One or Two?

by 

An ideology is taking over the West that is both very spiritual and self-consciously anti-Christian. It intends, ever so subtly, without ever saying so explicitly, to grind the gospel into the dustbin of history. The 1960s was an incredibly formative decade. In 1962, Mircea Eliade, the world expert on comparative religions, observed: “Western thought [he meant Christendom] can no longer maintain itself in this splendid isolation from a confrontation with the ‘unknown,’ the ‘outsiders.’” As if on cue, the “Fab Four” met the Maharishi and introduced the “wisdom of the East” to popular Western culture. In the same decade, the “Death of God” theology arose, which turned out not to be the final triumph of secular humanism over the God of the Bible but instead the arrival of “the new polytheism” in the rebirth of the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome. Bob Dylan sang, “The Times They Are A’Changin,” and we heard for the first time of the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius,” an age of pagan utopian spirituality. This was the age when many became aware of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism through the discovery of ancient Gnostic texts and the psychological theories of the modern, very spiritual Gnostic Carl Jung, who called Christian orthodoxy “systematic blindness.” Jung followed the ancient Gnostic god Abraxas, half man, half beast, as a deity higher than both the Christian God and the Devil. His secular biographer recently stated that Jung, like the Roman Emperor Julian in the fourth century AD, succeeded in turning the Western world back to paganism.

The results of this pagan invasion of the West are stunning. In August 2009, Newsweek announced that “we are all Hindus now,” meaning that the Western “Christian” soul has been profoundly and definitively altered by Eastern spiritual one-ism, the seductive message of which is bound up in the Hindu word advaita, meaning “not two.” Here is the massive clash of two fundamentally opposed worldviews. Whereas Scripture affirms two-ism (the Creator/creature distinction and all the distinctions God creates in the cosmos He made), Hindu one-ism categorically affirms that things are “not two” but “one.” In a cosmos without a Creator, all distinctions collapse and man is god.

The conversion of the West has had practical effects. California is now mandating, in the name of oneist fairness, that gay history must be taught in all the schools, including grade school. The effect on Christian teachers will be devastating. If they leave, we hand over public education to the pagans. The same is happening in the military chaplaincy, just the way it happened in the fourth century under Julian the Apostate, who turned the empire back to Isis worship and purged Christians from the imperial administration.

Pagan territory is new for us. The theological binary (two-ism) is being ineluctably undermined by the rejection of the normative male/female binary. In a Swedish, tax-funded preschool, teachers can no longer use the pronouns him or her and must address the children as “friends.” “Homophobic,” gender-specific children’s stories such as “Thumbelina” or “Cinderella” are forbidden. A Toronto couple is raising their baby, Storm, without telling anyone the child’s gender.

While only 1.4 percent of the U.S. population claims a same-sex orientation (see the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 2011), this minuscule tail wags the massive dog of Western culture because the agenda of homosexual oneness fits the “new ideology” of advaita — “not two.”

The one-ism of secular environmentalism is capturing the mind of the rising generation, raised in grade school through college on the notion of “sustainability” that worships Mother Earth and flattens the difference between creatures made in God’s image and those that are not.

What will happen to gospel witness when Western culture is “purified” of its literary canon and its Christian ethical past? The church must still speak and live out all issues of fundamental truth, whatever the cost — not to save America but to save souls from eternal doom. Without a clear understanding of the biblical worldview of two-ism — especially without the unambiguous embodiment of gender distinctions — as part of the image of God, we lose the essence of who we are as human beings, and the gospel loses its clarity.

It is time for people everywhere to hear that the good news concerns the amazing grace of reconciliation with God, the great Other, who, while transcendently different from us, redeems sinful creatures like us and restores to us personal fellowship with Him through the atoning death of His Son.

Confession The Faith–The 1689 Baptist Confession for the 21st Century

Chapter 18 – Assurance of Grace and Salvation

1. Temporary believers and other unregenerate people may deceive themselves in vain with false hopes and fleshly presumptions that they have God’s favor and salvation, but their hope will perish.1  Yet those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus and love him sincerely, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may be certainly assured in this life that they are in a state of grace. They may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God,2 and this hope will never make them ashamed.3

1Job 8:13, 14; Matthew 7:22, 23. 21 John 2:3; 3:14, 18, 19, 21, 24; 5:13. 3Romans 5:2, 5.

 

2. This certainty is not merely an inconclusive or likely persuasion based on a fallible hope. It is an infallible assurance of faith4 founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel.5  It is also built on the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit about which promises are made.6  It is further based on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God.7  As a fruit of this assurance, our hearts are kept both humble and holy.8

4Hebrews 6:11, 19. 5Hebrews 6:17, 18. 62 Peter 1:4, 5, 10, 11. 7Romans 8:15, 16. 81 John 3:1–3.

 

3. This infallible assurance is not such an essential part of faith that it is always fully experienced alongside faith, but true believers may wait a long time and struggle with many difficulties before obtaining it.9  Yet with the enabling of the Spirit to know the things freely given to them by God, they may attain this assurance using ordinary means appropriately without any extraordinary revelation.10  Therefore, it is the duty of all to be as diligent as possible to make their calling and election sure. In this way their hearts may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience. These effects are the natural fruits of this assurance.11  Thus, it does not at all encourage believers to be negligent.12

9Isaiah 50:10; Psalms 88; 77:1–12. 101 John 4:13; Hebrews 6:11, 12. 11Romans 5:1, 2, 5; 14:17; Psalms 119:32. 12Romans 6:1, 2; Titus 2:11, 12, 14.

 

4. True believers may in various ways have the assurance of their salvation shaken, decreased, or temporarily lost. This may happen because they neglect to preserve it13 or fall into some specific sin that wounds their conscience and grieves the Spirit.14  It may happen through some unexpected or forceful temptation15 or when God withdraws the light of his face and allows even those who fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light.16  Yet they are never completely lacking the seed of God,17 the life of faith,18 love of Christ and the brethren, sincerity of heart, or conscience concerning their duty. Out of these graces, through the work of the Spirit, this assurance may at the proper time be revived.19  In the meantime, they are kept from utter despair through them.20

13Song of Solomon 5:2, 3, 6. 14Psalms 51:8, 12, 14. 15Psalms 116:11; 77:7, 8; 31:22; 16Psalms 30:7. 171 John 3:9. 18Luke 22:32. 19Psalms 42:5, 11. 20Lamentations 3:26–31.

 

The Perseverance of the Saints

1. Those God has accepted in the Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect can neither totally nor finally fall from a state of grace. They will certainly persevere in grace to the end and be eternally saved, because the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. Therefore, he still brings about and nourishes in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit that lead to immortality.1  Even though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet these things will never be able to move the elect from the foundation and rock to which they are anchored by faith. The felt sight of the light and love of God may be clouded and obscured from them for a time through their unbelief and the temptations of Satan.2  Yet God is still the same;  they will certainly be kept by the power of God for salvation, where they will enjoy their purchased possession. For they are engraved on the palms of his hands, and their names have been written in the book of life from all eternity.3

1John 10:28, 29; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:19; 1 John 2:19. 2Psalms 89:31, 32; 1 Corinthians 11:32. 3Malachi 3:6.

 

2. This perseverance of the saints does not depend on their own free will but on the unchangeableness of the decree of election,4 which flows from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father. It is based on the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and union with him,5 the oath of God,6 the abiding of his Spirit, the seed of God within them,7and the nature of the covenant of grace.8  The certainty and infallibility of their perseverance is based on all these things.

4Romans 8:30 Romans 9:11, 16. 5Romans 5:9, 10; John 14:19. 6Hebrews 6:17, 18. 71 John 3:9. 8Jeremiah 32:40.

 

3. They may fall into grievous sins and continue in them for a time, due to the temptation of Satan and the world, the strength of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of means of their preservation.9  In so doing, they incur God’s displeasure and grieve his Holy Spirit;10 their graces and comforts become impaired;11 their hearts are hardened and their consciences wounded;12 they hurt and scandalize others and bring temporary judgments on themselves.13  Nevertheless, they will renew their repentance and be preserved through faith in Christ Jesus to the end.14

9Matthew 26:70, 72, 74. 10Isaiah 64:5, 9; Ephesians 4:30. 11Psalms 51:10, 12. 12Psalms 32:3, 4. 132 Samuel 12:14. 14Luke 22:32, 61, 62.

Confession The Faith–The 1689 Baptist Confession for the 21st Century

Chapter 16 – Good Works

1. Good works are only those works that God has commanded in his holy Word.1  Works that do not have this warrant are invented by people out of blind zeal or on a pretense of good intentions and are not truly good.2

1Micah 6:8; Hebrews 13:21. 2Matthew 15:9; Isaiah 29:13.

 

2. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruit and evidence of a true and living faith.3  Through good works believers express their thankfulness,4 strengthen their assurance,5 build up their brothers and sisters, adorn the profession of the gospel,6 stop the mouths of opponents, and glorify God.7  Believers are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,8 so that they bear fruit leading to holiness and have the outcome, eternal life.9

3James 2:18, 22. 4Psalms 116:12, 13. 51 John 2:3, 5; 2 Peter 1:5–11. 6Matthew 5:16. 71 Timothy 6:1; 1 Peter 2:15; Philippians 1:11. 8Ephesians 2:10. 9Romans 6:22.

 

3. Their ability to do good works does not arise at all from themselves but entirely from the Spirit of Christ.10  To enable them to do good works, they need—in addition to the graces they have already received—an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do his good pleasure.11  Yet this is no reason for them to grow negligent, as if they were not required to perform any duty without a special motion of the Spirit. Instead, they should be diligent to stir up the grace of God that is in them.12

10John 15:4, 5. 112 Corinthians 3:5; 12Philippians 2:13; Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Isaiah 64:7.

 

4. Those who attain the greatest heights of obedience possible in this life are far from being able to merit reward by going beyond dutya or to do more than God requires. Instead, they fall short of much that is their duty to do.13

a supererogate
13Job 9:2, 3; Galatians 5:17; Luke 17:10.

 

5. We cannot, even by our best works, merit pardon of sin or eternal life from God’s hand, due to the huge disproportion between our works and the glory to come, and the infinite distance between us and God. By these works we can neither benefit God nor satisfy him for the debt of our former sins.14  When we have done all we can, we have only done our duty and are unprofitable servants. Since our good works are good, they must proceed from his Spirit;15 and since they are performed by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they cannot withstand the severity of God’s punishment.16

14Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 4:6. 15Galatians 5:22, 23. 16Isaiah 64:6; Psalms 143:2.

 

6. Nevertheless, believers are accepted through Christ, and thus their good works are also accepted in him.17  This acceptance does not mean our good works are completely blameless and irreproachable in God’s sight. Instead, God views them in his Son, and so he is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, even though it is accompanied by many weaknesses and imperfections.18

17Ephesians 1:6; 1 Peter 2:5. 18Matthew 25:21, 23; Hebrews 6:10.

 

7. Works done by unregenerate people may in themselves be commanded by God and useful to themselves and others.19  Yet they do not come from a heart purified by faith20 and are not done in a right manner according to the Word21 nor with a right goal—the glory of God.22   Therefore, they are sinful and cannot please God. They cannot qualify anyone to receive grace from God,23 and yet their neglect is even more sinful and displeasing to God.24

192 Kings 10:30; 1 Kings 21:27, 29. 20Genesis 4:5; Hebrews 11:4, 6. 211 Corinthians 13:1. 22Matthew 6:2, 5. 23Amos 5:21, 22; Romans 9:16; Titus 3:5. 24Job 21:14, 15; Matthew 25:41–43.

Confession The Faith–The 1689 Baptist Confession for the 21st Century

Chapter 15 – Repentance to Life and Salvation

1. Some of the elect are converted after their early years, having lived in the naturala state for a time and served various evil desires and pleasures. God gives these repentance to life as part of their effectual calling.1

awithout the Spirit
1Titus 3:2–5. 

2. There is no one who does good and does not sin.2  Even the best may fall into great sins and offenses, through the power and deceitfulness of the corruption in them, along with the strength of temptation. Therefore, God has mercifully provided in the covenant of grace that believers who sin and fall will be renewed through repentance to salvation.3

2Ecclesiastes 7:20. 3Luke 22:31, 32.

3. This saving repentance is a gospel grace4 in which those who are made aware by the Holy Spirit of the many evils of their sin, by faith in Christ humble themselves for it with godly sorrow, hatred of it, and self-loathing.5 They pray for pardon and strength of grace and determine and endeavor by provisions from the Spirit to live before God in a well-pleasing way in everything.6

4Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:18. 5Ezekiel 36:31; 2 Corinthians 7:11. 6Psalms 119:6, 128. 

4. Repentance must continue throughout our lives, because of the body of death and its activities. So it is everyone’s duty to repent of each specific, known sin specifically.7

7Luke 19:8; 1 Timothy 1:13, 15. 

5. God has made full provision through Christ in the covenant of grace to preserve believers in their salvation. Thus, although there is no sin so small that it is undeserving of damnation,8 yet there is no sin so great that it will bring damnation on those who repent.9 This makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.

8Romans 6:23. 9Isaiah 1:16–18; 55:7.

 

Westminster Catechism I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace,a the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.b

III. Although repentance be not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof,e which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ;f yet is it of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.g

 

IV. As there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation;h so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.i

 

V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavour to repent of his particular sins particularly.k

 

VI. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof;l upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy;m so he that scandalizeth his brother, or the church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended;n who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.o

Chapter 14 – Saving Faith

1. The grace of faith, by which the elect are enabled to believe so that their souls are saved, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts.1  Faith is ordinarily produced by the ministry of the Word.2  By this same ministry and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed by God, faith is increased and strengthened.3

12 Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 2:8. 2Romans 10:14, 17. 3Luke 17:5; 1 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:32.

 

2. By this faith Christians believe to be true everything revealed in the Word, recognizing it as the authority of God himself.4  They also perceive that the Word is more excellent than every other writing and everything else in the world,5because it displays the glory of God in his attributes, the excellence of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in his activities and operations. So they are enabled to entrust their souls to the truth believed.6  They respond differently according to the content of each particular passage—obeying the commands,7 trembling at the threatenings,8 and embracing the promises of God for this life and the one to come.9  But the principal acts of saving faith focus directly on Christ—accepting, receiving, and resting upon him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.10

4Acts 24:14. 5Psalms 27:7–10; Psalms 119:72. 62 Timothy 1:12. 7John 14:14. 8Isaiah 66:2. 9Hebrews 11:13. 10John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Galatians 2:20; Acts 15:11.

 

3. This faith may exist in varying degrees so that it may be either weak or strong.11  Yet even in its weakest form, it is different in kind or nature (like all other saving graces) from the faith and common grace of temporary believers.12  Therefore, faith may often be attacked and weakened, but it gains the victory.13  It matures in many to the point that they attain full assurance through Christ,14 who is both the founder and perfecter of our faith.15

11Hebrews 5:13, 14; Matthew 6:30; Romans 4:19, 20. 122 Peter 1:1. 13Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 5:4, 5. 14Hebrews 6:11, 12; Colossians 2:2. 15Hebrews 12:2.

Chapter 13 – Sanctification

1. Those who are united to Christ and effectually called and regenerated have a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. They are also further sanctified, really and personally,1through the same power, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them.2 The dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,3and the various evil desires that arise from it are more and more weakened and put to death.4  At the same time, those called and regenerated are more and more enlivened and strengthened in all saving graces5 so that they practice true holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.6

1Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5, 6. 2John 17:17; Ephesians 3:16–19; 1 Thessalonians 5:21–23. 3Romans 6:14. 4Galatians 5:24. 5Colossians 1:11. 62 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14.

 

2. This sanctification extends throughout the whole person,7 though it is never completed in this life. Some corruption remains in every part.8  From this arises a continual and irreconcilable war, with the desires of the flesh against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.9

71 Thessalonians 5:23. 8Romans 7:18, 23. 9Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:11.

 

3. In this war, the remaining corruption may greatly prevail for a time.10  Yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part overcomes.11  So the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. They pursue a heavenly life, in gospel obedience to all the commands that Christ as Head and King has given them in his Word.12

10Romans 7:23. 11Romans 6:14. 12Ephesians 4:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1.