A Commentary on Article Five
The Regeneration of the Sinner
of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”

June 17, 2012

By Bob Hadley, Pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Chancellor of Atlantic Coast Bible College and Seminary.


Article 5: The Regeneration of the Sinner

We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.

We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.
Luke 15:24; John 3:3; 7:37-39; 10:10; 16:7-14; Acts 2:37-39; Romans 6:4-11; 10:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; 6:15; Colossians 2:13; 1 Peter 3:18

The Affirmation

One of the most difficult topics in the Scriptures is a clear understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvific process. It is clear that the Holy Spirit effectuates salvation; what is not so clear is the role the Holy Spirit plays in performing that process, especially where conversion is concerned. At the heart of this issue, is a term called regeneration. Regeneration itself is not an issue in question. The question with respect to regeneration is how it takes place, what it accomplishes and when it takes place. Article 5 addresses these questions.

The Gospel Is Available to Anyone

Statement 5 begins, “We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit.” This sentence is very insightful in and of itself. There are two very important aspects emphasized in this statement. The implication is clear; first of all, “any person” may respond to the gospel message that is secondly, available to anyone and everyone. (Mt 24:14; Mark 13:10, 16:15; Gal 3:8; Romans 1:16) Any person, who hears the gospel message, may respond. This statement also eliminates any question with respect to an individual’s ability to come to God on his own. Salvation is always an individual’s response to God’s initiative. The word “response” by definition is passive to the initiative or invitation of another. In conversion, the initiator of this invitation is always God.

The Gospel Is Available for Everyone

The initiative to respond made available by the gospel is available for everyone. In order for any person to respond, the gospel has to be available for anyone and everyone. God has chosen to reveal who He is and what it is that He has planned to do as well as what He has already done through His Son, Jesus in and through the gospel message. The gospel message itself has as its purpose God’s directive of reconciling a sinful world unto Himself. This message is revealed to all through the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. The gospel message is absolutely central to the conversion experience for Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) John 1:1-14 lays the foundation for Jesus’ relationship to and responsibility for the gospel, grounded especially in the statement, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Response of Repentance and Faith

The third phrase states, “any person who responds to the gospel ‘with repentance and faith’ is born again.” Repentance and faith are what bring the lost, unregenerate individual to new birth. Notice the relationship between the intentional use of the words “responds” and “is born again.” The response is to God’s initiative of reconciliation and that response brings about new birth. While the statement, “any person who responds is born again” is both grammatically and theologically correct, the phrase, “with repentance and faith” are included to underscore the importance of both in the salvific process. (Repentance: Mt. 9:13, Lu. 15:7, 24:47; Acts 26:20; 2 Peter 3:9… Faith: Luke 7:50; Eph. 2:8)

Regeneration or Repentance

It is commonly understood that repentance is necessary for conversion; the issue is the relationship of repentance with respect to regeneration. There are two passages of Scripture that speak directly to this issue of responding to the gospel with respect to repentance and being born again. The first is found in the Book of Acts the second chapter; Peter has just preached one of the most powerful messages ever preached, with the exception of those preached by the Lord Himself. Peter quoted Joel 2 as he said, “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21 NKJV) When Peter finished his message the Bible records the following event: “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:37-39 NKJV) It is clear in Peter’s message to those listening that repentance was essential for their receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is a direct reference to the indwelling that the disciples had just experienced themselves! Conversion takes place when the Holy Spirit moves into the repentant heart and not before. Regeneration takes place when the Holy Spirit moves into the repentant heart and not before.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 7, Paul deals with repentance with respect to Godly sorrow that comes by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the lost person’s heart. He says, Godly sorrow produces repentance; repentance is not something that God effectually gives to an individual. Repentance is a change of heart that is wrought by Godly sorrow that elicits a response. God allows sorrow for sin to move the unregenerate to a repentant response through faith and that response brings about regeneration. Regeneration takes place when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in an individual’s heart following repentance. Paul makes this abundantly clear as he spoke to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:8. (see also 2 Cor. 1:22, 3:3, 5:5; Eph. 1:4)

Regeneration or Revelation

Consider the following passage in Ephesians Chapter 1. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:14) Here Paul acknowledged their having trusted Christ AFTER hearing the word of truth, “THE GOSPEL of your salvation” and then notice something very interesting; Paul says, “having believed, you WERE sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Clearly, the sealing that took place in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit followed, not preceded the believing the Word of Truth. Revelation is the key to regeneration, which is synonymous to conversion.

It appears a couple things are evident. First of all, hearing the gospel prompted a response. It is the natural progression of revelation to elicit a response. Now, Paul says, “having believed” indicating their response to this gospel, they were THEN sealed by the Holy Spirit. Regeneration is not possible without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the new believer’s heart. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that gives the old man his new nature. God does not give this new nature to believe; the new nature comes when an individual is born again or from above and this takes place when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the repentant heart. It is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that provides the change of heart. It is clear that belief in this word of truth, which is the gospel of salvation, must be believed in order to live. God does not make us alive so that we can believe; we believe so that we can be made alive when we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. It appears that this passage of Scripture settles that argument.

The Role of Faith

One of the statements surrounding this issue is the relationship of faith in the salvific process. Some have taken Ephesians 2:8 and have tried to read more into that verse than it actually says. There are those who suggest that regeneration precedes repentance also will contend that regeneration precedes faith and since God brings about regeneration He also is directly responsible for faith exercised in the believing individual. Ephesians 2:8 does not support this concept. Faith in this passage is the vehicle through which the gift of salvation is achieved. Faith itself is not the gift from God that Paul is speaking of here. Consider the following: “For by grace are you saved; it is the gift of God not of works lest anyone should boast.” The phrase dealing with the role of faith can be eliminated altogether and the thrust of the verse is not changed. Gift in this verse refers to salvation. Faith is not God’s gift to man; faith is man’s response to God’s gift in Jesus that brings salvation. Faith is always man’s response.

The second part of Hebrews 11:6 is perhaps the best definition of faith anywhere. In this verse Paul says “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” So, what does Paul do? Paul goes on to explain what it is that God is looking for that will please Him. Notice how the verse ends; “those who come to Him must believe He is”; we must believe He is what? Paul is saying men must believe that God is everything He says He is and that is why revelation is so important. God wants everyone to know Him and His plans and His promises that will make life full and abundant.

There is a final part of this declaration: Paul says, “that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” This statement has a number of ramifications that are indeed interesting. This certainly supports the statement in the affirmation, “any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith;” for no one would suggest that responding and diligently seeking Him are not synonymous. Being a rewarder of those who seek Him acknowledges the fact that God is promising that He will always do everything He has said He will do. So, a great working definition of faith from Hebrews 11:6b could well be, “Faith is believing God is everything He says He is and He will do everything He says He will do.” If anyone really believes that, their faith will be seen in the way they live their life on a daily basis. This is what James is speaking of in the second chapter of his epistle. Faith is man’s response to God’s initiative. It is not something God gives to anyone.

The Power of the Holy Spirit

In proceeding, the statement on salvation affirms that “any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again ‘through the power of the Holy Spirit’.” The gospel is indeed the power of God unto everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16) Salvation is the effectual working of the Holy Spirit in the heart of an individual who through repentance and faith believes. Salvation is of the Lord. (Ex. 14:13; 2 Chron. 20:17; Lam. 3:26; Jnh. 2:9)

A New Creation in Christ

The affirmation concludes with the following: “He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.” At conversion, an individual is justified and given a position of right standing before God when he is adopted into God’s family. There is a point in every born again believer’s life when he passes from death unto life; when he as Jesus told Nicodemus, is indeed “born again” or “from above.” As a side note, it is this new birth that seals the new born believer for eternity and provides for his eternal security.

The Denial

“We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel.”

The Scriptures are clear: revelation and not regeneration are responsible for conversion. Paul says the Scriptures, which are God’s self-revelation, are “able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15) This is a very important statement. For once again, revelation and not regeneration leads to saving faith. This is why Paul is able to say that he is “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’.” (Romans 1:16-17) Simply put, when God reveals Himself to individuals through His Word, a response required from that individual. This is the essence of revelation. Revelation and not regeneration is the key to conversion.

Revelation Must Precede Regeneration

Revelation MUST precede regeneration. “How does revelation speak to fallen man?” It has to be understood that if God created mankind, then He would naturally want man to know who He is and what it is that He wants both for man and from man. Since it is abundantly clear God does speak to man, the question must be asked, “Can God speak to sinful men?” The answer has to be “yes He can.” To try to assert otherwise is to challenge God’s omnipotence and His Sovereign ability to do anything that He chooses to do. In Colossians 1:19-20 Paul writes, “For it pleased the Father that in Him (Jesus) all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”

Through His self-revelation God is seeking to reconcile a lost world unto Himself. When revelation is presented, a response is required. When God speaks, a response is expected. It simply makes no sense for God to speak if regeneration is required before an individual can respond positively to revelation. The argument that revelation is the means God uses to accomplish the end is a moot point if effectual call and God’s decretive will are primary in the salvific process as Calvinism posits. In addition, there is no need for God to seek to reconcile a lost and separated world unto Himself, if regeneration was required on His part first. If regeneration were the reality Reformed Theology suggests, there would be no need for God to “seek to reconcile the world unto Himself” for His decretive will and effectual call would eliminate the need for reconciliation altogether. Regeneration itself would accomplish reconciliation. This idea of regeneration preceding repentance and saving faith simply is not a scriptural concept given the reality of revelation and reconciliation. Regeneration is absolutely essential given the tenets presented in the Doctrines of Grace.

A Ministry of Reconciliation

In 2 Corinthians Chapter 5, verses 20 and 21 Paul lays out what he identifies as a ministry of reconciliation. As ambassadors for Christ, he says it is as if God “were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Here is the splendor and simplicity of Paul’s ministry so excellently shown. God reconciles the world to Himself through the cross. He offers life in Christ as opposed to death in the world. Paul not only received this gift of reconciliation from God that resulted in a new life in Christ for him, but he says he was given a responsibility as a new creation in Christ to become a conduit of this reconciliation from God to others who were lost, needing to surrender to self and to be reconciled to God in Christ Jesus.

The Scriptures, which are God’s self-revelation, are “able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:16) This is a very important statement. For once again, revelation and not regeneration leads to saving faith. This is why Paul is able to say that he is “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’.” (Romans 1:16-17) Simply put, when this revelation is revealed by God, there is a response required from man.

The Essence of Salvation

This is the essence of salvation. Man’s response to God’s provisions is what determines his destiny. God does not make this choice for anyone. God gave man the choice to choose. God told Adam, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17 NKJV) God determined the consequences of Adam’s choices. God has provided a Lamb to take away the sin of the world. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:14-17 NKJV)

Once again, God has determined the consequences of men’s choices and those choices will determine His choice where eternity is concerned for those who believe.

Conclusion

In closing, I would like to quote Jonathan Edwards, one of the stalwart theologians referred to regularly by the Calvinist camp. He is speaking to the issue of God being the author of sin in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1, section IX. He writes,

“If by ‘the author of sin,’ be meant the sinner, the agent, or the actor of sin, or the doer of a wicked thing . . . it would be a reproach and blasphemy, to suppose God to be the author of sin. In this sense, I utterly deny God to be the author of sin.” But, he argues, “willing that sin exist in the world is not the same as sinning. God does not commit sin in willing that there be sin. God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by God’s permission, but not by his ‘positive agency’.” (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/works1.iii.v.ix.html)

Now if I understand this statement, Edwards is arguing that God ordained sin corporately and not individually where specific sins are concerned. Edwards suggests God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by God’s permission but not His ‘positive agency’.”

I like Edwards’ suggestion. I suggest God’s solution for sin which results in conversion is basically the same for conversion as Edwards has suggested for sin; God has willed that people be saved (corporate election) and has established a world whereby conversion WILL take place by His Divine will but not His “positive agency”(regeneration).

Regeneration does not precede repentance and saving faith in the salvific process. Repentance and saving faith bring about regeneration when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the heart of the newly born-again child of God.

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JCJ

Yes, the Gospel is available to all. However, if acceptance of the Gospel were to bring about Salvation, then even the demons would be granted Salvation. Regeneration only occurs when one has accepted the Gospel, then the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin and draws them to Salvation. That is the Effectual Call.

So, yes, the Gospel is available to all, Salvation is not.

    Bob Hadley

    JCJ

    The statement says, “We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    In all of my reading of calvinist positions, I have never read one quite like you presented here: “Regeneration only occurs when one has accepted the Gospel, then the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin and draws them to Salvation. That is the Effectual Call.”

    I am sure you wrote one thing meaning to say something entirely different. So, I will simply say again, the mainline position of SB in the pew is not calvinist, or 5 point calvinism. It simply is not. Therefore, it is not regeneration that brings someone to conversion, but rather revelation and reconciliation that brings an individual to a point of response and the response that an individual makes is what settles their eternity because of God’s provisions and the conditions of the provisions.

    ><>”

      JCJ

      Bob,

      This is where we will just have to disagree. Baptists, in general, have always been Calvinistic, and if not, then they are not Baptist. When a Southern Baptist Church has NON-CALVINIST NON-REFORMED on their home page, it is offensive and seen as divisive inviting conflict and arguments. That is NOT the SBC way of stating where we stand doctrinally. Those of us who agree with the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace are not raising a stink and stirring up division, but rather the few that are insecure in their beliefs and wish to have everyone else just as confused and insecure. Insecurity always brings about discord.

        wingedfooted1

        “Baptists, in general, have always been Calvinistic, and if not, then they are not Baptist.”

        Nothing “divisive” in that statement.

        Bob Hadley

        I do not see that it is in the least divisive… I see Reformed on a number of churches; we are NOT Calvinist and I do not see how on earth that can be offensive to anyone BUT that has nothing to do with this article.

        ><>”

          JCJ

          Bob,

          it has everything to do with the article because that is exactly what your congregation has on their web site and therefore it is a reflection of where you stand and allows the rest of us to see that you and your congregation are prejudice toward those who lean Calvinistic. That IS divisive! Just because you have your Doctorate does not mean that you have the right to be prejudice and it does not mean that you are a correct authority on this subject.

Stephen Garrett

Dear Pastor Hadley:

I am a five point Calvinist as Spurgeon and I am not one who believes it is wise to say that men are born again (or regenerated) “before” they believe and repent. Not all Calvinist and Reformed theologians taught the regenerated before faith error. Such an “ordo salutis” is not integral to five point Calvinism.

Like Spurgeon I believe that faith and repentance are gifts from God, as much as salvation. All is from God. (James 1: 17; John 3: 27) This is what led Paul to ask – “for who makes you to differ from another? and what do you have that you did not receive?” (I Cor. 4: 7) Why does one believe and repent and another does not? Does Paul not lay the reason in God?

I agree that it is God’s revelation that is the instrument that the Spirit uses to produce regeneration. But, why is it effective in you one and not in another? If we asribe the reason to the will and ability of the creature, have we not given credit to the creature rather than to God?

Blessings,

Stephen

    wingedfooted1

    Blessings, Stephen.

    I can understand why you reject the calvinistic notion of “regeneration precedes faith”. I have fellow-shipped with other Calvinists who agree with you. They also reject “limited atonement”, but embrace what I call “limited access”. By that I mean God denies most of mankind access (by faith) to the blood of Christ, which without, there is no redemption.

    However, I do have a question for you. How does this “gift of faith and repentance” guarantee that the sinner will use it? Just because someone has the ability to do something doesn’t mean that they will. It seems to me the person would still have to possess the desire, or motivation, to take advantage of the gift. In other words, if I give someone a treadmill (the gift), but they hate to exercise (they refuse to get on it), what good came of it? How does this gift of faith and repentance override the sinner’s total depravity?

    Just curious.

    Grace

    Bob Hadley

    Steven,

    Thank you for your comment and spirit. Your comment is equally interesting as well; “Not all Calvinist and Reformed theologians taught the regenerated before faith error. Such an “ordo salutis” is not integral to five point Calvinism.”
    Personally, I think your comment about faith and repentance being “gifts of God” is the same thing as your “regeneration before faith error” because in effect you are saying individuals who repent and exercise faith are those that God effectually brings them to it; I find it simply incredible for anyone to make the assertion that God gives anyone repentance or faith; both are clearly expressions of personal response to ALL that God has given and done to secure salvation for lost individuals.

    You asked, “If we asribe the reason to the will and ability of the creature, have we not given credit to the creature rather than to God?” I do not know about “credit to whom;” all I know is if God gave me the choice to choose and said here are the consequences of your choices, I am not going to question His sovereignty nor His authority in telling me to choose understanding there are consequences to my choices. All I am going to do is make sure I choose God’s provisions and encourage as many as I can to do the same. Seems to be that kind of sums up both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

    ><>”

      Patrick

      ” I find it simply incredible for anyone to make the assertion that God gives anyone repentance or faith; both are clearly expressions of personal response to ALL that God has given and done to secure salvation for lost individuals. ”

      And that is why I wouldn’t let you anywhere near my kids to teach them.

    JoeJ

    Pastor Hadley,

    You began your discussion with a quotation of Peter, “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.” Then you seemed to drop baptism from the discussion entirely. When beginning with this quotation, it seems that a discussion of baptism and regeneration would follow. If baptism plays no role, why did Peter include it in this sermon which you said was so important?

    Joe

      Bob Hadley

      “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

      I find it interesting that the passage you are apparently challenging says, Repent AND LET EVERYONE BE BAPTIZED… it seems to me the second part of that phrase is an act of obedience because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as opposed to the condition of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

      I do not believe the Biblical position of salvation is baptismal regeneration. I do not believe this is what Peter is speaking too and if he was, it would further accentuate my point that Peter is asking for a response unless one wants to contend that God effectually puts people into the baptismal waters.

      Baptism is important in the salvific process; repentance is essential to conversion and baptism vital in sanctification. Both are elements of salvation.

      ><>”

        JoeJ

        “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
        The way I read it, this passage has four elements: repent, be baptized, remission of sins, receive the Holy Spirit. My translation reads: “Repent and be baptized every one of you…” “Repent” and “be baptized” seem to be of equal emphasis, though repent preceeds baptism. The phrase “for the remission of your sins” modifies either “repent” and/or “be baptized”. If it modifies only one (repent/be baptized), I’d say it has to modify the second, since it is closest to it.
        If I understand you, repentance forgives your sins and brings the gift of the Holy Spirit, baptism is an act of obedience. To get that meaning, it seems that the passage would have to read: “Repent for the forgiveness of your sins, and be baptized…”
        I see no reason to withdraw from a direct reading of the passage. Repent, be baptized, have your sins forgiven, receive the Holy Spirit, in that order.

John

43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Greg Coleman

Arminian Grace

(To the tune of Amazing Grace)

Arminian “grace!” How strange the sound,
Salvation hinged on me.
I once was lost then turned around,
Was blind then chose to see.

What “grace” is it that calls for choice,
Made from some good within?
That part that wills to heed God’s voice,
Proved stronger than my sin.

Thru many ardent gospel pleas,
I sat with heart of stone.
But then some hidden good in me,
Propelled me toward my home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Because of what we’ve done,
We’ve no less days to sing our praise,
Than when we first begun.

    wingedfooted1

    Greg,

    Even as a non-Calvinist (and non-Arminian), I can appreciate the humor and creativity of that.

    Jesus Hates Most of the Children

    (To the tune of: Jesus Loves the Little Children)

    Jesus hates most of the children
    Most of the children in the world
    Red and yellow, black and white
    Their reprobated in His sight.
    Jesus hates most of the children in the world.

      Greg Coleman

      Wingfooted1,

      I don’t know if that one is yours or not, but it should make people think.

      I can’t take credit for the one I posted. Found it sometime ago and thought it it was a thought provoker.

      Most of the discussion that I’ve read looks like lots of string and cans between ivory towers being used by fellas that are more interested in winning an argument than understanding what the scriptures say. They have some pretty impressive credentials (if you’re impressed by credentials).

      Most of us don’t know the difference between a supralapsarian and a Labrador retriever and we don’t need to.

      Scrape off the fancy talk and it comes down to this: Who is ultimately responsible for making me to differ from all the people that have heard the Gospel and die in their sins and go to Hell? Is it me or is it God?

      If it’s me then I have somewhat to boast of. If it’s God my ONLY boast is Christ.

      I was a wicked, God-hating, wretched sinner spiritually dead in my trespasses and sins on the way to the Hell that I richly deserved.

      I heard a Gospel preacher proclaim Christ crucified and the Lord God was pleased to give me spiritual life, faith, and repentance.

      I take no credit. None. Not one iota.

      I will not attempt to steal God’s glory in my salvation.

      Glory to the Lord God Almighty!

        volfan007

        Greg,

        I signed the statement, and I give all the glory and credit to God for saving me. You dont have to be a Calvinist to give all the glory to God for the saving act. God saved me by His grace….period.

        David

          JCJ

          Volfan,

          on this statement, I do agree with you.

          JCJ

          Greg Coleman

          David,

          My brother, I join you in praising and glorifying the God of our salvation.

          I am not a Calvinist. I will not sign the statement.

          May our sovereign Lord Jesus Christ continue to bless us as we grow in grace.

          Greg

    Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

    The shear, unmitigated venom in these lyrics, targeting not just opposition soteriology, but each individual opponent of Calvinism would make John Calvin proud. The God of Calvinism gets his way by divine condemnation and John Calvin and his theological progeny try to do likewise. The most famous opponent of Calvinism came close to clairifying its true nature while trying not to attack the individual:

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/Predestination-John-Wesley-Charges-that-Calvinism-Makes-God-Out-to-Be-Worse-than-the-Devil

      Chappy

      “The God of Calvinism gets his way by divine condemnation…”

      the God of Calvinism? Are you asserting that Calvinists worship a different God than Traditionalists?
      Do you believe someone who believes in Calvinist doctrine is violating the 2nd commandment?

      Yikes! You probably didn’t think about that when you wrote it.
      But it was the first thing I thought when I read your post.

      One thing I try to remember in discussions like this with fellow believers is that I could be wrong. These are very difficult issues that have long been debated by the church. It helps me to be gracious and humble as I respond or discuss things when I know there is disagreement with my position.

        Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

        When the eyes of your heart look toward the Holy Spirit, you are looking through a lens which has been shaped by of some form of Calvinism or Traditional Baptist beliefs. The face of the person you see looking back is focused by that lens. The Calvinist sees the face of a God who condemned the greater part of mankind to eternal damnation before the universe was formed. The Traditional Baptist sees a God who desires all to receive the great gift of salvation.

          Darryl Hill

          Once again Dr. M, you have created a straw man argument which we can all knock down happily. Your caricature of Calvinism that you continue to parrot on these forums is not what I believe.

          Yes, God desires all men to be saved? Is this the same as saying “God wills for all men to be saved”? Are you a universalist? God’s desire for all men to be saved is not the same as His foreknowledge of them as individuals, his predestination of them to that state, His calling, and His justifying them.

          You have accused Calvinists of worshiping a false god on multiple occasions in the comments on this site. That is the kind of divisive comment that harms the conversation.

          My opinion of those who disagree with me is that perhaps God has not revealed to them what He has revealed to me. Perhaps He never will. Understanding soteriology is not a prerequisite for salvation. God can save us despite our lack of understanding the minutia of how it happens. And here is something else- I know I could be wrong. I’m not infallible. I’ve been in error before and will likely be there again. I pray not to be, by God’s grace, but it can happen.

          But here is one thing that is not constructive in any way Dr. Bruce- painting your opponent as not only in error but as a child of some false god- of Satan, in essence. Are we children of the Devil? Are we evil? If I say that Jesus is Lord and serve Him with my whole heart, sharing the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, does it make be evil if I believe that God opens the eyes of the person and draws them to Himself before they will come to believe in faith? If so, label away man, but I do not believe that it is in any way constructive to any good purpose here. And I would hope that your purpose is to help turn brothers from error in some way, not just to pleasurably take cheap shots at an evil enemy of yours.

Chappy

Does it seem to anybody else that these “New Traditionalists” have been fleshing out a new theology regarding salvation before our eyes these last few weeks? With conferences, a statement, a resolution, and these commentaries, they have introduced new ideas on soteriology that seek to explain the evangelistic practices of SBC churches for the last 70 or so years. The problem is that SOME of this new theology, especially as explained in the commentaries, doesn’t seem to match up with what I have heard taught and preached in church all my 37 year- old SBC life (I even grew up in the church of one of the signers). Maybe there was some incongruence in the teachings and the methods, but I don’t think there was any teaching at all on SOME of this stuff. It seems like I’m hearing for the first time all these things I’m supposed to believe if I want to be a mainstream Southern Baptist- especially these articles about original sin, total depravity, and now the order of salvation. I guess it is good that Baptists who don’t believe in Calvinist or Arminian doctrines finally have someone articulating some theology for them. To be fair, I did grow up with the idea that the atonement was made for every man and that man had a free will.

    Bob Hadley

    Chappy,

    I do not know where you grew up and I will not make any rash decisions on the 37 years… but I do know that none of this stuff is anything new. There has been this notion among some calvinistic folk that the non-calvinists have no real theological understanding of soteriology and the calvinist 1-5 all tightly and neatly packed theological tenets seem to answer all the questions etc, etc, etc. There is also this idea that since certain highly educated and articulate individuals have trumpeted these tenets and no one has effectively rebutted them, there is this idea out there the reason no one has offered any credible rebuttal is because there is none.

    The truth is, most non-calvinists have for decades and probably for centuries have never really made it much of an issue because they did not care enough about it to make it an issue. If that is what others want to believe, then go for it. Non-calvinists have been focused on other things.

    So, let me assure you all this is absolutely NOTHING NEW… some of the explanations may be and the details may be but the basics are even older than Methuselah…

    ><>”

      JCJ

      Bob, you are in a real need of a reality check. It is really difficult for me go believe that you even attended Southern. If you really believe the junk that you’re purporting then you are definitely not a Southern Baptist! You must be a begrudged Free Will or Independent Baptist. You really have no clue of Southern Baptist beliefs and their history.

      Chappy

      “I do not know where you grew up and I will not make any rash decisions on the 37 years…”

      What does this even mean? It feels like an insult.
      Why would begin you response to my comment like that? Do you insult everyone who disagrees with you?

      I still maintain that some of this is new teaching that has not been prominent in the majority of southern baptist churches.

        Bob Hadley

        Chappy

        No insult at all; we all have different upbringings. If you want to see what insulting is, read the comment just before yours. Nice move for someone who only uses initials because apparently he does not want anyone to know who he is; I don’t blame him.

        I surrendered to preach 32 years ago. I maintain there is no new teaching here. Just not calvinist or decidedly calvinistic; my point is that 5 point calvinism is not the norm. I did not even realize this was even a Baptist issue until someone sent me a book in early 2000.

        A LOT of Baptists have no clue what we are even discussing here and if they did, you would hear about it and by the way they are not for the most part, reading these blogs but thank the Lord, that number is growing daily!

        ><>”

          William Leonhart

          “I did not even realize this was even a Baptist issue until someone sent me a book in early 2000.”

          How can you use your 32 year ministry as leverage for laying claim to a historic awareness what has been historically affirmed in the convention when you weren’t even aware of the debate for the first 20 years of your ministry?

          “A LOT of Baptists have no clue what we are even discussing here…”

          Would you not argue that the “majority” have no clue.. the majority to which Traditionalists have laid claim in the preamble of this statement you signed?

          Just because the majority of Southern Baptists aren’t five-point Calvinists doesn’t mean that they would sign your statement. The majority doesn’t even know the debate exists. They have no clue what the historical and biblical arguments are. Many of them have been fed gross mischaracterizations of what Calvinism actually affirms. Of those who would sign this statement, I seriously doubt they would outnumber those who would affirm a Calvinistic statement responding to it. However, you won’t likely see such a statement from Calvinists in the convention, because we recognize what statements like this do: divide.

          Bob Hadley

          William,

          Thanks for your balanced comment. A couple corrections.

          You asked, How can you use your 32 year ministry as leverage for laying claim to a historic awareness what has been historically affirmed in the convention when you weren’t even aware of the debate for the first 20 years of your ministry?

          First of all, I am not even sure WHAT is is that you are asking. I simply said, I had no idea this was a theological issue until 2000… now… that is a personal observation. By that time, I had preached in some 30 states and 5 states in Brazil. It is what it is; the fact that I did not know this was an issue was in no way a reflection that no one else knew it was an issue, it that was your question.

          Now to your next question… Would you not argue that the “majority” have no clue.. the majority to which Traditionalists have laid claim in the preamble of this statement you signed?

          Once again, I am not sure what you are even asking.

          To your final statement; it is understandable. The fact that a majority of SB’s are not calvinist has nothing to do with their signing the document. Nothing in my statement has anything to do with anyone signing the document. My job was to expound on the 5th statement, which is what I tried to do.

          Sir, I am not sure what planet you are from but there are more calvinist statements floating around than carter’s liver pills. According to some calvinists, the BF&M2000 is a reformed statement. I do not see it that way but your assertion that there are no reformed statements out there and groups seeking to gain members of like theological leanings, is simply not true.

          Now for all who will say… what groups are you talking about… well lets start with the Founders, The Gospel Project, Together 4 the Gospel, Acts 29, Baptist21, and I do not need to go on. The fact that these groups have not come to ask Southern Baptists to sign them is because ALL Southern Baptists are not welcome and not expected to sign.

          For the record sir, anyone has the right to bring a statement forward for conversation and discussion and that is what this statement was intended to do. It is not divisive; it simply recognizes differences that already exist and those differences need to be discussed and that discussion is going to take place, sooner than later.

          ><>”

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

Scripture uniformily teaches that God loves everyone and desires all to be saved. It portrays God’s love as universal and impartial. This central motif of Scripture, a motif that reflects the very character of God, is undermined for the sake of a logical inference in classical Calvinism. Calvinists infer that grace is incompatible with man choosing for or against God and further infer that God unilaterally chooses who will or will not be saved. However, when a logical inference contradicts an explicit, unambiguous, pervasive teaching of Scripture, we must question the premise from which the inference is made or the logic of the inference itself. In this case, the problem lies in the premise that we cannot attribute our salvation to God’s grace if we have to choose. A gift is not less of a gift because it is accepted. If someone offers food to a starving person, is the food less of a gift because it is accepted? The fact that Scripture sees no conflict between human choice and the graciousness of God’s offer suggests there is no conflict. Scripture never portrays a choice to receive a gift from God as a “work.”

    Greg Coleman

    Malachi 1:1-5

    1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.

    2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,

    3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

    4 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.

    5 And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.

    Jimmie Bates

    Are you contending that the scripturef uniformly teach that God loves all men without exception? Psalm 5:5 and Psalm 11:5, as well as Romans 9:13, clearly states that God hates some. While I certainly do not profess to fully understand
    this truth, and I certaintly do not find any solace in the death of anyone who dies without Christ; but I do take comfort, and rejoice in the fact that all His creatures, both great and small, saved and lost, are in the hands of a sovereign, omnipotent, and all knowing God. And that all that comes to pass is under His dominion. Unless this is true, then either Satan, or some man, or some group. Of men, no one is in control, and subject to random chance.

    I am respectfully,
    Jimmie Bates

      Bob Hadley

      Jimmy,

      Thanks for your comment as well. By the way, I am in New Orleans and am not readily available during the day to make comments but will try to do so as I am able.

      I think it is fair to say that God loves people but hates some of the things people do; the reference to God loving Jacob and hating Esau has been expounded so many times it is not even worth repeating here.

      I will sound a hearty AMEN to your statement, “I do take comfort, and rejoice in the fact that all His creatures, both great and small, saved and lost, are in the hands of a sovereign, omnipotent, and all knowing God. And that all that comes to pass is under His dominion. ” God is sovereign. Period.

      Here is a question for you to ponder; If God gave me the choice to choose to accept or reject His provisions for my eternal destiny, does that rob God of His sovereignty? It does NOT because NOTHING can take away from His sovereignty. God is sovereign no matter what.

      ><>”

        Jimmie Bates

        Bob: What does sovereign mean; and when used to describe God are we using it as an absolute term, or a relative term?

        It seems to me that when we use any word to describe God, that word should be used in an absolute sense; to do otherwise would seem to say, “this is true of God, but”, and any time we add the but we are qualifying the term. i.e. God is omnipotent, but He is not omnipotent in reference to man’s will, because He has made his sovereign power subject to man’s will in the area of man’s eternal salvation.

        That view would surely qualify the statement that God is sovereign, and while scripture does not contain the word specifically, I think that most bible students agree that the concept is certainly taught in scripture.

        One further thing as it relates to man’s free will; it appears to me that there have only been two men whose will was really and truly free; the first Adam as created, and the last Adam by birth. As to the first Adam we see how he acted, even though perfect and completely free from even the knowledge of sin, he exercised his free will in sin and open rebellion against God.

        Yet, we are told that we should call upon a sinner by
        birth, and by choice, and tell him if he will cast down his resistance, and exercise his free will he will be saved.

        This would certainly presuppose that a man possesses, by nature, the faith to believe; and yet Paul clearly says in 2 Thessalonians 3:2 that, “all men do not have faith.”

        I appreciate the opportunity to interact regarding these issues; and trust that our gracious, loving, and sovereign heavenly Father may quicken our hearts and minds, and enlighten our understanding; to the end that we may grow thereby.

        I am prayerfully and respectfully yours in Christ, Jimmie Bates

          Tim Rogers

          Jimmie,

          You have just given the classic reason these debates become futile. Please notice your words and please take the point as a reference to the futility of the debate and not something trying to just win an argument.

          You said;

          I do take comfort, and rejoice in the fact that all His creatures, both great and small, saved and lost, are in the hands of a sovereign, omnipotent, and all knowing God. And that all that comes to pass is under His dominion.

          Bob responded:

          I will sound a hearty AMEN to your statement, “I do take comfort, and rejoice in the fact that all His creatures, both great and small, saved and lost, are in the hands of a sovereign, omnipotent, and all knowing God. And that all that comes to pass is under His dominion. ” God is sovereign. Period.

          You then respond:

          Bob: What does sovereign mean; and when used to describe God are we using it as an absolute term, or a relative term?

          It seems to me that when we use any word to describe God, that word should be used in an absolute sense; to do otherwise would seem to say, “this is true of God, but”, and any time we add the but we are qualifying the term. i.e. God is omnipotent, but He is not omnipotent in reference to man’s will, because He has made his sovereign power subject to man’s will in the area of man’s eternal salvation.

          You see Jimmie, Bob used the same statement you made to affirm an agreement. You came back and changed the definition of “Sovereignty” to what suited your position. Let’s just set the clear definition used in Ungers:

          SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD. A term by which is expressed the supreme rulership of God. This is rightly held to be not an attribute of God but a prerogative based upon the perfections of the divine Being.
          The possession of the most complete sovereignty is a necessary part of the proper conception of God and is abundantly declared in the Scriptures (e.g., Psalm 50:1; Psalm 66:7; Psalm 93:1; Isaiah 40:15, 17; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 11:17). The method of the divine rulership is, however, to be judged in the light of special revelation. The term absolute sovereignty as used in Calvinism means the sovereign election of a certain number to salvation and the sovereign reprobation of others. There is a sense, indeed, in which the sovereignty of God is absolute. He is under no external restraint whatsoever. He is the Supreme Dispenser of all events. All forms of existence are within the scope of His dominion. And yet this is not to be viewed in any such way as to abridge the reality of the moral freedom of God’s responsible creatures or to make men anything else than the arbiters of their own eternal destinies. God has seen fit to create beings with the power of choice between good and evil. He rules over them in justice and wisdom and grace.
          This is the whole tenor of the Scriptures and the plain declaration of many passages (e.g., Deut. 10:17; Job 36:5; Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:6; Col. 3:25; 1 Peter 1:17).
          Thus understood the sovereignty of God is the great ground of confidence for His people, and the proper basis upon which to urge sinners to repentance.–The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary.

          Thus, Jimmie, it seems that you are adding your own definition to make your point.

          Les

          Tim,

          Jimie is surely right to press for what Bob means by sovereignty. You quote Unger’s dictionary. One could also quote AW Pink:

          The Sovereignty of God. What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god-hood of God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Dan. 4:35). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psa. 115:3). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psa. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.</blockquote)

          Pink also makes the point:

          It would be foolish for us to expect that this work will meet with general approval. The trend of modern theology-if theology it can be called-is ever toward the deification of the creature rather than the glorification of the Creator, and the leaven of present-day Rationalism is rapidly permeating the whole of Christendom. The malevolent effects of Darwinianism are more far reaching than most are aware. Many of those among our religious leaders who are still regarded as orthodox would, we fear, be found to be very heterodox if they were weighed in the balances of the Sanctuary. Even those who are clear intellectually, upon other truths, are rarely sound in doctrine. Few, very few, today, really believe in the complete ruin and total depravity of man. Those who speak of man’s “free will,” and insist upon his inherent power to either accept or reject the Saviour, do but voice their ignorance of the real condition of Adam’s fallen children. And if there are few who believe that, so far as he is concerned, the condition of the sinner is entirely hopeless, there are fewer still who really believe in the absolute Sovereignty of God.

          Pink has the definition right.

          Bob Hadley

          Sovereign mean God can do whatever He wants to do and He has given us the right to do what we want to do and He has said His provisions are available to those who believe.

          Sovereignty is simple.

          ><>”

          Les

          Bob,

          “…and He has given us the right to do what we want to do…”

          Respectfully, Wwe wish that were true. But there is no biblical evidence for that statement with regards to our salvation.

          Les

          “Wwe” should be We.

          More on His sovereignty:

          “Any system which teaches that the serious intentions of God can in some cases be defeated, and that man, who is not only a creature but a sinful creature, can exercise veto power over the plans of Almighty God, is in striking contrast to the biblical idea of his immeasurable exaltation by which He is removed from all weaknesses of humanity. That the plans of men are not always executed is due to a lack of power, or a lack of wisdom, or both. But since God is unlimited in these and in all other resources, no unforeseen emergencies can arise. To Him the causes for change have no existence. To assume that His plan fails and that he strives to no effect is to reduce Him to the level of His creatures and make Him no God at all.”

          Lydia

          “You have just given the classic reason these debates become futile”

          I totally agree when it comes to the definition of Sovereignty. I have come to believe the real NC definition of God’s Sovereignty is that God is not Sovereign over His own Sovereignty. sigh

          Les

          Lydia,

          “The trend of modern theology-if theology it can be called-is ever toward the deification of the creature rather than the glorification of the Creator, and the leaven of present-day Rationalism is rapidly permeating the whole of Christendom.”

          I have come to believe the real non-Calvinists definition of God’s Sovereignty is that God is not Sovereign at all because of their “deification of the creature rather than the glorification of the Creator.” sigh

          Greg Coleman

          There seems to be a lot of discussion regarding a description of the Sovereignty of God. Obviously, human language fails. I submit the following for consideration:

          By affirming the Sovereignty of God, I accept the Bible’s teaching that God is the Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer and Disposer of all that is. His Sovereignty is universal and absolute over all his creatures. He is subject to none. He is influenced by none. He does as he pleases, only as he pleases, and always as he pleases. None can frustrate him. None can resist him. None can change him. None can stop him. None can hinder him. God sits upon the throne of universal dominion, decreeing all things, directing all things, ruling all things, and working all things with infinite holiness, goodness and wisdom after the counsel of his own will for his glory and for the good of his elect.

Ron Hale

Bob,
You my friend have shared what many and most Southern Baptists believe and teach. Thank you!

Les

Bob, et al,

You non-Calvinists have you a good one there in the good Dr. McLaughlin. The venom in these recent days has decidedly been against Calvinists.

    volfan007

    Les,

    Dont spit on my head and tell me its raining.

    David

      Les

      David,

      It’s more than a little spittle. It’s at least a good shower and betrays the notion that the vast majority of venom comes from the Reformed folks (which BTW I don’t think does anyway).

      Les

        Lydia

        Les,

        I will raise you hundreds of angry, arrogant in your face YRR guys for one blog commenter here. I know “cage phase” is often used to excuse this behavior but now I am not convinced since one of our seminary presidents had the nerve to publicly say his learned colleagues signed a statement he knows they don’t believe and suggested they might be heretics. THAT is venom whether you recognize it or not..

          Les

          Lydia,

          He was in fact being gracious.

          “I will raise you hundreds of angry, arrogant in your face YRR guys…”

          Some have been asking, so go ahead and trot them out. Name names so Reformed people who are not angry and in your face can call them out. So far nobody is willing to post their names. :)

          Lydia

          “He was in fact being gracious.”

          Wow. I think you really believe that and that is how far gone this divide is. I guess that view is from the Calvin school of charm. It is gracious to publicly insult your learned brothers that they don’t really believe what they signed and are possible heretics. Gracious indeed.

          “Some have been asking, so go ahead and trot them out. Name names so Reformed people who are not angry and in your face can call them out. So far nobody is willing to post their names. :)

          Al Mohler. Who proved it by his arrogant insult. He just affirmed for a ton of YRR guys it is “Christian” to suggest their brothers are ignorant, don’t know what they are doing and call them heretics. And he is their leader!

          It does not surprise me one bit you found it gracious. And since you are not really SBC, I will throw out Mark Driscoll who IS affiliated with the SBC as Acts 29 as another example of in your face rude nastry arrogant YRR leader that so many young men look up to as an example of being Christlike.

          Les

          Lydia, FYI I hold a SBC ordination.

          So you can go ahead with those “hundreds of angry, arrogant in your face YRR guys.” Name names. Cone on.

          Darryl Hill

          Lydia, the mistake that you and others have made in labeling Dr Mohler’s response as arrogant and insulting is that you’ve focused only on one sentence of one paragraph and even one word- semi-pelagian. Yes, I will grant you that this is a major buzzword and I’m certain he was aware of that, which was clear since he qualified the use of that word by saying that some of the statements “appear to affirm” semi-pelagian views. It does, by the way, do that very thing, even though I agree that it was not the intent.

          The rest of the response was very gracious. Perhaps you should re-read it. It certainly doesn’t warrant the attack you’ve made in this exchange. Just because you disagree with someone does not mean you have to demonize the opponent. Much of the discussion on this site has been devolving into that, in my opinion. We’ve gone from discussing fine points of theology and Scripture to personal attacks.

Lydia

“The Gospel is Avaiable to Everyone”

In reading Reformation history I came across an interesting insight. As we all know, Ana Baptists were hunted, tortured and drowned by the Reformers. Yet, they converted hundreds were ever they fled. Why? To defy the Reformed state church meant losing everything so why did so many dare?

What was the secret to their strength when they were constantly fleeing the magistrates yet witnessing to people? One author said that the Reformered elite spent most of their time in Romans while the Ana Baptist peasants spent most of their time in the Beatitudes. The Reformers were more interested in polity, structure, authority, and interpreting scripture through that grid. The Ana baptists (they were not monolithic and eschewed formal structures) got some things wrong but their main focus was to live like Jesus Christ NOW. And that is why so many were converted everywhere they fled and why most did not recant during torture. It is amazing to read how many thousands were put to death for disagreeing with the state church whether Catholic or Reformed. To live like Christ in that environment? Now that is the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Chappy

    Lydia,

    don’t you think the Calvinist theology taught by Sproul, Piper, Dever, Mohler, James White, John MacArthur, Matt Chandler, David Platt, Paul Washer, Francis Chan, and others that has flooded the internet, bookstores and conferences and, most astonishingly, the college campus ministries, has had that same sort of effect on the lives of young people? This movement has really been effective at reaching and discipling young people and college students and challenging them to live for Christ. Most college students 15 years ago had no idea about reformed doctrine, but now on campuses, both secular and Christian, students have embraced reformed theology and have embraced it deeply as a total life-system even though it is a theology condemned and maligned by the older generations.

    While there are surely a bunch of troublemakers who are not respectful or tasteful as they discuss these issues who are entering ministry and ram-rodding the TULIP down people’s throats, but most of these new Calvinists are not making waves or trying to overthrow churches. They are just quietly influencing people through personal relationships/discipleship, Bible study, sharing sermons and books, and just teaching and setting an example with no particular agenda but to live for Christ. This is happening in SBC churches and it is a problem for some who think reformed people make God out to be a devil.

    But the real interesting thing is that this rise of Calvinism in the SBC thing is generational. I think this has been lost in the discussion. It can’t just be a reaction by Generation X and the younger generations to doctrines or ideas in books. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is causing one generation to embrace it and the older generations to spurn it. Perhaps someone smarter than me can shed insight.

      Tim B

      Maybe it is the “Barney effect.” They have been taught that they are individually special more than any generation in history. Can’t be any more special than being elect of God. Just a thought.

      Lydia

      “Most college students 15 years ago had no idea about reformed doctrine, but now on campuses, both secular and Christian, students have embraced reformed theology and have embraced it deeply as a total life-system even though it is a theology condemned and maligned by the older generations”

      This is EXACTLY what scares me. I want them to embrace Jesus Christ. Not a “Reformed” system.

      People are converting to the ‘systems” of Islam and Mormonism in record numbers, too.

        Chappy

        Lydia,

        Do you believe that embracing Christ and embracing reformed theology are mutually exclusive? I mean, it seems like two different things, sort of.

        Still, do you see my point about how this is a generational divide as well as a philosophical divide? Perhaps Calvinism is more self-indulgent than Traditionalism or Arminianism and perfect for the “Barney generation.” Maybe the calvinists were just more visionary and got their message to the receptive place place it would have the most impact for the longest amount of time – the young.

          Lydia

          “Do you believe that embracing Christ and embracing reformed theology are mutually exclusive? I mean, it seems like two different things, sort of. ”

          Yes. But ONLY because “Reformed” is what is specifically communicated. Because ‘we have truth’.

          Do you guys think we have not been attending any “NC” or Acts 29 churches? I always do my homework.

        Patrick

        Ah yes…the oh so popular, “I don’t believe in theology, I just believe the Bible,” line.

        I hate to break it to you Lyida, but you do believe certainly theology, you’re just too ignorant to know the name of it.

          Lydia

          “Ah yes…the oh so popular, “I don’t believe in theology, I just believe the Bible,” line. ”

          That is not what I said, Patrick. It is just how you interpreted what I said. We simply have different filters for interpreting scripture. I do not subscribe the Augustinian/Calvinism filter.

          “I hate to break it to you Lyida, but you do believe certainly theology, you’re just too ignorant to know the name of it.””

          And you wonder why we are concerned with unleashing this disposition on those (most who are not reformed) who sacrificed to help subsidize the education of those who come out of our seminaries with such attitudes.

          Chappy

          The comment where you called Lydia ignorant is form. You should apologize.

          Comment Police

          Chappy

          *poor* form

        Darryl Hill

        So, believing in a reformed view of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is on the same level as Islam and Mormonism? Don’t you think that is overstated? That is almost as bad as Dr. Mclaughlin comparing reformers to Hitler and the Nazis just a few days back. Don’t you think demonizing the opponent here is overboard?

          Lydia

          “So, believing in a reformed view of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is on the same level as Islam and Mormonism? Don’t you think that is overstated? ”

          Yes. Allah has no grace for even a few.

      Les

      Lydia,

      We all know Jesus was a Calvinist before Calvin.

        Lydia

        “We all know Jesus was a Calvinist before Calvin”

        But Les, no one understood that until Calvin systemized Jesus for us. :o)

      Lydia

      “I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is causing one generation to embrace it and the older generations to spurn it. Perhaps someone smarter than me can shed insight.”

      I have some theories about why it is so attractive to young men, especially. It is very systemized and structured which they crave in their ever increasing chaotic world. It makes you more “special” than others. And many years of socialized public education has rendered many unable to think for themselves or be independent thinkers. The young are attracted to “movements” and want to identify with one. A big part of the NC is about sex and authority. (See Piper for masculine Christianity and Driscoll who is all about sex) I think this is one of the big attractions for many young men. And where else can young YRR seminarians go and get their own church, be in charge and have “discipline” rights over others and have non- YRR people pay for it?

      As far as my parents generation goes, they recognize the rise of tyrannical behavior and the tactics quicker than my generation has because they fought it young and therefore value such concepts as soul competency and a real Priesthood.

      The YRR have been told very young (see brain development studies) they are the only ones right and everyone else is wrong yet they do not have the trench experience to make such claims.
      So they go forth with their banners and arguments they learned in seminary or from listening to their icons. (We have seen what a problem this has been with the charge of semi Pelagianism which some have brought in other historical information)

      These younguns believe whatever the ivory tower has told them to believe. Most of us have been like that. I was insufferable my first summer home from college with all that ivory tower knowledge. So it is understandable but a potential disaster if they are given power and position.

        Chappy

        I still don’t understand your answer to my question about reformed theology and Christ being mutually exclusive. I’ll ask another way:

        1. Can a person who is reformed (a 5 pointer) in their understanding of the teachings of scripture be a Christian at the same time?

        2. Can an arminian who believes in total depravity and prevenient grace be a Christian at the same time?

          Lydia

          “1. Can a person who is reformed (a 5 pointer) in their understanding of the teachings of scripture be a Christian at the same time?

          2. Can an arminian who believes in total depravity and prevenient grace be a Christian at the same time?”

          Of course! In spite of all the Augustinian/Calvinist systemized baggage.

          JCJ

          Lydia,

          You used the word scared. That is exactly what the issue is. The older generation is scared because they absolutely know the younger generation is being told the truth. And, Lydia, it wasn’t reformers that killed Ana Baptists, it was the Church at Rome. Know your history, please!

          Lydia

          “And, Lydia, it wasn’t reformers that killed Ana Baptists, it was the Church at Rome. Know your history, please!”

          JCJ,

          Who was Felix Manz’ teacher? And where was he prosecuted and sentenced to drowning as his “third baptism”?

          That is just one example off the top of my head.

          volfan007

          JCJ,

          First of all, why dont you quit hiding behind those initials and tell who you are.

          Secondly, you need to read your history a little bit better.

          David

Edward Dalcour

I am not sure where to start. The article piles many assumptions on top of assumptions and positing passages from which pastor Hadley’s attempts to prove his position. The problem is: Pastor Hadley provides no exegetical interaction to support his assertions.

I do not wish here to respond to every assertion within the article. However, I will attempt to provide a meaningful but brief refutation to the Affirmation and Denial.
In term of the Affirmation: “We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is a new creation in Christ and enters, at the moment he believes, into eternal life.”
In which pastor Hadley remarks:

“The implication is clear; first of all, “any person” may respond to the gospel message that is secondly, available to anyone and everyone. (Mt 24:14; Mark 13:10, 16:15; Gal 3:8; Romans 1:16)

First, these passages say nothing of the logical/causal order of regeneration. For example, Rom 1:16 expresses the efficacy of the gospel, which is the power God. To read into this passage (and the others) a concept of free-will libertarianism or a a common spiritual ability of all men view is to engage in obvious eisegesis—1:16 (and the other passages just does not speak of what Pastor Hadley asserts.

Second, the Affirmation along with the Denial (“We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel”) finds no support exegetically. Again, Pastor Hadley offers no exegetical interaction of any passage, he only asserts what he believes to be true.

Now, since the Affirmation and Denial centers on the Arminian concept of autosoterism (viz. faith precedes regeneration), and since I said I would be brief, I will present only a few passages (viz. John 1:13; John 5:1; and Acts 13:48) that positively affirm the converse of Article Five. There are so many other passages that can be presented (e.g., John 6:37-44; 8:47; 10:26; Rom. chaps. 8-9; etc.), but these here will suffice:

John 1:12-13: 12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

First, v. 12 does not indicate as to why they receive Him and believe in His name. It is in verse 13, where the answer is found: the ones who believe in His name were born of God. Notice first that the phrase “were born” is from one Greek verb egenn?th?san, which is the aorist passive indicative of genna?. The aorist indicates that the being born was a past event, which preceded the act of “believing in His name” (v. 12).

Second, the verb is passive, which indicates that the being born of God was an act of God done to the subject—the unregenerate man. Hence, as with 1 John 5:1, the being born of God was an action in which man’s participation was completely excluded: “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Thus, in verse 12, the believing ones are those who first “were born,” not of blood, nor their own will or flesh, but of God alone. Nothing is said that would indicate that the being born of God was an act of man’s self-determination or independent free will. In fact, the opposite is clearly stated: not of the will of man, but of God.

Next is 1 John 5:1: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. . . .” The Greek reads: Pas ho pisteu?n hoti I?sous estin ho Christos, ek tou theou gegenn?tai (lit., “Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ, from the God has been born”). Note the following details: The word translated “believes” is from the present active participle pisteu?n, which indicates that the “believing” is active and ongoing. And the verb gegenn?tai (lit., “has been born”) is a perfect passive indicative. The perfect tense indicates a completed past action with continuous effects (cf. Mounce, BBGG, 218).

Grammatically, the action the perfect tense (being “born of God”) was prior to the action of the present participle (“believing”). 1 John 2:29 uses the same verb (in the same form): “everyone also who practices righteousness is born [gegenn?tai, lit., “has been born”] of Him.” The continuous practice (due to the present participle poi?n, lit., “practicing”) of righteousness was the result of the sinner being born of God. Just as no one can practice righteousness before being “born of God,” one cannot believe before being “born of God.”

The next point to consider is that verb gegenn?tai is in the passive voice, not active (this is a key component regarding the meaning of the verse). Therefore, John is saying that the being born of God was not of the one believing, for the action of the verb (i.e., the being born) was done to the subject (before believing)—any acts of man are totally excluded (cf. Rom. 5:1). If John had wanted to teach that regeneration (i.e., being born of God) was the result or effect and not the *cause* of faith, which Article Five asserts, he would not have used passive voice, but rather the active.

Acts 13:48: “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

The verb here, tetagmenoi is the pluperfect passive participle of tass?. Hence, the appointing was a past action, prior to belief (due to the pluperfect tense). Hence, the reason why they believed was that they were first “appointed” (as rendered in most translations) by God to eternal life. Thus, they “belonged to” (BDAG, 991) Him prior to their belief—regeneration precedes faith.

Keep in mind, the Ten Articles will not go unchallenged (excepting Nine and Ten). For something to be “biblically true” it must be support by the exegesis of the Scripture. I would hope that all Christians take their beliefs seriously.

    Bob Hadley

    Edward,

    I think it is fair to say we all can read into statements what we want to read into them and exclude or shade others. It is unfortunately a luxury that blogs afford us. consider your criticism: ““The implication is clear; first of all, “any person” may respond to the gospel message that is secondly, available to anyone and everyone. (Mt 24:14; Mark 13:10, 16:15; Gal 3:8; Romans 1:16)

    First, these passages say nothing of the logical/causal order of regeneration. ”

    Guess what, you are correct. The scripture passages say nothing about the order of regeneration but everything about responding to the gospel for ALL as well as the power of that gospel to save anyone… who believe in it and the official position of this 5th article is simply this: God does not determine who does and does not believe. OK. Listen; that is it in a nutshell. Period. I understand you believe it differently and I have no problem with you believing what you believe the Bible teaches you…

    I simply do not want what I believe to be something that is theologically incorrect being the dominate influence in the entities of the SBC.

    One comment:

    You wrote, “Now, since the Affirmation and Denial centers on the Arminian concept of autosoterism (viz. faith precedes regeneration),” thanks for not only failing to be brief, but for using a term that I have now read for the first time; which by the way does not seem to have ANYTHING to do with faith preceding regeneration) it has to do with the Pelagian position of salvation coming from ourselves.) I purposely wrote this so that ANYONE could understand it without having to go to a glossary to find out what something meant…

    I do not have time to argue the Greek nuances…

    ><>”

Matt

O.K. does anyone else find this a little commical:

“Consider the following: “For by grace are you saved; it is the gift of God not of works lest anyone should boast.” The phrase dealing with the role of faith can be eliminated altogether and the thrust of the verse is not changed. Gift in this verse refers to salvation. Faith is not God’s gift to man; faith is man’s response to God’s gift in Jesus that brings salvation. Faith is always man’s response.”

The “phrase dealing with the role of faith” that was left out of the verse reads, “through faith, and that not of yourselves”. Yes Bob, we Calvinists agree with you, faith is not of ourselves.

If you put the “and that not of yourselves” part back in, the verse sounds a little silly and redundant doesn’t it? What sense does it make for Paul to tell us that the free undeserved gift of salvation that is given to us is not of us?

    Bob Hadley

    Matt,

    I am glad you can find a little humor in all of this. However, when you finish laughing… and read it a little slower… you might realize you completely missed the point of the statement. I was addressing the “faith is a gift of God” argument that I have read over and over again. My point was, if you left that phrase completely out, the verse is still theologically accurate. The main point is that salvation is the gift NOT FAITH… faith is MAN’S response… faith is always active and is something man does… not what God does for man.

    That was the point.

    ><>”

      Another

      For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, – Philippians 1:29

      Faith is a gift, Bob. There is no way around it. Praise God for the faith He has given you.

      Matt

      Bob,

      Maybe your the one who missed the point. You say, “Faith is always man’s response.”; however, in what you affirm to be the “phrase dealing with the role of faith” Paul say that faith is, “not of yourselves”.

      C’mon, you don’t see this as a little commical?

        Bob Hadley

        Another… you are saying the Scripture you quote is a proof text to say faith is a gift? If you say so…

        Matt… I will stick to salvation being the gift… As I see it, salvation is not of yourselves… it is a work that God has made provision for and by faith we accept the terms of those provisions… and the provisions are made available to those who believe and demonstrate faith, which is always active…

        It simply does not seem reasonable to say that my faith is GIVEN BY GOD TO ME…

        I get it; you don’t see it that way; It simply makes no sense to me for God to expect us to believe or demonstrate faith in Him IF He is giving us that faith.

        ><>”

BroKen

The implication that should be drawn from statement 5 is not that “any person may respond to the gospel,” the implication that should be drawn is that those who do respond will be saved. The question is not whether persons who respond to the gospel are saved, (both camps reply with a resounding, YES!) The question is, who are those who will respond? And by what means are those persons motivated to respond?

    Bob Hadley

    BroKen,

    Sorry to disagree with you sir: The implication that should be drawn from statement 5 is not that “any person may respond to the gospel,” the implication that should be drawn is that those who do respond will be saved.

    The whole point of the article is to assert both. To answer your question: who are those who will respond??? those who are saved!

    The means by which they are motivated to respond are the claims of the gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a lost person.

    ><>”

      BroKen

      Bob,
      Please explain the following
      The whole point of the article is to assert both. To answer your question: who are those who will respond??? those who are saved!

      So you agree with the traditional biblical position that those who respond to the gospel are the ones who have already been set apart and saved? I’m confused.

wingedfooted1

Please consider the following quotes….

“Thus, in the complex process by which the Spirit applies, and the believer receives, the benefits of Christ’s redemption, there is the change of nature usually known as REGENERATION, THE MYSTICAL UNION WITH CHRIST, the source of spiritual life, and saving faith, which is the sinner’s act of appropriating Christ and his benefits. The first two are implied in effectual calling, and the third grows out of it. Effectual calling viewed Christ-wards EFFECTS SPIRITUAL UNION WITH HIM; viewed man-wards IT PRODUCES REGENERATION, and in the sphere of man’s activity it evinces faith in Christ.” – (Westminster Shorter Catechism Project: The Presbyterian Standards; Chapter 15: Effectual Calling; Union with Christ; Regeneration)

“But, when thus quickened and renewed by the effectual call WHICH RESULTS IN REGENERATION AND UNION WITH CHRIST, the sinner is able to answer the call by the response which his personal faith gives.” – (Westminster Shorter Catechism Project: The Presbyterian Standards; Chapter 15: Effectual Calling; Union with Christ; Regeneration)

“Yes, men believe the gospel to be saved. No question about it. I believe it, I preach it, I call all men to do it. I just know that no man will do it unless and until the miracle of regeneration takes place first. God must open the heart. God must enlighten the mind. God must grant faith. And when God draws one of His elect to Himself, He draws them to Christ through the gospel. The unfailing result of being drawn by the Father is looking to, believing in, coming to (all present tense actions) the Son. IT IS THE NATURE OF THE NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST TO BELIEVE IN HIM.” (James White: Debating Calvinism, page 305)

“REGENERATION, THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHICH BRINGS US INTO A LIVING UNION WITH CHRIST, only refers to the first step in the work of God in our salvation.” (John Hendryx: Monergism Vs. Synergism: monergism.com)

Now I know that the above makes perfectly good sense to the Calvinist, but the scriptures state “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Those who are “in Christ” are saved. “The new creature in Christ” is saved. If we are “in Christ” at the moment of regeneration, and if “regeneration precedes faith”, does this not suggest that salvation precedes faith?

Are we to believe that it is the unrepentant, unbelieving God hater that is put “in Christ”?

Sorry, my Calvinist brothers and sisters, but those who are “a new creature in Christ Jesus” are saved. Those who are in “a living union with Christ” are saved. Not in some initial step process of being saved.

Grace to all.

    Les

    Wf1,

    “but those who are “a new creature in Christ Jesus” are saved”

    Absolutely. Hey, if you start believing this WCF stuff you’re fond to quote you’ll be well on your way to becoming Reformed and you will be much closer to the truth.

    God bless you on your pilgrimage.

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

This SBCToday website seems to have initiated a process which I, long ago, suggested on http://www.christianapologetic.org . Perhaps the outcome will be a Traditional Southern Baptist Convention (TSBC) and a Calvinist Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC). A TSBC might even stimulate the return of some CBF churches.

“One alternative to the plan of maintaining congregational ignorance is for the upper echelon elite to “man-up” to what they believe as individuals and have an open debate within the SBC. The associated risk is that a protracted struggle could damage a denomination which has already reached a membership plateau and begun the inexorable decline. A preferred alternative might be to actually educate congregations about this issue and let local churches decide for themselves. This is a moral and ethical option which relies on the “soul competency and priesthood of believers” and confirms the autonomy of the local church. A local church could decide, for example, to designate itself as “non-Calvinist” meaning, in that church, Calvinism is rejected by the leadership. Another church could designate itself as “Calvinist” meaning church leaders embrace Calvinism. Currently, neither Christian nor “seeker” can confidently determine the position of a particular Southern Baptist church on this issue without conducting an extensive investigation. For example, a church may have a non-Calvinist pastor but several Calvinist Sunday school teachers. Or a church may have a Calvinist pastor because his true theology was concealed from a non-Calvinist search committee. In particularly insidious cases, Calvinist “power players” bide their time until their non-Calvinist pastor departs and then quietly sneak a Calvinist pastor through the side door. In each of these examples, is the church Calvinist or non-Calvinist? Would the congregation know? Unfortunately, most Southern Baptist congregations are far too uninformed to recognize deceitful and duplicitous conduct by a few members of their own leadership. In any case, the proponents of Calvinism, hiding in and behind Seminaries and Bible Colleges, do not want local churches to openly discuss and debate this issue because these proponents fear the outcome. Similarly, most opponents of Calvinism, both pastors and laypersons, simply lack the courage to raise this issue in their local churches.”

    Darryl Hill

    Well there it is. At least we know for sure what your purpose here is- division. I’m glad you’ve stated it for the record.

    As a life-long Southern Baptist who also believes strongly in the Doctrines of Grace, I will tell you that my goal is just the opposite. My hope and prayer for our denomination is unity in diversity. I believe it is a strength. The BF&M is enough for me. I know that I do not agree with all of my Southern Baptist brothers on these issues, but we agree on the most important issues, which are included in the BF&M.

    And let’s really focus here on what is most important- fulfilling the Great Commission in every way possible. Do you think a division would help or hurt that mission? It would hurt significantly. Imagine if seminaries were forced to choose. How would this affect training? How would this affect the sending of missionaries? Do you realize the impact this would have?

    Let me just say this: if a division does happen and someone forces people and churches to choose sides, I can’t believe that this could possibly come from the reformed side here. Perhaps it could, but I will denounce it if it happens, no matter where it comes from. I would never support dividing because of the way it would harm the Kingdom. But, since some here think reformed folks are either worshiping false gods or like nazis, I guess I could see why division would seem best. If I really believed that about those who wrote this 10-pt statement, I guess I’d think division would be best, too. But given the fact that I was recently on the other side of the debate here, I remember well where they are coming from.

      JCJ

      Well said Darryl.

      Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

      There is an intrinsic problem with hiding behind slogans like “just focus on the Great Commission” and “strength in unity with diversity” Behind this magnanimous sounding facade of peace and reconciliation, stands a body of Christ having its heart ripped out. I have lost count of the blogs saying, “We Southern Baptists only differ on soteriology, a miniscule part of the body. On all other issues we are united.” But soteriology represents the heart of the body of Christ just as your heart represents a small part of your body. How long would you live if someone ripped it out?

        Darryl Hill

        Dr M. it’s not a facade as far as I am concerned. Believe it or not I can disagree with you and still love you. And there is a strength here that can literally be found because you major on man’s responsibility while I major on God’s sovereignty. You can keep me reminded that man must respond and I can keep you reminded that it is God’s work. It can be a good thing if you can stop demonizing me for a moment and stop advocating another denominational split which is the last thing we need. I will say this as a final word here- I do not believe you speak for those who wrote this statement and I thank God for that.

BroKen

Dr. Bob,
Isn’t the statement below the position asserted in your attempted explanation of statement 5? That anyone who decides within themselves to be saved can do so?

You wrote, “Now, since the Affirmation and Denial centers on the Arminian concept of autosoterism (viz. faith precedes regeneration),” thanks for not only failing to be brief, but for using a term that I have now read for the first time; which by the way does not seem to have ANYTHING to do with faith preceding regeneration) it has to do with the Pelagian position of salvation coming from ourselves.) I purposely wrote this so that ANYONE could understand it without having to go to a glossary to find out what something meant…

Ross

“We affirm that any person who responds to the Gospel with repentance and faith is born again through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

How do you know if anyone is really born again? Both repentance and faith can be false and insincere.

    Lydia

    “How do you know if anyone is really born again? Both repentance and faith can be false and insincere.”

    Ross, How did the Reformers know? After all, people were compelled to attend church and the sacraments were a means of grace.

      Les

      No one can know for sure about another’s status before God. And, the sacraments are still a means of grace. :)

        Lydia

        “And, the sacraments are still a means of grace.”

        I guess some prisoners of persecution had to miss out on some of the “means of grace” you described for us on another thread. I remember reading your quote from Sproul and thinking of Richard Wurmbrand and his inability to access all those “means of grace”.

      Ross

      I’m confused. Are you agreeing with me that repentance and faith can be false?

      Are you born again? How do you know for sure?

JCJ

It is time we close the book on this discussion. Why? we are arguing with each other and that does us no good. This whole thing was started out of insecurity, and insecurity always causes division. Let’s put this aside and focus on The Word and see if the BF&M matches The Word (I believe that it does) and evaluate it properly. No, I do not personally agree with Bob Hadley, but he does have a right to state his case, but keep it consistent with the BF&M, which most of the article(s) and discussion(s) has not been consistent with the BF&M or The Word.

As I have reread my own inserts and those of others, I am easily convinced that what we are doing here is hurting our Cooperative efforts of following the lord’s command in Matthew 28. I wish to publicly apologize for my own inserts that have been wrong and not called for. If I have personally offended anyone reading this, please forgive me and you may email me (jtcjnr@gmail.com) to slam at me to tell me so.

I don’t wish to cause division. And I do not like prejudice. There is plenty of room (in my opinion) under the BF&M Umbrella for each of us. If we see things differently, ok, but instead of arguing, let us just share that with each other and not hurt one another any longer. And if you have a website as a church that comes across as prejudice to someone, think about it, pray about it, and ask God if that should be changed.

JCJ

T. R.

If you believe that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to all believers, then you must also believe that Adam’s guilt has been imputed to the human race (and reject article 2 of the new statement). Otherwise, you must reject the SBC’s Sandy Creek Confession of Faith. The new document obviously is against that confession, see for yourself below:

Sandy Creek Confession of Faith

Article 3
That Adam fell from his original state of purity, and that his sin is IMPUTED to his posterity; that human nature is corrupt, and that man, of his own free will and ability, is impotent to regain the state in which he was primarily placed.

Article 4
We believe in election from eternity, effectual calling by the Holy Spirit of God, and justification in his sight only by the IMPUTATION of Christ’s righteousness. And we believe that they who are thus elected, effectually called, and justified, will persevere through grace to the end, that none of them be lost.

    Les

    T.R.,

    “If you believe that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to all believers…”

    Amazingly, some of the people in the traditionalist camp in fact deny the imputation of Christ’s righteousness!

    It is stunning, and certainly sad, to see Southern Baptists deny imputed righteousness.

    Perhaps Dr. McLaughlin above is right when he says,

    “Perhaps the outcome will be a Traditional Southern Baptist Convention (TSBC) and a Calvinist Southern Baptist Convention (CSBC). A TSBC might even stimulate the return of some CBF churches.”

    CBF churches fold back into the Traditionalist group? The liberals who left would feel at home with the Trads? Hmmm.

    Jimmie Bates

    TR: I believe we are mis reading the scripture when make justification and the righteousness of God which is ours only when Christ comes to dwell in the heart of the believer through the new birth. Let me explain on what basis I make this statement. In Romans 5:1 Paul declres: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The phrase being justified, is better rendered as, having been justified, which most translations do. The word is an aorist participle in the passive voice. So it is something that happens to the subject of that particular statement.

    So when was those in Christ justified? They were justified prior to faith, they were justified by the shed blood of Jesus Christ; it only by the blood of Christ that we can have any hope of having been justified. Now, having been justified Romans 3:24 “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God set forth (to be, added to text) a propitiation through (*the, definite article here and following) faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of (*the) sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. To declare (I say, added to text) at this time His righteousness: that He might be just and justifier of one believing in Jesus.”

    In Romans 5:19 Paul declares: “For as through *(the) one man’s disobedience (*the) many were made (aorist indicative passive, something that happened to them, however in Romans 5:12 the death that passed upon all men, in as much as all sinned , both those to whom (*the) death passed; and the all sinned are in the aorist indicative active; which means we were alive in Adam when he sinned, and then the death pased upon all in Adam, and then the seeds of that death are passed on each time a child is begotten by a father who came out of the loins of Adam.

    Then going on in Romans 5: 19; through the obdience of *the) one many shall be made righteous. It’s interesting here that the many who are made righteous is in the future tense. We have no claim on any of the credit for this act, because only those who have been rescued out of the sin; brought to new life in Christ Jesus by the proclamation of the glorious gospel of Christ, and baptised into the death of Christ and raised again in the newness of His resurrection life (Romans 6:1-6) are made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

    Finally: Not that there is an essential difference between being justified, and being made the righteousness of God in Christ; but there does seem to be a chronological difference in being brought into the experience of these great truths by God’s children.
    Prayerfully and respectfully, I am yours in Christ,
    Jimmie Bates

Roy

It’s sad to see Southern Baptist turning away from sound doctrine and truth I think SBC leaders need to read 2 Timothy 4:3-4. I’ve been praying for Southern Baptist to continue in their conservative movement back to sound doctrine and not fall back into another liberal downfall. Charles Spurgeon and John MacArthur would never allow this discussion to even take place in their churches, so I’m very disappointed to see leaders in the SBC making a very extreme liberal push and to turn away from sound doctrine and the foundations of the Baptist faith. What’s next, the SBC going to start allowing homosexuals to be Pastor’s because Jesus never said the word “Homosexual”? You refuse to read and believe the words of Jesus and Paul about God’s Sovereignty, what else are you going to refuse to believe?

It amazes me that humans want to put themselves equal to God or that humans deserve to go to Heaven because they can actually accept God without God intervening. God is God and every single human deserves to go to Hell. Man made religion is men working their way to God, because they hate the Truth. God has to divinely intervene and to divinely-regenerate/convert a man’s heart. Read Matthew, Jesus said that God the Father revealed the truth to Peter. That’s what’s wrong with the SBC, they just care about numbers and money and they accept false conversions by saying, “repeat this prayer and you’ll be saved”. No where does it say repeat a prayer and be saved. Jesus never said, “repeat this prayer after me and you’ll be saved”! Jesus said to “Repent and follow me”. No man can assure anyone of their salvation, but only God knows and I can’t imagine how God feels about people assuring others of their Salvation, when those others aren’t true believers and aren’t truly saved. First Baptist Raytown is a Southern Baptist church and they mix Christianity with Judaism and I believe God talks about that in the Bible. The Southern Baptist Convention is going down hill and fast! I’m currently a member of a Southern Baptist Church, but if the SBC keeps heading in this direction then I’ll leave. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time will come when they will NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

    Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

    I thought Calvinists embraced homosexuality (episcopalians, presbyterians, etc.) but Arminians (Wesleyans, Nazarenes, Free Will Baptists, etc.) did not!!

      Les

      Nope. Not evangelical, bible believing Calvinists. But then any of the so-called Calvinists you mentioned, who also deny the authority of the scripture, do embrace homosexuality. Groups like Presbyterian USA, The Episcopal church in the US do embrace homosexuality. But they cannot truly be referred to as Calvinists in a meaningful way.

      Oh, and there are some Southern Baptists who affirm homosexuality too.

Lydia

“I have come to believe the real non-Calvinists definition of God’s Sovereignty is that God is not Sovereign at all because of their “deification of the creature rather than the glorification of the Creator.” sigh”

Les, So the Calvinist answer is to paint God into a sort of determinist god like Allah. Best to do that than see that a Sovereign God can allow HIS created beings any free will responsibility?

    Les

    Lydia,

    “Les, So the Calvinist answer is to paint God into a sort of determinist god like Allah.”

    Nope. There is no allah.

    And let me try your MO. Define “free will.” Then I can respond.

      Lydia

      “And let me try your MO. Define “free will.” Then I can respond.”

      An exercise in futility since your interpretation grid is Augustine/Calvin. And the fact it has been debated to death on these threads in one way or the other with not one inch moved on either side.

        Les

        “An exercise in futility since your interpretation grid is Augustine/Calvin.”

        The ol’ interpretation grid evasion. How hard is it to just define free will in your understanding?

        Buy ok.

Jay Beerley

Hey, “popularists” (more accurate than traditionalists)

Who are the five most influential theologians/pastors of the last 2,000 years that you think fully agree with this statement? (not just article 5, but the whole thing)

    Lydia

    Jay, Who decides what human is influential and why? Because they had the power of the state behind them?

      Jay Beerley

      Lydia, your snarkiness is unnecessary. I think you know full well what my question entails. If you want to arrogantly dismiss these men of God as not being so, I can’t imagine how anyone could have a reasonable conversation about doctrine. I bet Joseph Smith was right there with you saying church history doesn’t matter.

    Les

    Jay,

    Lots of luck getting an actual answer. Usually you just get questions back at you.

      Lydia

      You think it is wrong to get clarity on a question before answering? What does “influential” mean and to whom? Rick Warren is “influential” to many and is a
      pastor”. That does not make him right.

        Les

        “You think it is wrong to get clarity on a question before answering?”

        No. I also asked you to clarify, by giving definition to “free will” above here. So I’m hoping you will do that.

Lydia

“So you can go ahead with those “hundreds of angry, arrogant in your face YRR guys.” Name names. Cone on.”

Believe me I would love to. But not on the internet. It never ceases to amaze me how the NC have their “membership covenants” vetted by lawyers and then trot out 1 Corin 6 against others.

    Les

    Lydia,

    “Believe me I would love to. But not on the internet.”

    Smile.

    Les

    Lydia,

    You described earlier people as “angry, arrogant in your face YRR guys.”

    Do you consider me an “angry, arrogant in your face ORR guy?”

      Lydia

      “Do you consider me an “angry, arrogant in your face ORR guy?””

      ORR: Ornery restless and reformed? :o)

      In some ways. More passive agressive anger, really. Sort of like Eddy Haskell egging on the Beav (younger YRR guys).

      You are more like me in using sarcasm to make a point.

        Les

        “ORR: Ornery restless and reformed?”

        Well sometimes…ornery, that is. But I was thinking “old.” That’s all the time.

        You know, a few years ago I used to have really heated debates on theology with some particular people online. Over and over we would go.

        But God began to show me some things about myself and debating, arguing, etc. I say began, because I’m still learning even in my mid-fifties.

        Eventually we called a truce and one of them even decided to accompany me to Haiti on one of my orphan care mission trips. Turns out we had a great time and remain friends to this day. We still disagree on some things. But actually meeting, especially on a trip to minister to orphans, caused us to re-think the way we approached each other.

        See you are right about the sarcasm. I can tend that way and go too far with it. I see you employ some of that too and it makes for great fun. But sometimes our sarcasm, mine included, can go too far.

        I really think that if most of us were to meet over a beer (or soda for SOME of my Baptist brothers and sisters) and talked about the same things we write about, our approaches would be totally different.

        In fact I think if most of us who are almost always on opposite sides of every issue were to meet socially, we’d probably get along fine.

        All that said, I enjoy the back and forth. But I really am a softie. Ask anyone who truly knows me. Look at my FB page. I think you might get a different picture of me.

        So. I am going to back off a bit Lydia with you before I let myself lapse too far in a less than edifying direction. I may still comment, but I’m going to try to be more gracious.

        God bless you.

        Les

          Lydia

          “See you are right about the sarcasm. I can tend that way and go too far with it. I see you employ some of that too and it makes for great fun. But sometimes our sarcasm, mine included, can go too far.”

          Then it looks like we both might think it is too much fun. I appreciate people who make me think instead of just calling me an ignorant heretic….. so thanks for that!

          I hate beer and besides we know beer is a sin because it is not in the bible unless there were things going on with the grain not mentioned? (wink) But wine is ok in moderation, so make mine a cabernet and we are on.

          Blessings back to ya

    Jimmie Bates

    Lydia: One question, with four parts, I would pose is: If Adam was created upright as a perfect man; I believe you would agree with that statement; and if he is one of only two men that have ever lived whose wills were truly free, and not bent toward sin; and if he as a perfect man (and not with some secret flaw built into him by God that would cause him to sin) exercised his free will in rebellion and sin, plunging himself and the whole of the human race into that sin and rebellion; then how can we expect that a rebellious sinner would exercise his free will, which many claim he posses, and respond to the “free offer” of the gospel?

    I would contend, hopefully without being contentious, that faith is not an ability that is natural to man; but a spiritual ability that comes with the spiritual life that comes to us through the new birth. If faith is a natural ability, then all men alike do not have that natural ability, for Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:2 makes the definitive statement “for all do not have faith.”
    Jimmie Bates

      Lydia

      “One question, with four parts, I would pose is: If Adam was created upright as a perfect man; I believe you would agree with that statement; and if he is one of only two men that have ever lived whose wills were truly free, and not bent toward sin; and if he as a perfect man (and not with some secret flaw built into him by God that would cause him to sin) exercised his free will in rebellion and sin, plunging himself and the whole of the human race into that sin and rebellion; then how can we expect that a rebellious sinner would exercise his free will, which many claim he posses, and respond to the “free offer” of the gospel?”

      Because I do not agree with you on all the consequences of Adam’s sin. I do not interpret scripture with the Augustinian/Calvin filter. I do not believe we inherit Adam’s “guilt” for his sin. I also do not believe scripture is communicating to us that we are “physically” dead in that way even though we ARE born in bodies that are dying from day one.

      As I have said, I DO believe we are “born dying” as in corrupted bodies and we are born separated from God, we inherit this sin “nature” for lack of a better word and are born into a corrupted world. I believe death is a huge consquence of sin and therefore IS condemnation before we are ever cognizant of sinning. I believe we all sin and are sinners. I do not believe we stay as horrible practicing willful sinners after being born (See Hebrews 10) again even though we sin (even our thoughts are sinful because they miss the mark of perfection). I do believe we have the capacity to obey God and produce good fruit when we are Born Again.

      I do not believe that saying we are all sinners even after being Born Again is an excuse to wipe out people, burn heretics, etc. (Read the rest of 1 John) That thinking shows a deeper problem in what is taught from the Reformed perspective as much as cheap grace is from the seekers. I believe that Christians will show fruit of salvation by obeying God and his commands.

      Your interpretive grid is totally different from mine. And I explained way back on this blog why I think Calvinists interpret proof texts for their position wrongly such as Romans 3. We can simply agree to disagree. Or, I can be an ignorant women leaning toward heresy according to some. Does not matter to me much. I just worry for others who might be spiritually abused for “sinning by questioning” the Reformed leaders.

      Gotta run. Got some real work to do. :o)

        Jimmie Bates

        Lydia: Thanks for the repsonse. I may have not conveyed my view of man being dead in sin very well. I was not contending that man is physically; nor that he is dying from the moment of birth, or even from conception in as much as the seeds of physical death have been sown through having been conceived by a father in whom the same seeds of death are found.

        I was however attempting to address the issue of spiritual death; and that, it seems o me, is the crux of the matter as it relates to man’s natural ability, or faith as a natural attribute of man, with faith the attendant ability to respond savingly to the gospel.

        I contend that faith is a spiritual ability bestowed on God’s elect by means of the new birth; which itself comes about when the miracle working power of God unto salvation , which is the gospel, is brought to bear on the heart and mind of one of God’s children. I would appeal to 2 Corinthians 4:3-7; and John 6:63, and there are many other passages as well that I believe bear on, and give insight into these things.

        When Adam ate of the tree as I understand it; Adam was immediately cut off from God; he no longer had access to God, he no longer free to approach; he was totally and completely at God’s mercy, evidenced by the chefribum with the flaming sword at the entrance of the garden to guard way back into the garden.

        While Adam died spiritually the moment he ate; his physically death was not imemdiate, but it was mediated and came about 930 years later for Adam.

        As to your statement concerning saying we are sinners after having been born again as an excuse to wipe out people, burn heretics etc. I certaintly hope I do not come across as being condencending; but I truly do not understand this statemen. Could you give me further information as to what you mean by that?

        And Lydia, let me assure you that, even though I do not know you; I certaintly do not consider you an ignorant woman leaning toward heresy. And, I am not interested in winning a theological arguement, nor do I believe you are either. I believe that what I am contending for is what Jude instructs us to contend for; and that is the fith that has once and for all been delivered to the saints. And I believe that you truly think that those thigns you are contending for more closely conform to what the scriptures teach than do my views; and you are hoping, just as I am; that if your view is closer to the biblical record that you will be able to influence me, and trst God to quicken my mind and enlighten my understanding to the truth of scripture.

        And, it in that vein that I have entered into these discussions; and I believe that if we don’t have that as our purpose and goal; then these things will degenerate into something not much different than the “profound discussion” that I often engaged in in some bar for the last time almost 42 years ago when by God’s glorious grace he used a brother, whose views I believe are much more closely aligned with yours than mine, as His human instrument in drawing me to Himself.

        In His service I am prayerfully,
        Jimmie Bates

          Jimmie Bates

          Lydia: Please excuse the typos; I should have proofed before posting. Hopefully my mea culpa doesn’t contain more typos.
          JB

      holdon

      “If faith is a natural ability, then all men alike do not have that natural ability, for Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:2 makes the definitive statement “for all do not have faith.”

      “The demons even believe, and tremble.” James 2:19

      Believing seems indeed to be a natural ability. If even demons do believe (but are not saved), we must conclude that all people can (and I would argue do) believe something. Believing is a faculty like thinking, speaking, etc..

        Jimmie Bates

        Holdon: Surely you do not believe that the believing of devils is the spiritual equivalent to “the faith” once delivered to the saints, do you?

        Secondly faith is a noun, and not a verb. So rather than faith and believing being synonomous, the verb pisteuo finds its source in the noun pistis. The noun pistis, does not speak of action; and the reason it does not is there is no action in a noun; faith then is a thing; it is a thing which enables one to believe. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Why? Because without faith it is impossible to believe.

        When you quote James 2:19 we need to keep in min what James is addressing in his epistle in general, and in this passage in particular. He is dealing with, and contrasting the manifestation of true biblical faith, seen in good works; with an empty profession of faith that is devoid of good works. When he said the devils believe, and tremble; he is showing the ultimate example of a faith devid of any spiritual life as evidenced by the absence of any spiritual fruit.

        And it’s certainly true that all people belive something; but that surely does not seem to support the contention that all men possess the faith Paul peaks of in Galatians 5:6; “a faith that works through love.”

        Finally I would ask, what did Paul mean in 2 Thessalonains 3:2 when he clearly stated, “for not all men have faith”?

        In Christ, I am
        Jimmie Bates

          holdon

          “Because without faith it is impossible to believe.”

          I would say it’s the other way around. Without believing you cannot have “faith”.

          You agree that believing is a natural ability if it is certainly true that all men believe something.

          Believing (the verb) is the natural faculty that all men possess as creatures. The verb “believe” calls for an object. You believe something or someone.

          Faith includes the object. God provides the object (either Himself or what He said: “For this is the witness of God which he has witnessed concerning his Son. He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself; he that does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness which God has witnessed concerning his Son. 1 Jn 5:9,10)

          Christian faith therefore combines the natural act of believing plus the God given object. Of the Jews in John 2:23-25 it is said that many believed but Jesus did not “trust” (same word as their “believed) them.

          The faith (with the article) is the Christian truths: the objects of the Christian faith. Like in: the faith once delivered to the saints. This is what God gives. It still needs to be believed.

          Faith (without the article) expresses the act of believing (it is someone doing it: someone’s faith, like the faith of Abraham was “his faith”) and includes the object: “Abraham believed God”.

          Bob Hadley

          Holden,

          You have made a very wise statement that is very pertinent to this discussion. I believe you are absolutely correct in saying it is impossible to have faith without FIRST believing. We all have faith; the question is, where does our faith rest? We all believe a lot of things; the question God is interested in is, WHAT DO WE BELIEVE AND IN WHOM DO WE BELIEVE?

          Bob Hadley

          I actually cut myself off… God blesses us when we believe in and place our faith in HIM as opposed to our own selves.

          Here is another thought I had yesterday… on the issue of regeneration preceding repentance and faith; it really occurred to me the calvinist is saying not that God regenerates man TO repent and exercise saving faith; they are really saying God gives man repentance and faith and THAT IS REGENERATION.

          In a sense, by discussing regeneration, it takes the focus off God giving man repentance and faith… which is NOT the traditional position of Baptists in the SBC.

          ><>”

          holdon

          When the bible speaks about “regeneration” we need to understand that involves more than the moment of birth. It very much includes the thought of new life that is generated at conception and of course then birth ensues. You can see this when Peter uses the word in connection with the seed (the word of God) in 1 Pet 1 and James in the first chapter expresses a similar thought. We all know that the seed needs to be conceived, which in the spiritual sense equates to the word of God that needs to be received. That’s is man’s responsibility.

        Jimmie Bates

        Holdon: Im response to your 12:45 post. Paul does emply the definite article when speaking of the faith of our father Abraham; and that surely seems to be the same faith Jude instructs to earnestly contend for; te faith once and for all delivered to the saints. As I observed on another post, the verb translated delivered is paradidomi; and essentially means to transmit, yield up, or surrender up something to another. What is being delivered is the faith, which is the great body of truth, of which the gospel is the essence; and the gospel is the message of what God has done in Christ in redeeming, and saving, His people from their sins. That, it seems to me, is why the gospel is not an offer of salvation; but rather a proclamation of this good news of what God has done, rather than an offer if one will accept it, and make the gospel message effectual.

        The word preach, or preaching it seems, has it’s source in the idea of a crier, one who goes forth proclaiming the news. In the OT a herald, which seems to be closely related to the NT preacher, was one who went forth proclaiming the kings rule.

        Not that ancient literature is aurthoritative in this respect; but the word from which the gospel stems comes from the word that originally meant the reward given to one who brought good news, hence the word angelos or messenger; and then it became not only the messenger, but the content of the message itself; hence the phrase, “proclaim the good news.”

        This is much like what Pheidippides proclaimed after running from Marathon to Athens with the good news expressed in the words “rejoice, we conquer.” This was the good news that the Greeks had defeated the Spartans at Marathon.

        I stll have not seen anyone address what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:2; “for, or in that, all men do not have faith.”

        I am, in Christ,
        Jimmie Bates

          holdon

          “I stll have not seen anyone address what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:2; “for, or in that, all men do not have faith.”

          I thought this would be clear now. They are like the Jews in Jn 2:23-25 at best and like those in 2 Thess 2:11-13 at worst.

          Further I am not aware of the article for faith of Abraham. It’s important to pay attention to the principle of God’s word rather than theology.

David L. Allen

Edward,

In discussing this article, we should consider the fact that from the perspective of historical theology, the notion of “regeneration before faith” is not a construct one finds in the reformers of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Puritans appeared for the most part to regard regeneration and conversion as synonymous. If Shedd is correct, the distinction between regeneration and conversion begins with Turretin. Paedobaptists adopted the notion to assist in their explanation of how their covenant children were regenerated as babies, if not while even still in the womb. Regeneration occurs while an infant, with faith coming later in life. Biblically, no one is regenerated until he exercises faith.

You have suggested Bob does not give any exegetical data in his article. Space constraints are mostly the culprit here, for he could indeed present the evidence. Permit me to mention three passages: John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:1-10; and Romans 6:1-14.

With respect to John 1:12-13, you are correct that the use of the aorist tense verb translated “were born” indicates a past event, but I think you err in suggesting that this act preceded the act of “believing.” You are correct to note that the verb is passive in voice indicating that the act of being “born of God” was an act where God acted and the one being “born” is the recipient of God’s act. I think you err when you then conclude that this excludes any participation by man. Nothing in the Greek of the text permits you to draw that inference. Finally, you are correct when you state that “Nothing is said that would indicate that being born of God was an act of man’s self-determination or independent free will.” None of us believe that “man’s self-determination” has anything to do with our salvation. None of us believe in “independent” free will. Free will does not vitiate God’s sovereignty nor does it eliminate the absolute necessity of God’s grace acting first on man before he can respond to God in faith. As even many Calvinist commentators point on with respect to John 1:12-13, there is nothing in this passage that speaks to a Calvinist ordo salutis. In other words, it is not possible to find “regeneration before faith” exegetically from John 1:12-13.

Part of what is driving the “regeneration precedes faith” issue is a flawed anthropology drawn partly from Ephesians 2. With respect to Ephesians 2:1-10, when Paul speaks of the unregenerate as being “dead in sins” there is no question that “dead” is being used metaphorically. In Scripture, “death” is often used metaphorically to express alienation from God and “life” is used to express union with God via salvation. This death is “on account of” or “with respect to” our sins (notice the nouns are in the dative and there is no preposition in the Greek text). Most Calvinist exegetes suggest that this passage either 1) overtly teaches human inability (usually moral inability) in the sense of “one cannot because they will not,” affirming the Edwardsian distinction between natural and moral inability of sinners to respond to the gospel; or 2) implies human inability to respond to the gospel (John Eadie, Ephesians, 121, argued that “dead” implies inability.) There are other biblical figures of speech used to connote depravity which do not indicate or imply total inability.

Consider Rom 6:1-11. The phrase “died to sin” occurs three times (vv. 2,10, 11). Twice it refers to the condition of believers (2, 11), but in verse 10 the phrase refers to Jesus. Paul personifies sin as a tyrant, a dictator, who attempts to rule over believers. This phrase is Pauline shorthand for “died to sin’s authority.” The two usual interpretations given to Rom 6:6 specifically and the entire passage generally follow an errant trajectory that leads to the debate between the eradicationists (who argue that our sin nature is eradicated at conversion) and the counteractionists (who argue that our sin nature must be counteracted with the divine nature indwelling believers). In the context of Rom 6, to be “dead to sin” does not have anything to do with one’s sin nature. Both the eradicationists and the counteractionists are wrong. What has been changed at conversion that causes believers to be “dead to sin” is not their sin nature, but their relationship to sin. Sin no longer has authority over the Christian. Because of what Christ has done on the cross and our union with Him, we are now dead to sin’s authority. But our “deadness” does not preclude our ability to choose to sin as believers, as Rom 6:12-14 makes perfectly clear.

Now the point is this: the metaphorical concept of “dead” in Rom 6 simply cannot be understood to mean total inability. To counter that the context of Rom 6 is about the life of the believer while the context of Eph 2:1 is the state of the unbeliever changes nothing. The point still remains: the metaphorical use of “dead” in Scripture simply does not inculcate all the nuances that a literal use of “dead” conveys.

“Dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1) need not be understood that the unsaved are so depraved that they have no capacity to understand and/or respond to God. After all, Eph. 2:8-9 does state that their salvation is “through faith.” One might argue, as many Calvinists do, that the faith in Eph 2:8-9 is given by God prior to or concomitant with salvation (Calvinists normally tighten this statement up to limit it to “justification”), but here also this exegetical approach runs into problems. It faces a grammatical problem because “faith” is a feminine noun in Greek and “this” is neuter. This makes it next to impossible that “faith” is the antecedent of “this.” It also faces a syntactical problem because three compliments follow the “this”: 1) not of God, 2) God’s gift, and 3) not of works. As some have pointed out, to connect faith with the first two in some sense is perhaps possible, but not with the third. Otherwise, one winds up with a tautology since faith and works are already contrasted. Better, as most exegetes take Eph 2:8-9, is to construe “this” with the entire preceding clause. For many in Calvinism, it seems salvation is to faith rather than by faith. This is not what the Scripture says. If regeneration precedes salvation (conversion, justification, etc. in a Calvinist ordo salutis) then salvation is no longer “by faith.” Faith then becomes an evidence of salvation rather than a condition for salvation, as the Scripture seems to clearly teach.

In the Calvinist system, regeneration is to faith rather than by faith. This appears to come close to making God the one who is doing the “believing” for the sinner. It is the sinner who believes; not God who believes for him. In the Calvinist system, faith is a part of the effects of regeneration, not the condition for regeneration. However, the Scripture is replete with passages making faith the condition for regeneration, not the result or effect of regeneration. The will to believe in Christ is the free decision of a sinner, but it is a decision that cannot be made without the prior work of the Holy Spirit.

Faith is thus non-meritorious. Salvation by faith does not stand in contradiction to salvation by grace. The Calvinist seems to be saying: “if by faith (not given directly by God), then by works and not by grace.” The Scriptures teach: “by faith, not by works, but by grace.” Romans 4:16: “It is of faith that it might be according to grace.” Faith is the condition for receiving salvation, not the ground for it. The atonement of Christ on the cross is the ground for salvation. Therefore the exercise of faith on the part of the sinner does not logically entail either 1) faith is a work, or 2) faith is meritorious.

I can’t remember who said it first, but I like this statement: “If a man were regenerated before faith, at the point of regeneration he would be a regenerated unbeliever.” I am happy to say that regeneration and faith occur virtually simultaneously when considered chronologically. Regeneration as an act of God on the human soul occurs in the nano-second one believes.

The notion of “regeneration before faith” is a flawed concept, as many Calvinists have themselves argued.

    wingedfooted1

    Blessings, David.

    I think the confusion comes from the non-calvinist who might believe they are “born again” because of their faith. In other words, they believe that being “born from above” is a direct result of having believed.

    For the record, I agree with the Calvinist that the new birth is solely a divine act of God. Where I differ with them is WHEN it occurs. What I mean by that is we are NOT “born again” BECAUSE we believe. However, we are “born again” AFTER we believe.

    Faith is how we become justified. We are justified by faith. As sinners we all stand guilty before God. Faith is how we become justified and find peace with God (Romans 5:1).

    Now consider Romans 8:10 (NIV)…

    But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

    Now look at the same verse from other translations….

    Romans 8:10 (NASB)…..
    If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

    Romans 8:10 (Barclay)……
    But if Christ is in you, even if because of sin your body is mortal, your Spirit has life through righteousness.

    Romans 8:10 (Phillips)…..
    Now if Christ does live within you his presence means that your sinful nature is dead, but your spirit becomes alive because of the righteousness he brings with him.

    Romans 8:10 (Hendriksen)…..
    “But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is life because of your justification.”

    Romans 8:10 (Amplified)…..
    But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you].

    Romans 8:10 (NLT)…
    And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.

    Each of these translations is saying the exact same thing, and that is, the Spirit grants us (spiritual) life BECAUSE we have been made righteous (or justified) by the blood of Christ (Romans 5:9).

    Also consider Romans 5:18 (NIV)….
    Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings (spiritual) life for all men.

    Its justification that brings spiritual life. Calvinism has spiritual life bringing justification. In other words, regeneration not only doesn’t precede faith, it doesn’t even precede justification.

    As guilty sinners we must first be acquitted (or pardoned) for our sins BEFORE “life” can be granted. Until our sins are forgiven, we still stand condemned. This is a major oversight by the Calvinist (and Arminian). Both “spiritual life” (calvinism) and “freedom from the bondage of sin” (arminianism) are only reserved for those whose sins have been pardoned/acquitted). And both “life” and “freedom” are only found “in Christ”.

    So, as you said… “Biblically, no one is regenerated until he exercises faith”.

    Amen.

      T. R.

      I noticed you did not quote John 1:13 which shows clearly that our regeneration happened not by an act of our wills. You’re whole argument falls apart on that text.

        wingedfooted1

        TR,

        I agree completely with John 1:13.

        However, that only confirms what Paul wrote in Romans 8:10, which plainly states that we are granted spiritual life because of His righteousness.

        We are given spiritual life BECAUSE of what Christ has done. We have no righteousness of our own. Since we don’t contribute anything to our own righteousness, we can’t contribute anything to our new birth. Faith in his blood is needed to become justified (Romans 5:9). And it is because we are justified (made righteous by His blood…Romans 3:24) we are then given spiritual life.

        Again, in Romans 8:10 Paul writes…

        “And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN MADE RIGHT WITH GOD.”

        But calvinism says “the Spirit gives you life so you CAN BE made right with God”.

        That is NOT what the scriptures teach.

        The apostle John writes (John 20:31)….

        But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that BY BELIEVING YOU MAY HAVE (SPIRITUAL) LIFE IN HIS NAME.

        Grace

        wingedfooted1

        TR,

        Let me add Romans 5:18 for scriptural support…

        “Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and (spiritual) life for all men.”

        The condemned sinner must first be acquitted (or pardoned) for his crime before he can be given life. Calvinism has the sinner being awarded life before the verdict of “not guilty” is even given.

        Not scriptural.

        In Him.

Bob Hadley

I want to repeat a thought I placed in the thread in response to another comment,

Here is athought I had yesterday… on the issue of regeneration preceding repentance and faith; it really occurred to me the calvinist is saying not that God regenerates man TO repent and exercise saving faith; they are really saying God gives man repentance and faith and THAT IS REGENERATION.

In a sense, by discussing regeneration, it takes the focus off God giving man repentance and faith… which is NOT the traditional position of Baptists in the SBC.

><>”

    Jimmie Bates

    Hi Bob: I have enjoyed our discussion, and I hope it has ben profitable for you as it has been for me. In critiquing one of my discussion with you one of the men said, or at least implied, that I was attempting to win a theological arguement. And I suppose in one sense that’s true; but my ultimate purpose is certaintly not to win an arguement.

    I am attempting to put forth what I believe the scripture teaches; and I believe your heart’s desire is to do the same. You think that your understanding is greater than mine in these things, and I believe the same way concerning my understanding; and, as a result you are hoping, that if you are more nearly correct than I; that God will use you to quicken my heart and mind, and enlighten my understanding so that come to see these things more clearly.

    I believe, and I certainly hope and pray that’s the heart’s desire and purpose of all, though I fear it’s not so. I believe our desire should be to draw each one to the cross, where we can cast ourselves on our crucified and risen Savior and ask Him, by the blessed Holy Spirit to be our teacher and guide.

    In that spirit I offer two things for your prayerful consideration: 1) In Jude: 3 we are instructed by Jude to earnestly contend for the faith which was once, and for all, delivered to the saints. The faith here does not seem to be the ability to believe, nor believing itself; but rather this great body of truth re the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. I think that truth is summed up in the gospel; which I believe is the message we are to proclaim re what God has done in Christ in saving His people from their sins. Me question is why do you think the Holy Spirit inspired Jude to use the verb paradidomi, which carries the meaning of giving something up, or to transmit some thing. Unless this is a different faith than Romans 5:1 and Ephesians 2:8-9, the use of this veb seems strange to me. I believe the gospel is not an offer of salvation, but rather a proclamation of this great truth of the person and work of Jesus Christ in saving God’s children from their sins. It is a life giving message; just as the words Jesus says He spoke unto those in John 6:63: “It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, are spirit, and are life.”

    3) It has been enlightening to me to see that the etymology of the Greek verb pisteuo, translated believe, has it root in the noun pistis, which unless I am mistaken is always translated as faith in the NT. To say that believing precedes faith, not attempting to be humorous, would put the fruit before the root. Hope to hear your response.

    In Christ, I am,
    Jimmie Bates

      Jimmie Bates

      Holden: Sorry I could not respond directly to your post in response. I would point out that in John 2:22-23 the verb form pisteuo is used, and the noun pistis, preceded by the definite article, is used in 2 Thessalonians 3:2; and in 2 Thessaloncans 2:11-12 the verb pisteuo is used, and they did believe, but believin was not the fruit of the faith of our father Abraham; for it did not come out of a new life in Christ Jesus. Then in V13 of this passage the noun form, pistis, is used; and what they believed was a result of having been “chosen by God unto salvation through (en, in) sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Once more we see that God was the root and cause of the believng of those spoken of here. It appears that this is what Jude 1 speaks of: “to them that are sanctified by God the Father, andreserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” Once agin the order here is significant.

      I do find it interesting that you seem to make a distintion between the principal of God’s word, and theology. Since theology is the study of God; it certainly would seem that that is in harmony wih the principal of God’s word.

        holdon

        I note that you have not produced “the faith of Abraham (with the definite article in the greek). The other stuff is less relevant.

        Now you bring up a new thing:
        ““chosen by God unto salvation through (en, in) sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Once more we see that God was the root and cause of the believng of those spoken of here. It appears that this is what Jude 1 speaks of: “to them that are sanctified by God the Father, andreserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” Once agin the order here is significant.”

        Well, if you had been so diligent as to look up what the word “chosen” means in 2 Thess 2:13, you would have seen that it is by no means the same word as elsewhere. Of course this is a verse that is (mis)used by Calvinists and others to make their point that God chooses certain people unto salvation, so that only those will be saved and the rest will have no chance to be saved. No matter how you slice it: if there is something like “election unto salvation” meaning you’re elected to be saved, then by the same token there is (non)-election to damned.
        Now, this verse (2 Thess 2:13) is the only verse in the bible that has “election unto salvation”. So, let’s see what the verse really says.
        First the word “chosen” is an entirely different word than all others pertaining to “elect; election; chosen” etc.. Here it simply means that God did not choose the Thessalonians, but had preferred (a certain thing for) them. That is the meaning of the word: preferred, not chosen. God had preferred that the Thessalonians would be saved.
        Now, there is here another word that shows how this is different from verses like Eph. 1:4 for instance. It is the word “from”. Not “before” the world’s foundation! There is immense difference between “from” and “before” as anyone can understand.
        Next there is the word “beginning”. The interesting thing with this word is that in many Manuscripts of good repute it has only 1 letter difference and then means “first fruits”. Arguably this makes better sense as it is a cherished word used by Paul in similar contexts. If we take it as first fruits, then the sense becomes clearer: God had preferred that the Thessalonians would be the first fruits of the salvation. Paul uses “first fruits” as a term of representatives of a certain group: “first fruits of Achaia” for instance. So here: the Thessalonians were the first who came to faith from that district (1 of the 4 in Macedonia). And God had preferred it that way by directing Paul’s path there. Now the meaning of the verse is simple and clear: it does no longer militate against Eph. 1:4 which had “before”; and it is an entirely different thing having nothing to do with “election”, because an entirely different word is used.

        So, never is “election unto salvation” elsewhere found. God does not elect certain to save them (and therefore “elects’ others to perish eternally). Election (and predestination) has to do with quality and purpose. It is impossible to choose from 100 perfect equal balls: they are all identical. Choice becomes possible because of difference, not the other way around. Furthermore the word is used in order to express exquisiteness: “a choice race” in 1 Pet 2:8.

        The thought of election unto salvation is not found in the Scriptures: it is an invention of men (theologians).

    Les

    Bob,

    I’m not wanting to argue with you. We’ve done that much already. But you said,

    “they are really saying God gives man repentance and faith and THAT IS REGENERATION.”

    That is not what Calvinism teaches. Just an FYI.

      Bob Hadley

      Hey Les,

      I mentioned you at the bottom of this thread… you and I have engaged more than anyone probably and So I mentioned you with respect to a charge that I am guilty taking “what Pastor Dude says and never checks him out according to the scriptures. ”

      You of all people know that this is not true!

      With respect to this comment… I understand “this is not what calvinism teaches… ” but that does not mean the conclusion I have drawn is not an accurate one. (Which by the way is proof of my statement to JCJ… that I am far from being guilty of repeating what someone else says… I am probably not smart enough to be guilty of that.)

      Here is my point. You do agree that “repentance and faith are gifts from God… ” Correct? Well my point is, if God gives repentance and faith… there is no need for regeneration that allows man to repent or exercise faith… that is redundancy.. and I read that regeneration does not precede repentance and faith… they are all simultaneous…

      I am simply suggesting that regeneration by what I have read calvinists say… might be better described as the gifting of repentance and faith… instead of the means of being able to repent and exercise faith… if they are gifts… then the whole notion of regeneration would seem to me to be inconsequential and unnecessary…

      ><>”

Shawn

I know this horse may have already been beaten to death, but is it not conspicuous that this article of the traditional statement which Bob Hadley is defending is directly contradictory of the BF&M 2000? Article 4, Section A of the BF&M says: “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”

Clearly, our denomination’s statement of faith says that Regeneration is a work of God’s grace in which He changes the sinner’s heart, “TO WHICH THE SINNER RESPONDS in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” When they (Hadley and the other signers) say “We deny that any person is regenerated prior to or apart from hearing and responding to the Gospel,” they are denying a specific, clear tenet of the BF&M 2000. In the BF&M, the “response” of the sinner clearly FOLLOWS “regeneration.” Now every pastor and every church has the right to believe what they want and to interpret the Bible as they feel led, but can you really claim to represent “most” Southern Baptists when you so clearly deny a central soteriological tenet of our Statement of Faith?

Secondly, our national denominational leaders, seminary professors, and agency heads are required to espouse the BF&M to hold their positions. Should not those who signed this traditional statement step down since they have declared themselves to be in disagreement with it?

For those of you who will no doubt respond to this comment by telling me that article 5 of the “Traditional” statement is congruent with Article 4 of the BF&M, could you please supply your explanation of how, in your understanding of English grammar, two clearly opposing statements are congruent?

    wingedfooted1

    Shawn,

    “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”

    You said… “Clearly, our denomination’s statement of faith says that Regeneration is a work of God’s grace in which He changes the sinner’s heart, ‘TO WHICH THE SINNER RESPONDS in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.’”

    Clearly?

    The opening sentence “clearly” states that it is thru regeneration that the BELIEVER becomes a new creature in Christ. If calvinism were true that statement would have to read “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby UNBELIEVERS become new creatures in Christ Jesus.”

    If the second sentence is implying that it is thru regeneration that one comes to faith and repentance, then it is a complete contradiction of the previous verse.

    Regardless, of how the BF&M statement reads, “regeneration precedes faith” is, as David Allen says, “a flawed concept, as many Calvinists have themselves argued.”

    “Regeneration precedes faith” is not biblical.

    Grace

    Bob Hadley

    Shaun,

    I have two comments with regards to your logic here. First of all, when the BF&M2000 was voted on, it was presented as a balanced statement that was broad enough for calvinists and non-calvinists to cooperate together. I promise you, the interpretation you have shared here was not the stated position of the statement when it was voted on.

    Here is how most will read the statement you quoted…

    Article 4, Section A of the BF&M says:
    “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace understand “grace” has never been associated with the Doctrines of Grace by a very large contingency in the SBC and especially when this statement was voted on and accepted. whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus.

    It(most Southern Baptists read as “salvation” or “New Birth”) is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”

    You see, most Southern Baptists do not even use the word regeneration, If you went into the MOST SB churches and asked them what regeneration is, I would dare say 70% of them would even be able to give you an answer and then ALL non-reformed will say they are those who are born again or from above… regenerated means saved to non-calvinists.

    So, given that rendering your logic fails. Your notion that the SBC passed a resolution reflecting your interpretation of the BF&M is absolutely incorrect.

    ><>”

      Shawn

      With due respect for Wingfooted1 and Dr. Hadley,

      The first statement of the article in question is a general statement on Regeneration: “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus.” Even in the order of this statement, “God’s grace” is the causal antecedent of believers becoming “new creatures in Christ Jesus.” Notice that the term “thereby” elucidates this fact.

      The second statement is then more specific: “It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is a work wrought by the Holy Spirit TO WHICH THE SINNER RESPONDS. . .

      Wingfooted1, the juxtaposition you try to create between the word “Believer” in the first sentence and the word “Sinner” in the second sentence does not stand. The second statement clarifies the specifics of what the first statement sets forth. CLEARLY, the sinner does not become a believer until he/she RESPONDS to the change wrought by the Holy Spirit. There is no contradiction in this interpretation. Furthermore, with respect to David Allen and other Calvinists who have (supposedly) argued that regeneration preceding faith is a flawed concept, the burden lies upon them (and those who cite them) to provide their definition of “regeneration” and reconcile it with texts like Romans 8:28-29, Acts 13:48, Rev 17:8, and a whole host of others.

      Dr.. Hadley, I appreciate your intentions and your promises, and have no doubt that you are a brother in Christ striving to rightly interpret and apply biblical truth. But your promise is based upon your experience and perhaps the experiences shared with you by others of like mind. I could equally promise you that myself and numerous others I am familiar with believed these statements in the BF&M say exactly what we interpreted them to say when we voted on them — that regeneration precedes faith. By the way, I do not not interpret the word “Grace” to be associated with the “Doctrines of Grace” either. In the end, either of us speculating on what people heard or thought when they voted on the BF&M 2000 is an unprovable postulate unless we concretely survey every person who voted on the BF&M at the 2000 convention.

      What we can concretely refer to is our previous historical statements. Article 7 of the New Hampshire confession states that repentance and faith are FRUITS (results) of the regenerating work of God’s Spirit. Article 8 of the 1925 BF&M states that Faith and Repentance are graces wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God. Article 4, section A of the 1963 BF&M is the language carried over into the BF&M 2000 — it says regeneration is “a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus
      Christ.” For over 200 years, Baptist have placed regeneration prior to faith. This is not Calvin, this is the result of our Baptist forefathers studying scripture and setting forth what they believe to be the clear teaching of Scripture.

      I do believe you have hit the nail on the head, though, when you say that many Southern Baptists do not use or understand the term “Regeneration.” This, I believe, owes to our failure as Pastors over the past several decades to teach theology through the clear exposition of Scripture. You state that the rendering of my logic fails because my notion that the SBC passed a resolution reflecting my interpretation of the BF&M is absolutely incorrect. But by your own estimation, 70% of the SBC passed a resolution having no understanding of what the word “regeneration” meant — they effectively had no interpretation, and you all are now trying to provide them with an unbiblical one after the fact.

      My dear brother in Christ, my logic has not failed. It stands true to what Baptist have historically believed. If at this point in our history the “Traditionalists” would like to redefine the theological terms and reverse the ordo salutis, that is your prerogative, but please be forthright and just say, “We believe our current statement of faith has it wrong. Faith comes before regeneration.” Then go to the floor of the SBC and vote in a new statement of faith.

      I mean absolutely no disrespect, but in my personal opinion, I think the “Traditionalists” are developing a theology to fit their methodology. In most SBC churches, success is defined by popular programs that result in baptismal numbers and cooperative program numbers more than by real evangelism, real disciple-making, and the faithful exposition of God’s truth. We have built a system around “decisionism” wherein we are justified in using any and all means necessary to convince (dare I say “cajole”) men to change their own hearts and believe in Christ. The result of this flawed methodology is 16 million Southern Baptist Church members, of whom only 6 million actually attend our churches.

      Please don’t get me wrong — I am reformed, but I still do invitations at the end of my sermons, we still do outreach and weekly cold-call evangelism in our community, we have 3 missions partnerships through the IMB, and I have a Ph.D. in evangelism, but I strive with all I am to make sure any method we use is derived from Scripture. We do not allow our methods to determine our interpretation of Scripture. Every time the gospel is presented, we call men to repent and believe, but we know that whether or not they respond is a matter of God preparing their hearts, not whether or not we can make them make a decision. (John 1:13)

      You and the traditionalists may be right in your estimation that the majority of Southern Baptists believe as your do, but your view was not the majority in our history, and I sincerely do not see it as the position of Scripture. I rejoice that we won the Battle for the Inerrancy of Scripture in the past 2 decades, but I fear you and your compatriots might actually cause us to lose the battle for the true gospel in the decades ahead because you place the will of man ahead of the will of God.

      I love you as my brother in Christ, and I am thankful for your ministry and the time you are giving to these discussions.

        Bob Hadley

        Shawn,

        Thanks for your response. Your graciousness is evident and appreciated. I am a West Tennessee product and have been a Southern Baptist for most of my life and remember the CR… I was fully aware of the circumstances that led up to the adopting of the BF&M2000 (as I am sure you are) but was simply saying there are and were two very different looks at what the statement actually said and how what was finally adopted meant to “the other side.” Obviously there was some effort to maintain the language of the 63 statement, which resembles the 25 statement. So from that perspective, I understand your position.

        I did not really mean at the end with “your logic fails…” to read the way it did. I was more accurately saying, the BF&M2000 was not adopted because it was seen as a Reformed document. I am seeing this being touted as well as the CR itself as being credited as a Reformed led victory… which it was not. The reformed folk took part in the resurgence but it was the conservative camp and the pastors in the churches that stood up against the liberal insurgence in the entities of the convention. The CR was not the reformed against the liberals and that is not the case today…

        Even your own comment alludes to this; “I rejoice that we won the Battle for the Inerrancy of Scripture in the past 2 decades, but I fear you and your compatriots might actually cause us to lose the battle for the true gospel in the decades ahead because you place the will of man ahead of the will of God.”

        There is absolutely no intention on my part to lose the battle for the true gospel which I believe to be for ALL MEN WHO CAN HEAR AND CAN REPENT and not simple those GOD CHOOSES TO GIVE THE GIFT OF REPENTANCE AND SAVING FAITH.

        Thank you again for your input. We do share the same passion and purpose in standing on what we believe to be the position of the Scripture on being saved or converted.

        ><>”

          Shawn

          Dear Dr. Hadley,

          I thank you again for your gracious spirit, your wisdom, and your kind reply. My greatest desire is that even through these theological discussions, we will continue to stand arm in arm in proclaiming God’s truth and seeing people won to faith in Christ.

          I do not see the BF&M as being just a reformed document either, and I was one of those conservatives who fought some hard battles with liberals in the early 1990’s as the will of the grass-roots was being implemented in our institutions.

          However, my main point still stands: Clearly, the historic theological position of Southern Baptists over 200 years and through 4 statements of faith, has been that regeneration precedes faith. With Article 5 of this Traditional Statement, you all are overtly rejecting and contradicting what is in the BF&M. You have made the argument, “Well, that is not what most people understand it to mean.” But the origin of the theology and the structure of the English language itself in Article 4, Section A is very clear. Regeneration precedes faith. I understand that a large contingent of people don’t understand what it says, don’t want it to say that, or wish it didn’t say that. But the fact of the matter is it does say that!

          You all certainly have the right to your interpretation, but integrity demands that the Traditionalists should just come out and admit that they are in disagreement with the BF&M and go to the floor of the SBC to recommend that our Statement of Faith be revised. Representing yourselves as the “Majority” of Southern Baptists while explicitly disagreeing with what the convention has defined as Southern Baptist Theology is just not honest. That’s what the liberals did in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

          That’s as clear as I can be, brother. Once again, I love you and I pray that God blesses your delivery of the Word on this coming Lord’s Day.

          Bob Hadley

          Shawn,

          While I and everyone agrees that there is a historic validity to your position that the statements do reflect your contention that degeneration precedes repentance and faith, my point is the language has stuck but those who voted in 63 and most certainly those who voted in 2000 did not read the language as you propose.

          That is my point. I am not saying that there is no validity to your interpretation. I am saying that is NOT the rendering and therefore the position of the majority who did vote on the BF&M2000.

          We also need to acknowledge the power of the SBC committee that produces a statement of this magnitude and the overwhelming preponderance of its being adopted as presented by the majority of messengers voting at any given convention.

          So, it would probably be more accurate to say that the BF&M2000 that we have today is more accurately one that was hammered out by the members on the committee that put it to the convention and that statement represents give and take and similar language from the previous statements.

          Please note Jerry Vines, Nelson Price, Steve Gaines and Chuck Kelly who were on the committee that drafted the BF&M2000 also have signed this statement which would stand to refute your assertion that the statement is in direct conflict with the BF&M2000. The signatures of 6 SBC former Presidents is also important, seeing that most if not all of those are 2 term Presidents.

          So, while you are correct it all I ask is that you acknowledge the opposing interpretation and understand that the adoption of the BF&M2000 is not the reformed stamp of approval you continue to suggest.

          Thanks!

          ><>”

      Randall Cofield

      Rev. Hadley,

      “…most Southern Baptists read as “salvation” or “New Birth”….Here is how most will read the statement you quoted…most Southern Baptists do not even use the word regeneration,…. If you went into the MOST SB churches and asked them what regeneration is,….”

      This argument of what “most” SB believe is being offered with alarming regularity in these discussions. Indeed, it seems to be the whole impetus behind Dr. Hankins Traditional Statement.

      My question is this: Shall we now determine our theological positions by simply aligning ourselves with popular belief?

      Given the fact that “most” SB (2/3) do not believe they should attend the primary worship service their respective churches, the foolishness of this becomes self-evident, does it not?

      I might also point out that the confessions of faith from which the BF&M was derived are clearly aligned with Calvinistic theology. Should that not carry some weight in interpreting the BF&M, just as the Greek mss do in our interpretation of the NT?

      Soli Deo Gloria

        Bob Hadley

        Randall,

        You asked, Shall we now determine our theological positions by simply aligning ourselves with popular belief? Obviously the answer to that question is no. My response was to the validity of the argument that the BF&M2000 was a reformed document and the SBC voted its acceptance on that premise.

        It is interesting that you would criticize taking a traditional approach in one breath and then suggest it in another; by asserting the BF&M’s relationship to the more confessional statements that have no doubt formed a framework to some degree for it.

        Before you get too giddy there chief, remember according to you own position, the reformed camp has been around longer and has been more influential in the history of the SBC so do you guys not share the responsibility for the 2/3 you claim are not around to be found? Also… since it is God who effectually calls these folks regardless of what camp they originate from…

        Looks like the reformed position is apparently NOT the answer to the problem; at least as I see it.

        Just an observation from one of the lowly intellectuals (I know I am stretching there) who does not know any better.

        ><>”

JCJ

Had to chime in……..

Bob Hadley……….the more of your nonsense I read the more I am convinced that you aren’t even a Baptist. Furthermore, you’re so confused you don’t know what you believe or why. You keep speaking in circles always having to correct yourself. It just all proves this point; those who hold to the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace study and learn and those that do not hold to the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace don’t study, don’t learn, and repeat what Pastor Dude says and never checks him out according to the scriptures. Is everything you write and speak a mess?

    wingedfooted1

    The above comment was provided by someone, who just 3 days ago wrote….

    “I wish to publicly apologize for my own inserts that have been wrong and not called for. If I have personally offended anyone reading this, please forgive me…….”

    “It just all proves this point; those who hold to the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace study and learn and those that do not hold to the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace don’t study, don’t learn……”

    We have been told that the difference between the reformed and non-reformed is because of grace (Calvinists are Calvinists because God has given them more grace). Now we know the real difference is because the reformed folks are just smarter.

      JCJ

      Bob Hadley……….I apologize for attacking you on here. I just tire of those that aren’t Calvinistic using a megaphone and when we as Calvinists say anything we are judged. I hope you understand. I once was a 1 point Calvinist and God opened my opened eyes through scripture and now I don’t see how I always missed it, but I realize I see because of God’s Grace. Now, I am a Five Pointer and more urgent about sharing the Gospel of Jesus the Christ.

        Bob Hadley

        JCJ,

        Apology accepted… but I must confess I read the apology before I read the post above it. I fully understand the frustrations of blogging. I have apologized a number of times and probably should have more.

        I understand everyone on both sides of this issue have hearts and are passionate about the Scriptures and what they believe the Word is saying and what it is NOT saying. I am not always successful, but my intention is to focus on the theology and what I believe the Word says and not what individuals are saying… although there are times that is not easily accomplished because the messenger is always part of the message.

        I am curious though, where have I been guilty of judging you? I know nothing about you and I think this is the first time I have ever even seen JCJ…

        I am very careful about what I write and I can assure you I am not a loose cannon just firing shots to hear myself talk… I have a lot to do and am not engaged in this debate for the sake of debate. I doubt the charge of speaking in circles and contradicting my own arguments is an accurate statement with respect to comments that I have made.

        I will ignore your comment about who does study and who don’t learn… I might add to that act out of wisdom.

        I will comment on your assertion concerning those who just “repeat what Pastor Dude says and never checks him out according to the scriptures. Is everything you write and speak a mess?”

        The one consistent charge that I continually get is, can you produce any credible scholars who will agree with your theological suppositions. I am not the one in this conversation who is guilty of falling hook line and sinker for some spoon fed theological position.

        Ask Les… since you obviously are not familiar with my writing or positions.

        Your apology is still accepted. I just wanted to respond to your comments which I takes a general frustrations to the trade.

        ><>”

          JCJ

          Bob,

          Thank you.

          I will leave that as my response to your, uh, comments.

wingedfooted1

Bob,

Regardless of one’s interpretation of the BF&M statement, this concept of regeneration preceding faith has been shown to be unbiblical thru the word of God.

Calvinists state….

“But, when thus quickened and renewed by the effectual call which results in regeneration and union with Christ, the sinner is able to answer the call by the response which his personal faith gives.”

“It is the nature of the new creature in Christ to believe in Him”

“Regeneration, the work of the Holy Spirit which brings us into a living union with Christ, only refers to the first step in the work of God in our salvation”

Only in Calvin-land is the sinner “in Christ” BEFORE he even believes “in Christ”.

Amazing. And yet these people truly believe they have been given more grace (and “light”).

John writes in John 20:31….

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have (spiritual) life in his name.”

“Nope” says calvinism. “We have life so we can believe.”

In Romans 8:10 Paul writes…

“And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.”

“Nope” says calvinism. “We are given life so we can be made right with God.”

Paul writes in Romans 5:18…..

“Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings (spiritual) life for all men.”

“Nope” say calvinism. “It is (spiritual) life that brings justification.”

It seems there are people within the SBC that might be much happier being Presbyterian than being Baptist.

Come, Lord Jesus.

    Shawn

    Dear Wingfooted1, it is amazing to see how wrongly you represent the reformed perspective of these verses to suit your own purposes. Really?

    John 1:12-13 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

    NOPE says the Traditionalist. It was the will of man that came first.

    Acts 13:48 says, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

    NOPE says the Traditionalist. As many as appointed “themselves” to eternal life believed.

    In John 17:1-2, it says, “These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee, even as Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life.”

    NOPE says the Traditionalist. God did not give me to Christ, I gave myself.

    Rom 8:29-30 says, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

    NOPE says the traditionalist, “It’s missing a step.” It should say, ” . . . and whom He predestined, He waited for them to consent by believing, then these He also called; and whom He called, these he also justified. . .”

    1 Pet 1:1-2 says, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: may grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.”

    NOPE says the Traditionalist. That one isn’t right either. It should say “. . . and Bithynia, who first freely believe and thus include themselves among those chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. . .”

    Rev 17:8 says, “The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.”

    NOPE says the Traditionalist, “That verse is just another metaphor. God couldn’t write people’s names in the Lamb’s Book of Life without waiting first for them to choose Him.”

    Indeed, Wingfooted1, it seems there are many people in the SBC who like to selectively cite Scripture to support bad interpretation. I am glad we have these forums to discuss and exchange ideas, but please help us all to control the vitriol and rancor that can be released in this medium. Every post of yours seems to be angry. If you have believed in Christ, you are my brother. Let us spar with doctrine, but let us do so as brothers.

    I Jn 2:9-11
    9 The one who says he is in the light and {yet} hates his brother is in the darkness until now.
    10 The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
    11 But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

      wingedfooted1

      Blessings, Shawn.

      Please don’t read into my posts more than is there. I assure you, I am not angry in the least. I am just pointing out the inconsistencies of calvinism when compared with scripture (in this case, the notion of “regeneration precedes faith”). That said, and for space allowed, let me address a few of the verses you mentioned above.

      John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

      If you read my previous comments (and David Allen’s) that verse has already been addressed. Again, for the record, I completely agree and understand that the new birth is solely a divine act of God. We are NOT born again BECAUSE we believe. However, we are born again AFTER we believe.

      Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

      Does this verse mention anything about them being “unconditionally” appointed to eternal life? Would you say both Cornelius and Lydia (who were both devout and God fearing) were “unconditionally” appointed to eternal life? Our Lord said in John 4:23.. “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” It seems to me that both Cornelius and Lydia fit that description.

      John 17:1-2 “These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee, even as Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life.”

      Was not Judas given by the Father to the Son (John 17:12)?

      Shawn, you said… “it seems there are many people in the SBC who like to selectively cite Scripture to support bad interpretation.”

      I agree completely. But where did I provide “bad interpretation” in regards to John 20:31?

      “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

      Do we obtain spiritual life by believing or not?

      Where is the “bad interpretation” in regards to Romans 8:10?

      “And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.”

      Does the Spirit give us life because we have been made right with God or not?

      Grace.

        Shawn

        Dear Wingfooted1, please forgive me for reading into your comments more than was intended. Again, I am glad for the chance to spar with a brother.

        I have to get on with studying for my Sunday sermon, so I will be brief. In regards to my previous comments, I will specify more exactly what is amazing about your comments. You are accusing Calvinists of disagreeing with your interpretation of John 20:31, Romans 8:10, and Romans 5:18. In actuality, you are trying to refute Calvinists with the Calvinist position. No Calvinist that I know of believes that a person is justified (has life) prior to repentance and faith. I agree with you that we must repent and believe, we must be converted, to be saved (justified). This goes back to the Oder of Salvation. Most recently cited by Grudem, the ordo salutis is:

        1. Election
        2. The Gospel Call
        3. Regeneration
        4. Conversion (Faith and Repentance)
        5. Justification (Life through declared right standing!)
        6. Adoption
        7. Sanctification
        8. Perseverance
        9. Death
        10. Glorification

        Thus, brother, it pleases me to say that I am in agreement with your interpretation of those verses. Regeneration is not justification. We obtain spiritual life only by believing. But I would add that we only believe because of a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit. (The position of the BF&M — see my reply to Bob Hadley above)

        Regarding your mention of John 17:12, Jesus makes it particularly clear that Judas was given to Him as the son of perdition, that the scriptures would be fulfilled. He is obviously distinguished from those mentioned in 17:2 to whom Jesus would give eternal life. (Unless you think Judas had eternal life and lost it, which opens another can of worms) Have a good weekend, brother. May our Father bless your worship and your time in the Word!

        JCJ

        WINGFOOTED,

        You need to listen to John Piper teach on TULIP. Then, you can say all you want. Until then………….

wingedfooted1

Brother Shawn,

I am familiar with the calvinistic “ordo salutis”. However, I see the biblical order (though simplified) as follows….

1. Grace
2. The Gospel
3. Conversion (Faith and Repentance)
4. Justification (made right with God)
5. Regeneration (Saved/a born again child of God)
6. Sanctification (our walk with Christ)
7. Glorification

Putting regeneration before faith is putting salvation before faith. Regeneration or the new birth is how God saves the believer (Titus 3:5). Even Spurgeon understand that regeneration equated to salvation….

“If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate.” (Charles Spurgeon – The Warrant of Faith).

Now look again at the following comments…

“But, when thus quickened and renewed by the effectual call which results in regeneration and union with Christ, the sinner is able to answer the call by the response which his personal faith gives.”

“It is the nature of the new creature in Christ to believe in Him.”

“Regeneration, the work of the Holy Spirit which brings us into a living union with Christ, only refers to the first step in the work of God in our salvation.”

These statements confirm what some Calvinists have already admitted, that being, salvation (regeneration) precedes faith. Those who are “in a living union with Christ” are saved.

You said… “I agree with you that we must repent and believe, we must be converted, to be saved (justified)”.

And I believe that is where your problem lies, equating justification with salvation (though the sinner must be justified by the blood of Christ in order to be saved).

Romans 10:10….
“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

And as Romans 8:10 says…
“And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you (spiritual) life (thru regeneration) because you have been made right (justified) with God.”

Thus, justification (made right with God) precedes spiritual life (regeneration).

I appreciate your time.

God bless.

    Randall Cofield

    Dead men repenting….dead men believing….

    Quite remarkable creatures, these dead men….

      holdon

      “Dead men repenting….dead men believing….

      Quite remarkable creatures, these dead men….”

      Well, Paul says dead men are walking (Eph. 2:2). So why can they not repent and believe?

        Randall Cofield

        Hold On,

        “Well, Paul says dead men are walking (Eph. 2:2). So why can they not repent and believe?”

        Ro 8:7 Because the carnal (spiritually dead) mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh (spiritually dead) cannot please God.

          holdon

          ” So then they that are in the flesh (spiritually dead) cannot please God.”

          Who gives you the right the alter the word of God? “spiritually dead” is not in the text at all.

          Changing the word of God is an sure sign of bad theology.

          Randall Cofield

          Hold On,

          “Who gives you the right the alter the word of God? “spiritually dead” is not in the text at all.
          Changing the word of God is an sure sign of bad theology.”

          So Brother, if Paul does not here, in these passages, mean that those who are “carnal” and “flesh(ly),” are spiritually dead, lost in their sins, unregenerate, etc., what does he mean?

          Additionally, the parenthetical notations I added are just that–parenthetical. I in no way “changed” the Word of God.

          Soli Deo Gloria

    Shawn

    Good Morning, Wingfooted1.

    I trust you had a good evening. I appreciate the points you have attempted to make. I do find it interesting that you have a personal ordo salutis that bears so little resemblance to the most explicit ordo salutis in the whole New Testament — Romans 8:29-30. I also find it interesting that so many Non-Calvinists like to quote Calvinist authors/preachers to prove their points. If only you all would read the full weight of what these great men accomplished rather than proof-texting them and trying to set them against their own theology. (sigh)

    In a sermon entitled \”The Work of the Holy Spirit\” delivered on November 5th, 1858, Spurgeon clearly states that salvation is initiated by the Spirit of God. His first point in that sermon is, \”First, let me start by asserting that THE COMMENCEMENT OF SALVATION IS THE HOLY SPIRIT\’S WORK. Salvation is not begun in the soul by the means of grace apart from the Holy Spirit.\” His second point is, \”Nor is the salvation of any sinner commenced in him by a minister or by a priest.\” His third point is, \”And, my brethren, it is quite certain that no man ever begins the new birth himself. The work of salvation never was commenced by any man. God the Holy Spirit must commence it.\” His third point continues: \”Now, the reasons why no man ever commenced the work of grace in his own heart, is very plain and palpable. First, because he cannot; secondly, because he won\’t. The best reason of all is, because he cannot—he is dead. Well the dead may be made alive, but the dead cannot make themselves alive, for the dead can do nothing.\”

    Thus, Spurgeon consistently supported what I have been setting before you. And I would add again, this is also the position of the Baptist Faith and Message — the Spirit changes sinner\’s hearts, and they then respond with repentance and faith. Apart from the initiating work of the Spirit, the commencement of regeneration, \”there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.\” (Rom 3:11)

    You have brought us, however, to the real crux of the matter in your post — the definition of regeneration. It is important to understand that in most theological works, regeneration is spoken of in two different but closely related senses. There is the understanding of regeneration that is synonymous with salvation. In the quotes from Spurgeon that you gave above, he was using the word in this way. To say a man is \”regenerate\” or has experienced \”regeneration\” is to say that he is born-again or saved. However, there is also a more specific use of the word that refers to the initiating work of the Spirit that brings about salvation. That is the sense in which it is used in the Baptist Faith and Message, and that is the dominant sense in which I have employed the word in my posts.

    Going back to my ordo salutis, Regeneration in the sense of wholistic salvation includes steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 (and even some of 7). A person is not fully regenerate in this sense until they have, in response to the Spirit\’s work, repented, believed, and thus been justified and adopted and sanctification begun. But in the more specific use of the word, Regeneration refers to the work of the Holy Spirit to change and prompt persons unto saving faith.

    If you will indulge me, I have another lengthy quote from Grudem. Please take time to read it and the clarity with which the Scriptural texts speak:

    BEGIN GRUDEM — \”Using the verses quoted above, we have defined regeneration to be the act of God awakening spiritual life within us, bringing us from spiritual death to spiritual life. On this definition, it is natural to understand that regeneration comes before saving faith. It is in fact this work of God that gives us the spiritual ability to respond to God in faith. However, when we say that it comes “before” saving faith, it is important to remember that they usually come so close together that it will ordinarily seem to us that they are happening at the same time. As God addresses the effective call of the gospel to us, he regenerates us and we respond in faith and repentance to this call. So from our perspective it is hard to tell any difference in time, especially because regeneration is a spiritual work that we cannot perceive with our eyes or even understand with our minds.
    Yet there are several passages that tell us that this secret, hidden work of God in our spirits does in fact come before we respond to God in saving faith (though often it may be only seconds before we respond). When talking about regeneration with Nicodemus, Jesus said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Now we enter the kingdom of God when we become Christians at conversion. But Jesus says that we have to be born “of the Spirit” before we can do that.7 Our inability to come to Christ on our own, without an initial work of God within us, is also emphasized when Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), and “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65). This inward act of regeneration is described beautifully when Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). First the Lord opened her heart, then she was able to give heed to Paul’s preaching and to respond in faith.
    By contrast, Paul tells us, “The man without the Spirit (literally, the “natural man”) does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14 NIV). He also says of people apart from Christ, “no one understands, No one seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11).
    The solution to this spiritual deadness and inability to respond only comes when God gives us new life within. “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4–5). Paul also says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ” (Col. 2:13 NIV).8
    The idea that regeneration comes before saving faith is not always understood by evangelicals today. Sometimes people will even say something like, “If you believe in Christ as your Savior, then (after you believe) you will be born again.” But Scripture itself never says anything like that. This new birth is viewed by Scripture as something that God does within us in order to enable us to believe.
    The reason that evangelicals often think that regeneration comes after saving faith is that they see the results (love for God and his Word, and turning from sin) after people come to faith, and they think that regeneration must therefore have come after saving faith. Yet here we must decide on the basis of what Scripture tells us, because regeneration itself is not something we see or know about directly: “The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).\” END GRUDEM

    There are a lot of good texts cited in this quote — all of them speaking directly of God initiating salvation in men\’s hearts. If you still reject my view, then I would ask you to provide your interpretation of why these texts do not clearly establish that God is the one who initiates saving faith in those who are saved.

    On a final note, your interpretation of Roman\’s 8:10 at the end of your post is simply wrong. The first phrase of that verse — \”And Christ lives within you\” (NAS: \”If Christ is in you. . .) — establishes that Paul is speaking of someone who is already saved. With your insertions of additional words, you try to make it a verse to prove your point, but you are maligning the whole context. Though our flesh is dead because of sin, our spirits are alive because of the righteousness of Christ!

    I deeply appreciate your time as well, brother.

wingedfooted1

Blessings, Shawn.

Thank you for taking time to respond. Let me first say I appreciate your gracious tone.

I do have a question that I would like you to elaborate on.

In the calvinistic “ordo salutis” you have regeneration as step 3. As Grudem writes… “Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us.” Then you say that in step 5, justification, is “life through declared right standing”.

My question is…how is the life thru regeneration distinct and separate from the life found in justification? Just curious.

Now more scriptural observation.

Regeneration is defined as…. “the process wherein God changes a person from ‘dead in sin’ to ‘alive in Christ’.”

If regeneration precedes conversion (both faith in repentance) is that not saying the sinner is “alive in Christ” BEFORE he even believes in Christ? Are not those who are “alive in Christ” already saved?

Colossians 2:13 (NKJV)…
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses….”

Is Paul here not repeating himself in what he said in Romans 8:10?

“And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.”

Paul is clearly stating here that the forgiveness of sins (justification) is a prerequisite for being granted spiritual life (regeneration). Our Lord said in John 6:53… “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

What is “drink his blood” if not “faith in his blood” thru which we find the forgiveness of sins (justification)? And Jesus said that unless we do this, we have NO LIFE in us. In other words, we are still separated from God (not “in Christ”).

Grudem writes… “We see this, for example, when John talks about those to whom Christ gave power to become children of God—they ‘were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:13). Here John specifies that children of God are those who are “born…of God” and our human will (‘the will of man’) does not bring about this kind of birth.”

And yet in Galatians 2:26 Paul writes…

“You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus.”

God bless.

    Shawn

    Hello Wingfooted1,

    I trust you had a good Lord’s Day and that your week is off to a good start. In answer to your first question, I believe Grudem captures well the fact that many things take place very close together as a person comes to salvation. Your continued use of “Life” to mean “whole regeneration” does not seem to respect that fact. Even in the ordo salutis you listed, I do not believe you would separate those elements the way you seem to do in your replies. In common usage, we readily say a person is saved when they exercise faith and repentance (your step #3) even though in your scheme, justification and regeneration are yet to come. The point is that God is bringing many things about in a person’s heart in the process of salvation, many of them almost simultaneously. And LIFE is what comes through the whole of regeneration, conversion, justification, and adoption together. Thus, you are wrong in attempting to separate life in regeneration from life in justification, and you have read Grudem wrong if you think that is what he is saying.

    Furthermore, you seem to have completely ignored the distinction I made for you in my last post between specific regenerating grace that initiates salvation and the general use of the term where “Regeneration” represents all that is involved in being saved. In all the Scriptures you cited in this previous post, general regeneration is what is in view. I do not agree with your interpretation of these verses, but I certainly agree with what these verses say: We have life because we have been made right with God. If we do not eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, we do not have life.

    Finally, though I have interacted with the texts you have cited, you have failed to interact hardly at all with many of the texts cited that speak of God initiating salvation. Please share your interpretation of John 3:5; John 6:44,65; Acts 16:14; Acts 13:48; Rom 3:11; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:4-5. Even Col 2:13, which you cited, states that God is the one who has made us alive. We did not somehow make ourselves “undead” in our trespasses and sins so that we could hear the gospel and believe and thus open the door to God’s regenerating grace. This verse is quite clear. We were dead in our trespasses and sins (ie. having no spiritual ability to respond on our own), and HE made us alive together with Christ. Please interact with all the Bible has to say, not just your pet verses.

    Thank you again for your time, wingfooted1. I pray you have a good week.

T. R.

The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)
________________________________________
Contents
1. The Holy Scriptures
2. God and the Holy Trinity
3. God’s Decree
4. Creation
5. Divine Providence
6. The Fall of Man, Sin and Punishment
7. God’s Covenant
8. Christ the Mediator
9. Free Will
10. Effectual Calling
11. Justification
12. Adoption
13. Sanctification
14. Saving Faith
15. Repentance and Salvation
16. Good Works
17. The Perseverance of the Saints
18. Assurance of Salvation
19. The Law of God
20. The Gospel and Its Influence
21. Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
22. Worship and the Sabbath Day
23. Lawful Oaths and Vows
24. The Civil Magistrate
25. Marriage
26. The Church
27. The Communion of Saints
28. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
29. Baptism
30. The Lord’s Supper
31. Man’s State After Death and the Resurrection
32. The Last Judgement
________________________________________
1. The Holy Scriptures
1. The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.
Although the light of nature and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God so much that man is left without any excuse, they are not sufficient to provide that knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for salvation.
Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal Himself, and to declare His will to His church;
– and afterward, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church, protecting it against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and the world,
– it pleased the Lord to commit His revealed Truth wholly to writing. Therefore the Holy Scriptures are most necessary, those former ways by which God revealed His will unto His people having now ceased.
2. Under the title of Holy Scripture (or the written Word of God) are now contained all the following books of the Old and New Testament:-
OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans. 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, l & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude, Revelation.
All these books are given by the inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.
3. The books commonly called ‘The Apocrypha’ not being of divine inspiration, are not part of the canon or rule of Scripture and are therefore of no authority to the church of God, nor are they to be approved of or made use of any differently from other human writings.
4. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, depends not on the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God its Author (Who is Truth itself). Therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.
5. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the people of God to gain a high and reverent estimation of the Holy Scriptures. We may be similarly affected by the nature of the Scriptures—the heavenliness of the contents, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God, the full disclosure it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, together with many other incomparable excellencies and entire perfections. By all the evidence the Scripture more than proves itself to be the Word of God.
Yet, notwithstanding this, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth of Scripture and its divine authority, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture, to which nothing is to be added at any time, either by new revelation of the Spirit, or by the traditions of men.
Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word.
There are some circumstances concerning the worship of God and church government which are common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word which are always to be observed.
7. All things in scripture are not equally plain in themselves, nor equally clear to everyone, yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and revealed in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the educated but also the uneducated may attain a sufficient understanding of them by the due use of ordinary means.
8. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of its writing was most generally known to the nations) were immediately inspired by God, and were kept pure through subsequent ages by His singular care and providence. They are therefore authentic , so that in all controversies of religion , the church must appeal to them as final.
But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have a right to, and an interest in the Scriptures, and who are commanded to read and search them in the fear of God, the Scriptures are therefore to be translated into the ordinary language of every nation into which they come, so that, with the Word of God living richly in all, people may worship God in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.
9. The infallible rule for the interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself, and therefore whenever there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other passages which speak more clearly.
10. The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and by which must be examined all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, and doctrines of men and private spirits can be no other than the Holy Scripture, delivered by the Spirit. And in the sentence of Scripture we are to rest, for it is in Scripture, delivered by the Spirit, that our faith is finally resolved.
go to Contents
________________________________________
2. God and the Holy Trinity
1. The Lord our God is the one and only living and true God; Whose subsistence is in and of Himself
– Who is infinite in being and perfection; Whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself;
– Who is a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions
– Who only has immortality
– Who dwells in the light which no man can approach, Who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, in every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute;
– Who works all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory;
– Who is most loving, gracious, merciful, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth;
– Who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin;
– Who is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him;
– and Who, at the same time, is most just and terrible in His judgements, hating all sin and Who will by no means clear the guilty.
2. God, having all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and from Himself, is unique in being all- sufficient, both in Himself and to Himself, not standing in need of any creature which He has made, nor deriving any glory from such.
– On the contrary, it is God Who manifests His own glory in them, through them, to them and upon them. He is the only fountain of all being; from Whom, through Whom, and to Whom all things exist and move.
– He has completely sovereign dominion over all creatures, to do through them, for them, or to them whatever He pleases.
– In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and not dependant on the creature.
– Therefore, nothing is for Him contingent or uncertain.
– He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands.
– To Him is due from angels and men whatever worship, service, or obedience, they owe as creatures to the Creator, and whatever else He is pleased to require from them.
3. In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and the Holy Spirit. All are one in substance, power, and eternity; each having the whole divine essence, yet this essence being undivided.
The Father was not derived from any other being; He was neither brought into being by, nor did He issue from any other being.
– The Son is eternally begotten of the Father.
– The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
– All three are infinite, without beginning, and are therefore only one God, Who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties, and also their personal relations.
– This doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and our comfortable dependence on Him.
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3. God’s Decree
1. God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things which shall ever come to pass.
– Yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin nor does He have fellowship with any in the committing of sins, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature , nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
– In all this God’s wisdom is displayed, disposing all things, and also His power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.
2. Although God knows everything which may or can come to pass under all imaginable conditions, yet He has not decreed anything because He foresaw it in the future, or because it would come to pass under certain conditions.
3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace. Others are left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.
4. Those angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and the number of them is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
5. Those of mankind who are predestinated to life, God chose before the foundation of the world was laid, in accordance with His eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will. God chose them in Christ for everlasting glory, solely out of His free grace and love, without anything in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him to choose.
6. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so, by the eternal and completely free intention of His will, He has foreordained all the means. Accordingly, those who are elected, being fallen in Adam:
– are redeemed by Christ,
– are effectually called to faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season,
– are justified, adopted, sanctified,
– and are kept by His power through faith unto salvation;
– neither are any but the elect redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved.
7. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, in order that men who are heeding the will of God revealed in His Word, and who are yielding obedience to it, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation be assured of their eternal election.
So shall this doctrine provide cause for praise, reverence, admiration of God, and also provide cause for humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all who sincerely obey the Gospel.
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4. Creation
1. In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, to create or make the world and all things in it both visible and invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.
2. After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasoning and immortal souls, rendering them fit to live that life for Him for which they were created;
– being made in the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and having the power to fulfil it;
– and yet living under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will which was subject to change.
3. Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While they kept this command they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over all other creatures.
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5. Divine Providence
1. God the good Creator of all things, in His infinite power and wisdom, upholds, directs, disposes and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, to the end for which they were created.
– God governs according to His infallible foreknowledge and the free and unchanging counsel of His own will;
– for the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, boundless goodness, and mercy.
2. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, Who is the First Cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; so that nothing happens to anyone by chance, or outside His providence, yet by His providence He orders events to occur according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
3. God, in His ordinary providence makes use of means, yet He is free to work outside, above, and against them at His pleasure.
4. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that His determinate counsel extends even to the first fall, and all other sinful actions of both angels and men.
– This is not merely by a bare permission, but by a form of permission in which He included the most wise and powerful limitations, and other means of restricting and controlling sin. These various limitations have been designed by God to bring about his most holy purposes.
– Yet, in all these affairs, the sinfulness of both angels and men comes only from them and not from God, Who is altogether holy and righteous, and can never be the author or approver of sin.
5. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God often leaves, for a time, His own children to various temptations, and to the corruptions of their own hearts, in order to chastise them for the sins which they have committed, or to show them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness still in their hearts, so that they may be humbled and aroused to a more close and constant dependence upon Himself for their support, and that they may be made more watchful against future occasions of sin. Other just and holy objectives are also served by such action by God.
Therefore whatever happens to any of His select is by His appointment, for His glory, and for their good.
6. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God as a righteous judge, blinds and hardens for former sin, from them He not only withholds His grace, by which they might have been enlightened in their understanding and affected in their hearts, but sometimes He also withdraws the gifts which they had and exposes them to certain objects which their corrupt state will make the occasion of sin.
– God gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, so that eventually they harden themselves under the same influences which God uses for the softening of others.
7. As the providence of God in general reaches to all creatures, so, in a more special manner, it takes care of His church, and governs all things to the good of His church.
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6. The Fall of Man, Sin and Punishment
1. Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which secured life for him while he kept it, and although God warned him that he would die if he broke it, yet man did not live long in this honour.
– Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, seduced Adam by her, and he, without any compulsion, wilfully transgressed the law of their creation and the command given to them by eating the forbidden fruit.
– And this act God, according to His wise and holy counsel, was pleased to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.
2. Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them. For from this, death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
3. They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and their corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation. Their descendants are therefore conceived in sin, and are by nature the children of wrath, the servants of sin, and the subjects of death and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus sets them free.
4. All actual transgressions proceed from this original corruption, by which we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil.
5. During this life the corruption of nature remains in those who are regenerated, and although it is pardoned and mortified through Christ, yet this corrupt nature and all its motions are truly and properly sinful.
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7. God’s Covenant
1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to Him as their Creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life except by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, and this He has been pleased to express in the form of a covenant.
2. Moreover, as man had brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace. In this covenant He freely offers to sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring from them faith in Him that they may be saved, and promising to give to all who are appointed to eternal life His Holy Spirit to make them willing and able to believe.
3. This covenant is revealed through the Gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by further steps until the full revelation of it became complete in the New Testament. The covenant of salvation rests upon an eternal covenant transaction between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect. It is solely by the grace of this covenant that all the descendants of fallen Adam who have ever been saved have obtained life and blessed immortality, because man is now utterly incapable of gaining acceptance with God on the terms by which Adam stood in his state of innocency.
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8. Christ the Mediator
1. It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, in accordance with the covenant made between them both, to be the Mediator between God and man; to be Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Saviour of His Church, the Heir of all things, and the Judge of all the world. To the Lord Jesus He gave, from all eternity, a people to be His seed. These, in time, would be redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified by the Lord Jesus.
2. The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being true and eternal God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, of the same substance and equal with Him;
– Who made the world, and Who upholds and governs all things which He has made,
– did, when the fullness of time had come, take upon Himself man’s nature, with all its essential properties and common infirmities, with the exception of sin.
– He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowing her, so that He was born to a woman from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Abraham and David, in accordance with the Scriptures.
– Thus two whole, perfect and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion;
– So that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man, yet He is one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
3. The Lord Jesus, His human nature thus united to the divine, once in the person of the Son, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in Himself all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell in Him so that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety, a position and duty which He did not take upon Himself, but was called to perform by His Father. And the Father also put all power and judgement in His hand, and gave Him commandment to exercise the same.
4. This office and duty of Mediator and Surety the Lord Jesus undertook most willingly. To discharge it, He was made under the law, and perfectly fulfilled it, and He underwent the punishment due to us, which we should have borne and suffered. He was made sin and was made a curse for us; enduring the most grevous sorrows in His Soul with the most painful sufferings in His duty. He was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead, but His body did not undergo any decomposition. On the third day He rose from the dead with the same body in which He had suffered, with which He also ascended into Heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His Father making intercession, and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.
5. The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself which He, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up to God, has fully satisfied the justice of God, has procured reconciliation, and has purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven for all those whom the Father has given to Him.
6. Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ until after His incarnation yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit arising from His payment were communicated to the elect in all ages from the beginning of the world through those promises, types, and sacrifices in which He was revealed and signified as the seed which should bruise the serpent’s head, and also the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, for He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
7. Christ, in His work of Mediator, acts according to both natures, each nature doing that which is proper to itself. Yet, because of the unity of His person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.
8. To all those for whom Christ has obtained eternal redemption, He certainly and effectually applies and communicates this redemption, making intercession for them, uniting them to Himself by His Spirit, revealing to them in the Word and by the Word the mystery of salvation. He persuades them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit, and overcome all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom. This is achieved in such a manner and by such ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation, and it is all by free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.
9. This office of Mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, Who is the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church. Free Will of God, and this office may not be transferred from Him to any other, either in whole or in part.
10. This number and order of offices is essential. Because of our ignorance we need His prophetic office. Because of our alienation from God and the imperfection of the best of our service, we need His priestly office to reconcile us and present us to God as acceptable. Because of our aversion to, and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and keeping from spiritual enemies, we need His kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us until we reach His heavenly kingdom.
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9. Free Will
1. God has indued the will of man, by nature, with liberty and the power to choose and to act upon his choice. This free will is neither forced, nor destined by any necessity of nature to do good or evil.
2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but he was unstable, so that he might fall from this condition.
3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has completely lost all ability of will to perform any of the spiritual good which accompanies salvation. As a natural man, he is altogether averse to spiritual good, and dead in sin. He is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself for conversion.
4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into a state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage to sin, and by grace alone He enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good. But because of his remaining corruptions he does not only (or perfectly) will that which is good, but also wills that which is evil.
5. The will of man will only be made perfectly and immutably free to will good alone in the state of glory.
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10. Effectual Calling
1. Those whom God has predestinated to life, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time to effectually call by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death which they are in by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ. He enlightens their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God. He takes away their heart of stone and gives to them a heart of flesh. He renews their wills, and by His almighty power, causes them to desire and pursue that which is good. He effectually draws them to Jesus Christ, yet in such a way that they come absolutely freely, being made willing by His grace.
2. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not on account of anything at all foreseen in man. It is not made because of any power or agency in the creature who is wholly passive in the matter. Man is dead in sins and trespasses until quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit. By this he is enabled to answer the call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed by it. This enabling power is no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.
3. Infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, Who works when, where, and how He pleases. So also are all elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
4. Others are not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may experience some common operations of the Spirit, yet because they are not effectually drawn by the Father, they will not and cannot truly come to Christ and therefore cannot be saved. Much less can men who do not embrace the Christian religion be saved, however diligent they may be to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the requirements of the religion they profess.
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11. Justification
1. Those whom God effectually calls He also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting them as righteous, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone. They are not justified because God reckons as their righteousness either their faith, their believing, or any other act of evangelical obedience. They are justified wholly and solely because God imputes to them Christ’s righteousness. He imputes to them Christ’s active obedience to the whole law and His passive obedience in death. They receive Christ’s righteousness by faith, and rest on Him. They do not possess or produce this faith themselves, it is the gift of God.
2. Faith which receives Christ’s righteousness and depends on Him is the sole instrument of justification, yet this faith is not alone in the person justified, but is always accompanied by all the other saving graces. And it is not a dead faith, but works by love.
3. Christ, by His obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified, and by the sacrifice of himself through the blood of His cross, underwent instead of them the penalty due to them, so making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on their behalf. Yet because He was given by the Father for them, and because His obedience and satisfaction was accepted instead of theirs (and both freely, not because of anything in them), therefore they are justified entirely and solely by free grace, so that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
4. From all eternity God decreed to justify all the elect, and Christ, in the fullness of time, died for their sins, and rose again for their justification. Nevertheless, they are not personally justified until the Holy Spirit, in due time, actually applies Christ to them.
5. God continues to forgive the sins of those who are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may because of their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure. In that condition they will not usually have the light of God’s countenance restored to them until they humble themselves, confess their sins, ask for pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
6. The justification of believers during the Old Testament period was in all these respects exactly the same as the justification of New Testament believers.
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12. Adoption
1. God has vouchsafed, that in Christ, His only Son, and for His sake, all those who are justified shall be made partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number of the children of God and enjoy their liberties and privileges. They have His name put upon them, and receive the Spirit of adoption. They have access to the throne of grace with boldness, and are enabled to cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ They are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by Him as by a father, yet they are never cast off, but are sealed to the day of redemption, when they inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.
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13. Sanctification
1. Those who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having had a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are then further sanctified in a very real and personal way. Because of the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection. and by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them, the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed. The different lusts of the body of sin are increasingly weakened and mortified, and Christ’s people are increasingly quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to practise all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
2. This sanctification extends throughout the whole person, yet it remains imperfect in this life. Some remnants of corruption live on in every part, and from this arises a continuous war between irreconcilable parties – the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
3. In this war, although the remaining corruption for a time may greatly prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part overcomes. And so the saints grow in grace perfecting holiness in the fear of God; pressing after a heavenly life in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word, has prescribed to them.
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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, and is ordinarily brought into being by the ministry of the Word. It is also increased and strengthened by the work of the Spirit through the ministry of the Word, and also by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, prayer, and other means appointed by God.
2. By this faith a Christian believes to be true whatever is revealed in the Word because this Word has the authority of God Himself. Also, by this saving faith, a Christian apprehends an excellency in the Word which is higher than in all other writings and everything else in the world, because the Word shows forth the glory of God, revealing His attributes, showing the excellency of Christ’s nature and offices, and also the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in His workings and operations. – So the Christian is enabled to cast his soul upon the Truth he has believed, and to see and respond to the different kinds of teaching which different passages of Scripture contain. Saving faith equips him to perceive and obey the commands, hear the threatenings with fear and respect, and to embrace the promises of God for this life and the life to come. – But the first and most important acts of saving faith are those directly to do with Christ, when the soul accepts, receives, and rests upon Him alone for justification, sanctification and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
3. This faith, although it differs in degree, and may be weak or strong, even at its very weakest is in an entirely different class and has a different nature (like other aspects of saving grace) from the kind of faith and common grace which is possessed by temporary believers. Therefore, though it may be frequently assailed and weakened, it gets the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, Who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
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15. Repentance and Salvation
1. Those of the elect who are converted in riper years, having lived some time in the state of nature, and in this state served various lusts and pleasures, God gives repentance which leads to life, through an effectual call.
2. Because there is not one person who does good and commits no sin, and because the best of men may fall into great sins and provocations through the power and deceitfulness of their own indwelling corruption and the prevalency of temptation, God has mercifully provided in the covenant of grace that when believers sin and fall they shall be renewed through repentance to salvation.
3. Saving repentance is an evangelical grace by which a person who is made to feel, by the Holy Spirit, the manifold evils of his sin, and being given faith in Christ, humbles himself over his sin with godly sorrow, detestation of his sin and self-abhorrency. In such repentance the person also prays for pardon and strength of grace, and has a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit’s power, to walk before God and to totally please Him in all things.
4. As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, on account of the body of death, and the motions of it, it is therefore every man’s duty to repent of his particular known sins particularly.
5. Such is the provision which God has made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers in the way of salvation, that although even the smallest sin deserves damnation, yet there is no sin great enough to bring damnation on those who repent. This makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary.
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16. Good Works
1. Good works are only those works which God has commanded in His Holy Word. Works which do not have the warrant of Scripture, and are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions are not good works.
2. Good works, performed in obedience to God’s commandments, are these: the fruits and evidences of a true and living faith. By these believers express and show their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the Gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, Whose workmanship they are; created in Christ Jesus to perform good works, and to have fruits of holiness which lead to eternal life.
3. Their ability to do these good works does not in any way come from themselves, but comes wholly from the Spirit of Christ. To enable them to do good works, alongside the graces which they have already received, it is necessary for there to be a further real influence of the same Holy Spirit to cause them to will and to do of His good pleasure. But believers are not, on these grounds, to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless given a special motion by the Spirit, but they must be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
4. Those who attain the greatest height which is possible in this life in their obedience to God, are still so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which they are bound to do in their duty to God.
5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin or eternal life from the hand of God because of the great disproportion between our best works and the glory to come, and because of the infinite distance which is between us and God. With our works we cannot profit or satisfy God concerning the debt we owe on account of our sins. When we have done all we can, we have only done our duty, and are still unprofitable servants. And in any case, in so far as our works are good they originate from the work of the Holy Spirit. Even then, the good works are so defiled by us, and so mixed with weakness and imperfection, that they could not survive the severity of God’s judgement.
6. Yet, quite apart from the fact that believers are accepted through Christ as individual souls, their good works are also accepted through Christ. It is not as though the believers are (in this life) wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight, but because He looks upon them in His Son, and is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although it is accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
7. Works performed by unregenerate men, although they may in essence be things which God commands, and they may be good and beneficial both to themselves and others, yet because they do not proceed from a heart purified by faith, and are not done in a right manner according to the Word, and because it is not their underlying purpose to bring glory to God, therefore they are sinful, and cannot please God, nor can they make a man fit to receive grace from God. And yet, for unregenerate men to neglect such works is even more sinful and displeasing to God.
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17. The Perseverance of the Saints
1. Those whom God has accepted in the beloved, and has effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they will certainly persevere in that state to the end and be eternally saved. This is because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, and therefore He continues to beget and nourish in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the spirit which lead to immortality. And though many storms and floods arise and beat against the saints, yet these things shall never be able to sweep them off the foundation and rock which they are fastened upon by faith. Even though, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sight and feeling of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet God is still the same, and they are sure to be kept by His power until their salvation is complete, when they shall enjoy the purchased possession which is theirs, for they are engraved upon the palm of His hands, and their names have been written in His Book of Life from all eternity.
2. This perseverance of the saints does not depend on them – that is, on their own free will. It rests upon the immutability of the decree of election, which flows from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father. It also rests upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, and upon the union which true saints have with Him. – It rests upon the oath of God, and upon the abiding of His Spirit.
– It depends upon the seed of God being within them and upon the very nature of the covenant of grace.
– All these factors give rise to the certainty and infallibility of the security and perseverance of the saints.
3. The saints may, through the temptation of Satan and the world, and because their remaining sinful tendencies prevail over them, and through their neglect of the means which God has provided to keep them, fall into grievous sins. They may continue in this state for some time, so that they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit, suffer the impairment of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened and their conscience wounded, and hurt and scandalise others. By this they will bring temporal judgements upon themselves. Yet they shall renew their repentance and be preserved, through faith in Christ Jesus, to the end.
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18. Assurance of Salvation
1. Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions that they are in the favour of God and in a state of salvation, such a hope on their part will perish. Yet those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, and who endeavour to walk in all good conscience before Him, may be certainly assured in this life that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And such a hope shall never make them ashamed.
2. This assurance is not merely a conjectural persuasion nor even a probable persuasion based upon a fallible hope. It is an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel. It is also founded upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit in connection with definite promises made in the Scriptures, and also on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption who witnesses with our spirits that we are the children of God, and who uses the experience of assurance to keep our hearts both humble and holy.
3. This infallible assurance is not so joined to the essence of faith that it is an automatic and inevitable experience. A true believer may wait long and fight with many difficulties before he becomes a partaker of it. Yet, being enabled by the spirit to know the things which are freely given to him by God, he may, without any extraordinary revelation attain this assurance by using the means of grace in the right way. Therefore it is the duty of every one to give the utmost diligence to make his calling and election sure, so that his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness for carrying out the duties of obedience. These duties are the natural fruits of assurance, for it is far from inclining men to slackness.
4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation in various ways shaken, diminished, or intermitted. This may be because of their negligence in preserving it, or by their falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit, or by some sudden or forceful temptation, or by God’s withdrawing the light of His countenance, and causing even those who fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light. Yet, believers are never left without the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren that sincerity of heart and that conscience about their spiritual duty. Out of these things, by the operation of the Spirit, their assurance can in due time be revived, and in the meantime the presence of these graces preserves them from utter despair.
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19. The Law of God
1. God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience which was written in his heart, and He gave him very specific instruction about not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. By this Adam and all his descendants were bound to personal, total, exact, and perpetual obedience, being promised life upon the fulfilling of the law, and threatened with death upon the breach of it. At the same time Adam was endued with power and ability to keep it.
2. The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the Fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai in the ten commandments, and written in two tables, the first four containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man.
3. Besides this law, commonly called the moral law, God was pleased do give the people of Israel ceremonial laws containing several typical ordinances. These ordinances were partly about their worship, and in them Christ was prefigured along with His attributes and qualities, His actions, His sufferings and His benefits. These ordinances also gave instructions about different moral duties. All of these ceremonial laws were appointed only until the time of reformation, when Jesus Christ the true Messiah and the only lawgiver, Who was furnished with power from the Father for this end, cancelled them and took them away.
4. To the people of Israel He also gave sundry judicial laws which expired when they ceased to be a nation. These are not binding on anyone now by virtue of their being part of the laws of that nation, but their general equity continue to be applicable in modern times.
5. The moral law ever binds to obedience everyone, justified people as well as others, and not only out of regard for the matter contained in it, but also out of respect for the authority of God the Creator, Who gave the law. Nor does Christ in the Gospel dissolve this law in any way, but He considerably strengthens our obligation to obey it.
6. Although true believers are not under the law as a covenant of works, to be justified or condemned by it, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, because as a rule of life it informs them of the will of God and their duty and directs and binds them to walk accordingly. It also reveals and exposes the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts and lives, and using it for self-examination they may come to greater conviction of sin, greater humility and greater hatred of their sin. They will also gain a clearer sight of their need of Christ and the perfection of His own obedience. It is of further use to regenerate people to restrain their corruptions, because of the way in which it forbids sin. The threatenings of the law serve to show what their sins actually deserve, and what troubles may be expected in this life because of these sins even by regenerate people who are freed from the curse and undiminished rigours of the law. The promises connected with the law also show believers God’s approval of obedience, and what blessings they may expect when the law is kept and obeyed, though blessing will not come to them because they have satisfied the law as a covenant of works. If a man does good and refrains from evil simply because the law encourages to the good and deters him from the evil, that is no evidence that he is under the law rather than under grace.
7. The aforementioned uses of the law are not contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but they sweetly comply with it, as the Spirit of Christ subdues and enables the will of man to do freely and cheerfully those things which the will of God, which is revealed in the law, requires to be done.
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20. The Gospel and Its Influence
1. The covenant of works being broken by sin, and made unprofitable for life, God was pleased to promise Christ, the seed of the woman, as the means of calling the elect and bringing to life within them faith and repentance. In this promise the substance of the Gospel was revealed and shown to be the effectual for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
2. This promise of Christ and the salvation which comes by Him, is revealed only by the Word of God. The works of creation and providence with the light of nature do not reveal Christ or His grace even in a general or obscure way. How much less, therefore, can those who are devoid of the revelation of Christ by the promise (or the Gospel) be enabled by the light of nature to arrive at saving faith or repentance.
3. The revelation of the Gospel unto sinners, made in divers times and by sundry parts, with the addition of promises and precepts for the obedience required therein, as to the nations and persons to whom it is granted, is merely of the sovereign will and good pleasure of God, not being annexed by virtue of any promise to the due improvement of men’s natural abilities, by virtue of common light received without it, which none ever did make, or can do so; and therefore in all ages, the preaching of the Gospel has been granted unto persons and nations, as to the extent or straitening of it, in great variety, according to the counsel of the will of God.
4. Although the Gospel is the only outward means of revealing Christ and saving grace, and as such is totally sufficient to accomplish this, yet more is necessary if men who are dead in trespasses are to be born again, brought to life or regenerated. It is necessary for there to be an effectual, insuperable work of the Holy Spirit upon the whole soul to produce in them a new spiritual life. Without this no other means will bring about their conversion to God.
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21. Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience
1. The liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the Gospel, lies in their freedom from the guilt of sin and the condemning wrath of God, from the rigours and curse of the law, and in their deliverance from this present evil world, from bondage to Satan, from dominion of sin, from the harm of afflictions, from the fear and sting of death, from the victory of the grave, and from everlasting damnation. – This liberty is also seen in their free access to God, and their ability to yield obedience to Him not out of slavish fear, but with childlike love and willing minds. All these freedoms were also experienced in substance by true believers under the Old Testament law, but for New Testament Christians this liberty is further enlarged, for they have freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law to which the Jewish church was subjected. They also have greater boldness of access to the throne of grace and fuller communications of the free Spirit of God than believers under the law normally experienced.
2. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from all doctrines and commandments of men which are in any respect contrary to His Word, or not contained in it. Thus to believe such doctrines or to obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience. The requiring of an implicit faith, an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience and reason also.
3. They who on pretence of Christian liberty practice any sin, or cherish any sinful lust, pervert the main purpose of the grace of the Gospel to their own destruction. They completely destroy the object of Christian liberty, which is that we, being delivered out of the hands of all our enemies, might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives.
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22. Worship and the Sabbath Day
1. The light of nature shows that there is a God Who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is just and good, and Who does good to all. Therefore He is to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God has been instituted by Himself, and therefore our method of worship is limited by His own revealed will. He may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan. He may not be worshipped by way of visible representations, or by any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.
2. Worship is to be given to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to Him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creatures. And since the Fall, worship is not to be given without a mediator, nor by any other mediation than that of Christ.
3. Prayer, with thanksgiving, is one part of natural worship, and this God requires of all men. But to be accepted it must be made in the name of the Son, by the help of the Spirit, and according to His will. It must be made with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and corporate prayer must be made in a known language.
4. Prayer is to be made for lawful things, and for all kinds of people who are alive now or who shall live in the future, but not for the dead, nor for those who are known to have sinned the ‘sin leading to death’.
5. The reading of the Scriptures, preaching and hearing the Word of God, the teaching and admonishing of one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord; as well as the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are all parts of the worship of God. These are to be performed in obedience to Him, with understanding, faith, reverence and godly fear. Also to be used in a holy and reverent manner on special occasions are times of solemn humiliation, fastings, and thanksgivings.
6. Under the Gospel neither prayer nor any other part of religious worship is tied to, or made more acceptable by, any place in which it is performed or towards which it is directed. God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth, whether in private families daily, in secret by each individual, or solemnly in the public assemblies. These are not to be carelessly or wilfully neglected or forsaken, when God by His Word and providence calls us to them.
7. As it is the law of nature that in general a proportion of time, by God’s appointment, should be set apart for the worship of God, so He has given in His Word a positive, moral and perpetual commandment, binding upon all men, in all ages to this effect. He has particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath to be kept holy for Him. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ this was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ it was changed to the first day of the week and called the Lord’s Day. This is to be continued until the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week having been abolished.
8. The Sabbath is kept holy to the Lord by those who, after the necessary preparation of their hearts and prior arranging of their common affairs, observe all day a holy rest from their own works, words and thoughts about their worldly employment and recreations, and give themselves over to the public and private acts of worship for the whole time, and to carrying out duties of necessity and mercy.
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23. Lawful Oaths and Vows
1. A lawful oath is an act of religious worship, in which the person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgement, solemnly calls God to witness what he swears, and to judge him according to the truth or falsity of it.
2. Only by the name of God can a righteous oath be sworn, and only if it is used with the utmost fear of God and reverence. Therefore, to swear vainly or rashly by the glorious and awesome name of God, or to swear by any other name or thing, is sinful, and to be regarded with disgust and detestation. But in matters of weight and moment, for the confirmation of truth, and for the ending of strife, an oath is sanctioned by the Word of God. Therefore a lawful oath being imposed by a lawful authority can rightly be taken in such circumstances.
3. Whoever takes an oath sanctioned by the Word of God is bound to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and affirm or confess to nothing except that which he knows to be true. For by rash, false, and vain oaths, the Lord is provoked and because of them this land mourns.
4. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words. without equivocation or mental reservation.
5. A vow, which is not to be made to any creature but to God alone, is to be made and performed with all the utmost care and faithfulness. But monastical vows (as in the Church of Rome) of a perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, so far from being degrees of higher perfection, are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.
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24. The Civil Magistrate
1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates to be under Him, over the people, for His own glory and the public good. For this purpose He has armed them with the power of the sword, agement of those that do good, and for the punishment of evil-doers.
2. It is lawful for Christians to accept and carry out the duties of a magistrate when called upon. In the performance of such office they are particularly responsible for maintaining justice and peace by application of the right and beneficial laws of the nation. Also, to maintain justice and peace, they may lawfully (under the New Testament) engage in war if it is just and essential.
3. Because civil magistrates are established by God for the purposes previously defined, we ought to be subject to all their lawful commands as part of our obedience to God, not only to avoid punishment, but for conscience sake. We ought also to make supplications and prayers for rulers and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
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25. Marriage
1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. It is not lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.
2. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and for preventing uncleanness.
3. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry if they are able with judgement to give their consent. But it is the duty of Christians to marry in the Lord, and therefore those who profess the true religion should not marry with infidels or idolaters. Nor should those who are godly be unequally yoked by marrying with those who are wicked in their life or who maintain heretical teaching condemned to judgement.
4. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden in the Word, nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties so that such persons may live together as man and wife.
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26. The Church
1. The universal Church, which may be called invisible (in respect of the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) consists of the entire number of the elect, all those who have been, who are, or who shall be gathered into one under Christ, Who is the Head. This universal Church is the wife, the body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all.
2. All people throughout the world who profess the faith of the Gospel and obedience to Christ on its terms, and who do not destroy their profession by any errors which contradict or overthrow Gospel fundamentals, or by unholy behaviour, are visible saints and may be regarded as such. All individual congregations ought to be constituted of such people.
3. The purest churches under Heaven are subject to mixture and error, and some have degenerated so much that they have ceased to be churches of Christ and have become synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless Christ always has had, and always will (to the end of time) have a kingdom in this world, made up of those who believe in Him, and make profession of His name.
4. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. In Him, by the appointment of the Father, is vested in a supreme and sovereign manner all power for the calling, institution, order, or government of the Church. The Pope of Rome cannot in any sense be head of the Church, but he is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, who exalts himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God, who the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.
5. In the exercise of the authority which has been entrusted to Him, the Lord Jesus calls to Himself from out of the world, through the ministry of His Word, by His Spirit, those who are given to Him by His Father, so that they may walk before Him in all the ways of obedience which He prescribes to them in His Word. Those who are thus called, He commands to walk together in particular societies or churches, for their mutual edification, and for the due performance of that public worship, which He requires of them in the world.
6. The members of these churches are saints because they have been called by Christ, and because they visibly manifest and give evidence of their obedience to that call by their profession and walk. Such saints willingly consent to walk together according to the appointment of Christ, giving themselves up to the Lord and to one another, according to God’s will, in avowed subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel.
7. To each of these churches thus gathered, according to the Lord’s mind as declared in His Word, He has given all the power and authority which is in any way required for them to carry on the order of worship and discipline which He has instituted for them to observe. He has also given all the commands and rules for the due and right exercise of this power.
8. A particular church gathered and completely organised according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members. The officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the church are bishops or elders and deacons. These are to be appointed for the peculiar administration of ordinances and the execution of power or duty with which the Lord has entrusted them and to which He has called them. This pattern of church order is to be continued to the end of the world.
9. The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit for the office of bishop or elder in a church, is that he is to be chosen by the common consent and vote of the church itself. Such a person should be solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with the laying on of hands of the eldership of the church (if there be any previously appoint elder or elders). The way of Christ for the calling of a deacon is that he is also to be chosen by the common consent and vote of the church and set apart by prayer, with the laying on of hands.
10. Because the work of pastors is to apply themselves constantly to the service of Christ in His churches by the ministry of the Word and prayer, and by watching for their souls as they that must give an account to Him, the churches to which they minister have a pressing obligation to give them not only all due respect, but also to impart to them a share of all their good things, according to their ability. This must be so done that the pastors may have a comfortable supply and that they may not have to be entan

Shawn

Dear Brother Hadley,

This post is in regard to your post on June 22, 2012 at 2:02pm. Evidently, room for response ran out for that sub-thread. I do understand the point you are making — that the convention, and in particular those men who served on the committee for the BF&M 2000, did not have a Calvinistic understanding of the document. You said in your post, “Please note Jerry Vines, Nelson Price, Steve Gaines and Chuck Kelly who were on the committee that drafted the BF&M2000 also have signed this statement which would stand to refute your assertion that the statement is in direct conflict with the BF&M2000. The signatures of 6 SBC former Presidents is also important, seeing that most if not all of those are 2 term Presidents. So, while you are correct it all I ask is that you acknowledge the opposing interpretation and understand that the adoption of the BF&M2000 is not the reformed stamp of approval you continue to suggest.”

In attempting to refute my point, you actually prove what I have been trying to say. The committee that drafted the BF&M 2000 for the convention presented that document unanimously for approval by the SBC. What this means is that these men said to the convention “This Statement is what we believe to be the most current embodiment of Southern Baptist Theology and we are in agreement with it.” This same committee also supported the requirement that the BF&M 2000 had to be signed by all our national denominational leaders and seminary professors.

Now, the men you have listed above have signed a statement that gives every outward evidence of being in complete disagreement with the BF&M 2000. Particularly, this article (Article 5 of the Traditionalist statement) is in direct disagreement with Article 4 of the BF&M. The traditional statement says “We deny that regeneration precedes faith.” The BF&M, Article 4, section A says regeneration precedes faith. These men have, with their signatures on the traditional document, taken a position contrary to the one they espoused when they drafted the BF&M 2000 for the convention.

Integrity demands one of two courses. 1) Either they draft a paper for peer review stating how they reconcile the language of Article 5 of the traditional statement with Article 4 of the BF&M, to prove they are still in agreement with our denomination’s statement of faith. OR 2) They admit they are no longer in agreement with the BF&M 2000 and either resign from their denominational positions for no longer espousing it or go to the floor of the SBC and move to have our statement of faith redrafted to fit the traditionalist position.

Dear brother Hadley, even you have not made any effort in your commentary or in your response to these threads to explain how article 5 of the traditional statement is in agreement with the BF&M 2000 Article 4. My personal opinion is that you know the two cannot be reconciled, so you won’t even address the question. If I am wrong, I will happily and humbly read and consider any forthcoming explanation.

On a larger scale, I do not believe any of these prominent signers of the traditionalist statement will address this question either. They too know that they are no longer in agreement with the BF&M, but they will not admit it because they do not want to appear to be the ones opposed to the soteriological position set forth in our denomination’s statement of faith. If any one of them will address this real “elephant in the room,” I will once again happily and humbly read and weigh any forthcoming explanation.

In the end, I affirm that you and all of these other prominent brothers in Christ have every right to have your own understanding/interpretation of God’s purpose in salvation. My whole point has been that you should also have the integrity to defend it publicly where it counts — by responding publicly to the position of the BF&M.

Thank you again for your kind consideration. I am not just trying to drag out a discussion, I’m just looking for you to interact with the original question. I pray you have a blessed week.

    Bob Hadley

    Shawn,

    Please look at two statements you made in the previous comment:
    1) “This Statement is what we believe to be the most current embodiment of Southern Baptist Theology and we are in agreement with it.”

    2) Now, the men you have listed above have signed a statement that gives every outward evidence of being in complete disagreement with the BF&M 2000. Particularly, this article (Article 5 of the Traditionalist statement) is in direct disagreement with Article 4 of the BF&M. The traditional statement says “We deny that regeneration precedes faith.”

    My point was, these men DID NOT AGREE THAT ARTICLE 4 carries the interpretation that YOU GIVE TO IT.

    For your information, I did respond to your position on this article I am writing on and its application relative to the BF&M2000. You may not have agreed with my statement, but I did respond to you earlier.

    Here is what I wrote…

    I have two comments with regards to your logic here. First of all, when the BF&M2000 was voted on, it was presented as a balanced statement that was broad enough for calvinists and non-calvinists to cooperate together. Now… does this mean that those men in question who have signed the TS understood that the language of the BF&M2000 was broad enough to include calvinists? I would say the answer is yes. Does that mean that they agreed that the BF&M2000 was calvinistic and the article you reference on regeneration meant regeneration preceded repentance and faith, absolutely not. It seems interestingly odd that you can say all who signed it agreed that it was reformed leaning and I cannot suggest the opposite.

    Notice the reasoning for a guy like me to accept the language presented… even today if I had too…

    Here is how most will read the statement you quoted…

    Article 4, Section A of the BF&M says:
    “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace understand “grace” has never been associated with the Doctrines of Grace by a very large contingency in the SBC and especially when this statement was voted on and accepted. whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus.

    It(most Southern Baptists read as “salvation” or “New Birth”) is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.”

    You see, most Southern Baptists do not even use the word regeneration, If you went into the MOST SB churches and asked them what regeneration is, I would dare say 70% of them would even be able to give you an answer and then ALL non-reformed will say they are those who are born again or from above… regenerated means saved to non-calvinists.

    Shawn, this statement no more demands a calvinist rendering than it does deny one. It was deliberately written to reflect BOTH camps. I do not know how to say this any simpler.

    Your assertion is simply not true.

    These guys owe no one an apology.

    ><>”

      wingedfooted1

      Hi Bob,

      You said “It was deliberately written to reflect BOTH camps.”

      Anyone should be able to see that.

      Again, consider the beginning statement…

      “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus.”

      As a non-Calvinist, I agree completely with that statement. For me, that sentence reads..

      “Believers become new creatures in Christ thru regeneration.”

      Its obvious a non-Calvinist worded that sentence.

      The following sentence reads..

      “It (regeneration) is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

      Obviously that sentence was written by the reformed folks, if indeed “it” is referring to regeneration. But both sentences put together don’t harmonize. The first sentence reads that it is the believer that experiences the new birth and becomes a new creature in Christ. The second sentence seems to suggest that it is the new creature in Christ, via regeneration, that becomes a believer.

      An English major would have a headache reading this statement.

      Grace

        Bob Hadley

        WF1

        Not really…
        “Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus.”

        As a non-Calvinist, I agree completely with that statement. For me, that sentence reads.. “Believers become new creatures in Christ thru regeneration.”

        Agreed.

        The following sentence reads..

        “It (regeneration) is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

        While I agree the wording is certainly conducive to the reformed position, it is also a non-calvinist rendering…

        if you read it this way, “It (new birth) is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

        So, I respectfully maintain it is equally applicable to both camps. That is the point I have repeatedly tried to make to no apparent avail.

        ><>”

          Shawn

          Dear Bob,

          Please know that I am not intending to frustrate you or to simply drag on the discussion. Let me reiterate: I am coming from the Calvinist position, but I also do not take the mention of “Grace” in Article 4 of the BF&M to refer to the doctrines of grace. I also understand your argument about the word Regeneration. I am not arguing any of that.

          Here is what you say: “While I agree the wording is certainly conducive to the reformed position, it is also a non-calvinist rendering…if you read it this way, “It (new birth) is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

          Dear Brother, with these words, you are still saying you believe that the new birth is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit TO WHICH THE SINNER RESPONDS in repentance and faith. You are placing the Spirit-wrought change of heart BEFORE repentance and faith. That is not my Calvinist interpretation — that’s the simple rendering of the English grammar. You are saying what the Calvinist says, you are just choosing not to use the word regeneration.

          THAT is what is so perplexing about your argument. “Regeneration” and “New Birth” are synonyms, so to say that you agree with the BF&M that the new birth precedes repentance and faith and yet that you also agree with Article 5 of the Traditional statement which says you deny that regeneration precedes hearing and responding to the gospel is to hold two opposing views.

          Even if you believe Regeneration and New Birth are somehow not synonyms (if that is the case, I would appreciate the explanation), you still interpret the BF&M article to say that the Holy Spirit initiates a change in the heart to which the sinner responds. You are right back to God being the initiator of salvation in the human heart. Regeneration by any other name is still regeneration. . .

          My dear brother, you haven’t settled the question at all — you keep coming right back to my point.

          Bob Hadley

          Shawn,

          I appreciate the tenacity to the veracity of your argument. You are welcome to see it anyway you choose. I am simply telling you this is how a majority of folk read the statement in 2000. You have every right to see however you choose.

          One other small tidbit. Remember this was a statement voted on by the messengers who were in the hall when the BF&M2000 was actually presented to the convention. I do not know how many were there voting on this motion when it was adopted but i doubt there were 10K people there who actually voted on this.

          So understanding it was a statement of consensus hammered out by the committee and presented to the convention there was no doubt a lot of give and take on both sides to bring this statement to a vote… and if there were 10K people voting… it could have passed with 6K votes… I have no idea I am simply giving some possible scenarios.

          The BF&M2000 is what it is… I simply want to say do not read more into its adoption that was intended and even its adoption itself. The SBC is not a reformed group of individuals by any stretch of the imagination.

          >”

          Bob Hadley

          PS…

          When I read the statement, I see the phrase, ” to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” as a reference to the Holy Spirit’s convicting work and repentance and faith are responses to conviction.

          You can play with the language all you want. I am telling you NO ONE outside the RT camp considers regeneration or new birth as a prerequisite to repentance and faith…

          I am confident you can understand that. I was actually shocked when I read this rendering… but I can certainly see your point and agree that your reading is valid.

          Where I am having a difficult time is in your reluctance to give me the benefit of the doubt that my position is equally true. A minority of people in the SBC adhere to the regeneration before repentance and faith position… that is a fact.

          ><>”

          Shawn

          Dear Bob, you have been more than gracious in your replies. Thank you, brother. I do understand your interpretation, I just still struggle with how you are reconciling it to the actual language of the BF&M. You have been very generous with your time and insights in these reply threads. Have a great week.

wingedfooted1

Blessings, Shawn.

This is in response to your post to me earlier today (at the 3:41 mark).

You said… “we readily say a person is saved when they exercise faith and repentance (your step #3) even though in your scheme, justification and regeneration are yet to come”.

I believe the scriptures speak plainly that those who believe will be saved.

Mark 16:16…
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Acts 2:21…
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Acts 16:31….
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

Romans 10:9…
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Now compare that with Titus 3:5…
“he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Notice the language. Those who believe “will be saved”. Those who have experienced the new birth (regeneration) are “saved”, not in some state which you say “initiates salvation”. We are saved by grace thru faith. We are not saved by grace to faith. It should be obvious that faith comes before justification and regeneration.

You said… “Please share your interpretation of John 3:5; John 6:44,65; Acts 16:14; Acts 13:48; Rom 3:11; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:4-5…”

Well, I certainly could, but why? What would be the point? I am well aware of the calvinistic interpretation of those verses, but I can just as easily say to you what you said to me. And that is…

“I do not agree with your interpretation of these verses, but I certainly agree with what these verses say.”

That said, I will at least show you my understanding of John 6:44 and 6:65.

John 6:44…
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 6:65…
“He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.’”

The drawing from verse 44 (and repeated with different language in verse 65) is clarified in verse 45…

“It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.’”

God draws (enables) people to Himself thru divine instruction. It is thru the word of God that people come to faith in Jesus Christ. Paul even confirms this to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:15…

“and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Bible examples to support this include..

Acts 17:2….
As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures

Acts 18:28….
For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Acts 28:23…..
They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.”

God both draws (verse 44) and enables (verse 65) people to Himself thru divine instruction. Calvinism has forced both of these terms to refer to irresistible grace (or regenerating grace); that spiritual life must be granted if one is going to believe in Him.

That is not biblical. Can you provide one biblical example of someone that was regenerated prior to coming to faith? For example, something like…

“Having been regenerated, Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Jesus said to these unbelieving Jews in John 6:63…

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

What our Lord is saying is that His words, or His teachings, were for their spiritual benefit, not their physical benefit (these Jews were following Him for the wrong reason). And that it is by believing His words (His message) that one obtains spiritual life.

As the apostle John writes..

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Grace to you.

    t.r.

    Your interpretation of John 6:44 does not take into account the actual meaning of “draw” in Scripture. It cares much more force than you suggest.

    “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

    The Scripture would seem to use this word draw with a meaning rather like “drag”. The word “draw” here does not mean a gentle tug or prod. It is often translated “to drag” in the New Testament. In his essay on election in the Fourth Gospel, Robert Yarbrough writes,

    “Draw” in 6:44 translates the Greek helkuo. Outside of John it appears in the New Testament only in Acts 16:19: “they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace. . . .” John’s Gospel uses the word to speak of being drawn to Christ (12:32), a sword being drawn (18:10), and a net full of fish being hauled or dragged to shore (21:6, 11). The related form helko appears in Acts 21:30 (“they dragged him from the temple”) and James 2:6 (“Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?”). It seems hard to avoid the impression that John 6:44 refers to a “forceful attraction” in bringing sinners to the Son.

    – Do you woo a sword from its sheath?
    – Do you seize a prisoner by force and then just tug ever so gently for him to follow you freely?
    – Do you look at a net full of fish and coax it to be drawn from the water into the boat?
    – Does your opponent just invite you into the courthouse? Do you really have a choice in the matter?

    All of the above statements are obviously about being dragged, forced to do something when the same word “draw” is used in those passages. So it would seem to me, that John 6:44 can rightly be defined as follows:
    “No individual is capable of coming to Christ unless the Father drags him to Christ.”

      wingedfooted1

      Hi TR.

      I think our Lord clarified what he meant by the word “draws” when he said in John 6:65..

      “He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.’”

      Whatever our Lord meant by “draws” it would have to be synonymous with “enables”.

      God bless.

        t.r.

        Right. Which means it is impossible for anyone to come to Christ unless God first enables them. I wouldn’t think Calvinists would disagree with that. This is what Calvinism teaches. But doesn’t this new “SBC” statement teach that the Fall of Man has not incapacitated people to the point where they have no ability to repent and believe? Jesus would seem to be saying exactly that: Jesus is saying people are incapable of believing in Him unless God first enables them. I’m not sure how this would help your case it seems to help the case of Calvinists in the SBC.

          wingedfooted1

          TR,

          Again, look at the verse that follows directly after verse 44. Verse 45 reads..

          “‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.”

          There is nothing here that suggests that mankind has a learning disability. Our Lord says everyone who listens and learns from the Father comes to Jesus. The opposite would be equally true that everyone who doesn’t listen and doesn’t learn won’t come to Jesus. We see this in Jeremiah 32:30 when the Lord spoke of Israel and Judah…..

          “They turned their backs to me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline.”

          Notice the Lord said “they would not” instead of “they could not”.

          Also consider Romans 10:14….
          “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

          Can a child believe in Santa Claus if he or she has never even heard of Santa Claus?

          Of course not. But it isn’t because the child lacks the ability to do so. It is just that he can’t believe in whom he or she has never heard of.

          Go thru the entire book of the gospel of John and read why people put their faith in Jesus. Every time someone put their faith in Christ it is either because of something Jesus said or did. EVERY TIME. Never, NOT ONE SINGLE TIME, does the author of the text even suggest or hint the sinner had been regenerated or “born again”.

          God bless.

        Shawn

        Dear Wingfooted1,

        After all our word-wrangling over the word “regeneration,” you have landed on what my position has been all along — It is God who draws and enables men to be saved. God grants men repentance (Acts 5:31; Acts 11:18; 2 Tim 2:25) and God grants men faith (Acts 14:27; Acts 15:8-9; Rom 9:15-18; Eph 2:8-9; Titus 1:1, Phil 1:29). Have a great week, brother! I have enjoyed our exchange.

          wingedfooted1

          Brother Shawn,

          I agree with everything you wrote (and I have always known what your position is). God does grant us both faith and repentance. Where we might differ is this faith and repentance isn’t reserved for a select few. Everyone who comes within ear shot of the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ (with the conviction of the Holy Spirit) has been enabled to come to faith and repentance (Acts 28:24; Romans 10:8; Romans 10:14; 2 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 4:2), including those who choose not to believe.

          May the Lord bless you greatly.

Shawn

Thank you again for stating the matter so clearly, Wingfooted1.

I deeply appreciate your candor. God does grant us both faith and repentance, but there are texts where He states that those gifts are just for those whom He has chosen. I believe, with you, that the preaching of the gospel is God’s ordained means of calling men to Himself. But where in Scripture do we see a grace of Christ that makes all men “savable” without actually securing their salvation? Does not Christ speak of the redemption of His children in concrete terms of accomplishment rather than a potential salvation that each individual has the ability to “opt” into or out of?

Consider these texts:
Matt 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (NAS)

Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (NAS)

–It was those who were appointed (Grk TASSO — ordained) to eternal life who believed.

John 10:26-28 “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.
27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.

–Those who are Christ’s sheep (antecedent) are the ones who hear His voice and follow Him. Those who are not His sheep do not believe.

John 17:1-2 These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee,
2 even as Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life. (NAS)

–Those who would receive eternal life are the ones given to Christ by God the Father.

Finally, Rom 8:29-30
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined {to become} conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

–According to what you have said in your post, you believe everyone is enabled by God to repent and believe — that everyone is “called.” Some then choose to believe, and others choose not to believe. That is directly contradicted by Romans 8:29-30. According to these verses, if “those” who are called refers to everyone, then “those” persons are also justified and also glorified. If “those” who are called are glorified, and “those” people are “everyone,” you end up being a universalist — everyone goes to heaven! God displays a common grace to all men, but His saving grace is for those whose names were written in the lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8, 17:8, 21:27)

On another note, I want to thank you again for the kindness of this exchange. As my brother in Christ, I do share your love for Christ and your very obvious love for His Scriptures. You have sharpened me and challenged me and informed me, and though we may never come to agree with one another in our interpretations of these matters, I count it a blessing to be arm-in-arm with you in the ministry of the gospel. Please join me in praying that this kind of spirit would prevail as our brothers and sisters discuss these finer points of theology.

t.r.

Author of the “traditional statement”, Eric Hankins, denies even the need for prevenient grace, making him the new Pelagius:

“Nothing in Scripture indicates that humans have been rendered “totally depraved” through Adam’s sin. Genesis 3 gives an extensive account of the consequences of Adam’s sin, but nowhere is there the idea that Adam or his progeny lost the ability to respond to God in faith, a condition which then required some sort of restoration by regeneration or prevenient grace.”
-Eric Hankins in part 4 of his series “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism” found here on the SBCToday archives in April.

    Bob Hadley

    TR

    Your assertion is really the basis for all this criticism of P or S-P; you cannot understand that not holding to TD/TI is tantamount to the Pelagian position.

    Pelagians believe man can come to God on his own; nothing in the statement even comes close to that. God has taken the initiative at Calvary; so for the record there is no such thing as a Pelagian possibility period. It is impossible for a man to take the first step toward God because God has already done that.

    For the record, one more time… God through His Word reveals Himself and His plan and purpose in His promises and man must respond. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and our lost condition and our response to that initiative is what determines our eternal destiny. Call this what you want. These are essential elements of conversion; but it is not some effectual move on God’s part enabling anyone to respond; sin does not remove man’s ability to respond to God’s initiative.

    There is no element of Pelagianism in this statement. Talk about strawmen arguments and this whole argument that calvinists are being misquoted and misrepresented; well that is exactly what this argument does, either intentionally or ignorantly.

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