The Error of the Reformed Gospel

Last time we looked at an error concerning Jesus allegedly dying spiritually. This time I want to consider a far more prevalent brand of error.  The system that this error is derived from has spread through many denominations and churches including fundamental Baptist churches.  The following comes from a Presbyterian site in an article by a Rev. Stan Gale called “A “Reformed” Presentation of the Gospel.”  I will bring out a few of his points followed directly by my comments.

“As appointed ambassadors for Christ, we must seek to honor God and be true to His Word. That is what it means to be Reformed—it is being consistent with the whole counsel of God.”

My Comment:

(Reformed theology in my view is indeed not consistent with the whole counsel of God.  Let’s look further.)

“Before defining aspects of a Reformed gospel presentation, we must define the “gospel.” Dr. Edmund Clowney, a respected pastor and educator, liked to sum it up with Jonah 2:9: “Salvation is of the Lord.” In Romans 1:1–4, the apostle Paul summarizes the gospel in terms of the person and work of Jesus Christ, yet he provides a bigger picture in the body of Romans.”

(It is curious to me that there is no mention here of I Cor 15.)

“Jesus accomplished the salvation of His “sheep.” Jesus, the great Shepherd, represented those who were given to Him by the Father before the creation of the world. He died for them and was raised to life for them. He did not make people redeemable. He actually redeemed a people, none of whom can be taken from Him.”

He did not make people redeemable?! Let’s check this statement with scripture:

Joh 1:29  The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 3:17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

1Jn 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1Ti 2:4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
1Ti 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1Ti 2:6  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
1Ti 2:7  Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

Rom 5:6  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

2Pe 2:1  But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

The Holy Spirit applies the work of Christ to our hearts. The catechism’s definition of effectual calling covers the bases: “Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered in the gospel.” The gospel comes to people who are dead in sin, with regenerating power according to God’s purpose in election.”

(Renewing our wills? The Holy Spirit convinces us of our need in showing us that we are sinners. He also helps us understand the gospel message when it is presented. That said, He does not force regeneration on anyone before they actually respond to the gospel in faith. Election is false in a Calvinistic sense but I’ll save that discussion for another day.)

Faith is a gift of God. A Reformed doctrine of salvation understands man’s total depravity and the bondage of the will to the sinful nature. Faith is not the feeble response of the sick person to the good news of God’s remedy in Christ. Faith is the spiritual ability of the once-dead person—now alive by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit—to have ears to hear the message of salvation, a heart to receive it, and a will to embrace Christ as the way to it.”

(Here is one of the first big false conclusions derived from a logical progression from the “T” in TULIP. Not only is salvation now seen as a gift but faith itself becomes a gift. Faith is not a direct gift of God in the Reformed sense. Regeneration does not precede faith. Why should we need to have ears to hear the message of salvation if we are already saved ie regenerated?! This is not what the whole counsel of God declares.  Rather, salvation is the gift that is received by faith then we are regenerated, justified, and initially sanctified. Continued sanctification and eventually, one day in heaven, glorification.)

Repentance is part of the gospel’s call. The gospel addresses us in our guilt and rebellion; a proper response to it involves not simply “accepting” Jesus, but also accepting God’s diagnosis, prognosis, and exclusive remedy. In so doing, we reject our ability to save ourselves; we reject any right to serve ourselves. We bow the knee before the Christ, the Son of God, declaring, “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

(This is adding to the idea of repentance. The proper response to the hearing of the gospel is to place your trust in the Savior for salvation. Period.)

“Assurance of salvation is the domain of God’s Spirit. Certainly we can insist that all who have God-given, saving faith in Jesus Christ will be saved.”

(“God given saving faith” is not an actual thing since he does not even grant “saving faith” in this fashion.  He has however allowed all men the ability to respond with faith to the gospel. So now we must have this supposedly “God given faith” to be saved according to the Reformed view? But how can we know this has happened for anyone….? Here comes the rest of the trap…)

“However, we cannot know others’ hearts. We cannot discern if the evidence of life (the fruit) is self-induced—an emotional response or intellectual assent—or if professions of faith arise from the sovereign work of the Spirit.”

“In his first epistle, John pins assurance not to mere profession, but to the demonstrative fruit of God’s handiwork of grace.”

(Wait a minute. Didn’t he just say “we cannot know others’ hearts” and further that one could not tell if the fruit was real or not?!)

One of his points on the matter of the gospel presentation was the following:

“ Issue a call not merely to conversion but to discipleship as the exercise of lively faith and the fruit of genuine repentance; it must convey the necessity of obeying God’s commands to believe on His Son and to turn from sin and live by grace under the lordship and for the sake of Christ.”

(Here we can see the result of the earlier error.  I believe this error frustrates the grace of God and turns the gospel call into something else by adding in terms of discipleship and ongoing obedience. This Lordship style salvation message is widespread in many churches.  Mixing the gospel with works is not pleasing to God, is not God’s will, and is not able to help anyone be saved.   It on the other hand produces lost people or frustrates Christians if they were already saved to begin with.)

Your comments are welcome as there is much more to discuss.  Next time I will discuss a similar article on Perseverance of the Saints.

Jim F

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21 Responses to The Error of the Reformed Gospel

  1. Jim,

    Great — Your article is right on target. There is nothing good about a “Reformed” Gospel. The perpetrators of that lie should leave the Gospel of Jesus Christ well enough alone. The Gospel of God’s Grace is perfect and needs no “reformation.”

    As you know we at ExP have and will continue to exposed many so-called “fundamental” preachers who have fallen for (or embraced) a “reformed” Gospel. They should ALL be exposed.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  2. jimfloyd12 says:

    Thanks Jack,

    Some Pastor’s may not say they fully embrace a Reformed gospel but they still like to keep the ideas like repentance from sin for salvation or lordship / perseverance of the saints style salvation. I wish more people were aware of the danger because some of the Pastors are so subtle with it.

    Jim F

  3. john says:

    Jim, I have a couple of thoughts on reformed theology, the first of which overlaps your above points.

    The Bible says that it is God’s will that all men be saved.

    1 Timothy 2:3-6: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

    But, the Bible also says that few will be saved:

    Matthew 7:14: “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

    Why would God’s will be thwarted? Because, He allows us to choose whether or not to believe.

    The reformed school of theology is completely illogical. If God gives faith to some people, yet withholds it from others, that means He predestined some to go to Heaven and others to go to hell.

    But, God could not have predestined some to go to hell, unless He predestined them to be guilty of sin. It would follow that God is the author of sin.

  4. jimfloyd12 says:

    John,

    I agree with you on the illogical nature of Reformed theology. A common tactic that I have seen is for them to play up the possibility of “mysteries” that we just supposedly can’t understand. In this sense everything is put back onto their man-made crutch of their take on the sovereignty of God. Many are quick to throw up their hands and label things as mysteries but I always like to challenge people to take a second look at the scriptures to see if maybe it really is their flawed presuppositions that has led them to these mysteries… or outright falsehood.

    Jim F

  5. Brother JIM,
    I agree with your words and if you allow me, I will share what you have written
    with others that I know. Thank You.
    God bless
    John H. Gregory

  6. jimfloyd12 says:

    John G,

    You have my permission to share anything here with others. My aim at times is to call things into question so that we may all go back and consider what the Bible actually says.

    Jim F

  7. THINK YOU! I will make copys a give them to those who need them.
    John H. Gregory

  8. mary says:

    calvanism and arminianism and lordship certainly are the hot debate should it separate us from the ones that believe like this or do we agree to just disagree as i have been told to do. do we certainly say it is another gospel does that mean all these people that have come to faith under macarthurs, washers comfort kirk cameron s teaching are unsaved. are all these people the ones in matthew that says not everyone who says lord lord is that referrring to all the works salvation gospels that are out there. how strict is god going to be with someone who is under the lordship salv gospel and is sincere compared to the one who is saved by ephesians 2.8.8 that is saved by grace by faith will god be that picky. joel osteen says its not for me to judge sounding more like the jesuit pope. how right do we have to get it i believed in the lordship salv gospel not until long ago was i not saved as most christians i am talking to are all under this. thanks for yr ministry keep up the good work.

  9. jimfloyd12 says:

    Thanks Mary. You ask some good questions. Catholicism and subsequently Calvinism and Arminianism primarily stem from unsaved man’s attempt to decipher God’s Word. These man made errors are passed down generation to generation. Sometimes they even gain steam and grow in popularity. We that are believers and we that hold to the Word of God ought to stand against any man created error. We can agree to disagree with those pushing works oriented gospels but this means that we should part fellowship.

    Many under MacArthur and Washer’s teaching are unsaved. This does not mean that there aren’t a few here and there that once believed in Christ alone for salvation but just got caught up in error later. We must remember that believers are not immune to error. Peter was an example of this. He had to be rebuked by Paul. The Lordship gospel itself (Calvinism’s gospel) does not save. It mixes grace with works. Discipleship with faith etc…

    Yes God will be picky. There is only one way to heaven. That is by faith in Jesus Christ alone according to the gospel. Anything else is a broad path that leads to destruction. See, either we have Christ’s righteousness or we don’t.

    I can’t say when you were saved personally but I can say that you were saved if and when you trusted Christ as your personal Savior. Trusting Christ means that we change our mind about Him and receive His gift of salvation by faith based on what He has done for us.

    I Cor 15:1-4, John 3:16 – 18, Eph 2:8-9, Acts 16:31, Romans 4:3-5

    Most people who claim to be Christians around me are also under this teaching to some extent. It is troublesome that so many in churches have swallowed this error hook, line, and sinker but we must stay strong and lift one another up through His Word in opposition to false gospels that keep the unsaved unsaved and keep believers in law bondage.

    Jim F

  10. mary says:

    thanks jim for your wonderful reply. i also want to bring up the james 2 passage faith without works is dead has nothing to do with our salvation i have recently learnt. also the faith is a gift now i know that this has all come from the reformed teaching out there as the calvanists can’t reconcile mans free will and gods sovereignity. they always go on about how big and sovereign he is; which he is but their god is not big enough. how sad so many people and pastors, colleges and books all have the corrupt teaching of calvanism, armnsm, lordship salvation in them. praise god we can c thru it all. it certainly affects yr fellwshp with other christians as it limits what u can talk about as they are not open to these corrections. oh how i long for heaven where there is no leaven. even so come lord jesus. we are so tired of all the apostasy sometimes its easier to be with non christians that are open to the things of god than christians who have no discernment.

  11. jimfloyd12 says:

    Good job Mary. Yes, James 2 has nothing to do with our salvation but everything to do with our sanctification. It also relates to our justification before men. Abraham was justified before men by offering up His son Isaac. He was justified before God because His faith was accounted to Him for righteousness, see Romans 4.

    Faith as a gift in relation to conversion is something that comes from Catholicism and the Reformation. No they can’t reconcile free will and sovereignty because they create their own dilemma by over stating man’s depravity to the point where he is unable to respond to the gospel .. unless God gives faith to him. Obviously this causes problems if man is to still be responsible. You would think that the passages about man’s responsibility would persuade them to adjust their take on inability but they can’t without basically abandoning the Calvinist system. Yes, my God is big enough to allow men to decide whether or not to believe. This does not affect His authority or go against any of His attributes. God does not need to manipulate everything in order for His will to be done. He knows who will believe and who won’t. The choice is ours because He made it that way when He created us with the ability to choose. Man’s depravity does not make him unable to choose something. In relation to salvation. Man needs to decide to receive the gospel by faith. The power or merit is not in the faith itself or the “kind” of faith but in the object of faith. Faith is just the conduit in which we receive the gift. Repentance/faith is not a work otherwise salvation is not a free gift.

    No, most are indeed not open to these corrections. They cling at some extent to a type of works gospel and or to a God that does everything for them basically making them not responsible, in essence (though they will deny this).

    Yes, sometimes it is refreshing to witness to a seeking, open, unsaved person versus a stubborn supposed Christian who won’t see around the Calvinist or Catholic lenses. I also feel for those who are truly saved but try to grow in the Calvinist system or church. I have to believe that they don’t realize what they are missing out on. I am filled with the joy of Lord virtually every day. I serve Him because I love Him and because I can now that I have the new man and the Spirit. No type of Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran, Arminian doctrine would help me at all. All they can provide is a major detriment and nothing additional to the truth I already possess.

    Be of good cheer in Christ,

    Jim F

  12. mary says:

    wondering if u could enlighten me as i am new to this movement. i have just been listening to charlie bing and he said there are some free grace teachers that are 1,2.3 and 4 point calvanists apparently arnold fruchtenbaum and others are are we meant to stay away from these teachers as i find being calvanist and freegrace seems like a contradiction can u help me understand this concept. like anything i;m sure the free gracers don’t all agree which ones are we to stay away from. thanks

  13. jimfloyd12 says:

    Hi Mary,

    You bring up a very good question. There are a lot of people that will claim to be free grace but yet still try to hold to various degrees of Calvinism. I have seen some things from Fruchtenbaum that warrant me not recommending him.

    I have found a lot of good things from Bing himself though.

    As far as Calvinism, there are no points of it all that I hold. I don’t see any one of them as scriptural. My question to these men is, “What is the point of being free grace if you are going to hold to bits and pieces of that system of error? There are many men out there with multiple degrees after their name espousing views and definitions of words in key passages which allow some of these guys to hold onto things like unconditional election. My contention is that it does a person no good at all theologically or practically to hold any point of Calvinism. As believers we ought to be about not just making sure that people are saved by hearing the clear gospel but also that people are growing properly in the faith without the baggage of faulty theological foundations. Total depravity, unconditional election, and irresistable grace (in my opinion these are the ones that most have the hardest time letting go of) all give the believer the wrong view of God and the wrong view of how He works. Nothing good can come of that practically. My advice then is to avoid those who hold any point of Calvinism. At least don’t let them be your main source of teaching on the Bible. Let God’s Word speak for itself and find a good solid preacher with no Calvinist ties. I know it is hard to find guys like that. That is why from time to time I will highlight men like “Yankee” Arnold. I know that there is no compromise with him.

    Jim F

  14. jimfloyd12 says:

    Mary,

    We must also be wary of labels. They have benefit as to understand quickly in a general sense where a person is most likely coming from however we have to judge everything a person says by the Word. We should never let our guard down to error even if we are dealing with a person that claims free grace. For example, I have heard four point Calvinists claim free grace – they had just dropped Limited atonement and changed perseverance of the saints into God’s preservation. Therefore they rejected Lordship salvation (or so they said) but still embraced the rest of it. There are also “free grace” guys like Hodges who advocate a cross-less gospel stating that the person only has to believe in Christ’s name but does not need to know all the details about His death and resurrection etc. It is best just to avoid that error if you see it. Also, I have run into universalists who believe that everyone is saved and they come across as free grace but they just spread error.

    My view is that any preacher worth his salt will tell his congregation to always check the things he says against scripture and be convinced in their own hearts and minds that the things said are so according to the Word. The Word is our foundation and our safety. Thankfully we as believers have the Holy Spirit to help us determine the truth through the Word.

    Jim F

  15. mary says:

    you said though with charlie bing his articles seem to be good what is wrong with his teaching.

  16. jimfloyd12 says:

    I have not found anything wrong with Charlie Bing’s teaching as far as what I have read to this point. That’s what I meant to say.

  17. jimfloyd12 says:

    However, he can aligned with others that may not share all of his views.

    For example: 1024project.com

    Jim F

  18. mary says:

    ok let me put a scenario out there that i have been grappling with. ok some of these people are saved and fall into lordship or calvanistic doctrine, they are saved their going to heaven so they fall into the prosperity gospel or any other false gospels even arminianism what is the danger for them will they lose rewards at the judgement seat of christ. since christians in the church have died to discernment what is the danger for them worst case they apostasise and allow themselves to fall under the temporal delusion and fall for another jesus like in galatanism. some say the judaizers were not christians some say they were. how important is sound doctrine to god will it lead to another jesus i know its a danger for giving out another gospel but for the christian if he has another jesus what will happen to him. the judgmnt seat (bema seat) will be rewards for our faithfulness would u say that we will lose rewards if we get saved and we fall for another jesus most of our christian walk because in a sense we were unfaithful to him in our doctrine. the church is not interested in exposing error they see it as unimportant and unecessary. so as i have said before then we can hardly fellowship with christians who are in error.
    i watched tommy ice on vemo on the free grace alliance conference i thought he was sound when he said that he was a moderate calvanist and that the free grace all came out of reformed doctrine. i think he said he is a 3 -4 point calvanist and that some free gracers were becoming arminians how confusing does it get. i can’t believe how they can hold on to both views is this because they don’t separate from certain teachers and they pick up on their error there musn’t be doctrinal separation. how complicated its getting hard to know what u believe and stand on it. we have trusted men to tell us what is in the bible and know that they r in error u even tend to question every thing u believe. sometimes i think have we got the gospel correct some say as long as we have the fundamentals correct but in the evangelical church they don’t all agree on how we are saved. i pray that the free grace position is correct if god is so particular in how we are saved.
    the person that is so called saved by grace then faith then tongues or baptism is not really saved as in the lord lords scripture its so hard to get yr head around they will not make it. some say to be oh but god knows their heart the heart is desperately wicked i don’t think god will over look the false gospels surely a false gospel plus sincerity doesn’t get u into heaven.

    thanks for all yr wonderful input and for setting up this much needed site.

  19. jimfloyd12 says:

    Mary,

    There is no doubt that those believers that are “bewitched” or fooled into another gospel or false doctrine will see it reflected in lack of rewards that they otherwise could have had at the Bema seat. We are to study to show ourselves approved unto God rightly dividing the Word of truth. We have to always be learning and on guard. Everything we learn or hear needs to be filtered through the Word of God itself. We can’t afford to be lazy and let men tell us things and not verify if the things spoken are so. We should be like the Bereans.

    I am not impressed by anyone claiming free grace that holds to any point of calvinism. Each point has inherent dangers and errors. Yes, any addition of works to the gospel makes it not by grace. Salvation is a free gift. Many of those places that say lets just stick to the fundamentals don’t have a clear gospel themselves. Besides, there is more more revealed in the Word than just fundamentals. We as believers should be able to move past the milk stage and onto meatier issues. Also the sometimes where people rally around base fundamentals just as an excuse to tolerate errors and be ecumenical.

    God does know the heart but heart and mind are basically the same thing as far as salvation goes. Usually a person advocating repentance from sins for salvation will speak about “heart” faith. The thing is that there is no difference. A person either believes the gospel having received it by faith or they don’t. There is no believing in we have no mind with which to do so.

    Jim F

  20. mary says:

    well said jim you truly are inspirational i thank god for people like you who can c the truth in such a simplictic way. i spent many hours with my catholic parents they were horrified when i said u can know u have eternal life. i had never heard it come out of their mouths that you have to perservere and endure till the end to be saved. they have no assurance i believe my dad did take in what i said. i told him its not good news if u lose yr salvation i said to him what do i have to do to lose it he said big sins not the little ones that to me is venial sins and mortal sins as the catholic church categorises sins. i said u have been taught by man(a priest) and yr not letting the word of god speak to you. i pray that before they pass away god will make it clear to them. some just say god knows their heart as if to say god will just let them in because they were sincere but i do believe we have to understand the gospel in order to receive it. how this gospel of works is seeping into all the baptist and evangelical churches. oh how satan is bringing people into religious bondage. how sad as i look around the world i can only hope the end is near that the blessed hope is just around the corner.

  21. jimfloyd12 says:

    Thanks Mary, I am always glad when I can be of help to anyone. Part of the reason that I started this blog was to encourage people to stand for their. We need lots of it these days because there are so very few that understand. What we need to do first before we can stand is to first make sure that our foundations are correct.

    I am encouraged by your desire to learn and to witness especially to your parents. I will pray for them and for your words of witness. We know that God’s Word and specifically the gospel in this case is powerful and that the HS can use it.

    Right, any sin even the smallest disqualifies one for heaven. We must be born again. I would show your parents the passage in John 3 and I Cor 15. They, just like everyone, need to decide if they will believe the gospel trusting in Christ alone to save. That is the only way.

    Jim F

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