“God will indeed save all of the people He has chosen
and for whom Christ has offered up His life as a propitiation””

September 19, 2012

A Selective Review and Critique of Whomever He Wills – Part 3B

Dr. Tom Ascol’s chapter “Calvinism Foundational For Evangelism and Missions” by David L. Allen


2. Testimony of Scripture (271-79).

Dr. Ascol comes to the defense of John Macarthur’s statement that Jesus was a Calvinist. He thinks we have missed MacArthur’s point, namely, that Calvinism derives its views ultimately from the teachings of Jesus. Ascol continues, “. . . Calvinism owes its convictions to the Word of God, not to a sixteenth century reformer” (271). Ascol then quotes Spurgeon who in essence states the same thing MacArthur said: “Calvinism” is simply shorthand for what Jesus and the Bible teaches.”

Several comments seem in order. First, MacArthur and Spurgeon would have been on much safer ground had they said something along the lines of “Calvinism derives its views from a particular interpretation of the teachings of Jesus.” Otherwise, this is nothing more than a classic example of begging the question. Second, I’m sure it goes without saying that Traditionalists believe their theological interpretations are derived from the teachings of Jesus and the Bible too. Third, suppose I had written in my chapter in Whosoever, “Jesus was a Traditionalist,” or “Jesus was not a Calvinist.” Many Calvinists would have decried such a statement. As I stated in Part 1 of this series of reviews of WHW, “merely asserting one’s interpretation of the text as Scriptural truth is an exercise in begging the question.”

Under the heading of “Scriptural Testimony,” Dr. Ascol limits his discussion to selected statements and practices from Jesus and Paul.

Consider the following five statements Ascol makes concerning Jesus and John 3:

1. “Jesus teaches the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation. Furthermore, there is no incongruity between that doctrine and His teaching on total depravity, unconditional election, particular redemption or the priority of regeneration over faith and His sincere call to people to trust Him as Lord” (272).

2. “Consequently, the spiritual inability of people to trust in Christ apart from the regenerating work of the Spirit never hindered Jesus from issuing evangelistic calls” (Ibid.).

3. “Jesus tells Nicodemus that such faith is impossible ‘unless’ one is born again. But total depravity is no barrier to evangelism because of the glorious reality of the Holy Spirit’s sovereign work of granting new birth. Jesus underscores the helplessness of Nicodemus and the sovereignty of the Spirit whose regenerating work is necessary for saving faith . . .” (273).

4. “The inability of a lost person to repent and believe the gospel while in an unregenerate state is no barrier to evangelism” (Ibid.).

5. “Coupled with this confidence in the Spirit and Word to bring about the new birth is the assurance that the doctrines of election and atonement give, namely, that God will indeed save all of the people He has chosen and for whom Christ has offered up His life as a propitiation” (274).

Each of these five statements is an assertion that something is true without any exegetical evidence or argument to show why or how it is true. Each statement merely begs the question at hand. Consider statement one. Jesus is said to teach the following: unconditional election, particular redemption, and the notion that regeneration precedes faith. There is nothing in any of the verses Ascol references that teaches these things. Ascol is merely assuming these doctrines and superimposing them on Jesus’ teaching. Statements two, three, and four merely assert that regeneration precedes faith. Notice statement three carefully. Jesus does not inform Nicodemus that “faith” is impossible unless one is born again. Rather, Jesus tells Nicodemus that unless he is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That is quite different. What the unsaved person is incapable of doing is repenting and believing apart from the prior work of the Holy Spirit. That does not of necessity mean that the lost person is incapable of repenting and believing before regeneration, as Ascol asserts. Again, no direct Scripture in John 3 states what Ascol is claiming. This begs the question. Statement five asserts that the Calvinistic doctrines of unconditional election and limited atonement are true, again without any proof. Ascol is merely assuming them to be true and smuggling them into his argument. There is more eisegesis than exegesis at work here. Contextually it is clear that Ascol intends “atonement” to mean “limited atonement,” so he is again begging the question since he has not demonstrated that Jesus is teaching limited atonement.

Next Ascol turns to consider Jesus’ statements in John 10. “He [Jesus] pointedly excludes His critics not only from His flock but also from the scope and saving  benefits of His death by revealing that they are not His sheep” (274). Actually there is nothing in Jesus’ statement that limits the scope of his death. As long as his critics refuse what Jesus is saying, they are incapable of receiving the saving benefits of His death. Even if Jesus’ statement indicates that his critics are not now nor ever will be among his sheep, such does not affirm or entail limited atonement. Ascol here succumbs to the negative inference fallacy – the proof of a proposition cannot be used to disprove its converse. When the Scripture says Jesus died for His sheep, this does not prove he did not die for others. Furthermore, the “sheep” Jesus refers to are already believers since they “follow Him.” Even from Ascol’s perspective, he must believe that Jesus died for more than just those who are his sheep since he believes Christ died for the unbelieving elect who are not yet His sheep. This is the same error I pointed out in Schrock’s chapter in WHW: taking what applies to believers and extrapolating the predication to all of the elect in the abstract. What are the exegetical grounds for reading “sheep” in John’s context as the abstract class of all the elect? There are none.

The citation of John 6:37 (274) as a proof text for unconditional election and limited atonement is problematic. The text actually says nothing about either. Whatever the “giving” means, and contextually one can make a good case that it refers to the present time Jesus spoke these words (note the use of the present tense and the unbelieving audience of Jesus), the text does not state that this “giving” took place in eternity past. The reason the unbelieving Jews were not coming to believe in Jesus was not because they had not been “given” to Him by the Father, but because they “will not come” (John 6:40), as the surrounding context makes clear. Again, regardless of how one construes the biblical teaching on election, this passage and its context make clear that Jesus’ emphasis is on human responsibility and culpability.  All Calvinists, Arminians, and non-Calvinists believe that all the elect will be saved since God knows exactly who will believe. This is true regardless of how election works. Furthermore, the text says nothing about limited atonement either. Ascol is merely inferring such, but the text nowhere states this or even implies it.

 

 

 

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Steve Martin

I agree with this post with one exception; “human responsibility”.

Sheep are culpable…but just how responsible can they be?

Not very. That’s why they need a Shepherd.

Thank you, very much for this post.

wingedfooted1

David,

It never ceases to amaze me that so many calvinists believe (and worse, teach) that “regeneration precedes faith” when the holy scriptures continue to teach otherwise. Take, for example, the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3. Calvinists insist that Jesus is saying that one must be born again in order to believe. What our Lord is merely stating is that one must be a born again child of God if he or she wants to “see” (verse 3) or “enter” (verse 4) the kingdom of God. For scriptural support that “regeneration precedes faith” (the impartation of spiritual life in order to believe) is unbiblical, see the reference of the bronze serpent mention in verse 14.

Numbers 21:6-9 (NKJV)….
So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Several things can be taken from these three short verses. First, the venom from the snakes represents the penalty for sin. Just as the Israelites died physically for their rebellion against God, we today die spiritually for the same reason. Second, the Israelites were able to recognize their dilemma just as we are able to recognize ours. Third, the bronze serpent upon the pole was provided for everyone who was bitten. This alone rebukes calvinism’s limited atonement. Fourth, everyone who was bitten was still able to “look” upon the bronze serpent. The infection of venom did not prohibit their ability to gaze upon the bronze serpent. This rebukes calvinism’s total depravity. And finally, just as the Israelites had to “look” to the bronze serpent in order to “live” physically, today, we have to believe in, or look to, Jesus on the cross to live spiritually. The scriptures say “look and live”. Calvinism teaches “live and look”.

Also notice what our Lord says in John 10:10 regarding the Good Shepherd and His sheep.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Notice Jesus said he came so His sheep “may have life”. They weren’t given life so they could become His sheep, but rather they were His sheep long before they were given life.

God bless.

wingedfooted1

Robert

Hello Dr. Allen,

You provide some great examples here of where calvinism goes wrong. Significantly, there are parallels in these errors with how non-Christian cultists deal with scripture and present their views (note I am not saying calvinists **are** non-Christian cultists, only that their interpretive methods engage in the same mistakes).

Consider three extremely common errors made by cultists.

(1) One common error made by cultists is that they fail to distinguish **their interpretation of scripture** from **the scripture itself**.

Calvinists will sometimes speak as if their interpretation of scripture **is** scripture.
But the fact is there are various interpretations of scripture. If we keep this in mind we can see how Christians who agree on essentials may disagree on other things (i.e. they have differing interpretations of scripture). An easy way to know and prove this is when in fact you can provide different godly scholars who hold different interpretations of the same biblical text (e.g. there are subjects where four views books have been written, where four different scholars present four different views on some particular passage or doctrine).

Dr. Allen made this point when he talks about how Calvinists will claim that “Jesus was a Calvinist.”

When in fact their **interpretations** of things Jesus said “make him a calvinist.”
Dr. Allen writes:

“First, MacArthur and Spurgeon would have been on much safer ground had they said something along the lines of “Calvinism derives its views from a particular interpretation of the teachings of Jesus.””

And

“Traditionalists believe their theological interpretations are derived from the teachings of Jesus and the Bible too.”

(2) Cultists constantly commit the fallacy of begging the question, assuming what needs to be proved without providing sufficient and relevant evidence of their claims.

As Dr. Allen puts it:

“merely asserting one’s interpretation of the text as Scriptural truth is an exercise in begging the question.”

Dr. Allen then provides five statements made by Ascol as examples of begging the question and writes:

“Each of these five statements is an assertion that something is true without any exegetical evidence or argument to show why or how it is true. Each statement merely begs the question at hand.”

(3) A third thing that cultists repeatedly and commonly do is to superimpose their views onto the biblical texts.

Dr. Allen writes of how Ascol:

“is merely assuming these doctrines and superimposing them on Jesus’ teaching.”

Instead of **exegeting** a text they ****eisegete**** it (i.e. they read into the text what they want to find there).

What usually gives away this kind of eisegesis is that the immediate context of the text is ignored. Dr. Allen notes at one point concerning a text used by calvinists that:

“The citation of John 6:37 (274) as a proof text for unconditional election and limited atonement is problematic. The text actually says nothing about either.”

Often times when viewing an example of eisegesis which results in “proof texting” in the negative sense (i.e. verses are offered in support of a point when in fact the verses properly interpreted offer no such support) one notes that “The text actually says nothing about” the point that the person wants to make.

Another give away is that the immediate context of the verse being used as a proof text is usually ignored.

Dr. Allen notes regarding one passage that:

“The reason the unbelieving Jews were not coming to believe in Jesus was not because they had not been “given” to Him by the Father, but because they “will not come” (John 6:40), as the surrounding context makes clear.”

Note he speaks of how the “surrounding context makes clear.”

Often one can tell that the other person is engaging in eisegesis simply by actually looking at the immediate context of the verse.

Sometimes the eisegesis/proof texting is so bad that nothing is actualy said in the text about what the person wants to see there.

Dr. Allen writes of one such example when he says:

“The citation of John 6:37 (274) as a proof text for unconditional election and limited atonement is problematic. The text actually says nothing about either.”

I have sometimes reminded people that one can often learn from other people’s mistakes so that you can avoid those very mistakes yourself. Calvinism provides innumerable examples of how smart people can make mistakes when it comes to scripture and the interpretation of scripture. Three very comon errors are: (1) failing to distinguish between one’s interpretation of the scripture and the text itself; (2) begging the question regarding exegetical claims; and (3) reading into the text what you want to be there rather than properly interpreting the text. We all need to be on guard against these errors in our own thinking as sincere bible believing Christians are not immune from these mistakes.

Robert

Johnathan Pritchett

Wow, Ascol has to put John 3, 6, and 10 inside an exegetical torture chamber to come up with those inferences. Begging the question indeed.

Of course, when you start with a theological system, a set of presuppositions, and categories of thought, and then go to the text, it is way too easy to say, “oh, look what we found!”

Surprise, surprise…

Sure, everyone else can fall victim to this, and not just Calvinists, but Calvinists do it better and more often than anyone else. To be sure, they didn’t even take a cue from Calvin in his commentaries. Even though Calvin misunderstands some of the New Testament, he at least endeavored to say as little as possible regarding the text he was commenting upon compared to other commentators. After Calvin, Calvinists starting saying way too much.

    Max

    “When you start with a theological system, a set of presuppositions, and categories of thought, and then go to the text, it is way too easy to say, “oh, look what we found!”

    Thanks Johnathan. I have that quote now posted on my refrigerator door!

    In his Associated Baptist Press article “Opinion: How to Interpret the Scriptures,” Mike Smith offers some good advice to all of us in this regard:

    “Be aware of the interpretive grid you bring to the task. We all bring presuppositions to the work of interpreting the scriptures, assumptions drawn both from secular and religious culture. History is filled with discarded presuppositions: slavery as normative and acceptable in God’s sight, sickness and poverty as signs of God’s disfavor and women as the property of men. As a rule, it’s best to assume the scriptures confront rather than reinforce our presuppositions.” http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/7147/9/

      Robert

      Hello Max,

      You mention here correctly that we must be self aware of our own presuppositions and their role in the interpretive process. I have known this and agreed with this principle for a long time.

      One of the most picturesque ways of stating this principle was stated by a former professor of mine. John Warwick Montgomery likes to tell a story that perfectly illustrates the problem with holding false presuppositions. Montgomery tells the story of “the man who thought he was dead”:

      [[“Once upon a time there was a man who thought he was dead. His concerned wife and friends sent him to the friendly neighborhood psychiatrist. The psychiatrist determined to cure him by convincing him of one fact that contradicted his belief that he was dead. The fact that the psychiatrist settled on was the simple truth that dead men do not bleed, and he put the patient to work reading medical texts, observing autopsies, etc. After weeks of effort, the patient finally said: “All right, all right! You’ve convinced me. Dead men do not bleed.” Whereupon the psychiatrist stuck him in the arm with a needle and the blood flowed. The man looked with a contorted, ashen face and cried: “Good Lord! Dead men bleed after all!”

      This parable illustrates that if you hold unsound presuppositions with sufficient tenacity, facts will make no difference at all, and you will be able to create a world of your own, totally unrelated to reality and totally incapable of being touched by reality. The man in the parable not only thought he was dead, but in a very real sense, he was dead because facts no longer meant anything to him.”]]]

      Seems to me that the bible properly interpreted speaks of how God loves the whole world, desires for all to be saved, provides Jesus as an atonement for that whole world and has incredibly good character and is completely worthy of our trust. On the other hand, the calvinists operating by their false presuppositions think they are “dead” (i.e. they deny that God loves the whole world in a salvific sense, claim that God only wants to save a preselected few, provides Jesus only for those preselected few, and has an extremely hateful character as what God does if calvinism is true/reprobating most of the human race is the most hateful thing that could be done to a person and means that God’s character is not at all like what he presents in scripture). Put simply, the calvinist is this guy saying “dead men bleed after all!” And sadly he **has** studied the biblical texts and because of his false presuppositions he reinterprets and misinterprets them so they end up saying the opposite of what they say properly interpreted. Dead men do not bleed!

      Robert

    Robert

    Hello Johnathan,

    My earliest Christian experiences were doing counter cult ministry. So I became very aware of presuppositions and how they control thinking. People can (and do) believe anything, if they tenaciously hold to false presuppositions. While this was obvious when you could see it being done by non-Christian cultists, it is alarming when you see professing Christians doing it. Your comment:

    “Of course, when you start with a theological system, a set of presuppositions, and categories of thought, and then go to the text, it is way too easy to say, “oh, look what we found!”
    Surprise, surprise…”

    Sums it up quite nicely.

    And THIS is the precise problem with calvinism, it starts with “a theological system, a set of presuppositons” and then this grid determines (pun intended) what the theological determinist will see in scripture. The calvinist is like a guy with deterministic yellow tinted glasses cemented to his face. Everything is interpreted by these yellow tinted glasses so everything ends up looking yellow. It is alarming to see contemporary calvinists making the exact same interpretive errors that I saw the non-Christian cultists making. And the results are exactly the same: errors that lead people away from what the scripture properly interpreted teaches.

    “Sure, everyone else can fall victim to this, and not just Calvinists, but Calvinists do it better and more often than anyone else.”

    I disagree with you on this. It is true that within evangelical circles Calvinists may “do it better and more often than anyone else”. But if you widen the net to include non-Christian cultists, they are extremely practiced and good at it as well.

    Robert

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Sure, my “anyone else” was only intended to mean within orthodox protestant theology. Right on about the cults, and I too exclude Calvinists from those ranks.

Tim B

If we consider that the Father had many “sheep” to give to Jesus in the form of Old Testament saints in the context in which Jesus speaks, the understanding of John 6:37 and the references in John 10 comes to light. Of John 6:37 we see that the Father had given all the people of true faith in His day who perhaps had not yet embraced His person to Him. Jesus is affirming the fact that those who belonged to the Father would affirm Him as well. This is in distinction from the Jews who claimed belief in the Father but who would not believe in Jesus. Their refusal to believe was evidence that they did not belong to the Father If they did not come to Jesus then they did not possess a true faith. Anna and Simeon are outstanding examples of true faith embracing Jesus. Nicodemus was unsure thereby revealing His need of a deeper work of God in his heart. John 6:37 says nothing about Calvinism. Maybe this is part of where the confused doctrine of regeneration preceding faith comes from. There were in fact a class of individuals who had a relationships with God but who had not yet come to “faith in Christ.” Those who had that relationship had been “given to Christ” by the father and who certainly would come to Jesus upon hearing the proclamation of the gospel.

When Old Testament Saints are placed in the context then light is shed on John 10 as well. John speaks of those sheep which belonged to the Father and have been given to the Son and who upon Hearing His voice would follow Him. Who were those sheep who belonged to the Father? Does the Bible ever teach that a lost person belongs to the Father? Romans 8:9 says that if someone does not have the Spirit of Christ he “DOES NOT BELONG TO HIM.” The sheep he refers to here must be those Old Testament Saints who are being or will be introduced to Jesus for they already belong to the Father but have not yet come to faith in Christ. Again, following Jesus as a good shepherd distinguished between Jews who were of faith and those who were of a false faith.

Many years after Jesus spoke these words and at the time of John’s writing there were perhaps still some of those “sheep” who were yet to hear the gospel and these verses would be a powerful witness to them.

When considered in the New Testament context I would suggest that it is serious error to use these verses to suggest that Jesus was a Calvinist.

    Robert

    Hello Tim,

    You appear to take a position very similar to that of Robert Hamilton in his excellent paper which may be found here:

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/files/Hamilton.%20The%20Order%20of%20Faith%20and%20Election%20in%20John's%20Gospel..pdf

    In my opinion, Hamilton’s interpretation of this issue in John 6 is the best one that I have seen. Tim if you have already read it, you already know what he says. If you have not yet read it, I believe you will greatly appreciate it.

    Tim are you aware of this article by Hamilton?

    Robert

      Tim B

      I have not read it but will do so. Thanks. I used to interpret these verses through a Calvinist lens but doing that creates more problems than it solves. Let the context help with the interpretation and the riddle is solved.

      Tim Batchelor

        Robert

        Hello Tim,
        Read the article I believe that you will really enjoy and appreciate it. Then let me know what you think of the article after you have finished it.

        Good to hear that the proper interpretation of scripture simultaneously showed you the falsity of calvinism in its interpretation of that issue on John 6.

        Robert

          Tim B

          He provides a solid treatment of the verses in question and his conclusions are in line with those that I had come up with on my own. If one reads John in light of the context these verses make perfect sense. Jesus speaks to the masses of Jews, many of which reject Jesus but say they still follow God. John is emphasizing that the Jew (or godfearer) who says he believes in God but rejects Jesus does not have eternal life. Those are truly of faith belong to the Father and are given to the Son. I would encourage everyone to read the paper.

            Robert

            Hello Tim,

            Good to see that you have read Hamilton’s paper.

            “He provides a solid treatment of the verses in question and his conclusions are in line with those that I had come up with on my own.”

            Which is why I thought you would appreciate Hamilton’s paper.

            “I would encourage everyone to read the paper.”

            I agree, John 6 is one of the most used “prooftexts” by theological determinists/calvinists, and Hamilton’s treatment of the issue from a non-calvinist perspective is the best that I have ever seen on this subject.

            Robert

David Benjamin Hewitt

Dr. Allen,

As I didn’t get a chance to interact with you on part 2C when you were responding to Schrock’s presentation on Particular Redemption, I thought I would post my comments here in this thread as you brought up the subject again in your response to Dr. Ascol:

You said in your original post:

Schrock refers to John 10 and the Good Shepherd motif where Jesus refers to His sheep as “his own” and to the fact that he gave his life for His sheep. Schrock concludes from this that Christ died only for those given to Him. Jesus’ statements in John 10 in no way prove exclusivity.

How would you then understand Jesus’s statement in John 10 where He appears to be speaking about two different groups of people:

John 10:14-16 ESV I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, (15) just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. (16) And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

…indicating that He lays down His life for the sheep. However, He also says to the Jews gathered around Him:

John 10:25-30 ESV Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, (26) but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. (27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (28) I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (29) My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (30) I and the Father are one.”

There is a “you” (referring to the Jews who are not believing because they are not of His flock, that is, the sheep), and “them” (the sheep themselves). It would seem that Jesus is intentionally differentiating between the sheep (those who would believe, those who would have eternal life, those for whom He lays down His life) and others who were not of the sheep, not of the flock, including those to whom He was speaking. Further, Jesus puts the reason that they do not believe on the fact that they are not sheep, not the other way around. Further still, back up in verse 16, Jesus says that there are other sheep not of this fold (presumably contrasting Jews and Gentiles), and that He will bring them in also — presumably meaning that He will save them and that they will believe. That being the case, it seems clear that the sheep in John ten are not all believing — at least not yet — but they indeed will believe at some point.

You didn’t address these issues in your brief comments about John 10 above and in the previous post; may I have your thoughts please sir?

sdg,
dbh

    Don Johnson

    David,

    Any person who does not believe is not one of Christ’s sheep. Jesus made that clear in vs. 26. Jesus died for all sheep, not just His sheep.

David Benjamin Hewitt

Don:

I don’t follow; what other sheep? From what I can remember, the New Testament refers to sheep and goats, not several different sheep. How can you extrapolate from verse 26 that there are different kinds of sheep?

dbh

    Don Johnson

    David,

    Jesus did not say they were not sheep. He said they were “not of my sheep.”
    They were all Jews, so they were all sheep.

    Jesus was not sent to His sheep. He was “sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” A person becomes one of Christ’s sheep when he believes, but not until that time.

    Apart from Hebrews where goats are mentioned with respect to the Old Covenant, goats are only mentioned in Matt. 25 in a figurative sense of a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats. No one is called a goat. A sheep, swine or dog, but never a goat.

      David Benjamin Hewitt

      Don:

      Being sent to them is one thing, dying for them is another. My point atm is not to work that out exegetically, but to state it just to show that they are not (necessarily) the same.

      It also doesn’t follow that even if Jesus meant that by “sheep” in Matthew 10 and 15 that He means the same thing in John ten. Further, how does your understanding comport with verse sixteen? There are other sheep which are not of this fold, Jesus says, and they “will listen” (future tense, indicating that they have not yet) to His voice. Who are these other sheep?

      The NET Bible notes help I think:

      The statement I have other sheep that do not come from this sheepfold almost certainly refers to Gentiles. Jesus has sheep in the fold who are Jewish; there are other sheep which, while not of the same fold, belong to him also.

      So, how is it then that sheep refers only to Jews, at least here?

      You said:

      Any person who does not believe is not one of Christ’s sheep. Jesus made that clear in vs. 26.

      However, this does not adequately represent what Jesus said. He said, “You do not believe because you are not part of my flock,” and NOT “You are not part of my flock because you do not believe.” That is, Jesus is saying, “The reason you do not believe is because you are not part of my flock,” rather than “The reason you are not part of my flock is because you do not believe.”

      In fact, this may well lend to part of the thinking behind faith coming through the Atonement. :)

      Looking forward to your response, sir, and for anyone else who would desire to interact with the text. It is always a beneficial exercise for believers.

      Soli Deo Gloria,
      dbh

        Don Johnson

        David,

        “Further, how does your understanding comport with verse sixteen?” Answer: perfectly.

        The “other sheep” of vs. 16 are not Gentiles. They were believing Jews living at that time. With few exceptions only Jews heard Jesus’ VOICE. Jesus didn’t say they would hear His words or read His words. He said they would HEAR His VOICE. I’m sure you believe you are one of the Gentiles Jesus was referring to. If so, could you tell me what Christ’s VOICE sounds like.

        Jesus said “other sheep I have.” They were a present possession, they were already His. Since they were already His they must have already existed and they must already be believers.

        Acts 5:14 “And BELIEVERS were the more added to the Lord.”

        Acts 11:24 “and much people was added unto the Lord.”

        If sheep were already Christ’s before they believed, how is it possible for them to be “added” unto the Lord when they got saved?

David L. Allen

David,

Great question! First, notice there is a temporal shift between the events of verses 14-16 and that of verses 25-30 as noted in vv. 22-23. How much time elapsed between the two is unknown, but these verses record two different encounters of the unbelieving Jews with Jesus.

Second, the language that Jesus uses is highly metaphorical and descriptive in nature. The simple point Jesus makes is that those who are His sheep believe and follow him while those who are not His sheep don’t. It seems unwise to me to attempt to derive an ordo salutis from such language, and especially from verse 26 alone.

Third, I, like you, take the sheep described as “not of this pen,” as a reference to Gentiles who will become believers in Jesus (“they will listen”). However, they could not currently (at the time of Jesus’ speaking) be his “sheep” in any salvific sense until after their conversion. The unbelieving elect remain under the wrath of God until they believe (Ephesians 2:1-3). Jesus is most likely speaking proleptically of them at this point.

Fourth, the focus of Jesus is on sheep who are Jewish and other sheep who are Gentiles, not on sheep who are elect Jews and Gentiles in the sense of a Calvinistic theology of election. Election is not in the picture in my opinion. You stated: “Jesus puts the reason that they do not believe on the fact that they are not sheep, not the other way around.” I would point out that contextually it is clear that the reason why they are not his sheep is due to their unwillingness to follow him. This is stated in the text. The text says nothing about the impossibility that they could become His sheep if they were to believe. In fact, in the following context of verses 34-38, Jesus chides these unbelieving Jews for not believing because of His miracles. The point is Jesus seems to continue to give these unbelieving Jews an opportunity to believe in Him. Again, election is not in the picture. We should interpret this entire shepherd/sheep motif of Jesus against the backdrop of the OT where believing Israel is viewed as God’s sheep and He is their Shepherd. I read “sheep” not as the abstract class of the elect but as Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus, some of whom have believed, and some of whom have not yet believed.

You might say that this is six of one and half dozen another. In one sense, yes, since no matter what approach to election one takes, all agree that in the final analysis all genuine believers make up the elect, however it turns out that they became the elect.

Finally, with respect to limited atonement, that Jesus laid down his life for the sheep is clear from the text. What is not stated is that he laid down his life only for the sheep. That is my main point relative to Schrock’s chapter as well as to Ascol’s chapter.

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