Skip to comments.PREDESTINATION; LIVE BY GRACE; NOT BY WORKS (WEEK 8)
Posted on 11/13/2006 11:01:10 PM PST by Dr. Eckleburg
If salvation is all of grace -- if God is God and he has chosen us for salvation even though we did nothing to deserve it -- then we ought to live by the grace we have received. Of course, some of you will look at that and say to yourselves, Yeah, I really need to do better at living by grace. Ive really been a failure there. I hope God will forgive me again. If thats you, you still dont get it. Go back and re-read the last seventeen pages and (if youre a believer) remember that youre one of the elect!
Our hearts so quickly try to relate to God on a works-basis! Its our pride, really. Im convinced that thats the problem with free-will Arminianism. People naturally process it like this: God requires one work from me, to believe. Once I believe, Ive done my work and deserve heaven. Of course, in more hard-line Arminian circles, it goes a step further. Unless Im holy enough, Ill still go to hell, and maybe Ive even committed the unpardonable sin and will be damned even if Im sinlessly perfect from here on out. Legalism. Legalism. Legalism. Such a religion is barely recognizable as Christianity.
But Calvinists can fall into legalism just as easily. You see, I understand predestination. Im a superior Christian. Ive got all my theological ts crossed and my Reformed is dotted. I sure am close to God. Pride is the Presbyterians favorite form of legalism, so watch out! But if God really is for us, and if we had nothing to do with that decision -- if even our faith was given to us by the Father -- then theres no room for boasting. Gods sovereign choice of us leaves us free from pride. It leaves us aware of our brokenness and humble before God, but all the while confident that his eternal purpose will stand, that we will glory in God forever as objects of his saving mercy. As Gods eternal blessing really begins to sink from our heads into our hearts, we see a new freedom that we never would have imagined when we first encountered the raw, holy, sovereign power of God. Among the newfound freedoms:
1. Freedom from shame, guilt & Insecurity
Read Romans 8:28-39. Nothing can separate you from Gods love -- nothing in the past, nothing in the future. No one can stand against you. No one can accuse you. Even bad things (all things) are working right now to your benefit, to make you more like Jesus. God didnt choose you because of your faith, and Jesus is not ashamed of youeven at your worst (Hebrews 2:11). Hes proud to have you in the family, proud to call you brother or sister -- even knowing what he knows. Hes displaying the glory of his mercy, remember. Gods law is no longer your enemy, but a friend. You can have confidence before God.
2. Freedom from destructive Perfectionism
If God really is for you, then you can quit trying to look good. If youre trying to be good enough for God, hes not buying it -- he didnt choose you because of your great faithfulness. If youre trying to be good enough for other people, dont bother. God wants to display his mercy -- that means we have to be broken. Gods glory is not displayed by trying to look like you have it all together. Faith is not a work, and even if it were it still wouldnt earn you any brownie points. Let God be God. If you wont show your weakness, then others wont see Gods power displayed in it.
3. Freedom from legalistic man-made rules
Some of the biggest practical opponents to living by grace are those legalistic little rules that we live by. We love to judge other with them -- they make us look good, and help us feel better about ourselves. (Pride again.) Dress this way, not that way. Wear this much makeup, not that much. Work. Dont work. Home school is Gods way. Public school is Gods way. Christian school is Gods way. Drink. Dont drink. Smoke. Dont smoke. Dance. Dont dance. This is Gods worship style. If were all about Gods glory, theres no room for any of this. Do whatever you do for Gods glory without comparisons. God has freed you from judging others. You dont understand God sovereign grace until you realize you are a beggar whos been blessed without cause. You had nothing to do with it -- youre just a receiver.
4. Freedom from Penance
Even repentance can be a sham if were trying to approach God with some vestige of self-reliance. Biblical repentance is a freedom we can enjoy daily, while penance is its counterfeit.
Comes with empty hands/Tries to bargain with God
Acknowledges real sin as against God/Makes excuses for sin
Grieves over displeasing God/Grieves over getting caught
Asks for help to do better/Promises to do better
Is willing to publicly confess, if needed/Is too proud to publicly confess
Relies on God's promises to us/Relies on own promises to God
Turns outward, away from self, to God/Turns inward on self
Produces freedom, joy, and confidence/Produces guilty feelings, anxiety
God has obligated himself to receive any repentant sinner who comes to him. Without this realization, true repentance is impossible. Until we realize that God is for us, we cannot truly be for God.
Last part of the series, Saints. A day late, but not a cent too short. 8~)
Great news to read in the morning. Now where is the coffee and donuts...?
Greg Johnson does not realize that there is a major problem in his theology here. No believer can know that he or she is one of the elect until death. Greg keeps telling people that they are elect, but Greg has no way of knowing who is elect and who is not.
Given the doctrine of limited atonement, and the fact of apostasy (those who seem to have saving faith but actually did not), what are the grounds of this confidence?
Given the doctrines of reprobation, limited atonement, and apostasy, no one can know, in this life, whether one is joined to God's love in the first place.
Or, for all you know, proud to have created you to roast in hell forever.
Behavior has consequences!
I couldn't agree more with this; especially the legalism part. I've also come to realize that assurance of salvation may not be quite the same thing as knowledge of salvation, and because of that there will be some of us who were assured (and I think I can say that I feel assured of God's Love for me, and that his Love will bring me home, when he calls me home) but wrongly so, because that requires a knowledge that only God has.
It's cognitive dissonance to say that salvation is of God, and then on the other hand command or suggest or imply, that I must say so many Hail Marys for my sins (and how did prayer become penance?), that I remember under penalty of grave sin that Holy Days of Obligation, are just that, an obligation. Not Love of God, but obligation. Just about everything Rome touches it tyrannizes; it's something deep in their marrow or it's driven by industry and money. I'm not really sure which, and if I had to guess, I'd say it's a little bit of both. It makes God the ultimate petty task master.
Right after I left Rome, I was going to give away my missal and catechism, both of which date back many years. What kept me from doing it, and I'm glad it did, because there's a good share in each that is profoundly worthy, is that I had this dream that I was dropping them off in the vestibule, and the doors shut in on me and I couldn't get out.
You might be interested to know that my missal refers a few times to 'Thine Elect.' The missal dates back to '62 and the catechism to '52. I acquired them when I returned after a couple of decades of thinking, something's off here, this may not be for me. And, what was always off, was the inveterate legalism that turns love into an obligation. And rendered the church itself incapable of loving, so that a pope could declare that one must be subject to the Roman Pontiff. Now all these years later, some ministry of nuance, tries to massage that message into something that can only be accepted by those bound and gagged by Rome's magisterium. Anyone outside that circle sees the spin for what it is. If Unam Sanctum (I hope I have the right Bull) can be re-cast, there's nothing in their arsenal that can't be recast. They give Pilates words, 'what is truth?', saliency again and again and again.
It is all of God, it is none of me. My being moves in His, that makes me calm and serene and joyful
Post Tenebras Lux
no one can know, in this life, whether one is joined to God's love in the first place.
Well, we Reformers stand with Paul when he declares "for I know whom I have believed" (2 Timothy 1:12.)
Since you seem interested, please read the following excellent link by Loraine Boettner...
"...Those who have fled to Jesus for refuge have a firm foundation upon which to build. Though floods of error deluge the land, though Satan raise all the powers of earth and all the iniquities of their own hearts against them, they shall never fail; but, persevering to the end, they shall inherit those mansions which have been prepared for them from the foundation of the world. The saints in heaven are happier but no more secure than are true believers here in this world. Since faith and repentance are gifts of God, the bestowing of these gifts is a revelation of God's purpose to save those to whom they are given. It is an evidence that God has predestinated the recipients of these gifts to be conformed to the image of His Son, i.e., to be like Him in character, destiny, and glory, and that He will infallibly carry out His purpose. No one can pluck them out of His hands. Those who once become true Christians have within themselves the principle of eternal life, which principle is the Holy Spirit; and since the Holy Spirit dwells within them they are already potentially holy. True, they are still exercised by many trials, and they do not yet see what they shall be, but they should know that that which is begun in them shall be completed to the end, and that the very presence of strife within them is the sign of life and the promise of victory..."
Knowing whom you have believed is not the same as knowing that you are elect. Even those who will eventually fall away know whom they have believed. Is that the best you can do??
While in seminary Greg would have told him the same thing you quote from Boettner, "Since faith and repentance are gifts of God, the bestowing of these gifts is a revelation of God's purpose to save those to whom they are given. It is an evidence that God has predestinated the recipients of these gifts to be conformed to the image of His Son, i.e., to be like Him in character, destiny, and glory, and that He will infallibly carry out His purpose."
The imaginary world in which everyone who shows "faith and repentance" remains a believer until death is just that, imaginary. Reformed folk who claim otherwise are just deceiving themselves. It is if you are completely unaware (or in complete denial) about the *fact* of people who show "faith and repentance", and then go on to become God-hating atheists.
Respectfully, you are wrong. To truly know Christ is to be of Christ, to have been born of God.
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." -- 1 John 5:1,4
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him...
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." -- 1 John 5:1,4
What man would deny Christ if he believed Him to be God? Those who fall away do not believe in the Trinity or in His divinity. Ask them. I have yet to find a non-believer who accepts the resurrection as fact. They have not been given eyes to see or ears to hear or a new heart with which to understand and believe.
Is that the best you can do??
To rest secure in His words that those who are His will believe in His name and follow Him and never be lost? Yes, that works for me.
But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." -- John 6:35-40
"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." -- John 6:35-40
"And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you." -- Isaiah 46:4
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" -- Philippians 1:6
So relax, A8. God wants you confident that Christ has overcome the world. All the legalism of men does not benefit you one iota. Christ has redeemed you. No church nor magisterium nor men in robes can erase what God has given.
(All this is assuming, of course, you believe in the Trinitarian God of all creation and in Jesus Christ's perfect and complete atonement on the cross for every sin you have ever or will ever commit.)
If not, I guess you'll continue to worry and try to find something better.
Reformed folks never tire of this equivocation.
Q. How do you know that you are elect?
A. Because we know Christ.
Q. But others who seemed just like yourselves to know Christ, fell away.
A. Right, but they did not really *know* Christ.
Q. So how do you know that your "really *know*" Christ?
A. Because we have "faith and repentance".
Q. But those who fell away sure seemed to have "faith and repentance".
A. Right, but they did not *really* have "faith and repentance".
Q. Ok, so how you know that you *really* have "faith and repentance"?
A. Because "To truly know Christ is to be of Christ".
So when you when you want to assure yourselves that you are elect, you apply all these verses to yourselves. But then when people fall away, these same verses by which you assured the apostates-to-be that they were elect, you then say that these verses didn't ever apply to the apostates. But then you always ignore the fact that this admission undermines your justification for presently using these verses to assure yourselves that you are not an apostate-to-be.
A great series, Dr. E. ! Thanks for posting. :)
There are tons of "assurance" verses in the Bible (the above being among my favorites). I can understand why a Catholic may have no assurance, (A8, I don't know if you are Catholic or not), because all of the assurance verses have been interpreted away by the hierarchy and salvation is partially dependent on the Church itself. But for anyone else, I don't understand how it profits a person to toss the assurance verses in favor of doubt and uncertainty. It would make sense if one admitted to believing in a works-based salvation, but even the Catholics deny that. I don't understand how a Christian life on earth is enhanced by questioning whether God really meant what He said in the Bible over and over and over again.