John Piper and Definite Atonement | Part One

October 9, 2014

Dr. David L. Allen | Dean of the School of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

The final chapter in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her covers the subject of preaching and definite atonement. John Piper does the honors. This chapter is a fitting conclusion to the book as Piper attempts to show that preaching definite atonement redounds to the glory of God.

Introduction (633-637).
Piper asserts three things as foundational for his chapter:

  1. The glory of God is the heart of the gospel and the end for which God created the world.
  2. The central task of ministry and preaching is the magnifying of the glory of God. Every sermon should be expository according to Piper, to which I utter a hearty “Amen!”
  3. The cross is the climax of the glory of God’s grace.

No qualms here.

Definite Atonement is a Significant Part of the Glory of God’s Grace (637-639).
Piper thinks that the wording of Ephesians1:4-6 and Revelation 5:9 point to definite atonement.

“God does not raise everyone from spiritual death. He raises those whom he ‘predestined for adoption as sons’ (1:5)….This means that in the atonement God designed and secured spiritual life and its resulting faith, for those whom he predestinated to sonship” (639).

There are five problems here.

  1. These texts say nothing about the extent of the atonement.
  2. Piper is assuming that predestination entails definite atonement. Nowhere in Scripture is this connection made.
  3. He buys into the Council of Dort’s notion, later developed by John Owen, that faith is something purchased by the atonement for the elect. Nowhere in Scripture is faith said to be purchased for the elect at the cross.
  4. Piper appears to think and speak about the elect in an abstract sense. This kind of generalization blurs the distinction between the believing elect and all the elect in the abstract. From a Reformed perspective, the “elect” are actually in two groups: 1) those who have believed, and 2) those yet to believe. Piper is conflating these two. But he does not seem to realize that the texts he cites pertain to believers, not the elect in the abstract. Piper is reading Reformed theology into the text. He takes what is true of believers in Ephesians 1:4-6 and then seeks to apply this to all the elect as an abstract class; an illegitimate hermeneutical move.
  5. With respect to Revelation 5:9, even Heinrich Bullinger, a leading sixteenth century Calvinist, in a sermon on Revelation 5:9–10, says this “signifies an universality, for the Lord has died for all: but that all are not made partakers of this redemption, it is through their own fault.”[1]

 

The Love of God and Definite Atonement (639-642).
Piper argues for a “unique love of God for his elect that accounts for the unique effect of definite atonement in saving them” (640). He continues: “Others are not made alive. Therefore, this love is a distinguishing love. It is not given to all. It is given to sinners who are predestined for sonship” (640). Notice the logical fallacy in this argument. Granting for the sake of argument that we can distinguish different kinds of love (God’s saving love for the elect and general love for the non-elect), how does this support or entail definite atonement? It does not.

Piper succumbs to the negative inference fallacy in his argument. He presumes that a special love for the elect entails no atonement for the non-elect. Piper demonstrates an inability to properly distinguish between the Arminian and Amyraldian views on God’s love. He states concerning both Arminians and Amyraldians: “The preciousness of this personal love is muted where it is seen as an instance of the same love that Christ has for those who finally perish. It is not the same” (641).

Amyraldians (and all other Hypothetical Universalists I might add) distinguish degrees in God’s love for the elect and non-elect just as those who support definite atonement do. Piper has mischaracterized Amyraldians on this. From a Reformed perspective, God’s love for the elect is greater in degree but also in purpose since it involves a purpose to save only a select number of people. Non-Calvinists would of course disagree with this limited purpose.

Additionally, most non-Calvinists believe it is not necessarily wise to talk about degrees in God’s love, especially when the analogies given come from human life and love. Perhaps God’s love should not be measured by degrees of love as found among humans since God’s love is perfect and ours is not.

 

The New Covenant & Definite Atonement (642-648).
Piper states that Christ secured not only that possibility that all who believe will be saved, but also that all who are called will believe. This is what makes the atonement definite according to Piper. He continues, “The faith of God’s chosen and called was purchased by the “blood of the covenant” (Matt. 26:28)” (642-43).

“The term definite atonement refers to this truth – when God sent his Son to die, he had in view the definite acquisition of a group of underserving sinners, whose faith and repentance he obtained by the blood of his Son. This is a divine purpose in the cross – to purchase and create the saving faith of a definite, freely chosen, unworthy, rebellious group of sinners” (643).

Actually, all Calvinists who affirm an unlimited atonement could easily agree with Piper’s statement above, with one exception: his claim concerning faith as purchased by the cross. See below. It is erroneous to state that what makes the atonement definite is only God’s intent to save all the called who will believe. All Amyraldians and Hypothetical Universalists believe this as well. What makes the atonement “definite” as the term is used by all the authors in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her is the affirmation that Christ only substituted for the sins of the elect.

One must properly distinguish between the atonement’s intent and extent. Piper is confusing intent and extent in his statement above.

 

Faith Purchased by Christ on the Cross.
Several times in this section, and the entire chapter, Piper speaks of “faith” being “purchased” by the atonement. This is the argument developed by John Owen in his Death of Death. Faith is purchased by Christ on the cross and bestowed on the elect unconditionally. The importance of this argument for Owen can be seen in his admission that if this is not true, then universal atonement and free will is “established.”

For Owen (and Piper), God designs that not only the goal (salvation of the elect) but the means to that goal (faith) are purchased by Christ in the atonement. Faith is bestowed by God “absolutely upon no condition at all” according to Owen. Thus, the elect have a right to the means of salvation purchased for them by Christ. All of this is rooted in Owen’s concept of the “Covenant of Redemption,” which Piper never mentions but which underlies his argument. The “Covenant of Redemption” is a contract in eternity past between the Father and the Son to save the elect through the means of the Son’s death on the cross. The Son agrees to die for the elect only.

There is no biblical statement affirming such a covenant and I critique this notion in the review of Carl Trueman’s chapter here. Piper cannot demonstrate anywhere from Scripture the notion that faith is something “purchased” for the elect at the cross. Such language finds no support in the NT. Where Owen and Piper err is in thinking that faith as a gift is equivalent to faith as a purchase. There is no causal link between the death of Christ and subjective faith. In Piper’s scheme, faith becomes something of a commodity, an object instead of a relational response. This is a category confusion on his part.

“Gift” is the language of grace. “Purchase” is the language of rights. Owen’s notion of the “purchase of faith” is a theoretical construct dependent on the so called “Covenant of Redemption” and a commercialistic understanding of the atonement. In fact, Owen even states that the elect are owed salvation and have a “right” to it.

 

Four-Point Calvinism? (648-656).
Piper critiques the views of Bruce Ware, professor of theology at Southern Seminary, Gary Shultz (a PhD graduate who studied under Ware and wrote a dissertation on the extent of the atonement, which has since been published), along with Gerry Breshears, professor of Systematic Theology at Western Seminary, who co-authored a book on the atonement with Mark Driscoll. Piper recognizes that so called “four-point Calvinism” is not new (the section heading here reads “A Modern Appearance of an Old Error” — assuming the section headings are his and not the editors).

Piper chooses not to address any of the historical material on this subject as do many in From Heaven He Came. Ware has not published on the subject and Piper is basing his discussion on Ware’s unpublished class notes and some personal correspondence. Furthermore, Piper admits he has not read Schultz’s dissertation, but is basing his critique on a twelve page article by Shultz published in 2010. Finally, the relevant material in the Breshears/Driscoll volume is 20 pages.

The uniformed reader might get the impression from Piper that moderate Calvinism (4-point Calvinism) is somehow a latecomer or even an aberration in Reformed theology. Notice how Piper refers to the “traditional Reformed view of definite atonement” (656). On the same page one finds this section heading: “Is a Revision of the Historic Reformed View of Definite Atonement Necessary?” Limited atonement is a traditional view within Reformed theology, but it is not the traditional view, nor is it the oldest view within the Reformed camp.

Moderate Calvinism was the original position of early Reformed theology. Virtually every one, if not every one, of the first generation among the Reformed held it. Furthermore, Richard Muller, among others, including some in this book, have demonstrated that Amyraldianism and Hypothetical Universalism are within and not outside the boundaries of Confessional Reformed theology.

Piper’s approach is to indict Ware on the charge of the double payment argument. He thinks Ware “has failed to distinguish between a penal sentence and the actual execution of that sentence” (650). I have already critiqued the double payment argument here in a previous chapter review. For details, see here. Suffice it to say that the double payment argument has been critiqued by many within the Reformed tradition, including the likes of John Davenant, Richard Baxter, Edward Polhill, Charles Hodge, Robert Dabney, and W. G. T. Shedd.

Piper misses Ware’s point about the elect remaining under the wrath of God until they repent and have faith (Eph. 2:1-3). Of course the sentence has not been carried out on them. The point is, as Piper himself admits, “Until the point of faith, they were heading to hell.”

Piper explains the time delay between the atonement and the application of the atonement with the analogy of a prisoner whose debt has been paid, but the paperwork takes time to process and be applied to the prisoner. This is a very poor analogy and does not explain the fact that even the unbelieving elect, remain under the wrath of God, and would go to hell should they die before they believe, as Piper has admitted. No other meaning can be assigned to Eph. 2:1-3.

 

Are People in Hell Now Reconciled to God through Christ?
Piper’s further attempts to explain the difference between the wrath of God for the unbelieving elect and the “non-elect” in hell are also problematic. He returns to his critique of Ware at this point. At issue for Piper is Ware’s use of the term “reconciliation” (652-655). Piper fails to discern that the biblical concept of reconciliation à la 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 involves both objective and subjective reconciliation.[2] By the death of Christ on the cross, there is a sense in which God is reconciled to the world in that the payment for sin has been made.

But 2 Cor. 5:18-21 goes on to explain that in addition to this objective reconciliation, there must occur a subjective reconciliation whereby people turn to God through Christ by repentance and faith. All unbelievers in hell were the beneficiaries of God’s objective reconciliation through Christ’s death on the cross. Had they repented and believed the gospel, they would have been saved. But the Scripture is clear that no one is saved by this objective reconciliation alone. There must be subjective reconciliation as well. This is Ware’s point which Piper criticizes.

Although I might word some of Ware’s points differently, (I would agree with Piper’s demurral at using the term “peace with God” to describe those in hell), yet in essence Ware is correct in what he affirms about reconciliation.

 

 

[1]Heinrich Bullinger, A Hundred Sermons Upon the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ (London: John Daye, Dwelling over Aldersgate, 1573), 79–80.

[2] See Leon Morris’ defense of this point in his excellent treatment of reconciliation in The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 3rd Revised edition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 214-250.

*This article was originally posted HERE and was used by permission

 

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rhutchin

Dr. Allen writes, “…Piper speaks of “faith” being “purchased” by the atonement. This is the argument developed by John Owen in his Death of Death. Faith is purchased by Christ on the cross and bestowed on the elect unconditionally. The importance of this argument for Owen can be seen in his admission that if this is not true, then universal atonement and free will is “established.””

We read in Owen, “…we affirm that faith itself is a proper immediate fruit and procurement of the death of Christ in all them for whom he died; which (because, if it be true, it utterly overthrows
the general ransom, or universal redemption; and if it be not true, I will very willingly lay down this whole controversy,…free-will must be established), I will prove…”

Owen said that faith was the “immediate fruit” of the death of Christ. In other words, Christ’s death procured salvation for the elect – it was the ransom required by God to free the elect – and included in the package was faith as the means to affect that freedom.

As an example, a parent buys a toy for his child and the toy requires batteries. On the box, we read, “batteries included.” The purpose of the parent is to buy the toy but in buying the toy he also purchases the means to make the toy work. So, when Christ paid the ransom for the elect, necessarily He also purchased the means – faith – by which the elect would be set free from their captivity. As Allen says (explaining Owen), “God designs that not only the goal (salvation of the elect) but the means to that goal (faith) are purchased by Christ in the atonement. Faith is bestowed by God “absolutely upon no condition at all” according to Owen. Thus, the elect have a right to the means of salvation purchased for them by Christ.”

Allen’s complaint, “Piper cannot demonstrate anywhere from Scripture the notion that faith is something “purchased” for the elect at the cross. Such language finds no support in the NT.”

Owen argues against Allen in the following manner (I have sought to distill Owen’s main points):

1. ” “We are chosen in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy,” Eph. i. 4, — of which holiness, faith, purifying the heart, is a principal share.”

2. ” “Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called,” Rom. viii. 30; that is, with that calling which is according to his purpose, effectually working faith in them by the mighty operation of his Spirit, “according to the exceeding greatness of his power,” Eph. i. 19. And so they “believe” (God making them differ from others, 1 Cor. iv. 7, in the enjoyment of the means) “who are ordained to eternal life,” Acts xiii. 48. Their being ordained to eternal life was the fountain from whence their faith did flow; and so “the election hath obtained, and the rest were blinded,” Rom. xi. 7.”

3. “…all the good things of the covenant are the effects, fruits, and purchase of the death of Christ, he and all things for him being the substance and whole of it. Farther; that faith is of the good things of the new covenant is apparent from the description thereof, Jer. xxxi. 33, 34; Heb. viii. 10–12; Ezek. xxxvi. 25–27, with divers other places, as might clearly be manifested if we affected copiousness in causa facili.”

4. “Now, without faith it is utterly impossible that ever any should attain salvation, Heb. xi. 6, Mark xvi. 16; but Jesus Christ, according to his name, doth perfectly save us, Matt. i. 21, procuring for us “eternal redemption,” Heb. ix. 12, being, “able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him,” chap. vii. 25: and therefore must faith also be within the compass of those things that are procured by him.”

5. “The Scripture is clear…as Phil. i. 29, “It is given unto us, ???? ???????, on the behalf of Christ, for Christ’s sake, to believe on him.” Faith, or belief, is the gift, and Christ the procurer of it: “God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in him in heavenly places,” Eph. i. 3. If faith be a spiritual blessing, it is bestowed on us “in him,” and so also for his sake; …I desire to look unto Jesus as the “author and finisher of our faith,” Heb. xii.”

I see Owen arguing that faith was included in the salvation purchased by Christ as that necessary to make salvation work in the sense that a parent buying a toy where the box says, “batteries included.” also purchases the means to make the toy work.

Therefore, I see Owen arguing that Allen errs in claiming, “There is no causal link between the death of Christ and subjective faith.”

    Johnathan Pritchett

    “Therefore, I see Owen arguing that Allen errs in claiming, ‘There is no causal link between the death of Christ and subjective faith.’”

    I don’t see Owen arguing anything at all. Just a bunch of bad inferences and baseless assertions and random prooftexts that have nothing to do with the claim being made that faith was purchased.

    Owen, or your representation of him here, doesn’t even understand the prooftexts at all in any case.

    1. ” “We are chosen in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy,” Eph. i. 4, — of which holiness, faith, purifying the heart, is a principal share.”

    But this is a baseless assertion that begs the question if it is part of an argument that faith is purchased. All this verse says is that the Jew plus Gentile Church in Christ was chosen before the foundation of the Earth for a purpose, as opposed to some other people-group.

    2. ” “Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called,” Rom. viii. 30; that is, with that calling which is according to his purpose, effectually working faith in them by the mighty operation of his Spirit, “according to the exceeding greatness of his power,” Eph. i. 19. And so they “believe” (God making them differ from others, 1 Cor. iv. 7, in the enjoyment of the means) “who are ordained to eternal life,” Acts xiii. 48. Their being ordained to eternal life was the fountain from whence their faith did flow; and so “the election hath obtained, and the rest were blinded,” Rom. xi. 7.”

    – Eh…nothing here to support the notion either. Per Romans 8:30, whatever we do with “calling,” it more likely has to do with God “naming/designating” not summoning anyway. See Klein. No support here for the idea of “purchasing faith in any case. Ephesians 1:19 says nothing about purchasing faith either, but is about those who already believe growing in wisdom and knowledge of God’s great power and blessings. Acts 13:48 says that Christians (those ordained…not preordained…for eternal life) believed Paul’s word about Gentile inclusion and the extent of the Gentile mission. Romans 11:7 has to do with unbelieving Israel being hardened temporarily (read the rest of the chapter). Nothing here to support this assertion.

    3. “…all the good things of the covenant are the effects, fruits, and purchase of the death of Christ, he and all things for him being the substance and whole of it. Farther; that faith is of the good things of the new covenant is apparent from the description thereof, Jer. xxxi. 33, 34; Heb. viii. 10–12; Ezek. xxxvi. 25–27, with divers other places, as might clearly be manifested if we affected copiousness in causa facili.”

    – Begs the question. It is assumed that because of the outcome of the new covenant is promised, the means for entry has been purchased. The problem is that this is no where in the text, nor even assumed by the NT authors. Nowhere in the exegesis of Jeremiah does the author of Hebrews make the connection Owen wishes to see here.

    4. “Now, without faith it is utterly impossible that ever any should attain salvation, Heb. xi. 6, Mark xvi. 16; but Jesus Christ, according to his name, doth perfectly save us, Matt. i. 21, procuring for us “eternal redemption,” Heb. ix. 12, being, “able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him,” chap. vii. 25: and therefore must faith also be within the compass of those things that are procured by him.”

    The last sentence is question begging assertion that doesn’t even follow from what comes before it. Are we to embrace irrational non-sequiturs now?

    5. “The Scripture is clear…as Phil. i. 29, “It is given unto us, ???? ???????, on the behalf of Christ, for Christ’s sake, to believe on him.” Faith, or belief, is the gift, and Christ the procurer of it: “God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in him in heavenly places,” Eph. i. 3. If faith be a spiritual blessing, it is bestowed on us “in him,” and so also for his sake; …I desire to look unto Jesus as the “author and finisher of our faith,” Heb. xii.”

    Here is where the argument falls completely flat. Nowhere does it say the gift of faith was purchased. As for faith being a gift, indeed it is. The question is in what sense is it a gift. Here again, the Reformed folk misunderstand what faith is and how it is a gift. Faith is not a necktie given from one party to another. Faith is the expected form of gratitude in response to benefaction. That God grants belief of the believing community is the nature and sense of the gift. Likewise with suffering. God doesn’t wrap up suffering in a box and implant it in people’s hearts and heads any more than He does faith. That is a simple category error. It is a privilege to endure believe and suffer for Christ. Categories, categories, categories. Reasoning from Ephesians 1:3 that faith is purchased by Christ because “spiritual blessings” are from the Father, faith is a spiritual blessing, therefore faith is from the Father is assuming more than the verse states. Nowhere does it discuss the spiritual blessings being purchased by Christ, but rather given from the Father in Christ. Big difference. Moreover, it doesn’t address the aforementioned category issue with respect to faith anyway.

    “I see Owen arguing that faith was included in the salvation purchased by Christ as that necessary to make salvation work in the sense that a parent buying a toy where the box says, “batteries included.” also purchases the means to make the toy work.”

    I see Owen as a bad theologian and a terrible exegete, and it is high time we stop giving him undue credence. The analogy fails because it makes a category error with respect to both faith and salvation. Faith doesn’t make salvation work. We are not saved by our faith, but by grace through faith. Big difference there…

    Andrew Barker

    rhutchin: “5. “The Scripture is clear…as Phil. i. 29, “It is given unto us, ???? ???????, on the behalf of Christ, for Christ’s sake, to believe on him.” Faith, or belief, is the gift, and Christ the procurer of it:”

    This is about as clear as mud and an important section of the verse has been omitted! verse 29-30 should read as follows:
    For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear [to be] in me.

    I think this puts a completely different complexion on it. The phrase for it has been granted, is in the aorist tense indicating a one off event. But the belief and suffering are both in the present tense and are active. They are both something which is ongoing and not something that has been given once and at an earlier time. There is no scriptural support for faith as a gift other than it is given as one of the gifts of the spirit. This is because saving faith is not a gift per se but is part of our very makeup. Each person is called to exercise that faith individually.

    Far from supporting Owen’s conclusions, you have offered scant supported for the belief that faith was purchased for us at the atonement.

phillip

“And when you believe as you ought to believe, you will discover that your belief—like all other spiritual blessings—was purchased by the death of Christ. The sin of unbelief was covered by the blood in your case, and therefore the power of God’s mercy was released through the cross to subdue your rebellion and bring you to the Son. You did not make the cross effective in your life by faith. The cross became effective in your life by purchasing your faith.” – John Piper: For Whom Did Jesus Taste Death

Romans 3:25a (amplified)….
“Whom God put forward [before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith.”

The apostle Paul states that the atoning work of Christ is received by faith. In other words, no faith, no atonement.

Yet according to Piper, and Calvinism, faith is a result of the atoning work of Christ.

So, according to Piper, and Calvinism, Jesus applies the atoning work of the cross (at least partially) to a select few rebellious unbelievers so that they can (and will) believe and then have their (remaining) sins atoned for.

Wait….what?!?

Of course this also begs the question….

If the sin of unbelief was purchased at the cross (which was at a moment in time) just how did thousands, perhaps millions, believe prior to the cross? Abraham’s bosom, or paradise, was already full of believing souls.

Here’s the underlying problem with Calvinism, as I see it.

In the battle of God versus Satan, exactly who benefits the most if I can convince Christians that it was never God’s intention to save the vast majority of mankind? Who “wins” if I can convince Christians that Jesus didn’t “taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9)?

God bless.

rhutchin

Phillip writes, “Yet according to Piper, and Calvinism, faith is a result of the atoning work of Christ.”

Kinda yes, but kinda no. Following the TULIP scheme-

1. Unconditional election: God chooses whom He will save. (God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4))
2. Limited Atonement: Christ offers Himself as a sacrifice for God’s elect. (Christ gave himself a ransom for both Jew and gentile, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2:6))
3. Irresistible grace: The Holy Spirit quickens the elect and energizes their faith whereupon they repent and believe. (God quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)…For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2))

So, faith is not so much the direct result of of the atoning work of Christ as the atoning work signals to the Holy Spirit that He is to begin His work to bring God’s elect to salvation. Piper, and Calvinism, say that the atoning work of Christ purchased the salvation of God’s elect, and that also included the means by which God’s elect would be brought to salvation.

Robert

Dr. Allen is totally right when he writes:

“He buys into the Council of Dort’s notion, later developed by John Owen, that faith is something purchased by the atonement for the elect. Nowhere in Scripture is faith said to be purchased for the elect at the cross.”

And

“Piper cannot demonstrate anywhere from Scripture the notion that faith is something “purchased” for the elect at the cross. Such language finds no support in the NT.”

Fact is, this notion and claim that our faith was purchased on the cross is a man made Calvinistic invention.

This is easy to demonstrate as there are *******no New Testament texts******* that state this nonsense.

It is amazing that Calvinists like John Owen in the past and John Piper today can with a straight face suggest this notion: completely absent any NT texts presenting the notion!

If I just invented doctrine and then presented it, most Bible believing people would reject it if it had no basis in any biblical text. And yet this false Calvinistic notion that faith was purchased at the cross, is not only accepted by otherwise Bible believing folks, it has been argued for by Calvinists for hundreds of years! This is amazing.

Dr. Allen’s point (i.e. that there are in fact no NT texts presenting the notion that our faith was purchased in the atonement of Christ) needs to be taken seriously by people who claim they follow the teachings of the Bible not the teachings and traditions of men.

Phillip also made a very good point when he wrote:

“Here’s the underlying problem with Calvinism, as I see it.
In the battle of God versus Satan, exactly who benefits the most if I can convince Christians that it was never God’s intention to save the vast majority of mankind? Who “wins” if I can convince Christians that Jesus didn’t “taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9)?”

That is just it, the Bible clearly teaches that God loves the world (not just the elect, not just those who eventually become believers) and that Jesus died for the whole world (cf. 1 John 2:2, etc. etc.). So God has in fact revealed his intention, that he desires to save the world through the atonement of Christ.

Normally Christians who believe the Bible take God’s Word for things, but not in this case, due to a false system of theology, Calvinists are forced by their system (if consistent with it) to deny God’s stated intention. So Phillip’s observation brings this out very well: exactly who benefits the most if Christians are convinced that it was never God’s intention to save mankind? And who has been questioning God’s Word from the beginning? Who has ignored God’s explicitly stated words and substituted “Did God really say?”

I think this is one of the reasons that the false Calvinistic doctrine of “limited atonement” is so emotional and hotly contested. We have intelligent folks because of their commitment to a theological system rejecting what God has clearly said.

Reinterpreting what God has said.

Substituting the traditions and inventions of men (e.g. the notion that the atonement purchases our faith) for the clear Word of God. People who know their Bibles see this Calvinistic doctrine and reject it because the Bible contradicts it and it is not found in the Bible.

Ask me to “prove the Trinity” and I can point to verses that declare the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to be God, and verses that declare there is only one God (hence we conclude that the one true God exists in three persons, i.e. the trinity doctrine).

Ask a Calvinist to “prove that our faith was purchased in the atonement of Christ” and they cannot point to verses, all they can do is present their pidly and false arguments for this concept that they want to believe (a concept not revealed in scripture or presented by scripture anywhere). And that is a major problem, when it comes to limited atonement, irresistible grace or this notion that our faith was purchased in the atonement of Christ, Calvinists cannot point to verses that teach it, instead they are reduced to developing arguments for it. But we don’t want arguments for man invented doctrines we want scriptural proof.

Robert

    Jon

    “Ask a Calvinist to ‘prove that our faith was purchased in the atonement of Christ’ and they cannot point to verses, all they can do is present their pidly and false arguments for this concept that they want to believe (a concept not revealed in scripture or presented by scripture anywhere).”

    1) Is pidly a word?
    2) A Calvinist would say that Christ purchased redemption/salvation on the cross for His covenant people, and bestowed on them all of the things promised in the New Covenant, including faith and repentance (i.e. Deu 30:6; Eze 11:19-20; 36:26-27; Joh 3:27; Phi 1:29; 2Pe 1:1; Act 16:14; 18:27; Eph 2:8-10; Act 5:31; 11:18; 2Ti 2:25-26; 1Co 4:7). Calvinism is a bit more full-orbed and thorough than simple proof texting, which I think is what you are asking for. Systematic theology is the art of discerning the full testimony of Scripture (context, themes, flow, hermeneutic, audience, etc. etc.), rather than a piecemeal adherence to random verses that prop up your traditionalism.

      Robert

      Jon did not like that I said of Calvinist arguments (i.e. “Ask a Calvinist to ‘prove that our faith was purchased in the atonement of Christ’ and they cannot point to verses, all they can do is present their pidly and false arguments for this concept that they want to believe (a concept not revealed in scripture or presented by scripture anywhere).”)

      So he asked:

      “1) Is pidly a word?”

      Actually “pidly” (one “d”) is not a word, but piddly (two “d’s”) is a word, sorry that I missed the second “d”. Here is the entry from the Webster’s dictionary for “piddly”:
      [[Definition of PIDDLY
      : TRIVIAL, PIDDLING
      Examples of PIDDLY
      1. I don’t want to argue about piddly details.
      2.
      First Known Use of PIDDLY
      1946]]

      So yes Jon, piddly is a word!

      If you want it put another way I was saying that rather than actual biblical texts for certain concepts (i.e. purchasing faith at the cross, irresistible grace, limited atonement): the Calvinist presents these “trivial, weak, arguments” for their invented concepts.

      Jon went on to write:

      “2) A Calvinist would say that Christ purchased redemption/salvation on the cross for His covenant people, and bestowed on them all of the things promised in the New Covenant, including faith and repentance”

      Absolutely, that is what THEY say, it is not revealed or presented in the Bible anywhere. Show me one verse that states that: the atonement of Christ bought faith (note none of the verses that Jon cited say this). It is not there anywhere.

      Again all you guys can come up with is arguments not actual Bible verses for these concepts. If you had actual bible verses than we would all believe it, but you don’t. So you resort to “piddly” arguments. Calvinists are always presenting their arguments for their points, because they don’t have the actual Bible verses. Take irresistible grace as another example. There is no Bible verse that speaks of this. In fact the Bible says the opposite that people can and do resist God and His grace.

      Jon also wrote:

      “Calvinism is a bit more full-orbed and thorough than simple proof texting, which I think is what you are asking for.”

      Actually it **is** based on proof texting, if I take away Romans 9 from you (by interpreting it correctly in its first century context rather than reading in unconditional election) you have virtually no case. There are only a few others as well (Ephesians 1, John 6, Acts 13:48). That is why you will see Calvinists run so often and cite a verse from Romans 9.

      It is **even worse** when it comes to the Old Testament as you will find no verses for unconditional election (watch Calvinists try to prove unconditional election they will cite primarily from Romans 9, but they have no verses in the OT), limited atonement (the atonements spoken of in the OT were for all never only for those who believed), there are not passages in the OT teaching irresistible grace (and Israel is an example of people who repeatedly kept receiving the favor/grace of God and kept resisting it to the point they often face harsh discipline like exile).

      Lastly Jon writes:

      “Systematic theology is the art of discerning the full testimony of Scripture (context, themes, flow, hermeneutic, audience, etc. etc.), rather than a piecemeal adherence to random verses that prop up your traditionalism.”

      Right, I am very aware of Systematic theology as my degrees in seminary are in Systematic theology: and that is precisely why I reject Calvinism, it is based upon a few proof texts (again take away Romans 9 and the whole man made edifice collapses) and the Old Testament does not present it at all. I want “the full testimony of Scripture” on an issue, I want to know what both testaments say about an issue, what various books say about an issue. When you really compare scripture with scripture Calvinism fails.

      The OT does however present non-Calvinistic concepts that Traditionalists hold such as people can and do resist God and His grace. The atonement was for all of Israel though not all of Israel were believers (e.g. Yom Kippur, was for all of Israel not just those who believed). People in the OT were saved through faith, not saved through being regenerated first. I can (and suggest that everybody does likewise) use the entire Bible to support Traditionalism, unlike the Calvinist I do not have to resort to just a few proof texts from just a few texts in the New Testament.

      Robert

        Jon

        The only point I’d like to make is that you say:

        “Absolutely, that is what THEY say, it is not revealed or presented in the Bible anywhere.”

        Well, it kinda is…

        “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” -Luke 22:20

        “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…” -Heb 12:24

        “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” -Heb 8:8ff

        This is why I cited the verses I did, because they speak of God’s action to circumcise the hearts of His “covenant” people; the death of Jesus is what enacts that New Covenant. I did not cite those verses as prooftexts—you just continue to think of them in that way—what I am trying to convey is that you need to think about those verses with a bit more study, and much less invective.

          Robert

          Jon you *****totally***** prove my point with you most recent post.

          My point was very simple: Calvinists SAY that the Bible teaches that the atonement of Christ purchased faith. That is what they SAY. That is what THEY claim. Yet when you actually look at the verses they cite for this man-made-invented doctrine, there is nothing in any of the verses that says anything about faith being purchased by the atonement of Christ. They just read it into the verses and viola like a bad magic trick, poof there it is!

          But the fact is it is not there.

          Look at Jon’s supposed proofs, look at the verses he cites.

          “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” -Luke 22:20”

          Hmm, a reference to the new covenant. But no reference in the text to the purchasing of anything. No word for purchase, no synonym for “purchase”, like “buy”. Nothing.

          It’s the baseball playoffs so that is strike one for Jon.

          “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…” -Heb 12:24”

          Hmm, a reference to Jesus as Mediator of the new covenant. But no reference in the text to the purchasing of anything. No word for purchase, no synonym for “purchase” like “buy”. Nothing.

          That is strike two for Jon.

          “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” -Heb 8:8ff”

          Hmm, yet another reference to the new covenant. But no reference in any of these words to our faith being purchased. No word for purchase or buy, no synonyms for these words. In fact the word faith is not even present anywhere in this text.

          That is strike three for John.

          John is out in his attempt to support his false doctrine that the atonement purchased our faith. It is not there. John took three swings, his swings were not even close, he is out, his attempt has failed, the runners are stranded on base!

          How can you claim that the atonement purchases our faith and use this as your proof or evidence when the word faith is not even present in these verses???

          “This is why I cited the verses I did, because they speak of God’s action to circumcise the hearts of His “covenant”
          people; the death of Jesus is what enacts that New Covenant”

          We all agree that Jesus’ death is the basis of the new covenant. What we disagree on is that there is ANY scripture that says that the atonement purchased our faith. It is not there, it is completely absent. This is completely invented and made up by people like Jon, John Owen and John Piper.

          By the way Jon did you even notice that Michael White a five point Calvinist in his post in this thread repeatedly denied your claim??

          Does it even bother you that other Calvinists deny your claim?

          Worse yet, does it even bother you that your concept is nowhere stated in the Bible?

          “ I did not cite those verses as prooftexts—you just continue to think of them in that way—what I am trying to convey is that you need to think about those verses with a bit more study, and much less invective.”

          More study huh, let’s to the Greek and Hebrew then. We still will find absolutely no evidence for your claim.

          I did not present in or engage in any “invective”: I called you out, I said show me from the scripture and you cannot because it is not there. My claiming it is not there is not invective it is fact.

          Robert

rhutchin

Robert writes, “Ask a Calvinist to “prove that our faith was purchased in the atonement of Christ” and they cannot point to verses…”

Actually, John Owen points to a series of verses to make the point. The question now seems to be, Why is this even an issue?

    Andrew Barker

    Please point to one verse which you say John Owen uses to make the point regarding faith being purchased in the atonement of Christ.

    For my part, I will use Rom 10:17 which says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. From which I would argue that when the gospel is preached, people hear the word of God and the Holy Spirit then convicts them of sin and they respond accordingly by either accepting or rejecting the message. In the same chapter we have the word of faith being something which is readily accessible by confessing with the mouth and believing in the heart. Rom 10: 8-10

    That’s how I see faith operating. I see nothing regarding this faith being purchased for us.

      rhutchin

      As Owen argues, in part, “Matt. 1. 21, where the angel declares the end of Christ’s coming in the flesh, and consequently of all his sufferings therein, is to the same purpose. [Christ] was to “save his people from their sins.” Whatsoever is required for a complete and perfect saving of his peculiar people from their sins was intended by his coming. To say that he did but in part or in some regard effect the work of salvation, is of ill report to Christian ears.”

      When Owen says, “Whatsoever is required for a complete and perfect saving of his peculiar people from their sins was intended by his coming,” he intends Christ’s death as being necessary to procure the salvation of “His people,” with the means of the salvation of His people – faith – being included. Thus, when Christ died, He procured all the means necessary to make the salvation of His people certain.

      When you say, ” I see nothing regarding this faith being purchased for us,” do you mean that Christ did not actually come to save His people or that somehow, Christ was negligent in providing all that was necessary to save His people (casting doubt on His intent to actually save His people contrary to what is said in Matthew 1)?

      So, when you say concerning Romans 10:17, “I would argue that when the gospel is preached, people hear the word of God and the Holy Spirit then convicts them of sin and they respond accordingly by either accepting or rejecting the message,” what exactly is your argument? How do you argue that the convicting action of the Holy Spirit could be rejected (unless only that the Holy Spirit never intended its being accepted)?

Jon

“Additionally, most non-Calvinists believe it is not necessarily wise to talk about degrees in God’s love, especially when the analogies given come from human life and love. Perhaps God’s love should not be measured by degrees of love as found among humans since God’s love is perfect and ours is not.”

The analogies may come from human life and love, but the doctrine does not. Helping the understanding through analogy is not improper (besides most non-Calvinists like to equate an electing God to a capricious tyrant, so it goes both ways) if it is biblical…

“Jacob I love, Esau I hated…” Even if you want to turn this into nations, its a differentiation in His “degree” of love…

    Andrew Barker

    ” Calvinism is a bit more full-orbed and thorough than simple proof texting, which I think is what you are asking for. Systematic theology is the art of discerning the full testimony of Scripture (context, themes, flow, hermeneutic, audience, etc. etc.), rather than a piecemeal adherence to random verses that prop up your traditionalism.”

    I would suggest it is also about quoting scripture correctly when you’re going to do this? Malachi 1 should read in the past tense.

    In addition, I am not aware of any leading non-Calvinist who describes God as a capricious tyrant because of election. I think what you’re doing is confusing their view of how Calvinism depicts God rather than what they actually believe regarding election.

      Jon

      Shall I name them? I’m 100% sure I can find people on this site who have at least alluded to God in that way.

      What does Malachi 1 in the past tense have to do with what I was saying? Could you explain.

      Jon

      And just to save you the time of asking me for those names:

      “I couldn’t be a Calvinist because they don’t believe in the love of God…” –Ergun Caner

      “It is rather perplexing to see how a Calvinist can sign the BF&M because it says of God, ‘He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.’ Since Calvinism teaches that God actively elected to withhold salvation from most of the lost people of the world, it seems fair to ask in what way is that fatherly….This [God’s elective grace] indisputable transmogrifies the affectionate and endearing word ‘fatherly’ into something that is horrifyingly deadful.” –Ronnie Rogers (Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist, 6,13,&36 [all the same])

      The Rogers quote is definitely an analogy to “fatherliness,” it imposes a meaning onto the word, and is essentially calling God a…….capricious tyrant……

      “God is not an arbitrary despot who does what he wishes without regard for anyone or anything…God’s sovereignty does not reduce humans to helpless automatons.” –Robert H. Mounce

      I think anyone who has spent any time around the debate has seen the “capricious tyrant” analogy thrown around a couple dozen times. Even if no “leading non-Calvinist” did (which they do), it wouldn’t change what I said, which was: “most non-Calvinists like to equate an electing God to a capricious tyrant…”

        Andrew Barker

        Jon: You make my point for me.

        Ergun Caner’s point does need some expanding, but essentially he is saying nothing more than Arthur Pink, who states quite clearly that God does not love everybody! Shock horror!
        Ronnie Rogers quote is a prime example of what I said you were doing. Rogers does not think God is at all capricious, but he surely does think Calvinism’s take on God makes God capricious!
        Robert H. Mounce: is not known to me but he states God is not an arbitrary despot. You have a problem with that?

        So yes, God is not a capricious tyrant but from a non-Calvinist’s viewpoint, Calvinism does make him out to be one.

        And just why does it matter if you misquote scripture. Well precisely because you could draw the wrong conclusions if you do this. 1 John 4 tells us that God is love and sent his son to be the saviour of the world thereby demonstrating that he loves everybody, despite what Arthur Pink says. When we come to Malachi 1 we see that God says he has loved Jacob, but has hated Esau. Now unless you want to explain just why Esau was the only man on planet earth unlucky enough to be hated by God, these verses do not mean simply that God hated Esau as a person from birth. Or perhaps that is what you believe? I guess in my mind that would make your God a rather capricious tyrant!

phillip

Rhutchin writes…. “So, faith is not so much the direct result of the atoning work of Christ as the atoning work signals to the Holy Spirit that He is to begin His work to bring God’s elect to salvation.”

Once, again, Calvinism teaches (and rhutchin embraces) that it is only a select few rebellious UNBELIEVERS that receive an atoning benefit, at least partially, which signals to the Holy Spirit to begin the process of salvation. Namely, bringing the sinner to faith.

And yet in Acts 10:43, Luke writes by inspiration of the Holy Spirit….
“To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission (forgiveness) of sins.”

But, again, according to Calvinism (and Piper) Christ must first atone for the sin of unbelief so the sinner can come to faith and have his sins atoned for.

Go figure.

Michael White

Brothers Jon, Phillip, Robert, Rhutchin, and Dr. Allen,

First off, I am a 5 point C.

Faith is not a gift that can be purchased. Faith is like love or hope. Can one purchase love? Can one buy hope?
But can one give hope? Can one give love? Can one give faith?
Yes, yes, and yes.
So faith is a gift but not one that can be purchased.

Let us then look at the situation the unbeliever is in. What does the Word of God say?
It says that there is an enmity between them and God. Unbelievers do not love God, or trust God. The Word says that they are the enemies of God. [Rom. 5]

Ephesians 2 tells us that: And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
This means that unbelievers are selfish sin lovers. They do not desire holiness.

Romans 8 tells us: For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Not only do unbelievers love their sinful ways, they hate the Law of God.

Romans 1 tells us: For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
This tells us that unbelievers are foolish and without spiritual wisdom, believing the lie instead of the truth of God. They know NOT God.

Ephesians 4 tells us: So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
This builds on Romans 1 and tells us that unbelievers are ignorant [they believed the lie and exchanged truth for lies].

Finally [for this post] 2nd Corinthians 4 tells us: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
The Word tells us that unbelievers are blind to the Gospel.

Thus we see the state of the unbeliever. Even the very remedy, the Gospel, for their dire need, their condemnation, is beyond them. They walk only by the sight of the world. They have no spiritual sight. They can not spiritually see the only truth that can save them. And there is only One who can save them from this deserved state. Only One.

Faith then is NOT the means by which a person grasps the promises of God, as if a person in an unbelieving state could even grasp. God doesn’t BUY faith and then give it to certain people so that they can rightfully claim the salvation bought for them. Oh no. Not at all.

Faith isn’t a substance that God can hand over to a person. [Can we hand over love?]
Faith is a gift because it comes about by God stooping down to an unbeliever and making Himself real by showing His glory in the truth of the cross.
2nd Cor. 4 continues: For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

And not only does God shine His glory into the heart, He also proves His love, as Romans 5tells us: For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
Now this word, “demonstrates”, means to prove. Think of going to a department store or a Walmart where someone is demonstrating how wonderful his knives are. He is proving to to those watching just how fast and clean and efficient these knives can cut, even materials one might think couldn’t be cut.

When God shines His glory and proves His love, He is confirming the Gospel in the heart of the unbeliever. He opens the eyes of the blind heart, He gives wisdom to the foolish mind, and the humility of the cross brings the sinner to humble himself before the Lord and God. For in the cross, he now sees his own terrible sin and state, but he also sees the love and mercy of God. Faith is born. His heart is filled with joy. He desires God. He willfully cries out to His Lord, Jesus, and is saved.

So while Owen [and Piper?] might think faith needs to be purchased or free will reigns, they just miss the mark. Free will does reign. For no man desires God against his will. And no man, while still loving sin and self, desires God. So both hear the Gospel, and both respond freely. 1st Corinthians 1 tells us how each respond:
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Those who are perishing, who are blind to the Gospel, turn it down, thinking it foolishness. Those being saved, embrace it, knowing it as the power of God unto salvation.

peace.

    Robert

    Hello Michael,

    “First off, I am a 5 point C.”

    Ok thanks for letting us know where you are coming from.

    Nice to see that you (contrary to rhutchin and Jon) reject Owen’s argument that faith is purchased in the atonement of Christ:

    “Faith is not a gift that can be purchased. Faith is like love or hope. Can one purchase love? Can one buy hope?”

    You rightly see that Owen made a major mistake in treating faith as a commodity, a thing, rather than a personal choice that a person makes to trust God.

    Michael you then write:

    “Let us then look at the situation the unbeliever is in. What does the Word of God say?”

    You present standard Bible texts on “depravity” and I agree with you, left to themselves, the sinner is lost, hopeless, does not understand spiritual things, etc. etc. The issue is not depravity as those who are biblical will agree about the nonbeliever’s condition.

    What is completely left out of your presentation though, and this is crucial to non-Calvinists like me. Is that there is something that occurs between the sinners’s hopeless and lost condition and them being believers. That something, which I have emphasized repeatedly is the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit.

    Yes, the nonbeliever cannot understand spiritual things: until the Spirit works in them doing His preconversion work. Yes, the nonbeliever will not believe in Jesus: until the Spirit works in them doing His preconversion work. It is the Spirit who helps the unbeliever understand scripture (so that they understand gospel preaching and witnessing about Jesus). It is the Spirit who reveals their condition to them (that they are lost, they cannot save themselves, they have sinned, that sin has to be dealt with or they will be forever lost, their only hope is to trust in Christ for salvation, etc. etc.). It is the Spirit who reveals the identity of Jesus to a person. All these things the Spirit does BEFORE a person is saved enables but does not necessitate them having a faith response to the gospel.

    The disagreement is not about the need for the Spirit’s preconversion work nor about the reality of that work (all of us who are saved can attest to having experienced this work of the Spirit in us before we were saved).

    No, the disagreement is about whether or not this work of the Spirit can be resisted.

    The Calvinists says No, that if a person does experience this work of the Spirit the person will inevitably be saved (hence the doctrine of irresistible grace). The non-Calvinist, the Traditionalist says Yes, that a person can experience the preconversion work of the Spirit and still keep resisting, keep saying No, remain an unbeliever.

    Now I do a lot of evangelism so I have seen the Spirit work in people leading them to eventually becoming believers: sadly, I have also seen people who experienced the Spirit’s work and are not believers and may never become believers. This is the real area of disagreement, not on depravity, but on the preconversion work of the Spirit. Because the preconversion work of the Spirit overcomes everything that you present here Michael. He is God and perfectly capable of giving people understanding of scripture, convicting them of their sin and showing them their condition as nonbelievers, revealing Christ and His being the only way of salvation, revealing that they must trust Jesus not their own works or efforts to save them.

    And consider the conclusions you presented after citing the verses on depravity (I will quote your conclusion and then compare that with the preconversion work of the Spirit):

    “This means that unbelievers are selfish sin lovers. They do not desire holiness.”

    Right no one desires holiness until the Spirit reveals their sinful condition and how they may escape it through placing their faith in Christ.

    “Not only do unbelievers love their sinful ways, they hate the Law of God.”

    Right they hate the law of God and the Spirit reveals how they have broken the law of God and how they must repent from their violations of God’s law. A friend of mine Ray Comfort is very strong in this when evangelizing using the law to help them see their sinful condition.

    “This tells us that unbelievers are foolish and without spiritual wisdom, believing the lie instead of the truth of God. They know NOT God.”

    They don’t know God which is why the Spirit has to reveal to them what God has done in Christ. They are foolish and ignorant of spiritual things until the Spirit starts revealing things to them.

    “This builds on Romans 1 and tells us that unbelievers are ignorant [they believed the lie and exchanged truth for lies].”

    Actually Romans 1 does not reveal that they are ignorant, it reveals that God has revealed Himself to them, and yet they willfully reject that revelation and are idolaters. The problem of the people described in Romans 1 is not that they had not light from God and so were ignorant. No, the problem was that they rejected what they knew about God and what they knew about God was given to them by God (according to the text see verse 19 “because that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them”). Sure sounds like they rejected the preconversion work of the Spirit here (which if true is a clear passage contradicting the false Calvinistic doctrine of irresistible grace).

    “The Word tells us that unbelievers are blind to the Gospel.”

    Right blind to it until the Spirit works in them. I used to avoid people in malls who were witnessing because I was blind. But then the Spirit began to reveal things to me and the gospel was no longer a joke but the only way to be saved.

    “Thus we see the state of the unbeliever. Even the very remedy, the Gospel, for their dire need, their condemnation, is beyond them. They walk only by the sight of the world. They have no spiritual sight. They can not spiritually see the only truth that can save them. And there is only One who can save them from this deserved state. Only One.”

    The remedy is beyond them UNTIL the Spirit works in them. It does not remain beyond them when the Spirit works or none of us would ever be saved!

    “When God shines His glory and proves His love, He is confirming the Gospel in the heart of the unbeliever. He opens the eyes of the blind heart, He gives wisdom to the foolish mind, and the humility of the cross brings the sinner to humble himself before the Lord and God.”

    And who exactly does this? It is the Holy Spirit and it is His preconversion work that accomplishes what you speak of here. The Spirit is the one who overcomes our depravity by His preconversion work.

    So I agree with what scripture says about the condition of the nonbeliever. I just put my hope in the preconversion work of the Spirit. Since I know this work is real and since I know it can open the hardest hearts, I can be confident when I preach or witness. My confidence not being in myself but in the awesome and wonderful preconversion work of the Holy Spirit.

    Robert

      Michael White

      Robert,
      Thanks for your reply.
      It seems like this “pre-conversion” work of the Holy Spirit figures big in how you understand things.
      If you don’t mind, and before I engage in the points you made in rebuttal, could you lay out the Scriptures that teach us of God’s pre-conversion work in unbelievers who never believe?
      Thanks, and God bless,
      mike

        Robert

        Michael,

        “It seems like this “pre-conversion” work of the Holy Spirit figures big in how you understand things.”

        Yes it does, again I do a lot of evangelism and have been blessed to have seen many come to the Lord (and also many who did not come to the Lord, though they have clearly experienced the preconversion work of the Spirit).

        My confidence is not in my own persuasive words or actions, but in the Spirit who opens the hardest hearts, who reveals what needs to be revealed for a person to become a Christian. Perhaps your experience is different than mine but I have noted that others who faithfully evangelize share this same confidence. Those who do not trust the Spirit to do this are those who must resort to worldly methods and schemes to get nonbelievers interested in the gospel.

        “If you don’t mind, and before I engage in the points you made in rebuttal, could you lay out the Scriptures that teach us of God’s pre-conversion work in unbelievers who never believe?”

        I did not rebut your claims concerning depravity: depravity is a biblical concept that we also observe in reality when we evangelize. I just added something you left out: while you emphasized the lost spiritual condition of unbelievers, I wanted to emphasize that apart from the preconversion work of the Spirit this is correct. But once the Spirit works in the nonbeliever then amazing changes can occur. People who never understood the Bible start understanding the Bible. People who never went to a church service start attending. People who mocked and ridiculed the Bible start reading it with interest. The hardest hearts begin to open to spiritual things. And all of this is occurring before they are saved individuals. We could look at our own testimonies and see this reality as well. This is one of the reasons that I encourage people to share their testimonies of how they came to faith in Christ (it is both edifying for believers and also is useful for nonbelievers to hear as well).

        Actually I am not going to start presenting verses if we cannot at least agree to the reality of this preconversion work of the Spirit. If you cannot agree that it is the Holy Spirit who reveals things to nonbelievers (including their sinful condition, their destiny if they do not repent, that their works cannot save them, Bible passages, sermons, the witnessing of Christians to them, that Jesus is God, that Jesus is the way of salvation, that a person must repent and believe in order to be saved, etc. etc. etc.) and this work of the Spirit is necessary in order for a person to come to Christ: then there really is no point in going further.

        If a Calvinist cannot agree as to the reality of this preconversion work of the Spirit then there really is no basis for any further discussion of evangelism or soteriology. This is also basic Christianity 101, it is not rocket science nor does it require degrees in theology in order to understand.

        Lastly, true believers know exactly what I am talking about as theyhave experienced this preconversion work of the Spirit themselves.

        Robert

          Michael White

          Robert,
          I see. So unless i simply accept your position that the Holy Spirit does pre conversion work on those who never will believe, you see no need to show me the Scriptures that actually teach us that the Holy Spirit does pre conversion on unbelievers who never will believe.
          Certainly a pastor or a teacher would use the Word of God to teach his people of this important happening in the salvation process, would they not? How did you learn? Maybe you can point me to a teacher who is willing to share from the Word what he believes.

          But please excuse me of some skepticism here. You have a doctrine that figures big in how you understand things but yet you are unwilling to show its validity from the Word. I am real sorry to hear you take that position. What am i to think? Maybe you made it up? Maybe you didn’t? Maybe you listen to false teachers? Maybe you don’t?

          I am glad to hear you witness for the Lord. May His peace always be with you as you continue to serve Him.
          mike

            Robert

            I am disappointed in Michael White’s response here. It also represents why I do not respect some five point calvinists like this one. The preconversion work of the Holy Spirit is what enables a sinner to trust in Jeus and place their faith in Him for salvation. Those of us who are saved have all experienced this preconversion work of the Spirit. The disagreement among faithful Bible teachers is not regarding the reality of this preconversion work of the Spirit (all good and faithful Bible teachers believe in it, those who are faithful evangelists base their confidence in evangelism in it). No, the disagreement is whether some of those who experience this work of the Spirit will never be saved (with noncalvinists believing that this sometimes happens and calvinists believing it usually does not happen, though even Calvin himself believed that sometimes those who never believe experience it). But to reject this preconversion work of the Spirit due to holding to calvinism is unconscionable and sad. One of my first mentors was a five point calvinist and he taught me and modellelld for me in his evangelism confidence in this preconversion work of the Spirit. Now we disagree about whether this occurs with those who never end up believing but we never ever disagreed as to the reality of this work of the Spirit. And yet now I have a five point calvinist disagreeing that this preconversion work of the Spiirit is reveal and even implying that I may have received this teaching from a false teacher. I assure you that my early mentor was no false teacher. Jesus said of those whose minds were made up against the truth that it was like casting pearls before swine (i.e. they do not appreciate the truth because they reject it so when you present it they will just turn on you in anger). Jesus said not to waste time with such a person. I will not cast pearls before Michael Smith when he cannot even agree with the reality that apart from the preconversion work of the Spirit no one would be saved. Michael also implies that a faithful pastor would teach his people scripture on this. In fact I do with the people that I train to evangelize. I just won’t waste my time doing so with Michael White.

            Robert

              Michael White

              Robert,
              I chose my words carefully. I never said that the Holy Spirit does not work in an unbeliever to bring him or her to salvation. Nope,i never said that. So again, i am wondering what you are reading.
              Every time i spoke of it, I asked you to show me the Scriptures that shows the pre conversion work in unbelievers who never do believe. That you have refused to do.
              Since you refuse to use the Scriptures to back up your claims, and you refuse to point me to a teacher of those claims and you continue to misread what I am saying, then I must assume that you really do not want an open honest discussion.
              So to you, good day and goodbye.
              mike

                Robert

                I was going to leave this alone until I saw Michael White’s latest reply. Replay the tape here. He wrote a lengthy post in which he presented some verses on the condition of nonbelievers (i.e depravity). I responded that he was correct about the spiritual condition of nonbelievers but that he had left out the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit. This work of the Spirit is necessary for a person to come to faith in Christ. Now I know that calvinists and non-Calvinists disagree that this preconversion work of the Spirit may also be experienced by those who never end up becoming believers and I said as much (“The disagreement among faithful Bible teachers is not regarding the reality of this preconversion work of the Spirit (all good and faithful Bible teachers believe in it, those who are faithful evangelists base their confidence in evangelism in it). No, the disagreement is whether some of those who experience this work of the Spirit will never be saved (with noncalvinists believing that this sometimes happens and calvinists believing it usually does not happen, though even Calvin himself believed that sometimes those who never believe experience it).”

                I asked Michael White if he agreed as to the reality of this preconversion work of the Spirit, and said that I would not present scripture for it, that we should be able to agree on this reality. He would not agree to it and yet in his latest post he writes:

                “I never said that the Holy Spirit does not work in an unbeliever to bring him or her to salvation. Nope,i never said that.”

                Well there it is, that is all that I was asking for, that he agreed to use his words now that “the Holy Spirit does work in an unbeliever to bring him or her to salvation” (he says he never denied this so I take this to be equivalent to him believing that the Spirit does work in an unbeliever to bring him or her to salvation. Now he may not believe that those who remain unbelievers ever experience this work of the Spirit, but that was not what I was asking him to agree to. I was only asking if this preconversion work of the Spirit is a reality. And he couldn’t simply agree to it, instead he had to imply that perhaps I got this from a false teacher or that it was not biblical and not supported by scripture. but it is biblical and calvinists and non-Calvinists should agree that the Spirit does in fact work in nonbelievers giving them understanding of scripture, convicting them of sin, showing them their lost spiritual condition, showing them the way of salvation through faith and not their works, etc. etc. etc. this is a reality that all of us who are believers have experienced, so it really makes me wonder why he couldn’t simply agree that it is a reality. He can add that he does not believe that those who never become believers do not experience it, but that was not what I was asking agreement on. I just wanted to see agreement on the reality of this preconversion work of the Spirit. My theory as to why he would not want to agree to this is because perhaps as sometimes happens with calvinists they use the same words as non-calvinists but with different meanings. I should also add that the preconversion work of the Spirit negates one of the calvinists most common arguments. They will argue that due to depravity the nonbeliever could never have a faith response to the gospel unless regenerated first (with the corollay that God only chooses to do this with those he unconditional elected to salvation). But the preconversion work of the Spirit refutes this argument because it shows that a person can have a faith response in the gospel without being regenerated first because the Spirit who is God enables him to have faith through this preconversion work of the Spirit. Again, there is disagreement about who can experience this preconversion work of the Spirit, with some saying only believers experience it and others saying even those who never end up believing may experience it, but that is another issue. My issue was could we get agreement that this preconversion work of the Spirit is real and necessary for a person to become a believer.

                Robert

                rhutchin

                Robert writes, ” This work of the Spirit is necessary for a person to come to faith in Christ.”

                This statement establishes the Calvinist position, Total Depravity = Total Inability, to be correct. Absent the work of the spirit, a person could not be saved; that person would take no action toward salvation – he is unable to anything to receive salvation without the work of the Holy Spirit to enable him to do so.

                  Robert

                  Contrary to what rhutfhin implies here, it is not a position exlusive to calvinism or only believed by Calvinists. All who are biblical in this area whether they be calvinists, classical Arminians, or Traditionalsits here at SBC today: hold to the necessity of the preconversion work of the Spirit in order for a person to come to faith in Christ. We cannot come to Christ on our own, we cannot understand scripture or know our sinfulness or the way of salvation through Christ, etc. etc. unless the Spirit reveals these things to us. The preconversion work of the Spirit is not a belief held exclusviely by calvinists. Traditionalists have affirmed this work of the Spirit here repeatedly and maintained that while this work of the Spirit enables a faith response it does not necessitate a faith response.

                  Robert

                    rhutchin

                    Robert writes, “All who are biblical in this area whether they be calvinists, classical Arminians, or Traditionalsits here at SBC today: hold to the necessity of the preconversion work of the Spirit in order for a person to come to faith in Christ.”

                    Exactly right. All affirm, or should, that the unsaved are Totally Depraved and not able to come to salvation apart from the work of God in their lives; Total Depravity = Total Inability.

                    Yet some still oppose this doctrine. Glad to see you on board on this, Robert.

    phillip

    Brother Michael,

    First let me say I appreciate your gentile demeanor. It’s refreshing.

    Let me also say for the record that I reject the TULIP completely. Every petal, which means I am neither Calvinist nor Arminian. However I want to clarify that I am not semi-pelagian.

    I reject this notion of “the pre-conversion work of the Holy Spirit” because it implies that the depraved nature of the sinner must first be addressed, or overcomed, before the sinner can come to saving faith.

    I see no biblical evidence, nor examples, to support that. The vast majority of contributors to this website reject total depravity/total inability and continually provide examples of depraved sinners responding favorably to God (Cornelius a prime example). One of the benefits of rejecting total depravity is not having to come up with some solution to address it. For the Calvinist, its “regeneration precedes faith”. For their Arminian offspring, it’s “being released from the bondage of sin”.

    Neither is biblical and neither side can provide a biblical example to support it.

    Look at Acts 13:7-12 (KJV)……

    “Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and DESIRED TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, WHEN HE SAW WHAT WAS DONE, BELIEVED, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.”

    Here is an actual biblical example of a lost, depraved sinner who “desired to hear the word of God”.

    Luke, under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, makes no mention of this sinner be “regenerated” or “released from the bondage of sin”, simply because neither is biblical. Luke, under inspiration, makes no mention of any “pre-conversion” work of the Holy Spirit on the depraved nature.

    And what caused him to believe? The divine miracle.

    I do believe in depravity because the bible teaches it. But I also see in scripture depraved sinners coming to saving faith (Cornelius, Lydia, and Sergius Paulus just to name a few).

    God bless.

      Michael White

      Phillip,
      Thanks for the kind words.
      I am a little confused about what you believe so aim writing in the hope that you might clarify.
      You said:
      ~~”I see no biblical evidence, nor examples, to support that. The vast majority of contributors to this website reject total depravity/total inability and continually provide examples of depraved sinners responding favorably to God (Cornelius a prime example). One of the benefits of rejecting total depravity is not having to come up with some solution to address it. For the Calvinist, its “regeneration precedes faith”. For their Arminian offspring, it’s “being released from the bondage of sin”.”~~

      From this it seems that you reject sinners as depraved.

      But as i read on, you seemed to mitigate against my first take, and you finished with this:
      ~~~”I do believe in depravity because the bible teaches it. But I also see in scripture depraved sinners coming to saving faith (Cornelius, Lydia, and Sergius Paulus just to name a few).”~~~

      So what is your stand on depravity and how does it differ than total depravity?

        phillip

        Brother Michael,

        As I read the scriptures I understand depravity to mean that man cannot earn salvation.

        Romans 3:20 (KJV)….
        “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

        Galatians 2:16 (KJV)….
        “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

        I am not a sinner because I sin. I sin because I am a sinner.

        Now before you start thinking “Pelagianism or Semi-pelagianism” let me clearly state that unless a sinner hears the word of God he cannot come to saving faith.

        Ephesians 2:8 (KJV)….
        “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

        I believe all of salvation is a gift, including faith. But how does faith come about? Paul tells us….

        Romans 10:14, 17 (KJV)….
        “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed (they won’t)? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard (they can’t)? and how shall they hear without a preacher (they can’t)?….. So then faith cometh (how?) by hearing, and hearing by (what?) the word of God.”

        With the hearing of the divine word comes the divine enablement. However, this has nothing to do with overcoming, or addressing, the sinner’s depravity. The Bible is full of examples of depraved sinners coming to saving faith. Sergius Paulus is just one example.

        Now look at the case of Lydia…

        Acts 16:4 (KJV)….
        “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”

        Now I’ve heard both Calvinist, and their Arminian offspring, twist this opening of the heart to refer to regeneration or being released from the bondage of sin. However, neither works simply because Lydia was already a worshipper of the One True God, which according to total depravity, is an impossibility.

        What we have here is the Lord opening her heart and planting the seed, or the word of God, which is done even to those who reject it (Luke 8:11-15).

        Look what we read in James 1:21 (NIV)….
        “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

        And I don’t think the scriptures ever define humility as being a gift.

        2 Timothy 3:15 (KJV)…
        “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are (what?) able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

        Notice Paul is clearly saying that the Holy Scriptures, the very word of God, is able to make me, you, or any other depraved sinner, wise regarding salvation, which is faith in Jesus Christ.

        I believe it because that is what the book says.

        Now you probably don’t (and won’t) agree with me in all this and that’s fine. Free will. People can believe whatever they want to believe.

        I apologize for the length of this post, but I wanted to be somewhat thorough and provide scriptural texts and supporting biblical examples.

        God bless.

          Robert

          Hello Phillip,

          I have enjoyed your comments and I want to provide a clarification for you. You said concerning “depravity” that:

          “As I read the scriptures I understand depravity to mean that man cannot earn salvation.”

          That is not the traditional definition of “depravity.” In historical usage the concept or term “depravity” has referred to the ***extent of sin’s corruption*** of human person’s. The Bible passages describing nonbelievers present them as not understanding spiritual things, in rebellion against God, etc. Theologians have used the term “depravity” to refer to the fact that sin and its effects has corrupted ***all aspects of human persons*** (body, mind, soul, will, everything). Some have added the word “total” to emphasize this corruption of sin has effected every aspect of human persons (hence it is a “total” versus a partial depravity: but actually you do not need the term “total” if you understand what depravity means). Catholics historically have also claimed that depravity is true but exempted the human will from the effects of sin (so for them while many aspects of the human person are corrupted by sin, this is not true of the will). One of the consequences of depravity is that we cannot come to faith in Christ on our own. We can only do so when enabled by the work of the Holy Spirit.

          Regarding not being able to earn salvation, this is true because God’s way of salvation is through faith (i.e. we trust Him to save us through the work of Jesus) not works. We have all sinned and so we need a covering for our sin. Atonement means “covering” and in the cross of Christ we find the covering for all of our sins. We also cannot earn salvation because God does not “grade on a curve” with those giving the best efforts making it while those with less than the best efforts not making it. No, God “grades” pass or fail. Either your righteousness if perfect (which is not true of anyone except for Jesus) or if you have committed even one sin you fail. God’s standard is perfection and so according to this standard we have all failed and so we cannot save ourselves but need forgiveness for our sins.

          “I am not a sinner because I sin. I sin because I am a sinner.”

          This is a true statement because one of the consequences of depravity is that we are all sinners.

          “Now before you start thinking “Pelagianism or Semi-pelagianism” let me clearly state that unless a sinner hears the word of God he cannot come to saving faith.”

          Pelagian refers to those who deny that sin has corrupted human nature in any way. So for a Pelagian we are born with a blank slate, we are born good and so if we choose to, we may never even sin. This is opposite the Bible which says we are born sinners, we are not basically good, and as you say we sin because we are sinners.

          “With the hearing of the divine word comes the divine enablement. However, this has nothing to do with overcoming, or addressing, the sinner’s depravity. The Bible is full of examples of depraved sinners coming to saving faith. Sergius Paulus is just one example.”

          Part of what you say here is true (i.e. that “depraved sinners coming to saving faith”). All of us in fact are “depraved sinners” and if we become believers then that is an example of a person suffering from depravity coming to faith. I also agree with you that the “divine enablement” comes through “the hearing of the divine word” (which is why preaching and witnessing is so important).

          I am not sure I would agree that “this has nothing to do with overcoming, or addressing, the sinner’s depravity”. It seems to me that the effects of sin, i.e. depravity, is that it leaves us in a sinful condition in which we rebel against God, don’t understand spiritual things, etc. etc. This condition is “overcome” by the preaching of the Word as the Holy Spirit then takes that Word to convict us of sin, show us our sinful condition, show us Jesus is the way of salvation, etc. I think what really helps when it comes to “depravity” is to think of it not as thing or power in the world (it is not): instead see it as referring to the EXTENT OF SIN. Sin affects every aspect of human persons, hence it is “total depravity.” Also do not think of it as meaning that we are as bad as we can be as nonbelievers. View it as talking about the extent of sin. That sin has affected our bodies, our minds, our wills, every part of us.

          “What we have here is the Lord opening her heart and planting the seed, or the word of God, which is done even to those who reject it (Luke 8:11-15).”

          Agreed the Spirit opens our hearts and uses the Word of God to do so.

          ‘2 Timothy 3:15 (KJV)…
          “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are (what?) able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
          Notice Paul is clearly saying that the Holy Scriptures, the very word of God, is able to make me, you, or any other depraved sinner, wise regarding salvation, which is faith in Jesus Christ.’”

          Right, the Spirit always works in conjunction with the Word to give people knowledge of salvation, knowledge of what they need to know to be saved.

          “I believe it because that is what the book says.”

          And you should believe it because the Bible says so. But not only does it say that we cannot save ourselves. Not only does it say that the Word of God is powerful and gives us knowledge of how to be saved. It also says the nonbeliever is affected in every aspect of their being by sin. All of these things are true, and they are all true because “that is what the book says.”

          “Now you probably don’t (and won’t) agree with me in all this and that’s fine. Free will. People can believe whatever they want to believe.”

          I agree with you on this as well: one of the clearest proofs of the reality of free will and people having and making their own choices is that they can believe so many things, so many strange things, so many false things. I do not believe that God ordains or predestines that people believe false things and strange things and foolish things. It is their choice to do so. Which is also why they are held responsible for making these wrong choices.

          “I apologize for the length of this post, but I wanted to be somewhat thorough and provide scriptural texts and supporting biblical examples.”

          I appreciate that you want to be Biblical and establish your points based on scripture. That is a fine and commendable quality.

          Robert

            phillip

            Brother Robert,

            You said….

            “It seems to me that the effects of sin, i.e. depravity, is that it leaves us in a sinful condition in which we rebel against God, don’t understand spiritual things, etc. etc. This condition is ‘overcome’ by the preaching of the Word as the Holy Spirit then takes that Word to convict us of sin, show us our sinful condition, show us Jesus is the way of salvation, etc.”

            If all of that statement is true, then how do you explain Sergius Paulus who “desired to hear the word of God”? (Acts 13:7)

            This “desire” was prior to hearing the word.

              Robert

              Phillip in my last post to you I was only seeking to give clarification as to the historical usage of the term “depravity”.

              Again all that it means is that sin has corrupted every aspect of human persons.

              Perhaps a better term might be “tainted”. Thus sin has tainted everyone, so everyone is corrupted by sin. But being tainted by sin does not mean we no longer have a mind or that we are no longer created in the image of God. A good analogy for depravity is **addiction**. Just as someone who is an addict suffers from the consequences of their drug use in every area of their lives: likewise as sinners sin has impacted every area of our lives. The addict is not a person without a mind nor are they completely incapacitated. But the drug usage affects every area of their life. And our “addiction” to sin has consequences in every area of our lives as well.

              You quoted me as saying:

              “It seems to me that the effects of sin, i.e. depravity, is that it leaves us in a sinful condition in which we rebel against God, don’t understand spiritual things, etc. etc. This condition is ‘overcome’ by the preaching of the Word as the Holy Spirit then takes that Word to convict us of sin, show us our sinful condition, show us Jesus is the way of salvation, etc.”

              To which you responded:

              “If all of that statement is true, then how do you explain Sergius Paulus who “desired to hear the word of God”? (Acts 13:7)
              This “desire” was prior to hearing the word.”

              I think that part of his “desire” to hear the Word was because of the effective proclaiming of the Word of God that was happening in the synagogues.

              Look at verse 4-5:

              “So being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. And when they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper.”

              So the Spirit led them to that area and then they “began to proclaim the word of God” (that has to be gospel preaching). Usually in the book of Acts when the word of God is preached to Jews there is always some sort of resulting controversy and even severe persecution of those doing the gospel preaching. It then says in v. 6-7:

              “And when they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a certain magician, Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, ([that is alerting us to the fact there was opposition], who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.”

              Note it says Paulus was a proconsul, that means he is in a leadership position in the government. It also says of him that he was “a man of intelligence”. It seems to me that if he was that smart and was a leader responsible for that area then he would know what political controversies were going on in his area. Good leaders usually do not want to be surprised by things so they have people around them who inform them of what is happening or what they need to be aware of.

              So you have Christians effectively evangelizing the synagogues in Paulus’ jurisdiction. He would have known about this through his informants. He being intelligent would probably want to know exactly what these Christians were preaching. So he would call for them to speak in his hearing so he could evaluate what this message was that was being told in all of the synagogues. It is also quite possible that Bar Jesus was also telling him things, probably negative things about the Christians and their message, so again being intelligent he wanted to hear from them himself. Lastly, the text does not tell us this but you can be sure that the Holy Spirit was involved in the preaching and also setting up Paulus to hear the message. We thus do not know exactly what his desire to hear them was based upon though we can guess from the details given by the text.

              What is really interesting is that after they come to speak to him the text emphasizes the work of the Spirit (v. 9 Paul was filled with the Spirit) and spoke boldly about Bar Jesus “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?”) and how the guy was blinded (again the Spirit working powerfully). After hearing the gospel message and seeing this miraculous activity then Paulus “believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.” So you see in his case there was gospel preaching, the power of the Spirit through the word and also the power of the spirit in blinding the false prophet. I should add that while the Spirit works powerfully through the word when leading someone to Jesus. He also is involved in sending those who preach the message, giving them the words to say, and even doing miracles to attest to the message. I think all of this supports the fact that in this narrative the preconversion work of the Spirit was overcoming the effects of sin/depravity in the heart of Paulus.

              Robert

                phillip

                Brother Robert,

                You are reading, and possibly adding, too much into the text.

                You said….

                “I think all of this supports the fact that in this narrative the preconversion work of the Spirit was overcoming the effects of sin/depravity in the heart of Paulus.”

                And, yet, Luke, under inspiration, fails to point this out? Luke is careful to point out that the apostle Paul was “filled with the Holy Ghost”, but completely neglects to tells us of this necessary “pre-conversion work of the Spirit”?

                The text plainly states that Sergius Paulus “desired to hear the word of God”, which according to total depravity/total inability is an impossibility. And Luke, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, makes no mention of any “pre-conversion” work by the Spirit. Regeneration or otherwise.

                God bless.

                  rhutchin

                  Phillip writes, “The text plainly states that Sergius Paulus “desired to hear the word of God”, which according to total depravity/total inability is an impossibility. ”

                  Not so. There can be an attraction of the gospel to those who are depraved and this apart from any action by the Holy Spirit. Those who come by such attraction would include those of Matthew 7:23, of whom Christ says, “I never knew you.”

                  The gospel can be attractive to reprobates for selfish purposes having nothing to do with their sin or salvation.

                  Robert

                  Hello again Phillip,

                  “You are reading, and possibly adding, too much into the text.”

                  Two things in response to this comment. You do know that when the biblical writers write things especially narratives, that they do not write every detail concerning an event? Luke picked what he wanted to emphasize, he never spelled out all the details of what occurred in any one event. Second, we are to compare scripture with scripture. Some passages will fill out what other passages are saying and vice versa.

                  You cited me as saying:

                  “I think all of this supports the fact that in this narrative the preconversion work of the Spirit was overcoming the effects of sin/depravity in the heart of Paulus.”

                  And responded:

                  “And, yet, Luke, under inspiration, fails to point this out? Luke is careful to point out that the apostle Paul was “filled with the Holy Ghost”, but completely neglects to tells us of this necessary “pre-conversion work of the Spirit”?””

                  When I use the term “pre-conversion work of the Spirit” it is a blanket term referring to multiple things simultaneously.

                  What I mean by this term is that the Spirit works in sinners enabling them to have a faith response to the gospel.

                  This preconversion work of the Spirit includes but is not limited to things including: convicting people of sin, revealing their sinful condition to them, revealing Jesus as the way of salvation, revealing the meaning of scripture, revealing the need for repentance, revealing the need for trusting in Jesus alone for salvation, setting up people to hear the gospel message through believers, etc. etc. etc. It means anything that happens to a sinner before they are a believer which enables them to become a believer.

                  Is Luke or any other NT writer going to list all of these things every time someone comes to Christ? No. Just because they are not mentioned does that mean they were not part of the event? No.

                  For example the text tells us that Paulus believed. Did the Holy Spirit reveal his own sinfulness to him (the text does not say it, but without knowing you are a sinner and in need of forgiveness how are you going to come to Christ?). Other Bible texts tell us that a person must repent of their sin in order to be saved: does the text tell us anything about Paulus repenting of his sin? The text does make mention of people preaching the gospel in the synagogues (that is definitely a preconversion work of the Spirit). Paulus understood the message they gave him (and who gave him this understanding? Had to be the Holy Spirit and this is again a preconversion work of the Spirit).

                  “The text plainly states that Sergius Paulus “desired to hear the word of God”, which according to total depravity/total inability is an impossibility.”

                  And the text does not tell us what the Spirit was doing in his heart to prepare him for the message, does not tells us what he was thinking as he heard them share the gospel, does not tell us exactly how and why he desired to hear them tell the message. From knowing other scripture about the work of the Spirit we know that the Spirit must have been working in Paulus to enable his faith response to the gospel.

                  Jesus said in John 6:44 that no one could come to him unless drawn by the Father. And who do you think does this drawing? The Holy Spirit. Paulus had to have been drawn or he could not have believed. If the Spirit is the one who draws and Paulus believed then he had to have experienced the preconversion work of the Spirit.

                  Put another way Phillip: do you believe that the Holy Spirit is involved and active in leading a person to faith in Christ?

                  If you believe THAT then you believe in the preconversion work of the Spirit.

                  Because that is exactly what I mean by the term, it is everything that the Spirit does before a person becomes a believer while they are non-Christians. It is a work of the Spirit and it occurs before they are converted: hence my term “pre-conversion work of the Spirit.”

                  I don’t even care what you call it, “preconversion work of the Spirit” is just my term. I have used it with others and it helps them to understand. Perhaps you have a better term for this work of the Spirit before people become believers.

                  “And Luke, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, makes no mention of any “pre-conversion” work by the Spirit. Regeneration or otherwise.”

                  Actually he does make mention of the preconversion work of the Spirit when he directly speaks of them evangelizing in the synagogues (who do you think was giving them the words when they preached? Who do you think was moving on the people giving them understanding of the gospel preaching when they preached? Who was leading them to believe as they were hearing the word of God being preached?).

                  Also you mention “regeneration” here. In my thinking a person has a faith response to the gospel before they are regenerated (i.e. faith precedes regeneration). And a person is regenerated at the point when they become believers. So it seems to me that the Spirit works in a person enabling them to have faith. They choose to trust the Lord and then they are saved (with regeneration occurring the moment they are saved). When I refer to the preconversion work of the Spirit then, I am referring to His work in enabling people to have a faith response **before** they are regenerated/saved.

                  Robert

                    phillip

                    Brother Robert,

                    No one is saying that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit doesn’t work on the hearts of unbelievers. Both you and rhutchin seem to embrace the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity/total inability, which means before a sinner can believe the depraved nature must first be addressed. Where I differ with you (and rhutchin) is that depraved sinners can believe once they are equipped with the word of God. Because that’s what the book says (Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:15).

                    The text in Acts 13:7 states that Sergius Paulus “desired to hear the word of God”; not that he “desired to hear more regarding the word of God”.

                    Even in your own words you stated “This condition (total depravity) is ‘overcome’ by the preaching of the Word as the Holy Spirit then takes that Word to convict us of sin.”

                    According to the scriptures Sergius Paulus “desired to hear the word of God”. So even in a state of depravity Sergius Paulus was able to desire the word of God. Because the “desire” was present before the word was preached (and any conviction took place).

                    The scriptures are full of biblical examples of people coming to faith, but nowhere does it state that the depraved nature had been overcomed, or resolved. Yes, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, but that only goes to prove that depraved sinners can be convicted (and sin is spiritual). A far cry from total inability.

                    Yes, we should let scripture interpret scripture. But if our understanding of scripture is correct, we should be able to provide actual biblical examples to support it.

                    For example Romans 4:3 says…
                    “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”

                    Show me one verse that says something along the line of….

                    “For what saith the scripture? Having his depraved nature overcomed/resolved, Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness”.

                    Grace.

                    rhutchin

                    Phillip writes, “Both you and rhutchin seem to embrace the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity/total inability, which means before a sinner can believe the depraved nature must first be addressed. Where I differ with you (and rhutchin) is that depraved sinners can believe once they are equipped with the word of God. Because that’s what the book says (Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:15). ”

                    When you say, “…depraved sinners can believe once they are equipped with the word of God,” are we to take you to believe that absent being equipped with the word of God, the depraved person cannot be saved? If yes, then you agree with us on Total Inability.

                    Are all equipped with the word of God? We know that the elect are because they then come to Christ. What about those who are not so equipped; were there similarly equipped as the elect?

                    We know that those who never hear the gospel preached or who do not come into contact with the gospel in some other manner could not be equipped at all – as faith come by hearing – so they perish being unable to come to salvation by any other means.

                    What about those who hear the gospel but still refuse the gospel. Were they similarly equipped as the elect were. We really don’t know. However, if two people are similarly equipped, both should come to Christ. If not, what could divide them? The logical conclusion is that they were not equipped or not to the degree that the elect were.

          rhutchin

          Phillip writes, “As I read the scriptures I understand depravity to mean that man cannot earn salvation.”

          Depravity means that people are so corrupted by their sin nature that they have no desire for God or the things of God and will not seek salvation. Technically, a depraved person seems able to earn salvation by keeping the law. At least, that seems to be what Christ tells the young man in Matthew 19, “Jesus said unto him, If you wilt be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Whether a depraved person could do this absent help from the Holy Spirit seems doubtful.

            phillip

            Rhutchin writes……

            “Depravity means that people are so corrupted by their sin nature that they have no desire for God or the things of God and will not seek salvation.”

            And yet Luke writes…….

            “Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.” (Acts 13:7)

              rhutchin

              So, we now ask, What is it that Sergius Paulus desired?

              Paul uses the same Greek word (translated in Acts13:7 as desired) in Romans 11:7, “Israel has not obtained that which he seeks (desired); but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Earlier in Romans 10:3, Paul wrote of Israel, “they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

              Thus, we can describe the desire of Sergius Paulus as that same desire of the Jews – a desire to be righteous on his own terms and not evidence of any desire for God or the things of God.

              Perhaps, you have another way to understand the desire shown by Sergius Paulus and could explain how you came to that understanding.

                phillip

                Rhutchin writes….

                “So, we now ask ‘What is it that Sergius Paulus desired?’”

                Luke writes that Sergius Paulus….

                “desired (wanted) to hear the word of God.”

                Sounds to me that he was interested in hearing the word of God, especially since he called out for Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for that specific purpose.

                Strange behavior for a totally depraved, God hating, sinner.

                O, that’s right. He must have already been regenerated.

                NOT.

                  Michael White

                  Phillip,
                  As Robert told you, John 6:44 tells us that God draws a person to Himself.
                  Now the exact reason why the Sergius wanted to hear the Word of God is not known. We don’t know his desire. Maybe someone had given hims sort rundown on what these Christians believe and he wanted to hear more because he was empty inside, We just don’t know. But we know that God draws those who hate Him to Himself to save them.

                    phillip

                    Michael,

                    And as I told Robert, and the scriptures confirm, this “drawing” is thru divine instruction (John 6:45).

                    However, this drawing/divine instruction didn’t occur until after Sergius Paulus “desired to hear the word of God”.

                    Luke, under inspiration, didn’t write that Paulus “desired to hear more regarding the word of God”.

                    God bless.

                    Michael White

                    Phillip,
                    I will go to church on Sunday.
                    One reason is because i desire to hear the Word of God preached.
                    Does that mean that I have never before heard it preached?

                    Likewise you are putting to much of you into your interp of the passage.
                    So you are right in that Luke doesn’t say that Sergius wanted to hear the Word again, but on the other hand, Luke is not saying that he never heard the word before.
                    Thus it is ambiguous and not a place to make doctrine.

                  phillip

                  And we shouldn’t add to the text when it doesn’t fit our doctrine.

                  Grace.

                  rhutchin

                  Phillip writes, “Strange behavior for a totally depraved, God hating, sinner.”

                  Not really. Remember Matthew 7. There are some who claim salvation on the basis of works but Christ says to them, “I never knew you.” The emphasis here is “never.” They could easily have said that they desired the word of God – as they appear to have been active in the church. But as Paul said of the Israelites in Romans 10, “I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God (i.e., to Christ).” Could we say that they did not “desire” God’s word? Yet, their desire was misplaced.

                  Therefore, that Paul writes that Sergius Paulus desired the word of God does not tell us if that desire was that of the Israelites or of God’s elect. As we do not see S. Paulus accepting Christ, the implication is that it was a selfish desire not unto salvation.

                    phillip

                    Rhutchin writes…. “As we do not see S. Paulus accepting Christ, the implication is that it was a selfish desire not unto salvation.”

                    Luke writes in Acts 13:12….
                    “Then the proconsul (Sergius Paulus) believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”

                    Great analysis rhutchin. Good job putting it all together for us.

                    NOT. (again)

              Robert

              Hello Phillip,

              Let’s start with points of agreement. We agree that the Holy Spirit works in unbelievers enabling them to have a faith response to the gospel. We agree that a person cannot save themselves by their own efforts but can only be saved through faith in Christ. We agree that sin has affected all aspects of people (mind, body, soul, spirit, everything).

              Our disagreement appears to be on the issue of **inability**. I believe the sinner cannot come to Christ unless the Holy Spirit does a preconversion work in their hearts. You seem to believe that the sinner can come on their own and does not suffer from **inability** due to the effects of sin.

              Phillip how to you deal with John 6:44?

              That passage seems to me to teach inability (they cannot come unless drawn, if not drawn they will not come, thus the drawing is necessary to overcome their inability).

              Phillip I am also wondering what you think of Pelagian theology? Christians have generally believed that Pelagians reject depravity and inability. How is your position different then that of the Pelagian? I am not claiming that you are Pelagian, I am just wondering how your view is different from theirs. I look forward to your clarifications.

              Robert

                phillip

                Brother Robert,

                The answer to your question is in the next verse.

                John 6:44-45….
                “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”

                The drawing here is thru divine instruction. “It is written…they shall all be taught by God.” God teaches. We listen and learn.

                This aligns itself perfectly with the rest of scripture…

                Romans 10:14, 17…..
                “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed (they won’t)? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard (they can’t)? And how shall they hear without a preacher (they can’t)?……. So then faith comes (how?) by hearing (by hearing what?), and hearing by the word of God.”

                2 Timothy 3:15….
                “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures (the very word of God), which are (what?) able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

                Are the Holy Scriptures ABLE to make a lost sinner wise regarding salvation or not? If you believe in total depravity then the answer is “no”.

                Acts 17:2…..
                “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them (lost, depraved sinners) from the Scriptures (the word of God).

                Acts 18:28…..
                “….for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures (the word of God) that Jesus is the Christ.”

                Acts 14:1….
                “At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of (lost depraved) Jews and (lost depraved) Greeks believed.”

                And finally, my question to you still stands. Please provide me one verse, a biblical example, which clearly states that the sinner’s depravity has been overcomed/resolved/addressed before he believed.

                God bless.

                  Robert

                  Phillip thanks for your latest response, I believe it will help us in our interaction.

                  Regarding John 6:45 you wrote:

                  “The drawing here is thru divine instruction. “It is written…they shall all be taught by God.” God teaches. We listen and learn.
                  This aligns itself perfectly with the rest of scripture…”

                  I agree that the “drawing here is thru divine instruction”.

                  That “divine instruction” is what I refer to as the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit.

                  The Spirit comes and teaches us our sinful condition, our need for forgiveness, that Jesus is the savior, etc. etc.

                  But that still does not get at my point. My point was that John 6:44 seems to indicate some **inability** on our part, without the drawing (which you view as “divine instruction”) can the sinner come to faith? I would answer No.

                  Do you believe that the sinner can come to Christ and have a faith response if he/she does not experience what you are calling the “divine instruction”???

                  “Are the Holy Scriptures ABLE to make a lost sinner wise regarding salvation or not? If you believe in total depravity then the answer is “no”.”

                  Yes, in answer to your first question here. The problem is in your claim in the second statement here:

                  “If you believe in total depravity then the answer is “no””.

                  But that statement is wrong, I do believe in total depravity AND at the same time I believe that “the Holy Scriptures [are] ABLE to make a lost sinner wise regarding salvation.

                  I can believe these two both be true because it precisely this “divine instruction” (your term for it, my term for it being the preconversion work of the Spirit) that overcomes depravity.
                  I believe you are incorrect here; it is not either (1) you believe in total depravity or (2) you believe in “divine instruction” that makes the sinner wise regarding salvation. As if you can only believe in one or the other. That is a false dilemma. You can believe in both (i.e. option (3) that both depravity is true and a person needs “divine instruction” in order to have a faith response to the gospel), and I do believe in both.

                  Absent the “divine instruction’ can the sinner have a faith response to the gospel?

                  I would say No.

                  And if they cannot have a faith response to the gospel absent the “divine instruction” then that establishes the presence of **inability** on their part.

                  Phillip I asked you direct questions about your understanding of Pelagian. I also asked you how your view is different than that of a Pelagian. You said nothing about this in your response. I still would like to hear your response on this.

                  “And finally, my question to you still stands. Please provide me one verse, a biblical example, which clearly states that the sinner’s depravity has been overcomed/resolved/addressed before he believed.”

                  Well I don’t think you will find “one” verse that says the sinner’s depravity has been overcome/resolved/addressed before he believed. What you will find is verses describing the effects of sin/depravity (e.g. that the sinner views the cross as foolishness, that the sinner is blinded about the gospel, etc. etc.). And when a sinner does come to faith, then something had to have happened so that they are no longer blinded about the gospel, no longer see the cross as foolishness, etc. etc. The biblical writers did not have to say every time (or did they?) that someone came to the Lord, that in the case of so and so he once viewed the cross as foolish but now he doesn’t, he once was blinded about the gospel but now he isn’t . . . Instead they just say so and so “believed”. But in “believing” the Holy Spirit must have engaged in “divine instruction” showing them the gospel was not foolishness, unblinding them about the gospel, etc. etc. etc.

                  Robert

                    phillip

                    Robert,

                    My experience has been that only two groups hold to the Augustinian /Calvinistic doctrine of “total depravity/total inability”. They are the Calvinist and their Arminian offspring. Unless you want to differentiate yourself from one of these two groups I would have to say you are Arminian, since from your writings you appear to reject the other petals of the TULIP. Your arguments for total depravity are identical to those of a Calvinist. The only difference is in the solution. That is “classical arminianism”.

                    I provided several verses with biblical examples of lost depraved sinners coming to faith in Jesus Christ and yet you failed to interact with any of them. When I asked you to show me one verse clearly stating that the depraved nature had been overcomed/resolved/removed, or what have you, you couldn’t. Why? Because there isn’t one. Again, if our interpretation of scripture is correct, we should be able to find actual biblical examples to support it. The Calvinist can’t provide one biblical example of someone believing as a result of regeneration (which I think you would agree), nor the Arminian provide one biblical example of someone believing as a result of the depraved nature being overcomed (which should tell you something).

                    The Lord Jesus said regarding Israel…

                    John 4:48…..
                    “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.’”

                    Didn’t our Lord know that unless the issue of depravity was resolved, they couldn’t?

                    However, the biblical fact is, many depraved people did. I challenge you to go to the gospel of John and find what caused every depraved sinner to believe. Every time it was either because of something Jesus said (his words) or did (miracle). Never once, NOT ONCE, does it ever state, or even hint, that the depraved nature had been resolved/removed/overcomed.

                    In regards to 2 Timothy 3:15 are the holy scriptures are able to make one wise regarding salvation?

                    You said…. “I can believe these two both be true because it precisely this ‘divine instruction’ (your term for it, my term for it being the pre-conversion work of the Spirit) that overcomes depravity.”

                    First, nowhere in scripture does it say this divine instruction overcomes depravity. Even as believers we are still depraved (at least I know I am). Second, the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity means that the issue of depravity must be addressed first BEFORE someone can believe. So when I asked “are the scriptures able to make one wise regarding salvation?”, both the Calvinist and Arminian would be forced to answer “no…not as long as they are still totally depraved.”

                    Now regarding this whole Pelagius vs. Augustine debate…

                    Yeah, that must have been a real battle of wits. What Christian would want to be associated with either one? Well, we know Calvinists love the Roman Catholic Augustine. Only God knows if either of these two men were truly saved. But neither is a role model.

                    God bless, brother.

                    Michael White

                    Phillip,

                    I am a 5 pt Calvinist.
                    I believe man is totally depraved [fallen in every area of their life but not pure evil] when they get saved.
                    But I don’t believe in regeneration before salvation. Romans 5:6-10

                    6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

                    Several things here.
                    V. 6 ~~ Obviously I was not alive when Jesus died. But when I was converted and believed that Jesus death was for me, i was ungodly and weak.
                    V. 8 ~~ Same idea on timing as V. 6. When i came to God, i was still a sinner. When did God show His love for me: At my conversion. he made the cross real to me.
                    V.10 ~~ I was not alive at the death the Son, but when i was converted by Him, I was His enemy.

                    Summed up, At conversion i was still weak and ungodly and a sinner and an enemy of God.

                    \I learned my ‘Calvinism’ from the Bible, not from reading w2hat men wrote. Thus i seem to deviate from their position is various ways.

                    But I disagree with you that you are still totally depraved. yes, you like myself still sin, but if you are saved, you have been regenerated, and now you hate your sinning and love the Lord.
                    To apply the above Scripture to you as a Christian, you are not weak [since you have the joy of the Lord as your strength], you are not ungodly [though you still stumble in sin, you are a child of God], you are not just a sinner but a saint, and you are no longer His enemy since as the Scripture tells us, you have been reconciled with God.

                    Live in Him,
                    mike

                    Michael White

                    I also do not believe in regeneration AFTER salvation.
                    It happens during salvation. It is, in a sense, in faith or through faith or by faith not because of faith. And faith is, in a sense, part of the regeneration process.
                    regeneration is like birth. a process that ends in an event.
                    or…
                    regeneration is like a plant in the field: the seed is planted, it breaks open and dies and then brings forth new life,

                  Johnathan Pritchett

                  My bet is that both Augustine and Pelagius are with the Lord. Both got some things right, and both got a lot of things wrong. Who is that not true of in the Church?

                  For all we know, they are still in heaven having a debate that Jesus and Paul and Moses have zero interest in clarifying. :D

                  Nevertheless, agreeing with one or two things with Pelagius, as I do, doesn’t a Pelagian make anymore than agreeing with one or two things with Augustine, as I do, doesn’t an Augustinian make.

                  As for the whole spectrum of theological categories and ideas that came out of the Augustinian-Pelagian controversy, I reject the spectrum and the constructs entirely. There are simply too many faulty categories arising out of all that to be of any use for Biblical theology.

          Michael White

          Phillip,

          Thanks for your thoughts.
          Some say we are born sinners because we sinned in the Garden with Adam, And thus we sin because we are sinners. And yet by the end of your post you say you believe in free will.
          I believe in free will as well. And I believe we did not sin in the Garden, that only Adam and Eve did, So while we are born with a sin nature, we freely choose to sin and rebel against God. Men call this total depravity, and by that they mean that humans are fallen in every area of their life. The Bible says that sin blinds us to truth, and that our blindness to the Gospel is due to sin.

          Now the Word of God is just words on a page unless the Spirit opens up the eyes of our heart to its truths. So there is no power in just the Words without the Spirit. And the Word of God tells us that the perishing think the Gospel foolishness [1st Cor. 1:18]. So why would they want to believe what they consider foolishness?

          But once you were perishing but now you believe! The Bible tells me why you believe: 2nd Corinthians 4:3-6

          Blessings brother,
          mike

rhutchin

Phillip writes, “Once, again, Calvinism teaches (and rhutchin embraces) that it is only a select few rebellious UNBELIEVERS that receive an atoning benefit, at least partially, which signals to the Holy Spirit to begin the process of salvation. Namely, bringing the sinner to faith.
And yet in Acts 10:43, Luke writes by inspiration of the Holy Spirit….?“To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission (forgiveness) of sins.””

Response: The gospel is preached to all but all do not believe. How are we to explain this? The choice presented to the world is believe on Christ and receive eternal life; refuse to believe and receive eternal death. The response is a no-brainer; eternal life is to be desired and eternal death rejected. Yet, all do not choose eternal life. How are we to explain this? The Scriptures provide specific insight for us. The Scriptures tell us that people are depraved, so depraved that they do not seek God, even say that there is no God, they have no fear of God and laugh at the preaching of the gospel and call it foolishness. It is God who, by grace, must draw them to Christ and convict them of their sin if they are to be saved.

Phillip also writes, “But, again, according to Calvinism (and Piper) Christ must first atone for the sin of unbelief so the sinner can come to faith and have his sins atoned for.”

Response: Not the Calvinist only, but all Christians believe that Christ must atone for sin before anyone can be saved. So, why do you reject this doctrine?

    Michael White

    Rhutchin,

    Every sin is a sin of unbelief.
    Sin is a violation of the Law of God.
    Sin is a choice made.
    Sin choices are made because the sinner is not trusting in God.
    The lack of trust is not a sin, but it leads to sin.

    We know this because having trust in God in it is not a good work. For we trust in God and yet we sin.
    To sin is to disobey. To obey is not how we are saved, we are saved through or by faith.
    Faith then is not an obedience [though it leads to obedience].
    Thus lack of faith [unbelief] is not in and of itself an evil work though it leads to disobedience.

    The Gospel is more than an offer, it is a proclamation of the Lordship of Jesus, the crucified and risen One.
    The offer of the Gospel is to all who believe [who desire to trust in the Lord].
    In the proclamation of the Gospel, it is also proclaimed that without Jesus a person stands condemned before the Holy God and will reap everlasting destruction. So we urge people to turn and put their trust in Him, who alone saves. But to put trust in Him, you must first have trust in Him. Having faith is not a good work.

    Neither then is its opposite a bad work, a sin.

    Usually, since the concepts are so close together, for true faith has its works and without them it is dead, and unbelief is manifested by its works, sins, that we speak of them together- faith and its works, and unbelief and its works.
    But all sin is the sin of unbelief.
    And all godly works are works of faith.

    Thus there is no ‘special’ sin of unbelief that needs to be atoned before the rest of a person’s sins can be atoned for.
    A rebel is a rebel because he has rebelled, he has done something. It is for that act of perdition, he stands condemned.
    Sin is violating the Law of God- doing an evil work. It is for sinning that a person is condemned.

    Now as believers, we act like unbelievers when we sin. For we are not trusting in God and His ways, and instead are seeking ‘life’ from the world. Thus when we sin we are acting in unbelief. But we are not condemned as unbelievers because our sins are no longer imputed to us. But unbelievers are still under the law of God, so their sins still count against them. And when they stand in Judgment, they must account for their sins, for every deed will be judged. Deeds not states of being. Actions not beliefs or unbeliefs. Sin is a choice and evil choices need to be reckoned with by the Great Judge. Thank God that we as believers have had our evil choices already reckoned with by the cross of our Lord.

    peace,
    mike

rhutchin

Johnathan Pritchett writes, in response to Owen, “1. ” “We are chosen in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy,” Eph. i. 4, — of which holiness, faith, purifying the heart, is a principal share.”
But this is a baseless assertion that begs the question if it is part of an argument that faith is purchased. All this verse says is that the Jew plus Gentile Church in Christ was chosen before the foundation of the Earth for a purpose, as opposed to some other people-group.”

The verse says more than you have grasped. The group to whom Paul writes in Ephesians are the elect. God chose His elect before the foundation of the world. God purposed not just to save His elect but to make them holy. Both ends – the elect being saved and being made holy – are necessarily certain; there can be no other outcome as God had purposed it.

Making the elect holy is a process in which faith has a principal share. Thus, the procurement of the salvation of the elect also procures their eventual holiness and the means – faith, etc, – to this holiness.

So what in Owen’s argument did you intend to deny?
1. That God chose His elect before the foundation of the world,
2. That God’s purpose for the elect was to purify them and make them holy,
3. That God would use faith as the means to make His elect holy.
4. That Christ procured the salvation of the elect and their holiness on the cross.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    No rhutchin, Paul writes what he writes and says only what he says and what he says only means what it means given the context. Also, the group that Paul writes to is the church at Ephesus. Who are the elect? The Jew plus Gentile people in Christ. I agree that God purposed not only salvation, but for purpose…which is what I actually stated, and purpose includes many facets. In any case, nothing is said here about Christ purchasing faith for the elect. In fact, verse 13 negates your position, since the Spirit and the other benefits came to the audience “when you believed.”

    “Making the elect holy is a process in which faith has a principal share. Thus, the procurement of the salvation of the elect also procures their eventual holiness and the means – faith, etc, – to this holiness.”

    Speculative theological musing based on unsupported inferences…not a Biblical argument. I do not reject 1-4, I reject Owens conclusion which does not follow.

    “1. That God chose Hi”s elect before the foundation of the world” –> therefore Christ purchased faith in the atonement = non-sequitur.
    “2. That God’s purpose for the elect was to purify them and make them holy,” –> therefore Christ purchased faith in the atonement = non-sequitur.
    “3. That God would use faith as the means to make His elect holy.” –> therefore Christ purchased faith in the atonement = non-sequitur.
    “4. That Christ procured the salvation of the elect and their holiness on the cross.” –> therefore Christ purchased faith in the atonement = non-sequitur.

    And moreover, 1-4 –> therefore Christ purchased faith in the atonement = non-sequitur as well.

    So…

rhutchin

Johnathan Pritchett writes, in response to Owen, “2. ” “Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called,” Rom. viii. 30; that is, with that calling which is according to his purpose, effectually working faith in them by the mighty operation of his Spirit, “according to the exceeding greatness of his power,” Eph. i. 19. And so they “believe” (God making them differ from others, 1 Cor. iv. 7, in the enjoyment of the means) “who are ordained to eternal life,” Acts xiii. 48. Their being ordained to eternal life was the fountain from whence their faith did flow; and so “the election hath obtained, and the rest were blinded,” Rom. xi. 7.”
– …Per Romans 8:30, whatever we do with “calling,” it more likely has to do with God “naming/designating” not summoning anyway. See Klein. No support here for the idea of “purchasing faith in any case. Ephesians 1:19 says nothing about purchasing faith either, but is about those who already believe growing in wisdom and knowledge of God’s great power and blessings. Acts 13:48 says that Christians (those ordained…not preordained…for eternal life) believed Paul’s word about Gentile inclusion and the extent of the Gentile mission. Romans 11:7 has to do with unbelieving Israel being hardened temporarily (read the rest of the chapter). Nothing here to support this assertion.”

Again, there is more to these verses than you have grasped.

In Romans 8, Paul lists the purpose of God toward His elect. God predestinated His elect “to be conformed to the image of his Son” i.e., to be made holy. Toward this end, God will call His elect, justify them, and glorify them. God will use faith as the principal means to achieve His purposes for His elect. It is true that God calls His elect by designating them for salvation/holiness but are we to think that God will justify those He does not also summon to salvation? Is not the preaching of the word used by God to summon His elect and does not faith come from this word as the means to achieve this end? When Christ died on the cross, He procured the justification and glorification of God’s elect. This was God’s purpose in sending Christ to the cross and the outcome is certain. As faith is a necessary means in this process, faith is also certain and was as certainly procured by Christ’s death as was justification and glorification.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    No rhutchin, Paul writes what he writes and says only what he says and what he says only means what it means given the context. Also, the group that Paul writes to is the church at Rome.

    God predestinated His elect “to be conformed to the image of his Son” i.e., to be made holy. Toward this end, God will call His elect, justify them, and glorify them.” –> therefore Christ purchased faith in the atonement = non-sequitur.

    “It is true that God calls His elect by designating them for salvation/holiness but are we to think that God will justify those He does not also summon to salvation?”

    God invites/summons (kletos) with the Gospel of salvation, and then names/designates (kaleo Rom. 8:30, 9:25-26) his own.

    “As faith is a necessary means in this process, faith is also certain and was as certainly procured by Christ’s death as was justification and glorification.” = non-sequitur. You keep forgetting that while faith is a means of appropriation, it is also the condition set forth to receive the benefits.

    So far, all you have done is give us bad inferences from speculative theologizing and concluded with non-sequiturs.

    God predestined the elect to be conformed to the image of his Son, be made holy. Towards this end, God has designated, justified, and glorified. Agreed. However. God predestinated His elect “to be conformed to the image of his Son” i.e., to be made holy. Toward this end, God will call His elect, justify them, and glorify the –>

rhutchin

Johnathan Pritchett writes, in response to Owen, “3. “…all the good things of the covenant are the effects, fruits, and purchase of the death of Christ, he and all things for him being the substance and whole of it. Farther; that faith is of the good things of the new covenant is apparent from the description thereof, Jer. xxxi. 33, 34; Heb. viii. 10–12; Ezek. xxxvi. 25–27, with divers other places, as might clearly be manifested if we affected copiousness in causa facili.”
– Begs the question. It is assumed that because of the outcome of the new covenant is promised, the means for entry has been purchased. The problem is that this is no where in the text, nor even assumed by the NT authors. Nowhere in the exegesis of Jeremiah does the author of Hebrews make the connection Owen wishes to see here.”

A lack of knowledge, and understanding, of Owen’s argument. Owen does not assume anything. Owen takes God’s performance of His covenant as certain. This is obvious with respect to God’s elect. God choose His elect before the foundation of the world. Their salvation is certain. The covenant cited in Hebrews is not in doubt. It is certain. The issue is the certainty of the means by which the covenant will be carried out. How can one conclude that faith is not as certain as the satisfaction of the covenant? Could something other than faith have come into play? Absolutely not – faith was always in view as the means to carry out the covenant.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    “A lack of knowledge, and understanding, of Owen’s argument. Owen does not assume anything. Owen takes God’s performance of His covenant as certain.” Wrong, Dr. Allen has previously exposed this as well. Owen makes a ton of presuppositions and question begging assertions. Moreover, as Allen has also demonstrated elsewhere, many Reformed critics of Owen also point out his faulty assumptions. In any case…

    “How can one conclude that faith is not as certain as the satisfaction of the covenant? Could something other than faith have come into play? Absolutely not – faith was always in view as the means to carry out the covenant.” –> therefore Christ purchased faith in the atonement = non-sequitur.

    Again, you keep forgetting that while faith is a means of appropriation, it is also the condition set forth to receive the benefits. God rendering that faith is the condition for appropriation is certain, not that Christ purchased the faith in the atonement. Confusing categories again…

    So far, all you still have done is give us bad inferences from speculative theologizing and concluded with non-sequiturs…like Owen. ;)

      rhutchin

      Johnathan Pritchett writes, ““A lack of knowledge, and understanding, of Owen’s argument. Owen does not assume anything. Owen takes God’s performance of His covenant as certain.” Wrong, Dr. Allen has previously exposed this as well. Owen makes a ton of presuppositions and question begging assertions. Moreover, as Allen has also demonstrated elsewhere, many Reformed critics of Owen also point out his faulty assumptions. In any case…”

      Are we to accept your word on this (or anyone’s opinion on anything) or should you tell us how Dr. Allen allegedly exposed Owen or what allegedly false assumptions Reformed critics of Owen have pointed out. I don’t see any reason to accept your opinions (what good are opinions, anyway) so how about providing substance to your claims.

        rhutchin

        Johnathan Pritchett writes, ““How can one conclude that faith is not as certain as the satisfaction of the covenant? Could something other than faith have come into play? Absolutely not – faith was always in view as the means to carry out the covenant.” –> therefore Christ purchased faith in the atonement = non-sequitur.”

        In His death on the cross, Christ “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Then, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:9) So it is that, by His death on the cross, Christ gained justification for His elect. Yet, Paul also says, “Therefore being justified by faith,…” (Romans 5:1) Thus, justification is certain and if justification is certain, then faith on the part of the elect is certain. The issue here is whether, Christ can be said to have purchased justification for His elect. Here, Ephesians 1 says that God’s elect receive an inheritance “Having predestinated [His elect] unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.” The means to this is faith expressed by the elect. If the end is certain, the means are just as certain. If the end – the inheritance – was purchased, then the means to that end were included in that purchase. No non-sequitur here.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          It is, again, a non-sequitur. Repeating a bad argument doesn’t make it better, just repetitious. You are confusing matters here. That Christ was raised for our justification, and that we are justified by faith in him, is not to say that Christ purchased our faith. You confuse the grounds with the means. That justification is certain for the elect does not entail that the faith of any particular individual is certain so as to be a part of the elect. You seem to misunderstand what election is and isn’t along with your confusion of grounds and means. The end is certain, and the means have been decided (faith) for people to participate in that end. Reductionism simply won’t do, especially since it is a non-sequitur.

          And yes, you should take my word for it. If you don’t wish to do so, go read “Whosoever Will” and other blog articles here and at Dr. Allen’s blog where this has been addressed several times. Rhutchin, meet Google…

      rhutchin

      Johnathan Pritchett writes, “Again, you keep forgetting that while faith is a means of appropriation, it is also the condition set forth to receive the benefits. God rendering that faith is the condition for appropriation is certain, not that Christ purchased the faith in the atonement. Confusing categories again…”

      Faith is required of a person, and it is God who gives that faith. Thus, faith is a condition, but God ensures that His elect will meet that condition. No confusion here; only denial by some.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Now you are begging the question. Fallacy after fallacy my friend. You have to prove it. Asserting faith is a gift is fine by me since unlike many non-Calvinists, I agree. So that assertion gains you nothing towards your conclusion with me. You have to demonstrate that YOUR personal understanding of how that gift of faith is given and what sense it is given as a gift is accurate.

        Good luck. A prooftext won’t help you here. The reason it is denied is that what you are assuming in the background has zero Biblical basis. God ensures that the elect will meet that condition because anyone who exercises faith can meet the condition. God ensures that the condition itself is “meetable” for any who is willing receive the benefaction in participation in the circle dance of reciprocity. Given what grace and faith actually mean in the Biblical context in its sociological and cultural context of patron-client reciprocity, anyone can meet that condition, including those who reject participation in the benefits. If you mean something other than that by words like “grace” and “faith,” then you aren’t talking about anything the authors of Scripture are talking about (or what the original audiences would understand) and I have little interest in talking about things that the Biblical authors are not talking about.

rhutchin

Johnathan Pritchett writes, in response to Owen, “4. “Now, without faith it is utterly impossible that ever any should attain salvation, Heb. xi. 6, Mark xvi. 16; but Jesus Christ, according to his name, doth perfectly save us, Matt. i. 21, procuring for us “eternal redemption,” Heb. ix. 12, being, “able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him,” chap. vii. 25: and therefore must faith also be within the compass of those things that are procured by him.”
The last sentence is question begging assertion that doesn’t even follow from what comes before it. Are we to embrace irrational non-sequiturs now?”

It would be nice if you could explain your opinions. So what part of the argument escapees your understanding?
1. “Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that comes to God for salvation must believe that he is.”
2. Christ came to save His people (His elect). Can Christ fail, in any way, to do this?
3. If Christ comes to save His elect, and He cannot be thwarted, will he not:
a. Procure their eternal redemption (on the cross)?
b. Actually save those who come to God for salvation where they can only do so by faith?
c. Certainly provide that faith on which He has conditioned these things so as to make the outcome certain.

Which of the above do you propose to deny, thus being false, and therefore, destructive to Owen’s argument?

Where is the question begging? Where is the non-sequitur?

    Johnathan Pritchett

    This is too easy. Your claim is that “Christ purchased the faith of the elect at the atonement” and that simply does not follow from the argument. As far as 1-3a-c above, I have no problem with 1. I may or may not have a problem depending on what you mean by “his people” in 2 because “his people” directly stated as such in Scripture (Matthew 1:21…which is clearly a contextual reference to the people of Israel) and “his elect” are two different things. . 3 I affirm completely, but probably have different underlying presuppositions about what that means. a-b I have no issue. c is where the problem lies if the claim is “Christ purchased the faith of the elect at the atonement” which does not follow from anything you/Owen is arguing here.

    God has certainly provided that faith is the condition, but it doesn’t follow that He provided faith itself in people to exercise. Again, category error in term. God doesn’t give faith in the sense of transaction. Moreover, even if that was the proper sense of faith being a gift, which is certainly isn’t, it still wouldn’t follow from your/Owen’s reasoning that it is provided in this faulty sense because “Christ purchased the faith of the elect at the atonement.” That too is a non-sequitur and has no support in the arguments you provided here.

    Again, non-sequiturs from speculative theological musings and bad, unsupported inferences. Sorry mate…bet you thought you/Owen had a slam dunk too.

      rhutchin

      Johnathan Pritchett writes, “God has certainly provided that faith is the condition, but it doesn’t follow that He provided faith itself in people to exercise.”

      This view is what Owen argues against. Are we to accept the opinion expressed by Johnathan that “it doesn’t follow that He provided faith itself in people to exercise.”
      We have significant agreement: “”God has certainly provided that faith is the condition.” We have identified the point of disagreement: Should we understand God to act with purpose? Owen says, Yes; Johnathan says, No.

      Johnathan says that “God doesn’t give faith in the sense of transaction.” Owen does not say this either. Certainly, God gives faith to his elect and thus, they come to Christ. Why then does God give such faith? Per Owen, because Christ purchased the salvation of His elect on the cross and that purchase included the means to bring His elect to salvation and thus the obligation of God to give faith to His elect to bring them to the salvation purchased. Are we to think, per Johnathan, that Christ purchased the salvation of His elect on the cross and then did not intend to bring those elect to salvation? Owen, says, No.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Yes, you are to accept my opinion. If Biblical categories, reason and logic matter to you.

        There is no significant argument here. There is only a fallacious one.

        Owen says no, but Owen is wrong. You may not like it, but that is irrelevant. You may not also like that I am actually right along with Owen being wrong, but that too is irrelevant. It is what it is. You keep jumping chasms here in your/Owen’s reasoning, and beg too many questions along the way.

        There is zero evidence in any verse of Scripture, or any evidence of what the word “faith” means for that matter, that makes Owen’s conclusion that Christ purchased faith for the elect (another word in which you assumed means something you have yet to prove) follow from random premises from poor arrangement of prooftexts coupled with bad inferences.

          rhutchin

          Johnathan Pritchett writes, “Yes, you are to accept my opinion…There is zero evidence in any verse of Scripture, or any evidence of what the word “faith” means for that matter, that makes Owen’s conclusion that Christ purchased faith for the elect…follow from random premises from poor arrangement of prooftexts coupled with bad inferences.”

          Let’s look at one of Owen’s premises upon which he builds his argument.

          “…faith is…of such absolute indespensable necessity unto salvation…that, whatever God hath done in his love, sending his son, and whatever Christ hath done or doth…without [faith] in us, is…of no value, worth, or profit unto us, but serveth only to increase and aggravate damnation.”

          Is Owen’s premise correct. Is Christ death on the cross worthless without faith? If you answer, Yes, (which surely you must), then doesn’t it seem reasonable that God, who sent his son to save his people from their sins, would provide everything necessary to that end including the faith without which all would fail. You might argue that Owen is wrong, but not that he is unreasonable.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            The premise is fine, the conclusion still doesn’t follow. Non-sequiturs are not “reasonable.”

            What do you think faith is? How then is it “provided?” How is it then “given” as you understand it? We must ensure our categories are correct.

              Johnathan Pritchett

              Let me clarify. No, I disagree that Christ’s death on the cross is worthless without faith. It was worth something for God towards the entire cosmos, not merely “me” or even “men.” God did not only present Jesus so that he could declare righteous the one that has faith, but also so that He would demonstrate his justice and BE righteous. Rom. 3:21-26 has multiple intentions in the atonement, and God’s purposes to demonstrate his justice and be righteous is of worth and intention even if nobody was ever saved. So to say the cross is worthless without faith won’t do.

              See, Calvinists have a man-centered orientation after all, to say the cross is worthless without faith. The cross, according to Scriptures, isn’t all about man.

              If you were to rephrase the statement to say instead that Christ’s death doesn’t benefit any particular person with respect to salvation without faith, then I can affirm that.

              If the question is :”Is Christ death on the cross worthless without faith?”

              My answer is no.

      rhutchin

      Johnathan Pritchett writes, “I may or may not have a problem depending on what you mean by “his people” in 2 because “his people” directly stated as such in Scripture (Matthew 1:21…which is clearly a contextual reference to the people of Israel) and “his elect” are two different things.”

      So, who are “His people”? They are certainly the elect of Christ. Are we to understand this as Johnathan, “which is clearly a contextual reference to the people of Israel.” Johnathan expresses his opinion on the verse and labels it “clearly.” Perhaps he has a high opinion of himself.

      Nonetheless, the verse says, “he shall save his people from their sins.” We know that this statement is true and fulfilled with regard to the elect of Christ (who are certainly, “His people” if only partially). Does this apply to all Israel as Johnathan maintains? Will Christ save “all Israel” from their sins. I suspect that Johnathan argues that Christ intends to save “all Israel” and does so from Romans 11 as others do. I, on the contrary, understand that Christ will not save “all Israel” from their sins and His intent is only to save His elect (which does not include “all Israel”) from their sins. Thus, I do not think we can read Matthew 1:21 to mean “all Israel” but only “the elect of Christ.”

      It is left to Johnathan to defend the position that “His people” in Matthew 1:21 is to be understood as the people of Israel.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        So sound exegesis doesn’t matter? Okay mate…you demonstrate that Reformed folk are the most post-modern, reader-response crowd in the church today…no wonder the Emergents died out, Calvinism already had a lock on creative, private interpretations.

        Anyway, in Matthew 1:21, “his people” is clearly a reference to his kin according to the flesh. Matthew 15:24: He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

        Your issue isn’t with me, it is with the Spirit-inspired author of the Gospel of Matthew.

        In any case, those competent exegetes who properly understand this as I do, never state that Jesus will ONLY ever save people of Israel, but that doesn’t overturn the meaning of these texts themselves.

        As for your other suspicions about what I might argue, you would be wrong. In fact, we may actually agree on the meaning of Romans 11.

        But, for now, with regards to Matthew 1:21, you made a question begging theological argument in #2 from a phrase found in Matthew and tried to extrapolate something unrelated to the context of the passage from where that phrase was lifted.

        Now, those saved of Israel may also be “his elect,” but my point is that we have to be careful in lifting phrases from verses for theological arguments unrelated to what the context is from where the phrase was lifted. I am extremely picky about that, and thus wanted to correct you…rather, I wanted Matthew to correct you, since your beef about what “his people” means in the context of the Gospel of Matthew is with him, not me.

          rhutchin

          Johnathan Pritchett writes, “…in Matthew 1:21, “his people” is clearly a reference to his kin according to the flesh. Matthew 15:24: He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”…with regards to Matthew 1:21, you made a question begging theological argument in #2 from a phrase found in Matthew and tried to extrapolate something unrelated to the context of the passage from where that phrase was lifted. Now, those saved of Israel may also be “his elect,” but my point is that we have to be careful in lifting phrases from verses for theological arguments unrelated to what the context is from where the phrase was lifted. I am extremely picky about that, and thus wanted to correct you…rather, I wanted Matthew to correct you, since your beef about what “his people” means in the context of the Gospel of Matthew is with him, not me.”

          Matthew 1:21 says, “[Christ] shall save his people from their sins.” Here, the Holy Spirit reveals God’s intent in sending Jesus and this verse is prophetic. Johnathan cannot deal with this. He knows that Christ does not save the Jews only from their sins. This verse, therefore, cannot refer to the Jews and he has found no way to make it so.

          Johnathan seeks to mesh with Mathhew 15:24. That is fine if he will exegete it for us, which he cannot. Paul tells us that God always intended to save the Gentiles (Ephesians 3). Thus, we know that Matthew 1 must refer to both Jews and Gentiles as it was always God’s intent to save both.

          What do we do with Mathhew 15. Those who write commentaries conclude that Jesus speaks of His earthly ministry. It is His disciples who will go into the world (Acts 1) as His witnesses and thereby fulfill God’s intent to save His people, His elect, of which are both Jews and Gentiles.

          Nonetheless, God tells us in Matthew 1 that He sent His son to save His people from their sins. The only people God saves from their sins, who can be called His people, are His elect. Johnathan has not found a way to eisegete this away much less exegete the verse to say anything else despite his bold unprovable claim, “in Matthew 1:21, ‘his people’ is clearly a reference to his kin according to the flesh. “

            Johnathan Pritchett

            No Rhutchin. Going to Paul to explain Matthew won’t do for exegesis. It doesn’t change the intended meaning of Matthew 1:21. You can’t treat the Bible worse than Thomas Jefferson with a pair of sheers to make it say what you want in any given passage.

            That isn’t deference to the Bible, it is contempt for it.

            No need to prove the claim, Matthew does it for me. You just think the Bible must bow to your ideas, rather than allow it to speak at every point and mean what it means at that point and only what it means and not what you think it should mean.

            You must prove that the phrase “his people” in the context of Matthew 1 means more than the natural reading in context, minus all your other theological ideas in which the text must bow before. You can’t jump around all over the NT and then come back decide what Matthew 1:21 must mean.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        “Jesus’ other acts of ‘salvation’ point to his ultimate redemption of ‘his people,’ which for Matthew still means Israel (e.g., 2:4, 6; 4:16, 23; 21:23; 27:64; cf 10:6; 19:28, Lk 1:10; 2:10), echoing earlier biblical usage (e.g., 13:15; 15:8, also in early Jewish usage e.g., Lives of the Prophets 2:1 [Schermann on Jeremiah]).”

        Craig Keener. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 2009, p. 97

        Keener says it, I believe it, that settles it. LOL

        Keener > Rhutchin

          rhutchin

          This would argue for tossing the Keener commentary onto the junkpile.

          Look up the verses he cites to support his argument. I’ll get you started:
          Matthew 2
          4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
          6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

          Matthew 4
          16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
          23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

          This is not sound exegesis; it cites verses which speak of matters other than that addressed in Matthew 1. Of course, maybe you had to go through 50 commentaries looking for someone to help you; finally found this one; and being too tired to look up the verses cited, you just threw it out there. Who knows?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            I forgot that you don’t actually know anything and need everything spelled out for you. .

            Let me help you. The orientation of the Gospel of Matthew it Judaic-centered, and for the author, that orientation, coupled with the further discussion of “laos” in the Greek demonstrates that for Matthew, “people” is specifically in reference to Israel.

            I got to Keener first since he is one of the best exegetes out there.

              rhutchin

              Johnathan Pritchett writes, “The orientation of the Gospel of Matthew it Judaic-centered, and for the author, that orientation, coupled with the further discussion of “laos” in the Greek demonstrates that for Matthew, “people” is specifically in reference to Israel.”

              Johnathan continues to ignore the elephant in the room. This is the little phrase, “…from their sins” If you want to understand “His people” to be the people of Israel, then are you willing to limit this to just those that He will save from their sins? You do not seem to think that God will save all Israelites.

              Let us remember that the author of the book of Matthew is God. The Greek word, Laos,” is to be understood within the context in which God uses it. Matthew 1:21 is an unique verse in that God here tells us why He is sending Christ to be born of a virgin and ultimately to die on a cross. God is doing this to “save His people from their sins.” Not just a few Israelites, but as Paul explains in Ephesians 3, many Gentiles also.

              It does not help anyone for you to state your opinions; you must also explain how your opinions are agreeable with the Scriptures. You should strive to be thorough in expressing opinions as explanations of Scripture (as thorough as one can within the constraints of this forum which favors short concise responses. This still allows for good explanations of opinions.

                Johnathan Pritchett

                So, what you are saying is we need to toss proper exegesis out the window then?

                I affirm the Scriptures are God’s word. I affirm inerrancy. I affirm God is behind every word. I also affirm he used human authors, who wrote in context and mean what they meant to say in context.

                The purpose of Christ is to save his people from their sins. This particular verse here is in reference to Israel. It means nothing more than that, unless you do eisegesis and import it into the text. That won’t do.

                Your argument is invalid as to try to make this verse in Matthew mean something else.

                Please sign up for a hermeneutics and exegesis class somewhere.

                In the context of Matthew “laos” is used in the reference to the people of Israel. That is how God has Matthew using it.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Add Calvin to Rhutchin’s junkpile. :)

            “Doubtless, by Christ’s people the angel intends the Jews, over whom He was set as Head and King…” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Vol. I, p.65, emphasis mine)

            Calvin goes on, “, but as soon after the nations were to be ingrafted into the race of Abraham, this promise of salvation is extended openly to all who gather by faith into the one body of the Church.”

            But, as Calvin recognizes, the rest of our theology doesn’t change the intent of what the angel meant as Matthew records it in context. See, exegesis must come first. As Keener demonstrates, that you misunderstand, the other citations confirm Matthew’s usage here.

            I understand that you think Calvin and Keener belong in the junkpile though.

            However, Rhutchin, your posts are probably more fitting for it than anything else.

              Johnathan Pritchett

              Forgot to add, shout out to Richard Coords for the assist. :D

              rhutchin

              Here is Calvin on Matthew 1:21:

              “He shall save his people from their sins The first truth taught us by these words is, that
              those whom Christ is sent to save are in themselves lost. But he is expressly called the Savior
              of the Church. If those whom God admits to fellowship with himself were sunk in death
              and ruin till they were restored to life by Christ, what shall we say of “strangers” (Ephesians
              2:12) who have never been illuminated by the hope of life? When salvation is declared to
              be shut up in Christ, it clearly implies that the whole human race is devoted to destruction.
              The cause of this destruction ought also to be observed; for it is not unjustly, or without
              good reason, that the Heavenly Judge pronounces us to be accursed. The angel declares that
              we have perished, and are overwhelmed by an awful condemnation, because we stand excluded
              from life by our sins. Thus we obtain a view of our corruption and depravity; for if
              any man lived a perfectly holy life, he might do without Christ as a Redeemer. But all to a
              man need his grace; and, therefore, it follows that they are the slaves of sin, and are destitute
              of true righteousness.

              Hence, too, we learn in what way or manner Christ saves; he delivers us from sins This
              deliverance consists of two parts. Having made a complete atonement, he brings us a free
              pardon, which delivers us from condemnation to death, and reconciles us to God. Again,
              by the sanctifying influences of his Spirit, he frees us from the tyranny of Satan, that we may
              live “unto righteousness,” (1 Peter 2:24.) Christ is not truly acknowledged as a Savior, till,
              on the one hand, we learn to receive a free pardon of our sins, and know that we are accounted
              righteous before God, because we are free from guilt; and till, on the other hand, we ask
              from him the Spirit of righteousness and holiness, having no confidence whatever in our
              own works or power. By Christ’s people the angel unquestionably means the Jews, to whom
              he was appointed as Head and King; but as the Gentiles were shortly afterwards to be ingrafted
              into the stock of Abraham, (Romans 11:17,) this promise of salvation is extended indiscriminately
              to all who are incorporated by faith in the “one body” (1 Corinthians 12:20) of
              the Church.”

              So, your point is that the term, “His people” refers only to those Jews that Christ intends to save and not all Jews.

                Johnathan Pritchett

                No, the point is that it is in reference to Israel. Period. That is all it means, that is all that that phrase was intended to mean in its context, and regardless of other theological conclusions, it doesn’t change what it means. Even Calvin understood that.

                There is no sense in trying to add too much theological freight it was never intended to carry on top of it.

                  rhutchin

                  Johnathan Pritchett writes, “No, the point is that it is in reference to Israel. Period.”

                  Exegetically, we know of only one group of people that God saves from their sins – the elect – those who believe the gospel. The elect are God’s people. What does God say of Israel, “I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” Then writes Paul, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” These are His people – His elect – whom He saves from their sins.

                  You offer your opinion that God will save Israel from their sins. He won’t. God will save a remnant out of Israel as he will out of the Gentiles. They are His people and He saves them from their sins (the elephant in the room that you refuse to address).

                    Johnathan Pritchett

                    Yawn…

                    Again, no. My opinion is the Bible’s opinion, specifically, the Angel’s opinion, in context. “His people” here means Israel. Whatever other theological considerations from other passages about who is saved and isn’t saved is irrelevant.

                    “His people” here is a passing reference to Israel. Whether we further speculate this to mean a remnant, all, none, some, etc. is totally beside the point.

                    Exegesis, you should try it sometime.

Robert

Phillip I really don’t understand why you don’t accept the belief that the sinner is unable to come to faith unless they first experience the pre-conversion work of the Spirit. You affirm that you believe in depravity. You affirm that the sinner must experience the “divine instruction” in order to believe (that is affirming the need for the pre-conversion work of the Spirit). Now you are trying to make it a belief that only Calvinists and “classical Arminians” hold to:

“My experience has been that only two groups hold to the Augustinian /Calvinistic doctrine of “total depravity/total inability”. They are the Calvinist and their Arminian offspring. Unless you want to differentiate yourself from one of these two groups I would have to say you are Arminian, since from your writings you appear to reject the other petals of the TULIP. Your arguments for total depravity are identical to those of a Calvinist. The only difference is in the solution. That is “classical arminianism”.”

But many here who consider themselves to be “Traditionalists” and claim they are **neither** Calvinist nor Arminian believe in depravity and inability. So you are wrong in claiming that it is a belief only held by calvinists and classical Arminians. The fact of the matter is that Baptists have affirmed depravity and inability for a long time and many of them, most of them were neither calvinists nor classical Arminians (note that Baptists believe that you cannot lose your salvation while most Arminians believe that you can).

“I provided several verses with biblical examples of lost depraved sinners coming to faith in Jesus Christ and yet you failed to interact with any of them. When I asked you to show me one verse clearly stating that the depraved nature had been overcomed/resolved/removed, or what have you, you couldn’t. Why? Because there isn’t one. Again, if our interpretation of scripture is correct, we should be able to find actual biblical examples to support it.”

Sorry Phillip this argument of yours here is very unfair and completely ignores that I dealt directly with your question in my previous post. You asked for one single verse that says “the depraved nature had been overcome/resolved/removed or what have you”. My response which you completely ignore and don’t deal with at all is that there are many verses stating the condition of the nonbeliever/depravity (again such as that they are blind to the gospel, they see the cross as foolishness, they are in rebellion against God, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.). And that the Biblical writers need not state ******all of these things******** every time a nonbeliever comes to faith in the Lord. To keep harping that there is no single verse that has the word depravity in it and says that it was overcome by the work of the Spirit and so depravity is not overcome is just bad reasoning. The scriptures clearly present the condition of the nonbeliever and aspects of it that have to be overcome if that person is going to have faith.

As I also said previously the Biblical writers summarize a person coming to faith by saying that so and so **believed**. They need not say something like:

“And the Philippian jailor heard Paul’s message and while he was blind to the gospel now he was unblended by the work of the Spirit, while he thought the cross was foolish previously now he saw it as not foolish, while he used to not be interested in spiritual things and did not understand them now through the work of the Spirit he understood things like his sinful condition, his need for forgiveness of sin, that Jesus was the way of salvation, that he could not save himself, that he needed to trust Jesus to save him. Etc. etc.”

Instead they simply say “the Philippian jailor believed.”

The fact they do not mention these others things does not mean that they were not taking place.

“The Calvinist can’t provide one biblical example of someone believing as a result of regeneration (which I think you would agree),”

True.

“nor the Arminian provide one biblical example of someone believing as a result of the depraved nature being overcomed (which should tell you something).”

Not true, there is no single verse with the word “depravity” in it, but again the Biblical writers need not mention everything that was involved in a sinner coming to Christ.

“However, the biblical fact is, many depraved people did. I challenge you to go to the gospel of John and find what caused every depraved sinner to believe. Every time it was either because of something Jesus said (his words) or did (miracle). Never once, NOT ONCE, does it ever state, or even hint, that the depraved nature had been resolved/removed/overcomed.”

And these words and deeds of Jesus, you don’t think the Holy Spirit used these words and deeds to lead folks to faith in Christ?

Was the Spirit just doing these things for fun? Or was He doing these things as part of his pre-conversion work of leading people to Christ?

The same gospels have Jesus chiding people for not seeing and acknowledging the Spirit in these miracles, in fact Jesus says of those who saw the miracles of the Spirit and attributed them to Satan they were committing the unforgiveable sin. This unforgiveable sin was directly related to them rejecting the pre-conversion work of the Spirit (in that case the pre-conversion work of the Spirit included the Spirit doing miracles).

“In regards to 2 Timothy 3:15 are the holy scriptures are able to make one wise regarding salvation?
You said…. “I can believe these two both be true because it precisely this ‘divine instruction’ (your term for it, my term for it being the pre-conversion work of the Spirit) that overcomes depravity.”’

I am beginning to think that is your major mistake here: for whatever reason you refuse to accept that one can believe in BOTH depravity and the pre-conversion work of the Spirit overcoming depravity and leading people to faith.

“First, nowhere in scripture does it say this divine instruction overcomes depravity.’”

That is just an argument from silence. And again for whatever reason you ignore that the Bible has many statements about the non-believers condition and that these things have to be overcome for a person to believe. Take spiritual blindness as an example. The nonbelievers are said to be blinded about the gospel. If that blindness is not overcome, not dealt with, then they can never believe (there it is again, inability).

“Even as believers we are still depraved (at least I know I am).”

Ok you affirm again that you believe in depravity.

“Second, the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity means that the issue of depravity must be addressed first BEFORE someone can believe.”

Yes, if a person blinded to the gospel that blindness “must be addressed first BEFORE someone can believe”. If a person sees the cross as foolishness, that thinking “must be addressed first BEFORE someone can believe.” If the nonbeliever does not understand spiritual things, that “must be addressed first BEFORE someone can believe.”

“So when I asked “are the scriptures able to make one wise regarding salvation?”, both the Calvinist and Arminian would be forced to answer “no…not as long as they are still totally depraved.””

Not true at all, the Arminian, the Traditionalist, and any other non-Calvinist can answer that Yes the scripture makes the sinner wise regarding salvation AND Yes they can believe the person is totally depraved (because they can believe that the pre-conversion work of the Spirit overcomes “total depravity” in leading a person to faith.

Robert

    phillip

    Brother Robert,

    This post almost got past me (I was looking higher up). You probably dropped down due to the lack of space. That’s fine.

    Just a few things, then we need to move on (no hard feelings here, brother).

    First. How can the Father (or Spirit) teach us (John 6:45) if we aren’t teach-able?

    Second, how can the Spirit convict us (John 16:8) if we aren’t convict-able?

    That alone should put total inability into question. Even the depraved lost sinner knows he is a sinner (John 3:20). And sin is spiritual.

    You said…. “many here who consider themselves to be ‘Traditionalists’ and claim they are **neither** Calvinist nor Arminian believe in depravity and inability.”

    But the question isn’t one of depravity, but total depravity/total inability (BIG difference), which, if you have been following along, the vast majority of the contributors to this website reject. Only Calvinist and their Arminian offspring adhere to total depravity/total inability, which is why both Calvinists and Arminians screamed “semi-pelagianism!” when the Baptist statement of faith came out in 2012. Remember?

    We both believe that unless the Lord opens the heart and plants the seed (the word of God) no one will come to saving faith. God must take the first step if someone is going to be saved. That separates us from Pelagius and his buddies. But this opening of the heart and planting the seed does not overcome/remove/resolve our depravity.

    Where you and I differ is regarding the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity/total inability.

    Anyway, bye for now.

    Blessings to you and yours.

rhutchin

Phillip writes, “First. How can the Father (or Spirit) teach us (John 6:45) if we aren’t teach-able?
Second, how can the Spirit convict us (John 16:8) if we aren’t convict-able?
That alone should put total inability into question.”

These questions lead to the Calvinist conclusion that regeneration is necessary to teach and convict. It does not put total inability to question; that is firmly established in the Scriptures – and one must deal with it and not imagine it away.

Phillip also writes, “Even the depraved lost sinner knows he is a sinner (John 3:20). And sin is spiritual.”

John 3:20 describes the lost sinner but it says nothing about him knowing or being aware that he is depraved or lost or a sinner. Although, such a person might mockingly respond to the preacher, “OK. If you say so.” while turning to his buddy and saying, “What a loon!”

    phillip

    Rhutchin writes…..

    “These questions lead to the Calvinist conclusion that regeneration is necessary to teach and convict.”

    First….what? God the Father is the one who teaches and it is the Holy Spirit who convicts. What rhutchin is saying is that both the Father and the Spirit need to be regenerated before they can teach and convict?

    I think what rhutchin meant to write is that regeneration is necessary before anyone can be taught and convicted. Only problem for rhutchin is that regeneration does not precede faith, much less learn-ability and convict-ability. But for most who embrace Calvinism, it has to.

    Rhutchin writes…..

    “John 3:20 describes the lost sinner but it says nothing about him knowing or being aware that he is depraved or lost or a sinner.”

    John 3:20 (NIV)….
    “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light (why?) for fear that their deeds will be exposed.”

    Sounds to me that the one who hates the light knows he’s guilty (a sinner), otherwise why “fear” exposure?

    Rhutchin wouldn’t make a good Berean. But he does make to be an excellent Calvinist.

      rhutchin

      Oh, Phillip!
      Phillip writes, “First. How can the Father (or Spirit) teach us (John 6:45) if we aren’t teach-able?
      I write, ““These questions lead to the Calvinist conclusion that regeneration is necessary to teach and convict.”

      So, who then needs to be regenerated? Implied, but not stated, is that it is “us” – those not teachable. If a person is not teachable, it does no good to change the teacher.

      Regardless, depraved people are unteachable and unconvictable. These requires that God (the Holy Spirit) intervene to teach and convict thus substantiating their total inability. What does this intervention require – regeneration to make the person teachable whereupon they can then be convicted of sin.

      You can challenge Calvinist conclusions, but until you can come up with an alternative that is consistent with Scripture, you accomplish nothing.

      As to John 3:20, just take it for exactly what it says. The depraved fear that their deeds will be exposed. The depraved suns a scam. If his evil is exposed the scam is over. In addition, they are then exposed to ridicule. What marks depraved sinners? Is it not selfishness and pride. Exposing the evil of depraved sinners exposes their selfish efforts and pride.

      Calvinist always emulate Bereans who take a verse in the context of the whole Bible and do not excise from its context and imagine what it could mean using man’s wisdom. You should do the same.

        phillip

        Rhutchin writes….

        “Regardless, depraved people are unteachable and unconvictable. These requires that God (the Holy Spirit) intervene to teach and convict thus substantiating their total inability. What does this intervention require – regeneration to make the person teachable whereupon they can then be convicted of sin.”

        John 8:7-9 (KJV)….
        “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her’. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

        Strange response for spiritually dead, depraved sinners.

        And since “regeneration does not precede faith”, rhutchin’s entire argument, and theology, falls apart.

        rhutchin. Great Calvinist. Poor Berean.

rhutchin

Phillip writes, “John 8:7-9 (KJV)….
“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her’. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”
Strange response for spiritually dead, depraved sinners.”

What is your point? What does Paul say of them, “they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10) Do you think that Paul is correct?

We also have in Matthew 7 that Christ speaks of some coming to Him and saying, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?” Could we not say that this also is a strange response from spiritually dead, depraved sinners? Christ says to them, “I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” Aren’t they spiritually dead, depraved sinners?

Depraved people exhibit strange behavior. So what! What is your point here??

    phillip

    Johnathan is correct. Rhutchin has to have things spelled out.

    Rhutchin writes…..

    “Regardless, depraved people are unteachable and unconvictable……regeneration (is required) to make the person teachable whereupon they can then be convicted of sin.”

    John 8:7-9 (KJV)….
    “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, ‘HE THAT IS WITHOUT SIN AMONG YOU (so we are talking about a spiritual condition here), let him first cast a stone at her’. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it (it didn’t fall on deaf ears), BEING CONVICTED BY (what?) THEIR OWN CONSCIENCE, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last (they KNEW they were guilty sinners via conviction by their own conscience): and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

    Apparently these spiritually dead, depraved sinners were both teachable and convictable. They heard, understood, were convicted, and walked away.

    Its obvious that scripture will not tell rhutchin anything. He’s married to his reformed theology. Even when the scriptures clearly contradict Calvinism, it is necessary then to twist, add to, or re-write the word of God to align itself with Calvinism.

    So here’s a challenge for rhutchin. Provide me one verse, one biblical example, which clearly states that the sinner believed as a result of regeneration. There are several examples of people coming to faith. But just show me one that reads something like…..

    “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham, as a result of being regenerated, believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’”

    Obviously, someone as wise as rhutchin needed proof before he embraced “regeneration precedes faith”. Hopefully, he will share it here.

      rhutchin

      Phillip writes, “Provide me one verse, one biblical example, which clearly states that the sinner believed as a result of regeneration.”

      “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

      Ephesians 2
      “But God…when we were dead in sins, quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:… For we are his workmanship,…” Ephesians 2:4-10)

      “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you,…Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood,…” (Colossians 1:9-14)

      “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

      Ezekiel 36
      25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
      26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
      27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

      Ezekiel 11
      17 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered,…
      19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
      20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

      Jeremiah 32
      37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:
      38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
      39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:

      “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)

        phillip

        “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

        Clearly only a born again child of God will enter the kingdom, but doesn’t even imply that “regeneration precedes faith”.

        Ephesians 2
        “But God…when we were dead in sins, quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:… For we are his workmanship,…” Ephesians 2:4-10)

        Sorry, doesn’t even imply that “regeneration precedes faith”. However, notice that “quickened together with Christ” is the equivalent of “by grace you have been saved”. So if regeneration precedes faith, then salvation precedes faith. Sadly, some Calvinists believe this too.

        “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you,…Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood,…” (Colossians 1:9-14)

        Where does this say the new birth precedes faith?

        “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

        Where does this say that “regeneration precedes faith”? This merely states that God has planted His glorious word in our hearts, but He does this in the unbeliever as well (2 Corinthians 3:4).

        Ezekiel 36
        25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

        Refers to Israel and the coming earthly kingdom.

        Ezekiel 11
        17 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered,…19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

        Also refers to Israel.

        Jeremiah 32
        37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: 39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:

        Israel again in the last days.

        “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)

        And yet Israel again. You are obviously a victim of replacement theology as well. Most Calvinists are.

        Pathetic, but predictable. Not one single verse clearly stating that “regeneration, or the new birth, precedes faith”.

        And not one biblical example given of someone who believed as a result of the new birth. NOT ONE.

        But chew on this…

        Galatians 3:26 (KJV)…
        For ye are all the children of God (how?) by faith in Christ Jesus.

        So until we believe we are not a child of God. Now follow that same theme with the following…

        1 John 5:1 (amplified)….
        Everyone who believes (adheres to, trusts, and relies on the fact) that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) is a born-again child of God; and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him (His offspring).

        Just for kicks (and these words come from the Lord, Himself)….

        John 5:24-25…..
        “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from (what?) death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when (who?) the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those (dead) who hear (and believe) will live.”

        And yet as plain as that is, most Calvinists, like rhutchin, will continue to insist that “regeneration precedes faith”.

        Poor Calvinist rhutchin. Couldn’t provide a single verse, much less an actual biblical example, clearly addressing the order of faith and the new birth. Even more sad, he believes he did.

        Talk about a heart of stone.

          rhutchin

          Phillip is not reading these verses.. They all depict actions by God to change the nature/ability of the depraved sinner.

          1. The depraved sinner cannot even “see” the kingdom of God until he is born again. One must also be born again to “enter” the kingdom of God (read the passage and see if you can find where Christ says this). A person must be able to “see” the kingdom before he can express “faith” in that kingdom and thereby enter.

          2. The depraved sinner is dead in sin and must be made alive to express faith.

          3. It is God who delivers the depraved from the powers of darkness thereby providing the environment for the preaching of the word to be effective in producing faith.

          4. It is God who changes Israel’s heart without which it cannot express faith to obey God’s commandments. Read Romans where Paul calls those whom God saves “Israel.”

          Your comments are shallow . Read the entire passage in Galatians 3. It links faith to justification and faith is linked by Paul to hearing the word preached (Romans). Those who are in darkness or dead in sin respond to the preaching of the gospel by mocking it (1 Corinthians 1). God must change the depraved person – bringing them out of darkness, making them alive – to change them from the rocky, stoney soil of the parable into good soil that can then receive the seed and the seed prospers.

          How do the Scriptures describe the depraved person? It is a question that you need to ask. Here are some characteristics of the depraved person.

          1. Cannot produce good fruit (Matthew 7:18 – a corrupt tree produces evil fruit…a corrupt tree cannot produce good fruit.)
          2. Cannot hear Christ’s word that they might have life (John 8:43 – Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.)
          3. Cannot accept he spirit of truth (John 14:17 – the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it cannot see him, neither knows him:)
          4. Cannot be subject to the law of God (Romans 8:7 – the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.)
          5. Cannot discern truths of the spirit of God (1 Corinth 2:14 – the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.)
          6. Cannot confess from the heart that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinth 12:3 – no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.)
          7. Cannot control the tongue (James 3:8 – the tongue can no man tame;)
          8. Cannot come to Christ (John 6:44-46; 65 – No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:…Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God)
          9. Do not seek God (Romans 3:11;18 there is none that seeketh after God…There is no fear of God before their eyes.)
          10. Have deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?)

          Thus, the depraved person cannot be saved and is unable to be saved unless and until God acts to change them and negate the issues above. Only the Pelagians deny the depraved condition of a person and imagined that he could, by his own resourcefulness, respond to the gospel. Surely, you are not Pelagian and actually understand the depravity of sinner people and what that depravity means.

            phillip

            Rhutchin, again, is interpreting these verses thru the Calvinistic lenses of others (nothing new). Most of these verses have been addressed on this very website again and again and again and again.

            Rhutchin cannot hear because his heart has been hardened by reformed theology.

            Point #1. Refers to works. Due to their depraved sin nature, man cannot earn salvation.

            Point #2. John 5:39-47 (KJV)……
            “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing (not unable) to come to (or believe in) Me that you may have life (it was their refusal to believe that prevented them from obtaining spiritual life). I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me (they had already rejected the words of God so it was only natural that these same Jews would reject the words of Christ). But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words (and there you go)?”

            Point #3. John 145:17 (in its entirety), speaking to his apostles….
            “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you (the Spirit was in Christ behind the veil) and will be in you (not already in you, but will be in you).”

            Point #4. Again, man cannot earn salvation by keeping the Law.

            Point #5. Has to do with “the deep things of God” (2 Corinthians 2:10) and not the gospel which even a child can understand (2 Timothy 3:15).

            Point #6. It is by reading the Spirit breathed scriptures that we come to know the Lord (Acts 17:2, Acts 18:28, 2 Timothy 3:15, etc…etc….etc)

            Point #7. James 1:21 “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Humility is not a gift.

            Point #8. Yes and God the Father draws us by divine instruction (John 6:45) or the very word of God.

            Point #9. True. However John 4:23…..
            “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” And such was the case in the examples of Cornelius, Lydia, and others.

            Point #10. Completely true. And sadly, even among believers.

            However, not a single one of these verses say, much less even hint, that the sinner must be born again before he can come to saving faith. There is not one, NOT ONE, biblical example of someone coming to faith as a result of regeneration, or the new birth. The scriptures are full of biblical examples of people believing God (OT) and coming to faith in Jesus Christ (NT), but not one author of the scriptures, led by the Holy Spirit, never mentions this faith was the result of regeneration.

            And finally, notice rhutchin had no rebuttal for Galatians 3:26 and its direct correlation to 1 John 5:1. No response to the Lord’s words found in John 5:24-25. There is absolutely no biblical evidence (example) that supports the Calvinistic interpretations of the verses provide. NONE. All of these interpretations are nothing more than a desperate attempt to deceive others into believing “regeneration precedes faith”.

            But how do you get thru to a group of people, though fully deceived, believe they have been given an extra measure of grace?

Andrew Barker

rhutchin: You have a habit of giving a quick answer and moving on without really stopping to discuss any of the finer points. Phillip has mentioned that John 3:3 does not support your assertion that regeneration must precede faith. You obviously do, although I can see no justification on your part for doing so apart from you simply saying that is the case.

So let’s stick to this single verse, John 3:3 and carefully look at what it’s saying. What you appear to be saying is that the unregenerate man cannot ‘see’ the Kingdom of God in that he is totally unable to understand things which are ‘spiritual’. So before he can understand the Kingdom of God he needs to be made alive spiritually. Now there might have been an element of truth in that, save for the fact that the word used does not imply any spiritual or intellectual understanding of something. The word used means to experience something first hand. So it could easily be re-written as a man cannot experience the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. The same word is used, same aorist tense, in John 11:40 where Jesus says to Martha, “did I not say if you believe you will see (experience) the glory of God?” It wasn’t an intellectual understanding that Jesus was on about. It was a true physical experience with Lazarus being raised from the dead.

That’s really my basis for saying that the word see in John 3:3 does not imply some spiritually gifted insight. The verse tells me that unless a person is born again they cannot expect to experience the things of God, or indeed the Kingdom of God. I think this would be generally acceptable to most people.

There are other verses which could be used to support my view, but I will resist the temptation and simply ask you to complete your exegesis of John 3:3 and explain the scriptural basis as to why it is that you hold that this verse implies that regeneration precedes faith. I don’t think you can!

    rhutchin

    Andrew Barker writes, “That’s really my basis for saying that the word see in John 3:3 does not imply some spiritually gifted insight. The verse tells me that unless a person is born again they cannot expect to experience the things of God, or indeed the Kingdom of God. I think this would be generally acceptable to most people.”

    So, we need only determine what is meant by “the things of God, or indeed the Kingdom of God,” as we both agree on this point. Rather than list what is included within the term, “the things of God,” it might be best to list those things excluded. My list of exclusions has nothing on it. My conclusion: a person must be born again before he is able to experience anything of God. As anything about God is to be found in His word, a person must be born again before the hearing of the gospel can produce the faith by which one then lives.

    If you place the hearing of the gospel and faith prior to the new birth then you have a person experiencing the things of God prior to the new birth when we both agree that these come after the new birth.

    Unless you want to exclude the hearing of the gospel and faith as things of God.

      Andrew Barker

      rhutchin: I would simply note that you contended that John 3:3 provided support for the belief that regeneration precedes faith. I have given you my reasons for saying this is not the case. Scripture is quite clear regarding faith. It comes by hearing the word of God. If you feel my reasons are not soundly based by all means come back at me, but I can see no point in getting into a protracted discussion about this unless you can come up with something more substantive.

        rhutchin

        I think that you are saying that you would exclude the hearing of the gospel and subsequent faith as things of God – i.e., that hearing the word preached and subsequent faith precede one’s being born again and then being able to see the things of God.

        As your position is that they are not the things of God, then they must be the things of man – which seems consistent with your position: faith precedes regeneration.

        OK. We have identified the specific point of disagreement between us. That seems substantive to me.

        If I may go further, I understand you to be saying that people have the ability – independent of God (either they are born that way or it is conveyed to them and everyone else through common grace) – to express saving faith with such faith being awakened by the hearing of the gospel.

        Yet, Paul seems clear in writing in 1 Corinth 1:23, “..we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;” that absent something else, the preaching of the gospel, by itself, is not sufficient to awaken saving faith.

        So, how do you have the person overcoming that which Paul explains in 1 Corinth 1?

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