Archive Page 2

01
May
19

What the Traditionalists in the Southern Baptist Should Have Written

Several years ago a group of leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention, spooked by the specter of a rising tide of Calvinism within the ranks of the SBC and under the direction of Dr. Eric Hankin, contrived a document they called “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” When one reads the preamble to this document, at least two things become obvious.  The first is that those who wrote the document and those who later signed it are painfully ignorant of Calvinistic doctrine, and the second is that they wrote it for the purpose of counteracting the dreaded plague of Calvinism in their cherished denomination.  This is what they stated in the preamble—“ The precipitating issue for this statement is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.”

If that is an accurate assessment of their purpose, one would have expected that the concepts they affirmed would have been teachings that Calvinists deny and the ideas they denied, would have been teachings that Calvinists would affirm.  Interestingly, this was not the case in many of their affirmations and denials. Consider, for example, the following statements from their preamble to which any true Calvinist would say a hearty AMEN!

They wrote,

“Traditional Southern Baptist soteriology is grounded in the conviction that every person can and must be saved by a personal and free decision to respond to the Gospel by trusting in Christ Jesus alone as Savior and Lord.”  And, “Baptists have been well-served by a straightforward soteriology rooted in the fact that Christ is willing and able to save any and every sinner.”

If their goal was to pee on a tire to mark their territory, I suppose they have accomplished what they wished to accomplish. If their goal was to open an honest and meaningful dialogue between themselves and Calvinists, they could not have failed more miserably.

I have reproduced here what they affirmed and denied in their declaration and what they should have affirmed and denied if they wished to address the real issues that separate them from soteriological monergists, A.K.A. Calvinists.  I am not suggesting that everyone who signed the document had sufficient theological understanding to fathom the depths of the issues under consideration. I am not suggesting that everyone who signed the document necessarily embraced all the implications I have suggested that their doctrine entails.  What I am boldly stating is that it is the issues under the heading “What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied” which Calvinists are concerned to address and not the “straw man” implications suggested by many of their affirmations and denials.  In large part, the issues that divide us are seen in the contrast between what they should have affirmed and what they should have denied.  Generally speaking, what they should have affirmed from their point of view is what Calvinists deny, and what they should have denied is what Calvinists have affirmed. These are the real issues we should be discussing if ever we are to find unity concerning these essential doctrines.

Consider the contrast between what they affirmed and denied and what they should have affirmed and denied.

What They Affirmed and Denied

Article One: The Gospel

We affirm that the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person. This is in keeping with God’s desire for every person to be saved.

We deny that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell.

What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

Article One: The Gospel

We affirm that the gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for every person on the condition of their free will decision but has not secured the salvation of any person in particular. This is in keeping with God’s desire for every person to be saved, a desire that is subjugated to the sinner’s free will decision.

We deny that anyone is incapable of responding positively to the gospel or that God has decreed to permit anyone to remain in their sins and perish.

What They Affirmed and Denied

Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man

We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man

What they affirm is unequivocally contrary to what Calvinists affirm.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any [every] person’s autonomous will.

We deny that any person is saved apart from an autonomous free will response to the Father’s ineffectual persuasion.

What They Affirmed and Denied

Article Three: The Atonement of Christ

We affirm that the penal substitution of Christ is the only available and effective sacrifice for the sins of every person.

We deny that this atonement results in salvation without a person’s free response of repentance and faith. We deny that God imposes or withholds this atonement without respect to an act of the person’s free will. We deny that Christ died only for the sins of those who will be saved.

What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

Article Three: The Atonement of Christ

We affirm that the penal substitution of Christ [that does not actually substitute for any sinner in particular] is nothing but a mere provision that, in itself, did not secure the salvation of any sinner. Though there is provision for the salvation of any sinner who decides to let Jesus’ save him, Jesus’ death was not actually and objectively intended to save any sinner in particular. The sole factor that determines who will be saved and who will be lost is the sinner’s autonomous decision and has nothing to do with God’s design and intention at all.

We deny that this atonement was intended objectively to secure the salvation of any sinner in particular or that God had any specific design in sending his Son apart from making a mere provision. Furthermore, we deny that any sinner will have this provision applied to him apart from the decision of his autonomous will. We deny that Jesus actually accomplished the eternal redemption of any sinner in particular since he objectively accomplished no more in his redemptive work for those who will make their autonomous free will decision to let him save them than he did for those who will finally be lost.

What They Affirmed and Denied

Article Four: The Grace of God

We affirm that grace is God’s generous decision to provide salvation for any person by taking all of the initiative in providing atonement, in freely offering the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in uniting the believer to Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith.

We deny that grace negates the necessity of a free response of faith or that it cannot be resisted. We deny that the response of faith is in any way a meritorious work that earns salvation.

What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

Article Four: The Grace of God

We affirm that the grace of God is not intended to secure the salvation of any favored sinner so that God actually brings salvation to any person based on his prior intention, but has determined to permit millions of sinners to perish in unbelief rather than to violate their autonomous will. We affirm that though the sinner’s autonomous will decision cannot, in itself, merit a right standing before God, that decision that is determined by his greater humility, pliability, spirituality, intelligence, etc., is the sole factor that distinguishes him from other sinners. He and he alone is the one who makes himself to differ from other sinners.

We deny that God’s gracious efforts to save sinners are effectual in any sense but depend completely on the sinner’s autonomous decision to cooperate with God’s ineffectual efforts. We deny that God distinguishes between sinners on any ground other than the sinner’s autonomous decision.

What They Affirmed and Denied

Article Five: The Regeneration of the Sinner

We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.

We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.

What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

Article Five: The Regeneration of the Sinner

We affirm that regeneration is completely unnecessary in regard to bringing sinners to repentance and faith in Christ. The wooing of the Holy Spirit is never effectual in bringing sinners to Christ. There is no real reason for God to change a person’s heart and disposition since those who respond to the gospel are already humble and pliable and willingly respond to the gospel when wooed by the Holy Spirit.

We deny that any person’s regeneration is effected by the work of the Spirit removing his disposition to resist the free overtures of the gospel in response to which he is responsible to repent and believe.

What They Affirmed and Denied

Article Six: The Election to Salvation

We affirm that, in reference to salvation, election speaks of God’s eternal, gracious, and certain plan in Christ to have a people who are His by repentance and faith.

We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation and others for condemnation.

What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

Article Six:  Election to Salvation

We affirm that election to salvation is an invention of Calvinists and Arminians that did not occur at all. We do not believe that God had a gracious plan to save any sinner in particular but only chose a plan according to which he would save any sinner who was sufficiently humble and pliable by nature to make the right decision. We affirm that it is possible that God would never have a people of his own since the outcome depends fully on the sinner’s autonomous will decision and not on any plan that Calvinists and Arminians have imagined that he may have had.

We deny that God has any control whatsoever in regard to the salvation of sinners.

What They Affirmed and Denied

Article Seven: The Sovereignty of God

We affirm God’s eternal knowledge of and sovereignty over every person’s salvation or condemnation.

We deny that God’s sovereignty and knowledge require Him to cause a person’s acceptance or rejection of faith in Christ.

What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

Article Seven: The Sovereignty of God

We affirm that though we believe God has knowledge of all that will occur, he has sovereignly relinquished all control of the universe to the sinner’s autonomous will decision, and would rather see millions of sinners perish in their sins than to remove their stony hearts and grant them a new disposition that would cause them to willingly comply with the demands of the gospel.

We deny that God’s sovereignty over all things means that he has the right to deal with his creatures as he has seen fit. We deny that he has the right to pass over guilty rebels and leave them to their just destruction and choose to redeem others who are equally guilty and bring them effectually to salvation.

What They Affirmed and Denied

Article Eight: The Free Will of Man

We affirm that God, as an expression of His sovereignty, endows each person with actual free will (the ability to choose between two options), which must be exercised in accepting or rejecting God’s gracious call to salvation by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel.

We deny that the decision of faith is an act of God rather than a response of the person. We deny that there is an “effectual call” for certain people that is different from a “general call” to any person who hears and understands the Gospel.

What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

Article Eight: The Free Will of Man

We affirm that, as an expression of his Sovereignty, God granted an autonomy to sinners that cancels out his own autonomy. It is the sinner’s autonomous will that determines all that occurs in human existence. We affirm that since sinners have responsibility to make proper choices and the ability to make improper choices, they must also have the ability to make proper choices. [We could add “Since we are completely ignorant of what Calvinists truly believe, we do not realize that no Calvinist would ever deny that sinners have the ability to choose between two options”].

We deny that God has any part in actually enabling sinners to believe. Whatever assistance he may give to any, he gives to all so that it is nothing but sinners’ autonomous decisions that determines their salvation.

What They Affirmed and Denied

Article Nine: The Security of the Believer

We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.

We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.

What They Should Have Affirmed and Denied

Article Nine: The Security of the Believer

We affirm that God’s purpose and promise to keep and save any believer completely, waits for and depends on the sinner’s autonomous decision to believe. Prior to this decision, God has no purpose for any sinner in particular. Once the sinner responds to the gospel in repentance and faith, God responds to his decision and determines to save him completely.

We deny that there are false professors whose profession and outward conformity to Christian standards may be no different from that of true believers who are in real danger of certain apostasy since they were never truly converted.

What They Affirmed and Denied

Article Ten: The Great Commission

We affirm that the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned His church to preach the good news of salvation to all people to the ends of the earth. We affirm that the proclamation of the Gospel is God’s means of bringing any person to salvation.

We deny that salvation is possible outside of a faith response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What They Should Have Understood Apart from a Profound Ignorance of Calvinism on Their Part

Article Ten: The Great Commission

Unless one believes in the salvation of infants and the mentally challenged, Calvinists would agree with the last article.

The following are the issues that Calvinists and SBC Traditionalists need to discuss:

The issue in Article 1 that divides Calvinists and non-Calvinists is not the free and universal offer of the gospel but whether God has determined to make the gospel effectual in bringing a chosen people to himself, or has done all he intends to do and has left the issue in the sinner’s hands to determine the outcome by the exercise of his autonomous will.

The issue in the denial of Article 2 is not whether sinners are able to freely choose between two or more options but whether sinners are able apart from divine enabling to choose to love and trust the God against whom they are hostile.

The issue in Article 3 is not whether the redemptive work of Christ is of sufficient value to save every sinner who will repent and believe but whether it was God’s intention merely to provide the possibility of salvation for sinners who would do their part and receive the gospel, or infallibly accomplish redemption for a multitude that no one can number to whom he would effectually apply that redeeming work by bringing them to faith and repentance.

The issue in Article 4 is not whether God has made a gracious and abundant provision for every sinner who will repent but whether his saving work is a mere provision or a saving accomplishment. Additionally, the issue is whether some sinners are more prone to salvation because of their humility, pliability etc.

The issue in Article 5 is not whether sinners are regenerated prior to or apart from hearing the gospel, but whether sinners in a state of pervasive corruption will ever respond rightly to the gospel unless God removes their disposition to resist its demands.

The issue in Article 6 is whether God or the sinner is the final arbiter in the sinner’s salvation. Did God choose a people or a plan and leave the success of that plan to the sinner’s autonomous choice.

The issue in Article 7 is whether God is sovereign over any sinner’s salvation at all, not whether his sovereignty requires him to cause any sinner’s rejection of faith in Christ. Ultimately, the issue is whether God has the right to rule his creation as he desires.

The issue in Article 8 is not whether sinners are able to choose between options but whether they have the ability to choose that for which they have absolutely no desire and to which their entire beings are absolutely averse.

The issue in Article 9 is not whether true believers are secure for eternity but apostasy is a possibility for those who have professed faith in Christ. The evidence of true conversion is a persevering faith.

The issue in Article 10 is that the document implies that Calvinists do not believe in a free and universal proclamation of the gospel and that they believe a person can be saved apart from a belief in the gospel.

28
Apr
19

Divinely Caused Love: Is It Genuine?

One of the soteriological synergists’ favorite lines is that if God caused people to love him [they usually prefer inflammatory terms like “forced”], that love would not be genuine. My question is whether they consider divinely caused obedience to be true obedience. In Ezekiel 36:25-27, Yahweh promised to give a new heart and a new spirit [disposition] to hard-hearted sinners. Additionally, he promised to put his Spirit within them and cause them to walk in [obey] his statutes and keep his rules. It seems to me this becomes especially significant when one considers that every law God has ever given depends on two commandments [see Matt. 22:36-40] and obedience to one of those commandments [love for God] results in obedience to the other [love for one’s neighbor]. Genuine obedience to God reflects genuine love to God. Now, if divinely caused obedience is true obedience, would it not follow that the love from which that obedience results would also have to be genuine and divinely caused as well?

25
Apr
19

Atonement: A Response to Leighton Flowers Misrepresentation.

 
Atonement: A Response To Leighton Flowers’ Misrepresentation. By Randy Seiver
19
Apr
19

Did John Piper Recant Calvinism? Leighton Flowers vs. the apostle Paul.

07
Mar
19

Safe and Sound

This book provides a comparative analysis of the issues separating so-called Lordship teachers and “Free grace” (OSAS) teachers. After addressing the straw-man arguments on each side of the issue, the author examines each of the real issues in this debate and briefly expounds the pivotal passages that relate to these issues.

 

08
Feb
19

SALVATION APART FROM WORKS?

Why the Question?

It is not uncommon to hear or read comments from those who adhere to the “free grace” view to the effect that “Lordship” teachers advocate salvation based on human works. To them, it is clear that those who believe some level of obedience to Christ is certain to follow genuine conversion simply add the necessity of good works for salvation to the back end of the Christian experience.

The question this raises is whether it is biblically accurate to state that salvation is apart from works. Do those who insist that Christ must be received in all his offices as God’s Anointed One believe that salvation is based, even in part, on the believer’s works of obedience to him? As we have seen, the answer is an unqualified No! That should be clear to anyone who makes the effort to investigate their views carefully. Yet, to anyone who understands the issues, such a declaration does not answer the question posed here. The issue is not whether a person’s works either before or after conversion form any part of the foundation for his justification before God but whether the faith and repentance God produces in his chosen people are sterile so that they produce no fruit for sanctification? The Scriptures are unequivocal in their answer to this question. Though justification before God is altogether apart from works, God’s overall work of salvation is not apart from works at all. Justification by faith alone is only one facet of God’s overall salvific work.

One must be careful when talking about God’s saving work to be precise about the aspect of that work to which he is referring. It has become all too common, even among people who have been trained in evangelical institutions, to refer to salvation in such a way as to confuse one work of God with another. Many give little effort to an examination of biblical contexts to discover in which sense a writer is using the word “salvation.” It is exceedingly important to distinguish between justification and sanctification in discussions such as this one. Justification does not involve a sinner’s good works at all; sanctification does.

One of the errors of “free-grace” advocates is to apply what the New Testament Scriptures teach about justification to sanctification. Perhaps it will be helpful to the reader if we reproduce the comments of J. C. Ryle about the differences between justification and sanctification. He wrote,

(a) Justification is the reckoning and counting a man to be righteous for the sake of another, even Jesus Christ the Lord. Sanctification is the actual making a man inwardly righteous, though it may be in a very feeble degree.

(b) The righteousness we have by our justification is not our own, but the everlasting perfect righteousness of our great Mediator Christ, imputed to us, and made our own by faith. The righteousness we have by sanctification is our own righteousness, imparted, inherent, and wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, but mingled with much infirmity and imperfection.

(c) In justification our own works have no place at all, and simple faith in Christ is the one thing needful. In sanctification our own works are of vast importance and God bids us fight, and watch, and pray, and strive, and take pains, and labour.

(d) Justification is a finished and complete work, and a man is perfectly justified the moment he believes. Sanctification is an imperfect work, comparatively, and will never be perfected until we reach heaven.

(e) Justification admits of no growth or increase: a man is as much justified the hour he first comes to Christ by faith as he will be to all eternity. Sanctification is eminently a progressive work, and admits of continual growth and enlargement so long as a man lives.

(f) Justification has special reference to our persons, our standing in God’s sight, and our deliverance from guilt. Sanctification has special reference to our natures, and the moral renewal of our hearts.

(g) Justification gives us our title to heaven, and boldness to enter in. Sanctification gives us our meetness [fitness] for heaven, and prepares us to enjoy it when we dwell there.

(h) Justification is the act of God about us, and is not easily discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God within us, and cannot be hid in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men (Ryle, 1952).

Is salvation apart from works? It should be clear that the answer depends on whether one is talking about justification or sanctification. Does justification before God require any works of obedience on the part of repenting sinners? Not at all. In fact, any attempt to offer God any obedience at all as the ground of our acceptance before him amounts to an act of unbelief and rebellion against him.

Does sanctification, of necessity, involve the believer’s works of obedience to Christ? Absolutely, since that is the very nature of sanctification itself. The Scriptures everywhere forbid us to trust ourselves, but they never forbid us to exert ourselves in the pursuit of holiness. Paul was clearly speaking accurately when he told King Agrippa that he preached to sinners “that they should repent and turn to God and do [practice] works that are commensurate [the word Greek word means to be worthy or to weigh the same thing] with repentance” (see Acts 26:20). Was he adding works to faith as the basis of justification? Of course, not! He could not be clearer in his teaching about justification by grace alone and through faith alone. Still, it should be clear that he expected those who had professed repentance to act in accordance with that profession by practicing works of obedience to God. Though these works of obedience can have nothing to do with meriting a righteous standing before God, they are nonetheless a necessary evidence of the reality of conversion. Salvation would not be salvation without them. A presumed salvation that produces no change in a person’s life is not the salvation about which the apostles preached.

Works of obedience to Christ have no merit for justification but their evidentiary value in demonstrating the reality of God’s work in a person’s heart should not be disputed. As Spurgeon quaintly stated the issue, “What is down in the well is going to come up in the bucket.”

A Pivotal Passage

It is likely that there is no more important passage in the New Testament Scriptures dealing with this issue than James two, verses fourteen and following. Some have even imagined that some discord existed between Paul and James since Paul clearly taught that justification before God is through faith alone, yet James asked, “Can faith save him?”

How can one reasonably reconcile these two teachings? The answer is Paul and James are answering two different questions. We would not expect the same answer to the question, “What are the effects of water?” as we would to the question, “What is the chemical composition of water?” Both are about water but the answers would be decidedly different because the questions are different. Paul was answering one question, and James was answering another question altogether. The question Paul was answering concerned the manner in which God declares sinner’s righteous in his sight. Does God declared sinners righteous in his sight based on their works of obedience to the Law or through faith alone, in Christ alone?  His answer was unequivocal. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified through faith and apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:28).

The question James was answering concerned the nature of genuine faith. It concerned what kind of faith is effectual in uniting sinners to Christ. Pay attention to his introductory question. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him” (James 2:14)? In the original text, the word “faith” is preceded by the definite article and refers to the kind of faith he has just mentioned, i.e., a faith that is not accompanied by works.  His question is not, “Can faith saved him?” but “Can that [kind of] faith [a faith that does not produce works] save him?” His answer is an unequivocal “no!”

When he later writes about Abraham being justified by his works in his offering of his son (see verse 21), he is writing about an event that occurred years after God had declared him righteous in his sight through faith in his promise. James was not speaking about that initial event but about Abraham’s faith being vindicated by his obedience. It is the nature of genuine faith to vindicate itself by producing obedience.

Concerning James’ teaching in these verses, Thomas Manton has written the following helpful comment,

 

In this whole discourse the apostle shows not what justifies but who is justified; not what faith does, but what faith is. The context does not show that faith without works does not justify, but that assent without works is not faith.

 

James vs. Paul?

 

The only question that remains is whether James and Paul were actually in disagreement on this issue. Although I could appeal to several passages that show their complete agreement on the issue, I will confine myself to one verse in Galatians five where Paul was writing about what now has value before God. In verse six he wrote, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” The faith he describes is a working faith. The word translated “working” refers to active, energetic and effective accomplishment. It should be clear that he knew nothing of a mere profession that produced no loving obedience to God. Genuine faith is active, energetic and effective in producing its effects in believers.

 

Conclusion

 

After a careful examination of these issues, it seems it would be impossible to conclude that salvation in the broad view is apart from works. Though we must stridently assert that God declares sinners righteous in his sight apart from a scintilla of obedience on the part of the sinner, we must nonetheless assert with equal stridency that a mere mental assent to propositional truth that produces no loving obedience to God is not the faith through which God declares sinners righteous in his sight.

 

13
Jan
19

God’s Message to You #2

The Problem of Pardon

If you have read in the Sacred Scriptures, about the pardon God freely promises to sinners who repent and believe, you might be wondering how the God who reveals himself in those Scriptures can make such a promise. If you have read those Scriptures carefully, you know that God has revealed himself as a holy and righteous judge who will never declare the guilty to be righteous. For example, In Exodus 34:7 He describes himself as the one who will by no means clear the guilty”. And yet, the apostle Paul calls him the God “who justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5), and David described the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works (see Romans 4:6-7) when he wrote, “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity” (Psalms 32:2).

The Bible does not teach that God infuses grace to sinners to enable them to become sufficiently righteous in themselves for God to declare them righteous. What these Scriptures are teaching is that God declares them righteous when they can claim no righteousness of their own.  He justifies [declares righteous] the ungodly. Paul wrote that sinners are “justified freely [this word means without cause, i.e., there is no cause in the sinner] by his grace” (Romans 3:24). This presents a great problem. How can God be righteous and at the same time declare guilty sinners who believe his promise to be righteous in his sight?

God’s Solution to the Problem

This is the problem that the redemptive work of Christ has solved. Notice that Romans 3:24 states that this free justification is “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” What the apostle was teaching in Romans 3 is that God has satisfied his own demands in the sacrifice of his Son. He wrote, “. . .whom God has exhibited publicly as a propitiation in his blood [sacrificial death] through faith, to declare his righteousness. . .that he might be just and at the same time, the justifier of those who believe [put their trust] in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26).

The gospel tells us of a great exchange. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul wrote, “For he [God] has made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  He did not mean that Jesus actually became a sinner or that we actually become righteous as the basis of our justification. What he meant is that God has treated Jesus as if he were a sinner so that he might treat us as if we were righteous. He not only took the believer’s punishment for sin; he took the believer’s guilt. God judicially abandoned Jesus on the cross, so that believers might be judicially accepted in his presence. Concerning this great exchange, Isaiah wrote concerning his redemptive work for all who will trust God’s promise of pardon,

He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6).

God is calling you now to trust his promise of pardon. This same Jesus who was crucified, has risen from the grave as evidence that the Father has been satisfied with his redemptive sacrifice. He now sits enthroned as the full embodiment of all his redemptive accomplishments. He has full power and authority to rescue and restore all who come to the Father through him. You need no other merit or righteousness but his merit and righteousness. The Scripture says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts. 4:12)   He is ready and willing to save you not only from the guilt and penalty of your sins but from the oppressive power of your sins. All he requires of you is that you trust him to save you. This is his promise to sinners—“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29).

 

El Mensaje de Dios Para Usted # 2

El problema del perdón

Si has leído en las Sagradas Escrituras, sobre el perdón que Dios promete libremente a los pecadores que se arrepienten y creen, te estarás preguntando cómo el Dios que se revela a sí mismo en esas Escrituras puede hacer tal promesa. Si has leído esas Escrituras con cuidado, sabes que Dios se ha revelado a sí mismo como un juez santo y justo que nunca declarará al culpable como justo. Por ejemplo, En Éxodo 34: 7 se describe un así mismo como el que “de ningún modo tendrá por inocente al malvado”. Y, sin embargo, el apóstol Pablo lo llama el Dios “que justifica al impío” (Romanos 4: 5), y David describió la bendición del hombre a quien Dios imputa la justicia aparte de las obras (ver Romanos 4: 6-7) cuando él escribió: “Bienaventurado el hombre a quien el SEÑOR no imputa la iniquidad” (Salmos 32: 2).

La Biblia no enseña que Dios infunde gracia a los pecadores para permitirles llegar a ser lo suficientemente justos en sí mismos para que Dios los declare justos. Lo que estas Escrituras enseñan es que Dios los declara justos cuando no pueden reclamar ninguna justicia propia. Él justifica [declara justo] al impío. Pablo escribió que los pecadores son “justificados gratuitamente [esta palabra significa “sin causa,” es decir, no hay causa en el pecador] por su gracia” (Romanos 3:24). Esto presenta un gran problema. ¿Cómo puede Dios ser justo y al mismo tiempo declarar que el pecador que cree en su promesa es justo ante sus ojos?

La solución de Dios al problema

Este es el problema que la obra redentora de Cristo ha resuelto. Note que Romanos 3:24 declara que esta libre justificación es “por la redención que es en Cristo Jesús”. Lo que el apóstol estaba enseñando en Romanos 3 es que Dios ha satisfecho sus propias demandas en el sacrificio de su Hijo. El escribió, “. . . a quien Dios ha exhibido públicamente como una propiciación en su sangre [muerte sacrificial] a través de la fe, para declarar su justicia. . .que Él pueda ser justo y al mismo tiempo, Él que justifica a los que creen [confían] en Jesús “(Romanos 3: 25-26).

El evangelio nos habla de un gran intercambio. En 2 Corintios 5:21, Pablo escribió: “Al que no conoció pecado, [Dios] lo hizo pecado por nosotros, para que fuéramos hecho justicia de Dios en Él” No quiso decir que Jesús realmente se convirtió en un pecador o que en verdad nos volvemos justos como la base de nuestra justificación. Lo que quiso decir es que Dios ha tratado a Jesús como si fuera un pecador para que nos trate como si fuéramos justos. Él no solo tomó el castigo del creyente por el pecado; tomó la culpa del creyente. Dios judicialmente abandonó a Jesús en la cruz, para que los creyentes puedan ser aceptados judicialmente en su presencia. Con respecto a este gran intercambio, Isaías escribió acerca de su obra redentora para todos los que confiarán en la promesa de perdón de Dios,

Él fue herido por nuestras transgresiones; él fue molido por nuestras iniquidades; el castigo por nuestra paz cayó sobre él, y por sus llagas hemos sido sanados. Todos nosotros nos descarriamos como ovejas; nos apartamos, cada uno, en su propio camino; pero el SEÑOR hizo que cayera sobre Él la iniquidad de todos nosotros (Isaías 53: 5-6).

Dios te está llamando ahora a confiar en su promesa de perdón. Este mismo Jesús que fue crucificado, se ha levantado de la tumba como evidencia de que el Padre ha estado satisfecho con su sacrificio redentor. Ahora se sienta entronizado como la encarnación completa de todos sus logros redentores. Él tiene todo el poder y la autoridad para rescatar y restaurar a todos los que vienen al Padre a través de él. No necesitas ningún otro mérito o justicia sino su mérito y justicia. La Escritura dice: “En ningún otro hay salvación, porque no hay otro nombre bajo el cielo dado a los hombres en el cual podamos ser salvos” (Hechos 4:12) Él está listo y dispuesto a salvarte no solo de la culpa y de la pena de tus pecados, pero del poder opresivo de tus pecados. Todo lo que él requiere de ti es que confíes en él para salvarte. Esta es su promesa a los pecadores: “Vengan a mí, todos los que están cansados cargados, y Yo los haré descansar. Tomen mi yugo sobre ustedes y aprendan de mí, que soy manso y humilde de corazón, y hallarán descanso para sus almas “(Mateo 11: 28-29).