Tonight I was moved to read a short online biography on the great 20th conservative leader J. Gresham Machen. When the church was under the attack and influence of Modernism and Liberalism Machen was one who stood against the tide, this lead to him being called a Fundamentalist, but he was not. According to an online biography posted on the Desiring God website Machen rejected Fundamentalism for the following reasons:
- the absence of historical perspective;
- the lack of appreciation of scholarship;
- the substitution of brief, skeletal creeds for the historic confessions;
- the lack of concern with precise formulation of Christian doctrine;
- the pietistic, perfectionist tendencies (for example, hang ups with smoking,20 etc.);
- one-sided other-worldliness (that is, a lack of effort to transform culture); and
- a penchant for futuristic chiliasm (or: pre-millenialism).
It was very affirming to read the above list given by Dr. Piper. I also reject Fundamentalism for all of the exact same reasons, and also agree with Machen when he wrote, “I have little time to be attacking my brethren who stand with me in defense of the Word of God.” His work “Christianity and Liberalism” can be downloaded in audio form from ReformedAudio.com
On the importance of ideas:
“False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation to be controlled by ideas […] which prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.”
“The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of connection with Christianity. Christianity must pervade not merely all nations but also all of human thought.”
His last recorded words:
“I’m so thankful for [the] active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.”
 J. Gresham Machen’s Response to Modernism
You can view the post here.
These statements are in conflict :
- Can you lose your salvation? The question is phrased incorrectly. The question should be “can you fall away from the faith?” The biblical answer is yes, you can fall away from the faith.
- Can we know we are going to heaven? The biblical answer to that questions is yes we can know we are going to heaven. The cross is an accomplished fact. Jesus died for our sins. It is finished.
If you can lose your salvation then Jesus didn’t finish anything. We know from Hebrews 10 that the death of Christ ALWAYS results in the perfection of them for whom it was offered so if you lose your faith Jesus didn’t finish anything for you.
If you miss the point of justification you’ll miss the point of the “good news.”
“Far from being a merely speculative point, it spreads its influence through the whole body of divinity, runs through all Christian experience, and operates in every part of practical godliness. Such is its grand importance, that a mistake about it has a malignant efficacy, and is attended with a long train of dangerous consequences.” Abraham Booth, The Reign of Grace
A sinner will continue to fall into sin due to the old nature remaining (Rom. 7). To claim that we can fall back into sin and lose faith confuses justification with regeneration and sanctification, one of the key reasons for the Reformation. Jesus Christ is the perfect propitiation for our (believers) sins, that means the enmity between God and man has been removed and besides, propitiated sins cannot be punished.
The Bible teaches that a sinner is declared justified by God in a legal sense, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” (Gen. 44:16, Job 9:20, 32:2, Ps. 51:4, Rom. 8:33-34). Jesus Christ represents His people while God the Father pronounces a judgement on us in Christ. Our justifying is not a change being made in us but a declaration of our innocence based on the work of Christ on the cross. This is an objective change in our legal status before God as it relates to our transgression of the Law of God. A criminal can be forgiven or pardoned but only a righteous person can be justified, which is the whole point of Christ’s death in place of sinners, to impute (not infuse or impart) righteousness (Rom. 3:24, 8:30) to His people.
“Eternal security” or “once saved always saved” teachers will often ask the question “what particular sin can cause someone to “lose their salvation.” The biblical response to that question is that when faith fails and love grows cold a person will fall into their old sinful lifestyle. It’s not a matter of a believer stumbling, falling into sin, and then repenting. It’s a matter of falling away from the faith entirely and falling back into their old sinful lifestyle. There is no security in sin. Repentance is not a one time act.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught that there would be those who would believe only for awhile and endure only for a time. He said some would fall away.
There are different “kinds” of faith as Stephen Charnock points out, “Those who lay claim to a relation to God without imitation of him are not children but bastards. They may be of his family by instruction but not by descent. There is no implantation in Christ without an imitation both of the Creator and Redeemer.”
Not all faith is saving faith (Jam. 2:14) and the Gospel can produce a shallow, mental ascent to the good news presented. A profession does not necessarily mean one is saved for not everyone who “says Lord, Lord” is saved. (Matt. 7) Only those who are “accepted in the beloved” are saved, not all those who walk an aisle during an altar call can make that claim.
To say that Christ’s death doesn’t actually accomplish salvation destroys the biblical doctrine of the atonement and the unity of the Trinity for Christ’s death becomes a salvation AmWay program and God the Father refuses to hear the prayers of God the Son. (John 17)