Why We Remember The Reformation

56 comments

  1. The really sad part about it is that Piper is looked up to, by many Baptists and other other evangelicals as their authority on what it means to be Reformed, and they swallow such lies, hook, line, and sinker. Of course, he is Daniel Fuller’s protégée, and he has endorsed Douglas Wilson, so it should not come as much of a surprise that he would make such a statement.

  2. I’ve never heard a sermon from Piper (clips are the exception), nor have I ever read a book by Piper, nor really have I taken the time to get to know him. Can someone explain why he ever was or became relevant to so many? It’s not that I’m antagonistic towards him. I have never understood the attraction of his ministry.

    As an interesting side note, the people I have heard speak well of him have been critical of him for other issues. An example is James White (a.k.a. Billy James White), where I heard him a few years ago get upset and criticize Piper for making comments about gun use for self-defense.

  3. The post does not come from Piper, but rather from “Greg Morse is a content strategist for desiringGod.org”, or so says the article linked in the Twitter post. I would, however, like to know why Piper allowed this. According to the linked article that Morse is credited with writing, salvation is by works. I see no other way to understand what he wrote, which is: “Only those who have a string of sin’s carcasses behind them will enter into heaven. Only those who “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling” knowing that God is working in them “to will and to work for his good pleasure” will be saved (Philippians 2:12–13). But what about being saved by faith alone? You’re not. You’re justified through faith alone. Final salvation comes through justification and sanctification — both initiated and sustained by God’s grace.”

    Well, now I see why. There is a link in the above excerpt, to an article written by Piper himself which pretty much says the same thing. Now I understand where this is all coming from. And I find it incredibly sad.

    • In addition to Dr Clark, Dr Sinclair Ferguson’s book The Whole Christ has been extremely helpful to our understanding this issue.

  4. Go to Desiring God and to Ask Pastor John. Type in Episode 825. After stumbling around and equivocating, he ends by clearly saying that at the final judgment our works will be brought in as evidence for the final verdict on our salvation. He does the same thing in book length fashion in his book, Future Grace. No wonder Piper endorses Douglas Wilson. They both teach, we get in by grace and stay in, IF we do our part. If we have done our part well enough, maybe God will grant us final salvation! So much for assurance!

    • Angela, I am with you that Piper is at the least being sloppy with his defining of the issue, but isn’t he also attempting to harmonize the Scriptures on this? Jesus Himself said “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
      ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:36-37‬ ‭

    • Adam,

      John is doing what he has been doing for decades: following the theology of Daniel Fuller. I asked him personally about this several years ago, after his book on justification came out. He replied that his theology had not changed. He was right. He was merely adding imputation to his two-stage system. He’s doing what Doug Wilson does when he talks about the imputation of active obedience. In a two-stage system, one can say what he will about the first stage because the second stage, through works, is definitive.

      Yes, I’m sure he is trying to interpret Scripture. So were the Socinians and they found Scripture not to teach what the Protestants confessed it to teach.

      If we are finally saved through our faithfulness in any part then none of us shall be finally saved. None of us has works of sufficient quality or quantity. Further, if our final salvation (were there such a thing) is contingent upon our obedience, then what does that make Jesus? According to the Heidelberg and the Belgic, it makes him but half a Savior. It makes him a facilitator.

      Jesus did not say, “it is begun but now you must do your part.” He said, “It is finished.”

      As to the role of good works in the judgement, we have a confession for that: there is a distinction between justification and vindication.

      See also Heidelberg 38:

      38. Why did He suffer “under Pontius Pilate” as judge?

      That He, being innocent, might be condemned by the temporal judge, and thereby deliver us from the severe judgment of God, to which we were exposed

      and 52:

      52. What comfort is it to you, that Christ “shall come to judge the living and the dead”?

      That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head, I look for the very same one, who before offered Himself for me to the judgment of God, and removed all curse from me, to come as Judge from heaven, who shall cast all His and my enemies into everlasting condemnation, but shall take me with all His chosen ones to Himself into heavenly joy and glory.

      Piper’s scheme (and that of his apologists) turns the judgment into a covenant of works. For Protestants, however, the judgment is gospel because we are now saved and we shall then be vindicated. Christ accomplished salvation on the cross and the Spirit graciously applies it to his elect and he shall preserve them until the end.

      The same event has two senses: it is a curse for unbelievers and their unbelief shall be manifest and they shall be judged for their disobedience but it is good news for us because our sins have already been judged.

      What is telling is that rather than following the Reformation, he decided to turn the judgment into a covenant of works. I was just reading Oecolampadius’ commentary on Isiah (c.1525) in which he faced the same question. When he had to define works, he said, “it is to believe in Christ.” In 1525. The Reformation was barely 6 years old and he got it. Here it is 500 years later and DG is telling people that we are not saved by grace.

      Rome blushes. Even the Vatican would not say what DG has said.

    • Thanks for all that doc. My question is whether Piper is making the distinction between justification and vindication. I don’t know enough of his teaching to be certain that he isn’t just sloppily equivocating his terms, though essentially meaning what we mean as we confess with the Westminster authors.

      In other words, wouldn’t Piper say that all who are justified are also glorified? I am almost positive that is his position; and on the other hand, he has said that profession of faith which is not vindicated by works is no saving faith at all. Isn’t that the Reformed position a la James 2?

    • He is not making that distinction. That’s why DG posted this headline.

      They really teach 2-stages and a final salvation through works.

      This is intentional.

  5. I can’t seem to find the article from which this was posted…please help! please provide a link if possible.

  6. Adam, what this comes down to is the question, are true believers to be judged or vindicated on the last day? True believers are born again, regenerated by the indwelling Holy Spirit. He is our down payment guaranteeing our acceptance with God. Eph. 1:14 Believers have been declared righteous, they have already been judged! Only those who have not savingly believed on Christ will be judged. People like Piper and Wilson would have us think that we have to earn final salvation by our works. That is a patent denial that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone. It is a rejection of Christ as our ONLY righteousness . And if we reject Christ as our only righteousness, and try to add our own works as the basis of our final acceptance with God, we will be judged! You can count on it, and the verdict will not be favorable!!! People like Piper try to tell us that we should not worry because God does not demand strict justice! Just how strict is God going to be? Try sleeping on that one! Reformed theology teaches that we do good works because we are saved, not to stay saved or achieve final salvation.

  7. (Quote) ‘Be killing your sin’ (unquote) – I can’t help remembering the old Fakir’s instructions for turning gravel into gold, which went: “put the gravel into a bucket, add some water, and stir vigorously, but be sure *not* to think of a red-faced monkey as you stir, for it won’t work if you do.” We should be ‘Looking unto Jesus, the Author & *Finisher* of our faith’ and then we will have works. “Lord You have worked all our works in us.” (Isa. 26:12.)

  8. When Oecolampadius had to define works, he said; “it is to believe in Christ.”

    “What shall we do, to work the works of God?” ……. “Believe on Him whom God has sent.” John 6:28,29.

  9. Josh, when we trust in Christ alone, we trust that He has paid the penalty we deserve for our sin. The wages of sin is death. On the cross He died to take our place. He lived the perfect life we cannot live, and when we believe this, His righteousness is imputed to us. That makes us perfect in God’s sight because we are declared to be righteous for Christ’s sake. God justifies the ungodly for Christ’s sake. I am an ungodly sinner condemned to hell, but because of Christ I am forgiven, accepted by God and guaranteed to be resurrected in glory if I believe this. And if I believe this, will I not be gratefully love God and want to obey Him? Not to earn the righteousness and forgiveness I already have, but because I am sure of my acceptance, and I want to demonstrate my love and gratitude. That’s the gospel and it is good news, indeed.

    • Yeah, that is good news. But “you’re not saved through faith alone. Be killing your sin” is not good news at all.

  10. Josh, what exactly do you mean? Sanctification includes “killing your sin.”Romans 8:12-13 If we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and He is recreating us in the image of Christ we will fight against the misdeeds of the body. We do this not to earn or keep salvation, but because we are regenerated and given a new nature, as sons of God. That is then how we should behave. Matt. 17:16-20. No one will achieve perfection in this life, but a regenerate person will strive to obey God, according to his new nature.

  11. I didn’t know the final words on the cross were, “It is possible?” Does that make the final words of the pactum, “it’s not probable.”

  12. It just sounds like the book of James to me…? Doesn’t fit in the system, thus I suppose you have to condemn such a tweet.

  13. Josh, what exactly do you mean? Are you defending the quotation from Desiring God? The point I am trying to make is that it is false. If the Holy Spirit is working in us because we are regenerated, we will be striving to kill our sin. Romans 8;12-15. If we are truly sons of God, we will strive to behave that way, not to be accepted by God, but because we are accepted. That is our response to God, not to earn or keep salvation, but to express our love and gratitude. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone. Our works of sanctification contribute nothing to our salvation, but they are fruits of the Holy Spirit working in us when we are regenerate, and they identify us as sons.

  14. Silly me! As I think about this, it occurs to me that you seem to be making an observation about the quotation from Desiring God, that it is not sounding like the gospel, in which case I will say, “yeah, I agree with you 100%!” Sorry for being so dense.

    • Ha ha! Yeah, I was commenting on desiring Gods twitter feed that dr Clark posted. They’re telling people to save themselves by “killing sin”…this is law not gospel.

  15. DG is classic confusion of justification and sanctification. It was John Owen who said “be killing sin or sin will be killing you” in his volume on SANCTIFICATION.

  16. Grant, I used to think very highly of John Piper. I was especially impressed with his passion for encouraging works of sanctification. The problem is that he makes final salvation to depend on works of sanctification, as the statement we have been discussing, from Desiring God clearly shows. If our salvation depends on the evidence of our works at the final judgment, then we are ultimately saved by works. See Ask a Pastor John, episode 825. Have you read, Future Grace? He says the same thing there. Recently he has even back tracked on his criticism of N. T. Wright along with endorsing Douglas Wilson. Now he says Wright teaches not another gospel, but only a confusing gospel.

    • You’re interpreting Piper to be saying that initial justification is provisional, he’s not – and he doesn’t. It’s completed, past tense – it’s what he’s always said.

      Piper on Romans 8:

      “So the question then is why does Paul say to the church in Rome — and to Bethlehem — (verse 13) “If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live”? The reason is this: Putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit — the daily practice of killing sin in your life — is the result of being justified and the evidence that you are justified by faith alone apart from works of the law. If you are making war on your sin, and walking by the Spirit, then you know that you have been united with Christ by faith alone. And if you have been united to Christ, then his blood and righteousness provide the unshakable ground of your justification.”

      As far as the tweet.
      James 2:24 – “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
      John Owen – “Be killing Sin, or sin will be killing you.” (Clearly an exposition of Romans 8:13)

      This is a simple, straightforward call to persevere in faith, because we’re saved by faith alone, but that faith is never alone.

    • Grant,

      Read the Owen quote in context. He never said what DG is trying to make him say. He wrote an entire volume against it. See Vol. 5 of his works contra Baxter, who did say what DG is saying.

      Yes, I am interpreting Piper. I don’t know about his intent. I do know what he has said. He and his organization have unequivocally taught final salvation by works. That is a false gospel. It is no gospel at all.

      I’ve explained how he gets there: via the two-stage construction, which allows him to say orthodox things about the first stage and heterodox things about the 2nd.

  17. Grant, in Future Grace Piper begins the book by asking this question: “How do faith and love relate as prerequisites for final salvation? This book is a response to questions such as these. p.4 Near the end of the book he answers: “Our salvation will accord with our deeds. In other words, the judgment is according to what a person has done.” p.365 “Our deeds will reveal who enters the age to come” p.365 “the deeds of this life will be the public criteria of judgment at the resurrection.” p.366. “Both the old covenant and the new covenant are CONDITIONAL covenants of grace. They offer all sufficient future grace for those who keep the covenant….future blessings of the Christian life are conditioned on our covenant keeping.” p. 248 Piper sternly warns us: “The future grace of inheriting the kingdom is contingent on not practicing the works of the flesh.” p. 253. Piper can sound very orthodox on justification, when he is talking about initial justification by faith alone, but when it comes to our final salvation it is a different story!

  18. Dr Clark, how should we interpret statements like this when they are made by people who are Calvinists? John Piper and Doug Wilson are both Calvinists, and I imagine they would both openly state that all of salvation is grace alone. But then they make statements like this that are at odds with their professed Calvinism. What we do with that?

    • Bradley,

      Many medieval theologians taught sovereign, prevenient grace. They also taught conditional salvation.

      The Reformation inherited the Augustinian doctrine of divine sovereignty and prevenient grace but wed it to the biblical doctrine of justification and sanctification (salvation).

      No, divine sovereignty is not a license to teach a two-stage doctrine of salvation or salvation through works.

      This is why WCF 11.1 says “not for anything wrought in us….”.

  19. Grant,
    There is no initial justification. There is ONLY justification which is final and complete in this life and the life to come. Those who are justified (BFA) will be raisesd to new life with a new glorified body before the final judgment. The Spirit wrought works are only evidentiary of a true and lively faith, a doctrine the Reformed call vindication. The final verdict is never suspended or in doubt based on our sanctity. To speak of a Final justification is confusing at best and heretical at worst.

    • I would add to Michael’s comment to Grant, our sanctification is also never in doubt. When God begins to mold us and change us to be more and more like Christ, that process will — not may, not perhaps, but will happen, and will continue until Christ’s return. Remember Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That is definite sanctification.

  20. I would just like to add to Bob’s comment, that while Chtistians will be sanctified, our good works are never, in any way the cause of our salvation. In fact to not understand this is deadly. Christ alone lived the perfect life we cannot live, and died the death we could not die. This is credited to us when we believe in Him ALONE. If we get this wrong, and try to add our works of sanctification, we have fallen from grace, and Jesus is no longer our Saviour! “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ, you have fallen from grace.” Gal. 5:4 If we are regenerate, the evidence, in this life, will be that the Holy Spirit is working sanctification in us, conforming us to the image of Christ. But the cause of our acceptance with God is only the blood and perfect righteousness of Christ. To say that our good works are required for final salvation is a complete denial that we have Christ alone as our Saviour. It is to reject Christ.

  21. Why is it so difficult for us to understand? Even a small child can understand it. We are saved by faith alone, faith in Jesus the Christ, and even that faith has been given to us by grace alone. Man, the perennial egoist, wants a share in the whole process, he cannot accepts that his share is only the sin. He was dead in his sin, and being dead he was not able to do anything to save himself. But for the loving grace of God he would have been lost. All man can do is to thank God for that loving grace.

    • Angela, and to anyone else who may be reading this, one thing we must never lose sight of: I am no longer teaching theological students, I am an emeritus minister, but I still teach to a congregation, and the one thing that I have learned is to keep it simple. Jesus did not teach theology to the wise and the learned, He taught the truth to the common folk and from him that is something we should learn and emulate. Yes, by all means make absolutely as sure as is humanly possible that we are teaching what the Bible tells, but keep is simple. We, who are saved as we believe, do not need to be riled by the Word, we are rather looking for assurance. The Word is our comfort in this harsh and unforgiving world.

  22. Dr. Neveling, if only it could be that simple, but Satan never tires in his effort to obscure this truth. He prowls around like a roaring lion 1 Peter 5:8. The aim of false teachers is always to lead us away from the simple truth that when we trust in Christ alone we are credited with His righteousness. We then respond by loving God and obeying out of thankfulness. False teachers want us to think that there is a final judgement for Christians, and they would mislead us into thinking that our works of sanctification will be needed as evidence for God, for us to be judged worthy of God’s approval. That changes the ground of our acceptance from grace through faith alone, to final salvation by our works. If only we could keep it simple, accepting that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone. Just say, “no!” to any false teacher that claims we need to be retried by God on the last day to determine if our works measure up. Christians were judged and declared righteous on the basis of Christ’s righteousness imputed to them when they trusted only in the blood and righteous of Christ as their only basis of acceptance with God, now and for eternity. This fact will be vindicated when they are resurrected in glory. They will not face rejudgment based on works as Piper and the FV would have us believe.

    • Angela, I don’t think it’s accurate to say these men are teaching “our works of sanctification will be needed as evidence for God, for us to be judged worthy of God’s approval.”

      Let me ask this (to anyone paying attention): if Piper or whomever were to phrase it “you are not saved by a faith which is alone, but rather you are saved by grace alone through faith alone which results in the necessarily accompanying works of faith,” would we then agree?

    • Adam,

      No. We are not saved because of the quality of our faith. We saved on the ground of the quality of the Savior. Faith’s “virtue” is that it looks to Christ. Period.

      Will true faith produce sanctity? Yes! Is faith saving because one is growing in sanctity? No. To say that is the concede the Romanist doctrine of “faith formed by love.”

    • But you see, your reply isn’t addressing what I said – and this is what I suspect concerning perhaps 7/10s of this discussion – that there is a lot of talking past one another.

      I did not mean to say, nor do I believe I said “faith is saving because one is growing in sanctity” – I understand and confess faith is saving because of its object, namely Christ and His work, alone.

      But *that* faith which saves – as opposed to the false faith of the apostate – that saving faith without exception always produces a movement toward sanctity, so that we can rightly say “saving faith is never alone; it must produce fruit or it is no true faith at all.”

      If that’s not what both sides are saying here, then I must have a head full of rocks.

    • Adam,

      I understand exactly what you’re saying. I’m afraid we disagree what the issue is.

      That faith must produce fruit is not in dispute from any orthodox Protestant quarter and certainly here. I subscribe the Belgic Confession which confesses that very thing in article 24. But faith does not save because it works. It works because we are saved.

      Piper et al are not satisfied with the confessional doctrine of the Heidelberg Catechism: Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude. They are dissatisfied with good works as the fruit and evidence of salvation. They say explicitly that we are saved “through faith and good works.” This is a repudiation of the Reformation.

      There is no such thing as “two-stage” doctrine of salvation: an initial stage whereby one is justified sola gratia, sola fide and a final stage whereby one is saved through faith and works. Any such construction makes the initial “justification” merely provisional. It is just another version of “in by grace, finish by works” —condemned by Paul in Galatians 3.

      So, both sides are not saying the same thing. They are saying two very distinct things. Either salvation is all of grace (which produces fruit and evidence) or salvation is partly through faith and partly through works and if so, then it is all of works and Christ is but half a Savior (see the Belgic and the Heidelberg and the posts in which I’ve explained this).

    • Adam,

      Here is an example of how Piper and his defenders deny that works are merely evidence of saving faith. One of Piper’s defenders, Mark Jones, clearly denies that good works are merely evidence of true faith. In an article he wrote, he criticizes Dr. Clark’s view…

      “Clark says that there are three ways you can look at the role of good works: is (to be); through (instrument) and because (ground). He then argues that “is” is the proper way to interpret the Reformed understanding of good works as the means and way to possessing salvation. After surveying the writings of Turretin and Witsius, Clark says, “For Witsius, as for Turretin, It is the case that believers will do good works.”
      In line with this, Clark says that good works are merely the fruit and evidence of salvation. He then cites The Council of Trent, which he says faithfully represented the Protestant and Reformed position by its rejection of the mere fruit position.
      Unfortunately, Clark willingly embraces the Roman Catholic caricature of the Protestant/Reformed view of good works.
      John Davenant lashes out at Bellarmine for holding to this caricature and he vigorously argues against the notion that good works are only necessary to attest or evidence true faith. Similarly, Witsius strongly rebuked the so-called antinomian position among the English Dissenters who taught that good works in relation to salvation merely testify to the life we have in Christ. Many Reformed theologians did not accept Bellarmine’s caricatures, but Clark seems to think Bellarmine was correct!
      In this regard, we need to point out that Clark misinterprets the Reformed distinction of title and possession. For example, Witsius argued contrary to the mere fruit position that believers are to do good works because they live and so that they may live. Doing good works because they live is equivalent to Clark’s “it is the case believers will do good works.” However, Witsius is saying more than that by noting that believers obey that they may live. This is clear by the analogy he uses. He likens the role of good works to eating food. No man eats but he lives, but he also eats that he may live. A man may not eat if he chooses. But if he wants to keep on living, he must eat. Clearly, gospel obedience is more than an “is” in salvation, at least for Witsius (and, we would argue, almost everyone else among the Reformed orthodox).“

      https://calvinistinternational.com/2017/10/13/assessing-pipers-critics-love-hopes-all-things/

    • Angela,
      The truth is that it is that simple. If you are saved, and saved by His grace alone as we believe, then nothing, not even the forces of hell can rip you from the hand of the one and only Saviour, Jesus the Christ. That is the truth and that is what we teach. Any false doctrine to the contrary will not affect that truth. Satan my obfuscate the matter, he may try his very best, but the chosen of God are safe from his insidious attacks. Whether John Piper subscribe to a two stage justification or not does not matter, not to your salvation in any case, and mine, and not to the salvation of anyone pre-ordained to salvation. Those whom He had chosen He will glorify. Praised be His name.

    • Angela, and to anyone else who may be reading this, one thing we must never lose sight of: I am no longer teaching theological students, I am an emeritus minister, but I still teach to a congregation, and the one thing that I have learned is to keep it simple. Jesus did not teach theology to the wise and the learned, He taught the truth to the common folk and from him that is something we should learn and emulate. Yes, by all means make absolutely as sure as is humanly possible that we are teaching what the Bible tells, but keep is simple. We, who are saved as we believe, do not need to be riled by the Word, we are rather looking for assurance. The Word is our comfort in this harsh and unforgiving world.

  23. Adam, if I understand what you are saying in your first post, you are making works necessary as a condition to final salvation. That is precisely what Piper and the FV are saying and what I am calling a false teaching. That makes works a necessary condition for salvation and a denial of salvation by grace, through faith and in Christ alone because you are adding works as a condition. Saving faith will produce good works and those good works are evidence that this faith is real, but they are not a condition of salvation, as though our works are to be evaluated by God at the final judgment to see if they are sufficient as evidence for a favourable verdict. But that is exactly what Piper is arguing. He is setting up a two stage system where we are initially justified by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone but where final salvation makes works necesary for acceptance with God or for salvation! In fact it makes works the deciding factor in our eternal destiny because initial justification can be overturned if the condition of works is not sufficient. That would leave us completely without any assurance if our works are going to be the ultimate deciding factor. And if works are what saves us in the end, there is no hope for us because God’s standard is perfect obedience, which no one can produce except Christ.

  24. Adam, I agree completely with your statement, “saving faith, without exception, always moves toward sanctity.” That is an identifying characteristic of saving faith, just like apples identify the type of tree that produces them. However, the apples do not make the tree, the tree makes the apples. Neither do works of sanctification make faith saving. We are not saved through sanctification, but through faith in Christ alone. Piper and the FV want to make faith and sanctification necessary for final salvation, so that our works are ultimately coinstrumental for final salvation. That is simply a denial that we are saved through faith alone and in Christ alone. It makes our works necessary for final salvation. That is what makes the two stage salvation promoted by people like Piper and FV so terribly wrong.

  25. Josh, it is clear, from the quotations you provide, that Piper and his crew will go to extraordinary lengths to twist and equivocate so that the Reformers may be misrepresented as supporting the claim that Piper and the FV are making that we are justified initially by faith alone but that we must also have works to save us. Evidently Christ’s righteousness imputed to us will not do the job but our works are necessary to save us too! ” O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by obeying the law or by believing what you heard. Are you so foolish?After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” Gal. 3:1-3 Read the Reformed confessions, we are not saved by faith AND works, but through faith alone in Christ alone.

  26. Dr. Neveling, thank you for your words of encouragement, but even Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Doesn’t it just make you want to bawl, when you see people being misled, by supposed pastors, into trusting in the fatal error that faith plus works are necessary for salvation? We are to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and so I think is our duty to oppose false teaching and defend the truth. I think that part of the reason for the sad condition of ignorance about truth in evangelical churches today is that Christians neglect their duty to defend the faith. A multitude of martyrs gave their lives to defend the faith during the reformation, shouldn’t we at least defend that faith today by speaking up for it?

  27. After going into an affirmation that Professor Clark correctly researched a Reformed distinction between title and possession, Mark Jones’s blog entry as cited by URL by Josh yesterday promptly drops the subject and merely cites other authors who use words that are more ambiguous than those.

    In looking at title versus possession, the very first thing this makes me think of is Abraham and the patriarchs. But to be more on-topic, the whole question of the necessity of works, besides the constant confusion between moral necessity and ontological necessity, even as ontological necessity needs to have simple questions applied to it: of what nature, and how many and when? John 14:12 also begs this, which shows title as an unconditional promise, and deserves to be as famous in this debate as any verse.

    Believers “will have works.” If the debate is rather about minimums in this life, which to begin to state them at all makes the whole issue a little silly. If the question amounts to a quantity simply more than zero, as Jn 15:5 mandates, no man before Judgment Day can delve into another to that granularity to find zero. Jn 15:5 mandates that there is no such thing as a good deed without Christ’s participation in it, but for us He has not yet displayed His actual work with us, so the finding of one is problematic for both of those reasons.

    If the debate is about finding a current plateau of accomplishments that are noticeable to all before death, Christ gives a before-death time limit a severe blow in His saying of Jn 12:24. Even has a hyperbolic statement, Christ makes a huge distinction between fruit before and after death, in His own case, and makes the issue proverbial.

    Indeed, the assumption “before we die” time delimiter needs to be brought up, especially when all the work has been put in, using the distinction “title” and “posession.”

  28. “On the Piperians:
    It is common practice amongst the Piperians to take well established statements by heretics and licentious men and publish them broadly. They then seek to redefine them in a scholastic way as to appear technically correct.
    In so doing, they stir up much controversy. Men of various traditions become quickly indignant at these careless statements. Though when they respond, as a mouse lured into a trap by some rancid dairy, they are mocked and accused of not reading graciously or carefully enough.
    It is uncertain their motive. Do they hold to some heretical doctrine? Wish to make the Gospel of our Lord spread abroad through controversy? Remove the precision of language from theology? Test their academic ability to make any combination of words mean whatever they wish? Or are they after some monetary gain that only comes from playing the martyr on a large enough stage? The answer, we may never know.
    One thing we can certainly know is that such men ought not to be held in high esteem amongst the brethren or hold office in the church of our Lord. Careless men ought never to be shepherds of any flock.”

  29. The experience of those Christians taken early to heaven in 1 Cor 11 as an act of gracious discipline seems to suggest that salvation isn’t dependent upon our achieving high levels of practical sanctification.

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