Keep Looking: A Response to Greg Morse and Desiring God


My parents will be the first to tell you, I can really put my foot in my mouth. I often don’t say the right thing. Often times, I can frustrate Allyson because I try to hunt for just the right words for the situation. Different people interpret words differently. My family knew that frustrated, mad, and pissed we’re all different levels. Her family will use them all interchangeably. It causes confusion.

When I read the now infamous Piper article about sanctification I was hopeful that perhaps this was just a misstatement. I’m often not clear and so want to be gracious in this area. However, yesterday evening, Greg Morse (a Desiring God affiliate) wrote again in this issue and said exactly the same thing. Taking up the topic of killing sin, Morse seems to redirect and go on a tangent:

“But what about being saved by faith alone? You’re not. You’re justified through faith alone. Final salvation comes through justification and sanctification — both initiated and sustained by God’s grace.”

The likelihood that this is two verbal slips within a week of each other isn’t coincidental. There’s not room for me to be gracious the second time around here. What’s being said is very plain. The New Law camp has invented this brand new theological term “final salvation”. One that I’ve not found anywhere in our confession or Scripture. Yes I will agree justification is not sanctification and both of those are parts of the ordo salutis. However, there is not a single category for one to be justified without also being glorified. Paul writes in Romans 8 as if justification is the declarative decision in our glorification. There is not one example of someone truly justified but does not make it to Glory. The New Law Camp would be good to not invent categories for things that have no basis in Scripture.

But while they may pay lip service to Grace and monergism, the New Law idea is simple: Justificiation is our entrance into the kingdom, but sanctification (that is our good Works) are what keep us in the kingdom. This is contrary to the teachings of Scripture.This sounds like the Galatian issue all over again. What we’ve now begun in the Spirit will we continue in the flesh? By no means! But this is the position that is being placed before us.

He then quotes Heb 12:14 and 2 Thess 2:13, the two verses the New Law Camp seem to have rallied behind. Because they need a Biblical argument, they’ve found these two niche verses to prove this idea that justification can be possible without the promise of salvation. But this cannot be. Because if God is truly the Author and Finisher of my faith than one thing is certain. It’s not me. Sanctification is wrought in us when we look to our union with Christ and our justification.

Works are not the instrument by which we are sanctified. If that’s the position the New Law Camp want to run to, the arms of Douglas Willson’s Federal Vision are wide open. They are more than welcome to excuse themselves and head to Moscow. I reject any form of Christianity that says that the more you perform Good Works, the less you need of Grace. So if Mr. Morse, Mr. Dukeman, or any other want a fool proof way to fight sin, it’s very simple.

Keep looking to Jesus. Keep coming back to the sacaraments with the mind of “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling.” You want to kill your pet sin? Keep reminding your flesh “I am not my own, but belomg to my faithful savior.” Keep coming back to the Wellspring that declares “if your thirsty, come to Me”

5 thoughts on “Keep Looking: A Response to Greg Morse and Desiring God”

  1. //[To them] Justification is our entrance into the kingdom, but sanctification (that is our good Works) are what keep us in the kingdom.//

    I believe you’ve misunderstood Piper (and Morse). I think you should keep pursuing what Piper means by Piper’s words. For example:

    “[Paul] does not say that what counts with God is ‘faith’ plus a layer of loving works added to faith. He says that what counts with God is the kind of faith that by its nature produces love. But it is faith that gives us our right standing with God. The love that comes from it only shows that it is, in fact, real living, justifying faith. . . . James’ concern is that people have real saving faith, not counterfeit faith. . . . when James affirms ‘justification by works’ he means that works are absolutely necessary in the ongoing life of a Christian to confirm and prove the reality of the faith which justifies.”—-not that the works earn a right standing with God, as many have assumed Piper means.

    Kevin DeYoung as well. He commented on the controversial wording in Piper’s foreword to Schreiner’s book:

    “Do good works merit eternal life? . . . For while good works are necessary to salvation, they do not merit eternal life. . . . This is a crucial distinction [=the word ‘merit’ being used in two ways, as ‘due reward’ or ‘to obtain’] and one that relates directly to the conversation surrounding Piper’s foreword.

    “. . . Given everything we know about Piper’s theology (including his passionate defense of a Reformation understanding of justification), and given the fact that he’s explicitly talking in these sentences about conditions and not merit, it is safe to assume that Piper is using ‘attain’ with reference to a necessary sequence and does not mean to imply that there is an intrinsic worth in our good deeds that somehow makes heaven our due.

    “Frankly, I would not use the language of ‘attaining heaven.’ It is too easily misunderstood, and in the strictest sense comes too close to ‘merit.’ Even ‘obtain’ (which suggests getting or securing) would be better than ‘attain’ (which suggests achieving or accomplishing). But I know what Piper means and agree with the point is he trying to make.”

    “. . . Good works are necessary to salvation, but not in order to effect salvation or acquire it by right. The necessity is not of causality and efficiency . . . There is a true and necessary connection between good works and final glorification, but the connection is not one of merit.”

    (DeYoung’s article from 10/9/15


  2. Blessings in Christ Jesus. God speaks to false teachers and what we are to do according to His word regarding them and seeing Passion Fest for the last decade and outright partnership with Bethel NAR and others plus the the false fruit therein I have been very concerned about people holding onto Piper as a sound teacher. I recommend and even plead that you read ES Williams book “Christian Hedonism?” on John Piper. John Piper has taught a different gospel for 30 years. The material is also online in video format on youtube and the below website.

    John Piper should be avoided along with many other “new calvanist” that do not seem to actually have new life in Christ as they drift into the false teachings of both catholicism and New Apostolic Reformation.


    1. this article criticizes Piper for requiring works but the link you posted criticizes Christian Hedonism for not requiring them.
      so which is it?


  3. Funnily enough, this article was addressed to Greg instead of John.
    It is kind of a bummer to hear such things from John. However he’s trying to be faithful to the Bible and that’s compelling. Sometimes we think it’s better and safer to play alongside the big boys of Reformation or else.
    But you my friend are not understanding at all what he’s trying to say or why he’s saying it which is even a bigger bummer. How can you exalt yourself by proclaiming your love to meaning and accuracy to terminology and end up missing the point entirely!
    We are saved by faith alone. But what does that mean? And also, why is that? And then why would Piper feel the need to stress sanctification so much?
    True faith in God is a gift and it will cause us to choose God and love God above everything else for we have seen him as worthy of obedience and faithfulness. So yes, good works will come out from that faith, if they don’t, well, we probably haven’t actually had an encounter with him.
    “Those whom he called”, he called to know him. You cannot know God and not be transformed. That’s the point Piper is trying to make.
    I wish he had been less controversial about it, however it is God who’ll judge him at the end, whether he acted by faith or not.
    I guess it’s the same with you, brother. Are you just trying to draw attention to yourself by picking a fight with someone bigger than you? Is that why you response to Greg and not Piper? Is the man too scary? I don’t know.
    I just wish we would all have a little more faith in God and love others better instead of trying to be “the messenger”.


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