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#58848 Mon Jan 29, 2024 1:54 PM
Joined: Dec 2021
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Pilgrim, concerning antinomianism, I read Dr. Gerstner's article you reprinted and you concluded "all the confusion is dispelled and the truth of the matter is laid bare". I have trouble with your assessment. I came away from his article with the impression he is mixing sanctification with justification as Roman Catholics do. Maybe it is the choice of his words and phrasing that I found difficult.

Having grown up in dispensationalism, I heard the statement that "it is heart knowledge that is true faith, not head knowledge." I detested that comparison for it explains nothing! What you truly believe in your 'heart' in biblical language, is still Bible truth undestood by the brain, the head. Maybe Dr. Gerstner is teaching what I understand from a different perspective.

I was taught that man is a trichotomy: body, soul and spirit. In that presentation the body directed by the soul may sin all it wants, be carnal, yet still be saved in the spirit. I usually heard it based on the following:

"It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1Cor 5:1-5 KJV)

This was termed the 'carnal Christian' doctrine that the flesh here is the combined body/soul and if the Christian continues in sin without repentance and change of life, the Lord will kill him and take him home to stop him from being a shameful example on earth as a Christian and harming the gospel truth. So, the carnal Christian can continue to sin in the soul or carnal dimension, but be eternally saved in the spirit. Now, I reject this totally, and maybe this is what Dr. Gerstner is explaining as "antinomian". I came to believe the carnal Christian idea to be a dangerous and false teaching.

I take the works to be evidentiary for showing that one has true saving faith as in James chapter 2. But I separate justification from sanctification and look at it as follows:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life." (Eph 2:8-10 NRSV)

I do believe you cannot have a true saving faith with only justification, if the process of sanctification is missing. I also understand this verse to mean each individual, the true born anew man will have that Spirit given new birth continued with, and in sanctification, by the Spirit. I understand 2 Peter 1:1-11 to be a more full teaching as that in James 2.

I have high respect for Dr. Gerstner and within the last year bought his book Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth and loved his phrase "spoof texting" used by dispensationalists, instead of proper "proof texting". Maybe my confusion I had with the article you presented by Gerstner is because I've been studying some on "eternal justifcation" and kept seeing that connected to antinomianism. I seem to be leaning toward Gill's presentation of eternal justfication, and so I was connecting antinomianism with that.

As a New Covenant believer, I do believe that Christ abolished the entire Old Covenant, the Law of Moses. I reject the idea of dividing the Law into 3 parts. BUT, I understand the abolishing of the Law to mean as it came from the writing of Moses. I am convinced that what I see as God's everlasting law existed from the creation and is still in effect under the New Covenant today, and is basically seen in brief, in the Ten Commandments. I do not see any believer to be under the Old Covenant Law today. I take this from the following:

"For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all." (Rom 2:13-16 NRSV)

I only bring up eternal justification in my reply to possibly explain why I found Dr. Gerstner's article more confusing than clarifying.

DiscipleEddie #58849 Mon Jan 29, 2024 2:45 PM
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1. The 'confusion' is yours and surprising so IF you have actually read Dr. Gerstner's other writings on Roman Catholicism and justification/sanctification. He loves to quote the Reformer's quip contra the RC's fallacious charge regarding this matter of justification is "Sola Fide" that opens the door to unfettered sin... "Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone!"

2, Gerstner, myself, and the majority of the Church historically holds to "dichotomy" vs. your "trichotomy".

3. Gill's "eternal justification" is no less in error than all the other similar views of eternal justification:
Romans 4:1-8 (ASV) 1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, hath found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not toward God. 3 For what saith the scripture? And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness. 6 Even as David also pronounceth blessing upon the man, unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works, 7 [saying], Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, And whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom, the Lord will not reckon sin.
God eternally decrees the justification of the elect, BUT they are NOT actually justified UNTIL they believe and are thus united with Christ. Justification is NOT simply the assurance of a believer that they have been justified already nope

4. Your interpretation of Rom 2:13-16 actually contradicts your "New Covenant" view. Paul teaches that those, who before Moses received the 10 Commandments, did what that law required showed that they are guilty before the "law" (10 Commandments) and shall be judged as will all mankind, by that "law" (10 Commandments) which is eternally binding and was NOT abrogated at the coming of Christ.... do not respond as this is off topic here. smile

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Pilgrim #58854 Tue Jan 30, 2024 3:04 PM
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On #1, I know Dr. Gerstner is a highly respected Reformed scholar and I do not remember anything specifically I've read by him. My reply was to the "impression" I got from that article, probably out of a larger context. I was thinking as a typical reader who did not know who Gerstner was, but my reply was to your assesment that that article dispelled all the confusion, and I disagreed..

On #2, it is I who did not make myself clear on trichotomy. I have not held the tripartite nature of man for over 50 years. I mentioned one passage used by many based on trichotomy, and considered that doctrine dangerous as the carnal Christian teaching is dangerous. I was rejecting trichotomy along with "carnal Christian".

On #3, The idea of eternal justification is something I am giving a new look since I saw it connected so solidly to antinomianism, and I'm not so sure we can only use black and white thinking on some matters concerning God, of which we can't be quite so dogmatic. If the phrase "his faith is reckoned for righteousness" is used for timing, wouldn't it risk seeming to indicate neonomianism. Does it not mean that his faith indicates that he is, or he is to be considered righteous in Christ, but not when he was actually righteous in Christ?

In the past I had always just considered the idea of eternal justification interesting, but not spent any time on it, so I still have not formed a solid or dogmatic view on it. The one verse or passage that comes to mind that does cause me to think more strongly about the idea is:

"Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2Tim 1:8-10 NRSV)

That sounds to me as if our salvation in total, was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and this total salvation including justification was brought to light through the gospel, rather than belief in the gospel making our faith the determining factor. True, our faith is a gift, but just how detailed can I be about what in our total salvation was given before creation? There is another phrasing in the writings of Paul and John that has been taken back in the NRSVue to the literal rending of the the KJV and YLT:

" was to demonstrate at the present time his own righteousness, so that he is righteous and he justifies the one "who has the faith of Jesus" (Rom. 3:26 NRSVue) plus Rom. 3:22; Gal. 2:16, 3:22.

Prepositions admittedly are tricky, and this can be seen in all the ways the Greek ek can be understood as a look at Strong's shows. But, I am still working on whether this change in preposition has a bearing on the question of eternal justification, or is it solely a matter of our faith exercised?

On #4, I'll post a thread on that topic later, but Rom. 2:14 does state: "Gentiles, who do not possess the law," which is the Old Covenant, and that seems quite clear to me, and it agrees with statements made by Moses in the OT. Gentiles were brought from the everlasting law of God which was in existence in Genesis, before Moses, into the New Covenant, if they are of the elect. (I have some how messed up the "reply" placement)

Last edited by DiscipleEddie; Tue Jan 30, 2024 3:06 PM.

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