Paul's Passing Thoughts

FYI to 2019 Ligonier Conference: If You are Not Holy as a State of Being You are Not Saved

ppt-handleSome of the key promo statements of the 2019 Ligonier conference have been brought to my attention lately. As you may know, Ligonier was the ministry of the late Protestant icon RC Sproul. If you go to the conference website, the headliner reads,

“God is holy, and we’re not. In fact, He’s so holy, His unmediated presence is lethal. Even angels hide their faces and cry, “Holy, holy, holy!” And yet, this holy God has redeemed a people for Himself and has chosen to dwell among them. He took on human flesh. He lived, died, and rose again for their salvation, and they are now His holy people. Our founder, Dr. R.C. Sproul, was best known for his teaching on the holiness of God, and he played a role in shaping the 2019 conference. These three days will help us understand the holiness of God, His glorious attributes, and the implications of God’s holiness for our own lives.”

Let’s start with, “God is holy, and we’re not.” Who is the “we” in this sentence? We can only assume “we” refers to humanity including the saved and unsaved. Even if the intent is humanity in general, that would include Christians anyway. Besides, this is written from the website’s perspective, so we can assume the “we” pertains to Christians. Then we read that being in God’s “presence” itself requires mediation. This turns a plethora of biblical truth upside down. You could start with our bodies being the temple of God, actually, to be specific about it, the Holy of Holies, in which the Holy Spirit dwells within us. God is our literal Father, and we are told to approach His throne boldly crying “abba father!” Why would God’s children need present mediation to be in His presence?

The next sentence states that God redeemed us (actually, the salvation of the body is future), and will dwell “among” us (actually, IN us). “He lived [past tense], died, and rose again for their salvation, and they are now His holy people.” Aside from the errant use of pronouns from what is supposed to be an authority of higher education, the Bible never states that Christ primarily did three things for our salvation; lived, died, and “rose again.” Not sure why “again” is in there since Christ only rose once, and Christ was raised from the dead by God in accordance to “the promise” made to Christ and Abraham. At any rate, the statement comes from the Protestant doctrine of double imputation which is gross heresy.  Supposedly, Christ came to live a perfect life of law-keeping so that perfect law-keeping by Christ can be imputed to our sanctification in order to keep us saved. That is, as long as we live by faith alone by partaking in the “means of grace” (read, means of salvation) found only in church membership.

So, what’s with saying none of us are holy, and also saying that Christ saved us so we can be God’s holy people in the same paragraph? Well, our holiness, according to the doctrine of double imputation, is a mere “legal declaration.” Because Christ supposedly kept the law perfectly in our place, this makes God just in declaring us righteous although in reality no real change takes place other than a preordained intellectual assent. This is an overt denial of the new birth. Being children of God is “in a manner of speaking.” Martin Luther described it as “simultaneously saint and sinner.” But the devil is in the details; that means we are sinners as a state of being while our sainthood is only a declaration or “positional righteousness.”

Lastly, note the conference will look into, “the implications of God’s holiness for our own lives.” In other words, God’s nature is not created in us through the new birth, but only has implications for our separate unholy lives.

Why does the Bible call God’s children “holy” in several places without qualification? Because the literal new birth put the old us to death making any obedience to the law of sin and death completely irrelevant. A dead person is no longer liable to the law. Secondly, being resurrected with Christ makes us the literal offspring of God; this alone is what makes us righteous.

If we are not holy as a state of being, we are not God’s children.