The Reformed, and Calvinists in particular use the word “grace” to nuance what they really teach about salvation. Primarily, to nuance the idea that sanctification is the progression of justification, they refer to the doctrine of “duplex grace.” This is a soft term for “duplex salvation,” or the idea that both justification and sanctification are part of a single salvation process, viz, “complete justification.”
For another example, consider the expression, “We are all just sinners saved by grace.” According to Reformation orthodoxy, this is really stating: “We all remain unregenerate and need continued salvation.” Evangelical superstar John Piper is far less ambiguous than Protestant bumper stickers:
We are asking the question, How does the gospel save believers?, not: How does the gospel get people to be believers? When spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit, the gospel does have power to open people’s eyes and change their hearts and draw them to faith, and save them. That’s what is happening on Tuesday nights and Wednesday nights this summer. People are being drawn to Christ through the power and beauty of the gospel. But I am stressing what Paul says here in verses 16 and 17, namely, that “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Believers need to be saved. The gospel is the instrument of God’s power to save us. And we need to know how the gospel saves us believers so that we make proper use of it.
“Believers need to be saved.” Any questions? However, again, most Protestant scholars nuance this falsehood with the word, “grace.” What people assume is being said follows: “Believers still need grace.” Precious few would deny that—of course we need God’s grace continually, but what do we mean by that?
The word “grace” in the Bible rarely refers to salvation if at all; it is NOT a synonym for salvation. The word is simply little different than the word “love” in the biblical sense. The two words could easily be used interchangeably throughout the Scriptures. Grace, according to the Bible, evoked God to save mankind, but is not the act of salvation.
If you want a definition of grace read Paul’s treatise on love in 1 Corithians 13; the meaning of the two words are all but identical. Salvation is one of many, many things that grace does, but it’s NOT salvation.
In yet one more example of Protestant premeditated deception, scholars will concur that grace does not mean “salvation,” but then proceed to use it that way for purposes of disguising their progressive justification gospel.
It is one thing to be wrong about the gospel, but it is yet another to be wrong about your understanding of the gospel you identify with which is also an errant gospel to begin with. I guess you could call it double wrongness or something of the sort. This is where Catholics are far less wrong than Protestants; they have a clear understanding in regard to their orthodoxy, though wrong. Most Protestants misunderstand the orthodoxy that is errant to begin with, so they are wrong about what they are wrong about. This is why the world deems Protestantism as stupid…because it is. Nobody respects double wrongness.
And this meme is yet one more example. It is popular because Protestants think the law is the ground of justification, and of course, no one can keep the law perfectly, so this meme is a Protestant lame attempt to explain to the world why professing “Christians” are not “perfect.” Supposedly, we are “under construction,” viz, we are growing in the Lord and learning to keep the law better and better as we grow.
Well, that is wrong, but also, that’s not Protestantism. So Protestants are wrong about the law being the ground of justification, but they are also wrong about the idea that Protestant orthodoxy holds to a progressive maturity of the believer. NOT. “I” is not under construction; that’s not Protestantism at all.
True Protestant orthodoxy holds to the idea that the “believer’s” ability to merely perceive or “see” a Christocentric metaphysical reality is under construction, but that excludes any possible good work done by the so-called believer. The meme suggests that the believer’s life-testimony improves according to Protestant orthodoxy, but nothing could be further from the truth.
What is in view is an ability to see a greater and greater need for our original salvation and thereby magnifying the gospel. Hence, we are supposedly more and more saved by “seeing” a greater and greater need for the same gospel that saved us. This perception supposedly increases our “gratitude” for salvation which moves our progression of salvation closer and closer to final salvation or what is known as “final justification.” According to authentic Protestantism, what is really under construction is our salvation while many assume the meme is referring to sanctification. But in Protestant thought, sanctification has been redefined to mean progressive justification. The often used term “progressive sanctification” in Protestant circles is a lie.
Some contend that gospel contemplationism increases our gratitude for salvation as we seek to see our sinfulness more and more, and this motivates us to good works. The gratitude supposedly purifies our otherwise evil works. In other words, all of our truly good works must be motivated by our gratitude or else the works are moralistic attempts to justify ourselves. So, whenever we do a deed joyfully, by this we know that the deed flows from gratitude and is not works salvation accordingly.
This idea may give some credence to sanctification by justification, but that’s not Protestantism either. Protestantism excludes the possibility of any good work performed by any human being whether saved or unsaved. The only difference between a lost person and a saved person is worldview/perception. This increased perception increases the “glory of the gospel; not our own glory” which would supposedly be works salvation. According to Martin Luther’s 97 Theses, 95 Theses, and the Heidelberg Disputation; the three foundational documents of the Protestant Reformation, any belief that any individual can do a good work is mortal sin (unforgivable and beyond the scope of salvation).
Therefore, salvation is really under construction and that is defined by an increased ability to see one’s own evil and thereby increasing their salvation. It’s salvation by glorifying the cross, not anything we do as a result of being new creatures. This is the crux of Martin Luther’s Theology of the Cross defined by the cross story versus the glory story. Only two things can receive glory: the cross, or man. Any belief that glorifies man; ie., man can do a good work, is a false gospel. That’s Protestantism plain and simple; nothing more or less.
The following illustrations were taken from a book on Protestant orthodoxy:
Note that non-salvation and salvation are defined by “realms” not a personal state of being. The person does not change; only one’s ability to see realms which are only experienced. Our own efforts are works of the flesh while the works of the Spirit are manifestations that we only experience. The “death” we partake in is an endeavor to see how evil we are resulting in a resurrection that increases the glory of the cross.
Seeing the glory of the cross more and more which necessarily demands that you see yourself as more and more evil results in one getting closer and closer to final salvation. Salvation is what is under construction, not the person. This is the Protestant doctrine of mortification and vivification (death and resurrection) which is a redefinition of the new birth. Instead of the new birth occurring once and justifying us by a transformation of our being, one partakes in perpetual deaths and rebirths to gain more and more salvation. In essence, finding joy in finding our evil.
Per the usual, a true understanding of Protestantism is Clintonian; it depends on what you mean by the word “is” when you say something “is.” In the case of this meme and all other words used by Protestants, you must know the actual Protestant definition. In this case, what is under construction?
Well, it depends on what you mean by the word, “I.”
TV Shows have been dissing the integrity of church for years. I am not much of a TV watcher, but one of my clients enjoys watching “ME” TV which highlights TV shows of the past. One such show is “Reba” starring the country music legend Reba McEntire. In the plot, Reba has divorced her husband who was having an affair with “Barbara Jean” who Reba nicknamed “BJ.” Barbara Jean plays a dimwitted blonde who is totally unrepentant for destroying Reba’s marriage, and in the plot, is also a confessing Christian and faithful churchian. BJ offers up most of the punchlines in the sitcom through the character’s totally confused mindset and worldview.
Indicative of the confusion that defines churchianity, Christians wail and moan in regard to recent TV shows that continually denigrate the Christian faith. This is what makes Barbara Jean a truthful representation of Protestantism. While proudly espousing the truism that Protestants are just lowly “sinners saved by grace,” they object to being represented as…well, “sinners.” While proclaiming themselves “sinners,” they also insist on being recognized as civilization’s moral compass in regard to every category of life. While popular Protestants such a Tullian Tchividjian preached loosey-goosey grace for years dissing all things good as “moralism,” he and the many leaders like him are forced to resign when their sinful ways become public. These kinds of ridiculous contradictions highlighted the Barbara Jean motif in the “Reba” sitcom.
What’s up with all of this confusion? Well, a leading Protestant evangelical lauded by the who’s who of the evangelical community, Dr. Michael Horton, clarifies the problem in his book, “Christless Christianity.” He accurately makes the case in the book that Protestantism has never laid claim to good behavior, and in fact, rejects it. In many of his writings, he drives home the point that Protestant orthodoxy is solely a profession and not an action (this is why Martin Luther rejected the book of James as a “straw epistle”).
Salvation is defined as a mere ability to “see” the kingdom with no participation other than proclaiming it. In Horton’s book, pun intended, trying to do well is not preaching the gospel, but an attempt to “be the gospel.” In the book, he continually drives the point home that any attempt at promoting the gospel through good behavior is fruitless because on our best day we fall short of God’s perfection. This is also a favorite talking point of Dr. DA Carson lauded as one of the most “brilliant theological minds of our day.” Another evangelical, Dr. Albert Mohler, also touted as the premier intellectual theologian of our day has stated that the sole purpose of the Bible is to show us our sinful nature, not an instruction book for moralism. Horton, throughout the book, bemoans the fact that Christianity has projected a false precept of good behavior and has therefore misrepresented the true gospel. He even suggests that the idea of change from bad behavior to good behavior is just “more bad news,” not good news.
My friends, in fact, this is authentic Protestantism as stated in the founding doctrinal statements of the Reformation. This is why scandals in the church shouldn’t even be news or fodder for gossip-blogs like The Wartburg Watch. Church is fraught with scandals because the foundational precepts of the Reformation reject change as just, “more bad news.” This is why any attempt to address or confront scandal in the church or any “Cry for Justice” in the church is utterly unfounded—Protestant orthodoxy calls for a resignation to bad behavior lest we try to “be the gospel.”
Supposedly, we are to be judged solely by what we say, not what we do. And if it is God’s sovereign will, one will believe the message regardless of any behavior that goes along with it. In fact, Horton suggests in said book that if one is persuaded by our good behavior, that is what they falsely put their faith in; viz, “our doing rather than Jesus’ doing and dying” another popular refrain of the Neo-Protestant movement.
As stated by this ministry often, the catalyst for all of this is authority. The empowered individual who can really change for the better makes for a weak caste system. The issue becomes the protection of an institution at all cost that God has supposedly ordained to oversee salvation…
…versus the soundness of a body gathered together to spur one another unto “good works.”