Monday, January 10, 2011

The Gracious Work of God for Humanity

The uncomplicated work of God for man, which is to measure His Grace, is presented in the Word of God in seven major aspects:

1. The Finished work of Christ
This is no less than the combined values of His redemption, reconciliation, and propitiation, as these aspects of His Cross are related to the whole world lost in sin (1 Tim. 2:6; 2 Cor. 5:19-20; 1 John 2:1-2). This aspect of the divine work is forever “finished” for every soul, and its “glorious achievement is the good news of the gospel of saving grace.”

2. The Convicting Work of the Spirit
By this work of God the Gospel of His saving Grace is revealed to the mind and heart of the unsaved by the Spirit of God. He convicts of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16: 7-11). Only by this illuminating work of the Spirit can the Satan-blinded mind of the unsaved (2 Cor. 4:3-4) understand the way of life in Christ Jesus.

3. The Saving Work of God
This divine undertaking includes every aspect of the work of God that is accomplished at the instant when the sinner believes on Christ. It is no less than many transforming miracles which are wrought instantaneously and simultaneously in the saving power of God. (Every spiritual resource in Christ; as partakers of His divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).

4. The Keeping Work of God
The dear biblical testimony is to the effect that the believer is kept always and only through the grace and power of God. Because of the work of Christ on the Cross, God is presented as not only being free to save meritless sinners, but He is presented as being free to keep those whom He has saved. Under legal relationships people endured in order that they might be saved (Matt. 24:13). Under grace relationships people endure because they are saved (John 10:28). God alone is “able” to keep (Jude 24-25).

5. The Delivering Work of God
The Christian who is perfectly saved from the guilt and penalty of sin needs also to be saved from the reigning power of sin. God alone can save in any case, and therefore deliverance from sin, weakness, and failure is provided, not by human effort, but by the power of the indwelling Spirit; and is secured, not on the principle of works, but on the principle of faith. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). Deliverance, too, is always and only a work of God (Gal. 1:4).

6. The Work of God in Christian Growth
Too often Christian growth is confused with spirituality, or deliverance from the power of sin. A very immature believer, as to growth, may be delivered and be in full blessing of the Spirit. He has yet much to learn from experience and from the Word of God, but this need not limit his immediate blessing of heart and life. In fact only spiritual Christians grow. Carnality in the life means perpetual babyhood in spirituality. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

7. The Final Presenting Work of God
It is the final and consummating work of God to present the believer faultless before the presence of His glory to His own exceeding joy. It is promised that when we see Him we shall be “like him.” We shall then be conformed to the image of the Son of God (Eph. 1:5).

No one will persuade himself that he will assist in this final transformation and translation. No more can any believer assist in any of these aspects of the work of God. Salvation is the work of God alone. It is from Him, by Him, and to Him. In every stage of the development it is the work of God alone which can avail, and particular emphasis is needed at this point. Salvation is the Gift of God; man’s responsibility is only that of being a recipient of it. Man is called upon to make only such personal adjustment to God as will place him in the normal position to receive the divine blessing (Rom 10:4).

The undertaking is of such a character that man can contribute in no way to its accomplishment. It aims to reproduce the very perfection of Christ Himself, which perfection would be ruined could man touch it. And it is all to the demonstration of the grace of God in the ages to come and hence, as certainly, precludes the thought of any complication with human merit, else the greatest motive of God which has been working from before the foundation of the world would be defeated—a contingency impossible in the light of revelation (Rom. 8:38-39).

According to the Scriptures, the human element is never included beyond the essential adjustment of man to the work of God. Some of these Bible terms are: “believe,” “receive,” “faith,” “by me if any man enter in,” “come unto me.” “Whosoever will may come,” “whosoever calleth,” “turned to God,” being “reconciled to God” (Eph. 2:8).

Thus it is seen that one is saved from the guilt and penalty of sin, not by expiating his own sins, but by believing in the One who has suffered in his stead. After one is thus saved, he is delivered from the power of sin in his daily life, not by anxious striving, but by yielding, and relying on the all-sufficient, indwelling Spirit. He will be saved from the presence of sin into the coming glory and likeness of Christ, not by any effort or human device, but by the power which wrought in Christ to raise Him from the dead, and by which he will be translated instantly from the earth to heaven, at the Rapture of the Church; (1Thes. 4:13-18).

In every instance the divine responsibility is in the sphere of the reception of that work. The whole transaction is free from every consideration of remuneration, barter, or trade. It is the love of God expressing itself in His gracious work for those who, within themselves, will ever be hopelessly undeserving and therefore eternally debtors to infinite grace.

12 Things Salvation is and is Not

  1. Salvation is the work of God for man; it is not the work of man for God.
  2. Salvation is the bestowal and actual impartation of eternal life; it is not the beauties and artificial imitations of ethical living.
  3. Salvation is the imputed righteousness of God; it is not the imperfect righteousness of man.
  4. Salvation is according to the faithful calling of God; it is not according to the fitful carefulness of man.
  5. Salvation is a divine reconciliation; it is not a human regulation.
  6. Salvation is the cancelling of all sin; it is not the cessation from some sin.
  7. Salvation is being delivered from, and dead to the law, it is not delighting in, or doing, the law.
  8. Salvation is divine regeneration; it is not human reformation.
  9. Salvation is being acceptable to God; it is not becoming exceptionally good.
  10. Salvation is completeness in Christ; it is not competency in character.
  11. Salvation is possessing every spiritual blessing; it is not professing any special betterment.
  12. Salvation is always and only of God. It is never of man. It is the unsearchable riches of Christ. It is to good works in which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)

    Taken in part from the Book; “GRACE” Pgs. 49-52, an exposition of God’s Marvelous Gift, by Lewis Sperry Chafer, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 49501

    Other editing by KMS 01/10/11,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Exposing Calvinistic Soteriology Point 1

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564) -- Calvin was the theologian of the Reformers, second only to Arminius in the extent of his doctrinal influence upon believers today. Calvin's tenets were Bible-based, and could be classed as "far right." However, he had a tendency to extremism, and hence went too far in some areas of his theology. "Too far," whether right or left, usually results in heresy.

Conversely, Arminius, the one-time Calvinist, in his recoil from Calvin's extremes, went all the way to the left, and kept right on going over the edge into Semi-Pelagianism. In these two men we have the far right and the far left of theology among believers today.

The core of original Calvinism is seen in the following five doctrinal points, known as "TULIP"-- the tulip that never blossomed!
1. Total depravity
2. Unconditional election
3. Limited atonement
4. Irresistible grace
5. Perseverance of the saints
There are many "moderate" Calvinists today who do not adhere to some of the original extremes, such as point three. Hence there are three-point, four-point, and four-and-a-half-point Calvinists. We will simply comment on the more prevalent aspect of Calvinism, known as Covenant theology.

COVENANT CALVINISM -- We will only consider the first point of Calvinist error, Total Depravity. Calvin did not possess all-important doctrinal balance. By pushing the truth of God's sovereignty to an extreme in the realm of the new birth, he all but eliminated man's responsibility.

Calvinists define Total Depravity as "total inability." Their proof text is Ephesians 2:1, "And you hath He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins." Their illustration for total inability is a man physically dead, who cannot see, hear, feel, speak, or move. Hence he is totally unable to respond to God in any way--he cannot believe.

Calvinism's solution to their self-created problem is regeneration. It is taught that the Holy Spirit first regenerates those whom God has elected; He thereby gives them life so that they can exercise faith and live. In all of their writings it can be seen that they place regeneration before faith--one must be saved in order to be saved!

In their book, Five Points of Calvinism Defended, D. Steele and C. Thomas write:
The Holy Spirit creates within the sinner a new heart or a' new nature. This is accomplished through regeneration or the new birth by which the sinner is made a child of God and is given spiritual life. His will is renewed through this process so that he spontaneously comes to Christ of his own free choice.
Because he is given a new nature so that he loves righteousness, and because his mind is enlightened so that he understands and believes the Gospel, the renewed sinner freely and willingly turns to Christ by the inward supernatural call of the Spirit, who through regeneration makes him alive and creates within him faith and repentance.

How simple is the refutation of this scholarly error: The corpse is not the man! Death is always separation, not obliteration. Paul wrote to Timothy, "But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth" (1 Tim. 5:6). James stated, "Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth" (James 1: 18). The Lord Jesus said, "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25).
Dr. Samuel Ridout was clear about this:
"Being born again (regenerated), not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible seed, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (1 Pet. 1:23). The new birth is "by the Word of God." That it is a sovereign act of God, by His Spirit, none can question. But this verse forbids us to separate, as has sometimes been done, new birth from faith in the Gospel.
It is often taught that new birth precedes faith; but here we are told that the Word of God is the instrument in the new birth. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God"; "the Word which by the Gospel is preached." John 3:3 and 3:16 must ever go together. There is no such anomaly possible as a man born again, but who has not yet believed the Gospel.

COVENANTISM -- Without benefit of Scripture, Calvinism is based upon a single "covenant of grace," whereby all of Israel's covenants are "spiritualized," thereby making the Church to be spiritual Israel: "the continuing covenanted community." As Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it, "Paul is asserting that the Church is now the Kingdom, that what the Jewish nation was in the OT the Church is now." (The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, p. 48)

VICARIOUS LAW-KEEPING -- Calvinist teaching concerning salvation is that Christ gained eternal life for the elect by keeping the Law on their behalf ("active obedience"), and, in dying ("passive obedience"), He paid the penalty of the broken Law. The heart of all Calvinism is the Law! Remove their doctrine from that center and there is total collapse.
Dr. Wm. R. Newell refutes this "vicarious" error as follows:
"Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believeth" (Rom. 10: 4). The words "Christ is the end of the Law" cannot mean that He is the fulfillment of what the Law required. The Law required obedience to its precepts--death for disobedience. Now Christ died for our disobedience!

If it be answered, that before He died He fulfilled the claims of the Law, kept it perfectly, and that this law-keeping of His was reckoned as over against our breaking of the Law, then I ask, Why should Christ die?
If the claims of the Law were met in His earthly obedience, and if that earthly life of earthly obedience was "reckoned" or "credited" to those who believe, the curse of the Law has been removed by "vicarious law-keeping." If so, why should Christ die? "For if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Gal. 2:21).

It is because Covenant theology has kept us Gentiles under the Law--if not as a means of righteousness, then as a "rule of life,"--that all the trouble has arisen. The Law.; is no more a rule of life than it is a means of righteousness. Walking in the Spirit has now, in this dispensation of Grace, taken the place of walking in ordinances. The Father has another principle under which He has placed His saints: "ye are not under law, but under grace"! (Romans, Verse by Verse, p. 391)

WILDERNESS WANDERING -- Calvinism will go as far as the Cross for salvation, but then it turns back to the OT and the Synoptics, in order to have a rule for the Christian life. Like the Israelites whom it seeks to spiritually emulate, it fears the freedom of Canaan, only to turn back into the wilderness struggle. It is Romans Seven all the way for the Calvinist. Arminianism at least goes as far as Pentecost, only to turn back to its pre-Cross "Jesus."

The disqualification of Calvinism is in its failure to "rightly divide" between Israel and the Church, Law and Grace--it considers the Body of Christ to be "spiritual Israel."
As John Stott put it, "Although Jesus was greater than Moses and although His message was more Gospel than Law, yet he did choose twelve apostles as the nucleus of a new Israel to correspond to the twelve patriarchs and tribes of old." (Christian Counter-Culture -- The Message of the Sermon on the Mount -- Inter Varsity Press)

In his Systematic Theology VII:211, Dr. Chafer struck down that error:
"It should be made emphatic that to observe distinction between Judaism and Christianity is the beginning of wisdom in understanding the Bible. Theologians of past generations have made no greater mistake than to suppose, despite all the scriptural evidence to the contrary, that Judaism and Christianity are one and the same, or as some have put it, "One is the bud and the other is the blossom." Judaism has not merged into Christianity. This is a colossal error of Covenant theology perpetuated to the present day.

ECCENTRIC EXEGESIS -- Calvinism insists that Jesus taught the spiritual aspects of the Mosaic Law in the Sermon on the Mount, and that He instructed His disciples in that law. That is true. Since the disciples were saved, their reasoning goes, the Church is therefore subject to the law-teachings of the Sermon. That is untrue!

At that time, in that dispensation, the disciples were not Christians. There was no such thing as a Christian until the day of Pentecost. These believing disciples were Messianic Jews, "saved" unto the earthly kingdom. Their Messiah-King was instructing them concerning the laws of that coming millennial, theocratic kingdom.

No Christian ever was, ever is, nor ever will be under law, whether Mosaic, Sermonic, or Millennial! Arminianism and Calvinism may put the Christian under law, the believer may put himself under law as his rule of life, but the Lord Jesus never did, Paul never did, and the Holy Spirit never will!

Rather than put the believer under law, the Spirit places him into death via the Cross, and thereby positions him above the law and into the freedom of the life of the glorified Lord Jesus Christ. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." "Now we are delivered from the law, having died to that wherein we Were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter [law]" (Rom. 7:4,6).

LIFE, NOT LAW! -- Within the believer the Holy Spirit applies "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus"; not the law of condemnation and death (Rom. 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:6-9). The Spirit of Christ does not write any law upon the heart of any Christian--He ministers life, "that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4:11).
The kingdom law will be written on the heart of the redeemed Jew in the millennial kingdom, but now it is "Christ in you" (Col. 1:27). The Christian is not under law, nor is he under promise; he has the effect of the accomplished fact: "for to me to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21).
The believer, dead to the law and alive to God in Christ risen, looks upon his Lord, not Israel's law. Christians, "with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord," not "even as by the law of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18).

Just as the Ten commandments were the declaration of the mind of God under the dispensation of the law; so now the Church is the engraving of Christ, "written, not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart," to show forth the virtues of Him "who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light."

Law demands everything, but gives and changes nothing--it is meant to condemn. We may even turn the Lord Jesus into that letter of condemnation; we may take His life, for instance, and make it our law. We may say, "He has loved me, and done all this for me, and I ought to love Him, and do so much for Him, in return for His love, etc." Thus if we turn His love into our rule of life, it becomes the ministration of death; for the only thing a rule can do is condemn. Christianity is a nature, not a regulation.

LAW-BOUND -- The entire realm of the believer's identification with the Lord Jesus in His death and ascension is not only misunderstood, but usually avoided by Calvinism. Although Paul explicitly wrote that "sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law but under grace" (Rom. 6:1-4), Calvinism insists that the Spirit will enable the believer to live by the principle of law.

Paul pleads especially with these Calvinists: "Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?" (Rom. 7:1). They fail to understand the believer's death to the law. Beyond justification they lose their doctrinal footing and slip back to the ground of death (law), failing to move forward onto the ground of growth (Christ, our life).

Typical of all Covenant theologians, Dr. John Stott wrote in his Christian Counter-Culture, p. 75:
It is a new heart-righteousness which the prophets foresaw as one of the blessings of the Messianic age. "I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts," God promised through Jeremiah (31:33). How would He do it? He told Ezekiel: "I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes" (36:27).
Thus God's promises to put His law within us and to put His Spirit within us coincide. We must not imagine (as some do today) that when we have the Spirit we can dispense with the law, for what the Spirit does in our hearts is, precisely, to write God's law there.
It was not only to Timothy that Paul wrote, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). Neither Jeremiah nor Ezekiel nor anyone else from Adam on down ever dreamed of such a thing as the Church, to say nothing of a Christian! That wondrous truth was God's hidden mystery, until Paul. We share Merrill Unger's thought:
The Church is said to be a "mystery" (Eph. 3:3), "the mystery of Christ" (Eph. 3:4). It was foretold, but not explained, by the Saviour (Matt. 16:18). was a truth unknown and unrevealed to anyone in OT times (Eph. 3:5), indeed a revelation and purpose "hid in God" throughout the ages (Eph. 3:9), first realized historically at Pentecost, and first revealed doctrinally to the Apostle Paul (Eph. 3:3-7). (The Baptizing Work of the Holy Spirit , p. 29)
Actually, God said through Jeremiah, "This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jer. 31:33). And through Ezekiel He promised to His nation, Israel, "Ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God" (Ezek. 36:28).

Dr. Chafer sets the record straight concerning Israel's kingdom:
There is a dangerous and entirely baseless sentiment abroad which assumes that every teaching of Jesus must be binding during this dispensation simply because He said it. The fact is overlooked that the Lord Jesus, while living under, keeping, and applying the Law of Moses, also taught the principles of His future kingdom, and, at the end of His ministry and in relation to His Cross, He also anticipated the teachings of grace. If this threefold division of the teachings of Christ is not recognized, there can be nothing but confusion of mind and consequent contradiction of truth.

The teachings of the kingdom (as centered in the Sermon on the Mount) have not yet been applied to any man. Since they anticipate the binding of Satan, a purified earth, the restoration of Israel, and the personal reign of the King, they cannot be applied until God's appointed time when these accompanying conditions on the earth have been brought to pass.
The kingdom laws will be addressed to Israel and, beyond them, to all nations which will enter the millennial kingdom. It will be the first and only universal reign of righteousness and peace in the history of the world. One nation was in view when the Law of Moses was in force on the earth; the individual is in view during this dispensation of grace. The whole social order of mankind will be in view when the kingdom is set up on earth.

The teachings of grace are perfect and sufficient in themselves. They provide for the instruction of the child of God in every situation which may arise. There is no need that they be supplemented, or augmented, by the addition of precepts from either the Law of Moses or the teachings of the kingdom. Law cannot give life, nor have, therefore, any control over it. (Systematic Theology IV:207)

John Darby was clear on the all-important differentiation:
I learn in the law that God abhors stealing, but it is not because under the law that I do not steal. All the Word of God is mine, and written for my instruction; yet for all that I am not under law. I am a Christian who has died with Christ on the Cross, and am not in the flesh, to which the law applied. I have died to the law by the body of Christ (Rom. 7:4).

We are not seeking to take away, nor negate any portion of the blessed Word of God. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). It is simply that the law as a rule of life for the believer obliterates the realization of identification with, and liberty in, the glorified Lord Jesus Christ.

BEWARE! -- Listed here are some of the better-known anti-dispensational, pro-law Calvinist authors whose theology has permeated the thinking of vast numbers of fundamental and dispensational believers today:
Adams, J. Edwards, J. Mauro, P. Steele, G. Allis, O. Fletcher, J. Morris, L. Stonehouse, N. Bass, C. Fuller, D. Murray, G. Stott, J. Baxter, R.Gerstner, J. Murray, J. Thomas, C. Berkof, L. Gill, J. Nicole, R. VanTil, C. Berkouwer, G. Goodwin, T. Owen, J. Van Til, H. Boettner, L. Haldane, R. Packer, J. Vos, G. Boice, J. Hamilton, F. Payne, H. Warfield, B. Bonar, A. Hodge, A. Pink, A. Watson, R. Boston, T. Hodge, C. Romaine, Wm. Watson, T. Brown, D. Kromminga, D. Ryle, J. Wyngaarden, M. Bunyan, J. Kuiper, H. Schaeffer, F. Conn, H. Kuyper, A. Shedd, Wm. Cox, Wm. Lloyd-Jones, M. Smeaton, G.

STATEMENT -- Calvinism emerged from the dark ages, but is still in the twilight--half in the darkness and death of the law, half in the light and life of the Saviour. It has a fleshly affinity for fetters, hence it is the life of the 'hang-dog' heart, the wretchedness of Romans Seven . MJS

Friday, November 14, 2008

Addition to a Flawed Foundation

Is there a A Middle Option?
Submitted by theriddles on Tue, 07/15/2008 - 8:46am. To The Evangelical Arminian Web Page.

* Arminianism
* Calvinism
* General
* Hyper-Calvinism

People are often tempted to believe that there is some mediate option which will allow them to avoid the Calvinist/Arminian debate. This inclination comes from a commendable impulse -- to hold fast to Scriptural truth without imposing a man-made system, and avoid being sidetracked in the work of the Gospel by endless doctrinal controversy. These impulses lead people to declare that they are "Biblicist" or that they are both Arminian and Calvinist.

Now, within Calvinist and Arminian frameworks there are many different issues and nuances of dispute. There are systematizers and systemic implications, but there is really only one basic issue: Does God unconditionally choose who will be saved, and who will not? If you believe this you are a Calvinist, if you do not, you are, in the general sense an Arminian. Is it really as simple as that?

Do you believe that your neighbor who died in unbelief was foreordained before the foundation of the world to burn in hell for all eternity? If you can affirm that without blinking, you are a Calvinist. If you simply believe that your neighbor was not chosen, but you were, then you are an inconsistent Calvinist.

I have three sons. If my house were burning down in the middle of the night, and I chose to rescue my oldest and drive off, then I have made a choice about the other two by ignoring them -- a very deadly choice. It is impossible to avoid the moral responsibility associated with intentionally abandoning them in the house. No father who loves his children would ever do this, and yet some are able to sleep at night believing that our Heavenly Father does just this.

If on the other hand you believe that Our Heavenly Father went to the greatest extent by sending his only Son into the burning building to save as many as would follow him out of the fire, then please welcome yourself to the Arminian side. When it boils down, Arminians are simply those who believe that God genuinely wants to save every person from the burning building, just like a fundamentalist believer who is dispensational also believes.

It's just that Calvinists can be intimidating. They can make you feel like everyone since the Reformation was a Calvinist, to be anything other than a Calvinist is suspect, and to proclaim one's self an Arminian is like building your house on sinking sand. Nobody wants that. So why not be neutral? I can't be neutral on whether or not God would rush into the burning building, can you?

Dispensationalists however, believe in a Pretributional Rapture and dismiss the Arminian idea that only those who persevere to the end are saved. KMS

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rightly Dividing The Word of Truth

This web blog and the focus of our teaching is dispensational in nature. We believe all of the Bible is for us, but not all of the Bible is to us. As such, we also focus on the Apostle Paul who was called to be the Apostle of the Gentiles, and it is in his writings that we find specific instructions for us today as revealed to Paul by the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

Like Moses and all the prophets in the "Old Testament" who had a specific message to the Nation of Israel, God gave the Apostle Paul a specific message to the Gentiles and Jews during this present dispensation, called the Revelation of the Mystery (Rom. 16:25). This particular teaching is based on "rightly dividing" the Word of Truth — whereby we can, without fail, find exactly where we are in God's plan for mankind and eternity.

We live in a most wonderful time! God, in the sacrificial death of Christ at the cross, has provided for all mankind, without distinction, the opportunity to secure one's own personal salvation — by grace alone! It is a personal decision that has eternal repercussion. God is willing that none perish, and He is long suffering toward that end. What does I Corinthians 4:16 mean and how does this truth apply to the Church which is His Body?

"Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me." Does Paul really mean we are to follow him? Precisely. These are the very words that God inspired Paul to write. It is not Paul's idea that people should follow him, but God's. Why does God want people to follow Paul? It is because God has raised up Paul and made him the apostle to the Gentiles. Before Paul, the Gentiles did not have an apostle. God's attention was directed to Israel ever since God called Abraham out of Chaldea. Not only did God raise up Paul, but he gave him a brand new gospel for the whole world, for Jew and Gentile alike. The instructions for believers in the church, the Body of Christ are found only in the Pauline epistles. The church can learn many truths and important lessons from any part of the Bible, but Paul's epistles are for the Church, the Body.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: but not all scripture is directed to the church the body of Christ for genuine growth in Christ UNLESS IT IS RIGHTLY DIVIDED. Your comments encouraged...KMS-LTM

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Two Overarching Covenants

Covenant theology views God's revealed Word through the lens of two overarching covenants.

Covenant theology is a system of interpreting the Scriptures on the basis of two covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. Some covenant theologians specify three covenants: works, redemption, and grace. Covenant theology teaches that God initially made a covenant of works with Adam, promising eternal life for obedience and death for disobedience. Adam failed, and death entered the human race. God, however, moved to resolve man's dilemma by entering into a covenant of grace through which the problem of sin and death would be overcome. Christ is the ultimate mediator of God's covenant of grace. [4]

However, there is a very serious downside to this approach. Hear Dr. Chafer again:
A theology which penetrates no further into Scripture than to discover that in all ages God is immutable in His grace toward penitent sinners, and constructs the idea of a universal church, continuing through the ages, on the one truth of immutable grace, is not only disregarding vast spheres of revelation but is reaping the unavoidable confusion [fog] and misdirection which part-truth engenders. The outworking of divine grace is not standardized, though the Covenant idea of theology would make it so...

A form of Covenant Theology which would thread all of Jehovah's purposes and undertakings upon His one attribute of grace could hardly avoid confusion of mind [fog] in matters related to His varied objectives. Covenant Theology, in consistency with its man-made premise, asserts its inventions respecting an Old Testament church, which, it is claimed, is an integral part of the New Testament Church and on the ground that, since God's grace is one unchanging attribute, its accomplishments must be the realization of one standardized ideal.

A Covenant Theology engenders the notion that there is but one soteriology and one eschatology, and that ecclesiology, such as it is conceived to be, extends from the Garden of Eden to the Great White Throne. The insuperable problems in exegesis which such fanciful suppositions create are easily disposed of by ignoring them.
Covenantism, which has molded the major theological concepts for many generations, recognizes no distinction as to ages, therefore can allow for no distinctions between law and grace. This dominating attitude of Covenantism must account for the utter neglect of life-truth in all their works of theology. No more representative theological dictum from the Covenant viewpoint has been formed than the Westminster Confession of Faith, which valuable and important document recognizes life-truth only to the point of imposing the Ten Commandments on Christians as their sole obligation, this in spite of the teachings of the Pauline Church Epistles which assert that the law was never given to Gentiles or Christians, and that the latter has been saved and delivered from it--actually dead to it (Gal. 2:19). [5]
For additional lucid comments by Chafer, see Dr. Chafer on Covenant Theology complied by Miles J. Stanford.

A Flawed Foundation

For nearly four centuries, the Reformed/Calvinist tradition has faithfully battled the insidious errors of Christian humanism and philosophic indeterminism--the theological foundation of the entire Anglo-Catholic tradition. The Protestant Reformation's rejection of these grossly distorted views laid the groundwork for a more accurate and biblical view of grace and redemption. However, serious flaws still exist in the Calvinist's soteriological emphasis which in turn result in deficient and unscriptural views. [NOTE: These generalizations serve an important purpose but are not meant to suggest that the issues are clearly black and white. I have met several Reformed/Calvinists who favor the more "moderate" views of compatibilism. See Human Freedom and the Sovereignty of God.]

1) The various creeds of the Reformed/Calvinist realm [e.g., Westminster Standards] rightly mention the "corruption" of man's nature. However, the focus of this tradition is overwhelmingly upon transgression of law, individual sins, and justification by imputed righteousness. For example, hear the words of a contemporary "Reformed" Episcopal minister: Romans 5 basically says that we become Christians in essentially the same way we became sinners: By having the merits or demerits of one covenant head imputed to all those who are in him as their representative. The funny thing is that I never hear any complaints about our sin being imputed to the innocent Christ, or Christ's righteousness being imputed to the guilty sinner. We like that just fine. But we don't like Adam's sin being imputed to us. But if we are not to be regarded as in Adam, we cannot be regarded as being in Christ, either, for the principle of imputation is the same.

While this minister is correct as far as he goes; he doesn't go far enough. The curse of Sola Imputation is its failure to see the ontological effects of the Fall upon the First Adam, and subsequently upon us. Their doctrine of so-called "Total Depravity" is not really total!

In the Reformation there was, through grace, a great deliverance. The ground-work of Christianity was recovered; namely, justification by faith. But though this was restored, it was not maintained that the old Adamic man was crucified on the Cross, and hence they only refused the exaction of Popery, but considered the flesh as still before God. Refusing the exaction was right; but the retention of that on which the exaction could be made, the old man was and is the weakness of the Reformation. JBS

Romans 5:13,14 states that "before the law was given, SIN was in the world" and "death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses." God's adding of a legal or forensic dimension (law) to amplify man's responsibility and our understanding of the gravity of depravity does not fully deal with the problem of our SIN. SIN is the source of our sins--it is the fallen, animating life-force ("flesh") inherited from the first Adam. "When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image..." (Genesis 5:3). "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men..." (Romans 5:12).

2) Many Reformed/Calvinists portray humanity's post-Fall, pre-New Birth condition (Total Depravity) as a state of total unconsciousness and passivity rather than separation from God. This erroneous emphasis is reactive in origin and largely baggage carried over from their century-old battle with Roman Catholic and Arminian heresies. Consequently, it creates serious problems relative to: a) the true condition of lost sinners and the preaching of the Gospel, b) differences between the effectual calling, the New Birth, and the role of faith, and c) the believer's relationship to his indwelling nature of sin (flesh).

a) In Ephesians 2:1, the Apostle Paul tells us, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient." How is it that the words "dead," "live," and "disobedient" can be used in the same sentence to simultaneously describe our prior lost condition, if the meaning of dead carries the idea of being unconscious or passive. More to the point, Miles Stanford remarks: Their [Reformed/Calvinist] illustration of this total inability [depravity] is a man physically dead, who cannot see, hear, speak or move.

Although the sinner is dead in sins, he is not an unresponsive corpse, he is not annihilated; rather, he is separated from God. He is certainly alive enough to adamantly reject the Saviour! [8]

As mentioned above, the reason our Calvinist brothers overstate their case is due to the manipulative way their (and our) humanistic adversaries have argued in favor of "free will" and their loyalty to defend the biblical truth of the "grace of God." However, this emphasis has proven to progressively causes an imbalance which over time undermines the Scriptural truth of both volition and responsibility. Further, their deficient view of sin opens the door to religious self-righteousness and pride and also closes the door to considering possible error on their part. To suggest that a Calvinist loosen his grip on his theology is like asking King Edward I ("Longshanks") to relinquish control of Scotland.

In time, preaching the Gospel to unconscious sinners makes less and less sense to the logical Calvinist. If he doesn't pull back, he will assuredly slide into hyper-Calvinism and may give up communicating the Good News altogether. But Romans 1:18-23 and others teach us that those who are "dead in transgressions" have retained a level of both consciousness and conscience about God and His creation. His separation from God (spiritual death) and bondage to sin renders him a rebellious inhabitant in a lonely and silent cosmos, a slave to sin and self, but not a cadaver.

b) All Christians who adhere to sovereign grace affirm the truth that "No one can come to Me [Christ] unless the Father who sent Me draws him." (John 6:44). However, Reformed/Calvinists incorrectly view the action of the Father drawing the sinner to the Savior as evidence of regeneration--i.e., the New Birth. No room is allowed for any human response before regeneration, lest some religious humanist get a meritorious 'toe in the door'. Representative of this emphasis Dr. Bob Wright states: Since the Fall of Adam and Eve, all are born spiritually dead in their sin nature, and therefore require regeneration to a life they do not naturally possess.
The doctrine of total depravity states that fallen human nature is morally incapable of responding to the gospel without being caused to do so by divine intervention (1 Cor. 2:12-15). [OK so far] Once the soul is sovereignly regenerated, it willingly responds in saving faith to God's command to repent and believe the gospel, but not before.

He regenerates the human heart, infusing divine life into it, thus enabling the wicked to believe, even though they were formerly enslaved to the habit of rebellion.
God regenerates each elect person so that he or she invariably responds willingly to the gospel. [9]

In spite of many examples from both Old and New Testaments of God controlling the actions of the unregenerate, the Reformed/Calvinists require an "initial infusion of the resurrection life of Christ into the human soul" for John 6:44 to be effective. But think for a moment about the 22nd chapter of Numbers. The false prophet Balaam heard the Lord speak, his ass spoke, and both he and his ass saw an angel all without the benefit of Calvinistic regeneration. Supernatural? yes! New Birth? no. Strangely, while the Calvinist prides himself in being a stalwart defender of God's sovereignty, he limits what God the Father is capable of doing. He erroneously requires that the doctrine of effectual calling be made synonymous with the New Birth. Cannot the Father's enablement of the sinner to "believe the Word in order to accept the Savior" be seen as separate while related, and not confused with the New Birth itself?

c) Given his presuppositions, anemic understanding of sin, and exaggerated view of spiritual death, the Reformed/Calvinist is nearly guaranteed to misinterpret the Apostle Paul's teachings in the New Testament. Often, Paul's epistles are viewed as speaking exclusively to the subject of the believer's justification, while his teaching regarding identification with Christ is ignored, twisted, or treated as an addendum. To help rectify the serious deficiency, the Reformed/Calvinist has invented the doctrine of "Lordship Salvation". The essence of Reformed/Calvinist regeneration is that of change, rather than the biblical view of exchange--the life inherited from the first Adam displaced by the life of the Lord Jesus Christ--the Last Adam. Thus, they claim believers have only one nature (one life changed from old to new) rather than two natures (the old and new, co-resident).

3) The Reformed emphasis in regeneration (drawn from the wrong age) focuses the new-creation Christian largely upon justification and forgiveness of sins. Their concept of sanctification is one of change (amelioration) and the goal is keeping the Ten Commandments--albeit supernaturally. Representative of all Reformed theology, David Wendt quotes Greg Bahnsen as saying,
"There is also a greater confidence to approach God and the glory of the [Israel's] New Covenant is permanent not temporary like that of the Old [Mosaic]. As for power, the New provides 'further and stronger motivation to obey the law', and that obedience is empowered by God."

Due to its erroneous amillennial perspective, Reformed theology to one degree or another sees the Body of Christ fulfilling Israel's New Covenant. Consequently, they attempted to apply the future millennial regeneration promised under that covenant to members of the Body of Christ--now!

To the degree that they embrace law as their "rule of life", they reject the Lord Jesus Christ's teaching via Paul's in his Epistles regarding SIN and identification. In spite of their doctrinal superiority over both Romanists as well as all-flavors of Arminians, the Calvinist's impoverished view of depravity, together with the misapplication of Israel's New Covenant regeneration, seriously cripples believers and twists their understanding of Christ's work of redemption.

From time-to-time, a Calvinist will loosen his grip on his theology or maybe it's the other way around. Reformed pastor Leonard Verduin became suspicious of this deficiency. Regarding the central tenet of the Reformation, he wrote: We meet in Luther, to put it theologically, a very heavy emphasis on the forensic aspect of salvation and a correspondingly light emphasis on the moral aspect. Luther was primarily interested in pardon [for sins], rather than in renewal [of life]. His theology [Reformation] was a theology that addresses itself to the problem of guilt [of sins committed], rather than to the problem of pollution [of life inherited from the first Adam]. There is an imbalance in this theology... [6]

Dr. L. S. Chafer stated it even more precisely:
The holy character of God is the final and only standard by which moral values may be accurately judged. To the one who disregards God, there are no moral standards other than social custom, or the dictates of an uncertain and perverted conscience. And even these, it will be observed, though indirect, failing, and feeble, are nevertheless reflections of the standards of God. Sin is sinful because it is unlike God.

The Larger Catechism (Westminster) declares: "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature." However, inasmuch as the law of God may not incorporate all that God's character is and inasmuch as anything will be sinful which contradicts God's character, whether expressed in His law or not, this definition is strengthened when the word character is substituted for the word law. It is true that disobedience of God's law is sin, but it does not follow that sin is restricted to disobedience of law.
There is a justification for the fact that the two great doctrines--sin and redemption--go hand in hand. It is sin that has drawn out redemption from the heart of God, and redemption is the only cure for sin. These two realities, in turn, become measurements of each other. Where sin is minimized, redemption is automatically impoverished since its necessity is by so much decreased. The worthy approach to the doctrine of sin is to discover all that is revealed about the sinfulness of sin and then to recognize that God's provided Savior is equal to every demand which sin imposes. It is one of Satan's most effective methods of attack upon the saving work of Christ to soften the voice which is set to proclaim the evil character and effect [and extent] of sin. [7]

Is it any wonder why the Reformed/Calvinist tradition reduces the Christian life to embracing "law as a rule of life"? Since sin is limited to the concept of law-breaking, their antithesis--holiness, take the logical form of law-keeping. Add to that, their reinforcing concept of Millennial regeneration--i.e., law written on the heart, and it all seems so right!

Further, their non-dispensational, even anti-dispensational, bent guarantees a law-bound experience. In their fleshly effort to keep the law, various forms of ascetic discipline or humanistic psychology have been added to facilitate reaching their goal. And thus the popularity and truck loads of Puritan, neo-Puritan, and behavioralist writings.

However, as Paul clearly states, "the strength of sin IS the law". Placing Christians under law only results in a protracted Romans 7 experience or even descent into the dark realms of Romans 2:17-24. MJS

Monday, September 22, 2008


by Jan Markell

I was recently contacted to do a radio interview by Elwood McQuaid of Friends of Israel. I have had Elwood on my radio program several times on issues related to Israel. I assumed he, also, wanted to talk about Israel. Wrong. He was troubled about the massive inroads of what is known as the Emergent Church and how little Christians know about it.

So, if the Emergent Church is about to submerge your church, you might not even know it!

I am borrowing some thoughts from my good friend Roger Oakland who I consider an authority on this topic.

Here are some warning signs. There still may be time to stop your church from "submerging" to "Emerging" but only if you act decisively and in union with others in your church who feel the same. A delegation of one or two will never impress church leadership who already think this "new way of doing church" is better than warmed bagels and who have swallowed the Emergent deception. And make no mistake, it is deception.

* Scripture is no longer the ultimate authority as the basis for the Christian faith.

* The centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being replaced by humanistic methods promoting church growth and a social gospel.

* More and more emphasis is being placed on building the kingdom of God now and less and less on the warnings of Scripture about the imminent return of Jesus Christ and a coming judgment in the future.

* The teaching that Jesus Christ will rule and reign in a literal millennial period is considered unbiblical and heretical.

* The teaching that the church has taken the place of Israel and Israel has no prophetic significance is often embraced.

* The teaching that the book of Revelation does not refer to the future, but instead has been already fulfilled in the past or is allegorical.

* An experiential mystical form of Christianity begins to be promoted as a method to reach the postmodern generation.

* Ideas are promoted teaching that Christianity needs to be reinvented in order to provide meaning for this generation.

* The pastor may implement an idea called "ancient-future" or "vintage Christianity" claiming that in order to take the church forward, we need to go back in church history and find out what experiences were effective to get people to embrace Christianity.

* While the authority of the Word of God is undermined, images and sensual experiences are promoted as the key to experiencing and knowing God.

* These experiences include icons, candles, incense, liturgy, labyrinths, prayer stations, contemplative prayer, experiencing the sacraments (for Protestants), particularly the sacrament of the Eucharist.

* There seems to be a strong emphasis on ecumenism indicating that a bridge is being established that leads in the direction of unity with the Roman Catholic Church. This will ultimately lead to the one world religion of Revelation.

* Some "evangelical" Protestant leaders are saying that the Reformation went too far. They are reexamining the claims of the "church fathers" saying that communion is more than a symbol and that Jesus actually becomes present in the wafer at communion.

* Some suggest there are many ways to God.

* Members of churches who question or resist the new changes that the pastor is implementing are reprimanded and usually asked to leave. If you are over age 50, your opinion will not even matter.

When some of the following are lauded from the pulpit or Sunday School class, get very nervous: Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Dallas Willard, Erwin McManus, and many others too numerous to name. You may think it harmless to have a pastor just give a quote from one of these men, but when you understand that they represent the above bullet-points, it should be a huge red flag.

It is imperative you understand this movement and do what you can to not let "Emerging" submerge your church; however, if and when you see it is hopeless to turn the tide, move on to safer ground!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What is the Social Gospel?

Let's all make a note to thank T.A. McMahon of The Berean Call at: for his gripping Newsletter article titled "The Shameful Social Gospel" Vol. XXIII No. 9, September 2008.
Just an excerpt of that article for your reading enjoyment follows:

"The history of the social gospel is, in nearly every case, a sincere attempt by Christians to do those things that they believe will honor God and benefit humanity. In every case, however, the practical working out of "benefiting humanity" has compromised biblical faith and dishonored God. Why is that? God's Word gives no commission to the church to fix the problems of the world. Those who attempt to do so (Rick Warren et all) are starting out under a false premise, "...a way which seemeth right unto a man," not God's way. So where can it go from there? "the end thereof are the ways of death," i.e.., destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Furthermore, the problems of the world are all symptoms. The root cause is sin." (Rick Warren et all) added in parenthesis by KMS.

We cannot tell what is true or false about any organization or its methodologies used to incorporate and promote the gospel by man's methods. All efforts must be viewed through the grid of scripture and proper exegesis, especially in these tumultuous times when few if any Christian "Rightly Divides the Word of Truth correctly." All truth is not God's Truth, and every method void of the Holy Spirit of God will fail regardless of the zealous attempts of the individual, no matter how the gospel is repackaged.

What are your thoughts on the matter?