But Aren't Piper and Grudem Making the World Safe for "Bad" Charismatics?

Tim Challies writes:

There is a challenge here for myself as a Reformed, North American believer: I have a very narrow view of the Christian world—a too-narrow view. MacArthur made it clear that he did not host this conference in order to critique the Wayne Grudems and John Pipers of the world; if these men were representative charismatics, Strange Fire would have been a non-event or, at the least, a very different event. He hosted the event because there are hundreds of millions of people around the world who make the fraudulent practice of fraudulent gifts the heart of their expression of the Christian faith.

[He didn’t write, thanks Nate] But even if you don’t make “the fraudulent practice of fraudulent gifts” the heart of your Christian faith, even if “the fraudulent practice of fraudulent gifts” is only a side dish in your Christian walk, do you ever want “the fraudulent practice of fraudulent gifts” to be part of your Christian practice? Or do you want to let Christian leaders who do not reject “the fraudulent practice of fraudulent gifts” to go uncriticized?

Since Challies appears to be a friend of Grudem and Piper (hence along with MacArthur his granting them an exemption), perhaps he can spend some of his personal capital and straighten them out of the work of the Holy Spirit.

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75 thoughts on “But Aren't Piper and Grudem Making the World Safe for "Bad" Charismatics?

  1. Dear Tim,

    You are not Reformed. You are a calvinistic baptist celebrity with a deceptive brand CHALLIES.COM ~ INFORMING THE REFORMING. Your inadequate, unbiblical ecclesiology and baptist doctrine is why you play footsie with other celebs with even worse doctrine and practice.

    Love,

    Chortles

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  2. I had a conversation with a Westminster classmate of Grudem’s once who said “If only he’d had Gaffin on the Holy Spirit…”

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  3. Exhibit A for why Challies does not have the Genevan currency to buy a capital “R”:

    Over the past few months I’ve been running a series of interviews called “Meet the Ministries.” The purpose of this series is to learn about some of the more prominent or more interesting ministries seeking to serve the church today and to learn how we can serve them and how they may be able to serve us. In the past this series has stopped at Grace to You, Desiring God, Acts 29 and Peacemaker Ministries.

    http://www.challies.com/writings/interviews?page=2

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  4. Yes. In fact, I’m having to overcome Grudem in a catechism class as I’m trying to close the deal on paedobaptism and ordinary/extraordinary means. What is so difficult about;”God is free, but I’m NOT!” Seems freeing to moi.

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  5. Sean, freedom and innovation are of the essence of religious entrepreneurism. Don’t put the “Calvin is my homeboy” crowd in a box.

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  6. I find the whole subject of the Holy Spirit to be quite confusing. There is more to the debate than Luther accusing the Anabaptists of swallowing the Holy Spirit “feathers and all.” I guess this post is simply going after the idea of “the fraudulent practice of fraudulent gifts” without getting too specific about what that means. There is also the fraudulent idea that regeneration is a change of the ontological being and that the Spirit progressively and slowly infuses a supernatural kind of righteousness in the individual that makes the person hate his sin more (read: mortification) and become more able to fulfill the law (read: vivification). I am not sure which is more dangerous to the growth of the elect in the grace and knowledge of Christ. And then there is the whole idea that regeneration is what unites us to Christ. I remain abiding in the vine, until Christ comes to set up His eternal kingdom, forensically by the imputed righteousness of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the seal which continuously keeps me in that forensically safe place. Even while I am prone to wander due to the insect that won’t leave my members. “For I delight in the law of God with my mind but I see another law in my members waging war with my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Sprit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did…..

    My point being is that it is elusive to get the role of the Holy Spirit right. It is easy to go down paths we should not tread due to the confusion about what it is the Holy Spirit exactly does in the life of the believer. You hear lots of contradictory things in various popular theologians.

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  7. How is Piper lumped in with the charismatic crowd again?

    Nothing in the hundreds of sermons I listened to invoked basic c/c teaching or manifestations.

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  8. Just in case some haven’t noticed, there are some questionable people Grudem mentions in the dedication of his systematic theology. The one I specifically have in mind is Harald Bredesen. There is plenty of public knowledge to determine that he is not a good person to be influenced by, as Grudem mentions in his dedication; look at the dedication on Amazon and see how Bredesen is one of two who has taught Grudem the most on the Holy Spirit. I guess Bredesen was involved in the “charismatic renewal” among mainline churches. I also saw Bredesen on one of Benny Hinn’s programs (they knew each other); I think Bredesen was at times among the men seated behind Hinn at crusades.

    I first noticed this when I visited the bookstore on the campus of John MacArthur’s church and opened up Grudem’s systematic theology.

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  9. You aren’t a charismatic until you are hosting “Night of 1,000 Miracles or Nobody Goes Home.”

    Several of us first got inklings of Reformed theology through Piper, then moved on, and I don’t consider someone “out there” because they aren’t a confirmed cessationist.

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  10. Kent, isn’t that like saying one isn’t a neo-Cal until he’s railing like a Sowers? But maybe if there can be soft and hard neo-Cals, there can be soft and hard charismatics.

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  11. I guess… I just saw nothing that made worry that the Holy Spirit was going to show up and be ordered about by the ringleader….

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  12. Kent, probably wouldn’t have seen that with Lloyd-Jones either but the subsequent history of Westminster Chapel proved that his idiosyncrasies bore very strange fruit. MLJ is probably who I’d compare Piper to.

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  13. You have to worry about the spinoffs from the great men. Imagine what someone like Driscoll will spawn…if you can stand to think of such things. Or the the little CJs.

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  14. Piper from http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/the-morning-i-heard-the-voice-of-god:

    “Let me tell you about a most wonderful experience I had early Monday morning, March 19, 2007, a little after six o’clock. God actually spoke to me. There is no doubt that it was God. I heard the words in my head just as clearly as when a memory of a conversation passes across your consciousness. The words were in English, but they had about them an absolutely self-authenticating ring of truth. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God still speaks today.”

    How is this different from Pat Robertson’s numerous claims?

    Far out?

    Yes.

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  15. But if it’s spiritual affirmation quasi-Calvinists want, behold once again those lovely Lutherans (hey, Lily):

    I drove over to Aunt Flo’s to look for them and got caught in Sunday morning rush hour. It was Confirmation Sunday at Lake Wobegon Lutheran Church. Thirteen young people had their faith confirmed and were admitted to the circle of believers, thirteen dressed-up boys and girls at the altar rail in front of a crowd of every available relative. Pastor Ingqvist asked them all the deepest questions about the faith (questions that have troubled theologians for years), which these young people answered readily from memory before partaking of their first Communion. Later they lounged around on the front steps and asked each other, “Were you scared?” and said, “No, I really wasn’t, not as much as I thought I’d be,” and went home to eat chuck roast, and some of them had their first real cup of coffee. They found it to be a bitter, oily drink that makes you dizzy and sick to your stomach, but they were Lutherans now and that’s what Lutherans drink.

    –Garrison Keillor, Life Among the Lutherans

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  16. D.G., is the second paragraph of the quote Tim’s thoughts or yours (I assume yours – the snark has a nice Hartian ring to it)? I clicked through to the site and didn’t find the second paragraph there. Either Tim took it down or the blockquote’s in the wrong place.

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  17. John Yeazel wrote: “I guess this post is simply going after the idea of “the fraudulent practice of fraudulent gifts” without getting too specific about what that means. There is also the fraudulent idea that regeneration is a change of the ontological being and that the Spirit progressively and slowly infuses a supernatural kind of righteousness in the individual that makes the person hate his sin more (read: mortification) and become more able to fulfill the law (read: vivification). I am not sure which is more dangerous to the growth of the elect in the grace and knowledge of Christ.”

    GW: Do you mean “fraudulent ideas” like the following?

    “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin (i.e., “mortification” – GW), and live unto righteousness (i.e., “vivification”).” Westminster Shorter Catechism # 35

    “Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?
    “A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued; the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.” Westminster Larger Catechism # 77

    “They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified (there’s that “mortification” thing again – GW); and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces (i.e., “vivification” – GW), to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Westminster Confession of Faith 13.1

    Too bad these “fraudulent ideas” have such a strong pedigree (indeed, they represent the historic Reformed confession of the doctrine of sanctification).

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  18. Ah, dear Zrim. Always gettin’ those darn Lutherans mixed up.

    Try Lutheran Satire’s ‘Frank, the hippie Pope’

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  19. Lily, maybe Lutherans are to Calvinists what women are to men–all the same. But I’ll still take Lake Wobegon Lutherans over Camp Geneva Calvinists.

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  20. Too funny! You do remember that, to Lutherans, all non-Lutheran Protestants are labeled Reformed? That includes those wacky Pentecostals etal… Though a few of us have tried to explain ya’ll come in different flavors.

    P.S. Who are the camp Geneva Calvinists?

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  21. Lily, yes, I’m afraid we’ve helped the conflation by allowing our identities to be lifted in order that we might have a share in the hoopla. The CGCs are the local neo-Cals.

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  22. Ya’ll are just generous to a fault. That or they hijack Calvin like some do with Luther. Can’t be helped, I suppose, but I am sorry you have to endure it. It is aggravating at times. Too bad we can’t limit them to playing with silly putty…

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  23. Jonathan Edwards. Lloyd-Jones Piper (p 218, Warnock) “You talk as if there is a way to know we’ve received the Holy Spirit different from believing… A person who has received the Spirit knows it not just because it’s an inference from his faith in Christ. For the NT people, the Holy Spirit was a fact of experience. For many Christians today it is fact of doctrine….Don’t expect to notice any difference; just believe that you have experienced the Spirit.”

    I report but do not endorse.

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  24. Does the WCF teach “ontological” infusion? neither Horton nor Gaffin is persuaded.

    Richard Gaffin, in Ordained Servant, reviewing Horton’s Covenant Union:

    “Horton voices reservations about the Reformed doctrine of regeneration. He finds problematic the way it has been formulated, in particular the notion that regeneration produces a habitual change and involves the INFUSION of new habits. This he sees as a lingering residue of the medieval ontology that eventually made the Reformation necessary. These concerns, with his own proposal, are articulated especially in Chapter 10 (“Covenantal Ontology and Effectual Calling”). The promising alternative for Horton is that the activity of the Holy Spirit in salvation is understood as an exercise of his energies that avoids “a causal scheme of infused habits” (213). I share fully Horton’s concerns about the notion sometime present in Reformed treatments… that regeneration is prior to effectual calling and produces an antecedent state addressed in effectual calling. That notion is quite problematic and ought to be rejected. “

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  25. Jonathan Edwards. Lloyd-Jones. Piper

    hmmmm… there’s 3 names of men who have been very helpful, not perfect in everything they wrote or said or did.

    haven’t found any that are perfect (and not in the Bible) so far…

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  26. Mark McCulley wrote: “Does the WCF teach “ontological” infusion? neither Horton nor Gaffin is persuaded.”

    GW: Whether or not it teaches an “ontological” infusion in the sense that is being debated in contemporary Reformed circles, the WCF (along with historic Reformed confessionalism) most certainly does teach that the sinner’s nature is really (ontologically?) renewed by the infusion of sanctifying grace, thereby enabling the justified, believing sinner more and more to die unto sin (mortification) and more and more to live unto righteousness (vivification), as can be seen from the sections from the Westminster Standards I quoted above. This is contrary to the claims of John Yaezel, who calls such ideas “fraudulent.” My point was, that if these teachings are “fraudulent,” then so is the historic confessional Reformed doctrine of sanctification.

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  27. Mark McCulley wrote: “I share fully Horton’s concerns about the notion sometime present in Reformed treatments… that regeneration is prior to effectual calling and produces an antecedent state addressed in effectual calling. That notion is quite problematic and ought to be rejected.”

    GW: I understand your (and Horton’s) concern that we avoid a Rome-ward leaning doctrine of regeneration. But when we remember that regeneration is grounded in Christ’s particular atonement for His elect (and thus it is a gift purchased for the elect by the meritorious obedience and sacrifice of Christ); and that Scripture clearly teaches that faith is the result (not the cause) of the new birth (1 Jn. 5:1; Jn. 1:12-13, etc.) and thus a sovereign-bestowed gift of God grounded in Christ’s redemption; and that justifying faith is impossible for a spiritually-dead sinner to exercise, faith itself being a gift of God purchased for His elect by Christ’s atonement (Eph. 2:8-9); then I think we need not fear a Rome-ward slippery slope.

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  28. Geoff, the quotation which begins ” I share fully Horton’s” is not from me but from Gaffin’s review in Ordained Servant. You might want to read the entire review.

    Nobody here (not me, nor Horton or Gaffin) is denying that effectual calling logically precedes faith in the true gospel. We are not born again because we believe the gospel. We believe the gospel because we are born again.

    The question has to do with traditional differences between “regeneration” and “effectual calling”, especially when that distinction is described in terms of “infusion” or indeed in terms of an “ontological state” previous to effectual calling.

    Of course, as Horton shows, there are other order of application questions involved. Surely faith is a result of the new birth, but just as surely the new birth is a blessing purchased by Christ’s work and given (and received) by God’s imputation. Since God justifies the ungodly, God’s justification can not be based on God’s gift of the new birth. II Peter 1:1 teaches that faith is given by means of Christ’s righteousness. Romans 8:10 teaches that life is a result of righteousness.

    There is always more to be said. But even the false gospels of Rome and of the Arminians teach a “regeneration by grace” and also that faith is God’s gift. What needs to be understood is that faith is not the righteousness, and that God does not impute faith as the righteousness. Faith is not imputed, but this does not mean that we should say that faith is “infused” by God.

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  29. John Y: Are you saying that the Holy Spirit does NOT lead the believer to hate his sin and more able to obey the law? Do you not hold to the doctrine of sanctification?

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  30. Alexander,

    I don’t hold to the doctrine of sanctification as taught by the Westminster confession of faith. I think what is taught in WCF leads to sanctimoniousness rather than sanctification (of course differing Reformed groups interpret those sections of the confession differently which leads me to wonder why no one has sought to amend some of the statements there). There are different senses of sanctification in the Scriptures. We are completely sanctified when we believe the Gospel. But there is a place for growth in grace and knowledge of Christ. I think the Lutherans capture the varying Scriptural senses of sanctification in their sanctification beliefs. And they are always looking at the atonement (the bloody death of Christ) as their means of growth in grace not any attitude they inwardly have or measuring their obedience to the law as the yardstick for their progress in sanctification. They think that can do more damage than good in the life of a believer. It either leads to despair and condemnation which does not get dislodged easily from the inner life of the believer or subtle forms of self-righteousness. What is important is that Christ has provided for the believer so that the believer is no longer under the law (because Christ fulfilled it) and therefore the power of guilt and condemnation for the sin which is still in the members has been dealt with already. This makes the believer a debtor to Christ which I think is a different mindset than the mortification and vivification model of sanctification.

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  31. Mark McCulley wrote: “Geoff, the quotation which begins ” I share fully Horton’s” is not from me but from Gaffin’s review in Ordained Servant. You might want to read the entire review.”

    GW: Thanks, Mark, for the exhortation to read this article in Ordained Servant. I confess I have not yet done so (so many things to read, so little time!), and it is obvious I need to acquaint myself more with this debate. That being said, at this point in my state of knowledge I find myself befuddled that anyone would worry about the Westminster / historically-confessional Reformed doctrine of regeneration and sanctification posing potential dangers for the doctrine of justification, at least if those doctrines have been properly understood within the context of the confessional standards. Could it be that on this one we in the confessional Reformed world are straining at gnats and swallowing camels?

    MM: “Nobody here (not me, nor Horton or Gaffin) is denying that effectual calling logically precedes faith in the true gospel. We are not born again because we believe the gospel. We believe the gospel because we are born again.”

    GW: Good. Understood.

    MM: “The question has to do with traditional differences between “regeneration” and “effectual calling”, especially when that distinction is described in terms of “infusion” or indeed in terms of an “ontological state” previous to effectual calling.”

    GW: In the Westminster Standards regeneration and effectual calling are closely connected (for example, WCF 10.3 on the regeneration of elect infants dying in infancy is in the chapter dealing with effectual calling); whatever distinctions are made between the two. Whatever else effectual calling does to the sinner’s “ontological state,” it is clear that before the sinner is effectually called his mind is unenlightened by the gospel and his will is unrenewed (Shorter Catechism # 31; Larger Catechism # 67). In effectual calling God takes away the heart of stone and gives to the elect sinner a heart of flesh (Confession of Faith 10.1). Sound very much like regeneration to me, a regeneration involving an “ontologically” renewed nature.

    MM: “Of course, as Horton shows, there are other order of application questions involved. Surely faith is a result of the new birth, but just as surely the new birth is a blessing purchased by Christ’s work and given (and received) by God’s imputation. Since God justifies the ungodly, God’s justification can not be based on God’s gift of the new birth. II Peter 1:1 teaches that faith is given by means of Christ’s righteousness. Romans 8:10 teaches that life is a result of righteousness.”

    GW: In Westminster & historic Reformed doctrine, justification is God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believing sinner, received by the instrumental condition of God-given faith alone. As you know, imputation has to do with an objective, outside-of-us legal declaration (i.e., God’s objective declaration of us as righteous in Christ in the courtroom of heaven, the benefits of which we receive sola fide). In the language of Westminster, it is an “act” of God’s free grace (“act” connotes that which is done outside of us, though credited/imputed to us). On the other hand, graces like regeneration and effectual calling and sanctification are said to be inward “works” of God’s free grace (i.e., gracious works that God “imparts” or “infuses” into the soul of the elect sinner). So the idea that regeneration is given to us by God’s imputation seems to me to confuse the transformative with the forensic. Certainly the elect are regenerated because Christ by His meritorious obedience and sacrifice (i.e., His righteousness) purchased the gift of regeneration for His elect (as per 2 Pet. 1:1), so if that is what you meant by your comment, then we agree as to substance. But regeneration itself is not legally “imputed”; only justification and adoption (both “acts” of God’s free grace) are. Rather, regeneration is “imparted” or “infused.” And the meritorious ground for all of this is Christ’s righteousness (active and passive) alone.

    Regarding your concern that “Justification can not be based on God’s gift of the new birth,” I would agree. All of God’s saving graces to the elect sinner (forensic justification, regeneration, effectual calling, sanctification, etc.) are based upon and grounded in the merit and sacrifice of Christ alone. Just because saving faith is the result of the new birth does not thereby make such faith the basis or ground of justification, for faith is simply the instrumental means by which we receive God’s declaration of righteousness in Christ (the “empty hand” that reaches out to receive Christ and His righteousness as He is offered in the gospel, to borrow from the D. James Kennedy illustration). In regeneration (which itself is grounded in Christ’s saving work alone), God enables the elect sinner to exercise justifying faith in Christ, which faith embraces Christ and His righteousness. I can see how this kind of talk would be a problem if we are confusing regeneration and the saving faith which flows from it with the ground or basis of justification (since they logically precede our justification). But if we remember that regeneration is purchased for the elect by Christ’s righteousness, and that faith is but the instrumental means of reception (rather than a ground or basis) of justification, then I don’t see why this is even an issue among us Reformed. Could it be that this whole debate is ultimately based upon misunderstanding, poor communication or a quibbling over semantics?

    Anyway, I look forward to reading the Gaffin article.

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  32. geoff:. On the other hand, graces like regeneration and effectual calling and sanctification are said to be inward “works” of God’s free grace (i.e., gracious works that God “imparts” or “infuses” into the soul of the elect sinner). So the idea that regeneration is given to us by God’s imputation seems to me to confuse the transformative with the forensic.

    mark: I hear this accusation all the time from folks with an “union priority”. But I still don’t understand it. If we say that the legal causes the inward work, that is cause and effect, and not an equation of the two. And this is a two way street. If the “union priority” folks say that the the inward union causes the legal, how is that not a confession of the inward and the legal?

    As I have suggested many times, part of the problem is lack of definition of “union”. Often those who speak of faith before God’s imputation will agree to a previous aspect of “union’ which is by election, but then they move on to a working definition of “union” which ignores that formal agreement. Also, they make a distinction between regeneration/calling and “union” (which they tend to still not define, but I think they mean the personal presence of Christ), but they also insist that regeneration and faith precede the “union”, while assuming that the “union” is not legal, and INSISTING that regeneration and faith (with “union”) precedes God’s imputation of righteousness.

    So, on the one hand, they say, this is just being too picky and precise, but on the other hand, they dogmatically assume that God waits to impute righteousness until after regeneration and faith. I want for us all to agree that the order matters, and after that, to talk about the biblical texts which makes us think that regeneration is one of the blessings given through Christ’s righteousness. This is important, because justification is of the ungodly. If the ungodly can get the new birth apart from Christ and His righteousness (ie, before “union”), what is the importance of Christ’s righteousness and God’s imputation of it?

    But to briefly repeat the point. No, saying the new birth is a consequence of God’s imputation does not confuse the new birth and justification . Nor am i saying that those who make faith-union the condition of God’s imputation are confusing inward union and justification.

    But the order question is important, if we are going to speak of the justification of the ungodly instead of the justification of the regenerate. Btw, Geoff, imputation should not be confused with justification. Those of us with an imputation priority do not teach that anybody can be justified apart from faith in the gospel. We are simply say that God’s imputation logically results in regeneration and faith and then justification. We are denying that God gives the new birth before God imputes Christ’s work.

    Geoff: Certainly the elect are regenerated because Christ by His meritorious obedience and sacrifice (i.e., His righteousness) purchased the gift of regeneration for His elect (as per 2 Pet. 1:1), so if that is what you meant by your comment, then we agree as to substance.

    mark: I hope so. But if you put regeneration before the imputation of Christ’s obedience, then you seem to ignore that agreement. Sure, atonement and regeneration are two different things. But regeneration is a result of the atonement. And God’s imputation is God legally distributing the atonement to all the elect (for whose sins Christ died)

    geoff: But regeneration itself is not legally “imputed”; only justification and adoption (both “acts” of God’s free grace) are.

    mark: but nobody (certainly not me) ever said that regeneration or faith were imputed. What we say is that God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness comes before regeneration and faith. We can debate that, but first, let’s understand what we are saying (and what we are not saying).

    geoff: Rather, regeneration is “imparted” or “infused.” And the meritorious ground for all of this is Christ’s righteousness (active and passive) alone.

    mark: Well, using the infusion word (or “imparted righteousness” language) is part of the discussion I would like to get to, which is about the relation of regeneration and calling, and also about character, natures, habits, wills, etc. It’s the topic of Horton’s book, which I would very much suggest you read, and not only Gaffin’s review of it.

    But surely you must have known that I was not saying that regeneration is imputed! My simple point is to ask— since it is true that Christ’s meritorious work is the ground for regeneration and faith, why is it wrong to speak of God’s imputation of that “meritorious ground” before the giving of those blessings? It does not mean “eternal justification”. It does not mean justification apart from regeneration and faith.

    Geoff: Regarding your concern that “Justification can not be based on God’s gift of the new birth,” I would agree. All of God’s saving graces to the elect sinner (forensic justification, regeneration, effectual calling, sanctification, etc.) are based upon and grounded in the merit and sacrifice of Christ alone.

    mark: yes, that’s my main point. And this is why I think God’s imputation comes first in the order of application. The Holy Spirit is certainly involved in God the Father’s effectual calling, but that inward spiritual work is the result and not the ground or condition, And to say that Christ’s work is the cause of the Spirit’s work is not to confuse Christ and the Spirit. Not is it to say that the work of the Spirit in “applying salvation” is not necessary. Romans 8;10–there is life because of the righteousness.

    georff: would be a problem if we are confusing regeneration and the saving faith which flows from it with the ground or basis of justification (since they logically precede our justification).

    mark: I think we would agree that we are thinking of the logic here, not of some great “time-lag” of preparation before faith and justification. Do regeneration and faith logically precede God’s imputation? That is the question. if you say so, then tell me why it’s logical. No faith, no justification. But also no imputation, then no faith.

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  33. Clair David from his essay, Systematics, Spirituality and the Christian Life, in the volume The Pattern of Sound Doctrine (for Strimple)

    p 276– Did they intend to say that people could be regenerate unbelievers, in the sense that they became regenerate years before becoming believers? It sounded that way.But when the theologians had discussed the order of salvation, they were thinking of a logical sequence, not an experiential one. Since one is truly dead in sin, of course he must first be brought to life .But that was not intending to send the message that before you even begin thinking about trusting Christ, you need to first determine that you are able to.The order, which in its original form in Romans 8 was intended to provide encouragement during persecution and suffering, had been turned on its head, twisted, and had become a threatening word—don’t you dare try to trust Christ until you’re sure you have a transformed heart.

    p270–”Just what is the connection between forgiveness and change? Roman Catholicism had suggested that being forgiven depended on your heart attitude. “

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  34. Cunha (The Emperor’s New Clothes, p 83)—”Whatever is made of the fact that the new birth precedes faith, the Biblical definition of faith itself must not be altered…To say that faith is merely an awareness of justification that has already occurred prior to faith is to define faith in a way that is foreign to Scripture….

    John Owen: “1. Regeneration doth not in order of time precede the sinner’s interest in the forgiveness that is with God, or its being made partaker of the pardon of sin. I say no more but that it doth not precede it in order of time. Faith is the radical grace which we receive in our regeneration, for it is by faith that our hearts are purified in the hand of the great purifier, the Spirit of God,

    2. It is hence evident, that an assurance of being regenerate is no way previously necessary unto the believing of an interest in forgiveness. When convinced persons cried out, “What shall we do to be saved?” the answer was “Believe in Christ, and in the remission of sin by his blood,” Sinners are not directed first to secure themselves that they are born again, and then afterward to believe; but they are first to believe that the remission of sin is in the blood of Christ, and that “by him they may be justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law.”

    Nor upon this proposition is it the duty of men to question whether they have faith or no, but actually to believe. And faith in its operation will evidence itself See Acts xiii. 38, 39. Suppose, then, that you do not know that you are regenerate, that you are born of God,-that you have no prevailing, refreshing, constant evidence or persuasion thereof,-should this hinder you? Should this discourage you from believing forgiveness, from closing with the promises, and thereby obtaining in yourselves an interest in that forgiveness that is with God? ” (Owen, Works, Volume 6, pages 597-598.)

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  35. John Y: You’re Lutheran? Apologies, I thought you were Reformed. I didn’t realise that Lutherans were so antinomian, but at least you’re not trying to claim the Westminster standards teach antinomianism.

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  36. Alexander: I am not persuaded that the Scriptures teach baptismal regeneration, universal atonement or election as the Lutherans understand it. I also get confused with how Lutherans understand saving faith and unbelief (so that it is possible for someone to lose his justification). And I remain miffed about the sacraments. Maybe I am just confused but I don’t like to think so. I try to think as clearly as I am capable. I could just accept the confessions without question but I don’t think that is helpful for spiritual growth.

    You might want to add an indepedent and individualist to your accusation of antinomianism too. The bottom line is I am much more worried about despair (condemnation and guilt) and subtle forms of self-righteousness than antinomianism. However, like Paul, I like to think I uphold the law due to the fact that the justice of God is known and met through the law. Christ had to fulfill it in order for His elect to get imputed with His righteousness and get declared righteous by God while being placed into the death of Christ. I also know I am a sinner through the law because sin works alongside with the law to make me aware that my flesh is still exceedingly sinful. The death of Christ met the just demands of God’s Law which I cannot fulfill without the work of Christ. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man but I see another law in my members waging war with the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” So then even though I “delight” in the law I still often don’t obey it like Christ did. And then you have the thorny problem of what law you are talking about- old covenant law, new covenant law, modern civic law, natural law, etc., etc.

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  37. John Y: Well, the moral law. The law given to Adam to obey with the promise of eternal life in the covenant of works; the law Christ perfectly obeyed on behalf of the elect that His perfect obedience might be credited to their account; the law that we are now enabled to obey- though progressively and always imperfectly- as we are sanctified by the Spirit indwelling us.

    That law.

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  38. Alexander says: “the law that we are now enabled to obey- though progressively and always imperfectly- as we are sanctified by the Spirit indwelling us.”

    That law.

    John Y says: progressively and imperfectly are non-specific words. So if you have the right attitude and are trying to obey the law (by the enabling power of the Spirit) then you can claim you are not antinominian even though you are not obeying it like the covenant of works commands you to? You are thinking both/and rather than either/or. And you are thinking mortification, vivification rather than debtor to Christ and obedience to the doctrine of the New Covenant. I find looking at anything indwelling does more harm than good- there are too many confusing indwelling elements, ie., flesh, sin, mind, spirit, Christ, Holy Spirit, conscience, memories, intuition, members, etc. The only thing indwelling I can bear looking at is Christ indwelling so that I am crucified with Christ. The Holy Spirit then brings this to my remembrance all the time- hence, I walk in the Spirit when I believe the Gospel.

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  39. That is mere head knowledge. The Spirit indwells the believer and He is at work in the believer. You say that sanctification is resting on fuzzy notions but you rest on a mere formula: Christ died for me. On what do you base that resting? What evidences do you look for in your life? What graces do you look for in your life? How does a session decide if your profession is credible if nothing changes in you because of faith?

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  40. Alexander says: “That is mere head knowledge…..”

    John Y: You sound like Richard now- are you of the Edwardsian Calvinist school or are you still referencing the WCF? The evidence I look for is that I know what the biblical Gospel is and that I believe it. I know who Jesus is and the work He performed for His elect to satisfy the requirements of God’s justice in order that God can declare His elect justified and place His elect into the death of Christ; hence I am imputed with Christ’s righteousness and am no longer under the law but under grace. I have died to any legal hope that I can fulfill the requirements of God’s justice on my own. Christ did it for me. As a result of this imputation I have been given the gift of faith in the Gospel, the gift of righteousness, the forgiveness of my past, present and any future sins along with all the benefits of Christ’s sending the Spirit to indwell me. The Spirit is life BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. It is the legal declaration that is the “real” and has the priority. The Spirit is the result of the imputed righteousness. So I ask myself do I really believe what Christ did for me or am I trusting in some condition I have to meet, some evidence in my performance or some things some session is telling me I have to meet in order for them to accept me.

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  41. I forgot something. The law has to do the work of convincing me that I am morally bankrupt and unable to obey the law in my flesh. That is why I think understanding and believing the true Gospel is walking in the Spirit. Because you believe Christ had to do this for you, fallen man cannot do it. He fulfilled the law for those He died for (the elect) and imputes this work to His elect. That is my only hope, not any internal righteousness I think is worked in my by the Spirit.

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  42. While I am very thankful for men like John MaCarthur for faithfully proclaiming the Gospel and his rightly putting out his new book about why cessationism is accurate theology, I remain nonetheless frustrated at continued blurring of lines as to what is allowed to be called or considered “reformed”. While that is frustrating what is down right distressing is when “Reformed” leadership allows and promotes it. Strange Fire indeed. Seems that for the Piper/Grudem devotees within Reformed Presbyterianism it would serve them well to recall their historic Confessions as an anchor to more accurate, intellectually and theologically honest paths. If not then why not just have the stones to go Baptist? Some of us are Presbyterian for good reasons.

    But I am probably wasting even the precious 2 min it took me to type this up and send it. After all no Reformed Presbyterian elders, pastors or lay people are ever highly influenced by the work of such folk as Charismatic Calvinistic Baptist’s. A Presbyterian church would certainly never operate its ministry focus around such theologies. Who ever heard of such a thing! ?? (insert foot in mouth here) 🙂 That reminds me of the one I often heard circa 2006….sounded like this……’The Federal Vision is not a big concern or problem in the PCA, move along, these are not the droids you are looking for.”

    In Light of the Gospel,

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  43. John Y: the natural man can believe that Christ died for the elect and that He is the only way to salvation, but it is mere head knowledge. The Confession tells us that one aspect of saving faith is a yielding to the commands of God. Saving faith results in fruit: the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are sons of God. You may not like the idea of the Spirit working in the soul of the believer but Pail certainly thought it worth mentioning. Maybe because that is what happens when someone is regenerated.

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  44. Alexander: I think it is impossible for the natural man to believe that Christ died for the elect. At least they can’t believe that with saving faith. You are misinterpreting what I am saying. I never said anything like I do not like the idea of the Spirit working in the soul of the believer. I said the Spirit works (or is life) BECAUSE OF THE (IMPUTED) RIGHTEOUSNESS. I think the issue between you and me is in how the Sprit works in the soul; you are thinking mortification and vivication and I am questioning that is the way the Spirit works. I also say that without the legal imputation (or legal union) there will be no spiritual union. The legal has the priority and therefore is what you trust in when looking for evidences.and assurance of faith.

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  45. They certainly can’t believe that in a saving sense, I quite agree. But the natural man can assent to the doctrines of the faith without having a heart belief: applying the promises and salvation to himself, which is only ever a result of regeneration. I think we have to be careful that we don’t make the unbeliever someone who is always in open opposition to the Christian religion. That is not always the case.

    I would agree with most of what you say: our salvation is absolutely based on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. That is our justification. It is a once only event and is totally monergistic and outwith our control. However that results in the indwelling of the Spirit which leads to newness of life and increasing holiness. Not as a ground for salvation, but as a result. And the resulting sanctification and graces are what we look to when examining ourselves whether we are the Lord’s, whilst always remembering that too much introspection is dangerous. We must strike a balance: but we need to be examining ourselves as well as resting on our justification.

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  46. Alexander: I am going to continue to pursue this because I don’t think you can separate the head and the heart. They are spoken of as identical in Scripture most of the time. Maybe 10 percent of the time the heart has volitional implications and another 10 percent may have something to do with emotion or feeling. The other 80 percent you cannot tell the difference between heart and mind when the Scriptures use the words.

    The other thing I take issue with is this: “And the resulting sanctification and graces are what we look to when examining ourselves whether we are the Lord’s, whilst always remembering that too much introspection is dangerous. We must strike a balance: but we need to be examining ourselves as well as resting on our justification.”

    Show me where Paul gives any indication that what you say is how we determine whether we are the Lords or not. Paul says nothing of the sort. The only time he makes mention of how to determine whether you are the Lords or not is in Romans chapter 8: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he is not His. And if Christ is in you the body is dead because of sin but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if He who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwells in you.”

    It is a stated fact in Scripture that we died with Christ if we have been placed into His death and imputed with His righteousness. We have a hard time believing that because our members are still screaming out at us that we still have fleshly desires. There seems to be no evidence of “increasing desire for holiness” often in our lives. So how can one make that the evidence that we are the Lord’s. You can suppress that truth and put on a false mask to trick everybody but I don’t think that does anyone any good. I think you have to stop “trying” to be holy and just believe that you are holy already. Then you can perform good works towards your neighbors. Only after you stop trying to be holy and looking for holy evidences in your life.

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  47. Certain puritan experimentalists move “purgatory” into this life, before the first death. Max Weber called it a work-ethic to confirm to ourselves that we are elect.

    The Persistence of Purgatory (Richard K Fenn) traces Western attitudes toward time back to the myth of Purgatory. As popular understandings of Purgatory became increasingly secularized, the lifespan of the individual became correspondingly purgatorial. No time could be wasted. Fenn demonstrates the impact of Purgatory on the preaching of Richard Baxter and William Channing, but he also argues that John Locke’s views can only be understood when placed within the context of a belief in Purgatory.

    Roman Catholics like Sungenis will always talk about a “difference” between a paradigm with quid pro quo conditions and an “in the family now” paradigm with “mysterious conditions”. But I would shift the paradigm comparison to that between those who teach that Christians are enabled to meet “conditions in the covenant” and those who refuse any notion of “conditionality” except that which depends on Christ’s finished work.

    Puritran preachers keeping telling us to ask ourselves— am I the fourth dirt in the parable, or one of the other three?

    I am neither an Arminian nor a federal visionist, and I don’t believe that the justified elect lose their election, and therefore I don’t think that Christians have to do stuff to stay in the new covenant. But puritan legalists tend to let you in the “family” by faith alone (or even without that if you are an infant) but then after a while, they will let you out the back door if your faith is still alone. In addition to faith, they ask—what have you done lately?

    It’s like my wife saying to me—the courtship can not stop now. Sure, I married you already but now I want to see the big house with the bird nests in the big back yard. I am not denying that a husband should do stuff for his wife. But I ask the puritan– how much does a husband have to do in order to keep the wife! Is it always just a little bit more than what I have done already?

    When I walked down that aisle 35 years ago, was I thinking— now that I am married, I don’t need to love her? It’s not strictly “quid pro quo” necessary? I need to love her, since it’s “conditionally in tension with grace”?

    Our works are not necessary to obtain God’s blessings. Romans 4:4—“To the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due”.

    What I do for my wife is not like mortgage payments on a note which can never be burned. I am not like Jacob who had to work seven more years after he got in the family (and that after seven years already)

    Married is married. What we do does not keep us married.There is no cause-effect relationship between our works and some second final justification, because the elect are saved by Christ’s work. Christians share in what Christ has, not because of what they do but because they are still married to Christ.

    The legalists warn us that the new covenant now expects more of us because we COULD now do more if you wanted to. Despite talk of the divine assistance available, the subtext is threatening and ominous– it’s not strict and perfect we want, but we shall wait and see what you do, and we will never say it specifically about you, but we will accuse and interrogate you in a general way

    Sure it’s great, they say, to be united to Christ but how am I to know that I will keep covenant from now on in (so let me die first before I do something which will put me out of the covenant) This is what I mean by purgatory now

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  48. Galatians 6:1-5

    Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.

    Puritan legalists don’t do that, and can’t do that!

    Make your calling and election sure. How do we do that? Peter has just told us at the start of this passage. Everything we need pertaining to eternal life and godliness we have already received by way of eternal life. We make our calling and election sure by reminding ourselves of the gospel. Believe the gospel, again and again.. Know that God is trustworthy. Know that what He says about His people is true. Then, and only then, will your efforts to not be a terrible father please Him. This doesn’t mean you won’t be a terrible father. It just means that should and when you fail, the brothers will remind you that God has cleansed you from even this sin too.

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  49. Some excerpts on Sanctification from Fisher’s Catechism should settle this:

    Q. 10. In what do they differ in their matter?
    A. The matter of justification is the righteousness of Christ; but the matter of sanctification is the fullness of Christ communicated, or grace imparted from him, out of whose fullness we receive, “and grace for grace,” John 1:16.

    Q. 11. How do they differ as to their kind?
    A. Justification makes a relative, sanctification a real change: the first changes a man’s state, the other changes his heart and life, Ezek. 36:26.

    Q. 12. How do they differ as to their form, or manner of conveyance?
    A. Justification is effected by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us; sanctification, by the implantation of his grace in us.

    Q. 16. How do they differ as to their extent?
    A. Although justification respects the whole person, yet, it immediately terminates upon conscience, God’s deputy, purging it from dead works, and pacifying it with the sprinkling of the blood of Christ; nothing giving true peace to conscience, but that which gave full satisfaction to justice: but by sanctification we are renewed in the whole man, Eph. 4:23, 24.

    Q. 17. How do they differ as to their ingredients?
    A. The main ingredient in justification is the grace and love of God towards us, manifested in pardoning and accepting us in Christ; whereas the main ingredient in sanctification is our gratitude and love to God, flowing from his love to us, and appearing in our obedience and keeping his commandments, by virtue of his “Spirit put within us, and causing us to walk in his statutes,” Ezek. 36:27.

    Q. 18. How do they differ as to evidence?
    A. Justification is evidenced by our sanctification; for none can warrantably conclude they are justified by the righteousness of Christ, if not students of true holiness, and groaning under a body of sin and death: but sanctification cannot be evidenced by our justification; which being the hidden root of holiness under ground, does not appear, except in lively actings of justifying faith, and other graces, which are internal branches of sanctification; sometimes inwardly discerned by the believer, and sometimes outwardly discovered to others by works, James 2:18.

    Q. 19. How do they differ in their relation to the law?
    A. Justification has relation to the law, as a covenant, and frees the soul from it, Rom. 7:4; sanctification respects the law as a rule, and makes the soul breathe after conformity to it, and to delight in it after the inward man, Rom. 7:22; hence justification is a judicial sentence, absolving us from law-debt; sanctification, a spiritual change, fitting us for law-duty.

    Q. 21. How do they differ in their use to believers?
    A. Justification gives us a title to heaven and eternal life; sanctification gives a meetness for it: justification is God’s act, pronouncing our persons righteous in Christ, and taking away the guilt of sin; sanctification is the Spirit’s work, cleansing our nature, and taking away the filth of sin: by the former, we are instated into the favour of God; by the latter, adorned with the image of God.

    Q. 27. After whose image is the whole man renewed?
    A. After the image of God; consisting in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24.

    Q. 32. In what consists ACTUAL sanctification?
    A. In being enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness, Rom. 6:4, 6.

    Q. 36. How does the grace of God enable us to die to sin, and live to righteousness?
    A. It enables us more and more, 1 Thess. 4:1, or, by little and little, from time to time; for, “the path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” Prov. 4:18; and “they go from strength to strength,” Psalm 84:7.

    Q. 38. Why is not actual sanctification perfected in this life, but still a remainder of corruption left in God’s people?
    A. To make them know from experience, the strength of sin, the necessity of mortifying grace, and of the abundance of pardoning grace, 2 Cor. 12:7-9; and to keep them exercised in prayer and humiliation, in the faith and hope of deliverance from a body of sin and death, through Christ, Rom. 7:24, 25.

    Q. 43. In what consists the excellency of sanctification?
    A. It is the end and design of our election, Eph. 1:4; of our effectual calling, 2 Tim. 1:9; of our justification and deliverance from the law as a covenant, Rom. 6:14; and of our adoption, Eph. 1:4, 5:it is the end both of mercies and crosses, Rom. 2:4, Isa. 27:9; and, in a word, it is the end and design of all the precepts of the law, the promises of the gospel, and the operation of the Spirit of God.

    Q. 44. Whence arises the necessity of holiness, or sanctification?
    A. From the holy nature and will of God: for “it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy,” 1 Pet. 1:16; and “this is the will of God, even our sanctification,” 1 Thess. 4:3; and from the death of Christ, “who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” Tit. 2:14.

    Q. 45. For what good end and use is sanctification necessary?
    A. Not for justification before God; but for evidencing our justification and faith, James. 2:18. It is necessary for glorifying God, Matt. 5:16, and showing forth his praise, 1 Pet. 2:19; for adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour, Tit. 2:10; for proving our union to Christ, John 15:5, 6; for promoting inward peace and rejoicing, Psalm 119:165, 2 Cor. 1:12; for maintaining fellowship and communion with God, John 14:21, 23; for making us meet for heaven, because without holiness no man shall see the Lord, Heb. 12:14; for making us useful to men on earth, Tit. 3:8; and for stopping the mouth of calumny when we are reproached as evil doers, 1 Pet. 3:16.

    Q. 51. What are the marks of sanctification?
    A. A heart-respect to all God’s commandments, and loving them because they are holy; a hatred of sin, and avoiding of all appearance of evil; a spirit of watchfulness and warfare against sin; a delight in doing good; a conversation becoming the gospel; and an habitual improvement of the blood of Christ by faith and prayer, for cleansing from the filth of sin, and of the precious promises for that end, 2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Pet. 1:4.

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  50. “There is a widely prevalent theory, that truth may be of the feelings as well as of the intellect; that it may not only come thus from two independent sources, but may be contradictory so that what is true to the feelings may be false to the intellect and visa versa; and that as moral character and so Christian life are rooted in the voluntary nature, of which the feelings are an expression, the Christian life may be developed and, some say, would better be developed, without reference to such intellectual conceptions as doctrinal statements. This theory is radically false. Feeling can give knowledge no more than can excitement. As Prof. Bowen has well said, “Feeling is a state of mind consequent on the reception of some idea.” That is, it does not give knowledge; it presupposes it.
    Zeal without knowledge is dangerous and short-lived.

    William Brenton Greene, Jr.
    “Broad Churchism and the Christian Life,” Princeton Theological Review, 4 (July 1906), pp. 311-13.

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  51. Jay Adams: “If heart is used to refer to feelings or emotions as over against thought or intellect, that use is discordant with Scripture. Never in the Bible is the word heart set over against the head or the intellectual processes. That is a modern, Western idea of heart, introduced into the Bible from the outside. One would never get that idea from the Bible itself. Indeed, that is a Roman rather that a Biblical view of the heart. The Valentine’s Day cupid, shooting arrows through little red or pink hearts, is the culprit behind this modern, unbiblical view. To Western origins may be attributed all of our romantic notions, which include the idea of heart-as-feeling. No such conception can be found in the Scriptures.”

    Jay Adams: “Consider instead what is contrasted with the word heart in the Bible. In Matthew 15:8, for instance, we read that the people honor God “with their lips, but their heart is far from” him. That sort of contrast is regularly made in the Scriptures. You find the same thing in the well-known passage in Romans 10 in which we are told that it is not enough to confess Christ with the mouth; the one making the profession also must believe in his heart. Notice the contrast: heart/lips, heart/mouth. In the important passage 1 Samuel 16:7, we are assured that “man looks on the outward appearances but God looks on the heart.” Plainly, in all of these pivotal passages there is a contrast between the heart as something inner and the lips, mouth, and appearance as something outer. That is the true Biblical contrast, not a contrast between intellect and emotion.”

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  52. “Some confused Christians are not satisfied even with faith, on the ground that James says the devils believe and tremble. They fail to note that James said no more than that the devils believe in monotheism. If they believe some other things also, James does not tell us what they are. Saving faith involves belief, a voluntary acceptance as true, of some other propositions as well.”
    Gordon Clark, Lord God of Truth, p 44

    Clark: “There are those who emphasize a distinction between theoretical knowledge and practical Christian living. Or they may contrast head knowledge and heart knowledge, or use some other phrases. Such language is confused. Non-Christians can understand Christian doctrine very well. The persecutor Saul understood Christian doctrine. The better he understood it, the more intensely he persecuted. The difference was that Saul consider the doctrines false and blasphemous, while the Christians believed them to be true. Hence, while we insist that understanding is indispensable, we also insist that belief or faith is so too.”

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  53. Marl- I’m not really sure what po int your quotes are meant to make, or what their relevance is to this discussion. Heart should not rule head? Well, yes. Who said it should?

    If you think that’s what the excerpts from Fisher’s Catechism were saying then you clearly didn’t understand them. And if you think there’s no distinction between mere head knowledge and true saving faith then I wonder about your understanding of the Christian religion. I would recommend you spend more time reading the old divines rather than modern writers.

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  54. On the other hand, I am simply wondering about your ability to read with your head. The quotations are not contrasting head and heart. They are saying that the Bible equates head and heart. Of course you might be too much of a romantic or a revivalist for your head to agree with that.

    Not all old guys agree. Not all new guys agree with that. Romanism is very very old. Your distinction between heart and the intellect is relatively new.

    Of course the “new school” has been around for a while. Jonathan Edwards and the ‘sweet” parts of the Puritans that Banner of Truth tends to publish.

    But the “old school” is still around also. If you want to quote Al Martin or some new puritans, it won’t matter to me, unless you deal with what the Bible itself says about “heart” and about the power of the gospel resulting in Knowledge. Knowledge is a good thing, if that knowledge comes from the Bible.

    Hint: you might want to read not only your own last post, but also the posts which come before.

    What does you heart tell you about that, Alexander?

    Does your heart have its own reasons, those too deep for words to confess?

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  55. Considering the old school in America itself compromised on Reformed doctrine- the amendments to the Confession- then you need to convince me that they are the touchstone of Reformed orthodoxy. You keep speaking from an American context; I’m not interested in your American context except in so far as you are teaching and collaborating with error.

    Romans 10:8-10
    But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; [9] That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [10] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    I think there is a clear twofold element here: it’s not just confessing that Christ is Lord with one’s mouth(/head) but also having faith in the heart. Paul brings both elements together as necessary for there to be saving faith. There is no faith without it touching the heart as well as the mouth.

    Anyway, my point was that there are those who are part of the visible church, who do not openly oppose the doctrines of the church, who obey the command to worship God and yet are not regenerate. Do you dispute this? Or is everyone in every church you’ve ever been in converted?

    I also wonder why you’re arguing with John against me if you claim to be an old school Reformed man: John said at the beginning of this that he rejects the Westminster understanding of sanctification. Am I to conclude you do too?

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  56. Also, once again, I never refuted the importance of knowledge. What I said was agreeing with an intellectual proposition- Christ died for the elect- is not the same as having saving faith. True faith does more than agree with intellectual propositions: it bears fruit.

    James 2:14-18
    What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? [15] If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, [16] And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? [17] Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. [18] Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

    John Y has repeatedly said he rests upon the proposition that Christ died for him. I merely ask how he knows that if that faith does not bear fruit in his life- i.e. sanctification. This is what is addressed in the Westminster standards. You can reject them if you want, but don’t call yourself Reformed if you do.

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  57. alexander: I think there is a clear twofold element here: it’s not just confessing that Christ is Lord with one’s mouth(/head) but also having faith in the heart.

    mark: here you do the very thing Jay Adams told you not to do. The biblical contrast is lips (mouth) vs heart (head), but you translate this as lips (head). The Bible conflates heart and head, but you don’t like that, so you conflate mouth and head. You ignore the biblical data, because your mind is already made up. You think what you think is correct, but it’s not. I feel you…

    alexander: Paul brings both elements together as necessary for there to be saving faith. There is no faith without it touching the heart as well as the mouth.

    mark: of course, but the heart in the Bible is your mind, your will, and not your emotions or “affections”.

    alexander: Anyway, my point was that there are those who are part of the visible church, who do not openly oppose the doctrines of the church, who obey the command to worship God and yet are not regenerate.

    mark: if you wanted to research what I think about this in the comments on this blog, sure, i am on record many times as agreeing to the visible/ invisible contrast. Of course I am not Reformed, and never claimed to be. I am also congregationalist, so I don’t go around saying “the church” (except in the generic sense, ie, the chair is furniture). But the visible/invisible difference certainly does not entail the corollary either that we must accept infants without profession or that we must refuse infants without a parent. Nor does the visible/invisible distinction mean that the “heart” is not your “mind” (both are inner realities)

    alexander: Do you dispute this? Or is everyone in every church you’ve ever been in converted?

    mark: I have no idea why you think I think that everybody in a visible congregation is justified or one for whom Christ died. I certainly don’t. (Notice I tend to talk about atonement and justification, and not about “evidences of regeneration”). But then do I think the solution for lost people in the congregation is to turn the gospel indicatives into threatening questions. The answer is not for folks to “shape up and get serious about their faith” but for them to believe (again or for the first time) the good news of the gospel. The gospel does not tell anybody that “Christ died for you”. I am not sure how you can read what I have been writing and think that I am some kind of sacramentalist telling people the “for you”

    Colossians 3:4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

    “experiemntalists” like turn indicatives into questions

    as in, “Christ is your life” becomes “is Christ your life?”

    “you will also appear with him” becomes “will you appear with him?”

    “the wrath of God is coming because of these” becomes “is the wrath of God coming on you?”

    “experimentalists” also turn imperatives into indicatives

    “put away wrath” becomes “those who put away wrath are Christians”

    “put to death idolatry” becomes “those who put away idolatry are Christians”

    Alexander: I also wonder why you’re arguing with John against me if you claim to be an old school Reformed man: John said at the beginning of this that he rejects the Westminster understanding of sanctification. Am I to conclude you do too?

    mark: I don’t claim to even even Reformed, let alone “old school”. I don’t share your preference for old puritans when some very clear stuff is being written now by folks like David Gordon and Mike Horton. I didn’t know that I was arguing with John Y. I thought I was disagreeing with you. John Y is a big boy and can speak for himself. Are you some kind of fundamentalist who thinks there are only two sides, your side and then everybody else all together on the other side.

    I have written some essays about ‘sanctification”, and also about the Westminster Confession on “sanctification”. The main problem is not what it says, but what it leaves unsaid, since it does not talk about Hebrews 10:10-14, which is being set apart by the blood of Christ. But since I am not Reformed, the Westminster Confession is not my problem.

    Why write more, when you haven’t read or understood the posts just on this one thread?

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  58. I am with you in your scepticism of the revivalistic approach to piety. What I take issue with is that you equate the doctrine of sanctification with pietism: as if expecting growth in righteousness and holiness and looking for the evidences of such in oneself is pietism. To me it sounds like you are the one who holds to either/or: either you rest in intellectual assent or you’re a pietist who is running away with his emotions.

    Of course knowledge must come first: you must know what to believe before you can believe it. But faith is not merely knowledge. It bears fruit in the life of the believer. Why does Paul ask us to examine ourselves before partaking of the Supper if we aren’t to be looking for such evidences?

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  59. When you “discern the body”, Alexander, what are you doing? Are you looking inside your self? Are you looking in your heart, which is your mind? Do other Christians have anything to do with “the body”? Or is there some “non-intellectual” emotional state which you are seeking so that the sacred becomes in that moment separated from the profane?

    You do know, don’t you, Alexander, that the words “intellectual assent” are not to be found in the Bible or the Confessions, don’t you?

    No cognition, no will, then no assent. But maybe you have something against assent to the gospel? I don’t care if you refuse the label of pietist or revivalist, if you don’t like assent to knowledge and understanding, then you don’t like what the power of the gospel does.

    If you are looking at the water to see if you are looking at Jesus, then you will not be looking at Jesus but at the water. If you try to experience Jesus apart from the Bible’s revelation, you will be ignorant of the divine mediation,

    Why does Peter command us to make our calling and election sure before we even begin to add on virtues?

    When you say that faith is not “merely” knowledge, I understand you to be denying ‘faith alone”. You seem to want to say that faith is also the works which are the fruit of faith.

    But how can you know if your works (your fruit) are works resulting from faith without knowing first and already that you have faith in the gospel? But if your faith is also in your fruit, then it’s not faith in what Christ did. It can’t be what Christ did plus what the Spirit does in you. If what Christ did to satisfy the law is not enough, then Christ’s death was in vain. Galatians 2:21

    How do you know that the works you think of as “evidences” are not “dead works”?

    If that which is “more than faith” is not “works”, then what is it? And more practically, Alexander, are you doing enough of this “more” ? Do you see in your life enough evidence today for you to be sure that there will be enough evidence in your life tomorrow to know that you are a Christian? Are you sure? Or, are you sure that being too sure is not good for us?

    Is the “practical syllogism” working for you? It was to the workers that Jesus said in Matthew 7–“I never knew you”.The objector in James argued—and I will show you my faith by works.

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  60. Again and again you accuse me of making emotions some sort of separate element- I haven’t even mentioned emotions- and of saying that our faith is in our works. I have said no such thing. It is you who seems to be denying that we are to look for the fruit of faith in our life, which directly contradicts Scripture. James explicitly condemns those who speak only words but show no fruit of faith in their lives, who have no works, to the extent that he even says the believer is justified by his works, as Abraham was, as an example.

    And of course he is not talking about justification in the sense of being made right with God. You will accuse me of that but, for the record, I categorically deny it. But James makes the statement that faith is justified, is made perfect by works. You must contend with that, and you have not. True faith is not dead, it will bear fruit.

    Again, I had made clear that one must assent intellectually to the Gospel- but there are those who can do that without having saving faith. Again you have failed to contend with that reality.

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  61. Alexander, are you doing enough of this “more than assent”? ? Do you see in your life enough evidence today for you to be sure that there will be enough evidence in your life tomorrow to know that you are a Christian? Are you sure?

    This was a real question. It was to workers that Jesus said in Matthew 7–”I never knew you . “How do you know that your works you think of as “evidences” are not “dead works”? Whatever that is “not assent” and “more than assent”, do you have enough of it? Not yesterday, but today?

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  62. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

    The nature of the 3 reasons given here don’t get enough scrutiny for where they belong.

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  63. Lent: “The nature of the 3 reasons given here don’t get enough scrutiny for where they belong.”

    mark: I don’t know what this means. Do you think they were lying on the last day about the three things they had done to show their faith and prove to themselves that they really believed? Or do you think they didn’t do enough of these things?

    Do we have to do more, and with more sincerity and enthusiasm (“more than assent”) than these guys did if we are to have assurance?

    If you don’t know that you are in Christ, how would you know if your works were done in Christ?

    If you are to know you are in by your fruitful activity (works being such a code word), how can you know that your fruitful activity is done after you are in? If you are in a state of condemnation, then you are dead and your works are dead works, unacceptable to God (not as the righteousness of course, and no not as the faith either but not even accepted as the proof of those two)?

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  64. In Taste and See (Multnomah,1999, p 325), John Piper writes. “Christ died for all sinners, so that IF you will repent and believe in Christ, then the death of Jesus will become effective in your case and will take away your sins. ‘Died for you,’ means if you believe, the death of Jesus will cover your sins. Now, as far as it goes, this is biblical teaching.”

    Piper then goes on to disagree with Arminians for not teaching that Christ died to purchase faith for the elect. But he does not disagree with the Arminians about propitiation and substitution and punishment.

    Piper’s gospel does not teach that Christ was specifically punished for the elect alone. It still only has a punishment in general, to be assigned to those who believe. But Piper also insists that Christ also died for the elect to give them something extra that He will not be giving the non-elect.

    Piper’s gospel fails to report that Christ was punished specifically for the elect alone. Because of this silence, because he wants to be Reformed and evangelical Arminian at the same time, Piper can be heard (is often heard) as saying that there was enough punishment done to Christ to save even people who will perish. It was enough, but then it wasn’t enough. Why not?

    Without specific imputation of specific sins, what is left is a “sufficiency” which is not enough to save all for whom Christ died.
    In this coalition gospel, the news is not about a punishment of Christ that replaces the punishment for all whom Christ intended to save. This punishment-in-general gospel (with faith purchased extra for the intended elect) makes the really decisive atonement to be something other than the punishment of Christ. It makes the real reconciliation to be the Spirit Christ purchased giving people faith to believe, even if they happen to believe a message that says Christ died for every sinner.

    If we jump ahead to the things Christ has bought for believers, even including their believing, without telling it straight about the punishment of Christ specifically for the elect, then we will continue to love a gospel which has no election in it. If we jump ahead in that way, we differ from the New Testament in which God’s love for the elect is never described apart from the death of Christ.

    Of course the coalition gospel talks about justification by Christ’s imputed righteousness, but without ever talking about God’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ. It won’t say whose sins were imputed to Christ. It won’t say when God imputed those sins to Christ.

    It refuses to say anybody’s sins were imputed to Christ, because it refuses to say it was the sins of the elect alone which were imputed to Christ. Such a gospel cannot tell the truth about the nature of God’s love for the elect.

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  65. E. Burns – That reminds me of the one I often heard circa 2006….sounded like this……’The Federal Vision is not a big concern or problem in the PCA, move along, these are not the droids you are looking for.”

    Erik – Well-played.

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