Friday, September 9, 2011

The Doctrine of Propitiation: by R.W. Glenn, and more Gospel Truth....

[Don't forget to attend the conference tonight at the Elk River High School, 6:30pm. Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough will shed a much needed biblical light on the concerns people have regarding The Crossing church and the leader, Eric Dykstra. This is a free event. Non-perishable food donations requested]

This two and a half minute video by my pastor RW Glenn explains an essential doctrine of the Gospel. Plus, this video, with it's "kinetic typography" is super cool to watch!

Crossing people, is this what you are being taught in your church? Or is it all about "do more , give more, and try harder and then God will bless you".

As a Christian, I don't have to "do" anything to merit God's favor. In fact, apart from faith in Christ and trusting what He has "done" for me,  there is absolutely nothing I can "do" to please God. By trusting in Christ and His finished work, I am free from the demands of God's laws.  That doesn't mean I can live any way I want to, but it does mean that because I am under the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God tenderizes my conscience to live the way God wants Christians to live, and therefore protects me from falling away.

Here's an excerpt from a letter I wrote to someone who responded to my blog. I will not mention his name, but it does contain essential Gospel Truth, and it bears repeating. 

[We are not justified (declared not guilty) by our works. Apart from faith in Christ, we are incapable of doing anything good to merit God’s approval. One Scripture that is misused to prove that we are justified by our good works is, “You see that a man is justified by works and not faith alone” (James 2:24). That passage directly contradicts Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

To resolve this apparent contradiction, you have to understand the sense in which both James and Paul are writing. Paul is saying that we are not justified by our works. James is saying that works are the result of our justification. Read the whole of James chapter two and the context will be obvious. Read Ephesians 2:1-10. 

In other words, I don’t go to Elk River and hand out conference flyers to gain God’s approval. I hand out the flyers because God has caused me to be born again, and as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in me, I want to hand out flyers. I want to "contend earnestly for the faith" as God commands  in Jude 3-4. 

You see the difference? God does not justify us because we do more, give more, and try harder! That is never, ever the case! It is everywhere in Scripture.

The fact is, we cannot come remotely close to living up to God’s standards set forth in Scripture. After all, when was the last time you had a sinful thought, said a harsh word, or committed a sinful act? Have you loved the God of the Bible with heart, soul, mind, and strength, every second of every day for the entirity of your life?

Jesus said a couple of interesting things in His famous, “Sermon on the Mount” that should bring clarity. “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” [Outwardly, these spiritual leaders were as righteous as you could possibly be] And again in Matthew five, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) 

These verses are intended to make us fall on our knees and say, “I can’t be perfect, never. My righteousness will never, ever surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees. I am lost, ruined! I will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven because I haven’t lived up to God’s standards set in the Scriptures. God help me!!" As a Christian I sin countless times every day! I cannot go ten seconds without sinning! I am a complete mess in thought, word, deed and complete devotion to God! 

But, what is so liberating about the Gospel is that Christians don’t have to do more, give more, and try harder to please God. We don’t! Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” 

You see, the people of Jesus’ day were weighed down and breaking under the legalistic burden placed upon them by the Scribes and Pharisees. They had to do more and try harder, never being able to live up to their man-made standards. These people were weary of trying to merit God’s favor in order to be justified, and they lived in constant fear that they were not "doing" enough. There was no assurance that they were approved by God. 

Then Jesus comes along and says, “Just trust me, that is all you have to do”, and it rocked their world! 

Think about this: false religion is a “do” religion. True religion is a “done” religion. People living under false religion think, “What do I have to “do” in order to be granted salvation, gain God’s approval, or receive God's blessing?" While people living under True religion-the Gospel-think, “I don’t have to “do” anything to earn God’s approval because Jesus came and has already “done” what I cannot "do"; He gained God's approval for me! 

I perform deeds pleasing to God because I am so grateful to God for saving me through what Jesus has accomplished for me.

Just think of your response to the question I asked, “If you died today and found yourself standing before God, and He asked, "Why should I allow you into My Heaven?" Your response was, "I don't think Jesus would ask me "Why should I let you in?" I believe He would say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant"...Jesus knows my heart, He knows how much I love Him, what I do to serve Him and I know Jesus and His Father through the understanding of the Word.”
This is reminiscent of the parable of the Prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. Here’s a bit of the text as it applies to you. The legalistic older brother says, “Look, for so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a commandment of yours….” Jesus is talking about the Pharisees here. The younger brother, broken and humbled by his inability to save himself goes to his daddy and simply asks for forgiveness, and his daddy gladly receives him and then throws him a massive party!
Jesus came to fulfill the Law of God that Adam failed to do. He was the second Adam. He lived a perfect life and then went to the cross to be punished for all the sins of every person who would ever believe. The doctrine of “imputation” is clearly recognized in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 
In other words, on the Cross, Our sins were transferred to Jesus “account”. Then God the Father treated Jesus as if he were the most vile, despicable, sinner the world had ever known. Jesus experienced Hell is some sort of supernatural event we cannot comprehend. Jesus paid the sin debt we could never, ever do on our own. 

Just think if you got a credit card bill for a hundred billion trillion dollars. You would be in absolute chaos thinking, “I can’t pay that off! Never can I do it”. Then someone comes along and pays the debt for you! That’s what Jesus accomplished on the cross.  

But that’s not all Jesus accomplished. Because Jesus lived a perfect life as the second Adam, His righteousness is transferred to our “account” the moment we trust in Jesus.
This Truth has massive implications in our daily lives as Christians. 

First, we are adopted into God’s family. He is our Father and now He loves us as His children. There is never any alienation or anger toward us when we sin because He sees us as perfect as Christ is perfect. He is never upset when we slack off in our bible reading, prayer, or fail to perform well in our ministry at church. 

Second, we cannot lose our salvation, ever, ever, because every sin you will ever commit in the future was already paid in full by Jesus on the cross. God did not save you because of your good works, therefore you can never, ever lose your salvation for not being good enough.

Third, you can rest in Christ! You love Him and do good things because He is your Lord and you are loyal to Him. You never have to worry about not doing enough. Christ is our Sabbath rest. He has "done" what you cannot "do". We are free from the bondage of sin and slavery, and to unbiblical rules and regulations. We have liberty to live and do ministry in the ordinary, mundane way we live out our lives at home, at work, in school, or on vacation. Of course we should be involved in Church ministry, but we need not be burdened by orbiting our entire lives, talents, and finances around the church you attend as Eric demands. 

In Christ, you are free! Let it sink in and enjoy being free from burdensome and legalistic church rules not found in Scripture. The home page on my blog has a picture of a sturdy chain. I believe with all my heart that, however well intentioned the pastors at The Crossing are, they put their people in chains, in bondage. But the Truth of Jesus, of the Gospel will set you free from those nasty chains.]  

For every single time you fail to live according to God's standards, look ten times to the Cross and realize that all of your sins were paid in full by Christ. When Jesus said "It is finished", He means, it IS finished! 

Don't trust your subjective feelings when you think God does not approve of you when you sin. Rather, trust in the objective fact of the record of your sin being wiped clean, and God sees you as perfect in Christ, even when you sin!

That's the Gospel! Now isn't that better than the legalistic, burdensome garbage coming out of The Crossing church? 

God Bless you, Casey      


  1. I have been following your blog for a bit. If my memory serves me - your bio used to say that you base your theology on Calvin or that you are a "Calvinist" -"even though that term has fallen on hard times". (I Cor 3:18-22 [emphasis on verse 21]) secondary verse John 3:8 - "so you cannot explain how people are born of the spirit" Assuming my memory is correct then the following...

    I am at a loss on why you are so worked up about all of this. If you believe God will save the Elect no matter what and the rest are damned anyways then what does it matter?

    I am not being difficult simply looking to see how this is reconciled.

  2. I am not quite sure what you are asking to be reconciled, and I also don't know why you cited those Scriptures. Maybe you could shed some light on that.

    This is what I do know. A Hyper-Calvinist (which I am not) does not believe that evangelism is really necessary for the very reason you site; after all, what's the point of sharing the Gospel if God elects some for salvation and the rest are damned to Hell.

    The call to repent and believe the Gospel and follow Jesus is universal. No one on planet earth is excluded from this call.

    It is very clear in Scripture that fallen man is so corrupt and alienated from God that he cannot (does not even have the ability!) ever respond the the Gospel unless it is granted by God.

    It is also very clear in Scripture that God predestines people to salvation. He chooses certain people that will hear the Gospel call, repent and follow Jesus, according to His mercy and good pleasure.

    I can certainly provide Scriptures to substantiate these doctrines. This isn't something novel made up during The Reformation, but rather the restoration of the original teachings of Christ and the Apostles; that's what "reformation" is.

    Christians are commanded in Scripture to go out and preach the Gospel; that's Jesus' "Great Commission. God uses Christians as the means to carry out His program of salvation to those He predestined. After all, not everyone is born with a red x on their back to indicate that they are chosen.

    Reformed Theology a.k.a. Calvinism, is not something that can be explained on the back of a postcard, but if you are interested I can send you a book or cd series to help you understand.

    I did change my bio information just because people are so biased against the term Calvinist and that can be a big turn off to people. Sadly, many genuine Christians presuppose things about Calvinists or Calvinism that are not true, even if they have never actually searched the Scriptures and studied all the different textual support to see if the Bible actually teaches Reformed Teology.

    Let me know what you thinks needs reconciliation and how those Scriptures you cited fit into your point. And will gladly try to bring some clarity for you. Blessings, Casey

  3. Thanks for the response. To clarify what it is that I would like to be reconciled please see the following:

    1. If you believe that God has predestined the Elect for salvation the the logical extension of this belief is that He has then predestined the balance to Hell. This also means that Jesus' death and resurrection was not and is not available for all mankind. So the statement you have on your blog "make sure you get the bible right as your eternal destination may depend on it" - is Mute! God will get you saved no matter what and if you are predestined to hell no matter what gospel you hear will not make a difference - so why get so worked up about you say is a false gospel at some church.

    2. I agree no one has an X on their back (so I am all for the great commission )- but according to Calvin predestined is predestined and nothing could stop God from achieving His purpose. - So again, why all the worry and effort about some church (the purpose of your blog)?

    3. You state a difference between "hyper-calvinism" and what you believe (some other kind of reformed belief). So does this mean the hyper-calvinist is preaching a "false-Gospel" or simply a difference in methods?

    Clarification on my scripture reference:
    a. I Cor 3:21 - So do not boast about following some human leader... (insert Calvin) - he is part of church history not an author of the bible maybe he is not 100% accurate he was simply a man (john 3:10 - Nicodemus did not get it either)

    This leads to the second scripture Jesus speaking to Nicodemus
    B. John 3:8 ..."so you cannot explain HOW people are born of the spirit" The bible is clear what I must do to be born of the spirit 'Believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus is LORD - repent of my sin and accept his substitutional death. Grace not works (Titus 3:3-8)

    So again if God will save those he predestined and send the rest straight to hell - why the Blog. Maybe God predestined this church to be there!

  4. Anonymous,

    Once again, there is a distinction between the Reformed Faith, a.k.a. Calvinism, and Hyper-Calvinism. Your first two points are assuming that I believe the Hyper-Calvinist position. I am not a Hyper-Calvinist. Calvinism is the restoration of Christ's and the Apostle's teachings of the early church age. This is what the Bible clearly teaches, it is everywhere in the Scriptures, and there are Scriptures to back all of this up.

    1. All people are guilty before God of breaking His laws. We inherited a sin nature from Adam, and therefore everyone sins in thought , word, and deed countless times every day. Therefore ALL deserve Hell. Justice is the judicial act of God in His infinite Holiness, must punish sin.

    2. Man, in his fallen state knows the Christian God personally (yes, even atheist's!) but is hostile toward Him, and suppresses the Truth of His existence; he has no desire to be in a relationship with the Christian God. His state is that of being spiritually DEAD! Anything that is spiritually DEAD cannot respond to the Gospel!

    3. From all of humanity, God, in His mercy, chooses some people to be saved: even though this chosen remnant deserve Hell. That is mercy. Mercy is not receiving what we deserve.

    4. God sent Jesus to live the life we cannot live and take the punishment that we deserve. He was buried and resurrected, defeating death, Satan, and securing the judicial verdict of "Not Guilty" to those chosen by God.

    5. Jesus commands in the Great Commission that Christians are to teach and preach the Gospel-salvation from Hell simply by confessing Jesus as Lord, trusting Him, and believing in in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

    6. Those who are chosen by God to receive the gift of salvation will hear the outward call of the Gospel, to repent and believe the Gospel...they WILL respond to that call!

    7. Those who are not chosen remain in a state of spiritual deadness and receive justice, while those chosen by God for salvation are brought back to spiritual life be the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the act of regeneration. This is mercy. Regeneration then, necessarily precedes faith: we have faith because we were regenerated, not the other way around!

    8. Even faith is the gift of God, so that no one can boast, saying, "I heard the Gospel, God made the offer available to all men, but I take credit for believing it. And I believe it because I am more virtuous than those who don't believe the Gospel, therefore, I am a better person than those who don't believe the Gospel". This is Semi-Pelagianism.

    9. God uses Christians like me, to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. God saved me in my state of spiritual deadness by the hearing of the Word. That makes me extremely grateful and I want to tell others of the Gospel so they don't have to go to Hell. People who hear the Gospel have the choice to either believe the Gospel or not.

    10. It is clear that God is sovereign AND man is responsible for his guilt. He is also responsible for their choice to either believe the Gospel or not. Fallen man does have free will, the problem is, our will is so corrupt and our rebellion so deep that we would never choose to believe the Gospel unless God acts!

    11. Who can know the mind of God? We are but finite creatures, but God is infinite and mysterious. The finite can't grasp the infinite, it's impossible. Who knows why God chooses some and not others? I don't! Predestination boggles the mind! I do know that God's choice is not according to anything righteous, lovely or noble in the chosen. Unregenerate man hates God and would kill Him if it were possible. (Actually we did kill God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, that's how much we hate God!) And yet, in His mercy, He saves us who would have Him dead!

  5. Part 2)The doctrines of Human depravity and predestination are doctrines that are plainly obvious in Scripture, but fallen man does not like those doctrines because it is an affront to his free will and strips him of his dignity. We think, "I must have contributed something to my salvation!" The only thing we contribute to our salvation is our sin! Either God is sovereign or He is not. And the Bible clearly teaches that God is sovereign.

    While Calvin is a human author, does that mean his study, exegesis, and commentary on what the Scriptures teach are without any value whatsoever? The answer is a resounding "no"! God appoints men to study and preach the Word, feed Christ's flock with the Word, and equip them to go out into the world and preach the Gospel.That's why we go to church. Church is for Christians! Taken to it's logical conclusion, your statement that Calvin is only a human author and therefore what he has to say regarding Scripture is worthless would mean that nobody could teach Christian doctrine. We would have to discard every book ever written by a fellow Christian and preaching would not be profitable for anything. But that's not biblical. Christians can learn much from ancient Church fathers, theologians, and preachers.

    So why do I get all worked up about the Crossing? Because to distort Truth is a grave, serious sin. And God hates with Holy hatred, those who mess with the Truth! As a Christian I am commanded to fight for the faith, keep the Gospel pure, and preach the Gospel. Just think if one of God's chosen is right now spiritually dead and attending the Crossing church. Then they stumble on my blog or hear the Gospel preached by someone else, and they believe the Gospel because God makes it happen! God makes us part of the story in the redemption of sinners. First we are saved, and then we become His ambassadors heralding the Good News of Jesus Christ. Christians are the means by which God fulfills His purpose in saving the chosen.

  6. Hyper-Calvinist are not false teachers per se. I think they have a wrong understanding of what the Bible teaches, heretical, but not critical. Doesn't mean they are not saved. Same with the Semi-Pelagians,and yes, people who attend the Crossing too, as long as their understanding of Justification and their Christology are correct. I believe God saves people even when much of their theology is pretty bad. The Crossing does not have a clear doctrine of justification, they do not preach the Gospel, Eric purposely twists and distorts Scripture, and that is very troubling.

    But when it's all said and done, and history is complete, God get's the glory!!! Just think how we will marvel at the Lord and the way He used certain people to save those we know and love, including ourselves! And how He included us in His salvation story. How He knit everything together in history to perfection, and that should just blow our minds!

    Predestination is what the Scriptures teach. While it is an important doctrine to eventually grasp, I don't like to confuse people I am evangelizing with difficult doctrine like that. I tend to stay away from controversial doctrines that cause division like the Day/Age controversy, or Eschatology. These doctrines, while they are a part of the canon of Scripture, usually cause deep division, even among brethren. The Gospel is central! People don't have to be Calvinists to be saved. All they have to do is believe the Gospel. That's so easy any small child can do that!

    Anonymous, If you are really interested in trying to understand predestination and the inability of fallen man to respond to the Gospel, then I will gladly give you an awesome awesome book that will explain these things convincingly and in great detail. Give it some serious thought, ok? It's titled, "Chosen By God" by R.C. Sproul. I'll send it to you, just give me your address. God is glorified when we understand how bad we really are, and how merciful He is in saving Hell-deserving rebels like me and then adopting us into His family and inviting us to dine with Him. I am a disgusting person, yet God chose me, I didn't choose Him. He had me in mind as He died on the cross so that I would live! Amen!