two views of the gospel

While we are at Ramblin’ Pastor Man’s place, check out his post quoting J.I. Packer on two views of the gospel.

Here is the clearest list of the differences that I have yet seen. Go read the conclusion that follows these two lists. Powerful stuff.

According to Dr. Packer, the Arminian view of the gospel can be summarized as follows:

1. Man is never so completely corrupted by sin that he cannot savingly believe the gospel when it is put before him,

2. nor is he ever so completely controlled by God that he cannot reject it.

3. God’s election of those who shall be saved is prompted by his foreseeing that they will of their own accord believe.

4. Christ’s death did not ensure the salvation of anyone, for it did not secure the gift of faith to anyone (there is no such gift): what it did was rather to create a possibility of salvation for everyone if they believe.

5. It rests with believers to keep themselves in a state of grace by keeping up their faith; those who fail here fall away and are lost.

Dr. Packer then goes on to summarize the Reformed view of the gospel in this manner:

1. Fallen man in his natural state lacks all power to believe the gospel, just as he lacks all power to believe the law, despite all external inducements that may be extended to him.

2. God’s election is a free, sovereign, unconditional choice of sinners, as sinners, to be redeemed by Christ, given faith, and brought to glory.

3. The redeeming work of Christ had as its end and goal the salvation of the elect.

4. The work of the Holy Spirit in bringing men to faith never fails to achieve its object.

5. Believers are kept in faith and grace by the unconquerable power of God till they come to glory.

and here is part of Dan Lowe’s excellent summation:

Now the ultimate standard by which we judge our view of the gospel is Scripture alone. All God’s people must strive to humble themselves before the Word of God and seek to understand the good news in the way in which God has revealed it. But our responsibility does not end there. We have an obligation to proclaim this gospel message to the world around us. And our proclamation of the gospel should be robust, expounding the fullness of the glory of the message of salvation. This means that we must deal with the issues at the heart of the debate between those who are Arminian and Reformed in their understanding of the gospel. If we do otherwise, than we are not being faithful communicators of the God-given gospel message.

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