Posts Tagged ‘Salvation by Grace alone.


The Nature of God’s Saving Work

God’s ultimate purpose in the work of salvation as in the works of creation and providence is the manifestation of his own glory but the end of his work of salvation itself  is the restoration of what Adam lost when he sinned in the garden. The reason the apostle Paul was so excited about preaching the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles was that he knew the gospel was God’s prescription for dealing with the problems of the sinful human condition that the fall had caused.
God’s method of putting sinners right with himself is the only one that can adequately deal with the sinner’s deep need. Paul tells us that God’s redemptive work is necessary because God’s wrath is being revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress his truth in unrighteousness.
When he speaks about God’s wrath, we are not to understand him to be talking about God losing control in a fit of rage but about God’s settled indignation against sin and sinners. It is the only reaction an infinitely holy God can have toward sin and sinners.
There are two basic problems that sin has caused and that God has purposed the gospel to correct. The first is that sinners are ungodly and the second is that sinners are unrighteous. Ungodliness concerns a wrong relationship with God, a failure to obey the first great commandment, and unrighteousness concerns a wrong relationship with other people, a failure to obey the second great commandment. Every problem we encounter in our relationship with other people is a direct reflection of our failure to love God as we ought. Though it is not true that all our human relationship issues will automatically be remedied if we love God as we ought, it is true that we have no basis for repairing human relationships until we are rightly related to God and love him as he has commanded.
It is also important that we notice that the gospel is not only about pardon or even primarily about pardon. Justification is a means to an end. People who sense their guilt do not approach God in worship. People who feel their guilt do not love God. This is why justification must occur at the beginning of a person’s spiritual life and not at the end. God does not declare sinners righteous after a lifetime of learning to obey him, love him and worship him. We would never love him, worship him and obey him as long as we continued under a burden of guilt. The writer of the Book of Hebrews made this point quite well when based his exhortation to come with confidence before the throne of grace on the great truth that we have a Great Priest who has passed through the visible heavens and now appears as intercessor for his believing people in the very presence of God.
Not only is it true that God’s saving work is intended to remedy the breach between both God and our fellow man, but it is also intended to remedy two great problems that sin has caused. Much of modern day evangelism has concentrated exclusively on one of those problems alone. The message is usually couched in terms of God forgiving us so we can go to heaven when we die but says very little about remedying our corruption and restoring our fellowship with God so that we can glorify him, be thankful to him, and worship him supremely.
In Romans chapter one, verses twenty-one through twenty-three, Paul has outlined the problems God intends to correct through his saving work. Although they knew God as he has revealed himself in the creation around them, they did not glorify him as God and they were not thankful to him. Because their foolish hearts were darkened, they opted to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. It is God’s intention in redeeming sinners to restore our ability to reflect his glorious attributes and worship him out of profound gratitude.
We must not forget that in Jesus’ parable about the lost son, the Father received him back into his fellowship both safe and sound (Luke 15:27). A message that concentrates only on the sinner’s safety if a half gospel. August Toplady expressed this idea well when he wrote, “Let the water and the blood/From your wounded side which flowed/Be of sin the double cure/Save from wrath and make me pure.”
J. C. Ryle 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).

Prodigious Misrepresentation Ought to be a Crime!

I must confess my inability to understand how some bloggers can find what they find in the statements others have made. What is an even greater mystery to me is how those who read their blogs can think they have such great insight. If you think I have great insight because I can see in someone’s statement something you can’t see, it is likely that I have simply misinterpreted the statement. I spent months debating with a certain blogger over his misinterpretations of statements made by “New Calvinists.” I continued commenting on that blog as long as I did in an effort to help some who might be reading his bilge and being deceived by it. I finally came to realize I was fighting a losing battle.

Please understand I don’t claim to be a New Calvinist. There are a number of elements within that movement I find to be disturbing. What I find more disturbing are the statements made by their detractors that have no resemblance to reality whatsoever. Let me give you just one example. This time, the quote is not from a New Calvinist but from Calvin himself. Calvin wrote, “D: “In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul says not that the beginning of salvation is of grace, ‘but by grace are ye saved,’ ‘not of works, lest any man should boast’ (Eph 2:8,9).”

As I read Calvin’s statement, his meaning is clearly that all of salvation, from eternity to eternity, is by the grace of God, and for that reason, boasting is excluded.

The blog Guru found the following in Calvin’s statement:

“Calvin is clearly making sanctification part of the justification/salvation process. He makes no distinction between God’s grace in sanctification and justification. The grace of God based on the works of Christ to declare us righteous is not a finished work, though Christ Himself said it was.”

His statement contains the following elements:

1. Calvin is making sanctification part of the justification/salvation process.

My response: Which is it, “the justification ‘process,’” or “the salvation process?” His huge blunder here is that he fails to distinguish between justification and salvation. One, justification, is a decisive, legal declaration about believers based on the redemptive work of Christ alone; the other, salvation, describes all God’s salvific activity from eternity to eternity. Salvation does indeed involve a process; justification does not.

2. Calvin is confusing [or “fusing”, to use one of the Guru’s favorite terms] justification and sanctification.

My response: For Calvin to state that not only the beginning of salvation but its entirety is by God’s grace does not involve a conflation of justification and sanctification at all. If I should say, “My life is has been comprised of four stages, infancy, childhood, adulthood, and old age,” would anyone think I was confusing infancy with adulthood? Of course not! How could anyone ever think that saying all the multifaceted aspects of salvation are by the grace of God conflate or fuses those aspects?

3. Calvin is saying Christ’s redemptive work is not finished. “The grace of God based on the works of Christ to declare us righteous is not a finished work, though Christ Himself said it was.”

My response: This statement confuses Christ’s accomplishment of redemption with the application of that redeeming work. First, Calvin’s statement makes no reference at all to the issue of the completion/non-completion of Christ’s work of redemption. The truth is, the grace of God, by which I would understand the application of Christ’s finished work, is not finished and will never be finished as long as we live. Jesus never said the application of his redeeming work was finished. I, for one, am grateful it isn’t.

This is my point; don’t buy into everything you read on the various blogs you visit. Put everything to the test. Analyze statements for yourself to determine if they are saying what is claimed. If they are not, have the courage to confront the accuser graciously and patiently but firmly. “Gurus” like this are doing damage to the cause of God and truth.