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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Friday, January 27, 2012

Could Jesus Have Sinned? by R.C. Sproul | Ligonier Ministries Blog

[Addendum:  I no longer believe that Dr. Gordon H. Clark committed the Nestorian error.  He simply said that the human person of Christ and the divine Person of the Logos were united in the man Christ Jesus.  Dr. Clark's view is simply a further refining of the Definition of Chalcedon, 451 A.D.]

Like most semi-Arminians R.C. Sproul makes numerous capitulations to Arminianism, like the three points of common grace, a semi-Amyraldian view of the atonement (i.e. Christ died to purchase common grace for the reprobates and the free offer to the reprobates), and the infralapsarian view of God's decrees (as if God did not plan anything until after He had logically considered the results of the Fall of Adam?). Now we find that Sproul agrees with the Pentecostals that Jesus is not fully divine, but simply avoids sinning by virtue of the fact that He is filled with the Spirit beyond measure. Logically speaking, either way, Jesus has an advantage that we do not enjoy, since "we" do not have the Spirit beyond measure. So the purpose of denying the impeccability of Christ is rendered moot.

The fact is, if we say that Jesus could have sinned in His human nature, and if we concede that the divine nature could not sin, we have an irrational paradox that in effect denies the complete deity of Jesus Christ. This is the same sort of error committed by the otherwise solid Gordon H. Clark when Clark proposed the Nestorian theory of the incarnation.  [Although Clark would never say Christ could sin since Clark's view is that predestination is absolute]. To say that Jesus could have sinned in His human nature would mean that it would be possible to separate the human nature from the divine nature when the two are perfectly united in the one Person of Jesus Christ. It would mean that God's decrees are tentative and that divine predestination is not true! The idea that Christ "could have sinned" is not the Reformed view of the incarnation, mission, sinless life, and the atonement on the cross.  It would mean that these doctrines were all contingencies and that Christ's mission "could have failed"! In short, the idea of Christ being peccable or able to sin is in essence the Arminian or semi-pelagian view, not the Calvinist or Reformed view.

In fact, it was not Luther's view either! Luther plainly said that absolutely nothing happens by contingency and that there is no such thing as libertarian free will--not even in Adam prior to the fall! The Fall was certain to happen because God decreed it to be so. Luther says:

Sect. 9.—THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, "Free-will" is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert "Free-will," must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them. But, however, before I establish this point by any arguments of my own, and by the authority of Scripture, I will first set it forth in your words.

Are you not then the person, friend Erasmus, who just now asserted, that God is by nature just, and by nature most merciful? If this be true, does it not follow that He is immutably just and merciful? That, as His nature is not changed to all eternity, so neither His justice nor His mercy? And what is said concerning His justice and His mercy, must be said also concerning His knowledge, His wisdom, His goodness, His will, and His other Attributes. If therefore these things are asserted religiously, piously, and wholesomely concerning God, as you say yourself, what has come to you, that, contrary to your own self, you now assert, that it is irreligious, curious, and vain, to say, that God foreknows of necessity? You openly declare that the immutable will of God is to be known, but you forbid the knowledge of His immutable prescience. Do you believe that He foreknows against His will, or that He wills in ignorance? If then, He foreknows, willing, His will is eternal and immovable, because His nature is so: and, if He wills, foreknowing, His knowledge is eternal and immovable, because His nature is so.

From which it follows unalterably, that all things which we do, although they may appear to us to be done mutably and contingently, and even may be done thus contingently by us, are yet, in reality, done necessarily and immutably, with respect to the will of God. For the will of God is effective and cannot be hindered; because the very power of God is natural to Him, and His wisdom is such that He cannot be deceived. And as His will cannot be hindered, the work itself cannot be hindered from being done in the place, at the time, in the measure, and by whom He foresees and wills.
The Sovereignty of God: The Bondage of the Will


It seems to me that R. C. Sproul's commitment to reason above Scripture via the "classical" apologetics of Thomas Aquinas has prejudiced him against the plain teaching of Scripture in regards to both the absolute deity of Jesus Christ and the absolute predestination of God and His decrees.

"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-- 23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; (Acts 2:22-23 NKJ)

"For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. (Acts 4:27-28 NKJ)

"And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" (Luke 22:22 NKJ)

Logically speaking if it were possible for Jesus to sin--even in His human nature--it would mean that it is possible for God to not know what the future holds. If it were possible for Jesus to sin in His human nature, then it logically follows that it would be possible for Jesus to become less than fully God, since it is impossible for God to sin. Since it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18), it follows that it would be impossible for Jesus to fail to keep God's promise to save the elect (Genesis 3:15; Matthew 1:21). It is truly sad to see someone who claims to be Reformed teaching obviously Arminian doctrines like the peccability of Jesus Christ while He was on earth.

Even J. I. Packer does not make that sort of mistake:


Jesus, being divine, was impeccable (could not sin), but this does not mean he could not be tempted. Satan tempted him to disobey the Father by self-gratification, self-display, and self-aggrandizement (Matt. 4:1-11), and the temptation to retreat from the cross was constant (Luke 22:28, where the Greek for “trials” can be translated “temptations”; Matt. 16:23; and Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane). Being human, Jesus could not conquer temptation without a struggle, but being divine it was his nature to do his Father’s will (John 5:19, 30), and therefore to resist and fight temptation until he had overcome it. From Gethsemane we may infer that his struggles were sometimes more acute and agonizing than any we ever know. The happy end-result is that “because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18).


Packer, J. I. (1995). Concise theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.

Furthermore, the suggestion that Jesus could have sinned ignores the fact that Jesus had an advantage that Adam did not have prior to the Fall. Jesus was and is fully God, and He additionally had the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:34; John 1:1, 14, 18; Colossians 1:19, 20; Colossians 2:9). Although Jesus suffered in every point like we do, He never sinned and in fact it was destined to be so! (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). It was never possible that God would fail to keep His promise to save His elect. Jesus is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8 NKJV).

To read R. C. Sproul's remarks click here: Could Jesus Have Sinned? by R.C. Sproul | Ligonier Ministries Blog


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