Monday, April 27, 2009

Clyde's View of the Gospel

OK, I know I have written about Clyde's articles for the past few weeks. Hopefully after this one I'll put down this keyboard and never read another one. This week's was just too much. Here is a man who completely misses the category errors of descriptive texts as opposed to prescriptive texts. He targets the heart of the matter...the Gospel or at least what he thinks is the Gospel. He wrote,
When the question is asked, "What must I do to be saved?" Many will answer, "You need only to believe." Many think that is what Paul said in Acts 16:31, but he went further and told them they must do more than that.
If I did not know Clyde is a member of the Church of Christ, I would swear he is a member of the church of Rome, for the rest of his arguments are exactly the same. He offers what you must do to be saved.
Salvation comes only after obedience to God's commands, to believe, (Heb. 6:11) repent, (Acts 17:30-31); confess Christ, (Rom. 10:10); and be baptized, (Acts 2:38).
In case you might be thinking that Clyde believes in Justification by Faith Alone he then cites James 2:24 and concludes, (Here is the kicker!)
When one has been justified by obeying God's commands, he has not earned his salvation, rather, he has simply fulfilled God's requirements for what God has required of us, God having already done His part in our salvation by sending His Son to die on the cross.
First, I want to admit up front, that it is true to say we must obey the Gospel. But, again, he misses the descriptive verses the prescriptive. Nobody is able to obey God commands. If we say that we are merely cooperating with God's grace, then we are right back at Rome, and we lose the doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement. This causes Clyde's reference of Jesus dying on the cross to be meaningless.

Second, is this all we have to do? Is the assumption here that perhaps we could have obeyed the Old Covenant Law and been saved? Is it possible to be saved apart from Christ?

Third, this point ties in with the last one. Is Clyde saying we are saved by obeying commands? We do our part, Christ does His part, then we get saved? We get saved by obeying commands, but then we don't earn salvation by obeying the commands? Fulfilling our part is not grounds for earning our justification? Can anyone truly follow this logic?

Fourth, Clyde clearly misses the different aspects and definitions of Justification. What is his justification for appealing to James 2 when Paul deals with this particular topic in Romans 4 & 5. James is not speaking about Justification in the manner Paul is. Therefore, to never even discuss Paul's doctrine in Romans 4 & 5, is to miss the heart of the gospel. It is a proper method of interpretation of Scripture to go to the primary texts that speak to particular issues that are under discussion. Clyde simply does not do this. Instead, he runs to different verses that appear to support his position. This is caused by his Tradition.

Allow me to illustrate. In my car manual, there is a section that talks about my car tires. If I want to know how to change a flat, the manual gives enough information as to do just that. However, if I want to know much more about the subject of tires, perhaps a Chiltons manual would be a better resource.

Yes, James mentions justification. But James 2 is hardly a discourse on the subject, much less the particular aspect Paul addresses in Romans 4. The same is true for the doctrine of election. We don;t run to texts that talk about repentance and believing when there are texts that address election clearly and specifically. Yet this is the method of many today.

Fifth, unless you are truly anti-nomian (against law), if someone accuses you of preaching a Gospel that appears anti-nomian (So you just believe and now you may kill people and still be saved response), you know you are preaching the Gospel. It is odd that Clyde and many others take the position of the Apostle Paul's objector in Romans 6:1. Paul wrote a proper response.
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
Rom 6:2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Rom 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Lastly, I need to comment that no one is able to obey the Gospel. It is the preaching of the Gospel that creates faith. So when Paul speaks of our obedience to the Gospel, he is speaking descriptively. Our Evangelical faith and obedience is a result of His grace.

Faith does not save you. All of the Reformers are unanimous on this point. It is the object of our faith that saves us. It is the righteousness of Christ and His Substitutionary work in our place. The London Baptist Confession of Faith states,
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 them as righteous, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone. They are not justified because God reckons as their righteousness either their faith, their believing, or any other act of evangelical obedience. They are justified wholly and solely because God imputes to them Christ's righteousness. He imputes to them Christ's active obedience to the whole law and His passive obedience in death. They receive Christ's righteousness by faith, and rest on Him. They do not possess or produce this faith themselves, it is the gift of God. (emphasis mine)
You might be asking, "Why pick on Clyde?" When many in our Evangelical churches think inconsistently about these issues. This opportunity provides a great means of explaining the Biblical nature of Justification and the Gospel itself.

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