The Simple Gospel vs the Arminian Gospel
Our children are confused today because many people use the name "Jesus" to describe their hope, but the person they describe is not the same person. Jesus in the Bible is described as a Savour of an elect people who He calls out. But our children can easily be confused by those who say that Jesus also died ineffectively for other sinners who are not the sheep.
Is it sufficient for our children to have implict faith? Can they say: I don't know who this Jesus is or what He did, but I trust Him, whoever He is and whatever He did. Can they be saved through trusting Jesus even they don't know which Jesus? Is it converting faith for them to say that they agree with whatever their parents say about Jesus? Is it converting faith for them to say that they accept as true what Jesus says, even though they do not yet know what Jesus says?
This would be a little bit like saying: I will do whatever you say to do to be saved, but I don't know what you say to do. If you say work, I will work. If you say, make a decision, I will make a decision. The reason that people encourage this kind of implicit faith is that their faith is still in faith: instead of saying that Jesus died only for some and that this makes all the difference, they try to say INSTEAD that Jesus died for all "who believe in Him" and thus make the believing much more important than whatever it is that Jesus did. After all, Jesus may or may not have done all that He did for everybody, we can't say, we won't say, so therefore we think we can trust Jesus and be agnostic about what He did or didn't do. This is because we think our faith is ultimately more important than the object of our faith. So our faith can have different objects, or no defined doctrinal object at all, and still we think our faith makes all the difference.
Faith in faith is not only about avoiding the offense of agreeing with Jesus about election. Faith in faith is a denial of election. It says that not election but faith is what matters. And to try to prove this, we are reminded that nobody knows if they are elect before they have faith. But faith in the gospel is not faith in one's own election. Faith in the gospel agrees first that Christ died as a substitute for the elect, and then faith in Christ agrees to trust for oneself this specific Christ and this specific way of salvation. Faith in the gospel agrees to exclude faith itself as the cause of salvation. Faith in the gospel agrees that faith itself is caused by what Christ did.
I Cor 15: If Christ is not raised, your faith is vain. It doesn't matter how much faith you may have, if it is not objectively true that Jesus rose again. Your faith does not make Jesus rise from the dead. Nor does your lack of faith prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead. What Jesus did is done, regardless of your faith. Romans 4:25 explains that Jesus was raised because of our justification. The justification of the elect is objective, even before the elect have faith. The non-justification of the reprobate is objective, no matter which counterfeit Jesus the reprobate have faith in.
But what if our children tell us: we just believe on Jesus, and we are neutral on this question if Jesus died for everybody or only for the elect? We must say there is only one Jesus, and we have no permission to believe in counterfeits. A Jesus who did not die only for the elect and who did not die for everybody, is a lot like Santa Claus: such a Jesus does not exist. There are many complicated things about Jesus that we do not understand, but one thing we can understand is that it is his death which saves. We understand that this means that everybody Jesus died for will be saved. We understand that this means that everybody Jesus didn't die for won't be saved. We can't be neutral about Jesus dying only for some, because we can't be neutral about the real Jesus being the one who really saves. Our faith does not save. We must put our faith in the real Jesus or be still lost in our sins.
Copyright © 2000 by Mark McCulley. All rights reserved.