So what did Calvin teach concerning limited atonement?
Paul Helm definitively answered. One would think that once would be enough. For those who need it said over and over and over, some quotes by John Calvin:
To this pretended difficulty of Pighius, therefore, I would briefly reply that Christ was so ordained the Saviour of the whole world, as that He might save those that were given unto Him by the Father out of the whole world, that He might be the eternal life of them of whom He is the Head; that He might receive into a participation of all the ‘blessings in Him’ all those whom God adopted to Himself by His own unmerited good pleasure to be His heirs . . . Hence we read everywhere that Christ diffuses life into none but the members of his own body. And he that will not confess that it is a special gift and a special mercy to be engrafted into the body of Christ, has never read with spiritual attention Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. Hereupon follows also a third important fact, that the virtue and benefits of Christ are extended unto, and belong to, none but the children of God…
Here we have three things, briefly indeed, but most perspicuously expressed. First, that all who come unto Christ were before given unto Him by the Father; secondly, that those who were thus given unto Him were delivered, as it were, from the hand of the Father into the hand of the Son, that they may be truly His; thirdly, that Christ is the sure keeper of all those whom the Father delivered over to His faithful custody and care, for the very end that he might not suffer one of them to perish…
The first thing to be explained is how Christ is present with unbelievers, to be the spiritual food of their souls, and in short the life and salvation of the world. As he [i.e. Hesshusius] adheres so doggedly to the words, I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of Christ which was not crucified for them, and how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins?
For our present question is, not what the power or virtue of Christ is, nor what efficacy it has in itself, but who those are to whom he gives Himself to be enjoyed. Now if the possession of Christ stands in faith, and if faith flows from the Spirit of adoption, it follows that he alone is numbered of God among His children who is designed of God to be a partaker of Christ. Indeed the evangelist John sets forth the office of Christ to be none other than that of ‘gathering together all the children of God’ in one by His death. From all which we conclude that, although reconciliation is offered unto all men through him, yet, that the great benefit belongs peculiarly to the elect, that they might be ‘gathered together’ and be made ‘together’ partakers of eternal life.
Helm notes: That in Calvin’s teaching the work of Christ, from incarnation to heavenly intercession, is one work, focused on the death of Christ which expiated sin by satisfying divine justice. Christ’s death brings salvation to the elect, for in dying Christ intended only the salvation of the elect.
The conclusion, it is fair to say, is that those who deny this doctrine deny the doctrine of Christ. For who he is in the totality of his person and work is necessary to maintain him as Savior. To deny this doctrine, is to deny that Christ truly came, sacrificed himself, and arose from the dead on behalf of any. It is to deny Christ has come in the flesh and accomplished what he willed on the Cross.
Some major voices in the emergent church are saying they want a relationship with Jesus and not doctrines, but we must ask which Jesus do they want to have a relationship with? If words mean anything it appears they want a relationship with a moralistic Jesus of their own imagination. They want to believe that God is pleased with us because of what we do …
My fear, and I believe it is well founded, is that Emergent (and emerging) is just a newly cast form of the old Semi-Pelagian heresy of behavior modification, or to put it bluntly, moralism. The most tragic “either-or” category they have set up for themselves is this: faith in Christ as a Savior versus following Christ as an example. Many of its leading proponents assert that right living leads to right doctrine, thus reversing the Biblical priority of grace. But ethics are not what make Christianity to differ from other world religions. All world religions offer ethical programs that are remarkably similar to ours. But ethics/morals don’t bring us into relationship with God unless you can perfectly keep them (James 2:10, Gal 3:10-12). In that case, you might need a helper, but you certainly don’t need a Savior. What makes Christianity to differ is that it is the only way which acknowledges that its own adherents are rebels and without hope in themselves, that is, apart from the sovereign mercy of their Head, who procured salvation for them. All other religions rely on moral improvement and good works, but Christ has shown us that “there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” (Eccl 7:20) Trusting in Jesus as a moral example alone, trusting in our good works and the social justice we do, simply makes Jesus’ Person and work of no effect, for we are ascribing the power to do those things to ourselves apart from His redeeming us. Thus it would appear that both the emergent and seeker sensitive churches are cut from the same moralistic cloth. If you are a young person considering either of these, remember that seeing Christ as merely an example and seeing church as a place to hear stories about how we are to live, apart from the new birth, is a man-centered and not a Christ-centered message and should be steered clear of as you would a poisonous viper.
Following on the high-heels of obvious threats to make crepe the careers of top ranking military officers if they do not comply with Obama’s homosexual desires, the DOD announced contracts will be issued to redesign all bathrooms on military facilities to comply with the Administration’s unisex policies.
Barney Frank, appearing a little buggered in a Gabriella Rocha® slip-on with adjustable spaghetti straps giggled, “No longer will your little boys have to fear the imposition of culturally supremacist, priggish, genteel sexual mores.” His minions, homosexual pimp/lovers, and funny-business partners could not be solicited for comment. Barney, intimately involved in the ins and outs of corrupt business practice, could really enjoy this arrangement in more ways than one.
Robert M. Gates stated concerning the no barrier policies: “I believe these changes represent an important improvement in the way the current law is put into practice, above all by providing a greater measure of common sense and common decency for handling what are complex and difficult issues for all involved.” On scene reporters heard him say in response to Barney’s comment: “Barney and I have sat down together. And I can tell you, the UBM troughs are the most genital, ah, I mean, genial arrangement we have found.”
UBM spokesunits confirmed reports and praised the O’s AC/DC (Administration Compliance/Directives Command) policies as a number one and number two jobs physic that should get things moving and make the industry flush with profit.
You’ll never hear Stupy say it. But he should.
I wonder… can the President be impeached for lying to a member of Congress about the law? It was surely unethical, taking advantage of microcephalics like that. Then definitely, it was a misdemeanor if misdemeanor is defined as unethical behavior that betrays the trust of the American people. Didn’t he owe allegiance to the Constitution and the people, to defend the truth on their behalf? …No?
Isn’t it Congress which determines what a misdemeanor is as far as any action of an elected official rising to the level of an impeachable offense? Pelosi was behind the deception, also. Wouldn’t a congressman being given misleading information by the President, or The Speaker, both of whom surely knew the truth, constitute obstruction of Congress, or at least a denial of the rights of the citizenry to know what the law says? Either way it was a crime.
I am wondering… Stupak is not fit for office for being unable to uphold the Constitution because he is too stupid, (really, Stupak should be impeached), then just when did the President and the Speaker know he was stupid? Or, is the President (supposedly a lawyer) also too stupid to uphold his oath of office? He either knew, or should have known of the precedential authority of legislation over Executive Orders. Isn’t he supposed to be erudite concerning Constitutional Law? Surely the yapping lap pup Pelosi, knew… didn’t she? No? Yes? Conspiracy would be a high crime, wouldn’t it? If they both knew then they criminally conspired. In any case Obama isn’t fit. He lied, and not just to Stupak. He has acted in a criminal fashion in active collusion with Pelosi to defraud the people, or he is the moron his teleprompter makes him out to be?
Update: From Catholic to Democrat
Uberupdate: Stupak to announce resignation.
The Golden Idol of Freewill
by Augustus Toplady (1740-1778)
Not unto us, 0 LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy Name, give glory for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake (Psalm 115:1).
Some expositors have supposed, that this Psalm was penned by the prophet Daniel; on occasion of the miraculous deliverance of Shadrac, Meshac, and Abednego, when they came out, unhurt, from the burning fiery furnace, into which they had been thrown by the command of king Nebuchadnezzar.
And, indeed, there are not wanting passages, in the Psalm itself, which seem to countenance this conjecture. As where we read, at the fourth verse (speaking of the idols of the heathens, and, perhaps, with particular reference to that golden image which Nebuchadnezzar commanded to be worshipped), their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands: they have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they but they see not.
I dare say, that, in such an auditory as this, a number of Arminians are present. I fear, that all our public assemblies have too many of them. Perhaps, however, even these people, idolaters as they are, may be apt to blame, and, indeed, with justice, the absurdity of those who worship idols of silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. But let me ask: If it be so very absurd, to worship the work of other men’s hands; what must it be, to worship the works of our own hands? Perhaps, you may ask, “God forbid that I should do so.” Nevertheless, let me tell you, that trust, confidence, reliance, and dependence, for salvation, are all acts and very solemn ones too, of divine worship: and upon whatsoever you depend, whether in whole or in part, for your acceptance with God, and for your justification in His sight, whatsoever, you rely upon, and trust in, for the attainment of grace or glory; if it be any thing short of God in Christ, you are an idolater to all intents and purposes.
Very different is the idea which Scripture gives us, of the ever-blessed God, from that of those false gods worshipped by the heathens; and from that degrading representation of the true God, which Arminianism would palm upon mankind. “Our God [says this Psalm, verse the third] is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.” This is not the Arminian idea of God: for our free-willers and our chance-mongers tell us, that God does not do whatsoever He pleases; that there are a great number of things, which God wishes to do, and tugs and strives to do, and yet cannot bring to pass: they tell us, as one ingeniously expresses it:
That all mankind He fain would save, But longs for what He cannot have. Industrious, thus, to sound abroad, A disappointed, changing God.
How does this comport with that majestic description, “Our God is in the heavens”! He sits upon the throne, weighing out, and dispensing, the fates of men; holding all events in His own hand; and guiding every link of every chain of second causes, from the beginning to the end of time. Our God is in heaven, possessed of all power; and (which is the natural consequence of that) He hath done whatsoever He pleased: or as the Apostle expresses it, (the words are different, but the sense is the same) “He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).
Therefore it is, that we both labour, and suffer reproach: even because we say (and the utmost we can say upon the subject, amounts to no more than this: to wit, that) our God is in heaven, and has done whatsoever pleased Him. And do according to His own sovereign pleasure He will, to the end of the chapter; though all the Arminians upon earth were to endeavor to defeat the divine intention, and to clog the wheels of divine government. He, that sits in heaven, laughs them to scorn: and brings His own purposes to pass, sometimes, even through the means of those very incidents, which evil men endeavor to throw in His way, with a mad view to disappoint Him of His purposes. ‘All things,” saith the Psalmist, “serve Thee” (Psalm 119:91). They have, all, a direct tendency, either effectively or permissively, to carry on His unalterable designs of providence and grace. Observe: effectively, or permissively. For we never say, nor mean to say, that God is the worker of evil: we only maintain, that for reasons unknown to us, but well known to God, He is the efficacious permitter (not the agent, but the permitter) of whatsoever comes to pass. But when we talk of good, we then enlarge the term; and affirm, with the Psalmist, that all the help that is done upon earth, God does it Himself.
I remember a saying of the great Monsieur Du Moulin, in his admirable book, entitled Anatome Arminianismi. His observation is, that the wicked, no less than the elect, accomplish the wise and holy and just decrees of God: but, says he, with this difference; God’s own people, after they are converted, endeavor to His will from a principle of love: whereas they who are left to the perverseness of their own hearts (which is all the reprobation we contend for), who care not for God, nor is God in all their thoughts; these persons resemble men rowing in a boat, who make toward the very place on which they turn their backs. They turn their backs on the decree of God; and yet make to that very point, without knowing it.
One great contest, between the religion of Arminius, and the religion of Jesus Christ, is, who shall stand entitled to the praise and glory of a sinner’s salvation? Conversion decides this point at once; for I think, that, without any imputation of uncharitableness, I may venture to say, that every truly awakened person, at least when he is under the shine of God’s countenance upon his soul, will fall down upon his knees, with this hymn of praise ascending from his heart, “Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me, but to Thy Name, give the glory: I am saved not for my righteousness, but for Thy mercy and Thy truth’s sake..”
And this holds true even as to the blessings of the life that now is. It is God that sets up one, and puts down another (see Psalm 75:7). Victory, for instance, when contending princes wage war, is all of God. “The race is not to the swift, as swift; nor the battle to the strong” (Ecclesiastes 9:11), as such. It is the decree, the will, the power, the providence of God, which effectually, though sometimes invisibly, order and dispose of every event.
At the famous battle of Azincourt, in France, where, if I mistake not, 80,000 French were totally defeated by about 9,000 English, under the command of our immortal King Henry V., after the great business of the day was over, and God had given that renowned prince the victory, he ordered the foregoing Psalm (that is, the 114th), and part of this Psalm from whence I have read you the passage now under consideration, to be sung in the field of battle: by way of acknowledging, that all success, and all blessings, of what kind soever, come down from the Father of lights. Some of our historians acquaint us, that, when the triumphant English came to those words which I have taken for my text, the whole victorious army fell down upon their knees, as one man, in the field of conquest; and shouted, with one heart, and with one voice, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name, give the glory, for Thy mercy and for Thy truth’s sake.”
And thus it will be when God has accomplished the number of His elect, and completely gathered in the fulness of His redeemed kingdom. What, do you think, your song will be, when you come to heaven? “Blessed be God, that He gave me free-will; and blessed be my own dear self, that made a good use of it”? O no, no. Such a song as that was never heard in heaven yet, nor ever will, while God is God, and heaven is heaven. Look into the Book of Revelation, and there you will find the employ of the blessed, and the strains which they sing. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
Thou art worthy, for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God, by Thy Blood, out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 9:10).
There is discriminating grace for you! “Thou hast redeemed us… out of every kindred,” etc, that is, from among the rest of mankind. Is not this particular election and limited redemption?
The Church below may be liable to err: and if any visible church upon earth pretends to be infallible, the very pretension itself demonstrates that she is not so. But there is a Church, which I will venture to pronounce infallible. And what Church is that? The Church of the glorified, who shine as stars at God’s right hand. And, upon the infallible testimony of that infallible Church; a testimony recorded in the infallible pages of inspiration; I will venture to assert, that not one grain of Arminianism ever attended a saint to heaven. If those of God’s people, who are in the bonds of that iniquity, are not explicitly converted from it, while they live and converse among men; yet do they leave it all behind them, in Jordon (i.e. in the river of death) when they go through. They may be compared to Paul, when he went from Jerusalem to Damascus, and the grace of God struck him down: he fell, a free-willer; but he rose, a free-gracer. So, however, the rust of self-righteous pride (and a cursed rust it is: may God’s Spirit file it off from all our souls) however that rust may adhere to us at present; yet, when we come to stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, it will be all done away, and we shall sing, in one, full, everlasting chorus, with elect angels and elect men, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us.”
And why should we not sing that song now? Why should not we endeavor, under the influence of the Spirit, to anticipate the language of the skies, and be as heavenly as we can, before we get to heaven? Why should we condemn that song, upon earth; which we hope for ever to sing, before the throne of God above? It is, to me,
really astonishing, that Protestants, and Church of England men, considered merely as rational creatures, and as people of common sense, who profess to be acquainted with the Scriptures, and to acknowledge the power of God, should have any objections to singing this song, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name, give glory, for Thy mercy and for Thy truth’s sake.”
Still more wonderful and deplorable it is, that some, who even make profession of spiritual religion, and talk of an inward work of God upon their hearts, should so far lose sight of humility and of truth, as to dream, either that their own arm helped the Almighty to save them, or at least that their own arm was able to have hindered Him from saving them. What can reflect deeper dishonour upon God, than such an idea? And what can have a directer tendency to engender and to nourish the pride of heart which deceiveth men?
It pleased God to deliver me from the Arminian snare, before I was quite eighteen. Antecedently to that period there was not (with the lowest self-abasement I confess it) a more haughty and violent free-willer within the compass of the four seas. One instance of my warm and bitter zeal, occurs just now to my memory. About a twelvemonth before the divine goodness gave me eyes to discern, and an heart to embrace the truth, I was haranguing one day, in company, (for I deemed myself able to cope with all the predestinarians in the world), on the universality of grace, and the powers of human free agency. A good old gentleman (now with God) rose from his chair, and coming to mine, held me by one of my coat buttons, while he mildly addressed me to this effect: “My dear Sir, there are some marks of spirituality in your conversation; though tinged with an unhappy mixture of pride and self-righteousness. You have been speaking, largely, in favour of free-will: but, from your arguments, let us come to experience. Do let me ask you one question. How was it with you, when the Lord laid hold on you, in effectual calling? Had you any hand in obtaining that grace? Nay, would you not have resisted and baffled it, if God’s Spirit had left you in the hand of your own counsel?”
I felt the conclusiveness of these simple, but forcible interrogations, more strongly than I was then willing to acknowledge. But, blessed be God, I have since been enabled to acknowledge the freeness and omnipotence of His grace, times without number; and to sing (what I trust will be my everlasting song when time shall be no more), “Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me, but unto Thy Name give all the glory.”
We never know so much of heaven in our own souls, nor stand so high upon the mount of communion with God, as when His Spirit, breathing on our heart, makes us lie low at the footstool of sovereign grace, and inspires us with this cry, “O God, be mine the comfort of salvation, but Thine be the entire praise of it.”
Let us briefly apply the rule and compass of God’s Word, to the several parts, of which salvation is composed; and we shall soon perceive, that the whole building is made up of grace, and of grace alone. Do you ask, in what sense I here take the word grace? I mean, by that important term, the voluntary, sovereign, and gratuitous bounty of God; quite unconditionated by, and quite irrespective of, all and every shadow of human worthiness, whether antecedaneous, concomitant, or subsequent. This is, precisely, the scriptural idea of grace: to wit, that it (i.e. salvation in all its branches) is “not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; but of God, Who sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:16). And thus it is, that grace reigneth, unto the eternal life of sinners, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ our Lord (see Romans 5:21).
1. In canvassing this momentous truth, let us begin where God Himself began: namely, with election. To whom are we indebted, for that first of all spiritual blessings? Pride says, “To me.” Self-righteousness says, “To me.” Man’s uncoverted will says, “To me.” But faith joins with God’s Word in saying, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name, be the whole glory of thy electing love ascribed: Thou didst not choose us, on supposition of our first choosing Thee; but, through the victorious operation of Thy mighty Spirit, we choose Thee for our portion and our God, in consequence of Thy having first and freely chosen us to be Thy people.”
Hear the testimony of that Apostle, who received the finishings of his spiritual education in the third heaven:
There is a remnant according to the election of grace. And, if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise, grace is no more grace. But if it [i.e. if election] be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise, work is no more work (Romans 11:5-6).
Let us sift this reasoning; and we shall find it invincible. There is “a remnant,” i.e. some of fallen mankind, who shall be everlastingly saved through Christ. This remnant is “according to election”. God’s own will and choice are the determinate rule, by which the saved remnant is measured and numbered. This election is an “election of grace,” or a free, sovereign and unmerited act of God. The Apostle would not leave out the word grace, lest people should imagine that God elected them on account of something He saw in them above others.
“Well, but” (may some say) “admitting election to be by grace, might not our foreseen good works have a little hand in the matter? Might not God have some small regard to our future good behavior?” No, answers the Apostle, none at all. If election be by “grace,” i.e. of mere mercy, and sovereign love; then it is no more of “works,” whether directly or indirectly, in whole or in part; “otherwise, grace is no more grace.” Could any thing human, though ever so little, be mixed with grace, as a motive with God for showing favour to Peter (for instance) above Judas; grace would all evaporate, and be annihilated, from that moment. For, as Augustine observes:
Grace ceases to be grace, unless it be totally and absolutely irrespective of any thing and of every thing, whether good or bad, in the object of it.
So that, as the Apostle adds, was it possible for election to be “of works,” then would it be “no more” an act of “grace”; but a payment, instead of a gift: “otherwise work were no more work.” On one hand, “work” ceases to be considered as influential on election, if election is the daughter of “grace”; on the other hand, “grace” has nothing at all to do in election, if “works” have any concern in it. Grace, and conditionality, are two incompatible opposites; the one totally destroys the other; and they can no more subsist together, than two particles of matter can occupy the same individual portion of space at the same point of time.
Which, therefore, of these contrary songs, do you sing (for all the art and labour of mankind, united, can never throw the two songs into one)? Are you for burning incense to yourselves, saying, “Our righteousness, and the might of our own arm, have gotten us this spiritual wealth”? Or, with the angels and saints in light, do you lay down your brightest honours at the footstool of God’s throne with; “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name give glory, for Thy loving mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake.”
Certainly, election is the act, not of man, but of God: founded, merely, upon the sovereign and gracious pleasure of His own will. It is “not of works lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:9); but solely of Him, Who has said, “I will be merciful to whom I will be merciful, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Romans 9:15). God merits of us, not we of Him: and it was His free-will, not ours, which drew the impassable line between the elect and the pretermitted.
2. God’s covenant love to us in Christ is another stream, flowing from the fountain of unmingled grace. And here,- as in the preceeding instance, every truly awakened person disclaims all title to praise; shoves it away from himself, with both hands; and not only with his hands, but with his heart also; while his lips acknowledge, “Not unto us, O Thou divine and coeternal Three, not unto us, but to Thy Name, give glory!”
How is it possible, that either God’s purposes, or that His covenant concerning us, can be, in any respect whatever, suspended on the will or the works of men; seeing, both His purposes and His covenant were framed, and fixed, and agreed upon, by the Persons of the Trinity, not only before men existed, but before angels themselves were created, or time itself was born? All was vast eternity, when grace was federally given us in Christ ere the world began (see II Timothy 1:9). Well therefore might the Apostle, in the very text where he makes the above assertion, observe, that the holy calling, with which God effectually converts and sanctifies His people, in time, is bestowed upon us, “not according to our works,” but according to God’s own free purpose and eternal destination.
Repentance and faith, new obedience and perseverance, are not conditions of interest in the covenant of grace (for then it would be a covenant of works); but consequences, and tokens, of covenant interest:
For, the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election [which is the standard of covenant mercy] might remain unshaken, it was said unto her, “The elder shall serve the younger”; as it is written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:11-13).
Now, whether you consider this passage as referring to the posterity of Jacob and Esau, or to Jacob and Esau themselves, or (which is evidently the Apostle’s meaning) as referring to both; the argument will still come to the same point at last; namely, that the divine counsels and determinations, in whatever view you take them, are absolutely irrespective of works, because God’s immanent decrees and covenant-transactions took place, before the objects of them had done either good or evil. Of course, all the good, that is wrought in men, comes from God, as the gracious effect, not as the cause, of His favour; and all the evil, which God permits (such are His wisdom and His power) is subservient to promote, instead of interfering to obstruct, the accomplishment of His most holy will. I mention God’s permission of evil, only incidentally in this place: for, properly, it belongs to another argument. My present business is, to show, that the good, and the graces, which God works (not permissively, but effectively) in the hearts of His covenant people, are the fruit, not the root, of the love He bears to them.
3. To whom are we indebted, for the Atonement of Christ, and for redemption through His Blood, even the forgiveness of sins? Here likewise, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us!” It was God, Who “found a ransom” (Job 33:24). It was God, Who provided His own justice with a lamb for a burnt offering. It was God Who accepted the Atonement at our Surety’s hand, instead of ours. It was God Who freely imparts the blessings of that completely finished redemption, to the comfort and everlasting restoration of all those who are enabled to trust and to glory in the cross of Christ. Against such persons divine justice has nothing to allege: and on them, it has no penalty to inflict. The sword of vengeance, having been already sheathed in the sinless human nature of Jehovah’s equal, becomes, to them that believe, a curtana, a sword of mercy, a sword without a point. Thanks to the reconciling mercy of God the Father, and to the bleeding grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! Human freewill and merit had nothing to do with the matter, from first to last.
4. As pardon exempts us from punishment, so justification (i.e. God’s acceptance of us as perfect fulfillers of the whole Law) entitles us to the kingdom of heaven. The former is God’s papesis, or passing by of our transgressions, so as not to take notice of them; and God’s aqeats, or letting us go finally unpunished. But justification (which is the inseparable concomitant of forgiveness) is not merely negative, but carries in it more of positivity, and exalts us to an higher state of felicity, than mere pardon (was it possible to be conferred without justification) would do. It is God’s okatoats, or pronouncing of us positively and actually just: not only innocent, but righteous also. St. Bernard, somewhere, preserves this obvious and just distinction. His words, I remember, are, that God is: “No less might to justify, than rich in mercy to forgive.”
Now, the great enquiry is, whether God be indeed entitled to the whole praise of this unspeakable gift? Whether we should, as justified persons, sing to the praise and glory of ourselves; or to the praise and glory of God alone?
The Bible will determine this question, in a moment; and shew us, that Father, Son, and Spirit, are the sole authors, and, consequently, should receive the entire glory of our justification: “It is God [the Father] Who justifieth” (Romans 8:33): i.e. Who accepts us unto eternal life; and that “freely, by His grace… through the redemption that is in Christ, and through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, without works” (Romans 3:24, 4:6): i.e. without being moved to it by any consideration of the good works, and without being restrained from it by any consideration of the evil works, wrought by the person or persons to whom Christ’s righteousness is imputed, and who are pronounced just in consequence of that imputed righteousness.
Justification is also the act of God the Son, in concurrence with His Father. St. Paul expressly declares, that he sought to be justified by Christ (see Galatians 2:7). The second Person in the divinity joins, as such, in accepting of His people through that transferred merit, which, as Man, He wrought for this very end. Now, let me ask you, did you assist Christ in paying the price of your redemption, and in accomplishing a series of perfect obedience for your justification? If you did, you are entitled to a proportionable part of the praise. But, if Christ both obeyed, and died, and rose again, without your assistance, it invincibly follows, that you have no manner of claim to the least particle of that praise, which results from the benefits acquired and secured by His obedience, death, and resurrection. The benefits themselves are all your own, if He gives you faith to embrace them; but the honour, the glory, and the thanks, you cannot arrogate to yourself, without the utmost impiety and sacrilege.
God the Holy Ghost unites in justifying the redeemed of the Lord. We are, declaratively and evidentially, justified “by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11): Whose condescending and endearing office it is, to reveal a broken Saviour in the broken heart of a self-emptied sinner, and to shed abroad the justifying love of God in the human soul (see Romans 5:5). Herein the adorable Spirit neither needs, nor receives, any assistance from the sinners He visits. His gracious influence is sovereign, free, and independent. We can no more command, or prohibit, His agency, than we can command, or forbid, the shining of the sun.
The conclusion, from the whole, is; that not our goodness, but God’s mercy; not our obedience, but Christ’s righteousness; not our towardliness, but the Holy Spirit’s beneficence; are to be thanked, for the whole of our justification.
And it is no easy lesson, to say, from the heart, “Not unto us, 0 Lord, not unto us!” Self-righteousness, cleaves to us, as naturally, and as closely, as our skins: nor can any power, but that of an Almighty hand, flay us of it. I remember an instance, of a clergyman, now living and eminent, above many, for his labours and usefulness. This worthy person assured me, a year or two since, that he once visited a criminal, who was under sentence of death, for a capital offence (I think for murder). My friend endeavoured to set before him the evil he had done; and to convince him, that he was lost and ruined, unless Christ saved him by His Blood, righteousness and grace. “I am not much concerned about that,” answered the self-righteous malefactor; “I have not, certain, led so good a life as some have; but, I am certain, that many have gone to Tyburn, who were much worse men than myself.” So you see, a murderer may go to the gallows, trusting in his own righteousness! And you and I should have gone to hell, trusting in our own righteousness, if Christ had not stopped us by the way.
I dare believe, that the above mentioned criminal, had the subject been started, would also have valued himself upon his free-agency. Free-agency, it is true, he had; and he was left to the power of it, and ruined himself accordingly: Free-will has carried many a man to Tyburn, and (it is to be feared) from Tyburn to hell: but it never yet carried a single soul to holiness and heaven. “Oh Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself”; free-will can do that for us; “but in Me,” says God, “is thy help” (Hosea 13:0). His free grace must be our refuge and our shelter from our own free-will: or it were good for the best of us that we had never been born.
In one word, all the glory of our pardon and justification belongs to the Trinity, and not to man. It is one of God’s crown jewels, unalienable from Himself; and which He will never resign to, nor share with, any other beings. It is impossible, in the very nature of things, that He ever should: for how can any of depraved mankind be justified by works (and without being so justified, we can come in for no part of the praise); how, I say, can any of us be justified by our own doings, seeing we are utterly unable even to think one good thought until God Himself breathes it into our hearts (see II Corinthians 3:5).
Suffer me to observe one thing more, under this article: viz. that if God’s Spirit has stript you of your own righteousness, He has not stript you in order to leave you naked, but will clothe you with “change of raiment” (Zechariah 3:4). He will give you a robe, for your rags; the righteousness of God, for the rotten righteousness of man. Rotten indeed we shall find it, if we make it a pillar of confidence. I will say of it, as Dr. Young says of the world, “Lean not upon it”: lean not on thy own righteousness: if leaned upon, “it will pierce thee to the heart: at best, a broken reed; but oft a spear. On its sharpest point, peace bleeds and hope expires.”
Self-reliance is the very bond of unbelief. It is essential infidelity, and one of its most deadly branches. You are an infidel, if you trust in your own righteousness. You a Christian? You a Churchman? No; you have, in the sight of God, neither part nor lot in the matter. You are spiritually dead, while you pretend to live. Until you are indued with faith in Christ’s righteousness, your body, (as a great man expresses it) is no better than “the living coffin of a dead soul.” A Christian is a believer (not in himself, but) in Christ. And what is the language of a believer? “Lord, I am, in myself, a poor, ruined, undone, sinner. Through the hand of Thy good Spirit upon me, I throw myself at the foot of Thy cross; and look to Thee for Blood to wash me, for righteousness to justify me, for grace to make me holy, for comfort to make me happy, and for strength to keep me in Thy ways.”
5. For holiness, the inward principle of good works; and for good works, themselves, the outward evidences of inward holiness; we are obliged to the alone grace and power of God most high. We do not make Him a debtor to us, by loving and performing His commandments; but we become, additionally, debtors to Him, for crowning His other gifts of grace, by vouchsafing to work in us that which is “well-pleasing in His sight” (Hebrews 13:21).
Say not; “Upon this plan, sanctification is kicked out of doors, and good works are turned adrift.” Nothing can be more palpable and flagrantly untrue. Newness of heart and of life is so essential to, and constitutes so vast a part of, the evangelical scheme of salvation, that were it possible for holiness and its moral fruits to be really struck out of the account, the chain would, at once, dissolve, and the whole fabric become an house of sand. The Arminians, have, of late, made a huge cry about “Antinomians! Antinomians!” From the abundance of experience, the mouth is apt to speak. The modern Arminians see so much real Antinomianism among themselves, and in their own tents, that Antinomianism is become the predominant idea, and the favourite watch-word, of the party. Because they have got the plague, they think every body else has. Because the leprosy is in their walls, they imagine no house is without it. Thus: “All looks infected, that the infected spy: as all seems yellow, to the jaundiced eye.”
It is cunning, I must confess, in these people, to raise a dust, for their own defence; and like some pick-pockets when closely pursued, to aim at slipping the stolen watch or handkerchief into the pocket of an innocent bystander, that the real sharper may elude the rod of justice. But unhappily for themselves, the Arminians are not complete masters of this art. The dust, they raise, forms too thin a cloud to conceal them: and their bungling attempt to shift off the charge of Antinomianism upon others, rivets the charge but more firmly on themselves its true proprietors. The avowed effrontery, with which they openly trample on a certain commandment that says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”; may stand as a sample of the little regard they pay to the other nine. Pretty people these, to look for justification from the “merit” of their own works, and to value themselves on their perfect love to God and man.
With regard to sanctification and obedience, truly so called; it can only flow, and cannot but flow, from a new heart: which new heart is of God’s own making, and of God’s own giving:
I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh [a soft, repenting, believing heart] and I will cause ye to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments and do them (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Now, God accomplishes this promise, by the effectual working of His blessed Spirit: by the mystic fire of Whose agency having melted our hearts into penitential faith, He then applies to them the seal of His own holiness; from which time, we begin to bear the image and superscription of God upon our tempers, words, and actions.
This is our “licentious” doctrine: namely, a doctrine which (under the influence of the Holy Ghost) conforms the soul, more and more, to God: carefully referring, at the same time, all the praise of this active and passive conformity, to God Himself, Whose gift it is; singing, with the saints of old, “Thou, Lord, hast wrought all our [good] works in us” (Isaiah 26:12); and for all the works so wrought, for the will to please Thee, for the endeavour to please Thee, for the ability to please Thee, and for every act whereby we do please Thee- “Not unto us, 0 Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name, give glory.”
And indeed, was not this the truth of the case, i.e. if conversion and sanctification and good works were not God’s gifts and of His operation; men would have, not only somewhat, but much, even, very much, to boast offer they would be their own converters, sanctifiers, and saviours. Directly contrary to the plain letter of Scripture, which asks; “Who maketh thee to differ from others, and what hast thou which thou didst not receive?” (I Corinthians 4:7)- i.e. from above. Nor less contrary to the scriptural direction; “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31).
6. Once more. Whom are we to thank for perseverance, in holiness and good works, to the end? “Oh,” says an old Pharisee, perhaps, “the thanks are due to my own watchfulness, my own faithfulness, my own industry, and my own improvements.” Your supposed watchfulness answers a very bad purpose, if you make a merit of it. The enemy of souls cares not the turning of a straw, whether you perish by open licentiousness, or by a delusive confidence in your own imaginary righteousness. It is all one to him, whether you go to hell in a black coat or a white one. Nay the whitest you can weave, will be found black, and a mere san benito to equip you for the flames, if God does not array in the imputed righteousness of His blessed Son.
But, for the present, leaving Pharisees and legalists to the hands of Him Who alone is able, and has a right, to save or to destroy; let me address myself to the true believer in Christ. You were called, it may be, ten or twenty years ago, or longer, to the knowledge of God; and you still are found, dwelling under the droppings of the sanctuary, and walking in Him your Lord; sometimes faint, yet always wishing to pursue; tossed, but not lost, occasionally cast down, but not destroyed. How comes all this? How is it, that many flaming professors, who blazed out, for a while, like luminaries of the first lustre, are quenched, extinguished, vanished; while your smoking flax, and feeble spark of grace, continue to survive, and sometimes afford both light and heat? While more than a few, who, perhaps, once seemed to be rooted as rocks, and stable as pillars in the house of God, are become as water that runneth apace; Why are you standing, though in yourself, as weak, if not weaker than they9 A child of God can soon answer this question. And he will answer it thus: “Having obtained help of God, I continue to this day” (Acts 26:22). Not by my own might and power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts (see Zechariah 4:6).
And He, that kept you until this day, will keep you all your days. His Spirit which He freely gives to His people, is a well of water, springing up, not for a year, not for a lifetime, only; but “into everlasting life” (John 4:14). God’s faithfulness to you is the source of your faithfulness to Him. Christ prays for you: and therefore He keeps you watching unto prayer. He preserves you from falling; or, when fallen, He restores your soul, and leads you forth again in the path of righteousness, for His Name’s sake. He had decreed, and covenanted, and promised, and sworn, to give you a crown of life; and, in order to that, He has no less solemnly engaged and irrevocably bound Himself, to make you faithful unto death.
“Well, then,” says an Arminian, “if these things are so, I am safe at all events. I may fold up my arms, and even lay me down to sleep. Or, if I choose to rise and be active, I may live just as I list.” Satan was the coiner of this reasoning: and he offered it, as current and sterling, to the Messiah, but Christ rejected it as false money. “If Thou be the Son of God,” said the enemy; “if Thou be indeed that Messiah Whom God upholds, and His elect, in Whom His soul delighteth; cast Thyself headlong; it is impossible Thou shouldest perish, do what Thou wilt: no fall can hurt Thee; and Thy Father has absolutely promised that His angels shall keep Thee in all Thy ways; jump, therefore, boldly, from the battlements, and fear no evil.”
The devil’s argumentation was equally insolent, and absurd, in every point of view. He reasoned, not like a serpent in his wits, but like a serpent whose head was bruised (see Genesis 3:15), and who had no more of understanding than of modesty. Christ silenced this battery of straw, with a single sentence: “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7). So said the Messiah. And so say we. And this is answer enough, to a cavil, whose palpable irrationality would cut its own throat, without the help of any answer at all.
God’s children would be very glad, if they could “live as they list.” How so; Because it is the will, the desire, the wish, of a renewed soul (i.e. of the new man, or the believer’s regenerate part; for old Adam never was a saint yet, nor ever will be); it is, I say, the will and the wish of a renewed soul, to please God in all things, and never to sin, on any occasion, or in any degree. This is the state to which our pantings aspire; and in which (would the imperfection of human nature admit of such happiness below) we “list” to walk. For every truly regenerated person can sincerely join the Apostle Paul, in saying, ‘With my mind, I myself serve the Law of God” (Romans 7:25), and wish I could keep it better.
God’s preservation is the good man’s perseverance. “He will keep the feet of His saints” (I Samuel 2:9). Arminianism represents God’s Spirit as if He acted like the guard of a stage coach, who sees the passengers safe out of town for a few miles; and then, making his bow, turns back, and leaves them to pursue the rest of their journey themselves. But divine grace does not thus deal by God’s travellers. It accompanies them to their journey’s end, and without end. So that the meanest pilgrim to Zion may shout, with David, in full certainty of faith, “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all my days, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Psalm 23:6). Therefore, for preserving grace, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy name give the glory, for Thy loving mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake.”
7. After God has led His people through the wilderness of life, and brought them to the edge of that river which lies between them and the heavenly Canaan, will He intermit His care of them, in that article of deepest need? No, blessed be His Name. On the contrary, He (always, safely; and generally, comfortably) escorts them over to the other side; to that good land which is very far off, to that goodly mountain and Lebanon.
I know, there are some flaming Arminians, who tell us, that “a man may persevere until he comes to die, and yet perish in almost the very article of death”: and they illustrate this wretched, God-dishonouring, and soulshocking doctrine, by the simile of “a ship’s floundering in the harbour’s mouth.”
It is very true, that some wooden vessels have so perished. But it is no less true, that God’s chosen vessels are infallibly safe from so perishing. For, through His goodness, every one of them is insured by Him Whom the winds and seas, both literal and metaphorical, obey. And their insurance runs this:
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and when through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee (Isaiah 43:2).
“The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion, with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads” (Isaiah 35:10); so far from floundering within sight of land.
Even an earthly parent is particularly careful and tender of a dying child: and, surely, when God’s children are in that situation, He will (speaking after the manner of men) be doubly gracious to His helpless offspring, who are His by election, by adoption, by covenant, by redemption, by regeneration, and by a thousand other indissoluble ties.
There are no marks of shipwrecks, no remnants of lost vessels, floating upon that sea, which flows between God’s Jerusalem below and the Jerusalem which is above. The excellant Dr. William Gouge has an observation full to the present point:
If a man were cast into a river, we should look upon him as safe, while he is able to keep his head above water. The Church, Christ’s mystic body, is cast into the sea of the world [and, afterwards, into the sea of death]; and Christ, their Head, keeps Himself aloft, even in heaven. Is there, then, any fear, or possibility, of drowning a member of this body? If any should be drowned, then either Christ Himself must be drowned first, or else that member must be pulled from Christ: both which are impossible. By virtue, therefore, of this union, we see that on Christ’s safety, our’s depends. If he is safe, so are we. If we perish, so must He.
Well, therefore, may dying believers sing, “Not unto us, 0 Lord, but to Thy Name, give glory! Thy loving mercy carries us, when we cannot go: and, for Thy truth’s sake, Thou wilt save us to the utmost without the loss of one.”
8. When the emancipated soul is actually arrived in glory, what song will he sing then? The purport of the text will still be the language of the skies: “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name give the praise.”
Whilst we are upon earth, we have need of that remarkable caution, which Moses gave the children of Israel:
Speak not thou in thine heart.. after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, “For my righteousness, the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land.” Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess this land…. Understand, therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land, to possess it, for thy righteousness; for thou are a stiff-necked people (Deuteronomy 9:4-6).
Now, if the earthly Canaan, which was only a transitory inheritance, was unattainable by human merit; if even worldly possessions are not given us for our own righteousness sake; who shall dare to say, that heaven itself is the purchase of our own righteousness! If our works cannot merit even the vanishing conveniences and supplies of time: how is it possible, that we should be able to merit the endless riches of eternity? We shall need no cautions against self-righteousness, when we get safe to that better country. The language of our hearts, and of our voices, will be; and angels will join the concert; and all the elect, both angels and men, will, for ever and ever, strike their harps to this key; “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name, give the glory, for Thy loving mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake.”
O, may a sense of that loving mercy and truth be, warmly and transformingly, experienced in our hearts! For indeed, my dear brethren, it is experience, of the felt power of God, upon the soul, which makes the Gospel a savour of life unto life. Notwithstanding God’s purpose is steadfast as His throne; notwithstanding the whole of Christ’s righteousness and redemption is finished and complete, as a divine and almighty agent could make it; notwithstanding I am convinced, that God will always be faithful, to every soul to whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light; and notwithstanding none can pluck the people of Christ from His hands; still, I am no less satisfied, that it must be the feeling sense of all this, i.e. a perception wrought in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, that will give you and me the comfort of the Father’s gracious decrees, and of the Messiah’s finished work.
I know it is growing very fashionable to talk against spiritual feelings. But I dare not join this cry. On the contrary, I adopt the Apostle’s prayer, that our love to God, and the manifestations of His love to us, may abound yet more and more, “in knowledge and all feeling” (Philippians 1:9). And it is no enthusiastic wish, in behalf of you and of myself, that we may be of the number of those “godly persons,” who, as our Church justly expresses it, “feel in themselves the workings of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and drawing up their minds to high and heavenly things.” Indeed, the great business of God’s Spirit is, to draw up and to bring down. To draw up our affections to Christ, and to bring down the unsearchable riches of grace into our hearts. The knowledge of which, and earnest desire for it, are all the feelings I plead for. And, for these feelings, I wish ever to plead. Satisfied as I am, that, without some experience and enjoyments of them, we cannot be happy, living or dying.
Let me ask you, as it were, one by one; has the Holy Spirit begun to reveal these deep things of God in your soul? If so, give Him the glory of it. And, as you prize communion with Him; as you value the comforts of the Holy Ghost; endeavour to be found in God’s way, even the high way of humble faith and obedient love: sitting at the feet of Christ, and desirous to imbibe those sweet, ravishing, sanctifying, communications of grace, which are at once an earnest of, and a preparation for, complete heaven when you come to die. God forbid, that we should ever think lightly of religious feelings! For, if we do not in some degree feel ourselves sinners, and feel that Christ is precious; I doubt the Spirit of God has ever been savingly at work upon our souls.
Nay, so far from being at a stand in this, our desires after the feeling of God’s presence within, ought to enlarge continually, the nearer we draw to the end of our earthly pilgrimage: and resemble the progressive expansion of a river, which, however narrow and straitened when it first begins to flow, never fails to widen and increase, in proportion as it approaches the ocean into which it falls.
God give us a gracious spring-tide of His Spirit, to replenish our thirsty channels, to swell our scanty stream, and to quicken our languid course! If this is not our cry, it is a sign, either that the work of grace is not yet begun in us; or that it is indeed at low water, and discoloured with those dregs, which tend to dishonour God, to eclipse the glory of the Gospel, and to spread clouds and darkness upon our souls.
Some Christians are like decayed mile stones; which stand, it is true, in the right road, and bear some traces of the proper impression: but so wretchedly mutilated and defaced, that they, who go by, can hardly read or know what to make of them. May the blessed Spirit of God cause all our hearts, this morning, to undergo a fresh impression; and indulge us with a new edition of our evidences for heaven! 0, may showers of blessing descend upon you, from above! May you see, that Christ, and the grace of God in Him, are all in all! Whilst you are upon earth, may you ever ascribe the whole glory to Him! And sure I am, that, when you come to heaven, you will never ascribe it to any other.
A Roman Catholic, an Arminian and A non-Calvinist Southern Baptist sit down to eat the Last Supper. When all is finished Jesus says, “I’ve got it!” And the first three in unison cry out, “I’ll get the tip!”
Arminians agree with Rome on such topics as the will of man, synergism, grace as an aid that may or may not succeed in bringing about salvation, universal atonement, and more. Reformed theologians saw that the Remonstrance was, in fact, nothing more than popeless Catholicism without the pomp and circumstance of the sacramental system, and identified it as such.
As I listened to Staples I was amazed. Arminius said nearly the very same things. It is so similar that it is hard to tell if wasn’t taken directly from him. It is also just like what I was taught at the Southern Baptist Church I belonged to for fifteen years. It is what most Southern Baptists teach and believe even if they call themselves nons.
Even more amazing when it comes to Arminian appreciation of Luther, though it may be that Luther universalized the atonement, is their embracing of a synergistic salvation. Recently my son was treated to a viewing of Luther at his Christian school- with a discussion to follow. The unfortunate thing is that those who presented it would not find Luther very likeable if they knew him in truth since the doctrines that most set apart his protestation were the very doctrines that my sons teachers reject. Like most evangelicals today, they for the most part have no idea why they are Protestants. My son is in a hard place, for the discussion of the bondage of the will, is treated with disdain. Free-will is, ignorant of its Roman Catholic and pagan origins, widely accepted. As Martyn McGeown tells us, Erasmus was all about the spiritual works of man, the primary teaching of the church of Rome. Luther came to hate anything to do with the efforts of man to secure his salvation.
As the title of the first video makes clear, it is of vital importance. Vital that we recover the true Gospel. Vital because there is no life without the denial of self. Vital, is the truth of monergistic salvation to the Church, for without it there is no Gospel, without it, there is no Church. It is not a matter of indifference, it is not a matter of tertiary or secondary doctrine. The center of our faith is Christ and his finished works, Tetelestai, it is finished. It is primary. There is only one sacrifice, and only one who could make it. There is no gratuity for you to contribute. It was a thing done, when it was done, where men are saved and nowhere else and at no other time and with no other thing is God glorified. Once for all, Scripture declares it is finished. There is nothing that any other can do to effect salvation and nothing left undone. That is primary. You either believe, or you do not. That is primary. Everything that is not of faith is sin. By definition unbelievers cannot have faith. If you believe, it is not because you did it on your own while you were dead in unbelief. Believing is a free gift from God and when bestowed transforms an unbeliever into a believer, and translates a child of hell into the kingdom of light. That is primary. And if you believe you will in course throw yourself trustingly upon the mercy of God confessing that you are a sinner and through Christ’s righteousness be justified. It is primary.
Cry out to him, then, call upon the name of Jesus and you will be saved. God loved the world this way: that he sent his only Son that the believing ones would be saved and also that the unbelieving would be condemned because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. There is no if, there is no try, only do or do not. That is primary. So today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart, but repent and be believing and you will be saved. Tetelestai! That is primary.
Erasmus’ message to Luther was that the insistence upon the doctrines of grace, namely that salvation was accomplished in Christ and him alone, and not in any way in man, caused division and disunity. He believed that we should not be dividing among ourselves because of secondary matters like grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone as revealed in Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone. Luther’s message was that it was not he, but the Scripture which divides and that it was primary to the faith. To Luther, anything less was not Christian. That is primary.
There are those who in apostasy go outside and become bold, dark enemies of Christ, but today’s worst enemies are ministers of Christianity-light and an ecumenism within. It is a subtle ecumenism that seeks to blend again the Protestant and Roman doctrine through systemic indifferentism. Full blown diluting of the distinctions became clear in the Manhattan Declaration where the Gospel could be defined as anything but what it is and where all too many “protestants” were willing to drop the hard-line of difference. The reason that so many are so quickly moved away from Wittenburg’s door, even among those in the Reformed tradition, is the softening of the vital doctrines of grace and the willingness for peace sake to relegate them to secondary status. Unfortunately for too many, what was the primary reason for separation from Rome has become a secondary, or even tertiary doctrinal dispute, unworthy of the cry, “Here I stand.”
As R.C. Sproul said, until there is a renewal of the doctrines of grace in the church there will be no new reformation. You can have all the revivals you desire, all the Great Commission Resurgences you can divine, every programmatic scheme you can devise, and they will all be doors unhinged.
In an amazing show of hypocrisy by the left, Microsoft, whose content is nothing if not deeply offensive in myriad myriads of ways, can’t stand having their mandingo dissed.
Microsoft Xbox: ‘Impeach Obama’ off limits.
As I read the statements of Glenn Beck, it seems that his primary concern is political. Speaking to a national audience, he warned of “code words” that betray a leftist political agenda of big government, liberal social action, economic redistribution, and the confiscation of wealth. In that context, his loyal audience almost surely understood his point.
My concern is very different. As an evangelical Christian, my concern is the primacy of the Gospel of Christ — the Gospel that reveals the power of God in the salvation of sinners through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church’s main message must be that Gospel. The New Testament is stunningly silent on any plan for governmental or social action. The apostles launched no social reform movement. Instead, they preached the Gospel of Christ and planted Gospel churches. Our task is to follow Christ’s command and the example of the apostles.
There is more to that story, however. The church is not to adopt a social reform platform as its message, but the faithful church, wherever it is found, is itself a social reform movement precisely because it is populated by redeemed sinners who are called to faithfulness in following Christ. The Gospel is not a message of social salvation, but it does have social implications.
Faithful Christians can debate the proper and most effective means of organizing the political structure and the economic markets. Bringing all these things into submission to Christ is no easy task, and Gospel must not be tied to any political system, regime, or platform. Justice is our concern because it is God’s concern, but it is no easy task to know how best to seek justice in this fallen world.
It is no easy task. However, Dr. Mohler already gave the answer. We seek justice in the courts of law. Or should. The problem today is that the courts no longer pursue the rule of law but political final solutions. So one wonders if Mohler is right when tolerance of 50,000,000 baby deaths has been the acceptable price for détente in the abortion war. Will détente be worth 50,000,000 more? Should the church wax militant, or march en masse on Washington and stay there? Would it? Would it have the resolve to pay the price? Well, the fact is the church is not en masse to begin with, but factious. And so it needs to be.
The law is captured in the transcendent ethos of the commandments. They are the constitution of the law, the boundaries whose violation is injustice. They establish what we know under our Constitution as liberty rights. To reword those liberty rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: freedom from murder, freedom to possess and exchange, and freedom of thought. Appealing to transcendent truth, immovable in definition, liberty rights reside inside the boundaries and boundaries are what define law. Those concepts are not difficult. We know what murder is. We know what theft is, we know what it means to defraud or to lie and that it is right to protect soul, body and mind. And it does not matter whether it is conservative or liberal, when the boundaries of these easily defined concepts are violated, everyone knows. That is the complaint of the left and the complaint of right; what they believe to be immovable boundaries have to be secured and protected.
However, most conservatives have no problem allowing the extermination of the unborn, or there would be revolution, peaceful or not. Nor do they have any problem with the wholesale theft by the Government through taxes that amounts to tithing for the support of the state-church to perform the duties of the body of Christ: charity, education, moral inculcation, senior-care, housing, health-care, et cetera, et cetera, ad hypocrisis ad infinitum. Or, they would level the treasury. State-church ministry blends with their religious concepts. And they are willing use the devils hand to feed the poor, for it is the ends that justifies the means. Beyond that, most evangelical churches engage in what Mohler correctly identifies- social reform with Christ placed on the back burner or left out of the kitchen, altogether. They have forgotten the call to accountability to the Gospel as the requisite for the benefits of Christ’s body, the church. Indeed, accountability, no worky no turkey, and the Protestant work-ethic, have become vile concepts. The vast majority of evangelical churches who consider themselves conservatives are liberal in essence and practice, if not by confession, agreeing with the state that it has the right to do what should be the churches’ domain in religious duty.
The problem, rife in Mohler’s SBC (the hotbed of social gospelism since the turn of the century even after flushing Carter), as Mohler points out, is biblical illiteracy concerning the subject. Most SBC’ers have no idea what the teaching of the Scripture is concerning charity, or mercy, or justice. Humility is a weather phenomenon. And history is the Left Behind series. For the most part, the conservatives in most evangelical churches outside the SBC embrace the bliss of the same ignorance and by that embrace the very principles of political leftists without ever knowing that they do. The Christless Christianity of good deeds over creeds has been the mantra of the SBC for over a century. Thoroughly enamored with establishing their kingdom on earth, their politicized ideology gave rise to much of the religious dissension of the liberal, modern, secular political scene. The confusion over doctrine lead to and produced the craze known as the emergent church, wackos like Jim Wallis, and which, though its form differs, dovetails with the ecumenical aims of Hegelian idealism and the Romish unification evident in the Manhattan Declaration where the Gospel becomes the post-modern phrase, wah-evh.
We must not forget fascist socialists like Coughlin or the maniacal hermeneutic of any liberationism, whether conservative or liberal. We must not forget the modern inquisition of leftists or their conservative allies. We must not forget where ignorance and flippant complacency in matters of doctrine and history leads. For that warning we can thank the not-chrisitan Glenn Beck, and for the call to a return to Scripture and the true Gospel of Christ, we can thank Albert Mohler. And let’s not forget that the German Church was the result of a century’s influence from the new paradigm of social justice, or social action, or social reform movements. We must acknowledge the ideology differs only by degree and in expression. Let us not forget the atrocities of the apparent well-meaning entity who offers the starving a change of bread into bondage and how evil it can be to serve one’s belly. Let’s not forget the Barmen Declaration that rejected the various church-state/state-church aims of the idealists whose political monster children where the product of conjugal compromises of the ecumenical spirit, left and right. The Barmen was a call to return to the very principles of the protestant reformation that once formed the heart of our once great nation. And just as Mohler has eloquently said, the Gospel contains in it the reform that is needed. Make disciples, they will form the nations in future generations.
At Turretinfan, Andrew Nettles pointed out a couple of things worthy of note in the Great Collision Resurgence of the SBC Wars.
He first pointed us to Michael Haykin’s paper where MH “allegedly” calls Gill a hyper-Calvinist. Haykin says:
“Also, with regard to spirituality, there is little doubt that the doctrine of eternal justification helped to foster a climate of profound introspection.”
Why? What does this inserted assertion have to do with the actual argument being made in the paper?
“To come to Christ for salvation, one first had to determine if one was among the elect justified in eternity past.”
This is caricature and is not Gill. Indeed, Haykin admits:
“The net effect of this teaching—though unintended by Gill—was to place the essence of conversion and faith not in believing the gospel, but in believing that one was among the elect. Instead of attention being directed away from oneself towards Christ, the convicted sinner was turned inwards upon himself or herself to search for evidence that he or she was truly elect and therefore able to be converted…
(mmmm, no. Only if you want to make is seem like that.
And this also seems a self-contradiction. How could one view the essence in oneself if indeed Gill was directing him look outside oneself to the covenant? A covenant made totally without themselves in the picture?)
…And by making eternal justification so central to his soteriology, Gill essentially reversed the biblical order in which one must believe in Christ before one is capable of knowing that he or she is among the elect.”
No, he didn’t. And since when does Haykin get to define the ordo salutis for all Reformed, anyway?
Now, the reality of 1 Corinthians 2, seems to contradict Haykin. And anyway Gill didn’t do what Haykin said. He strenuously demanded attention to all the means of salvation and his arguement of eternal justification was in theology not evangelism, or missions. There appears to be a prejudice in Haykin’s analysis. Haykin jumps the rails. He started out speaking of the pactum salutis and ends speaking of the ordo salutis. He goes on then to take the 1689 out of its context. He quotes out of the section dealing explicitly with the application of Christ’s benefits, the ordo salutis, and neglects its connection to chapter 3 where in resides the pactum. And even at that Haykin neglects to point out the existence in the confession of when those benefits must exist. In part, what Gill is getting at. According to the confession they pre-exist faith: “God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are not justified personally, until the Holy Spirit doth in due time actually apply Christ unto them.” Even faith pre-exists faith as one of the benefits of Christ or it cannot be applied to the believer. Haykin fails to point this out.
Even if one does not agree with Gill on the esse of justification belonging to the covenant, one cannot deny that the esse of it pre-exists ones coming to faith. For what is it that is applied except those benefits Christ had in the past secured. And were not those benefits applied to the children of Abraham before they were secured based upon the convenant that preceded their faith, even their very existence? And wouldn’t anyone who read of this convenant have knowledge of that? Are we to deny access to the innocent inquirer of anything Scripture says outside the most bare Gospel? No studies of covenant Israel for the unsaved? Poor eunuch! Presumptuous Phillip! Poor Evangelism!
Justification in any sense stands outside of man, from the OT view and from the NT view. It does not come into existence at the time of faith. It is received by faith. Which tells us that it pre-existed it. Helm goes onto explain that it is a stretch to say that Gill believed in an actual justification that inheres in the individual, eternally. That’s just false reasoning and false, I suppose by the same hop and skip Haykin uses in reading the 1689. Gill required faith for justification and that faith was in real time, but no truer a faith than that which always had been, “O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” And I would argue that the mind of Christ given us by the Spirit so that we might understand the things of God and believe, is that very Gospel founded long before the incarnation.
The 2LBCF says in chapter 3: “God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so he hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.”
This list that is high-lighted are those things established in the council of God. So, for Haykin to be correct, he would have the 1689 denying itself. I think its crafters a little smarter than that. Gill knew the doctrine, he knew the proper means and he stressed them above any “anxious bench” evangelism. So, Helm is right, it is a long stretch to say that Gill’s teaching encouraged introspection concerning election. Not even Haykin would deny the need for some kind of introspection, anyway. No good Calvinist would. After all is not belief from the heart essential in faith. And why would Paul check us with the encouragement that we introspect to see if we are indeed in the faith, if introspection was not in some way required of the believer? Or are the words, “If you believe with your heart…” meaningless? And Gill also knew this requirement of the Gospel. The issue in Gill is one of nuance of words, a nuance that Haykin seemingly wants to miss.
Now what is established in eternity will be declared in reality. The eternal is the actual and the temporal is its declaration. The two come together in one flesh, so to speak. This is much like the mystery of the incarnation. Christ, the Son, in the bosom of the Father has declared him. We have no problem with Christ’s pre-existence or his dual nature, nor the fact that his person is the One Eternal Son. The fact that in time he took on flesh and became a breathing soul, does not mean that he had temporal or spacial reality in eternity. That does not mean, however, that what was made manifest is anything less than that which had always been. True God became true man and dwelt among us. Yet we see Him as the Lord of Glory, though we once saw him only a man. What things God knows eternally he has ordained in the past and will be made manifest by the light of the Gospel, Titus 1:1-3. Now if Paul included the election in eternity as part of the Gospel and says that by the Gospel is that eternal truth made known through the manifestation of who are the elect, who is Haykin to argue against the revealed will of God?
Though different than the reality of divinity, the revealed will of God is no less real eternally than when it is made to be in time by God. The fact that Arminians hate that, doesn’t change it. The fact that detractors of eternal justification hate the language of a truth, doesn’t invalidate it. God did not begin to know the history of time as he saw is doors open in the corridors of temporality. It became what he always knew it would be. What he knows becomes exactly what he always knew it to be. There was never any less than that knowledge in him. It may be different in kind as the thought of a sculptor is from the scupture, but the same as he had envisioned when the last chip falls as it was at the first stroke of the hammer. The distinction is one of a revealing declaration over against the revelation that the mind of God is eternal. I am sure that Gill quite well understood that. And Helm is right, it may be “high-Calvinism,” but certainly not hyper. And I would contend that anything else is sub-Calvinism. Indeed, sub-Christian.
Haykin’s conclusions about Gill make little sense, though Haykin is known for his scholarship. I do not place him as a subversive of the historic Reformed faith, he is a Calvinist. But when he speaks of Gill being swept away by the tides of the times, it sounds more like Freudian projection rather than analysis of the case. Gill and his cronies and their theology had little, if any effect, upon evangelism or the mission reality of the church.
Like much of the theology being produced in orthodox circles, Gill’s writtings were a typical reaction to the perversions of orthodoxy in his time. Rather than being honed by the culture, Gill was defending orthodoxy from it. It is natural, then, as Helm’s points out, that a primary concern would be the defense of the trinity. As with Arminians today, there is no lack of attack on that front, if by attack is meant the logical outcome of their soteriology. Their soteriology attacks Dortian Calvinism’s heart, the doctrine of God. Their formulation of the ordos’ diminish the godhead. They know it and they are panicked when called to account. And so they have resorted to defending their soteriology with vitriol against Calvinism, with caricatures of it and with libel against its spokesmen. They have become insipient enemies of the Gospel, constantly stirring up trouble in their ignorance, dividing the witness of Christ.
That isn’t the case with Haykin, so it comes as no surprise that Haykin would say that it was Calvinist orthodoxy that provided the hot coals for the fire of revival that would provide the needed defense against the attacks of the liberalisms of the era. But the fact is, the attacks were mainly those of the Arminians whose liberalism was dividing the churches to the destruction of orthodoxy. He credits Gill and so he should, for without the likes of him, the universalism of Arminianism would have crushed the church completely.
One thing that must be a puzzle for onlookers of the SBC wars is the often confused rhetoric of the defenders of non-Calvinism. It is amazing that they pride take in five-pointers when it behooves them. It is doubly confusing when it shows up in Haykin. How could a false orthodoxy be the hotbed of revival? Of world missions? Haykin has some explaining to do, there. But so does the majoritarian Arminian faction in the SBC which prides itself in William Carey. If Carey was a five pointer, and he was, the father of modern missions, if the mandates of Scripture were as Helm’s pointed out in Gill, to lavish the Gospel upon the unbelieving world, but high-Calvinist doctrine kills evangelism, how did that marvel of the Great Awakening ever happen? And we might add that it was a Calvinitic revival, after all, from day one. Perhaps that is what the non-Calvinists fear most, being left out.
If Carey said this: “―Pity therefore,” Carey concluded, “―humanity, and much more Christianity, call loudly for every possible exertion to introduce the gospel amongst the unbelieving nations of the world.”
And Gill said this: “for the enlargement of the interest of Christ in the world; and it is by means of the gospel being preached to all nationals in all the world, that the kingdom of Christ has been spread everywhere…”
How can Haykin be correct? (How can the Arminian?) He’s not. As Helm says, Gill had a “robust attitude” toward evangelism. Gill was hardly hyper-Calvinistic. In another place Helms makes this observation.
As Nettles shows, Gill upholds the vigorous preaching of the Gospel, and the urging of men and women to come to Christ. (101). But he has some idiosyncratic touches of his own. I will mention one. He has a theological objection to the offering of Christ or his grace by a minister (Nettles, 100), for (Gill says) only God can give grace, and he does not do so by offering it, but by sovereignly bestowing it. Gill holds that God alone grants grace, and therefore that it is improper to suppose that ministers of the Gospel may offer Christ. He is not theirs to offer. The grace of God is bestowed on the elect, and grace is not offered to the non-elect. (The Cause of God and Truth, 288-9)
Of course the NT teaches that preachers of the gospel proclaim in the name of Christ and are his representatives. ‘We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us….’ (2 Cor. 5. 20) So when they preach, God preaches through them. But they are not, literally, in the place of God. They are not the bestowers of grace, nor are they the judges of men and women. (I Cor. 4.5) Another significant difference is that preachers do their work ‘blind’. They do not know whether, when they preach, their audience will hear, or forbear. Like Paul in respect of his own people, who had a strong desire for them to be saved, and could wish that he himself might be accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of his others (Rom. 10.1, 9.2-3), so ministers may have desires for the salvation of their hearers that (unknown to them) do not accord with God’s decree. So while Gill is perfectly correct to say that grace is not bestowed on the non-elect, yet it may be offered to them by ministers of the gospel out of (what we might call) ‘blind compassion’. So we might say that Gill’s point might, with Scriptural warrant, be turned around. God does not offer grace to the non-elect. So there is ‘no falsehood or hypocrisy, dissimulation or guile, nothing ludicrous or delusory in the divine conduct towards them’. (289) But his ministers might, from their lowlier position, offer the grace of the gospel indiscriminately, and there’s nothing hypocritical or ludicrous about that either.
Much of this folly appears, Helm makes clear, because of misunderstanding of the subtleties and nuances of words written by faulty men who can only haltingly apply human language to express spiritual truths. This is important: Little lines taken out of their place and times even by innocent minds become great crimes. And then there are those who are not innocent, who take mistakes or words of others and make them propaganda in the war against the truth.