Paul's Passing Thoughts

John Piper: How to Hide Your Talents in 6 Minutes

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 6, 2011

I would like to point out some disturbing parallels between New Calvinism and the “wicked and slothful” servant in Matthew 25. It’s a difficult portion of Scripture, but a few things are certain: the servant’s improper view of God caused him to be “fearful,” resulting in him playing it safe, so to speak.  The servant was fearful that he would do something wrong with the master’s money that would incur a loss, and thereby landing him in deep trouble.  How did he play it safe? He hid the master’s money in the ground so there would be no chance of loss.

That’s what the doctrine of New Calvinism does. It instills fear of risk in believers, so they play it safe. Let me explain. There is a popular video on the net entitled “The Gospel in Six Minutes,” by John Piper. It is an excerpt from a sermon he preached.  The title was “God Strengthens Us By The Gospel.”  And here is how he explains that in the same message:

You never, never, never outgrow your need for it. Don’t ever think of the gospel as, “That’s the way you get saved, and then you get strong by leaving it and doing something else.” No! We are strengthened by God through the gospel every day, till the day we drop. You never outgrow the need to preach to yourself the gospel.

In fact, in his conclusion, he strongly insinuates that anybody that is trusting in anything else but the same gospel that saved us to grow spiritually is lost:

I know that there are people reading this who are not trusting Jesus Christ, and therefore can only expect condemnation. So I’m just going to plead with you here at the end, lay down that rebellion. Lay it down. And simply embrace the gospel that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Righteous One, died for your sins. He was raised on the third day, triumphant over all his enemies. He reigns until he puts all of his enemies under his feet. Forgiveness of sins and a right standing with God comes freely through him alone, by faith alone.

Piper then follows with this statement without any transition of subject:

I plead with you, don’t try to be strong in your own strength; it will not be there when you need it. Only one strength will be there—the strength that God gives according to the gospel. Don’t put it off.

Don’t put what off? Well, the title of the sermon is “God Strengthens Us By The Gospel.” Who’s “us”? Answer: professing Christians. Lost people don’t need “strengthening,” they need salvation, right? So, what is it that professing Christians shouldn’t put off doing? Answer: those who are not really “trusting Jesus Christ, and therefore can only expect condemnation,”  shouldn’t put off trusting in Jesus Christ by ceasing to be strong in our own strength. Those trying to be strong in their own strength in sanctification can only expect condemnation, so the call is to stop doing that and start trusting in the gospel to be strengthened as a believer, and if you don’t, you will be condemned! Got it?

But how would we know if we are applying effort in our own strength or the strength of the gospel? Well, you had better get that right, or you could end up condemned. Scared yet?

Answer: play it safe, don’t make any effort! Apparently, it’s either all our effort or all God’s effort. I call this the New Calvinist either/or hermeneutic.

So, hide your efforts in the ground for fear that those efforts could unwittingly circumvent “gospel strength,” resulting in your eternal condemnation.

Do you buy that? I hope not.


31 Responses

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  1. markmcculley said, on December 7, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    One of the many interesting questions raised by this essay is about who is being addressed by the indicatives and imperatives of Scripture.
    I Corinthians 5:20—“we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

    As ambassadors FOR Christ, we command all who hear, “’be ye reconciled”. Even though II Cor 5 is addressed to Christians only, the message taken by Christians to the lost is not for the elect only. The “be ye reconciled” is for those who have not yet been already justified.

    We should NOT talk to people assuming that they are Christians even though they don’t know the gospel yet.
    To those who are still ignorant of the gospel, we don’t talk only about gratitude and freedom. Yes, we tell them that those for whom Christ died are thankful and free and pleasing to God. But we also tell them: if you don’t know the gospel and believe it yet, then you should be shut up to nothing but legal fear.

    If Christ did not die for you, you should be afraid. Being afraid won’t save you. But legal fear is the reasonable response to not knowing the gospel. Because not knowing the gospel means knowing that you are not yet justified.

    I do not want to preach terror to Christians. But we must not assume that people are Christians.

    Do we address the people in church as if we are all elect, who have been believing some form of the gospel all along? “Close as in horseshoes”? Or do we say: some or all of you may need to be reconciled. Nobody is born reconciled. Let’s not presume. Let’s not beg the question.

    Jerry Bridges, p34, Transforming Grace—“if you are trusting TO ANY DEGREE in your own morality, or if you believe that God will somehow recognize any of your good works as a reason for your salvation, you need to seriously consider if you are truly a Christian.”


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      We teach that we are completely justified by faith in Jesus Christ, and that nothing we do in sanctification can effect the finished work of justification in any way, then we move on to the “something else” of making disciples by teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded. Jerry Bridges believes that sanctification is fused to justification, and therefore, sanctification maintains our righteous standing before God until glorification. Therefore, as the title implies, we must be “Transform[ed] by Grace.” He believes that sanctification is “justification in action.” Hence, anything that is our effort in sanctification is trying to maintain justification with our own efforts. If there isn’t a distinction between the two, to JB’s point, there simply would be no way to distinguish between our efforts to simply please God in sanctification and trying to earn or maintain justification. Notice that Bridges never discusses “making it our goal to please Him” in the context of sanctification and how that differs from justification. But that’s the point, THE TWO ARE COMPLETELY SEPARATE IN REGARD TO SALVATION. Obviously, if the same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us, New Calvinists see an undeniable fusion in justification and sanctification. This whole, “….we must not assume people are Christians” is just an excuse to continually preach reconciliation to the reconciled just in case Bubba brought aunt Millie to church and she’s not saved. It’s indicative of the first gospel wave that de-emphasized sanctification and paved the way for the second gospel wave of New Calvinism. For all practical purposes NC teaches that not only is sanctification not important,there isn’t any such thing as sanctification, it’s the same as justification.

      When the two are fused, you can only have two results: Salvation by Jesus plus our efforts, or antinomianism. When Robert Brinsmead devised “the centrality of the objective gospel,” which is now New Calvinism, he was seeking to reform Adventist theology with a Reformed view of justification. Only problem was that the fusion of justification and sanctification inherent in SDA doctrine was left intact, merely transforming a works salvation into antinomianism. And by the way, that’s what Jerry Bridges is: an antinomian false teacher.


  2. gracewriterrandy said, on December 7, 2011 at 1:34 PM


    Please define what you mean by justification being fused to sanctification.

    There are certain senses in which that is clearly the case. For example, all who are justified are certain to be sanctified and ultimately glorified. If Christ died for your justification, you died with him for your sanctification.

    If by that you mean that justification and sanctification are so fused as to become one, then I think it would be impossible to make the case that Bridges believes any such thing.

    Maybe you mean something else by it entirely. Please let me know.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 7, 2011 at 2:32 PM


      “THE TWO ARE COMPLETELY SEPARATE IN REGARD TO SALVATION” is what I stated. Nothing in sanctification, NOTHING, can have bearing on the finished work of justification. My major contention with NC is the teaching that if we are not careful, we can unwittingly make our efforts in sanctification “the ground of our justification” which is Piper’s favorite mantra. That’s impossible, but not if you believe the two are connected. Glorification is GUARANTEED when we are saved, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God. However, our obedience in sanctification can determine how we experience the reality that we belong to God. It’s a peace and assurance issue, not a salvation issue.

      Basically, the NC message is the following: you can unwittingly make what you do in sanctification the ground of your justification because sanctification is justification in action. So therefore, you had better let us (the NC spiritual elite) guide you through these very tricky waters lest you end up condemned for trusting “your own efforts” rather than Jesus. That’s why they make Galatians (the first four chapters) about sanctification when really what Paul was talking about was the following: doctrines that teach we are made righteous when we believe, but we have to maintain our righteous standing until glorification. Paul’s point is that the beginning of our salvation (justification) and the end of it (glorification) cannot be obtained by works, BUT he is not saying that we do not work in sanctification. “are you now being perfected” as it is often translated, is really “have you obtained the end” as translated in YLT.


  3. gracewriterrandy said, on December 7, 2011 at 8:17 PM


    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.

    1. Justification and sanctification are separate works of God.

    2. Justification is based on the work of Christ alone and our works do not contribute to it at all.

    3. Sanctification involves our obedience to the commands of Christ.

    4, Our obedience to Christ contributes to our assurance since obedience demonstrates the reality of our faith.


    1. Is it possible for a professing Christian to be deceived?

    2. Can a person who has professed faith in Christ but whose faith is not genuine, continue to rest in his good deeds to justify him before God?

    3. Can the works he believes he is performing in the process of sanctification become a snare for him so that he continues to trust in his own works rather than trusting in the finished work of Christ?

    4, Do such persons need exhortation to avoid “falling from the grace of God” as Paul did in Galatians?

    5. If a person should return to a system of legal obedience and thus forsake the way of grace, would we not agree that such a person was never truly justified?

    6. Do you believe faith is something we profess once and sort of get that part of it over with and then everything else is accomplished apart from faith, or does the believer go on believing in Christ for life? If his faith doesn’t continue, how can he be pleasing to God, since without faith it is impossible to please him?

    7. Have you never known anyone who gave the clear impression that their obedience in sanctification had become their basis of hope for justification? Do you not think such people need to be exhorted to trust in Christ alone and not in anything of their own obedience, i.e., not to trust their own efforts but Christ alone?

    8. Do you see not difference between telling a person not to trust his own performance in sanctification and telling him he doesn’t need to obey in the process of sanctification?.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 7, 2011 at 10:32 PM

      Will answer in the morning.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 8, 2011 at 11:49 AM


      1. Separate works, but the same thing. Sanctification, or what they call “progressive sanctification” because they lie all the time, is “justification in action.” Both are justification, but one is a legal declaration, and the other is “the power of the gospel.” That’s what all neo-antinomians believe.

      2. First, justification is not by Christ ALONE. If God didn’t elect Christ, elect the elect, and draw them to Christ, along with with sacrificing His only Son, what Christ did would have been for naught. So, justification is not by Christ alone.

      3. That’s NOT what New Calvinists believe. They believe that Christ obeys for us. This is well documented in the book, chapter 13.

      4. Right. 100% true.

      1. Professing? Or genuine? You don’t clarify.

      2. Such a person has a wrong view of salvation. How they experience their false profession is not relevant and has no bearing on a theological discussion.

      3. No, because it’s not really sanctification. Like New Calvinists, he believes the two are one and he must contribute to maintaining his just standing before God. New Calvinists also believe the two are one, but rightly conclude that there is no way we can maintain our just standing before God. That’s why their daddy, Robert Brinsmead, came up with a theological system where Jesus obeys for us. Graeme Goldsworthy supplied the necessary hermeneutic for the system, Jon Zens helped with how the Law related to the system, and Geoffrey Paxton was the promoter and wrote most of the articles in their theological journal.

      4. Yes, in regard to justification, but NOT sanctification. The notion that the first four chapters of Galatians is about sanctification is an antinomian lie.

      5. Legal obedience? This is the view that people can sincerely, truthfully, and correctly apply the word of God to their lives, but for the purpose of maintaining their just standing before God. This model is a biblical anomaly. Works salvation, as described in the Bible, ALWAYS involves rituals and standards that are the “traditions and precepts of men.” I reject the premise of your question because it is biblically unfounded. When people are really saved, they have been given a love for the truth, and that’s why they seek to apply it to their life correctly. Therefore, true obedience for the sake of maintaining the legal declaration is an oxymoron. But of course, New Calvinists continually present this type of model in their teachings because they lie all the time about almost everything.

      6. Here, you are employing the either/or communication technique. Faith is EITHER all about the Christ/gospel that saved us, OR all about other things that don’t require faith. It’s either/or, faith can only refer to the gospel that saved us. No, faith applies to other realms within sanctification that please God.

      7. Again, you present the oxymoronic biblical aonomaly of people presenting true obedience to God in kingdom living for the purpose of maintaining their just standing before God. Unsaved people can have no such desire for the truth. That’s why works salvation always presents an unbiblical standard or ritual.

      8. I have a problem with the use of the word “trust” in your question. Again, you employ the EITHER/OR communication technique. The only “trust” there can be in sanctification is EITHER trust in our performance, OR trust in the gospel/works of Christ. In sanctification, it’s trust in the word of God which results in our performance. Also, as Christians in sanctification, we don’t “obey a PROCESS.” We “observe all that I have commanded you.” If Christ meant to say, “teaching them to observe all of the gospel and my personhood,” that’s what He would have said.


  4. lydiasellerofpurple said, on December 8, 2011 at 12:25 AM

    I have seen Piper’s teaching really bring confusion with it comes to praxis. I know, I have family who went to study under him after leaving Wheaton. We did not know them when they came back and of course, their long time born again relatives. striving for obedience, were not really saved like they were.


  5. lydiasellerofpurple said, on December 8, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    Randy, How do you know if a person’s faith is not genuine? How do you know if what they do or don’t do after Justification is their own effort or God’s? Exactly how is this determined?


  6. gracewriterrandy said, on December 8, 2011 at 10:26 AM


    You don’t know apart from what they say and do. If they play the hypocrite and return to their practice of eating only Kosher food when they are among legalists, we can be fairly sure they are denying the gospel by their actions, If they insist that Gentiles must submit to circumcision as an evidence that they are sons of Abraham and heirs of the Abrahamic promise, we can be fairly sure they have not quite understood the gospel of justification through faith alone.

    In reality, we don’t know about those to whom we minister nor is our duty to know. All we need to know is that the possibility exists that those who have professed faith in Christ alone may again retreat to their legalistic strongholds in which they persist in going about to establish their own righteousness. If there are any left on the planet who remember some of the older hymns, they will remember a line in one of them that reads, :”I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name” There have been many who, though professing faith in Christ alone, have lived on their frames of mind, at times feeling accepted because of how they felt toward God and at times feeling rejected. What they needed was to get a firm grasp on how God feels toward them in Christ since that is in the final analysis what truly matters.

    Spiritually, we human beings tend to be do it yourselfers. It seems to be our nature to gravitate toward self help programs. I believe it is for that reason even those who have professed faith in Christ need to be cautioned against the danger of trusting in the evidences of faith rather than the object of faith. This is not to say that the truly justified need to “maintain their justification.” If we have been justified, nothing can alter that divine declaration. Instead, it is that those who have once trusted in Christ alone for justification will go on trusting him alone for justification.

    In the process of sanctification, the Scriptures call on us to strive, obey, mortify our sins, etc, but these acts of obedience etc. are never to be though of as forming any part of the basis of our right standing before God. If we begin to think of them in that way, we are guilty of becoming legalistic in our thinking and are in danger of condemnation. It was in this vein that Paul, the apostle, wrote to professing Christians, “if you are circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.” Can a circumcised man get into heaven? I certainly hope so. Will any who, for their justification before God, trust, even slightly, in the reception of that rite be justified in God’s sight? Not a single one!


  7. gracewriterrandy said, on December 8, 2011 at 2:41 PM


    In the issue of justification before God, it is an either/or proposition. Either we trust fully in God’s promise to save us for Christ’s sake, we will be lost. That is pretty simple. The first question does specify “professing” believers.

    Do you try to be dense or does it just come naturally to you? Obviously, the other persons of the Trinity are involved in the work of redemption and you know I believe that. Why do you have to be so difficult in your response to #2? My point was that we we are either justified on the basis of Christ’s works alone or Christ works plus ours. I think we agree that it is the former. In the agreement section, I don’t have a clue what you are saying in #1.

    Question #2 Obviously, such people have a false concept of salvation. This is why pastors need to labor to instruct professing Christian regarding the nature of justification before God. I don’t know any churches that don’t still have false professors in them.

    Perhaps it would be helpful if you would explain the essential differences between the faith that saved us and the faith we continue to manifest in our ongoing Christian life.

    For the purpose our discussion, it would be helpful if you would just answer the questions and not engage in doublespeak. You have so much garbage surrounding your answers, I can’t find the answers.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 8, 2011 at 3:23 PM

      I think my answers can stand on their own. The Forum reformed Adventism, but left the fusion of Just. and sanct. intact, which resulted in antinomianism.


  8. gracewriterrandy said, on December 8, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    But, your “answers” don’t answer anything. Concentrate really hard and try to just answer the questions. I bet you can do it if your try. This one would be a good place to start. Perhaps it would be helpful if you would explain the essential differences between the faith that saved us and the faith we continue to manifest in our ongoing Christian life.


  9. gracewriterrandy said, on December 8, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    How can a person who believes that Jesus obeys for us in sanctification make the following statement?

    “We believe that all who are justified will win this fight. They will persevere in faith and
    never surrender to the enemy of their souls. This perseverance is the promise of the New
    Covenant, obtained by the blood of Christ, and worked in us by God Himself, YET NOT DO AS TO DIMINISH, BUT ONLY TO EMPOWER AND ENCOURAGE OUR VIGILANCE so that we may say in
    the end, I have fought the good fight,214 but it was not I, but the grace of God which was with

    If Jesus obeys for us, why would we need to be vigilant? It sounds as if the person who subscribes to this thinks we are in a battle, not that we are resting and letting Jesus do everything for us.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 9, 2011 at 7:18 AM

      Whoever it is cites the NC staple verse (in essence, Gal. 2:20) they use to teach that Jesus obeys for us, but of course THROUGH us. How do we know if it is US obeying or Jesus? Answer: the obedience will be a “mere natural flow.” Again, what they teach on this is well documented in the book.


  10. gracewriterrandy said, on December 9, 2011 at 10:20 AM


    The problem is, this citation says the opposite of what you have claimed. It is a real quotation from a real document. Your so-called “documentation” is they never really come out and say this but I know that is what they must mean because they had lunch with someone who spoke at a conference with someone who once briefly met someone who read something that Brinsmead wrote. That, my friend, is not documentation.

    Where do you see a citation of Gal. 2:20 in this quotation and where is there any indication whatsoever that Jesus must obey for us?


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on December 9, 2011 at 11:50 PM

      Hang it on your beak. No, When Bill Baldwin said, in writing, that Christians obey commands that they are not even aware of–of course he didn’t come right out and say it. But who is obeying when Christians supposedly obey things in the Bible that they don’t even know? C’mon, stop wasting my time.


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