer is not at all clear about elect and non-elect, he does not tell us the point of Christ dying for those who will not be saved.

What did Christ “really do”? If Christ died the same for those who will be saved as Christ died for those who won’t be saved, what in the end did Christ “really do” even for those who will be saved? Certainly Christ’s death was not decisive for salvation, but in what way does Wittmer think Christ really did anything for all sinners, as one step (needed along with others) to a rescue from His wrath?

If God was going to change the hearts of some sinners, and cause them to be born again, and that was going to save them, why was it necessary for God the Father to give the Son to die? If the Son dies to take away wrath for everybody, but the wrath is not taken away, what did the Son’s death “really do”?

Like most evangelicals, Wittmer has a “strings attached” gospel, a “however” gospel. Instead of telling the truth to everybody that God doesn’t love everybody, he thinks the responsibility of everybody depends on God having loved everybody and Christ having died for everybody.

I do not disagree with him about the need to preach the gospel to everybody. I do not disagree with him about the terrible condition of all sinners who do not hear and believe the gospel. I disagree with him about what the gospel is. Here’s his explanation (p138): “However, if we fallen creatures don’t accept God’s love, either because we think we are too good to go to hell or because we think God is too good to send us there, then we will learn too late, that our false assurance of safety is the very thing which has made us unsafe.”

No, Mr Wittmer, we were born unsafe, we started out lost, and the false Christ you preach has made nobody safe. The false Christ you preach is an idol, somebody you say really did “something” but that “something” depends on our attitude to make it work.

This is a yes and no complicated “bait and switch” gospel. You are not safe. But Jesus really needed to die for you all to make you all safe. And God loves you, and Jesus really died for you. But. Still you are not safe yet.

No wonder Rob Bell accuses the false god of evangelicalism with being one who changes from love to wrath when his love in unrequited. Yes, there is an objective legal transition from wrath to favor when God’s elect are justified and adopted in history, but God’s love for the elect had no beginning and God never loved the non-elect. But Wittmer promises everybody a deal, an offer: if we change our attitude and agree that God is right to have wrath toward us, and agree that we need Christ to die for us, then……what?

Either Christ already died for us or not. Wittmer is assuring us all that Christ already died for us all. And he wants to tell us that this death “really did something”. If we come knowing that we are sinners and needing to be saved, if we come with the right attitude, “then we will find that we have a merciful and holy God, an advocate who justly emptied all the wrath our sins deserved, but who in mercy poured it out upon himself.” (p138)

But what about if we don’t come with such a right attitude? What about if we come like Rob Bell comes? Well, Christ already died and His death already really did something. But we can’t say what that was. Even though God emptied all the wrath on the Son, still there seems to be some more wrath left for many for whom Christ died.

Now we could get philosophical about if this is the same wrath which was for our sins which was already emptied on Christ, or if it’s new wrath not about our acts of sins but our wrong attitude in what we do with what Christ did for us, but in any case, it’s still wrath and what did Christ’s death really do about it?

Surely Christ’s death was not to condemn anybody because, as Wittmer has explained, we all already started out condemned. Perhaps Wittmer would tell us that Christ did something extra for those who will be saved, that it had “multiple purposes”, and that it purchased the new birth for some. But in any case, we are left with the question of those who will not be saved. Wittmer is still an “evangelical” and so he is sure that Christ died and really did something for these folks. But what?

Romans 8:32–“He that spared not His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things.”