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Posted by Matt Postiff July 1, 2020 under Dispensationalism  Theology  Bible Texts  Eschatology 

It occurs to me that there is a likeness between these two ideas:

1. Splitting the Mosaic Law into components and pulling forward (from the past) the moral component into the church age.

Left behind are the ceremonial and civil parts of the law, as well as the curses for disobedience.

2. Splitting the New Covenant into components and pulling back (from the future) the spiritual component into the church age.

Left "ahead" are the physical, agricultural, economic, and political parts of the New Covenant. Also left "ahead" are spiritual components that find no fulfillment in the present era (all will know the Lord, universal forgiveness for Israel).

It seems inconsistent to criticize #1 at the same time to accept #2.

It seems more consistent to accept both #1 and #2 or reject them both.

The problem with accepting both it puts Christians today under parts of two covenants--the Mosaic and the New. This has a somewhat suspect basis. I say this about the Law covenant because Paul writes:

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Galatians 5:18).
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? (Galatians 4:21)
But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." (Galatians 3:11)
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

So, Christians are not under "the law," nor are they under "part of the law." This is no major loss, for we have the Law of Christ as our directive, a law operational on the basis of grace and the indwelling ministry of the Spirit.

As far as splitting the New Covenant, the New Covenant is specifically directed to Israel, not the church. This is clear from a review of the primary passage:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:33)

Note the phrase "I will make with the house of Israel."

Finally, it does not appear to me that the New Covenant has actually been made yet. Certainly, its sacrificial basis is complete in the work of Christ. Certainly massive spiritual benefits come out of that work into Christians today. But those are not necessarily direct fulfillments of the New Covenant. They do not constitute the "making" of a covenant, where the people group to be covenanted has offered no agreement to the terms of the covenant. In fact, most of the terms of the covenant (and some could argue all of its terms) remain unfulfilled.

The prophet above says that the time of the making of the covenant is "after those days." Jeremiah is clear that those days were "coming" future to his writing.

"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-- (Jeremiah 31:31)

According to Ezekiel 20:35-37, this will happen during the eschaton:

"And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face...I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant (Ezekiel 20:35, 37)

This has not happened yet.

The most accurate viewpoint, as I understand it, is to keep both the Law and New Covenants whole, not splitting them such that some terms of one or the other, or both, fall upon the church.


Posted by Matt Postiff June 28, 2020 under Theology 

Several of the Biblical covenants have "signs" associated with them.

The Covenant with Noah was given the sign of the rainbow (Gen. 9:16-17).

The Covenant with Abraham has as a sign male circumcision (Gen. 17:11, Rom. 4:11).

The Covenant with Moses is signified by the Sabbath (Exodus 31:13, Ezek 20:12, 20).

What about the Covenant with David? And the New Covenant? Can you think of a sign for each of them?


Posted by Matt Postiff May 28, 2020 under Theology  Apologetics 

I recently read a paper by David Haines entitled "A Potential Problem with Presuppositionalism." It can be found on academia.edu.

I think the title would be better without the word potential because the author is not claiming that there is a potential problem, but rather he is asserting there is a fatal problem.

Haines wrote on page 5 two claims that underlie his argument:

  1. All rational beings use an interpretive scheme from which they cannot escape, and
  2. There is no common ground

These two claims do not match what I understand of Van Til's apologetic. (I was schooled in this approach and adopted it for myself some years ago, so I am somewhat of an "insider.")

Quick comments on the two claims:

1) All rational beings use an interpretive scheme: true. The believer interprets life through the truth revealed by God in Scripture. The unbeliever uses some other means to interpret life, but never comes to the table "presupposition-less." This is because their minds are darkened by sin. Depravity affects not only the moral system in man, but also the rational/intellectual system. Therefore, the unbeliever's interpretive scheme, of whatever variety it may be, is rooted in unbelief and proud rebellion against the creator, and self-deception about the deity and power of God.

From which they cannot escape: false. Regeneration causes an unbeliever to quickly reach 'escape velocity' from their presuppositions and plants them onto another presuppositional foundation. So in fact, the person can escape from one foundation to another; what he cannot escape is the fact that he is standing on some kind of foundation, never in free space, utterly neutral.

2) There is no common ground: false. As I understand the presuppositional apologetic, it claims that there IS in fact common ground between people, and that is rooted in God, His creation, and specifically the image of God in man (conscience, etc.). There is NOT common ground where the unbeliever wants it--in purely empirical or rationalist terms, nor even where the rational apologist wants it--in rationalism. This is because the mind of the unbeliever is darkened.

For me, it boils down to this: we live in the world. The world and all that is in it was created by God. Neither this world nor the truth about its creation can be escaped. That is the ultimate common ground. You cannot postulate a world which was not created by God, because in order to do so, you are using your mind and world in which you exist, which was created by God. It is utter deception to use a God-given mind to suggest that God doesn't exist!


Posted by Matt Postiff May 12, 2020 under Society  Church 

I'm writing for pastors especially, but the general Christian audience is welcome to read as well.

My title perhaps evoked in your mind various government edicts that presently prohibit churches from worshiping due to the COVID-19 scare. But that is not my point.

In the State of Michigan, each of the several governor's orders have carefully side-stepped a prohibition against corporate worship, while making clear the government's desire that churches not gather for safety reasons. This built-in vagueness is due to the recognition that the first amendment of the United States Constitution as well as the Michigan constitution protect the rights of individuals to worship as they see fit. I appreciate this recognition in Michigan. Governor Whitmer even took flak from the far left for making an "unconstitutional exemption for churches." But governors of other states are a little less sharp on this issue and felt that they could infringe churches' rights.

Almost all churches gladly complied with the government's wishes for the first 6 weeks or so of the pandemic, including ours. But these wishes were never a command and, properly understood, should not have bound the consciences of church members nor of their pastors. The most recent order (ending May 28) is less vague. A lawsuit brought by a number of churches forced the governor to add language to make it clear that not only are church "owners" and "places of worship" exempt from penalty, but also individuals who choose to travel and worship at those places. The executive order (2020-77) is still clear that the desire of the government is that there be no group gatherings, but desire is not a legally enforceable command.

Some Christians feel that this is more than clear enough to go back to worship. After all, a law with no penalty attached is no different than advice. For these Christians, the advice given ("don't gather") has now become unnecessarily restrictive of their right and desire to worship God together. Further, the legal wrangling at the state level causes these ones to have legitimate questions about whether the governor has extended orders beyond her authority.

Others are waiting for explicit permission to gather once again. The "spirit" of the executive order is to avoid all gatherings, and these folks want to obey the spirit of the order.

I am in the first group; I have never asked nor awaited permission from secular governing authorities to worship God, and I am not about to set that precedent now. We exist in a distinct "authority regime" -- distinct but not totally separate -- than the secular government. And, I believe we will be waiting a long time for explicit permission from the governor to worship.

The difference between these two camps has the ring of a matter of indifference in Romans 14. I shared with our church family that there will be a wide variety of opinions as to the "right" time to open the church. There will be strongly-held opinions about wearing masks and taking temperatures and how to do children's ministries and a dozen other issues. Speaking generally, worship is clearly not a matter of indifference. It is commanded. But the particular question about whether to open on May 17 or May 31 or June 7 or August 16 is more like a Romans 14 kind of thing. You have to be fully convinced that what you are doing is right. And I have to be fully convinced that what I am doing is right. Each of us will stand before God for our decisions. It is not my place to criticize another pastor for doing what he thinks is right; and it is not your place to criticize other pastors for doing what they think is right.

At some point, you are going to have to open your church. And when you do, this matter of differences of opinion will filter down to your church members. They will have to make a discerning judgment as to whether it is right for them to attend worship. You will be in fact pushing that decision downward to them--a decision which you took from them earlier in the pandemic when you decided to close the church for the preservation of life. Your approach made it easy for the church because they had nothing to decide. They were stuck with your decision. But when you reopen, they will have the burden to decide: Do they have an underlying health condition? Do they have a family member in the home or for whom they care who has such an issue? Are they fearful? Are they listening too much to the fear-mongering left-wing media and consuming doomsday statistics about the virus? Are they coming to worship for the right reason, not just to "stick it to the authorities"?

I do not have all the data to make those decisions for all the church members simultaneously. Only they are in possession of that information, and since they are servants of Another, I am not going to get into the business of judging them on this matter. One week or another is not going to make a difference in the eternal scheme of things. Granted, if someone makes excuse that they cannot attend worship until January of 2021 or until there is a vaccine (which may never come to be), I will speak to them and question their motives and wisdom, and try to help inform their consciences. But I do not believe today is the point in time to fight that battle with anyone.

Similarly, I am not in possession of the information to pontificate about what church X or Y should do. Maybe it is a small church; maybe they will have multiple services; maybe they will hold outdoor services; maybe they have lots of people with tender consciences. What do I know? Nothing. I am not in their shoes. I trust God to work with those pastors and Christian leaders to make wise decisions. A few will not, and many will. That's how it goes.

So, while trying myself to avoid such pontification, may I exhort you to consider another side of the equation? My concern: pastors and church boards, because of division or fear, may keep the church closed while many of their members long to worship God. They desire, like David, to come to the house of God and express His beauty in worship. They want to see other believers for fellowship. They want to be instructed corporately--directly--in the Word. They want to participate in the Lord's Table, and they have missed it for two months already. Pastors should not be in the place of prohibiting the worship of God's people. Individual hang-ups sometimes have to be set aside in order to avoid unnecessarily hurting a subset of the church by not permitting them to worship corporately as God commands. Their consciences are important too--not just the pastors or leaders or members with a tender-conscience.

Early on in the crisis, the "fog of war" was upon us. Lack of information, panic, and a dreadfully high curve faced us. It was appropriate to take steps to preserve life in the face of many unknowns. That time is past. The curve has been flattened. In general, hospitals are well under capacity. We know more about the virus, we know how to mitigate. Are we past all risk? Never. But things are different now than two months ago. It is time for churches to plan reopening whether the government likes it or not. God's people need corporate gatherings and worship. God deserves our corporate worship once again.

The earth has been strangely quiet toward God for the last two months. Not silent, to be sure, but quiet. Let us not prohibit God's people from making the trek to their houses of worship and lifting their praises to the true and living God, the King of the Universe. May He be praised in all true houses of worship very soon.


Posted by Matt Postiff April 6, 2020 under Theology  Evangelism 

Reading in Luke 9:57-62 this morning, I came upon a title in the New King James Study Bible for that section: "True Cost of Discipleship." A similar title involving the word "cost" is found at Luke 14:25 in one of the outlines supplied in Bibleworks 10.

Let us pause and ask ourselves this question: "is the term 'cost' the best word to use in this context?" My short answer: No.

In theology, precision of terminology is important. Sloppy use of terms is both a source of sloppy thinking, and a cause of it. I think the term 'cost' is used in popular parlance in a very imprecise way.

Granted, Jesus uses the term in an illustration about building a tower, in which it is obviously necessary to make a cost estimate before beginning construction. Because of the KJV translation, this came over to discussion of discipleship as "counting the cost." This, in turn creates a challenge for those who emphasize that salvation is free. They reason that since discipleship "costs" and salvation is "free," therefore the two concepts must be different. This leads to the "not all Christians are disciples" theology. They suggest that salvation and discipleship are two different things. Some Christians are believers, they say, and some are believers and disciples.

I wrote a while ago as to why the 'salvation not equal to discipleship' doctrine is false.

The thought progression from "cost" to "salvation is not the same as discipleship" explained above comes about because of a sloppy conflation of two ideas. The first is the idea of monetary cost terminology from an illustration of a building project. The second is the idea that salvation is free in terms of doing any works to earn it. When you equate the first idea with the second, you are doing a meaning transfer that is wrong.

Instead, we need to recognize that the illustration of building is like but not the same as the Christian reality it illustrates. So, you decide to build a tower. You need to think about the implications of that. Do you have the wherewithal to complete it? Similarly, you are pondering the decision to believe in Jesus. You have to consider whether you up for the difficulties that come after you believe in Him.

You take the illustration way too far if you think like this: Well, since I have to gather all the money and materials and plans and laborers in order to build a tower before I begin, that must mean that I have to do all kinds of work and make all kinds of commitments in order to become a Christian (i.e.., "be saved").

The tendency of the human brain to make this connection because of the semantic nearness of "cost" and "free" leads me to believe that the 'cost' terminology should not appear in the headings of our study Bibles. Instead, the heading should be "The Difficulty of Discipleship." This avoids the illegitimate transfer of ideas from the monetary realm to the spiritual realm. It fits perfectly with the notion that salvation is not earned by works or anything else. It also works because being a saved person is not going to be a cakewalk in this life.

As you ponder the decision to believe in Christ, you need to think: Christ offers forgiveness and eternal life through simple repentant faith. That's true. But the transformation that comes over you will be so radical that you won't be like what you were before. Your relationships with everything and everyone will be totally different. You will run into difficulties along the way that you do not experience presently. Is that the path you are willing to endure? That is the Christian life.

The difficulty of discipleship offers no contradiction with the free offer of salvation. Jesus will save you. He will wash you clean of sin. He will give you spiritual life. But your life afterward will be entirely different.

It is not that salvation is obtained at a "cost." Rather, the Christian life after you begin to follow Christ will be difficult. But it will also be blessed.


Posted by Matt Postiff February 26, 2020 under Theology 

In our series called "Ezekiel for Dummies" we have reached chapter 40. In this chapter, there is a detailed description of a temple structure and function that is not found in the history of Israel up to the present.

The following PDF file has several diagrams of what the temple might look like.


Posted by Matt Postiff February 26, 2020 under Society 

Some Christians have become enamored with the ideas of socialism and even communism. I think this is attributable to four reasons: First, when the terms are left undefined, they seem to describe "kind" and "benevolent" economic systems that will help the poor and raise people out of poverty. They seem equivalent to the good "social programs" in our republic. Second, there is a seeming connection with the early church as described in Acts 2:44-45 which legitimizes these systems in the minds of some Christians. Third, ignorance of the actual, practical results of these economic systems fosters uncritical acceptance. Fourth, these systems are based on a non-Christian view of the nature of humanity which simply will not work in the harsh realities of the real world which is filled with sinners. When these factors are exposed and honestly examined, most true Christians would forcefully reject both economic theories.

Let us begin with some definitions.

socialism, via Merriam-Webster
   1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
   2 : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property

Going to Google and searching "define socialism" returns this from the "Google" dictionary:

socialism
   a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
   policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.
   (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of Communism.

Google's definition of communism is as follows:

communism
   a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.

In contrast:

capitalism
   an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

Common ownership is not just theoretical. It is actual. This would look like the government owning and running all utilities like electrical generation, natural gas, etc. It would entail government ownership of all hospitals, schools, factories, etc.

But this is not like what is described in the Bible. Under the theocracy and then monarchy in Israel, for hundreds of years there was private property ownership. This is proven by the fact that there is a command "do not steal." This presupposes private property ownership. The limited taxation through tithing is another proof. There was definitely not common ownership of property or means of production. Even the distribution of land indicates private ownership; the Israelite tribes had perpetual ownership of the sections of land that were their inheritance. Deeds were held; property was bought and sold, etc.

In the New Testament era, the same kind of situation is evident. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthians to give voluntarily to support the poor, and he tells the Roman Christians to pay their taxes. These imply a private property ownership scenario. Support for the poor is praiseworthy because it is optional and carried out by loving Christians. It is not obligatory, for if it were, there would be no reward in it.

Of this fact we can be certain: by the above definitions, socialism and communism are not economic systems that were practiced in the Bible. As for the other three reasons I outlined above, they will have to wait for future articles.


Posted by Matt Postiff February 20, 2020 under Theology 

From time to time the question arises as to whether a believer in the church should support a missionary as an individual, instead of through the church. While I cannot Biblically prohibit the practice of individual supporters, I have encouraged anyone who asks to channel their financial support for missions through the church instead of apart from it. I am aware that many missionaries receive a large percentage of their support from individuals instead of churches, and that some mission agencies direct their missionaries to seek such support. I am not under any delusion that this post will persuade everyone to stop the practice.

Our approach of emphasizing that missionary financial support should come through the local church has several advantages:

  • It allows the entire church the blessing of partnering with and praying for the missionary instead of only a single individual or family partaking of that blessing.
  • It protects the missionary in that when the individual donor is no longer able to give, the church can provide a buffer and continue supporting the missionary. We try to be very conservative with how many missionaries we take on for support so that we do not have to eliminate any from support. You can imagine what happens to a missionary if they get word that such-and-such supporter has died and is no longer sending money monthly. That has a real impact on ministry.
  • It protects the church members when a missionary comes and “tugs at the heart strings” of those who are vulnerable to an emotional type of appeal. More objective factors and a careful evaluation are in order before we support a missionary (see 2 John 8-11).
  • It helps put the emphasis in missions at the local church level, where it should be, instead of at the level of the parachurch group or agency.
  • It protects the donor with the additional “insider knowledge” and expertise of the church’s pastor and deacons to watch over the missionary and his or her sending organization, doctrinal fidelity, philosophy of ministry, and the like.

Posted by Matt Postiff February 8, 2020 under Theology 

I think you would agree that the world is in a bad state. Death, disease, disaster, war, animosity, poverty, and the like ravage our planet with no end in sight. Theft and cheating and greed and the like are ever-present. What is the rescue from such a situation?

With all the world’s wisdom and knowledge, it cannot come up with its own way of salvation. Human wisdom cannot fix man’s sin or provide ultimate rescue from the horrid condition of death and devastation on the face of our planet. Education cannot solve the world’s problems. Money doesn’t fix it. Authoritarianism doesn’t solve it. Reform doesn’t improve it. Psychology cannot repair it. Medicine cannot heal it. Welfare only disguises the problem. All the world’s works-based religions don’t provide victory over rebellion against God. Multiplying legislation provides no hope either, for it only serves to add more sin to the sin we already have.

In fact, not only does the world’s wisdom not fix the human condition, it often makes it worse. Consider the wisdom of the world in its approach to over-population and unwanted people: murdering unborn babies. Billions of them. Or, how about the wisdom of the world in constructing a utopian society: communism. The death toll from that in the last century or so is 100 million. How about the misery under such a governmental system? It takes a resource-rich nation like Venezuela and impoverishes it within a few years. How did fascism work out? This ideology directly led to the deaths of millions in concentration camps and the Second World War. How about secular education? Pushing God out means that worldly educators have to cast about for some fiction to tell their students—like evolution. When you turn away from the true answers and throw God out of the system, all that is left is made up stuff, which is not much different than worshipping a golden calf. It cannot move or speak or do anything.

Where the problem of human wisdom is most acute is in the realm of spiritual/religious matters. The seemingly diverse results of human wisdom have created the world’s hundreds of religious systems. Yet in their supposed diversity, they produce a broadly similar approach to God in which man is sovereign and makes the ultimate decisions about his soul, usually by good works to achieve merit.

Through worldly wisdom, you cannot be saved, you cannot be forgiven, you cannot know God, the world’s problems cannot be fixed—all these are impossible on the strength of human intellect. Human smarts and “righteous” works are but filthy rags before God when it comes to relating to Him. They have their place—but not in boasting. Their proper place is in service to God.

Salvation in all its aspects is available in Christ, despite how the world sees Him and His work. This is to the glory of God in Christ.


Posted by Matt Postiff January 1, 2020 under Theology 

Guest post by Jansen Lorch; adapted from Pastor Van Marsceau (FBCWV)

  1. Approach your sin boldly (Ps. 51:1-13)
  2. Break down relationship barriers – if grudges exist against another person, your spiritual vitality is being sapped (Eph. 4:2)
  3. Check your motives – ministry is not about a name or status, it is not about being noticed, nor just being fed (Eph. 4:16)
  4. Don’t be lazy (Prov. 6:6-11)
  5. Eliminate Unnecessary conflict – don’t let the sun go down on your wrath (Eph. 4:26).
  6. Focus on your attitude – you have influence over the attitude of others, so check your own (Prov. 27:9).
  7. God for gains – invest in the lives of the next generation (2 Tim. 2:1-2)
  8. Have eyes to see and ears to hear – the only way to serve people is to know their needs
  9. Inspect your vessel – clean out the dross (2 Tim. 2:21)
  10. Joyful. Be joyful. Joy is experienced when we rely on the Lord and trust in His Word (Neh. 8:10; Ps. 28:10)
  11. K.I.S.S. – 15 minutes of the Word; 10 minutes in prayer; 5 minutes in silence
  12. Love Unconditionally (Rom. 12:9-10)
  13. Measure twice, cut once – think before you speak and then think again (Prov. 12:18)
  14. Never ask someone to do something that you are not willing to do yourself ( 1 Thess. 1:6)
  15. Organize. – if you don’t write things down you will never remember them.
  16. Pace yourself – don’t measure your abilities and knowledge to others. Just be faithfully obedient in the little things.
  17. Quality time with your significant other or family (1 cor. 13:4-8)
  18. Read a variety of books – Christian disciplines, biblical counseling, theology, etc.
  19. Sufficiency of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
  20. Teach the truth – don’t back down when attacked (Heb. 10:23
  21. Unplug. – spend a few hours away of social media and praise the Lord for His creation
  22. Visionary – have written goals that you want to make happen this year.
  23. Wise Counsel (Prov. 4:13)
  24. Look Away – (1 Thess. 4:3-7)
  25. Year for intimacy with God (Gal. 2:20)
  26. Zip Code – get to know those around you; the body of Christ

The idea of creating a list from A-Z of leadership qualities for pastoral ministry originated from Pastor Van Marsceau (Fellowship Bible Church,WV), and was given to the students in the Pastoral Ministry class at Appalachian Bible College. This list was recreated by Jansen Lorch, using the original format, to reflect spiritual disciplines and habits that are applicable for all Christians, both for the new year as well as at any point during the year.


Posted by Matt Postiff January 1, 2020 under Theology 

Here is the annual set of Bible reading schedules that you have become accustomed to seeing here. The dates are adjusted on these to match the beginning of the weeks for 2020. This year, the schedules start on 1/5 at the beginning of the first full week of the year. This way, you have a few days to catch up on last year's reading, or get ahead on this year's reading.

Spiritual growth is correlated to Bible input. So, put more Bible into your mind!

Some other reading plans might catch your interest from prior years, easily adaptable to the coming year:

If you would like another schedule that takes you through the entire Bible in the year, and with some chronological ordering in it, check out this schedule from bibleclassmaterial.com. This is from 2017, but it will work for this coming year just about as well.


Posted by Matt Postiff October 21, 2019 under Theology 

Part 1 can be found here.

Romans 10:3-6 For they [Israel] being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them." But the righteousness that is by faith says…

Once again in this text, we see that faith is set over against works as an opposing principle. The law-zealous Jew did not submit to the righteousness of God by belief. Instead, he pursued the righteousness which supposedly is achieved through the works of the law. There is a righteousness that comes from the works of the law, and there is a righteousness that comes by faith. It should be obvious then that works and faith are opposites. Faith is not a work.

What is concerning about the doctrine that "faith is a work" is this: if taken to its logical conclusion in the context of the gospel, the person who believes that doctrine would never be able to say, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." That would be, on their view, the same as saying, "Do this one particular good work [faith], and you will be saved." But that is anathema because no good work done by a sinner is the meritorious cause of salvation. The only work that procures salvation is the one that Jesus Christ did. The faith-is-a-work ‘gospel’ is so careful to avoid works that it removes the only God-ordained condition of salvation, namely, faith.

This form of the gospel is certainly not guilty of addition; but it is guilty of subtraction. In it, faith cannot even be an instrumental cause or channel of salvation, as it is presented so often in Scripture to be. That subtraction changes the gospel from the faith-emphasis given in Scripture: Mark 1:15; John 9:35, 9:38, 11:26, Acts 5:14, 9:42, 11:17, 11:21, 13:12, 13:48, 16:31, 22:19, 26:18; Romans 4:24, 10:9, 10:17; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Jude 5 (and many others).

The historical, orthodox understanding of the gospel is that faith is an integral part of the initiation of salvation. However one describes it (logically preceding regeneration, logically following regeneration, or even chronologically following regeneration and inevitable), it is an essential part of the human response to gospel. The Reformation cry of "salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone" is gutted and becomes instead "salvation by grace alone in Christ alone without faith-which-is-a-work." Faith, it seems, may come at some point in the regenerate person’s life, or theoretically it may never be expressed at all. Whatever the case, this is not the gospel of Reformation theology, or covenant theology, or dispensational theology. It is an aberration.

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