"I call that knowledge, not what is innate in man, nor what is by diligence acquired, but what is revealed to us in the Law and the Prophets." (JOHN CALVIN)
The theme for this fellowship—“God’s Absolute Sovereignty, Our Gospel’s Certainty”—aims to underscore once more BTRC’s Gospel emphasis. That is to affirm the God of the Scriptures as absolutely sovereign in His elect’s salvation and that this alone establishes certainty in His people’s hearts. Three expositions on the ninth chapter of the book of Romans developed this theme. Ptr. Rey Alejo, Jr. of BTRC Batangas spoke on the Gospel of the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone as the only ground for salvation having its ultimate source in Divine unconditional election (9:1-13). Ptr. Jhyson Vino of BTRC Lucban endeavored to counter the usual objections to this blessed doctrine by arguing according to Paul’s words in chapter 9:14-24 that God possesses absolute sovereignty in His choice of who will be the objects of His mercy and whom He will harden unto destruction. While the speakers emphasized the “Gospel” and “God’s absolute sovereignty” respectively, Ptr. June Subior of BTRC Batangas concludes the expository section by His message on the theme of “certainty” capitalizing on chapter 9:25-33 which in turn appeals to many Old Testament scripture heralding this blessed assurance.
After an enjoyable lunch and following the afternoon program preliminaries (including reciting the Presbyterians’ Westminster Confession on the chapter on eternal predestination) the delegates grouped themselves according to age for meaningful discusson. It was a follow-up disussion on the morning messages being facilitated by assigned persons guided by predetermined questions.
Following the group activity was an announcement made by Ptr. Ronnie Santos of an ongoing and timely discussion among BTRC office bearers concerning the denomination’s regulations on how it should deal with funerals in various cases. He also suggested the possibility of reconsidering the Ang Biblia (AB) version of the Tagalog Bible to be the BTRC’s primary official Tagalog translation in place of the Ang Bagong Ang Biblia (ABAB). The reason being that the latter is being found with many weaknesses in translation and is feared to be “faced out” soon from the publishing houses and stores.
The photo session reveals some significant changes compared to the photographs of the earlier fellowship gatherings. Some familiar faces were obviously missing for some reason, yet there are new faces indicating God’s mighty work in gathering His elect into His Church by His Gospel of sovereign particular irresistible grace!
As with all gatherings, there is a time to depart. But physical distance cannot separate God’s people who are united in fellowship, not by mere socializing, or by fun or parlor game activities as they do in other circles to enthuse their bored ones, but by the mighty truth of the Gospel of God. Our fellowship is in the “Light!”
PROMOTING SATAN'S LIE
When Satan deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden, he used two subtle devices. He told them a lie -- "Ye shalt not surely die" (Gen. 3:4), and he fooled them into thinking they could set their own standard of good and evil -- "then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5). Fallen man has since aligned himself with Satan by (1) making judgments based on Satan's lie, and (2) speaking peace when there is no peace based on God's testimony. This is evidence of spiritual kinship with Satan. Fallen man will always reject God's standard in this area.
Many so-called Calvinists, who give mental assent to the doctrines of grace, believe that they themselves and others were saved while in Arminianism or some other false gospel. This shows both an ignorance of the true Gospel and a lack of repentance. They judge themselves and others as saved not based on what they believe (doctrine and a life consistent with it) but based on appearance, morality, and reputation. This is Satan's lie. It always results in speaking peace where there is no peace, and it promotes lost sinners in false refuges of self-righteous religion.
Many speak of "Arminian brethren," implying that even though we differ in doctrine, we believe the same gospel. But what is the Gospel? It is God's promise of eternal salvation and final glory in heaven, not conditioned on the sinner, but conditioned on Christ and based on His righteousness alone. The Gospel reveals how God can only be just and save sinners based on Christ's righteousness alone. It reveals how God cannot save sinners based on anything proceeding from their persons, such as faith, repentance, perseverance. These are all required not as conditions for salvation but as means and evidences of salvation and as the fruit of what Christ accomplished by Himself for His people. Herein God is glorified as a just God and a Savior, Christ is exalted as the victorious Messiah, and boasting is excluded in sinners.
Arminianism, in claiming that Christ died for all without exception, places the ultimate condition for salvation on the sinner. It promotes salvation conditioned on faith, repentance, or perseverance, something other than the blood of Christ. This is "another gospel" (Gal. 1:6), and all who believe it are lost regardless of appearance or reputation (Gal. 1:7-8). All who speak peace to any who believe a false gospel prove themselves to be lost. They have never truly repented. They may have changed lifestyles or even doctrines, but they have never changed gods. The true Gospel distinguishes the true God from idols and the true Christ from counterfeits. Arminianism is works salvation by a false god through a counterfeit christ who can save no one.
Those who promote Satan's lie use many arguments to defend their position. One argument is compassion for ignorance. They argue we are all imperfect, and we all have much to learn. "No one knows it all," they say. "We should be compassionate towards others who do not know as much." We should show compassion to all lost people. We should admit we are imperfect and have much to learn. We should also be careful not to be arrogant, but our compassion and humility should never promote a lie or tell unbelievers they are brethren.
Think about this -- (1) Which sounds more compassionate to an unbeliever? "Thou shalt surely die," or "Ye shall not surely die"? The Gospel always sounds hard to unbelievers because it exposes that they are lost and that their deeds are evil (John -20). This is why the world hated Christ. He would not speak peace to them (John 7:7). (2) According to this logic, why didn't the Apostle Paul instruct the Galatians to be tolerant with the "unlearned brethren" instead of "let him be anathema,"? Paul recognized that they were promoting a false gospel.
So the question is this -- What do you call the Gospel? The Arminian gospel preaches salvation conditioned on the sinner. The true Gospel teaches salvation conditioned on Christ alone who met those conditions by paying our debt in full. The Arminian gospel preaches salvation, at some point, based on the righteousness of man. They cover it by saying it is God who enables them to produce such righteousness, but it is still the righteousness of man as it proceeds from man's person. The true Gospel reveals salvation based on the righteousness of Christ and shows how His righteousness, in and of itself, demands the salvation of all whom He represented. The Arminian gospel sets sinners looking to themselves for part of salvation and assurance. The true Gospel sets sinners looking to Christ for all of salvation and assurance. These are two different grounds of salvation. To say then that Arminians are merely weak believers is to say that we believe the same gospel, but this is not so.
Another argument used by those who promote Satan's lie is this -- "A person can believe in their heart but not in their head." They argue, "You don't have to be an intellectual or a theologian to be saved." It is true a person does not have to be an intellectual or a theologian to be saved, BUT A PERSON DOES HAVE TO KNOW AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL (Mark -16). We only believe in our hearts what we hear and receive in our minds. The Bible knows nothing of separation of heart and mind. This is a smoke-screen compromisers use to excuse their behavior.
Another argument is -- "You make knowledge a condition for salvation." Well, a person must have knowledge for salvation just as much as he must have faith. But our God has arranged things so that neither knowledge nor faith are conditions for salvation. The knowledge we must have is the fact that Christ has already met all the conditions for our salvation. Saving faith believes and rests in Christ as the One who has met all the conditions for me. Knowledge and faith are merely God-honoring means by which He brings us into a saving union with Christ.
Some argue, "We can't judge who is saved and lost." They think this attitude is super-spiritual, but it is ungodly. Admittedly there are some cases in which we cannot know, but God's people are to look upon those who do not believe the Gospel as lost. Now we are to desire and pray for their salvation. We are to promote their eternal good by telling them the truth, not by speaking peace to them and becoming a partaker of "their evil deeds" (2 John 9-11).
The gospel of Arminianism claims to believe in Christ but puts no real value on God's love, justice. and wisdom, nor on Christ's Person or atonement. They put no real saving value upon His blood and righteousness. They claim that God's love and Christ's work made it merely possible for sinners to be saved if sinners would only receive him. But the christ they desire sinners to receive is a counterfeit. A person does not "get saved" under such a false gospel and then grow into the doctrines of grace. Once a person savingly hears the true Gospel and savingly believes it, he comes to the living God based on the merits of the true Christ, and he repents of his former dead works and idolatry under a false gospel. This is why, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, THE GOSPEL is "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. -17).
by BILL PARKER
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