I'd like to respond to a couple things Scott and Kevin recently wrote.

First for Scott:

<<I'm curious, and am not sure I'm understanding your message correctly, so please set me straight if I'm misinterpreting your remarks - but it appears that you are saying that it is impossible for one to be saved and still believe in universal atonement. I've never read any scripture that would lead me to believe that upon being saved, one is imparted with an exhaustive and accurate understanding of all the doctrines of God - quite the opposite, in fact.>>

Wow, Scott - you make quite a leap from "all universal atonement advocates are unsaved" (which we at OTC believe) to "upon being saved, one is imparted with an exhaustive and accurate understanding of all the doctrines of God" (which we at OTC do not believe)!! Why is it that so many tolerant Calvinists make such a leap? Is it because they really don't want to deal with the real issue? We're not talking about ALL doctrines; we're talking about a particular doctrine (the atonement), which is at the very heart of the gospel. If someone denies THE atonement, he denies the gospel. Please see the article "Gospel Atonement" at www.outsidethecamp.org/gospatone.htm .

More Scott:

<<It's a pretty big leap to go from saying somebody is in error to saying that they are damned, and I don't think whether or not someone acknowledges limited atonement qualifies as a valid litmus test for making that judgment.>>

First of all, we're not saying that they are damned. We are saying that they are currently unregenerate. So don't make that leap. An unregenerate person could be among the elect, so he is not necessarily damned. But one's view of the atonement IS a valid litmus test to judge whether or not someone believes the gospel. Universal atonement advocates believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception. Thus, they do NOT believe that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. Instead, they believe that it is the effort of the SINNER that makes the difference. This is the damnable false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner.

Now to Kevin:

<<What did the thief on the cross say? "Lord, I believe" Jesus response? "Today you will be with me in paradise." It's pretty certain that the thief did not have a fully developed sense of soteriolgy. He simply cast himself on the Savior in faith.>>

Please see "The Thief on the Cross" at www.outsidethecamp.org/letters72(1).htm . Yes, the thief did cast himself on the Savior in faith. True enough. But what is the Savior? What is faith? The thief BELIEVED in the PERSON and WORK of Jesus Christ, just as all believers believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

More Kevin:

<<You will never find a stauncher advocate of grace than me. And as one who was raised with very Arminian beliefs, I can say that they do come about as close to denying grace as you can...only they honestly do not see it that way. The are more victims of fuzzy thinkging that perverting the Gospel. Saying you must believe in Christ PLUS have a full, complete, mature, and Reformed theology in order to be saved is, in itself, a denial of grace. Scary thought, isn't it?>>

Here again is a huge leap. "Full, complete, mature, and Reformed theology"???? Wow. We're talking about ONE ESSENTIAL DOCTRINE here -- the ATONEMENT. If you get the ATONEMENT wrong, you have the GOSPEL wrong.

And I see the not-to-subtle accusation that we believe in works salvation, since we require belief in Christ PLUS something else. For a refutation to this, please see "Doctrinal Regeneration" at www.outsidethecamp.org/doctregen.htm and "Letter to Credenda/Agenda" at www.outsidethecamp.org/credenda.htm . Let me make it very clear again: there are NO prerequisites or conditions to salvation. NONE! Belief in any doctrines is NOT something one must do IN ORDER TO be saved. So your accusation is absolutely false. Yet once God saves a person, He CAUSES that person to believe in certain essential gospel doctrines regarding the PERSON and WORK of Jesus Christ. This belief is immediate and essential FRUIT, not a PREREQUISITE. Is that clear enough? Salvation is conditioned on the work of Christ alone. It is not conditioned on belief. Interestingly, it seems that Kevin believes that "belief in Christ" is a prerequisite to salvation. Is that so?

The truth is that "belief in Christ" is an immediate and essential FRUIT of salvation. Yet some (like on this list) believe that someone can "believe in Christ" and also believe that Christ died for everyone without exception. They will say that universal atonement advocates believe the same gospel they do. This shows that they do not believe the gospel themselves. They don't know what the gospel is.

I encourage all on this list to read "Gospel Atonement" at www.outsidethecamp.org/gospatone.htm . It is a life-and-death matter. And if you get the urge to say that we're adding conditions to salvation, please read the other articles mentioned above. And if you say, "It's not up to us to judge someone's heart," please read "Righteous Judgment" at www.outsidethecamp.org/rightjudg.htm .

I hope at least some of you will take this seriously. I pray that God will use His truth in the salvation of His people.

To God alone be the glory,

Marc D. Carpenter

www.outsidethecamp.org


Kevin wrote (not to me):

> I think your most valid point, and what
> I was clumsily trying to point out, was that the heart of the
> gospel is the question. What MUST we believe to be saved? This is
> a debate the church has had for centuries.


First of all, it must be stated that belief is NOT a prerequisite to salvation.

> The irony, of course,
> is that the Bible nowhere anwers that question. Strange isn't it?
>
> John Frame uses a great analogy on the subject: consider time. We
> all have an understanding of what it is and we talk about it good
> deal. Ask someone to define it however and it's impossible to do
> so. Time is an abstract and yet we live with the tension of
> dealing with an abstract in concrete terms daily. "The Gospel" is
> one of those things. The Bible mentions it a lot but doesn't
> really define it. The closest defintion is Paul's where he
> equates it to the death and resurrection of Christ. From that
> logically flows the question of "what" we should believe about
> those things. Here the Bible is silent.


Wow. Something THAT important, a LIFE AND DEATH matter, and the Bible is SILENT? Jesus told the disciples to preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15), and those who believe THE GOSPEL will be saved, and those who do not believe THE GOSPEL will be damned (Mark 16:16). Wow -- so something Jesus Christ said was a matter of salvation and damnation God never defines? What an incredibly cruel god you have. He says you must believe something and then never tells you what it is. So, in this scheme, you must conclude one of three things: (1) Everyone will be damned, since no one knows what the gospel is, or (2) God secretly, mystically reveals to some what the gospel is through direct revelation, or (3) everyone can define what the gospel is to himself, and as long as he believes the gospel as he defines it, he will be saved. Most who believe in this scheme are in the #3 category. They say that since the gospel is not really defined anywhere in the Bible, then it's all relative. There's no real standard as to what the gospel is, so as long as people do their best and are sincere and worship some kind of deity the best way they know how, then everything is okay with their soul. They can be ignorant of the person and work of Christ and be saved, because, after all, the gospel isn't really defined anywhere, so who are we to judge who is saved and who is lost? It's all relative. So those who've never heard of Jesus Christ are saved as long as they worship a deity they believe created everything. They can pray to images of man and beast, and as long as they're sincere, then that is the gospel to them.

But what does God's Word say? "Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, escaped ones of the nations; the ones who set up the wood of their carved image, and the ones who pray to a god who cannot save; they know nothing" (Isaiah 45:20). Why, how judgmental! Those pagans setting up the wood of their carved image and who pray to it, they're doing the best with what they have! That's their gospel! Since the gospel isn't defined in the Bible, why can't this be their gospel? Yet God says THEY KNOW NOTHING! Well, hey, this whole thing has to do with KNOWLEDGE, doesn't it? What a concept! The KJV says that THEY HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE! But wait a minute! Why does knowledge matter? After all, since the gospel isn't defined, then these pagans' knowledge is just as legitimate as any Christian's knowledge. Neither should be damned, since everyone defines the gospel as he sees fit. (Of course, I'm speaking as people like Kevin would speak.)

But what do these pagans pray to? A god who CANNOT SAVE. Ah, we have a clue as to the KNOWLEDGE that they're missing. They're missing a knowledge of a SAVING GOD. This must have something to do with the gospel. Now look at verse 20 of Isaiah 45: "... and there [is] no God other than Me; a just God and a Savior; [there is] none except Me." Ah! These pagans were ignorant of the fact that the true God is both a JUST God and a SAVIOR. We're getting somewhere. We're actually getting to -- gulp -- actually DEFINING the gospel!

Let's check out Romans 1:16-17. It says that the gospel is the POWER OF GOD TO SALVATION to everyone believing. Again, we see the IMPORTANCE of the gospel! It's a matter of life and death! Kevin and his ilk would say that this POWER OF GOD TO SALVATION is not defined! The most important thing in the Bible isn't defined! Wow!

So what do we find in the gospel? Verse 17 gives us the answer: "for in it (THE GOSPEL) the righteousness of God is revealed." Now, if the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel, and those who do not believe the gospel are lost, then we'd better know what the righteousness of God is. Because if we don't know what the righteousness of God is, we don't know the gospel. Kevin would say that the righteousness of God that is revealed in the gospel is not defined. Okay, let's look at Romans 10:3: "For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to the righteousness of God." Do you see that? Those who are ignorant of the righteousness of God - that is, those who don't know what the righteousness of God is - are seeking to establish their own righteousness and do not submit to the righteousness of God! They're lost! So this RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD is the key element of the gospel! If there's no knowledge of the righteousness of God, there's no belief of the gospel. If there's no belief of the gospel, there's no salvation. That's serious stuff here, isn't it? We'd better know what the righteousness of God is, or else we're lost!

Now Kevin would say that God has left us in the dark as to what the righteousness of God is. Thus, according to this scheme, everyone can define it the way he wants to. However, contrary to the schemes of men, God clearly reveals what His righteousness is that is revealed in the gospel in His Word. Even as Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit introduces the gospel in chapter 1 of Romans as the revelation of the righteousness of God, he goes on to tell us what the righteousness of God is. Look at Romans 3:9-24: "What then? Do we excel? Not at all! For we have charged both Jews and Greeks before, all [with] being under sin; according as it has been written, '[There is] not a righteous [one], not even one!' '[There is] not [one] understanding; [there is] not [one] seeking God.' All turned away, [they] became worthless together, not [one is] doing goodness, not so much as one!' 'Their throat [is] a tomb being opened;' 'they used deceit with their tongues; [the] poison of asps [is] under their lips; whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet [are] swift to shed blood; ruin and misery [are] in their way; and they did not know a way of peace; there is no fear of God before their eyes.' But we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those within the Law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world be under judgment to God. Because by works of Law not one of all flesh will be justified before Him, for through Law [is] full knowledge of sin. But now a righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Law, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ toward all and upon all those believing; for there is no difference, for all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus."

First, we see that every human being is unrighteous by nature; there is no difference between the pagan, immoral Gentiles and the religious, moral Jews. He had pointed this out in the previous chapters. He shows in verse 20 that righteousness does not even come from one's best efforts to keep the law. Then, in verses 21 and following, we see the righteousness of God revealed. In verse 21, we see that the righteousness of God is revealed apart from the law. This means that the righteousness of God has NOTHING TO DO with our law-keeping. It has NOTHING TO DO with our attempts at obedience and service.

So what does this righteousness have to do with? Look at verses 22 through 26: "even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ toward all and upon all those believing; for there is no difference, for all sinned and fall short of the glory of God being justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth [as] a propitiation through faith in His blood, as a demonstration of His righteousness through the passing over of the sins that had taken place before, in the forbearance of God, for a demonstration of His righteousness in the present time, for His being just and justifying the [one] that [is] of the faith of Jesus."

First, the righteousness of God is THROUGH the FAITH, or actually, the FAITHFULNESS, of Jesus Christ. The righteousness of God has to do with Christ's FAITHFULNESS. Faithfulness to do what? Verses 24 and 25 - "being JUSTIFIED freely by His grace through the REDEMPTION in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a PROPITIATION through faith in his blood." Jesus accomplished REDEMPTION, JUSTIFICATION, and PROPITIATION. And look at the next words in verse 25: "for a showing forth of His RIGHTEOUSNESS." We're on the right track here! Justification, Redemption, and Propitiation show forth the righteousness of God. I'd like to save JUSTIFICATION for last, because it is talked about further in verse 26.

Let's first talk about PROPITIATION. To propitiate means to appease or to pacify. Christ appeased or pacified God's wrath when the sins of His people were imputed to Jesus Christ, when Jesus Christ became sin for His people, and He incurred the judgment for that sin. There is no fellowship with God when there is sin. Why is that? It is because God is RIGHTEOUS. RIGHTEOUSNESS is the opposite of SIN. So in order for God to fellowship with sinners, the sin of those sinners MUST BE PUNISHED in a substitute who is a man who is totally without sin. The only one who qualifies for that is Jesus Christ. Christ took on the sins of His people, and God punished Christ for those sins, and God was pacified. God was at peace, not at war.

The next is REDEMPTION. To redeem means to pay the price for a possession so as to rescue or deliver that possession. Ransom is another word that is used. Christ's blood paid the price for His people's sins and bought them as his very own. What did His people do to make themselves into God's own possession? Absolutely nothing. It is CHRIST ALONE who paid the price. We had nothing to pay. Nothing that we ever did or were enabled to do would pay the price. It is only through the blood of Christ.

Now let's talk about JUSTIFICATION. Verse 26 says, "For the showing forth of His righteousness in the present time" - there's the mention of the righteousness of God again. How does God show forth His righteousness? Let's read on: "for His being just and justifying the one that is of the faith of Jesus." Here he talks about JUSTIFICATION. But if you notice, he doesn't just talk about justification of His people. He talks about His own JUSTICE. God is a JUST God. This means that He is faithful to BLESS those who are righteous and CURSE those who are wicked. His justice demands that all who are not righteous MUST be punished. Now to JUSTIFY someone means to declare that the person is RIGHTEOUS, NOT GUILTY. But we read further up in chapter 3 that there's NO ONE who is righteous! We read that no one will be justified by his best efforts to keep the law! So how can it be true that God declares some to be RIGHTEOUS who have no RIGHTEOUSNESS in themselves? It can only be through the perfect righteousness of a substitute! And that substitute is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. He obeyed the law perfectly for his entire life.

So how does God declare US to be righteous, when it is only Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life? The answer is in Chapter 4. Paul first shows that Abraham could not have been justified by his works. He says that justification is not by works; instead, God JUSTIFIES the UNGODLY. And how does God justify the ungodly? The Holy Spirit through Paul goes to the Psalms for the answer. Look at verses 6-8: "Even as also David says of the blessedness of the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 'Blessed [are those] whose lawlessnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed [the] man to whom [the] Lord will in no way charge sin.'"

What does it mean that God COUNTS righteousness apart from works? It means that God justifies the ungodly based on a righteousness that is COUNTED to him. Another word for this is IMPUTED. It means LEGALLY CHARGED TO THE ACCOUNT OF. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and was perfectly obedient, even unto death. This righteousness of Christ is IMPUTED to, or COUNTED to, or CHARGED to God's people. Even though God's people are not righteous in their own character and conduct, they are COUNTED righteous because the righteousness of Christ is IMPUTED to them.

We can see how God remains JUST to JUSTIFY those who are not righteous in and of themselves. What does this remind you of? The Isaiah 45 passage that says that God is a JUST God and a SAVIOR! It's all coming together!

How is God both a JUST God AND a Savior? Because the sins of God's people were imputed to Christ, and Christ bore the punishment that our sins deserved, and because the righteousness of Christ is imputed to God's people, and God declares His people righteous. Two imputations - sin imputed to Christ, and righteousness imputed to God's people. As Paul said way back in Romans 1, the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel. The gospel means "good news." What is this good news that reveals the righteousness of God? It is the good news that God saves His people based on these two imputations! When the sins of God's people were imputed to Christ, Christ endured the wrath of God for those sins and paid the price in full. When the righteousness of Christ is imputed to His people, God declares His people not guilty. This is good news! This is the righteousness of God that is revealed in the gospel!

So, contrary to Kevin and his relativist friends, the gospel is clearly defined in the Bible! It is the good news of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone!

All who do not believe this gospel are unsaved. All who believe this gospel are saved.

All who believe this gospel believe that it is the work of Jesus Christ alone that makes the only difference between salvation and damnation, since they believe that salvation is conditioned on the work of Christ alone. Where does that put the universal atonement advocates? Do they believe that it is the work of Jesus Christ alone that makes the only difference between salvation and damnation? Do they believe the gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Christ alone? Well, they believe that Jesus Christ's blood atoned for everyone without exception. Thus, they do not believe that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. They do not believe the gospel.

Now people like Kevin and all his Calvinist friends will object to this. Of course they will. They have to. And they have to find an explanation as to why they object to this. One of the explanations is that, since the gospel is not defined in the Bible, then universal atonement advocates, although they are in error, do not necessarily believe a false gospel. After all, they define the gospel according to what they think, and this is just as legitimate as anyone else's definition. It doesn't matter if their gospel doesn't show God to be both just and justifier, a just God and a Savior. As long as they are zealous and moral and sincere and committed to their beliefs, who are we to say they don't believe the gospel, since the gospel isn't defined in the Bible? They wouldn't apply Romans 10:1-4 to the universal atonement advocates, because who are we to say that they are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel, since no one really knows what the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel really is?

Well, we come to a problem here. The apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, judged certain people to be lost because they were ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel (Romans 10:1-4). Oops, Kevin. Kinda blows your theory to bits. Paul even said that since they were ignorant of the righteousness of God, they were going about to establish a righteousness of their own and were not submitted to the righteousness of God. Makes perfect sense. Quite good logic, wouldn't you say? If you believe that some kind of righteousness recommends you to God, and you are IGNORANT of the only true righteousness that recommends you to God (the work of Jesus Christ), then you MUST be going about trying to establish your OWN righteousness. And since you can't be submitted to what you don't know, then if they don't KNOW about the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel, they can't be SUBMITTED to it.

Those who believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception are IGNORANT of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel and are thus going about to establish their OWN righteousness and are NOT SUBMITTED to the righteousness of God. Thus, since they do not believe the gospel, they are rightly judged to be unregenerate.

So go ahead, all you Calvinists, defend the universal atonement advocates (even though you profess a disdain for the doctrine and profess to love the doctrine of efficacious atonement). It just shows that you, too, believe the gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner and are going about to establish your own righteousness.

Kevin wrote:

<<I call them legalists for such they are (and Scott, evidently agrees. See his last post.). What is a legalist? A legalist is anyone who adds ANYTHING to grace in order to merit favor with God. They have done just that. What is that addition? It is, in their own words, strict subscription to their "Christian Confession," especially as it pertains to their own twisted views on LA and what constitutes the gospel.>>

This is just blatant slander. We do not add a strict subscription to the Christian Confession of Faith to grace in order to merit favor with God. Favor with God is merited through the work of Jesus Christ alone. It it not merited through any subscription to anything, any belief in anything, any doctrinal position, any creed or confession. Am I making myself clear? If not, please see www.outsidethecamp.org/doctregen.htm and www.outsidethecamp.org/credenda.htm .

Call us what you want. We've heard it all before. We rejoice to be slandered for Christ and His cross. We preach nothing but Christ (His Person) and Him crucified (His Work). We boast in nothing but the cross of Christ. Whatever one believes makes the difference between salvation and damnation is what one boasts in. We boast in Christ crucified. The universal atonement advocates boast in their own effort.

Go ahead and defend the boasters in self. It shows that you, too, are a boaster in self. As for me and all true Christians, we will make our boast in the only thing that makes the difference between salvation and damnation -- the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of the God-Man Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Marc D. Carpenter
www.outsidethecamp.org


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