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Our Natural Depravity

Our Natural Depravity

We received the following question: "Is a regenerated person still depraved?

Your question reminds me of two errors that often arise within the church: on the one hand, the error of perfectionism, and on the other hand, the error of antinomism.

The perfectionist argues that we are new creatures in Christ; old things are passed away, and, along with these old things, also our depravity. He appeals to such passages of scripture as I John 3:9: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." The perfectionist will also refer to saints like Job, of whom it is written that he was a man, "perfect and upright, and one who feared God and eschewed evil.” The Pentecostals seem to lean in that direction when they speak of being baptized by the Holy Spirit, enabling them to live sinless lives. These perfectionists stress, of course, an outward perfection of "touch not, taste not, and handle not."

On the other hand, there are the antinomians who stress that we are by nature depraved sinners who cannot keep God's law. They remind you that Christ has fulfilled the law for us. In Him is all our righteousness, so that we can add nothing to that nor detract from it. Nor must we try with our good works to add to the righteousness of Christ. Some will, therefore, object to admonitions in the preaching, since we cannot fulfill them anyway. In extreme cases the antinomian will condone sin with the attitude, "Let us, then, sin, that grace may abound."

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In Response to 'What Must I Do?' Editorial in the Standard Bearer

In Response to 'What Must I Do?' Editorial in the Standard Bearer
The following letter was sent to the editorial office of the Standard Bearer with the request that they publish it. The editors refused to publish the letter. I publish it here on the RFPA blog as I sent it to them. I believe these issues are of utmost importance for our churches and for the readers of the blog.

________________

Letter to the Standard Bearer about What must I do?

Dear Editors of the Standard Bearer,

I am writing about the most recent editorial, What must I do?, by Rev. Koole (October 1, 2018 Volume 95, Issue 1). I find the editorial deeply disturbing for the connection that it makes with doctrinal dispute in our churches, specifically the editor’s, “fear that we tend to underestimate,” the truth of irresistible grace, and the editor’s connecting this to the “issues being discussed in the PRC of late, namely, grace and godliness—the life of good works—in the life of the child of God.”

The editor’s reference is to the doctrinal dispute in the Protestant Reformed Churches over sermons preached at Hope Protestant Reformed Church. I take issue with the editor’s characterization of this as “a discussion.” Rather, there were multiple protests and appeals filed, discipline carried out, a man deposed from office, many meetings were held, many decisions were made, some decisions overturned, and the last decision was made by Synod 2018, part of which involved a formula of subscription examination of a preacher. It is hardly “a discussion.” To describe it as such is an affront to all involved.

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The Question of the Necessity of Good Works (9): Clear Explanations

The Question of the Necessity of Good Works (9): Clear Explanations

Because the proper answer to the question of the necessity of good works is so closely connected with the church’s confession of the truth of the believers’ gracious salvation, and because wrong answers to this question end up denying this truth, there is no room for ambiguous language in answering this question. Especially is this ambiguous language to be deplored in a misguided and ill-informed attempt to impress upon the people of God the necessity of doing good works. This necessity,...

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The Charge of Antinomianism (9): Dismissing it

The Charge of Antinomianism (9): Dismissing it

 The charge of antinomianism coming from the quarters of the federal vision and its supporters must be rejected and dismissed, but also countered. It should hearten the Reformed church and believer that they have even drawn the charge. If men like Mark Jones, Richard Gaffin, and the rest of the federal vision men charge the truth with antinomianism and try to dismiss the truth with a name, they do to us Reformed believers nothing more than what the opponents of...

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The Charge of Antinomianism (8): Assurance by Works

The Charge of Antinomianism (8): Assurance by Works

The book by Mark Jones, purporting to be a tool to discover antinomianism in the preaching and teaching of ministers and in the faith of believers, turns out to be a full-blown attack on the doctrines of grace. This attack continues with his assault on the precious Reformed doctrine of assurance. Because the Reformed faith teaches that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone and not by works, it gives assurance and comfort to the child of God. Such is...

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The Charge of Antinomianism (7): A Dangerous Distinction

The Charge of Antinomianism (7): A Dangerous Distinction

Distinctions must sometimes be made in theology. They are good and useful to understand and explain theological terms. For instance, the distinction between the will of God’s decree and the will of his command explains how God summons all men everywhere to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and promises to all who do that they will be saved, and at the same time God wills eternally the damnation of the reprobate who hear that preaching of Christ. The...

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The Charge of Antinomianism (6): Works, the Way to Salvation

The Charge of Antinomianism (6): Works, the Way to Salvation

Belonging to the effort to smear the truth of grace with the charge of antinomianism is the concerted effort to redefine the place of works in salvation. This begins with criticism of the centrality of justification in the salvation of sinners, as though emphasizing the doctrine will take away from the equal importance of preaching sanctification. This is a ploy. In reality sanctification cannot be preached properly apart from the right doctrine of justification. The one who will do good works...

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The Charge of Antinomianism (5): Denying Justification by Faith Alone

The Charge of Antinomianism (5): Denying Justification by Faith Alone

The present-day attack on the truth of the unconditional covenant and salvation, consisting in the slanderous smear of that doctrine as antinomian, has a definite source. That source is the current ascendency and near total victory of the federal vision heresy in virtually every Reformed and Presbyterian denomination and seminary in the United States and elsewhere in the world. This heresy teaches that the covenant of God is made and union with Christ is established with every baptized child. Salvation in...

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The Charge of Antinomianism (4): Hyper-Calvinism?

The Charge of Antinomianism (4): Hyper-Calvinism?

Antinomianism is a real heresy that denies the necessity of good works in the life of the justified Christian. It is also a false and slanderous charge against the gospel of grace raised by those who hate that doctrine. Practically ignoring real antinomianism in the church world and its real root in the idea of God’s universal grace, Mark Jones in his book Antinomianism attempts to list certain theological characteristics of antinomians by means of which they can be sniffed out....

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The Charge of Antinomianism (3): Against an Unconditional Covenant

The Charge of Antinomianism (3): Against an Unconditional Covenant

Antinomianism is the heresy that denies the necessity of good works in the life of the believer. The outstanding characteristic of the antinomian is lawlessness in life. Antinomianism is also a slanderous charge that throughout history has been leveled against the truth of the gospel to make that doctrine wicked and dangerous to the church. The doctrine of the unconditional covenant belongs to the gospel of grace taught in sacred scripture and summarized in the Reformed creeds. The doctrine teaches that...

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The Charge of Antinomianism (2): A Novel Definition

The Charge of Antinomianism (2): A Novel Definition

Antinomianism is the error that denies the necessity of good works in the life of the justified Christian. It is a real threat to the church and to the holiness of the church. The Bible warns against it. It is gross heresy. Antinomianism is also a false charge raised by the opponents of grace against the truth to slander it and to make it appear wicked in the eyes of the churches. Christ, Paul, and Luther all suffered this false charge....

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The Charge of Antinomianism (1): A False Charge

The Charge of Antinomianism (1): A False Charge

Rev. Nathan J. Langerak is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church in Crete, Illinois. The RFPA welcomes Rev. Langerak as the newest writer for the RFPA blog.  __________________ Antinomian means against law. Antinomianism is the heresy that denies the necessity of good works in the life of the justified believer and that excuses sin in the life of the professing Christian by appeals to grace. Its blatant form is the teaching that the child of God has been delivered by grace to...

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Gospel Truth of Justification - A Review (2): Comforting

Another aspect of the truth of justification by faith alone as proclaimed, defended, and developed in this book, is the comfort that it brings to the believing child of God. Corruptions of justification by faith alone make light of man's sinfulness and “the awesome holiness of God” (p. 489). Engelsma paints a vivid picture of “standing before the holy God in judgment according to divine justice” (p. 489). One who contemplates standing before the holy God in judgment according to divine...

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Election GOVERNS Sanctification and...the Covenant?

Christopher Gordon believes that the “sanctification debate” within Reformed circles may have become Arminian (for his article click here). He explains that this move towards an Arminian view of sanctification is a response to what some in Reformed circles believe is “an over emphasis on justification and a narrow definition of the gospel” that leads to “antinomianism.” Gordon writes, “Many explicitly fear that the word gospel is being defined too narrowly. So when people communicate that all they need is the...

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