Posts Tagged ‘expreacherman


What Calvinists Believe about ¨Progressive Justification.¨

For the sake of context, I want to tell you just a bit about my religious upbringing. I grew up in an INDEPENDENT, Fundamental, Baptist home. As I was growing up, my heroes were men such as Jack Hyles and John R. Rice. I had memorized well the Romans Road and the Sinner’s prayer. Once a sinner had “prayed to receive Jesus,” I knew how to give him assurance of his salvation, based on his decision. I would tell him/her they were secure for eternity no matter what they did and that if they ever doubted their salvation they were “calling God a liar,” since he had said, “Whoever has the Son has life.” Surely, they had the Son since they had just invited him into their hearts. I never considered the possibility that their decision may not have been faith at all.

I would have fought anyone over the doctrine of “Once saved, always saved.” What I hadn’t yet realized is that you have to be once saved to be always saved. Faith in Christ is not a mere decision we make and move on. It is a life long commitment to follow him and obey him. It is also a life long commitment to forsake all hope of righteousness based on our following and our obedience.

I have said that to say this–I am not ignorant of this sort of mind-set. I have been there, and had great difficulty working my way out of it. I finally came to grips with the fact that the same Bible that teaches the absolute certainty of the true believer’s final glorification, also teaches the absolute necessity of the believer’s perseverance in faith to the end.

Many of those addressed in the NT Scriptures who were in trouble in their walk, were having difficulties because they were in danger of turning to some ground of hope other than Jesus Christ. Some are trying to make the issue about the necessity for obedience in the Christian life. This is not the issue. There is no question that believers are called on to obey. The issue is whether a person can truly trust Christ fully and depend on some other ground of hope, even to a slight degree, at the same time. Nor is the issue whether believers can merit or maintain their justification in the process of sanctification. It would not only be impossible to do so but absolutely unnecessary to do so. The genuine believer is as justified before God the first moment he believes as he will ever be.

I have been a Calvinists for almost 45 years and have never heard or read another Calvinist who used the term ¨progressive justification¨ except in contrast to our doctrine of justification. For example, A.A. Hodge wrote concerning the points of difference between Protestants and Romanists on the subject of justification, “As to the nature and office of faith. We say that it is the instrument; they the beginning and root of justification. 4th. They say that justification is progressive. 5th. That it may be lost by mortal sin and regained and increased through the sacrament of Penance, and completed in Purgatory.” (Outlines of Theology, p. 511).

I would only require a little thought to understand that Calvinists cannot believe in progressive justification. Consider the following:

1. We believe God justifies the ungodly (See Rom. 4:5). If we could in any way progress beyond the state of being ungodly and became as righteous in God’s sight as he requires for our full justification, we would no longer be candidates for such a declaration.

2. We believe justification before God is based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is a righteousness that is wholly outside us. We can have no contribution to it. We do nothing to produce it and could do nothing to render it more perfect.

3. The moment we trust God’s promise to save us through Christ redemptive work, God declares us as spotlessly righteous in his sight as is Christ himself.

4. Since we did nothing to merit the justified state in which we now stand as believers, nothing we do now can increase or diminish our right standing before God. Our standing before God has nothing whatsoever to do with our works of obedience either before or after conversion.

We do believe not every professing Christian has been justified. Our works of obedience and the confessed ground of our confidence before God after our initial profession evince the state of our souls before God. The true believer speaks of current confidence in Christ for the justification of his soul, not of some decision he made years ago. A person who truly trusts in Christ is a person who will continue to trust him to the end of his life. Does the true believer have to try to muster up enough faith so that he won’t be lost if he stops believing. No. If God has ever granted him faith, he [God] will continue to produce that faith to the end.

There are certain miscreants who seem intent on spreading their prevarications about Calvinistic beliefs. It matters not how often they are confronted with their lies, they continue to scatter them like handfuls of bad seed. God will reward such enemies of the gospel for their hatred for and distortion of his good news.


Clear Gospel Preaching.

The more I read what people, ostensibly people who have read the Bible, say about others who seek to be faithful in their proclamation of the Word of God, the more I wonder if a “simple gospel presentation” is possible. In reality, God’s good news is a somewhat complicated message that demands quite a lot of definition. I have recently read comments from opponents of “Lordship salvation” that accuse LS preachers of preaching works for justification before God. Consider the following statement, for example.

“‘Lordship Salvation’ is the false doctrine whereby God offers a lost sinner the promise of eternal life in exchange for a lost sinner’s promise of future works. It is thereby an exchange of promises, or a bilateral contract.”

Clear Gospel Campaign

It appears these folks believe those who teach that a person must bow to Jesus as Lord at the point of conversion are teaching that the sinner’s strikes a deal with God in which he promises to be obedient the rest of his life in exchange for a declaration of righteousness before his judgment bar. I am not quite sure how to square that statement with a statement from John MacArthur about justification before God. He wrote,

Because Christians are justified by faith alone, their standing before God is not in any way related to personal merit. Good works and practical holiness do not provide the grounds for acceptance with God. God receives as righteous those who believe, not because of any good thing He sees in them — not even because of His own sanctifying work in their lives — but solely on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, which is reckoned to their account. “To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). That is justification.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it would be possible to give a clearer statement on justification by grace alone, through faith alone, and based on Christ’s righteousness alone. So I am left to wonder, are these people just deliberately twisting people’s statements and lying about their views? Are they so biblically ignorant they can’t understand what these writers and speakers are saying, are they just mentally deficient or have they heard something at some point that gave the impression that the sinner must offer some promise of good works in order to earn God’s eternal approval? I think it is significant that certain blogs refuse to allow people who actually hold these views to clarify or defend their positions. I have found so many outright lies and distortions on one of these blogs that I am not sure I would even know where to start in trying to correct all their misconceptions.

On the other hand, I must confess I have heard some who were so concerned to prevent the gospel message from giving any license to antinomianism that they almost preached a works gospel [there is an oxymoron if I have ever heard one].

I am convinced it is impossible to proclaim the gospel briefly and clearly to those who have no previous biblical instruction. How do we talk to someone about a God about whom they are completely ignorant? How do we talk to someone about sin when they have no concept of what sin is? For this reason, I believe in educational evangelism rather than hit and run evangelism. If we are careful in our instruction, perhaps we can obviate some of the misconceptions people have about God’s plan of salvation.

In an effort to clarify what I believe the gospel is, what the nature of faith is, what the nature of assurance is etc., I want to make a series of statements that I believe to be true about these issues. I urge you to respond to these statements so that we might open a dialogue about the gospel. I don’t mind if you disagree. What I ask is that you be respectful and support all your views with contextually relevant biblical arguments. I don’t want you to hear my opinions and I frankly don’t care about yours. If you can’t back it up with Scripture, don’t post it.

OK here’s the list:

1. Jesus died to save us from our sins, not to leave us in our sins.

2. All those Jesus died to justify, died with him to the reigning power of sin.

3. God does not swap our obedience for eternal life.

4. No true believer is indifferent to the issue of pleasing God. Paul wrote, “It is God who works in you, both to desire and to do what pleases him.” Should we not assume that this describes God’s work in all true believers? If God works in all believers and his work produces a desire to please God, would we not have to conclude that all believers desire to please God?

5. No believer, even the most sanctified believer, can produce an obedience that merits God’s declaration of justification.

6. Justification before God is based solely on the imputed obedience of Christ.

7. In repentance, the sinner offers nothing as a ground or part of the ground of his justification before God.

8. Assurance of salvation [please see my post about three fold assurance] in terms of the assurance of hope, is based on certain marks that will invariably be present in the life of God’s true people. Otherwise, what could the apostle John mean by his “Hereby do we know that we know him” statements?

9. Being a believer and being a disciple are the same.

10. If you have no desire to follow Jesus, you have never become a Christian.

11. Those who have professed faith in Christ may need to examine the reality of their faith from time to time. Some have made false professions. Paul told Titus, “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him. . . .”

12. Usually, if not always, people in the biblical record who are exhorted to examine themselves have been acting or believing in such a way as to call into question the reality of their faith (e.g., 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 4:20).

13. We should spend more time gazing at Christ than we do gazing at ourselves.

14. We should never allow anyone to make us feel guilty unless we are guilty.

15. If we persist in a life of rebellion against God, we have no evidence that we have ever been born of God.

16. The weakest believer who truly trusts God’s promise to save him for Jesus’ sake, is equally righteous in God’s sight as the godliest saint who has ever lived.

17. The believer’s right standing before God results completely from God’s work of redemption outside of him. Nothing God does in him or that he does as a result of God’s work in him contributes to the basis of his justification.

18. Repentance and faith form no part of the basis of the believer’s justification before God.

19. Repentance is a change of mind that manifests itself in a change of behavior.

20. Neither faith nor repentance is the sinner’s offering to God. Both are God’s gift to the sinner.


Continue in your rebellion against God and go to heaven anyway?

OK, I want to acknowledge up front one of my great failings. I continue to be amazed at how ridiculous those who claim to represent our Lord can be. It is as if God has chosen the terminally stupid to confound the wise. One would think that those who have read the Bible at least once would know better. Silly me! One of my fond but as yet unrealized wishes is that someone who disagrees with positions I have taken would at least accurately represent those views I have taken.

Today, I read a list of characteristics that might be true of a person if he believes in Lordship Salvation. I am not sure who wrote it but it was posted by a man who called himself “Expreacherman.” If I am not mistaken, this gentleman knows better now since he died not long ago and has been disabused of his heresy.

I have no doubt that he was trying to emphasize the freeness of justification through the redemptive work of Christ alone. In this, I would agree with him totally. A person’s right standing before God has absolutely nothing to do with his personal obedience. It is based solely on the obedience and righteousness of Christ.

What I don’t agree with is his denial that believers will act differently from unbelievers.

Whoever wrote the article makes stupid statements like “You might be a Lordship Salvationist –IF

✦“You think that loving Jesus is the same thing as believing in Jesus.” No one who believes in “Lordship salvation” confuses faith and love. We do believe that every true believer loves Jesus.

✦“You believe that repenting of or turning from sin is an essential co mponent of being or staying saved.” Are we to believe God brings us to desire freedom from the penalty of our sins but with no desire to be free from those sins themselves?

✦“You believe there are marks of true believers.” What are we to make of statements like, “If you continue in my word, then are you truly my disciples?” And “Hereby we know that we know him, IF we keep his commandments?” The marks of a true believer are that they continue in Jesus’ words and keep his commandments. I guess Jesus and John both believed in Lordship Salvation.

✦“You think you must desire a relationship with Christ in order to be saved.” No, just give me the goodies and leave me alone. Who wants a relationship with a person who gave himself to be cursed of God for me that I might be blessed for eternity? Is it not difficult to believe a person who could write such stupid stuff could even be a believer?

✦“You believe “faith” and “faithfulness” are the same things.” Who that believes in Lordship Salvation fails to distinguish between faith and faithfulness?”

✦“You believe that assurance of salvation is based on your own faithfulness.” What about John’s statement, “These things have I written to you that you might KNOW that you have everlasting life?” “Hereby do we KNOW that we know him if we keep his commandments?”

I would never suggest that our works have anything to do with meriting God’s favor. Nor would I suggest that believer’s are ever perfect in this life or that our obedience can form any part of the basis of our justification before God. What I do believe is that those whom God has justified, he will also sanctify and glorify. Those for whom Jesus died, also died with him to the reigning power of sin. If a person desires to continue under the dominion of sin, he has never been delivered from the penalty of sin. John Owen wrote, “Any man in whom the death of Christ for sin has not become his death to sin, shall die in his sin.”

One of the patterns I have observed is that these people never seem to answer real questions or address real issues. All they do is make outrageous statements, then run and hide. I would love to discuss the real issues with anyone who has the couarge to forsake their hit and run techinques.