Posted on paulspassingthoughts.com by Paul Dohse for the Potter’s House and TANC Ministries
Let me begin this post by stating the following: I believe most people, if not all, whether professing Christians or not, know what salvation is. The Bible makes it clear that all people are born with an intuitive knowledge of God’s existence. Knowing of God’s existence is a created state of being.
Secondly, people know salvation is about hope for a happy ending to life as set against death and judgment. In other words, people are born with a vague notion of God who vanquishes all things that distress and destroy. It is assumed God is good and will deliver all human experience from death and evil and will usher in utopia.
The Bible also states that many people will deliberately suppress this intuitive knowledge in unrighteousness, but all in all, every person born into the world has a vague understanding of these two things when all is boiled down to the least common denominator: God and hope.
Unfortunately, most gospel presentations are canned theological mini-treatises. The Bible does not contain a singular prescribed gospel presentation. Furthermore, there is something else intuitive in people that finds these canned mini-treatises peppered with Bible verses underwhelming.
Intuitively, people know that salvation is obtained by a radical transaction enacted by God. This is the new birth described in the Bible. A vague notion of the new birth or some kind of radical transformation by God is also intuitive unless an individual has been desensitized into believing something else. People can be trained to ignore and suppress intuitive knowledge flowing from the conscience created in every person born into the world. According to the Bible, the conscience is a judge of God’s good works created in every person that either accuses us or excuses us.
People do not become saved because of four basic reasons: they find enough hope to suffice in the present world; the gospel presentations they hear do not ring true; they fear giving up who they are now for whatever God would make of them; they love their present life too much to give it up for something else.
In other words, people know intuitively that the new birth is a radical transaction; it is exchanging their present life for a new one. People who desire salvation seek an escape from their present life or life in general for a life that has eternal hope. This could be based on a deep desire to find truth regarding life’s deepest questions. Many people are tormented by confusion and unanswered questions about life.
Unfortunately, most salvation presentations focus on law and not love. Rather than focusing on a newfound love for the truth informing us on how to love God and others, the focus is living up to manmade expectations that supposedly come from the Bible. Doing wrong things is a breaking of some commandment instead of a failure to love. As true Christians, we abstain from certain things because it’s a failure to love, not the breaking of some commandment.
Salvation is the literal adoption into God’s family via the new birth obtained by believing on what Christ did to end condemnation. Christ died on a Roman cross to pay the penalty for our sins against the law, and was resurrected three days later “for our justification.” This established the new birth as a way of salvation. Now, those who believe this and seek entry into God’s literal family are baptized by God’s Spirit who raised Christ from the grave. The Spirit of God baptizes us into Christ’s death, and resurrects us to new life by the same power in which He resurrected Christ.
Hence, in the same way that people who have died are no longer under the reach of the law, newborn believers cannot be condemned by the law. The old us was under the bondage of the law and its condemnation, but now we are free to uphold the law for purposes of love without fear of condemnation.
The new birth established by God’s election, Christ’s death, and the power of the Spirit frees us from the law’s condemnation. In regard to believers, this defines “holiness,” not perfect law-keeping because we are free from the law’s jurisdiction in regard to condemnation. This doesn’t mean we will always follow the law perfectly in our endeavor to love God and others, but it does mean that “there is NOW NO condemnation for those who are in Christ.”
“Where there is no law there is no sin.”
This doesn’t mean that believers use this truth for an excuse to be unrighteous, that isn’t love—love is the goal, not law.
This freedom will cause conflict with religion because the new birth makes a person individually able to please God. If a child of God gifted by the Spirit can please God individually, this makes the traditions of religion and its claims of authority irrelevant. The born-again child of God is accountable to the Father of the “household of faith” and no one else.
This is why home fellowships where likeminded believers gather for edification are so important; it is a visual statement that God’s people are a literal family and not an institution. It also focuses on one authority, one mediator, and a focus on individual gifts given to free children who do not have to seek permission to practice their gifts. Like all families, they function on organization and cooperation not the authority of men claiming to be sub-mediators in addition to Christ. The family of God is organized according to gifts, not dictated by institutional authority.
“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Originally published April 17, 2013
After nearly six years of research on the Reformation I have come to the conclusion that like all cults, its proponents deliberately deceive by changing the definition of familiar terms and using subtle verbiage. They condone this because they don’t think we are “ready” for the hard truth of the authentic Reformed gospel. John Piper said that outright during an interview while answering the question, “What would you say to the Pope if you had two minutes with him?”
A good example of this subtle deception is a recent article posted on SBC Voices. Here it is:
If you search through the blogosphere, you’ll see some who advocate Christians “preaching the gospel to ourselves” daily, and you’ll see others who are staunchly against “preaching the gospel to themselves.” I think some who speak against “preaching the gospel to ourselves” misunderstand and/or misrepresent what we mean. Here is why I preach the gospel to myself. Out of the gospel flows both justification (being declared righteous by Christ alone) and sanctification (the immediate positional adoption by Christ into God’s kingdom, and the progressive setting apart of our lives from the Devil’s kingdom into God’s kingdom). The gospel is the source of both, but the two are separate acts of the Spirit’s work in our lives. If you repent and have faith in Christ, trusting in His life, death, and resurrection for your salvation, you are immediately justified and sanctified, and you will be progressively sanctified as God works out salvation in you. Christ, the gospel, is the source of the Spirit’s work through faith alone.
This is a little less subtle than what followed in the same article, but the goal by the writer of said post is to sound biblical while trying to sell us Calvin’s progressive justification. The Devil is in the details. Like all cults, Calvinism distorts the Trinity by overemphasizing one member over the others. The Jehovah Witnesses overemphasize God the Father and destroy the role of Christ while others overemphasize the Spirit’s work to the exclusion of Christ and the Father. Calvinists overemphasize Christ and exclude the Father’s role in justification. Notice he states that Christ is THE gospel: “Christ, the gospel.” The definite article “the” is ever so subtle, and completely untrue. The Trinity is the gospel, not just Christ. Notice that he also states,
If you repent and have faith in Christ, trusting in His life, death, and resurrection for your salvation, you are immediately justified and sanctified, and you will be progressively sanctified as God works out salvation in you.
According to the post, we have to trust “in His life” as well as His death for our salvation. Did you catch that little subtle statement? That is the belief that Christ lived a perfect life on earth so that His obedience can be imputed to our sanctification while we are justified by His death. This comes from Calvin who believed that Christians are still under the jurisdiction of the law and it must be obeyed perfectly until we get to heaven where our final justification is verified. As long as we live by faith alone in sanctification, Christ’s perfect obedience is applied to our sanctification which prevents “making sanctification the ground of our justification,” a truism often uttered by John Piper.
This is where all of this living by the same gospel that saved us and preaching the gospel to ourselves comes into play. If we live by the same gospel (faith and repentance only) that saved us in sanctification to prevent our sanctification from being the ground of our justification, the perfect obedience of Christ to the law will continue to be imputed to our Christian walk. This promotes the idea that it is alright for Christians to remain under the law as long as Christ keeps it for us. This is why they say justification is “distinct” from sanctification but “never separate” because Calvin saw sanctification as a process that completes justification. That’s a VERY problematic gospel. Note:
Christ, the gospel, is the source of the Spirit’s work through faith alone.
The Spirit’s work? Is he talking about the Spirit’s work in justification or sanctification? Yes, because they believe they are both the same. And here is the kicker: if you don’t live your Christian life by faith alone (the same gospel that saved you) resulting in Christ’s obedience being imputed to your sanctification, you lose both justification and sanctification. So, you have to keep your salvation by living by faith alone in sanctification. Remember, you have to trust in Christ’s life, not just His death and resurrection. Note the following statement by New Calvinist Michael Horton:
Where we land on these issues is perhaps the most significant factor in how we approach our own faith and practice and communicate it to the world. If not only the unregenerate but the regenerate are always dependent at every moment on the free grace of God disclosed in the gospel, then nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel. When this happens (not just once, but every time we encounter the gospel afresh), the Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ’s image. Start with Christ (that is, the gospel) and you get sanctification in the bargain; begin with Christ and move on to something else, and you lose both.
Much more could be said, but I think you get the picture. The author of the post furthers his position by referring his readers to seven elements pertaining to the same subject by a Rick Phillips. Phillips is much more subtle, but his first element reads as follows:
1. Justification and Sanctification are twin benefits that flow from union with Christ through faith. Christ is himself the center of the gospel, and through faith we are saved in union with him (Acts 16:31; Eph. 1:3). Justification and Sanctification are distinct benefits flowing through union with Christ by faith alone.
Regardless of whatever else these guys say, this is the bottom line: if we remain in union with Christ by faith alone, justification and sanctification continue to flow by “faith alone.” What did James say about that? John Piper:
We are kept by the power of God through faith [emphasis mine].
It’s works salvation by living by faith alone in sanctification; i.e., the same antinomianism they claim to refute. Because we are supposedly still under the law, Christ must keep it for us so His perfect obedience to the law will cover us at the judgment day. But the only obedience of Christ that is part of the atonement is His obedience to the cross—we don’t need obedience to a law that we were justified apart from. We are now enslaved to the law and its righteousness, but it can’t judge our justification. It has no jurisdiction over our justification, period.
The Devil is in the details.
Casting Crowns is a mega talented “Christian” band who I absolutely adored in years past. In fact, I have written rave reviews of their concerts right here on this blog. Furthermore, a shared love for their music was one of the things that brought Susan and I closer during the time we were dating.
However, Casting Crowns is indicative of the challenging work that is ahead if God’s children take back our true family-of-God culture. The vast majority of Christian songs are about staying at the foot of the cross because that’s Protestant soteriology in a nutshell. Stating it in a theological way, Christian music is about justification only as set against our supposed unchanged nature. If you think authentic Protestantism endorses a changed state of being via the new birth, you are simply misinformed about Protestantism—it defines the new birth as a mere God-given ability to see our total depravity in a deeper and deeper way resulting in an ever-increasing appreciation for our salvation. A victorious Christian life that glorifies our Father is not the goal, but rather a deeper and deeper perception of our existing evil as set against God’s holiness.
What is needed is songs about sanctification. In the same way that the past 500 years has been about justification only, the next 500 years need to be about sanctification. This is a vast uncultivated need in regard to Christian music. We desperately need music that lifts up a true biblical definition of the new birth.
What spurred this post? Someone posted a video on my Facebook newsreel; specifically, a song by Casting Crowns titled, “Who Am I.” Per authentic Protestantism, the lyrics deny the new birth and propagate two primary doctrines that make up the false gospel of progressive justification; double imputation, and mortification and vivification. Let’s take a look.
Who am I, that the lord of all the earth, would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt? Who am I, that the bright and morning star would choose to light the way, for my ever wandering heart?
As born again Christians transformed into a state of being where “all things are new,” we are defined by having a “wandering heart”? Here is where most Protestants error in assuming that Protestant presuppositions regarding mankind make a distinction between the saved and unsaved. Not so. Faith is defined as a mere ability to “see the kingdom” without any participation on our part. Actual participation in good works that flow from our new nature is deemed as works salvation according to Protestantism because sanctification is the progression of justification. The only difference between the saved and unsaved is an ability to see the true depths of our depravity. This is how Protestantism defines the word “faith.” It’s an ability to perceive only and not act. In fact, according to Protestantism the more faith we have lessons the “temptation” to think we can do good works. The song noted here is obviously dripping with this logic.
Not because of who I am, but because of what you’ve done, not because of what I’ve done, but because of who you are.
A proper view of biblical salvation assumes that who we presently are as new creatures in Christ has nothing to do with getting us saved in the first place. It goes without saying. The song makes who we are presently a salvation issue because that’s what Protestantism does. Again, note the present tense of the lyrics. Also, who is “I”? The song comes from the perspective of a Christian. Clearly, the identity and character of the Christian is linked to “doing” in contrast to what Christ presently does. This makes what we presently do as Christians relational to our salvation; in other words, what we presently do is an issue because our salvation is not finished, therefore, it’s Christ who must do the doing for us. This fuses justification and sanctification together into salvation on an installment plan. This is why John Calvin referred to justification and sanctification as a two-fold salvation.
Don’t miss this: what we presently do isn’t related to who we are, but who Christ is and what he does. Get it? “who I am” and “who you are” puts the whole context in the present tense regardless of “what you’ve done” and “what I’ve done” which is a little more ambiguous and doesn’t necessarily refer to the cross, but recently completed works.
This is the Protestant doctrine of “double imputation” which claims that Christ died for our sins to make salvation possible, and also lived a perfect life to sustain our salvation. Because salvation is a process and not a finished work in the believer, there must be a double substitution for sin and any good works that we would do during our life. Christ earned the credentials to die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins through perfect law-keeping, and to sustain our salvation by perfect-law keeping which is imputed to our present life apart from anything we do. According to Martin Luther and John Calvin in explaining this doctrine, the Christian life is experienced subjectively; we never know whether it’s us performing the “good” work or Christ, but we must confess that every deed we do (yes, even as Christians) is evil. Even when our works have the appearance of good they are tainted with sin and therefore fall short of the “law’s righteous demands.” According to Luther and Calvin, anyone who believes they are capable of doing a good work believes in a works salvation.
This denies salvation as a gift that we take ownership of by virtue of a changed state of being. Any work we do is sin because it doesn’t flow from a new state of being and falls short of perfect law-keeping. Note that the law is the standard for justification and not the new birth. This is not a “righteousness apart from the law.” Also, if the Bible talks about “rewards,” and it does, this makes salvation a reward and not what we do in our service of using the law to love God and others. Think about that for a little while. “Reward” always has the idea of something earned. Is it our love according to the law apart from the condemnationtion of the law, or a recognition of our wandering hearts? Either way, it’s a reward. Is our work of service the reward, or salvation? Do we get rewarded with salvation for letting Jesus work for us? How is that not earning our own salvation? Because Jesus does the work and not us? If you allow someone to do the work for you that’s still doing something that you are rewarded for.
I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean, a, vapor in the wind, still you hear me when I’m calling, lord, you catch me when I’m falling, and you’ve told me who I am, I am yours.
Are born again Christians tossed about like the waves of the sea by every wind of doctrine? Does that define us? Are we defined by “falling”? See the problem here? The lyrics don’t state “when I fall,” but rather a past, present, continuing tense. We are supposedly in a state of falling. This is the Protestant total depravity of the saints that requires a continual atonement for the condemnation of the law because the doctrine keeps so-called Christians “under law” requiring a progressive covering for sin.
Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin, would look on me with love, and watch me rise again? who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea, would call out through the rain, and calm the storm in me?
“Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin, would look on me with love, and watch me rise again?” This is the Protestant doctrine of “mortification and vivification.” Instead of the baptism of the Spirit being a onetime event that transforms us from death to life and from darkness to light, the baptism of the Spirit (the New Testament new birth) is defined as a recurring event experienced after the mortification of sin. Viz, because we need ongoing covering to prevent being condemned for violations against the law, we continually return to the same gospel that saved us for ongoing forgiveness of sin which can only be obtained while in good standing at church. The result of these perpetual returns to the cross of Christ is experiencing the “joy of our salvation” (resurrection)again and again. So, our original baptism is something we partake in throughout our Christian life. Basically, perpetual re-salvation through church membership.
Please don’t try to deny all of this; it’s documented Protestantism. Your attempts will prove futile in the face of stated Protestant orthodoxy.
The question is, what will you do about it?