There are many verses in the Bible that are doomed to irrelevance by most professing Christians today. Take Galatians 1:8-9 for instance. Paul judged the purveyors of a false gospel to be unregenerate heretics.
In stark contrast to the Apostle Paul, most professing Christians with one antichristian and irenic mind do NOT see a false gospel, but a “confusing,” “muddled,” or “defective” gospel (e.g., John Piper, The Future of Justification, p. 24). But even if they DO grudgingly concede that the false gospel is an actual post-Apostolic reality, they could just emulate someone like Bruce Ware by unbiblically separating the heresy from the heretic (contra John in 1 John 4:1-3), so that unlike the Apostle Paul’s anathemas, these “anathemas” would NOT fall upon actual real-life persons, but person-less, systematic phantoms (For more on this see: https://agrammatos.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/on-tolerant-polemical-defenses/ and: https://agrammatos.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/john-piper-the-future-of-justification/ ).
There are probably multitudes of other verses that get “doomed to irrelevance,” but I’ll just note a few more:
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).
“Here we have the proof. Paul isn’t just referring to Pharisees, but to anyone who hasn’t embraced limited atonement [universal atonement advocates –CD]. It says so right there in the text doesn’t it?” (Orthodox Presbyterian minister Of Satan [abbreviated, “OPMOS”–CD], Jason Wallace).
Obviously, the righteousness that makes the difference between salvation and damnation is the righteousness that is established and is being submitted to. “Universal atonement advocates” are those who believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception. According to this scheme, Jesus Christ did the SAME THING for the saved and the damned. This scheme of self-righteousness places the efforts of the sinner IN THE STEAD OF the everlasting righteousness of Jesus Christ as the ultimate ground of acceptance with God.
They have REJECTED Jesus Christ as the end of the law for righteousness and put themselves in His place — this is the very essence of the spirit of antichrist (cf. 1 John 2:18, 22-23, 4:1-6). Many tolerant Calvinists (e.g., those like-minded with OPMOS)have ALSO rejected the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel since they believe that true Christians begin the Christian life with a false gospel and a false christ, contrary to John 10:4-5, Romans 1:16-17, and 2 Corinthians 4:3-6.
Jesus Christ is the chief CORNERSTONE which the tolerant Calvinists builders have REJECTED (cf. Matthew 21:42). Tolerant Calvinists teach that KNOWLEDGE OF THE FALSE CHRIST OF 2 Corinthians 11:4 is revealed to newly regenerated ones. These tolerant Calvinists utterly reject the Biblical teaching that it is NOT the aforementioned false christ, but the TRUE CHRIST OF 2 CORINTHIANS 4:6 that is revealed to those newly regenerated. You try to point this out to them and they just stand there, reveling in the radiance of their ignorance (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4). The god of this age has blinded their minds to the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. On their scheme, the false gospel of Galatians 1:8-9 has “shined” in their hearts, rather than the true gospel of Romans 1:16-17.
“But may it never be for me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision has any strength nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace and mercy be on them and on the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:14-16).
“So all Arminians are really Judaizers? They are advocating circumcision?” (Jason Wallace, OPMOS).
“J-Wall” believes that one can actually boast exclusively in the cross of Christ IN SPITE of the fact that this SAME cross-work is alleged to be for those in heaven AS WELL AS those in hell. Clearly and so obviously, whatever makes the difference between salvation and damnation is what one boasts and glories in. Those who believe that Christ died for everyone without exception boast in self, not in the cross.
“By this know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. And every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God; and this is the antichrist which you heard is coming, and now is already in the world” (1 John 4:2-3).
“When did Arminians become Docetists?” (J-Wall, OPMOS)
The implication is that this passage can ONLY be applied to Docetists. Well, Mormons confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Does that mean they are of God? Of course not. Words mean things and one has to define what they mean by the phrase, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” Who is Jesus Christ? What did He come to do? What kind of flesh?
In short, confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh means to confess the TRUTH about the PERSON and WORK of Jesus Christ. Universal atonement advocates, although they have a god called “Jesus,” do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh to establish that righteousness that demands the salvation of all whom Jesus represented. This is a denial of the true Christ.
I think this comes from John Calvin’s commentary (a much less constricted view than that of J-Wall’s):
“But let us consider what this confession includes; for when the Apostle says that Christ came, we hence conclude that he was before with the Father; by which his eternal divinity is proved. By saying that he came in the flesh, he means that by putting on flesh, he became a real man, of the same nature with us, that he might become our brother, except that he was free from every sin and corruption. And lastly, by saying that he came, the cause of his coming must be noticed, for he was not sent by the Father for nothing. Hence on this depend the office and merits of Christ.
As, then, the ancient heretics departed from the faith, in one instance, by denying the divine, and in another by denying the human nature of Christ; so do the Papists at this day: though they confess Christ to be God and man, yet they by no means retain the confession which the Apostle requires, because they rob Christ of his own merit; for where freewill, merits of works, fictitious modes of worship, satisfactions, the advocacy of saints, are set up, how very little remains for Christ!
The Apostle then meant this, that since the knowledge of Christ includes the sum and substance of the doctrine respecting true religion, our eyes ought to be directed to and fixed on that, so that we may not be deceived. And doubtless Christ is the end of the law and the prophets; nor do we learn anything else from the gospel but his power and grace.
3. And this is that spirit of Antichrist. The Apostle added this, to render more detestable the impostures which lead us away from Christ. We have already said that the doctrine respecting the kingdom of Antichrist was well known; so that the faithful had been warned as to the future scattering of the Church, in order that they might exercise vigilance. Justly then did they dread the name as something base and ominous. The Apostle says now, that all those who depreciated Christ were members of that kingdom.
And he says that the spirit of antichrist would come, and that it was already in the world, but in a different sense. He means that it was already in the world, because it carried on in secret its iniquity. As, however, the truth of God had not as yet been subverted by false and spurious dogmas, as superstition had not as yet prevailed in corrupting the worship of God, as the world had not as yet perfidiously departed from Christ, as tyranny, opposed to the kingdom of Christ, had not as yet openly exalted itself, he therefore says, that it would come.” [End of Calvin quote–CD]
“Who is the liar, except the one denying, saying that Jesus is not the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one denying the Father and the Son. Everyone denying the Son does not have the Father. The one confessing the Son also has the Father” (1 John 2:22-23).
“So failure to understand limited atonement is the same thing as denying Jesus is the Christ?” (J-Wall, OPMOS).
Of course, the phrase “limited atonement” does NOT get at what the atonement of Jesus Christ was all about. Efficacious atonement is a much more lucid and understandable phrase — “efficacious” means that an atonement actually atones, a propitiation actually propitiates, and that a Savior actually saves. Those who believe that Christ died for those who will perish in hell do NOT believe this basic, fundamental, elementary truth. To these self-righteous God-haters it is NOT Jesus Christ who is able of Himself to propitiate the wrath of God, but themselves. In their Satanic scheme, the blood of Christ is inefficacious to quell the wrath of God, while their so-called “faith” is efficacious to do so. Again, THIS KIND OF THING is the very essence of what it means to deny that Jesus is the Christ! It is to put oneself IN HIS PLACE as the ultimate difference-maker between salvation and damnation.
Some additional comments:
What does it mean to deny that Jesus is the Christ? What does it mean to affirm that Jesus is the Christ? Is the Roman Catholic denying that Jesus is the Christ when he engages in the Mass, believing it to be a propitiatory sacrifice? The RC professes that Jesus Christ is God. Does the RC really believe that Christ is God, in view of his belief of the Mass and Mary as co-redeemer and/or co-mediatrix?
Mormons, Muslims, JW’s, Pelagians, Arminians, and Roman Catholics all “fail to understand [efficacious] atonement.” They all are stumbling over the stumbling stone (cf. Romans 9:31-32; 1 Peter 2:7-8). They all count the message of the cross as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Belief in universal atonement is a good example of failing to understand efficacious atonement and failing to understand the significance of the efforts of One who met the righteous requirements of God’s law in full (cf. Romans 10:1-4). Since the Arminians deny that Christ secured the salvation of all whom He represented, they deny His work of salvation. They say that Christ desires all to be saved, yet isn’t able to accomplish His purpose. This is a denial of His omnipotence. The Arminians/universal atonement advocates, in reality deny the deity of Christ, despite their empty profession of His deity.
Commenting on 1 John 2:22, John Calvin states:
“What he had generally said of false prophets, he now applies to the state of his own time; for he points out, as by the finger, those who disturbed the Church. I readily agree with the ancients, who thought that Cerinthus and Carpocrates are here referred to. But the denial of Christ extends much wider; for it is not enough in words to confess that Jesus is the Christ, except he is acknowledged to be such as the Father offers him to us in the gospel” (John Calvin).
As we’ve already seen, many “doom this passage to irrelevance” by limiting its application to Docetists. Evidently, this passage applies to no one else (Perhaps, except for those who come right out and say explicitly, “I deny that Jesus is the Christ”). Notice here that Calvin does mention a Docetist — the Gnostic heretic Cerinthus. Yet Calvin also says that the denial of Christ extends much wider than the beliefs of the two aforementioned heretics, which vast multitudes of professing Christians would deny. Calvin adds to this by saying that “it is not enough in words to confess that Jesus is the Christ.” Obviously. Mormons and Arminians both confess in empty, anti-Biblical words that “Jesus is the Christ.” But what do they mean by this profession? Is their profession “according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)?
“The two I have named gave the title of Christ to the Son of God, but imagined him to be man only. Others followed them, such as Arius, who, adorning him with the name of God, robbed him of his eternal divinity. Marcion dreamt that he was a mere phantom. Sabellius imagined that he differed nothing from the Father. All these denied the Son of God; for not one of them really acknowledged the true Christ; but, adulterating, as far as they could, the truth respecting him, they devised for themselves an idol instead of Christ. Then broke out Pelagius, who, indeed, raised no dispute respecting Christ’s essence, but allowed him to be true man and God; yet he transferred to us almost all the honor that belongs to him. It is, indeed, to reduce Christ to nothing, when his grace and power are set aside” (Calvin).
In a similar manner to Arius, the universal atonement advocate “adorns” Christ with the name of Eternal God, while robbing Him of His glory as a just God and a Savior (Isaiah 45:20-21). Both “Pelagianism” and “Arminianism” reduce Christ to nothing by denying the power of His cross (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Augustus Montague Toplady had this to say:
“Pelagianism quite kicks off the crown from the head of sovereign grace; and makes the will of God bend and truckle and shape itself to the caprice of man. Arminianism, somewhat more specious, but altogether as pernicious, cuts the crown in two, by dividing the praise of salvation between God and man, and fairly runs away with half” (Augustus Toplady).
These words of Toplady are “spot on” and very bold. But Toplady was tolerant of at least some universal atonement advocates, and so these “snarling” words come from an emasculated paper tiger.
Continuing with Calvin:
“So the Papists, at this day, setting up freewill in opposition to the grace of the Holy Spirit, ascribing a part of their righteousness and salvation to the merits of works, feigning for themselves innumerable advocates, by whom they render God propitious to them, have a sort of fictitious Christ, I know not what; but the lively and genuine image of God, which shines forth in Christ, they deform by their wicked inventions; they lessen his power, subvert and pervert his office” (Calvin).
Arminians, like the Catholics, have dreamt up a fictitious “christ,” and by so doing have perverted all the offices of the true Christ of Scripture. Jesus, in His high priestly prayer, prays, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). Arminians do not believe that His prayer will be answered. They deny that Christ is always heard of His Father (John 11:42).
Arminians will object, “strawman!” since they believe that those whom the Father gave to Christ are those whom the Father merely knew ahead of time would believe. So according to this scheme, the giving of the Father to the Son is based on the sinners own self-righteous efforts.
Concluding Calvin’s commentary on 1 John 2:22:
“We now see that Christ, is denied, whenever those things which peculiarly belong to him, are taken away from him. And as Christ is the end of the law and of the gospel, and has in himself all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, so he is the mark at which all heretics level and direct their arrows. Therefore the Apostle does not, without reason, make those the chief impostors, who fight against Christ, in whom the full truth is exhibited to us.
He is Antichrist. He speaks not of that prince of defection who was to occupy the seat of God; but all those who seek to overthrow Christ, he puts them among that impious band” (Calvin).
A quick disclaimer here:
I am quoting Calvin not because I blanket-endorse him or his teachings. I quote him (a prophet/poet of J-Wall’s own) simply for the purpose of rebutting J-Wall’s view of 1 John that is so restrictive that it dooms it to irrelevance.
An additional quote by John Gill:
“This may have regard not only to the Jews, that deny Jesus to be the Messiah, but chiefly to such who went by the name of Christians; who denied either his proper deity, or real humanity, as Ebion and Cerinthus, which was denying him to be the God-man, the Mediator, and Messiah; and is true of all such that deny him in any of his offices, or in things relating to them, as his Gospel, and any of the peculiar doctrines of it, delivered by him, and so deny his prophetic office; or any of his ordinances, institutions, and appointments, as lawgiver in his house, and King of saints, and so deny him in his kingly office; or reject him as the alone Saviour, joining their own works with him, in the business of salvation, and oppose his sacrifice and satisfaction, and despise his imputed righteousness, and so deny him in his priestly office. Now these are some of the liars, and these some of the doctrinal lies, which are not of the truth, as in 1Jo 2:21” (John Gill).
Related to this topic of Scriptural passages being doomed to irrelevance, several months ago I posted the following on R. Scott Clark’s “Heidelblog” (now defunct) responding to some comments made concerning Clark Pinnock’s teachings in light of his death on August 15, 2010 (a very small portion of my words were edited for the sake of greater clarity):
“I wanted to know if Justin was implying that there might be something in the Op Th position with which he agrees. That’s a fair question and not an insinuation” (R. Scott Clark).
Chris Duncan: Would it also be a fair question to ask whether Justin Taylor (or anyone else commenting here) would judge Clark Pinnock to be a purveyor of a false gospel, one whom the apostle Paul would anathematize (Galatians 1:8-9)? I am NOT asking about Pinnock’s present eternal destiny; what I am asking is whether Justin Taylor (or anyone else) would judge Pinnock to be lost based on his Open Theistic doctrine (Paul spoke of the gospel as the power of God to salvation to everyone believing and Jesus Christ said that all who do not believe the gospel are unregenerate (Mark 16:16).
“This is what I hate about American evangelicalism. It always comes back to who is nicer than whom rather than what is the truth here?
We’re Pinnock a dear old saint, slightly confused saint, some of whom I’ve buried, I wouldn’t have spoken as I did. He wasn’t. He accumulated a significant degree of influence in evangelicalism. He wasn’t just some dear old saint, he fiddled with the faith handed down once for all. Those are two different classes of people” (R. Scott Clark).
Chris Duncan: Professor Clark, are you judging Clark Pinnock to be an unregenerate heretic based on his influential Open Theistic writings? If so, then why can’t Pinnock be — as you’ve stated in the past regarding others — one of those “muddled saints” whom you are in no position to judge?
With one antichristian and irenic mind, many tolerant fashionable Calvinists do not see a false gospel, but a “confusing,” “muddled,” or “defective” gospel (e.g., John Piper, The Future of Justification, p. 24). But even if they DO grudgingly concede that the false gospel is an actual post-Apostolic reality, they could just emulate someone like Bruce Ware by unbiblically separating the heresy from the heretic, so that unlike the Apostle Paul’s anathemas, these “anathemas” would not fall upon actual real-life persons, but person-less, systematic phantoms (For more on this see:
Clark Pinnock was not only an Open Theist, but an inclusivist as well. Anyway, here is how my brother in Christ responded to my comments concerning J-Wall, the Orthodox Presbyterian Minister Of Satan (OPMOS):
“In my significantly-poorer-than-average memory, I didn’t even remember J-Wall when I made that comment! But there must have been a remnant of J-Wall’s blather in the recesses of my diminutive memory when I wrote it. C-Dunc’s quotes bring that malodorous drivel back to the forefront of my mind. He actually implied that Galatians was just about those advocating circumcision within professing Christianity! Where would the book of Galatians be applicable today, OPMOS? I guess that book gets confined to the cobwebs of the theological museum basement. And J-Wall can’t use Romans 10:1-4 unless he’s teaching on that certain segment of Judaism called the Pharisees – and he’d better never use the phrase ‘modern-day Pharisee’ to describe any professing Christian! What nonsense!”