Hey there, Jeff-
I’ll intersperse comments below.
==outside the camp, lol, sorry. Thank you for taking such interest in my questions and may God bless your patience with me. I am afraid I might be missing something with salvation at stake.==
I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “missing something with salvation at stake.”
==And so much that has brought me closer to the Lord has now been brought into question by your site. How do I evaluate myself, the fruit brought forth in my life. Certainly a good tree cannot put forth bad fruit, but a bad tree cannot put forth good fruit.==
What is this “much” that you think has brought you closer to the Lord and what specifically on the site has now brought that into question?
You mention good trees and bad trees and the corresponding fruits that they necessarily put forth. Outward morality and zeal (cf. Romans 10:1-3; Philippians 3:1-8) by themselves cannot be judged of itself as good fruit, since there are outwardly moral and zealous unbelievers — judgment must still be made on gospel doctrine. Not all who live moral lives are bringing forth good fruit; in fact, most who live moral lives are unsaved, bring forth fruit unto death. On the other hand, all who are saved will live moral lives. Thus, if anyone lives a life that is characterized by the bad (evil) fruit of immorality, he is unsaved; he shows he does not believe the gospel. But if someone whose life is characterized by morality is encountered, I do not know if that person is saved (putting forth good fruit) or unsaved (putting forth bad fruit) until I know what gospel doctrine he believes or does not believe. Two people can look the same in character and conduct who are in opposite spiritual states. The primacy of doctrine in making judgments concerning what is good and what is bad fruit, remains. Some very relevant links that may help:
==For most of your response, It might take me a few days to think on what you have said. I will try to respond now, but may re-evaluate with some scripture study this weekend. The book of John, Jesus is the light, and the light was the life of men.
I would like to clarify my 99.99999 statement as I think I am not very good at representing the point I want to get across in writing.
I know this is a wrong method to look at this, but if 99.9999% of a persons works are biblically sound, but they made one comment about someone possibly being a saved christian even though they believed in some form of arminianism, the are non saved, lost, heretics, antichrists is a little hard for me to handle.==
If you know that it is a wrong method, then why use it? What if a person’s works were sound except for one comment they made about Mormons possibly being saved Christians? Is that enough to judge them lost for denying the gospel as the power of God to salvation to everyone believing (Romans 1:16-17; Mark 16:16)? Or, would that too, be a litte hard for you to handle? You ask what I think concerning your spiritual state. Well, from what I can gather, you MIGHT believe that all who believe that Christ died for everyone without exception (Arminians) are unregenerate. I think I understand you regarding what you think of those “tolerant Calvinists” who think Arminians are saved (cf. http://www.outsidethecamp.org/gospatone.htm). I suppose I would have to ask you more about what you mean by “hard for you to handle.”
==First, what I did NOT wish to convey, if someone is wrong on important points, for instance there are many ways to salvation without Christ, they are saved. Of course they are not.==
And there are multitudes who come in the name of Christianity who are wrong on the most important of points — which is that a propitiation actually propitiates, a Savior actually saves, and an atonement actually atones.
You mention the “many ways to salvation view” which even the WCF men labeled as “very pernicious” and something “to be detested.” But while they said that no one can be saved apart from Christ (X.4), they nevertheless said that some can be saved in ignorance of Christ (X.3). This kind of inclusivism is just as damnably pernicious as the kind of inclusivism that the WCF rejected. For more on this see: http://www.outsidethecamp.org/wcf.htm
==(I could use some understanding on which specific doctrines are salvation killing if you get it wrong someone told me at 10 years old I was going to hell because we had an organ in our church, he was from the church of Christ and seemed quite pleased with himself, almost self righteous.) Truly, this is so very clear to me by the grace of God. Let me try to convey what I meant by example.==
Knowing what the so-called church of Christ believes about the Person and Work of Jesus Christ I would say that he was not “almost” but altogether self-righteous since he puts his own efforts (rather than those of Jesus Christ) as what makes the ultimate difference between salvation and damnation — this is the very essence of the spirit of antichrist (cf. 1 John). This self-righteous religionist judged you at ten-years old by a false standard, not the standard of the gospel.
I think I know what you mean by “salvation-killing” doctrines. Related to this is what we call “essential gospel doctrine.” By “essential,” we mean that if you do not have this doctrine, you do not have the gospel. Some links on what the gospel is and is not and what is essential gospel doctrine is found here: http://www.outsidethecamp.org/gospelseries.htm
==As your site states, some christians seemed sound to you until certain passages were pointed out to you. For example, John Owen has written a couple of books through which my eyes were opened to a richer understanding of the bible, and more importantly, an understanding on how to apply it in my life (or how I am not applying it in my life). Thank you for the reference that the unregenerate can indeed provide information edifying to christians. But I compare the life of such as John Owen, Isaac Newton, to others past and present. I see a committment to Christ.==
When I was an unregenerate Calvinist I found John Owen’s “Death of Death” helpful and not the least bit heretical. But after God saved me and I went back and read over it again, I still found some very helpful (and even edifying things), but what I ALSO found was his demonic doctrine of salvation conditioned on what God enables the sinner to perform, thus showing his ignorance of God’s righteousness (Romans 10:1-4):
==Paul himself was going to hell. His crime, zealousness for God, misguided zealousness. So I really understand your point. What gets me is if these folks and those like them with their devotion and prayer life can’t let the holy spirit influence them to a right understanding of the gospel at least at the point in their lives where they convey improperly the method of our salvation, what points am I wrong on and don’t know it? –==
You are not judging their “devotion and prayer life” by the gospel. This would tell me that you do not know what the gospel is (or at least it would tell me that you do not judge saved and lost by the standard of the gospel). And what’s this about “letting” the Holy Spirit influence them to a right understanding of the gospel? What does a question like that look like in the face of such passages as 2 Corinthians 4:3-7? The Holy Spirit powerfully, efficaciously, irresistibly, and immediately causes His people to have a right understanding who Christ is what He did. Those who have this “right understanding” of the gospel hidden have it hidden because the god of this age has blinded their minds, NOT because of some supposed failure to “let” the Holy Spirit influence them aright (cf. http://www.outsidethecamp.org/holyspirit.htm).
==I am not implying they did works and deserve something, I feel like some of these christians from the past would do anything to have proper understanding of the bible. From your site, and it makes sense to me, one is either not elect, therefore never saved, or elect unregenerate. I have absolutely no problem with election. I used to, but the bible makes it plain. Certain nuances of election are beyond me, but so what. I have the important part.==
Just to reiterate. The link on the gospel series and essential gospel doctrine should be helpful here.
==The second prong of my confusion( the first being if these christians like John Owen, had blinders on their soul to get clear understanding of the gospel,) is compare people like Owen to “christians” I know today. Compromise to sell books (Blackaby), New age (actually old age heretics) like emergent stench church (Bell, McClaren), kooks like benny hinn, health wealth cranks too numerous to count tdjakes,olsteen,creflo dollar, some woman oh ….. Joyce meyer, , morons who claim their “messages” they get today are equilivent to scripture. They make me tremble looking how bankrupt people follow this hollow gospel. These spawn of satan cannot believe in the true mighty GOD. How could you say these things if you think there is an all powerful, all knowing Lord and God of the Universe? Can you imagine playing like you are the shepherd of your congregations souls when you are playing people like suckers all the way to the bank?? It is the gospel many want to hear, live worldly, get all you can now, and as a bonus, go to heaven. Just don’t bother to read scripture to test the fruit of your life. So, in summary, if some I respect and look up to their teachings are lost, or possibly lost at the time they wrote certain things, what hope have I. And secondly, these people seem to have their heart in the right place, they were not purposeful frauds out for money and self glorification it seems. It seems strange to identify say, Mathew Henry, as an unsaved heretic and God hater when I see the fruit of his life vs the morally bankrupt aforementioned.==
Obviously, I would make a distinction between someone like Matthew Henry (or John Owen) and those really wacked-out kooks like Meyer, Dollar, and McClaren. There are clear differences. But — and this is very important — what ALL of the aforementioned have in common is ignorance of the righteousness of God that is revealed in the gospel (cf. Romans 10:1-4). Also, men who believe like Owen and the WCF SAY that God is sovereign but by their demonic doctrine of a “permissive” decree in God show that they too, are spawn of Satan (see the Owen and WCF link that I provided above).
==The works of some of the puritans/reformers have made me really examine myself in light of the scripture. I didn’t even notice their arminianistic qualities. True though when I buy a book on finances, self defense, any topic, and I find out the person is anti christian, I question how their work will be useful and usually choose not to buy it. But if you, upon examination of the scripture, cannot find an author who consistently gets the gospel message right, I am left quite adrift, as I found some of these authors works to be deep and rich in things of the bible. On the positive side, your message is clear and easy to understand. It puts my mind at ease on matters that have bothered me, issues that are hypocritical. Like Billy Graham. I like the man. I believe he may truly believe what he is saying. But his message is a feel good drug for a lost world, except it is a placebo pill with no curing power as it shows a false salvation message. Your site covers this well. Other authors where your site helped me: Piper, and J I Packer. Some good stuff (Piper) lots of good stuff (Packer) but some nonsense also. Also people like ??? cant remember his name, gave a national prayer and did not mention Jesus’ name so as to not offend. Revi Zecharia [sic] I think? With these examples, your point is clear about unregenerate.==
A lot of Puritan writing encourages one to self-righteously gaze into their own navels. Plumer shows heavy influence by them: http://www.outsidethecamp.org/review132.htm By the way, in my days of unregeneracy I thought they were solid. But now I see that they are not. Thomas Shepherd is a fairly popular Puritan who is mentioned in this review Marc did:
Here are some things I have written on Piper (when I was a lost Calvinist Piper was probably my favorite living theologian):
==Next: does the book ‘THE Reformers and their Stepchildren” ISBN-10: 1579789358 have any redeeming value? It is about the reformers who were allied to the “stepchildren” until they buddied up to government power , including Calvin, and persecuted them, anabaptists I believe.==
Maybe. I haven’t read it.
The Lord willing, I will have to comment on your answers to the questions below at a later time. Bye for now.