Posts Tagged ‘Paul Dohse Sr.

08
Jan
15

Debate Challenge

In his latest post, Paul Dohse Sr. has challenged “anyone out there” to debate him on the issue of Calvin’s doctrine of total depravity. I have invited him to debate many times and he knows it. My suggestion has been that we could debate via Skype or some other such medium, and he could video tape the exchange to post on his blog. If there is anyone out there who is still able to contact him, please inform him I have accepted his challenge. He has forbidden me to post on his blog or contact him by e-mail.
The reason he does not wish to debate me is that I suggested that we follow certain rules for such a debate. They are as follows:

1. Each person must define the terms he is using in his arguments. There is no sense wasting time talking past each other in a debate because we are using the same terms differently.

2. Each person must support his contentions about what a third party has written or said by actual quotations from that person in the context in which it was written or said.

3. Each person must be able to state his opponent’s position to his satisfaction before attempting to answer it.

4. Only one issue may be discussed at a time unless other issues can be shown to be relevant to the main issue being discussed.

Those suggestions seemed reasonable to me, though I am aware they are completely contrary to Paul’s M.O. He thrives on misrepresentation [That is a euphemism for lying]. It is time for him to “put his money where his mouth is.”

08
Jan
15

Uses of the Word Nomos [Law] in Scripture

The subject of the new covenant believer’s relationship to the law is an intricate one indeed that must be handled with thoughtful care. We should never engage in a discussion of the law without first identifying in which sense we are using the term. For example, if you should ask me whether I think believers continue to be bound by the law, my answer would be absolutely and absolutely not. Are we under the law as covenant? Absolutely not! Do we continue under the perpetual and universal law of God as expressed in natural law and the law of Christ? Absolutely! Are the Old Testament Scriptures profitable for us? Of course they are.

I want to list a number of different ways in which the terms “law” (nomos) is used in the Bible. It is my view that a large part of the difficulty surrounding this issue [and every issue for that matter] results from a lack of accurate definition of terms. I believe it will become clear as we proceed that “law” cannot simply be used as a synonym for the 10 commandments.

1. God’s universal and perpetual standard of righteousness–The word “law” may be used of God’s universal and perpetual righteous standard that exists by virtue of the righteous character of the creator and governor of the universe. It is this overarching righteous standard that provides the foundation for every other expression of law.

2. Natural law–God’s universal law is expressed in what some might call “natural law.” Human kind possesses an innate understanding that certain actions and attitudes are right and others are wrong. Even those who proclaim their autonomy and freedom from moral constraints the most vociferously still suffer from guilt for having violated universally accepted norms. Paul wrote concerning gentiles who do not have the law [Mosaic law], “. . .they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law [Mosaic]” (Rom. 2:14). We should not understand “a law unto themselves” according to common usage. Generally, when we say a person is “a law unto himself,” we mean he is lawless and acts as though there is no law. He simply does as he pleases. Instead, what Paul seems to mean here is that though they do not have the Mosaic law, they, through their innate knowledge of God’s righteous norm, perform the function of the law for themselves. When he says they “do what the law requires” he does not mean they live in complete conformity to the law, but that they practices certain righteous requirements of the law. His point is that these people obey certain aspects of the law, not because it comes to them in codified form but because they possess an innate sense that certain actions are right and others wrong.

3. Law as Covenant or Mosaic Law—It is important to understand that when the New Testament writers refer to the old covenant, their reference is to the Mosaic law, specifically, to the Decalogue or Ten Commandments. Whenever we find the phrase “hupo nomon” (under law) in the New Testament Scriptures the reference is always to law as covenant. The contrast between being “under law” and “under grace” is not an existential contrast, but a covenantal contrast.

Moses wrote, “and he wrote on the tablets [the two tables of stone] the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments [or ten words]” (Ex. 34:28). The Ten Commandments are the words of the covenant. This was the document that officially constituted Israel as a nation. It is clear, or should be clear, this law was neither perpetual nor universal. Paul makes it clear that “it was added” 430 years after God granted the promises to Abraham. This indicates it came into being long after the creation. Additionally, he stated that it was to endure only “until the Seed [Christ] should come to whom the promise was made” (Gal. 3:19).

The law as covenant was a conditional covenant of works that promised the continuation of life in the land of promise to all who observed its commandments. It foreshadowed the eternal life and everlasting rest of all those on whose behalf its rigid demands were met. Additionally, it provided the stage on which the drama of redemptive history would be played out. It is interesting that in Romans 5:20 Paul wrote, “WHERE sin increased or overflowed, grace overflowed all the more.” It was in the very place, “under law,” WHERE sin took on this intensified character, namely, “trespass” or “transgression” that grace entered and super-abounded in establishing the reign of grace in Christ

God’s intention in giving the law/covenant was to give sin an intensified character. There are several phrases in the Pauline corpus that lead to this conclusion. For example, he wrote in Romans 5:20, “but the Law came in alongside (presumably alongside the imputation of the Adamic transgression) so that the offense might overflow or be multiplied. Jesus won our redemption on a stage where sin had been defined and transgression had been honed to a fine point. It was not in the nebulous atmosphere of natural law but in the intensified milieu of codified covenant that Jesus wrought the work of redemption. No one, having read the law, could ever have a question about the kind of behavior God loved and the kind of behavior he hated. In Galatians 3:19, Paul stated that the purpose of the law was to give sin the character of transgression. Many of our translations render his words “because of transgressions” as though the law was given so that transgressions that were already in existence might be curbed. But this cannot be Paul’s meaning. Paul writes in Romans 4:15, “For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.” Transgression is a deliberate overstepping of a clearly defined boundary. Such an overstepping cannot occur in this case apart from codified law. It is better to understand Galatians 3:19 to mean that the law was added for the sake of transgression, i.e., to more clearly define sin and righteousness and give sin the character of transgression—deliberate rebellion against God.

It is altogether likely that God intended Israel’s experience “under law” to be paradigmatic of the entire race in Adam. That is to say, Israel stood as a microcosm or representative sample of all humanity. Thus, Israel’s failure under that covenant mirrors the failure of all. Because of this failure, every mouth is stopped and all the world becomes guilty before God.

Apart from the emotional attachment people have to the Ten Commandments and the belief that apart from the Ten Commandments believers would “be left without a moral compass” [perhaps someone should put in a good word for the Holy Spirit and the New Testament Scriptures here], it should be obvious to any thinking person that God never intended the Ten Commandments to be a universal and perpetual document. It would require extreme prejudice in favor of the perpetuity of the Ten Commandments/old covenant to produce sufficient blindness to ignore Paul’s clear teaching in 2 Cor. 3:3-1). It is beyond the scope of this article to give a full exposition of that passage, but I wish to point out one facet that is pertinent to our point here. Paul contrasts that which is permanent, the new covenant/gospel, with “that which is being brought to an end,” the old covenant/law, and identifies that covenant as “the ministry of death, CARVED IN LETTERS ON STONE.” What part of the law was “carved in letters on stone?” Clearly, it was the “ten words.” If the Ten Words have perpetuity, how can it be that they are “being brought to an end?” It is not merely the civil and ceremonial commandments necessary for the implementation of the covenant that have been fulfilled brought to an end. The covenant itself [the Law as a covenant in Ten Commandments] has been fulfilled and replaced with a new covenant.

Of course, there will be those Reformed folks who will have a knee-jerk reaction to what I have just written and accuse me of Antinomianism, but nothing I have written should give the slightest impression that I am against the law or that I believe Christians should live as libertines. I honestly believe some of these folks are more concerned with being faithful to their confessional standards than they are with being faithful to the Scriptures.

4. Law as Torah—At times “nomos” refers to Moses’ writings– E.g., John 1:45—“we have found him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets wrote.”

5. Law as Old Testament Scriptures—E.g., Psalms 19:7—“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul. . . .” “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Ps. 119:18).see also Ps. 119:70, 72, 92, 97, 113, 174.

6. Law as the Law of Christ—Paul wrote that he was “to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God, but under the law of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21).

7. Law as a principle or rule of operation—At times, “law” refers to the way things work. Paul wrote, “I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Romans 7:21). “What then becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law [principle or rule of operation]? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith” (Rom3:27).

In any discussion of biblical law, one must insist that those involved in the discussion clearly state in which sense they are using the term “Law.”

06
Jan
15

Thoughts on “Calvinists:Going to Hell and Proud of it,” by Paul Dohse

I thought it might be interesting to post a few thoughts about Paul’ s Dohse’s latest post,“Calvinists: Going to Hell and Proud of it” and invite my readers to discuss these ideas here. I am not going to go into great detail; the brief observations I will make will no doubt be expanded in answer to the comments you make.
Paul wrote his article in answer to a blogger named Frank who posted an excellent summary of the gospel in response to one of Paul’s videos.
One issue on which Paul and I are in full agreement is that we are proclaiming two distinctively different messages, only one of which is the biblical gospel. The other message stands under condemnation and the one proclaiming it is cursed by God (see-Galatians 1:8). This is a matter of extreme importance.
I would invite you to read Paul’s article at http://www.paulspassingthoughts.com before commenting here. Since I do not wish to misrepresent his views in any way, I would like you to see them in context before you comment.
The following are my observations:
1. He builds much of his argument on a Dispensational view of the Scriptures that makes distinctions between things that do not differ. The better manuscripts of Rom. 14:10 state that we must all stand before God’s judgment seat. The passage is cited from Isaiah 45, a salvific context, in which Jehovah declares that every knee shall bow to him and every tongue shall swear allegiance.
2. As usual, Paul confuses justification, sanctification and regeneration. Although I have heard some Lutherans give the impression that sanctification is unimportant, Calvinists generally agree that those whom God has justified are in the process of being sanctified and that their obedience gives evidence of the reality of their faith. When we deny that we have any righteousness of our own, we are speaking of justifying righteousness.
3. He continues to argue that the Calvinist’s believe in Christ’s active obedience means Christ continues to obey for us as long as we resolve to do nothing in sanctification.
4. He argues that we advocate returning to the gospel to keep ourselves saved. In reality, what we advocate is that once a person has trusted in Christ alone for justification he will never trust anyone or anything else for his justification. Faith is not a one-time act but an ongoing reliance on Christ. We don’t keep ourselves saved. God maintains the work he has begun and enables us to continue to rely on Christ alone.
5. He speaks of our belief that the judgment is determinative. In reality, what we believe is that the judgment will be declarative. The destiny of those who stand in the judgment has already been determined.
6. He sets a redemptive historical approach to Scripture over against a literal grammatical historical approach to Scripture. These approaches are not contradictory.
7. He advocates justification based on a believer’s personal righteousness, not on an alien, imputed righteousness. He writes, “Believers, who are already deemed righteous because they are in fact righteous (Italics mine), will be judged for rewards. . . .” This accords with the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification. The Scriptures teach us that God justifies the ungodly (see Romans 4:5).
8. He views the standard of justification as a righteousness that is less than perfect, unless, of course, he believes in the sinless perfection of believers. He believes we are accepted by God, not because we are acceptable but because Jesus has simply removed the law.
9. He fails to understand that “hupo nomon” [under law] is a covenantal distinction, not an existential distinction. Gentiles were never “under law” yet we were still condemned. It is not that prior to faith we were under law but now we are not under law. Rather, it is that the time of promise and type has ended and the fulfillment has come. As John states it, “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth [reality or fulfillment] came by Jesus Christ.
10. He fails to understand that believers are not under the law because we are united to Christ who has fulfilled the law. He is the one to whom the law pointed [the end or goal] for righteousness. People should not look to the law for righteousness. We must look to Christ for righteousness.

There are several other false and misleading statements in Paul’s article, but these should be sufficient to provoke a meaningful discussion. I encourage your comments, but please read the rules for commenting before you opine.

02
Jan
15

More of Dohse’s Delusions

I have never encountered an individual who wished to be called an evangelical Christian who was more confused and confusing than Paul Dohse. I have followed his posts for better than three years now and observed that he has gone from bad to worse. Some time ago, I gave up on my efforts to coax him into telling the truth about his theological opponents. As I have stated before, perhaps he is so biblically and theologically inept that he can’t comprehend truth. It could be he has been so blinded by his bitterness over perceived injustices he has suffered at the hands of Calvinists that he can’t reason clearly. To me it seems more likely that he is deliberately distorting other’s views in an effort to turn his readers against them.

A new-found internet friend has recently sent me a few comments from his blog, Paul’s Passing Thoughts. Prior to receiving those quotations I had not visited his blog for months. Today, I visited his blog again and read his latest article. It quickly became apparent that not much had changed. He was still beating the same outworn drum he has been beating for years.
As I read his article I noted several reasons for his confusion and thought it might be helpful to share them here. The following are a few of them:

1. He refuses to accept people’s statements of their beliefs. In his infinite wisdom, he is always able to discern what they really meant as opposed to what they stated. Example: “Protestants say that, [that justification is finished] but that’s not how we function. . . ; the doctrine is really about a justification that is not finished.” At that point he continues to blather about his warped perception of protestant doctrine. In Paul’s world, a person never believes what he claims; he only believes what Paul thinks he believes.

2. He fails to understand the difference between redemption accomplished and redemption applied. Another way to state this is that he fails to understand the two-fold work of Jesus, our Great Priest. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that Jesus fulfills the office of priest “by his once offering himself as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and reconcile us to God and in his making continual intercession for us. His intercession for us corresponds to the high priest’s appearance in the holiest of all to sprinkle the blood of the slain sacrifice on the mercy seat. Jesus’ appearance for believer’s in God’s presence adds nothing to the efficacy of his once for all, finished sacrifice. Paul D. wrote as a supposed representation of what Calvinists believe, “They say justification is a finished work but. . .Jesus’ work is really not finished , He must keep working to KEEP us in that position where we are covered by Hs righteousness.” His implication is that we believe Jesus must keep working to secure our justification. What we really believe is that Jesus’ perpetually presents the efficacy of his once for all sacrifice on behalf of his people. He is able to save us completely because he ever lives to make intercession for us (See Heb. 7:25). This in no way implies that our justification is not complete or that Jesus must continue to do something more in terms of accomplishment to keep us justified. We do believe that once for all accomplishment has fresh application to our souls daily. If any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ , the righteous one, and he is [not was] the propitiation for our sins. Believers are never more righteous in God’s sight than they are the moment we first believe the gospel. We believe in perpetual justification but not in progressive justification.

3. He seems to impute to Calvinists a belief in a three-fold justification—positional justification, practical justification and final justification. Since he does not actually cite a Calvinist who holds such a view, I must confess I don’t know what he is talking about. Justification is positional and only positional in the sense that God makes no believer actually righteous in justification. He accounts believers to be just before the law by imputing to them an alien righteousness. Perhaps by “practical justification” he means that in progressive sanctification God brings believers into greater conformity to his righteous standard, but to my knowledge the Scriptures never refer to this divine work as practical justification. The concern of justification is a righteous standing before God; The concern of sanctification is the holiness of a believer’s state in the world.

4. He distorts the Calvinists’ teaching about the active and passive obedience of Christ. He states that Calvinists believe Jesus died [passive obedience] for our justification and lived a perfect life [active obedience] for our sanctification. This is an absolute perversion of the Calvinistic position. Both the active or perceptive obedience and the passive or penal obedience of Christ were for our justification. It is the believer’s union with Christ in his death and resurrection that effects sanctification. The believer is finished with the reign of death and sin because he has died with Christ.

5. He fails to understand and distinguish properly the different uses of the word nomos [law] in Scripture. Additionally, he fails to distinguish between “sin” and “transgression.” When God established the covenant of Sinai with the people of Israel, sin took on the character of transgression. He believes he can no longer sin because he is a believer and is not under the law. He fails to understand that people sinned before God made the law covenant at Sinai. Hupo nomon [under law] in the Bible always refers to the covenant relationship between God and the Israelites under the Mosaic law. Gentiles were never Hupo nomon, yet they still sinned. Paul thinks of under law or not under law as an existential distinction concerning a person prior to conversion and after. Biblically speaking, it is a covenantal distinction.
Additionally, he fails to recognize that there is a perpetual, universal standard of righteousness that exists simply because God exists. God’s highest demand on which every other righteous demand depends is that we love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. How that love is to be expressed depends on the rules that are prescribed under a given covenant. A husband who fails to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her is no less a sinner than the man who committed adultery in violation of the Old Covenant. Both have demonstrated a failure to love God.

Would Paul D. have us think that believers are no longer under this perpetual universal, standard of righteousness? This would clearly contradict the apostle Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 9. He tells us he is not without law to God, but en nomos to Christ.
6. He denies that God’s law is the standard of righteousness [justification]. He argues that the law cannot justify no matter who keeps it. There are many passages one could cite to show that he is in error but one should suffice. In Luke 10, a legal expert asked Jesus what he needed to do to obtain eternal life and Jesus referred him to the law. Read it for yourself.

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:25-28).

If law is not God’s standard of justification, what is the standard? How are we to define righteousness apart from the law? If guilt is defined in terms of law, and guilt (condemnation) is the opposite of justification or righteousness, must we not define righteousness in terms of law as well? Paul Dohse offers no answer to these questions.

When we read about the law’s inability to justify sinners, we must not understand this to mean it cannot declare behavior that conforms to it to be righteous. Paul clearly stated that “the doers of the law will be justified” (Rom. 2: 13).

7. Finally, he fails to understand that the believer is free from the condemnation of the law not because God’s righteous demands have ceased to exist, but because Jesus has answered and fulfilled those demands completely. When the apostle Paul wrote “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. . .” he is writing about the purpose of the old covenant [law] finding its fulfillment in Christ. The word translated “end” [telos] means goal in the sense that Jesus is the one to whom the law pointed and in whom it found its fulfillment. It is true that he brought the law as covenant to an end, but he did so by fulfilling it.
There are far too many errors in Paul Dohse’s twisted reasoning on which to comment in a brief article, but perhaps these comments will help you navigate the treacherous waters of Dohse’s world.

18
Jul
13

Context–A Case Study

There is probably no factor more important for understanding any life situation or any body of literature than context. Taken out of context, a situation or a statement can be made to mean anything a person wishes it to mean.

This morning, Paul Dohse reposted a post from last year about the difference between John Calvin’s and J.C. Ryle’s views of justification and sanctification. By this post he demonstrated that if he can do nothing else well, he is a master of deceit. To his credit, he did cite the source of his quotations, but I suspect he thought no one would check out the original source. His contention is that Calvin conflated justification and sanctification so that he believed in “progressive justification.” In case you are unfamiliar with that term, it refers to the Roman Catholic doctrine that God infuses grace to the faithful, enabling them to obey more and more so that they are progressively more righteous which righteousness forms the ground of their justification. Of course, he was also trying to show that J.C. Ryle disagreed with Calvin because he stated that we should not “mingle or confuse” justification and sanctification. In reality, both Calvin’s and Ryle’s statements are taken out of context and forced to mean something completely different from what they truly believed. The following is a copy of Paul’s repost:

Paul’s Passing Thoughts
JC Ryle Verses John Calvin on the Separation of Justification and Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on April 20, 2012

“Christ cannot be torn into parts, so these two which we perceive in him together and conjointly are inseparable—namely, righteousness and sanctification. Whomever, therefore, God receives into grace, on them he at the same time bestows the spirit of adoption [Romans 8:15], by whose power he remakes them to his own image. . . Yet Scripture, even though it joins them, still lists them separately in order that God’s manifold grace may better appear to us.” — John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), Bk. 3, chap. 11, sec. 6).

“But the plain truth is, that men will persist in confounding two things that differ–that is, justification and sanctification. In justification the word to address to man is believe–only believe; in sanctification the word must be ‘watch, pray, and fight.’ What God has divided let us not mingle and confuse” (JC Ryle, Holiness: Introduction).

The following is a fuller quotation from Calvin’s Institutes that includes the quotation that Paul lifted from it:

For, in the whole of this discussion, the noun righteousness and the verb to justify, are extended by Osiander to two parts; to be justified being not only to be reconciled to God by a free pardon, but also to be made just; and righteousness being not a free imputation, but the holiness and integrity which the divine essence dwelling in us inspires. And he vehemently asserts (see sec. 8) that Christ is himself our righteousness, not in so far as he, by expiating sins, appeased the Father, but because he is the eternal God and life. To prove the first point—viz. that God justifies not only by pardoning but by regenerating, he asks, whether he leaves those whom he justifies as they were by nature, making no change upon their vices? The answer is very easy: as Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable. Whomsoever, therefore, God receives into his favor, he presents with the Spirit of adoption, whose agency forms them anew into his image (Emphasis and Italics mine).

I would like you to consider with me Calvin’s statement in context. I would urge you to read the entire chapter in C.I. so that you can get the full context. As we look at the fuller quote I have cited here, there are three aspects of it I would like you to take into account. First, please consider what Osiander was arguing. Secondly, consider Calvin’s answer to Osiander, and thirdly, consider Calvin’s answer to a supposed objection.

1. Osiander was arguing that the ground of justification before God is not only the righteousness of Christ freely imputed to us but by grace imparted to or infused to us.

For, in the whole of this discussion, the noun righteousness and the verb to justify, are extended by Osiander to two parts; to be justified being not only to be reconciled to God by a free pardon, but also to be made just; and righteousness being not a free imputation, but the holiness and integrity which the divine essence dwelling in us inspires. And he vehemently asserts (see sec. 8) that Christ is himself our righteousness, not in so far as he, by expiating sins, appeased the Father, but because he is the eternal God and life.

2. Calvin’s answer to him is that the ground of justification is the imputation of righteousness alone.

Thus it is said, in Paul’s discourse in the Acts, “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses,” (Acts 13:38, 39). You see that after remission of sins justification is set down by way of explanation; you see plainly that it is used for acquittal; you see how it cannot be obtained by the works of the law; you see that it is entirely through the interposition of Christ; you see that it is obtained by faith; you see, in fine, that satisfaction intervenes, since it is said that we are justified from our sins by Christ. Thus when the publican is said to have gone down to his house “justified,” (Luke 18:14), it cannot be held that he obtained this justification by any merit of works. All that is said is, that after obtaining the pardon of sins he was regarded in the sight of God as righteous. He was justified, therefore, not by any approval of works, but by gratuitous acquittal on the part of God. Hence Ambrose elegantly terms confession of sins “legal justification,” (Ambrose on Psalm 118 Serm. 10). (Book 3. Chapter 11, #3)(Emphasis and Italics mine).

Calvin clearly taught that the ground of justification is an alien righteousness that God imputes to the sinner’s account, and that once justified, his standing before God is perfectly righteous. How could anyone read such a statement and believe Calvin taught that a believer’s obedience in sanctification in any way contributes to his justification?

3. Calvin states Osiander’s objection as follows: To prove the first point—viz. that God justifies not only by pardoning but by regenerating, he asks, whether he leaves those whom he justifies as they were by nature, making no change upon their vices?

It was in answer to this objection that Calvin wrote the words Paul cited out of context in an effort to show that Calvin conflated justification and sanctification. “The answer is very easy: as Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable. Whomsoever, therefore, God receives into his favor, he presents with the Spirit of adoption, whose agency forms them anew into his image.” In other words, of course God does not leave those whom he justifies as they were by nature, making no change upon their vices. The reason for this is that both these works of God result from the believer’s union with Christ and, to quote Calvin, “as Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable.” If God declares a person righteous in justification, he will not stop until he has conformed that person to his image in Christ.

Justification and sanctification must be distinguished from one another, but they can never be separated. They must be distinguished for several reasons: 1. They have different concerns. Justification concerns the believer’s forensic or judicial standing before God–Its concern is a righteousness that is objective, i.e., totally outside the believer. Sanctification has nothing to do with a believer’s judicial standing before God. It can neither affect nor effect his justification. It concerns his personal, internal holiness and results from the internal work of God’s Spirit. 2. The result from different aspects of Jesus’ redemptive work. Justification results from Jesus’ death for the believer. Sanctification results from the believer’s death with Christ 3. Justification is instantaneous and complete the first moment a person believes. Progressive sanctification is gradual and never complete until the believer is glorified. 4. Justification has nothing to do with a believer’s works of obedience. Sanctification enlists the believer’s cooperation in obedience to the imperatives demanded by the objective accomplishments of Jesus’ redeeming work. These and other distinctions must always be maintained.

That said, we must never think justification and sanctification can be separated. That is to say a person cannot exist for whom Christ died who did not also die with him to the dominion of sin. This is the meaning of Calvin’s words, “Christ cannot be torn into parts. . . .” The point of union between justification and sanctification is not direct so that they can in any way be confused or conflated. The point of connection is the believer’s union with Christ. Jesus accomplished both the believer’s justification and his sanctification, so that unless Jesus can be torn into parts, justification and sanctification cannot be separated.
This is exactly what J. C. Ryle believed. He wrote,

He who supposes that Jesus Christ only lived and died and rose again in order to provide justification and forgiveness of sins for His people, has yet much to learn. Whether he knows it or not, he is dishonoring our blessed Lord, and making Him only a half Savior. The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people’s souls require; not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by his atoning death, but from the dominion of their sins, by placing in their hearts the Holy Spirit; not only to justify them but also to sanctify them. He is, thus, not only their “righteousness” but their “sanctification.” (I Cor. 1:30). ( J. C. Ryle, Holiness. 27-28. Available online at http://www.ccel.org).

Paul accused me of taking this quote out of context. Please access the online copy of Ryle’s work and read the entire context. The following is another quotation from the same page.

(1) Sanctification, then, is the invariable result of that vital union with Christ which true faith
gives to a Christian.—“He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.”
(John xv. 5.) The branch which bears no fruit is no living branch of the vine. The union with Christ which produces no effect on heart and life is a mere formal union, which is worthless before God. The faith which has not a sanctifying influence on the character is no better than the faith of devils. It is a “dead faith, because it is alone.” It is not the gift of God. It is not the faith of God’s elect. In short, where there is no sanctification of life, there is no real faith in Christ. True faith worketh by love. In constrains a man to live unto the Lord from a deep sense of gratitude for redemption. It makes him feel that he can never do too much for Him that died for him. Being much forgiven, he loves much. He whom the blood cleanses, walks in the light. He who has real lively hope in Christ, purifieth himself even as He is pure. (James ii. 17-20; Titus i. 1; Gal. v. 6; 1 John i. 7; iii. 3.)

All Ryle is saying is that to separate justification and sanctification would require that Christ be torn in half. It would “make him only a half Savior.” To me, that sounds exactly like Calvin’s view.

19
Jun
13

Justification, Sanctification, Faith and Perseverance

I thought it might be helpful to state a series of propositions about justification, sanctification, faith and perseverance in an effort to clarify what we believe in relation to these doctrines and how they relate to one another. Although I have not provided texts of Scripture to support each of these statements, I believe each of them is supported by God’s revelation understood in its proper context. Please consider each of them in the light of the Scriptures. I am happy to entertain comments, questions, or objections to any of them.

1. Justification before God is a judicial declaration that occurs once for all through faith in God’s promise that whoever calls on the Lord’s name will be saved.
2. Justification imputes a God designed and therefore God approved righteousness [for this reason it is referred to as “the righteousness of God” or better “a God righteousness”] to sinners who deserve his wrath.
3. Justification has nothing to do with any personal righteousness that is produced by the Spirit in the believer’s life.
4. Jesus has fully satisfied all the demands of God’s law (obedience for a declaration of righteousness and death as the penalty for disobedience) and has therefore been declared righteous based on the strictest terms of the law. Paul told his readers “the doers of the Law will be justified.” The only doer of the law who ever lived was Jesus. By his perfect, continual and inward obedience to that Law, God declared him to be righteous in his sight. Because those in whose place he stood, as their head and representative, had broken the Law and were liable to its curses, he became a curse for us and thus exhausted the penal sanctions of the divine Law.
5. God accepts believers as righteous in his sight because we are united to him who is righteous in his sight. This standing in righteousness cannot progress any more than the spotless righteousness of Christ itself can increase. He bases his declaration on a righteousness that is totally outside us.
6. Sanctification, although completely distinct from justification, cannot be separated from it since both result from the believer’s union with Christ. The believer is justified because Jesus died for him; the believer is sanctified definitively because he died with Christ. Justification does not, in itself, produce sanctification, nor does sanctification produce justification. In that sense, these two works of God’s grace are completely distinct. They cannot be separated in that sense that there will never be a person whom God has justified whom he has not set free from sin’s dominion and in whom he is not carrying on his sanctifying work.
7. Both the declaration of righteousness and the ongoing work of sanctification are works of God’s grace. In justification, he is concerned to bestow on us a righteous standing; in sanctification he is concerned to work in us a practical holiness. Jesus’ redemptive accomplishments secured not only the believer’s justification but also his sanctification.
8. Though believers become partakers of both justification and sanctification through faith, sanctification is not a work that is accomplished through faith alone in the sense that the believer’s works of obedience are not involved. In response to the Spirit’s continuing work within believers, we are responsible to perfect holiness or sanctification in the fear of God.
9. Justification never increases or progresses. It is as complete as it will ever be the first moment a person believes the gospel. Sanctification progresses and will never be complete as long as we remain in the body. No matter how holy a person may become, his sanctification can never make him any more righteous in God’s presence than he was the first moment he believed.
10. Genuine faith results from God’s work of grace in the sinner’s heart. Not every experience of “faith” is genuine. Genuine and spurious “faiths” may appear so similar that the difference between them will be indiscernible. The only way to distinguish the genuine from the spurious is that genuine faith continues and produces the fruit of obedience.
11. The believer’s perseverance in faith adds nothing to his perfect standing. Persevering in faith is simply what true believer’s do. Those who turn back lose nothing they ever possessed. A faith that fails to persevere was not true faith at all. A person who began with a profession of faith in Christ but then turns back and begins to trust something or someone other than Christ, never genuinely trusted Christ to begin with and was never justified.
12. The apostles Paul and James did not contradict one another in their teaching. They were simply concerned with different questions. The question Paul was answering concerned what justifies before God, personal works of obedience to the Law or faith in Christ alone. His answer was that sinners are justified through faith alone, apart from the works of the Law. The question James was answering concerned the nature of that faith through which sinners are justified. Is justifying faith a dead faith or a faith that works and obeys? On this question, both apostles were in perfect agreement. Paul spoke of justifying faith as “faith that works by love.” Paul was concerned with what justifies; James was concerned with who are the justified. Are the justified those who “say they believe” or those whose faith gives evidence of itself by persevering obedience to Christ? The classic statement on this issue was that justification is through faith alone, but it is never through a faith that is alone.

18
Jun
13

Who is the Liar?

Warning: Please don’t read this unless you are interested in knowing the truth.

Paul Dohse Sr. posted the following accusations against Calvinsts on his blog yesterday. This is a serious matter since he has accused us of sinning against God in Lying about our actual beliefs. Why don’t you be the judge about who is misrepresenting the truth.

“The Dirty Dozen: 12 Things That the Lying Calvinists Want You to Assume,”

1.Total Depravity pertains to the unregenerate only. No, they mean the saintThs also.
2. Sola Fide (faith alone) only pertains to Justification. No, it pertains to sanctification also.
3. Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) means “alone” and not other “subordinate” truth that also has authority though “subordinate.” No, creeds and confessions also have authority; it is not Scripture “alone.” What does “alone” mean?
4. Solus Christus (Christ alone) only regards the way to the Father. Not so, Christ is the only way to understanding all of reality. This was the crux of Luther’s Theology of the Cross.
5. Progressive sanctification sanctifies us and is separate from justification. No, they say, “never separate” but “distinct.” Then why not call it “progressive justification”? Why not clearly say that we are sanctified by justification?
6. Election predetermines our eternity. No, the elect have to persevere. The perseverance of the saints is not a characteristic of the saved, it is something that the saints have to add to their faith to complete their justification. They call this, “already-but not yet.” The promises of God are “conditional.”
7. Proponents of synergistic sanctification are mistaken. No, Calvinists think they are lost and promote a false gospel.
8. Spiritual growth is about change. Absolutely not. Calvinists believe we experience manifestations of Christ as we live by faith alone.
9. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is only imputed for our justification. No, they believe it is imputed to our sanctification as well.
10. We should learn what the Bible teaches and apply it to our lives. No, they believe we should look for the cross in every verse which results in Christ manifestations in the Spirit realm. They call this, “the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event.”
11. Calvinists don’t believe in absolution. Not so. Calvin believed Christians need a perpetual forgiveness of sins that can only be found in the church. Augustine and Luther propagated this as well.
12. Christ works within us. Only BY faith, and faith only exists in the object that it is placed in. Calvinists believe that when the work of Christ moves from outside of us to inside of us that it makes “sanctification the ground of our justification.” The contemporary doctrinal term for Calvinism is “the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us.”
If Calvinists want to deny this, have them explain to you what all of the aforementioned para-biblical expressions mean. If they don’t mean what is stated above, what do they mean? Perhaps there is a perfectly logical explanation for all 12.
paul

1. Total Depravity pertains to the unregenerate only. No, they mean the saints also.
On this point, I would agree with Paul D. that some, e.g., Tullian Tchividjian, have written that believers are still totally depraved.

What Paul has failed to reveal is the context in which Pastor Tchividijan made this statement and the way in which he defined the term as he was using it.
In my view, Pastor Tchividijan should simply have used the term “remaining sin.” I have written about this matter on my blog. I believe he is correct in stating that every facet of the human personality continues to be affected by sin. If that is all a person means by the term “total depravity,” I would have to agree that believers continue to be totally depraved. If defined as I have done in the following definition, then it is inaccurate to refer to believers as “totally depraved.”
Perhaps I can best define what I mean by total depravity by first stating the negative.
By “total depravity” I do not mean:
1. Sinners act as badly as they are capable of acting.
2. Sinners are incapable of deeds that are good in the sight of other people.
3. Sinners are incapable of rational thought.
4. Sinners are incapable of recognizing the logical relationship between cause and effect and design and designer.
5. Sinners have no consciousness of the existence of God and their guilt before him.
6. Sinners have no ability to understand the facts of the gospel and give mental assent to it.
7. Sin has totally destroyed God’s image in the unregenerate.
8. Sinners are incapable of acting morally. Not every unregenerate sinner is perverted and degenerate.
By “total depravity” I mean:
1. The nature of every person, in Adam, has been radically affected by the fall so that every person is, at heart, equal to every other person in estrangement from God. If one sinner acts better than another it is due to God’s common, restraining grace alone.
2. Sinful nature has radically affected every facet of the sinner’s personality. The result is that he does not think rightly about God and the gospel; he does not feel right emotions toward God and the gospel; and he does not make right choices with reference to God and the gospel. Every facet of the sinner’s personality is controlled by his sinful nature.
3. Though sinners are capable of understanding the facts of the gospel, they regard it as foolish and weak. They may know truth but do not welcome it (1 Cor. 2:14). They do not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved (2 Thess. 2:10).
4. Sinners are hostile toward God and the gospel. Whenever they are confronted with God’s self-revelation their response will always be to suppress it and turn from it. Sinners love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil and everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light lest their deeds should be exposed (John 3: 19-20). A person will never choose that for which he has no desire and to which he is totally averse.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the way Calvinists have consistently defined “total depravity.” Accordingly, most Calvinists would not refer to believers as “totally depraved.” What I would agree with is the idea that believers in a regenerate state have no ability to progress in sanctification independently. If God’s Spirit does not continue to prompt our desire to obey God and enable us to do so, we can do nothing.

2. Sola Fide (faith alone) only pertains to Justification. No, it pertains to sanctification also.
As I indicated in response to the first accusation, believers do not act independently in the process of sanctification. In reality, sanctification must be by faith since its goal is to please God. Hebrews 11: 6 informs us that, “without faith, it is impossible to please Him [God]. . . .” In fact, the entire chapter that has come to be known as “the faith chapter” deals with the obedience of Old Testament believers who, subsequent to believing God for justification, acted in obedience to God through faith.

How is it that believers are to account themselves truly dead to sin and alive to God if not by faith (Rom. 6:11)? How is it that believers are to feast on Christ, the true bread that came down from heaven, if not by faith (John 6:53-58)? Here, Jesus uses the present tense that indicates continuing action. The believer in Christ doesn’t eat once and then move on to his own efforts. He continues to feast on Christ as long as he lives. How are we to behold the Lord’s glory as in a mirror if not by faith (2 Cor. 3:18)? How are we to rest on God’s promises, and as a result prefect holiness in the fear of God, if not by faith (2 Cor. 7:1)? How are we to walk by the Spirit, if not by faith (Gal. 5:16)? Paul wrote, “For we walk [live our lives habitually] by faith not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). How are we to take up and put on the whole armor of God if not by faith (Eph. 6:11)? How can a person “joyfully accept the plundering of his goods, knowing that he has a better and enduring possession for himself in heaven,” if not by faith (Heb. 10:34)?

If the issue is whether believers are called, in the process of sanctification, actively to obey Christ, then, without controversy, sanctification is not by faith alone since it draws within its scope the believer’s acts obedience. What I would deny is that these acts of obedience can be rightly performed apart from faith. It is only through faith that we can produce the kind of obedience that pleases God. This is the clear teaching of Hebrews 11, the so called faith chapter.

3. Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) means “alone” and not other “subordinate” truth that also has authority though “subordinate.” No, creeds and confessions also have authority; it is not Scripture “alone.” What does “alone” mean?

I am willing to concede that there are those of the Reformed persuasion who seem to follow their creeds in preference to the Scriptures. For example, the New Testament Scriptures reveal absolutely nothing about the practice of infant “baptism.” There is neither a command for nor an example of such a practice in the Scriptures; it is practiced because of “good and necessary consequences.”

Confessions have some “authority” in the sense that they inform us concerning the doctrines the Church has consistently held through-out the centuries. If someone has gathered wood for a campfire, it makes no sense to scatter the firewood and then try to collect it again. Believers throughout Church history have thought through critical issues and have left their findings on record for our instruction and edification. It makes no sense to ignore those conclusions. In a multitude of counselors there is wisdom. Still, if the doctrines set forth in those creeds and confessions cannot be drawn out of the Scriptures by sound exegetical methods, we must reject them. Our final authority in all matters of faith and practice must be the Scriptures.

4. Solus Christus (Christ alone) only regards the way to the Father. Not so, Christ is the only way to understanding all of reality. This was the crux of Luther’s Theology of the Cross.

Perhaps it will come as a shock to Paul, but Luther was not a Calvinist. That said, it is important to understand what Paul D. is talking about. In order to have that understanding, one would have to have a quotation from a Calvinistic confession that stated such a doctrine. It is not enough to show that some Calvinists teach this; he needs to show that this has been the historic view held by Calvinists.

I must confess I have difficulty addressing this accusation since I am not sure what Paul or the Calvinists he is citing mean by it. Nuclear physics is a reality. Do Paul and the Calvinists he cites mean Calvinists believe Christ is the only way to understand the mechanics of the material universe? If they do, I think they would have difficulty demonstrating that contention. There are many intelligent scientists who are ignorant of Christ yet understand the reality of the facts they deal with every day quite well.

It is a reality that if I turn the ignition key to my car, the engine will start. Must I know Christ to understand that reality? Obviously not!

If, on the other hand, by reality they refer to the reality behind the reality, that is a different issue. Neither the material universe nor the “natural” laws that govern it would have come into existence or continue d to exist apart from Christ. Though God has granted unconverted people the intelligence to understand how natural laws work and how elements of the created universe interact with one another, apart from Christ, there can be no clear understanding of the reality behind the reality. Paul wrote,

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (Col. 1:16-18).

Everything was created through him and for him. Everything coheres because of him. If he did not exist, none of the natural occurrences we have come to take for granted would continue. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that he bears the universe along by the word of his power (Heb. 1:3).

Additionally, the Word of God would be enigmatic apart from him. Prior to his incarnation, every type and promise of the Old Testament pointed forward to his first coming. By that, I do not mean that every verse of the Old Testament was about him. It is just silly to make such a claim. What I do mean is that the entire flow of history has been moving toward him and finds its fulfillment in him. His coming introduced the “end [goal] of the ages.” Everything prior to his coming looks forward to him. Everything after his coming looks back to his accomplishments. Every command of the New Testament finds its basis in his redeeming work. We are to do what we do because he did what he did. Every time we partake of the Lord’s Table, we look back to his death and forward to his second coming.

I want to make comment about the charge that we deny the Trinity by understanding Christ’s centrality. We believe “there are three persons in the godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” (WSC). Please note especially that these three persons are EQUAL in power and glory. We would never suggest that one person of the godhead deserves more honor than another or deny that any person of the godhead was a lesser Deity than another.

What is clear in Scripture is that in the economy of redemption at times it is the function of one or more persons of the Trinity to focus attention on and bring glory to one person of the Trinity above another. For example, during the period we call Jesus’ humiliation, it was his clear mission to focus attention on and bring glory to his Father. He summed up his mission in these words, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. He has expounded the Father to us.

Since the giving of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost it has been the ministry of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to Christ and to exalt him. It is significant that Peter did not preach about the Holy Spirit on that occasion [Pentecost]. Instead, prompted by the Holy Spirit, his message centered on Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, ascension and session at the Father’s right hand. It is his work to prompt us to confess that Jesus is Lord. We center on Christ in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s ministry.

5. Progressive sanctification sanctifies us and is separate from justification. No, they say, “never separate” but “distinct.” Then why not call it “progressive justification”? Why not clearly say that we are sanctified by justification?

The main reason we would not call progressive sanctification “progressive justification” is that these are two entirely separate matters. Apart from motivating our obedience, justification is completely distinct from sanctification. The only reason we say they cannot be separated is that they both result from the believer’s union with Christ. As a result of that union, all those for whose justification Jesus died, died with him to the dominion of sin and death. All whom he justifies, he also sanctifies. “Progressive justification” would involve a person being sanctified as the basis of his justification.

6. Election predetermines our eternity. No, the elect have to persevere. The perseverance of the saints is not a characteristic of the saved, it is something that the saints have to add to their faith to complete their justification. They call this, “already-but not yet.”
This statement poses an unnecessary either/or scenario. It would be like asking whether election makes our eternal destination certain OR must sinners believe the gospel. Of course the answer to such questions is “YES!” Justification is God’s judicial declaration about believers, all the conditions of which Jesus has satisfied. The saints can add nothing to his work to complete their justification. Jesus paid it all. We do not call this the “already/not yet.” An example of the already/not yet would be “In Christ we are ALREADY glorified because we are united to him who is glorified, but we are NOT YET glorified in our experience as we will be when he returns.”

7. Proponents of synergistic sanctification are mistaken. No, Calvinists think they are lost and promote a false gospel.

This would, of course, depend on the definition of “synergistic sanctification.” If, by this term, we understand the biblical truth that both the Spirit and the saint are involved in the process of sanctification, we don’t even believe it is errant, much less that those who propound it are promoting a false gospel. John Murray would be considered by most to be a Calvinist. This is what he wrote about what would generally be referred to as “synergistic sanctification.”

While we are constantly dependent upon the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit, we must also take into account of the fact that sanctification is a process that draws within its scope the conscious life of the believer. The sanctified are not passive or quiescent in this process. Nothing shows this more clearly than the exhortation of the apostle: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2: 12, 13). . .God’s working in us is not suspended because we work, nor our working suspended because God works. Neither is the relation strictly one of co-operation as if God did his part and we did ours so that the conjugation or coordination of both produced the required result. God works in us and we also work. But the relation is that because God works we work. All working out of salvation on our part is the effect of God’s working in us, not the willing to the exclusion of the doing and not the doing to the exclusion of the willing, but both the willing and the doing. And this working of God is directed to the end of enabling us to will and to do that which is well pleasing to him. . . .The more persistently active we are in working, the more persuaded we may be that all the energizing grace and power is of God.

8. Spiritual growth is about change. Absolutely not. Calvinists believe we experience manifestations of Christ as we live by faith alone.

There is no question that the Westminster Confession of Faith is a Calvinistic confession. In answering this accusation, I can do no better than to simply quote its statement on sanctification. The Westminster Theologians wrote:

1. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
2. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
3. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds a great deal like growth and change to me.

9. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is only imputed for our justification. No, they believe it is imputed to our sanctification as well.

The best way to answer this accusation is simply to say that it reveals Paul’s lack of understanding of justification and sanctification. Imputation belongs to a judicial realm and is only appropriate to justification. The concern of sanctification has nothing to do with imputation. Instead, it is concerned with the elimination of internal and external sin from the believer’s life. Justification is concerned with righteousness; sanctification is concerned with purity of heart and life. Justification is a legal declaration about the believer. God’s work in justification is totally outside the believer. God’s work of sanctification [progressive] is totally within the believer.

10. We should learn what the Bible teaches and apply it to our lives. No, they believe we should look for the cross in every verse which results in Christ manifestations in the Spirit realm. They call this, “the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event.”

Wrong again. Of course we believe in applying what the Bible teaches to our lives. It is only that we believe the Bible is more about what Jesus has done than it is about what we are doing. Our application of biblical injunctions is based on the reality that we have, by Jesus’ redemptive work, been set free from our bondage to sin. This is what we mean by imperative command being grounded in the indicative event. Indicative–You have been freed from your slavery—Imperative–Stop living like slaves.

11. Calvinists don’t believe in absolution. Not so. Calvin believed Christians need a perpetual forgiveness of sins that can only be found in the church. Augustine and Luther propagated this as well.

Of course, Calvinists believe in absolution as do Arminians and Semi-pelagians . Absolution simply means “an absolving , or setting free from guilt, sin, or penalty; forgiveness of an offense. What we don’t believe is that such absolution can be conferred by anyone but God.

As to Calvin’s teachings, one must understand that Calvinists are no more followers of Calvin than Arminians are followers of Arminius. Most Calvinists have greater disagreement with Calvin that agreement. For example, very few if any modern Calvinists would advocate burning heretics or witches. I know of few Calvinists who would advocate the wedding of Church and State [there are some Theonomists who would come close. Since our views of ecclesiology would radically differ from his, some of his statements concerning forgiveness in the church etc. sound strange to our ears. Remember that in Calvin’s construct, being outside the Church was to be an unbelieving heretic. Everyone who was a citizen of the city was also a member of the Church. The only kind of person who was outside the church had been excommunicated as an unbeliever. Thus, for him, forgiveness was to be found in the Church. For him, that would be the same as saying forgiveness belongs to believers [and in his case, probably to their covenant children].
Additionally, we always need to keep in mind the context in which Calvin wrote. His controversies and his opponents were not ours. Often his remarks, taken out of their historical context can sound strange to our ears.
The quotation to which Paul D. makes reference here is from Calvin’s Commentary on 1 John 1. It is as follows:

Secondly, this passage shews that the gratuitous pardon of sins is given us not only once, but that it is a benefit perpetually residing in the Church, and daily offered to the faithful. For the Apostle here addresses the faithful; as doubtless no man has ever been, nor ever will be, who can otherwise please God, since all are guilty before him; for however strong a desire there may be in us of acting rightly, we always go haltingly to God. Yet what is half done obtains no approval with God. In the meantime, by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God. Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God.
By saying, from all sin, he intimates that we are, on many accounts, guilty before God; so that doubtless there is no one who has not many vices. But he shews that no sins prevent the godly, and those who fear God, from obtaining his favor. He also points out the manner of obtaining pardon, and the cause of our cleansing, even because Christ expiated our sins by his blood; but he affirms that all the godly are undoubtedly partakers of this cleansing.
The whole of his doctrine has been wickedly perverted by the sophists; for they imagine that pardon of sins is given us, as it were, in baptism. They maintain that there only the blood of Christ avails; and they teach, that after baptism, God is not otherwise reconciled than by satisfactions. They, indeed, leave some part to the blood of Christ; but when they assign merit to works, even in the least degree, they wholly subvert what John teaches here, as to the way of expiating sins, and of being reconciled to God. For these two things can never harmonize together, to be cleansed by the blood of Christ, and to be cleansed by works: for John assigns not the half, but the whole, to the blood of Christ.
The sum of what is said, then, is, that the faithful know of a certainty, that they are accepted by God, because he has been reconciled to them through the sacrifice of the death of Christ. And sacrifice includes cleansing and satisfaction. Hence the power and efficiency of these belong to the blood of Christ alone.
Please notice what he is arguing against. It is not that justification is a once for all declaration of the believer’s righteousness on the basis of Christ redeeming works. He is arguing against the sophists–
The whole of his doctrine has been wickedly perverted by the sophists; for they imagine that pardon of sins is given us, as it were, in baptism. They maintain that there only the blood of Christ avails; and they teach, that after baptism, God is not otherwise reconciled than by satisfactions. They, indeed, leave some part to the blood of Christ; but when they assign merit to works, even in the least degree, they wholly subvert what John teaches here, as to the way of expiating sins, and of being reconciled to God. For these two things can never harmonize together, to be cleansed by the blood of Christ, and to be cleansed by works: for John assigns not the half, but the whole, to the blood of Christ.

He is arguing not that believers must be justified every day, but that our justification is based not on the blood of Christ and our works, but on the blood of Christ alone.

We Calvinists believe in a perpetual forgiveness, not a repetitive justification. We do not believe we must be justified again every time we sin. We do believe that Jesus, in his intercessory ministry presents the efficacy of his once for all sacrifice before the throne of God’s grace for our perpetual forgiveness.

12. Christ works within us. Only BY faith, and faith only exists in the object that it is placed in. Calvinists believe that when the work of Christ moves from outside of us to inside of us that it makes “sanctification the ground of our justification.” The contemporary doctrinal term for Calvinism is “the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us.”

I will give Paul the benefit of the doubt here. I could accuse him of deliberately misquoting but perhaps he is just being sloppy. Perhaps I am mistake, but I believe the quotation to which he is alluding is from John Piper. Piper wrote, “When the ground of justification moves from Christ outside of us to the work of Christ inside of us, the gospel (and the human soul) is imperiled. It is an upside down gospel.”
Please note that Piper is talking about the GROUND or BASIS of justification. He is not discussing whether God works in believers. The issue is whether we are declared righteous because we are righteous, or because another’s righteousness is imputed to us. To suggest that God justifies us because we are righteous is to return to Rome. To use this quote to suggest that Piper believes God does not work in believers is disingenuous as best.
In our day there are many voices teaching many confusing and contradictory doctrines. How are we do discern what is truth and what is error? Let me close by making a few suggestions.

1. Examine everything in the light of Scripture.
2. Don’t trust anyone who refuses to define his terms.
3. Don’t trust anyone who is unwilling to provide quotations of his opponent’s position in context.
4. Read what is actually being said, not what someone tells you is being said.
5. If you are dealing with a confessional group like Calvinists, go to their confessions. Although confessions are not authoritative in the higher sense of that term, they can give you an accurate statement of their beliefs.
6. Don’t trust anyone who wants to tell you what you believe. If a person can’t state your position to your satisfaction before commenting on it, reject them.
7. Don’t trust anyone else’s research. Always search matters for yourself.

24
Feb
13

The Bonfire–Straw Man Argument #6

Today’s prize goes to a woman who calls herself “trust4himonly.” Her comment occurred over at expreacherman.com. The nifty think about their blog is they can tell all the prodigious lies they wish, but don’t allow comments that disagree with their slanderous statements. Her comments are basically a mindless regurgitation of Paul Dohse’s enigmatic pronouncements. He has little idea what he is talking about and his followers are even more clueless. Even after being told numerous times that he is misrepresenting the Calvinistic position, he continues to spew his vitriolic comments. Since he has been told so often that he is misrepresenting our position, I can only conclude his persistence in doing so is a deliberate and malicious act. I only say this to warn you about him, much like I would warn you about a mad dog in the street. He cannot be taken seriously by anyone who understands what we really believe, but for those who depend on him to tell them the truth, his comments can be extremely damaging. The following is what she wrote:

Calvinists look at Christ being outside the picture of the believer then [rather than?] being inside of the believer (this is the reason you do not hear of the Holy Spirit being in taught in the context of molding and shaping within the believer). Everything is in the context of the “Christian” not being fully saved until they have persevered in the faith- which means this is an oxymoron because they contradict themselves continually by saying that only one can rely on Christ for that salvation. Calvinists are really no different then [from] the Arminianist [Arminian] (even though they would aggressively disagree) because they view a work that must be done instead a ONE TIME justification based on Christs death and ressurrection. The Calvinist believes that Jesus Christ had to live a life of perfect obedience and [is] STILL obeying for us so that we could be saved.

I have written quite a lot on this blog that answers many of the issues she has raised. I would simply refer you to my posts about “progressive justification,” “the gospel,” and “the imputation of Christ’s righteousness,” to learn what I believe. I believe my views on these issues are consistent with the classic Calvinistic position.

The Westminster Confession of Faith States

Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

Let me simply list the issues I believe she is raising and then briefly comment on them.

1 “Calvinists look at Christ being outside the picture of the believer then [rather than?] being inside of the believer.”
This erroneous statement is likely based on Mr Dohse’s misinterpretation of Calvinistic statements about the basis of the believer’s justification. That believers are not justified based infused grace or internal righteousness, but on a righteousness that is not theirs being imputed to their account does not mean God does nothing in believers or that “Christ is outside the believer.” Salvation involves more than justification. To say that the judicial declaration the Scriptures refer to as justification as a declaration outside of us, does not mean every work of God is outside of us.

2. “this is the reason you do not hear of the Holy Spirit being in taught in the context of molding and shaping within the believer.”

I am not sure what brand of Calvinism she has been exposed to, but most Calvinist pastors I know are committed to expository preaching. Typically, such pastors deal with whatever text is before them. If the passage concerns the ministry of the Spirit, the message will expound the ministry of the Spirit. If the passage deals with the redemptive work of Christ, the message will concern his work etc. Calvinists have no aversion to teaching about the Holy Spirit.

3. “Everything is in the context of the “Christian” not being fully saved until they have persevered in the faith-”

Here, of course, whether this is a straw man argument depends on what she means by ” fully saved.” Typically, such people use “saved” and “justified” synonymously. If that is the sense in which she is using the word “saved,” her statement has no validity whatsoever. We believe sinners are as righteous in the sight of God the moment they first believe as they will ever be. In that sense, be believe the newest believer is “full saved.”

There is another sense in which she is right. We do not think believers are “fully saved” simply because we have been declared completely righteous. Paul speaks of our salvation being “nearer than when we believed” (See Romans 13:11). Also, in more than one passage he uses the present tense to describe our salvation. The present tense in Greek is intended to express continuing action. A good translation would be “being saved” (see 1 Cor. 1:18; 15:2). We have been saved from sin’s penalty; we have been saved from sin’s reigning power; but we have yet to be saved from remaining sin in us, and from the presence of sin around us. We have yet to be conformed to Christ’s glorious image. When we stand in his presence at last, wholly conformed to his image, we will stand there as those who are “more than conquerors, through him who loved us.”

4. “they view [justification as ?]a work that must be done instead a ONE TIME justification based on Christs death and ressurrection.

I would probably be willing to offer a huge reward to anyone who could show me a Calvinist who believes our justification is based on anything other than the redemptive work of Christ. If you have any doubt about what we believe on this subject, please refer to the Westminster Confession above.

5. “The Calvinist believes that Jesus Christ had to live a life of perfect obedience and [is] STILL obeying for us so that we could be saved.”

Though we do believe Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to the Law and, thus, provided for those united to him by faith a perfect righteousness, we do not believe he is STILL obeying for us. The period of his obedience is over. The period of his sojourn under the Law has come to an end. His current ministry is one of intercession in which he applies his finished work to his people.

20
Feb
13

The Bonfire–Straw man argument #5

Tracking down “straw man” stuffers and burners is a target-rich environment. I have seldom seen such vitriol spewed by those who claim to be fellow believers in Christ as I have found on several of the blog sites I have visited. My suspicion is that not one of them has ever read anything a Calvinist has written. One almost gets the impression they haven’t studied the Scriptures very much either. I have not yet seen one of them offer an exegetically sound argument to prove their positions. It appears they are content to gather around their bonfire and toss their straw men into the fire. In our search for such “straw man burners, today’s prize goes to—
Kenneth Groenewald | February 11, 2013 at 8:41 am |

(Posted at http://www.expreacherman.com)

He wrote,

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Cor4:4. The Calvinists would have us believe that it is God who blinds the minds of the unbelievers and not Satan. The Calvinists have created an Ogre for their God who blinds the minds of the unbelievers so that He prevents them from ever being saved. Sick.

On the page where I found this comment, I left a request for some kind of substantiating citation from a real Calvinist, but, of course, my comment wasn’t posted. I don’t think it is too much to ask to request a real quotation of a person’s actual remarks. Who is the phantom Calvinist who makes all these wild statements that no other Calvinists seem to believe? If only we could get recorded statements or excerpts from his writings, perhaps we could show him the error of his ways.

The truth is, no such Calvinist exists. No Calvinist “would have us believe that it is God who blinds the minds of unbelievers.” No Calvinist would have us believe “God. . .prevents them [sinners] from ever being saved.” We believe sinners are blind by sinful nature. Through Satan’s (the god of this age) temptation, Adam, the representative of all in him, fell into sin, and thus all his offspring became bind in unbelief. In this way, the god of this age has blinded those who believe not. It would be unnecessary for God to blind anyone, even if he wished to do so. Sinners are blind already. It is the work of God’s Anointed One to open the eyes of the blind, not to close them (See Isa. 35:5; 42:7). God never prevents anyone being saved who wishes to be saved. He delights in showing mercy to sinners (See Micah 7:18).

It is true, God blinds sinners as an act of judgment (See Isa. 6:9-10) and John 12:39-40), but he does so in the sense that he judicially determines to leave them in their blindness due to their persistent unbelief in the face of abundant revelation (cf. John 12:37). Still, this is not a belief that is exclusively Calvinistic, but the belief of anyone who believes the teaching of Scripture.

09
Feb
13

The Bonfire–Daily Straw Man

I thought it might be interesting and informative to consider each day one of the many “straw man” arguments we encounter in various blogger’s comments. I suspect I will not soon run out of material since these comments are abundant. It seems that dealing with real issues is beyond the intelligence level of most of these folks. Or perhaps they are just too lazy actually to investigate what others truly believe. If is far easier to sling mud than to present a real argument. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “What a wonderful deed has been made by some men in burning figures of their own stuffing. How earnestly do they set themselves to confute what no one defends.”

Today, I read a comment in which the blogger affirmed that Calvinists believe that to think about murdering someone is equal to actually committing murder.

Calvinists don’t believe and teach that hating someone and wanting to kill them is as bad as actually killing them. What we do believe is that both are sin, and all sin is mortal sin. All sin is equally damning, but all sin is not equally damaging. This is a far cry from saying both the thought and the act are equally sinful.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” Matt 5: 21-22).

Our interpretation of these verses means we cannot argue that since we have thought it, we may as well go ahead and do it, since the thought is equal to the deed. It does, however, deny the idea that since I have only thought it, I am not guilty since I have not actually committed the act. God considers the intention of the heart as well as my outward actions.