The Value of Judging by the Gospel: My Response to a Blogger

ladyjustice

You pose both a question and a challenge.

1.  Your mother believes salvation is unconditional.

2.  Your mother believes that some people who believe salvation is conditioned on baptism are saved.

3.  Therefore, are you lost because you believe your mother is saved?

The real question here is, are you judging by something other than the gospel?   The answer is yes.

Your mother is contradicting herself.  This is indisputable.  A and –A cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense.  Were she a politician espousing belief in two opposing viewpoints, you would no doubt accuse her of lying and of trying to placate both sides of the aisle.  But because she is your mother, and because you love her and want to see her come to faith, you are choosing to ignore the fact that what she is asserting about the atonement and about what she believes are both patently false.

Suppose I were to continually assert that I believe all living people breath air.  Suppose I were also to continually assert that I believe some people who are alive do not breath air.  What could you say about what I believe?  If you were judging by truth rather than your admiration or love for me, then you would have to admit that I am lying?   So it is with your mother.

But you may yet try to argue that your mother is just simply being logically inconsistent.   It could be that she has simply not thought through the logical repercussions of her second claim.  Very well, let’s take this same approach to the politician.

Suppose the politician who espouses belief in two opposing viewpoints is really just being logically inconsistent about his claim to belief in the second viewpoint.  How would you know that he is simply being inconsistent rather than lying in order to placate the voters?  How can you know?   I suppose you could review his voting track record, but that isn’t going to help you in the case of your mother, because there are plenty of unbelieving mothers who are just as compassionate and kind to their children as your mother is to hers.

So then, how would you know whether your mother is logically inconsistent but not deceived, rather than logically inconsistent because she is deceived?   Wasn’t Eve in the Garden of Eden also logically inconsistent?

You have no way of knowing, do you?   But that isn’t even the point.  The point is, you are not judging by the gospel.  You are instead judging by your love for your mother.  You may say, but I love my mother, therefore I will believe the best about her.   Very well, but you may actually be doing your mother the worst sort of harm, because it may very well be that she doesn’t believe her first claim, and so rather than explaining the truth to her because you have judged her assertion in the view of the gospel, you instead assume she is safe because you have judged her assertion in view of your love for her.   My friend, the road to hell is for many paved with Mom’s love.

You ask in view of this, well then, does that mean I am lost too since I accept my mother as a sister?   How else am I to take it?  After all, I have no way of knowing whether you are deceived or just being logically inconsistent.

Let’s take a step back for a moment.

fullerAndrew Fuller argued that guilt, as punishment for sin, is non-transferrable.  He operated from an illustration in which an innocent man offered to take the punishment of a guilty man.   Though the innocent man could take the punishment in place of the guilty man, the innocent man would nevertheless remain innocent, therefore, in view of this, Christ did not bear His people’s guilt on the cross, because Christ never ceased to be innocent.   This forced Fuller to conclude that Christ had merely bore the effects of sin, and in so doing, His death became a token sacrifice to show the world that God was angry with sin.   Furthermore, Fuller argued that God was satisfied by this token suffering, because it also showed His mercy and grace, therefore, we receive by an act of faith the effects of Christ’s obedience, which is God’s pardon.

For Fuller, God’s justice was irrelevant.  It wasn’t that the full penalty for breaking the law had to be paid, but rather it was that God needed a way to show something to the world.   Fuller concluded, like the Arminian, that faith is the condition that actualizes God’s pardon.   According to his way of thinking, Christ had been a token sacrifice to show the world God’s anger with sin as well as His mercy and grace so that men might receive God’s pardon by choosing to believe that God saves by grace rather than law.  The deviously ingenious side effect of this was that it made faith itself a condition for salvation.

The truth is that there is only one condition for salvation – Christ’s death, because only Christ’s death could satisfy God’s wrath.   God rightfully and justly demands the death of all who sin.  “The soul who sins shall die.”  “In the day you eat of it you shall die.”  God cannot ignore His demand for justice.

By transferring the guilt of His people to Christ at the cross, thereby making Christ guilty for all the sins of His people, He atoned for His people’s guilt by dying the death that God demanded of them.  To remain just and righteous, God MUST now save and bring everyone whom Christ died for to faith.   If He does not, then He is not righteous.  This is what Paul meant when he said in Romans 1:17 that the gospel is the revelation of God’s righteousness.

Had Christ died for everyone, then God would have to save everyone, for else He is not righteous . . . UNLESS, Christ’s death was not enough to satisfy God’s demand for the death of the guilty.  In that case, something else in addition to Christ’s death would be needed to satisfy God’s demand for the death of the guilty.

My friend, these two claims are as polar opposite to each other as the east is from the west.  In the first claim, Christ’s death is the full satisfaction of God’s wrath.   In the second claim, Christ’s death + something else is the full satisfaction of God’s wrath.  THE ARMINIAN DOES NOT DENY THE UNCONDITIONALITY OF GOD’S GRACE IN CHRIST’S DEATH ANYMORE THAN YOUR MOTHER DOES!  WHAT HE DOES DENY, THE SAME AS YOUR MOTHER, IS THAT GOD’S GRACE IS ONLY FOR THOSE FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED!

Those for whom Christ did not die do not receive grace. They receive judgment.  My friend, every Protestant denomination today with the exception of one, denies this.  We have been in the midst of a grand apostasy ever since the Augsburg Confession, and things are not slowing down.

Fuller tried to bridge the gulf between accomplished and conditional atonement.   No such bridge can ever exist though, because it impossible to turn a lie into truth, and truth into a lie.  A can never be –A in the same sense some of the time.

What Fuller wound up with was an unconditional conditionalism.   He substituted the gospel of salvation by a propitiation that has propitiated with a gospel of salvation by faith in grace.  IN SO DOING, HE MADE FAITH THE OBJECT OF FAITH, BECAUSE IN HIS SCHEME IT IS FAITH THAT ACTUALIZES THE SATISFACTION OF GOD’S WRATH, RATHER THAN THE CROSS.

Allow me to repeat that.

Having replaced the gospel of salvation by a propitiation that has propitiated with a gospel of salvation by faith in grace, Andrew Fuller wound up with a gospel that conditioned salvation upon a person’s faith, rather than the cross.  He put faith in competition with the cross!

HE PUT FAITH IN COMPETITION WITH THE CROSS!

This is rank Arminianism.  Fuller, who claimed to be a Calvinist, was, in fact, an Arminian.

It is really quite brilliant in a comic book-super villain-ingenious evil plan kind of way.   The sheer subtlety drevilof it.   He attempted to substitute the gospel of accomplished redemption with a gospel of no conditions  conditionalism.   His was an atoneless grace, a grace that has failed to satisfy God’s righteousness, rendering redemption possible rather than accomplished.

Although today’s descendents of Fullerism, like James White, have brought imputation and sin back into the picture, they yet continue to try to bridge the gulf between accomplished and possible atonement.  They do so by encouraging people who make faith the condition of salvation to continue making faith the condition of salvation.  They give lost people false assurance.

True faith rests in the Christ whose death has met all the conditions required for salvation.  False faith rests in faith as the object that has met the final condition for the satisfaction of God’s wrath.  True faith rests in Christ’s propitiatory death.   False faith rests in something I have done to actualize the death.

The only condition for the salvation of God’s elect is Christ’s death for God’s elect.  This is why we must preach the gospel as Christ’s death for the elect alone, because otherwise, you encourage people to make faith the object of their faith.

White’s response to this is to say, well now, you forget that you didn’t know everything at first either.  To which I say, excuse me, but what is it that you tell people when you sit down with them to explain the gospel?  What is it that you say?  That Jesus loved you and died for you?   That Jesus wants to save you, but you have to believe to make it happen?  Or even worse, that Jesus died for those who will believe (thus allowing them to think faith is the condition for salvation)?

When I explain the gospel to someone, I tell them about election, about sin, and about God’s purpose in colomboredemption.  And then I tell them that the salvation of the elect is by the cross alone, because the cross has propitiated God’s wrath for the sins of the elect alone.   I tell them that!  If God opens their eyes to believe, WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS WHAT I JUST TOLD THEM!   How in the world then can you say, aw gee, I don’t know, they might still not know, you know, they gotta learn?

I am not saying they need to know and believe everything there is to know and believe about definite atonement, but I am saying that if they don’t believe that the cross has propitiated God’s wrath for the sins of the elect alone, then they do not believe the gospel.

White accuses me of being a hyper Calvinist for saying this.  No real surprise here, seeing as how Fuller accused Gill, Crisp, Booth, Toplady and many other brothers of the exact same thing for the exact same reason!   No surprise either that after the Auburn Affirmation the Presbyterians and their bubble protected Reformed Baptists have accused the Protestant Reformed Church of the exact same thing for the exact same reason.   http://standardbearer.rfpa.org/articles/book-reviews-367

Nowhere have I said we must preach only to those who show signs of being elect (which is what actual hyper Calvinists do say).   I judge Fred Phelps and the folks at Westboro Baptist just as lost just as I do White.  The gospel is to be preached to everyone.  But it’s the gospel that is to be preached, and not instead a Calminian attempt at bridging the gap between God and Satan.

What about the Arminian?   Are they just simply “logically inconsistent?”  Or what about what Sproul says when he says, “they are saved . . . but just barely.”

If they are saved, but just barely, then what are they barely saved by?  Their faith?  This makes faith the condition!

If they are logically inconsistent, then what are they logically inconsistent about?  Everyone who is honest will acknowledge that I was entirely accurate when I said White has never said what precisely they are inconsistent about.  And he can’t, because if he tells you that they are being inconsistent about the gospel, then he lets the cat out of the bag and you realize immediately that he is not judging by the gospel.   He has explained why Open Theists are inconsistent, but not the Arminian.

What is the Arminian logically inconsistent about?  I will tell you what he is inconsistent about.   He is inconsistent about the gospel, the same as your mother is.

I do not doubt your mother’s sincerity.  I do not doubt your sincerity.  I do not even doubt White’s sincerity.  But I do not judge by sincerity.  Sincerity is not something you add to the cross to actualize the propitiation.

Now, let’s suppose there is an Arminian out there somewhere who believes that his sins were atoned for two-thousand years ago by Christ’s death alone, and that when he says Jesus died for everyone, but not everyone is saved, he is just simply being logically inconsistent.  I would like to meet such an Arminian, but let’s just assume there is one like this out there somewhere.  Very well, how do you know his claim that Christ died for everyone, but not everyone is saved is just a logical inconsistency?  Ask him about the atonement, right?  Well why don’t you do that then?  Why don’t you ask him what he believes about the atonement before you rush to call him brother or sister?  Why doesn’t White do it?   Why is it that if he but merely says something about being saved by grace rather than law, you and White both can’t race to break your necks fast enough to call him brother?  The answer is, because neither of you judge by the gospel, that’s why.  That’s why you continue to insist your mother is saved.

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About David Bishop

Gospel of Grace Church http://www.gospeldefense.com/about.html
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22 Responses to The Value of Judging by the Gospel: My Response to a Blogger

  1. libertyblogger101 says:

    I’m not sure I can definitively respond to this, but here’s a quick response.

    First of all, my personal love for my mother is irrelevant. I strongly suspect at least one of my siblings, and several other extended family members are unsaved, The reason I believe my mother is saved is because she believes the gospel, and her fruits show that her belief is genuine, NOT because she is my mother. The reason I believe that she is saved in spite of her tolerance of baptismal regenerationists is because I don’t think that knowing who is and isn’t saved is an immediate fruit of regeneration. For that matter, I don’t know for sure.

    Second of all, the Protestant Reformed Church does not stand with you on the belief that Arminians and tolerant calvinists are unsaved. See here: http://www.outsidethecamp.org/noprcsgceagc.htm

    Third of all, just out of curiosity, you have a link to “Gospel of Grace Church” at the top of your forum. I’ve asked Scott Price about this topic, and he has said that while he believes that Arminians are unsaved, he does not believe all tolerant calvinists are unsaved. If I were able to prove that he said this, would you regard him as unsaved?

    • David Bishop says:

      Perhaps you are unaware, but Scott is my pastor. He texted me the day he spoke to you, and he told me what he told you. He told you he was busy, but that he was happy to answer your questions. He directed you to one of his articles about judging by the gospel. Apparently you were as unsure you could address his as you are mine. Of course I could just shoot him a text this morning though, and ask him to address you personally right here in public if that is what you would like.

      I never said the PRC does stand with me. They do, however, deny common grace and the freewill offer.
      What’s your point?

      You are begging the question. You are assuming that what you call fruit is fruit of faith in the gospel. You haven’t yet proved that she believes the gospel. You just assume it. Don’t tell me that your love for her has nothing to do with that. A son’s love for his mother is altogether different than his love for a sister and a brother. This is the problem with straw men. You wind up begging the question and denying the undeniable.

      I never said knowing who is and who isn’t saved is an immediate fruit of faith in the gospel. I said belief in accomplished atonement by the death of Christ alone is the immediate fruit of faith in the gospel. I said your mother contradicts this. She believes that the atonement for the sins of some people is accomplished by their baptism. This is not the fruit of faith in the gospel. This is a denial of her claim to faith in accomplished atonement. Is she logically inconsistent? Sure, she is. So was Eve. What’s your point? Do you think that a brand new believer who hears her assert these two claims is not going to immediately know that she is contradicting her claim to faith in the gospel? Perhaps the person who fails to recognize this is still a believer, perhaps even she is. Very well. BUT YOU CANNOT KNOW THIS!

      Here is a question I would like you to answer. How can you know that a person is logically inconsistent but not deceived rather than logically inconsistent BECAUSE they are deceived?

      Keep in mind that a person who is deceived cannot know they are deceived. That’s the horrifying thing about self deception; while you’re deceived, you don’t know you’re deceived. You think you’re not deceived. It’s only when you are no longer deceived that you then realize you were deceived.

      • My mother does not believe anyone’s atonement is accomplished by their baptism. I know several other people who believe that baptismal regenerationists might be regenerate. These people do not believe that baptismal regenerationists are regenerated because of their baptism. Rather, my mother, and those who agree with her, believe that these people are regenerate despite the fact that they believe baptism regenerates. I assume you can tell the difference.

        That said, you’re right that I don’t know. Its not possible to truly know for anyone except oneself, I’m not sure what your point is here. I thought your premise was that she and those who believe like she does are definitively not saved, and that people who believe like I do (That baptismal regenerationists are lost but those who “tolerate” them are not necessarily lost) are also definitvely not saved. Is this an incorrect assumption on my part?

        And yeah, I’d love to see Scott Price respond here, because I’m either misunderstanding him, you, or both…

      • Marc says:

        Okay, so Scott Price is your pastor. On Scott Price’s website, he lists the following as “Gospel Writers”: George Smeaton, Abraham Booth, James Hervey, A.W. Pink, John Owen, William Rushton, Robert Haldane, Octavius Winslow, William Romaine, Stephen Charnock, Thomas Goodwin, John Gill, Robert Traill, Jeremiah Burroughs, William Mason, Robert Hawker, Ralph Erskine, Horatius Bonar.” Would you agree with your pastor that these men are “Gospel Writers”?

      • David Bishop says:

        It depends on what Scott means by “gospel writers.” Notice that he did not use the term believers, saints, or men of God. It could very well be that he is using the term gospel in a general sense, in which case I would agree with him. However, it is probably just a poor choice of words, and one that I will bring up to him this Sunday. Scott does not believe Arminians are justified. Nor does he think that people who believe Arminians are justified are justified.

        That is the part libertyblogger could not wrap his head around. He thought I was arguing from guilt by association, but I wasn’t. I was accusing him of a self-denying statement. I have every logical reason to doubt the faith of the man who says the Judaizers are lost, but the Galatians are safe.

  2. David Bishop says:

    Your original comment concerning your mother:

    QUOTE:
    I don’t know this girl’s mother well, so to give another example that I can more easily comment on: baptismal regeneration. Baptismal regeneration is clearly a false gospel. I would argue that anyone who believes in it is not saved. My mother disagrees with me. She believes that it is possible for someone who believes in baptismal regeneration to be saved. She agrees that baptismal regeneration is a false doctrine. She does not believe in the false gospel of baptismal regeneration. She knows this is an error. Yet, she will not definitively state that a person who believes this is lost. I would say she is in error because of Galatians 1:8 and Galatians 3:1-2. But does this prove her lost? I don’t think so. She knows what the gospel is. She wrongly gives too much grace to someone who does not, at least IMO.
    END QUOTE

    You equivocate? Or have you changed your mind?

    Baptismal regeneration is clearly a false gospel. You argue that anyone who believes in it is not saved. Your mother thinks some people who do believe in it are saved. BELIEVE IN WHAT, LIBERTYBLOGGER? A FALSE GOSPEL, CORRECT? SO SHE BELIEVES SOME PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE A FALSE GOSPEL ARE SAVED? Do you still not see my point?

    Correct. You do not know. You cannot know. Which is why all you can do is judge their profession of faith by the gospel. If something they profess contradicts the gospel, then you must conclude they are deceived. Where Carpenter and I disagree here is that I do not believe all deceptions are fatal. Those that relate directly to the effectual nature of the atonement are, but beyond that we are all deceived at various points. Every logical contradiction we draw is a deception.

    • David Bishop says:

      I will shoot Scott a text.

    • David Bishop says:

      You can’t call baptismal regeneration a false gospel, and then turn right around and pretend it is not that when your mother professes to believe some people who believe it are saved.

    • I believe my mother’s profession to be genuine. You’re correct that I don’t know for sure. Its theoretically possible that she’s lying and that she really believes we’re saved by our works, or something like that. I doubt it. I see no evidence of that. But I do not deny that its possible.

      With regards to deception, yes, I agree with you that any logical contradiction or erroneous viewpoint is a deception. I also agree that not all deceptions are fatal.

      You say that all logical contradictions that deny the effectual nature of the atonement prove one unregenerate. OK, so what’s the error with the following syllogism:

      1. All who believe in the efficacious atonement of Christ are regenerate.

      2. Tolerant Calvinists believe in the efficacious atonement of Christ.

      3. Tolerant Calvinists are regenerate.

      • David Bishop says:

        You see no evidence that your mother’s profession is false. HOW CAN YOU SEE NO EVIDENCE OF THAT IF YOU CANNOT KNOW?! And don’t try to cop out now by adding “for sure.” You cannot know. Period. You just admitted to that earlier. You cannot know. The only thing you can do is judge her profession by an object standard. That object standard should be the gospel, but in your case it is not, because you are not judging her profession by the objective standard of the gospel.

        The error in your syllogism is #2. It is a premise that you cannot know. YOU CANNOT KNOW THIS! They contradict their profession. Judging purely and simply by the objective standard of the gospel, it must be assumed they do not.

        Here is a syllogism for you:

        1. Baptismal regeneration is a false gospel.
        2. Norma believes some people who believe a false gospel are saved.
        3. Norma does not believe the gospel

  3. John Warren says:

    James White doesn’t say this to people he speaks the Gospel to: “That Jesus loved you and died for you? That Jesus wants to save you, but you have to believe to make it happen?” James would completely agree with this statement of yours: “The only condition for the salvation of God’s elect is Christ’s death for God’s elect. This is why we must preach the gospel as Christ’s death for the elect alone, because otherwise, you encourage people to make faith the object of their faith.”. He never makes faith the condition of salvation.

    • David Bishop says:

      No, I’m afraid he wouldn’t agree with me, John. And I never said he makes faith the condition of salvation. I said he encourages those who do make faith the condition to continue making faith the condition.

      Arminians make faith the condition of salvation, correct? Every time White greets an Arminian as “brother”, what else is he doing but encouraging them to think of themselves as saved, even though they make faith the condition of salvation?

      The only condition for the salvation of God’s elect is Christ’s death for God’s elect. This is why we must preach the gospel as Christ’s death for the elect alone, because otherwise, you encourage people to make faith the object of their faith.

      On one hand, White would say he believes the only condition for the salvation of God’s elect is Christ’s death for God’s elect. Yet five minutes later he will turn right around and contradict this by speaking peace to every Arminian within earshot.

    • I’m with you on this.

      David Bishop’s syllogism above is a fallacy, and it doesn’t logically follow from the premises. Believing that some people who believe a false gospel are saved does not necessarily mean not believing the gospel.

      • David Bishop says:

        Believing that some people who believe Buddhism are saved does not necessarily mean not believing the gospel.

        You have no problem with that, huh. Okay then. I don’t think we have anything else to say about this

      • Marc says:

        Well, at least you’re going to have to admit that this position is not unique to Marc Carpenter or those who attend Sovereign Redeemer Assembly or Outside the Camp. Carpenter didn’t come up with it. So much for the derogatory term of “Carpenterism.” You might as well call it “Bishopism” or “Priceism” or “McCulleyism” or “Parkerism.”

      • David Bishop says:

        I don’t know what your comment has to do with the essay. The term “Carpenterism” never appears in the essay. Carpenter is never mentioned in the essay.

        As for the term Carpenterism, whether anyone shares the same opinion is irrelevant. The term Carpenterism is meant to convey the fact that Marc Carpenter is the person most known for and associated with his view.

  4. David Bishop says:

    Begging the question again, I see. Well, I think we’re done here then.

  5. Marc says:

    Hey David, how did that meeting with your pastor Scott Price go regarding what he considers to be “Gospel Writers”?

  6. Marc says:

    Another question for David Bishop: How do you define “self-righteousness”?

  7. David C says:

    “What about the Arminian? Are they just simply “logically inconsistent?” Or what about what Sproul says when he says, “they are saved . . . but just barely.”

    If they are saved, but just barely, then what are they barely saved by? Their faith? This makes faith the condition!”

    I would suggest that, for Sproul, White and others, what is barley saving them is their apparent lack of self-righteousness (implicit in the act of faith alone). So, yeah, if your Arminianism is driven primarily by sentiment rather than self-righteousness, it’s bad but, well, it’s excusable, so they tell us.

    Of course, many universalists and pluralists are also driven by sentiment but somehow they don’t get the same break.

  8. markmcculley says:

    What the Thief on the Cross Believed
    by John Pederen

    A core conviction is something you will go to the mat over. A core conviction is something you won’t let go of. A core conviction is something you will dis-fellowship others over if they will not believe it along with you.

    Many people call themselves “Calvinists” or those who believe in “the doctrines of grace” but this is not their core conviction. Their core conviction is the lie of “Evangelical Arminianism” they believed when they claim to have been converted. How is this evident?

    This (Evangelical Arminianism) is what they will not give up. This is what they will not repent of. This is what they will not renounce as dead works, idolatry, and nothing more or less than religious pride: “I didn’t believe or understand election”, they will typically say, “but I knew I was a sinner and I needed a Savior, and I knew that Jesus died for me on the cross”.

    This, they say, means that God “saved” them back then when they first professed “Christianity” and this same God, they say, “patiently” and “lovingly” helped them see, over the years, that His salvation was all of grace and that His love was effectual, and that Christ did not die for everybody, etc.

    Along with this, these same people who defend their “Evangelical Arminian” past and conversion have certain characteristic ways they tend to speak of Christians who believe the gospel. They call them names, like “doctrinal perfectionist” or “those who believe in doctrine but not a Person”, or “hyper-Calvinist”, or “kook”, or other such appellations, and ascribe motives to them like “judgmental”, “prideful”, “angry”, “harsh”, “un-loving”, and so forth.

    This is as it always has been. Religious people have always hated those who believe the gospel, excluded them and said all manner of evil against them. They have also used the Scriptures to justify themselves, and this too is as it always has been. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were students of the Scriptures, and they searched the Scriptures, holding hope of eternal life and resurrection, but they did so not according to a knowledge of the gospel, but ultimately as a means of establishing their own righteousness, not submitting to the righteousness of God.

    In the same way, many people are quite fond of their belief in “the sovereignty of God” or “Calvinism” or “sovereign grace” and love quoting Reformed theologians or even being one, but because it is all expressed in the core conviction which unbreakably connects them with their “Evangelical Arminian” past, they do so by way of establishing their own righteousness.

    Their real core conviction is revealed in what they defend, and what they will go to the mat over: their essential solidarity with their “Evangelical Arminian” brethren, who actually do (they say) believe the gospel in their “deepest intentions” but fall short of a clear “Reformed” confession of the gospel in their outward expressions and convictions due to a deficiency in their ability to see the logical consistency of Scripture truth, or to adequately appreciate the need for “giving God all the glory”, (like they do).

    And, as religious people who use the Scripture are always wont to do, they have their “Scriptural” arguments and examples supposedly supporting their position.

    One of the most frequently referred examples is that of the Thief on the Cross:

    “See”, they say, “Look at the Thief on the Cross. How much ‘doctrine’ did he believe? What seminary did he attend? How many points of the ‘five points of Calvinism’ did he confess? He had simple faith in Christ, and Christ told him he would be with Him in Paradise. Its that simple. He believed a Person, not a doctrine.”

    In view of this, it is helpful to reflect on what we may know from the testimony of Scripture of the Thief on the cross.

    1. His conversion was instantaneous and supernatural, and it involved a fundamental change of mind as expressed in his judgment concerning the Person of Christ. In a matter of moments, he went from someone who reviled Jesus Christ to someone who regarded Jesus Christ as righteous and as undeserving of the punishment he received. Compare Mark 15:32 with Luke 23:40,41.

    2. He demonstrated belief in the biblical doctrine of the total depravity of man by his confession that the punishment he received was his “due reward” (Luke 23:41)

    3. He demonstrated belief in unconditional election and the atonement by his confession, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42). When he said “remember me”, he was not asking Christ to “think” about him, or to “recall” him, but rather, He was asking Christ to show His love and regard toward him in a manner both undeserved and distinguishing, a manner resulting in his salvation.

    This indicated as clearly as anything could be indicated that he did not assume or believe that Christ “remembered” (i.e., “loved”) everybody, and that he believed that if he were to go to Heaven, it would not be on account of the fact that he “accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior”, but on account of the fact that the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ “remembered” him.

    And this also indicated he knew where his salvation was to be found- in Christ and Christ alone.

    Perhaps the Thief was illiterate. Perhaps he could not spell any theological words. Perhaps he would not recognize any of the things I just briefly described if they were expressed to him in fine sounding propositional statements.

    But this Scriptural example demonstrates that in a few moments the Thief on the Cross confessed the clear doctrinal truth that “Evangelical Arminians” do not acknowledge or confess throughout their lives, and the clear doctrinal truth that the whole religious establishment of “Tolerant Calvinists” damns with faint praise

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