Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Friday, November 25, 2005

To my Blog Readers: Delay Because of Illness

To all those who have been frequenting my blog: I thank you very much. My next installment of my series in James is halfway done.

Sickness has hit my family very hard. I had contracted the influenza virus and it hit me like I have never experienced in over 12 years. My little children have been hit also. Your prayers are appreciated.

I am still recovering from the dread effects, yet I haven't missed a day of work, and it is taking its toll.

So I am with you all in Spirit, and I will be with you all in writing very soon!

Antonio da Rosa

Sunday, November 20, 2005

James 2:14ff : Who Was James Writing to? (Post 2)

In every epistle of the New Testament, there was an intended audience the writer was focusing on. My contention is that there is not a single letter in the New Testament that was not written specifically and only to be applied for those who through faith in Christ have been regenerated. When we view the writers' own descriptions of the intended audience of their epistles, we usually meet up with at least 2 categories distinguishing the addressees: location and positional sanctification.

For instance, the book of Romans was addressed to the saints in Rome (Romans 1:7). 1 Corinthians was written to the church in Corinth, and more specifically to "those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1 Cor 1:2). The examples could be multiplied.

But we are considering the book of James. Why is the knowledge of the intended audience in James important to our study? Lordship Salvation advocates insist that the purpose of James 2:14ff is to give test to the readers of his epistle to confirm or not if they are "truly" saved by considering their works, which they say must accompany faith for ultimate salvation. Was this the intention of James? If it can be shown that James was taking for granted that his intended audience was indeed born-again, would this not be a strike against the Lordship Salvation position? We will now consider the audience of James.

James 1:1 indicates that his audience was Jewish and scattered abroad:

James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.

While offering important information, this passage by itself does not answer the vital question of whether or not James is addressing born-again believers in Christ. To answer this question definitively the oft-repeated phrases "my beloved brethren" and "my brethren" in the epistle require contextual definition.

The phrase "my beloved brethren" appears three times: James 1:16, 1:19, and 2:5. The first two usages frame verse eighteen, which in turn serves to define "my beloved brethren".

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. . . . 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear. . .

James 1:18 speaks of regeneration, using a term commonly associated with procreation, "brought forth". The “you” implied in the use of the second person plural imperative in both 1:16 and 1:19 is a subset of us or we in verse 1:18. The vocative "my beloved brethren" specifically defines the implied uses of “you” in each verse. In these three verses, James’ use of pronouns, the imperative mood, and vocatives indicates that both we and us include “you”: In other words, we (“you and I”) are beloved brethren, because God, our Father brought us (“you and me”) forth by the word of truth. James does not call the readers beloved brethren because they are fellow Jews, but because they are regenerate brethren in the Lord.

The third usage of the phrase "my beloved brethren" occurs in the midst of an exhortation against partiality, James 2:1–13. James begins his exhortation:

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. (James 2:1)

The vocative "my brethren" occurs twelve times throughout the epistle. This usage in James 2:1 is followed in the same context with the vocative "my beloved brethren" in 2:5:

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

Clearly, the phrase my brethren is an equivalent to my beloved brethren not only within this specific exhortation, but also within the Epistle of James as a whole.

Putting these evidences together reveals a complete picture: Those that James addresses in his epistle are born-again Jews scattered abroad, who like James share the same Father. The apostle James not only wrote to eternally secure believers, but his certainty that they possess the greatest of God’s good and perfect gifts (1:17), regeneration by God (1:18) underlies his exhortations to apply the doctrine that they, in fact, do believe.

In case anyone needs more proof, consider James 4:5:

Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain,"The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously? (James 4:5)

which contains a strong rebuke to believers who are not applying the word. It would seem that they have no works, but the Spirit indwells them.

The problems that James describes in his epistle are problems that apply to his "beloved brethren", people with the indwelling Spirit of God. Again, the various theological models of James need to come to grips with the text, rather than superimposing their theology onto the book.

Question : Who was the passage in James 2:14ff written for?

Answer: Born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

This consideration will be important as we move on in the study of James 2:14ff.

[Much of this article was taken from John Niemela, Faith Without Works, a Definition: http://chafer.edu/journal/back_issues/v6n2_1.pdf]

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Introduction on Series in James 2:14ff (Post 1)

The Epistle of James is a beautifully constructed Christian letter written by an author with a pastor's heart. The writer is a skilled communicator. His style is both terse and graphic, employing a wide range of effective illustrations. As an indispensable element of the NT canon, the letter's profound substance renders invalid Luther's initial evaluation of the work as a "right strawy epistle." The Book of James is the voice of a great Christian leader whose grasp of the spiritual life and of the human nature is equal to any in the canon of NT Scripture. The modern church ignores James's immensely practical admonitions at its own peril.

Yet in the church community itself, battle lines have been drawn in a war of words fought to properly define the saving message of Christ. The stakes are high in this conflict. The eternal destinies of men and women hang in the balance of an accurate and rightly understood gospel proclamation. The solemn admonition of Paul:

Gal 1:6-9
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

The propogators of false 'gospels' rightly fall under the curse of God. For whether the broadcasting of their perverted message is sincere and unintentional or flagrant and malicious the results are the same: the innumerable casualties of the hearers.

Much of the current debate centers on the issues of faith and works. One side believes that the eternal salvation that Jesus offers is received Absolutely Free! through the intermediate agency of faith alone in Christ alone. The other position forcefully states that mere faith alone is insufficient to appropriate eternal life. Their contention is that what saves is a faith that is not alone apart from works.

I am not hesitant to explain how the opposing side elucidates their stance with sophistication. Although I admit that they claim the mantra "faith alone in Christ alone," the logical conclusions of their theology mitigate against against a simple understanding of that phrase.

I assert that, what I will henceforth call Lordship Salvation, requires the added contingent element of obedient works in order to ultimately gain salvation. How can they do this and still, with out much offending of conscience, retain some allegiance to "Sole Fide" and "Sole Christo"?

This they do in one or both of two ways:

1) The impregnation of the word "faith". I call this the "kitchen-sink" method. What those who espouse Lordship Salvation (from here on LS) do is to introduce into the semantic value of the word "faith" the very idea of works! One of the many dozens of quotes from John MacArthur, advocate of LS, should suffice : "A concept of faith that excludes obedience corrupts the message of salvation" (TGAtJ, 174).

Here we see that the radical redefinition of faith makes works necessary for salvation.

2) The exercise of faith necessarily results in perseverance in a life characterized by works until the end. If such a one fails to persevere, hell is his destiny. For a great discussion of this very theme, refer to here and here (posts on my blog).

An interesting quote by John Piper illustrates this very point: "...we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith." (John Piper "TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism...", pg 25).

James 2:14ff has long been understood by those advocating LS to teach these things. This passage has been religiously used by them to silence and bludgeon their opposition.

I am proposing a series on James pertaining to his writing on the relationship to faith and works. This post serves as an introduction to this study.

James is not addressing the issue of the eternal destiny of his readership! Although this famous passage is often taken that way, this approach actually rips James's text out of the larger context in which it is found. It introduces into the text a concern which James did not have here at all, and ignores the fact of his intended readership's regeneration.

To get the subject wrong, of course, is to misunderstand James's entire text and to create a false theology about which James knew nothing at all. If this sounds too strong, it is not. The damage done to the Christian Church by an incorrect understanding of James 2:14ff has been incalculable. It also betrays superficial thought and study, not only of the passage itself, but also of the entire epistle.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Death that Christ Died and its Purpose

The death Christ died is either a satisfaction for the sins of some men (Limited Atonement) or a satisfaction (in one sense or another) for the sins of all men without exception. It cannot be the former because the Scriptures say it was a satisfaction for the sins of the world:

1 John 2:2 "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."

John 1:29 "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

Now this satisfaction for all must either be provisional or actual. Here it is to be noted that the 4 pt modified Dispensationalist Calvinists (those who do not believe in the L of TULIP) say that Christ's death was provisional for all men (the satisfaction contingent upon faith in Christ) and the 5 pter says that it was actual (yet limited only to the elect). I do not at all believe that his death was merely provisional, for then the passages that say it is a satisfaction must be qualified to mean it is only provisionally a satisfaction (which they DO NOT). Let us not jump too hastily into a false dilemma! There are not just these two options: provisional (for those who believe) or actual (but limited only for the elect).

The Calvinist believes that the death of Christ is an actual satisfaction but limited to the elect only.

I believe the Bible clearly teaches that the death of Christ is an actual satisfaction and this for the whole world, but it had a limited intent. The intent of Christ's death was to completely satisfy the justice of God in a limited and specific sense. Christ's death has freed God to unconditionally accept those who believe. It has completely taken sin out of the way as a barrier to His acceptance of the sinner. The purpose of Christ’s death was to remove all barriers to God's acceptance of the sinner. God's justice is now satisfied in the sense that He can now confer acceptance upon those sinners who believe.

The death of Christ was designed to satisfy the justice of God in the sense of freeing Him to unconditionally accept those who believe in Christ. God is not obligated by Christ's death to save anyone. He is freed by it to save whomever He pleases. And from what we read in 1 Cor 1:21, "it pleased God ... to save those who believe."

In John's well-known description of the Final Judgement, we do not even find a reference to sins. Instead we are told, "the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books" (Rev 20:12). To be sure the works of unsaved people contain innumerable sins, but it is still significant that sin per se is not referred to, as I intend to point out in a moment.

Yet even though unsaved people are judged on the basis of their works, they are not condemned to hell on that basis! On the contrary we read, "And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:15). People go to hell, therefore, because they do not have life!

This is precisely what we might have concluded from the theme statement of the Fourth Gospel: "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31). It is also evident in John 5:24 where our Lord states that the believer "shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life". We must conclude, therefore, that the possession of life is the critical issue between God and man in terms of eternal judgment. There is no final judgment to determine one’s eternal destiny if he already possesses life.

Sin is not the critical issue. Why not? John's own writings tell us why. Jesus is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". Jesus paid it all!

So marvelously complete and full is the sacrificial death of Christ for our sins that it satisfied fully God’s justice and no man is condemned to hell on the grounds of his sins. But by the same token, the cross of Christ does not automatically regenerate men and women. They still need to obtain life and this is available to them on one basis only: faith in Christ.

Thus one can see that the issue at the final judgment is not man’s sin, since Christ has atoned for that in its entirety. Instead, the issue is whether someone can make it into the kingdom of God on the basis of the works they did on earth, apart from the miracle of new birth that comes by faith alone. But as the Lord Jesus informed Nicodemus, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

It is true that men go to hell unforgiven. There is in no sense of my position that Christ’s death forgave the sins of the world. No. It took them out of the way as the barrier to God’s unconditional acceptance of the sinner. Eternal life and the reconciliation that it brings is the one and only critical issue between God and man.

This is going to be difficult for many to chew based upon 1) never hearing or thinking about it this way and 2) that my contention is that sin isn’t the reason that men are condemned to hell. You must remember. There is no double payment for sins or double jeopardy. Christ paid for the sins of the world. The person in hell is not paying for his sins! He is there because he has not been reconciled to God; he is there because he has not been accepted by God; he is there because he does not have the gift of God’s own life, whereby which he can be accepted in His presence.


The Gospel of John is the only book in the whole biblical canon that has as its express, explicitly written purpose that of evangelism (John 20:30,31). The rest of the New Testament is written is written to believers (arguably, the synoptics were written to believers to teach them the history of their Savior and give them the principles of discipleship under Jesus). The epistles were written to the "saints" in the churches.

It is often overlooked that the Fourth Gospel is functionally silent about forgiveness. I say functionally, because there is one reference to forgiveness in John’s Gospel, and it is found in John 20:23. In the statement made there, Jesus is speaking to the apostles after His resurrection and
He says, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Obviously, whatever this text means, it does not plainly declare that forgiveness of sins is
received by faith alone. And since John 20:23 is the only reference, we may also say that nowhere in John’s Gospel is forgiveness of sins ever offered on the basis of faith alone. But by contrast, eternal life is offered on that basis over and over again!

Let us therefore restate what is obvious from these facts: 1) John is not interested in the subject of forgiveness in his Gospel apart from the one unusual passage referred to above. Of course, he was interested in this subject as such, but not for the purpose for which he wrote his Gospel. That purpose was to bring people to faith and eternal life (John 20:30, 31). We might therefore legitimately conclude from this that in terms of man’s eternal destiny, the real issue is not forgiveness but eternal life. This inference, again, is confirmed by John’s own description of the final judgment of the lost in Revelation 20:11–14, which we have already discussed above.

This post is not meant to belittle the forgiveness of sins. The positional and eternal forgiveness of sins is attendent with the many blessings that come to us when one appropriates the absolutely free gift of eternal life through faith alone in Christ alone. It is meant to show that the forgiveness of sins, per se, is not the critical issue between God and man. This, I have labored to show, is the issue of life.


For more on this subject see Zane Hodges "Harmony with God: a Fresh Look at Repentance" (2001, Redencion Viva)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Eternal Security is Christ's Guarantee and is Necessarily Integral to the Saving Message of Christ

Jesus Christ has an intended guaranteed gift to the believer in Him: the immediate and present posession of eternal life. To believe on Jesus for anything else will not necessarily bring to the believer that which he has believed on Jesus for. For instance, many people believe in Jesus for many things: for temporal deliverance, for positive answered prayer, just to name a few. Yet, to the unregenerate, Jesus only guarantees one gift when a person has believed in Him for it, and that gift is the present possesion of eternal security; eternal life.

It is faith in Christ and His promise of said guaranteed intended gift that brings eternal life and assurance of it. My contention is that when Jesus is trusted for anything else but the intended gift of eternal security, that person does not appropriate eternal life. If they are trusting in Jesus for a gift that will take their perseverance to finally attain, they are not trusting in Jesus for the intended guaranteed gift of the gospel message. Therefore they lack eternal life.

Christ is trusted for the gift. The gift must be known, because faith in Christ must be purposeful for the intended results. Jesus has an intended gift that He guarantees. This gift is the immediate possesion of eternal security.

None of us would admit that faith alone in Jesus alone for the gift of, lets say, a donkey, would bring that particular gift, would we? Why would it not? Because that is not the gift that Jesus gives. There is only one gift that Jesus Christ guarantees to the believer in Him for it: eternal security. If someone is believing in Him for anything else but eternal security, they might as well be believing in Him for a donkey. Our faith in Jesus must be for the purpose that He has prescribed.

Reiteration: Many people believe in Jesus for many things: positive answered prayer or deliverance from temporal difficulties, etc. Jesus does not guarantee those things based upon faith alone in Him alone.

When we talk to potential converts concerning the ability, readiness, willingness and authority of Jesus to guarantee eternal life, we tell them that it is faith alone in Jesus for the purpose of receiving eternal life that they appropriate eternal life. It is the purposeful faith for the intended guaranteed gift of Christ's saving message (which is the present and immediate possesion of eternal security). Jesus does not guarantee anything to the unregenerate received by faith alone in Him other than the gift of the immediate possesion of eternal life.

If we are believing in Jesus for anything else BUT eternal security, then we aren't believing in Jesus for the gift that He offers, for that gift is nothing else but the immediate possesion of eternal security. Faith in Jesus for a donkey, faith in Jesus for an "eternal" life that may be taken away, faith in Jesus for a partially merited "eternal" life that we contribute to, or faith in Jesus for eternal life that will come in the future based contingently upon our perseverance will not bring those things NOR Christ's intended gift of the immediate possesoin of eternal security. Going to Jesus (by faith alone in Him alone) for anything else but His intended guaranteed gift of eternal security is like going to an Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water vending machine for hemlock. It is manifestly evident that you will not receive hemlock out of a water vending machine. The only thing that the machine dispenses is water.


"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might still perish, but at least has eternal life for the time being." (Jn 3:16)

Is this a saving understanding of this verse?

"And I give them eternal life, and they might still perish; and someone might snatch them out of My hand." (Jn 10:28)

Is a hope-so confidence about living forever with Christ good enough?

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (Jn 4:10)

Does it really matter if you know what the gift is?

Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; and whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him might thirst again; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life, well maybe." (John 4:13-14)

Could it really be said that the woman believed Jesus if she reinterpreted His words in this manner?

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:25-26)

Does it really make any difference if you “believe this” (Christ's guarnatees)? Can you believe Jesus or believe in Jesus in the manner He describes without believing “this”? And what is “this,” but that the believer is guaranteed life?

There are other problems with ambivalence regarding assurance of the immediate and present possesion of eternal life. If you believe you might lose the life, then you believe that it is conditioned on linear faith. But if linear faith is rewardable, then it is meritorious. If it is meritorious, then it is a work. If this line of reasoning is accepted, then the logical conclusion of the matter is that you believe that you are saved by works if you believe that you can lose it.


Faith alone in Jesus alone will not save unless it is purposeful.

People could have faith alone in Jesus alone for a donkey. This would neither bring eternal life nor a donkey. Jesus does not guarantee a donkey when you believe in Him alone for a donkey, and He does not guarantee eternal life when you believe in Him for a donkey. Jesus says, "If you knew the gift of God and who says to you...". We are believing in Jesus FOR the immediate posseion of eternal life.

Do you see the enormity of the matter here? Many people have been fed the wrong gospel message! They have believed or are believing in Christ for something that He does not have nor dispenses! Their lack of understanding of the simple gospel message has subtly (yet fatally) turned the message of the absolutely free gift of the immediate and present possesion of eternal life by faith alone in Christ alone into a salvation that is contingent on perseverance in faith and obedience. The message they believe is neither the saving message of Christ nor is what they are believing in Christ for the intended guaranteed gift that He offers. Christ's gift is by GRACE through faith and is NOT contingent on perseverance.

Believing in Jesus does not start some kind of contract between God and the sinner that at the end of our lives, if we persevered, we will get eternal life. The believer in Jesus must know what He is believing in Jesus for. Each time that Jesus illicited faith in Himself, He gave the reason. The purpose for the faith is to receive, immediately, eternal life (which is eternal; can't be lost).

In the gospel of John, which is the only explicitly and expressly written book in the Bible written for the purpose of evangelism (John 20:31), the message of Jesus to the potential convert was that to believe in Him for eternal life was to guarantee their eternal destiny. To believe that you have eternal life, to believe in Jesus for eternal life, is to believe that you are eternally secure. If you do not believe that you have "eternal" life, "everlasting" life, if you do not believe you are saved at the moment of faith in Christ, then this reveals that you did not believe the saving message of Christ.

It is philosophically and logically impossible to believe the message of Christ and also believe that it is possible to lose your "salvation", for the guarantee of such is explicit in the gospel message, the saving message of Christ. Jesus in His message guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it. If you believe the message of Jesus you will by virtue of that faith, at that time, have absolute assurance of your eternal well-being. This is called assurance being of the essence of saving faith.

To believe one is "saved" is to believe just that, that they have been saved! If they believe that they can end up in hell, if they believe that they can perish, if they doubt that Jesus will raise them up, then how can they say that they have been truly saved? They can't. If they can't say that they have been saved, and have never truly been able to say that, then they haven't believed the message of Christ that saves. Faith in Christ for eternal life precludes the notion (at the moment of faith in Christ) that one thinks that they can potentially still end up perishing; still end up in hell.

Of course doubts may and most often do come later. That is why we grow in the faith. That is why we hide the Word in our hearts. That is why we progress in our disicpleship. I to this day haven't doubted my salvation is quite some time. Reason? I have grown and my faith in this aspect is strong. (I have many other issues I deal with, believe me, that I have weak faith, that I need growth in). People can and do get saved then fall under the false teachings of NOSAS (not once saved always saved).

If a person has never understood at one point in time (the point of punctilliar faith in Christ for eternal life) that they were saved (not saved after all you do, but presently saved), then they have not believed the message of Christ, for assurance is of the essence of saving faith. And this assurance is absolute, certain assurance that you WILL BE resurrected, that you ARE saved, that you HAVE eternal life, that you CAN NEVER perish, that you WILL NOT come into condemnation, and that NOONE can snatch you out of Christ's hands.

If the message is not about eternal security then it is a message about a "salvation" that is in some degree dependant upon the hearer, based upon some perseverance in faith, obedience, and good works; based upon some form of contract between the sinner and God.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Unguarded Quotes / Bear or Burn Theology

Here are a few quotes when some Calvinists let their guards down:

"Heaven can only be reached by continuing along the sole path that leads thither, namely, the 'Narrow Way.' Those who persevere not in faith and holiness, love and obedience, will assuredly perish" (A.W. Pink, "Eternal Security", chapter 3, online edition).

"There is a deadly and damnable heresy being widely propagated today to the effect that, if a sinner truly accepts Christ as his personal Saviour, no matter how he lives afterwards, he cannot perish. That is a satanic lie, for it is at direct variance with the teaching of the Word of truth. Something more than believing in Christ is necessary to ensure the soul's reaching heaven." (A.W. Pink as quoted by Iain H. Murray in "The Life of Arthur W. Pink" pgs 248-249)

"...we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith." (John Piper "TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism...", pg 25)

"I was asked the question about a year ago by a group of pastors in in Pennsylvania... 'What do you think is the one doctrine that is the most destructive in the life of the church...today? And I said, the doctrine of Eternal Security... God justifies, but man must have faith and he must obey.... Romans 2:13-14, when it says the one who obeys the law is justified, it means exactly that. That is not a hypothetical verse, ladies and gentlemen, the way many Protestants have read it. And when James 2:13-14 says, 'The doers of the law shall be justified,' it means the doers of the law shall be justified. That's why Paul and James are not in conflict...Let me suggest [also] Ephesians 2:8-10...We are saved unto good works. They're necessary consequential works. Without them there is no salvation. Right?" (John Armstrong "Reflections from Jonathan Edwards on the Current Debate over Justification by Faith Alone").

"Reader, if there is a reserve in your obedience, you are on the way to hell" (A.W. Pink, "Studies on Saving Faith" Part 2, online edition)

"Neither the members of the church nor the elect can be saved unless they persevere in holiness. And they cannot persevere in holiness without continual watchfulness and effort." (Charles Hodge, "A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians", pg 181)

When push comes to shove, Reformed theology conditions eternal life on works. That they say works are necessary as the inevitable result of saving faith conclusively shows that they consider works absolutely necessary for final salvation. Their insistence that it is a "required necessary result" is meant to mask what they truly believe, for, as the long quote from Joseph Dillow from His book "The Reign of the Servant Kings" will show (see below), a necessary result for which we are responsible is the same as a condition.

Piper says, "We are not saved by faith plus works but by a faith that works." "The faith that alone justifies is never alone." Salvation is absolutely free "but will cost you everything" (MacArthur).

(Begin Joseph Dillow "The Reign of the Servant Kings")
"When Reformed Theologians use such phrases as 'faith alone saves a man, but the faith that saves is not alone,' they are in fact unconsciously speaking nonsense. Terminology like "faith plus works does not save, but a faith that works does" is simply saying that faith plus works saves. The cleverness of the prose serves to conceal the fact. Proverbial sayings like this have been passed on in the theology textbooks for centuries. They seem to have explanatory power, and they certainly left opponents of the Reformed Theology system speechless, but in reality they are not only empty of meaning but contradictory. They are simply ways of saying that true faith necessarily results in works, but it is the faith, not the resulting works, which saves. This, however, is quite confusing. If the works are a necessary result of the faith and if a man cannot be saved without them, then the works, in fact, a condition for salvation. If they are not present, the man will perish. Necessary results for which we are responsible are the same as conditions.

A simple illustration may suffice here. "Consider the marriage requirements in this country. If a man is to get married, he must have a blood test. Now it is clear that someone could break the law or, perhaps, some state does not require this. However, the author shall create a fictional world where this is always true. Then we can say the condition of getting married is a mutual commitment to do so. Furthermore, the necessary and inevitable result of that commitment is a trip to the hospital to get a blood test. In addition, getting a blood test is a condition of getting married. A necessary result is no different than a condition! I could then observe to a friend that, “A blood test is a condition of getting married.” He may then say, “No, securing a blood test is not a condition of getting married but a necessary result of a commitment to get married.” But here now you may be able to see that the blood test is both a result and a condition."
(End Dillow)

So the same with works. If works are a necessary result of saving faith, and if those works aren’t present then the person doesn’t go to heaven (showing that he was never truly saved), then those works become a condition for that salvation.

Here is the real rub:

If there is no works, there is no heaven.

It could be termed : "Bear or Burn Theology" (works-contingent salvation)


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Reformed Theology: Works Necessary for Salvation

Gerstner and MacArthur make unBiblical separation between meritorious and non-meritorious works. There is no such distinction in the Bible.

Again, the gospel message of Reformed Theology makes faith and works necessary for salvation.

Understand why: It is because man is spiritually dead, and is regenerated by God apart from any response on the part of man, and because God’s purpose cannot be thwarted ("true" faith cannot fail to issue in works), that a saved person will inevitably and absolutely "persevere" in the faith. Thus, works, as an inevitable result, are necessary for salvation.

Yes, Reformed Theology advocates usually object to this by describing the gospel message as not "faith + works = justification," but "faith = justification + works." I submit that anyone with a basic knowledge of logic can easily demonstrate that these two end up in the same place.

In the first equation, faith alone does not lead to justification; works must be added. But in the second, once again faith alone does not lead to justification; if works do not follow, then there was no faith. This is no more than a word game. It is best seen in the old Calvinist saying: "You are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves you is never alone." Let me complete it: "You are saved by faith alone (apart from works), but the faith that saves you is never alone (apart from works)." This is internally inconsistent.

Suppose you go to a car lot to buy a used car, and purchase a car for $5,000. If you have the $5,000, you may pay it right then. If you don’t, the salesman may arrange a loan for you to pay it back over a period of years. But does the fact that you don’t pay anything up front mean that you got the car free? Absolutely not. You are paying for it—the payment is just an inevitable result of your buying the car. To paraphrase the Classical Calvinist saying: "You are a car-owner by signing a sales agreement alone (apart from any money changing hands), but the signing of a sales agreement by which you are a car-owner is never alone (apart from money changing hands)." If the money doesn’t change hands, you lose the car (this wording reflects Arminian theology; in Calvinist theology, you never had the car in the first place!).

So too it is foolishness to say that salvation is by faith alone, but that faith is not true faith unless it comes with works. Let’s be honest: this is salvation by works! And in unguarded moments Reformed Theologians often say exactly this.

Again! John Gerstner is one such theologian. He writes:

"From the essential truth that no sinner in himself can merit salvation, the antinomian draws the erroneous conclusion that good works need not accompany faith in the saint. The question is not whether good works are necessary to salvation, but in what way they are necessary. As the inevitable outworking of saving faith, they are necessary for salvation."

And again:

"Thus, good works may be said to be a condition for obtaining salvation in that they inevitably accompany genuine faith." (Wrongly Dividing..., 210)

The apostle Paul would never agree with this! In fact, he is precise on the distinction between faith and works. For example:

"Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (Rom 4:4-5).

In Galatians 2:16, with an eye toward the legalistic theology of the Judaizers, he writes:

"…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; for by the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified."

And again:

"…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5-6).

Of course, Lordship Salvation theologians know these Scriptures too. So how can they support works as necessary for salvation? They do it by creating two categories, non-meritorious works (works which inevitably result from salvation), and meritorious works (works which result in salvation). The former verify or validate one’s salvation; the latter, of course, are impossible.

These two categories of works result in comments like these from MacArthur:

"Meritorious works have nothing to do with faith. But faith works have everything to do with it…faith that does not produce works is dead faith, inefficacious faith. Faith that remains idle is no better than the faith the demons display." (MacArthur, Faith Works, 53)

Again on the same page:

"The believer himself contributes nothing meritorious to the saving process."

Later in the same book, he again writes:

"As we have seen time and time again in our study, meritorious works have no place in salvation." (Faith Works, 207)

Likewise Gerstner, in his book attacking dispensationalists, writes that virtually all dispensationalists do not see the elementary difference between non-meritorious "requirements," "conditions," "necessary obligations," "indispensable duties," and "musts," as the natural outworking of true faith, in distinction from faith in the Savior plus meritorious works as the very basis of salvation (Wrongly Dividing... 226).

Guilty as charged! I confess, I do not see this distinction in Scripture. In fact it isn’t there. It exists in Classical Calvinist/Lordship Salvation theology, but not in the Bible. Works are works; they either are or are not necessary for salvation. With the apostle Paul, I say they are not; we are saved "by grace…through faith…not of works" (Eph 2:8-9).


Monday, November 07, 2005

John Calvin and Reformed Assurance

Is it a sin of presumption in Calvinism to declare infallibly that one indeed has eternal life?

Every Calvinist author I have read will never say infallibly or certainly that they are saved. They state that they retain doubts, and really always will. They really don't know if they are one of the elect. It seems to be a sad state of affairs. They are the unsure teaching other people how they can be unsure of their salvation too!

R.C. Sproul, in an article he wrote, "Assurance of Salvation" [This is his article on assurance of salvation!] (Tabletalk, Nov 1989) states:

"A while back I had one of those moments of acute self-awareness... and suddenly the question hit me: 'R.C., what if you are not one of the redeemed? What if your destiny is not in heaven after all, but in hell?' Let me tell you that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine. I was terrified.

"I tried to grab hold of myself. I thought, 'Well, its a good sign that I'm worried about this. Only true Christians really care about salvation.' But then I began to take stock of my life, and I looked at my performance. [How come you don't just look to Christ and His promise in faith?] My sins came pouring into my mind, and the more I looked at myself, the worse I felt. I thought, 'Maybe it's really true. Maybe I'm not saved after all.'

"I went to my room and began to read the Bible. On my knees I said, 'Well, here I am. I can't point to my obedience [Really? I thought this was one of the legs/foundations of Reformed assurance!]. There's nothing I can offer... I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell... I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation. Then I remembered John 6:68... Peter was also uncomfortable, but he realized that being uncomfortable with Jesus was better than any other option!"

Being uncomfortable with Jesus is really the best assurance that Calvinism offers!

Yet I think of John Calvin. I disagree with him on much, but those who have taken his name have strayed from a doctrine I agree with him on. It is my contention that he believed that absolute (certain) assurance was of the essence of saving faith:

"In short, no man is truly a believer, unless he be firmly persuaded, that God is a propitious and benevolent Father to him... unless he depend on the promises of the Divine benevolence to him, and feel an undoubted expectation of salvation" (Institutes III.II.16)

"Now we shall have a complete definition of faith, if we say, that it is a steady and certain knowledge of the Divine benevolence toward us" (Institutes III.II.7)

I am certain that I have eternal life. John 6:47 says, "Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life." I believe in Jesus and His promise, thus I infallibly and most certainly possess assurance of eternal life.

It is impossible to believe in Jesus for eternal life and not know that we are saved. The message carries its own guarantee along with it! To doubt the guarantee of eternal life is to doubt the message itself. In short, if one does not believe that he has eternal life, he does not believe the offer that God has made to him, he does not believe the saving message of Christ.

Calvinism would do well to return to the doctrine of Calvin which they have spurned.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Box of Chocolates Explained in Brevity

God's decision in election, according to Reformed theology was :

"...not according to anything found in man. He did not base His choice on man in any way... It was a free choice, a sovereign choice of God. He made it without any consideration of man whatsoever" (Hanko, Hoeksema, and Van Baren, the 5 points of Calvinism, 35)

There is a point why I made the "Box of Chocolates" illustration. It was to show something that logically must flow from the doctrine of UNCONDITIONAL election as it relates to reprobation...

Is it impossible for people to cogitate on my analogy?

It is clear:

If election is unconditional, based upon no "consideration of man whatsoever," so MUST be reprobation.

The illustration shows, along with the Calvin quote, that we are to look nowhere else than the will of God for the election and reprobation of men. Neither one has anything to do with man, WHATSOEVER (not sin, not depravity, not sin of Adam, nothing).

It is folly
It is inconsistence
It is illlogical

to be a Calvinist and still claim that man is justly condemned to hell.

"I... ask how it is that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy UNLESS THAT IS SO SEEMED MEET TO GOD [sic]? ... The decree, I ADMIT, IS, DREADFUL; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before He made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree. ... God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also AT HIS OWN PLEASURE ARRANGED IT." (Calvin Institutes, III, xxiii, 7)

According to Calvin here, and deductive logic, it is impossible to blame men and punish them for the sin of Adam. God at his own pleasure arranged the fall. Of course, this is entirely beside the point! Because it was in the DECREE, the "dreadful" decree, where, God, in a FREE manner, chose those to elect and those to reprobate, "without any consideration of man whatsoever".

At least the equal ultimacy Calvinists take the doctrine of God's decree in election to its logical end. Here he is at least consistent with his theology. The equal ultimacy double predestinarian would wipe up the floor with a single predestinarian in a debate and show them the utter contradiction in their beliefs.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Box of Chocolates

Box of Chocolates (an illustration of election/reprobation)

Suppose you are offered some chocolates from a box of chocolates. While gazing into the box, you decide there is nothing in any of the chocolates to make you want to pick one chocolate over another. Nevertheless, you choose some of the chocolates and some of the chocolates you do not choose. You may have a reason for picking some and not others, but the reason has nothing to do with the individual chocolates themselves. It stands to reason then, if there is nothing in the chocolates that affected your decision to pick one piece of chocolate over the others, there is ALSO NOTHING IN THE ONES YOU DO NOT PICK TO AFFECT YOUR DECISION TO NOT PICK THEM.

What are the implications of this to election and its flipside reprobation?*

*Clue: “If we cannot assign any reason for his bestowing mercy on his people, but just that it so pleases him, neither can we have any reason for his reprobating others but his will. When God is said to visit in mercy or harden whom he will, men are reminded that they are not to seek for any cause beyond his will.” (Institutes, III, xxii, 11)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Some Feedback

I have been very busy with classes that I teach at a Bible college. It has been the end of the semester and I have been grading term papers and finals. I see that I have some feedback.

Nothing new. More mud-slinging and theological cuss words. I like how to a Calvinist, there are only two types of Christians: Calvinists and Arminians. To the Calvinist, Calvinism is the gospel, pure and true. Anyone who disagrees with Calvinism is automatically an Arminan by default. To this category is heaped every objectionable tenet and doctrine that has ever arisen in Christendom. Calvinism seeks to entrap the undiscerning and immature with this divide and conquer tactic; these people rightly do not want to be associated with such a picture as Calvinism paints of the only other Christian group! Neither do they wish to be called every Christian pejorative in the book.

As for Arminian, I am not.

You may call it Free Grace, Overcomer theology, Metachoi theology, or most aptly Biblical.

Arminian, no. Calvinism, NO!

Good day!