Written By Tim Shaughnessy and Timothy F. Kauffman


In every generation there arise men from within the church who stumble into the Roman Catholic view of justification, and having stumbled, then attempt to import that Roman Catholic error into the Church of God so that the children of God might stumble with them. John Piper is just the latest in a long line of such men, and he will not be the last. Remarkably, on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Piper attempts to show that neither the Scriptures nor the Reformers held to final justification by faith alone apart from works. On September 25th, 2017, Piper published an article entitled Does God Really Save Us by Faith Alone? In the article, he maintains that initial justification is by faith alone, but introduces a concept that is completely foreign to the Bible: the concept of “final salvation” on the basis of our works and obedience. He writes,

In justification, faith receives a finished work of Christ performed outside of us and counted as ours — imputed to us. … In final salvation at the last judgment, faith is confirmed by the sanctifying fruit it has borne, and we are saved through that fruit and that faith.[i]

In Piper’s new view of final salvation, he makes a distinction between justification and salvation in which we are justified by faith alone apart from works at the beginning, but we are saved by faith plus works at the end. He writes,

These works of faith, and this obedience of faith, these fruits of the Spirit that come by faith, are necessary for our final salvation. No holiness, no heaven (Hebrews 12:14). So, we should not speak of getting to heaven by faith alone in the same way we are justified by faith alone.

Essential to the Christian life and necessary for final salvation is the killing of sin (Romans 8:13) and the pursuit of holiness (Hebrews 12:14).[ii]

Before we address Piper’s statements in detail, it is important to establish that when Piper says, “final salvation,” he means “final justification” or “future justification,” as evidenced by his summary of his position in the “Justification Debate” with N. T. Wright in 2009. Piper said,

“Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation.” (Piper, John, and N.T. Wright. “The Justification Debate: A Primer.” Christianity Today June 2009: 35-37 (emphasis added))

We must, therefore, caution those who would otherwise be prone to vagueness and ambiguity when responding to such serious doctrinal error. It is never helpful to duck and dodge or hem and haw over issues concerning the gospel. Paul asks the question, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8).[iii] When the gospel is at stake we must take to the battlefield to defend it, but who will get ready for battle if we give an indistinct sound. Therefore, it is necessary that we be emphatically clear in our response lest we give an indistinct sound with respect to this gospel issue.


Final Judgment, Justification & Salvation

Let’s first consider what Piper says about final judgment, final justification and final salvation. Piper has put forth the notion of a “final justification” or a “final salvation at the last judgment [in which] faith is confirmed by the sanctifying fruit it has borne, and we are saved through that fruit and that faith.” He has further stated that “works of faith,” and “obedience of faith… are necessary for our final salvation.” Piper is correct about there being a final judgment which is a judgment of works. Dr. Robert Reymond writes,

Now it cannot be denied that the Scriptures uniformly represent the final judgement as a judgement of works. (Ps. 62:12; Eccles. 12:14; Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; John 5:29; Rom. 2:5-10; 1 Cor. 3:13, 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:7-9; 1 Pet. 1:17; see also Westminster Confession of Faith, XXXIII/i) and that they hold forth the promise of rewards for faithful living (Exod. 20:5-6; Prov. 13:13; 25:21-22; Matt. 5:12; 6:1, 2, 4, 16, 18, 20; 10:41; 19:29; Luke 6:37-38; Col. 3:23-24; 2 Tim. 4:7-8: Heb. 11:26).[iv]

But while Piper is correct about there being a final judgment of works he is wrong to suggest that it has anything to do with our “future justification” or our “final salvation.” Rather, the works by which the believer is to be judged are merely the basis for rewards. John Murray writes,

We must maintain… justification complete and irrevocable by grace through faith and apart from works, and at the same time, future reward according to works. In reference to these two doctrines it is important to observe the following: (i) This future reward is not justification and contributes nothing to that which constitutes justification. (ii) This future reward is not salvation. Salvation is by grace and it is not as a reward for works that we are saved.[v]

In the Biblical view, this final judgement of works has absolutely nothing to do with our justification or our salvation. The concept of a future justification or a final salvation that is dependent upon our works or obedience is completely foreign to the Bible and the Protestant tradition, but it is not foreign to Roman Catholicism. In Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics Ron Rhodes writes,

Certainly, Catholics deny that their Church teaches a works salvation. They will talk about how salvation is impossible apart from the grace of God. But though things start out by grace in the Roman Catholic system of salvation…works do indeed get mixed into the picture. By virtue of the fact that a life of meritorious works is necessary to gain final salvation, it is clear that in reality, the Roman Catholic view of salvation is works-oriented. Salvation may involve grace and faith, but it is not by grace alone (sola gratia) or by faith alone (sola fide).[vi]

As we will see upon further examination of Piper, Rhodes’ assessment of Roman Catholicism— “that a life of meritorious works is necessary to gain final salvation”—is an adequate rebuttal of Piper, as well. What Piper writes is strikingly and eerily similar to what Ron Rhodes rightly identified as the Roman Catholic works-oriented system of salvation. He would talk about how salvation is impossible apart from the grace of God. But though things start out by grace in Pipers system of salvation… works do indeed get mixed into the picture. In Piper’s view, works are necessary to gain “final salvation” and works will be necessary for our “future justification.” In his view, future justification or final salvation may involve grace and faith, but they are not by grace alone (sola gratia) or by faith alone (sola fide). For Piper to say that “these works of faith, and this obedience of faith… are necessary for final salvation is to say that works and obedience are necessary for justification and salvation. This is pure Romanism at its heart and it directly contradicts Ephesians 2:8-9 which reads, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Again, Dr. Reymond writes, “’[Salvation] is of faith, [apart from works], in order that it may be according to grace’ (Rom. 4:16). If God were to permit the intrusion of human works into the acquisition of salvation to any degree, salvation could not be by grace alone.”[vii]


Alien vs. Native Righteousness

When Piper speaks of “final salvation,” he is referring to a “future justification” that is based on faith plus works, a righteousness that is our own, not Christ’s. It is a justification based on our own personal moral improvement. It is important to point that out because in the foreword to Thomas Schreiner’s book Faith Alone—The Doctrine of Justification: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters (The Five Solas Series), published on September 15, 2015, Piper appears to deny that our personal righteousness is the required for “justification.”:

Such faith always “works by love” and produces the “obedience of faith.” And that obedience— imperfect as it is till the day we die—is not the “basis of justification, but… a necessary evidence and fruit of justification.” In this sense, love and obedience—inherent righteousness—is “required of believers, but not for justification”—that is, required for heaven, not for entering a right-standing with God.[viii]

In reality, Piper is only denying that personal righteousness is required for initial justification. Regarding our future justification, Piper explicitly says that “obedience—inherent righteousness,is required of believers for heaven, and is, in fact, a righteousness that is considered in our final justification. But Jesus taught that we are justified and saved, wholly and completely at the end by the same righteousness we possessed at the beginning. He did not teach an initial justification that is comprised of an alien righteousness plus a final justification based on a native righteousness developed over time through personal sanctification.

When we examine Christ’s admonition that “in the day of judgment,” the individual will be either justified or condemned “by thy words” (Matthew 12:36-37), we find that He gave two very remarkable illustrations about what He meant: the Ninevites (Matthew 12:41) and the Queen of Sheba (Matthew 12:42). Both would face “judgment with this generation” but would be justified based on their words, whereas the men of “this generation” would be condemned based on theirs. The key to understanding the passage is to examine which words Jesus contemplates in the acquittal of the Queen and the Ninevites, and He actually tells us which words they are: the words they spoke from the heart upon their first hearing and believing of the Word of God, for the Ninevites “repented at the preaching of Jonas” and the Queen of Sheba believed “the wisdom of Solomon.” “[T]he people of Nineveh believed God” upon the preaching of Jonah (Jonah 3:5) and the Queen of Sheba exclaimed, “It was a true report that I heard” (1 Kings 10:6).

When Jesus says that the believer will be justified “by thy words” on the day of judgment, the two examples He gives are the words spoken by the Queen of Sheba and by the Ninevites at the moment they first believed, and their final justification is based on the very same righteousness they possessed at the moment they first believed. Notably, Christ explained this truth at the same time He taught that a man speaks “out of the abundance of the heart” (Matthew 12:34) and also admonished the Pharisees that the only sign they would receive is the sign of Jonas, for “so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). Here Jesus has taught to us the very concept Paul would one day restate in his Epistle to the Romans:

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:9-11)

The Queen of the Sheba and the Ninevites will be justified by their words on the last day, and those words were the overflow of the faith of their hearts—a faith that was lacking in the Pharisees.

Such men as Piper often appeal to the famous passage in which the sheep are separated from the goats in Matthew 25, desiring by the recitation of the believer’s works to prove final justification (see, for example, Piper, What Jesus Demands from the World, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006) 276). The problem with such an appeal to Matthew 25 for final justification based on works is that the sheep and goats are separated into two groups before anyone’s works are evaluated. In other words, they are separated into two groups based on whether they are sheep or goats. Since sheep are defined as those who believe (John 10:16,26), the scene of judgment in Matthew 25:31-33 actually has the sheep separated based on faith, not works, which is to say that the sheep were separated based on a righteousness apart from works. Neither the sheep nor the Shepherd has entertained works in the separation of “His sheep” from “the goats.” Even when the works of the sheep are recited, the sheep are unaware of them and clearly had not anticipated a discussion about their works, i.e., “when saw we thee …? … when saw we thee …? … when saw we thee?” (Matthew 25:37-39). The sheep had arrived at the throne of judgment without their own personal holiness or moral improvement in mind.

The precise language of Matthew 12 and 25 is worth examining for these reasons. Whereas in Matthew 12, we have the concept of final justification on the Last Day, Jesus curiously omits works in His discussion of the verdict. Faith is what He has in mind. In Matthew 25, we have the concept of works being contemplated on the Last Day, but we do not find those works contemplated in the separation of the sheep from the goats, for sheep are separated based on faith before works are contemplated, and further, the sheep did not have their works in mind. It is a curious reality to discover that when Jesus does mention justification on the last day (Matthew 12), He leaves out works. When He mentions works (Matthew 25), He mentions them only after the sheep have already been separated based on righteousness apart from works, and the sheep had not arrived expecting to offer their works in exchange for eternal life. In both chapters of Matthew, it is clear that on the Last Day, the sheep will be set apart based on faith alone apart from works, which is exactly what the sheep are expecting.

Our point in highlighting these facts is to show what is missing in the Gospel of Jesus and Paul. What is missing is Piper’s Roman Catholic construct that with the heart man believeth unto initial righteousness and then by the accumulated holiness of works the man arriveth at the judgment seat to determine whether his personal holiness is sufficient to merit eternal life, and then entereth into final salvation that he has earned by his works. In other words, Piper has now adopted a different gospel than the one Jesus taught to Paul.

Not only is Piper’s position heresy; it is damnable heresy. It is, in fact, the Roman Catholic system of salvation by works through the gradual accumulation of the merit of personal holiness. But according to Jesus, there is no distinction to be made between one being justified and being saved, and there is no difference between the righteousness contemplated when we first believed and righteousness by which we will be acquitted on the last day. It is all, and only, Jesus’ righteousness.

Works That Follow Justification by Faith

To be sure, the works that Piper is referring to are post-justification works which every Christian ought to exhibit to some extent. The problem, however, is that Piper says these post-justification works are necessary for salvation or necessary in order to attain heaven. Again, it is highly revealing to note the consistency of Piper’s theology in what he wrote two years prior in the foreword to Thomas Schreiner’s book,

“The stunning Christian answer is: sola fide—faith alone. But be sure you hear this carefully and precisely: He says right with God by faith alone, not attain heaven by faith alone. There are other conditions for attaining heaven, but no others for entering a right relationship to God. In fact, one must already be in a right relationship with God by faith alone in order to meet the other conditions.”[ix]

We should take notice of the consistency of Piper’s statements over the years. What he recently wrote was not simply a slip of the pen. Here he makes the distinction between being right with God and entering into heaven. He states there are “other conditions,” besides faith, that one must meet in order to attain heaven. In making his distinction he presents faith as a “condition” we meet. In Reformed orthodoxy however, faith is not a condition we must meet to receive the righteousness of Christ. We are not declared righteous because we believe. Instead, faith is the instrumental cause of justification that God uses as the means to apply or impute Christ’s righteousness to us. Through faith alone we appropriate Christ and his righteousness which is why the Larger Catechism provides the following answer to question 73. “How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?”

“Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it (Gal. 3:11; Rom. 3:28), nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification (Rom. 4:5; Rom 10:10); but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness (John 1:12; Phil 3:9; Gal 2:16).”

Not only does Piper error in making faith a condition but he suggests that there are other conditions that one must meet after being justified in order to attain heaven. What “conditions” must the believer meet in order to attain heaven? Piper is suggesting that post-justification works are necessary for us to attain salvation and heaven. John Robbins responded emphatically to this notion when he wrote,

Paul damned the Judaizers for teaching that post-[justification] works of righteousness are necessary for entrance into Heaven. The contention of both the Roman Church and the Judaizers [and now Piper] is that one cannot be saved without post-[justification], that is post-regeneration, works of righteousness. The Judaizers taught that one must be circumcised and obey other parts of the Mosaic law; the Roman Church teaches both the necessity and meritoriousness of good works of Christians for salvation;” [and now Piper teaches both the necessity of works and obedience of faith for salvation].[x]


James on Justification and Works

Piper appeals to James chapter 2 for support of his view of a final salvation that is in some way dependent on our works and obedience. He writes,

Especially as it pertains to final salvation, so many of us live in a fog of confusion. James saw in his day those who were treating “faith alone” as a doctrine that claimed you could be justified by faith which produced no good works. And he vehemently said No to such faith… The faith which alone justifies is never alone, but always bearing transforming fruit. So, when James says these controversial words, “A person is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:24), I take him to mean not by faith which is alone, but which shows itself by works.[xi]

Piper is correct to point out that the faith which justifies is a faith which shows itself by works. However, he is wrong to think that these works have anything to do with our final salvation. Piper fundamentally misunderstands the point that James is making with respect to justification and works. James is speaking about bearing fruit before men, not about being declared righteous or justified before God at the final judgment. The faith that justifies is not a faith that is alone, but rather it is made manifest in works which in turn justify our profession of faith before men; not before God. Therefore verse 18 of James chapter 2 says, “I will shew thee my faith by my works.” This demonstration of faith is before men, not before God at the final judgment. To suggest or even imply that the works James is referring to have anything to do with our final salvation is to venture headlong into the citadel of Rome. This is why John Calvin wrote,

That we may not then fall into that false reasoning which has deceived the Sophists [the Romanist], we must take notice of the two-fold meaning of the word justified. Paul means by it the gratuitous imputation of righteousness before the tribunal of God; and James, the manifestation of righteousness by the conduct, and that before men, as we may gather from the preceding words, “Show my thy faith,” etc.[xii]

Unfortunately, there is much confusion surrounding what James meant about justification and how it relates to what Paul meant by justification. When we compare James 2:24 with Romans 3:28 we see that both Paul and James are speaking of being justified, but we must ask, “justified in what sense?” James is referring to justification with respect to one’s profession of faith being justified or (validated) before man while Paul is referring to justification with respect to one being justified or (declared righteous) before God. James is answering the question how does one justify their profession of faith before others while Paul is answering the question how does one stand justified before God.

The reformers correctly recognized, based on Scripture alone, that a person is wholly and completely justified and saved by faith alone in Christ alone. Romans 4:5 states, “to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness..” Here we notice that righteousness unto salvation comes by faith, not by works. In the preceding verse, it reads, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.” (Romans 4:4 ESV). If one were to work in order that they might receive salvation then they would be receiving their due wage not a gift. But the Bible makes it clear that salvation is a gift and it is not of works. In Ephesians 2:8,9 it reads, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Some theologians however, have stated that we are saved by faith alone but that works are part of faith. As O. Palmer Robertson notes, “According to [Norman Shepherd’s] view, faith is united with works as a single response to the Gospel call for justification. As a consequence, justification is by faith and by works, or by faith/works, or by the works of faith.”[xiii] This is an egregious error for if we “hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Roman 3:28 ESV) then works cannot be part of faith. Works are not part of faith nor are they united with faith but rather they are a consequence of faith. Dr. Reymond writes,

Whereas Paul is concerned with the question of how a man may achieve right standing before God, and turns to Genesis 15:6 to find his answer, James is concerned with the question of how a man is to demonstrate [before others] that he is actually justified before God and has true faith, and turns to Genesis 22: 9-10 as the probative fulfillment of Genesis 15:6 to find his answer.[xiv]

Paul condemns works added to faith while James commends works which are produced by faith. We have to be discerning here because our salvation does not rest on what we do but rather it rests entirely in what Christ has done for us. James asks the question in verse 14, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” This is the issue James is confronting. If someone says he has faith but does not have works, then he is a liar and the truth is not in him. He is a false convert, a hypocrite who is self-deceived. James is asking what good is that profession of faith. Can that profession of faith save him? The answer is no because that is merely a false profession of faith rather than a true and living faith. James says in verse 17 “so also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” A true and living faith will inevitably manifest itself in works but it does not add anything to our salvation. Not now or ever! Unfortunately, Piper is wrong and this teaching of his is not only heretical but dangerous.

Listen to our podcast discussing this topic – HERE



[i] Piper, John. “Does God Really Save Us by Faith Alone?” Desiring God. September 25, 2017. Accessed September 27, 2017. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/does-god-really-save-us-by-faith-alone.

[ii] Piper, John. “Does God Really Save Us by Faith Alone?” Desiring God. September 25, 2017. Accessed September 27, 2017. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/does-god-really-save-us-by-faith-alone.

[iii] All scripture passages are quoted from KJV unless otherwise noted.

[iv] Reymond, Robert L. A new systematic theology of the Christian faith. 2nd ed. Nashville: T. Nelson, 2001. p. 750

[v] Murray, “Justification,” Collected Writings, 2:221 quoted in Reymond, Robert L. A New Systematic Theology of The Christian Faith. 2nd ed. Nashville: T. Nelson, 2001; p. 750 emphasis mine

[vi] Rhodes, Ron. Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics. Harvest House Publishers, 2000. pp. 121-122

[vii] Reymond, Robert L. A new systematic theology of the Christian faith. 2nd ed. Nashville: T. Nelson, 2001. p. 735

[viii] Schreiner, Thomas R. Faith alone– the doctrine of justification: what the reformers taught … and why it matters. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015 (emphasis added).

[ix] Schreiner, Thomas R. Faith alone– the doctrine of justification: what the reformers taught … and why it matters. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015 (emphasis added).

[x] Robbins, John. “The Gospel According to John MacArthur.” Trinity Foundation. May & june 1993. Accessed September 20, 2017. http://trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=193.

[xi] Piper, John. “Does God Really Save Us by Faith Alone?” Desiring God. September 25, 2017. Accessed September 27, 2017. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/does-god-really-save-us-by-faith-alone.

[xii] John Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, Eerdmans, 1948, 314 f. quoted in Robertson, O. Palmer. The current justification controversy. Unicoi, TN: Trinity Foundation, 2003. p. 18

[xiii] Robertson, O. Palmer. The current justification controversy. Unicoi, TN: Trinity Foundation, 2003. p. 24

[xiv] Reymond, Robert L. A new systematic theology of the Christian faith. 2nd ed. Nashville: T. Nelson, 2001. p. 749


  1. robert Reagan 2 years ago

    Evert one should down load the book from Amazon by AW Pink on Sanctification .99 cents . Excellent reading , great history and clarification. .
    Its clear being Justified does not save you if the rest of your life is sitting in church on Sunday smiling but doing nothing and no relationship with Jesus Christ and its clear you must obey and be obedient and you will have fruit in your life.

    So many are just say they believe but nothing show that .
    I am not promoting , reformed or Baptist but study that Pink does in his book and looking into the mirror .

  2. […] Una vez más preguntamos, ¿Qué confianza tenemos en oír las enseñanzas de alguien que está presentando serios errores doctrinales? Debemos, por lo tanto, advertir a aquellos que de otra manera serían propensos a la ambigüedad al responder ante graves errores doctrinales como este. Pablo hace la pregunta, “si la trompeta diere un sonido incierto, ¿quién se preparará para la batalla?” (1 Corintios 14: 8) Cuando el evangelio está en juego debemos entrar al campo de batalla para defenderlo, pero quién se preparará para la batalla si damos un sonido  incierto. Esta es la razón por la cual es necesario que estemos claramente en nuestra respuesta. No queremos dar un sonido incierto con respecto a este tema del evangelio. (Este trozo del artículo está basado en la publicación http://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2017/10/10/gospel-according-piper/ […]

  3. […] yourself will understand Piper’s confusion, your own confusion and truth of this doctrine. https://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2017/10/10/gospel-according-piper/ The above is a re-post on one of your favorite sites Bible Thumping Wingnut. Not really one my […]

  4. […] yourself will understand Piper’s confusion, your own confusion and truth of this doctrine. https://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2017/10/10/gospel-according-piper/ The above is a re-post on one of your favorite sites Bible Thumping Wingnut. Not really one my […]

  5. Geoff 4 years ago

    I think the simplest understanding of the “sanctification by the Spirit” passage is that we are saved by/through “being set apart by the Spirit”. We are regenerated and we have faith.

    No one disputes that regeneration will lead to obedience. But the root cause of our salvation is being set apart by God which further flows from our election. That regeneration produces faith which unites us to Christ. So we can say “I’m saved by faith” and I was saved “by being set apart/sanctified by the Spirit.”

    So if this is a correct analysis, this would mean Piper is in error here. I don’t think it makes him a heretic, but it does mean he’s confused here.

  6. Brandon Adams 5 years ago

    Thank you for the write-up. Regarding Murray, note that he appears to have later changed his position regarding the nature of the final judgment: https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/murray-conflicted-on-future-justification/

    See also https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/murray-on-lev-185-why-did-john-murray-reject-the-covenant-of-works/

  7. Dennis 5 years ago

    But, I thought Piper was predestined to take this position. You mean he could take a position contrary to yours without God decreeing it from before the foundation of the world? Sounds like you guys are slipping and starting to teach libertarian free will.

  8. Kevin Failoni 5 years ago

    Through the history of the church works righteousness has raised its ugly head. It has seeped in the Reformed church and other evangelical churches in their attempt to cow to the guilt of Rome which is a false Christianity with a false gospel. Galatians 2:5 Paul didn’t relent, and neither should any Christian. Get in by faith in the beginning and get in partially by works in the end should always be repudiated. We are justified completely and finally by faith alone in Christ alone,the instrument that brings Christ our final and only righteouness to our heart. Thats it. The gospel is told and believed Mark 1:15, not done. Paul prays for the salvation of those who had a zeal for God but were wrong because they sought to add their own works to faith for acceptance before God. Romans 10:1. Our righteouness isn’t derived from His, it is His righteouness.

  9. […] John Piper For many years, Piper has promoted the sensual, rebellious and aggressive music of rap, calling it “holy hip hop” and a way to “redeem” the culture. He partnered with rapper Lecrae in this endeavor. Lecrae is a rapper who made racist statements that he is “divorcing white evangelicalism”. Hmm. Scripture says we must spread the Gospel (Mark 16:15) and be separate from the world (2 Cor 6:17), not redeem the culture. Doctors do not make themselves sick so they can help heal patients, and neither should Christians become like the world to reach out to them. Piper also promotes women preachers such as Beth Moore and Christine Caine, as well as false teachers like Mark Driscoll and Francis Chan, as well as ecumenist Rick Warren, among others. There are several other grave issues that Piper promotes, such as mystic prayer experience and salvation by works. source, source, source  […]

  10. Allan 5 years ago

    The Reformation: is it virtually lost? has the Beast’s ‘deadly wound’ nearly healed?

  11. Stephen Anderson 5 years ago

    Finally, some are beginning to take Piper to task over his teaching. His ‘Christian’ hedonism ought to have been enough, but he actually teaches a doctrine of salvation that is not by faith alone. We are to ‘mark’ such teachers and have nothing to do with them. Yet there are many pastors who are Piper fan boys and echo his errors uncritically in Christ’s churches.

  12. […] strongly recommend Tim Shaughnessy and Timothy F. Kaufmann’s article here: https://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2017/10/10/gospel-according-piper/ They show that Piper’s recent misstep has been his position for a number of years, and that […]

  13. […] and let the experts handle this.” Piper: Salvation by faith alone and just a little bit more? The Gospel According to Piper Believers Are Saved And Sealed In By Grace, Stay In By Faithfulness? Salvation Sola Gratia, Sola […]

  14. R 5 years ago

    Tim and Timothy,

    Maybe you guys will take it from KEVIN DEYOUNG. He commented on 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.”

    Piper and DeYoung: Same language. Same theology. Same conclusion.

    Let’s be sympathetic listeners.

    (DeYoung’s article from 10/9/15 https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2015/10/09/five-questions-about-sanctification-and-good-works-do-good-works-merit-eternal-life/)

  15. R 5 years ago


    I didn’t figure you’d be acknowledging the more clear statements from Piper that I quoted for you. My previous comment speaks for itself. I may be a fool here for dignifying your response.

    I think you should step back and pursue what Piper actually means by Piper’s words, not the misrepresentation and straw man you guys seem hellbent on beating to death.

    I could point out the obvious, from the quote you provided, that his choice of “open confirmation and declaration” and “evidence and confirmation of true faith” say enough—-and are in harmony with my previous quotes you side-stepped—-in that he doesn’t view good works as meritorious or as increasing one’s righteousness or right standing before God.

    One more irony:

    Your quote of Piper: “fruit . . . will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ”
    Your quote of what Canon 24 CONDEMNS: “works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained”

    Guys, come on. Really???

    Piper himself repudiates what it is you’re rejecting. I hope you’ll come to be more satisfied with clarification from his own words rather than your perceptions of what he may mean. Again, James 1:19 would do well here.

  16. R 5 years ago

    This could not be a more pitiful assessment of Piper’s theology. Perfect example of someone failing to understand what an author means—-and has said to the contrary—-on a topic. James 1:19 would do well here.

    Even worse, a guy who commented on this article IN AGREEMENT WITH IT cited an article by Piper—-get this—-which contradicts his understanding of Piper, even as expressed in this article. From that very article:

    “Notice very carefully what he says. What counts with God? ‘Faith.’ But what kind of faith? Faith that ‘works through love.’ He 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.”

    HE GOES ON TO WRITE, “But if you ask [Paul and James], ‘Does justification as an ongoing and final right standing with God depend on the works of love?’ Paul is going to say, ‘No, if by works you mean deeds done to show that you deserve God’s ongoing blessing (the point of Romans 4:4).’ And James is going to say, ‘Yes, if by works you mean the fruit and evidence of faith like Abraham’s obedience on Mount Moriah.’ And Paul is going to say, ‘I agree with James, based on his definitions.’ And James is going to say, ‘I agree with Paul, based on his definitions.’”

    And, “So when Paul renounces ‘justification by works’ he renounces the view that anything we do along with faith is credited to us as righteousness. . . . But 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. For Paul, ‘justification by works’ (which he rejects) means ‘gaining right standing with God by the merit of works.’ For James, ‘justification by works’ (which he accepts) means ‘maintaining a right standing with God by faith along with the necessary evidence of faith, namely, the works of love.’ . . . the faith that unites us to Christ for righteousness does not remain alone. It bears the fruit of love. It must do so or it is dead, demon, useless faith and does not justify.”

    And comparing his theology to Catholicism? Wow. You REALLY need to re-read his stuff. Try calling him, even. Or, you know, ask anybody else who is reformed and whom you respect. Catholicism believes that the good works throughout their life actually earn and merit more righteousness. Utterly despicable to charge Piper with the same.

    • Timothy F. Kauffman 5 years ago


      Piper wrote: “Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ.”

      In shorthand, according to Piper, our Present Justification is based on Christ’s Substitutionary Righteousness alone, but our Future Justification will not be based on Christ’s Substitutionary Righteousness alone.

      Did you know that this is pretty much the Roman Catholic position on Justification?

      Council of Trent, CANON I:-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema. [This appears to me to be consistent with Piper’s view of Initial Justification.]

      Council of Trent, CANON XXIV:-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema. [This appears to me to be consistent with Piper’s view of Final Justification.]

      According to Piper, works cannot be “merely the fruits and signs of Justification already obtained.” Otherwise he would acknowledge that Final Justification is grounded on Christ’s Substitutionary Righteousness alone, the same ground upon which our Initial Justification was declared. But Piper does not believe “the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained,” and thus, the Council of Trent does not condemn him. Nor he, the Council of Trent. For this is the core of Roman Catholic Theology, and thus Piper had to walk back his initial assessment that “the core of Roman Catholic theology is a heresy.” Of course it is. Piper should have no qualms about saying so. And yet for some reason, he does.



  17. […] con respecto a este tema del evangelio. (Este trozo del artículo está basado en la publicación http://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2017/10/10/gospel-according-piper/ (traducido y adaptado por SPG […]

  18. Sean Gerety 5 years ago

    Finally, compare Piper’s discussion of Galatians 5:6 with Calvin who writes in his commentary:

    There would be no difficulty in this passage, were it not for the dishonest manner in which it has been tortured by the Papists to uphold the righteousness of works. When they attempt to refute our doctrine, that we are justified by faith alone, they take this line of argument. If the faith which justifies us be that “which worketh by love,” then faith alone does not justify. I answer, they do not comprehend their own silly talk; still less do they comprehend our statements. It is not our doctrine that the faith which justifies is alone; we maintain that it is invariably accompanied by good works; only we contend that faith alone is sufficient for justification. The Papists themselves are accustomed to tear faith after a murderous fashion, sometimes presenting it out of all shape and unaccompanied by love, and at other times, in its true character. We, again, refuse to admit that, in any case, faith can be separated from the Spirit of regeneration; but when the question comes to be in what manner we are justified, we then set aside all works. With respect to the present passage, Paul enters into no dispute whether love cooperates with faith in justification; but, in order to avoid the appearance of representing Christians as idle and as resembling blocks of wood, he points out what are the true exercises of believers. When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle. Paul does not here treat of justification, or assign any part of the praise of it to love. Had he done so, the same argument would prove that circumcision and ceremonies, at a former period, had some share in justifying a sinner. As in Christ Jesus he commends faith ccompanied by love, so before the coming of Christ ceremonies were required. But this has nothing to do with obtaining righteousness, as the Papists themselves allow; and neither must it be supposed that love possesses any such influence.

  19. Sean Gerety 5 years ago

    Hey Tim(s) … FWIW the strength of your article really lies in your handling of James which Piper butchers. I confess I do not read Piper much at all and I have no idea why he’s so popular? But, then, I don’t understand Joel Osteen either. Lots of flowery wandering prose that tend to gloss over what he’s really saying. I hated that the first time I read The Pleasures of God on my pastor’s strong recommendation when I was new to Calvinism and ran into his defense of what I would come to know as the so-called “well-meant offer.’ But check this piece out from Piper discussing James and Paul. As you point out he understands James use of the word to justify not in terms of those in the church trying to identify true believers from the feined variety as you both point out, but rather works are essential to a belief that justifies us before God! Piper writes: “For James, “justification by works” (which he accepts) means “maintaining a right standing with God by faith along with the necessary evidence of faith, namely, the works of love.” My view is if a pastor can’t get James right he shouldn’t be a pastor and that goes for John Piper and his multi-million dollar industry … I mean, ministry. But it does explain why he shares the stage with Federal Visionists like Doug Wilson and sees nothing wrong with his doctrines other than Doug is not a Baptist. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/does-james-contradict-paul

  20. John 5 years ago

    That John Piper is not clear on Justification in his writing, should make a discerning Christian begin to pull back.
    This article, however, is very clear to me in the point it is making. For that I am thankful to the authors for their work. Much appreciated Tim’s!
    That I need to read Dr. Piper 3 or 4 times to understand his points in order to compare them with Scripture, is not the sign of a safe teacher. “My sheep hear My voice”. Clarity is essential in a teacher and when I have to bang my head in order to see how an essay aligns with Luther, Calvin, or Buchanan on Justification, then it is time for me and my house to leave others find what they can in such adulterated food.

  21. […] Grace back in 2002.  Today, Tim Shaughnessy and Timothy Kauffman, the team over at Bible Thumping Wingnuts, have raised the alarm again citing a very recent piece where Piper answers the question, […]

    • Author
      Tim Shaugnessy 5 years ago

      Thank you Sean. It’s always good to hear from you. I appreciate you writing this.

  22. Sean Gerety 5 years ago

    Seems to me TK is spot on in his response to Jones who appears to be in need of the same theological training he advocates for. We are saved so that we might do good works. We don’t do good works so that we might be saved. Both Piper and Horton are wrong.

  23. Timothy Ross 5 years ago

    If he is talking no assurance no thanks. If he is talking eschatologically in this idea then agree we are not equal in the new city or heaven in rewards. And some of us will not be living in the same regions of the eons of God’s Celestrial grandeur.

  24. Josh Elsom 5 years ago

    While you’re at it you guys need to go after Michael Horton too:

    “The New Testament lays before us a vast array of conditions for final salvation. Not only initial repentance and faith, but perseverance in both, demonstrated in love toward God and neighbor…Holiness, which is defined by love of God and neighbor…is the indispensable condition of our glorification: no one will be seated at the heavenly banquet who has not begun, however imperfectly, in new obedience.” — Michael Horton

    It won’t just be Piper and Horton you’ll be confronting though. It’ll be Reformed theologians who’ve, over the centuries, taught exactly the same thing.


    • Timothy F. Kauffman 5 years ago

      Thank you, Josh,

      I read the link you provided. Thank you. The author’s support for Piper is grounded in what he calls “the recent evangelical catholic and “reformed catholic” movement,” a statement that largely substantiates our concern for Piper and his supporters. The “reformed catholic” movement is constantly trying to reconcile the reformation with medieval Roman Catholicism, which is why Piper had to walk back his initial and accurate assessment of the “heresy” of the Roman Catholic church. After all, as Leithart wrote, “To a Reformational Catholic, it’s blindingly obvious that there’s a billion-member Church of Jesus Christ centered in Rome.” So Piper “realized” that Roman Catholics are his brethren in Christ and therefore he had to change his position on Rome. To the rest of us, it’s blindingly obvious that there’s a billion-member deception headquartered in that city. I agree that Piper is trying to be a “reformational catholic”. But I believe “reformational catholics” are caught up in a significant error that needs to be corrected. Roman Catholics are not our brethren. Piper had it right the first time: Roman Catholicism preaches a heretical gospel.

      Along those lines, the bulk of the article you linked seeks to exonerate Piper on 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” The crux of the argument is “salvation through sanctification of the Spirit.” It “really isn’t all that difficult” the author says, “unless you want to make it so.” The author has thus equated “sanctification of the Spirit” with obedience.

      But “sanctification of the Spirit” is not the obedience. As Peter wrote, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” (1 Peter 1:2). “Sanctification of the Spirit” results both in in obedience and justifying faith, but it is neither the obedience nor the faith.

      What is interesting here is that the only two times in Scripture that the precise phrase, “sanctification of the Spirit” is used, it is in the context of God’s eternal election of His people. In the context in which it is used in these two verses, “sanctification of the Spirit” is more akin to setting apart for holiness by God’s eternal decree of election through regeneration and faith which leads to obedience.

      Thus, I would disagree that “chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” means “chose you to salvation through works of obedience and faith.” It appears very much to mean chose you to salvation by regeneration (which leads both to justifying faith and obedience). In any case, if the “sanctification of the Spirit is not “the obedience itself” but rather results in obedience (as Peter shows), it is difficult for me to see 2 Thessalonians 2:13 supporting Piper’s position.



      • Ernie van Boven 5 years ago

        Tim Kauffman. I agree with your assessment of Sanctification of the Spirit not being the obedience itself. Sanctification is by the Spirit through the Word, which produces fruit. I don’t know much about the Reformed theologians which Horton points to (and apparently there are way more of them saying exactly what Piper is saying). Do you know who these reformed theologians are? Are they all mistaken? Or is Horton citing just those with still a Roman bent? I am trying to understand this doctrine accurately and it seems troubling that I would be against the reformed position. Please, if you can, clarify for me (and many more I am sure). Thanks very much! Ernie

      • Josh Elsom 5 years ago


        The question isn’t whether the author of that article is supportive of Piper’s argument because he’s part of a movement that shares his position, the question is whether a Christian is glorified by faith alone or by obedience. So I’ll leave the author’s motivation for support for Piper aside.

        I posted it simply to show that this isn’t a novel position for Piper, that it’s shared by many theologians whose teaching we’d all be careful to call “not only heretical but dangerous”.

        Francis Turretin, for instance. Was he a heretic for writing 400 years ago what Piper wrote last week?

        “Works can be considered in three ways: either with reference to justification or sanctification or glorification. They are related to justification not antecedently, efficiently and meritoriously, but consequently and declaratively. They are related to sanctification constitutively because they constitute and promote it. They [works] are related to glorification antecedently and ordinatively because they are related to AS THE MEANS TO THE END.” [emphasis mine]

        Is Kevin DeYoung not flirting with heresy for being so obviously sympathetic and agreeable to what Turretin wrote?

        Granted you could post your own share of dead theologians too, who agree with you and not with Piper, but the point is you’re going to have to dispense yourself of a whole lot more people than Piper alone. Cause he’s not alone.

        Honestly, this seems to be to be much ado about nothing. Doesn’t Jesus answer this question for us? “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Yes he does. And isn’t this the same conversation we were having 30 years ago when MacArthur went after cheap grace? Yes it is. The category headings have changed but the answer remains the same. Faith by itself apart from repentance cannot save.

        • Josh Elsom 5 years ago

          Ah, and regarding 2 Thessalonians 2:13. What Peter and Paul mean by “sanctification by the Spirit” isn’t in dispute. It’s how they both use that idea in the propositions that they’re each making.

          “From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those…who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by being set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with Jesus Christ’s blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure!”
          (1 Peter 1:1–2 NET)

          Peter says that we were chosen by the Father, set apart by the Spirit FOR OBEDIENCE. This invites the question, can someone be chosen according to the foreknowledge of the Father and remain unrepentant? No, because we’ve been chosen and set apart for good works. And if you don’t have good works you’re not living holy. And if you’re not living holy, you will not see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

          “But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”
          (2 Thessalonians 2:13 NET)

          Paul doesn’t just use the words “sanctification by the Spirit” in a vacuum, he tells us what that sanctification by the Spirit accomplishes. “God chose you…for salvation THROUGH sanctification by the Spirit.” That is “εἰς σωτηρίαν ἐν ἁγιασμῷ” — unto salvation BY sanctification.

          Salvation is experienced THROUGH what? __________________

          Notice what Paul goes on to say in the following verse, “14 He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

          So the flow of the argument is this: Salvation according to Paul in verse 14 is to possess the glory of Jesus. And in verse 13 he tells us how that salvation (or glorification) is experienced? It is experienced by means of sanctification.

          This doesn’t mean that the obedience of sanctification that leads to glorification is meritorious as Roman Catholics believe works are meritorious for justification. It means that holiness is the natural consequence and response of the person who has actually experienced justification. Those chosen by the Father, who are sprinkled clean by Jesus, who are justified by grace through faith, they will do good works and they will be glorified. I think Dallas Willard said it best, “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.”

  25. Lee 5 years ago

    Highly ironic that the text from Galatians that you use to defend your article and your means is the meat of a sandwich that has the bread of personal, private and public confrontation. Opening with Paul’s private appeal (before those who seemed influential) and public appeal before the council at Jerusalem and his very personal confrontation with Peter (v.11) we indeed learn a great deal from his example. Also ironic is the thought that all this is learned by this gift of a letter that was penned sometime after all these events, not as a means of the described actions but as a narrative. The order here is important.

    I would think that all would desire restoration here, so again I ask it, was there any attempt to contact &/or confront John? This is not submission, but the supernatural response of a believer that feels that another has fallen into error. Whether or not this would do any good or not or succeed or not isn’t for us to decide. Ours is to let the horse be in front of & pull the cart, not the other way around.

    No attacks here fellas. Only love…

  26. Adam Moritz 5 years ago

    Thanks for writing this article, Tims. It breaks my heart to see these things coming from Piper. He was instrumental during my earlier walk in Christ to helping me grow in knowledge of scripture and love of God. It’s so sad to see what he’s become or revealing what he’s always been. There seems to be so many Christian teachers that are sliding heavily into error and heresy. I’m not sure if it’s always been this way and I’m just more knowledgeable about it now, or if it’s a sign of the times when the great deception will come upon people.

  27. Lee 5 years ago

    While there are many comments that I’d like to leave here, I’ll stop at this one and it’s subsequent renderings. What is the true goal of this article? Is it a true and authentic desire for a defense of the gospel & what we think it is? If so, then have we made any attempt to contact John directly and attempt to stem the tide of “damnable heresy” that we profess him to be unleashing on the world in general and the bride of Christ specifically that we are not only apart of, but should be in the business of washing with the word & defending? If this be the case, then perhaps this article be the next logical step to sound a warning to the rest of the body of grave error, but if not, then how can this crafting be anything other than an attempt to have our egos fattened by a like minded audience that unknowingly exist in the same self serving bubble? Without cognition of the context of this article, one can only postulate these potentialities…

    Please sirs, for the sake of clarity and authenticity provide your context if we are to properly valuate your writing here & in the future.


    • Matthew 5 years ago

      I can’t speak to the motive of the authors, though having read and followed for a while I would say it is nothing short of honorable intentions.

      As for contacting Piper directly, this is a public error and deserves public scrutiny. Piper should certainly be called to the mat, but the church needs to be warned as well.

      I don’t know that any one of us trying to contact Piper would do good, as Desiring God is huge and our letters/email would probably never cross his desk. The best way to bring this to his attention would be via public rebuke.

      If this were a one off slip it might be one thing, but this is a consistent pattern in Piper’s teaching.

    • Author
      Tim Shaughnessy 5 years ago

      John Robbins wrote:
      ”We can learn a great deal from the example of the Apostle Paul in Antioch and his letter to the Galatians, for he was neither slow to recognize error nor timid in correcting it. Our failure to learn from and imitate Paul is the principal reason why heretics win battles.
      Paul recognized doctrinal error quickly and acted swiftly to correct it. He wrote: But this [a problem over the preaching of the Gospel] occurred because of false brethren…to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you (Galatians 2:2-5). Paul did not put up with (yield submission to) error or those teaching error on the Gospel even for an hour. He was quick to recognize error and quick to correct it, so that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you. While his concern was doctrinal, it was not academic, for he did not tolerate those who were teaching error in the churches. He understood error, and he refused to tolerate the men who were teaching or abetting error in the churches.
      Paul explained further how Christians ought to respond to those who obscure the Gospel: But from those who seemed to be something “whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man “for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me (Galatians 2:6). Paul was not impressed by a person’s status in the church. God is no respecter of persons, and neither was Paul. Church status, church office, educational credentials afford no immunity. In fact, the Biblical rule is just the opposite: To whom much is given, much shall be required. The greater the office, the greater the responsibility in the churches. That is why Paul told Timothy: those [elders] who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all. (1 Timothy 5:20).”
      We are to correct this error publicly “in the presence of all.” Our motive is not “to have our egos fattened by a likeminded audience” but rather it is to call this error to the attention of those who may have been persuaded by it. You have to understand that we published this knowing full well the amount of personal criticism we might come under. Because the gospel is at stake we are willing to be slandered and attacked personally. I come from a Roman Catholic background and deeply desire to see all my family come to Christ. Our hope is that John Piper would recant and repent of the things he has said. In the meantime, our concern is for those who might be caught up in an error like this. We cannot yield submission to this error even for an hour. Please listen to last week’s episode of Semper Reformada Radio to get an impression of my tone in all of this.

      • John 5 years ago

        Thx Tim. A very helpful quote from Dr. Robbins.

        Piper hasn’t offended a solitary believer with this error, but is teaching very knowingly and publicly. I agree, Matt 18 does not apply to this situation.

    • Timothy F. Kauffman 5 years ago


      I cannot accept the false dichotomy you have constructed, namely that unless we have attempted to contact Piper directly, the only other possibility is that our article is an attempt to have our egos fattened by a like minded audience that unknowingly exist in the same self serving bubble. If your authentic concern is that we follow Matthew 18, then why did you not contact us directly before posting your objections? It is easy enough to find us. (I personally do not believe that you violated Matthew 18 by posting your objection publicly—it’s just that your objection violates the very precept upon which it is built).

      In any case, let us assume for the sake of argument that my only possible objective is to have my ego fattened by a like minded audience. I am guilty of far worse, so I don’t mind stipulating it for the sake of argument. Having so stipulated, in what way do my carnal ambitions change what Christ has taught? In Matthew 12 Jesus teaches that our justification on the Last Day will be by the righteousness imputed when we first believed. In what way does my ego change Paul’s teachings that salvation is not of works? Even if my motives are purely carnal, Jesus’ teachings and Paul’s teachings are still true and overturn Piper.



  28. Stephen hahn 5 years ago

    Depart from me workers of lawlessness I never knew you…his point has always been true Christians are proved by a new nature…not a prayer…parable of the sower has 2 that receive it gladly…but produce no fruit…if you have no change and no desire for God you ate risking eternity on a prayer that didn’t foster enough belief to change you..you assented to the truth but never applied it to gain usery from the spirits presence..so while salvation is of God from start to end…christ will be confirmed in you…he that has the spirit of God is a son of God…we should even as he walked

    • Timothy F. Kauffman 5 years ago

      Thank you, Stephen. Neither of the authors have attempted to substitute the sinner’s prayer for the outward holiness exhibited by the people of God or for the righteousness of Christ as the ground of justification. Neither of us has suggested that those born from above, by their new nature and the indwelling Spirit, are not inclined toward obedience. Nor that we should not walk in Christ as we have received Him. What we are denying is that our moral improvement is the ground of our initial or final justification. Piper has taught that our moral improvement will be the ground of our final justification. Jesus did not teach this, which is why we cannot accept Piper’s formulation that future justification or that final salvations is according to our works. The Scriptures teach “by grace ye saved through faith; … Not of works” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Piper teaches initial justification is by faith alone, but that by works you are finally saved through moral improvement. Even Roman Catholics believe that initial justification is apart from works, and that final justification is according to “grace caused” works, thus keeping all of salvation ostensibly “by grace,” but allowing works as the ground and cause of both justification and salvation. I can’t accept the Roman Catholic “gospel” even if it comes from someone so highly respected as Piper.

  29. Matthew 5 years ago

    I wonder how much of his Romanish nomianism comes from the libertine attitudes that he has ushered in with the New Calvinism. Not that that is an excuse.

    It also seems to deny the active obedience of Christ being imputed to the believer through union.

    Am I wrong in these assessments?

  30. Shane Kastler 5 years ago

    Excellent article! While Piper has taught some important truths over the years, he has mixed it with dangerous errors. By creating a false dichotomy of those who are “right with God” yet not “worthy of Heaven” he also opens the door to a belief in purgatory. After all, where would a person go if they die and are “right with God” but not worthy of Heaven? I agree 100% with your explanation that Paul and James are using the word “justification” in two different ways. Piper is pouring tons of theological confusion on the church with this teaching. Let us look to Christ and Christ alone, never assuming we are saved in any part by our works. Even our perseverance is due to the Spirit’s work within us. Soli Deo Gloria.

  31. Sean Frey 5 years ago

    Wow! Piper is a really poor exegete, but I’ve always kind of felt this way. The only “final salvation I find Biblical is found in Romans 5:8-10, when Paul writes,”8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, WE HAVE NOW BEEN JUSTIFIED by his blood, MUCH MORE SHALL WE BE SAVED BY HIM from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, NOW THAT WE ARE RECONCILED, SHALL we be saved by HIS LIFE. See, I do believe in a short of first and secondary justification, one of mercy, that withholds Hell from us on the merit of the righteousness of Christ’s blood as I emphasized in Paul’s writings which he reiterated twice in the verses. Then, Paul goes on to say now even more so, again twice, SHALL WE HAVE LIFE, even SAVED, not by good works Piper, but by HIS Life. There is an initial and final justification of sorts, but it is of MERCY then GRACE, both of which are gifts of God!

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