The post “Who Do You Say I Am?” was removed after comments were received that stated the post misrepresented Reformed theology, mis-handled the Gospel, and did not accomplish its intent without offending those who hold Reformed beliefs. As I told one of them, my deepest desire is to glorify God, declare the truth, see souls come to salvation, and for the body of Christ to be able to gain understanding and heal.
With that said, I firmly believe that the issues created by the debate over Reformed theology need to be understood by the entire body of Christ because it divides the body over the character of God. For that reason and in order to avoid misrepresenting Reformed theology, I have included an article from Jim Floyd.
The Error of the Reformed Gospel
Last time we looked at an error concerning Jesus allegedly dying spiritually. This time I want to consider a far more prevalent brand of error. The system that this error is derived from has spread through many denominations and churches including fundamental Baptist churches. The following comes from a Presbyterian site in an article by a Rev. Stan Gale called “A “Reformed” Presentation of the Gospel.” I will bring out a few of his points followed directly by my comments.
“As appointed ambassadors for Christ, we must seek to honor God and be true to His Word. That is what it means to be Reformed—it is being consistent with the whole counsel of God.”
(Reformed theology in my view is indeed not consistent with the whole counsel of God. Let’s look further.)
“Before defining aspects of a Reformed gospel presentation, we must define the “gospel.” Dr. Edmund Clowney, a respected pastor and educator, liked to sum it up with Jonah 2:9: “Salvation is of the Lord.” In Romans 1:1–4, the apostle Paul summarizes the gospel in terms of the person and work of Jesus Christ, yet he provides a bigger picture in the body of Romans.”
(It is curious to me that there is no mention here of I Cor 15.)
“Jesus accomplished the salvation of His “sheep.” Jesus, the great Shepherd, represented those who were given to Him by the Father before the creation of the world. He died for them and was raised to life for them. He did not make people redeemable. He actually redeemed a people, none of whom can be taken from Him.”
He did not make people redeemable?! Let’s check this statement with scripture:
Joh 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
1Jn 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1Ti 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
1Ti 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
Rom 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
2Pe 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
“The Holy Spirit applies the work of Christ to our hearts. The catechism’s definition of effectual calling covers the bases: “Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered in the gospel.” The gospel comes to people who are dead in sin, with regenerating power according to God’s purpose in election.”
(Renewing our wills? The Holy Spirit convinces us of our need in showing us that we are sinners. He also helps us understand the gospel message when it is presented. That said, He does not force regeneration on anyone before they actually respond to the gospel in faith. Election is false in a Calvinistic sense but I’ll save that discussion for another day.)
“Faith is a gift of God. A Reformed doctrine of salvation understands man’s total depravity and the bondage of the will to the sinful nature. Faith is not the feeble response of the sick person to the good news of God’s remedy in Christ. Faith is the spiritual ability of the once-dead person—now alive by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit—to have ears to hear the message of salvation, a heart to receive it, and a will to embrace Christ as the way to it.”
(Here is one of the first big false conclusions derived from a logical progression from the “T” in TULIP. Not only is salvation now seen as a gift but faith itself becomes a gift. Faith is not a direct gift of God in the Reformed sense. Regeneration does not precede faith. Why should we need to have ears to hear the message of salvation if we are already saved ie regenerated?! This is not what the whole counsel of God declares. Rather, salvation is the gift that is received by faith then we are regenerated, justified, and initially sanctified. Continued sanctification and eventually, one day in heaven, glorification.)
“Repentance is part of the gospel’s call. The gospel addresses us in our guilt and rebellion; a proper response to it involves not simply “accepting” Jesus, but also accepting God’s diagnosis, prognosis, and exclusive remedy. In so doing, we reject our ability to save ourselves; we reject any right to serve ourselves. We bow the knee before the Christ, the Son of God, declaring, “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
(This is adding to the idea of repentance. The proper response to the hearing of the gospel is to place your trust in the Savior for salvation. Period.)
“Assurance of salvation is the domain of God’s Spirit. Certainly we can insist that all who have God-given, saving faith in Jesus Christ will be saved.”
(“God given saving faith” is not an actual thing since he does not even grant “saving faith” in this fashion. He has however allowed all men the ability to respond with faith to the gospel. So now we must have this supposedly “God given faith” to be saved according to the Reformed view? But how can we know this has happened for anyone….? Here comes the rest of the trap…)
“However, we cannot know others’ hearts. We cannot discern if the evidence of life (the fruit) is self-induced—an emotional response or intellectual assent—or if professions of faith arise from the sovereign work of the Spirit.”
“In his first epistle, John pins assurance not to mere profession, but to the demonstrative fruit of God’s handiwork of grace.”
(Wait a minute. Didn’t he just say “we cannot know others’ hearts” and further that one could not tell if the fruit was real or not?!)
One of his points on the matter of the gospel presentation was the following:
“ Issue a call not merely to conversion but to discipleship as the exercise of lively faith and the fruit of genuine repentance; it must convey the necessity of obeying God’s commands to believe on His Son and to turn from sin and live by grace under the lordship and for the sake of Christ.”
(Here we can see the result of the earlier error. I believe this error frustrates the grace of God and turns the gospel call into something else by adding in terms of discipleship and ongoing obedience. This Lordship style salvation message is widespread in many churches. Mixing the gospel with works is not pleasing to God, is not God’s will, and is not able to help anyone be saved. It on the other hand produces lost people or frustrates Christians if they were already saved to begin with.)
Your comments are welcome as there is much more to discuss. Next time I will discuss a similar article on Perseverance of the Saints.
Things to Know: