The class action law suit brought against SGM has been revised. And with new allegations added, the narrative can now describe SGM as a house of horrors. I will leave the gory details to the Calvinism would be a good thing if not for the Neo-Calvinists crowd and their Reformed versions of the National Enquirer.
In a recent interview, John Piper discussed a few [!] faults that Calvin had; namely, his idea of integrating church and state. Piper then proceeded to propagate the outrageous idea that Reformed Baptists were responsible for reversing that concept. Funny, no matter how many times you read James Madison’s Memorial Remonstrance Against Ecclesiastical Establishments the Reformed Baptists don’t seem to be mentioned. Last year, Piper announced his post-retirement plans to spread “the light” of Calvinism—on location in Geneva as a way of presenting Calvin’s Geneva as a model for the renovation of humanity. If you believe Piper thinks the marriage of Church and state is a bad idea, I have an oceanfront property in Dayton, Ohio I would like to sell you.
CJ Mahaney and company may not think too much of what their pedophile friends have done, but to them, a bigger issue is at hand here: the preservation of their theocratic subculture. Mahaney et al don’t think that they should be subject to civil law. The way they state it: “The church should be free to shepherd their people as they see fit.” And the way they prefer to handle these situations should be evident by now and is directly linked to their Reformed ideology.
I have written on that extensively, and frankly, I am too lazy this morning to rehearse it all. It’s just exhausting: this behavior, though shocking, should not be surprising when their gospel is understood. Calvin and Luther considered the whole concept of Justice to be a joke and part of the “glory story” and not the “cross story.” These are people who function from a total different reality than normative metaphysics. If you believe that you are capable of interpreting your own reality you are living the glory story; if you trust them to interpret your reality for you according to the cross story, you are living in the gospel meta-narrative.
But back to my original point. New Calvinists have simply improvised and built a theocratic subculture. Again, I have written extensively on this and am weary of it. New Calvinist churches are ruled by elder law and have various ways of enforcing that law apart from the state. They would prefer the state, but the likes of James Madison, whom they despise, messed that plan up big-time on this corner of the globe.
Yawn, ugh, let me repeat a few improvisions: in-house security forces; control structure; covenants; church discipline; brainwashing; networking with likeminded government officials willing to operate off the record; etc.
Hence, the New Calvinists see this as an opportunity. If they win this case based on separation of church and state, the implications are staggering. Don’t miss this: that is why the rest of the New Calvinist community is watching this in silent, anxious anticipation. If you think they see this as a bad thing, if you think this puts New Calvinism on the ropes—you are dead wrong—they see this as a grand opportunity to set precedent and further strengthen their theocratic subculture.
2013 TANC Conference Update: Conference Will Explore New Calvinism’s Relationship to Biblical Counseling
Perhaps the only book in existence that challenges the Protestant Reformation gospel in regard to doctrinal soundness. This book presents its case that the Reformation gospel is progressive justification, and that its major tenets such as total depravity extend to sanctification as well as justification. The total depravity of the saints? The book also explores the Reformation’s impact in regard to understanding the new birth.
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New Calvinism will die again. For the fifth time in church history. There has been five resurgences and four deaths. That is why the primary agenda of TANC is to educate the church concerning every nuance. Lack of information is what enables this evil beast to come back into the church from time to time. The goal is to educate as many Christians as possible who will hopefully see this coming the next time. The following is an excerpt from the upcoming 2013 TANC Conference. In this first session, the five reasons New Calvinism will die are stated.
Perpetual Death and Resurgence of the Authentic Reformation Gospel
As we have noted, as the Reformation moved forward in history, many did not realize that it spoke from its own reality. As Christians read their Bibles from the normative reality, the true gist of the Reformation gospel is lost over time. The Reformers were mostly responsible for the printing of English Bibles, but how they wanted the Bible to be read was mostly misunderstood despite their massive commentaries.
The natural tendency is to read literally and take the meaning of verbs, nouns, and prepositions at face value. This will draw one away from the Reformed gospel in general, but will retain the Reformation’s lack of emphasis on aggressive sanctification. Let me give you an example of this. In the book, “How People Change” by New Calvinist Paul David Tripp, he discusses the issue of Christians endeavoring to change their thinking to biblical thinking. This is a pretty passive consideration as far as human activity goes. In fact, changing the way we think is probably the most passive human activity we can think of. Yet, note what Tripp states on page 27 of said book:
….and the Bible does call us to change the way we think about things. But this approach again omits the person and work of Christ as Savior.
~ Paul David Tripp: How People Change Punch Press 2006, p. 27
This statement encapsulates the totality of Reformed metaphysics perfectly. First, we see the clear indication of what we will dissect in my second session; the Reformed gospel of progressive justification. Christians NEED the ongoing work of Christ AS SAVIOR in our lives. To not do Christianity in a certain way OMITS that saving work in sanctification. This statement by Tripp is a damning indictment of Calvinism.
Secondly, we see that although the Bible calls us to change the way we think, to read that in a normative reality is to misinterpret the “true” meaning, and unless those passages are understood via Reformed epistemology, the ongoing salvific work of Christ in our Christian lives will be circumvented. Elsewhere in the same book, Tripp states that biblical commands must be seen in their “Christ-centered gospel context” (Ibid p. 26). Throughout this same book, and like all Calvinists, Tripp speaks of “heart change,” but as we shall see in my second session, this is a term that DOES NOT mean that we change. The title of the book is a Calvinist lie. It is condoned by Gnostic arrogance that doesn’t think the common Christian is “ready” for the hard truth of the authentic Reformed gospel. John Piper made this specific notation in an interview:
I think Rome and Protestantism [the Protestantism that fell away from Reformed metaphysics] are not yet ready. I don’t think the Reformation is over (Online source: http://youtu.be/lQvtAd7WEOY).
The second reason that the authentic Reformed gospel dies a social death from time to time is because it is simply boring. It is driven by a narrow concept; everything is about the gospel. This was the major complaint that Dr. Jay E. Adams received while he was writing Biblical Sonship: An Evaluation of the Sonship Discipleship Course (Timeless Texts 1999). Concerned Christians told Adams that they were hearing the same things from the pulpit every week and the doctrine seemed “vague.” Susan and I have visited churches recently that were very exuberant about New Calvinism a couple of years ago, but follow-up visits reveal a marked decrease in enthusiasm. To be more specific, in protest regarding the possibility that we would ever return to one of the churches, our teenage son remarked, “That place isn’t very interesting.” Susan and I were also overwhelmed with the sense of deadness that was present.
A third reason is the fact that this doctrine does not produce spiritual growth which results in a plethora of negative issues that arise from spiritual immaturity.
A fourth reason is the spiritual tyranny that is ALWAYS part and parcel with this doctrine. Remember, it is basically a spiritual cast system that puts a high premium on control.
A fifth reason is the fact that God’s people eventually figure out that it is a false doctrine.
These are the five reasons why these resurgences die out. The hybrids that emerge are still predicated on weak sanctification which lays the ground work for the next resurgence. The following illustration shows how authentic Calvinism has oscillated between tyranny and weak sanctification throughout church history.
How do Calvinists reject the Trinity? Basically, they make God the Father and the Holy Spirit lesser forms of Jesus Christ. Their rejection of the Trinity is based on Plato’s theory of forms. This shouldn’t be any big surprise as one of the forefathers of the Reformation, St. Augustine, was a Plato groupie. My wife Susan will address the Plato/Augustine love affair in significant detail at this year’s TANC conference.
Plato’s basic idea of forms led to the Reformed Emphasis Hermeneutic, also known as the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic. Plato’s trinity was the good, the true, and the beautiful, and all other forms, or solid matter if you will, are lesser forms of the true form. In one sense, Calvin believed that Jesus Christ brought the two together, but that is a philosophical angle we will not pursue here because other manifestations of this heresy are more plainly and easily seen. Calvinists merely make Jesus Christ the full expression of the good, true, and beautiful while representing the other members of the Trinity as lesser forms.
Hence, Jesus Christ, and His works become the stargate to all understanding of reality. The “gospel” is a term that encompasses the personhood of Christ and His works—this is the gateway to understanding ALL reality. The saving act (singular) of Jesus Christ is not something done in history as part of the Trinity’s plan to reconcile them to mankind, but is the key to understanding all reality. Therefore, many Calvinists refer to the “saving acts” (plural) of Christ and His personhood as keys to understanding. The Bible is therefore 100% about the gospel i.e., the personhood and works of Christ. More on this further along.
This is abundantly evident via the everything Jesus mentality of today’s churchianity. The books, the sermons, and the music are everything Jesus. This is why; it is a Protestant family tradition set on fire by the Neo-Calvinist movement. And it all begins in a galaxy far, far away known as Western philosophy. Calvin notes the following in his Institutes of the Christian Religion:
For this reason Augustine [who he quotes on average every 2.5 pages in the Institutes], treating of the object of faith (De civitate Dei lib. 11 c. 2), elegantly says, “The thing to be known is, whither we are to go, and by what way”; and immediately after infers, that “the surest way to avoid all errors is to know him who is both God and man, It is God we tend, and it is by man we go, and both of these are found only in Christ.
Therefore, supposedly, the “only” sure way to avoid error is to focus on Jesus Christ only, the idea that spiritual reality and physical reality are only seen in Christ notwithstanding. A clearer way to see how this all fleshes out is in the first tenet of New Covenant Theology which is a spinoff of Neo-Calvinism:
New Covenant Theology insists on the priority of Jesus Christ over all things, including history, revelation, and redemption. New Covenant Theology presumes a Christocentricity to the understanding and meaning of all reality.
Considered to be the foremost authority on Reformed hermeneutics in our day, Graeme Goldsworthy stated the following on page 48 of Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics (InterVarsity Press 2006):
If the story is true, Jesus Christ is the interpretative key to every fact in the universe and, of course, the Bible is one such fact. He is thus the hermeneutic principle that applies first to the Bible as the ground for understanding, and also to the whole of reality.
Calvinism concurs. ALL reality is Chrsitocentricity. The gospel is a stargate to the pure form of the good. Geoffrey Paxton, an Anglican theologian and authority on the Reformation, stated the following on page 41 of The Shaking of Adventism (Baker Book House 1978):
Christ alone means literally Christ alone, and not the believer. And for that matter, it does not even mean any other member of the Trinity!
This statement is both shocking and representative of Reformed trinitarian thinking. Paxton is absolutely right, Solus Christus means just that. Another way of understanding this is via the solar eclipse. This is the most popular example of how Christ must be the gateway to pure understanding. Christ is the Sun, the life-giving rays of light. To let anything obscure that light, no matter what it is—is to deprive ourselves of wisdom and life to that degree. When we let objects, even objects that are factual and true obscure Christ, we are “living in the shadows.” This is the theses of longtime John MacArthur confidant Rick Holland’s book, Uneclipsing The Son. The book is a Platonist/Gnostic treatise that is not even ambiguous. On page 11, Holland writes that the book of James presents Christ as the “rule and standard of all spiritual instruction.” On the same page, Holland asserts that Christ is the “one true God” and then cites five Scripture references that say no such thing.
John MacArthur wrote the Forward to Holland’s book being presently considered, and made these statements:
Rick Holland understands that truth. This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts.
The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock.
No greater subject exists than Jesus Christ–no greater gift can be given than uplifting His glory for another soul to see it and be changed by it. This book will be a wonderful help to anyone who senses the need to orient one’s life and message properly with a Christ centered focus. It is full of fresh, practical, and memorable spiritual insight that will show you how to remove whatever obstacle is blocking your vision of the Son and allow His light to blind you with joy.
Christ, while praying to the Father, referred to the Bible as “your word” and “your word is truth” (John 17:17). We pray to God the Father, not Christ, and we baptize in the name of all three Trinity members. The Bible is not Chrsitocentric. The Bible has many major themes. The father of our faith looked for “a city built by God.” This contradicts the plain sense of Scripture, which brings me to my next point.
The Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic calls for a contemplation on Christ and His works only, or the gospel, and a logical conclusion drawn from the formation of verbs, nouns, adjectives, prepositions, etc., must be disregarded for a Chrsitocentric conclusion or a “truth” that “shows forth the gospel.” In the aforementioned book, on page 39, Holland has the audacity to make the following statement under the heading “When Bad Grammar Makes Good Theology”: “The rules of grammar are intended to be guardrails for communication. But sometimes they prevent it.” Insinuated is the idea that Christ’s greatness transcends mere grammatical rules, and therefore, one must break those rules to communicate how consumed our life must be with Christ.
A good example of this is a statement by Paul David Tripp on page 27 of How People Change (Punch Press 2006). Tripp acknowledges that the Bible in-fact does state that we should apply biblical commands to our life, but to take that literally, and not in its “Christ-centered gospel context” (p. 26) is to “omit” Christ in our life as “Savior.” Therefore, a literal approach to the Bible harkens to works salvation. The results of this can be seen in this approach to preparing Bible lessons:
At this time, resist the temptation to utilize subsequent passages to validate the meaning or to move out from the immediate context. Remembering that all exegesis must finally be a Christocentric exegesis.
Look for Christ even if He isn’t there directly. It is better to see Christ in a text even if He isn’t, than to miss Him where He is (Biblical Theological Study Center: A Christo-Presuppositional Approach to the Entire Scriptures; Max Strange. Online source: http://goo.gl/5sGjP).
Another authority on the Reformation, Robert Brinsmead, states this perspective concisely:
That which makes the Bible the Bible is the gospel. That which makes the Bible the Word of God is its witness to Christ. When the Spirit bears witness to our hearts of the truth of the Bible, this is an internal witness concerning the truth of the gospel. We need to be apprehended by the Spirit, who lives in the gospel, and then judge all things by that Spirit even the letter of Scripture (Brinsmead, Robert D. ”A Freedom from Biblicism” in The Christian Verdict, Essay 14, 1984. Fallbrook: Verdict Publications. Pgs. 9-14).
In other words, the meaning of Scripture according to the letter [i.e., logical interpretations from the grammatical construction] must be judged by “that Spirit” which “lives in the gospel.” All bets are off concerning any interpretation that seems to be the plain sense of the text.
Moreover, New Calvinists take this concept dangerously close to disparaging God the Father. In the book here cited by Holland, he suggests that Christ saved the world from God. In fact, the heading on page 23 reads, “Saved—From God.” So, apparently, hell is a God the Father sort of thing. On page 43 and following, Holland presents God as “our most pressing problem.” And, “man’s greatest problem is God, God Himself.” And of course, it’s Christ to the rescue, right?
Though few would reject the idea that Christ saved us from God’s wrath, it’s hardly the whole story and promotes the subtle New Calvinist goal of making Christ more significant than God the Father. Holland gives no Scripture references for this concept of Christ saving us from God because there isn’t any. God was just as involved in the salvation solution as Christ was, and Christ is also a God of wrath just as much as the Father is (Rev. 6:16,17 and 19:11-16). This whole concept is a subtle, but dangerous distortion. At the very least, making a strict dichotomy that associates wrath with God and salvation with Christ is ill advised and smacks of Marcionism.
Holland is hardly alone in this approach among New Calvinists. Paul Washer suggested to an audience of European college students that the goodness of God is man’s biggest problem (Online source: http://wp.me/pmd7S-1A3). At any rate, a standalone dichotomy of wrath versus love associated with Christ and the Father that is unqualified, is a concept that should make Christians very uncomfortable.
Calvinism promotes a Platonist-like distortion of the Trinity. It shouldn’t surprise us as the Plato/Reformed love affair is well documented. New Calvinists in our day even sport ministry subtitles with Platonist themes: “Between Two Worlds,” “Between Two Spheres,” and in regard to Plato believing that pure truth is static, “Truth Unchanging.”
Like all cultic false religions throughout history, they distort and therefore reject the Trinity.
Calvin presented the priority of Christ over the other two Trinity members in the following way as explained by Mark Driscoll associate Justin Holcomb:
According to Calvin, the object of faith’s knowledge is Jesus Christ. He defines faith by proceeding to the center of a series of concentric circles: God’s existence, God’s power, God’s truthfulness, God’s will “toward us” as revealed in Scripture, and finally Christ. All these circles are implied in faith, but only the last is properly understood as the object of faith. Calvin goes so far as to say that those who say that God is the proper object of faith “rather mislead miserable souls by vain speculation, than direct them to the proper mark” (Institutes III.2.i). Christ as mediator is necessary if humans are to know God. Christ is not set over against God. Rather, Calvin asserts, Christ is the means—the only means—by which we can believe in God (Online source: http://theresurgence.com/2009/07/10/calvin-on-faith-christ-and-his-gospel).
One might consider the ruckus that was created over my suggestion that salvation involves all members of the Trinity and not Christ alone. I think this is telling. The following is a reprint of the controversy on Pastor Joel Taylor’s blog that resulted from some comments I had made on that subject:
5 pt salt .com
JUSTIFICATION IS NOT OF CHRIST ALONE
POSTED BY JOEL TAYLOR ON DECEMBER 15, 2011 IN GENERAL | 24 COMMENTS
I’m not even sure I like the title of this post. Not because it’s not true, but because it’s confusing.
Let me explain.
A few days ago I posted this piece promoting the book by Paul Dohse entitled The Truth About New Calvinism: It’s History, Doctrine, and Character. It’s worth reading. In fact, I think his book is an important one, and yes, I highly recommend you get it.
But, of course, not everyone feels that way.
Yesterday, after reading that post of mine, one 5ptsalt reader left this comment to me regarding Dohse and his book:
I’m pretty shocked you are promoting this book. Taking a peak inside reveals some pretty far out stuff. Just one example:
“First, justification is not by Christ ALONE. If God didn’t elect Christ, elect the elect, and draw them to Christ, along with sacrificing His only Son, what Christ did would have been for naught. So, justification is not by Christ alone.”
Buyer beware. This is dangerous stuff.
Well brethren, don’t be shocked that I promote this book. Be glad. And for you buyers, no need to beware.
Dohse is Right
Fact is, Paul Dohse is spot on, and even though he doesn’t need me to defend his statements, this reader’s comment gives us the opportunity to look at Scripture and, hopefully, instruct all of us. As Martha Stuart is apt to say, “That’s a good thing.”
See, it’s always important to look at statements in their proper context, a practice often overlooked and disregarded in the heat of defending what one is doctrinally comfortable with. But we need more importantly to examine all things in light of Scripture, it being – yes, I’m saying it again – the final authority in all things.
This comment by Dohse can be found from this post [link] of his which itself is a response to a series of questions by one of his readers. Here’s the question of the reader, followed by Dohse’s response:
Q: You have raised many issues in the last post that would take a book to answer. If I may, I would like to ask a few questions that might help us to clarify the issues on which we disagree. First, I want to state a couple of points on which I think we agree. Incidentally, I am convinced Piper and others would also agree.
2. Justification is based on the work of Christ alone and our works do not contribute to it at all.
Dohse responds to the second point:
2. First, justification is not by Christ ALONE. If God didn’t elect Christ, elect the elect, and draw them to Christ, along with sacrificing His only Son, what Christ did would have been for naught. So, justification is not by Christ alone.
Now, as I said earlier, Dohse is right. In fact, spot on. Here’s why: In a nutshell, it took all three persons of the Trinity to accomplish our justification. Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. If one dogmatically asserts that the Son alone is responsible for our salvation, including our justification, such a statement is clearly, from the Biblical testimony, an error.
Yes, the basis of our justification is the finished work of Christ alone, apart from our own works. That is true. Yet Dohse is merely pointing out the fact that unless the Father had predestined some to salvation, there would be none. The Father sent the Son to redeem us. The Holy Spirit works in us to make us holy. So Dohse is pointing out the involvement of the Trinity in our complete salvation. Although the basis for justification is Christ alone, there would be no justification without the involvement of all three persons of the Trinity in our redemption.
First, let’s give a simple definition of what justification is. Be sure and learn this, I implore you. When this is learned, hopefully, much confusion will be dismissed altogether.
Justification is a declaration from the throne of God the Father concerning our legal status before His law. It is a single act, occurs one time, is never again repeated and is definitely not a process.
God the Father is the Author and Origin of Our Justification:
since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. – Romans 3:30
But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, – Romans 4:5
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. – Romans 8:30
By the way, who predestination the elect unto salvation? Jesus Christ the Son? No! God the Father predestination us, according to Scripture. You see, it is God the Father who makes the declaration of justification, so to think justification is of Christ alone, well, that is simply not a biblical position.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him – Ephesians 1:3-4
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; – Romans 8:33
When anyone objects to statements like “Justification is not by Christ alone”, I would suggest one needs to pull back, calm down, and search the Scriptures and strive towards of a biblical understanding of precisely what justification is, a declaration from God the Father.
Brethren, I hear far, far, far too much praying for the Holy Spirit to “come down” and manifest Himself. I strongly object to such, and I would encourage pastors, and elders who are allowing such to continue to rethink what they are encouraging.
Listen. The Holy Spirit, third person of the Trinity, points us to Christ, not to Himself, and does not anywhere in Scripture ask us to ask more of Him! (John 16:13, 14).
Listen again, please. Christ Jesus points us to the Father! He is the way to the Father, not just to Himself! John 14:6.
Look at Ephesians 2:18, 19 brethren, and for all you New Calvinists, contemplate this:
for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household
Now, why do so many focus only on the Son? For you to be redeemed, it took the entire Trinity, the triune Godhead, in perfect agreement together regarding a predestined, glorious plan of redemption of those given by the Father to the Son by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Sonship theology, indeed. Paul Dohse is right, because Paul Dohse is listening to God’s written Word, not the latest guru of truth.
Brethren, in love, I ask you not to ignore two members of the Trinity. Christianity is not wearing a Calvinistic t-shirt, boasting of your reformed views, and getting people to contemplate on the Gospel more.
That is utterly absurd. It is ignoring the whole counsel of God. This business of “Gospel sanctification” and Sonship theology is a dangerous – and exceedingly popular movement. And it is a movement that endangers souls.
So get that book, read it, be alert, and learn and be aware of anything and anyone who, in your heart, trumps the Word of God. May we all strive to better acknowledge the final authority of God’s Word, and rest our beliefs on its veracity alone.
DECEMBER 15, 2011
Did you believe this before Dohse made his statements or did he lead you to this understanding?
DECEMBER 15, 2011
What then are we to think about the following scripture, relating to the reasoning in this post? In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word
was God. John 1:1
JOEL TAYLOR, PASTOR-TEACHER POST AUTHOR
DECEMBER 15, 2011
You should think that Jesus was in the beginning, eternal, and was with God, with God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and was/is God Himself, and created all things, and all things are upheld by Him, for Him and through Him.
DECEMBER 15, 2011
I like John 3:16
DECEMBER 15, 2011
I believe that if we are to truly accept the doctrines of grace as being true, we cannot do so sincerely, and yet fail to understand the crucial role that all three Persons of the Godhead play in our salvation.
In covenant theology, there is a sense whereby that which we know as the covenant of grace, flows directly out of an agreement within the Godhead made before creation, known as the counsel of peace, and sometimes as the covenant of redemption.
It was in this coming together of the Godhead to form a plan of creation, redemption and salvation, that each Person of the Godhead took upon their role. (I realise this is a pretty poor description on my part, so please excuse me). Each Person of the Godhead being indispensible to the other, and the faithful work of each Person, utterly vital for the plan of salvation to succeed.
Although I can sort of understand peoples reaction to this post generally, I have to agree that I think it more emotional than intellectual. It is undoubtedly true to say that there is absolutely no sacrifice for sin that is acceptable to God, other than Christ. However it would also be true that without the sovereign election of the Father, giving a people to His Son to redeem through His own blood, His sacrifice would be for nought. And were it not for the Holy Spirit, sealing those who have been chosen and redeemed, acting as the deposit that guaranteed their inheritance in Christ, then none would be brought to glory anyway.
DECEMBER 15, 2011
However it would also be true that without the sovereign election of the Father, giving a people to His Son to redeem through His own blood, His sacrifice would be for nought.
Why would His sacrifice be for nought? The Father knows that some will and some will not believe.
DECEMBER 16, 2011
Why would His sacrifice be for nought? The Father knows that some will and some will not believe.
If you read through John 6:37-44 you will see what I meant more clearly. Christ did not come to the earth to do His own will, but the will of the One who sent Him. Namely the Father.
It is the Father who elects those who are to be saved and gives them to His Son to raise up on the Last Day, and we are told that ALL those who are given by the Father shall come to the Son.
The willingness of Christ to lay down His life to save us as the redeeming price, can only redeem those the Father has given Him to redeem. Therefore without being given a people by His Father, His sacrifice would purchase nothing.
DECEMBER 15, 2011
I’m a little confused. I want to ask a clarifying question, just to make sure I have read your article correctly. Aren’t you denying a central tenet of the Reformation? I mean, yes, salvation involves all persons of the Godhead but how was that salvation accomplished? Through Christ right?
JOEL TAYLOR, PASTOR-TEACHER POST AUTHOR
DECEMBER 15, 2011
What ‘central tenet’ of the reformation would I be denying? The Father is the one who justifies, according to Scripture.
Pingback: God Making His Appeal Through Us. « Kevin Nunez
DECEMBER 15, 2011
JOEL TAYLOR, PASTOR-TEACHER POST AUTHOR
DECEMBER 15, 2011
Tim, the Father elected those who would be saved, and gave them to the Son to be redeemed, which He did at the cross. That is the testimony of Holy Scripture. We must be careful not to make being ‘reformed’ more important than being biblical. Solus Christus is not about the doctrine of justification brother.
DECEMBER 15, 2011
Thanks. That is why I was making sure I understood what you were saying. Appreciate your answer bro.
DECEMBER 16, 2011
It seems to me that this is the result of a sloppy question/statement followed by a precise answer. I’m not saying that to lay blame on anyone, but merely to say that where matters of doctrine are concerned, precision in our language is essential. All the JW’s do is add one little letter “a” to John 1:1 and it turns the whole Gospel on its head!
The statement made was: “2. Justification is based on the work of Christ alone and our works do not contribute to it at all.” To which the response made was bang on. The intent of the statement maybe obvious enough to some, but it is far from being accurate, and may well lead to wrong doctrine developing if left unchallenged.
DECEMBER 16, 2011
It doesn’t seem to me the statement should be shocking at all (Jam 2:24). I think reformers have placed too much emphasis on “alone” and is so often misleading. Not that it is incorrect but can potentially detract from man’s response and action.
DECEMBER 16, 2011
The real issue is not whether all three persons of the Trinity are involved in the work of salvation, That should go without saying for anyone who has read the Scriptures. The question that I originally asked to Paul Douche concerned the basis of the sinner’s justification before God. Is it the work of Christ alone or is it the work of Christ’s work or Christ’s work plus our obedience. Whether you like it or not, the Father’s work in electing believers was not the basis of our justification; the Spirit’s work in regeneration was not the basis of our justification. Were those works necessary in order to justify us? Of course they were! Were they the basis of our justification? No way! The basis of our justification was the obedience of Christ alone.
JOEL TAYLOR, PASTOR-TEACHER POST AUTHOR
DECEMBER 19, 2011
The basis of our justification is the finished work of Christ, absolutely. However, this post never mentions you, nor is it about you. it concerns a comment left on 5ptsalt in regards to PD.
DECEMBER 16, 2011
“Solus Christus is not about the doctrine of justification brother.”
If it is not about justification. what is it about?
JOEL TAYLOR, PASTOR-TEACHER POST AUTHOR
DECEMBER 17, 2011
Acts 4:12 – and there is salvation in no other One, for neither is there any other name under Heaven having been given among men by which we must be saved.
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
1Ti 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
DECEMBER 17, 2011
You stated that there is something inaccurate about the statement I made. I would be interested in knowing what part of that statement you find sloppy. Do you think it is inaccurate to say that God’s declaration is based on [not by] Christ’s finished work alone or do you think it is inaccurate to state that our works do not contribute to justification at all? If it is not based on Christ’s finished work, on what basis do you think an absolutely holy God could declare sinners righteous and remain righteous himself?
DECEMBER 17, 2011
Firstly I do fully believe that our justification is based upon the finished work of Christ on our behalf. I also believe that the very reason that God is willing to justify sinners, can only be because by faith we have accepted and put our trust in the only acceptable sacrifice that can be made for our sins, and that is the One who God sent as that sacrifice. Our own works have nothing to do with it, apart from maybe fighting against the process.
The thing I disagree with is your initial statement “Justification is based on the work of Christ alone”, which is not fully true. Our justification can only come through repentance and faith, both of which I would consider the works of Father and Holy Spirit, as opposed to Christ Himself.
I only object because unless we are elected by the Father, given the gift of faith and drawn by Him, and regenerated and convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit; then the completed works of Christ alone do not justify us at all. To believe otherwise leaves pitfalls such as universalism wide open for us to fall into.
God bless you, and please excuse me if I have come across harsh in any way. John.
DECEMBER 17, 2011
Thanks for your reply. I don’t think we disagree re: the statement I made. It seems our only areas of disagreement have to do with the difference between the basis of justification and how justification is received. Justification is clearly THROUGH faith which includes repentance, but we are never told that justification is BASED ON, that is on account of or because of the sinner’s faith.
It is important that we distinguish between redemption planned, redemption accomplished and redemption applied. Although the Father and the Spirit were both involved in the offering up of Christ’s obedience unto death, it was his obedience that formed the basis upon which the Father declares us righteous in his sight. It is his righteousness that is put to our account and forms the basis for the Father’s declaration that we are righteous before him. The Father’s primary work in the process of redemption occurred in the area of redemption purposed or planned. He is also involved in the application phase, i.e., effectual calling. The Spirit’s primary work occurs in the application phase. As essential as these works of the Father and the Spirit are, none of those activities on their part form the judicial basis upon which God justifies sinners.
DECEMBER 17, 2011
One additional thought. Part of Christ’s redemptive work is reconciliation that not only effects the putting away of the Father’s holy wrath toward the elect, but also guarantees the putting away of our unholy hostility toward God. It is this redemptive accomplishment that the Spirit applies to the elect in regeneration. If we are believers, we have now received the reconciliation (Rom. 5:11) that Jesus accomplished objectively on the cross. That is, Jesus’ accomplishment has now been applied.
Volume one of The Truth About New Calvinism sought to primarily do one thing: document the contemporary history of New Calvinism and address some of its doctrinal quirks. New Calvinists claim to have rediscovered the authentic Reformation gospel; I didn’t address that question in volume one because much additional research was required to answer that question. Volume two answers that question, and the answer is “yes.” New Calvinists have the authentic Reformed doctrine down pat, and if not for them, we probably would have never known what the Reformers really believed. I believe John MacArthur has adopted New Calvinism because he was rightfully convinced by John Piper and others that this is what the Reformers believed. In other words, MacArthur’s enamoration with the Reformation motif has led him astray.
What makes Calvinism, the articulation of Lutheranism, so deceptive is the emphasis on two metaphysical realities and the interpretation of all reality through that dualism: our sinfulness and God’s holiness. Much can be written and agreed upon in regard to these two points. So, Sunday after Sunday we hear sermons based on these two biblical concepts only, and probably without much complaint and in many cases much praise.
But this isn’t the full counsel of God, and the overemphasis on these two points and the exclusion of all else eventually leads to the unenviable results. The apostle Paul equated teaching the full of God from house to house night and day with not having the blood of men on his hands.
This brings us to the Emphasis hermeneutic. This is THE Reformation epistemology. This is their key to putting the Bible into use. Luther laid the framework in his Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustine Order and Calvin articulated it in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. In the first sentence of chapter one, Calvin introduces Luther’s dualism, and the rest of the Institutes flow from this concept. All of the Institutes build on the very first sentence that states wisdom is known by knowing us and knowing God more and more. For all practical purposes, the knowledge of good and evil. This is Luther’s Theology of the Cross in his disputation which was written six months after the 95 Theses. The latter was the moral protest; the former is the foundation of Reformation theology. Almost everything that the New Calvinists teach can be found in Luther’s Disputation including John Piper’s Christian Hedonism.
Luther believed that all reality was to be interpreted through the cross story. And by the way, as an aside, this is the first tenet of New Covenant Theology. Luther’s construct was strictly dualist: God’s story, or our story—the cross story or the glory story. A matter of emphasis. Certainly, Luther concurred that many things other than the cross story are TRUE, and to some extent VALUABLE for lesser concerns apart from the Christian faith, but in Luther’s view, any religious matter that distracted from the cross work of Christ diminished God’s glory and in most cases emphasized us instead; i.e., the glory story—our glory, not God’s.
The Emphasis hermeneutic is a Gnostic concept. This shouldn’t surprise us as Augustine’s penchant for Gnosticism is well known and Luther/Calvin were his mentorees. Calvin cites Augustine, on average, every 2.5 pages in the Institutes. Earthly things are a shadow of reality and the “true and the good.” Through education and knowledge one can obtain understanding of the true and the good. In Luther’s construct, Christ was the full representation of the true and the good. Christ is the true and the good; as New Calvinists state it, He is “THE gospel.” The gospel is the true and the good. He is the SUN (Son). The sun/shadows interpretive illustration is key to understanding this Gnostic/Platonist concept.
This interpretive method enables Calvinists to deem many things true, but to the extent that we allow these things to take away from a laser focus on the source of all wisdom and life, THE SUN, sanctification is diminished. Let me repeat that, because it is the crux:
This interpretive method enables Calvinists to deem many things true, but to the extent that we allow these things to take away from a laser focus on the source of all wisdom and life, THE SUN, sanctification is diminished
The diminishing of sanctification: to the extent that we focus on anything else but Christ and the reason for the cross—our wickedness. The focus must be Christ’s crosswork. EVERYTHING points to Christ and interprets Christ. Anything that is true but doesn’t lead to more understanding of Christ casts a SHADOW on reality and wisdom. It is focusing on the shadow caused by whatever is blocking the Sun/Son. Anything that is not seen in a Chrsitocentric reality “ECLIPSES THE SON/SUN.”
Hence, seeing biblical commands in the Scripture as something we should see and do is the what? The glory story. It’s about “what we do, not what Christ has done” a favorite New Calvinist truism. Therefore, biblical imperatives are to be seen in their “gospel context” as a standard that Christ kept for us and imputed to our sanctification. The cross story is then lifted up because it shows Christ’s holiness as set against our inability to uphold the law in sanctification.
To do otherwise is to “eclipse the Son.” Once you know how to look for this, you can see it everywhere in the American church. John MacArthur wrote the Forward to the Rick Holland book, “Uneclipsing the Son” in which this Gnostic paradigm is the very theses. In the Forward, MacArthur states in no uncertain terms that to emphasize “ANYTHING” or “ANYONE” other than Christ is to diminish sanctification. “Pastor” Steve Lawson, in an address at the 2012 Resolved Conference implored young pastors to “come out from the shadows.” Pseudo biblical counselor Michael Emlet framed it as “CrossTalk” in his book that bears that same title. It is a cute play on words that frames any talk other than Christ’s crosswork as crosstalk, a technical communications term that refers to interference from multiple telephone lines transmitting over each other resulting in many jumbled conversations being heard. In this case, shadows and confusion are the same.
Also, another way that this is framed is in regard to our fruits, or good works. By emphasizing anything we do, we are “making a good thing the best thing” or “making the fruit the root.” In other words, to emphasize fruit obscures the root that gives the tree life: Christ. We should focus on Christ only which results in “transformation.” But “transformation” isn’t personal transformation. If we are transformed, that is the what? Right, the glory story. Here, the Calvinistic lingo is very subtle; instead of us changing via the new creaturehood of the new birth, we are transformed “into the image of Christ.” We don’t change, we experience MANIFESTATIONS.
In the recent 2013 Shepherds’ Conference MacArthur used John 3:3 to make a case that our good works are like “the wind blowing.” We feel its effects, we see its effects, but of course, we have no control over the wind. Like Luther, and according to authentic Reformed doctrine, MacArthur believes that these experiences of the wind are rebirths experienced by joy. That’s the Reformed definition of the new birth: a joyful experience of the wind accompanied by joy. This is why MacArthur made the absurd statement in the book “Slave” that obedience is never bittersweet, but always sweet. Right, apparently, Abraham was singing praises while on the way to drive a knife through his son.
This doctrine utterly dismisses any and all work, even by Christ, occurring inside the believer. “Faith” is in us, but according to Reformation doctrine, is not a work. Therefore, anything spoken of as being IN US, is actually, BY FAITH. Which is not a work. FAITH is therefore the conduit that makes ALL works taking place outside of us possible. This is why the doctrine is referred to as “The Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us.” Anything inside of us is subjective, or shadowy, because it involves the glory story.
Moreover, the work that we see outside of us is also subjective because it deals with wind-like occurrences. And because we are a “reflector” of the image, it will be difficult to know whether the occurrence are through our “own efforts” or the wind. This is why Luther stated in his Disputation that Christians should not be concerned with works or their manifestations. Even when it is the wind and not us, we “see through a glass dimly” and the wind is using a “dull instrument.” New Calvinists call this, “the subjective power of an objective gospel.” We focus on the objective through gospel contemplationism, and leave the manifestations to Christ. This is why John MacArthur has stated that it is his job to explain the biblical text, and then leave the results to the Spirit.
But even in regard to the Holy Spirit and God the Father, they are seen as members of the Trinity that better define Christ. To do otherwise would be to “eclipse the Son.” Remember, MacArthur said, “anything” or “ANYBODY.” It means just that, and is indicative of a large body of Reformed thought.
This undermines and denies the full counsel of God, the new birth, and the Trinity.
Forward to Uneclipsing the Son by John MacArthur:
As Christians we have one message to declare: “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:14).
Rick Holland understands that truth. This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts.
Christ is the perfect image of God (Hebrews 1); the theme of Scripture (Luke 24); the author of salvation (Hebrews 12:2); the one proper object of saving faith (Romans 10:9-10); and the goal of our sanctification (Romans 8:2). No wonder Scripture describes the amazing growth-strategy of the early church in these terms: “They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). That is the only blueprint for church ministry that has any sanction from Scripture.
The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock. Second Corinthians 3:18 describes in simple terms how God conforms us to the image of His Son: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (emphasis added). We don’t “see” Christ literally and physically, of course (1 Peter 1:8). But His glory is on full display in the Word of God, and it is every minister’s duty to make that glory known above all other subjects.
As believers gaze at the glory of their Lord—looking clearly, enduringly, and deeply into the majesty of His person and work—true sanctification takes place as the Holy Spirit takes that believer whose heart is fixed on Christ and elevates him from one level of glory to the next. This is the ever-increasing reality of progressive sanctification; it happens not because believers wish it or want it or work for it in their own energy, but because the glory of Christ captures their hearts and minds. We are transformed by that glory and we begin to reflect it more and more brightly the more clearly we see it. That’s why the true heart and soul of every pastor’s duty is pointing the flock to Christ, the Great Shepherd.
After more than four decades of pastoral ministry, I am still constantly amazed at the power of Christ-centered preaching. It’s the reason I love preaching in the gospels. But I discovered long ago that the glory of Christ dominates Romans, Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews, Revelation—and the rest of Scripture as well. Focusing on that theme has led my own soul and our congregation to a fuller, richer knowledge of Christ—loving Him, worshipping Him, serving Him and yearning for the day when we shall be like Him, having seen Him in His glory (1 John 3:2).
Our prayer is that of Paul: “that I may know Him!” (Philippians 3:10). The apostle knew Him well as Savior and Lord (having been privileged to be the last person ever to see the resurrected Christ face to face, according to 1 Corinthians 15:8)—but never could Paul plumb the rich, sweet depths of the glories of Christ, the inexhaustible, infinite Treasure. Far from allowing Christ to be eclipsed—even partially—by any other object or affection, every believer should pursue with relentless zeal the “full knowledge of the glory of God” provided by a fervent concentration “on the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
The Christian life is Christ—knowing Him in the height and breadth of His revelation, loving Him for the greatness of His grace, obeying Him for the blessing of His promises, worshipping Him for the majesty of His glory, and preaching Him for the honor of His Name: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
No greater subject exists than Jesus Christ—no greater gift can be given than uplifting His glory for another soul to see it and be changed by it. This book will be a wonderful help to anyone who senses the need to orient one’s life and message properly with a Christ-centered focus. It is full of fresh, practical, and memorable spiritual insight that will show you how to remove whatever obstacle is blocking your vision of the Son
and allow His light to blind you with joy.
Pastor-Teacher, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California
John Piper: Don’t Waste Your Life (pp. 58-59).
The sunbeams of blessing in our lives are bright in and of themselves. They also give light to the ground where we walk. But there is a higher purpose for these blessings. God means for us to do more than stand outside them and admire them for what they are. Even more, he means for us to walk into them and see the sun from which they come. If the beams are beautiful, the sun is even more beautiful. God’s aim is not that we merely admire his gifts, but, even more, his glory.
Now the point is that the glory of Christ, manifest especially in his death and resurrection, is the glory above and behind every blessing we enjoy. He purchased everything that is good for us. His glory is where the quest of our affections must end. Everything else is a pointer – a parable of this beauty. When our hearts run back up along the beam of blessing to the source in the blazing glory of the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.
This is no different than the goal of magnifying the glory of God that we saw in Chapter 2. Christ is the glory of God. His blood-soaked cross is the blazing center of that glory. By it he bought for us every blessing – temporal an eternal. And we don’t deserve any. He bought them all. Because of Christ’s cross, the wrath of God is taken away. Because of his cross all guilt is removed, and sins are forgiven, and perfect righteousness is imputed to us, and the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are being conformed to the image of Christ.
Therefore every enjoyment in this life and the next that is not idolatry is a tribute to the infinite value of the cross of Christ – the burning center of the glory of God. And thus a cross-centered, cross-exalting, cross-saturated life is a God-glorifying life – the only God-glorifying life. All others are wasted.
John Piper once stated in an interview that Protestants are not ready for the hard truth of the Reformed authentic gospel. And what is that truth? It is the “truth” that salvation doesn’t change us. They say, “We are transformed into Christ’s image, and “We are sanctified” etc., but they believe no such thing and for our sake lie about it because we are not “ready” for the “hard truth.” This is why the present-day Reformed counseling culture led by the likes of David Powlison is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on Christianity. Christians go to counseling because they think we can change with God’s help and for His glory, and the anticipation of happiness. Powlison has built an empire on allowing Christians to believe that initially like we allow our children to believe in Santa Clause. That way, he can draw them in and “help” them with his superior spiritual knowledge.
What is that knowledge? It is the “centrality of the objective gospel outside of us.” John Piper states it plainly: if any work of grace happens in us at all, it makes sanctification the ground of our justification. I document all of this in much detail in chapter four of The Truth About New Calvinism. Below is a picture that illustrates this. It was published by a Reformed think tank that Graeme Goldsworthy was involved in. Like the following pictures, you can click on it for a larger picture:
Let’s look at other Reformed illustrations that show clearly that they deliberately deceive by pretending they believe that Christians change. REMEMBER, these are their illustrations, NOT mine:
In the first chart, we only grow by the same two things that saved us: knowledge of our sin, and knowledge of God’s holiness. This is why we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” But, in this chart, what is growing? Us? No, the cross. We don’t grow, the cross grows. Besides, if we grow, that circumvents the “growth” process right? If we get better, the other half of Reformed epistemology does not keep going down but becomes more level—making the cross smaller. No?
Look at the other chart that is really the same concept turned up instead of sideways. In the heart shape it claims transformation, but again, a second thought tells us that this couldn’t be what they are really thinking. If we get better, it destroys the Reformed metaphysical centrality of the objective gospel outside of us which is predicated on a deeper and deeper knowledge of how evil we are.
Furthermore, a good demonstration of the deliberate deception afoot is Paul David Tripp’s book, “How People Change.” They don’t believe we change, that’s a lie. Calvin’s total depravity also applies to the saints in Reformed theology. I document this in False Reformation. An illustration from Tripp’s book is integrated into the other illustrations by me to demonstrate this:
So then, what do these guys really believe about change? Well, it starts with gospel contemplationism which leads to “manifestations” of “the true and the good.” See the man in the first picture? See how he is meditating on all of the stuff outside of him? Through contemplationism, it is kinda like standing in the rain. The world sees the gospel, which in this illustration is the rain as a gospel “manifestation,” and as Christians we experience and feel the rain, but it has nothing to do with us or anything going on inside of us. For all practical purposes (in his general session address at the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference), John MacArthur likened it to a manifestation of the wind. You feel it and see its effects, but it is a force that is completely outside of us. He attributed Nicodemus’ later obedience after conversion to a mere blowing of the wind and not anything that Nicodemus could be credited with. We are talking MANEFESTATIONS here and not anything we do. It is similar to the concept of birthing the spiritual realm into the material realm.
In other words, when it gets right down to it—it’s Eastern mysticism. It began with the ancient paganism that saturated early civilization and morphed into Hinduism. Then Plato integrated the philosophy of Socrates with Hinduism. From there, it became Gnosticism which has all of the caste elements of Hinduism, and not by accident. The Reformed connections to Eastern mysticism are really no big secret and well-known among church historians.
Cults all come from the cradle of society and its spiritual caste. That’s why cults are innumerable and predicated on CONTROL. A characteristic not absent from Calvinism by any stretch of the imagination. The Gnostic Nicolaitans wreaked havoc on the first century church and the word means “conquerors of the lay people.” The name Nicodemus comes from Nicolaitans, so before his conversion, Nicodemus was probably guilty of what MacArthur said he wasn’t guilty of,
being a Calvinist.
Those of you who have been a part of PPT since its beginning in 2009 are aware of who X-Ray the Idol Hunter is. She is kind of the Big Foot of New Calvinism. Her possible existence surfaced in 2010 during John Piper’s sabbatical. Piper said he was taking the sabbatical because he had observed several “species of pride” in his soul. According to other statements he made, he had consulted Tim Keller and Paul David Tripp on how to peel away several different levels of idolatry in order to find these “species.” Piper never identified the different species with biblical nomenclature.
Piper shared these things prior to beginning his sabbatical which had a predetermined length of eight months. The question soon became the following: how did Piper know that the eradication of these “species,” and all of the peeling away of many levels of idolatry in the soul, would take exactly eight months? If the species where wreaking enough havoc on his soul to cause him to step down for eight months, one must assume that eliminating these creatures would be efficacious.
Well, sure enough, Piper returned to the ministry eight months later. That’s when the rumors started. Obviously, Piper had an ace in the hole. It is doubtful that Sonship theology, the primary doctrine that promotes idol hunting in the heart would have been enough to guarantee such a victory. The doctrine was concocted by Dr. John “Jack” Miller in the 80’s and articulated by David Powlison and Paul David Tripp. David Powlison oversees a research and development team at Westminster Seminary that endeavors to come up with better and better ways to hunt down idols in the heart. Miller was able to identify twenty-five species of idols to get the ball rolling.
Powlison and Tripp devised what they call “X-Ray questions” that help people detect these idols which manifest themselves in our desires. All and all, Powlison has devised around 135 such questions. The questions reveal desires, and the desire leads to the species.
But after the return of Piper, people started asking questions, and strange manifestations began to be noticed at New Calvinist conferences where Piper, Powlison, Keller, and Tripp appeared. Powlison and Keller are self-proclaimed mentorees of John Miller. One such manifestation was seen on a conference website and appears below:
Furthermore, the following spears were found at yet another conference:
Putting it in a way that David Powlison would, X-Ray is kinda, perhaps, like a parody, but then again, kinda not to demonstrate the mindless New Calvinist following of mysticism on the issue of change. As Jay E. Adams well noted in his treatise against Sonship theology, idol hunting seems to be a kissing cousin to species of demons that supposedly cause Christians to sin. Hence, a different demon for each sin, and as Piper noted just prior to his last sabbatical, Tim Keller informs us that some levels of idol hunting are only obtained by fasting and prayer. Yet, someone had to know that the extraction of the “species” that were hounding Piper would only take exactly eight months to extract. PPT was sent a top secret picture of X-Ray, and we neither vouch for this picture nor deny it. Like Big Foot, the jury is kinda still out:
With Powlison, Keller, Tripp, and Piper all coming to this year’s Gospel Coalition conference in Orlando, a manifestation of X-Ray is very possible. As Powlison brings the latest findings from Westminster’s research and development team on idol hunting, it only makes sense that X-Ray would want to be briefed.
“You must be born again.”
~ The Lord Jesus Christ
I decided to stroll back over to the article that was referred to me the other day on Justin Taylor’s blog. Another reader made a comment about comments over there, so I found myself led by morbid curiosity. Taylor is promoting an upcoming article by heretic David Powlison that supposedly explains how we kinda live by the same gospel that saved us, but then again we kinda don’t. The crux is that the all-knowing Powlison assures us that all is well. Even though his pontifications create three questions for everyone he vaguely answers, we can’t resist trusting his Mr. Rogers demeanor. As an aside, let me mention that I was surprised to see a positive comment from Jason Hood who once denounced, “sanctification by justification.”
I decided to chime in, and shockingly, the comments posted. The screen shot follows:
Clearly, and not surprisingly, a sanctification endowed with a hankering to be justified by works as the essence of sin is what’s being propagated here. Of course, this turns sound gospel doctrine completely on its head. And they might answer my questions, but because I know what these guys really believe, I don’t see a place for them to go with this.
Since the apostle Paul said that seeking to be justified by works cuts us off from Christ, at what point in sanctification are we cut off or not cut off? Taylor states that this temptation will always be present in sanctification, so what constitutes its conception? And if we repent of whatever that is, does that mean we are resaved, or never saved prior, or is there a grace period for figuring out our error, or what? Moreover, the question that eventually got me excommunicated from Clearcreek Chapel: “How do we distinguish between our ‘own efforts’ in sanctification and other efforts?” “And how do we know when it is our “own” or the, we can only surmise, GOOD EFFORTS in sanctification?” “And what are the consequences of trying to please God in ‘our own efforts’ in sanctification?” They can’t answer these questions honestly without exposing who they really are.
Bottom line: they believe what we do in sanctification can affect the finished work of God’s calling to eternal life. That’s a huuuuuuge problem. According to Taylor, and frankly, he got it from Calvin, we are constantly tempted to aid God in a finished work that was finished before the earth was created with the results guaranteed (ROM 8:29,30).
And that’s the rub: Calvin didn’t believe that justification is finished. Why? Because Calvin believed that law is the standard of justification. Calvin believed that a perfect keeping of the law had to be maintained in sanctification for us to remain justified. Therefore, he believed the death of Christ to be “perpetual.” He couldn’t reconcile the imperfection of the saints in sanctification with any other interpretation of justification. He defined the righteousness of God imputed to us, by the law. As a philosophical matter, one must ask if the Bible fully defines the righteousness of God that was imputed to us to begin with.
At any rate, Calvin rejected the imputation of God’s righteousness APART from the law (ROM 3:21). The law is still around to maintain justification and define it. A just standing is fed and maintained by a constant, perfect obedience to the law. The law is NOT SEPARATE, it is perfectively obeyed by Christ “for us” IN SANCTIFCATION. This is what these filthy lying heretics will not plainly state. If they were honest about it, the gig would be up. I contend that the law need not be upheld by anybody FOR JUSTIFICATION.
We are not “under” it for justification. If it has to be maintained, we are still under it. Who keeps it is beside the point. We are under grace and informed by the law for sanctification, and now desire the law of truth while despising the mortality that keeps us from obeying the law perfectly as a matter of pleasing our Father—not the maintenance of justification. Besides, efforts at self-justification NEVER involve biblical truth but the traditions of men. Calvin propagated the idea that a sincere endeavor to obey the truth of Scripture could be an effort to justify ourselves. In contrast, self-justification NEVER walks hand in hand with a love for the truth. However, New Calvinists are very much about that idea in order to keep the faithful in fear that without them they will unwittingly end up trying to justify themselves by seeking to love the Lord through truthful obedience. It’s a control fetish that they inherited from their Platonist father Augustine.
And particularly, Taylor can’t answer the last question. Are we enslaved to this sin of self-justification in sanctification? If he says “yes,” that contradicts the clear sense of Scripture. If he says “no,” that contradicts his master, CJ Mahaney.
Cultists are all the same. First, they believe they understand a higher knowledge that most Christians are not “ready for.” Example: in an interview with John Piper conducted by someone who asked him what he would say to the Pope if he had two minutes with him, Piper stated in no uncertain terms that most Christians are not ready for the true Reformation gospel of justification by faith alone [in sanctification]. Secondly, this mentality allows them to condone the hijacking of familiar Christian terms/phrases and use them to deceive. Example: when they use the term progressive sanctification they really mean progressive justification and they know it grade-A well. It’s deliberate deception.
“Cult” is a loosely used term and it should be. Cults are defined as any group that seeks to control others through deception. They are also defined by being sectarian; in other words, their false doctrine divides relationships of various kinds. New Calvinism has its roots in ancient spiritual caste systems that are defined by those characteristics. Much of today’s religion finds its origins in those ancient philosophies. So “cult” is going to be a term often used, and rightfully so.
This post was instigated by an email I received from a reader regarding a recent article by David Powlison in the revamped The Journal of Biblical Counseling. I believe Powlison to be, for many documented reasons, an unrepentant, habitual liar. The article that was referred to me, as you can tell, has ruffled my feathers. I’m just fed up with all of the deception. The link was a review written by John Piper puppet Justin Taylor. What is the jest of the article? Powlison is going to explain why being sanctified by justification is only one small part of the full counsel of God that he pretends to proffer. In one promotion for the article we read,
David Powlison challenges the popular views on sanctification that take one strand in Scripture and present it as the be all and end all of Christian growth. He specifically engages the strengths and weaknesses of the view that asserts, “You are sanctified by remembering that you are justified.”
Um, excuse me, but first of all, the idea that Christian growth comes from preaching the gospel to ourselves every day or revisiting the gospel isn’t even “one strand” of Scripture to begin with. That strand isn’t there period. It’s a lie directly from the pit of hell itself. According to Taylor, Powlison will address the following in part 2 of the article:
In an article planned for the next issue of the journal, Powlison plans to look at several related questions:
Is sanctification essentially the activity of remembering and rebelieving that Jesus died for your sins? Is self-justification by your own performance the chief problem that sanctification must deal with? When the Bible says to “make every effort,” is the hard work chiefly the struggle to remember and believe again that we are saved by the achievement of our Savior? “In each case,” he writes, “I will say No, and will seek to widen both our personal approach to sanctification and the scope of ministry to others.”
Powlison chooses his words carefully. He is going to “teach” us how to “widen” our “approach to sanctification.” But the “approach” is still singular, and as this blog has exhaustively documented, his approach is exclusively Christocentric. Powlison’s language is also continually saturated with nuance such as, “I will say no.” Why not just say NO and be done with it? Because the answer is not really “no,” that’s why. That’s the usual Powlison speak for, “It’s kinda ‘no’ but then again it’s kinda ‘yes’”
Let me make my point with this excerpt from Taylor’s blog:
Is self-justification by your own performance the chief problem that sanctification must deal with?
Um, excuse me, but if you are a Christian, self-justification in sanctification is a complete impossibility. But notice that it is conceded that such is a possibility by referring to it as a question of being the “chief problem.” Also note that the concern isn’t those who attempt to be saved by their works which then cannot be called sanctification to begin with, but that self-justification in and of itself is possible in sanctification. The very question verifies what Powlison really believes. Works justification CANNOT take place in sanctification. Where works justification is present, sanctification cannot exist. The very framing of the question shows that Powlison doesn’t believe that the two are mutually exclusive. Moreover, we need them to guide us through the very tricky business of figuring out what is our “own performance” in sanctification resulting in “self-justification” verses what isn’t our own efforts in sanctification. Again, their very premise is a biblical impossibility, but reveals what they really believe.
Powlison is a cultist extraordinaire. That’s what he is. Like all New Calvinists.
“This is why the American church is chocked full of spiritual despots and pedophiles; we only preach Calvin and Luther’s half-gospel of one resurrection and deny the primary purpose of the second, that resurrected saints would fulfill the law of God and destroy the works of the devil for the glory of God in this life.”
My wife Susan likes music and people. I love Christ, but don’t much care for contemporary Christian music that makes Him a Brahman and not the Lord and King of the forthcoming new heavens and new earth. We Americans love our mystical Jesus. We make much of Him so we can know little of Him. He is so high above us that to claim to know anything save Him crucified is arrogance. It’s Tal Bachman theology; he knew a girl that was so high above him, “Like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, or Aphrodite,” that, “She comes to speak to me I freeze immediately,” and, “What could a guy like me ever really offer?”
The more subjective a god is, the more we can make it a god of our own making. Many will stand before Christ’s eyes of fire in the judgment and claim Him so wonderful that they couldn’t have known anything about Him that is objective. After all, only the gospel is objective and anything we think we know is subjective at best. Dishwalla, in their song, “Tell me all Your Thoughts on God,” present us as children who can’t really know God, but the song surmises that God is a woman. But that’s ok, after all, we are merely children who, “count only blue cars and skip the cracks in the street. And ask many questions like children often do.” The world has this gig down better than Christians; we are nothing compared to whatever the higher power is, so who is the higher power to find fault? Don’t worry, she won’t, all will end well.
Oh, but like Susan, I like people too, it was one of the conditions of our marriage contract. We compromised on the music. Since the Potter’s House is a very humble upstart, and the wonderment of the Easter holiday was upon us, off we went to a morning cantata service to experience American Easternism. And because I am a mere worm like all others that attended, I won’t name the Southern Baptist church located in Xenia, Ohio that we attended. Besides, the point here is that this service was undoubtedly representative of the vast majority of Easter Sunday services taking place in the evangelical church.
The lie that is sucking the life out of the American church started early and was repeated often throughout the service; Jesus Christ is alive and we are dead. One who was leading music pontificated that Jesus was resurrected to confirm that God was pleased with the sacrifice. What he couldn’t say would get someone thrown out of the church in our day: Christ was resurrected to give us life in the here and now; the same power that raised Him from the dead (EPH 1:18-20). This is why the American church is chocked full of spiritual despots and pedophiles, we only preach Calvin and Luther’s half-gospel of one resurrection and deny the primary purpose of the second, that resurrected saints would fulfill the law of God and destroy the works of the devil for the glory of God in this life (ROM 8:3,4, 1JN 3:8, JN 14:12). As a man thinks in his heart so is he, if he thinks he is a worm, he will act like one.
After an hour of everything life of Jesus and our depravity music, the pastor delivered a mini-treatise that was the usual Heidelberg Confession construct: all wisdom and true theology is a deeper and deeper knowledge of our evil as set against the holiness of Christ. He said we are “broken people in a broken world” and unable to do anything with pure motives. This is not how the Bible describes Christians at all. We are described as being resurrected WITH Christ and in high places with Him. We are described as “more than conquerors.” And the Bible does not even describe the unregenerate as incapable of impure motives because they were born with the works of the law written on their heart. They will not be justified by that, but it doesn’t render them incapable of doing good works. Yes, works they do in order to be justified are filthy rags, but that is not a sweeping metaphysical indictment of mankind in general.
Then he added the caveat that there is no real purpose in this life. And believe me, that’s how the American church lives. What purpose could there be if only Christ was resurrected and we are dead? And the practical application? As stated, “We overcome with the joy of our salvation.” Really? This aped the song that we also sang earlier: “We overcome by the blood and our testimony.” Stated another way by the Neo-Calvinists of our day running the church: “We shouldn’t be the gospel, we should only preach the gospel.” While New Calvinists bemoan the idea that the world is mostly unevangelized, I assure them that the gospel of preaching only is well known throughout the world and God is blasphemed accordingly.
Susan and I are beginning to note a trend in these churches as we visit some that we were previously acquainted with in the past: They are dead. The worship is half-hearted. It’s like, “Are we having fun worship yet?” But what do we expect? We are dead, right? I know that the theses is that by making much of Christ and little of us that worshipful manifestations will take place, but joyful skeletons singing aloud in praise is a pipe dream that Calvinists will never realize. They are sucking what life was left of the church after Billy Graham’s first gospel wave. Dr. Kevorkian is presiding over the terminal ill patient that is the American church: a reputation for being alive, but really dead, and proud of it.
Unfortunately, Susan and I had watched the epic Star Wars movie late into the night before. By the end of all of this, a part of the movie seized my mind: Darth Vader; “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” As I focused on the pastor finishing his skeletal rendition of the resurrection, I observed my hand raised up in a grasping configuration. I looked to Susan for help, but found little on her frowning face as she commented, “I have a problem with the suggestion that God [the Father] was resurrected.” But when you reduce Christianity to a narrow objective door, you enter into a reality of subjective monstrosity. Anything goes from there. Dishwalla followers see no need to change venue; counting blue cars and going to church is all the same.
Christ never commanded us to celebrate His resurrection via a special day on the calendar. It’s optional. But if we are going to do it, don’t make it a lie and a half-gospel—celebrate not only what Christ did, but His purposes as well. He came to give us purpose in the here and now as well as eternally. Easter is not only about the resurrected Christ Himself, but what he sought to do in us being resurrected WITH him as new creatures.
The half-gospel of total depravity is a lie and a false gospel. And let those who preach it be accursed.
“Reformation epistemology must exclude any improvement or grace inside of us; otherwise, by their own definition, reality cannot be known.”
“This brings us to the fact that Reformers, both old and new, seek to create a completely different reality of thought and metaphysics in order to control their followers. They also rewrite church history to match this created reality of their own making.
What John Piper really believes represents the basic principles of the Reformation gospel. The Reformation has always been endowed with those who can sell snow to the Eskimos. The official name of their doctrine sounds so theologically cutting edge: the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. One thinks: “Right, the gospel should be central, no? And, we were not saved by any kind of knowledge that was within us; of course we were informed by the all-knowing God! Salvation wasn’t something that originated within us!” This is something that the Reformers, past and present, are absolute masters of: drawing people in by using terminology that plays on their assumptions. Hence, “total depravity” is assumed to only apply to the unregenerate. Hence, “justification by faith alone” is assumed to apply to, well, justification alone, when it really applies to both justification and sanctification. Luther and Calvin didn’t see this as disingenuous because they believed the two are the same anyway. Hence, “Scripture alone” assumes applicable knowledge rather than Christocentric contemplationism. But that’s the first one: assumptive terminology; terminology that plays on the assumptions of others.
John Piper has been very careful to stay aloof from the progressive Adventist movement that rediscovered Luther’s “justification by faith alone” gospel and spawned the present-day New Calvinist tsunami. The leader of that movement started a Reformed think tank to systemize the doctrine for contemporary consumption. He was joined by Graeme Goldsworthy who wrote several articles for the think tank’s theological journal in the seventies. But when Goldsworthy was invited to Southern Seminary to lecture, Piper couldn’t help himself; someone who really understood the heart of Reformation theology lecturing at Southern approached orgasmic reality.
TANC Publishing, our own anti-Reformation think tank has known since 2010 what this gospel is, in its least common denominator, but were perplexed concerning the big picture. We understood elements and cause/effect, but in essence, our thoughts were: “How in the world does this work in real life?” We came to believe that said think tank, The Australian Forum, had created an image that captured the big picture of the Reformation gospel, but what in the world could the picture really mean? (Click to enlarge if necessary):
As you can see, anything going on within the believer yields bad results. We called this illustration the “fetus” because we knew it captured the essence of the Reformation gospel, but again, what does it mean in real life? How are we changed by God if nothing happens inside of us? This brings us to the day in 2009 when John Piper couldn’t help himself. He wrote an article on his Desiring God blog that concurred with Goldsworthy on why the Reformation was needed. Supposedly, the Reformation was needed because Rome infused the works of Christ inside of the believer. Because Rome and the Reformers both saw justification as a continuous “chain” from eternity past to “final justification,” any “work” by the believer , whether done by Christ within us, or otherwise, makes us participants in justification. Rome is/was ok with this, the Reformers were not. This author uses almost the whole fourth chapter of The Truth About New Calvinism to document Piper’s commentary on this.
So, regardless of the entire “inside of us” lingo used by Piper et al, they don’t believe there is any grace inside us. Christ doesn’t do work inside of us; if He did, that would “make sanctification the ground of our justification.” Again, because sanctification is the middle links in the chain from eternal justification to so-called final justification. If we are involved in the links at all, we are a part of our own justification and are making “sanctification the ground of our justification.” It all must be a work of God by faith alone. I delve into this matter in detail in Sessions two and three of the 2012 TANC Conference, and in False Reformation published this year.
However, we contend that if salvation is a “chain,” EVERYTHING we do in sanctification is a work. Whether thinking, praying, or meditation, we are still involved in the links. Calvinism makes distinctions between what is a work in sanctification and what isn’t a work in sanctification and thereby classifies passive activities as faith and not works. WORKS ARE WORKS, AND ARE NOT DEFINED BY DEGREE OF PASSIVITY. This is why justification and sanctification must be separate.
Once Calvinism categorizes what is of faith in the Christian life and what is of works, these same conduits are used to live by faith alone which equals all of grace staying COMPLETLEY outside of us. Look back at the illustration—it is what it is. However, their thesis is crippled by the idea that thinking is not a work. Nevertheless, we will begin with Luther and Calvin’s dualist approach to understanding wisdom and use it to reveal how contemporary Calvinists use deliberate deception in propagating this false gospel.
Luther and Calvin believed that all reality was understood by a deeper and deeper understanding of God’s holiness as set against a deeper and deeper understanding of our sinfulness. And this is how people are saved as well: by faith (in whom God is) and repentance (from how evil we are). Neither of these change, the key is a deeper understanding on our part in regard to both. When this continues to happen, the works of Christ are continually imputed to us throughout our Christian life in the same way we were saved; i.e., justification by faith because “sanctification” is really the progression of justification. The works of Christ are imputed to us as we “see” them in the Bible. This is indisputable as illustrated by THEIR OWN chart published by a New Calvinist organization (Click to enlarge if necessary).
Therefore, New Calvinists communicate within the context of this dualism: the cross story, or your story. It’s either all you, or all God in sanctification. It is either the Cross Chart illustration or a chart that notes some goodness/grace within you. We call this the Either/Or hermeneutic. New Calvinist preaching /teaching well rarely present a metaphysical balance/middle ground/alternative perspective accordingly. The messages will always, in some way, merely contrast total depravity and God’s holiness.
In regard to believing that justification and sanctification are one and the same, we call this the Missing Transition communication technique. In teaching and preaching, New Calvinists continually transition between elements of justification and sanctification without a transition in subject as if they believe the two are one and the same. And that’s exactly what they believe. This has the effect of Christians functioning as if there is no sanctification due to the proverbial out of sight—out of mind consequence. While rejecting the idea of no sanctification when verbalized, that’s how they function because their mental data lacks sanctification wisdom. And be sure of it: this is by design.
New Calvinists also employ terminology that leads followers into assuming that their doctrine is normal. An example is, “heart change.” The heart speaks of that which is inside of us, right? The following New Calvinist illustration, again, THEIR OWN, illustrates that this is deception (Click to enlarge if necessary):
If we can do no work other than seeing our own depravity more and more, how does the heart on the other side of the chart pertain to us? If we change, would that not prevent us from understanding reality because there is less and less of our own depravity to see? Reformation epistemology must exclude any improvement or grace inside of us; otherwise, by their own definition, reality cannot be known. Obviously, “heart” does not pertain to our “heart” per se. It’s assumptive terminology. It plays on the known assumptions of others.
This brings us to the fact that Reformers, both old and new, seek to create a completely different reality of thought and metaphysics in order to control their followers. They also rewrite church history to match this created reality of their own making. Since reality is Christocentric, and all life must be found in the knowledge of the “Sun,” to the degree that we emphasize anything else other than the life-giving rays of the “Sun” (Son), we diminish true life.
This enables New Calvinists to posit all things true, such as the new birth, “in us” terminology, and the other members of the Trinity while pointing to the whole issue of “emphasis.” Sure, all of those other things apart from Christ are certainly TRUE, but they are forms or shadows of reality (Christ) and to the degree that we focus on them apart from Christ we diminish the life-giving rays. Those things are “good things, but not the best thing.” They are “the fruit, not the root.” “Oh yes, the Holy Spirit’s sanctification is a wonderful truth! But it is a good thing, not the best thing. It is the fruit, not the root.” So, the more you deemphasize the “good thing” for the “best thing,” the better. And obviously, those things are eventually eliminated.
Obviously, the only place left to go from here for New Calvinists is Eastern mysticism. John Piper and other New Calvinists like Tim Keller are not even subtle about their beliefs in such. Neither was the primary forefather of the Reformation, St. Augustine. TANC is presently hard at work unpacking the specific connections between the two and how they function with Reformed theology, especially in regard to realms, manifestations, and spatial birthing. Susan will be bringing an astounding report to the Conference this June. In one of her sessions, she discusses how Augustine thought the Bible was the completion of Platonism.
Let’s conclude with a list of the six communication techniques used by New Calvinists:
1. Assumptive terminology: plays on the known assumptions of others.
2. Either/Or hermeneutic: interprets all wisdom through good and evil.
3. Missing Transition: excludes subject transitions as a way to subtly deny difference.
4. Metaphysical Redefinition of works and non-works.
5. Emphasis: reduces horizontal reality to one life source.
“If you haven’t received ‘proper training’ don’t try to counsel; you will do more harm than good.” Really? And many laymen buy it: “I don’t try to counsel people; if I told them the wrong thing I could do more harm than good.” How? Have you looked around at the mess called American Christianity in this country? After more than thirty years of an unprecedented biblical counseling movement spearheaded by David Powlison’s “research and development” center at Westminster Seminary, the American church has never been more unimpressive and disrespected. It’s so bad that there are at least three organizations that try to broker reconciliation in order to keep churches out of civil and criminal courts, and it is my understanding that business is booming. The country is saturated with “trained” biblical counselors and training centers, albeit mostly in upper income areas—to the tune of just under 100% according to our research. NANC and CCEF counselors are virtually nonexistent in lower income areas.
Moreover, NANC and CCEF (these two organizations comprise 90% of contemporary biblical counseling) are predicated on progressive justification. This is a gospel that posits the idea that people don’t change. In 1970, the father of the biblical counseling movement, Dr. Jay E. Adams, founded the movement on the idea that Christians can change and are competent to counsel each other. Though the results where dramatic, heretic David Powlison hijacked the movement with Westminster’s version of progressive justification, Sonship Theology. It is perplexing to me that many counselors who saw the results of Adams’ revival now refer to the movement in its present form as a “second generation” biblical counseling that is more “mature.” But where are the results? We now “need” Peacemaker Ministries and G.R.AC.E more than ever.
An example of that is Powlison comrade Pastor Mark Driscoll who claims to see visions regarding those that he counsels. Trust me, we can do better. And the time is ripe because we cannot possibly do worse. Granted, not all are inept, but where ineptness lacks, cowardliness and cronyism fills the void. Said another way; for the most part, they are either heretics or cowards. While the cowards don’t hold to the false gospel of progressive justification, they stand by silent as thousands of people are referred to these counselors daily. Plainly, the gospel really doesn’t matter. Plainly, they lack a deep love for the truth. While they sell their souls to the god of peer acceptance, they preach to others about not having idols in their heart.
Since the Scriptures teach that the average parishioner is competent to counsel, and the clergy have had their chance and completely blown it, the laity needs to get back to “encouraging one another unto good works.” Let’s start there. We are able. Here is what the apostle Paul said about our ability to counsel one another:
Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
In contrast, the spiritual brain trust of our day teach that we are still totally depraved, and for some reason, people are perplexed that the totally depraved are acting like they are totally depraved. This has been pounded in the heads of American Christians for almost forty years now. The present-day biblical counseling movement is completely indifferent to this reality because, “It’s not about us being better, it’s about what Jesus has done—not anything we do.” Contrary to this, Paul stated that we are “full of goodness” and able to instruct on one another. It’s all there, when you were saved, you didn’t get a portion of the Holy Spirit—you got all of Him. You have His mind. You have His wisdom. You have His love. You have His goodness. You must appropriate it. That’s our role: learn and apply.
1. You are able.
2. You must learn and apply.
You must trust God’s word as being sufficient. You must never waver from that:
Psalm 1:1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
We have two kinds of counsel here and the results. Where is the third option? Where is the pure milk cut with something as good as Scripture? (1Peter 2:2). Where is the alternative foundation in Matthew 7:24-27? Why is the word “alone” in Matthew 4:4? What great counselor of the day did Jesus cite apart from Scripture? If you have resolute confidence in the word of God—you can help people.
4. You won’t have all of the answers readily available in the beginning. It’s a process. You will lay the foundation, and then work together in the new way. This is discipleship. This is a vessel for building deep friendships. Here is what James stated in regard to this:
James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
There can be no thought that there is another way other than God’s word. This is double mindedness. This is hedging your bets. As you pray together, there must be confidence that God shows the way, and that it is the only acceptable way. No answer to prayer for wisdom in the situation should be expected without complete confidence in God’s word. All the other ways are instability in “all his [different] ways.” There are not alternate paths to God’s way.
5. You must know that the trial will end:
James 4:4 – And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…. 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
6. You must know that your friend will benefit from the trial, or be separated from the faith. Here is where formal counseling is a great evil in our day. An appointment is made with the uppity pastor’s “counseling secretary.” Your session will be an hour, and then you are sent home till next week’s appointment. Few in the congregation, if any, will be involved in the situation. They aren’t “experts.” They aren’t “trained.” But by and large, the “experts” don’t really take God’s word seriously.
Any Christian who is in a trial is in grave danger of being separated from the faith. While God wants to use the trial to mature you (James 1:3 – for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness), the kingdom of darkness wants to use it to separate you from the faith: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). This doesn’t mean we can lose our salvation, but it means that we could end up on a path with an uncertain eternal future:
2Peter 1:9 – For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Our goal is a rich entry, not one shrouded with doubt and fear concerning an uncertain eternity. This will cripple us in our faith. Before Peter’s trial of denying Christ after He was taken into custody, Christ told him that Satan had sought permission from God to separate Peter from the faith (a Job-like event). Trials will either make you a stronger Christian, or separate you from the faith. The words “trial” and “temptation” are therefore used interchangeably in the Scriptures. Hence, one should not be confused by what James stated in context:
James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
7. You must know that your friend will desire to get out of the trial quickly, and even though God’s wisdom often ends a trial quickly, and circumvents some trials altogether, the world’s way of ending a trial will be crouching at the door:
“…. let steadfastness have its full effect” (James 1:4).
You must stand with your friend against the world’s shortcuts in the midst. Why does it take an expert to understand these things? The last thing a Christian in trial needs is a professional motif with an uppity secretary, a bunch of formal paperwork, and contemporary décor. They need real friends full of goodness. They need real friends who know what’s at stake. This is where true discipleship is set on fire. This is where the rubber of love meets the road.
8. You must not be surprised at the trial type. Christians can find themselves in any kind of trial:
“….when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2).
1Peter 4:12 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
9. You must not doubt God. The most astounding trials must not be allowed to shake our confidence in God’s purposes and trust in His wisdom to resolve the trial. We must consider doubt an affront to God’s power, promises, and purposes. We must not have a form of godliness while denying the power thereof.
10. You must joyfully anticipate the deepening of relationship between all involved and God:
“….Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (Ibid).
Go. Go to your friend. Work together with them in encouragement. Discuss what you know, and pray together for wisdom in the rest. Wait on God together. Obey together. Cry together. Trust together, and defend God’s sufficiency together. Study the word together. Make a friendship deeper, and look forward to the day when you can comfort others with the comfort you have been comforted by. These are deep waters. This is where Christ comes in power. This is no place for outsiders.
This is no place for bloviated academics propagating a false gospel.
“This is because Western culture has never adequately exposed Reformed theology for what it really is. As long as Protestantism clings to the Reformation myth, it will never completely break free from its bondage to anemic sanctification.”
“If Burleson wants to be an advocate for the spiritually abused he should denounce his Reformed gospel of spiritual tyranny. While he may help some people heal from abuse, he will go back to his pulpit and produce twice as many abusers.”
Last night at our evening Bible study we discussed election. Not election for justification (salvation), but election in sanctification (our Christian life). This is the Reformed idea that God sovereignly elects all of our good works in our Christian life in the same way that he elects some to be saved and passes over others. This leaves them to the choice that is inevitable if God doesn’t intervene; man will never choose God on his own. In the same way concerning sanctification, man is still totally depraved, and unless God intervenes will only do works that are filthy rags before God. In salvation, God only changes man’s position, not his nature. Therefore, in sanctification, God imputes His own good works to our life via intervention and leaves us to our own total depravity in the rest. Choice in justification; works in sanctification; God completely sovereign in both.
Though the application of this is somewhat complex, it boils down to the Reformation’s definition of double imputation: Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us positionally by His death, and the perfect obedience He demonstrated in His life is imputed to our sanctification as a way to keep our justification intact until glorification. Hence, to not believe in sanctified sovereignly elected works in our Christian life is paramount to works salvation. “The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us.” Sanctification must be a continual revisiting of salvation by faith alone in order to maintain our justification. This is the very heart of Calvinism. Yes, we do something in sanctification: we continually revisit our need for the gospel, and as we do that, the works of Christ are imputed to us by faith alone in sanctification. This is the theses of the Reformation’s magnum opus, Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order, and articulated by John Calvin in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. This opposes Biblicism which sees double imputation as our sins imputed to Christ and God’s righteousness imputed to us and sanctification being an entirely different consideration.
We discussed how this authentic doctrine of the Reformation has wreaked havoc on the church. When God is seen as completely sovereign in sanctification, ideological conclusions are then drawn from what actually happens in real life. Rape is God’s will, and the perpetrator is seen as one who is acting out expected behavior where God has not intervened. “But for the grace of God, there go I.” We have all said it. No? All of grace in salvation—all of grace in sanctification. The only difference between you and a rapist is grace; therefore, who are you to judge? Even if you are the victim. Luther and Calvin thought righteous indignation a joke, and Calvin called justice, “mere iniquity.” Luther’s theology of the cross deemed suffering as the most valuable asset of the Reformation’s inner-nihilist theology:
He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand (Heidelberg Disputation: Theses 24).
Note that this constant seeking after suffering and self-deprivation leads to being “raised up” in the Christian life. This constant seeking after death leads to joyful rebirths when Christ’s obedience is imputed to us. This is the basis of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism which also implements Theses 28 of the Disputation. As you can see, it’s what they call the new birth. The new birth is something that continually reoccurs in salvation when Christ’s obedience is imputed to us.
The indifference towards suffering that this theology breeds cannot be overstated. It is such that Calvin’s beseechment of the Geneva counsel to have a detractor beheaded rather than burned with green wood is a supposed act of compassion that is Reformed folklore. And be absolutely positive of this: the roots of authentic Calvinism are %99.99 responsible for the spiritual tyranny in the contemporary church—especially among New Calvinists.
This is why I have a problem with Pastor Wade Burleson being postured as a spiritual abuse advocate. I realize that he is a well-known pastor and therefore a valuable advocate for a cause, but promoting him as a defender of the spiritually abused separates logic from consequences. It encourages a hypothetical idea that because all Nazis didn’t execute Jews, Nazism doesn’t necessarily lead to the persecution of Jews. Right, not in all cases, but for every person Burleson helps his doctrine will produce twice the indifference and abuse in other people. Many members of the present-day Nazi party are seemingly quality people who could be utilized in good causes, but the possibility is remote because Western culture has been properly educated in regard to Nazi ideology. Such is not the case with Reformed theology. While a Nazi might make a good carpenter you would likely not hire one as an advocate for the Anti-Defamation League. There are Nazis who would do a fine job in that role but the ideology would do more harm than good in the long run.
We also discussed how authentic Calvinism dies a social death from time to time because of the tyranny that it produces and then experiences resurgence paved by the weak sanctification left in its wake. This is because Western culture has never adequately exposed Reformed theology for what it really is. As long as Protestantism clings to the Reformation myth, it will never completely break free from its bondage to anemic sanctification.
Burleson strongly endorses one of the core four individuals who helped found the present-day New Calvinist movement, Jon Zens:
One of my favorite theologians is Jon Zens. Jon edits the quarterly periodical called Searching Together, formerly known as the Baptist Reformation Review. Jon is thoroughly biblical, imminently concerned with the Scriptures …. The best $10.00 you will ever spend is the yearly subscription to Searching Together (http://www.wadeburleson.org/2010/09/searching-together-edited-by-jon-zens.html).
Zens, who has also been known as an advocate for the spiritually abused, was a key contributor to the Reformed think tank that launched present-day New Calvinism (The Australian Forum) of which some Burleson promoters refer to as the “Calvinistas.” It’s not meant as a compliment. But yet, Burleson’s theology is one and the same with them:
Those who have read Grace and Truth to You for any amount of time know that this author is persuaded the Bible teaches that the eternal rewards of Christians are those rewards–and only those rewards–which are earned by Christ. It is Christ’s obedience to the will and law of the Father that obtains for God’s adopted children our inheritance. It is Christ’s perfect obedience which brings to sinners the Father’s enduring favor and guarantees for us our position as co-heirs with Christ (http://www.wadeburleson.org/2011/11/therefore-knowing-terror-of-lord-we.html).
Those who have faith in Christ will never appear at any future judgment of God, or be rewarded for their good behavior. Our sins were judged at the cross, and the behavior for which we are rewarded is Christ’s behavior (Ibid).
Obviously, other than the previous points made, Burleson’s statement proclaiming Zens as “thoroughly biblical” and his outright rejection of 1COR 3:10-15 and 2COR 5:9-10 are troubling to say the least. Burleson also holds strongly to the exact same method of interpretation that makes elected works in sanctification possible among the “Calvinistas.” That would be the Bible as gospel meta narrative approach. It uses the Bible as a tool for gospel contemplationism which results in the works of Christ being imputed to our sanctification when we “make our story His story.” Luther got the concept from Pope Gregory the Great who believed that meditating on Christ’s works in the Scriptures endears us to Him romantically and thus inspires joyful obedience. It’s all the same rotten mysticism propagated today by John Piper and Francis Chan. It’s a mystical (actually Gnostic) approach to the Bible that makes elected works in sanctification possible.
As a cute way of propagating this nonsense, Burleson has named his para-church ministry “Istoria Ministries Blog.” His blog subheading noted that istoria is a Greek word that combines the idea of history and story:
Istoria is a Greek word that can be translated as both story and history. Istoria Ministries, led by Wade and Rachelle Burleson, helps people experience the life transforming power of Jesus Christ so that their story may become part of His story.
This ministry called him out on the fact that the word istoria does not appear anywhere in the Scriptures which led him to change the subheading a couple of days later. He then changed the subheading to a citation (GAL 1:18) that is the only place in the Bible where the word appears. Only thing is, even then, it’s not “istoria,” it’s “historeo”:
g2477. ιστορεω historeo; from a derivative of 1492; to be knowing (learned), i. e. (by implication) to visit for information (interview):— see.
This citation has nothing to do with his original point of naming his ministry as such. It’s simply the only reference he could find that proves that the word is in the Bible. Kinda, as I said, even then the word is not “istoria.” Istoria is a more contemporary Greek word that in fact can be used as “history” or “story.” But the earliest use of the word seems to be circa 1300, and is most prevalent in referring to the “story paintings” of medieval times. It’s just a lame, almost adolescent attempt to argue for this approach to the Bible.
If Burleson wants to be an advocate for the spiritually abused he should denounce his Reformed gospel of spiritual tyranny. While he may help some people heal from abuse, he will go back to his pulpit and produce twice as many abusers.
Yes, the gospel that SBC dimwits think they can colabor with denies the new birth in no uncertain terms. This isn’t rocket science: if the gospel that is good for the goose is also good for the gander; this assumes that no change takes place inside of the believer. And in case you haven’t read the papers lately that’s exactly what Christians are acting like.”
I think I have taken my last trip to SBC Today .com and SBC Voices .com. I have been referred over there a number of times to observe truth tone deafness on steroids. A heretic is running our flagship seminary, but the big news is that Tim Tebow cancelled his speaking engagement at FBCD. The big hero this time in the ongoing drama of SBC folklore (in our own pitiful minds) is Dr. Jeffress, who like all other SBC notables has never called out another leader for the same scandalous filth that is going on in most denominations. He will call out homosexuals, but the rape cover-ups in the SBC are a taboo subject. We call out the sins of the world, but to call out our own sin is “gossip.” All of these guys just really make me want to puke. Because they are sorry excuses for leadership—we are a joke in the eyes of the world and rightfully so.
Other articles posit the supposed strength of Calvinists and non-Calvinists working together in the SBC. So, the likes of David Platt will gladly play along while believing that synergistic sanctification is a false gospel and works salvation. This is a simple thing, Jerry Vines needs to call Al Mohler on the phone and ask him if synergistic sanctification is works salvation. I think the answer would surprise him if Mohler has a rare moment of truth telling. Of course, if Vines decides to do something about it, he then has to explain how he missed this all along and focused on symptoms rather than the issue of Calvin’s false gospel. I have been a lay pastor since 1986, and I missed it. Why? Because I was clueless, that’s why. More studied than a lot of Christians, I had a very poor understanding of justification, sanctification, and covenants, and still have a lot to learn. What’s so hard about that? Just admit it! What’s the big deal?
All of this conversation in the SBC about getting along with Calvinists could just as well include the Jehovah Witnesses or the Moonies. There is no difference; a false gospel is a false gospel and a cult is a cult. Calvinism was the epitome of a cult in Calvin’s Geneva and still is. You could slip a playing card in-between Calvin’s Geneva and Jonestown save the fact that Jonestown wanted to go out with a bang. But more to the point let’s talk about Calvin’s false gospel—the gospel that SBC yesomites say we should work together with.
In today’s church words don’t mean things because if they did we would have to do something about it. And we are mostly business as usual loving spiritual slugs. That’s what we need more than anything in the church today: leaders who take words seriously and will act accordingly. They will be easy to spot. When the sun is out during the day they will be walking around rather than sunning themselves on flat rocks like the majority. So, let’s talk about words.
“We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” Really? Does this raise any red flags? No. It is so, so indicative of how mindless Christians are in our day. “Wow, that sounds pretty cool. More fish anybody?” Come now, let’s be honest; do we really believe that we have been appointed stewards of God’s life-giving word? Is that how we function? A name that has come up in this ministry a lot this week is Miles McKee. He states a lot of things on his Facebook page that brings hearty kudos from many because their eyes immediately gravitate to the word, “gospel” in the sentence. “Oh there it is! The word gospel! Amen brother!” But let’s look at his statements more closely. Here is the subline of his Facebook page:
Preaching Christ crucified to the saved and lost alike. The goal is to pack this web site with rich gospel goodies.
Yes, and that is exactly what Christian children in adult bodies seek in our day, “rich gospel goodies.” Yum, yum, yum. We can’t take the word of God and help people in real trouble; we are too busy feeding on our gospel goodies. Note the picture below—that’s us. It is also how the world sees us, and rightfully so.
But note that we are supposed to be preaching Christ crucified to Christians. This doesn’t raise any red flags. Note that the same message preached to unbelievers is also fundamental to the message Christians still need to hear daily. Still no red flags. Particularly alarming should be the idea that Christ’s crucifixion is perpetual in the Christian life. That’s what Calvin believed. He believed the atonement is perpetual. He believed Christ’s death is continually reapplied to the Christian’s life by faith alone until we reach heaven. We are then judged according to whether or not we continually appropriated Christ’s death in our life by faith alone until that day. It’s keeping our salvation by staying at the foot of the cross. We are saved by faith alone, and at any given time that we are not living our Christian life by faith alone we lose our salvation (or they say we were not really saved to begin with). That’s why we preach the same gospel to the saved as well as the unsaved.
It would therefore seem that the new birth would have to be redefined, and you would be right about that. This doctrine necessitates the denial of the new birth. Hence, McKee also states the following:
Contrary to much of today’s evangelical preaching, we must state that the message of New Birth is not the gospel.
Regardless of the fact that Christ’s own gospel presentation to Nicodemus was, “You must be born again,” this doesn’t raise any red flags either. The mindlessness truly boggles the imagination. Graeme Goldsworthy, the foremost hermeneutical authority recognized by Calvinists in our day footnoted (with full agreement) an article written by Anglican Geoffrey Paxton entitled, “The False Gospel of the New Birth.” Yes, the gospel that SBC dimwits think they can colabor with denies the new birth in no uncertain terms. This isn’t rocket science: if the gospel that is good for the goose is also good for the gander; this assumes that no change takes place inside of the believer. And in case you haven’t read the papers lately that’s exactly what Christians are acting like.
Moreover, Calvinists think the evangelical new birth gospel is works salvation: “It would be better to die a heathen than to live a religious life and die without Christ” (McKee). And trust me, synergistic sanctification is the “religious life” being spoken of here.
The Calvinist gospel, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us, is a perfect storm of deception that perfectly facilitates the confounding of salvific terms—I get that. But yet, I see a prevailing arrogance among Christians that since we are so smart, deception will always be evident to us. We are so good at doing Christianity we don’t need practice or diligent study. Our claim that faith is pure and simple is a cloak of arrogance that covers for our bankrupt spirituality and the brunt of jokes among the heathen. If there is a God, where is His representation upon the earth? “Well, we don’t attempt to be the gospel with our own works, we only preach the gospel.” And to that the heathen say,
I will take this opportunity to wish Julie Anne Smith a happy anniversary. I received an email stating that she opened her blogshop one year ago today. She sent me a tweet from The Gospel According to Calvin blog (TGC). As Charles Surgeon said,
There is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.
Wow. Really? Progressive justification is the gospel? Don’t think so. Otherwise known as The Gospel Coalition, the tweet promoted a new book. Books written by New Calvinists are the neo-orthodoxy of the day. And there are people in the world who insist that Hitler was really a good guy. They are called Neo-Nazis. Today, we have Neo-Calvinists. It’s really time for the laity to fish or cut bait; how much longer are we going to continue to allow the philosopher kings to treat us like idiots? After reading the link that Julie sent me, it begs the question: How stupid do these guys think we are?
For some time they have been trying to rewrite Reformed history. That’s what the Resolved conferences were all about. And now there is a new book out attempting to cover Calvin’s bloody tracks leading from the Geneva theocracy. TGC is promoting the work via a review by heretic Michael Horton who like Tim Keller, constantly gets a pass on promoting naked mysticism.
Calvin believed the Reformers were given a mandate by God to rule the world; hence, the out-of-control tyranny in the American church. I will keep saying it: I lay the present-day spiritual abuse tsunami at the feet of Calvinism. The arrogance that follows their delusional vision is seen in how stupid they think the average parishioner is, and Horton’s review is a typical example. He states the following in the review:
Manetsch sets the context by noting the early reformation of the Genevan church reduced the city’s clerics (including monks and nuns) from 500 to 15, turning the convent and two monasteries into a public hospital and school. He observes the Ecclesiastical Ordinances, drafted by Calvin in 1541, established a rotation of ministers in all the churches to avoid the impression the ministers were preachers, not pastors…. Few historical figures have suffered more in terms of rumors passing for fact. It’s long been observed by specialists (Roman Catholic as well as Protestant) that Calvin was far from the Ayatollah one typically finds in the paragraph devoted to him in high school textbooks. Manetsch dispels these rumors with close attention to primary sources.
Does Horton really think that we are not going to consult the Googleberg press on this? Literally fifteen seconds later, here is what I was reading from Calvin’s Ecclesiastical Ordinances written for Geneva:
Here follows the third order, or elders
Their duty is to supervise every person’s conduct. In friendly fashion they should warn backsliders and those of disorderly life. After that, where necessary, they should report to the Company [of pastors] who will arrange for fraternal correction…As our Church is now arranged, it would be most suitable to have two elected from the ‘council of 24′, four from the ‘council of 60,’ and six from the ‘council of 200′. They should be men of good repute and conduct…They should be chosen from each quarter of the city so that they can keep an eye on the whole of it.
And let there be no doubt about it: this is the vision that the New Calvinists have for the American church. As Southern Baptists, we call it, “aggressive Calvinism.”
I just call it Calvinism. Shorter, more to the point, and truer.
TANC Prediction: The New Calvinists Are in the Process of Forming Their Own Denomination or the Completed Takeover of the SBC is Imminent
Some recent trends have tempted me to partake in a little prognostication. First, the primer for all of this is the brazen disregard for bad press in light of recent sex scandals among the “Gospel-centered” crowd. Look, I know “Gospel-centered” sounds spiritually generic but it’s not. “Gospel-centered” is indicative of a radical worldview that many in the church don’t comprehend. Two-thousand years later, even in the midst of the Information Age, they are propagating an, “underestimated,” “unadjusted,” “scandalous” gospel. That should be your first clue. And indeed, there is plenty of scandal.
This worldview disregards the concept of justice and has an antinomian pedigree. That is causing a significant pushback between this movement and others in the church. That is perhaps the primary catalyst that will provoke some kind of significant separation. Historically, spiritual tyranny ALWAYS follows this movement, and the chickens have come home to roost. Unfortunately, the church has done a poor job of pinpointing this logic and rejecting it beforehand, but the one thing everyone understands is when bad things start happening.
Again, justice isn’t even on the radar screen, but if you want to pay the bills you act like it’s important. The New Calvinists no longer portend that it is—so something is up in my book. ABWE, which has strong ties to the New Calvinist cartel and its four Dons, “Big Al” Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and CJ Mahaney, just snubbed its nose up at the Evangelical world by firing the feel-good intermediating organization GRACE. The public facts surrounding this scandal, now ten years in the making, has destroyed GARB credibility in the minds of anyone who is not a consummate Kool-Aid drinker. Creditability in the GARB community may no longer be relevant; i.e., a merger with likeminded despots may be in the works. By the way, New Calvinist Dr. William Brown has been fired from GARB enclave Cedarville University. He was the president thereof, and has been temporarily appointed as chancellor to candy-coat the event as much as possible. But there is a serious catfight going on there that is difficult to sort out. Here is one example: http://cedarvilleproblems.com/index-1.htm . But at any rate, it’s not surprising; some kind of fight ALWAYS follows a New Calvinist beast. Always.
The business as usual motif in regard to CJ Mahaney, the Underboss of the Charismatic wing of the New Calvinist cartel, is also striking. As president of SGM, he has been besieged with controversy over sex scandal cover ups and basic run of the mill despot leadership style. His behavior was so outrageous that his cult following at SGM, including his own son-in-law, dismissed him. The cartel bosses in Louisville, Kentucky (home of their front organization, “Together for the Gospel”) partook in an image makeover and had Mahaney reinstalled as president of SGM. The outrageous event squeezed so hard that every bit of integrity oozed out of SGM and several of its member churches jumped ship. Regardless of all of this, including the fact that Mahaney is a defendant in a class action sexual abuse law suit, he is scheduled as the main act in all upcoming cartel conferences. Again, a total in your face- kiss our sanctified booties stance toward the rest of the Evangelical community. This is hard to miss as the Evangelical community at large has launched a petition for CJ to step out of the limelight while the trial flaunts itself in the mainline news media: http://www.causes.com/actions/1730803-an-appeal-to-national-leaders-regarding-c-j-mahaney
But beyond this snubbing of the Evangelical community, take note that Mahaney recently moved the corporate headquarters of SGM to Louisville, Kentucky. This is the home base for Big Al, president of Southern Seminary, and well known as “ground zero” for the New Calvinist movement (Collin Hansen: Young, Restless, Reformed; A Journalist’s Journey With The New Calvinists, chapter four, “Ground Zero: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky”). I mean, I know they are buddies and all, but you just don’t move a whole organization to another city for sentimental reasons. Something is up.
The New Calvinist movement has been hard at work to take over the SBC since 1981. A Presbyterian started Founders Ministries for the express purpose of that agenda. They even printed a manifesto accordingly. Scoff at the conspiracy theory if you must—but it is just plain fact. I document those facts in The Truth About New Calvinism: Its History, Doctrine, and Character. That’s why Southern is “ground zero” for the New Calvinist movement. It is also behind the attempted name change of the convention. If that goes through—it’s over—what the cartel has been working for since a small group of egomaniacs met at the Holiday Inn in Euless, Texas circa 1981 will be complete.
But the Southern Baptist faithful have proven to be a tuff nut to crack. To some degree, the doctrinal illiteracy of Southern Baptists has saved them. It is difficult to deceive people into changing their soteriology when they don’t even understand the difference between justification and sanctification. Southern Baptist New Calvinist heretics like David Platt only end up offending the faithful by dissing the concept of asking Jesus into my heart and reciting the sinner’s prayer. Hence, Southern Baptists don’t disdain New Calvinists because they propagate the false gospel of progressive justification, but because they offend their traditional sensibilities. Perhaps the greatest sin is the New Calvinist absence of Southern Baptist absolution: the alter call that replaced aggressive sanctification long ago.
So, this is down to the wire. The New Calvinist takeover of the SBC is at hand, or these guys are going to start their own gig. They have what’s left of SGM, they have the Passion Movement, they have the Emergent Church for the most part, the biblical counseling culture, and many Presbyterian churches as well. This is a gargantuan mass of time tested Kool-Aid drinking humanity. They no longer need to feed off of the Evangelical community. But what is immensely sad is the fact that we have ignorantly funded the cause while ignoring the muffled cries of those buried alive in the backyard.
I would also like to throw something else into my prognostic stew. John Piper recently “retired” from his pastorate at the Bethlehem temple. Do we really think he is going to retire to a life of seashell hunting in Florida? Yes, I know, he’s not beyond such hypocrisy, but it’s still highly doubtful. Trust me; he’s moving on to something bigger—much bigger. But what? I know where I would put my money if I had to.
This is all going somewhere because history always repeats itself. This movement has died five times since its conception in Geneva, and it will die again. It’s getting more and more difficult to suck the blood out of churches that the movement has covertly taken over because of the internet and those pesky discernment bloggers. For the first time since 1972, New Calvinists are being fingered in the pastoral interview process. The gig is up. There is not much more to pilfer in the Evangelical church at large, so they will separate.
But that will be the beginning of the end. Progressive justification always implodes. Progressive justification is like the lollypop knives Eskimos use to kill wolves. Fitting. Christians do not grow by staying at the foot of the cross. We do not grow by feeding on the gospel of first importance that saved us. Children in adult bodies will eventually devour themselves. It’s already happening: in all major wings of the New Calvinist movement there have been scandals that have made national headlines. It’s time for them to prove that bastard Semi-Pelagian evangelicals are to blame. If only they were not held back by the zombies of synergistic sanctification. If only they were not defiled by those who believe Jesus is a precept and unable to see His astounding personhood! Why, we don’t even know what Jesus’ favorite color is! Away with those who will not be wowed by what Jesus did rather than anything we can do! Ahhmen.
One way or the other, regardless of how wrong or right my prediction is, something is going to give. Every day, the Evangelical community is gaining a clearer picture of what’s going on. But if they do start their own denomination, the scene would be to die for. The Star Wars bar scene could not hold a light-sabre to it.
In all of the rampant abuse going on in the church today, a common thread has emerged: progressive justification—the idea that the same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you; and, you must preach the gospel to yourself every day, etc. It’s uniquely Reformed, and as we are learning, transcends the lines of Arminianism and Calvinism via Gospel Sanctification. You can function the same way regardless of it being your choice or not being your choice. Both can strongly emphasize salvation and downplay sanctification.
What is sanctification? That’s the Christian life that strives towards godliness. It strives to put on Christ, and put off the old man through intelligent obedience. So, if you think about it; obviously, if that is downplayed, change is not going to be the order of the day. Basically, you have people coming into the church the way the church found them, and then they are going to stay that way, no? “NO! Jesus changes them by faith alone in sanctification!” Well, how is that working for us? Answer: ABWE, BJU, SGM, etc., etc., etc.
“Sinners saved by grace” don’t act any different than sinners not saved by grace. Who knew? Both are still, “sinners.” But there is a bigger problem. If I understand the book of Romans correctly, unchanged people who come into the church will actually sin more than those who are of the world. And boy howdy, it sure be lookin’ that way of late. Downplaying an aggressive sanctification is a huge problem because the book of Romans makes a strong distinction between the only two spiritual groups in the world: those under the law, and those under grace.
The first group, “under the law,” according to the book of Romans, cannot obey the law (they disregard God’s counsel), will be judged by the law in the end, and are actually provoked by the law to sin. The second group, “under grace,” is enslaved to the law; love the law; desire to please God with the law, and war against their mortality for the purpose of pleasing God. If the gospel is presented to people in a way that they are not aware of what they are signing up for; i.e., being made a slave to righteousness, they might be merely signing up for eternal fire insurance. And once they come into the church the way they are and unchanged, they aren’t going to sin less—they are going to sin more because of the prevalence of God’s word in the church. People who do church for fire insurance are going to be constantly provoked into sin by the law.
The fusion of justification and sanctification is going to be most prevalent in Reformed churches where Jesus supposedly obeys for us. I might mention that the infamous Westboro Baptist Church are staunch Calvinists. And though they are criticized for their harsh rhetoric, it differs little from many things that Luther said himself. I have also written about Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince being proponents of progressive justification here: http://wp.me/pmd7S-1Ho. And apparently, even hyper-grace antinomian Jack Hyles was of the progressive justification mindset:
He taught that “everlasting life” and “eternal life” are two different things and a believer can have everlasting life without having eternal life, which he defined as something the believer must receive from God every day (Hyles, “The Gifts of God Are Everlasting Life and Eternal Life,” April 28, 1985). He claimed that the rich young ruler had everlasting life and merely wanted to know how to gain eternal life or how to get rewards in Heaven (Pastor David Cloud: “The Two Jacks,” p.27).
Weak sanctification can play out in many different ways: false doctrine; compromise; man-pleasing; hatred; false testimony; sins of the baser sort; etc. But any doctrine that doesn’t emphasize radical change shouldn’t expect any. What it should expect is what we call ourselves….”sinners” and “totally depraved.”
….which I usually stay away from, but the following quote did raise a question in my mind:
James White sums up the correct position well when he says: “Reformed Christians believe that men believe and choose. It is the order of events that is in dispute. Every Christian has chosen Christ, believed in Christ, embraced Christ, and even more, continues to do so. The question is not ‘must a person believe,’ but can a person believe while a slave to sin? Further, whose decision comes first: the decision of God to free the enslaved, dead sinner and give him the ability to believe, or the free-choice decision of the sinner that then makes him or her one of the elect?”
Just asking, and then I will quickly leave the debate again:
We are free to choose the flavor of ice cream we want, color of socks that we are going to wear today, and what we want for breakfast, but not God?
In an article recently written by Robin Schumacher on the Confident Christian blog, he addresses five misconceptions about the five points of Calvinism. And he is absolutely right; they are misconceptions and miss the point entirely. I will also grant him another point: Calvinism stands or falls on total depravity or the “T” in TULIP. He stated it this way:
It is no understatement to say that once a person fully understands the doctrine of total depravity, all other points in Calvinism are easy to accept. Get this teaching wrong, and you have a theological mess on your hands.
Of course, he then proceeds to get into to the whole pointless free will/election debate. Fact is, Calvinism is a “theological mess” because total depravity also applies to Christians. Calvinism and Reformed theology in general reject the new birth—regardless of the fact that Christ said, “You must be born again.”
Calvin’s concept of total depravity, articulated by the Synod of Dort, came from Luther’s foundational tenet: the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. Christ does not work IN us. The Reformers called this “infused grace” and posited it as the primary contention with Rome.
So, what are the Reformers talking about when they refer to Christ in us? I’m glad you asked. They mean, Christ in us BY FAITH ALONE. All of the work Christ does is outside us and accomplished by Christ alone for justification and sanctification both. Let me make this point by reminding you of how often you also hear this in Reformed circles:
Christ for us.
Like total depravity: not only “for” salvation, but “for” sanctification as well. Christ “for us” in sanctification because they believe sanctification finishes justification. Sanctification is actually the progressive in progressive justification. They call it “progressive sanctification,” but this is deliberate deception. That’s why all grace must remain outside of us lest we are enabled to partake in the finishing of our justification which would not be a perfect work because we are involved. They don’t separate justification and sanctification; justification is not a finished work.
That’s why Calvinism falls dead on the “T.”
We must remember that the Dark Ages were a European thing. And we must remember that Greco-Roman philosophy was the source and then it was turbocharged with the integration of European style religiosity. European religion has always been grounded in Plato’s disdain for humanity. Hence, one philosopher stated well that faith and force together are the destroyers of the modern world. One of the most notable historians of our time, K.R. Popper, fingered Plato specifically in regard to the logic that has wreaked havoc on Western culture through Communism, Islam, Catholicism, and Reformed theology. Augustine, one of the fathers of the Reformation, called Plato a pre-Christian Christian, and the juggernaut of faith and force was thus born.
And primarily, American religion was imported from Europe via the Puritans who were a European style religious political sect. They wanted to create a theocracy of their own in the new world. That’s the “religious freedom” they sought in America—a political one. Ironically, this importation of a European pandemic is romanticized by the Thanksgiving holiday. Somehow, deep in our evangelical American psyche, we think the Puritans could have led us to the religious utopia that we all lust for. And in-fact, deep in our evangelical psyches, we think the war still rages between our Puritan foundations and the evils of Enlightenment philosophy. And if Enlightenment philosophy would surrender, all would be well and the heavenly Jerusalem would finally come down to Earth.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Enlightenment thought, even with its many abhorrent shortcomings, launched America to unprecedented greatness as a nation because of three basic principles that God agrees with: man is free; man is capable; and man is responsible for the sum and substance of his own life before God. Men “small and great” will all stand before God. Plato’s philosopher kings do not stand before God in our stead regardless of the priestly garb that the Reformers have adorned them with.
In the movie, Moneyball, based on a true story, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team set all time league records with a meager budget and has-been players by breaking tradition with the ways big league teams have always been built. The player’s manager of the team was against the plan, and was a constant hindrance to its implementation. But when the Oakland A’s became the talk of the sports world because of the plan, the player’s manager got all of the credit. In the same way, the manager of American Christianity, the one of 95 Theses fame, Martin Luther, is given credit for America’s greatness. God has blessed America because of the Puritan missionary children that he spawned. Their roots are the lifeblood of America. We were “founded on their Christian principles.” This is a significant departure from reality.
Luther despised reason. He believed that reasoning was a dangerous stunt that the unenlightened masses shouldn’t try at home. And because they are not capable, they have to be protected from themselves; hence, neither are they free. To the degree that we are free the world is in a spree. Man must be saved from himself; by force if necessary, and for the good of the world. Martin Luther to the rescue. Stalin to the rescue. Muhammad to the rescue. The Moral Majority to the rescue. And on every Thanksgiving Day, deep, deep in our American psyche, a small still voice cries out: “Oh but for the Puritans! What could we be?” It’s all the same logic. You can dress it up in different doctrines, but it’s all the same. Logic comes in many doctrinal forms—both secular and religious.
The founding fathers of this country were children of the Enlightenment era. Until America popped up on the history radar screen, force and faith was the big league tradition. Our founding fathers proposed something different: government as the protector of man’s right to be free, capable, and responsible. And a government that served at the pleasure of the people to do so. It is a testimony to the power that is displayed when merely three ideas from God are implemented in our realty. Three ideas from God made America the envy of all world history. In the end, the motif that any child can perceive in the book of Revelation will fill the world with blood up to the horse’s bridles: force and faith. To what is said here, the proffers of force and faith, the Reformed of our day, answer in all of their Puritan glory, “I beg your pardon! Jesus Christ should be the envy of the world!” But which Jesus Christ? The Puritan Jesus Christ? And enlightened minds want to know: “Are we free to decide that for ourselves?” And: “Are we capable of even knowing that?” We fear that the answer to both of these questions is, “No.” And that is why giving you power in our lives at any level is a really bad idea.
Hence, To the degree that the Reformed Dark Age feigns, darkness in the American church does rein. And we are in that Dark Age. It came in essence as logic stowed away in the Mayflower’s diseased European rats bringing the same plague with it. I could drag out all of the apocalyptic data and its many faceted manifestations, but a recent televised top of the hour newscast introduction will suffice:
Here we go again, another sex scandal in the Evangelical church.
You notice they said, “Evangelical” and not “Catholic.” Anybody that knows the facts knows that sexual abuse and the subsequent cover-ups are just as prevalent in the Protestant Evangelical Church as it is in the Catholic Church. The scandals are the same, and the silence among clergy is the same, along with the same disregard for victims. Different doctrines—same logic—same results. Logic always has an endgame; there are many different doctrines that can get you there.
But the American Dark Age takes on a different appearance than the open fires of European religious wars and unspeakable terrors for it is tempered with freedom, capability, and responsibility. In the same way that God’s spies found refuge with a harlot, the American church has been saved from itself by Enlightenment thought. The result has been Reformed Light, and the carnage has been greatly limited. The European Reformers believed that children should be seen and not heard; American Reformed Light allows their children to play in a sandbox. Children are happier when they have a sandbox to play in, and they can form all kinds of ideas in what they make in the sand. But when it is time for dinner, it’s also time to put our little buckets and shovels away, run to the dinner bell, and obey mommy and daddy. They protect us from truth that can cause division because we are unable to handle truth, and they make truth a storybook that we can understand. They read it to us at night, and we are much comforted. We can pretend in the backyard, and we feel safe because mommy is watching from the kitchen window.
But the children of Reformed Light do not grow up. For certain, the American church is every bit like grown adults playing in a sandbox. The real Reformers now come forward and scoff at the pathetic sight, and say they are the answer. Yes, not playing with ideas at all must be the answer. Adults in a sandbox is not the problem, the sandbox is the problem. Sandboxes tempt people to play with truth. The Reformers to the rescue—those half breed Semi-Pelagian parents be damned.
Children in adult bodies will always rape, hate, pillage and steal. It is what it is: spiritually, they were born slaves, born incapable, and born irresponsible. Reformed theology is a bus of misfits, but all believe that it is the only bus going to heaven—the bus of faith alone in Puritan sanctification. All kinds are on the bus, but the tie that binds is womb to the tomb total depravity.
Some do not persevere in accepting their total depravity and the total depravity of others. Some do not trust God’s anointed to get the bus of misfits to heaven, so an Inquisition is needed. The European Reformers used the gallows and the burning stake (if the victim was lucky), brainwashing, and orthodoxy. The American Reformers can use brainwashing and orthodoxy, but because of the founding fathers, the American Reformers must replace the gallows and burning stake with character assassination, authority to condemn eternally, and false criminality. And all of the aforementioned paints the portrait of the present-day American Dark Age in the church. There is a little medal plate on the bottom of the spectacular painting hanging in the gallery of human history, and it reads:
Here we go again.
The Bible is written for mass consumption. All Bible books save a few were written to assemblies and not leadership. God has also written his word on the hearts of every person ever born into the world (Romans 2:14). We are all responsible before God, free to obey Him or not Obey Him, and obviously, must exercise our minds for understanding. We also live in the information age; so, if man was without excuse in the days of the apostolic church (Romans 2:1) we are certainly without excuse today.
Nations, particularly the USA, have used heavy bombers to drop propaganda leaflets on cities before an invasion or in an attempt to turn the population at large against the enemy leadership. Each bomb usually weighs about 250 lbs. and rains about 60,000 leaflets on a given area. During the Iraq/US war, leaflet bombings resulted in the mass surrender of Iraqi soldiers. In the same way, regardless of what’s going on in the world, God has a message of truth for every person. Invariably, it is man’s responsibility to do what God wants him to do in any given situation.
God has given the truth to all men, and only the truth will set us free. We need to pick up the leaflet and surrender to the Chief Shepherd. The Reformation is responsible for this present Dark Age in the American church. It is a doctrine that must be rejected with prejudice, and we must disdain anything that has touched its filthy garments.
A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
This blog has always been a tool for working through the best ways to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. For three years this blog has tested theses after theses with an open invitation to be proven wrong on every point by the New Calvinists. And no doubt, adjustments have been made. Though mostly personal attacks and the pointing out of 2-3 grammatical errors in a 2000 word post, acceptance of criticism has been key to where this ministry has come. And it has been a long, hard road. I didn’t just put up a blog and start writing, among many other preparations, I took college courses for the specific purpose of being as effective as I could be.
Some critical emails serve my purpose, and this morning, I received a New Calvinist jewel. It is a wonderful piece of Reformed talking points that exposes their egregious false gospel and the verbiage they attempt to use in the winning of an argument. The email can be addressed in order and point by point. Mighty convenient.
You would have made an excellent Pharisee. Like you, they delighted in law, instead of delighting in Christ. They searched the Scriptures because in them they thought they had eternal life, but Jesus said “they [the Old Testament Scriptures] are they that testify of me, but you do not wish to come to me that you might have life.” Then he makes the bold claim about Moses’ writings, “he wrote of me.”
First, Reformed hacks have fed on the Pharisee lie for a long time. The Pharisees were NOT “legalists” (a word that is not in the Bible), but were rank antinomians (“anomia,” a word that appears throughout the New Testament). They didn’t love the law, they loved their tradition. Christ’s specific indictment against the Pharisees was that they made the law void by integrating it with their traditions (Matthew 151-9, Mark 7:9-13).
Like you, they delighted in law, instead of delighting in Christ.
As we have seen, they DID NOT delight in the law, they delighted in their tradition. But note that although the Scriptures say Christians delight in the law (Romans 7:22), according to the Reformed false gospel, we can’t delight in the law and Christ both. To delight in the law is to delight in the law “instead” of Christ. It’s either the law or Christ—it can’t be both. This should speak for itself, and I have written extensively on the Reformed heresies that this reasoning is founded on. Primarily, Luther believed that reality could only be interpreted through one of two prisms: the cross story (the works of Christ [reality]) or the glory story (anything we do [unreality]). This can also be seen in the first tenet of New Covenant Theology which is the stream of Reformed thought that came out of the Australian Forum via Jon Zens:
New Covenant Theology insists on the priority of Jesus Christ over all things, including history, revelation, and redemption. New Covenant Theology presumes a Christocentricity to the understanding and meaning of all reality.
It’s Gnosticism—pure and simple. Christ is the “vision of the good” and everything else is evil.
They searched the Scriptures because in them they thought they had eternal life, but Jesus said “they [the Old Testament Scriptures] are they that testify of me, but you do not wish to come to me that you might have life.” Then he makes the bold claim about Moses’ writings, “he wrote of me.”
Of course Moses wrote about Christ, but does that mean that everything in the Old Testament is about Christ only and not what he tells us to do? Part and parcel with being saved is a commitment to follow Christ by obeying the law (“follow me”). When we commit to Christ, we are recognizing that He will (after the commitment) make us slaves (douleuo) to His law (Romans 7:25). In what I call the gospel according to Moses in Exodus 21:3-8, he splatters them with blood AFTER their commitment to obey the law. Peter alluded to this event specifically in 1Peter 1:1, 2. Before the foundation of the world, and according to God’s foreknowledge and our setting apart by the Spirit, we were set apart “FOR obedience to Jesus Christ” and for “sprinkling with His blood.”
Let me be clear: we don’t do anything to be saved, but when Christ makes us new creatures, He also enslaves us to His law and enables us to obey it. Though we can’t do anything to be saved, we should know that when Christ answers our plea for salvation—He makes us His slave. We now seek to “follow” Him in obedience and love Him by keeping his commandments. I can’t state this fact better than the apostle Paul:
Romans 8:1 -There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The Pharisees didn’t search the Scriptures for that purpose. This Calvinist, like all of them, makes the fact that they searched the Scriptures for something other than Jesus synonymous with searching the law for ways to work your way into heaven. Christ didn’t even begin to give them that much credit for being closer to the truth. He stated that they made the law of God “void” altogether. Furthermore, many Jews thought they were saved by virtue of the fact that God had appointed them as caretakers of His word. He could have just as easily been referring to that, but it is clear that Christ’s broader point was the following: while claiming to be experts on the law, they were rejecting Him who is one of the major themes of the Scriptures. The other major themes are the other two members of the Trinity.
A person would have to be spiritually blind to miss the typological relationship between the Old Testament Scriptures and the truth revealed in Christ. You are right to observe “The Bible has built-in rules for interpretation throughout.” Not only did God reveal his truth through Jesus and the Apostles; he also revealed to us through their example how we are to interpret the Scriptures.
You seem to have misunderstood the nature of biblical typology. One of the characteristics of a type is that, unlike allegory, it is based on historical fact. We reject the allegorical method of interpretation, but fully embrace the typological pattern Jesus and the Apostle’s used and taught. If you should try to interpret the Book of Hebrews, for example, apart from typology you would be completely at sea. And what of John’s declaration “Behold the Lamb of God?” and Jesus’ declaration “I am the bread of life.” Typology is not a Greek hermeneutic; it is a biblical hermeneutic.
I don’t misunderstand the Reformed approach to “typology” at all. The following is the 6th tenet of New Covenant Theology:
All of the Old Testament scriptures are inherently prophetic in that the entire Old Testament, the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets, point forward to and anticipate the WORD Incarnate, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). New Covenant Theology presumes that Jesus Christ, in his person and his saving acts, is the hermeneutic center of the Bible.
Then, John Piper states that our justification is maintained by meditating on those saving acts alone:
In the first image, the believer has no security or confidence that he will make it to heaven. In the second image the believer has security in the wrong place; a kind of automatic eternal security that can get you to heaven another way than by the chain of God’s saving, persevering acts revealed in Scripture.
Hence, we persevere to the end by God’s “saving” “acts” PLURAL as “revealed” in “Scripture.” It’s salvation by seeing all of Scripture as redemptive acts. Typology is needed to do this because a literal interpretation causes many problems with this approach. The whole Bible must be interpreted by “rich typology.” Meditation on the works of Christ alone in the Scriptures enables us to live by faith alone in sanctification as a means of maintaining our just standing. Again, Christ plus mediation on his works alone as found in the Scriptures to keep our salvation intact. We are doing something (meditation), and not doing something (obeying the law in sanctification) to keep our salvation. That’s a problem.
You wrote, “To take away from this construct by making the Bible a narrative rather than objective law is to drive a stake through the essence of the of the gospel.” For you, law is the gospel. You even stated that “Law” and “gospel” are used interchangeably. It is true to state that on occasions the term “law” is used as a synonym for the revealed truth of God, but that is altogether different from stating that law and gospel are used interchangeably. You would have found full agreement with the Pharisees. The reality is that Law and gospel are founded on two distinctively different principles. The principle of law is “the man who does them shall live by them.” The principle of the gospel is “the righteous shall live by faith.” Those principles are mutually exclusive. If it is of works, it is no longer by grace.
This statement reveals how ignorant Calvinists think the average parishioner is. “Gospel” means “good news.” All of God’s word is “good news.” This Calvinist, like all Calvinists, makes the good news of the blood synonymous with all of the good news in the Bible, and then makes it mutually exclusive from the law. The Sermon on the Mount is the “good news of the kingdom,” but Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is not once mentioned in the sermon. The death, burial, and resurrection is the good news of “first importance” (protos 1Cor. 15:3). The word speaks of the order, or what is before what is next. We are to then add works to the foundation of our faith in sanctification (1Peter 1:5-11).
The reality is that Law and gospel are founded on two distinctively different principles.
How can that be? We wouldn’t know anything about the gospel if it wasn’t for the law. Law isn’t just the Ten Commandments, it’s the full counsel of God (Matthew 5: 18). Instead of the law (word of God) informing us on the gospel, he makes the gospel a separate entity “founded” on a different “principle.” But we are either “under law” or “under grace.” And “under grace” DOES NOT EXCLUDE THE LAW, but in fact ENSLAVES US TO THE LAW (Romans 7:25). A Christian is also defined by his/her ability to keep the law as opposed to those who are under it (Romans 8:7,8). Furthermore, one of the primary purposes for which we were saved was so that the righteous requirement of the law could be fulfilled in us (Romans 8:4).
His erroneous Reformed position is further stated:
The principle of law is “the man who does them shall live by them.” The principle of the gospel is “the righteous shall live by faith.” Those principles are mutually exclusive. If it is of works, it is no longer by grace.
This is a clear fusion of justification and sanctification by virtue of the fact that law/works and faith/grace are mutually exclusive. Law is totally separate, rather than having a different relationship to both. Hence, those “under grace” cannot be enslaved to the law which is synonymous with unregeneration. If the law is mutually exclusive—there is no gospel. A saved person is enslaved to the law.
Moreover, his statements lack a context in regard to justification and sanctification because the Reformed see them as the same thing. Hence, “The principle of law is ‘the man who does them shall live by them’”….for justification or sanctification? “The principle of the gospel is ‘the righteous shall live by faith’”….for justification or sanctification? If the Reformed answer honestly, they say, “both” because they see the two as being the same.
I have never encountered an individual who claimed to be a Christian as you do who seemed to delight so much in detracting from Christ. There is no question the Scriptures provide us with moral principles and flesh and blood examples [usually negative examples in the OT Scriptures] of how we should live, but the Scriptures are more than a legalistic manual for life. If you read the Scriptures and miss Christ, you have missed the heart of the biblical message.
You have often stated that we believe “every verse in the Bible is about Jesus.” It is difficult to imagine that anyone could believe 1 Chron. 26:18 “at Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar” for example, could be a reference to Jesus. Your claim, as is usual for you, twists our position. What we do believe is that the Scriptures are not primarily a book about laws, but primarily a book about Christ. Even those passages that report the abysmal failures of prophets, priests, kings, judges, etc. point forward to him who will fulfill these offices perfectly to the glory of God.
I will conclude with the simple truth that these last two paragraphs by him illustrate the Reformed, and very Gnostic Emphasis hermeneutic.
Sure, shadows are true, but to the degree that we focus on the shadows, we detract from the full life-giving powers of the sun Son. Sure, the new birth is true, but to the degree that we focus on a work that is supposedly done within us, we detract from the Son. Hence: “I have never encountered an individual who claimed to be a Christian as you do who seemed to delight so much in detracting from Christ.” Other Reformers warn of “eclipsing Christ” by emphasizing the Father and the Holy Spirit as much as Christ. In Gnostic venues, focus on the material detracts from the “vision of the good.”
Therefore, though I say they believe every verse in the Bible is about Christ to make a point, more accurately, they believe that Scriptures where Christ can’t be seen shouldn’t be “emphasized. ” That would be a problem because Christ stated that man lives by “every word” that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). An example of how this incites the Reformed to approach the Bible follows:
Immediate context is vital; however this is a starting point and not an end. From the immediate context begin to think of the wider contextual range (Sentence, Paragraph, book, whole Bible). At this time, resist the temptation to utilize subsequent passages to validate the meaning or to move out from the immediate context. Remembering that all exegesis must finally be a Christocentric exegesis.
Ever wonder why everything is About Jesus in Reformed churches and the Holy Spirit and the Father are seldom mentioned?
I will keep saying it: people don’t get up one morning and decide to be spiritual abusers. The present-day spiritual abuse tsunami in the church wasn’t created from nothing. If you believe the neo-Calvinist resurgence of late is unrelated to the sharp increase of spiritual abuse in the church →I have some oceanfront property here in Xenia, Ohio that I would like to sell you.
For some time, I have sat typingless in regard to anti-spiritual abuse bloggers who are Calvinists. Whatever. Does one really think that Calvin’s logic had no relationship to his behavior? And the one that just kills me is the Reformed pastor who is a hero among the anti-spiritual abuse crowd. The guy is a strong advocate of Jon Zens who was one of the core-four of the Australian Forum which launched the present-day New Calvinist movement.
He also brags about how much he enjoys reading the Puritans. The Puritans were Calvin’s ugly stepchildren and were responsible for wiping out the entire population of women in some European towns during the medieval Witch Wars. As fanatical political refugees, they fled Europe and brought their pandemic logic to American soil. Consequently, Americans have to claim part of their filth as our infant history; ie., the Salem Witch Trials and the executions of Quakers for being Quakers. The International Day of Religious Freedom (Oct. 27th) is a spiritual Pearle Harbor Day, and the Puritans are the Japanese in that story. But yet, they are spiritual heroes among the Reformed; go figure.
This same pastor also idolizes John Piper who sits on the board of the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. Their magnum opus is the Danvers Statement which was compiled in Danvers, MA. → the very same location of the Salem Witch trials. This is absolutely no accident—it is an open mockery of women and the Enlightenment thought that had to save American Christianity from a wicked European foundation. This is often the case: God has to send in people with commonsense to save us from ourselves.
I was finally jolted into writing this after being referred to several “commendable” articles by fellow anti-spiritual abuse bloggers. Several of these messages were right out of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation which is the core logic of the Reformation. Luther hated humanity, and believed God only works through us when we are brought to nothing. He believed the Christian life was a series of deaths and rebirths founded on perpetual justification through the “cross story.” To Luther, the joy of rebirth could only be experienced through the ravaging of our own personal story, or the “glory story.” When we suffer these deaths, a new birth or resurrection happens and our just standing before God is maintained. It’s truly salvation by a life of misery.
Calvin then took Luther’s principle (which he got from Auggie and Gregory who got it from Plato who was the inspiration for neo-Islamic thought and communism as well): all wisdom is the difference between God’s holiness and our wretchedness, and extrapolated that single principle into a full-orbed philosophical statement on life. The Calvin Institutes are built totally on the foundation of the first sentence thereof which states the essence of Luther’s Disputation. Calvin’s ability to take this simple dualist principle and build a full-orbed metaphysical statement speaks to his genius while escaping the Mass Murderers Hall of Fame.
Hence, we have pastors from coast to coast who don’t necessarily see rape as a bad thing. Rape leads to brokenness, and a wonderful opportunity to experience God’s resurrection life. Why do you think the pastorate is so indifferent to what’s going on? It’s not just cowardliness, they also share the logic of our Protestant roots.
I perceive a lot naïve young people, new to the ministry, who are latching on to these concepts unawares. They perceive biblical warnings about wolves in sheep’s clothing through the lens of their own arrogance; ie., “Because of how smart I am, it will look like a cheap costume.” Therefore, they don’t see the disconnect in logic.
But if they don’t, they will continue in their attempt to help people with the same logic that brought their misery.
Good luck with that one.
The Utter Folly and Anti-Gospel of Bible as Story/Narrative: Christian Academia is Making Fools of the Laity
All of the rage in our day is Bible as redemptive narrative. Yes, the story, or narrative that gives us the “big picture” of God’s redemptive story. This concept is packaged in feel-good truisms like “History is ‘His story.’” The Bible is about a person, Jesus Christ; so, would you make an instruction manual out of a person’s life story? Would you systematize a person’s life story? The idea is to be wowed by who God is personally, and He invites you into His story. “It’s a person—not a precept.”
This is all disingenuous because we are still dealing with hermeneutics. We are still dealing with exegesis verses eisegesis. The question of the day is still epistemology: how we know what we know. For you who want to romanticize our faith—it doesn’t work.
If the Bible is God’s revelation to man, and it is, be sure that he will also reveal how he wants his word to be interpreted. Fact is, the Bible has built-in rules for interpretation throughout. ANYrules of interpretation for a text must be validated by the Bible itself. So, what about Bible as story or narrative? After an exhaustive study on what the Bible would state about this interpretive model, it begs the question: where is it?
On that note, let’s start with a blog named “Istoria Ministries” by Reformed teacher/pastor Wade Burleson. The subtitle reads as follows:
Istoria is a Greek word that can be translated as both story and history. Istoria Ministries, led by Wade and Rachelle Burleson, helps people experience the life transforming power of Jesus Christ so that their story may become part of His story.
Burleson is right, it is a Greek word, but is it in the Greek New Testament? After hours of research, I cannot find it anywhere. In fact, Hebrew or Greek canon words that project the English idea of history, narrative, or story are either extremely scarce or nonexistent. The closest idea is the word “parable” which is a story that helps define truth. It’s a teaching tool. But in every case where a parable is implemented as a teaching method, the Bible plainly introduces it as such beforehand. It doesn’t appear that parables in the Bible are meant to be stories that explain the story.
The Greek word historia came about around 500 BC and means, “Inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation.” Prior to that, mythology ruled the day. Mythology is “Ideology in narrative form.” The word, “historia” was introduced into the English language as “story” in 1390 AD and had the same meaning as its Greek origin. But prior to that between 180 AD and 553 AD, particularly among European theologians, the concept of mythology as sacred narrative/novel was integrated into the concept of historia for the purposes of interpreting the Bible:
Melitios of Sardis who died in 180AD read the Old Testament as a typology – it is a preparation for the Messiah in a similar way that a sketch or a model is the preparation that an artist, sculpture or architect does before making the reality represented in the preliminary sketch or work. Theodore of Mopsuestia who died in 428AD gives us some sense about how Christians in the 5th Century approached the Scriptures. For though Theodore was condemned for his teachings long after his death by the 5th Ecumenical Council in 553, his methods in interpreting Scriptures were shared by St. John Chrysostom and others in the Antiochian tradition of interpretation.
“In this work (Commentary on the Psalms) it is evident, first, that Theodore is almost entirely concerned with the istoria of the biblical text rather than its theoria. By istoria I mean the narrative meaning of the text, not its literal or historical meaning. On the other hand, theoria refers to the spiritual meaning of the Scripture in Antiochene theological circles. Thus the istoria of any given text may also provide the theoria, since the narrative meaning on occasion can and does supply the spiritual sense.” (Harry Pappas in SACRED TEXT AND INTERPRETATION, Ed. Theodore Stylianopoulos, p 59-60).
Later in history, istoria became a term that referred to story painting or history painting:
History paintings usually depict a moment in a narrative story, rather than a specific and static subject, such as a portrait. The term is derived from the wider senses of the word historia in Latin and Italian, and essentially means “story painting”, rather than the painting of scenes from history in its narrower sense in modern English, for which the term historical painting may be used, especially for 19th century art. Paintings almost always contain a number of figures, often a large number. The genre includes depictions of moments in religious narratives, above all the Life of Christ, as well as narrative scenes from mythology, and also allegorical scenes. These groups were for long the most frequently painted; works such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling are therefore history paintings, as are most very large paintings before the 19th century. The term covers large paintings in oil on canvas or fresco produced between the Renaissance and the late 19th century, after which the term is generally not used even for the many works that still meet the basic definition.
All in all, istoria is the integration of mythology and history as a way to interpret and communicate truth.
At the very least, to accept istoria in our day, one must assert that a Greek hermeneutic was accepted into an interpretive method grounded in Hebraic roots: this is extremely unlikely. But beyond that, the notion that the Bible should be interpreted in narrative form, even partially, eradicates the significance of the gospel. Throughout Scripture, the Bible is presented as LAW, and this is critical to the gospel. “Law,” “gospel,” “word,” “law and the prophets,” “Scripture,” “holy writ,” etc. are all used interchangeably to refer to the full counsel of God; ie., His full philosophical statement to man including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics.
The objective law of God is intrinsic to gospel and eternal life. This is because eternal life and death are defined by being under the law or under grace. The linchpin of this is obedience. In an Old Testament passage that Peter alludes to (1Peter1:1, 2 → Exodus 24:7, 8) we read the following:
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Based on a commitment to understand and obey God’s law, they were sprinkled (splattered) with blood. The apostle Paul then explains what the results of that are:
Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Throughout the book of Romans, Paul describes two relationships to the law: under the law in regard to those who are hostile to it, but while under it see their need for Christ constantly. They see objectively where they fall short of the law. On the other hand, those who are under grace delight in the law and are able to please God by obeying it.
To take away from this construct by making the Bible a narrative rather than objective law is to drive a stake through the essence of the gospel. To put ourselves into a narrative rather than a seeking to understand God’s word for life application, and to beckon the lost to enter into a narrative rather than to repent and obey the gospel is antithetical to the true gospel.
“Don’t misunderstand: the problem of ‘victim mentality’ is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary.”
“Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story.”
Martin Luther had more on his mind than silly Popes when he nailed his 95 Theses to the front door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. That protest launched the Reformation, but six months later Luther presented the systematic theology of the Reformation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation laid the foundation, and John Calvin later articulated and applied its basic principles to the full spectrum of life in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.
The Cross Story and the Glory Story
Luther’s cross story, or theology of the cross is the crux of the Heidelberg Disputation and introduced in the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes:
Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.
That’s Luther’s theology of the cross: a deeper and deeper knowledge of our putrid humanity as set against God’s holiness. And NOTHING in-between. All of creation, all events, and all reality contribute to deeper knowledge of one of these two, and then both as a deeper knowledge of each gives more understanding to the other; knowledge of both, and the experience of both. Hence, every blessing, including our good works which are done by the Holy Spirit to begin with, lends more understanding of God’s glory. Every evil event, sin, and tragedy lends deeper understanding in regard to our total depravity and worthlessness. But of course your mother is dying of cancer; I am amazed that God would give anyone as many years as He has given her. Who are we to think we deserve even one year of life? And what a wonderful opportunity for her to suffer the way Jesus suffered for us!
This is the cross story. See the illustration below. This is a contemporary depiction from that camp—this is their assessment:
Anything else at all that gives any credit to humanity—Christian or non-Christian is the “glory story.” That would be our glory specifically, and not Christ’s. To the degree that humanity is considered, the glory of Christ is “ECLIPSED.” This is the theses of a book written by John MacArthur associate Rick Holland: Uneclipsing The Son. Everything is perceived as speaking through one of these two perspectives. ANYTHING coming from what is perceived as the “glory story” is summarily dismissed. Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think. This is their worldview.
In one of the former Resolved Conferences sponsored by John MacArthur and Holland, in one of his messages, Holland extols a letter written to Puritan Christopher Love by his wife as he awaited execution. Holland forgot to mention to those listening that Love was executed for espionage against the English government while letting the audience assume he was executed for loftier spiritual-like reasons. The following is excerpts from the letter:
O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father’s hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ…. I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my own unspeakable loss, but wholly keep my eye fixed upon thy inexpressible and inconceivable gain. Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory…. Thou dost but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace. And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that the spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above. I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes thy feet trample on the loss of earth.
Justice? That implies that humanity has some sort of value. That implies that life itself has some sort of value. That implies that humanity should be protected through threat of punishment. That’s the glory story. Therefore, Calvin stated the following:
Those who, as in the presence of God, inquire seriously into the true standard of righteousness, will certainly find that all the works of men, if estimated by their own worth, are nothing but vileness and pollution, that what is commonly deemed justice is with God mere iniquity; what is deemed integrity is pollution; what is deemed glory is ignominy (CI 3.12.4).
Death by Biblical Counseling
The church must face up to a sobering reality in our day. The vast majority of biblical counseling that goes on in our day is based on this construct—you will be counseled from the perspective of the cross story, and anything that smacks of the glory story will be snubbed. You are not a victim. There is no such thing as a victim. Christ was the only true victim in all of history. Don’t misunderstand: the problem of “victim mentality” is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary. “Victim” is part of the glory story; Christ as the only victim is the cross story. I am not a victim. That’s impossible because my sin nailed Christ to the cross. Thank you oh Lord that I was raped. Thank you for this opportunity to suffer for you. Thank you for the strength to forgive the one who raped me in the same way you forgave me. What a wonderful opportunity to show forth your gospel!
Hence, when the leaders of a Reformed church came to inform parents that a young man in that church had molested their toddler, this was the opening statement:
Today, we have before us an opportunity to forgive.
The parents were then counseled to not contact the authorities. Those who do are often brought up on church discipline. Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story. And be not deceived: this is the logic that drives Reformed organizations that are supposed to be mediators in the church; specifically, Peacemaker Ministries and G.R.A.C.E. A major player in the Biblical Counseling Movement is Paul David Tripp. In 2006, he wrote a book that articulates the horizontal application of Luther’s theology of the cross: “How people Change.” Of course, the title is a lie; if he really believed people change, that would be the glory story. Notice also that it is, “How People Change” and not, “How Christians Change.” That’s because this bunch see no difference in the transforming power of the new birth and ordinary Christ-rejecting people.
In the book, Tripp, like all who propagate Luther’s theology of the cross, posits the Bible as a “big picture” narrative of our redemptive life. The Bible is a mere tool for one thing only: leading us more and more into the cross story and away from the glory story. This is accomplished by using the Bible to enter into the cross narrative and thereby seeing our preordained part in the “big picture” narrative of redemptive history. Though Tripp is not forthright about it in the book, this is known as the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic. By seeing our life through the cross story, we are empowered to live life for God’s glory. This is done by seeing ALL circumstances in life (Heat) as preordained in order to show our sinfulness (Thorns) and God’s goodness (Fruit) for the purposes of having a deeper understanding of both resulting in spiritual wellbeing. In other words, all of life’s circumstances are designed to give us a deeper understanding of the cross story: God’s holiness, and our sinfulness. I have taken his primary visual illustration from the book and drawn lines to the cross story illustration to demonstrate the relationship (click on image to enlarge):
Understanding this lends insight to Tripp citations on the Peacekeepers Ministries website:
Paul Trip wrote a great post over at The Gospel Coalition blog all about the need for pastors to pursue a culture of forgiveness in their ministry. Pastors (and anyone serving Christ) have a choice:
“You can choose for disappointment to become distance, for affection to become dislike, and for a ministry partnership to morph into a search for an escape. You can taste the sad harvest of relational détente that so many church staffs live in, or you can plant better seeds and celebrate a much better harvest. The harvest of forgiveness, rooted in God’s forgiveness of you, is the kind of ministry relationship everyone wants.”
Then he describes three ways forgiveness can shape your ministry. I’ve listed them, but you can read how he explains them in detail.
“1. Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection.
2. Forgiveness produces patience.
3. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in relationships grows.”
He closes with this exhortation:
“So we learn to make war, but no longer with one another. Together we battle the one Enemy who is after us and our ministries. As we do this, we all become thankful that grace has freed us from the war with one another that we used to be so good at making.”
And concerning another author, they also stated:
Last week, Steve Cornell at The Gospel Coalition blog posted some really great insight into the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They also offered up some excellent and biblically sound steps in dealing with a situation where an offending party is hesitant to reconcile.
Here he summarizes a key distinction:
“It’s possible to forgive someone without offering immediate reconciliation. It’s possible for forgiveness to occur in the context of one’s relationship with God apart from contact with her offender. But reconciliation is focused on restoring broken relationships. And where trust is deeply broken, restoration is a process—sometimes, a lengthy one”…. His ten guidelines for those hesitant to reconcile are rooted in scripture and, I think, incredibly helpful.
1. Be honest about your motives.
2. Be humble in your attitude.
3. Be prayerful about the one who hurt you.
4. Be willing to admit ways you might have contributed to the problem.
5. Be honest with the offender.
6. Be objective about your hesitancy.
7. Be clear about the guidelines for restoration.
8. Be alert to Satan’s schemes.
9. Be mindful of God’s control.
10. Be realistic about the process.
Notice the overall blurring of distinction between the offended and offender with the subject of forgiveness.
The Cross-centered Anti-justice Pandemic is No longer Exclusively a Reformed Thing
Apart from Calvinism, the redemptive historical cross-centered approach is crossing denominational lines en masse. We at TANC see doctrines that were born of Luther’s theology of the cross in non-Reformed circles constantly; specifically, heart theology (deep repentance), exclusive interpretation of the Scriptures through a redemptive prism, Gospel Sanctification, and John Piper’s Christian hedonism. And we also see the same results. It is not beyond the pale for a pastor who has raped a parishioner to be the one counseling the victim sinner. You know, the “sinner saved by grace.”
God is a God of justice, and throughout the Scriptures He demands that we be people of justice. He demands that we come to the defense of the victim. I close with fitting words from church historian John Immel:
And this is the challenge. This is the challenge that I have as a man who is passionate about thinking: to inspire people to engage in complex ideas that drive tyranny. So here’s my challenge to those who are listening.
Do not be seduced into believing that righteousness is retreat from the world.
Do not be seduced into believing that spirituality is defined by weakness and that timid caution for fear of committing potential error is a reason to be quiet.
Do not be intimidated by vague, hazy threats of failure.
Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality. I’m going to say that again to you. This is good. Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality.
Do not mistake the simple nature of God’s love for a justification for simple-mindedness.
Do not deceive yourself with the polite notion that you are above the fray, that your right to believe is sufficient to the cause of righteousness. There is no more stunning conceit.
Do not pretend that your unwillingness to argue is the validation of truth.
Know this: Virtue in a vacuum is like the proverbial sound in the forest–irrelevant without a witness. Character is no private deed. To retreat is nothing more than a man closing his eyes and shutting his mouth to injustice.
Virtues are not estimates to be lofted gently against evil.
Virtues are not to be withheld from view in the name of grace.
Virtues are not to be politely swallowed in humble realization that we are all just sinners anyway.
Love is not a moral blank check against the endless tide of indulgent action.
Love is not blind to the cause and effect of reality.
Love is not indifference to plunder and injustice and servitude.
The time is now, you men of private virtue, to emerge from your fortress of solitude and demonstrate that you are worthy of a life that bears your name. The time is now, you men of private virtue, to answer Mick Jagger and all the nihilists that insist we are living on the edge and we cannot help but fall. It is time for you men of private virtue to take up the cause of human existence and think.
~TANC 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny: John Immel; session 1, “Assumptions + Logic = Action.”
Authentic Calvinism dies a social death every 100 to 150 years because of the spiritual tyranny that goes hand in hand with it. In Authentic Calvinism, all reality and knowledge worth knowing is a deeper and deeper knowledge of how evil we are as “set against the holiness of God.” Hence, all tragedy, sin, misfortune, etc., contributes to our knowledge of how worthless we are. Have you been raped by a leader in the church? Awesome! What a wonderful opportunity to show forth the forgiveness of Christ that you have received by forgiving your rapist. What a wonderful opportunity to show forth the importance of tending to your own sin and not the sin of others. And what about “justice”? Justice?! Just be glad you haven’t received the justice that you deserve! Here is what Calvin said about justice:
Those who, as in the presence of God, inquire seriously into the true standard of righteousness, will certainly find that all the works of men, if estimated by their own worth, are nothing but vileness and pollution, that what is commonly deemed justice is with God mere iniquity; what is deemed integrity is pollution; what is deemed glory is ignominy (CI 3.12.4).
Eventually, this logic hits a dead-end with people. Authentic Calvinism dies, and out of the ashes comes an adjusted version with a sounder soteriology. But the nomenclature, “Calvinist” is retained. Unlike the evolutionary cesspool of Authentic Calvinism that yields a Sanctified Calvinism, the latter holds to a measure of enablement on the part of the believer, especially in the category of law-keeping. Then, when Authentic Calvinism rears its ugly head in a societal resurgence, the former and latter go to war.
The First Calvinist Civil War
The first war occurred shortly after the siblings of the Reformation, the Puritans, landed on American soil from Europe. The Bible of choice was the Geneva Bible. An Authentic Calvinist, Anne Hutchinson, started a Bible study in her home. She was a rabid follower of John Cotton, Authentic Calvinist extraordinaire. In fact, when Cotton was forced to leave for America, she followed him here. In her Bible studies, she accused the rest of the Puritan gang of being legalists because they didn’t share John Cotton’s assertion that Jesus keeps the law for us in sanctification (or the Christian life), so that we can stand in the future judgment clothed in the perfect obedience of Christ and not our own. In turn, the other Puritan Calvinists (Sanctified: believe that law informs sanctification without effecting justification) accused her of being an antinomian. This was known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony antinomian controversy of 1637.
The Colony was a theocracy modeled after European Calvinistic Puritanism. Hutchison was brought to trial by the courts as well as her home church. Cotton, while defending Hutchinson, was able to play both sides of the fence and emerge unscathed. Hutchinson was eventually banished from the Colonies and was murdered by Indians five years later.
Sanctified Calvinists: 1.
Authentic Calvinists: 0.
However, not long after, the fallout from the European style Salem witch trials put an end to the Puritan theocracy.
The Second Calvinist Civil War
In 1970, two significant Reformed movements emerged and began having profound effect on American church culture: the biblical counseling movement founded by Sanctified Calvinist Dr. Jay E. Adams, and the beginnings of what is now known as the New Calvinist movement. The New Calvinist movement is the latest revival of Authentic Calvinism. The movement was trampled to death in Calvinistic Baptist circles, but found life in Dr. John Miller’s Sonship Discipleship program. Disciples of Miller infiltrated the biblical counseling movement and went to war with Adams claiming that his counseling construct wasn’t “vertical enough.” Basically, the same grace/works contention between the two Calvinist camps that occurred in 1637. Adams was eventually pushed out of the movement that he founded all together via character assassination and retreated to a small counseling organization of his own.
Authentic Calvinists: 1
Sanctified Calvinists: 1
The series is now tied.
The fundamental defect of Reformed theology is its view of law and gospel; specifically, Christians remain under the law instead of a transformation to under grace. “Grace” becomes a covering for remaining under the law instead of something totally separate. Those who are under the law will be judged by it at the final judgment, are provoked to sin by it, can’t comprehend it, and are unable to obey it (Romans 8:7,8). Have you ever heard a Calvinist describe Christians in that way? That’s why. Calvinism collapses unregeneration into regeneration; hence, Total Depravity (the “T” in TULIP) also refers to believers. In one respect among many, it is impossible for Christians to be totally depraved because there is no law to judge us as totally depraved. Discussing ways in which this may be true practically are also fruitless because where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 4:15, 5:13, 7:1,6,).
It’s like this: you are brought into court based on charges that you are unrighteous. You are found innocent for three reasons: you possess the righteous of God; there is no law in which to judge you; and even if there was, Christ has already served your time and paid the penalty.
Note what Paul states in Galatians 3:10-14;
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
In Reformed theology, we are still under the law, but they make the fulfillment of the law part of the atonement. In other words, atonement is not a righteousness revealed “apart from the law” (Romans 3:21). Christ paid the penalty of sin by dying on the cross, but also lived a perfect life on earth to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. The law is therefore still a standard for determining righteousness. It is a standard for justification that must be fulfilled in order for us to be found in the righteousness of God that is imputed to us.
Hence, Christ “lived and died” for our justification. His life lived on earth becomes part of the atonement in that the perfect obedience of Christ is imputed to our sanctification—IF we appropriate the works of Christ by faith alone in sanctification. However, the Scriptures never say that, but rather state that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected for our justification (Romans 4:25). By “one act” of obedience we were justified, not the totality of His obedience while He lived on earth (Romans 5:19, Hebrews 10:10 [“sanctified” used in the sense of being permanently set apart and declared holy]).
Calvin makes it clear in the Calvin Institutes (3.14.9,10,11) that attempts to keep the law as Christians is futile because we are unable to keep it perfectly. This is the same standard that those who are under the law (Romans 6:14) are confronted with. Therefore, obviously, the law is still a standard for justification in the Reformed gospel construct. Calvin’s answer to our dilemma is found in CI: 3.14.11; he states that the righteousness of Christ is applied to us as we revisit the gospel; specifically, he states that our “reconciliation with God” is “perpetual.” No wonder that we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”
Fundamentally, there is no difference between Catholicism and Protestantism. Both see salvation as linear. In other words, sanctification finishes justification. The Reformers were hell-bent on seeing salvation as linear—probably because of the Romanism that gave birth to them.
Therefore, the Reformers accused Rome of “infusing grace” into the believer which made them, in the linear gospel construct, a participant in building the road from justification to final justification named Sanctification. Rome’s “infusion of grace” (the new birth) “enabled” believers to participate in the finalization of our just state. Gee whiz, that’s not “justification by faith alone.”
So, the Reformers had to come up with something different: Jesus does all the paving of the road named Sanctification as long as we live our Christian life the same way we were saved; by faith alone. Hence, this required an “alien” righteousness that is in heaven, NOT IN US. A Reformed think tank devised the following illustration to demonstrate this idea:
The true gospel sees justification as a finished work and completely separate from sanctification. We are free to aggressively pursue fruit in sanctification because our justification is a settled issue. The infusion of grace within us does not contribute to the finished work of justification, only the progressive work of sanctification. Sanctification is progressive because it involves us—justification is by God alone and not confined to time, mortality, or any kind of weakness. That’s why it was completed before the foundation of the Earth and guarantees glorification. This is a parallel gospel. Our progress in the Christian life and the completed work of justification are separate.
The Reformers believed in an “objective gospel completely outside of us.” Anything inside of us always leads to subjectivism. Supposedly. This wasn’t even true in the Old Testament. This is what Moses preached to the Israelites:
Deuteronomy 30:11- “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
Not only did Luther say that keeping the commands is too hard for us to do as believers, he stated that it was impossible. So did Calvin. “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’” In fact, that’s exactly what Luther did say: God’s righteousness is an alien righteousness that is in heaven.
And the crux—Moses taught an infused grace: “It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
Choose ye this day who you will follow, Moses or the Reformed crowd. Moses or Luther? Moses or Calvin? An easy choice for me.
The Reformed false gospel is a perfect storm of deception because it is works salvation via not working. Folks have a difficult time grasping that because it seems like an oxymoron. But it isn’t. When justification and sanctification are fused together, or said another way: when sanctification finishes justification; EVERYTHING we do in sanctification determines whether or not the links of “the golden chain of salvation” stay together properly. We are Protestants which means that our tradition is based on lay-ignorance and unwarranted trust in Christian academia to begin with; so, this compounds the effectiveness of Reformed deception.
Hence, the most effective means of destroying the Reformation myth and putting a stop to its tyranny is developing power statements that effectively accuse this falsehood in terms people can understand. Then the debate can proceed from there. The Reformation myth and the human carnage it heaps upon history will never be defeated unless it is brought to trial. These power statements reduce the Reformed false gospel to its least common denominator.
A friend of PPT recently communicated a good one:
Well as one of my cousins who got involved with Calvinism a few years back told me (and she was previously “saved”) that now she has to go “deep with her sin” and be saved every day. So she has spent the last few years being “saved” over and over every day going deep with her sin. It has not made her more loving nor has it given her hope. But she is busy contemplating the cross, her sin and being saved over and over.
Where is her hope? Her “new life in Christ”? (Which she used to live, btw)
It is insidious.
Calvin’s gospel, stated in its least common denominator, is a daily re-salvation. No? Well then, why these mantras? “The same gospel that saves you also sanctifies you.” “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” What does the gospel do? Answer: it saves us. So if we need it every day, we must also need what it provides every day. No? Yes.
That’s the debate starter, and the focus of this ministry is to educate Christians on where you take it from there. I close with an additional comment by the reader that really speaks for itself, so I will conclude with it accordingly:
Paul, the worst part is that it made my cousin very unloving on many fronts to other believers. She has shunned some who have dared to question some of her guru’s. In fact, she claims they are violating scripture. And the worst part is that she used to have a real heart for the lost. Now she is busy dealing with her very deep sin and getting saved over and over.
Pastor Jake received a phone call from a husband and father who is new in town. “Bob” in his mid-forties, has been visiting churches for purposes of making a decision on church membership for his family. Bob seems a little upset and asks Jake if they can meet for lunch:
“Sure Bob. Twelve o’clock at Bob Evans? ‘That would be great Pastor Jake.’”
Jake secures a table before Bob arrives and watches him as he approaches their table. Bob sits down and is obviously troubled about something:
“Uh, thanks for this Jake. Uh, can I ask you something? ‘Sure Bob, what’s up?’”
Bob: Are some dreams sinful?
Jake: That depends Bob, why don’t you tell me more. When did this dream take place?
Bob: Last night.
Bob: At home, last night.
Jake: What was the dream about Bob?
Bob: Uh, well, this is really weird.
Jake: Most dreams are Bob, but you are obviously troubled by this dream and I am hoping that I can help you in some way.
Bob: I was in bed with some young foreign girl, but we were fully clothed. And Jane’s sister [Jane is Bob’s wife] was there watching TV. And I was concerned about what Jane’s sister would think.
Jake: That’s understandable, and it’s never Miss Piggy [the cartoon character who has unrealistic visions of grandeur concerning her own beauty] in the bed.
Bob: [Chuckling uncomfortably] Uh, ya, anyway, she started taking off her clothes.
Jake: I kinda saw that coming.
Bob: But anyway, though she was beautiful, and her figure was exhilarating, I stopped her because of what I believe, and she became very angry.
Jake: [Leaning forward with great interest] Really? Tell me Bob, what is this belief that caused you to stop her?
Bob: Well, I believe lust is just a strong feeling, and if we don’t let it control us, great blessings are the result. Obeying our lust is initially exhilarating, but ends with death. That’s what James said, right? [Jake nodes in agreement]. As I have told you Jake, my job requires me to be on the internet all day. Woe, the way some things are introduced on the internet are very stimulating, but I know that if I let that control me, it will do damage to the wonderful love-life that Jane and I have. I also believe that when I abstain from lust, that makes my marriage more blessed and stronger.
Jake: Bob, I think the counselor just became the counselee. First, you’re right, the world is an expert at enticing us into sin; like I said, it’s never Miss Piggy in the bed, or in the advertisement. You rightly assess, and as you were speaking, several different Scriptures were coming to mind.
Bob: But what about being in bed with that girl? What’s that all about? Isn’t that indicative of sin in my heart? How could I even think something like that?
Jake: Bob, we never just find ourselves in bed with a girl one day. Many bad choices and deaths lead to the big deaths. Like all dreams, yours was especially unrealistic. Because of your Biblical thinking, you are not going to suddenly find yourself in bed with some girl not your wife, and certainly not with her sister in the same house. Bob, did you eat anything before you went to bed?
Bob: Uh, ya, you know, a midnight snack.
Jake: What did you eat?
Bob: Some strawberry custard pie.
Jake: [Trying not to laugh] That will do it Bob. However [regaining his composure on a serious note], I do believe that dreams often reflect our fears, and I think it’s good that you fear sin and failure. There is good reason to fear such. But you have committed no sin, and I cannot point to any biblical text that would instruct us to ask forgiveness for the content of our dreams.
Bob: That’s contrary to what the pastor at the other church we are visiting said.
Jake: Really? What did he say about this?
Bob: He said the dream reflects sin in my heart. Obviously, I have a desire to be with a beautiful foreign woman, and the dream reflects the desire of an adulterous idol in my heart. He said that this is a great opportunity to partake in repentance. He said this would result in the joy of receiving God’s grace in my life.
Jake: Bob, if this dream is bothering your conscience, by all means take it to the Lord in prayer, but let me clarify; he said that the source of our sin is idols in the heart?
Jake: So Bob, what’s the game-plan for preventing this idol from returning in the future?
Bob: Well, you really can’t prevent it. He said that our hearts are idol factories that continually produce idols that cause sinful desires. Repentance enables us to experience the joy of grace each time we see them and repent of them. By God’s grace, the idol was revealed in a dream which means I can repent of it before it manifests into the sin of adultery.
Jake: Bob, I see that it is almost time for you to return to work, but I would like to discuss this with you further. Are you in agreement?
Bob: Sure. Let’s get together after Sunday worship.
Bob has a choice. He has two ways of sanctification before him. Our sanctification presents a gospel to our families and the world; much is at stake. This is why the apostle Paul did not want the Romans to be in the dark about the living dynamic of sanctification and how it works in the reality of life.
How does the Christian do battle with sin? This is the next question after the gospel of first importance, “How can I be saved?” God’s full council is not only about how we are saved—it is also about how we “control [our] own body in holiness and honor” (2Thessalonians 4:4). This is the very definition of sanctification; the knowledge of how we control our bodies to God’s glory.
And do we actually change? Can we change? Yes, because as we saw in Romans chapter six, we are now slaves to righteousness through the new birth. Furthermore, Paul states the following in Romans 8:6-8;
6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Therefore, it goes without saying that those who are not in the flesh can indeed please God. And in fact, that is our goal as Christians (2Corinthians 5:9). I want to begin by revisiting Romans 6:20-23 before we begin in Romans seven:
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What Christians need more than ever in our day is hope that they can really change. And through Bob’s testimony we learn of a powerful Scriptural concept in making that happen: the choosing of life or death. Even though choosing life is the primary life pattern of the believer, and choosing death is the primary life pattern of the unbeliever, Christians can choose death in this life and often do so through ignorance. Christians must know where our sin comes from, and why it is able to make such a strong appeal to us in regard to choosing death. We must know that choosing life strengthens us spiritually and makes future obedience easier. We must know that obedience leads to spiritual wellbeing. We must know that death leads to more death, and ends with eternal death, while the life of the believer is life upon life ending with eternal life. In regard to assurance of salvation, where death is experienced, death as an end will be feared, and rightfully so. Where life is experienced, and experienced with increase, eternal life will be the expected end. Hence, the devaluing of obedience has crippled innumerable Christians in our day. I believe it is a crisis.
Note Romans 6:22 once again. As Christians, we strive to “get” fruit. We strive for God’s will—our sanctification. We strive for spiritual wellbeing in increase. Paul was saying very little different than what Moses said:
Deuteronomy 30:9 – The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
It is clear that as we pursue the fruits of the Spirit as Paul instructed Timothy to do in 1Timothy 6:11 that these fruits are increased:
2Peter 1:5 – For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at one more before we begin in Romans chapter 7:
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul prayed that we would be “strengthened” in the inner man (Ephesians 3:14-21) and would be “renewed” in our minds. But how does all of this work? It all starts by being set free from the law. That may seem strange, but that’s step one, and goes hand in hand with being saved. Paul will explain:
7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
From Paul’s opening statement we might conclude that there was a large number of Christians at Rome who didn’t have an abundance of Scriptural knowledge, so Paul refers to those who know the law (Old Testament Scriptures); specifically, those laws pertaining to marriage. The woman was bound to the marriage law as long as her husband lived, but if he died, she was no longer bound to the law of marriage and free to remarry. Likewise, we are now free from the law as believers. But key is the fact that we also died, and are no longer in bondage to the reaction of the former self to the law. This makes it possible for us to bear fruit for God because when we lived as unbelievers, there was a natural adverse reaction to the law; specifically, it provoked us to sin leading to death. So we are now free from the law.
Paul then vindicates the law. It is not the law that caused us to sin when we were unbelievers, but our former sinful nature’s reaction to the law:
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
Now that the former unbeliever that we were died with Christ, we are no longer in bondage to this kind of reaction to the law. We are now free to bear fruit for God. However, we are still captive in our mortal bodies (what Paul later refers to as a body of death) which still bear a remnant of the former, and tempts us to sin. Mortality’s appeal to sin is primarily executed through our emotions, or desires. This conduit (desires) has not changed from our former selves, but we are now able to say no in all respects. Before, we were enslaved to our sinful desires which were provoked by the law.
In fact, the law was death to us, but now it is life. Life? Yes. Remember, Paul said the law that promises life was death to the former self (Romans 7:10). Also, the former reaction to the law constantly showed us our need for salvation—the need to be free from enslavement to the former self’s reaction to law and the threat of being judged by it in the end. Being judged by the law is the unbelievers worst nightmare. Christ paid the penalty of death that the law demands, God imputed His righteousness to our life account apart from the law, and the law is now our guide for bearing fruit for God. All of this creates a certain life experience, or warfare, that Paul explains:
Romans 7:15 – For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Remember, all of this is being explained by Paul in human terms. If God showed us the actual schematic, for certain, we wouldn’t understand it. We don’t know how our mortal bodies continue to live though the soul of it is dead. Nevertheless, Paul describes the warfare and locates the source of our sin: “in my flesh.” In Romans 6:12, Paul describes the same location as our “mortal bodies.” Mortality is opposed to our love for God and His truth. Somehow, it is alive in a big way, but its ultimate power over us is broken. In fact, it is tenacious enough to even wage war against the indwelling Holy Spirit!
Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
If you are not, “under the law” you do not have to gratify the desires of the flesh. And the part about being “led by the Spirit” will be discussed by Paul in Romans chapter eight. We are to consider the strong dichotomy here between the old us which is dead, and the new us—to the degree that Paul says it is not we who are sinning, that is, the new us, but sin that dwells in us. There is an inner self that is redeemed, and has to fight this mortal body that we temporarily dwell in. Hence:
Romans 7:21 – So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
The same principle applies: our flesh is still provoked by “the law of sin” (law: nomos), but no longer possesses the power to make us obey its desires. There is obviously a redeemed part of us that delights in the law (also nomos), and is at war with sin “that dwells in my members.” Paul calls the renovated or new part of us “the law of my mind.” This is the part of us, the mind, is sometimes referred to in Scriptures as “the heart.” It is the part of us that is to be “renewed.”
Ephesians 4:17 – Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
When supplementing our understanding here with Ephesians 4:17-24, we can deduct that “the flesh” affects all parts of our being, especially the mind. It takes intellect to “wage war” against not only the “law of our minds,” but the indwelling Holy Spirit. But let us remember that our new creaturehood also resides in the whole being and presents our “members” to God’s service:
Romans 6:19 – I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
In Romans 7:24, the word, “wretched” is a very interesting word. Paul wasn’t calling himself “wretched” as in wretched sinner. The word is talaiporos (tal-ah’ee-po-ros) which means “misery in enduring a trial.” Paul is saying that he is persevering in his fight against sin and longs to be delivered from his body of death. In other words, if we are partaking in the warfare, we long to be delivered from it. We long for His appearing—something to think about.
Let me also reemphasize that Paul said this transformation results in us being “obedient from the heart” (Romans 6:17). Let’s now revisit what the other pastor taught Bob. In this critical treatise by Paul regarding how sin is conceived in our lives, where is there any discussion at all about idols of the heart? From this chapter, can we conclude that our transformed hearts are “idol factories?” To begin with, is the sin in our heart, or in our flesh? A layman by the name of Brian Jonson once did an extensive biblical word study on the location of sin in the believer. He was not able to find one instance where the Bible states that the heart of a believer is sinful, or the heart being the location of sin in the believer. I have included a copy of his study with your notes. See layman Jonson’s study here.
To the contrary, one of God’s purposes of salvation is so that the righteous requirement of the law can be fulfilled “in us” (Romans 8:4). Furthermore, the paramount necessity that justification and sanctification be separate is demonstrated in Romans 8:7,8;
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
We please God in sanctification by obeying His law. Our minds were hostile to God before our conversion, unable to obey His law, and in danger of being judged by it. Our good works due to the works of the law written on every heart and being created in His image notwithstanding.
Now that we are saved, we have full pardon from sin because of Christ’s death, and are new creatures because of His resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Also, we have the full righteousness of God credited to our account apart from the law. Our sin in sanctification will not be judged by the law against our justification because our justification is apart from the law, the penalty required of the law has been paid in full before the foundation of the world, the offender is dead and no longer under the jurisdiction of the law, and the new creature is not the one sinning in the eyes of justification. Hence:
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
We may sin in sanctification, but who can bring charges against us? It’s God who justified. Who can pass a sentence against us? Christ paid the penalty. We lay aside fear of a future judgment, and pursue fruit leading to more and more life. This gives assurance of eternal life while putting to death the deeds of our old life that died with Christ. The new us is strengthened, the old us is diminished. And to God be the glory.
“The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience. But it is not meant to be a one-time experience; the truth needs to be reaffirmed daily.” – Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace, pp. 11,12
“….my daily relationship,” obviously speaking of the daily Christian life and our relationship to God; it has to based on Christ’s merits alone and not any kind of “performance.” Therefore, he is saying that their is no difference in a performance FOR JUSTIFICATION and performance IN SANCTIFICATION. Also, a reaffirmation of Christ’s work as a replacement for our work in sanctification is prescribed “instead of” anything we do.
Just another example of progressive justification in our day.
“Clearly, this person speaks well for the whole Reformed community that posits the idea that perfection must be maintained in sanctification for the purpose of meriting God’s declaration in a final judgment. We must have a righteousness in sanctification that ‘rises’ to the level of perfection in order to ‘merit’ God’s declaration.”
Look, this isn’t really complicated. And even if it is—suck it up, God gave you a brain—use it! You persevered in thinking to get your degree in whatever, and I have a newsflash for you, this is much more important. Another newsflash: your pastor isn’t going to answer for you. Yes, this may be a shocker for you, but in the end, it is just going to be you and Jesus face to face. You will not be able to blame your pastor, your mommy, your daddy, your sister, your brother, etc., etc., etc. And be sure of this: you will not be able to blame John Calvin either.
Is our just standing finished or not? Will Christians stand in a future judgment that will coronate; or said another way, officially manifest our just standing? Does what we do in sanctification determine whether are not we will be found just at a future judgment? Or, is our just standing (righteous standing) already determined, and we will therefore stand in a judgment for rewards rather than a final coronation of righteousness? Therefore, is there a separate resurrection and judgment for sanctification because our just standing has already been determined? This is the crux of the issue.
And why is that important? Because the paramount eternal questions follow: we were saved by faith alone and declared righteous, but does that mean we must continue to live by faith alone in order to maintain our just standing? And if we can add works to our faith, is there a certain way that we have to do it in order that it is considered to be faith alone by God? Or, is our justification settled, and caution concerning obedience to God’s counsel unnecessary? Is justification settled and no longer the issue, but rather blessings and other issues? Is the declaration alone enough? Or do I have to be just in this life as well? And if I need to actually have righteousness in this life, is it perfection, or something else?
By faith alone, we believe that Christ died for our sins. Our sin was imputed to Christ, and then He bore the punishment. Our sin, and the old nature that was enslaved by sin, died with Christ. Then, the righteousness of God the Father was imputed to us APART from the law. We were then raised with Christ in His resurrection, and given all of the power and blessings of salvation through the new birth.
We are presently righteous for three reasons in our present state: there is no law to judge us for justification purposes, and where there is no law, there is no sin. We have the seed of God within us, and the mortal body that we live in suffered death with Christ, and we are therefore no longer under the covenant of the law for justification. So, we presently live apart from the law because like the death of a spouse that frees us from a marriage covenant, our death with Christ frees us from the covenant of the law….FOR JUSTIFICATION. We are NOT under law, but UNDER GRACE. And we ARE righteous because we ARE born again of God, and there is no law to judge the sin of our mortal body….FOR JUSTIFICATION. That part of us that “delights in the law of God” in the “inward” part of us is in fact holy and righteous. We are therefore enslaved to righteousness, and free to sin. Formally, we were enslaved to sin and free to righteousness. Therefore, the direction is different. We now move from sin to what we are enslaved to; formally, we were enslaved to sin.
We are holy and righteous in our inward being, that is why the “law of our mind” is in conflict with “the law of flesh and sin.” Before, there was only conflict between our conscience and the works of the law that God writes on the heart of everyone who is created, but now our conscience is set on fire and we are empowered to follow it and God’s specific, full counsel for life and godliness.
Now, consider an email I received today from a notable Reformed person who I will not name:
Would you, or a member of your group, please comment on whether you believe a person´s “righteousness” in sanctification ever rises to the level of perfection that it merits God´s declaration of justification? This is really the issue.
Yes, that is absolutely the issue. Notice, in true Reformed fashion, our practical righteousness in sanctification (the Christian life) must rise to the level of “perfection” in order to “merit God’s declaration of justification.” In other words, law is still the standard for our just standing and the imputed righteousness of God is not “apart from the law.” Law is still the standard. Also, in regard to dying with Christ, it is no longer like a spouse who is no longer under a law covenant (Paul used marriage as the example), but the covenant of law must be maintained.
Clearly, this person speaks well for the whole Reformed community that posits the idea that perfection must be maintained in sanctification for the purpose of meriting God’s declaration in a final judgment. We must have a righteousness in sanctification that “rises” to the level of perfection in order to “merit” God’s declaration. And therefore, the old self did not die with Christ, and the works of the old man are therefore held against us.
Therefore, in the Reformed gospel construct, that must eliminate our works in sanctification. We must continue to live by faith alone. We must continue in the same gospel that saved us. Sound familiar? Any wonder that we must, “preach the gospel to ourselves every day”? Supposedly, when we live by faith alone in sanctification, Christ’s perfect righteousness is progressively imputed to our account, and we will thereby be found perfectly righteous in the final judgment. That is why the following two questions are really gospel questions: “How many judgments?” “How many resurrections?” That is also why premil, amil, and postmil are also gospel questions.
But, what shall we say about having to continue by faith alone in order to maintain our just standing? Is this not a form of works salvation because the works of justification are only finished if we continue our sanctified lives by faith alone? Supposedly, if we do not add works to our sanctification by faith alone—it either means that we never had salvation or we can lose our salvation. Either way, works must be added to our Christian life by faith alone.
How in the world would you do that? This would seem to lead to all kinds of complicated introspection and fear that we are working by faith alone, and not “in our own efforts.” You would be correct by noting that. That would be works in sanctification which in the Reformed gospel construct is obviously the same as works in justification. For all practical purposes: progressive justification; what they call, “progressive sanctification” because our sanctification is progressing towards a final proclamation of our just standing—if we do sanctification by faith alone—the same way we were saved.
Answer to the prior question: it is done through gospel contemplationism. Meditation is not considered to be a “work.” As we contemplate the works of Christ in every verse of the Bible, ie., “what He has done, not anything we do,” “the perfect works of Christ are presented to the Father, the law is satisfied, and we are justified.” Progressively, that is.
This is the Reformed gospel plain and simple.
Who can forget James Carville’s motto to keep people focused in Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign? “The economy, stupid.” Carville didn’t want Clinton’s campaign workers to expend energy on matters that would not ultimately persuade people to vote one way or the other. Likewise, Christians love to pile-up Bible verses in a heap that doesn’t serve change in the least. Carville knew how to get change; Bush’s 90% approval rating could not keep him in office.
At the 2007 “Shepherds” Conference held annually at John MacArthur’s church in California, he opened the conference with a devastating, complete undressing of amillennialism. The controversy among the Reformed raged for several months. The often touted “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity” was taken out with the morning trash. Per the usual, most of the Reformed gang who had spent their parishioner’s money to go to the conference moaned and screamed like alley cats in the night that MacArthur dissed “Reformed orthodoxy.” In the debate, also per the usual, Scriptural arguments were replaced with the endless droning of dead mystics and rabid Puritans.
But what’s the real issue? The real issue is sanctification by justification. That’s the authentic Reformed gospel; i.e., progressive justification. Bottom line: if there is a literal millennial kingdom before the new heavens and new earth, there must also be two resurrections and two judgments. That strongly insinuates two different groups and two different purposes in regard to the types of judgments. In the Reformed construct, there must be one judgment that determines everybody’s just state. MacArthur, even with all of his education doesn’t get that; his gospel of progressive justification doesn’t fit the eschatology that he dragged into his partial conversion to the authentic Reformed gospel.
This brings us to the four types of pastors in our day:
1. Authentic Calvinist: Luther and Calvin’s Gnostic progressive justification. These are the Neo-Calvinists wreaking havoc on the church in our day. Progressive justification (justification and sanctification are both monergistic because sanctification finishes justiifcation)/amil. Examples are Al Mohler, David Powlison et al.
2. Sanctified Calvinist: Leftovers from the periods in church history when authentic Calvinism dies a social death because of the tyranny that comes part and parcel with it. They change their soteriology but retain the eschatology of progressive justification. Monergistic justification/synergistic sanctification/amil. Examples are Jay Adams, and many other Presbyterians, and Baptist acadmiacs.
3. Inverted Calvinist: Converts to progressive justification that retain their former eschatology that is some form of dispensationalism. The best example is John MacArthur.
4. Biblicist: The Bible is their authority; not orthodoxy. This breed is an endangered species in our day.
Here is what many are missing: you can’t separate the gospel from eschatology. Your eschatology will be consistent with your gospel or inconsistent.
“Fact is, much Reformed theology posits the idea that we are elected, but then must maintain our election through what we do, or don’t do. You deny that? For crying out loud, simply look at their theology in regard to Israel.”
“Look and do; that’s not how we get salvation, but it’s how we experience salvation.”
“A favorite notion of the Reformed is the idea that ALL people approach the Bible with their own presuppositions and this is unavoidable. Therefore, it is important to choose the right presupposition; i.e., the presupposition that every verse in the Bible is about Jesus. This is pandering protocol to the elder mindset that the masses are mindless and unable to interpret reality objectively.
Pointing out the contrast between what we are finding in Romans through our independent study and our experience of how church has been done in this culture is unavoidable here at the Potter’s House. This ministry is joined at the hip with TANC, which researches Reformed theology and its effects on contemporary Protestantism.
There is a reason we conduct church at home, a reason why we are working through the book of Romans, and a reason why this series is going to be compiled into a commentary on Romans and the gospel (all following visual illustrations can be enlarged by clicking on them).
Susan and I are on a journey. She has been a Christian for 51 years, and I have been a Christian for 30 years. During those years, we worked hard to support the church and donated hard-earned money to those entrusted with what Peter called the “ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). And what is that ministry? John 21:15 ff.: feed the lambs, tend the sheep, and feed the sheep. From the young to the old, feed them and tend to them.
Susan and I, like many Christians, have put a lot of trust in the theological experts of Western Protestantism over the years to do that job, but what we are finding out in our journey is that we haven’t been told a lot of things, and we don’t like that. And clearly, when the average Christian takes it upon themselves to find out things on their own in order to show themselves approved of God—trouble lingers not far behind. “Unity” now equals, not asking any questions. You must limit your Biblical knowledge of God to whatever the status-qua is of that church or you are a “troublemaker.”
Limiting one’s knowledge of the Scriptures in order to fit in and be accepted is a bad idea, and in the Bible study we attended yesterday at the Church of the Messiah, Susan and I were quite surprised to learn what probably took place at the last supper in regard to what we refer to as “communion.” I did some poking around on the Googleberg press and found one teacher who pieced together what happened at the last supper, as documented in the New Testament, and compared it with how the Jews traditionally celebrate the Passover. But anyway, Susan and I looked at each other with the Who knew? deer-in-the-headlight look.
I’m not the one saying the following; I am paraphrasing from some video’s I was watching on the Googleberg press yesterday. John Piper stated that he is glad that many countries are closed societies because it keeps American Christianity out. He said that; not me. Paul Washer stated that Christian churches overseas tell him to go back to America and request that our missionaries stay home. These guys are saying that; not me. Why is this? My brothers and sisters, it is because the American church is dumbed-down biblically. The Protestant fruit does not fall far from the Catholic tree. This is by design. This follows a basic philosophy that drives doctrine.
People email me about evangelicals giving credence to Catholic teachers. Well, of course they do, and I believe we will see this more and more as Protestants return to the Catholic Church which is also predicated on the spiritual ignorance of the masses. Two different doctrines, but based on the exact same philosophy—that’s why the results are the same. I’m beginning to receive emails now on the most recent sex scandal; get this, at Bob Jones University and another school associated with it.
When is enough going to be enough? After being led by a Christian academia that is matched by none, it’s not getting better—it’s getting worse. Yes, the neo-Calvinism movement is growing, but not with new converts—they are stealing congregants that are completely defenseless against this doctrine due to the fact that they have been dumbed- down by Reformed Light. Authentic Calvinism is the new novelty, but it will dumb-down the American church even more than it is now with present results on steroids.
So what does this have to do with Romans 5:6-21? EVERYTHING! Christians in our day who are dumbed-down by Reformed Light do not know the difference between justification and sanctification. Now they are being led into authentic Calvinism that will teach them that there is no such thing as sanctification at all! I believe many mainline pastors of our day will let New Calvinism into their churches due to the fact that they have not properly trained their parishioners—it’s a matter of if you can’t beat them, join them. They know that if they don’t play along—they will lose their congregation.
Christians in America are asked to remain stateside and wallow in our own filth because we do not even know who we are in Christ. Since the advent of Billy Grahamism, no word has been used more in the church than “gospel.” It has become some kind of generic word that can take the place of any and every verb, noun, adjective, etc. in any sentence. But yet, ignorance concerning the true gospel has never been more prevalent. As one parishioner said to me about trying to ascertain what was going on in their church with their new pastor, “We don’t have the answers to any of the questions, and we aren’t even sure that we even know the right questions to ask.”
Obviously, other countries don’t want our gospel. Why? Because it has no sanctification. They may not know to articulate it in that way—they simply see the results.
Well, Romans five is very much about who we are in Christ, and it doesn’t match with what’s in vogue. The idea is NEWNESS, not “sinners saved by grace.” Throughout Romans five we have strong contrast: who we were verses who we are now. Regardless of any objections, drawing conclusions from tenses in the Bible is part of proper exegesis and recognizing the Bible’s authority. Christ used a Hebrew tense to argue for the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33). And we will therefore take biblical tenses seriously in our study:
5:1—Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans five is full of tenses that aid in describing who we are as Christians. We have been justified by faith. Past tense. Therefore, we have peace with God through Christ. Present tense. We were justified in the past and therefore are presently reconciled to God. We are no longer his enemies. We have obtained access to His grace through that same faith, and in that we rejoice in the hope we have. We stand in this grace, and the certainty of it is the bases of our hope and joy. To the degree that we are uncertain of our standing, we lose hope and joy. Knowing the certainty of our standing in His grace is critical for present hope and joy. Listen carefully to how Kenneth S. Wuest interprets these two verses in his expanded translation of the New Testament:
Having therefore been justified by faith, peace we are having with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also our entrée we have as a permanent possession into His unmerited favor in which we have been placed permanently, and rejoice upon the basis of hope of the glory of God.
In these verses, we have some interesting words. “Access” is a Greek word that has the idea of being granted permission to enter into an important place such as the company of a dignitary. “Into” is the Greek preposition eis, and denotes moving into something. In this case, “grace” which of course means “unmerited favor.” The preposition “in,” as in “which we stand” (referring to grace) denotes a rest, or no movement unlike eis which means to “move into.” So, by faith, we are given access to grace and we move into it. But once we are in grace, we stand. Look at the illustration below and imagine that the box is grace.
If we stand in unmerited grace, there is no getting out of the box. There is no keeping ourselves there by doing anything because we cannot receive any merit for being there. Said another way, living by faith alone can’t keep us there because then we are receiving merit for maintaining our just standing by faith alone. And certainly, we can’t sin our way out of the box because we are there by grace to begin with. We’re just there, and there is no moving out. You can move in, but there is no moving out. This is why Wuest emphasizes permanence in his expanded translation. What we learn in these first two verses destroys two popular ideas about the gospel in our day: that our justification will not be completely revealed until a last judgment, and the gospel is merely an “announcement.” No, it is a calling to gain access to permanent grace by faith alone. Fact is, much Reformed theology posits the idea that we are elected, but then must maintain our election through what we do, or don’t do. You deny that? For crying out loud, simply look at their theology in regard to Israel.
Last week we discussed verses 3-5, and in this message, I want to look at verses six through eight next. Starting with verses one and two can serve as the first point of this message.
Romans 5:6—For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
We “were” “weak,” past tense, and we “were” “sinners,” past tense. Both of these are in the past tense. We are not “sinners” saved by grace. We are saints saved by grace. Paul continues:
Romans 5:9—Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Paul’s point here is that if Christ died for our sins to reconcile us to God when we were God’s enemies, now that we are reconciled, how much more are we saved from His wrath by Christ’s resurrection life. We died with Christ, and are raised with Him—the apostle delves into this much deeper later on in his letter to the Romans. Don’t miss this; in our day, there is the propagation of the idea that our position changes when we are saved, but not who we are, or said another way, our nature is not changed. Not so. We are saved (from the ills of sin) in more and more abundance by the power of Christ and the power that raised Him from the dead after he died for our sins:
Ephesians 1:15—For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Our position is not only changed, who we are is changed, and we are enabled to appropriate the power that has been granted to us in salvation—to experience it. And let there be no doubt about it: this is primarily experienced by studying the Scriptures and applying that knowledge to our life; in a word, OBEDIENCE. The apostle Paul states elsewhere that we strive to make the experience of salvation our own (Philippians 3:12). His love is perfected in us through keeping His word which results in assurance of salvation (1John 2:5).
In verse twelve, and for the second time in chapter five, Paul starts a new line of thought with the phrase, “More than that.” In verse three, Paul uses the phrase to illustrate that we just don’t stand in grace passively, but that it enables us to look at life in a whole new way; e.g., we rejoice in trials because we understand that it is now a process that enables us to experience the power of our salvation in deeper ways leading to greater hope and assurance. I believe that when we are saved we are infused with an initial exhilaration and assurance, but if we do not proceed in aggressive sanctification in putting on Christ (Ephesians 4:20-24), that zeal will wane. This is what happened to the church at Ephesus, and Christ therefore instructed them to return to the works that they had previously practiced (Revelation 2:4,5).
So, here in verse 11, what is this, “More than that”? Paul returns to one of his initial points concerning having peace with God. We are to rejoice in what seems to be Paul’s primary concern in all of this—we have been reconciled to God the Father. Paul is making this the paramount importance of the salvation subject of this context. Look, every verse in the Bible is not about Christ. Salvation is Trinitarian. We baptize in the name of all three Trinity members. Like all gospel aberrations throughout human history, they come part and parcel with an eclipsing of two Trinity members, and the Reformed tsunami of our day is no exception. Geoffrey Paxton, one of the core four of the Reformed think tank that launched New Calvinism circa 1970, had this to say about the relationship between Christ and the other two members of the Trinity:
Luther and Calvin did not simply stress Christ alone over against the Roman Catholic emphasis on works-righteousness. The Reformers also stressed Christ alone over against all—be they Roman Catholics or Protestants (29) — who would point to the inside of the believer as the place where justifying righteousness dwells. Christ alone means literally Christ alone, and not the believer. And for that matter, it does not even mean any other member of the Trinity! (Geoffrey Paxton: The Shaking of Adventism: p. 41. Baker Book House 1978).
Though this statement seems shocking, it is, in fact, the Reformed mindset in regard to the Trinity. Likewise, in more contemporary fashion, even the highly lauded John MacArthur Jr. stated the following:
Rick Holland understands that truth. This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts (John MacArthur: Forward to Uneclipsing The Son; Rick Holland 2011).
The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock. Second Corinthians 3:18 describes in simple terms how God conforms us to the image of His Son: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (emphasis added). We don’t “see” Christ literally and physically, of course (I Peter 1:8). But His glory is on full display in the Word of God, and it is every minister’s duty to make that glory known above all other subjects (Ibid).
Though much could be said here in regard to this statement, suffice to say that prayer is a private meditation to say the least, and we are specifically instructed in Scripture to address our prayers to God the Father. Moreover, concerns about the Father being eclipsed by the Christocentricity of Reformed doctrine has also been expressed by Barry E. Horner on page 192 of Future Israel and the book, The Forgotten Father by Thomas A Smail.
Christ dying for the primary purpose of reconciling us to the Father is a major biblical theme, and the Father also works in our ongoing salvation experience. Though we receive grace in all fullness when we are saved, as we work with God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to separate ourselves from the world more and more (sanctification) in the way we think and do, more and more of salvation’s power and joy is experienced. The Father is always working (John 5:17).
We now move on to verses 12 and 13:
Romans 5:12—Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
Go back to our box illustration:
We are using this box to illustrate where we stand in grace; the Greek en, if you will. In that box, there is no law. And where there is no law, let me put it this way: SIN DOESN’T COUNT. When you challenge someone that we are not “sinners” (those who sin as a lifestyle) saved by grace, and they contest your assertion with the rhetorical question, “Did you sin today?” answer with another question: “In regard to grace or law?” They won’t know how to answer because New Calvinists don’t understand the very gospel they claim. We cannot sin in either because we are no longer under the law and there is no sin in grace because there is no law in grace. The sin that we sin in sanctification is not a lifestyle of sin and is a completely different matter. “Sinners saved by grace” is an oxymoron accordingly. In these verses, Paul reiterates his Galatians argument that Abraham was counted righteous 400 plus years before the law was given by Moses.
But before we move on, and still using our visual illustration, let me say something about the blessings of grace. If we stand in grace, are there blessings? And will we experience those blessing by just standing there and doing nothing? Where are the blessings? Go with me to James 1:25:
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Looking “into” is eis, but the blessings are “in” (en) the “doing.” Look and do; that’s not how we get salvation, but it’s how we experience salvation. And if you don’t experience salvation, your salvation is in doubt. And as an aside, the Greek preposition for looking into is where we get the word eisegesis (the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that it introduces one’s own presuppositions). We get exegesis from ek, which means from, or out of. This is the idea that ALL ideas come from the text and are not skewed by presuppositions or agendas. A favorite notion of the Reformed is the idea that ALL people approach the Bible with their own presuppositions and this is unavoidable. Therefore, it is important to choose the right presupposition; i.e., the presupposition that every verse in the Bible is about Jesus. This is pandering protocol to the elder mindset that the masses are mindless and unable to interpret reality objectively.
Very well; therefore, inform them that your presupposition is exegesis. Also inform them that the Bible teaches its own set of presuppositions that are to be used to interpret other Scriptures. So agree with them, but clarify. And if a Christocentric approach is efficacious it seems to me that this would have been an opportunity for James to plainly say so. But he didn’t.
Another item worthy of mention in the arena of the gospel and prepositions is the following illustration that depicts the Reformed gospel construct:
This illustration is known as the often touted, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. This propagates the idea, which is very Reformed, that all grace must remain completely outside of the believer or Luther’s alien righteousness. When grace is seen as inside of the believer, this is called “infused grace” and tagged as a false gospel by the Reformed. Any inside considerations are considered subjective and the root of all evil. Furthermore, since the Reformed see justification and sanctification as the same thing, or a “chain” that links justification to glorification—any infusion of grace within us makes us participants in our own justification:
This meant the reversal of the relationship of sanctification to justification. Infused grace, beginning with baptismal regeneration, internalized the Gospel and made sanctification the basis of justification. This is an upside down Gospel (John Piper: Desiring God blog, June 25, 2009 entitled; Goldsworthy on Why the Reformation Was Necessary).
This statement alone, if you think it through carefully, makes the case for the accusation that the Reformed gospel is progressive justification. But if grace cannot be separated from gospel, and we “stand” “en” grace, then it is impossible for us not to be infused with grace. This is our only hope for glory, “Christ en us” (Colossians 1:27). How the Reformed claim that we apply this outside of us gospel to real life is a whole other story that will be the subject of one of my sessions at this year’s TANC conference. Suffice to say for now that mysticism is the only place you can go when this construct is prescribed.
Let’s conclude by reading the apostle’s final point in chapter 5:
Romans 5:14—Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The point that I would like to close with is the fact that we are declared righteous, and made righteous by the one obedient act of Christ on the cross. Paul also stated the following in Philippians 2:8;
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
We are not declared righteous because Christ lived a perfect life that was imputed to our sanctification because it finishes justification, another hallmark of Reformed theology. We are made righteous by His death alone. The old us died with Him, and we have been raised in the same power of His resurrection. We are new creatures created for good works (Ephesians 4:23, 2Corinthians 5:17). We were under the law and outside of grace, but now we stand en grace.
What we observe here in Romans five flies in the face of the present-day doctrinal tidal wave overtaking the American church. I would be utterly remiss in not articulating the difference as a way of teaching through antithesis (a method commonly used by Jesus). The Reformed doctrine of our day turns truth completely upside down. It posits a final justification that is yet future; it posits the idea that Christians are not recreated into new creatures; it denies sanctification as separate from justification—making justification progressive; it teaches that the obedience of Christ replaces our obedience in sanctification; it replaces our present goal of pleasing God with a striving for a final justification; it turns study for life application into gospel contemplationism; it replaces exegesis with eisegesis; it replaces assurance through obedience with assurance through contemplationism.
Luther, in his Heidelberg Disputation, the magnum opus of the Reformation, stated that the Christian is indifferent to what works take place in his life because it is Christ doing them anyway. Does that mean that grace abounds more when we sin? Should we be indifferent to good works in our Christian life? We look at the issues of laxness regarding our secure position and its relationship to obedience in chapter six.
I am presently reviewing an equitable, well written, well-argued position on the idea that our justification is connected with the “[foot] race” of the Christian life. The authors start by presenting four positions, but have not yet used them to clearly state their own position which well be articulated further along in the book. Is the reward of the race salvation? Or rewards for our work in the Christian life? The race involves perseverance and assurance. Does not the Bible speak of obtaining salvation by persevering to the end? Does it not speak of salvation as being the reward? This is a hefty issue. I highly recommend the book as an honest debate on the subject; the fact that I will probably end-up rejecting it in the end notwithstanding. Nevertheless, the book contributes valuable clarification to the issue.
The authors of this book correctly state that we all come to the Bible with presuppositions, and I am reading their book with a particular biblical presupposition in the background: nothing we do in sanctification can be connected in any way to justification. Salvation comes with justification, but salvation’s power is credited to our account in full when we are saved and receive the Spirit. Our race cannot be for an OBTAINING of final salvation which is intrinsically connected to our justification—only the EXPERIENCE of it. Through the Reformed already—no yet construct, an obtaining of final justification is the reward.
That’s a problem—even if Jesus obeys for us in the race via faith alone. One of the verses used to posit this idea is 2Timothy 2:5;
An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
The “crown” is seen as salvation. Justification (our righteous [righteousness] standing) cannot be separated from final salvation. BUT, justification cannot be united to our Christian life in any way as a road for obtaining a final salvation. Why? Because Paul plainly states in this verse that “rules” are involved. Final salvation cannot be obtained through “rules” because the justification that comes with it is “apart from the law” (Romans 3:21, 28, 4:15, 7:1,8). Also, righteousness came before the law (Galatians 3:17,18) and justification is obtained by promise only. A final salvation cannot be obtained via rules because justification is declared apart from any standard. There are simply no rules to guide the race. There are no rules to disqualify anyone.
Secondly, proponents of this view often fail to cite the very next verse that follows 2Timothy 2:5;
It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.
Rewards CANNOT be attached to justification in any way, shape, or form (Romans 4:2). So, what about all of the verses in Scripture that seem to say that we will be rewarded with salvation if we persevere to the end? I am presently looking into that issue deeply, and to some extent with the help of the aforementioned book. But closer examination of some of those verses has yielded some interesting findings. Let’s take a look at Revelation 2:11;
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.
Clearly, the “second death” refers to the Great White Throne Judgment where those who were not part of the first resurrection will be judged by the law. This will be an eternally tragic epoch. This verse, in the English translation, has a flavor of finality, or past tense. According to my Interlinear that is based on the Received text, the verse is better rendered this way: The one who is presently persevering shouldn’t fear the second death. The obedience they see in their life should give them confidence, or assurance. This better fits with a recognized theme throughout Scripture.
Furthermore, there are many incentives given in Scripture to be diligent in sanctification; why would this be if the prize is salvation? It would seem that lesser incentives would be irrelevant when compared to an actual consummation of salvation that would involve us.
Think “colabor.” And by the way, that’s a biblical word. It should be understood that salvation is completely of the Lord. In our day, it’s just best to leave it at that though some finer points could be argued. Election is what it is, but I think it not a good idea to draw logical conclusions that lead to hardcore determinism. The apostle Paul evangelized like it depended on us to some point—that’s irrefutable. At any rate, if God didn’t make a way for reconciliation—there wouldn’t be any. So, should He get all the glory? Absolutely. Does that mean we have no role at all? I doubt it.
But one thing is clear: the Christian life is a colaboring with God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our role is learn and do. That’s what a “disciple” is. And one of the doings, perhaps the most important one, is….THINKING.
Throughout the Bible, the colaboring of God and the Christian is seen. Unlike salvation and justification, the Christian life (sanctification) is full of conditions, promises, commands, encouragement, warnings, and instruction. If you take note in your daily Bible reading, you will see this colaboring concept throughout. Perhaps the most profound is 2Timothy 2:7. Here is what the apostle Paul said to Timothy:
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
The Lord will give us understanding, BUT, we have to THINK. No thinking—no understanding. To say that Christians in our day believe that God will give us understanding without thinking is quite the understatement.
Clearly, in Reformed circles, the elders think for the parishioners, and the elders get their information from a bunch of Calvinistic dead people, also known as “orthodoxy.” Even when Calvinists do pick-up their own Bibles to read they are anticipating that God will show them “pictures of Jesus” in every verse. Look, those are John Piper’s very words, not mine. Bible reading in Reformed circles has become always been like watching TV; you just watch and let your brain chemicals to the rest. As you read, Jesus will show Himself and whatever Jesus shows you will be imputed to your life because Jesus came to live for our sanctification and die for our justification. The death and resurrection was for our justification, but His life prior to the cross was for our sanctification.
Also implicit in Paul’s charge to Timothy is the fact that Paul expected people to verify for themselves what he taught. Let me show you a picture sense we like them so much: When Susan and I are discussing Reformed issues with people while enjoying the perplexity on their faces as we accuse the big names of heresy, this question often follows: “So, who do you follow?” Initially, Susan and I were too shocked at the response to even answer. The question is, at times, also followed by, “You can’t say that about him—he has a lot of followers.”
Not sure I can add to that point. Have a wonderful colaboring day in Christ.
Christian Husbands and Fathers Will Be Held Accountable for Leading Their Families in Calvinism’s False Gospel
I see a significant laxness towards doctrinal issues in regard to where one goes to church, especially from husbands, and fathers. “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:15)” is now, But as for me and my household, we will follow the elders. Certainly, the church has never been fuller of mindless, man-following, wimpy husbands.
Husbands are supposed to be like Christ. Christ washes His church in the water of truth. Yes, I know the womenfolk can think for themselves. Here at PPT/TANC, it is mostly women who show theological aptitude in our correspondence with friends of the ministry. Nevertheless, Ephesians chapter five makes it clear that men are responsible for leading their families in truth—not alone, but they are certainly to be in the lead or at least a co-lead for crying out loud. And by the way, elders are nowhere to be found in Ephesians five. Men, Reformed elders have NO authority in your home, period! YOU, and you alone are the pastor of your home. And if you are mixing it up with some Reformed elders who do not get that (and few do), take this advice from someone who learned the hard way: go to your local police station and get a restraining order based on stalking laws, and then notify the local press that you have done so.
Christ said that those who learn His truth and apply it to their lives, and teach others to do the same will be great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19). But many husbands in our day want to be great in the eyes of pompous philosopher kings. Christ warned that the LEAST of His commandments were not to be “relaxed.” Many pathetic, spiritually effeminate husbands in our day allow their families to attend Reformed churches that teach the following:
1. Progressive justification.
2. Gospel contemplationism.
3. The complete eradication of self-worth and confidence in applying God-given talents to life.
4. Elder absolution.
5. “Community” as the focal point of all life in Christ.
6. Elder intermediate interpretation of the Bible.
Basically, they have relinguished total control of their families to sectarian brute beasts. They would do anything that a Reformed elder told them to do, and often do so accordingly. Look, we deal with this. Even husbands who leave Reformed circles have a sort of Stockholm syndrome. They are full of fear, and their life is in turmoil just because they asked a few questions. I correspond with people who are in these groups and are afraid to leave. They are clearly brainwashed, but a consistent comment is, “The leadership doesn’t like to be questioned.” We have even offered asylum to one person in the form of housing, work, and legal counsel. Huh? Right, these groups, i.e., New Calvinism, use “biblical counseling” to gather data on people and then clearly use that information to control them. This is commonplace in the movement. Unless you want a couple of hundred people knowing about sin that you have repented of when you are “brought up before the congregation”—you will play ball the way the elders want you to. Or else.
Doctrinal discrepancy is reason enough, but many husbands relinquish their responsibility before God to lead their home and support this tyranny with their money. After all, not tithing can get you brought up on church discipline in these churches. This is yet another thing that is becoming commonplace as this Reformed movement grows unhindered and unquestioned.
But I have to believe that there will be a day of reckoning, and doctrinal ignorance will be no excuse.
5:1—Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
I. Calvinism teaches that we are also sanctified by faith alone. The same faith alone that justified us also sanctifies us.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
II. Calvinism teaches that trouble serves to better show us our weakness in order that the gospel be glorified (made bigger while we are made smaller). Verses 3-5 state the opposite. Remember, Calvinism teaches that all reality is the understanding of our sinfulness (as Christians) as set against God’s holiness.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
III. Verse eight clearly states “sinners” in the past tense. This refers to being under the dominion of sin which is synonymous with being “under the law” (Romans 6:14). We are no longer under the bondage of sin as Christians. Calvinists clearly teach that we are.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
IV. Not all, but a large vein of Calvinists believe that Christ’s death alone did not justify us, but He also lived a perfect life that is imputed to our sanctification in order to complete justification. We were justified by His death and resurrection alone (Romans 4:24, 25).
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
V. In Calvinism, the receiving of the atonement must be maintained by faith alone in sanctification. We are not sealed by the resurrection of Christ or the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30, Romans 5:10).
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
VI. One reason that Christians cannot be called sinners is because there is no law in which to judge our just standing. We were justified APART from the law (Romans 3:21). In Calvinism, the fact that the law is still the standard for our justification is abundantly clear. The law informs our sanctification, but is APART from our justification (Galatians 4:21). The law is APART from our justification, but it is the truth we obey in sanctification (Galatians 5:, 6,7).
18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
VII. This clearly contradicts the Calvinist view that we are also justified by the life Christ lived. Clearly, we were justified by “one act.”
20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
VIII. Again, “under the law” only increases sin because we are in bondage to it and death reins accordingly. We are “under grace” were righteousness reins. That doesn’t mean the “old man” that was put to death does not get the upper hand from time to time. But that sin cannot be counted against our justification because we are no longer “under the law” (Romans 6:6), and because we are born again of God’s seed (1John 3:9), it is really not we who are sinning (Romans 7:20).
Susan and I perceive constantly that most Christians don’t understand the difference between justification and sanctification. Said another way, they don’t understand the difference between law and grace. This is by design. Instead of outlawing the Bible like the Popes, the Reformers merely posited the Bible as a catechism that aped their orthodoxy derived from counsels and creeds. I won’t mention names, but prominent evangelical leaders have shared with me personally that they know the general populous of American Christians are theologically illiterate. And again, this is by design. And, most Christians in our day openly admit it, and in some cases are proud of it. The remainder admits they believe that the pastorate is an intermediary between them and what God wants us to understand.
There are a number of problems with this, but primarily, God thinks it’s a bad idea. The Bible is clearly written to Christians in general. And His word cannot be properly understood unless it is read in the context of justification/sanctification. Whatever your opinion of the American church, it is a product of parishioner illiteracy in regard to doctrine; that is certain and indisputable.
Though it takes a lot of study to see some things in simple form, the simple fact of Calvinism (and we are all Calvinists if we are Protestant) is that it makes “under” a verb and not what it is: a preposition. They could get away with this in medieval times because most people didn’t know the difference. In our day, we know the difference, but assume the pastorate has a set of metaphysical eyes given to them by God before the foundation of the world that we don’t have—so our eyes don’t even blink when their interpretations contradict the plain sense of Scripture.
As we have seen in our previous observations from the book of Romans, Christians are UNDER grace and were previously UNDER law. All people born into the world are born into it UNDER the law, and will be judged by it at the end of their lives if they don’t escape it. Christ was the only man ever born under the law that could live by it without sin and was therefore the only man ever born who could die for our sins. We escape the condemnation of the law by believing in what He did to make a way of escape for us. Calling on Christ to save us acknowledges that we all fall short of God’s glory and are therefore in danger of eternal separation from Him.
We are “under” grace, NOT “under” law:
Romans 6:14—For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
The word for “under” here is hupo which is a primary preposition. Calvinism teaches that we are still under the law. This is the main reason that it is a false gospel. Now, they would vehemently deny this in the following way with red faces and veins popping out of their necks:
NONSENSE! We emphatically state constantly that no man is justified by the law unless he can keep it perfectly and we all know that no man can keep the law perfectly. We constantly cite James 2:10 which states that if we break the law at one point—we are guilty of breaking the whole law. HOW DARE YOU SLANDER US IN THIS WAY!!!
This argues the point by making “under” a verb (something we do or don’t do) rather than a position. Therefore, they are not arguing jurisdiction, they are arguing practice in regard to how we are justified. Position is the issue, not what we do; i.e., keeping the law or not keeping the law, or doing this/that in this way or the other way etc. Calvinists believe our position stays the same; therefore, what we do becomes critical. In fact, what we don’t do keeps us saved; e.g., “You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.”
There are four versions of “Christians” still being “under” the law, or under its jurisdiction. First, antinomianism which teaches that we are still under the law, but God cancelled our obligation to keep it because it promotes grace. Secondly, that we are still under the law, but the Holy Spirit helps us keep it so that we will pass the final judgment. Thirdly, that we are still under the law, but if we perform certain rituals within the church, by authority of the church, our sins are continually forgiven (perpetual pardon in the face of the law). Fourthly, we are still under the law, but Jesus keeps it for us while we continually contemplate His saving works in the Scriptures. This is the Reformed view. And of course—it’s no less a false gospel than the former three.
This is verified by their interpretation of Galatians 2:20—this exposes their heresy:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
We supposedly remain spiritually dead, which as they know is clearly synonymous with being under the law in Scripture. So, Galatians 2:20 is interpreted as being applicable to our Christian life. We don’t live in our Christian life, we are still spiritually dead, but the living Christ within us keeps the law for us so that the “ground of our justification will be Christ in the final judgment.” Calvinists believe that we are not under the law in regard to the idea that we don’t keep it in our Christian life to be justified, Christ keeps it for us. Hence, “under” is a verb issue rather than a position issue. What we do becomes critical, not where we are positionally. Therefore, Calvinism makes our Christian life (sanctification) by faith alone as a way to maintain our just standing for the final judgment. Only problem is, we are still fulfilling a requirement of the law in cooperation with Christ—this is the problem of salvation being a verb issue rather than a preposition issue. If the law no longer has jurisdiction over us FOR JUSTIFICATION, who keeps it or doesn’t keep it is irrelevant FOR JUSTIFICATION.
Then what is Paul talking about in Galatians 2:20? He is talking about justification; not sanctification, this should be evident. Consider the context:
Galatians 2:16—yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Galatians 2:17—But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!
Galatians 3:11—Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Consider verse 21 which immediately follows 2:20:
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Why do Calvinists apply Galatians 2:20 to sanctification? Because what we do is the issue, not our position, so Christ must obey the law for us. To the contrary, we are justified because the old self that lived in the flesh died with Christ. And when it did, we also died to the law. So, in regard to justification, we can only be justified if the life we lived in the flesh is dead and no longer under the law. Being alive in the flesh equals: being under the law. Now, obviously, our mortal bodies are still alive in one sense in that we are walking around, but in reality the old self is dead and the power of sin and the law are broken. In that sense, we are dead, and justified via the fact that Christ was resurrected for our justification (Romans 4:25). Notice that Paul states that he is dead in regard to his life “in the flesh.” This doesn’t mean that we are also spiritually dead in sanctification. The context of Galatians 2:20 is justification. Hopefully, Romans 6:5-14 will clarify this for you:
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
As we have noted before in our Romans study, being under the law comes part and parcel with being lost and under the power of sin which is provoked by the law. The flesh under the law is like throwing gasoline on a fire (Romans 7:8-11). But notice in Romans 6:5-14 that there is both death and life. This passage in Romans also adds “death” to being under the law and the bondage of sin. Galatians 2:20 only speaks of our death to the law and sin (“Apart from the law, sin lies dead”), not the life we have in sanctification. Romans 5-14 speaks to both because the context includes both sanctification and justification:
13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
We have been brought from death to life. The life we live in the flesh has had the power and dominion of sin under the law broken because we died with Christ. We are dead and Christ lives for our justification:
Romans 4:23—But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
In regard to justification and this life we live in the flesh, we are dead, and more importantly, also dead to the law as well, and only Christ is alive, but that doesn’t pertain to sanctification as well. In sanctification, we are alive, and UNDER GRACE. In justification, the old self is dead and no longer under the law. Calvinists believe we remain under the law in sanctification, and being under the law is synonymous with still being spiritually dead. Therefore, we remain dead in sanctification and under the judgment of the law, so the law must be fulfilled for us.
Being under grace is synonymous with being born again, new creatures, informed by the law, not under it (see Galatians 2:19), and lovers of the truth. Obedience to the law is now our means of loving the Lord and showing the world that we love Him. The law is the full counsel of God in regard to family harmony and kingdom living. It informs us on how to be separate from the world. In a word: sanctification. The law in regard to judging our justification has NO jurisdiction over us. We are no longer under it.
The very fact that Calvinists propagate a total depravity of the saints in which bondage to sin is not broken clearly illustrates that the law is still a standard for our justification; we are still under its jurisdiction for our just standing. A cursory perusal of Reformed writings can produce a motherload of citations to establish this fact, but one from Reformed icon G. C. Berkouwer should suffice:
Bavinck too, wrote in connection with the regenerating work of the Spirit: “The regenerate man is no whit different in substance from what He was before his regeneration” (Faith and Sanctification p. 87).
Clearly, this can only mean one thing: the one that is “no whit different” must also remain under the law. His position hasn’t changed, so lest one attempt to be justified by the law, what is done in sanctification becomes paramount in eternal issues as opposed to it being a Divine family matter. The Reformed camp uses the book of Galatians to argue for this when the book actually addresses their specific error. They use the book of Galatians, as mentioned, particularly 2:20, to argue a supposed Pauline position that the Galatians were doing things in their sanctification that was affecting the status of their just standing. Again, the Reformed crowd makes what we do in sanctification the issue, not our position which biblically proposes that nothing done in sanctification can affect justification. The Reformed use of Galatians to argue this propagates a fusion of justification and sanctification which makes the law the standard for justification from salvation to glorification.
However, the book of Galatians is the antithesis of such as it shows a clear dichotomy between justification/sanctification and the application of the law in each. In justification: NO application. In sanctification: obedience. In regard to no law in justification, but the law informing our sanctification, consider Galatians 2:19:
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
We have also noted in our Romans study:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—
We are justified apart from the law, but we would not know anything about these issues if not informed by the “Law and the prophets.” Furthermore, after belaboring the point about their being no law in justification, in both Romans and Galatians Paul makes his point by asking “What saith the Scriptures?” (Romans 4:3 and Galatians 4:30). And the absolute classic point on this is Galatians 4:21:
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?
There is no law in justification, but the law informs our obedience in Sanctification. Scriptural examples are myriad, but consider Galatians 5:2-7:
2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Verses 2 through 6 are about justification by faith alone apart from the law. Verse 7 concerns sanctification—running and obeying which we are free to do aggressively without fear of it effecting our justification. The two are completely separate; the law is left behind in the former and loved in the latter. I once heard a Reformed pastor fuming from the pulpit over a statement that he heard at a conference: “He said that the law leads us to Christ, and then Christ leads us back to Moses. THAT’S BLASPHEME!!!”
No it isn’t. When the law was increased through Moses, it had a dual purpose: to increase sin in order to show those under the law their need for salvation, and as can be ascertained by many other texts, for the saved to better glorify God:
Romans 5:20—The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,
Galatians 3:19—Why then the law? It was because of transgressions….
Apparently, I begin the New Year completely fed-up with all of the whining about the symptoms of Calvinism which is a false gospel. Christians seem to be oblivious to the fact that ill behavior flows from bad ideas. The blogosphere is saturated with incessant whining about the spiritual abuse and tyranny foisted on the American church by Calvinism, but yet, they refuse to address the core of the problem. Hence, many blogs have become little more than the National Inquirer adorned in Bible verses.
But though annoying, there is a reason for it: we are Protestants. Our foundation is Calvin and Luther who believed that Christians remain totally depraved and ignorant. Therefore, present-day Christianity in this country is predicated on the idea that we must be led by a sanctified pre-ordained academia. Like Catholicism? Absolutely, because the Reformers maintained Rome’s metaphysical presuppositions; especially in regard to mankind, and only changed their doctrine which strives for the exact same goal: CONTROL.
That’s why we have such a comfortable relationship with St. Augustine and the fact that our Protestant founding fathers were his followers. This is why we whine about spiritual abuse but continue to give these guys our money:
Ya, they’re bad guys, but we need them. I mean, look what David did, but he was God’s anointed. Israel needed him.
And why do we continually whine about symptoms while giving them our money when their philosophy and doctrine is clearly anti-God and anti-Bible? Because: we do not deem ourselves capable of speaking to their doctrinal error. We are not qualified. We could falsely accuse them because we have supposedly not been preordained to see Christocentric reality the way they do. God gave them metaphysical eyes that we don’t have. And if we step out and teach with the authority of the word, and without their permission, we may be found naked by them. Our hidden “ignorance” may be exposed. Reformed despots have worked for 510 years to develop this unspoken bondage.
So, we know our place and only speak to the behavior. We are exactly like the slaves in the South during the Civil War who were powerless to do anything but complain about the abuse. Or so they thought. Others questioned that assumption and sought solutions. The results speak for themselves. America now has a two-term black President. Christians should take note of that. Like him or love him, Obama is solution oriented. And any Christian who likes to speak their mind probably benefits from the Civil Rights Movement because the hangman’s noose differs little from the burning stake stoked with green wood for those who dared to understand Scripture apart from Reformed elders. The abuse we see today is Reformed Light tamed by the U.S. Constitution.
Look, rat on the behavior—keep doing that, but when are folks going to start blogging about the philosophy and the doctrine?
When they think they have the authority and capability to do so.
Well, touché. Yes, I know about the behavior, but what about the fact that these guys believe that we are resaved every day and that we can only receive daily forgiveness that maintains our justification in their churches? Heeeellllloooooo.
I posted a comment on a blog and the response from the author hit a nerve and prompted this post (here). My response was so knee-jerk that I stopped and pondered why I responded in that way. Hence, the title of this post. I’m clearly exasperated. But I let the comment stand.
Stop whining and study to show thyself approved. And then blog about it. Until the doctrine is dealt with, we will continue to be slaves to heretics rather than the Chief Shepherd.
“Six months after Luther’s 95 Thesis launched the Reformation, he put doctrinal feet on the Reformation with his Heidelberg Disputation. It is a complete dressing down of any idea that the Christian has worth in the eyes of God. It defines love itself as something that ONLY seeks what has NO value to the seeker. Luther considered the idea that Christians could please God in sanctification—anathema. By feeding on God’s love (salvation) alone and thereby affirming our worthlessness, we pave a safe road to eternal life.”
“If Christians grow in sanctification—the Reformation metaphysical construct falls. That’s why it’s efficacious to Reformed theology that you are a dead man walking. That is why it is important that everything is done by Christ for us.”
“Reformation Light and its wimpy sanctification has the SBC on its deathbed. Now authentic Reformation doctrine is presiding over the SBC in the persona of Dr. Kevorkian.”
Friends of PPT have been sending me some great links lately. I wish I could personally thank all of you, but I am really swamped right now. I click on all of them for general perusal, and one ended up getting me into a fray over at SBC Voices. I am a Southern Baptist, but really don’t rub shoulders with that crowd much since Susan and I do church at home and are extremely busy with this ministry and writing.
The fray yesterday was a real eye-opener in regard to how authentic Calvinism has infected the Convention. These are mean people folks. PPT continues to annoy as we learn better ways to articulate authentic Calvinism to the average Christian. Though perpetual re-salvation (progressive justification) is a description that is somewhat oversimplified, it’s an idea that most Christians can grasp and is an attention-getter. After all, the need to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday must have something behind it.
Something is changing. I don’t know how much this ministry has to do with it, but those who know something isn’t right, but can’t articulate it, are beginning to. The wolverine is being tied down and examined, and when that happens it’s not pretty. In one scathing review of me personally and the newly published False Reformation, a Reformed pastor stated the following:
My concern is not for those who have theological understanding; they will be able to see through Paul’s erroneous reasoning right away. My concern is for those who have so little biblical and theological instruction as to be able to discern the errors in Mr. Dohse’s arguments.
Get the picture fellow Average Joe Christians? Reading Paul Dohse’s ideas is something that shouldn’t be done at home by the ignorant totally depraved masses. In fact, in the book, I quote Southern Seminary president Al Mohler:
The main means by which God saves his people from ignorance is the preaching and teaching of the word of God. That’s why a conference like this is so important. It’s not just because we think of the pastorate as a profession set alongside other professions so that we can gather together for a little professional encouragement to go out and be a little better at what we do.
No, we’re here because we believe that those who teach and preach the word of God are God-appointed agents to save God’s people from ignorance . (p.8).
And trust me, the good ole’ boys over at SBC Voices get that message loud and clear. I lay the vast majority of SBC problems at the feet of the Reformation. Because the Reformation was predicated on anti-new birth, Reformed Light propagated wimpy sanctification (including inept theological instruction for parishioners) and an overemphasis on getting people saved rather than making disciples. Sanctification was devalued. It wasn’t deemed important. My wife Susan addressed this at last year’s conference, and her words should be well noted. The following is a conversation she had with her Christian father shortly after a funeral they attended:
“Mrs. Coleman said, At least, he was saved. Can a person be a little bit saved and still go to heaven?” I asked. “Honey, there are all kinds of opinions on whether Lovell was saved. And God has final say in the matter, not the preacher.” I have heard that phrase many times at funerals or when speaking of someone who died. “Well, at least he was saved.” So Lovell lived like the devil, but at least he had his fire insurance policy, made effective because he walked the aisle, said the sinner’s prayer, and was baptized in the Big Sandy River. But I will have to agree with my dad. Only God really knows if Lovell was genuinely saved or not and resting in the bosom of Abraham. At my funeral, I hope more will be said about me than “at least, she was saved.”
I encourage you pastors, teachers, and parents to obey Scripture and teach the dreaded D word: doctrine. Deuteronomy 6:6-9, “The Lord spoke to Moses and to us, and you must commit yourself wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down, and when you are getting up again. Tie them to your hands as a reminder. Wear them on your forehead. Write them on the doorpost of your house and on your gates. It is vital to know and to teach doctrine as we all follow the great commission. Go and make disciples.
The latest resurgence of authentic Calvinism in the SBC is going to finish the job; Calvinism Light says, “sanctification is not important.” Authentic Calvinism says, “What the heck are you talking about??? There isn’t any such thing as sanctification at all!” Six months after Luther’s 95 Thesis launched the Reformation, he put doctrinal feet on the Reformation with his Heidelberg Disputation. It is a complete dressing down of any idea that the Christian has worth in the eyes of God. It defines love itself as something that ONLY seeks what has NO value to the seeker. Luther considered the idea that Christians could please God in sanctification—anathema. By feeding on God’s love (salvation) alone and thereby affirming our worthlessness, we pave a safe road to eternal life.
Look, authentic Calvinism in the form of the latest resurgence, New Calvinism, will do what it always does—it will die a social death. But not before it will leave the SBC in ruins. Reformation Light and its wimpy sanctification has the SBC on its deathbed. Now authentic Reformation doctrine is presiding over the SBC in the form of Dr. Kevorkian. We will go from weak sanctification to no sanctification while, in their own words, “feeding on justification” for what they deceptively call “progressive sanctification.” The two ideas presented in this paragraph can clearly be seen from a link that I was sent by a PPT friend just yesterday. The blog author is a New Calvinist heavyweight, and the candid information on his blog speaks to what I am saying here specifically. The name of the blog is, “Gospel Shaped Living: exploring the completeness of Christ for us.” In other words, we don’t change, the shape of our life does (or the realm), and Christ, via our faith alone, obeys “for us” in sanctification. That’s the only thing that can make our sanctification, “complete.”
But as I was informed yesterday by the Calvinist bubbas over at Voices, you can’t draw any conclusions from a title; ie, Calvin really wasn’t saying that justification is progressive when he entitled 3.14 “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.” And no, I didn’t forget a question mark in that title. I was also informed by another Reformed guru yesterday that when Calvin stated that Christ’s death has a perpetual efficacy for the church (Isnt: 3.14.11)—that Calvin didn’t mean “perpetual” in a perpetual way, per se. Good grief. But here is something interesting from the post that was sent to me from the aforementioned blog:
Let me be clear. I am grateful for the working of God to renew Gospel focus across so many denominations and churches. It was just not so 30 years ago. The Gospel was the entry message for the Christian life, and after that, it was all law. I preached that way for the first ten years of ministry, until God sent a messenger to correct me. Now it seems every day a new book is published applying the Gospel to another area of life!
Well, where did it go prior to “30 years ago”? Actually, the conception of the resurgence was in 1970 officially, compliments of the Seventh-Day Adventist Awakening Movement that in fact rediscovered the true Reformation gospel of EVERYTHING sola fide. A fact many in the Convention are not overly excited to discuss.
Also, note his outright admission that salvation as an “entry” only was a problem prior to the rediscovery, and if salvation is only a “entry”, everything after that is “law.” Obviously, salvation must continue in order for everything not to be about law. This also speaks to the Reformed idea that law continues to be the standard for justification after salvation, and salvation by faith alone must therefore continue in order for that not to be the case. This is a huge problem. And also note that it is the same gospel that saved us that is applied to “another area of life” rather than a many-faceted biblical wisdom of learn and do discipleship. Note that’s “law.” So, is applying the same gospel that saved us to every area of life complicated? Of course it is—that’s why you need them. Also note that “books” are being written that reveal more ways of doing this “30 years” later!
The New Calvinist construct that was derived from authentic Reformed doctrine is dualism. It is knowledge of God’s holiness as set against our sinfulness. It is the good old fashioned knowledge of good and evil introduced in the garden. If Christians grow in sanctification—the Reformation metaphysical construct falls. That’s why it’s efficacious to Reformed theology that you are a dead man walking. That is why it is important that everything is done by Christ for us. That’s why it is important to always search the heart for revealed sin that supposedly makes God bigger and us smaller. But with all false doctrines—they implode—they cave-in on themselves. This is because we are wired to eventually act on what we believe; logic will eventually act on its presuppositions. Hence, the author states the following in the same post:
What I read on one side of this debate is pretty much advocating an endless monitoring of the state of my heart. Am I resting in Christ’s work for me? Am I feeding on my justification?
This seems to be a new legalism, an internal one. It is getting the functional Gospel right in my heart. I dare not do anything until I do so.
“Oh my, I obeyed, but I did so with a trace of self-righteousness. I need to make sure that does not happen again!”
“Dear me, I sought to please God but there was some self-sufficiency in that obedience, and I must repent and try to get it right next time.”
This paralyzes people. I think it is contrary to the apostolic method.
Paul reminds people of the objective truth of the Gospel. Then he calls them to act upon it. He does not call them to endlessly work on making sure they are getting the function of the Gospel correct before they do anything.
Putting the last two ideas together, I can begin the day with words like these: “I believe my righteousness is in Christ and his work, and his work alone. Nothing can change that. God is at work in me too, to make me like his Son.” Then I go into the day. Perhaps I remind myself of these things along the way. But I live based on objective affirmation of faith, not the quality of my resting in Christ.
Basically, meditate on the gospel, and whatever Christ might decide to do is “objective confirmation.” Anything that is within us is subjective. That is why this doctrine is often referred to as the objective gospel completely outside of us. But at any rate, people are always going to do something based on what they believe, and in this case, as the author notes, the endeavor to become more and more aware of how wicked we are becomes a new legalism in, and of itself. This is the futility of false doctrine—it usually becomes what it so vehemently opposes. Though the author’s solution is just more Reformed cognitive dissonance, he touches on what I saw yesterday at Voices. On steroids.
The post I addressed is a short one:
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12).
Search your heart oh friend
Hear this stanza
Repent of your hidden sin
Bring to Justice the Adam Lanza within
The loudest statement made by Adam Lanza on December 14, 2012 was, “Jesus is not Lord!” Although he did not verbalize this statement, he emphatically affirmed it by murdering his mother at her home and 26 other people (6 adults and 20 young children) at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Then he further rebelled against his Creator and Sustainer by taking his own life.
Search your heart oh friend
Hear this stanza
Repent of your hidden sin
Bring to Justice the Adam Lanza within
This rebellion against the rule and reign of Christ is taking place all around us as men, women, and children unashamedly sin against their Creator. The question is whether or not you and I have the same rebellious heart (although we may express our rebellion differently), that led Adam Lanza to commit this horrid act of rebellion against God and His Word.
Search your heart oh friend
Hear this stanza
Repent of your hidden sin
Bring to Justice the Adam Lanza within
The sad reality is that every time you and I sin, we rebel against the Lordship of Christ. The answer for such rebellion is that we must continually repent and affirm the gospel, pursuing holiness with all our might while pleading the blood of the King of kings and Lord of lords alone! In other words, we must continually bring the Adam Lanza within to Justice (God) by trusting in Christ, forever reminding ourselves that our sins have been judged in Christ. Therefore, although we are guilty of emphatically proclaiming “Jesus is not Lord,” on the cross God treated Christ as if He was the rebel so that the rebellious could go free! How will you respond? Will you bring to Justice the Adam Lanza within?
Search your heart oh friend
Hear this stanza
Repent of your hidden sin. . .
The obvious suggestion of this post would find agreement with authentic Reformed mentality—even totally depraved Christians still have a propensity to murder children in cold blood for no apparent reason. There is no difference between our sin and the sin of the unregenerate. This makes God look bigger, and us smaller. This is Reformed epistemology. Notice that we are to continually search for inner sins that we need to, “Bring to Justice.” This is perpetual justification. Obviously. The New Calvinists in the SBC teach this, but deny it when confronted—even in the face of the obvious. When confronted, they defied reality itself without even blushing:
What you propagate here is a New Calvinist progressive justification.
I’m advocating progressive sanctification, not progressive justification.
You say plainly that progressive sanctification is by the blood of Christ. So, are [you] not saying that the justifying blood is the source of our sanctification?
The justifying and sanctifying blood of Christ is the source of our sanctification. The Holy Spirit gradually conforms us to Christ.
Are you saying that the finished work of Christ is not the source of our sanctification?
YES JARED, that’s exactly what I am saying. How is a finished work the source of what’s progressive? This was Paul’s specific beef with the Galatians. Justification is not the source of sanctification–the two are separate. This was Dr. Jay E. Adams’ specific argument against the contemporary father of New Calvinism, Dr. John Miller (Sonship Theology) in his book, “Biblical Sonship: a Biblical Evaluation.”
Paul, I’m not saying that justification is the source of sanctification. You’re saying I’m saying this regardless what I say. Offer your position from Scripture. Tell us what the source is for sanctification.
The “blood” represents Christ’s death on the cross for our justification. We were justified by it. You said that we are both justified and sanctified by His blood: “Paul, It is by the blood of Christ that we are justified and sanctified.” How can you now say that–that’s not what you are saying? But to answer your question: the new birth now powers our progressive sanctification, NOT THE OTHER.
Paul, the blood represents Christ’s death on the cross for our justification AND sanctification. We live by faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20). We are ever dependent on His finished work. The list of Scripture can go on and on. I’m saying that the work of Christ is the source for both our justification and sanctification, not that our justification is the source of our sanctification.
Paul, my point is that the source is the same not that justification and sanctification are the same. We are progressively sanctified by pursuing holiness while possessing faith in Christ.
Once again, no one is saying that we are sanctified by our justification. We live by faith in the Son of God. We do not look within for our sanctification, we look to Christ alone….So, tell us what you believe is the source of our sanctification if not the work of Christ.
NOT His finished work on the cross, of course, He works in our sanctification through the Holy Spirit, but that DOES NOT = “preaching the cross to ourselves everyday” because we still need to be justified by it.
Paul, I don’t think you can separate the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts from the work of Christ. No one I’ve seen is arguing that we must continually be justified. You’re building up and tearing down a strawman.
….you say in the post that Christian sin must be continually brought to justice by the blood. That’s not progressive justification? It also makes the law the present affirmation of our just standing when the Scriptures plainly say that we are justified apart from the law. Here is what you wrote: “In other words, we must continually bring the Adam Lanza within to Justice (God) by trusting in Christ…How will you respond? Will you bring to Justice the Adam Lanza within?” I mean, are you saying that you were not using “justice” in a justifying way? Please explain.
Paul, I meant it exactly as Heb. 3:12 describes. We must continually trust in Christ alone for our salvation, making our calling and election sure as we live by faith in the Son of God. We are justified by His blood at the moment we first believe, and if we have been justified, we will continue believing. We must indeed confess ourselves sins while enjoying His forgiveness, not for justification but sanctification. We bring our sins to Justice (God) forever acknowledging our sins have been judged in Christ. Once again, we live by faith in the Son of God. The same blood that justifies us also sanctifies us.
I’ve asked you repeatedly to explain your position. You do not believe Christ’s work is the source of our sanctification, so what is?
The new birth is the source of our sanctification, not the blood which you use to replace, “justification.” Your New Calvinist position is a continual offering of the works of Christ in sanctification by faith alone. Southern Baptists have never believed in sanctification by faith alone because the law is still a standard for our justification in sanctification.
Key is your statement: “We must continually trust in Christ alone for our salvation, making our calling and election sure as we live by faith in the Son of God.” That’s not how the Scriptures say we make our calling and election sure (SPEAKING OF ASSURANCE). It states that we are to ADD to our faith for that purpose–it’s not by faith in the works of Christ ALONE that we gain assurance.
It’s not keeping our own salvation by faith alone. Our faith is already KEPT. It’s leaving the foot of the cross and aggressively pursuing the fruits of righteousness.
[As an addendum, note: “We must continually trust in Christ alone for our salvation, making our calling and election sure as we live by faith in the Son of God.” We “must” and “continually”” live by faith.” As I argue often, there is NO must to keeping anything for our salvation—not even faith which we cannot lose once God has granted it to us as a gift].
Paul, so what does the Apostle Paul mean when he says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20)? All I’m advocating is that Christians live by faith in the Son of God. We pursue holiness, putting on the new man, while constantly possessing faith in the Son of God.
We are not sanctified by our works. Also, you can claim that Southern Baptists have “never” believed what I’m advocating, but I would argue that the majority believe like I do.
We gain assurance by looking at the Holy Spirit’s fruit in our lives. This truth CANNOT be separated from living by faith in the Son of God. You cannot separate the Spirit’s work from the Son’s work. Christ’s work is the basis of both our justification and our sanctification. We pursue holiness while possessing consistent faith in Christ. We cannot separate the two. You seem to be separating the two.
1. What did Paul mean in Galatians 2:20? A word for justification appears 6 times between verses 15 and 21. 3:1-3 makes it clear that the context is works salvation by attempting to earn justification through a work that is finished. Verse 3 means literally, “are you reaching your end (glorification) by effort.” This coincides with Romans 8:29, 30. Paul’s argument is that they are trying to work towards a goal that is already finished. When we were unsaved, we were in the flesh and under the law–now we are dead to the law and the life we live in the flesh is sustained by Christ because the flesh involves law. Our justified state is by faith alone, and we are dead to the law. But you make this apply to sanctification as well. “Sanctification” is a biblical word and appears nowhere in this text, but “justification” does no less than 6 times. The crux of Paul’s point is verse 21: “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
So then, if sanctification is in these verses, then we cannot make an effort to keep the law in sanctification. We are also dead to the law in sanctification in the same way we are in justification. Therefore, we are dead in sanctification in the same way we are in justification, and Christ must keep the law for us in sanctification. And granted–that is the New Calvinist doctrine.
2. “We are not sanctified by our works.” Yes we are. Paul said that God’s will was our sanctification, and then described it as “abstaining” from…. Our enabled efforts in sanctification by all means does sanctify us (a setting apart from the world), and our end judgment will be for rewards, not to judge “the ground of our justification.”
3. “Christ’s work is the basis of both our justification and our sanctification. We pursue holiness while possessing consistent faith in Christ. We cannot separate the two. You seem to be separating the two.”
Yes, absolutely, I am separating the two. As can be seen by your above statement, if the two are fused together, I must maintain my justification in the same way that I was saved. This makes faith a work for the purpose of keeping our salvation. This is why JC Ryle stated the following: “But the plain truth is, that men will persist in confounding two things that differ–that is, justification and sanctification….What God has divided let us not mingle and confuse.”
How many times do I have to say that no one is infusing justification and sanctification together. Ya’ll are reading your own presuppositions into these men and my article.
How can you say you don’t fuse the two together when you posited Galatians 2:20 to make your point about faith alone for sanctification? Though the text doesn’t speak of sanctification, you say that “the life I now live” speaks to sanctification while the context of the passage is clearly justification. How can this be Jared? Jared, you said that OUR sins needed to be sought out and justified by Christ in the present through the blood. That’s what you You said. Words mean things.
Paul, where did I say that our sins must be sought out and justified? I didn’t you say it; you won’t find it. I said that our sins must be brought to Justice (God), not justified. There’s a difference. Once again, you need to take the time to actually understand what people are arguing before you throw around words like “heretic.”
You may consider the obtuse contradictions following by the author of the post at Voices:
“The justifying and sanctifying blood of Christ is the source of our sanctification.” ≠ “Paul, I’m not saying that justification is the source of sanctification.”
“No one I’ve seen is arguing that we must continually be justified. You’re building up and tearing down a strawman.” ≠ “In other words, we must continually bring the Adam Lanza within to Justice (God) by trusting in Christ…How will you respond? Will you bring to Justice the Adam Lanza within?”
“We cannot separate the two. You seem to be separating the two.” ≠ “How many times do I have to say that no one is infusing justification and sanctification together. Ya’ll are reading your own presuppositions into these men and my article.”
“Paul, where did I say that our sins must be sought out and justified? I didn’t you say it; you won’t find it. I said that our sins must be brought to Justice (God), not justified. There’s a difference.” ≠
Repent of your hidden sin
Bring to Justice the Adam Lanza within
I have said it before and I will say it again: corresponding with these yo-yos is a total waste of time. I do it for educational and ministry purposes, but no resolution or unity will ever be accomplished by trying to reason with these people. Personally, I don’t even take them seriously anymore. God’s people need to come out from among them at all cost. That’s where all of this is going anyway.
Again, the movement will die a social death as it has five times prior to today after Calvin’s Geneva theocracy. The rise and fall of those movements will be documented in the second volume of The Truth About New Calvinism. But concerning the carnage that will be left behind before the next decline into insignificance; a pity. The goal of this ministry is to educate God’s people in hopes of accomplishing the following to whatever degree we can in our little corner of the universe: hastening its inevitable death, and preventing its return.
“Not only that, and don’t miss this, if sanctification ‘feeds on justification,’ and if justification is monergistic, and it most certainly is, then sanctification is also monergistic and not synergistic. So, regardless of Tchividjian’s synergistic-like jargon in regard to sanctification—we should know better.”
Let’s be honest, when the Bible warns us about wolves dressed up like sheep; deep down, we assume it’s a bad costume. But it’s not, and we should assume that we will have to diligently exercise the brain God gave us in order to make sure that “no one deceives you.”
Tullian Tchividjian, hereafter “Mr. T,” is once again answering to fellow Calvinists for his Reformed antinomian ways. Mr. T is a heretic, but he’s spot-on in regard to the Reformed doctrine that he teaches. Unfortunately, rather than calling out men who don’t get what Luther/Calvin really taught, Mr. T continues to hone and adjust his defense of what he teaches in an evangelical way. If he would just say, “Listen guys, I teach authentic Reformed doctrine. You guys call yourselves Calvinists and you don’t even understand his soteriology, so hang it on your beak,” I would come to Coral Ridge and wash his car for free. And as a bonus, I would serenade him with the Christian classic, “Friends.” Yes, let’s get all the Calvinists debating each other with citations from the Institutes and the Heidelberg Disputation. Hint: if you are in that debate; choose sides with Mr.T.
Mr. T’s conclusion to his latest defense makes my first point:
So, I’m all for effort, fighting sin, resisting temptation, mortification, working, activity, putting off, and putting on, as long as we understand that it is not our work for God, but God’s work for us, that has fully and finally set things right between God and sinners. Any talk of sanctification which gives the impression that our efforts secure more of God’s love, itself needs to be mortified. As Scott Clark has said, “We cannot use the doctrine of sanctification to renegotiate our acceptance with God.” We must always remind Christian’s that the good works which necessarily flow from faith are not part of a transaction with God–they are for others. The Reformation was launched by (and contained in) the idea that it’s not doing good works that make us right with God. Rather it’s the one to whom righteousness has been received that will do good works.
There’s so much more that can be said, but I hope this serves to clarify that my understanding of the Christian life is not “let go and let God” but “trust God and get going”–trust that, in Christ, God has settled all accounts between him and you and then “get going” in sacrificial service to your wife, your husband, your children, your friends, your enemies, your co-workers, your city, the world.
AMEN “BROTHER!” But….the devil is in the details—literally. Mr. T writes the following in his introduction:
Pertinent to any discussion regarding justification and sanctification is the question of effort. In my recent back and forth with Rick Phillips on the nature of sin and its ongoing effect on the Christian, some have assumed that when I say there is no part of Christians that are sin free, I’m also endorsing a “why-even-try”, effortless approach to the Christian life–that I’m overlooking or understating the importance of “sanctification.” I suspect that one of the reasons for this is owing to my passion to help people understand the inseparable relationship between justification and sanctification.
Though I understand why—“why-even-try” is between quotation marks, technically, in context, “sanctification” being so indicates a misnomer by the author. In fact, many in the Reformed tradition dismiss progressive sanctification altogether. Dana Stoddard refers to it as “definitive sanctification” which usually refers to the elective setting apart for salvation by the Holy Spirit when we were justified before the foundation of the Earth. As far as I can tell, the Reformation magnum opus, the Heidelberg Disputation, does not contain the word sanctification at all. But perhaps I am missing it somewhere. At any rate, a couple of other details are worth noting in Mr.T’s introduction.
He speaks of “the nature of sin and its ongoing effect on the Christian.” The idea that “when I say there is no part of Christians that are sin free.” Well, that just isn’t so. It’s solid Reformed theology, but it’s not true. 1John 3:9 states, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” The apostle Paul adds to that by saying we delight in God’s law in our “inner being.” Furthermore, Paul stated that the power of sin to enslave us is broken; hence, “it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” To say that no part of the Christian born of God is untainted by sin is just not true.
Mr. T then states that justification and sanctification are “inseparable.” And….
As G. C. Berkouwer said, “The heart of sanctification is the life which feeds on justification.” So, I think it’s fair to say that sanctification is the justified life.
This is sanctification by justification, and suggests that the law still needs to be upheld to maintain our justification. That is not righteousness “apart from the law.” This is the Achilles heel of the Reformation gospel and I have written on this extensively. Not only that, and don’t miss this, if sanctification “feeds on justification,” and if justification is monergistic, and it most certainly is, then sanctification is also monergistic and not synergistic. So, regardless of Tchividjian’s synergism-like jargon in regard to sanctification—we should know better. Everything else is just window dressing. Impressive window dressing, but nothing more than window dressing just the same.
Furthermore, as Dr. Jay Adams aptly notes, this whole business of sanctification feeding on justification “misidentifies the source of sanctification.” Mr. T then begins to make his case with Luther’s concept of passive righteousness and active righteousness. Right. That’s from theses 27 of Luther’s Disputation and is classic Reformed theological gymnastics. The Disputation eradicates the participation of the Christian in sanctification so thoroughly that Luther suggests in theses 5 that people who do good works in public shouldn’t be brought up on criminal charges. I’m not kidding.
Moreover, Mr. T, in supposedly advocating hard work in sanctification, describes that work as a constant fight against our supposed totally depraved narcissism which constantly clamors to earn acceptance with God for justification:
Also, be aware of the fact that our hearts are like a “magnet” that is always drawing the horizontal (non-saving) plane towards the vertical–we are always burdening our love for others (which fulfills the law) with soteriological baggage. In other words, we see our good works as a way to keep things settled with God on the vertical plane instead of servicing our neighbor on the horizontal plane.
In other words, we should never serve anybody for the sole purpose of pleasing God. Pleasing God always means pleasing God for the sake of justification. This, my friends, is just one of many, many problems with fusing justification and sanctification together. The apostle Paul made it clear that pleasing God is the paramount goal of the Christian’s life.
Mr. T even suggests that efforts to keep the law as Christians will just inflame sin. This is true of unbelievers who are “under the law.” The law has a tendency to provoke them to sin. This also agrees with the Reformed idea that Christians are still “under the law” and therefore need the gospel every day:
This is also why it is important to fight sin and resist temptation. Sin and temptation is always self-centered. It is, as Augustine put it, “mankind turned in on himself.” Failing to believe that everything we need we already have in Christ, we engage in “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21), desperately looking under every worldly rock and behind every worldly tree for something to make us happy, something to save us, something to set us free. The works of the flesh are the fruit of our self-salvation projects…. Real freedom in “the hour of temptation” happens only when the resources of the gospel smash any sense of need to secure for myself anything beyond what Christ has already secured for me. We, therefore, “preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” because we forget it everyday.
And, go figure, the cure is dedication to the….right, local church:
It is for these reasons that it is so important for us to exert effort to pray, read the Bible, sit under the preached Word, and partake of the sacraments. It’s in those places where God confronts our spiritual narcissism by reminding us that things between he and us are forever fixed. It’s at those “rendezvous points” where God reminds us that the debt has been paid, the ledger has been put away, and that everything we need, in Christ we already possess. This vertical declaration forever secures us and therefore sets us free to see the needs around us and work hard horizontally to meet those needs.
When justification and sanctification are fused together, sanctification becomes a tricky minefield that can blow-up our eternal security. This is obvious if you read all of the back and forth between Tchividjian and Kevin DeYoung, and now Phillips. But never fear, if you are faithful to the Reformed philosopher kings, all will be well. Just stay at the foot of the cross while the philosopher kings figure it all out. You will be safe feeding there.
Or will you?
“In that Disputation, Luther postulates Pope Gregory’s take on the gospel which is the exact same calling card of present-day New Calvinism.”
“Powlison points to Pope Gregory and Augustine as the pioneers of biblical counseling using a ‘Christ-centered,’ ‘full gospel’ approach. And what was that approach?”
Let’s just take one contemporary example: a Presbyterian church that is now a mere shell of what it was; the remains of a war over the arrival of a New Calvinist pastor who exhibited outrageous behavior and leadership style. Today, some parishioners stand dumbfounded that the Presbytery took positive steps to keep said pastor in place.
As TANC, our newly formed think tank that researches Reformed theology continues to journey into church history for answers, the reasons for present-day tyranny in the church become clearer every day. First, it is driven by the gospel that founded the Reformation. Simply put, it is a gospel that does not believe that people change, but are rather called to contemplate the saving works of Christ in order for His righteousness to be manifested in one of two realms. Whether Baptist, Methodist, or whatever, this Reformed seed, the idea that people really don’t change is at the core of their function though they would deny it verbally. The Western church as a whole buys into this basic concept.
Secondly, the basic concept of spiritual elitists ruling over the totally depraved. You know, the they really can’t change crowd. The Reformation clarion call of total depravity—what’s our second clue if we need one? The spiritual is accessed through the chief contemplationists, and since they have the dope directly from God, they should rule over the totally depraved. Look, I have been a Baptist since 1983, and this is how it works. Again, we wouldn’t verbalize that, but to some degree it is true of all Western denominations because we are the children of the Protestant Reformation. What were we protesting? Naughty philosopher kings; past that, not much.
If we don’t change, the church doesn’t either. Think about that. And we wonder why things are a mess. Apparent growth in numbers is being driven by something else other than a true gospel. And the Reformers deny that while pontificating total depravity. It is testimony to the depth of which this Protestant construct has dumbed down the average parishioner; i.e., the totally depraved change. And nobody blinks. The assumption is that total depravity only pertains to the unregenerate, but that’s not the case according to the Reformed gospel and its time for people to start doing the math on that. The “Nones” and the massive exodus from the evangelical church is taking place for a reason.
I’m not ready to declare Pope Gregory the Great the father of the Reformation and present-day New Calvinism just yet, but recent discoveries reveal some things that should be fairly obvious. We aren’t stupid, just trusting, and that needs to end. Christians need to take advantage of the information age and start studying for themselves as the Christian academics of our day refuse to be forthcoming. They didn’t forget to mention that sola fide is also for sanctification. They didn’t forget to mention the total depravity of mankind AND the saints. They didn’t forget to mention that the new birth is a realm and not something that happens in us—it’s deliberate deception because the Reformed gospel is “scandalous.” The totally depraved are not “ready” for what the enlightened class of philosopher kings understand. By the way, many seminary students will testify to the fact that they are told as much by their seminary professors. Seminaries are where you go to be certified for the purpose of ruling over the totally depraved in order to, in Al Mohler’s words, “save them from ignorance.” Sorry, I prefer to let the Bible and Google save me from ignorance. Thank goodness for the Gootenberg press.
Monks. That’s what we are missing here. Martin Luther. Ever heard of him? He was a monk. What is the very premise on monkism? It’s the idea that the spiritual is obtained by contemplationism. And monkism is not unique to the Catholic Church—it is the link from the Catholic Church to the ancient concept of mystic dualism. Though it pans out in various different ways, it’s the idea that matter is evil and spirit is good. In other cases, it holds to the idea that both good and evil are necessary to understand true reality. Good defines evil, and evil defines good. The more you understand both, the more “balance” you have in the universe. Then there is the goal to birth the spiritual into the physical through meditation/contemplationism. Like I said, there are many takes on the basic approach.
Monks believe that the physical or world realm is a distraction from the spiritual realm. In some cases, they believe that all matter is merely a form of the perfect, or spiritual. Hence, monasteries. Traditionally, monasteries have been clearing houses for the dope from God through contemplationism. And since they have the dope, they should rule the totally depraved for their own good. In some spiritual caste systems, the monks rule directly, in others like the Catholic Church, the monks are the Scribes and Prophets for the rulers; i.e., the Popes.
The fact that monkism would be part and parcel to any doctrine formulated by Martin Luther is a no-brainer. Mysticism is simply going to be a significant factor, and so it is with Protestantism. This becomes more apparent when you consider the core four of the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther, John Calvin, St. Augustine, and Pope Gregory the Great. Luther’s 95 Theses was a protest against naughty Popes, but he was completely onboard with the Catholic caste system. When his 95 Theses resulted in the unexpected societal eruption that took place, he presented a doctrinal disputation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. And don’t miss this:
In that Disputation, Luther postulates Pope Gregory’s take on the gospel which is the exact same calling card of present-day New Calvinism. In theses 27 of his Disputation, Luther states the following:
Thus deeds of mercy are aroused by the works through which he has saved us, as St. Gregory says: »Every act of Christ is instruction for us, indeed, a stimulant.« If his action is in us it lives through faith, for it is exceedingly attractive according to the verse, »Draw me after you, let us make haste« (Song of Sol. 1:4) toward the fragrance »of your anointing oils« (Song of Sol. 1:3), that is, »your works.«
There could not be a more concise statement in regard to the New Calvinist gospel. Deeds in the Christian life come from the same acts in which Christ saved us. Secondly, they are not our acts, but the acts of Christ applied to our Christian lives by faith alone. Thirdly, when the works of Christ are applied to our Christian lives by faith alone, it will always be experienced by the exhilarating emotions of first love—this is the mark of Christ’s active obedience being manifested in the spiritual realm through the totally depraved. We “reflect” the works of Christ by faith alone. Even John MacArthur has bought into this nonsense, claiming that obedience to the Lord is “always sweet, never bitter.” Francis Chan states that it always “feels like love.” And of course, poke John Piper’s rhetoric anywhere and this same monkish mysticism comes oozing out.
Moreover, Luther states this same concept from many different angles in his Disputation, and theses 28 is clearly the premise for John Piper’s Christian Hedonism.
No wonder then that New Calvinists of our day sing the praises of Pope Gregory. Here is what heretic David Powlison stated in an interview with Mark Dever’s 9Marks ministry:
Caring for the soul, which we try [try?] to do in biblical counseling, is not new. Two of the great pioneers in church history would be Augustine and Gregory the Great. Even secular people will credit Augustine’s Confessions as pioneering the idea that there is an inner life. Augustine did an unsurpassed job of tearing apart the various ways in which people’s desires become disordered. Gregory wrote the earliest textbook on pastoral care. He pioneered diverse ways of dealing with a fearful person, a brash and impulsive person, an angry person, an overly passive person. He broke out these different struggles and sought to apply explicitly biblical, Christ-centered medicine—full of Christ, full of grace, full of gospel, and full of the hard call of God’s Word to the challenges of life.
Powlison points to Pope Gregory and Augustine as the pioneers of biblical counseling using a “Christ-centered,” “full gospel” approach. And what was that approach? It was primarily contemplationism and dualism. In fact, Gregory practically saw “doing” as a necessary evil. In Roland Paul Cox’s Masters dissertation, Gregory the Great and His Book Pastoral Care as a Counseling Theory, Cox states the following:
The overall theme in Gregory’s dichotomies is balance. It is possible that this comes from Gregory’s own struggles in balancing his desire for the contemplative life of a monk versus his reluctant, but active, service as ambassador to Constantinople and pope.“The Regula Pastoralis was in large part devoted to describing how to reconcile the two types of life. He came to the conclusion eventually that while the contemplative life was the better and more desirable of the two, the active life was unavoidable, and indeed necessary in order to serve one’s fellow man.…There could be no better exemplar of the two lives than Gregory himself, but he would have been less than human had he not from time to time mourned the fact that so much of his time must be given over to the active at the expense of the contemplative” [Jeffrey Richards, Consul of God : The Life and Times of Gregory the Great (London ; Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), 57.].
Powlison, in true Reformed tradition, invokes the either/or hermeneutic, or the either cross story or glory story hermeneutic of Luther’s Disputation by suggesting that any denial of this “Christ-Centered” approach is a wholesale denial of an “inner life.” In other words, suggesting that doing something should be emphasized as much as contemplationism is paramount to denying that there is an inner life. Such statements by Powlison are indicative of his utter lack of integrity.
In addition, Gregory’s penchant for mystic dualism is seen in the same dissertation:
Gregory’s view of health revolved around balance. In Pastoral Care 34 dichotomies are given. For each one Gregory discusses how either extreme is detrimental. The following are a few examples of Gregory’s dichotomies: poor/rich, joyful/sad, subject/superiors, wise/dull, impudent/timid, impatient/patient, kindly/envious, humble/haughty, obstinate/fickly, and gluttonous/abstemious. Further, Gregory explains how certain traits although they appear to be virtues are in reality a vice. For example, in describing the dichotomy of impatient and patient, Gregory says the following about the patient: “…those who are patient are to be admonished not to grieve in their hearts over what they suffer outwardly. A sacrifice of such great worth which they outwardly offer unimpaired, must not be spoilt by the infection of interior malice. Besides, while their sin of grieving is not observed by man, it is visible under the divine scrutiny, and will become the worse, in proportion as they claim a show of virtue in the sight of men. The patient must, therefore, be told to aim diligently at loving those whom they needs must put up with lest, if love does not wait on patient” [Pastoral Care: pp. 109, 110].
In other words, self-control is a vice. Unless cross-centered love is mystically applied according to Luther’s Disputation (theses 28), the latter evil of self-control is worse than the former sin of being offended since such offences serve to humble us (LHD theses 21).
What goes hand in metaphysical hand in all of this is good ole’ ancient spiritual caste tyranny. As Cox further observes,
Shortly after becoming pope, Gregory wrote Pastoral Care. In addition as pope, he reorganized the administration of the papal states, he maintained papal authority in the face of encroachments from the Patriarch of Constantinople, he established links with the Frankish Kingdoms, and most importantly (for these English writers), he sent a party of monks, led by Augustine, to convert the Anglo-Saxons.
Gregory was very influenced by the Rule of St. Benedict and Benedictine monks who came to Rome after the monastery that St. Benedict founded was burnt. In some letters, Gregory calls his work Pastoral Rule. “There is every reason to assume that Gregory in conceiving the plan for Liber Regulae Pastoralis [Pastoral Rule] intended to provide the secular clergy with a counterpart to this Regula [the Rule of St. Benedict].
….This culture of rulers and emperors also helps explain why Gregory saw Pastoral Care and Pastoral Rule as one in the same. By modern day standards, Gregory would be considered overly authoritarian.
A culture of “rulers and emperors” had precious little to do with it, but rather ancient spiritual caste systems that answered the supposed preordained call of God to control the totally depraved. With the sword if necessary. While many of these systems were based on mythology prior to the 6th century, Plato systematized the idea and gave it scientific dignity. But his trifold theory of soul consisting of king, soldier, and producer called for a sociological counterpart that was a mirror image to fit the need. Sir Karl Raimund Popper, considered the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, fingered Platonism as the primary catalyst for religious and secular tyranny in Western culture. And Plato’s mystic dualism (shadows and forms) added not just a little to the MO of the Reformers. According to church historian John Immel:
Calvin’s Institutes (1530) is the formal systematic institutionalization of Platonist/Augustinian syncretism that refined and conformed to Lutheran thinking and became the doctrinal blueprint for the Reformed Tradition [Blight in the Vineyard: Prestige Publishing 2011].
Christ promised us that He would build His Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The idea that the Reformers rescued His church from the gates of the Roman Catholic Church is both laughable and the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. The idea that Christ needed, and continues to need the services of Plato’s philosopher kings is arrogance on steroids. Somewhere, God’s church moves forward. Let us shed the Reformed load that hinders and find our place in that true church.
Just a few questions:
1. If you accept the idea that “flesh” and “spirit” refer to parts of regenerate believers rather than to spheres in which people live and by which we are controlled, where does sanctification take place, in the flesh or in the spirit? The same question applies in terms of “old man”/ “new man.” Which of those grows in sanctification?
Answer: This question reflects the fact that the Reformed crowd doesn’t openly discuss what they really believe about this issue, and I commend you accordingly. Authentic Reformed doctrine holds to the idea that the active obedience of Christ is manifested in the “Spirit realm” as a result of what we see in the Bible being imputed to us by faith alone in sanctification (see Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, theses 27). We don’t change. The “Spirit realm” and the “flesh realm” are two forces that put pressure on us, and at any given time, we “yield” to one or the other. This is the position of the elders who are over the NANC training center in Springboro, Ohio according to an email I received from them when they thought I was onboard with their doctrine.
Of course, the take on this varies among those in the Reformed tradition. Another example would be the idea that we are still dead spiritually, and the living Christ within us is the one obeying. What is consistent is the idea that this obedience is experienced in a certain way: joy and a willing spirit (see LHD, theses 27); that’s how we know Jesus is doing it and not us. At any rate, the crux of Reformed theology is that all good works take place outside of the believer; i.e., Luther’s “alien righteousness” for not only justification, but for sanctification as well. Your question is at the very core of debates that took place between heretic Dr. Ed Welch of CCEF and the commendable Dr. Jay Adams.
Jay Adams oversees INS as he was pretty much run out of NANC and CCEF—largely due to the fact that NANC and CCEF are both bastions of evil. I find it utterly intolerable that thousands are sent to these organizations daily with the hope of change when these Reformed organizations in fact don’t believe that God changes them. There are no words for my loathing of such hideous deception while these organizations also take people’s hard-earned money to boot. And some don’t go along with these ideas, but they stand silent and therefore are just as guilty. And my “whole life” is contending against this? Perhaps, but better that than one’s whole life buying acceptance with silence. Moreover, people praise CJ Mahaney and co. for their tireless night and day service to the “gospel” which is really the work of the kingdom of darkness against the kingdom of light. A pity that I would counter that with my own life.
Unfortunately, Adams, who is much more advanced in patience than I am—associates with them, and in my estimation thereby causes confusion regarding the kind of counseling that will change people. Also, the possibility that the only biblical counseling organization left on the face of the earth that is not infected with Trippism and Powlisonism is also a major concern. Nevertheless, Adams and his associate, Donn Arms, are the only ones who have taken a stand against the heretical onslaught taking place in biblical counseling circles which is fraught with mindless followers, lackeys, lovers of filthy lucre, shameless cowards, and lying integrationists. The idea that these people care about any marriage or the wellbeing of any saint is laughable.
But to answer your question completely, I believe the Scriptures are clear that the old self was put to death and no longer has the ability to enslave us to sin. The old self was “under the law” which means that the law provoked him to sin and a final judgment according to the law. As long as we are alive, our mortality has influence over us in regard to the old ways of being under the law, but the enslavement is broken. We are in fact born again, and have a regenerated “law of our mind.” Hence, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The warfare takes place inside of the believer between the law of his mind and the “law of sin.” The apostle makes it absolutely clear: this warfare takes place between my “inner being” and “in my members.” What is clearer? Unless the Bible is a Reformed gospel narrative that isn’t meant to inform our colaboring with God in sanctification. But it is, because we are no longer “under” it for justification, but are informed by it for sanctification. Because the Reformers believe we are still under it, we must continue to live by the gospel that saved us from the law. We are still under it, but Jesus keeps it for us. How this is applied to the Christian life by the Reformers is outright Gnosticism to the core.
Furthermore, the “law of my mind” part of the believer that “delights in the law” in our “inner being” is what grows. Something in us is in fact growing: a host of passages that include 1Peter 2:1-3 make this certain. Really? Jesus isn’t really talking to us when he states, “Well done faithful servant”?
2. Do you believe sanctification occurs completely apart from faith? Do we have everything we need at the point of regeneration, so that further dependence on the Holy Spirit is no longer necessary? It sounds as if that is what you are saying.
Answer: Your question is framed within the confines of the Reformed either/or hermeneutic. Reality is either interpreted through the “glory story,” or the “cross story.” This is the interpretive foundation of Reformed theology as stated in LHD. Because sanctification includes us, it must be by faith alone like salvation or it includes our glory as well. Therefore, where faith is, it must be by faith alone because faith is of God who will not share His glory with another. Therefore, if our doing is involved with sanctification, it must occur completely apart from faith. It must be the glory story, or the cross story. Reformed proponent Gerhard Forde states this in no uncertain terms.
Biblicists reject that metaphysical presupposition with prejudice. We stand with our beloved brother James, whom Luther rejected for obvious reasons, in saying that faith and works are together in sanctification while faith is alone in justification. Luther, and his Reformed minions believe that grace is fused with works apart from our faith when it is faith in the works of Christ alone in sanctification (LHD theses 25).
Also, “Do we have everything we need at the point of regeneration, so that further dependence on the Holy Spirit is no longer necessary?” Again, we see Reformed metaphysics. If any part of our story is in the narrative, it’s semi-Pelagianism and not the cross story. This is a rather simple concept. All of the power that raised Christ from the dead is credited to our account in salvation. The Holy Spirit, our “HELPER” (ESV) “helps” us (that’s what a “helper” does, they “help”) in appropriating the blessings of salvation. He aids us (that’s what a “helper” does, he “aids”). And those blessings are appropriated “IN” (that’s a preposition) the DOING (James 1:25).
3. Do you believe Jesus’ actions are ever to be considered not only as instructional as a pattern for our obedience, but as motivation to imitate him?
Answer: As many have forcefully argued in several articles, especially Presbyterian Pastor Terry Johnson, God uses many different incentives to motivate us other than gratitude and meditating on the salvific works of Christ. This was also Adams’ primary contention against Sonship Theology.
4. Do you see any difference between God’s work in a believer that replaces his need to obey and God’s work in believers motivating them to obey?
Answer: The very question suggests a “need” to “replace (s)” the “need” of a believer to “obey” in sanctification? Of course, a clear distinction is not made regarding….in sanctification or justification? But, NO SUCH NEED EXISTS for sanctification. Our work in sanctification has NO bearing on our justification. The premise of the question is based on faulty Reformed presuppositions.
5. How do you see the Reformed doctrine as teaching that sanctification completes justification?
Answer: They call it a “CHAIN” (The golden chain of salvation-Romans 8:29,30). What’s a “chain”? What happens if you remove the middle links of a “chain” ? It’s not completed—this would seem apparent.
There seems to be some bad news in regard to our “good news” gospel-centered churches: your suffering is good news. The evidence continues to mount: New Calvinism is authentic Reformed doctrine. Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation was/is the foundation of Reformed doctrine. It was the first document after his 95 Theses (six months later) which confronted the bad behavior of his fellow philosopher kings, but his Disputation to the Augustinian Order was his doctrinal theses. By the way, according to Luther himself, his Disputation was heavily influenced by the writings of Pope St. Gregory and St. Augustine.
Like the New Calvinists of our day; no, exactly like the New Calvinists of our day, and according to the Disputation, Luther believed that the laity are not able to draw propositional truth from the Bible. He taught that spiritual knowledge and discernment only serve to inflame the evil desires of people whether they are saved or not. Therefore, God issued the Bible for the sole purpose of self-depravation, or “humbleness.” Knowledge “puffs up,” but what he called the “cross story” humbles—leading to “resurrection.” Luther saw the Christian life as a continual cycle of death and life, or “humbleness” followed by “grace.” ALL other considerations, especially anything to do with ourselves, are the “glory story.” This constant cycle of death and resurrection (humbleness and grace) was his redefinition of the new birth.
Luther defined love as something that seeks need [Theses 28]. Sounds good, no? But that was his only definition of love. Love seeks nothing for itself, but only seeks need. The problem begins in the anthropological fact that the love of good and justice feeds our desires because we desire to see such and experience it. But Luther attributed that notion to Aristotle and rejected it. True life was to be found in the suffering of the cross story only and any other life story that serves to bring us low—leading to resurrection. Any and all suffering in our life identifies us with the suffering of Christ, and leads to His resurrection:
Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.
That the works of God are unattractive is clear from what is said in Isa. 53:2, »He had no form of comeliness«, and in 1 Sam. 2:6, »The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.« This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is »no form or beauty« in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e. in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell, according to that verse of the Apostle in 2 Cor. 6:9-10, »As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying, and behold we live.« And that it is which Isa. 28:21 calls the »alien work« of God »that he may do his work« (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope), just as Hab. 3:2 states, »In wrath remember mercy.« Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his depravity. Indeed, he also does those things which appear foolish and disgusting to others.
This depravity, however, comes into being in us either when God punishes us or when we accuse ourselves, as 1 Cor. 11:31 says, »If we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged by the Lord«. Deut. 32:36 also states, »The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.« In this way, consequently, the unattractive works which God does in us, that is, those which are humble and devout, are really eternal, for humility and fear of God are our entire merit [Theses 4].
Now you ask: What then shall we do? Shall we go our way with indifference because we can do nothing but sin? I would reply: By no means. But, having heard this, fall down and pray for grace and place your hope in Christ in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection. For this reason we are so instructed-for this reason the law makes us aware of sin so that, having recognized our sin, we may seek and receive grace. Thus God »gives grace to the humble« (1 Pet. 5:5), and »whoever humbles himself will be exalted« (Matt. 23:12). The law humbles, grace exalts. The law effects fear and wrath, grace effects hope and mercy. Through the law comes knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20), through knowledge of sin, however, comes humility, and through humility grace is acquired. Thus an action which is alien to God’s nature (opus alienum dei) results in a deed belonging to his very nature (opus proprium): he makes a person a sinner so that he may make him righteous [Theses 16].
The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness. The Apostle in 1 Cor. 1:25 calls them the weakness and folly of God. Because men misused the knowledge of God through works, God wished again to be recognized in suffering, and to condemn »wisdom concerning invisible things« by means of »wisdom concerning visible things«, so that those who did not honor God as manifested in his works should honor him as he is hidden in his suffering (absconditum in passionibus) [Theses 20].
A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.
This is clear: He who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers ,works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil. These are the people whom the apostle calls »enemies of the cross of Christ« (Phil. 3:18), for they hate the cross and suffering and love works and the glory of works. Thus they call the good of the cross evil and the evil of a deed good. God can be found only in suffering and the cross, as has already been said. Therefore the friends of the cross say that the cross is good and works are evil, for through the cross works are dethroned and the »old Adam«, who is especially edified by works, is crucified. It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his »good works« unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s [Theses 21].
Luther answered the obvious objection to all of this with the following:
Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ [Theses 17].
More and more, this is the Reformed perspective of pastors in evangelical churches. It represents about 90% of the perspective among certified biblical counselors associated with NANC and CCEF. Does it leave any doubt as to why there is so much indifference to abuse and tyranny in our churches?
And excuse me while I shudder—the thought of hurting people being sent to such counselors by the thousands on a daily basis.
Bob is on his way to Jerry’s house for dinner. Bob is the chairman of their church’s elder board. Jerry is being considered for eldership and Bob will be dinning at his house for a pre-interview en lieu of further discussion. Pizza is the cuisine. And apparently, not just on this night—Bob notes that every trashcan in the house is stuffed with pizza boxes. Dishes full of M & Ms also adorn many of the table tops. Bob is taken to the kitchen by Jerry to meet his wife, and Bob perceives no less than twenty-five bags of potato chips staked about in various places. One corner of the kitchen is occupied with a tall stack of Coca-Cola 12packs. Big on taste—small in nutrition.
Precious few will disagree that Bob’s family is headed for serious health problems if they do not change their ways. But yet, Bob is a picture of how the vast majority of Christian husbands oversee the spiritual diets of their families. However, the “Bob” motif falls woefully short of making the point; at least Bob knows what his family is eating for better or worse. Christian husbands of our day don’t even know the difference between Redemptive Historical hermeneutics and Grammatical Historical hermeneutics. In fact, when the subject comes up, a rolling of the eyes follows.
That’s because the preaching/teaching is awesome where they go to church. Uncompromising, and God glorifying. As one pastor exhorted me when inquiring about what hermeneutic he used in his preaching: “Come and see if it tastes good, and if you still want to, we will talk about theology.” But I never doubt it will taste good. Who doesn’t love pizza for dinner, potato chips as a side, Coke to drink, and M&Ms for desert?
Fact is, nearly 90% of preaching/teaching in today’s American church is fundamentally based on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation. This document is the very heart of the Reformation and the engine that drives the present-day New Calvinist movement. Its premise was based on the idea that all spiritual reality, wisdom, and truth comes from the combination of two perspectives, and only these two: the holiness of God, and the wretchedness of all men whether they are Christians or not. Luther called this perspective the “theology of the cross.” It has come to be known as Gospel-Centered preaching/teaching. It is also the foundation of the Calvin Institutes. Everything in the Calvin Institutes, in some way, points to the glory of God “as set against our sinfulness.”
This has become job one: as described in the Heidelberg Disputation; this way of teaching is the “cross story,” and all other spiritual wisdom is the “glory story.” Hence, the contemporary clarion call of the Reformation derived from Luther’s Disputation is, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. Anything at all that has anything to do with us is “subjective,” and part of the “glory story.” Unless it concerns our wretchedness. Therefore, the Disputation ridiculed a negative attitude towards suffering as well for this serves to further reveal our woeful state in life which magnifies the redemptive work of Christ and our utter worthlessness. The whole motif can be visualized by the following Reformed chart:
Yes, you can preach wonderful sermons on those two dimensions. They are both abundantly true. Charles Spurgeon is known as the “prince of preachers.” All of his sermons are based on the “cross story.” All, I repeat “all” of John Piper’s sermons and the (seems like) 600 books he has written are based on nothing but, I repeat, nothing but the “cross story.” Amen, pass the potato chips. In circa 1994, John MacArthur abandoned the “glory story” aspects of his preaching and now focuses on the “cross story.” Amen, pass the M&Ms. And those babies slide down nice with a big swig of Coca-Cola.
“But Paul, what’s so sweet about focusing on our own wickedness?” My dear friend, haven’t you seen any Staples commercials? It’s easy. You totally stink. Nothing is expected of you: “Hey honey! Good news! We don’t change! Our marriage isn’t about a bunch of do’s and don’ts! Our failures make us wiser!” That was easy. In fact, teachers like Michael Horton and John Piper continually espouse the idea that expectations are just, “more bad news.” And regarding leaders? “Alright, time to prepare my message for tomorrow, and all I have to do is look for two things, and two things only in the text: how great God is, and how bad we are.” That was easy. In fact, we find the following on a well-known Reformed blog regarding instruction on how to prepare a Bible lesson:
At this time, resist the temptation to utilize subsequent passages to validate the meaning or to move out from the immediate context. Remembering that all exegesis must finally be a Christocentric exegesis.
Look for Christ even if He isn’t there directly. It is better to see Christ in a text even if He isn’t, than to miss Him where He is.
But as the apostle asked rhetorically, “What saith the Scriptures?” Is there another story other than the “cross story”? Anybody interested in the House on a Rock story?
Matthew 7:24 -“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Learn and do. That’s how we have a life built on a rock. It is the very definition of a disciple:
Matthew 19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So, here is my suggestion. When you go to church this Sunday, and other days following that involve sitting under the teachings of your leaders, take a legal pad with you. Draw a line at a downward angle on the bottom labeled, “our sin.” Draw a line at the top with an upward angle, and label it “Christ.” Then draw a line in the middle and label it, “What? Why? And How?” Or, “Not only what Jesus did, but what did He SAY?” Or simply, “Life built on a rock.” If there isn’t a three-dimensional balance—get out of there. You either love your family or you don’t. You will be judged by Christ accordingly.
I was approached by my wife Susan this morning. My son by marriage had approached her asking questions about demonology. Apparently, he had questions concerning some things he had heard about the subject in the secular realm. I was astonished; though both of them have been in church for a combined total of 72 years, they didn’t even know the basics regarding this subject. My wife wanted to know the answers to his questions—other than the usual answers: “Jesus” and “gospel.”
And if we don’t know, the world will gladly inform our children accordingly. Knowledge equals authority.
Men, wake up.