In modern times, the error of cold, “dead Calvinism” (what many true believers in free and sovereign grace called the religion of the letter-men, those who know truth after the letter only, but not by experience) manifests itself something like this:
1. The Gospel is God’s promise to save His people from eternal damnation based solely upon the Person, work, and righteousness of Christ (imputed to them), with their character and conduct playing no role in their salvation.
2. I believe that the Gospel is God’s promise to save His people from eternal damnation based solely upon the Person, work, and righteousness of Christ (imputed to them), with their character and conduct playing no role in their salvation.
3. Because I believe this, and on this one point alone, I have every reason to believe I am a true child of God no matter how I live, or how I act, throughout the course of my life.
They call this kind of “mental assent” — “faith alone,” corrupting the true intent of sola fide, because they have no understanding of the nature of true saving faith. They see verses like “believe only,” think back to the above formula, and say… “I believe that… so I must be saved, no matter what.” This is not biblical faith… It may be a faith but it is what the Bible describes as a dead faith.
Faith without works is dead… works is not part of faith, but faith without God-wrought works is dead. How many works are “necessary?” None to merit, obtain, or secure salvation. However, how many will all believers work out? As many as God ordains for them. It’s not for me to determine… but God knows. You see, the goal isn’t to look to, focus upon, or trust in our works. The goal is to desire to live as God would have us live… not in lip service but in reality. If the course of your life is such that we really don’t care about how we live, how we act, what we say, etc., then we likely have a very real “faith without works” problem.
Faith without love for the truth is dead. We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because THEY RECEIVED NOT THE **LOVE** OF THE TRUTH, THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should BELIEVE a lie:
I don’t want to just believe a proposition, or agree with a syllogism, I want to love the truth, and the Truth it reveals, all the more. I want to have my walk ordered (by God) in light of that God-wrought love for the truth. I want to love the Gospel truth of course, and do love it; however, I want to love every truth of the Bible, even those that speak against my current pattern of thought, speech, or behaviour. Woe to the man who picks and chooses what Scripture passages he wants to love, what Scripture passages he wants to find important. Woe to the man who puts his thoughts on what (out of scripture) is needful rather than loving the truth found in all aspects of God’s word. I do not want to be a mere milk-man all of my life, I want to love the milk, the perfect milk, and the perfect water, but I also want to feast upon, and serve to others, the perfect meat of the word as well… and that, in abundance.
Faith without feeling is also dead. That’s right, feelings, emotions, the very things the Sandemanians most like to ridicule. I once had one declare to a forum I was on that emotions/feelings had NOTHING to do with salvation; he even went on to call the Song of Solomon emotionalism. That man was a fool. How do I know? Because all of the Bible declares it. One only need to look at David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, and so many others to see that true faith manifests in, and/or results in, Godward emotions. One cannot read (with eyes to see) the Psalms, or Lamentations, or Song of Solomon, or any other number of books in the Bible and not see that, indeed, “true religion’s more than notion – something must be known and felt.” A faith that is not accompanied by a stirring of the heart, deep afflictions, deep joys, deep hungerings and pantings after God, etc., is not a true faith.
Faith without love for God, and His people, is not true (biblical) faith… it’s dead. If, as the course of your life, you would rather tear down the saints than help edify them; if you would rather accuse them than recover them; if you would rather rejoice in their falls than in their God-wrought liftings up; if you would rather mock them, disdain them, ridicule them, etc., then (if that is characteristic of the entire course of your “Christian” walk) you *most likely* do not have true faith. If your faith is cold, callous, contentious, hateful, ill-spirited, mean-spirited, slanderous, abusive, etc… woe unto you. If you reject calls to turn to the word of God for guidance, calls to reverence His word, calls to make it your source (via the Holy Spirit) for the settling of controversies — woe unto you. If you can take the time to mock your fellow saint (or his beliefs), or to undermine him, or to slander him, but you have no time (or desire) to reason with him in love, then woe unto you. If the glory of God, and the unity of the body, is of little worth or importance to you; if you do not love and seek after the edifying and exhorting of the saints (through God’s word and a love for it, based upon a love for Christ and the Triune Godhead of whom He is the fulness bodily)… then woe unto you.
In conclusion, true faith is no joke, no formulaic matter, and no dry, empty, lifeless fancy of the mind. True faith labours, loves, edifies, grows, moves, admonishes, exhorts, encourages, and it surely tells the truth, the whole truth of God’s word (as God enables)… True faith wants and loves the whole counsel of God… it doesn’t routinely hobby-horse aspects of the milk (to the exclusion of all else) in some grand show of pseudo-holiness (really, supercilious self-righteousness). So understand this, Sandemanianism, like it’s close sister Antinomianism/Anomianism, is a bane in the congregation of the righteous. It is found too often in “grace” circles, and it is nothing but a counterfeit of the true Gospel. Avoid it like an eternal spiritual plague… because that is exactly what it is.
To God be the glory, Amen.