Where I Stand

Following my friend Josh’s lead, here is where I (currently) stand on various Reformed discussions. (And I added a few new categories)

Eschatology: Amillenialist (and not feeling the need to color it “optimistic” (nor accepting a derogatory label “pessimistic”))

Christian Liberty: Pour me a nice, strong homebrew (extra hops); let’s play some hearts or watch an R-rated movie! (I’m not good enough at counting to want to try blackjack for real money yet.) Smoke? No thanks — I’m riding a lifelong streak of healthy breathing, but you go right ahead.

Apologetics: Got a lot of learning ahead of me on this one, but I like what Riddlebarger had to say about how Francis Schaeffer followed the Old Princetonians in spanning the best of both presuppositionalist and evidentialist schools.

The Sabbath: Just being Christians, we participate in Christ’s Sabbath rest 24/7. On the Lord’s day we should ordinarily (although not legalistically) join in corporate worship morning and evening, but I don’t see why unbelievers should be held to the Sabbath, thus no reason to shut down businesses, and I don’t feel any conviction against shopping or eating at a restaurant. But I’m definitely not going to work.

Have the gifts of tongues and prophecy ceased? Well, what I grew up amidst was (is) certainly gibberish, but I leave room for the Holy Spirit to use miraculous (natural language) tongues or prophecy as signs to confirm the truth of the gospel to unreached people groups.

General equity of the moral law of God? Paul was not a Theonomist, so why should I be? 2K all the way, baybeee!

Justification and the Federal Vision? They’re a bunch of dissembling, equivocating weasels. Gimme some good ol’ clear distinctions between works/grace, law/gospel, visible/invisible, …

Counseling? I don’t have an informed opinion. I can give you my uninformed opinion that psychotherapists are about as respectable as lawyers…

Days of Creation? Since the Gen 2 chronology (man, then plants, then animals) contradicts the Gen 1 chronology, the Genesis account cannot be taken literally as a whole. Darwinistic Evolution may be crumbling, but astronomically- and geologically-determined ages of billions of years are not going anywhere. I’m a big fan of Hugh Ross’ day-age schema, but I’m looking into Framework too.

Corporate Worship? Regulative Principle of Worship, not overly strict. Instruments OK, as long as they remain subservient to congregational singing (the Word). No art for art’s sake in worship. Personally, I prefer a hymnal to virtually all contemporary praise choruses. There are a few worthwhile modern hymns around (notably Stuart Townend’s “In Christ Alone” and “How Deep the Father’s Love”).

Exclusive Psalmody: Psalmody? Yes. Exclusive? No. From the recent Hoagies & Stogies, I learned that when God does a new Redemptive work, we are commanded to respond with new songs (Is 42:9-10).

Redemptive-Historical Preaching? Yes. If it doesn’t point to Christ and illustrate the gospel, the preacher has wasted his time (there is a good quote out there somewhere…). Likewise, it’s not a complete sermon if there’s no application. The stool needs all three legs: Guilt, Grace, Gratitude.

Subscription to the Confession? Ordained — subscribe. Lay — don’t need to subscribe. I think a reg’lr church member should be able to be a Baptist or even FV or Arminian; but not the elders.

Prophetic school of thought (partial preterist, idealist, historicist, or futurist)? Well I only have a vague idea about what preterist and futurist mean, so I’ll go with partial preterist.

Proper subjects of baptism: all of Father Abraham’s many sons — every member of the visible church.

Proper participants in the Lord’s Table: those who can make a credible confession of faith and examine themselves.

Church government? Presbyterian, i.e. elders (and deacons) in the local church, drawing together as elders in larger contexts, just like the council of Jerusalem.

Women in leadership? No ordination as elders, thus no administration of Word, Sacrament or Prayer in corporate worship, but I like the concept that Baugh (and probably others) espouse, that women can serve in any capacity that unordained men can, including scripture reader, choir director, organist or other musician, librarian, Sunday School teacher (even teaching to grown men). Although in such positions women can have a significant impact on worship and the life of the church, they would not be “exercising authority”, but would be (like unordained men) acting in submission to their elders. I might be open to the possibility for deaconesses, since Deacon is an office of service, not authority.

Infralapsarian or Supralapsarian? From what little I understand of the distinction, I concur with Josh that I’m not sure it really matters.

How many petals? Don’t Limit me to just four — I find Atonement to be Particularly Effective.

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40 Responses

  1. I really appreciate this insight into your thinking, Reuben. Thanks!! I wish I could come with Chuck today, but …. not possible. This summer in Michigan?

  2. The only thing that I don’t quite understand about where you stand is this…

    “I’m not good enough at counting to want to try blackjack for real money yet.”

    First off I doubt that I know anyone who is as good as counting at you are. Didn’t you major in math? Secondly, I don’t think you understand how to really play the game of black jack if you are supposing that you should be able to predict the next cards to come out of the shoe.

    In order to win in black jack all you have to know is the rules. playing with a simple set of rules will give you about a 48% chance of winning. Adding a slightly more complex set of rules on doubling down and splitting makes it about 50%. So you can play for money at the same odds as if you were tossing a coin for money. Not likely that you’ll win big but you can have a good time doing it (provided you don’t indulge in the alcohol liberty when you are playing because that tends to cloud peoples judgment.)

  3. I can give you my uninformed opinion that psychotherapists are about as respectable as lawyers…

    …Are they as respectable as used car salesmen?

    So you can play for money at the same odds as if you were tossing a coin for money.

    Or you could take up poker and have a much greater positive expected value than 50% which would allow you great monetary success as well as a good time (providing you are a competitive person)

    Anyway, this was a good read. A few disagreements notwithstanding.

  4. this was a good read

    Then TAG you’re it (not just you, but anybody who wants to pick up the meme and further it…)

    …Are they as respectable as used car salesmen?

    Funny! Well, of the two used car dealerships I have ever dealt with, one was owned and operated by honest, Christian businessmen, and the other left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and stereotypes confirmed. (I’ll let you guess which one is yours…)

    I’m not good enough at counting to want to try blackjack for real money yet

    My main point was to say that my concept of Christian Liberty includes non-addictive gambling, but I don’t personally do any (same with smoking).

    It would seem, however, that you have a lot to learn about Blackjack counting. With enough information, it is possible to have a sliver of probabalistic advantage over the house. Of course, the house tries to minimize this advantage by using many decks, reshuffling often, rule variations, etc. And in any case, the sliver of an advantage is very difficult to realize, because it is hard to learn to maintain all that information in your head. You can read here or here to understand what card counting can accomplish.

  5. And here for the impatient popcorn and milk dud fans.

    I could stand to learn a lot about blackjack counting but given the fact that almost all games are now done with 6 deck auto shufflers and I play 5 dollar hands about once a year I don’t think the 2-4% advantage I could gain is worth my while.

    I do find the “non-addictive” label interesting however. Do you attach it to your alcohol consumption as well?

  6. Smoke? No thanks — I’m riding a lifelong streak of healthy breathing, but you go right ahead.

    Well, almost. There was that incident in 1974 and then the second hand smoke for the remainder of that decade. (Not to start a rabbit trail but are all of God’s weeds part of the common curse or are some part of common grace?)

    I am curious as to the value that this post adds – in your mind – since the WCF already states more exhaustively and of the issues that actually matter what it is that you believe.

  7. All in all good stuff. I could do without the prejudice against lawyers and couselors. And my Dutch influence probably wants to be more strict on lay subscription.

    “I think a reg’lr church member should be able to be a Baptist.” So you think it is ok to withhold baptism from a covenant child until “he can walk the isle to the font himself”? When does theory become practice becomes a problem? Sorry, this is way too soft.

    “Personally, I prefer a hymnal to virtually all contemporary praise choruses.” Ouch, what’s with all the subjectivism? What happens when the “hymnal” is full of sawdust (you know, 18th and 19th century lullabies and showtunes of the frontier revival, yesteryear’s praise chrous’s)? Well, have a good time at all those insipid “worship wars” between the low- and high-browers; try not to let your raised pinky from getting too cramped up as you swipe at all those low-browers!

    Now to get you on the marriage/family thing.

  8. Rube, good, entertaining summation of your conclusions. I will add mine when I have more time (maybe tonight), and round and round we’ll go.

  9. I do find the “non-addictive” label interesting however. Do you attach it to your alcohol consumption as well?

    Of course. Proverbs is full of warnings against the debilitating effects of alcoholism — plus now we have automobiles, which makes abuse of alcohol so much more dangerous. But I would stop short of saying that intoxication, in and of itself, is a sin.

    STOP right there — note that this post is not meant to stimulate argument about all of these points. Within a day or two, I’ll publish a separate post backing that assertion up biblically, and you can whine and complain then.

  10. There was that incident in 1974 and then the second hand smoke…

    Well, what happened in 1974 was not me doing it; and I don’t buy into the scare-story of second-hand smoke. There’s no way being in a smoky room can be as bad as purposefully inhaling it directly. Besides, I don’t recall large amounts of smoke anyways.

    I am curious as to the value that this post adds – in your mind – since the WCF already states…

    Entertainment, really. I enjoyed reading Josh’s first one, it made me want to write one, and as you can see, others (even the non-Reformed) enjoy the results too. And if Westminster really nails all these down so securely, why do we bother arguing about them so much?

  11. Ruben,

    Good post. Look what we started! BTW, I don’t consider anything less than 5-pt Calvinism Reformed. :0) Likewise, I don’t consider paedocommunion a valid option in Reformed circles. It’s certainly not in any of the Reformed Confessions. :0)

  12. Nor do I consider FV a valid option, but it’s out there!

  13. Speaking of new hymns, get ahold of “The Power of the Cross,” another Townend one. If you can’t, we’ll send you a copy.

  14. Christian Liberty: I’m not sure what you mean by Christian liberty. It is not Christian liberty that allows us to drink and smoke, it’s the law of God that fails to forbid these things. It’s not liberty, but properly understanding the law that allows these things. However, we are to be good stewards of our bodies. As Paul says, the training of the body is of SOME value. Of course, he doesn’t go on and on about how important the training of the body is. Nowhere does he commend regular exercise as being a command from God, nowhere does he claim that something not conducive to long life is automatically a sin. In fact, he would realign our perception, teaching us that long life is a gift from God by grace, and it comes as a result of living life according to the law of God (relatively speaking, because of course we can’t perfectly obey the law of God).

    So Christian liberty is not associated technically with alcohol or tobacco, because there’s no support from Scripture to say that these things are outlawed by God. That’s not upholding liberty, but upholding law. However, with regard to R-rated movies, you are correct to say that this is an issue of Christian liberty. After all, you could make a good argument from Scripture to say that these things should be prohibited. Paul tells us in Phil 4, for example, that we should dwell on nice things, lovely and beautiful things, not horrible awful things, filthy language and other yucky stuff to be found in R-rated movies. But Christian liberty affords us the opportunity to do whatever we like, because we are not under law but under grace. And yet, we also should remember the words of Paul:

    “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13 ESV)

    What is the reason for Paul’s warning not to use our freedom to indulge the flesh? The reason for this warning is simple. It is given because we CAN use our freedom to indulge the flesh. We DO have that freedom. But Paul is urging us to be responsible. Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh. You have been given freedom so that you can do good works. To delight in evil is not what you have been given freedom to do. To sit back and be entertained by horrible things present in most movies today, whether R-rated or not, is NOT the purpose of our God-given freedom.

    Do I watch R-rated movies? Yeah, sometimes. But not indiscriminately. I don’t watch movies full of sex and violence. I don’t like them. Am I free to watch them? Of course! But that doesn’t mean i SHOULD. All things are permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. I try to look into movies before I go to them, to determine if it’s going to be some horrible thing that I won’t enjoy.

    The question we have to ask ourselves is, what do we go to movies FOR? Why do we go? Do we go to be entertained? Do we go to be stimulated? What is entertaining about them? Do we go to movies to be able to be entertained by someone’s boldness in committing sin, living vicariously through them because we don’t have their boldness? Some people like mafia movies, for example, because the men in those movies kill people on a whim, with no hesitation. People love that, they soak it in, because for a few moments they can pretend that this is ok. They can be pleased by watching this man murder with boldness, opposing God to his face. If this is you, please reconsider what Christian liberty is all about. You have not be given liberty in order to disobey the law of God. You have been given liberty to be set free from sin so that you might be able to begin to obey the law of God from the heart.

    Use your liberty to obey God rather than disobey him.

    But again, R-rated movies can be enjoyed to the glory of God in some cases by some people. For example, I really like vampire movies. I just really like them for some reason. Not all vampire movies, but I enjoy the Blade movies especially. I see vampires as being like the wolves who prey upon the flock. That’s what they symbolize to me. Roman priests for example. And Blade is half vampire, half human, fighting against them. What this says about the human condition is very provocative and I find it fascinating. Blade has those same urges for bloodlust, but is always fighting against them, seeking another way, fighting against the vampires that prey upon mankind. I love it.

    But someone could love those same Blade movies for entirely wrong reasons. Someone might have proclivities toward being a predator. They might wish to prey upon their fellow man, and watching vampire movies allows them to live out that fantasy. They might have fantastic notions of preying upon others in order to gain power, and they might be very sympathetic toward the vampires, etc. Does he have the liberty in Christ, if he is a Christian, to engage in this? Yes, he does, but this is an irresponsible use of liberty. This is sinful indulgence of sinful fantasy.

    So, ok, I think I’ve said my bit about that.

  15. Rube,

    You said: “I think a reg’lr church member should be able to be a Baptist or even FV or Arminian; but not the elders.”

    Echo: you think, based on what exactly?

    Someone who is not yet convinced of paedobaptism can be a member of an OPC, but if they have a child, there’s a problem. You can be against infant baptism, and sit in the pews. But if you have a kid who needs to be baptized, then you need to baptize him. The need to receive that child into membership trumps your Christian liberty to get theology wrong.

    Those who are FV or Arminian don’t believe the same gospel we do. Period. No membership for those who aren’t trusting exclusively in Christ for their salvation.

  16. Rube,

    You said: “women can serve in any capacity that unordained men can, including scripture reader, choir director, organist or other musician, librarian, Sunday School teacher (even teaching to grown men).”

    Echo: Argh! Totally disagree! Unordained men canNOT read Scripture in the worship service! Absolutely NOT! That is a moment in the dialogue of worship in which whoever is addressing God’s people is doing so on God’s behalf. It is a prophetic function and requires an ordination to perform it.

    Since choirs are wrong, choir directors are too. Librarian is fine, but where do you get the idea that it’s appropriate for a woman to teach a SS class to grown men? How do you support that from Scripture?

    Well, I know the argument. “I don’t permit a woman to teach” refers to the worship service only, therefore it’s ok in SS. Well, such a distinction is utterly foreign to the text. You’ll have to do better than that. There’s a male-female principle in view here that cannot be violated.

    Once again I would encourage you not to try to figure out what exactly you can get away with, how close can you come to the line without crossing it. This is wrong headed altogether.

    Sorry to be such a jerk to you today. I must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed or something.

  17. The point of this thread is not to determine whether I am correct on any of these points (one thread is not sufficient to exhaustively go in so many different directions), but to clearly and concisely express where I’m at. So get in line (behind dbalc and “intoxication is not, in and of itself, sinful”, and someday I’ll get to Zrim and yourself concerning Baptists, Arminians, and FV (oh my!) in the true church, and to you concerning women. (In the meantime, you can go ask Baugh about “women can do anything an unordained man can do”)

  18. Rube,

    No need to continue the alcohol conversation for my benefit. I merely tossed it as a humorous jab referring to the good ol days of 300 comment posts.

    I for one agree wholeheartedly with your “Christian liberty” section. That is where I stand on those issues. Except that I don’t like the taste of alcohol but I do like the thrill of doubling down on 11 when the dealer is showing a 6.

  19. Rube,

    I don’t have to agree with Baugh on everything, though I admit I don’t do so lightly. But I think you and I disagree about what it is appropriate for the unordained man to do as well.

    E

  20. Reuben,

    You mentioned that you held to redemptive-historical preaching, but you also mentioned application. The RHP guys don’t like application at all. Are you kind of a combo of RHP and Puritan preaching? Just curious. I as well like the Puritan style, and I don’t think every sermon has to point to Christ, but hey, who can complain if every sermon points to Christ? He’s the One every page of Scripture is about!

  21. I don’t know enough to navigate the fine points of these categories, but I haven’t read anybody say that they “don’t like application at all.” Is this a stated position RHP guys hold, or are you saying it’s an unwitting outworking of their approach? Dig up, if you can, the old Narrow Mind that Gene did with John Frame; he seemed to well advocate for RHP while pooh-poohing any who would disparage application. I seem to recall Scott Clark once saying “send them to me, I’ll straighten them out”, in reference I think to some Westminster students who were (allegedly) criticizing application in preaching. I can’t point to a reference or clarify who was criticizing whom, or whether the preaching was actually legalistic; all I can say is I have the impression that Clark is also on board with application in preaching.

  22. The RHP guys don’t like application at all.

    Somebody is lying to you.

  23. Well, maybe I’d better doublecheck! Perhaps it’s hyper-RHP. :0D

  24. I think their concern is that the application given not be moralistic application. Their concern is to always keep gospel primary. Of course, I can’t argue with that!

  25. I’m sure RHP would object to a sermon that is nothing but application (and so would I) — maybe that’s what you’re thinking of?

  26. Right Josh. As you alluded to above, what does everybody mean by application? Must it always be imperatives, or could, for example, comfort not also fall in the domain of application?

    I, for one, happen to think the RHP is by definition application friendly. How you ask? By virtue of the historical facet of RHP. The listeners are not just listening to a good story, or a good true story, but are actually living in the story.

    For example, when we hear that Judah’s daughter in law had no son and she lures Judah into knocking her up, we immediately see how that applies to us because Judah is our great uncle – or whatever – in Christ. But we are only in Christ precisely because Tamar’s brazen act made it possible for us to be in Christ.

    It’s when you approach the Bible as a compendium of timeless principles that you have an application problem. These principles have to be applied somehow for them to do any good.

    But via RHP the gospel is organically applied to us with every word spoken and so we respond with awe and gratitude to the sovereign Lord who is authoring history with us on stage right beside himself as the lead character.

  27. There is a strand of Redemptive Historical preaching in which the objective swallows up the subjective/existential.

    In other words, they preach about what Christ has done, but they don’t explicitly talk about what Christ has done FOR US. So they preach about the objective truths of the gospel, but there is very little said about how this personally affects us.

    Now, lest I sound simply incredibly rude, I will say that I have described their preaching in sort of an exaggerated way. I don’t think they’d really agree with how I have described them here. They wouldn’t say that they’re ONLY concerned about preaching objective truth about Christ, and not at all concerned about making explicit how that connects with the people in the pews. However, if you listen to some of these folks preach, you will discover that there is a pattern of this in their preaching, whether intentional or not.

    Here is an example of the kind of thing I’m talking about.

    http://www.kerux.com/

  28. Bruce,

    Rube can’t just say he agrees with WCF, since he explicitly doesn’t. For instance, what he writes here is completely different from what the standards state about the Christian Sabbath.

    Plus, you can’t say that strict adherence to the standards defines one without a doubt as an amillenialist (didn’t that term only come about in the last 200 years). You can’t say that all standards observers are non-theonomists either.

    Hence, this is a good post for him to define himself for others and for fun. I liked it a lot. It told me that I know Rube extremely well wrt his (incorrect) doctrine. ;) (had to get in the jab).

    Kazooless

  29. Echo,

    Long time, bro. Why is it you’re the only one that posts for miles when all others post for city blocks. :)

    Seriously though, you state:

    “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13 ESV)

    What is the reason for Paul’s warning not to use our freedom to indulge the flesh? The reason for this warning is simple. It is given because we CAN use our freedom to indulge the flesh. We DO have that freedom.

    It struck me as funny how you quoted Paul who tells us “DO NOT use your freedom…..” and then you say that Paul is ‘warning’ us. You say “we CAN use our freedom to indulge…” It seems like an imperative to me. How is it that you can take Paul’s “DON’T” and turn it into a “you shouldn’t?”

    This is a serious question, not meant to heat you up.

    Kazooless

  30. Simple really. He says not to do something. That implies that we could do it, and as such, he is telling us not to.

    To put it another way, he is saying that we aren’t bound by the curse of the law. We have been set free in Christ. That means we have a blank check, so to speak. Our sins are forgiven once and for all, forever and ever amen. That means that if I sin tomorrow, it won’t keep me out of heaven, because it’s already forgiven. Paul is warning us though, not to see that and conclude that we can sin all we want and it doesn’t matter. It’s true to say that we CAN sin all we want, and we will still go to heaven. But Paul is saying that that is not the mindset we are called to have. He is saying that we have been set free from the law not to disobey it, but to serve one another, in other words, to obey the law.

    Here’s the point. We are set free from having to earn our salvation. We are already assured of our salvation. That’s a done deal. So we no longer have to do good works for our own sake, to save our own skins. So we no longer have to do good to serve ourselves. Now we can do good for someone else’s sake, for the sake of our neighbor. We have been set free from having to serve ourselves, so we are free to serve others.

    I hope that makes sense, though I recognize that what I have said may not be all that clear or eloquent.

    [audio src="http://www.graceopchurch.org/sermons/2007-12-30-PM.mp3" /]

    Here is a link to a sermon I heard last week on the passage, which is why I said what I did. If what I have said doesn’t make sense, and you’re still interested, then give this sermon a listen. I’m not really competent to reduplicate its content.

  31. Echo,

    I understand what you’re saying. It’s two different senses that enables the difference of opinion. A parent tells a kid “don’t smoke,” so he tells his friends “I can’t smoke, my parents said so.” However, he still has the capability to smoke. Two different senses.

    However, I strongly disagree with this statement:

    “It’s true to say that we CAN sin all we want, and we will still go to heaven.”

    I’m not sure of the correct way to define this, but maybe “oxymoron” works. If one were to “sin all he wanted, ” then he couldn’t still go to heaven, because the “sinning all he wanted” fruit would indicate that he “isn’t really saved,” to put it in the common venacular. Or, never really was of us. In a properly functioning church, discipline would be exercised and ultimately excommunication which takes all assurance of salvation from the man. I’m fairly certain that this is more consistent with the Westminster standards, than your statement I blockquoted. Would you agree after thinking about it?

    Kazooless

  32. Actually, if someone is really justified, and being really sanctified, then he won’t want to sin. Therefore, in a tautological sense, we do sin all we want. Sanctification is the Holy Spirit working on that want.

    I’m sure Echo would agree (and he evidences it by following the quote with “But…”) that what you quoted is a true statement by itself, but not a useful statement by itself. It needs to be understood in a fuller context.

  33. For instance, what he writes here is completely different from what the standards state about the Christian Sabbath.

    I wouldn’t say completely different, but add that to the back of the list of posts-to-be…

  34. Kaz,

    No, I still disagree with you. And let me add to what Rube says by saying that Christ pays for all of our sin, all of it.

    In other words, there is no amount of sinning that you can do to separate you from Christ. Bad fruit does not CAUSE one to lose one’s salvation.

    For example, let’s say that tomorrow I murder someone. If I am truly in Christ, can this bar me from heaven? No, because if I am in Christ, I will repent of my murderous ways, looking to Christ’s merits and not my own. God can forgive this sin.

    God can forgive any and all sin based on the sacrifice of Christ. So there is no amount of sin or any quality of sin that I can accumulate on the books that will outweigh the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf. It would be impossible for my sin to win out over the sacrifice of Christ. I could not sin enough to ever lose my salvation.

    That’s what I have meant here. It is impossible for me to sin enough that God would look upon me and say, “You know, if you had just been a little less sinful, my Son’s sacrifice could have appeased my wrath at your sin. But you are SO sinful that the price my Son paid cannot cover your sins any longer, so you are hereby condemned.”

    There is no possibility of condemnation for me at any point of the future because I am in Christ right now. The Last Day verdict has already been rendered in my justification.

    Therefore, it really is true that for me to lose my salvation is impossible.

    If it is truly impossible for me to lose my salvation, then I really can sin all I want, and my salvation is not affected. We are not under law but under grace.

    This is the freedom we have been given in Christ. Yes, you can sin all you want, and you will be unable to outweigh the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. That is TRUE. You can never lose your salvation.

    However, as Rube said, if Jesus has died to pay for my sins, if God loves me THAT much, why would I want to respond to his grace by giving him the middle finger? Sure, I could if I wanted to, because that too would be paid for by Christ, but why would I want to? Why would I want to spit in his face for saving me? I am grateful to him for saving me. I am, in fact, so grateful, that I am devoted to him. I worship him every Sunday and have dedicated my life to teaching others to do the same. This to me seems perfectly natural to respond to his grace in this way.

    But for me to respond in this way doesn’t mean that I’ll ever have a bigger mansion in heaven or a better seat at the table. Who cares? That’s not my motivation.

    If I do good – to any degree – it is for the sake of others, not for me. If I am learning to preach the gospel, it is not for my own well being, but for the well being of those to whom I will one day preach. It is not for MY sake that I am in seminary. I could have made much more money as an accountant, my original major in college (I later switched to philosophy). I could have had a much less stressful life in the business world. The life of a minister is hard. It has long hours, little pay, little reward, little appreciation, etc. Why would anyone choose such a life for their own benefit, unless they thought it somehow assured them of their salvation?

    But it cannot assure me of my salvation. The only assurance I can have of my salvation is the promise of Scripture, that my salvation has been accomplished by Jesus Christ. And this can ultimately be my only true assurance, the only basis of my assurance, because it is the only basis, the only grounding of my salvation. Christ earned my salvation all by himself. So it is to him that I must look for hope for me, and to him alone. So I cannot look to me and anything I do to secure my salvation.

    Thus I am set free to divorce what I do from my salvation. What I do cannot affect my salvation. I cannot earn it, I cannot lose it. It’s out of my hands. My salvation has been passively received by me. I have not earned it, and I cannot give it back. I have been taken captive by Christ.

    So now I can do what I do to serve others. I don’t need to serve myself anymore. Oh sure, I still do to a degree. After all, I need to eat too don’t I? But I can have an other-serving bent because there is no need for me to serve myself anymore.

    This is what Christ has set us free FOR, to serve others. We can (are able to) use our freedom in many other ways, and in fact we DO every time we sin. But the purpose for which we have been set free is to serve others in humility and love.

  35. Concerning the question of “we CAN sin all we want, and we will still go to heaven,” here’s what Luther had to say:

    No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day.

    (Of course, at that link, you will also find the fuller context that we have been talking about)

  36. Echo,

    Do you take any exception to the Westminster Standards WRT this topic?

    I plan to do a little more digging tonight when home from work on this issue to respond to you more thoroughly. However, a little response now:

    In other words, there is no amount of sinning that you can do to separate you from Christ. Bad fruit does not CAUSE one to lose one’s salvation.

    For example, let’s say that tomorrow I murder someone. If I am truly in Christ, can this bar me from heaven? No, because if I am in Christ, I will repent of my murderous ways, looking to Christ’s merits and not my own. God can forgive this sin.

    I agree with your hypotheticals that there is no amount of sin that can separate one from Christ. This assumes one is truly joined to Christ. But I say that “BAD FRUIT” evidences that one is NOT joined to Christ in the first place. That is all. So I am saying that these hypotheticals WON’T exist in reality. And the reason why is given by you in the quote I provide in this post. You say: “…if I am in Christ, I will repent…” Repentence is much more than sorrow for our sins, as the confessions say.

    Are we again agreeing but coming from different angles?

    Blessings,

    Kazoo

  37. I should have capitalized “evidences” in the previous post to show that it is directly responding to Echo’s capital “CAUSE.”

    I agree that it doesn’t CAUSE, but it is EVIDENCE.

    Kazoo

  38. Kazoo,

    Evidence perhaps, but not definitive proof. Only God alone can look upon the heart.

    Even the man who “had his father’s wife” in 2 Cor was to be excommunicated and turned over to Satan – why? In order to bring him to repentance. That means even the heinous thing this man has done does not definitively prove that he is not elect.

    I think what I am saying is perfectly in concert with the WCF, particularly 18.4.

    4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.

  39. Rube,

    I decided to copy you. I started a blog and made the first post a rip off of this one, but with my own answers of course!

    Kazoo

  40. […] Comments Blogroll Blogorrhe… on 2 Yearskazooless on Where I StandRubeRad on I Surrender AllWacky Fundamentalist on I Surrender AllA Spectrum of Belief… […]

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