I get lots of email. Sometimes it takes me a long time to reply. For example, I received an email on Nov 19, 2020, from Kent asking me to respond to a Nov 14, 2020, blog. Today, December 17, 2021, thirteen months later, I finally got around to answering his question.
Why the long delay? Good email questions like Kent’s can lead me to personal study that takes hours and sometimes days. While the study is important and helpful—or I would not devote the time—it does lead me to procrastinate on questions that I know will require a lot of thought.
Here is Kent’s question:
I have personally profited from the excellent teachings I have been blessed to receive through GES. I am indebted to the following men I have learned from: Bob Wilkin, Shawn Lazar, Ken Yates, and of course, the late Zane Hodges, who first opened my eyes to the wisdom of Free Grace thought and theology.
I receive a number of teachings and Biblical insights via email. One I received the other day is represented by this article called “No Holiness, No Heaven” by Greg Morse, a staff writer with Dr. John Piper’s ministry, DesiringGod.org. I don’t believe in what the author is saying specifically but I thought it would be interesting to find out how you would reply to such a teaching?
If time and schedule permits, I would love to read a response. Thank you very much!
The article by Greg Morse is a patchwork quilt. He misinterprets verse after verse after verse and then stitches all his faulty interpretations into one confusing and misleading theological quilt.
The words quoted in the title of this blog are taken directly from Morse’s blog. His main point is well expressed in his two-sentence conclusion: “No one in heaven will be there on the basis of his good works, and no one will be in heaven who did not walk in good works on earth. So, we press onward in holiness toward our heavenly home because Jesus has already made us his own.”
If “no one will be in heaven who did not walk in good works on earth,” then what does it mean to walk in good works? Morse says it means that “you hate your sin,” “you love God,” “you obey what you know [God’s commands],” and “[you] will do good in this world” so that your life can be clearly seen by others as being holy. Read over that list. Subjective, subjective, subjective, subjective. All four tests of your salvation are incapable of a certain answer. And even if today all those things were mostly true of you, it would be impossible to know if you will persevere to the end, as the Apostle Paul himself acknowledged (1 Cor 9:27).
That is why Morse writes, “At times, we all ask plainly, Am I born again?” By WE he means, “we Calvinists.” If I look to my works for assurance, at times I wonder if I am born again. Or, more accurately I would say, If I look to my works for assurance, I wonder all the time whether I am born again or not.
Morse attempts to prove his contention by quoting, without exegeting, over ten passages. We have articles on our website discussing all the passages he cites. Just click on our search icon—a magnifying glass—on our website. There is even a 2003 article by me with the same title as Morse’s, except that my article ends with a question mark.
Since we have articles on all the passages he cites, I will instead give some general observations about his article.
Here are six main observations:
- Morse finds as authoritative not simply the Scriptures, but the Westminster Confession of Faith and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
- Morse interprets Scripture in light of the Westminster Confession and Pilgrim’s Progress. He does not interpret those two uninspired works in light of Scripture.
- Morse misinterprets every passage he cites in this article.
- Morse does not exegete any passages. That is, he does not discuss context, the meaning of the key words in the passage, other texts that contradict his view, etc.
- Morse views ongoing doubts about one’s status with God to be normal and positive.
- Morse does not believe that certainty of one’s salvation is possible or desirable. In fact, he ridicules those who say, “Once saved, always saved” yet whose lives do not, in his estimation, demonstrate “the blood, sweat, and toil of the essential doctrine of sanctification.”
I prayed for Greg Morse as I was concluding this blog. I prayed that God would bring someone into his life to cause him to look more carefully at the Scriptures. For fourteen years I was mired in works-salvation thinking with no assurance of my eternal destiny. I longed to know for sure where I would spend eternity. I pray that Morse will gain that longing and that he will then diligently seek the Lord on this matter.