Stunning

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Universal propitiation, expiation, atonement?

Just trying to provide a response to the ideas promoted by David Ponter over at my old place concerning the subject of Limited atonement.See thread here for context.
Mark
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PROPITIATION IN I JOHN 2:2
(A Doctrinal Study on the Extent of the Atonement)
Dr. Gary D. Long

_____________________

Introduction

In discussing the design or extent of the atonement, there are three key doctrinal terms which are related to the priestly sacrifice of Christ on earth, that is, to the finished work of Christ. These terms are redemption, propitiation and reconciliation. Evangelical Arminians and Calvinistic "four point" universalists or modified Calvinists1 hold that there is a universal design of the atonement which provides salvation for all mankind without exception or which places all of Adam's posterity in a savable state. They contend that there is a twofold application of these three doctrinal terms — an actual application for those who believe, a provisional application for those who die in unbelief. The historic "five point" or consistent Calvinist2 asserts that these terms have no substitutionary reference with respect to the non-elect. In contrast to the former who hold to an indefinite atonement, the consistent Calvinist, who holds to a definite atonement, sees no purpose, benefit or comfort in a redemption that does not redeem, a propitiation that does not propitiate or a reconciliation that does not reconcile, which would be the case if these terms were applicable to the non-elect.
For those who have wrestled with the extent of the atonement, they are acutely aware that there are three problem verses3 which the five point Calvinist must scripturally answer if he is to consistently sustain a biblical position before the modified Calvinist that the saving design of the atonement is intended by the triune God only for the elect. These verses are II Peter 2:1, which pertains to redemption; I John 2:2, which pertains to propitiation; and II Corinthians 5:19, which pertains to reconciliation. If the particular redemptionist can scripturally establish in any of these verses that God's design of the atonement does not extend to the non-elect, then the theological case for the unlimited redemptionist crumples. In summary, if universal propitiation in I John 2:2 cannot be biblically established, then what purpose does a universal redemption in II Peter 2:1 or a universal reconciliation in II Corinthians 5:19 serve? Can it be true that God the Son redeemed the non-elect for whom God the Father's wrath will never be propitiated (satisfied or appeased) by virtue of Christ's death or that God the Father has been reconciled by virtue of Christ's death to the non-elect upon whom His condemning wrath eternally abides (John 3:36)?
The purpose of this doctrinal appendix (the second in a series by the author on problem verses relating to the extent of the atonement) is to theologically approach I John 2:2, which relates to propitiation — the second of the three major doctrinal terms. May those who have believed through grace find this appendix of much help in their doctrinal study of the Word of God.


Propitiation in the New Testament

The term "propitiation" (hilasmos) means "satisfaction," "appeasement." Theologically, propitiation means that God's wrath against sin, demanded by His justice, is appeased on account of the death of Christ for sinners.
There are four primary references in the New Testament where the word "propitiation" is used (cf. Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2;4: 10). Three of the four references clearly teach that propitiation is strictly limited to a definite people, namely, the elect of God.
Romans 3:25 states that God set forth Christ "a propitiation through faith in his blood." From this reference it may be observed that, if Christ is a propitiation "through faith,"4 He cannot be a propitiation to those who never have faith, and "all men have not faith" (II Thess. 3:2).
Hebrews 2:17 states that Christ was made a "merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation (should be translated propitiation) for the sins of the people." In context, "the people," are identified as the "children which God hath given" Christ, (v. 13), "the seed of Abraham" (v. 16). Are not "the people" of verse 17 also to be identified with the "many sons" in verse 10 and the "every man" in verse 9 for whom "by the grace of God he should taste death"?
I John 4:10 reveals the motivating cause of propitiation. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."5 The propitiation is restricted here to the definite pronouns, "we," "us," and "our"; that is, to believers, God's elect. Therefore, it is concluded that at least three of the four major passages on propitiation are restricted in design to God's elect.


I John 2:2

Concerning I John 2:2, Calvinistic universalists say it teaches two aspects of propitiation. One writes:

There is a propitiation which affects God in His relation to the kosmos — with no reference to the elect — and one which affects His relation to the elect. This twofold propitiation is set forth in I John 2:2.6

The sum of the four point Calvinist position is that Christ is said, in some sense, to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, meaning all mankind without exception. This, according to another Calvinistic universalist, is "the normal unbiased approach to this text."7
The meaning and nature of propitiation is not a matter of disagreement between four and five point Calvinists. The issue lies in the extent of propitiation as taught in I John 2:2. Much has been written concerning both sides of the issue. An examination of these writings reveals that the crux of the difference hinges upon the term "whole world." The four point Calvinists say the meaning is obvious. The words themselves, they say, without any wresting, signify all men in the world, that is, world means world. John Owen, the Puritan, writes, concerning the dogmatism with which the modified Calvinists assert their "darling"8 proof for unlimited atonement, by saying:

The world, the whole world, all, all men! — who can oppose it? Call them [the modified Calvinists] to the context in the several places where the words are; appeal to rules of interpretation; mind them of the circumstances and scope of the place, the sense of the same words in other places; . . . [and] they. . . cry out, the bare word, the letter is theirs: "Away with the gloss and interpretation; give us [the modified Calvinists] leave to believe what the word expressly saith."9


Biblical Universal Terminology

That I John 2:2 contains universal language is evident from the term "whole world." John 3:16 also uses the universal term "world" in the same manner. It is clear, therefore, that there is a biblical or divine universalism taught in Scripture. However, the issue does not center on the fact that universal terminology is used. It centers on the meaning or interpretation of that terminology.


Four Interpretations of the Term "Whole World"

The major views which are universalistic in their interpretation of "whole world" in I John 2:2 will be discussed under the following four systematic headings: "generical," "geographical," "eschatological," and "ethnological."

The Generical Interpretation

The generical interpretation of I John 2:2 is held by those who believe that Christ's atonement was unlimited in design for the whole human race. Their usual interpretation of the text is that Christ "is the propitiation for our sins (meaning believers), and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (including the non-elect)." This view interprets "whole world" to mean all men generically or universally, that is, each and every member of Adam's race. Therefore, propitiation for the sins of the world does not save the world; rather it only "secures the possibility of salvation."10 Furthermore, this view distinguishes between the advocacy and propitiatory work of Christ in I John 2:1,2 and associates actual salvation only with Christ's advocacy. This means that Christ's propitiation on earth was and is universal for all men — both the elect and non-elect alike. His advocacy in heaven, however, is restricted for those only who believe in Him. The contingency of one's salvation, therefore, rests upon man and the so-called "condition of faith."11 In other words, what now brings unbelievers into condemnation is not their sins — God has been satisfied for them by the blood of Christ — but the sin of rejecting Christ as the divinely appointed mediator of salvation. But Warfield rightly objects to this by saying:

Is not the rejection of Jesus as our propitiation a sin? And if it is a sin, is it not like other sins, covered by the death of Christ? If this great sin is excepted from the expiatory [effectual covering] of Christ's blood, why did not John tell us so, instead of declaring without qualification that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the whole world? And surely it would be very odd if the sin of rejection of the Redeemer were the only condemning sin, in a world the vast majority of the dwellers in which have never heard of this Redeemer, and nevertheless perish. On what ground do they perish, all their sins having been expiated?12

There are a number of observations that can be made in objection to the generical or universal interpretation of I John 2:2. Some of the more significant ones immediately follow, others will be mentioned in the discussion under the geographical, eschatological and ethnological subheadings.

Terminological objection. — The first observation made in objection to the generical view concerns the use of the term "world" (kosmos) in the New Testament. That kosmos can and does have more than the meaning of all mankind generically cannot be denied (cf. John 1:10,11; 3:17; 12:31; 17:6,9,1 l,18,21,23,24).13 In fact kosmos, as effectually demonstrated in Owen's work,14 has many uses and meanings — the usual meaning being "many of mankind."
According to the New Testament Greek text, kosmos occurs about 185 times. It is used some 105 times by the apostle John, 47 times by Paul and 33 times by other writers. With the use of a concordance, it is readily observed that kosmos is never used by Paul or the other writers to mean all mankind generically in a salvation context unless John's usage is the exception. It is used of all mankind universally in a context of sin and judgment (Rom. 3:6, 19; 5:12), but never in a salvation context.
In John's writings, kosmos is used a total of 78 times in his gospel, 23 times in I John and 4 times in II John and Revelation. A check of each of these references, in context, reveals that there are perhaps, at the most, eleven occurrences in ten verses which could possibly, even according to Arminianism, mean all mankind generically in a salvation context. These occurrences are found in John 1:29; 3:16; two times in 3:17; once each in John 4:42; 6:33, 51; 12:47; 16:8 and once each in I John 2:2 and 4:14.
Concerning the possible usage of kosmos to mean all mankind without exception in the redemptive context of I John 2:2, let the reader observe that kosmos is used differently at least 21 out of 23 times elsewhere in the epistle. As a matter of fact, the identical term "whole world" is used in I John 5:19 where it cannot possibly mean all mankind absolutely. John writes: "we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness (in the wicked one)." Can this be true of the believer who is in Christ? Let the reader judge. If the term "whole world" in I John 2:2 means all mankind generically, it is an exceptional usage in the epistle (objectively, only in I John 2:2 and 4:14 could it possibly refer to all mankind without exception — two times out of 23 occurrences). Therefore, it is the writer's contention that the burden of proof rests upon those who interpret "whole world" generically to establish that the term means all mankind in any redemptive context, let alone I John 2:2. In the writer's research he has not found any writer who holds to an indefinite atonement attempting to do this; rather the term is always said to mean, in a "normal and unbiased approach," the whole world, meaning all mankind,15 both the elect and the non-elect.

Logical objection. — The second observation made in objection to the generical view is logical. It is based upon the principle of the analogy of faith and relates to the design of propitiation from the standpoint of the special and distinguishing love of God. The fact that Christ's blood was an appeasement of God's wrath, in order that the chief purpose of God's love might be manifested, demands Christ's death. But if God's giving His Son is a manifesting of His special distinguishing love (and it is), and if "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things" (Rom. 8:32)? The answer to this question should be obvious. The term "whole world" cannot refer to all mankind generically in a salvation context, for the non-elect do not receive all or any of the gifts of saving grace which (according to Rom. 8:32) is assured to them if, in reality, Christ actually died for them. Do all men have faith (II Thess. 3:2)?16

Contextual objection. — A third observation made in objection to the generical view lies in the fact that the context of I John 2:2 teaches that Christ's advocacy and propitiation are the same in design and extent. This is supported by the coordinating conjunction "and," which connects verse 2 with verse 1. Certainly no Calvinistic universalist is willing to admit that Christ's advocacy actually extends to the non-elect. How, then, can propitiation be absolutely universal if Christ's advocacy is not? In an attempt to explain this objection, those who hold to the generical interpretation intimate that it is Christ's advocacy in heaven which particularizes His propitiation on earth and makes it efficacious before the Father. They say that

propitiation is conceived as merely laying a basis for actual forgiveness of sins, and is spoken of therefore rather as "sufficient" than efficacious—becoming efficacious only through the act of faith on the part of the believer, by which he secures Christ as his Advocate.17

But this attempted explanation empties the conception of propitiation from its biblical meaning and shifts the saving operation of Christ from His atoning death on earth to His intercession in heaven. However, as Warfield points out,

no support is given this elaborate construction by John; and our present passage is enough to shatter the foundation on which it is built. . . . The "advocacy" of our Lord is indeed based here on his propitiation. But it is based on it not as if it bore merely an accidental relation to it, . . . but as its natural and indeed necessary issue. John introduces the declaration that Christ is—not "was," the propitiation is as continuous in its effect as the advocacy?our propitiation, in order to support his reference of sinning Christians to Christ as their Advocate with the Father, and to give them confidence in the efficacy of his advocacy. The efficacy of the advocacy rests on that of the propitiation, not the efficacy of the propitiation on that of the advocacy. It was in the propitiatory death of Christ that John finds Christ's saving work: the advocacy is only its continuation?its unceasing presentation in heaven. The propitiation accordingly not merely lays a foundation for a saving operation, to follow or not follow as circumstances may determine. It itself saves. And this saving work is common to Christians and "the whole world." By it the sins of the one as of the other are expiated. . . . They no longer exist for God?and are not they blessed whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered, to whom the Lord will not reckon sin?18

Grammatical objection. — The fourth observation made in objection to the generical view is grammatical. One contemporary Calvinistic universalist attempts to explain Christ's suffering for the sins of both the elect and non-elect by saying that His suffering was retroactive to Adam's fall and potentially available (a better term would be hypothetically available) for the non-elect both before and after the cross.19 He explains I John 2:2 by saying that Christ

is the propitiation for our sins," which means He is the actual propitiation for [believers' sins through faith]. . . . But we are also told that He is the propitiation "for the sins of the whole world,". . [which] means that He is the potential propitiation only [for the non-elect]; otherwise the Apostle would have been teaching universalism.20

Is this not an example of exegetical hopscotch by a Calvinistic hypothetical universalist? But what does I John 2:2 actually say? It says that Christ "is (estin) the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." The text does not say that Christ is potentially the propitiation for "our sins and "the sins of the whole world."21

Biblical objection. — The fifth and final observation made in objection to the generical view concerns the use of the term "propitiation" in Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17 and I John 4:10. In each of these references, propitiation is restricted to believers, that is, to God's elect. Furthermore, when dealing with a problem text, the principle of interpretation which requires one to determine the usage of a word or term as it is used elsewhere must not be ignored or slighted, especially when it is used elsewhere by the same author. Yet this is done by those who hold to generic universalism, for they do not mention the extent of propitiation in its other occurrences when they discuss the extent in I John 2:2. Both the modified and consistent Calvinists admit that there is some ambiguity in the interpretation of I John 2:2; otherwise there would not be the great theological controversy between them over the meaning of this verse. Is it not proper, then, for I John 4:10 also to be considered to determine if it will help remove some of the ambiguity? Does I John 4:10 help do this? "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." May the reader decide if this verse is helpful in understanding the extent of the atonement in general and the extent of propitiation in I John 2:2 in particular.


The Geographical Interpretation

The second explanation of the universal terminology in I John 2:2 is that termed under the heading of "geographical universalism." This view interprets "and he is the propitiation for our sins" as referring to the recipients of John's epistle, that is, those believers living in Asia Minor. It interprets the latter part of the verse "and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" as referring to those Christians everywhere outside Asia Minor who confess their sins to Christ their advocate. This view is close to that of Augustine, Calvin and Beza

who understand by "the whole world" "the churches of the elect dispersed through the whole world"; and by the declaration that Jesus Christ is "a propitiation for the whole world," that in his blood all the sins of all believers throughout the world are expiated.22

While the geographical view has much scriptural merit and is certainly in harmony with reality, it seems that the term "whole world" conveys something beyond "the world of believers outside Asia Minor." In other words, it seems to be more than just a geographical distinction. In the writer's judgment this something else is explained by the following two interpretations.


The Eschatological Interpretation

The third interpretation of the universal terminology in I John 2:2 is that view termed "eschatological universalism," the future world that is saved at the second coming of Christ, which will include all the elect from all ages. This is the view set forth by Warfield and has much to commend it. In John 1:29, 3:17 and 12:47, John declares that the mission of the Son in coming into the world is not only to save individuals but to save the world itself. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." This, however, will not come to pass until the eschatological future, at the end time, when God's redemptive plan is complete. Then, and then only, will there be a saved world. Concerning this view, Warfield writes:

It is the great conception which John is reflecting in the phrase, "he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the whole world." This must not be diluted into the notion that he came to offer salvation to the world, or to do his part toward the salvation of the world, or to lay such a basis for salvation that it is the world's fault if it is not saved. John's thinking does not run on such lines; and what he actually says is something very different, namely that Jesus Christ is a propitiation for the whole world, that he has expiated the whole world's sins. He came into the world because of love of the world, in order that he might save the world, and he actually saves the world. Where the expositors have gone astray is in not perceiving that this salvation of the world was not conceived by John — any more than the salvation of the individual — as accomplishing itself all at once. Jesus came to save the world, and the world will through him be saved; at the end of the day he will have a saved world to present to his father. John's mind is running forward to the completion of his saving work; and he is speaking of his Lord from the point of view of this completed work. From that point of view he is the Savior of the world. . . . He proclaims Jesus the Savior of the world and declares him a propitiation for the whole world. He is a universalist; he teaches the salvation of the whole world. But he is not an "each and every" universalist: he is an "eschatological" universalist.23

In Warfield's exposition24 of the term "world" in I John 2:2, he discusses his eschatological universalism view and what this writer has systematically termed "generical" and "geographical" universalism. However, he does not mention or discuss the fourth and following interpretation, namely, that termed "ethnological universalism." Although, in this writer's judgment, Warfield's eschatological universalism adequately explains John 1:29, 3:17 and 12:47 (there will be a future world in which all the sins of that world will be taken away), it does not seem, as presented by Warfield, to fully account for the contextual meaning of kosmos in John 3:16 or in I John 2:2.


The Ethnological Interpretation

The ethnological interpretation asserts that the term "world" in both I John 2:2 and John 3:16, although including the geographical and eschatological views, also stresses that some without distinction, not all without exception, out of the Gentiles as well as out of the Jews (Rom. 9:24) have had their sins propitiated by the death of Christ. It is as though the Lord were saying: "The Jews, Nicodemus, no longer have a national monopoly on the salvation of Jehovah. Do you not, Nicodemus, remember the words of the prophet Isaiah who said, 'I will also give the Holy One of Israel for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth' (Isa. 49:6)? Nicodemus, did not the psalmist prophesy of me when he said, 'therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name' (Ps. 18:49)?" Did not "the apostles and brethren that were in Judea," when "they heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God," declare: "then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18)? Is not the term "world" used of the Gentiles by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:11,12,15? Certainly it is. Is it used absolutely (meaning all Gentiles without exception) or is it used relatively (meaning all Gentiles without distinction)? Relative, otherwise Christ's teaching on hell would be erroneous. But if kosmos refers to Gentiles in a relative sense in Romans 11 (and it does), is this how the apostle John uses it in I John 2:2? The writer believes it is. But can it be established whether John, who was probably writing from Ephesus in Asia Minor, was writing first of all to Jewish believers in his epistle while living in a Gentile environment? Arthur Pink cites four convincing reasons that he was. They are:

(1) In the opening verse he says of Christ, "Which we have seen with our eyes. . . and our hands have handled." How impossible it would have been for the apostle Paul to have commenced any of his epistles to Gentile saints with such language! (2) "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning" (I John 2:7). The "beginning" here referred to is the beginning of the public manifestation of Christ?in proof compare 1:1, 2:13, etc. Now these believers, the apostle tells us, had the "old commandment" from the beginning. This was true of Jewish believers, but it was not true of Gentile believers. (3) "I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him from the beginning" (2:13). Here, again, it is evident that it is Jewish believers that are in view. (4) "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us" (2:18,19). These brethren to whom John wrote had "heard" from Christ Himself that Antichrist should come (see Matt. 24). The "many antichrists" whom John declares "went out from us" were all Jews, for during the first century none but a Jew posed as the Messiah. Therefore, when John says "He is the propitiation for our sins," he can only mean for the sins of Jewish believers. (It is true that many things in John's Epistle apply equally to believing Jews and believing Gentiles. Christ is the Advocate of the one, as much as of the other.)25

Furthermore, when John added, "and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world," he signified that

Christ was the propitiation for the sins of the Gentile believers too, for, . . . "the world" is a term contrasted from Israel. This interpretation is unequivocally established by a careful comparison of I John 2:2 with John 11:51,52, which is a strictly parallel passage: "And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad." Here Caiaphas, under inspiration, made known for whom Jesus should "die." Notice now the correspondency of his prophecy with this declaration of John's: "He is the propitiation for our (believing Israelites) sins." "He prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation." "And not for ours only." "And not for that nation only." "But also for the whole world"?that is, Gentile believers scattered throughout the earth. "He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad."26


Conclusion

The reader will have to judge for himself which of the four universalistic interpretations of I John 2:2 is the most biblical. For this writer the ethnological view best interprets the meaning of the immediate and general context. It is the writer's position along with most historic Calvinists that in the first part of I John 2:2

the believing Jews alone are intended, of whom John was one; and the addition [last part of the verse] is not an extending of the propitiation of Christ to others than believers, but only to other believers [i.e., Gentile believers]. If it might be granted that in the first branch [first part of the verse] all believers then living were comprehended, who might presently be made partakers of this truth geographical view], yet the increase or accession [last part of the verse] must be, by analogy, only those who were to be in after ages [eschatological view] and remoter places than the name of Christ had then reached unto, — even all those who, according to the prayer of our Savior, John xvii. 20, should believe on his name to the end of the world.27

It can be readily seen from this interpretation that the geographical and eschatological views are both included within the ethnological interpretation. The geographical view is included by its very nature; that is, that God's elect are scattered among the Jews and Gentiles throughout the whole world. And it should be apparent that the ethnological and eschatological views are closely related as seen in John 3:16,17, where both are consecutively set forth. But Warfield's eschatological view, by itself, tends to minimize the geographical or world-wide aspect of Christ's atonement and fails to mention the ethnological view. Although all three views are in harmony with the scriptural doctrine of election, it is this writer's conclusion that the geographical and eschatological views do not, by themselves, fully answer the intention of the apostle John in I John 2:2. Rather it seems that John wants to make it clear to his readers in this verse (as well as John 3:16) that the Old Testament particularism in relation to the nation of Israel is now past, so he uses the universal term "whole world," Christ has now brought in the New Covenant and has prepared the way for New Testament universalism?a divine universalism which teaches that Messiah is the saviour of the spiritual seed of Abraham, who testify in' due season28 that they are none other than Christ's ransomed ones, God's elect. It is for this very reason that the sovereign grace ambassador of Christ knows that God will make "known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy" by calling them out "not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles" (Rom. 9:23,24). Therefore, he carries out the great commission with full assurance and much boldness, enduring "all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (II Tim. 2:10).


NOTES

  1. For a description of Evangelical Arminians and Calvinistic "four point" universalists or modified Calvinists, see Note No. 1 to the Introduction of Appendix I, the first in a doctrinal series by the author on problem verses relating to the extent of the atonement.
  2. See Note No.2 to the Introduction of Appendix I.
  3. Those who are theologically opposed to historic Calvinism should not hasten to the conclusion that the admission of problem verses by the five point Calvinist diminishes his theological proof for definite atonement anymore than the admission of problem verses (and there are many) by the four point Calvinist necessarily diminishes his theological proof for indefinite atonement. The real issue centers upon what does the Scripture actually teach, a definite or an indefinite atonement? Practically speaking, it is evident that God, in the wisdom of His providence, has not ordained that all true believers should agree upon the extent of the atonement and other important but non-central doctrines. Why He has so ordained is ultimately a mystery to every child of God. We do learn, however, from I Corinthians 11:19 that doctrinal differences in the church are ordained by God "that they which are approved may be made manifest." We also know that, in the wisdom of God's providence, the day of the Lord will come, but not before there is "a falling away first" and the revealing of the "man of sin" (II Thess. 2:3). In this sense, erring on important but non-central doctrines, such as the design of the atonement, can ultimately have serious consequences. As A. A. Hodge wrote over one hundred years ago: "We do not object to Calvinistic Universalism. . . because of any danger which — when considered as a final position — it threatens orthodoxy. We distrust it rather because it is not a final position, but is the first step in the easy descent of error." Archibald Alexander Hodge, The Atonement (reprint of 1867 ed.; Cherry Hill, N. J.: Mack Publishing Co., n.d.), p.238. A study of the history of doctrine verifies Hodge's statement (e.g., cf. Spurgeon and the "Down-Grade Controversy" of 1887-92 in England or the theological erosion from Puritanism to Liberalism within 150 years (1750-1900) in New England). For these reasons the author is convinced that the doctrine of the extent of the atonement is not to be viewed lightly. Historically, a departure from definite atonement has been inseparably linked with a departure from orthodox teaching on the doctrines of original sin and substitutionary atonement. This, in-turn, has seriously affected biblical evangelism and weakened the Christian's trust and assurance in the one who declares: "I am the first, and the last; and beside me there is no God" (Isa. 44:6), "beside me there is no saviour" (Isa. 43:11). The author is not so naive, however, as to believe that this series of doctrinal appendixes will persuade any convinced Evangelical Arminian or modified Calvinist that Christ's substitutionary atonement was particular in design for saving the elect only with no saving provision for the non-elect. Such a change in theological conviction only comes from the Holy Spirit and, for reasons ultimately known only to God, He does not in these last days appear to be changing the convictions of large numbers of traditional evangelical Christians whose existential minds are apparently closed, not being in submission to the teaching of the whole counsel of God, especially with reference to His sovereignty and the particularistic design of the atonement. The author does believe, however, that these doctrinal appendixes may help many of those who have believed through grace and are open to learning more about the doctrines of grace.
  4. The words "through faith" are grammatically more naturally connected with "propitiation" rather than with "being justified," "set forth" or "through his blood." Hence, it is Christ Jesus whom God has set forth as a propitiation to be received by faith through his blood.
  5. Observe also that the love manifested in I John 4:10 is the special love of God, which is the highest form of His love expressed toward man. It is this special redemptive love, the giving of Christ as a sacrifice, which is the motivating cause of giving all the other gifts of saving grace, the "all things" of Romans 8:32. The immediate context in Romans 8 teaches, among other things, that predestination, calling, justification and glorification are included in the "all things" of verse 32, that is, for all the Christians at Rome and, by extension, for all true believers. Now, if this be true (and it is according to context), is not saving faith also included in the "all things"? Is one justified by any other means than faith? No, not according to Scripture. Therefore, if justification is included as one of the gifts of saving grace in the "all things," then saving faith must also be included. Clearly, this passage in Romans 8 limits the extent of Christ's substitutionary death to God's elect.
  6. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (eight vols.; Dallas, Texas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), III, 95-96.
  7. Robert P. Lightner, The Death Christ DiedA Case for Unlimited Atonement (Des Plaines, Illinois: Regular Baptist Press, 1967), p.81.
  8. John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (reprinted from Vol. X of Owen's Works, published in 1852 by Johnstone and Hunter, Edinburgh, and ed. by William H. Goold; London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1959), p. 191.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Chafer, Systematic Theology, V, 197.
  11. Historic Calvinists use the theological term "condition of faith" in a different sense than that of Calvinistic universalists; that is, Christ did not die for any upon condition, if they do believe, but He died for all God's elect that they will believe and believing have eternal life. Because saving faith itself is among the principal effects and fruits of the death of Christ (see Note 5 above), salvation is bestowed conditionally only as viewed by the lost sinner. For him to experience salvation, he must believe; but saving faith, which is the condition for man, is also absolutely procured by Christ. Otherwise, if faith is not procured for believers, then their salvation is not all of grace. When the believer grows in grace and sees that the condition of faith has been procured by Christ, then should he not cry out to God, "O Lord, why me?"
  12. John E. Meeter (ed), Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield (two vols.; Nutley, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1970-73), I, 172.
  13. Those who hold to universal propitiation in a generical sense are exhorted to refer to Owen's work (pp.189-95; 204-26) where he deals exhaustively with the terms "world," "whole world" and their equivalents. His arguments for definite atonement in response to the generical interpretation of such passages as John 3:16 and I John 2:2 are irrefutably stated and, in the opinion of this writer, can never be biblically disavowed because Owen's arguments are biblical.
  14. Ibid., pp.191-93. The reader is also referred to Hendriksen's work for a study of John's use of the term "world." Cf. William Hendriksen, A., Commentary on the Gospel of John (two vols. in one; London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1954), I, 79.
  15. Lightner, The Death Christ Died, p.81.
  16. See Note 5, above.
  17. Meeter (ed.), Selected Shorter Writings, I, 173.
  18. Ibid., pp. 173-74.
  19. Norman F. Douty, The Death Christ Died, (Swengel, Pennsylvania: Reiner Publications, 1972), p.29.
  20. Ibid., pp.32-33.
  21. The verb "is', (estin) is in the present tense and indicative mood (the mood of certainty or reality) and governs both clauses in the verse. If Christ is the potential propitiation for the non-elect, why was not the subjunctive mood used (the mood of mild contingency or potentiality which often assumes unreality depending, of course, on the context)? Why does not contextual exegesis support the translation that Christ is the potential propitiation of our sins and the sins of the whole world? Douty simply does not address this grammatical problem and provides absolutely no exegetical support for asserting that Christ is the potential propitiation for those who die in unbelief.
  22. Meeter (ed.), Selected Shorter Writings, 1, 170.
  23. Ibid., pp.176-77.
  24. Ibid., pp.169-77.
  25. Arthur W. Pink, The Atonement (Venice, Florida: Chapel Library, n.d.), pp.13-i4.
  26. Ibid., p.14.
  27. Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, p.226.
  28. "The 'due season' comprises the entire new dispensation. . . . Not during the old dispensation but only during the new can the mystery be fully revealed that all men, Gentiles as well as Jews, are now on an equal footing; that is, that the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs and fellow-members of the body and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel' (Eph. 3:6; cf. Eph. 2:11,12)." Cf. William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1957), p.99.

This article is "Appendix II", taken from Dr. Gary Long's Definite Atonement, Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1977. pp 85-101.

Arminian objections and misconceptions.

I was hoping that someone here could answer this for me. If we are so depraved that we are dead and dead in our sins and unable to respond, after all dead people do not respond, then how can a believer who is dead to sin still sin? I mean dead is dead right? Would this not be why we have prevenient grace that enables a person to either accept/reject the gospel? And while we are at it, why is accepting a gift called a work by Calvinists, it is still all of grace. Just accepting something that you do not deserve does not mean that you can boast or take credit that is just silly.



When Scripture (and Calvinism) refers to the deadness of mankind, it is talking about man's inability in one direction, IE Upward and God-ward. The direction of Spiritual good. The direction of God's righteousness. The direction of being able in and of itself to please God.
Being "dead" in sin has no biblical application that extends beyond that.
So, to say man is dead in his sin, does not mean he is literally dead and therefore being dead he cannot sin or being dead he cannot do anything!

Arminians need to follow the teaching/description of being "dead" as far as scripture applies it.

Think of man, all men, being on a "horizontal plain". All men are born as sinners and are equal in that sense. We are all like "worms" comparing ourselves to other "worms", but still worms.
On the horizontal plane, we are unable to rise above it and interact with the life of God. Let us call that realm the Vertical plane.
Man has no inherent ability to traverse from the horizontal to the vertical. Man is "dead" meaning spiritually unable to bridge the two planes.

Being "regenerated" or being "Born again" or being "made spiritually alive" bridges the gap between God and man.
Until that happens by God's grace alone, there is no "spiritual life" in man, but death only, leading to ultimate physical death and eternal death.

Hope that helps.

As far as "Prevenient grace is concerned, I do not find the concept in scripture. I see it as a way of holding on to libertarian freedom. A concept scripture does not teach in any way, shape or form.
Prevenient grace only facilitates the idea that men still have the ability to make use of God's grace. Such an idea is not compatible with "Grace".
And that answers your last objection as to faith and works. If one person makes better use of this supposed "prevenient" grace, then the difference between the saved and the unsaved is not "God's grace" but rather mans use of this thing called "Prevenient grace".
It makes real grace, into prevenient grace, which in turn depends upon the will and nature of man. It turns Grace into a work.
It is not about "simply" accepting a gift. It is all about a dead man being resurrected from his own spiritual grave!
It is like Lazarus being raised from the tomb. He did not accept anything! He was like an illustration of the old words in that Hymn Amazing grace. He was blind and made to see. He was lost and found. He was dead and stinketh, but was commanded to come forth! That is the new birth physically and graphically illustrated by Jesus Himself!

Mark

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Do Not be Yoked With Unbelievers...

What do we look for in a marriage partner? Is the ideal husband someone tall, dark, and handsome? Is the ideal wife someone blond, shapely, and beautiful? Do we look for someone with lots of cash?

Today, I want to address the question of what to look for in a marriage partner.

Do Not be Yoked With Unbelievers

The Corinthian Church was a missionary church. Most of the members were recent converts rather than long-time saints who had the privilege of growing up in Christian homes. These converts had a question: what sort of relationship could they have with unconverted friends and acquaintances; what sort of attachments could they maintain with the pagans of Corinth? In today's Scripture reading a Spirit-inspired Paul speaks to this concern.

What does Paul say? He says, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers" (vs 14a). Paul is thinking of a double yoke used by the farmers of Palestine. A double yoke is a sturdy wooden frame used to tie two animals together so they could pull heavy loads evenly. Almost certainly Paul is thinking of Deuteronomy 22:10 which says, "Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together." Two animals as different as an ox and donkey just cannot work together as a team because they vary in temperament, speed, strength, and endurance.

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." Paul is telling believers not to have permanent, close, or deep relationships with unbelievers.

It would be a serious mistake to conclude from this that there is to be no contact between a believer and an unbeliever. The only way this could be accomplished is by total withdrawal from the world, something that not even the horse and buggy Amish have accomplished. We also have to remember the command of Christ to go and make disciples of all the nations, something that would be impossible if there is no contact between believer and unbeliever. Believers' contacts with unbelievers, however, are not to be in the form of permanent, close, and deep relationships. "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers."

The Spirit spells out the implications of this in various places. A Christian invited to the home of an unbeliever is not to eat meat which he knows has been offered in sacrifice to an idol (1 Cor 10:23ff). In worship services believers are not to speak in tongues when unbelievers are present (1 Cor 14:24). Legal disputes between Christian brothers are not to be brought before civil courts (1 Cor 6:1-11). In all these areas believers are not to be yoked to unbelievers.

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." The Spirit's instruction here is especially applicable to marriage. Christian men and women are not free to marry or to consider marriage to unbelievers. The marriage of a believer and unbeliever is like the yoking together of an ox and a donkey.

What are we to look for, then, in a marriage partner? I think here of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians:(1 Cor 7:39) A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.In looking for a marriage partner Christians are not to "be yoked together with unbelievers." In looking for a marriage partner Christians must look for someone who "belongs to the Lord."

What does it mean to marry someone who "belongs to the Lord"?

It means to marry someone who is also a Christian, a fellow believer, someone who loves and serves the Lord. To marry in the Lord requires discrimination on the part of the Christian. We must be able to discriminate between believers and unbelievers, between a merely religious person and a committed Christian. For, you see, a religious person is not necessarily a true Christian believer. Nor is every church member necessarily a Christian.

Within every church there are members who are not committed to the Lord. The Christian looking for a marriage partner does not settle for any church member. He or she settles only for a church member who is a deeply committed Christian – someone who actively helps them in their walk with God rather than someone who is neutral, indifferent, or even hostile to their walk with God.

The Church Order of the Christian Reformed Church (that's the rule book that consistories and ministers have to abide by) says,
Article 69
a. Consistories shall instruct and admonish those under their spiritual care to marry only in the Lord.
c. Ministers shall not solemnize marriages which would be in conflict with the Word of God.
Topic: Marriage
You have all heard of the TV show, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" there was a spin off: "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?"

A multi-millionaire sent out an advertisement asking eligible women to apply to be his wife. Like the Miss America contest, contestants appeared on TV and were judged on the basis of beauty in long gowns and bathing suits, talent, and their answers to various questions. The show ended with the winner, Darva Conger, meeting the millionaire, Rick Rockwell, for the first time, getting married, and leaving immediately for a honeymoon to Las Vegas.
Thousands of women applied. None of them had ever met the man before. None of them knew what he looked like. None of them knew his faith. None of them had a chance to judge his character or personality. Yet they all wanted to marry him.
Why?
Because he had money and they were gold-diggers, hoping to strike it rich. As far as these women are concerned the only important thing to look for in a husband is money.
As for the man, the most important thing he looked for in a wife was outward show: looks, talent, beauty, thighs, and shape. He was not interested in a woman's faith, character, or personality.

After one week the marriage between Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger was annulled. Turns out Mr. Rockwell didn't have quite as much money as he said he had; also, in 1991 Rockwell's former fiancé got a restraining order against him for abusive and threatening behavior after she broke off their engagement. As for Conger, she had quit her job as a nurse and ended up living with her mother.

When asked by the news media why they both went through with it, those who know Rockwell said he is a publicity hound. As for Conger, she said she was in it for the diamond ring and the free trip to Las Vegas.

The Bible, by way of contrast, tells us that faith, character, and personality are the most important things to look for in a spouse – not money, not looks, not beauty.
A couple of years ago I was talking to a retired minister of another denomination about weddings. He told me that he officiated at 16 weddings on one Saturday and 67 weddings that month. I asked him how many of those marriages were marriages in the Lord. He looked surprised for a moment. After some consideration he thought perhaps three of the couples were committed Christians. I hope and pray that neither this church nor myself will ever the reach the point of uniting anyone and everyone in marriage.

The Word is so clear: Christians are not to be yoked together with unbelievers.

I remember when I preached on marriage in the Lord in one of the other churches I served. The day after I delivered the sermon a young married woman came to see me. She shut the door to my office and proceeded to tell me off for half an hour. Her husband was an unbeliever when she married him. Through her prayers and witnessing the Spirit converted him and he joined the church. "Look at what God did in my marriage," she said, "so how can you possibly say that I was wrong in marrying him." I had to agree with her that the Spirit had used her to bring her husband to the Lord and for that we must praise God. I pointed out to her that here is another instance where our almighty and gracious God has brought good out of evil but that does not make the evil good.

Don't fool yourself young people, single adults, into thinking the Lord will use you to convert an unbelieving spouse. This can happen and it may happen but probably it won't. In the 5 congregations I have served I know of only three times that a spouse who entered the marriage as an unbeliever actually come to know the Lord – and one of them, I am told, no longer has anything to do with the church and worship. Out of more than 20 women who insisted on marrying unbelievers – and it is usually women who marry unbelievers – only three of them have had the privilege of seeing their husbands come to know the Lord. That is not very good odds, is it?!

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers."

Young people and single adults may not like to hear this but this applies to the dating process too. A Christian guy or girl should never date an unbeliever. Those Christians who do date unbelievers almost always say the same thing: the relationship is not serious, there are no marriage plans, they are just friends. Somehow they don't realize that marriage always starts with a date. My experience after more than two decades in the ministry is that many Christians who date unbelievers end up marrying unbelievers. Those who don't use high standards in picking a dating partner use exactly the same standards when picking a marriage partner.

Dating the unbeliever, do you know what that shows? It shows that you are willing to let your standards slip, that you are willing to settle for second best.

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." These words apply to friendships too. Christians are not to have deep, permanent, close friendships with unbelievers.

Let me tell you about a girl from one of the previous churches I served. In high school she became close friends with 4 unchurched girls. By the time of college she was spending every weekend in the company of these girls. Because her friends did not go to church she also did not go – she didn't want to be different. She is 36 or 37 years old now. Last I heard she is married to an unbeliever and still hangs around with the same girls.
When she became a mother a number of years ago she seriously thought about attending church again and getting her children baptized. She didn't dare take the first step, though, because she doesn't want to damage her relationship with her husband or friends. She didn't discriminate Christianly in choosing friends; she did the same in choosing a husband.

The Spirit of the Lord speaks so clearly to us: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers."
(2 Cor 6:17) "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
Or, as the Belgic Confession puts it:
Article 28 ... it is the duty of all believers, according to God's Word, to separate themselves from those who do not belong to the church ...
We can state this in more positive terms. It is the duty of all believers to be yoked only with fellow believers when it comes to marriage, dating, and friendship.

Radical Separation of Believers and Unbelievers

Why does the Spirit admonish us not to be yoked together with unbelievers? The Spirit's basis for talking this way is that there is an ultimate and radical division of persons before God. Before God you are either a believer or an unbeliever, either you are in Christ or you are not. Between the two groups there is such a vast difference that they have very little in common.

Remember the image of the ox and donkey being yoked together? It just doesn't work for them to plow a field together because the two animals cannot pull and work in unison. They are at cross-purposes with each other. The same is true for the yoking together of a believer and unbeliever. There is such a vast difference between them that they can not pull and work together. They also are at cross-purposes to each other.

Time magazine reported (1/22/95) that the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, occurred when two plates on a fault line fifteen miles offshore suddenly shifted against each other, violently lurching six to ten feet in opposite directions. The result was the worst Japanese earthquake since 1923. Thousands died. More than 46,000 buildings lay in ruins. One-fifth of the city's population was left instantly homeless.
--DAVID Farnum Rochester, New York
The destruction unleashed by those two tectonic plates depicts what happens when a Christian is yoked with a non-Christian. Two people committed to each other but going in different directions can only lead to trouble.

Scripture introduces five contrasts to show us the vast gulf between the believer and unbeliever:
(2 Cor 6:14-16) Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (15) What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (16) What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
There is, my brothers and sisters, an antithesis, a vast difference, a great chasm, between the believer and the unbeliever. So, of course, they can't be yoked together. The Spirit of God knows that this is like yoking together an ox and a donkey.

A few weeks ago I preached on divorce and remarriage. I said the wronged or sinned against partner is not to be condemned for getting a divorce if the other partner engages in physical, repetitious, and unrepentant acts of unchastity.

In 1 Corinthians 7 we are give one other instance where divorce and remarriage is not to be condemned:
(1 Cor 7:12-13, 15) If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. (13) And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him ... (15) But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.
Paul thinks here of a situation in which one, but not both, of the partners is converted to the Christian faith. In such an instance it is not wrong for the marriage to be dissolved if it is at the request of the unbelieving partner. Divorce on the part of the unbelieving partner is permitted here because of the ultimate and radical separation of believers and unbelievers.

Conclusion

When you are desperate for the companionship, the stability, and the security of marriage or friends, it is a real temptation to settle for the first person who comes along. But that is not what God wants. When it comes to marriage, dating, and friendships the Word of the Lord is so very clear: "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers."

A Christian Pastor......

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Five Resolves For Personal Revival


Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear. Isaiah 59:1-2 (NAS)

DO you wish to be an instrument in the hands of God? Do you want to see God's power at work through you? Do you long for your prayers to be answered? If you do, then the barrier of sin between you and God must be demolished and a lifestyle of holiness and love for God renewed. Though you are pardoned and placed eternally in Christ, God chooses to bring discipline and to allow ineffectiveness in the lives of his erring children. To be restored spiritual surgery must take place.

Personal revival beings when the believer faces his sin honestly. Though painful, only honesty with God and others will enable the Christian to walk in purity and power. The following resolves are not a formula but are required of every believer. Humbly pray and search your own heart. Trusting in God, begin this moment to repent and return to Him. Pay any price to be a means of spiritual renewal to others.


1. Repent Of Every Known Sin

'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous
therefore, and repent. Revelation 3:19 (NAS)

Resolved: I will not go to bed this evening nor live this day without fully repenting of all known sin against God. (James 4:4-10; 2 Corinthians 7:10)





2. Forsake All Questionable Habits And Activities

For whatever is not from faith is sin. Romans 14:23b

Resolved: I will not to go to bed this evening nor live this day without removing from my life every habit or activity I cannot be absolutely sure is approved by God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)





3. Make Right Any Wrongs Between Yourself And Others.

"If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Matthew 5:23-24

Resolved: I will not to go to bed this evening nor live this day without doing all that is possible to correct any wrongs between myself and others. (Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:15-35; Romans 12:17-21; Colossians 3:12-15)




4. Commune With God In Prayer And Be Personally Instructed Through His Word.

Pray without ceasing; 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Revive me, O LORD, according to Thy word. Psalms 119:107b

Resolved: I will not to go to bed this evening nor live this day without spending quiet moments with God in prayer and sincerely meditating on His Word. (I Peter 2:2-3; 1 John 5:14-17)





5. Trust God To Use You As His Specially Designed Tool For Revival In Others.

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
Resolved: I will not to go to bed this evening nor live this day without asking and expecting God to use me as an effective instrument of revival in someone's life. (Jude 22-23; 1 Peter 4:11; Psalms 51:10-13)






  • Review these resolves daily until your thinking conforms to holiness, and your life is revived and useful. Never fail to apply them.

  • If you weaken in your desire and intensity for holiness, do not give up and return to a half-hearted, selfish life. Repent of your apathetic heart and lack of love to God immediately and continue. Holiness improves this life and the one to come. Do not let the enemy of God take advantage of you but giving him time to build strongholds. Resist him and he will flee from you.

  • Ask God to bring some like-hearted friends with whom you may share struggles, discoveries, and victories on the road to holiness. Pray together seriously for revival in others. Remind each other of these resolves. Make honesty and repentance your creed. Admonish each other with humility. Speak the truth to each other in love. Do not doubt the value of such a gathering or God's ability to use you. God will guide you.

  • Seek also to encourage others outside your groups to submit to God and to obey these same biblical disciplines for revival. Actively pursue holiness in others.

  • Expect God to use you now and to make you even more effective in the future by His own perfect methods for conforming your life and renewing your mind.

  • At all times avoid religious pride.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
and lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalm 139:23-24

35 Reasons Not To Sin

35 Reasons Not To Sin

  1. Because a little sin leads to more sin.
  2. Because my sin invites the discipline of God.
  3. Because the time spent in sin is forever wasted.
  4. Because my sin never pleases but always grieves God who loves me.
  5. Because my sin places a greater burden on my spiritual leaders.
  6. Because in time my sin always brings heaviness to my heart.
  7. Because I am doing what I do not have to do.
  8. Because my sin always makes me less than what I could be.
  9. Because others, including my family, suffer consequences due to my sin.
  10. Because my sin saddens the godly.
  11. Because my sin makes the enemies of God rejoice.
  12. Because sin deceives me into believing I have gained when in reality I have lost.
  13. Because sin may keep me from qualifying for spiritual leadership.
  14. Because the supposed benefits of my sin will never outweigh the consequences of disobedience.
  15. Because repenting of my sin is such a painful process, yet I must repent.
  16. Because sin is a very brief pleasure for an eternal loss.
  17. Because my sin may influence others to sin.
  18. Because my sin may keep others from knowing Christ.
  19. Because sin makes light of the cross, upon which Christ died for the very purpose of taking away my sin.
  20. Because it is impossible to sin and follow the Spirit at the same time.
  21. Because God chooses not to respect the prayers of those who cherish their sin.
  22. Because sin steals my reputation and robs me of my testimony.
  23. Because others once more earnest than I have been destroyed by just such sins.
  24. Because the inhabitants of heaven and hell would all testify to the foolishness of this sin.
  25. Because sin and guilt may harm both mind and body.
  26. Because sins mixed with service make the things of God tasteless.
  27. Because suffering for sin has no joy or reward, though suffering for righteousness has both.
  28. Because my sin is adultery with the world.
  29. Because, though forgiven, I will review this very sin at the Judgment Seat where loss and gain of eternal rewards are applied.
  30. Because I can never really know ahead of time just how severe the discipline for my sin might be.
  31. Because my sin may be an indication of a lost condition.
  32. Because to sin is not to love Christ.
  33. Because my unwillingness to reject this sin now grants it an authority over me greater than I wish to believe.
  34. Because sin glorifies God only in His judgment of it and His turning of it to good use, never because it is worth anything on it's own.
  35. Because I promised God he would be Lord of my life.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Calvinists "bastardize" scripture? Really? Part 2

See part 1 for the Video I am responding to.....Click here

Continuing on. It seems this person has John MacArthur in his sight as a target for his own ignorance.
Where to begin? The man has not a clue about what MacArthur is teaching here!
Before I get to that, I just want to mention a few points regarding some comments at the start of this video.
First of all, the video starts with Dave Hunt and his ramblings, which is a sure sign the video is not going to get any better. Anyone acquainted with Hunt's misrepresentations and views upon Calvinism know what I am talking about. That man will simply not admit error nor correct his false ideas, even when others have tried to educate him about such matters. I can only assume the person making this video sees no wrong in Hunt, which truly is a shame.

Please notice the rhetoric about "Aggressive Calvinism", Calvinism growing all about us, and how shocking and Amazing Calvinism is, especially how many times the guy is shocked etc and then the amazing statement that Christians have been lied to, presumably by Calvinists, as to what the reformation was really all about!.....

He then plays a small clip from MacArthur on Larry King, and then makes some comments.
For him, MacArthur gives the audience an "abridged version of the gospel," and then goes on to use this clip as an inroad to Johnny Mack's writings! Maybe the guy just wanted the Larry King thing for show, I do not know....

He even states that MacArthur, given the limited platform or medium of Larry King, does a decent job!, but I wonder how that limited platform then becomes even more limited by being partially used by this guy on a blog video! Seems like Larry has his agenda and the guy making the video has his!
I say, give me Larry King over this guy any day of the week! Moving on.

Actually, I have changed my mind. There is nothing here worth bothering about and besides, I just realised this short video has follow ups to contend with, and I am just too tired right now to make the effort to refute this stuff.

Simply note his comments, particularly the sentence he speaks at 3min 50sec in. Here he thinks that Calvinists dodge giving an answer as to why God saves them, by inferring that to say God has His own purpose and pleasure to save who He saves is not a good enough reason, even suggesting that such a reason is kind of random and has no design! This guy has zero understanding of Calvinism.

But what does his own position entail as to why God saves? I find his answer quite amazing. Listen from 4min and hear what he says. I call this a typical Freudian slip and I quote, "If He chose you based on no merit, (implying human merit obviously in context to his argument), if He just randomly picked and chose, then that is not a God who's in control" end quote.

What is he then saying?

He is saying exactly what he is saying..God chooses to save based upon our merit.
That is not the Gospel. That is works, and in this case, an Arminian is caught out by the proverbial Freudian slip!
It gets no clearer than that as far as I am concerned, but rarely do you actually catch Arminians saying what the logical outcome of their theology entails.
Pure unadulterated heresy, IE Pelagianism.

Nuff said..

Mark

A few thoughts repeated...

Seven marks of true repentance.

A changed heart always leads to a changed behavior. Arthur Pink lists seven marks of true repentance.

1.) A hatred of sin;
2.) A deep sorrow for sin;
3.) Ongoing repentance and confession of sin;
4.) Turning from sin to God;
5.) Restitution where applicable;
6.) Permanent fruits of a changed life;
7.) A realization that repentance is never perfect in this life.

The advantages of a clear conscience are as follows:

1.) It gives one the power to step out on the promises of God. With the clear conscience comes a deep conviction of God’s blessed intentions towards you.
2.) It gives one the power to suffer for the sake of righteousness (without fainting, murmuring, or turning to evil).
3.) It gives one the power to worship unhindered.
4.) It lifts us above defensiveness. It is joined to the power of meekness and love.
5.) It clears the way to speak of God’s holiness with boldness. It prepares us to preach Christ crucified and to call others to repentance.
6). It is essential if we are to be able to admonish others, confronting their sin.
7.) It is joined to the ability to delight in God, to enjoy God and to consent to be loved by Him.
8.) It becomes a source of unspeakable joy and peace (the Holy Spirit works through a clear conscience, convincing us of the beauty of holiness).
9.) It issues forth in love to Christ whose blood purges the conscience and floods it with joy and peace.
10.) It is the source of a united heart that is resolute, stable, and established in the pursuit of holiness.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The opponent of Tartanarmy!

Hey all,

This is David. Some of you know me as the opponent to TartanArmy.


Actually, the opponant of Particular atonement is closer to the truth! But yes, he and I have gone around the discussion a few times. As I cannot post at my old place I shall do so here.
Mr Ponter has decided to get to know the folks over at doctrinesofgrace.net, now that I am not there of course! I had no idea he had been reading there for two years, simply amazing. Oh well, one wonders why he never posted when I was actually there and writing against his theology!

http://doctrinesofgrace.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=272&forum=3&post_id=8904#forumpost8904
http://doctrinesofgrace.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=1051&forum=8

Now, remember who David is. He has said on the public record, that John Owens marvelous work, "The death of death in the death of Christ" is only good for lining the bird cage with...Amazing!

Mark

Calvinists "bastardize" scripture? Really? Part 1



Ignorant men like the man in this video, need to be called out for their false and errant theology, so I will do so here.
May God be pleased to either bring these men to repentance or raise up others to refute their false assertions and ignorance.

Meanwhile, until I write a response, here is the video to watch....

Mark

Ok, the first point after the initial comments seem to be about some pamphlet the guy read which said something about man not being able to do anything regarding his salvation. This is what motivated the person in the video to respond against Calvinism. He finds the idea that man can do nothing about his salvation as "wickedness" and "heartless".....I see.

Well, this is a common misconception and false charge from the Arminian. See here.
First of all, no Calvinist worth his salt would ever say to a non Christian that they can do nothing, but rather we would say what Paul says, that all men everywhere ought to repent and believe the gospel. In evangelism we would call upon people to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the first point.

But, what the pamphlet is saying is the truth, a truth the Arminian has not yet understood. It is a Biblical reality that no man can do anything to save himself.

For example, using scripture, was Jesus being "wicked" and "heartless" when talking about salvation, when the people asked about how they can be saved? The story of the rich young ruler illustrates the point.

Mat 19:25 When His disciples heard, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

Mat 19:26 But Jesus looked on them and said to them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.


Somehow I think the Arminian has a problem with Jesus, not Calvinism.
As a Calvinist we here agree with Jesus.
With men, salvation is impossible!

It is impossible because
"Salvation is of the Lord" Jonah 2:9.

It is a work of God.
Joh 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.


The Arminian rejects the idea that Salvation is wholly of the Lord. The Arminian believes he has a free will to choose or not choose to be saved! It is a man centred theology nowhere taught in the bible.

The Calvinist teaches the biblical position, which is that man cannot do anything to be saved, but he will do something when God the Holy Spirit enables him to do so.

It is called "regeneration", whereby the Spirit imparts "new life/new birth" to whoever the Lord desires to call to faith and repentance. That is Calvinism and that is what the Bible teaches.
Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few chosen.


The guy in the video does not understand these things like all Arminians do not get these things.
They are revealed truths, not deducible from poor human merit/understanding.
It is the difference between scripture Biblically revealed and man made religion.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Read, and play the man........

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.
From the roof he saw a woman bathing.
The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her.
The man said, "Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"
Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.


MUCH LATER

Then David said to him, "Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back."
So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next.
At David's invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk.
But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home.


LATER THE SIN CONTINUES

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah.
In it he wrote, "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die."
So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were.
When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David's army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.


SIN ABOUNDS NO END, EVEN IN A MAN LIKE DAVID!

Why did you get so close to the wall?' If he asks you this, then say to him, 'Also, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.' "


AND LATER SIN KNOWS NO BOUNDS

The messenger said to David, "The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open,
but we drove them back to the entrance to the city gate.
Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king's men died.
Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead."


GOD IS NOT MOCKED, NOT EVEN FOR A MOMENT

When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him.
After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.
But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.


THE LORD IS AT WORK

The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town,
one rich and the other poor.
The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle,
but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought.
He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms.
It was like a SON to him.


AND WE READ THE CONSEQUENCES

"Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare
a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and
prepared it for the one who had come to him."

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan,
"As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!
He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."


DAVIDS SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SELF DECEPTION---AMAZING!!

THEN

Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms.
I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.
Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the
Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of
Uriah the Hittite to be your own.'


IMAGINE HOW THE MIGHTY KING DAVID FELT?
CAN EVEN YOU, HUMBLE YOURSELF BEFORE THE LORD?
IF NOT, YE SHALL PERSISH WITHOUT MERCY...............................THE END.

Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."
Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin.
You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt,
the son born to you will die."


RESULT

After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill.
David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground.
The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat
any food with them.

On the seventh day the child died.

-------------------------------------------------------------------
This post may even save precious lives....................Even those with the faith of a mustard seed. Praise the Lord.................................................

Mark

True Repentance

True Repentance



God’s gift of salvation includes the gift of repentance.

The Word of God employs a number of words to describe the many facets of salvation. Many of these words describe God’s sovereign work in man’s salvation. Other terms are used to set forth the conditions of salvation. Faith and repentance are conditions of salvation. Scripture asserts that even the ability to lay hold of salvation is a gift of divine grace. Faith is granted by God to the elect (John 6:65, Ephesians 2:8,9, Philippians 1:29). Repentance also is granted by God’s grace (2 Timothy 2:25, Acts 11:18).

Faith and repentance have their counterfeits.

It is a sobering truth that both faith and repentance have their counterfeits. Many profess to have believed savingly when no change in their nature has taken place. They may assent to the historical facts of the gospel, but do not exercise moral trust in Christ for righteousness. Where true repentance is absent, salvation in Christ is also missing. Scripture reserves some of its strongest warnings for hypocrites.

True repentance has imitations. So subtle are the machinations of pseudo-repentance, that God alone is able to determine the genuineness of each case. The pastor, counselor and Christian worker ought to apply certain biblical tests of true repentance to the professions of those counseled and discipled. Certain traits of false repentance will be obvious. Others will be more difficult to detect.

The marks of false repentance.

Evangelical Christians sometimes refer to false repentance as “penance” or “legal repentance.” Those two designations acknowledge that both true and false repentance share many of the same attributes. Jonathan Dickinson, first president of Princeton College notes some of the similarities that exist between the two.[1] Both may exhibit a distress connected to a sense of divine displeasure. Both may have strong impressions of the danger of outward sin. Both may involve a course of personal reformation.[2] Both may be gripped with anguish and remorse over past sin.[3]

False repentance is man-centered, not God-centered.

Jim Elliff in his article on The Unrepenting Repenter describes the substitutes for true repentance. Actions may undergo change while the heart remains unchanged. The great deception issues from the self-congratulation a man may embrace for his outward change while his unchanged heart is still in love with his sin (Mark 7:1-23). Those who fail to repent may confess the words of a true repenter and yet be lost (1 John 2:4, 4:20). Saul gave a model confession in 1 Samuel 15:24-26, but showed no fruits of genuine repentance.[4]

Elliff cites other substitutes as well. Many assume that emotions of fear and/or sorrow guarantee that their repentance was genuine. King Saul’s tears and confession looked genuine, but soon after he resumed his attempts to murder David (1 Samuel 24:16-22). Saul’s second confession to David is equally articulate but also false (1 Samuel 26:21).[5]

Some offer an imitation repentance for the love of friends, family or religious leaders. Love to God is absent as a motive. Many temporarily turn from sin because of urging of loved ones. Lot’s wife left the city of Sodom at the urging of her husband. She left for the love of her family, but her heart had never turned (Genesis 19:12-26; Luke 17:32).[6]

A counterfeit repentance may also show itself in tirades against finished acts of sin while continuing to make provision for the flesh. Though King Ahab appeared to repent of his great wickedness, be continued to make provision for sin by keeping false prophets in his court. He eventually preferred their lying words to the Word of God (1 Kings 22:14-23).[7]

The hatred of sin is a missing element in false repentance.

Puritan Thomas Manton gives a poignant commentary on the motives that often accompany false repentance. “If an unregenerate man should leave off sin under fear of death or hell, it would not be out of hatred of sin, but out of the fear of the punishment, as the bird is kept from the bait by the scarecrow.”[8]

How is it that a man may sorrow, confess, reform, fear and mourn, and yet fail at true repentance? The following observations are aimed at the above question. It is this author’s intent to elucidate the reasons why penance falls short of true repentance. G.W. Bromiley remarks that the Reformers cut through the whole falsification of repentance by insisting that Scripture requires penitence, not penance.[9]

Penance is the religious counterfeit of true repentance.

Penance flows from an aversion to God’s commandments. The natural man dreams of a land where every thought and deed would be beyond the scrutiny of God’s law. Penance does not attain to the love of God’s law. There is an unchanged disposition that resents that there is a divine standard that calls for the punishment of cherished sins.[10]

True repentance is inseparably joined to faith. Penance exists apart from faith. It flows from unbelief. Faith’s object is the person and work of Christ. Penance has for its object of trust its own duties and reforms. Therefore it is preoccupied with self.[11]

The individual who exercises penance trusts in his own efforts, but distrusts God. Amidst his sorrow is a legal, slavish, craven fear that can be easily eclipsed by despair and despondency. At the prospect of Christ’s return and the immediate destruction of the earth, men of all classes will cry out for annihilation by rocks and mountains rather than face God (Revelation 6:12-17).[12]

Penance is an attempt to pacify the conscience.

Penance is ultimately aimed not toward God, but toward the conscience. The man who exercises penance seeks to manage the accusations of conscience by sorrow, duties and reform. His duties are not driven by gospel gratitude and trust, but by fear and discouragement. He does his accounting not by the gospel, but by works of penance designed to bribe and quiet his conscience. These “dead works” are legal and temporary. When conscience is temporarily pacified, the man may assure himself that he has attained mercy. In this state of false comfort, the man is careless and secure. Cold formality characterizes his religious duties.[13]

Dead works by definition are legal works divorced from faith in the gospel. Penance seeks to parade a change in behavior before the eyes of conscience. This is done in order to quiet its accusations. The workings of penance are performed without any concern about the power of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5). Penance like Adam’s fig leaves is an attempt to cover the nakedness of moral deformity. Adam attempted to avert judgment by covering his nakedness. Every sinner’s natural response is self-vindication. By penance the sinner works to vindicate himself and reduce his judgment.[14]

Penance avoids the cross of Christ.

Penance competes with the atonement by seeking to become an atonement itself.[15] Penance is but a band-aid placed upon a corpse. Nothing short of a resurrection can effect the needed change (Ephesians 2:1-5).

The legal repenter works at self-vindication through sorrow, duties and self-reformation. But, he has never given glory to God by fully embracing his moral ill desert. Achan before his execution glorified God by exalting God’s justice in his confession of sin. In so doing, Achan cleared God of all suspicion and, he affirmed the divine justice meted out in the execution of the death penalty (Joshua 7:19-21).

Gardiner Spring’s remarks on this topic are appropriate, “No man, indeed, ever arrived to any just view of his sins by the mere process of human reasoning, or by anything short of the illuminating and convincing power of God’s Spirit.”[16] As interested parties men are not fit to judge their own cases. There is far too much of a conflict of interest.[17] Nature alone cannot comprehend the level of ill desert that sin against God demands. An unawakened man might as well be asked to build a stone courthouse in which he will be found guilty. And then to construct an iron cell to incarcerate him, and finally to construct the gallows upon which he will be hung.

The “sorrow” accompanying penance is not true repentance.

The natural man secretly quarrels with the verdict of the law and with God’s right to judge him. In that self-vindicating state, he will not accept the gospel.[18] A man convinced that he may patch himself up and placate God thereby will not abandon his case to Christ. The legal repenter never repents of unbelief.[19]
Penance has a kind of sorrow. Paul refers to it as “the sorrow of the world,” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Worldly sorrow is self-centered. Godly sorrow is centered in God and His immutable holiness. The truly repentant are afflicted by reason of their sin and its offense to God. Not only are they broken over particular deeds of sin, but also over the very nature that produces it.[20]

Esau and Judas plumbed the depths of regret but did not find repentance because their concerns were not in harmony with what God requires in godly sorrow.[21]

A pastor whose messages contained little of Christ, the gospel or divine enablement asked one of his deacons what he thought of the preaching. The courageous deacon answered that the congregation by listening to such browbeating sermons had little motivation to change. “They have done their penance by sitting through your sermons.” So also, the legal repenter attempts to atone for guilt by carrying guilt. He never has cast a believing look in Christ’s direction (John 3:14, 15).

True repentance is inseparable from faith in Christ.

By contrast, the true penitent takes all the blame for his sin, and then looks to Christ. He resolves to leave off all sin and he expects to find mercy. He condemns himself, vindicates God, and looks in reliance upon free grace. Such hearty approval of God’s law and such clear apprehension of God’s mercy presupposes regeneration.[22]

The true repenter knows God is ready and willing to forgive. His repentance is joined to this confidence.[23] God’s calls to repentance are annexed to His offers of mercy. The fully awakened individual is driven into the arms of Christ by his sense of sin. Such a turning to God in Christ involves an apprehension of God’s love. When the prodigal began his journey home, he thought upon his father’s love. Desire for his father’s love, mercy and favor was not diminished by the knowledge of his father’s ways and rules.[24]

The Holy Spirit enables believers to practice ongoing repentance.

Thomas Watson defines repentance as a grace of God’s Spirit, which enables a sinner to be inwardly humbled and visibly reformed. Such a gracious work moves a man to recognize and consider the wickedness of sin. He is thereby humbled and is moved to sorrow for his sin. This godly sorrow is not superficial, but “is a holy agony” (Psalm 51:17, Joel 2:13). The sinner then confesses specific sins, which he has committed against God. He also confesses his sinful nature itself (Psalm 51:5). Scripture says that a truly repentant person is ashamed of his sin (Romans 6:21). And that he hates the sin he once loved and excused (Ezekiel 36:31). Such a hatred of sin is universal. The penitent has seen its cursedness and vileness. He declares war upon it and turns from it to God. He does so from the heart (Isaiah 55:7, Acts 26:20).[25]

True repentance loves God’s holiness.

True repentance is accompanied by a sight of the beauty of God’s holiness and the desirability of the life of holiness. The man enmeshed in penance never has had this view of God’s moral majesty. Therefore he has not the same aversion to sin as the penitent. He is not burdened by his failure to keep God’s law. The penitent’s self-love has been displaced by self-loathing over personal sin. Such loathing is inseparable from a genuine desire to be delivered from sin. Evangelical repentance begins a new life of striving against lust. The penitent is heavenly-minded, longing for the day he will be forever delivered from indwelling sin. Those who are heavenly-minded exhibit a present dependence upon Christ as sanctifier.[26] Those who long for the blessed state of sinlessness (the glory to come), manifest that desire by seeking purity (1 John 3:3).

The repentance that accompanies salvation is joined to faith in Christ’s mercy.
If true repentance is absolutely essential to salvation, the question may arise concerning its relationship to saving faith. Is it necessary that the sinner exercise true repentance and be conscious of having repented in order to have a right to take Christ as Savior? The answer begins with the understanding that Scripture joins faith and repentance together. They are granted at the same point of time in regeneration (Zechariah 12:10, Mark 1:5). Repentance is not offered to God apart from believing. Should a man wonder if he has repented thoroughly enough to have a right to Christ? This is to separate repentance from faith. Though the two are distinct, they are inseparable.[27]

A man will not repent who is yet an enemy of God under divine wrath. True repentance shows that an act of saving faith is joined to it. Those who come to God repenting come by Christ. Mourning for sin begins with Christ. Thus, true repentance is not a qualification to come to Christ. It is a capacity granted along with faith. Scripture sets forth the promises of grace and the object of faith. These are powerful motives to exercise true repentance. Faith apprehends mercy and grace in Christ and brings the soul to true repentance.[28]

John Murray brings out this union of the two in stating that faith and repentance are interdependent. Faith is permeated with repentance, and repentance with faith. In repenting, the penitent apprehends the perfect suitability of Christ for his sinnership.[29] The glory that floods the soul of the fully awakened person is that Christ’s sufficiency as Savior is coterminous with the devastation sin has wreaked upon the man.

Seven marks of true repentance.

A changed heart always leads to a changed behavior. Arthur Pink lists seven marks of true repentance. 1.) A hatred of sin; 2.) A deep sorrow for sin; 3.) Ongoing repentance and confession of sin; 4.) Turning from sin to God; 5.) Restitution where applicable; 6.) Permanent fruits of a changed life; 7.) A realization that repentance is never perfect in this life.[30]

The necessity of preaching repentance.

The doctrine of repentance is of utmost importance in preaching. Every minister should strive to gain an excellent understanding of this truth. The soil of the human heart is self-righteous to the core. Too many cry grace before the granite of the heart is broken up by a sight of sin. Preaching that ignores the doctrine of repentance may flatter sinners and imply that the duties of Christianity lie within their power. Those who crowd into churches without repenting have an unmortified pride. It never crosses their mind that they have no fear of God, that they do not serve God, and that they slight the blood of Christ.

Preaching repentance involves proclaiming the law of God.

This author renews afresh his commitment to preach repentance. It is a New Testament command (Acts 17:30). Sinners are told to turn from sin that they might have eternal life. The moral law of God ought to be brought to bear upon the consciences of sinners (1 Timothy 1:9-11). The sinner’s whole being and existence is an offense to God. The law reveals how criminal the sinner’s ways are.[31]

No man despairs of his own righteousness and efforts without a radical vision of his sin. It is convicted sinners who see they are liable to divine wrath. They alone see they need a Savior. The law is a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ through repentance (Galatians 3:24). Self-love runs so deep, men have no sentiment whatsoever that God is worthy of infinite eternal glory. As a result, the gospel is pared down to fit the world’s tastes. Repentance is the first truth to be cut off. Repentance is seldom preached by those who hesitate to condemn man-centeredness. The sense of God’s supreme moral government is lost without the preaching of repentance. True repentance is designed to make the heart loathe sin. By design it moves a man to take a violent stand against himself. By design it moves to broken-heartedness over failure to keep God’s law.[32]

As those who will preach Christ to this generation, it must always be remembered that salvation is not just from the consequences of sin, but also from sin itself. Those who will be saved through Christ must repent of sin if they are to be saved from it. They will be saved by way of a strong hatred of sin and an intense desire to be delivered from sin.[33]

Repentance issues forth in a changed mind, heart and life. True repentance renews the intellect, the affections and the will. Scripture asserts that repentance produces radical change in all three areas; the mind (Matthew 3:2, Mark1:15); the heart (Matthew 21:29,32, Hebrews 7:21); the will (Matthew 3:8; 9:13; Acts 20:21).[34]

The failure to preach repentance results in serious consequences.

Failure to preach repentance has contributed to the errors of “easy-believism” and “cheap grace.” Yes, God is glorifying His grace, but He is doing so by making men holy through Christ. Repentance alone keeps the subject of salvation within the context of deliverance from sin. Repentance sets a man on a course of mortifying sin. It preserves the truth that God is purifying for Himself a people (Titus 2:14).[35] Repentance must be preached if these truths are to be understood.

The burden of evangelical preaching must be repentance toward God. There is no lasting change or conversion without it. The counselor must urge repentance as well. He will not be able to see into hearts, but he will be able to observe the fruits of repentance. Genuine change will be accompanied by. 1.) Confession of sin; 2.) Seeking forgiveness; 3.) Forsaking of sin; 4.) A new course of life with an accompanying change in thought life. The person receiving counsel must exert strength in order to rid himself of every sinful influence. He must cease making provision for sin (Romans 13:14). The faithful pastor and counselor will call for these fruits.[36]

Scripture gives startling accounts of how far some individuals traveled in a direction of false piety before their absence of repentance was exposed. Jeremiah 42:1-6 explains how the leaders of the Judean remnant approached the prophet requesting his intercessory prayer. They vowed to obey God’s counsel through the prophet no matter how difficult. When Jeremiah brought back the words of direction and correction, their response revealed the unrepentant condition of their hearts. Their retort to Jeremiah and to God is cited in Jeremiah 44. It is one of the most blasphemous speeches ever recorded by professing believers.

The message of repentance should always be joined to the Gospel.

Though our message of repentance must never be reduced or compromised, it must always be joined to the gospel. True repentance makes for a deep sense of the preciousness of the gospel. It prepares a man to hold fast to Jesus as Savior and sanctifier. It rejects all other foundations of trust and credits Christ with authorship of salvation. True repentance subjects the soul to Christ’s lordship (whereas a dead impenitent “faith” remains disobedient and unrenewed). Repentance joined to saving faith works love to God and to man.[37] “The wicked do but weep for sins past, but the godly purpose to sin no more,” Henry Smith.[38]

The superlative advantages of a clear conscience.

True repentance brings the priceless fruit of a clear conscience. The Apostle Paul, in his testimony before Felix, stressed the importance of a clear conscience before God and men (Acts 24:15, 16). Paul lets believers know that a clear conscience is absolutely essential to maintaining a confident hope in view of the coming resurrection.

The advantages of a clear conscience are as follows:

1.) It gives one the power to step out on the promises of God. With the clear conscience comes a deep conviction of God’s blessed intentions towards you.
2.) It gives one the power to suffer for the sake of righteousness (without fainting, murmuring, or turning to evil).
3.) It gives one the power to worship unhindered.
4.) It lifts us above defensiveness. It is joined to the power of meekness and love.
5.) It clears the way to speak of God’s holiness with boldness. It prepares us to preach Christ crucified and to call others to repentance.
6). It is essential if we are to be able to admonish others, confronting their sin.
7.) It is joined to the ability to delight in God, to enjoy God and to consent to be loved by Him.
8.) It becomes a source of unspeakable joy and peace (the Holy Spirit works through a clear conscience, convincing us of the beauty of holiness).
9.) It issues forth in love to Christ whose blood purges the conscience and floods it with joy and peace.
10.) It is the source of a united heart that is resolute, stable, and established in the pursuit of holiness.

Mark

May this, EVEN NOW, be leading to true repentance before the Lord, where freedom is found.