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 Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Reformed Perfectionism?

Recently I debated several followers of John Piper in Facebook who seem to think that Christians after conversion have an inherent power in and of themselves to overcome sin and to sanctify themselves by doing good works. This is why Piper's theology is a mix of heterodoxy. Piper's charismatic theology is inherently Arminian since it, like the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement in general, teaches that Christians have the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit to give them the "victory" over sinful habits. This is clearly a synergistic view of sanctification and not the biblical view or the Reformed view. While it is true that God can and does grant us sanctification and growth in holiness, it is not true that we have any inherent power to do so--not even a second blessing or second work of grace. The Scriptures hold us accountable for our sinful choices but only God can grant us the grace to grow in sanctification. If God so chooses He can and does humble us by allowing us to fall from grace for a time just to show us that we do not keep ourselves saved, much less sanctified! Salvation is all a gift of God from beginning to end and those who brag about how holy and obedient they are simply prove that they think they deserve God's blessing because they are obedient. Spiritual pride in one's level of sanctification is sure proof that the proud person is sinful and not as sanctified as he or she thinks they are.

In fact the Bible clearly says that even the elect who have been regenerated and converted have a corrupt nature that remains along with the new nature. The Westminster divines saw this clearly and included this question in the Westminster Larger Catechism:

78. Whence ariseth the imperfection of sanctification in believers?

Answer: The imperfection of sanctification in believers ariseth from the remnants of sin abiding in every part of them, and the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit; whereby they are often foiled with temptations, and fall into many sins,1 are hindered in all their spiritual services,2 and their best works are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God.3

See also: WCF 13.2

See also: WCF 16.5


1 Rom. 7:18,23; Mark 14:66 to end; Gal. 2:11,12

2 Heb. 12:1

3 Isa. 64:6; Exod. 28:38

WCF 16:5. Of Good Works.

We cannot, by our best works, merit pardon of sin, or eternal life, at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them, we can neither profit nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins;1 but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants;2 and because, as they are good, they proceed from His Spirit;3 and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.4

See also: WLC 78


1 Rom. 3:20; Rom. 4:2,4,6; Eph. 2:8,9; Tit. 3:5,6,7; Rom. 8:18; Ps. 16:2; Job. 22:2,3; Job 35:7,8.

2 Luke 17:10.

3 Gal. 5:22,23.

4 Isa. 64:6; Gal. 5:17; Rom. 7:15,18; Ps. 143:2; Ps. 130:3.

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