In every generation, the doctrine of justification by faith alone comes under attack. As the heart of the gospel, the doctrine of justification is most fundamental to the definition of salvation and any adequate understanding of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our current cultural milieu where orthodox belief is despised and innovation is praised, many have ignored, maligned, or sought to redefine the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. Unfortunately, there are even those within more conservative theological domains whose definition of justification by faith falls short of the biblical and reformed doctrine of justification, particularly as defined in the Westminster Standards. To combat these harmful perversions, we here seek to define a clear, confessional polemic that might serve the church as a bulwark to “strengthen what remains.”
…We deny that a man’s works, in any way, contribute to his justification, whether before or after believing on Christ in faith. We deny that we are justified by “sanctifying fruit” in addition to faith in the perfection of Christ’s work. Furthermore, we deny that doing such works from a “justified position” qualifies those works to become somehow instrumental in obtaining one’s “final salvation”.
…We deny that our deliverance requires the believer’s attainment of two statuses: namely initial justification and final salvation. While we still await the future enactment of our salvation, when the wrath of God against the nations is revealed and his children are brought into the kingdom fully, the ground of that future salvation is entirely present to the individual in the work of the Spirit at the moment of justification. Furthermore, as God himself calls those whom he predestines, justifies those whom he calls, and glorifies those whom he justifies, we deny that any who are predestined, called, or justified may fail to partake of glorification in the end. Thus, we deny that our salvation from the final judgment is established or obtained through the works which proceed from that justification. Read more»
General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church, Resolution on the Doctrine of Justification (August 2–6, 2018)
We are saved and kept by Christ’s work and faithfulness alone. We only persevere in faith because we are a non revokable gift from the Father, effectually redeemed, atoned and prayed for by the Son, and sealed to the day of redemption by the Spirit.
I woke at 3am to find this in my inbox, and what happy news it is. Finally, a church has taken a stand, and provided a meaningful cudgel with which we may defend ourselves against the encroaching and sustained attempt by many theologians to return us to the hopeless doctrines that still shape the Roman church.
Let’s hope this is put on the agenda of every presbytery and classis, where this heinous new theology can be shown up for what it is – heresy.
Those who are expecting a final judgement, based on their cooperation with grace, by doing their part, won’t be disappointed. God will judge by them by His holy law to see how well they measure up to his perfect standards.
Praise the Lord for this stance from the BPC!
May many more be made aware of the errors in soteriology being promoted by John Piper.
If you asked a hundred people at your Reformed church if John Piper is Reformed I would predict that the vast majority would say yes. That would beg the question of whether they don’t know Pipers positions or whether they don’t know what “Reformed” even means. Many nominally “Reformed” churches are now practically Evangelical rather than Reformed.
This shouldn’t surprise us much. God’s covenant people have always been a mix of those only outwardly in the covenant and those who truly believe. Since the majority are outward members, they eventually pull the visible church toward false religion, and this goes on, if the people do not repent of their apostasy, until there seems to be no hope for the survival of the true Church. When all seems lost, from a human perspective, God intervenes to make it clear that His providence, alone, is the hope of the Church. The Bible Presbyterian Church is doing the right thing in maintaining the authentic Reformed faith. We should all be following their example. If we do not, I fear that the Reformed churches will suffer the discipline of God, which is a spiraling descent into apostasy.
I don’t think the problem is so much that there is a mix of redeemed and unredeemed within our Reformed churches. I think the bigger problem is that there is little emphasis on what it means to be Reformed and what beliefs the Reformed faith holds to be true. I go to a PCA church where the pastor believes that because we are a nominally Reformed church that we have plenty of head knowledge about the Bible but not enough heart. So we are heavily engaged in mercy ministries which keep everybody busy. Unfortunately they are too busy to realize that the problem is not that we have too much Biblical knowledge but rather not enough as it relates to the Reformed distinctives. The consequence is that I don’t know how long you would have to sit in our church to realize that it is a nominally Reformed church. It is much more evangelical than Reformed.
Isn’t that exactly the problem, pragmatism in the form of the social gospel displacing the true gospel? Isn’t it a failure to see that Christ came to repair the separation from God that sin causes? Isn’t the social gospel a covenant of works that says redemption of the world depends on what you do to fight social injustice? Doesn’t it replace the theology of the cross with a theology of glory that says we can make an earthly utopia if only we try hard enough? Isn’t that a false religion, like that of the Jews who rejected their Messiah because they were looking for someone to lead them in the social gospel of saving them from Roman occupation? I think it is a problem of those who are only outward members failing to understand the true mission of the church which is to provide the means of grace, by which God brings his elect to salvation, rather than a social agency to improve people’s earthly existence. Our Reformed distinctives are only a summary of bible doctrine. This idea that we just need more heart, we already have enough biblical knowledge betrays how low respect for the Word has fallen, in favor of pragmatism, based on the humanist rationalism of the unregenerate who cannot see that the kingdom of God is not about improving this life, but about our eternal relationship with God.
Angela: I couldn’t agree more. But this is exactly what is coming out of the PCA seminary. So if these are the shepherds, the outlook doesn’t look too promising for the sheep. They seem determined to supplant the Reformed perspectives with Evangelical ones with Piper and his cadre of Baptists at The Gospel Coalition leading the way.
It should have been the end of the church when our first head, Adam fell, when Aaron made the golden calf, when Israel fell into Babylonian idolatry and was taken into captivity, when Jezebel killed the prophets and Elijah thought he was completely alone, when under the corrupt religious leaders in Israel Christ was crucified, when all manner of heresy threatened the early church, leading to its nearly thorough corruption under the papacy. But always there was a believing remnant, and it is for the sake of these elect that God eventually restores the church from its cycles of apostasy, when all seems lost, after God allows corruption to flourish, as a chastisement for the people’s disregard for His Word. Unless there is a return to orthodoxy, such as we see in the Bible Presbyterian Church, in the Reformed churches generally, I think we can expect God’s chastisement on our churches in the form of a continuing into apostasy. What gives me cause for hope is that God always preserves His elect and for their sake preserves the true Church, “in, with and under the visible church”, even in the apostate Roman Catholic Church, as Dr. Clark has explained it, a number of times on the Heidelblog, and God brings forth, from it, the likes of Luther and Calvin to reform it on His terms, when He has finished chastising the people for their unfaithfulness.
I would agree that not many know what it is to be Reformed. How many Reformed Churches allow non-reformed people to communion? All in the name of it is the Lord’s table …not the table of insert church name here. Reformed Churches must go back to the old days of our fathers, or we will quickly lose our identity. Dr. Clark is right in his analysis of being reformed, unfortunately, there are to many with evangelical voices to overcome. May God have mercy on us all.
Thankful to the BPC for their humble, clear, and faithful stand.
A great encouragement.
Dear Dr Clark,
Many, many thanks for this posting. Yes, the new theology of John Piper, and now also, of Mark Jones, is very concerning.