What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to
the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast
about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham
believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one
who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the
one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is
counted as righteousness ...
Friday, September 29, 2006
Saving the First Kiss
by Antonio da Rosa
I love Matthew's blog. He is funny, intelligent, and often times brightens my day with his medicine for my soul.
He has an enterage (sp?) of great people who comment on his blog.
One such young lady is named Carey. From what I read of her on his blog, I found her interesting. I have seen her there for quite some time. Yet it wasn't until today that I visited her blog.
Her blog, when I visited, is having a format problem. Yet her latest post brought joy to my heart and hope for my desire to bring my own daughter up in strict purity.
Please visit her blog, read this post, and encourage her in her devotion to Christ and her commitment to "Save the First Kiss" for her future husband.
I would love to hear from some who hold to Free Grace on this question: What is it about the notion “true belief results in action” (i.e. faith results in works) that is so detestable? Why is it that this is a logical fallacy to you?
Imagine yourself driving down the highway, and on the radio you hear an announcement that there has been a huge accident about a mile ahead of you. At this point you have two options. You can either genuinely believe the report of the accident and take preventative action to avoid plowing into a pile of cars, or you can refuse to believe, or only partially believe, the radio announcement.
Genuine belief in anything will naturally result in action. If you believe that the stock market is going to crash tomorrow, you will be taking your money out today. If you truly believe that your sin is detestable to a holy God, and that God has sovereignty given you a new heart and a new life that caused you to believe on Christ for salvation from hell, this has natural ramifications for the believer. Who among us, after being saved, has felt no compulsion to clean up some area of our lives in reverence of Christ?
What do we say of a Republican or Democrat who votes against their party? We call that person a scoundrel, one who does not truly believe in the principles of their party and they should just do everyone a favor and admit that they are on the opposite side. It matters little if we can talk the talk, but if we do not walk the walk, all of our talk is an empty lie. We are either for Christ or against Him, and those who love Him keep His commandments. The love for, and faith in Christ that is put into us by God Himself causes believers to keep His commandments.
So, back to my original question: What is it about the notion “true belief results in action” (i.e. faith results in works) that is so detestable? Why is it that this is a logical fallacy to you?
Since you technically asked 2 question let me answer them separately.
What is it about the notion “true belief results in action” (i.e. faith results in works) that is so detestable? ...
My two cents are that this idea sometimes seems to almost personify a person’s faith and therefore seems to me to steal a bit of the credit from Christ in us. When a person believes in Christ for his eternal life, He is born again. He receives eternal life. We know from the ending verses of 1 John that eternal life is Christ himself. So we know that at the point of regeneration Christ himself takes up forever residence in him. The real him is now the regenerate self, Christ in him. Because we can do all things through Christ we know that it is He and His resurrection power that works the works God has selected for us to walk in. So…
When someone talks about how faith by definition produces works and true faith results in good works, I admit to a degree my skin crawls. It seems like they are taking something they sincerely believe to be a gift from God and personifying it and claiming for it almost super powers that go far beyond the Scriptural information. We know from Scripture that sometimes God’s gifts become a distraction for the receiver of the gift, maybe that goes too far. I agree that faith is a victory over the world, but that is because we are confident in Christ’s power to give us victory over sin in our lives and that He will give us boldness and make manifest the pure love that knits us together with our Christian chums.
But when seen as something that if authentic will years and years later result in good works… I see that as a conceptual competitor with Christ in us. Obviously, the “gift of faith” isn’t a member of the Trinity, so what makes it so powerful as to result in so much?
...Why is it that this is a logical fallacy to you?
If you are talking about faith-in-time, an incredibly strong inner conviction in the present, than I do believe that type of “present” or ongoing belief tends to be acted on. (However, their may be competing beliefs, fears, deceptions and affections that stall, slow down or reverse the action.) But this in-time faith is what Hebrews is talking about. Faith located in the present that looks forward to the future in Christ and His rewards inspired to action Abraham, Moses, certainly the martyrs and all the rest. They were looking for a city built by God. And Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. Even your illustration was about a prospect in the future(meeting up with the traffic in a certain area).
Thanks for a specific question that wasn’t demeaning.
Antonio well articulated his premise in the discussion here...
the reader must be aware of a cogent biblical fact that necessarily places a huge burden of proof upon the Lordship Salvationist:
Nowhere in the Bible is the reception of eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification conditioned on an act of repentance.
The Traditionalist must string together texts and arguments in order to support his unbiblical assertion that repentance is a theologically binding requirement for the possession of eternal salvation. In his arguments, the fallacy of special pleading is a common trait, for there is no clear text that makes his point.
The Lordship Salvationist cannot point to even one text that explicitely commands repentance for the express purpose of the appropriation of eternal life. There is no such verse or passage. If this is such an important element in the discussion of the critical components of the gospel message it is odd – no, it is incredible – that not a single verse clearly conjoins a command to repent with a resultant appropriation of: eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification.
Isn’t the reception of eternal life/justification of utmost importance to a lost sinner on his way to hell? I mean, listen – the information on how a person is initiated into a relationship with God is of dire necessity! Wouldn’t you think that an issue of such great import would be properly clarified by the God who “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4)? Isn’t it unbelievable that in the whole canon of scripture, that if eternal well-being is contingent partly on an act of repentance, that no text whatsoever conditions a result of eternal salvation on such an act?
The apostle John, who is not unfamiliar with the doctrine of repentance, as he presents it more than any other New Testament writer other than Luke (10 mentions in Revelation), nevertheless is conspicuously silent on repentance as a condition for the appropriation of eternal life in his Gospel that was written for an express purpose of evangelism (John 20:30-31).
Would it not be a major error of inestimable proportions that if repentance is indeed a necessary requirement for eternal life that John the apostle would not include a single reference to it as a condition for salvation, yeah, even further, fail to mention it even once in the whole of his gospel written so that men could have eternal life?
The evidence in regard to this chilling and absolute silence of the Fourth Gospel in mentioning repentance in conjunction with the indisputable instrument of eternal life’s appropriation, faith into Jesus for it, can have only 1 of 3 possible ramifications:
1) John, the disciple who leaned “on Jesus’ bosom”, the apostle “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), was not aware that the free reception of eternal life was in someway conditioned upon an act of repentance by the unsaved and thus presented an inadequate and therefore faulty testimony in this matter.
2) John, the apostle “who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24), purposely omitted a crucial component of the promise of eternal life for reasons that could only be speculated upon (the first one that would come to mind is some form of mal-intent).
3) John, who knew that “which was from the beginning”, who declared what he “heard” and saw with his “eyes”, who revealed that which he “looked upon” and his hands “handled, concerning the Word of life”, who bore “witness” and declared to us “that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to” him (1 John 1:1-2) did not consider, did not believe, and was not under the conviction that repentance was a necessary requirement for the appropriation of eternal well-being.
If we agree to the following:
1) John told the truth
2) John wrote his gospel with a purpose of evangelism and admit to the following (which cannot be denied):
3) John did not require repentance in his Gospel as a condition for the appropriation of eternal life, as he did not even mention it once in the whole of his discourse; repentance being shockingly absent from its whole. We must necessarily come to this conclusion:
4) Repentance is not a theological necessary condition for the reception of eternal life.
[Note: “The simple fact is that the whole Fourth Gospel is designed to show that its readers can get saved in the same way as the people who got saved in John’s narrative. To say anything other than this is to accept a fallacy. It is to mistakenly suppose that the Fourth Gospel presents the terms of salvation incompletely and inadequately.” (Zane Hodges, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 2000, “How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1″)]
Furthermore, we must consider our dear brother, the apostle Paul. The idea of repentance is a category strikingly absent from him. In his whole discussion of justification by faith in Romans 3-5, there is not even one mention of repentance as a condition for eternal salvation. It is also noteworthy to share that Paul only mentions repentance 5 times in his epistles (half as many as John), although he wrote 13 (possibly 14) out of the 27 New Testament books. And none of these passages in which he speaks of this doctrine does he regard repentance as a condition for the reception of eternal salvation.
In addition, what is even more damaging to the Traditionalist position is the utter absence of repentance in the book of Galatians. This epistle is Paul’s defense of his gospel wherein he heralds clear and loud the essential tenet that righteousness is imparted through faith alone in Jesus. It is indeed significant that repentance is absent in a book where Paul is presenting and defending the gospel message he received directly from the Lord. For Paul, faith alone into Christ is the sole theological requirement for justification and eternal salvation.
Lately I’ve been mulling over an analogy of sorts. The LS and FG models are like two jeweled rings. I'll attempt to examine both with those bright halogen lights that pricey shops have so many of.
I see the Reformed Lordship model of the NT to be like a big sparkling jewel set on a beautiful ring. The jewel represents the LS theoretical model itself (with its multi-faceted propositions that dovetail so seamlessly) while the beautifully etched platinum ring represents the Word of God. Both the jewel and the ring are impressively cut and crafted, both are well shaped. The jewel is separate from the ring but it fits snugly into its setting. Six strong platinum prongs intercept, support and fasten the jewel to the ring.
The FG model, however, is like a series of small inlaid jewels that fit snugly into a beautiful platinum ring. The jewels appear less significant than a single large jewel but are secured more intimately to the ring itself. Instead of being fastened to the ring with prongs, each gem lies flush along the molded, etched surface of the platinum ring. The beauty of the ring itself, with its flair, symmetry and complicated etching is far more striking than the individuale gems.
For me the legitimate beauty of the logic of the Reformed theology, represented by the big jewel, is sullied with the reality that it is actually not the ring (the Word of God) that has determined the size and shape of the “jewel”. Granted, the jewel “fits” the ring at specific points, but the details of the jewel have more to do with its own logic than with the demands of those specific points of contact with the ring.
I take issue with the pejorative term "easy believism". Other than that, this is a post which discusses Lordship Salvation beliefs with its attending reference to proof-texts. Proof-texting is par for the course in Lordship teaching.
The prooftexting and the stringing together of "therefore"'s based upon a statement and a prooftext is what I read often in Lordship books.
1) Do the verses he gives show that the "gospel" calls people to repentance? in Acts 2:36 Peter says that Jesus is Lord and Christ and that the audience crucified Him, 2:37, the crowd is pricked in the heart believing the message of Peter and therefore asks what shall they do now (that they believe Peter's message). Since they believe that Jesus is the Christ, according to 1 John 5:1, the are born of God. The repentance and baptism Peter requires in view of the audience's culpability in Christ's death. Acts 17:30 and 2 Pet 3:9 talk about repentance in light of Christ's temporal judgment upon the world at the "Day of the Lord". I have a 7 part article on Acts 17:30. Repentance will halt or avert temporal judgment. Acts 20:21 is a summary statement of Paul's complete ministry, not merely evangelism ("How I kept back nothing that was helpful to you").
Repentance is absent from the gospel of John (gospel written for evangelistic purposes (John 20:31), Paul's defense of his gospel in Galatians, and Paul's primary teaching on justification by faith in Romans 3-5.
2) Faith is never seen as a work, as Paul puts it into contradistinction with works (Rom 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.) Saying that faith is a gift of God begs the question. Jesus can say "Where is your faith" to regenerate disciples, and even the Westminster Confession states "By such enormous sins ... they... interrupt the exercise of faith" (V.5).
I find in the bible regenerate people's faith "shipwrecked" (1 Tim 1:18-20). I find Christians going "astray from the truth" (2 Tim 2:17-19), "astray from the faith" (1 Tim 6:20-21), and "wander[ing] from the truth" (James 5:19). I find God's "righteous one" who has the possibility of "shrink[ing] back"" (Heb 10:38-39. There are those in Galatians who lose their faith in Christ for grace and rely upon the flesh and law, who severed themself from Christ (Gal 5:2), fallen from grace (Gal 5:4), and were liable to judgment (Gal 5:10). The Spirit "explicitely says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Tim 4:13). You cannot fall away from something that you were not once in. I see Christian's denying the faith and therefore are "worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim 5:8). I see Christian widows who "turned aside to follow Satan" (1 Tim 5:14-15). I see Demas (2 Tim 4:10), Phygelus and Hermogenes (2 Tim 1:15), and a number of unnamed people (2 Tim 4:16) abandoning Paul for wordly ambitions. Finally we have Christians who are "in opposition" who are in a "snare of the devil" and are held "captive by him to do his will" (2 Tim 2:24-26).
3) Faith in a person is meaningless if it is not attached to a proposition. When Jesus says that we must believe on Him, He is entreating our faith in His ability to guarantee eternal life and resurrection to the believer in Him for it. In John 11:25ff, Jesus says that as the Life He guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him, as the resurrection, He guarantees resurrection to the believer in Him. He then asks Martha, "Do you believe this"? He was asking her if she believed that Jesus guarantees her eternal life and resurrection. Furthermore, another expression of saving faith is believing that Jesus is the Christ (John 11:27; 20:31; 1 John 5:1). Faith in Jesus is faith in specific propositions concerning Him, that, as the Christ, He guarantees eternal life and resurrection to the one who believes in Him for it, the one who takes Him at His word.
When one says that they "trust" someone, that necessarily breaks down to believing propositions. If I say that I trust the babysitter, this is shorthand for saying "I believe that the babysitter will act honorably, appropriately, professionally, and with the best interests of me and my child." When I say that I am trusting Christ, or believing in Christ, this is short hand for saying "I believe that Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life to me".
4) To go to Romans 6 to prove that man is a changed person AND ACTS that way is a futile effort. The language in Romans 6 is ABSOLUTE language: "died to sin" (6:2); "our old man was crucified with Him" (6:6). It is plain wrong to interpret this information as "experiential" death and crucifixion, for the language is ABSOLUTE. Men sin, last I checked. Therefore he is not absolutely "experientially" dead to sin! That this is "positional" language is abundantly clear from the entreaties that Paul makes to our will to "reckon [ourselves] dead to sin [experientially in light of our positional death]" (6:11), and to "not let sin reign in [our] mortal body" (6:12) and "do not present" our members as instruments of unrighteousness but "present" ourselves "to God" (6:13). Paul says we must give diligence to live as we truly are positionally. He entreats us to reckon ourselves dead to sin, stop presenting our members as intruments of unrighteousness and present ourselves to God. If we don't we will not be sanctified. Sanctification is a co-operation between man and God. If we do not obey Paul's commands here in Romans 6, we will not be sanctified.
5) Sanctification DOES require post-regenerate dedication. Every entreaty of the will given in the Epistles are for our growth in sanctification. The warning passages of Hebrews discuss the dangers of not progressing in sanctification. We do have everything that pertains to life and godliness! But we are required to "add to [our] faith" (2 Pet 1:5) so that we can be sanctified. If a Christian does not add these sanctifying virtues to his faith he is blind, short-sighted and "has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." (2 Pet 1:9). When we are saved, we are not on auto-pilot! Discipleship takes hard works. If salvation is equated with discipleship, then the same is conditioned on works.
6) Faith + submission is not "faith alone". Christ asks us to merely rely upon His grace, His work on our behalf, His promise. Commitment to Christ as a condition to receive eternal life makes salvation a contract: God's part, imparting eternal life, man's part, submission to God. In reality, faith in Christ is the passive instrument of reception. It is merely the hands receiving God's free gift. Submission on the other hand would be a contractual proviso. Once man is regenerate by receiving the absolutely free gift of eternal life, he is initiated into a brand new relationship with Christ. He is required to obey, persevere, and endure. If he doesn't, he will experience God's temporal chastening and wrath and loss of privelege and honor at Christ's coming. If he does, he will experience a greater intimacy with Christ now and be rewarded in at Christ's judgement seat.
7) None of the "prooftexts" given that a Christian will always or indefectably love Jesus prove that all true Christians will do so. Is it impossible for Christians to get caught up in the things of the world? Are the advocates of Lordship Salvation so pious as to claim that this has never happened to them? John says that when we are enamored by the things of the world that at that moment we are not loving God (1 John 2:15). Can we say that we are "loving" Jesus when we sin? Jesus identifies loving Him with obeying his commandments (John 14:21). At the moments we sin we are not obeying his commandments. Lordship Salvation believes that true Christians can be caught up in episodes of sin. During this time interval, the wayward Christian is not loving Christ.
loving Christ entails having and keeping His commandments loving Christ is necesary for eternal life ---------- eternal life is contingent on keeping His commandments, IOW, doing works
8) If one is assured that he is saved by inspecting his own works, then he can never have certain assurance of salvation. John says that we can "know" that we have eternal life. Therefore, we must not gain our assurance by inspecting our works.
It is apparant that the Reformed doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints with its corollaries temporary/spurious faith has scattered doubts and stabbed at the faith of many.
John MacArthur has stated in one of his radio programs:
"You may be a spiritual defector who hasn't defected yet!"
Perseverance theology has grounded assurance of salvation subjectively on self. This has, to a great extent, spawned debilitating doubts in the congregations where teachers proclaim this doctrine.
Calvin does not agree that assurance comes from introspection:
"But if we have been chosen in Him, we shall not find assurance of our election in ourselves... Christ, then is the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election." (Institutes III.xxiv.5)
He furthermore states:
"Doubtless, if we are to determine by our works in what way the Lord stands affected toward us, I admit that we cannot even get the length of a feeble conjecture: but since faith should accord with the free and simple promise, there is no room left for ambiguity" (Institutes III.ii.38)
Jesus states "He who believes in Me has everlasting life". If you believe Jesus then you have everlasting life. It is as simple as that.
8) 1 John 2:19 does not say what this post implies it says.
"The special deceptiveness of the “many antichrists” was that they had once been part of the same fellowship to which the apostles themselves belonged: they went out from us. No other meaning than this one is really suitable in this context. The us which is repeated four times in this verse obviously is in contrast to the “you” of the following verse, which is emphatic in Greek. Here we meet for the first time the “we” – “you” – “us” contrast which we also meet in a similar context in 4:4-6.
It completely distorts the text to treat the us of verse 19 as though it meant simply “us Christians.” The antichrists had most definitely not left the church or churches to whom John writes, for if they had they would no longer been a problem! On the contrary, the apostle is clearly concerned about the exposure his readers have had, or will have, to these men. One of the claims they must have had, which gave them a false aura of authority, was that they originated in the same sphere where the apostles themselves operated, in all probability a reference to the Jerusalem church." (Zane Hodges, Epistles of John, 108)
I agree with John MacArthur's concluding statements, that the issue is not a trivial one.
Charles Ryrie has said
"The message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life cannot both be the gospel; therefore, one of them is a false gospel and comes under the curse of perverting the gospel or preaching another gospel (Gal 1:6-9)" (Charles Ryrie, So Great Salvation).
"If we continue to study every aspect of the Bible, we will discover that the Bible is its own dictionary. If we wish to know the meaning of a word in the Bible, we do not go to a dictionary of Greek or Hebrew (the original languages of the Bible). To do so would be useless. The meanings of words have changed during last two thousand years to such a degree that it would be a wonder if any of the words used in the Bible had the same meaning today."
First Principles of Bible Study, page 29
This explains Harold Camping's creative hermenuetics.
This approach is not held by all those of Covenant Theology, is it?
"They gave them to understand that Christ was not come to bring peace on the earth which would meet with the opposition and enmity of the world, but that through much tribulation they must enter the kingdom of God. It was a warning for all times to make men understand that persecution was not a strange thing. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" -not, however, all Christians. If a Christian conforms to the world, he will avoid persecution; but he will lose the joy of the Holy Ghost and communion with God; he will be saved as by fire, and an entrance into the eternal kingdom shall not be abundantly ministered to him. If we walk with God, we shall not be barren in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus.
I speak thus, because for many the time of open persecution has passed away; but if we are faithful, we shall most surely experience persecution both from the world and from our own families. The world cannot tolerate faithfulness. If the Christian walk with the world, instead of winning the world to Christ, he himself gets a distance from Him, and will lose, I do not say life, but his spiritual privileges, his joy, and the approval of Christ; and his testimony is against Christianity. By his ways he declares that the friendship of the world is not enmity against God. The Christian whne with the world is in no respects at ease; and when in the compnay of spiritual Christians his conscience reproves him because he is walking badly, and that which is the joy to them, he cannot enter into. May all who are disposed to or in danger of being let to mingle with the ways of the world give heed to this exhortation!"
Taken from Meditations on the Acts of the Apostles in Collected Writings of J.N. Darby, vol.25, p.374-375
The following is an excerpt taken from a comment thread (meta) on Jonathan Moorhead's blog. I use it without permission of Jodie (c:
---------- John's Gospel asks to be isolated, not as the only NT message or as the only good news resulting from the incarnation, but the one and only exhaustive book on how to recieve eternal life. (jn 20:31)
What would motivate John, late in the game in terms of the writing of the NT, to leave out repentance if he knew it was the necessary precurser to faith? Would you do that? Even though he himself was a disciple of John the Baptist he even chose too mention John's baptism without using the word repentance.
Is it possible that the obstacle to seeing this, that John taught a profoundly free gift of eternal life, really is your own conscience? Are you possibly using your own conscience as your real authority, and not letting the Word of God break through that barrier. It's hard for me to see how anyone can understand that idea, that John speaks authoritatively only on that one core topic of eternal life, and honestly fail to see the incredible power of distinguishing John from Luke, who speaks on repentance.
What power? The power of (A) the simple beauty of God's generosity in wanting people to avoid torment. But also (B) the power of leaving the stern and majestic call to repentance unhidered!
Why tame that message by framing it as the humble doormat to belief? Yes it makes your interpretation of the NT neater but at what cost? Why picture repentance as not important enough to be mentioned but still invaribly present like the queitest of all maidens. When I read Revelation I notice that that's not how John (the Son of Thunder) treats the theme of repentance. John is not, as you know, the fay man of DaVinci, he is the one trusted with the stunning letters to the churches.
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place
That is, if you don't stop sinning it will cost you, soon, right here on planet earth, not in eternity. Repentance is never treated as a necessary precurser to faith it is treated as the fearful warning of God's temporal wrath on sin.
"If some people are not elected unto salvation than it would seem that God is not at all that loving to them. Further, it seems that it would have been more loving of God not to have allowed them to be born. That may indeed be the case." (Chosen by God, 32)
This in fact could win an award for "Theological Understatement of the Millennium"
Sorry for my lapse, folks. My technical obstacles have abated for the moment, so I'll slip this in...
John’s Gospel and his First Epistle are about two different topics. The Gospel is about receiving eternal life; the Epistle is about manifesting eternal life, and how apostasy is the pathetic manifestation of darkness and hatefulness.
Both the Epistle and the Gospel are centered on absolutes. They both paint their topics in black and white terms. In John’s Gospel, individuals have either received living water, the gift of eternal life, or they haven’t. There’s no middle ground. In John’s first epistle, one either knows Him or they don’t, they are either of God or of the world, again without any middle ground: to love the world is to fail to love God and the brethren.
But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
It is as if a fine skier is asked to teach total beginners to ski. The athlete teaches them, “There are only two groups of people in the world, people who ski and people who don’t. It’s as simple as that.”
But the same teacher may teach an advanced ski seminar. This time he may say, “There are only two types of people in the world—elite skiers... and everyone else!!”
Both statements can be true without contradicting the other. That’s what’s happening in John and First John.
John is written to total beginners—unbelievers—but John’s First Epistle is written to fully competent believers who as a group are enduring the doctrinal threat of apostasy.
The love of God - Decent and with Character, not Hypocritical or Brutal
The love of God is so amazing to me. Ever since I heard of his great love for sinful mankind when I was presented the gospel 20 years ago, I have been amazed by it. This is why I have a difficulty with the idea that God only loves a certain, preselected group. This is why I have difficulty with the idea of a limited atonement, a limited internal gospel call, unconditional election etc… It just flies in the face of so many Scriptures that teach of the all encompassing quality of God’s great doing in love for mankind.
I love the love of God! Here is perhaps my favorite hymn on the subject.
Forgive me if it seems I am picking on Calvinists, but I find it odd that they hold to these limited ideas of God’s love. I have read and heard where they say that God does not love the non-elect. They say that God chooses many for wrath and His love is withheld from them; He did not die for them; He did not come to save them. The gospel is useless to them because they have not been chosen to be the sheep of God. I have been told that when God says “Jacob have I loved and Essau have I hated,” that this somehow indicates that before these INDIVIDAULS broke out of the womb, one was condemned … and the other blessed ... for no other reason than the preference of God.
Like I said, I don’t mean to pick on anyone, but I read this last night:
“John was always committed to truth, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it is not enough. Zeal for the truth must be balanced by love for people. Truth without love has no decency; it’s just brutality. On the other hand, love without truth has no character; it’s just hypocrisy.” (John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men, page 106)
I started to think. God has told the truth to the world by giving His Son, His Spirit, His Word, His church. We look at people and tell them the gospel message. We are His ambassadors to tell them the truth. Going back to the Calvinist ideas ... if all are not loved by God, then His truth is without decency, as John McArthur states: “Truth without love has no decency…”
However, if you take these passages literally, the love of God for all men, His enemies, is apparent:
…God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
God’s love is in truth and His truth is in love, for He has shown no partiality in His offer of salvation. His loving truth is neither brutal nor hypocritical. It has both decency and character. Just as Peter said in Acts 10:
34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (Acts 10)
Traditionalist Perseverance theology will not countenance the doctrine of the carnal Christian. Most Calvinists seem to think that us Free Grace advocates (and/or Dispensationalists) are happy to teach this doctrine. This could not be further from the truth. It is a chore to have to do so, but I, like the Bible and the Apostle Paul, am a realist. Therefore I teach this doctrine, not as an excuse for carnality, but as a warning to those who would slip into the comfortable confines of apathy and dangers of sinfulness. When I have come to my senses from bouts of carnality I look at my disposition with thorough disgust. What emptiness! What meaninglessness! What wasted time!
As I said, Paul is a realist. He understands the sinful disposition of the Christian as well as the necessary principles of sanctification. God does not drag his children down the path of obedience. But God is not happy to see his children on wayward paths. We are accountable to Him! His Word contains many warning passages that express real dangers for disobedience, carnality, and backsliding.
1 Cor 10:1-13 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
[Those "fathers" who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and died there were:
1) our fathers 2) all ate the same spiritual food 3) all drank the same spiritual drink 4) they all drank from that spiritual Rock, who was Christ
And this is not all. These were the same who celebrated the first passover and applied the blood of the sacrifical lamb to their doorposts. These were regenerate Israelites!]
5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
[Do you get this? The Israelites, who celebrated the passover, appropriated and applied the blood of the paschal lamb, who all ate the same spiritual food and all drank from the same spiritual Rock, Christ, displeased God. Their carnality persisted, provoking the anger and wrath of God which brought their physical destruction. They were all the aforementioned, "BUT", says Paul, but God was not pleased with them and they perished.]
6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
[Paul includes himself in this admonition: These things are "our" examples so that "we" should not lust as they lusted. How are we to understand "example? I propose that the sinfulness of these regenerate Israelites incurred the wrath of God and that we are subject to the same consequences if we "lust after evil things".
Were these Israelites regenerate? Yes, as we have already seen. Were they carnal? A cursory reading of Exodus and Numbers confirms that they were. Did they persist in this state until death? Well, Paul explicitely says so! What does this do to the Calvinist's doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints? You decide.]
7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
[The list of sins of these carnal, regenerate Israelites goes on. Some of them were idolaters (Ex 32), some committed sexual immorality (Num 25), some tempted Christ, complaining about His provisions (Num 21:5ff) and pushing God to the limits, and others complained about God's justice (se Num 16:41ff).
Do you realize that only 2 out of the estimated 1 million Israelites made it into the promised land? These carnal, regenerate Israelites bodies "we scattered" all over the "wilderness" because of their persistent carnality!]
11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
These Israelites are examples for us Christians in this dispensation. Their sins brought with them terrible consequences, even death. We are in the last days. Christ's kingdom is imminent. We will all stand before Him and give an account of our lives at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ. Carnality will not only bring temporal ruin, it will bring eternal consequences. The ends of the ages are upon us:
Rev 22:12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."
Sin is never a good idea.]
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
[Growth in sanctification and security from falling takes vigilance, perseverance, and determination. No one, no matter how godly they really are at the present moment, is immune to the power of the whirlpool of sin. You must not even travel near sin, for it will pull you into its gravitational reaches and gradually transport you to its center. We must not give sin a foothold!]
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
[This verse ought to be written in lens of our eyes, imprinted on the backs of our hands, impressed on our minds, and flowing from our mouths.
God is faithful! God is determinate not to allow us to be tempted beyond that which we are able to handle. No sin is irresistable! There is no excuse for carnality. We have all that is necessary for life and godliness, we have been blessed with all the spiritual blessings, we have access to great and precious promises whereby we can escape the lusts of the world, the Holy Spirit dwells within us (yearning jealously!).
Persistent carnality is an unfortunate possibility for the regenerate Christian. But unless we first understand that it is possible, we will not be able to address its solutions properly! The Traditionalist will say that the persistent "carnal Christian" must go back to square one and get saved, and show that he is saved by doing good works! But those of us who understand the sad possibilities of this state for a regenerate Christian ought to be prepared. What this person needs is to be taught Christian accountability and the principles, blessings, and consequences of discipleship]
Arminianism teaches a False Gospel that cannot Save
I remember some time ago, somebody complained on Antonio's blog that Free Grace people are always attacking Calvinism and never Arminianism.
I cannot answer for Antonio, but I would ask two questions in response:
Q. Who did our Lord have more in common with, the Pharisees or the Saducees?
A. The Pharisees.
Q. Who did Jesus criticise more, the Pharisees or the Saducees?
A. The Pharisees.
Perhaps Jesus had more cricisms to make of the Pharisees becuause they were closer to the truth than the Saducees.
We have a lot of disagreements with Calvinism. We might even contend that at times some Calvinists may present a false gospel. However, we commend Calvinists for their belief and commitment to the Eternal Security of the believer. They may practically deny this doctrine and obscure it by demanding the Perserverance of all true believers, but at least in principle they accept the truth of it.
What is also of great merit in Calvinism is its commitment to the great truth of Justification. Calvinists may compromise this doctrine practically, nevertheless they believe that Justification is a once and for all operation of eternal consequence. We agree with the Calvinist that the justification of the sinner on the merits of Christ's death and resurrection can never be disqualified.
It is very difficult to see how the Arminian, in her denial of Once, Saved, Always Saved can have any meaningful doctrine of justification. On the Arminian system, justification becomes a sort of contract between God and the sinner that can be revoked at any time. This is a rather miserable kind of salvation that is utterly unworthy of the great presentation of justification in the epistles of Paul.
The Arminian essentially denies the salvation that Christ offers. She does not believe in the gift of eternal life.
John 3 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John 20 30 ¶ And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31 but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Eternal life is a present posession that is received by faith. If I posess eternal life, then I will live forever. If there is a possibility that I will cease to live, then I do not have eternal life.
John 11 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Arminians teach that they must continue to believe and perservere in the faith to receive eternal life. However, this is simply contradicted by Jesus:
John 6 35 ¶ And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
If a person has once received this salvation, she shall never hunger or thirst. If there is the possibility of losing one's salvation, there is the possibility of being hungry or thirsty again.
Likewise our Lord said to the Samaritan woman:
John 4 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Whosoever receives this water never thirsts again. One taste is enougth to give a person eternal life.
The Arminian does not believe this. She believes that she may receive eternal life in the future. She does not have eternal life, but if she continues in faith she will be saved. But this is not the salvation that Christ offers. Christ offers actual posession of eternal life. If you believe in Him for a potential salvation, you will not get a potential salvation because He never offered such a thing.
The Arminian is among the fearful and the unbelieving (Rev 21:8). The Arminian does not believe that Christ's work is sufficent to save her. She believes that she must add her own works and her own efforts to what Christ has done.
The Arminian may protest that she believes that she is saved by grace through faith and not by works. She may argue that faith simply needs to continue. However, you ask her if she will still be saved if she commits an immoral act like adultery. The answer will be no. Ask her how she interprets James 2:17-26. She will tell you that faith must be accompanied by works.
It is instructive to understand the Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrine of salvation. Many Christians do not realise that the J.W.s teach that salvation is a gift received by faith (Reasoning from the Scriptures, p.132). They qualify this, however, by arguing from James chapter 2:17-26 that if faith is genuine, it must produce works. This is exactly what the Calvinists teach. However, at least the Calvinists differ from the J.W.s in upholding Once Saved, Always Saved. The Arminian doctrine of salvation differs from that of the Jehovah's Witnesses very little.
It makes no difference that the Arminians believe in the Trinity. Believing in the Trinity cannot save anyone. One must receive the gift of eternal life by faith (John 11:25-26). One must trust in Christ for eternal life and look to no other, including one's own perserverance.
This is not to say that all Arminians are unbelievers. There may be many Arminians who believed at their conversion that they were secure in Christ. Many people when they first come to believe in Christ are certain that they are going to heaven. Then the Arminian comes with her proof texts and casts a shadow of gloom on the new believer.
Let us be clear that Arminianism is a false gospel that has no more power to save than the sacramentalism of Popery or the legalism of the cults.