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

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Re: ? John MacArthur

Hi, Adam....

I can understand your concerns as I once approved of John MacArthur as well until I dug a little deeper into his theology.  His doctrine is that justification and sanctification are both necessary for salvation, which is not the biblical view.  In fact, that is the Papist view:  faith plus obedience = final justification/vindication.  It's also John Piper's teaching.  The Westminster Confession of Faith, however, teaches that salvation is by justification by faith alone.   Although true faith does produce good works, those good works could never withstand the judgment of God in the final judgment.  Sanctification is a process and that process can never merit salvation whatsoever:

ALBEIT that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

Although true and living faith does produce a "credible profession of faith" and the "fruits of faith", good works cannot now nor will they ever contribute one whit towards our justification, which is the sole basis of salvation in the first place.  If we could add anything to the finished work of Christ (John 19:30) then Christ did not pay for all of our sins but we must pay for part of them.  Since even Christians continue to sin (1 John 1:8-10) then it follows that from beginning to end our salvation is rooted and grounded in the objective work of Christ on the cross, not our level of sanctification or obedience or faithfulness.  While I might agree that sanctification is an essential witness to true and living faith, it is not now nor ever will be necessary for our salvation.  Salvation is either by grace or by works.  It  cannot be both.

Which brings me to the point that MacArthur confuses justification (imputed righteousness which is perfect) with sanctification (infused and subjective and imperfect).  An article at Trinity Foundation makes this clear:

MacArthur begins on a promising note:

”Let me say as clearly as possible right now that salvation is by God’s sovereign grace and grace alone. Nothing a lost, degenerate, spiritually dead sinner can do will in any way contribute to salvation. Saving faith, repentance, commitment, and obedience are all divine works, wrought by the Holy Spirit in the heart of everyone who is saved. I have never taught that some pre-salvation works of righteousness are necessary to or part of salvation” (xiii).

The reader should keep in mind that the Roman Church also does not teach that pre-salvation works of righteousness are necessary to or part of salvation. Canon I of the decrees of the Council of Trent says: “If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ: let him be anathema.”

Nor did the Judaizers teach that pre-salvation works of righteousness are necessary to or part of salvation. Paul damned the Judaizers for teaching that post-salvation works of righteousness are necessary for entrance into Heaven. The contention of both the Roman Church and the Judaizers is that one cannot be saved without post-salvation, that is post-regeneration, works of righteousness. The Judaizers taught that one must be circumcised and obey other parts of the Mosaic law; the Roman Church teaches both the necessity and meritoriousness of good works of Christians for salvation. In short, MacArthur’s “clarification” still leaves him among the non-Christians.

By contrast, Biblical teaching, is, in the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith:

”Those whom God effectually calls he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, that act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them.... Faith...is the alone instrument of justification....”

The Biblical teaching and the Protestant position is that neither pre- nor post-regeneration works are either meritorious or necessary for justification. It is the only imputation of Christ’s righteousness by faith that makes a sinner acceptable to God.

MacArthur rejects the Biblical view of justification and adopts the Roman Catholic view: “Many people believe justified means ‘just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned.’ In other words, God says, ‘I count you righteous even though you’re really not.’ It is true that God makes that declaration, but there is also a reality of righteousness. We are not only declared righteous; we are made righteous”(Justification by Faith, 1988, 98). This making righteous is accomplished by infusing Christ’s righteousness into Christians: “God actually credits righteousness to our account. He imputes righteousness to us; he infuses divine life into us. He regenerates and sanctifies us. He makes the unholy holy, and therefore declares that we are righteous.... There is a reality--God gives us righteousness, and thus he can declare that we are righteous” (Justification, 121). MacArthur writes: “The believing sinner is justified by righteousness infused into him” (Justification, 122).

MacArthur confuses justification, regeneration, and sanctification:

”The word justification is a technical term that refers to our legal standing before God: We have been declared to be just because of our faith. [This is not the Biblical or Protestant view.] But the word [justification] also embraces a radical and real transformation. Our moral character has been altered eternally through regeneration. Justification by faith means that God has both declared us righteous and made us righteous. We have been regenerated - made new by faith.... Justification is not only a state of being righteous; it is actual regeneration. We are made righteous by faith” (Justification, 132).

This, of course, is the official teaching of the Roman Church. Canon XI of the Council of Trent states: “If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace whereby we are justified is only the favor of God: let him be anathema.” Canon XII states: “If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified: Let him be anathema.”

MacArthur’s view of justification is Rome’s; it is opposed to the Protestant position as expressed by the Westminster Confession of Faith. That Confession quite clearly teaches that sinners are justified “not by infusing righteousness into them...[nor] for anything wrought in them”; that is, the Confession rejects MacArthur’s view.

From:  The Gospel According to John MacArthur.

The ordo salutis is from beginning to end a work of God's grace and begins with unconditional election.  Sanctification is a small part of the ordo and not the whole.  Lest we forget, Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.  (Hebrews 12:2).
Sincerely in Christ,


On 9/20/2012 11:46 AM, Adam Cummings wrote:
I came across your blog regarding the charismatic movement (a post in 2007) and was excited until I saw you profess such a godly man as MacArthur in the "heresy section" because he teaches that Jesus must be your Lord.  Men like Zane Hodges claim, because of the denial of Lordship Salvation, that you can live like the devil and still  be saved.  That, sir, is heresy. MacArthur teaches Lordship Salvation because of his desire that Christians produce fruit and live for Christ as they are commanded by Christ to do. He does not teach a works salvation, nor does he teach perfection (which is not a result of the lordship teaching at all, the logic there definitely failing).

He clearly teaches that works flow from salvation, and he would die on that hill.

You place him in the "heretic" corner because of a characteristic you place on him that he himself does not claim, and thus you discredit--through your words--a great man of God.  I'm sure MacArthur would say he doesn't care, since the gospel is being preached.  But, I find it a little sad.

I wish you the best, and I stand with you with your Calvinist beliefs (our God is sovereign) and, for the most part, your cessationist convictions.


Adam Michael Cummings

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. Visit 1662 Book of Common Prayer: Daily Prayer and Reasonable Christian Blog


Charles E Whisnant said...

Having followed the the teaching of MacArthur now for over 40 years, you are so wrong. All quotes are taken out of context. Goodness.

Charlie J. Ray said...

You are entitled to your "opinion". I have listened to Mac for years, too. But in digging deeper I found that his teaching not only does not line up with Scripture but it does not line up with the Reformed confessional standards either. As John Robbins pointed out in the article from the Trinity Foundation, Mac's view has more in common with Rome than with the Scriptural teaching of justification by faith alone plus nothing.

Sanctification is not now nor will it ever be the basis for salvation since it is imperfect and subjective in this life. Sanctification is infused while justifiication is absolutely objective and a legal declaration. It is finished.

Anonymous said...

I have responded to you on my blog: www.thecalvinistcaroller.blogspot.com. If you will publish my email without permission, at least allow this link to stay in the comments section.

Mr Whisnant is correct. MacArthur is being severely taken out of context. Nevertheless, your words against his ministry are powerless, because MacArthur's ministry is actually not his at all... it is the Lord using this man to teach and preach His Word honestly and thoroughly.

By the way, I have noticed you linked to Ligonier Ministries. So, surely you have some respect for R.C. Sproul? As I have stated in my emails, he is great friends with John MacArthur. I have a feeling as to what he may say to you should you tell him that MacArthur is a Lordship heretic.

Your teachings of cheap grace and Calvinism do not go hand in hand at all, and I hope you come to see that some day.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I do read other Reformed teachers but R.C. Sproul, Sr. and Jr. both have areas where I would say they are heterodox. That being said, just because so and so is friends with Reformed celebrity X is no reason to accept their teaching. Doctrine is to be judged by Scripture first and by the Reformed standards secondarily. MacArthur fails on both counts. The book from which Dr. Robbins quotes has been revised since then and many of the same errors remain.

Charlie J. Ray said...

BTW, there is clearly a disclaimer in the profile section of my blog that says "all e-mails to me are considered public and may be posted on the blog at the owner's discretion" or something to that effect:)

I don't argue for the sake of arguing. I stand for the truth and the truth is to be judged by Scripture, not by your favorite celebrity preacher. Sola Scriptura!

Charlie J. Ray said...

Also, grace is not cheap. It was purchased at the cost of the precious blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What cheapens the price of our sacrifice is when hypocrites like yourself pretend that your works have contributed something to your justification in the final judgment.

"Not everyone who says to Me,`Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 "Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 "And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJ)

Charlie J. Ray said...

What is especially amusing is the fact that you have completely ignored the 39 Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Homilies, which constitute the Reformed Anglican doctrinal standards. Articles 9-18 deal with both justification and sanctification.

In particular you ought to know that none of your good works can withstand God's judgment:

XII. Of Good Works.
ALBEIT that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement,, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

If you were truly a Calvinist you would know this. But your remarks only reveal that you are an Arminian who thinks the sacrifice of Christ and His precious blood is "cheap". If you could merit salvation in some way by your sanctification then Christ died in vain. (Galatians 3:10)

Charlie J. Ray said...

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

Charlie J. Ray said...

One of the reasons the Gospel has disappeared from conservative Baptist and Presbyterian churches is the failure, even refusal, of their teachers to take their ideas from Scripture. One cannot properly teach or effectively defend the central Biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone unless one knows what both faith and justification are. R. C. Sproul has had enormous influence in Reformed circles, and unfortunately he is an example of the serious confusion about saving faith found in conservative churches. His ministry, Ligonier Ministries, has promoted some of the spokesmen of the Neolegalist movement in its publications and conferences. His son, R. C. Sproul, Jr., is affiliated with Douglas Wilson's Neolegalist denom-ination, the Confederation of Reformed and Evangelical Churches. Sproul's mentor, John Gerstner, was a lifelong disciple of Thomas Aquinas, the official philosopher of the Roman Catholic Church, and Sproul is as well. (In May 2001 The Trinity Review published an essay refuting Dr. Gerstner's ludicrous claim, published in Tabletalk maga-zine, that Thomas Aquinas was a Protestant.) But what many do not understand is that the theology of all these men has been corrupted by their Roman Catholic philosophy.

R.C. Sproul on Saving Faith

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks for the free publicity, though:)

Charlie J. Ray said...

If Mac had merely said, "Good works flow from justification by faith alone," it wouldn't be an issue. But that's not what he said. He said that justification "changes" the believer and "makes" them righteous. That is a subjective view of righteousness and confuses "infused" righteousness or sanctification with "justification", which is always and forever a legal declaration and an imputed righteousness. The fact that you don't know this only proves that you are yet unconverted yourself. Sola Gratia! Sola Fide!

Charlie J. Ray said...

To see the ramblings of Adam click here:

The Calvinist Caroller: Reasonable Christian Blog: A Quick Response

Charlie J. Ray said...

Adam said, "Your teachings of cheap grace and Calvinism do not go hand in hand at all, and I hope you come to see that some day."

And I would hope that you stop relying on self-righteousness and believe that only the righteousness of Christ outside of you can make you right with God. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:10). Only those clothed in the righteousness of Christ will be saved. (Romans 10:1-4)

"But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 "So he said to him,`Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 "Then the king said to the servants,`Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:11-14 NKJ)

Charles E Whisnant said...

I truly hope I am not a blockhead (never said that before) I am sure you seem to be honest about your thinking about preachers that you don't agree with. And that is okay. Every preacher is going to have those who disagree with his teaching, his doctrine. But I would say to disagree with a preacher on how he views salvation would be serious indeed.

I fully believe that MacArthur's position on the means whereby a person is saved is correct. If we get the means wrong then our eternal life is at state.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I absolutely agree. If MacArthur is wrong both you and Mac are lost. Why? Because you seem to agree that good works are necessary for justification in the final judgment. I guess the thief on the cross didn't make it?

I guess the workers in the field who came in at the last hour didn't make Jesus Lord in time. And I guess the elder brother was right. The prodigal son shouldn't have been accepted back with a party.

Oh, yes, and even Jesus was wrong when He said, When you've done all you can do you have merely done your duty. You haven't done anything above and beyond God's law.

Yes, I agree. Eternity hangs in the balance and those who trust in their own works are no better than papists.

I guess you think the Arminians and the Papists are just going to heaven a different route?

Charlie J. Ray said...

The last I checked the Bible is the final authority, not your local Baptist "Pope".

But He answered and said, "It is written,`Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4 NKJ)

"If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), (John 10:35 NKJ)

Charles E Whisnant said...

Can a Baptist be really a Reformer? I had never heard of a Reformed Anglican preacher before, so maybe the notion that a Baptist can understands might be called into question. Nevertheless, doctrine should come from Scripture no matter what brand we are. I am not against all the Creeds they do help explain scripture.

MacArthur does say that our position in Christ is perfect and our practice is an on going work in us by the Spirit. But that the work of sanctification will be working in us.

Too many Baptist preachers preach salvation without sanctification been necessary as a result of being born again.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I preach sanctification. If you read Article 8 it clearly says that good works are necessary as a sign of a "lively" faith. That's KJV English for "living faith". But God needs no evidence to know His own. He appointed them for salvation before they were born and before they did good or evil. (Romans 9:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Ephesians 1:4-5).

The problem with MacArthur is not that he believes in sanctification. The problem is that he confuses imputed righteousness by faith alone with the imperfect "righteousness" of progressive sanctification. The only basis for salvation that counts toward the day of judgment before God is the imputed righteousness of Christ. PERIOD. Our profession of faith is before men and is necessary to become members of the church and to avoid church discipline. (James 2:18; James 3:18).

As a Reformed Anglican I am familiar with the dissimulation of false teachers. In the 19th century the Anglo-Catholics came into the Anglican Communion teaching Papist idolatry and confusing justification with sanctification just as MacArthur does.

While it is true that without holiness no man will see the Lord, it is also true that without faith is it impossible to please God. A faith that trusts in works is not saving faith. It's as simple as that. (Hebrews 11:6; 12:14-15).

God's grace is greater than ALL our sins. (Romans 5:20).

Charlie J. Ray said...

That was supposed to be Article 12

Charlie J. Ray said...

I refer you also to Charles Hodge: Sanctification.

Charlie J. Ray said...

In answer to your question about Baptists being "Reformed" the answer is a resounding, "No!" Can there be "calvinistic" Baptists? Yes. But even solid particular and calvinistic Baptists are confused on many issues including covenant theology and the sacraments.

Most solid calvinistic Baptists adhere to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith as Charles Spurgeon did. John Gill and A.W. Pink were solid expositors of the doctrine of absolute predestination. But MacArthur, because of his dispensationalist background, thinks the Old Testament saints were saved by works of the law, which the Reformed position flatly denies.

Charlie J. Ray said...

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree "), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:10-14 NKJ)
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20 NKJ)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Article 7

Article VII
Of the Old Testament

The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.

The short answer is I'm not a Baptist because I disagree with the blatant antinomianism of traditional Baptists. And the other reason I'm not a Baptist is that Baptists like MacArthur in effect go back too far in the other direction and preach Arminianism and salvation by works. Both are false. If you want to read solid calvinistic Baptists read Spurgeon or John Gill or A. W. Pink.

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