18 January 2008

B-b-b-b-bad to the bone

by Phil Johnson
cripture is very clear and consistent in its teaching that we were all born into a state of sinfulness, guilt, and spiritual death. When we truly grasp our fallenness, we can instantly see that our own sin is a moral and spiritual dilemma from which we are utterly unable to extricate ourselves.

Paul told the Ephesian believers: "[You] were dead in trespasses and sins: wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Ephesians 2:1-3). The "others" he speaks of is everyone. That is the state of every person who comes into this world. The apostle was describing the spiritual effects of our fallen human nature.

Look closely at what he says there: Every unregenerate person is spiritually dead, walking in accord with Satan, by nature a child of wrath. We are born into this world as thoroughgoing sinners—not merely tainted a little bit by sin, but completely, hopelessly in bondage to it. Every aspect of our being—mind, emotions, desires, and even our physical constitution—is corrupted, controlled, and disfigured by sin and its effects. No one escapes from that verdict. We are totally depraved.



Incidentally, the doctrine of "total depravity" was not invented by Calvin. It is a biblical doctrine. It was also standard orthodox Christian theology, expressly affirmed by all of mainstream Christianity for more than a thousand years before the Reformation—from the Pelagian controversy on. So don't dismiss total depravity as merely a Reformation-era novelty, peculiar to Calvinist dogma. It's not.

On the other hand, if you truly understand the doctrine of depravity, you will see the truth at the heart of Calvinism's emphasis. This is why we stress divine grace rather human free will as the prime factor in our salvation. And I don't apologize for being emphatic about this: Scripture clearly teaches that God is utterly sovereign, and sinners are totally powerless to save themselves. Once you grasp those truths the way Scripture presents them, you will have embraced the very heart of what is commonly labeled Calvinism. This dual emphasis on human depravity and the necessity of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of sinners is also the basis of all truth that can legitimately be called "evangelical." I yield no ground to those who want God's sovereignty or the sinner's inability to be watered down. To do so is to corrupt the gospel at its very starting point.

In this upcoming series of posts, I intend to consider four of the hardest questions about the doctrine of depravity with clear, biblical answers:
  1. In what sense is depravity total?
  2. How can we be held responsible for our own inability?
  3. How did we inherit Adam's sinfulness?
  4. Is there an antidote for human depravity?

Stay tuned.

Phil's signature

161 comments:

stratagem said...

I think it is interesting that in the Solomon's Porch video article the other day, one of the statements Pagitt made was that a strong power structure in a church leads to problems. Because of our total depravity, it is probably one of the few things he's said that I agree with. I am surprised how many people on here disagreed with it. Could they be the same people who believe in the total depravity of man?

The Doulos said...

Well stated Phil. If we get the reality of the state of being spiritually dead and totally depraved down right, everything else flows from that.

In fact, this was brought home to me again just this morning as I was working with disciples at the local rescue mission. They have no illusions about their sin, their utter inability or lack of desire to even want to approach God. They receive the news of God's sovereign grace so readily and their entire response to God and their motivation to live a Christ-like life comes from that knowledge. But it has to start with a real sense of their own sin and depravity. Not a popular notion these days, but wholly Biblical. And wholly necessary to have a right understanding of the whole Gospel of Christ, as you state here.

Even So... said...

I agree.

If you miss the start you'll miss the heart...

Mike Riccardi said...

You know how you read something 908724234 times, and then the next time it just smacks you in the face? That's what just happened to me and the fact that we were by nature children of wrath. Man... I guess sometimes I get so caught up in verse one (we're dead) and verses four and five (we were made alive because of God's mercy), that I miss the impact of vv. 2-3.

Thanks Phil. I can't wait to see these next four posts.

Brian said...

Stratagem,
I do not think that most here would disagree with Pagitt's "strong power structure" statement as long as it is not overgeneralized. The problem is that legitimate authority could be torn down if such a view was taken too far. I also react Pagitt's insinuation that Solomon's Porch does not, therefore, have a power structures. Power stuctures will develop informally even if you do not put them in place formally. Alpha dogs will emerge (pardon the pun). To keep from highjacking the thread, this tendency to take control even you say you are not going to goes back to the issue of total depravity does it not?

The Doulos said...

Looking forward to posts on questions 2 & 3. These are hard questions, that sometimes we struggle to think through clearly and Biblically.

S.J. Walker said...

My only though on the Pagitt question is this:

I don't think he was coming at the issue from a sense of the depravity of man, inasmuch as he was from the direction of the depravity of authority.

"Did God indeed say?..."

And Phil,

"Incidentally, the doctrine of "total depravity" was not invented by Calvin. It is a biblical doctrine. It was also standard orthodox Christian theology, expressly affirmed by all of mainstream Christianity for more than a thousand years before the Reformation—from the Pelagian controversy on. So don't dismiss total depravity as merely a Reformation-era novelty, peculiar to Calvinist dogma. It's not."

AMEN. I get so tired of this myself. I know for me, though yes, I had been taught about these doctrines, I honestly never read or even heard very much about Calvin, Augustine, or Arminius until later in life. My point being, I was taught the Bible, read the Bible and believed the Bible only to find out later that these men known as Calvin, Spurgeon, Augustine, all believed it too. It was as simple as that.

Thanks Phil.

Brian said...

I agree that Pagitt did not make his statement with reference to total depravity. Total depravity would seem to teach that the problem is not primarily the power structures but the people within those structures.

maritus imperfectus said...

As a former Arminian/Charismatic/flavor-of-the-day-taught Christian, who is newer to the doctrines of grace, I am looking forward to the series. A law school buddy and I have been ‘discussing’ the issues surrounding the doctrines of grace, starting with total depravity. I will have to get him here for the series so he can hear the facts articulated in an understandable fashion!

One question: How do you answer the retort of those who insist that the ‘dead in trespasses’ refers not to our total depravity in as much as it refers to our status as sinners and the wages of our sin? (disclaimer in case my buddy does visit: this question is not about our current dialogue. Sheesh, lawyers!)

Johnny Dialectic said...

My last comment didn't post for some reason. Basically, Phil, I said I look forward to the discussion, and when you go to your first question, I'd be very interested in your take on Ro. 2:14,15 as it relates to the totality of depravity.

Mike Riccardi said...

Maritus,

I'm not sure how that's a retort. Maybe I'm just dense. Can you elaborate a bit?

stratagem said...

To those of you who responded to my observation on Pagitt: You may well be right about his motivation. I cannot know that. I guess I am only saying that the old phrase "power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely" is totally congruous with the idea of our total depravity.

In fact, I think we see our own depravity laid bare, whenever we see someone who rules with absolute power become a Hitler, Saddam, Kim Jung Il, Idi Amin, and the list goes on and on.

We are all the same level of depravity of those dictators, the only difference is that most of us don't have the opportunity to let our own warped natures out into the open.

Strong Tower said...

In what sense is depravity total?
Nonsense
How can we be held responsible for our own inability?
Tightly
How did we inherit Adam's sinfulness?
Reprobate Court
Is there an antidote for human depravity?
Yahway

You know that moment of darkness right after a camera flash? Then you know this contrast and that little blue light that lingers in your visual field, and you know that you're not the light and that there is something that you need to look for that is curiously not available in your natural visual field, though you see it and reach for it, it remains elusive. Just knowing it is real, however, knowing that it has uncovered for you yourself, begs you follow. Ah for the thirst and the hunger that that first taste of intimacy creates. So we begin to say: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his lips, for your love is more delightful than wine...As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love.

Smitten, we faint, convinced unworthy- what entrance is this... the narrow gate bekons to the unclean poor stripped naked and destitute blood, unreasonable another's wash makes white like snow refreshed cleansed earth below became, this mud now declared a child by His name.


Whoa- Esoterica! Thou foul steed be stayed!

bi0dr0ne said...

I guess I have a problem with the emphasis Calvinism places on the sinner. To be clear I understand that each of us earns condemnation from out own sins, and that it is only by God's grace that we can stand in his presence (through Christ). But it seems like Calvinism takes it a step further and says that no one can even accept Gods grace unless God has done something to enable him. A question that follows is: Do the desires of a person have any bearing on whether he/she will be saved? I think yes, to the extent that a person must want to be saved and must submit to Christ's authority. Or else why the scripture in Acts 17:27 "God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."

maritus imperfectus said...

mike r:
Maritus,

I'm not sure how that's a retort. Maybe I'm just dense. Can you elaborate a bit?


I’m sure the problem is with me (trying to work and read blogs is not recommended). Let me (try to) clarify with a hypothetical:
-----
Me: Hey, let’s take a look at man’s depravity. As you can see in Ephesians 2, we are dead in our trespasses. Since we’re dead, God must save us.

Arminian Friend: Whoa. That’s not what Paul meant. He meant we are dead, meaning that the wages of sin is death, so our end result is death. You see, God makes us alive in that we will no longer suffer that death. Isn’t prevenient grace awesome!?!

Me (ripping hair out): Sorry, but that is not what that passage says.

Scuffle begins.
-----
Hope that clears it up a bit. Any thoughts?

Strong Tower said...

BOO-

What part of "by nature children of wrath" do you not understand?

Does a bad tree produce good fruit? Either make the tree good, or else bad.

Or, how can you being evil, do good?

Mike Riccardi said...

I think the problem lies with Arminian friend's argument, and not with your explanations.

Rom 6:23 talks about the ultimate consequences of sin; i.e., eternal condemnation. That's represented as death.

To say that Eph 2 speaks of that death, in my estimation, is to say that we're already in hell. It doesn't square, because it's a reading of the two verses 'sans-context,' and then reading the one into the other.

How many hermeneutical rules can we violate at once?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Maritus, perhaps you could pass along to your friend what one theologian said regarding Eph. 2:5--

"Grace is both the beginning and end. The apostle speaks indifferently either in the first or second person; the Jews and gentiles being in the same circumstance, both by nature and by grace. This text lays the axe to the very root of spiritual pride, and all glorying in ourselves."

The theologian, BTW, was John Wesley.

Mike Riccardi said...

Biodrone:

The Calvinist doesn't jettison desires. No one comes to Christ unwillingly or kicking and screaming. The issue lies in understanding the nature of the unregenerate person and the nature of the regenerate person (which I'm sure Phil will unfold quite nicely in the promised four posts). But if I might offer what I hope could be considered a preview...

Fallen man has absolutely no desire for God. None at all. He's dead. His desires are consistent with his spiritual death and his child-of-wrath nature. "There is no one who seeks God" (Rom 3).

God perceives fallen man, dead in trespasses and sins, and then regenerates those whom He has chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph 1): the elect. This act of regeneration is sometimes called irresistible grace or an effectual call. He gives new birth to those He means to save. He causes them to be born again (1 Pet 1) and makes them alive (Eph 2).

By re-generating fallen man, God gives him a new nature. With this new nature, regenerate man can see God as He truly is, for all the glory and splendor of the Son, and runs to Him willingly, out of no compulsion at all. So we turn to serve God willingly, now having a nature in which our will/desires can (and necessarily always will) choose/desire God.

Hope that helps...

bi0dr0ne said...

Mike, doesnt regeneration refer to baptism? As in Acts 2 "repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and you will recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit"

It sounds like you're advocating some kind of mysticism that turns people into robots who are moved around on a chess board.

And how do you explain Ro 7?, and Cornelius?, or the Ethiopian Eunuch?

Bill said...

Honestly, I don't struggle at all with the doctrines of total depravity. I know from my within my own heart there came nothing good .. until Christ called me. As a matter of fact, I fully admit that I never seeked after Him .. until He called me.

When discussing these matters I like to tell people that "God can't help it that He's sovereign and sees the end from the beginning". It's a lot like the doctrine of eternal security: true believers can't lose their salvation (nor will they want to) because according to God it is a done deal - we just don't see the end result yet.

Bill

Jugulum said...

bi0dr0ne said,

"But it seems like Calvinism takes it a step further and says that no one can even accept Gods grace unless God has done something to enable him."

Yes.

"A question that follows is: Do the desires of a person have any bearing on whether he/she will be saved? I think yes, to the extent that a person must want to be saved and must submit to Christ's authority. "

Yes.

I think part of your trouble is that you're misunderstanding what we mean by "unable to accept". It's not that people really want to accept God's grace, but he won't let us. It's that we don't want to accept God's grace. We are unwilling to come. At the core of our being, we are so affected by sin that we will reject Him every time.

Until, that is, he changes us and enables us to believe & to submit. Until he takes out our hearts of stone, and gives us hearts of flesh, we will never bow or seek him--not truly.

This, I think, is precisely what Jesus said at the end of John 6. He looked at a bunch of people who did not believe him, and told them, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (That's John 6:65, referring back to what he said earlier in chapter 6--see particularly v. 37 and v. 44. This is effectual calling.)

SolaMeanie said...

I would like to know how much resistance to the idea of total depravity (and the other doctrines of grace) is subliminal human pride. We must hold on to the freedom of the will at all costs! Excelsior!

As someone who began as an Arminian until convinced otherwise by Scripture, I remember my initial struggles. It seemed to me that if Calvinism is true, then that seems to make God arbitrary and unfair. Not true of course, but that is often a struggle for Arminians as they wrestle with this issue. Coming to terms with total depravity and understanding just how lost humanity is helped me immensely. Also of great help -- realizing that God does not owe me a thing except judgment. Realizing that makes His grace all the more amazing.

SolaMeanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maritus imperfectus said...

solameanie said: "I would like to know how much resistance to the idea of total depravity (and the other doctrines of grace) is subliminal human pride. We must hold on to the freedom of the will at all costs! Excelsior!

Exactly! In conversations with friends and family, I often wonder (and sometimes ask in moments of bravery) why we need to fight for man's free will and participation in salvation.

To me, the logical question is: What is lost if man's will doesn't play a part in his salvation?

Answer: Nothing. The only reason we want to hang on to the free will stuff is so we can feel special (I say that from experience).

Strong Tower said...

BOO-

How do you deal with Jesus who always did the will of the Father and nothing out of some kind of libertarian free will?

So I would ask you how can you do God's will by your will without making it your will and not God's will that you are doing?

If we are to be like Jesus then we must be like him in that he said that we are not of the world but are from above, not doing our will but only as we see the Father doing. Call it mysticism if you like, it is indeed a mystery which cannot be seen, understood, the will of God cannot be even known, except that a man be born from above, John 3.

We are fully incapable of seeing where it even comes from nor where it is going, but we know it by its effects, and not from afar, but because we are believing we believe and are not condemned. The ability to know what to believe in cannot been seen except one is born again.

How would you deal with Matthew: Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."

Why did Jesus say, "I do not pray for the world..." Can you explain why God closes the eyes of all, and only opens the eyes of some, and this is a perfect compliment to Jesus' discussion with Nicodemus?

The Nicodemus discussion reflects upon Ezekial, and Jesus explanation of Isaiah is not the beginning of the story, only its continued revelation. This cursing is a reflection on the the curse, for it was when the eyes of the woman were "opened" and she saw the fruit for what it was not by Satan's deception, that she died, and no longer beheld the Truth, but believed a lie, and that by God's will, not hers.

In the final analysis, unless you are given eyes, that is, unless you are regenerated (re: again, genesis: created) or as John, given genesis from above, anothen gennao, you cannot see.

Mike Riccardi said...

Biodrone,

I'm pleased to see that others are offering comments similar to mine. I'm going to have to defer long answers till later, as I've got to work. For now, I'll answer very simply

Mike, doesn't regeneration refer to baptism? As in Acts 2 "repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and you will recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit"

No. I wouldn't want to give any credence to baptismal regeneration.

It sounds like you're advocating some kind of mysticism that turns people into robots who are moved around on a chess board.

No more than Paul did. ;o)

And how do you explain Ro 7?, and Cornelius?, or the Ethiopian Eunuch?

In Romans 7 Paul is speaking about himself as a mature believer.

Cornelius is described a Gentile God-fearer, which means that he was only in step with the Jewish religion, which was the right system of faith up until that time. You might call him a Gentile-Jew. He, like every other Jew, though perhaps steadfast in the Jewish religion, still needed to believe in and receive his Messiah, which he could not do without being regenerated.

The fact that the Ethiopian was reading Isaiah doesn't mean that he was seeking God in a forensic sense, anymore than I'd be seeking Allah of the Qu'ran if I was reading the Qu'ran. He was reading Scripture, couldn't understand it (demonstrating his deadness). As it was unfolded, he was illuminated (Ps. 119:130) -- born again with a nature that sees God for who He is. Then he believed and was baptized.

donsands said...

"and were by nature the children of wrath"
And on top of that the god of this world has us blinded.

Looking forward to your teachings of these deep things of God.

Even the nicest person on this earth is a child of wrath.
For myself it may be hard sometimes to understand how a peaceful person, someone who is really nice, can be a child of wrath, but God sees it a lot different then I do; a lot different.

I tell people, our standard is Christ. He was the One human who was not a child of wrath. But was made in the likeness of the children of wrath, to take our wrath upon Himself.

The Bible Christian said...

Looking forward to the rest of the post, its a doctine I am eager to study more.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Maritus: "To me, the logical question is: What is lost if man's will doesn't play a part in his salvation?"

The Bible.

What you seem to be championing is hyper-Calvinism. See Phil's article on the subject. It's not biblical.

"The only reason we want to hang on to the free will stuff is so we can feel special."

Speaking as an Arminian, I certainly can tell you that's not at all true for me. I think this is more of a canard than anything else, for those of us who truly hold to a reformation theology.

maritus imperfectus said...

johnny dialectic: You misread me (or I mistype - seems to be a trend for me today). I tread far from the grounds of the hyper-calvinists.

I didn't say man didn't participate. I was going after the rationale behind the argument about "taking the gift of salvation offered becaue all men have been given a work of prevenient grace which allows them to choose Christ."

Boiled down, the argument is over the genesis of the 'free will' to repent and believe. My point is that there is no advantage to being able to take credit (no matter how little it may be) in my salvation.

I still fail to see why holding onto the 'choice' aspect is so vital. Not to belittle salvation, but which is the better error: to say I chose Christ when God did all the work, or to say God did all the work when I actually did choose Christ (in the Arminian sense)?

That is the crux of my last post. Perhaps I attempt to distill the thought process too much.

Strong Tower said...

JD-

I'm not getting what you're saying...

When Jesus said, "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you...or...

In John 6, where the discussion in centered around the pride of man's desires..

How is it that Jesus is not arguing that it is their pride, their wanting to feel special about holding on to their choice, that is the issue?

They, the Jews grumbled, as the children of rebellion in the wilderness wanted what they wanted, not what God wanted, or to say it another way, they willed what they willed and not what God willed. So which is it, that the will of God is the will for man, or that man's will is the will of God for man? And how can a man will the will of God, and it not be man's will. And if man's will, it is not the manna from heaven, but the quail from fallen desires of man's heart?

Daryl said...

I'm not an Arminian but a little clarification seems to be in order here.
It is Semi-pelagianism that says we have the ability to chose, not Arminianism.
Arminiamism says we are unable to chose unless God gives us his prevenient grace which overcomes our inability and gives us a chance to chose.
The Arminian does not believe that the extension of prevenient grace is unending, that is, when it is extended and not acted upon, there is no guarantee that it will be extended again.

On the other hand, the Arminian also believes that just because God extends this prevenient grace there is no guarantee that the person will accept the offer of salvation.

The sticking point is the lack of Biblical support for the idea of prevenient grace.

In reality, true Arminianism is closer to Calvinim than it is to most evangelical Christianity today.

Hadassah said...

I say this with humility. I can't imagine believing that my salvation was a result of my own choosing. I've seen the depths of my heart. It isn't pretty.

Even with a a regenerate heart, and ongoing sanctification, it still gets really ugly on a regular basis.

God's grace is the most amazing thing I have ever struggle to understand. I am looking forward to this series.

maritus imperfectus said...

Daryl said: “It is Semi-pelagianism that says we have the ability to chose, not Arminianism.
Arminiamism says we are unable to chose unless God gives us his prevenient grace which overcomes our inability and gives us a chance to chose.”


I’m not sure who the clarification was directed to, but since it has been me most of the day, I’ll respond! First, thanks for the clarification and making sure we all are working with the same definitions. I wasn’t trying to imply that the choice was of the pelagian variety. In my post, I was getting after the Arminian concept of choice as you defined it. But enough on that . . .

Daryl also said: “The sticking point is the lack of Biblical support for the idea of prevenient grace.”

Seems like a lack of support should be more than a sticking point; perhaps it should be an abandoning point?

Daryl again: "In reality, true Arminianism is closer to Calvinim than it is to most evangelical Christianity today."

Sad, but true, as I would consider most evangelical Chrisiantity closer to Pelagianism.

Stephen Newell said...

I can't wait for #3. I did a post on original sin last year while studying infant salvation, and the whole concept of "inheriting" Adam's sin has just fascinated me since. Hopefully Phil will not keep us waiting long!

bi0dr0ne said...

Mike,

you wrote:
Cornelius , still needed to believe in and receive his Messiah, which he could not do without being regenerated.

just replace "regenerated" with "baptized", how else do you receive Christ?

You wrote: (regarding the Ethiopian eunuch) He was reading Scripture, couldn't understand it (demonstrating his deadness).

-Does that mean that all Christians understand fully every scripture?
I wouldn't think so since Peter wrote that some of Pauls writings were hard to understand.

Ben said...

I was hoping that someone here could answer this for me. If we are so depraved that we are dead and dead in our sins and unable to respond, after all dead people do not respond, then how can a believer who is dead to sin still sin? I mean dead is dead right? Would this not be why we have prevenient grace that enables a person to either accept/reject the gospel? And while we are at it, why is accepting a gift called a work by Calvinists, it is still all of grace. Just accepting something that you do not deserve does not mean that you can boast or take credit that is just silly.

Mike Riccardi said...

just replace "regenerated" with "baptized", how else do you receive Christ?

Dude, are you really arguing for baptismal regeneration? Luke talks specifically about Cornelius and his friends when he tells us that the Holy Spirit fell upon him while Peter was still speaking, and they were baptized afterwards.

Does that mean that all Christians understand fully every scripture?

No, and I didn't say that at all... and this is off topic. So I'll respond briefly: Christians do have the Holy Spirit who illuminates the Word of God to them and teaches them all things (1Jn 2:27).

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

DJP: "It started me reflecting about how fundamental the Biblical teaching of depravity is to all else. Weak anthropology/hamartiology is what leads to getting atonement wrong, soteriology wrong, Bibliology wrong, ethics wrong...."

PJ: "[T]he doctrine of "total depravity" was not invented by Calvin. It is a biblical doctrine. ... And I don't apologize for being emphatic about this: Scripture clearly teaches that God is utterly sovereign, and sinners are totally powerless to save themselves."

I-Monk: Among those who are doing theology, however, I detect something that I can only call, with any honesty, a kind of game. I’ll call it the “More, Higher, Most, Highest” game. ...

The “More, Higher, Most, Highest” game is the tendency to escalate theological claims and language, and to claim that the escalation of claims and language indicates an accompanying increase in truth, faith, commitment or other valuable commodities among Christians.

From: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/my-theology-can-beat-up-your-theology-thoughts-on-always-saying-more-than-the-other-guyand-being-proud-of-it
------------

Caveat: My intention for this post is not for this thread to derail into a rant against I-Monk. I want to focus on the substance of what I-Monk is saying in relation to the substance of what PJ and DJP are saying. (I've had my own conflict with I-Monk as Centuri0n can attest to. I don't wish to flare things up anew.)

My Point. I fully agree with both DJP and PJ about how critical the doctrine of Total Depravity is. As Dan says, a poor or weak formulation of hamartiology leads to a cascade of compounding errors down the road.

But an effective tactic or counter-measure to blunt the full force and impact of what PJ and DJP are saying (via Scripture's own declarations) is through either:

(1) What a Barthian Post-Evangelical says about Christians playing the "More, Higher, Most, Highest" game to outshout their opponents. Or...

(2) Do what the liberal Emergents do: How can we know and how can we be certain?

Restating. PJ and DJP are indubitably correct about Total Depravity. But the truth of this doctrine is nullified and made void by those claiming that you're either too shrill in proclaiming it, or that you really can't know it with sufficient certainty.

P.S. I trust the Pyro guys. If they think this post is off-topic, please delete it.

ezekiel said...

Biodrone,

Like John the Baptist, we baptise in water for repentance from sins. I suggest a read of Mat 3 again. Even the pharisees showed up wanting baptism. See John's reply in Mat 3 to them.

The Baptism that really matters is of fire and the Holy Spirit. Without those one is trusting in a "works" based salvation.

bi0dr0ne said...

Ezekiel, are you saying that everyone is converted with fire or some other visible sign?

I am sure Jesus wasn't advocating works based salvation when he told his disciples to go out and baptize people. Baptism is not a work, it doesnt require anyhting on the part of the believer except submission to God's commands

maritus imperfectus said...

Ben said: “And while we are at it, why is accepting a gift called a work by Calvinists, it is still all of grace.“

I can neither speak for all Calvinists, nor do I know if all Calvinists call accepting a gift a work. But I would like to take a stab at answering the question. And yes (shouting at all who quickly point to the mud-clear posts I have already made), I will try to not muddy the water, and relate this to the topic at hand: total depravity.

The reason the ‘acceptance of the gift’ is a work is because salvation would be totally ineffective without it. In that sense, acceptance is the key action (read: work) that must be done for one to be saved. No acceptance = no salvation. Herein lies the rub; Calvinists say that man’s total depravity will not allow a confession of faith until a man is born again (i.e. regeneration precedes faith), Arminians say that depravity is not total, and my acceptance of the gift brings new life (i.e. faith precedes regeneration).

Which one requires me to do something? Sure, you can argue that it’s not a work because I am not working in the sense that I am earning my salvation by keeping the law. I would disagree. You have merely whittled down your law to one law to keep: a choice, which must be made to get your salvation (opposite of Calvinism, where I must do nothing to be saved).

Ben again: “Just accepting something that you do not deserve does not mean that you can boast or take credit that is just silly.”

By the very nature of your description of the salvation process you must take credit. How else is one saved if one doesn’t accept? Where does the credit lie? Sure, there was grace you didn’t deserve, but true salvation never happened until you accepted.

In whom do I boast? Who made the decision to be saved? Under your scenario, I made the decision. What if I didn’t make the decision, who gets credit for my eternal damnation? The credit for going to hell is the sinner who wasn’t wise enough to choose Christ.

(sigh) I hope that clearly answers a few of your questions. Today is a good reminder not to try and multitask during a busy day at work. Dang Pyro addiction!

PS – to all of the grammarians in the group, I know that I started two consecutive sentences with a conjunction. However, it was intentional to highlight the points being made, so please forgive me.

Strong Tower said...

bOO said-

it doesnt require anyhting on the part of the believer except submission to God's commands

except- is a term of negation, its referrent is as you prefaced, "it"; baptism required, a work of submission.

Roman Catholocism looks at things done as sacramental, having efficaciousness in themselves. They are things done, works. While it is true that baptism requires nothing of the individual and is why it is a good picture of Christ's perfect life of obedience on our behalf, submission to it as a requirement for salvation makes submission itself a thing done. If submission is meritorious, producing salvation, then it supplants the work of Christ. It becomes a sacrament, a sacrifice, added to the work of Christ. That is why we, as Reformed reject the Roman system. It makes the work of Christ as a common thing, no greater in our salvation than any other sacrifice offered by man. Salvation is through Christ alone, not Christ plus submission.

Submission flows from the mind of Christ given to us, 1 Cor 2, which is why we understand and obey the commandment to be baptized as he was, even though he did not need it. In the same similtude, we do not need it, (see the thief on the Cross), but out of the love of the Father by and for the Son, we follow his commands: "But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual."

Now, John says if you do not have the Spirit you are none of his. But, if you do, you need nothing further, for his Seed, remains in you.

Without the Spirit you would never know the need to be baptized, so surely, baptism cannot save, for only those who are saved have the Spirit

Jeremy Felden said...

Is believing a work? Well, how about John 6:29?

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."


What sayest thou?

ezekiel said...

Biodrone,

Matthew 3:11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

What I am saying is that the fire is the refiners fire. (Malachi 3:2).

I sense that you like to argue. I won't do that. Just too tired right now. Justt a word of caution. If you think the walk down the isle and the dip in the tank saved you, you are placing all you bets on your works.

If you are not bearing fruits of repentance, if you have no evidence of the Holy Spirit guiding you then you might want to take another look at it. Or maybe walk the isle again and pray the prayer again. Maybe it will work next time.

ezekiel said...

Jeremy,

Depends on how you define "believe".

The definition that the Hebrews used didn't do them a lot of good. Didn't they claim to believe?(Hebrews 3:12-19)

S.J. Walker said...

ezekiel.


"If you think the walk down the isle and the dip in the tank saved you, you are placing all you bets on your works.

If you are not bearing fruits of repentance, if you have no evidence of the Holy Spirit guiding you then you might want to take another look at it. Or maybe walk the isle again and pray the prayer again. Maybe it will work next time."

Good advice bro.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Yes, some good clarifying points. So long as we realize true Arminianism is not semi-Pelagian, we'll be fine. We are close in several respects.

One note to Maritus:

"The reason the ‘acceptance of the gift’ is a work is because salvation would be totally ineffective without it."

No, that's just not a biblical definition of "work." Used by Paul, a "work" is that which MERITS reward. No one believes that "accepting" a gift is a "work" of merit.

A fuzzy working definition of "work" causes all sorts of theological errors.

pastorbrianculver said...

If I could count how many times I have lied over my 48 years of life, how many times I have lusted, how many times I have dishonored my parents, how many times I was covetous, how many times I have stolen and, if I could count how many times I have not put God first in my life...
there is no amount of works that I could do that would get me into heaven. Praise God!

Jugulum said...

bi0dr0ne,

Any comment on my response to your question? Was my answer helpful?

maritus imperfectus said...

Johnny D - Thank you for the follow up comments. I see your point about my fuzzy use/definition of the word work. I need to be aware of that in the future.

Although, I would still argue that the hope of the Arminian is that their acceptance will provide the reward of salvation. By acceptance/choosing Christ, that action merits the reward of regeneration/salvation.

Prolly not the strongest argument, but when compared to the alternative of doing nothing to obtain regeneration/salvation, it is not terrible (I am sure you and others will be quick to verify the terribleness:)

I agree that we are close on several aspects, and I could have left it at that. Tonight I am blaming the argument on my sin nature of not wanting to be wrong! Or else it is the lawyer in me that cannot walk away. Not sure which is worse ! :)

Johnny Dialectic said...

Maritus...thanks for the gracious response, but I am not in the least bothered by vigorous (if fair) debate. That's what draws me to TeamPyro. (Hmm, draws me...)

donsands said...

"(Hmm, draws me...)"

In the original Greek I think that is "roughly drag over broken glass".

Just kiddin'.

Strong Tower said...

donsands-

no you're not

Ben said...

So we have established that in Arminianism accepting the gift is not a work and that dead really does not mean dead, it just means separation from God. Thankfully we have prevenient grace that bridges that separation and allows us wretched sinners to either accept or reject the gospel offer.

Se that wasn't so bad:)

ezekiel said...

Romans 7:11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

Something about that just seems more final than "seperated".....

But according to some...I may not be totally dead...just mostly seperated. But not too seperated to get myself not-seperated.

Jerry said...

"Dead in trespasses and sins."

Dead, not sick, not wounded, not "under the weather". Dead, DEAD, stone cold Dead. Dead men make no choices, dead men lie dead and cold.

"You must be born again."

Strong Tower said...

allows us to accept or reject the finished work of Christ?

finished work of Christ?

to finish the work of Christ is to accept or reject it?

Remember that ol song:

How worthless is the blood,
That really has no life
unless I give it mine,
its nothing but the blood of Jesus...

So we pray: Thank me, that with God's help I did what Christ could not do, purchase salvation for myself. If God hadn't given me his pocket change of grace, the value of his blood would not have been enough. Thank me and God, for Jesus sake!

Something tells me that this picture is wrong.

ST parapharse edition:

Question, do you know how a child is born, Nicky?

Yeth.

When they are born do they have to "reach out reach out and take hold of life?" Or, is it given to them, then they reach out?

Uh, what meanie?

To receive life, does a baby conceive itself?

MMM? I doano .

Nicky, if you do not know how babies are conceived or born, will you then understand how one inherits the kingdom? Can I tell you heavenly, spiritual things, Nick?

MMM, yeth, aaa no, I mean, didn't Adam have to breathe to receive the breath of life? I'm so confused.

Nicky didn't Adam have to have eyes and ears to see and hear me before we could walk together? Didn't I make those so he could, and even give him legs.

Yeth.

Do you still not understand?

Yeth.

Yeth...ahem...you mean Yes you do understand, or yes to still do not understand.

Yeth.

Nicky, are you a teacher of Israel?

Yeth.

Do you accept the wind so that its breeze will cool your face, or does it come from where you know not, and so it cools your face?

Yeth.

So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. No one sees it coming, and no one knows where it goes, but everyone touched by it has recieved its refreshing, and they accept it for that is what it is.

mmm....bubabut,

Nicky do you know my mother, remember Mary? She asked your question, "How can this be?" Nicky, the Holy Spirit conceives its own by the Word, and you do not know how, neither do you know its time, but when the child's born, you know it has been done according to His Word. But, unless you become as one, as a little child, you will not understand.....

Ben said...

So you guys are saying that we are dead in sin and we cannot possibly respond unless we are regenerated, yet when you are born again you are dead to sin, but still are capable and do sin. So if dead is dead, then why do you still sin? You are dead? You will say well we are not dead in the dead sense to sin; we still have to fight the flesh. How is that different than the dead before you are saved? When will you accept that "dead" people respond everyday to things and it is not to be taken that way, yes we are separated from God, but due to His offering prevenient grace to all we are able to accept/reject the offer. Only when the Spirit is bridging the gap and not on our own.

Seems you guys put a lot of stock in the dead in sin when you are not re-born, but pay no attention to it when you are dead to sin when re-born. Talk about convenient.

ThyWordisTruth said...

Consider these verses:

"And even if our gospel is veiled,it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 3-6)

On the one hand you have Satan blinding the minds of unbelievers and God being the one to open the heart to the knowledge of God. And yet, as with God controlling Satan's temptation of Job and with God hardening Pharaoh's heart, He is sovereign and accomplishes his purposes, regardless of the will of a man (or the god of this world).

ezekiel said...

Gal 2:17But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

ezekiel said...

Romans 6:What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.

ezekiel said...

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

ChosenClay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChosenClay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChosenClay said...

Regeneration comes before Faith.

Regeneration = Born Again

Both are gifts that only God can give.

Then a person is to repent and believe.

God doesn't repent or believe for us, we must do this!

Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

On the day I was born

All the theologians gathered 'round

And they gazed into my soul

At the sin they had found...

Ben said...

Guys, if regeneration = Born again then you would have a un-justified sinner in the body of Christ.

Again, dead is not literal dead or else you would not sin because you are dead when re-born. Yet we all know that we still sin even after being born again. This is one example of taking something to the extreme. You turn that man is totally depraved into total inability to respond or do anything and that is not Biblical.

SolaMeanie said...

As to the will of man, perhaps this might be helpful. The interaction of human will with God's will is a mystery. However, the clear testimony of Scripture is that God's will is sovereign. He chooses, He initiates, He draws, He saves, and He keeps. Before He saved me, I had no free will at all. My will was in bondage. My will only became free when He saved me.

As to baptismal regeneration, this sadly is an issue that is tearing my own household apart. My stepfather has gone back to the church of Christ, which teaches baptismal regeneration, which adds works to the Gospel and thereby perverts and distorts the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 15 defines the Gospel, and Galatians further warns what happens when man tries to add anything to the Gospel. He is to be accursed. Obedience to Christ's command to be baptized is no different to any other of Christ's commands. We obey Him because we are saved, and love Him. If we love Him, we keep his commandments. We are not saved because we obey His commands. That is salvation by works. We will obey His commands if we are truly saved.

I'd better stop, because this subject really incenses me, no doubt due to the grief under my own roof. Beyond that, it maddens me when people distort Scripture and gut the heart of the Gospel.

Mike Riccardi said...

I think it's always helpful to illustrate.

:o)

Ben, I think you're asking a great question about what it means to be dead to sin. If you're sincere about finding the biblical answer, I invite you to listen to Piper's sermon series in Romans 6.

My own, much less articulate answer, would be that when Paul speaks of being dead to sin, he's speaking of the fact that we're dead to both the penalty of sin and the power of sin, but not yet the presence of sin.

We're dead to the penalty of sin because, "having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," and "there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Because of Christ's decisive, completed, finished work on the cross, the penalty of eternal condemnation no longer looms over our head. We're dead to the penalty of sin.

We're also dead to the power of sin. His instruction in Rom 6:11-14 shows us that renewed in Christ we have the ability to say no to sin and choose God. [Here I'm not speaking in regards to justification, but to sanctification. In the every day, as a believer, I can choose that which is more pleasing (God), or that which is counterfeit pleasure (sin).] He tells us not to let sin reign, and not to present our members as instruments of unrighteousness. Before we were regenerated and believed, we could not help presenting our members to unrighteousness. It's all we did, because "those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom 8:8). But now, we have the ability to present our members to unrighteousness. The power of sin is broken. We're dead to sin.

I think both of those doctrines make total sense in the context of Romans. They both flow naturally from the other points Paul has been making. One thing that he does address though, is that we're not yet free from the presence of sin. So... dead to the penalty and the power, but not to the presence.

And that's simply because we still reside in our flesh, the body of this death. Paul himself says even he, who was given the firstfruits of the Spirit, is eagerly awaiting the redemption of his body (Rom 8:23, Phil 3:20-21, 2Cor 5:1-5). All of Romans 7 testifies that we're not free from the presence of sin. All of the Bible testifies to that. I think of John: "I write these things so you may not sin. (Same breath) But if anyone does sin..."

So, when Paul says we're dead to sin in Romans 6, taken in context, he teaches that believers are dead to the penalty of sin (Rom 5:1, 8:1), to the power of sin (Rom 6:11-14), but not yet to the presence of sin (Rom 7:14-25, 8:23).

If that doesn't click for you, I'd invite you to listen to Piper's series.

Ben said...

Why does “dead” always mean “corpse” with you guys. When we are told that we are “dead” it means we a separated from God and we are cut off from having a relationship with Him. Just look at Luke 15:32 for a good illustration of this. Since you guys like the book of Romans so much you can even see it there in Romans 6:11. There are many more passages in Scripture that define “dead” the same way as those verses, as a separation from God and being cut off from Him. What God does is show mankind grace because we know that He wants no man to be damned, but all to come to repentance and belief. It seems weird that you guys take the “dead” to such extreme that you make man incapable of responding to Christ even though we are told that the Gospel has power to save. We have a choice to accept/reject this Gospel due to God’s grace and the Holy Spirit convicting us. If we were “dead” as in “corpse” then there would be no need to convict us, unless of course we had a choice. Again, it seems that Calvinism takes the concept of total depravity to far by making it mean we are “dead” as a “corpse” which means that we are not even able to respond to the power of the Gospel. So what you have done is turn total depravity into total inability.

Mike Riccardi said...

I guess you just ignored everything I wrote there, huh?

Listen, Ben, don't get bent out of shape. If you're serious about discovering what the Bible really teaches, you should want to understand this position, which is why I gave you the Piper sermons. If you're serious about your own position, you should be able to effectively and systematically respond to the claims made from the other side.

You can't just stick out your tongue, kick us, and run away screaming "Romans-lovers!"

Ben said...

Mike,

I read what you wrote and I will listen to Piper, but these are things that I have heard before.

Again, "dead" does not mean "corpse", I provided Luke to show that dead means separation not "corpse" here are some more Colossians 3:5 and Hebrews 9:14. All these go along with the Romans passage that I cited to show that "dead" does not mean "corpse", instead it means separation. It seems if you start with the wrong definition of depravity all else follows suit.

Again, I agree that man is depraved and if it were not for God's grace and Spirit convicting us of our sin then we could not come to God. What He has done by providing everyone with this prevenient grace to do is make a choice to accept/reject the Gospel call; if one accepts then they are re-born and grafted into the body of Christ, if they reject they will be damned for eternity.

Mike Riccardi said...

I thought I'd respond to your comment anyway, Ben. Excuse me if there were comments made in between the time I stated and the time this gets posted.

Why does “dead” always mean “corpse” with you guys.

Yeah I know... I see a whole bunch of dead people who aren't corpses all the time.

When we are told that we are “dead” it means we a separated from God and we are cut off from having a relationship with Him. Just look at Luke 15:32 for a good illustration of this.

Certainly the parable of the two sons and loving father isn't saying that the kid actually went out and died and was resurrected. That's only the spiritual reality that the text is illustrating. In those days, when a son demanded the inheritance from his father, it was tantamount to saying, "Dad, there's no relationship here so much that I wish you were dead so I could just have my money." If that was the case, generally the father would kill the son, but this father is gracious and actually gives the kid what he wants! If that were to actually happen in that time the Jewish people would have actually had a funeral for the son. He would have been considered "dead." That's why that language makes sense to that audience.

However, make sure you don't arbitrarily jump back and forth between parable and reality, between symbolism and referent. The kid isn't actually dead in the parable, but he is indeed actually spiritually dead. In fact, if that's not true, and what you're saying is, there's no real reason to be born again, since we're not really dead.

Since you guys like the book of Romans so much you can even see it there in Romans 6:11.

(See my above post dealing with deadness to sin in Romans 6.)

What God does is show mankind grace because we know that He wants no man to be damned, but all to come to repentance and belief.

Don't misunderstand the context or the recipients of this letter.

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. - 2 Pet 1:1

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you. - 2 Pet 3:1. How did he refer to them in the first letter?

To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout ... who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood. - 1 Pet 1:1-2

So we finally come to the immediate context of the passage, in which Peter refers to his recipients as these same recipients all along: the beloved:

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. -- 2 Pet 3:8-9

Any honest exegesis of this passage in the context of the entirety of the 2 letters of Peter renders the "any" and "all" to refer to the elect. Peter's saying, "God isn't slow about returning, like these uniformitarians are saying. He's certainly coming back. He's just waiting to gather in the full number of the elect. He doesn't want to come back before all of His elect are saved. He doesn't want any of His elect to perish, but wants all of you elect to come to repentance."

It seems weird that you guys take the “dead” to such extreme that you make man incapable of responding to Christ even though we are told that the Gospel has power to save.

The Gospel has the power to save because it regenerates us, making us not only capable, but willing to respond to Christ.

We have a choice to accept/reject this Gospel due to God’s grace and the Holy Spirit convicting us.

The Holy Spirit conviction you're talking about is itself regeneration. We're quickened to new life, able to see the sinfulness of our sin, are convicted of it, and turn to Christ willingly. In that circumstance, we'll never reject the Gospel, because we're alive to see things the way they truly are.

If we were “dead” as in “corpse” then there would be no need to convict us, unless of course we had a choice.

This is just not true. If we were dead, of course we would need somebody to convict us. If it didn't happen, we would just continue in deadness. Something needs to open our eyes to our sinfulness. That's the effectual grace of God in regeneration.

Again, it seems that Calvinism takes the concept of total depravity too far by making it mean we are “dead” as a “corpse” which means that we are not even able to respond to the power of the Gospel.

Right. Exactly the point I was making here. We only and always respond to the Gospel when we're given new life to respond.

Jugulum said...

Ben said,
"Guys, if regeneration = Born again then you would have a un-justified sinner in the body of Christ. "

I understand what you mean, and you are raising a legitimate issue. But, you said you have heard "this stuff" before; you have apparently not been exposed to Reformed discussion of this very issue.

The question is, when we say that regeneration "precedes" faith, what do we mean by "precedes"? Is it temporal precedence, or logical? Do we mean that one day God regenerates us, and then after some time passes we start to have faith and are justified? Or does God regenerate us, and at that very moment we start to have faith and are justified?

Some people do say that regeneration happens and then later faith happens--I think I've heard that position from people talking about God regenerating infants, who later come to faith. But that's not the Reformed position--for precisely the reason that you saw.

For myself, I think that the discussions of being born of God in 1 John indicate that if you are born of God, you are in the Body. Faith and regeneration happen at the same time--but it's the regeneration that effects the faith, not the other way around.

Mike Riccardi said...

That's a huge point, Jugulum! I kept on saying to myself that I wanted to mention that, and then when I got into a comment it slipped my mind.

I just want to second that, for clarification. When we say "precedes," we're talking about logical order, not temporal order.

David Smithey said...

Pastor Culver,

Amen and Amen.

David

Jugulum said...

"I just want to second that, for clarification. When we say "precedes," we're talking about logical order, not temporal order."

Right.

To clarify the clarification: We are definitely talking about logical order. Some of us also allow for temporal separation, some of us require instantaneous concurrence of regeneration and faith.

FYI, the discussion gets into Acts 16:14, and the various "born of God" passages in 1 John. (I just had a good back-and-forth about it in #prosapologian.)

Tartanarmy said...

I was hoping that someone here could answer this for me. If we are so depraved that we are dead and dead in our sins and unable to respond, after all dead people do not respond, then how can a believer who is dead to sin still sin? I mean dead is dead right? Would this not be why we have prevenient grace that enables a person to either accept/reject the gospel? And while we are at it, why is accepting a gift called a work by Calvinists, it is still all of grace. Just accepting something that you do not deserve does not mean that you can boast or take credit that is just silly.
----------------------------------


When Scripture (and Calvinism) refers to the deadness of mankind, it is talking about man's inability in one direction, IE Upward and God-ward. The direction of Spiritual good. The direction of God's righteousness. The direction of being able in and of itself to please God.
Being "dead" in sin has no biblical application that extends beyond that.
So, to say man is dead in his sin, does not mean he is literally dead and therefore being dead he cannot sin or being dead he cannot do anything!

Arminians need to follow the teaching/description of being "dead" as far as scripture applies it.

Think of man, all men, being on a "horizontal plain". All men are born as sinners and are equal in that sense. We are all like "worms" comparing ourselves to other "worms", but still worms.
On the horizontal plane, we are unable to rise above it and interact with the life of God. Let us call that realm the Vertical plane.
Man has no inherent ability to traverse from the horizontal to the vertical. Man is "dead" meaning spiritually unable to bridge the two planes.

Being "regenerated" or being "Born again" or being "made spiritually alive" bridges the gap between God and man.
Until that happens by God's grace alone, there is no "spiritual life" in man, but death only, leading to ultimate physical death and eternal death.

Hope that helps.

As far as "Prevenient grace is concerned, I do not find the concept in scripture. I see it as a way of holding on to libertarian freedom. A concept scripture does not teach in any way, shape or form.
Prevenient grace only facilitates the idea that men still have the ability to make use of God's grace. Such an idea is not compatible with "Grace".
And that answers your last objection as to faith and works. If one person makes better use of this supposed "prevenient" grace, then the difference between the saved and the unsaved is not "God's grace" but rather mans use of this thing called "Prevenient grace".
It makes real grace, into prevenient grace, which in turn depends upon the will and nature of man. It turns Grace into a work.
It is not about "simply" accepting a gift. It is all about a dead man being resurrected from his own spiritual grave!
It is like Lazarus being raised from the tomb. He did not accept anything! He was like an illustration of the old words in that Hymn Amazing grace. He was blind and made to see. He was lost and found. He was dead and stinketh, but was commanded to come forth! That is the new birth physically and graphically illustrated by Jesus Himself!

Randy said...

Jack Nicholson quoted in ESQUIRE magazine 12/31/03; "I envy people of faith. I'm incapable of believing in anything supernatural. So far, at least.Not that I wouldn't like to. I mean, I want to believe. I do pray. I pray to something...up there. I have aGod sense. It's not religious so much as superstitious. It's part of being human, I guess? (Do unto others: how much deeperinto religion do we really need to go?)"

I believe this says it all from a unregergenate's (deadness, worldly, capability. etc.)point of view!

pastorbrianculver said...

you can compare Jack Nicholson's comment with that of Will Smith, who says that the Bible and Christian Science are 98% the same!

Marie4thtimemom said...

I'm looking forward to the rest of this series. Recently, it seems I've come across the notion "people are inherently good" more often than usual, both among believers and unbelievers. It's also interesting (although at the end of it somewhat a mystery) reconciling God's call "Come to Me all who are burdened" with the fact He chose and predestined the elect before time began.

I wonder if you will touch on something in your discussion of regeneration....spirit/soul/body (3-part being) vs. 2-part? I ask because I have always been taught and believed the former model is correct, but recently came across a John Macarthur commentary on 1 Thess. (I think) in which he stated Paul never taught a 3-part being. Upon discussion of this with my pastor, he said that some 5-point Calvinists hold this view (only 2 parts) because it fits in logically with an extreme view of God's sovereignity. Our church is definitely Calvinist, but recognizes that man has free will and must chose to respond to God's grace. I must admit the 2-part man vs. 3-part is a new question to me, and would make for interesting research.

Strong Tower said...

I'm glad that Phil promised us a definition and another post on depravity.

Ben said-

We have a choice to accept/reject this Gospel due to God’s grace and the Holy Spirit convicting us.

To which MR responded-The Holy Spirit conviction you're talking about is itself regeneration. We're quickened to new life, able to see the sinfulness of our sin, are convicted of it, and turn to Christ willingly. In that circumstance, we'll never reject the Gospel, because we're alive to see things the way they truly are.

Thanks MR!

Conviction- includes a belief in the truth, but it is processional, to hear the conviction, one must not only have the ears to hear, but must also understand the judgement, and so Scripture puts the two together, hear=understanding. But, Jesus himself said that the hearing was not given to all, but only to those called, Matt 13:10-17.

Conviction then is the declaration of truth, its hearing, and the understanding of it. But, it is not bare understanding, it is intimate, belonging to those to which it is given.

Jesus accused the Jews of being born in sin, but their response was that they were not illigitimate. Jesus' response was that they were of their father the devil, and could not believe because they could not hear the words that he spoke. But, to his disciples he said that the understanding had been given to them, and not to these others.

The unbeliever rejects the truth about himself, that he is indeed the son of the devil, who is by nature death.

It is not that they did not receive the word in a intellectual sense, but because they did not have the right Spirit, they could not accept it, to them it was a lie and could not be about themselves.

So, we have John saying in John 1:12-13: But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

It was those who were born of God, who received. Receiving is equated with believing. And, when we flash forward Jesus tells Nicky, this very thing, that unless one is anothen gennao, born from above, he cannot understand.

Conviction finally is the intimate knowledge of what God says about us is the truth: We are of our father the devil, and except that we are born of God, we will not hear with understanding that that is what has happened. It is a vital knowledge, the very Word of Life, so the disciples said, "Where can we go, you alone have the words of life." This profound statement is as spiritual, as Peter's confession, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

But to the unbelieving who said: “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning."

What makes a man, born depraved, born the son of the devil, able to bear the word spoken? Life chooses life, it will not choose death, death will, because it cannot choose life.

We all begin as Arminian until we hear, finally, Christ's words, "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." Those words fall as seed upon untilled ground, except that God has prepared the heart; it wills not to receive the Word. The parable was given only for the disciple to understand. Our pride wants us to believe that it was we who prepared the soil, who plants the word, who keeps the field and produces the harvest. But, as it is written, the earth is the Lord's and the fulness in it. As his planting, as his fruitful seed, we always will produce that which was intended, Isaiah 55.

Life always proceeds hearing, hearing proceed understanding, understanding produces humility, for the conviction of Truth show us for who we are, enemies of God, who by Jesus' obedience have been purchased out of our bondage. It is his obedience to the will of the Father and not ours that has brought life to those who are evil. So it is written that He is He who justifies the ungodly, as Ben said, but rejects.

That we are sinners, depraved but by grace made alive we are not justified not by our creating life though our choice, but to the contrary, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, so that out of darkness, a great light has shown. While we were yet in unbelief, he made us children in the likeness of Christ, willing always to do the Father's will, not our own.

Conviction is humbling because we know that we were dug from the pit and created to do righteousness, according to the will of the Father. Mud does no good, and from mud we were taken, and into man we were made in the likeness of the Son of God. When we place our selves before the creation as willing it into existence, we supplant the God who is God.

Man in rebellion believes that he can choose between good and evil. A knowledge that is forbidden for man to attain to. Possession of it is sin. It is left then for God, and God alone to choose. Sin, that is depravity, will never cooperate with God, for it thinks itself to be him.

bi0dr0ne said...

ezekiel and others, Why the assumption that submission is a "work"? It doesnt earn anything, it doesnt do anything, it just is required.

Also, Just as Peter says, baptism without faith and repentance is just taking a bath. But it surprises me that most of you assume something beyond what I have written.

And of course I will argue, because its what I believe and its what makes sense in the context of the whole bible. I will try to persuade without being heavy handed, and I will try to reason without failing to listen to your side.

Strong Tower said...

4th said- Our church is definitely Calvinist, but recognizes that man has free will and must chose to respond to God's grace.

http://www.vor.org/truth/1689/1689bc09.html

Marie, the Reformed faith holds to free will, but again, as Phil developes the meaning of depravity, definitions differ in oppositional camps. God has set us free to will what is good toward God if we have been born again. Which means that we are free now to will to do the will of God. All Calvinists in this sense believe in freedom of the will. It is however qualified by the definitions given us in Scripture and those are drawn from verses like this: "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." God's sovereignty establishes the contingency of secondary causes. It is the rejection of God's sovereignty that is the bondage of the will. There is much to be clarified in a discussion of the will. But, no Calvinist will so exalt the will in such a way as to say that what happens according to the choices of man are contingent to God, that is, a surprise to him, but to the contrary the choices of man arise according to the will of God to His Glory. It must be that way, or the choices of man become a creative force, creating history outside the only Creator, God.

Hopefully, a more scholarly definition of will will be willed by Phil, God willing.

Strong Tower said...

bOO-

Okay, riddle me this: Does submission produce anything, like favor with God?

Johnny Dialectic said...

When God's sovereignty and human responsibility come up, Calvinists tend to use a bullhorn on sovereignty and whisper (if at all) about free will. Arminians tend to use a bullhorn on free will and whisper (if at all) about sovereignty.

Both are biblical, of course. They are "two tracks," as Spurgeon put it.

DJP said...

Culver — Scientology, not Christian Science.

stratagem said...

I'd say that mormonism and scientology are about the same, it's just that Joseph Smith was the L. Ron Hubbard of the 19th century. Both systems believe in people becoming gods, inheriting planets, and other wacky, science-fiction stuff. The parallels are uncanny, but then, they both have the same author.

pastorbrianculver said...

thanks for the correction

NoLongerBlind said...

Mike Riccardi:

I wanted to thank-you for the "Gallery of Dubious Photojournalism" link, (titled "illustrate"), and the hearty laughter I enjoyed while viewing it!
For anyone with an appreciation and affinity for sarcastic wit,
I highly recommend a visit.

ezekiel said...

Biodrone,

As I understand the discussion, you consider the act of baptism an act of submission. I have gotten an impression that you link baptism to regeneration and I don’t think I am the only one. However in a later post you refer to Peter and agree that without faith and repentance the act is just taking a bath. So I think you agree that baptism in itself cannot regenerate.


As I attempt to answer your latest question regarding submission and works, let’s look back at one of your earlier statements:

“But it seems like Calvinism takes it a step further and says that no one can even accept Gods grace unless God has done something to enable him. A question that follows is: Do the desires of a person have any bearing on whether he/she will be saved? I think yes, to the extent that a person must want to be saved and must submit to Christ's authority.”

1)God has to enable him. It just won’t happen any other way. It helps me to look at “pour spirit” in just about any biblical search engine. You will find the reference to Joel that we see in Acts 2 and Zechariah 12:10 among others. The Zecharaiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah references speak to a future event when the Jews (the ones broken off in Romans 11) will be grafted back in. Right now they are in just as much rebellion as they have ever been and just as hard of hearing as they have ever been. But if you look at the nation of Israel today, they seek God as a people and anxiously await Jesus’ first coming. They are looking for Him, searching for Him but they can’t see or hear Him. Why? Because He hasn’t poured out His spirit on them. Now in that context, do their desires have any bearing on their salvation? No. No bearing what so ever. They won’t be saved until He says they are. (See also Titus 3:4-6)

2)Now let’s look at Romans 9:13 “As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”

We can find Esau seeking a place of repentance carefully, with tears and yet he didn’t find it. (Hebrews 12:17) Why? Because God hated him before he was born..... He wanted to be saved didn’t he? Did it have any bearing on the results?

And then Romans 9:18-21. He has mercy on whom He wills and hardens whom He wills.
See also Isaiah 65:1 and Romans 10:20.

People walk the isle and get baptized for all sorts of reasons today. That doesn’t mean they are saved. I am not saying you are not saved. But I hope you can understand why I bristle when you tie salvation to baptism the way I understood you to do. Like I said earlier, it is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire that you are most interested in.

Ben said...

The reason Esau did not find repentance was not because God hated him, but because it was not repentance according to the will of God. If you look at Genesis 27 you will see that Esau was only seeking worldly repentance because he regretted what he had done. If you look at 2 Corinthians 7:10 you will see the differences in Godly and worldly repentance.

This is all in the NASB Study Notes if you care to look. It seems clear that it is not because God hated him that he did not find repentance, but rather because it was the wrong kind of repentance.

ezekiel said...

Ben,

I have found that the NASB study bible notes while good, will only take you so deep. On several occasions, I have been unable to even get the same notes out of the KJV version of the same study bible (Zondervan) I suggest you rely on the Holy Spirit and the references rather than everything the notes say.

Now as to the verse,

Hebrews 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

The references to this verse(TSK) are:

Pr 1:24-31, Jer 6:30, Mt 7:23, 25:11, 12, Lu 13:24-27,

Pay especially close attention to Proverbs and Luke.

Esau didn't turn at God's reproof and was trying to force his way into the Kingdom of God much like the virgins that didn't have any oil (Holy Spirit) or the disciples that He told to depart and called workers of iniquity.

Now are you really telling us all those folks were seeking worldly repentance? Worse yet, are you telling us that you put all your reliance on your ability to seek the right sort of repentance even though your heart be desperately wicked just like theirs or mine before He gave me new one.

Not that different from what we see today with folks "buying their ticket" or their "fire insurance..."

ezekiel said...

Ben,

15 For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”

Let me ask you, is the act of submission that we are talking about a result of human will or exertion?

Gilbert said...

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. ---1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)

"Foremost" in the ESV, "worst" in the NIV. I need to understand this to a deeper level, and so I am grateful and waiting for Phil for his series of posts on this.

If there's any verse in the Bible I'd ever remotely disagree with, it's this one. Because I think just in thought, I sometimes wonder if I have him beat hands down.

And before you get your feathers ruffled, no, I'm not disagreeing. Rather, I am fully supporting the apostle Paul. I must let the Holy Spirit convict me more and more of this every day, to think no less of myself, so that I can better see how amazing His grace really is!

Jesus, thank you so much and be forever praised for saving a wretched man like me! And thanks to the Pyros for their careful handling of the Scriptures they display day in and day out. It really encourages me!

Dawn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen Newell said...

So:

If "dead" means dead

Why then does "all" not mean "all?"

[/tongue in cheek]

*runs and hides* ;-)

Tartanarmy said...

Of course "all" means "all", and it does so "all" of the time, and "all" of you know that "all" means all.

And that's "all" I have to say about "all" to "all" of you.

Always

Mark

Ben said...

Ezekiel,

No idea why you would attribute those verses to Esau, but since you do not like NASB Study Notes I will try to use something else.

For ye know how that afterward also when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place to repentance, though he sought that blessing with tears.

The note goes on to say this about the verse.

There was no place left for his repentance: and it appeareth by the effects, what his repentance was, for when he was gone out of his father’s sight, he threatened his brother to kill him.

This all came from the 1599 Geneva Bible. Again, if you look at the story in Genesis 27 and you will read in verse 41 what the note was written about. While the NASB may not have it all perfectly correct it seems that in this particular verse they got it right.

SolaMeanie said...

Biodrone,

Remember Paul's whole argument in Romans aimed at the Jews who thought salvation came from keeping the law. Paul made it plain that salvation does not come through commandment keeping (submission). Salvation is by grace through faith. Obedience to commands (including baptism) is the result of salvation, not the cause of it. The unregenerate do not obey (or submit) to God. Overstressing "submission" for salvation sounds more like Islam than it does Christianity.

I fear that this digression into baptismal regeneration is a huge bunny trail from what Phil intended to discuss.

Saint Christopher said...

Over the years I've been unable to convince a friend that Calvinism logically follows from the doctrine of depravity. He gets stuck on the passages which teach the more universal benefits of the atonement for all mankind, like"God is not willing that any should perish." He ties the Arminian intepretation of foreknowledge to the doctrine of election, and thus what follows is: All mean are "dead" in sin, but that doesn't mean no one can respond to the gospel. It just means men MUST repent and believe to be saved. The Holy Spirit "woos" all men who hear the gospel, etc... Thoughts?

Saint Christopher said...

Apparently I should have read the whole meta before posting...Seems like this is already being discussed.

ezekiel said...

Ben,

Esau is a picture of a man that had a chance to inherit the blessings from Isaac. But He sold that right. Much the same way Some Gentiles today sell theirs. We desire the worldly life and all the trappings but claim salvation or the blessing as well. In other words we take the kingdom by force.( Luke 13:24, 16:16) When we see it slipping away, we run to the front of the church and confront God with his promise. I think that is what we are talking about here.

You can find the references from the Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge (TSK) that is a much more exhaustive reference guide than you will find in most bibles.

TSK

Sola,

Going back to the original post from Phil”

“This is why we stress divine grace rather human free will as the prime factor in our salvation. And I don't apologize for being emphatic about this: Scripture clearly teaches that God is utterly sovereign, and sinners are totally powerless to save themselves. Once you grasp those truths the way Scripture presents them, you will have embraced the very heart of what is commonly labeled Calvinism. This dual emphasis on human depravity and the necessity of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of sinners is also the basis of all truth that can legitimately be called "evangelical." I yield no ground to those who want God's sovereignty or the sinner's inability to be watered down. To do so is to corrupt the gospel at its very starting point.”

I may be doing a poor job of communicating it but I think this whole argument speaks directly to the original post. We have two men born of the same womb (church) and one receives salvation and one doesn’t. Esau was profane and could not bring about his own salvation. Even though he saw the need for it. Just because he was totally depraved doesn’t mean that He didn’t know it. After all, aren’t we told that we are without excuse? Romans 1:20. Deep down, we know we are totally depraved and will continue in rebellion or denial until Christ authors and finishes our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

SolaMeanie said...

Ezekiel..

Forgive me for being dense, but I don't disagree with Phil at all. I'm as Calvinist as the day is long. I was taking issue with biodrone as it seemed like he was advocating baptismal regeneration. My bad for perpetuating the bunny trail, but as I said, that subject is rather nettlesome to me at the moment.

What did I say that triggered your comment?

ezekiel said...

Sola,

I guess the comment about the foray off into the baptismal regeneration being a bunny trail. I thought it pretty central to what we were discussing.

It appears that I am so far down the trail I can't see where it started. My apologies if I have offended.

ezekiel said...

Sola,

Thinking about it, this is one of my sore spots. I encounter folks that insist that they are saved yet have no problems with cursing, tell me that they bear no fruit and don't have to because then it would be based on works, and in general look at church as something that has to be done on Sunday morning.

But man will they fight you when you even begin to question salvation. They can tell you exactly when they were baptized....

I can relate to your problem just turn it around and go to the other extreme.

SolaMeanie said...

I see what you mean, and no..I am not offended at all. What you are describing is an oft-encountered area between Calvinists and Arminians. The Arminian will say, "Oh, I guess you think you can just sin it up and it doesn't matter." To which the Calvinist replies, "No. Not at all. You're missing the point. Someone who is truly saved will not act like that. If someone lives like that, then that is evidence they haven't been saved." And it goes round and round and round. After a while, it gets to be "everyone is talking, but no one is listening." After a while, the argument can get real silly real fast. When positions are made into caricatures of themselves, no one is served well.

I became convinced on the subject a long time ago. My journey toward a Calvinist viewpoint of things dates back to the early 1980s when I was working in California Christian radio and first heard John MacArthur on the air. I had already been struggling with Romans 9 when I heard John preach. After a while, I found the logic of the position inescapable. It helped me a lot to really understand that God owes me nothing but judgment. None of us have any right in light of our sins to demand "fairness" by our definition. The miracle isn't that He chooses to save some. The miracle is that He chooses to save anybody.

Someone who claims to be saved and yet has no conscience about sin rather gives the lie to their salvation, in my humble opinion.

SolaMeanie said...

One more comment, Ezekiel. What you describe seems to be antinomianism, unless I misunderstand the term. And antinomianism is a serious error.

pastorbrianculver said...

Good point solameanie!
hence the difference between "true and false converts!"

pastorbrianculver said...

The church in general, has done a terrible job of equipping the people with the Word of God. Walk the aisle, say a prayer and wham bang, you are saved! Mark it down in your Bible the year, the month, the day, the hour, the minute and the second you are saved. That way, you can always look back on it and know when you were saved! Never mind the fact that many people will still say they are a "good person" and are headed to heaven based on that alone. They say they have kept the Ten Commandments, when we know they haven't. They lie and are calling God a liar by saying they have no sin. We had a lady in our church that said, "I am so glad that I have a God that forgives me when I flip people off!" The sunday school teacher laughed it off. The pastor said nothing to her about it. The kids all think it is funny and it is like, you don't tell them anything differently. It is a daily battle to get our churches to get back to biblical preaching, to have pastors who will stand up for the Truth of God's Word and stand up for the holiness of God and demand that people repent of their sins, or else hell fire awaits them. "The wrath of God is an old testament thing and since we have Jesus, we only need to talk about love." When will people learn that the God of the new testament is the God of the old testament? When will they realize that just saying you are a Christian will not get you into heaven. Where is the examining of self daily? Where is the continuing fighting against Satan and his temptations?

I am now off my soapbox (it's amazing how such a little box like a box of soap can hold a person!)

SolaMeanie said...

Oh, yes..Brian..I have heard that one ad nauseum! "Well, if I do it God will forgive me anyway." In other words, they're truly not sorry for their sins.

Grrrrr!

ezekiel said...

Solameanie,

Thanks for your comments. I will study up on the antinomianism. Your comment about the conscience is spot on. I have been viewing it as a being seared...

PastorBrian,

Around here a soapbox and a message like that will get you stoned...Not much has changed in 2000 years has it?

kangaroodort said...

Wow,

Quite a discussion here. Just a couple of quick comments regarding soem things said that I find somewhat inconsitent.

Strong Tower said,

Life always proceeds hearing, hearing proceed understanding, understanding produces humility, for the conviction of Truth show us for who we are, enemies of God, who by Jesus' obedience have been purchased out of our bondage. It is his obedience to the will of the Father and not ours that has brought life to those who are evil. So it is written that He is He who justifies the ungodly, as Ben said, but rejects.

I find the claim, "life always precedes hearing" to be very interesting in light of John 5:25,

"Truly, truly, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."

I guess Jesus didn't get the Calvinist memo.

And please, before anyone tries to say Jesus is speaking of final resurrection, read the whole chapter.

Another interesting comment by Mike Riccardi:

Any honest exegesis of this passage in the context of the entirety of the 2 letters of Peter renders the "any" and "all" to refer to the elect. Peter's saying, "God isn't slow about returning, like these uniformitarians are saying. He's certainly coming back. He's just waiting to gather in the full number of the elect. He doesn't want to come back before all of His elect are saved. He doesn't want any of His elect to perish, but wants all of you elect to come to repentance."

Good stuff. So Peter is speaking directly to believers in his epistles? I agree, though I still find your conclusions strained.

However, I wanted to take your conclusions and focus two other passage in 2 Peter. Your whole argument seems to rest on the idea that Peter is addressing the "beloved" "elect", and therefore, it is only the "elect" in view in 2:9. I suppose that means that Peter is also addressing the "elect" in 1:10, and 3:17,18.

So Peter tells these elect believers to make their calling and election sure and warns them not to fall from their own "steadfastness" [NIV- "secure position"]. Seems strange to me that Peter would need to tell the elect to make sure thay are elect, and to be cautious not to fall from their steadfastness by failing to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ", etc. Maybe you could explain that one to me.

Thanks,
Ben
(not the "Ben" who has been posting, though I agree with his conclusions)

bassicallymike said...

Late to this one. JMac's "Drawing Near" devotional book todays scripture for further reading was Eph. 2:1-13. Can't begin to describe the relief and heartfelt gratitude of getting to v.4s "But God,". Oh What a Saviour!

Strong Tower said...

"Truly, truly, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."

And if the dead are made alive, will they not hear. It is unreasonable to believe that dead men hear. But, that the dead are made alive, so those dead me were made to hear is not at all. And so we have Paul's interpretation: But [2] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them...

and...

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands...

In both cases it first proceeds that death is a condition that is terminated by the action of Christ. Just as it was in the beginning, mud was made to live. And it was not the decision of the mud but of the maker, the potter who formed it and breathed life into it. It does no good to speak to mud, it cannot understand, it does not hear, it does not breathe. Unless sin which is death is circumcised from us the only response we can give is death. It would not matter if there were some prevenient grace, except that that grace prevented the intrusion of the sin of the flesh, the response of the flesh would be tainted with depravity and unacceptable by God. Death must be taken away, life must precede and sinless confession follow, and no man is justified by that his own confession, but by the faith that is given to men who have been quickened, made alive by the Spirit in the likeness of Christ's resurrection. We enter in in his death. A death which he died for us, circumcising it from us that we may live in newness of life making the pure, undefiled testimony to His Glory. No other is acceptable.

This unclean confession was one of among many things that Dort condemned, that sinful men could be justified by their unclean confession, rather than the confession of Christ with which He was not ashamed to call us brothers.

maritus imperfectus said...

Good points, Strong Tower.

I would also add that the text cannot say what kangaroo wants it to (forgive the ryhme :).

I would say Jesus "got the Calvinistic memo," because he said not only will the dead hear, but those that hear will be saved.

The preceding verses (especially 21 & 24) help provide the context for the verse.

It seems that all the dead/sinners will hear, but only those that hear (meaning ears to hear, a/k/a being made alive) will be saved.

There is a difference between physically hearing the words spoken - as all dead sinners do, and hearing the words spoken as only those who have been given ears to hear can - the ones made alive by Christ.

pastorbrianculver said...

not at all ezekiel! It's funny (actually it is sad) that people think we have to change the way we present the Bible to the church. They think they have to make it relevant for them to understand it. Let's see, all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. Yep, that sounds pretty easy to understand. No homosexual, no adulterer, no thief, no covetous person will inherit the kingdom of God. Again, that sounds pretty relevent to today. Repent -- OUCH, there's the kicker! People don't want to hear that word! So here it goes...

REPENT REPENT REPENT REPENT REPENT REPENT REPENT!!!!!!!

(notice the use of 7 repent's and 7 exclamation points!! cool, huh?)

pastorbrianculver said...

you know, it is like they are saying...
Okay God, here are the ground rules, if you abide by them, I will be glad to go to heaven to be with you!!

Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kangaroodort said...

Strong Tower,

You wrote:

And if the dead are made alive, will they not hear. It is unreasonable to believe that dead men hear. But, that the dead are made alive, so those dead me were made to hear is not at all.

But the problem, of course, is that such an interpretation will not fit with what Jesus says here. Please notice that despite Christ’s clear declaration that the dead will hear, you still assert: “it is unreasonable to believe that dead hear”. So, you freely admit that you are allowing your theology to dictate your exegesis, rather than allowing your exegesis to dictate your theology. I thought Calvinists prided themselves on casting “reason” to the wind for the sake of submitting to the Scriptures. Maybe you are a different sort of Calvinist. If Jesus meant that one must live before they can hear, then why did he say the dead will hear? If the dead must be made alive before they can hear, then they aren’t dead anymore are they? Therefore, it would be quite untrue for Jesus to say that the dead will hear, wouldn’t it??

And so we have Paul's interpretation:

In other words: “Never mind that nonsense Jesus said, read a little of Paul.”

But [2] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them...

Good stuff. Well, let’s look at Paul and follow his reasoning to the implications of verse 8. All of those spiritual blessings in 2-7, which include spiritual resurrection, are “through faith” (verse 8). Thanks for making my case for me. We should further note that all spiritual blessings are “in Christ” and only those who are “in Christ” can benefit from these blessings (which includes the new life which resides in Him). Eph. 1:13 tells us that we come to be in Christ through faith. Therefore, faith precedes regeneration.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands...

And no where is this said to be unconditional, or prior to faith, except in your own mind. The comments I made above apply here as well.

In both cases it first proceeds that death is a condition that is terminated by the action of Christ. Just as it was in the beginning, mud was made to live. And it was not the decision of the mud but of the maker, the potter who formed it and breathed life into it. It does no good to speak to mud, it cannot understand, it does not hear, it does not breathe. Unless sin which is death is circumcised from us the only response we can give is death. It would not matter if there were some prevenient grace, except that that grace prevented the intrusion of the sin of the flesh, the response of the flesh would be tainted with depravity and unacceptable by God. Death must be taken away, life must precede and sinless confession follow, and no man is justified by that his own confession, but by the faith that is given to men who have been quickened, made alive by the Spirit in the likeness of Christ's resurrection. We enter in in his death. A death which he died for us, circumcising it from us that we may live in newness of life making the pure, undefiled testimony to His Glory. No other is acceptable.

All this is very interesting, but it amounts to sophistry without any Biblical warrant. Let’s stick to the text in question and save the philosophical objections for now.

This unclean confession was one of among many things that Dort condemned, that sinful men could be justified by their unclean confession, rather than the confession of Christ with which He was not ashamed to call us brothers.

And I am supposed to care about what Dort condemned? Let’s look very carefully at the confession of Christ which I brought to your attention—Jesus plainly stating that the dead will hear unto life.

Despite your objections, we are still left with this:

Jesus: The dead will hear

Fozzy: That’s unreasonable Jesus, and it doesn’t fit my theological understanding of “dead in sin”. Sorry Jesus, but you must have meant that those who are alive will hear, seeing as though dead men can’t hear and all.

God Bless,
Ben

Strong Tower said...

It is not sophistry Ben, it comes directly from Scripture. Because you reject its logic because it is not the logic of men, does not make is unbiblical.

I will leave you with this. Revelation begins and ends with Scripture. And as it was in the beginning so it shall be in the end. Dead men will hear, once they're made alive. That you cannot understand that, is reasonable. Neither could Nicky, but Jesus said that unless he was born again, he would not iedo, which obviously applies, for before we live, we must be born and before we can hear we must live. It is your problem that you want to say it is philosophical arguement. When what I am saying is that it is not. It in fact is illogical in man's reckoning as Nicky said. How can a man be alive and be dead, how can a man be born again, climb back into the womb? You see, you use the Jews argument, sophistry is yours. We say you cannot hear which Jesus said is the same as understand referring to Isaiah, and He also says that until you live again, are born again, you cannot see to understand. Seeing that hearing is the same as understanding, and understanding is equated with living, hearing is equated with living. It is not my fault that you cannot follow the reasoning of Jesus. That dead men will hear goes without your explanation that men who are dead hear.

It must certainly be important to you to condemn Dort, so as it is of utmost importance that you mock the name and you pyretically attack its decisions and findings.

Or, you are play a game.

And, by the way Jesus said also, plainly: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.

So I suppose by your dead cold literalistic way of looking at Scripture, these men were really tombs filled with dead men's bones, actually capable of being openned up, and the dusty bones taken out?

Back to the beginning, mud does not hear, by it surely did, and we are called the dust of the earth, and we hear. But, it is not as dust we hear, but as men who have been made to live that we hear, yet we are but mud.

Your problem is that you think you're more than mud.

Paul said...

It seems that under Ben's logic Lazarus was still dead when he heard the Lord command him to come.

I wonder if Lazarus could of rejected it by not comming out? Hmmm

kangaroodort said...

Strong Tower,

Thanks for the response.
As I looked over my initial response to you, I was disappointed in what seemed to be a lack of respect in the way I said some things. I want to have a respectful conversation so I apologize for the way I started things off. So far, the guys at Pyro, while passionate, seem to be far more classy then many Calvinists I have dealt with in the past and I want to commend you for that. That being said, I will address your response below:

It is not sophistry Ben, it comes directly from Scripture. Because you reject its logic because it is not the logic of men, does not make is unbiblical.

Forgive me, but the part I said was sophistry had no reference to Scripture. I addressed the passages you brought forward to support your position, while you did not address the passage I referenced, except to give philosophical reasons why my understanding of it must be wrong.

I will leave you with this. Revelation begins and ends with Scripture. And as it was in the beginning so it shall be in the end. Dead men will hear, once they're made alive. That you cannot understand that, is reasonable.

To be honest, I am not sure what you are referring to here. Maybe you are trying to draw a strict correlation between the physical and the spiritual again, the very thing you rebuke in your comments about “Nicky” below (but we will get to that in a minute).

Since you mentioned Revelation, it might help to look at how Jesus uses “dead” in that book (with reference to spiritual death).

“I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.” Rev. 3:1, 2

So, we find Christ using the word “dead” in a way that does not comport with Calvinist theology.

Neither could Nicky, but Jesus said that unless he was born again, he would not iedo, which obviously applies, for before we live, we must be born and before we can hear we must live.

Nicodemus made the mistake of trying to understand spiritual issues in a literal way by comparing them strictly to the physical realm, the very thing Calvinists do with “dead in sin”. Strictly speaking, one begins to “live” at conception and not at birth.

Jesus is speaking of a transition from one sphere of existence to another (passing from spiritual death to spiritual life, as in John 5). He nowhere tells Nicodemus that one must be “born” before they can “hear”. You should really be careful to let the text speak for itself.

I believe that you have fundamentally misunderstood this discussion between Nicodemus and Christ. I have already written at length on this passage here:

http://arminianperspectives.blogspot.com/2007/08/does-jesus-teach-that-regeneration_20.html

If you take the time to read my post, you will at least be able to see why I find your comments concerning “Nicky” to be an unfortunate case of reading your doctrines into a passage of Scripture where they do not belong.

It is your problem that you want to say it is philosophical arguement. When what I am saying is that it is not. It in fact is illogical in man's reckoning as Nicky said. How can a man be alive and be dead, how can a man be born again, climb back into the womb?

Please direct me to the verse in John 3 where “Nicky” says “How can a man be alive and be dead?” If you are going to try to use a passage of Scripture to bolster your argument, at least honestly deal with what the text is saying. It might help you to read the rest of the chapter before reading you Calvinism into the words of Jesus.

You see, you use the Jews argument, sophistry is yours.

Actually, you are the one who uses the “Jews” argument. You are the one who wants to make strict parallels between the spiritual and the physical, just as Nicodemus did. When Nicodemus asked how one could be born again in verse 9, Jesus answered him by pointing him to the cross (with the comparison of the snake in the desert), and the need to believe in Him. So how does Jesus answer Nicodemus question regarding how one comes to be born again? He tells him to look to the lifted up Messiah and believe in Him. So the new birth is given to those who believe. No sophistry there, just an honest look at the entire chapter of John 3.

We say you cannot hear which Jesus said is the same as understand referring to Isaiah, and He also says that until you live again, are born again, you cannot see to understand.

“see to understand” is your Calvinist presuppositions speaking again. Take a look at the link I left for an interpretation that is more in keeping with the context of the entire chapter.

Seeing that hearing is the same as understanding, and understanding is equated with living, hearing is equated with living. It is not my fault that you cannot follow the reasoning of Jesus. That dead men will hear goes without your explanation that men who are dead hear.

Talk about jumping to conclusions without even discussing the text in question. I think you might be trying to draw your conclusions from John 5, but it seems you may also be trying to read your misunderstandings of John 3 into 5, so I will need some clarification before I can address this line of “reasoning”.

It must certainly be important to you to condemn Dort, so as it is of utmost importance that you mock the name and you pyretically attack its decisions and findings.

For someone who is supposed to be committed to sola Scriptura, you sure get hyped up about man’s creeds and confessions.

Or, you are play a game.

And what game is that, exactly?

And, by the way Jesus said also, plainly: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.

So I suppose by your dead cold literalistic way of looking at Scripture, these men were really tombs filled with dead men's bones, actually capable of being openned up, and the dusty bones taken out?


Again, you are the one who is contending for a strict correlation between physical and spiritual language (i.e. cold literalistic), which is exactly why you cannot except Jesus’ teaching that the dead will hear. You have successfully refuted yourself.

Back to the beginning, mud does not hear, by it surely did, and we are called the dust of the earth, and we hear. But, it is not as dust we hear, but as men who have been made to live that we hear, yet we are but mud.

Your problem is that you think you're more than mud.


And is if this isn’t sophistry, I don’t know what is. When and why did we start talking about mud? Let’s stick to John 5 and any other relevant Scriptures.

God Bless,
Ben

kangaroodort said...

Paul,

You wrote:

It seems that under Ben's logic Lazarus was still dead when he heard the Lord command him to come.

I wonder if Lazarus could of rejected it by not comming out? Hmmm


Hmmmmm indeed. My Bible says that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead so that those standing there might believe that Christ was sent from God (Jn 11:42). No where does it say that He inteneded it as an object lesson for how one becosmes born again. The only time Jesus speaks of spiritual resurrection in John 11, He makes it clear that such a resurrection is given only to those who "believe" (verse 25).

That you need to look to the physical resurrection of Lazarus to support your position further demonstrates the lack of Biblical evidence for you doctrine.

God Bless,
Ben

Paul said...

Ben,

We are told in John 5:25 that the dead will hear the voice of Christ and they that hear shall live. Again, it helps to understand “hear” in the sense of understand and obey, rather than an audible sound. The reason I say this is because we are told that many of his disciples left after saying that they could not understand it, as well as others who could not ”hear” His word. We know that they could not hear His words in the sense that they needed to because they were not of God. In order to “hear” and live you must be “of God” and the way you come to be “of God” is to be born of the Spirit. If you are not of God, then you cannot “hear”.

Strong Tower said...

Ben-
Talk about jumping to conclusions without even discussing the text in question. I think you might be trying to draw your conclusions from John 5, but it seems you may also be trying to read your misunderstandings of John 3 into 5 so I will need some clarification before I can address this line of “reasoning”.

Dort is part of your name, I could care less about dort, but you cannot. You mock it, it is of utmost importance to you that you formulate counter, or should I say remonstrances.

Of course I leap from Scripture to Scripture, for Scripture interprets itself. The comparison that Jesus makes is to physical birth, whether you like it or not, Nicodemus' retort is mockery of such a claim, precisely because Jesus uses concrete example drawing literalistically from life. It is of course a spiritual reality, but it is life that often teaches us revelation. I was not referring to the Book of revelation, but simply the fact that you are spiritually blind and must appeal to mechanical means to determine what Scripture says. As it was in the beginning, man must be born from above, anothen gennao, conceived of the HS before he can understand. Nicodemus could not understand no matter what argument Christ put forward. The key is that he must be born again before anything that Christ said made sense. Dead men can hear, if they are made alive. Your problem is that you cannot understand, just as Nicodemus, how a man can be both alive and dead, and dead and alive, how a man who is old can be born again if he is already born, how a man cannot understand though he understands. Your problem is you try as Nicodemus did, to find a means by which you can save yourself. How can a man believe in what he does not understand, since he must be born again before he can eido, and therefore, how could one look to a cross which he does not understand? The simplisity of Gospel is this, believe and you will be saved. Do you know him in whom you have believed, or do you merely believe you know him? If you must believe to know, how would you know what to believe in. To the contrary, we know know him, that is why we believe. You do not understand our words, which makes me wonder, why?

kangaroodort said...

So it comes down to this:

I was not referring to the Book of revelation, but simply the fact that you are spiritually blind and must appeal to mechanical means to determine what Scripture says....Your problem is that you cannot understand, just as Nicodemus, how a man can be both alive and dead, and dead and alive, how a man who is old can be born again if he is already born, how a man cannot understand though he understands. Your problem is you try as Nicodemus did, to find a means by which you can save yourself....You do not understand our words, which makes me wonder, why?

It would seem that you are questioning my salvation and alluding to the fact that I may be a reprobate due to the fact that I am not convinced by your lame arguments. At least I now know what my "problem" is.

Unfortunately for me, I can't do anything to resolve that problem until God decides to irresistibly regenerate me so I can finally see the truth of Calvinism.

I can see that this discussion has reached an end. After all that I have said, you still maintain that:

Dead men can hear, if they are made alive.

...which demonstrates that you have made no progress in defending your case. If dead men must be made alive before they can hear, then dead men cannot hear, and Christ was wrong to say that they will. So, like I said, your arguments have amounted to nothing but a smokescreen of sophistry to try to promote the absurd idea that when Christ said the dead will hear, He really meant those who have been made alive [and are therefore not dead anymore] will hear.

Thanks for the enlightenment.

God Bless,
Ben

kangaroodort said...

Paul,

You wrote:

We are told in John 5:25 that the dead will hear the voice of Christ and they that hear shall live. Again, it helps to understand “hear” in the sense of understand and obey, rather than an audible sound.

So now the dead can understand and obey? Even better. Thanks for the help.

BTW, I do not believe that a man can hear, believe, understand, or obey if not for the grace of God. Jesus words, however, make it plain that the enabling work of the Holy Spirit cannot be regeneration. If it were He would be wrong to say that the dead hear.

God Bless,
Ben

BTW, I hope you will take the time to read the post I linked to.

Paul said...

Ben,

My point is that the dead cannot understand and obey the voice of Christ because they are not of God. In order to truly “hear” the voice of Christ you must be of God or else it is foolishness to you. Regeneration is the quickening of the spirit to enable the sinner to “hear” the voice of Christ. It seems that you do not agree and seem to be saying that the dead spirit can understand and obey or “hear” the voice of God when we are expressly told that it is the ones that are of God that “hear” the words of God and that if they do not “hear” it is because they are not of God.

kangaroodort said...

Paul,

You wrote:

My point is that the dead cannot understand and obey the voice of Christ because they are not of God. In order to truly “hear” the voice of Christ you must be of God or else it is foolishness to you. Regeneration is the quickening of the spirit to enable the sinner to “hear” the voice of Christ. It seems that you do not agree and seem to be saying that the dead spirit can understand and obey or “hear” the voice of God when we are expressly told that it is the ones that are of God that “hear” the words of God and that if they do not “hear” it is because they are not of God.

This is all very interesting, but it still does not comport with the words of Christ in John 5. Do you have a Scripture in mind when you say that one must be "of God" before they can "hear" the words of God. I have an idea what you may be referring to, but I would rather leave that for you to clarify. Once you point me to the passage you have in mind, then we can exegetically examine it. Otherwise, we are left with mere assertion.

I still do not see how you have honestly dealt with the fact that Jesus says the dead will hear unto life. You say the dead cannot hear until God gives them life, which would render Christ's words nonsensical. If you want to correlate "hear" with "life" then you have reduced his words to tautology:

"The dead will [by way of new life]hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who [by way of new life] hear will live."

...Those who live will live.

God Bless,
Ben

Mike Riccardi said...

Ben,

Sorry for the delay in commenting. I didn't realize the discussion was continuing on this thread.

Just relating to your last interaction with Paul, a passage in which it's clear that only those "of God" will hear is John 10:26ff.

So Peter tells these elect believers to make their calling and election sure and warns them not to fall from their own "steadfastness" [NIV- "secure position"]. Seems strange to me that Peter would need to tell the elect to make sure thay are elect, and to be cautious not to fall from their steadfastness by failing to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ", etc. Maybe you could explain that one to me.

Maybe, but I don't see anything strange there, so I wonder. Here's the verse:

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.

Peter tells those who are professing Christians, those whom Peter considers to be saved, to make sure that they really are of the number that God saves. He's basically saying, "Make sure you're a Christian." I don't find that strange at all. "You're professing to be a Christian, saying you've got faith. Make sure you possess these other qualities, on top of faith, in increasing measure, because they are necessary fruit and evidence of faith. Without them, your profession is suspect. Make sure it's valid."

Seems reasonable to me.

maritus imperfectus said...

kangaroodort & Paul:

I have been following the exchange for a bit, and hate to join a private party, but can't refrain from a comment.

The verse (John 5:25) doesn’t, on its own, expressly support either position. It is silent as to how the hearing takes place. The verse merely says the dead will hear (meaning spiritually dead hearing the vocalization of words), and those that hear will live (meaning those of the dead who spiritually hear, will live).

Dead people hearing, and hearing people that live. The verse doesn’t say that the dead are still dead when they spiritually hear; nor does the verse say that the dead are given life to be able to hear. The text is silent on those specific issues. It just says those that hear will live. Period.

I would say both of you would agree that something had to happen to the ears of those hearing so that they could go from the large group of hearers, to the small group of hearers (unless one of you snuck in some universal salvation stuff that I missed). But what?

I think it would be a great addition to the dialogue if one of you could articulate – with scripture- how the dead hear. Especially for those of us who are learning by following the dialogue.

Just my $.02 (prolly only $.01 worth, but with inflation . . . .)

Paul said...

Ben,

Regeneration is not eternal life or anything like that, but in order for a dead spirit to “hear” it must first be enabled by the Holy Spirit to understand. Regeneration is what enables the sinner to understand the things of the Spirit. When man is enabled to understand the things of the Spirit he then puts his faith in Christ and comes to be grafted into the body of Christ and receives eternal salvation. You seem to be linking regeneration with salvation at best and eternal life at worst. Regeneration is what enables the sinner to hear with understanding the things of the Spirit.

It seems that you agree to some extent that natural man must be enabled to “hear” you just choose to call it something else. I assume that you also think that this enabling grace is offered to all, if I am correct your side would call it prevenient grace. Yet as has been pointed out on this post and this thread, this prevenient grace that enables all sinners and puts them in a state to “understand” the things of the Spirit is not Scriptural. So your whole system rests on this “prevenient grace” that does not come from Scripture but was devised by man to get out of total depravity and all of its implications. If I am wrong then please point me in Scripture where I could learn more about this “prevenient grace” that enables all sinners to understand the things of the Spirit. If it does not enable all sinners than why not? Are you then saying only some are saved and that it is because God knew who would understand and put their faith in Christ that they are saved? Well then you are back to man being responsible for his condition of salvation. I assume then what distinguishes men is some are more capable of “hearing/understanding” the things of the Spirit than others and that the poor sap who does not use his corrupt heart to “hear/understand” is somehow worse than you. Somehow you can use this “prevenient grace” to understand while another who is given the same “prevenient grace” does not bring himself to the same place that you did to “hear/understand” the things of the Spirit. Yet with all of that your side still claims that you are not responsible for your own salvation???

kangaroodort said...

Hello Mike,

You said:

Peter tells those who are professing Christians, those whom Peter considers to be saved, to make sure that they really are of the number that God saves. He's basically saying, "Make sure you're a Christian." I don't find that strange at all. "You're professing to be a Christian, saying you've got faith. Make sure you possess these other qualities, on top of faith, in increasing measure, because they are necessary fruit and evidence of faith. Without them, your profession is suspect. Make sure it's valid."

I understand what you are saying here, but it undermines your argument regarding 3:9. You argued that Paul was not addressing unbelievers, which would include professing believers who are not true believers. He is, according to you, addressing only the truly elect and beloved ones. That is the strength of your argument regarding 3:9.

Now you say that Paul may be addressing unbelievers who are professing faith, but may not have genuine faith. If there were no possiblity for some of those who were being addressed to prove to be other than "elect", then it would have been pointless to tell them to make their election sure.

I agree that Peter was speaking to believers, but I also think that Peter understood that true believers can fall away (e.g.3:17,18). So the way I see it is that you can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want to use the "Peter was only speaking to the elect" in 3:9, then you also must affirm that Peter believed that the "elect" could still fall away from their own "steadfastness".

God Bless,
Ben

kangaroodort said...

Hey Paul,

I'm done for the day. I will address your comments tomorrow.

Later,
Ben

Daryl said...

Ben,

I think it likely that Peter was speaking to the church, recognizing that he couldn't really know who was truly elect and who was not. We can't assume that Peter knew who the elect were and weren't in a given setting.
I'd suggest that he was saying, in effect, "you and I both know that there will be unbelievers among us. Make sure that you're not one of those."

Mike Riccardi said...

Ben,

There's no way for Peter to know who the elect are. The whole time he operates on the assumption, having known these people, that they are truly saved. However, understanding that only God knows the heart, he encourages them to make sure they're saved.

This doesn't change the way 3:9 is understood at all. I think that's an unnecessary conclusion. He is still operating on the assumption that these people are truly saved.

3:17 doesn't teach that people can fall away. "Secure position" is a bad translation, not something foreign to the NIV. "Steadfastness" more accurately brings across the idea that those of the truly elect who are carried away for a season by error will become unprofitable and unfruitful (cf. 1:8), not that they'll fall from salvation.

kangaroodort said...

Paul,

Let me first point out that you have yet to grapple with John 5:25. I hesitate to answer these latest comments of yours because they largely amount to deflection as far as I am concerned. But anyway…

Regeneration is not eternal life or anything like that, but in order for a dead spirit to “hear” it must first be enabled by the Holy Spirit to understand.

When do you suppose eternal life begins? Does it begin after regeneration? Are you saying that eternal life is something other than the life that begins at regeneration? Good luck trying to demonstrate that from Scripture. So we are left with mere assertion again.

Regeneration is what enables the sinner to understand the things of the Spirit.

Begging the question, or course.

When man is enabled to understand the things of the Spirit he then puts his faith in Christ and comes to be grafted into the body of Christ and receives eternal salvation.

I agree with this part, as long as “enabled” does not mean “regeneration”.

You seem to be linking regeneration with salvation at best and eternal life at worst.

I am saying that regeneration is the beginning of spiritual life, and that no one can have spiritual life outside of union with Jesus Christ. I demonstrated that with my response to Strong Tower regarding the Ephesians passage he cited. Again, you need to prove that regeneration is something other than the beginning of eternal life in Christ. Good luck with that.


Regeneration is what enables the sinner to hear with understanding the things of the Spirit.

More question begging and assertion.


It seems that you agree to some extent that natural man must be enabled to “hear” you just choose to call it something else. I assume that you also think that this enabling grace is offered to all, if I am correct your side would call it prevenient grace.

Prevenient grace means a grace that precedes or comes before. Whether or not this grace is universal has nothing to do with its prevenient nature.

Yet as has been pointed out on this post and this thread, this prevenient grace that enables all sinners and puts them in a state to “understand” the things of the Spirit is not Scriptural.

More assertion. Let me counter assert that it has been “erroneously” pointed out on this thread that prevenient grace is not Scriptural. That was fun :)

So your whole system rests on this “prevenient grace” that does not come from Scripture but was devised by man to get out of total depravity and all of its implications.

More assertion. This is getting old.

If I am wrong then please point me in Scripture where I could learn more about this “prevenient grace” that enables all sinners to understand the things of the Spirit.

I already pointed you to John 5. Once you deal with that I will point you to some other passages as well. I could point to numerous passages that plainly state that faith, repentance, coming (in faith), looking (in faith) all precede life (your only defense is to claim that this is a different kind of life, which again, begs the question and amounts to mere assertion). Can you point me to one passage that says that life (any sort of spiritual life) precedes faith? Good luck with that.


If it does not enable all sinners than why not?

First, notice how quickly you have moved to resting your argument on philosophical objections. Don’t Calvinists usually chide Arminians for using “man made reasoning” instead of submitting to the authority of Scripture? I believe that God enables all who hear the gospel to respond in faith.

Are you then saying only some are saved and that it is because God knew who would understand and put their faith in Christ that they are saved?

No, I am not saying that.


Well then you are back to man being responsible for his condition of salvation.

How so?

I assume then what distinguishes men is some are more capable of “hearing/understanding” the things of the Spirit than others and that the poor sap who does not use his corrupt heart to “hear/understand” is somehow worse than you. Somehow you can use this “prevenient grace” to understand while another who is given the same “prevenient grace” does not bring himself to the same place that you did to “hear/understand” the things of the Spirit.

Oh good, this worn out argument again. Faith is looking away from one’s own merit to the merit of Christ. Therefore, faith by nature is laying the responsibility for salvation on someone else. The nature and definition of faith is what makes your argument absurd, and is why Paul said that faith excludes boasting.

God is responsible for salvation and is the one who determines who will be saved. He has determined that believers will be saved. We do not determine our own salvation, God does. We only determine whether or not we will meet the God ordained condition of faith.

Why does one believe and not another? I don’t know. We would need exhaustive knowledge of how and why any particular individual makes choices in order to answer that. I also don’t know why one believer better resists temptation than another, when both believers are given sufficient grace to “stand up under it”. Do you?

What I do know is that there is no merit in faith, and that is all I need to know. Anything beyond that is mere speculation and I think it unwise to base ones doctrine on speculation.

The question you need to grapple with is why the unbeliever is condemned for unbelief. According to your doctrine, God never intended to save the reprobate and made no provision for his or her salvation. So what exactly is the reprobate rejecting, and why would God condemn him for rejecting something that was never intended for him, or made available to him?

Yet with all of that your side still claims that you are not responsible for your own salvation???

See above.

Now unless you want to directly address the text of John 5, then I am done with this conversation.

God Bless,
Ben

Paul said...

Ben,

It seems that Maritus Imperfectus answered the John 5, I will have to get back to you later as this is busy time of trading day for me.

kangaroodort said...

Hey Mike,

Thanks for the response.

You wrote:

There's no way for Peter to know who the elect are. The whole time he operates on the assumption, having known these people, that they are truly saved. However, understanding that only God knows the heart, he encourages them to make sure they're saved.

Again, I think you are trying to have your cake and eat it too. If Peter assumes that they are elect, then there is no need to warn them to make their election sure. I personally have a problem with the "only God knows the heart" angle, but that is getting into another can of worms that I am not willing to open right now. I will ask you this, though. When you say that only God knows the heart, does that exclude the professing believer himself? Can the believer truly know his or her own heart? If not, then how can one ever have assurance?

This doesn't change the way 3:9 is understood at all. I think that's an unnecessary conclusion. He is still operating on the assumption that these people are truly saved.

Then why the need to tell them to make their election sure? What I am saying is that if their is any doubt concerning their election, or any possibility that some of them are false believers (who will eventually prove this by failing to "do these things"), then that doubt should carry over into the comments of 3:9.

3:17 doesn't teach that people can fall away. "Secure position" is a bad translation, not something foreign to the NIV. "Steadfastness" more accurately brings across the idea that those of the truly elect who are carried away for a season by error will become unprofitable and unfruitful (cf. 1:8), not that they'll fall from salvation.

Let me just point out that the text no where says "for a season". That is something your theology has forced you to read into the text.

God Bless,
Ben

kangaroodort said...

Paul,

I fail to see how he answered my comments regarding John 5:25. I initially addressed only Strong Tower and Mike Ricarrdi. I am not looking to try to defend myself against a swarm of Calvinists. I don't have the time for that. It was foolish of me to address your comments, as I also don't have much time for this. For that reason I will not be answering every person who wishes to chime in on our discussion. If their is something of relevance that you think MI contributed, then please bring it to my attention.

Here is the part that I read from MI that made it hard for me to take him seriously:

Dead people hearing, and hearing people that live. The verse doesn’t say that the dead are still dead when they spiritually hear; nor does the verse say that the dead are given life to be able to hear. The text is silent on those specific issues. It just says those that hear will live. Period.

MI: "The verse doesn’t say that the dead are still dead when they spiritually hear...It just says those that hear will live. Period."

Jesus: "The dead will hear"

I guess I just don't see where the confusion is coming from.

God Bless,
Ben

maritus imperfectus said...

kangaroo:

It would seem that you are implying that all the dead that hear the voice of the Son of God will live. Are you advocating a universal salvation merely from the fact that one hears the audible sounds of the Son of God's voice?

From your previous comments, I would think you are not. Yet, your response would seem to lean that direction, unless there is an implied difference in the two uses of the word hear. Agree?

Yes, the dead will hear. But the second clause says "those that hear will live." So either all dead hearing the voice of the Son of God will live (seems like Universal salvation) or only those that truly hear (I would argue that this implies spiritual understanding of what they heard) will live.

The verse doesn't address what happens so that some hearers will live (unless this is a cry for universal salvation). Obviously, something must have happened, but what? Perhaps v. 21 (or John 8:47)gives some insight, perhaps we need to look to other passages of scripture to gain a better understanding.

Oh, don't worry about taking me seriously, on a good day I don't take myself seriously! :)

Paul said...

Ben,

Let me try to address your John 5:25 since you seem to think that this is your silver bullet.

Here is the verse - 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

What we know is that it is distinguishing between two groups. By that I mean we are talking that all will hear the voice of the Son of God is the general group and the ones that hear that live are the smaller group. We have said that HEAR means two different things. One is to hear and not understand, the other is to hear and understand. If we take the general group to be the ones that do not understand and we take the smaller group to be the ones that do understand we may start seeing some things. Now what do you suppose the difference is in the group that does not understand and the group that does understand? I take it to mean that the group that does not understand is the group that is devoid of the Spirit. We know that Scripture calls men devoid of the Spirit natural man and natural man has no ability to understand the things of the Spirit.

Ben what your view needs to believe is that all men hear with understanding and then reject that understanding. So then you have man responsible for his own salvation and what differs men is not God, but man’s ability to comprehend these things of the Spirit. You put yourself then responsible for your own salvation, now I understand that you think that you are using the means that God has provided but it does not change the fact that YOU are the determining factor in your salvation. This then means that something inside you distinguishes you from another and this x factor is why you are saved and not them.

Again, what is your view on why all hear, yet the ones that “hear” will live? It is also interesting that the ones that do “hear” shall live meaning in the future. I think that we both agree that it would seem to be talking about another kind of live, perhaps it is merely pointing out that the one that “hear” will still die a physical death but that they will gain eternal life in the future/second coming.

Strong Tower said...

By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return...
Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

Compare and contrast time-

I guess I just don't see where the confusion is coming from.

No more honest statement has ever been made.

Does dust hear? Well yes, but not before it is alive. Adam was dust, but made alive and then he could hear. At the time of the cursing Adam, though he was alive, he was dead. But, the statement would have fallen on dead ears except that he had been made alive. Or, the instruction, just as Peter's to the elect, would have made no sense. Of course you have to believe that the Abrahamic promises extended back to Adam, which some do not.

Now Scripture is given for our admonition, our perserverance in Faith, but, it would make no sense if, according to some, it was written to the elect alone? The reality is, it makes no sense except it was written to the elect, alone. Some would suggest that the making our election sure is a work, rather than the outworking of our election. To them it makes no sense that commandments like make your calling and election sure should be given, if only to the elect. But, then, what commandments would make sense? Surely, the first commandment should not still stand, should it, since those who are saved, by the reasoning of some, no longer need it? What kind of sophistry is that? The commandment to do good, ie, make your calling and election sure, is no different than any other commandment we should do.

Back to the main question. Do the dead hear? Yes and no. The dead Jews could not, why? The dead Adam, and the dead disciples could, why? We as Christians believe in miracles, like the miracle of creation. And in it Adam was dead mud, unable to hear, until the miracle of the breath of life. Further, after the fall, when Adam was dead spiritually, he was made to hear miraculously, or it would not have made sense for the Lord to have spoken of the curse, seeing as, Adam would not have known what it meant. Just as the Jews, though they were not physically dead, even though they were not mentally dead, they were dead to the Spirits Word, unable to hear Jesus.

The question then becomes what did Jesus mean when he said that a time was coming when the dead shall hear. Unless one just can't understand where the confusion comes from, he will understand that it takes the miracle of life to be able to hear. Just as it was in the original creation, just as it was in the beginning, dust was made to hear by miraculously making it live, but it did not hear until it was alive, and even though it was alive, it was still dust. In the miracle of the new birth, the anothen gennao, the recreation from above unto life must precede the hearing, and in that life, dead men will hear. The primary reference, the dead shall hear and live, it is true, is to the resurrection, but everything Jesus said was parabolic, for he spoke to them only by parables even in the miracles which testified to who He was. That dead dust should live to hear and speak the words of wisdom is truly a miracle, but to the dead it remains that they just can't see where the confusion comes from.

kangaroodort said...

Paul,

I don't have time to answer your comments right now, and probably won't be able to get to them today.

I do appreciate that you are now engaging the text. That is what I was trying to accomplish from the start. I think there is much to learn from the entire chapter regarding this issue.

You are quite wrong to assume that I think John 5 is my silver bullet. If you want a broader argument from my position which deals with numerous texts, I have written several posts on the ordo salutis at my blog.

MI, I appreciate the objection. No, I am not advocating universalism and do not believe that my understanding of the text leads to that. I will tackle that issue when I respond to Paul.

Strong Tower,

Thanks for essentially calling me unregenerate again. Must be nice to be able to conclude that whenever someone rejects your "strong" arguments, that the reason must be due to a hardened and reprobated heart.

God Bless,
Ben

BTW, I seem to remember a Pyro guy posting awhile ago that there is a time limit on comments. Anyone know how much longer we have?

maritus imperfectus said...

kangaroo -

I think we can comment a long as we "choose."

:o)

Mike Riccardi said...

Ben,

I don't think that you should have a problem with "only God knows the heart" angle. Only God knows who the elect are. Therefore, it's totally OK for us to say, "Jesus won't come back till all the elect are saved," and "Make sure you're one of the elect." I think that's the only reasonable thing to say.

That's why I don't think it's a logical necessity to say, "If Peter is unsure about these people being elect, that uncertainty has to transfer to other statements about the elect." Think about it. I'll teach my Sunday School class that only the elect are saved and that all the elect are saved. That if you're of the elect you'll believe, your sins were paid for by Christ on the cross, that you have the Holy Spirit in you. But somewhere in there I'll always say, Make sure this is you!

As to whether the believer himself can know his own heart, I think the answer is yes. However, I also think that disobedience robs the believer of any ground of assurance in the instance of that disobedience. So while I can be sure, as I survey my heart and see evidence of grace, there are times in which I'm unsure because I'm so intimately acquainted with how vile and sinful I am. But even in that bowed-low, humiliated position, I can have assurance, knowing that Christ died for sinners just like me.

I think we understand each other pretty clearly; I just think we disagree. It's pointless to keep on saying, "I think this..." "Okay... well I think this," which is what I think is happening. I'd be happy to answer any more serious questions, though.

kangaroodort said...

Paul,

Finally, we can get to a little exegesis.

You wrote:

What we know is that it is distinguishing between two groups. By that I mean we are talking that all will hear the voice of the Son of God is the general group and the ones that hear that live are the smaller group. We have said that HEAR means two different things. One is to hear and not understand, the other is to hear and understand. If we take the general group to be the ones that do not understand and we take the smaller group to be the ones that do understand we may start seeing some things.

I don’t think we can make a distinction between those who hear in 25a and those who hear in 25b. I will need to look into it, but I suspect that the Greek grammar will not allow for such a distinction either. Jesus is just giving us more information concerning those who “hear” in 25a by adding that they will hear unto life in 25b. So Jesus is speaking only of those who hear unto life in John 5:25. It seems to me that Jesus must describing those who hear in faith when we consider the previous verse:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My voice and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and does not come unto judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

Jesus is addressing Jews of whom He later says that they will not hear Him in faith (verses 40-44). The reason for this is because the Jews He is speaking to have actively resisted the grace which enables that faith response.

They have rejected the testimony of the Father, and therefore, cannot accept the Son. They have not “heard and learned” from the Father (John 6:45), so they cannot learn from the Son. They are not in right covenant relationship with the Father, so they cannot accept the perfect revelation of the Father in the Son. Had these Jews known the Father and the received His testimony (John 5:38-47), they would have been drawn by the Father to the Son, and given to Him (John 6:44, 45, 37).

It is important to notice that in verse 24 Jesus says that only the one who “believes Him who sent Me” can hear the voice of Jesus unto life. This harmonizes with the rest of what Jesus declares concerning the reason these spiritually dead Jews could not hear unto life. They could not hear unto life because they had not believed the prior revelation and testimony of the Father (“Him who sent Me”).

So Jesus is speaking about the spiritually dead hearing (by faith, cf. Rom. 10:17, Gal. 3:2, 5) unto life. Verses 39 and 40 give us more insight into the matter:

“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.”

One must first “come” in faith before receiving life. While this is speaking of eternal life, I believe that regeneration is also plainly in view. Jesus is speaking to spiritually dead Jews who are in need of a spiritual resurrection (verse 25). Only through the hearing of faith can they “pass from death to life” (verse 24). This is the language of regeneration. He is speaking of a transition from one sphere of existence (spiritual death) to another sphere of existence (spiritual life).

Jesus is telling these Jews what must take place for them to receive the life they seek (verse 39). The eternal life that Christ offers begins with regeneration and only those who come to Him in faith will receive that life. There is no life outside of faith union with Him, for in Him alone is life (verse 26).

Despite these Jews’ refusal to listen, Jesus makes it clear that He is not taunting them or addressing them as reprobates without hope. He tells them plainly, “…I say these things that you might be saved.”

Now what do you suppose the difference is in the group that does not understand and the group that does understand? I take it to mean that the group that does not understand is the group that is devoid of the Spirit. We know that Scripture calls men devoid of the Spirit natural man and natural man has no ability to understand the things of the Spirit.

What do you mean by “devoid of the Spirit”? It seems to me that one cannot be regenerated until the life giving Spirit dwells within. Until the Spirit dwells within, there can be no access to the life of Christ. Christ dwells in us by His Spirit and the Scriptures plainly declare that this indwelling is “through faith” (Eph. 3:17). Paul elsewhere makes it clear that the life giving Spirit is received by faith:

“…did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal. 3:2; see also verses 5 and 14)

Luke confirms that only those who obey God receive His Spirit:

“And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:32; see also Acts 11:17 and Luke 11:13).

The fact that we are justified by faith creates further (and I believe fatal) difficulties for your position. Justification involves forgiveness on the merits and application of Christ’s blood. Your position forces the absurd theological implication that the sinner is given spiritual life (regenerated) prior to being forgiven on the merits of Christ blood (justification). The fact that we are only speaking of logical order does not alleviate the difficulty.

Ben what your view needs to believe is that all men hear with understanding and then reject that understanding.

What I am saying is that those who hear the gospel are enabled to respond in saving faith.

So then you have man responsible for his own salvation and what differs men is not God, but man’s ability to comprehend these things of the Spirit. You put yourself then responsible for your own salvation, now I understand that you think that you are using the means that God has provided but it does not change the fact that YOU are the determining factor in your salvation.

And here, again, you fail to understand the nature of saving faith. Faith carries no merit because it is by nature looking to another for salvation. Would you say that the Israelites in the desert healed themselves by looking to the bronze serpent?

The reason someone can respond in faith is the God given and grace enabled capacity of human choice. The one who responds in faith has the same capacity as the one who does not. That is the beauty of faith as the condition for salvation. All the glory for salvation goes to God, while all the blame for condemnation rests on the unbeliever. By faith our salvation becomes an unearned gift from God (Rom. 4:16).

This then means that something inside you distinguishes you from another and this x factor is why you are saved and not them.

We are responsible for our faith or rejection. That does not, however, make the believer responsible for his or her salvation, and it does not make that salvation any less of a gracious gift (Rom. 4:16).

Is a believer sanctified by grace or without grace? Can man sanctify himself? Why is it then that not all believers respond in the same way to God’s sanctifying grace? Why is it that one believer resists temptation while another falls in the same area? Were they not both given sufficient grace (1 Cor. 10:13)? What, then, made the difference? Can one believer then boast over the other that he or she made better use of the grace of God? What do you think? How is that any different than the question you are asking me? When you can answer my question then you will have the answer to yours.

There is an “x” factor in your system that you need to account for as well. You assert that God chose you for salvation while passing over the greater part of creation in damnation. What was it that made God choose you over all those others? What was the “x” that made you the right choice and them the wrong choice? Will you say that God chose you without any regard to anything in you? Don’t you then make God’s choice arbitrary? Perhaps you will say that God’s choice had nothing to do with anything in you or about you. Perhaps you will say that God’s choice of you was not arbitrary but beyond our understanding. The answer lies in His inscrutable counsel. But doesn’t God do all things, however inscrutable, according to His infinite wisdom? Doesn’t that mean that the only infinitely wise choice God could have made was to choose you? Must be hard not to boast in that?

BTW, I am still waiting on you to explain to me how God can rightly condemn unbelievers for “rejecting” something that was never intended for them or provided for them.

Maybe we should dispense with philosophical speculations and base our theology instead on the revelation of God’s word.

Again, what is your view on why all hear, yet the ones that “hear” will live?

As I explained above, not all hear with faith. That does not mean that all are not enabled to hear with faith.

It is also interesting that the ones that do “hear” shall live meaning in the future. I think that we both agree that it would seem to be talking about another kind of live, perhaps it is merely pointing out that the one that “hear” will still die a physical death but that they will gain eternal life in the future/second coming.

It seems far more likely to me that Jesus is speaking only of the result of hearing. Those who hear [in faith] will [upon hearing in faith] live. This seems to best fit the context of the passage.

Calvinism says spiritual death correlates with the inability of a cadaver, and a corpse cannot hear. God’s word, on the other hand, says that God’s grace can overcome our inability and the “the dead will hear”; and I still contend that to say the dead will hear by first being made alive renders the plain words of Christ nonsense.

MI: I believe my response to Paul addressed your objections as well. If not, feel free to let me know. I am not sure how much more time I can devote to this discussion. We will likely never see eye to eye on this so it might be best to just agree to disagree.

I appreciate the mature discussion and that you both refrained from resorting to questioning my salvation simply because we disagree. Oh, and Paul, I am still waiting on you to provide a single passage of Scripture that says life (any sort of spiritual life) precedes faith.

God Bless,
Ben

kangaroodort said...

I think we understand each other pretty clearly; I just think we disagree. It's pointless to keep on saying, "I think this..." "Okay... well I think this," which is what I think is happening. I'd be happy to answer any more serious questions, though.

Fair enough. I agree that we are just talking past each other and I really don't have any more time to devote to it, or "any more serious questions", anyway. Thanks for the chat.

God Bless,
Ben

Paul said...

Ben,

It seems that you think that man in the flesh can please God and you fail to distinguish from regeneration and ‘eternal life’. Regeneration is defined many ways in Scripture, it can be referred to as a “washing”, a “circumcision”, a “being taught by God”, a “calling” and a “opening of ones heart” and many other things. It seems that you believe in decisional regeneration which I think is not found in Scripture. It seems that you agree that a ‘natural man’ must be enabled in order to understand and obey the voice of Christ, we call it regeneration and you call it enablement. I believe that Arminius himself called it the “awakening of ones heart” which I do not have a big problem with in seeing it that way. Again if we stick to the verse it says that the ones that “hear” WILL LIVE. It is in the future tense I believe in Greek as well. So we know that this group has already ‘heard’ and that they ‘will live’. It seems apparent that you read that ‘will live’ to mean regeneration, but I think that the context and the structure would better be suited to be talking about the ‘resurrection of life’ when it refers to the will live.

Ben, it seems that we are both reading our own presuppositions into the text and for that reason we will not see eye to eye on this. What you define as the sinner becoming ‘enabled’ to understand I define as ‘regeneration’. Yet your view equates regeneration with the life that is experienced after coming to saving faith in Christ. I wonder how you view John the Baptist; we are told that he was ‘regenerated’ in his mother’s womb. I think that you would say he was an exception, but there are others that did not come to a decision before being regenerated.

Again, the reason we say that one must be regenerated is because we know that man in the flesh can do nothing that is pleasing to God. It seems that faith is something that is pleasing to God and yet your view is that the flesh does do something that is pleasing to God. Oh well, while we will probably never agree on this {unless God grants you the ability to see it my way :) } I thank you for the dialogue.

BTW, if you want to know how we can be held responsible you may want to check back in when Phil writes on it. I am sure that you will have a different view on it.

Paul said...

Ben,

I hope that you get a chance to look at the Greek when it comes to John 5:24,25. What I want to do is look at verse 24 right now. Here is the verse
-Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but has passed from death unto life.

This is a case where the English may not do justice to the text. We know that heareth and believeth are singular present active participle’s, so we know that they are both in the present tense and we could say hearing and believing instead of how the English makes it seem. So we know that the ones that are presently hearing and believing have eternal life. We know that hath everlasting life is in the singular present active indicative. What the indicative tells us is the absolute certainty of the event, in this case everlasting life. So we now can see that the ones that are hearing and believing posses everlasting life presently and continuously. This of course would be why they do not come into condemnation.

Let us not stop here though, let’s look at the last part now but has passed from death unto life. We see that has passed is in the perfect active indicative form. The perfect tense talks of a completed action that would have occurred in the past, which has continuous results into the present. So we see that they passed from death unto life in the completed past and now are presently hearing and believing. If anything the Greek makes it absolutely clear that regeneration does precede faith.

kangaroodort said...

Hey Paul,

Let me address a few things really quick. I appreciate the dialogue as well, but I must say that I am a little disappointed in the way you have presented your case. I have dealt with every single comment and objection you have made, while you have ignored much of what I have said.

Anyway, you wrote:

Regeneration is defined many ways in Scripture, it can be referred to as a “washing”, a “circumcision”, a “being taught by God”, a “calling” and a “opening of ones heart” and many other things. It seems that you believe in decisional regeneration which I think is not found in Scripture.

This sounds so familiar to me. It is almost word for word the same objection that Gordan (from Reformed Mafia) made when I was debating this issue with him. What I want to know is on what basis you have determined that the opening of Lydia's heart, and the being "taught of God" are specific references to regeneration. I am also interested in knowing how you correlate "calling" with regeneration. You assume what is yet to be proved and then try to use that to make your case. You also mentioned "circumcision", which I would love to have a reference for since I think a close look at the context there would support my case.

As far as the Greek and the tenses in 5:25, it in no way demonstrates that regeneration precedes faith. I addressed a similar argument made by James White here:

http://arminianperspectives.blogspot.com/2007/08/examining-rather-strange-proof-text-for.html

Briefly, all the passage tells us is that the one [presently] believing has passed from death into life. This does not mean that this passage from death to life happened prior to the moment of initial faith. Since the one who is presently believing must have begun to believe at some time, it is just as reasonable to assume that the passing from death to life happened at the moment of initial faith. It is even more reasonable since this is the consistent pattern in John, the New Testament, and the context of this passage.

However, the use of present participles further demonstrates that Jesus is not speaking of life in an eschatological sense. This lends further support to the context indicating that Jesus is especially addressing the life that is immediately experienced at the moment of believing and hearing, and I am convinced, Scripturally speaking, that regeneration is, by definition, the beginning of spiritual life.

So this argues against your previous assertion:

Again if we stick to the verse it says that the ones that “hear” WILL LIVE. It is in the future tense I believe in Greek as well. So we know that this group has already ‘heard’ and that they ‘will live’. It seems apparent that you read that ‘will live’ to mean regeneration, but I think that the context and the structure would better be suited to be talking about the ‘resurrection of life’ when it refers to the will live.

What you also conveniently ignore is the fact the text not only says "will live", but "will hear", and even more importantly that the hour in which this hearing unto life takes place "now is".

Young's literal translation puts it this way:

"'Verily, verily, I say to you -- There cometh an hour, and it now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those having heard shall live;"

"shall live" is future middle deponent indicative, and so is "shall hear". All this necessarily means is that those who are now spiritually dead will live upon the hearing of faith.

Jesus does speak of the future physical resurrection in verse 29, but he is speaking of the general resurrection in which some go to life and others to condemnation. The context reveals that Jesus is addressing the challenge that might have been raised in the minds of the Jews He is speaking with. They should not be surprised that Jesus has the authority and power to grant life to those who are spiritually dead (as are these Jews), for He has been given the authority to call all of creation from their graves and judge them according to their deeds.

I know we see the nature and purpose of regeneration in different ways, and I know that we both have presuppositions that we bring to the text, but that was the purpose of this discussion. My point is that the Reformed understanding of the ordo salutis and the purpose of regeneration is not based on the teachings of Scripture, but on the necessities of a system of theology.

Maybe you can at least better see where Arminians like me are coming from.

God Bless,
Ben

Paul said...

Ben,

All I have done is shown how it is in Greek and how it should be viewed if you want an accurate understanding of it. You have not said anything that counters that in anyway. In fact your statement of ”Since the one who is presently believing must have begun to believe at some time, it is just as reasonable to assume that the passing from death to life happened at the moment of initial faith.” is just not accurate. Again the Greek is clear that this life happened before faith. As for the other terms of regeneration, you are not serious right; I mean you could find those references to regeneration in lots of Reformed writings. So either you have not read up on it or you are just playing fast and loose.

Again, you may not like that regeneration precede faith, but Scripture is clear that it does. This is one clear example and as I pointed out to J.C. on the other thread here so is Colossians 2:11,12. It seems that you guys are all to eager to try and use Greek when it is to your apparent advantage, but fail to use it when it goes counter your beliefs. Just because you can not understand it does not invalidate it. Scripture is clear on this and if you honestly look at the facts you will admit it as well.

Now I believe that you are getting a bit worked up, so it may be best just to agree to disagree on this. BTW, I do see where you are coming from on this I just think that you go counter to the clear teachings of Scripture. Good luck.

kangaroodort said...

Paul,

I understand that you need to cling to your argument from the Greek verb tense because you have been sufficiently hammered in every other area of this discussion. However, the fact remains that your conclusions cannot be accurately drawn from the verb tenses.

All the text says is that the one [presently] believing has passed from death into life. It does not say that this passing from death to life happened prior to believing. That is a desperate attempt to read your theology into the text, and no amount of dogmatic assertions will change that.

Let me explain it this way: There is something important that is true of all believers. All believers have passed from death to life and are currently alive. That is all the Greek is saying. Now what if I said that my above statement indicated that passing from death to life preceded believing? Can't you see how such a conclusion can in no way be drawn from: "There is something important that is true of all believers. All believers have passed from death to life and are currently alive."?

I am sorry if you feel I am getting worked up about this, but that is not the case. It does get old, however, dealing with your numerous assertions while allowing you the convenience of ignoring most of what I have said.

I am also a little bothered by the way you have seemingly plagerized Gordan from Reformed Mafia and have not given him any credit for it (unless you are Gordan in disguise, which I really doubt).

Let's compare your comments to Gordan's to see if I am just blowing smoke here:

Paul: "Regeneration is defined many ways in Scripture, it can be referred to as a “washing”, a “circumcision”, a “being taught by God”, a “calling” and a “opening of ones heart” and many other things."

Gordan: "Yes, Regeneration is sometimes referred to as a raising from death. But it’s also referred to as a calling, a washing, a circumcision, the opening of the heart, being secretly taught by God, having the Law written on our hearts, having our stony heart replaced, etc."

Paul: "So either you have not read up on it or you are just playing fast and loose."

Gordan: "but Arminianism keeps right on trucking by playing fast-and-loose with the very same metaphor of death/resurrection." [emphasis mine in both quotes]

Paul: "I wonder how you view John the Baptist; we are told that he was ‘regenerated’ in his mother’s womb."

Gordan: "David claimed to have been made to trust while still a suckling infant, and John the Baptist was regenerated in the womb."

And the list could go on. Maybe it is coincidence, or maybe great minds just think alike, but I suspect otherwise. At least Gordan was able to come up with his own arguments.

Back to this comment:

As for the other terms of regeneration, you are not serious right; I mean you could find those references to regeneration in lots of Reformed writings. So either you have not read up on it or you are just playing fast and loose.

Which only proves my point that you are begging the question. The point is that none of these references, except for the "washing of regeneration", say anything about regeneration. That is read into the text based on the Calvinist bias of those who, like you, are desperate to find evidence for their doctrine in the pages of Scripture. Lydia is a perfect example of this. Here is how I replied to Gordan:

Gordan agrees that the language of John 5:24, and 25 is consistent with regeneration. He argues, however, that there are other metaphors for regeneration besides spiritual resurrection, and gives some examples. I don’t see how this invalidates the fact that John 5:24, and 25 is using a metaphor for regeneration. To say that there are other metaphors for the same thing does not help things.

I am intrigued by one of his examples. He cites the example of the Lord opening Lydia’s heart to respond to the gospel. He concludes that “opening the heart” is another metaphor for regeneration. Remember that Gordan’s entire argument boils down to saying that my claims that the life Jesus speaks of in John 5 includes regeneration are inconclusive at best; this despite the context containing plain regeneration language [or metaphors]. I cannot think of a more ambiguous passage that Calvinists use to defend irresistible grace than Lydia’s conversion. The text says that the Lord opened her heart so that she could respond to the gospel. The text does not say that the opening of her heart made her positive response inevitable. It is also worthwhile to ask if the heart the Lord opened to respond was Lydia’s old heart. The text gives no indication of a new heart being opened. If it was her old heart that was opened to respond to the gospel then this account beautifully portrays the Arminian understanding of enabling prevenient grace.


But you probably already know this since you have obviously read our exchange.

Again, you may not like that regeneration precede faith, but Scripture is clear that it does.

And yet you have still failed to provide even one example from any where in Scripture that plainly states that life (any kind of spiritual life) precedes faith, and your desperate attempt to appeal to the perfect tense in John 5:24 does not qualify.

I do see where you are coming from on this I just think that you go counter to the clear teachings of Scripture. Good luck.

Likewise.

God Bless,
Ben

Paul said...

Ben,

John 5:24 is clear that the passing out of death into life happened before they were presently believing and presently hearing. I have yet to see you say anything of meaning to counter that. So I see that you agree that Reformed literature uses those other terms when speaking of regeneration. Why I am accused of plagiarism is beyond me. It tells me that you cannot counter the clear teaching of Scripture when you make wild accusations such as those. As for the Lydia reference I have already shown your ignorance on that as well when I addressed J.C. Seems that you guys argue the same thing, in the same way, maybe you are the same person or perhaps one of you is plagiarizing the other. Crazy!!!

Face it you tried to use John 5:24 to prove your crazy view and when it was thoroughly rebutted you scream you cannot use Scripture or how it was written to show me my ignorance. How dare you use the original writing to counter your scurrilous claim? Might I remind you that you are the one that picked this passage? Might I remind you that every passage you and J.C. have referenced has been shown to go counter to your belief system.

Seeing as you are incapable of accepting that you are in error, I am starting to see where StrongTower may be on to something. What is amazing in all of this is what I stated before, when you think that the Greek suites your view you use it and when it counters your view you discard it; must be nice to pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe.

I would rather you and J.C. use your little stories of intrigue, paranoia, poison, and kings and all of the other stuff you want to use to make your case. What you both should do is stop trying to argue from Scripture your heretical views, especially when it has been pointed out that Scripture goes counter your belief system.

Paul said...

Ben,

When you bring up Lydia and you say that this fits the enabling grace doctrine that is held to by Arminians I wondered what on earth that meant. It seems that we agree that Lydia was listening to Paul and that she apparently was not yet a Christian. So while Paul is preaching the gospel to the women we are told that the Lord ”opened” her heart. Now I assume it safe to say that Lydia did not have saving faith before her heart was opened, so this leaves us to try and see what “opened” means. You seem to be bothered by the verse not saying that she was given a new heart and a new spirit, but to be fair is there a clear passage in the NT that states that the Lord puts a new heart in a person? Yet we are told in Ezekiel and Jeremiah that He will put a new heart and spirit in people. Now if you look at the word “opened”, which is dianoigo in Greek, we find the possible meaning’s of either;to open thoroughly, lit. (as a first-born) or fig. (to expound) seems that context would lead us to the literal definition and lo and behold we have regeneration. Now stop me if you have heard this before, I would hate to get accused again of doing something improper. So what we have is that Lydia was not in a salvation state until she was regenerated by the Lord so that she can respond. At best what you can say is that she could have rejected after being regenerated, but that would just be mere speculation. The Reformed view says that people willingly come to Christ once they have been regenerated.

It seems that if you actually take the time to study Scripture that your view is just plain wrong. Now you may or may not be saved, you say that you are a professing Christian so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. After all, you can still get into heaven with or without bad theology. I do notice a trend though in you and your buddy J.C. in that once one of your Scripture verses gets proven to go counter your guy’s view you simply move on to the next verse that you think will back your case. Perhaps this is done on the subconscious level, but it appears that you go on and on about how your questions are not being addressed when in fact they are Scripturally addressed and answered. You just don’t like the answer.

kangaroodort said...

Paul,

Thanks for the very thoughtful and kind response. It is always such a joy to have my salvation questioned by someone because I disagree with his theology. Thanks for at least holding out the slim hope that I might be saved despite my "bad theology".

Anyway, I can see that our conversation has become quite unfruitful, so I will respectfully bow out. It has seemingly become a battle for the last word, and I can see that you are bent on winning that battle. However, I am convinced that anyone reading this exchange will be able to readily see which one of us has honestly tackled the text and the counter arguments; and that the claims you made in your last two posts are without substance.

As far as JC and me, there are a few things you should know. I didn't even know that JC was having this discussion with you at the other post until I saw him reference the exchange at his web-site. So, for us, it is a case of "great minds think alike". It was, however, in no way a tag team effort on Paul. If it was, don't you think I wouldn't have said much of the same things he said, knowing he had already said them? Don't you think that I would have piggy-backed off of his comments or specifically addressed your comments to him? I think that if anyone were to read the two exchanges it would become painfully obvious that we were not aware of each others discussions. But since I am likely unregenerate, I am probably a liar too.

Now, as for you using Gordan's arguments and even stealing his adjectives (“fast and loose”), the evidence is there for anyone to view. I wrote Gordan in a private e-mail and directed him to these very familiar statements. Here is what he had to say:

"Well, in defense of Paul at the Pyro blog,....um....um....yeah.”

As far as the perfect tense, I don't know what else to say about it. I think I have sufficiently dealt with that, but I understand why you refuse to listen to reason since it is all you could come up with to defend your view.

I did, however, find your waffling to be of great interest. You first chided me that the passing from death to life in verse 24 could not have reference to regeneration. Once you stumbled on the prefect tense, however, and mistakenly thought that it made your case, you quickly changed your mind and proclaimed that this life must be regeneration, since you believed the grammar put the passing from death to life before the believing.

Let's review:

Paul: "Regeneration is not eternal life or anything like that, but in order for a dead spirit to “hear” it must first be enabled by the Holy Spirit to understand."

Ben: “When do you suppose eternal life begins? Does it begin after regeneration? Are you saying that eternal life is something other than the life that begins at regeneration? Good luck trying to demonstrate that from Scripture. So we are left with mere assertion again… Jesus is speaking to spiritually dead Jews who are in need of a spiritual resurrection (verse 25). Only through the hearing of faith can they “pass from death to life” (verse 24). This is the language of regeneration. He is speaking of a transition from one sphere of existence (spiritual death) to another sphere of existence (spiritual life).”

Paul: “…and you fail to distinguish from regeneration and ‘eternal life’…It seems apparent that you read that ‘will live’ to mean regeneration, but I think that the context and the structure would better be suited to be talking about the ‘resurrection of life’ when it refers to the will live.”

Paul: “We know that hath everlasting life is in the singular present active indicative. What the indicative tells us is the absolute certainty of the event, in this case everlasting life…Let us not stop here though, let’s look at the last part now but has passed from death unto life. We see that has passed is in the perfect active indicative form. The perfect tense talks of a completed action that would have occurred in the past, which has continuous results into the present. So we see that they passed from death unto life in the completed past and now are presently hearing and believing. If anything the Greek makes it absolutely clear that regeneration does precede faith.

Paul: “Again the Greek is clear that this life happened before faith.”

I think your inconsistency is self evident. First you reject any correlation between eternal life and regeneration; but later, when it seems to suit your purpose, you argue exactly the opposite.

As far as Lydia, you have done nothing to further your case except to demonstrate again how you read your theological biases into the text.

I will leave you with the last word, and leave anyone who may have followed this extremely long and unfruitful exchange to decide who has better made their case.

For the record, I do consider you and Strong Tower to be my brothers in Christ, even if you think otherwise.

God Bless,
Ben

Paul said...

In order to have eternal life one must first be regenerated, I fail to see how that is an inconsistent view. My point was and still is that regeneration is not to be confused with eternal life. One comes to have eternal life and is united to Christ through faith.

As for the plagiarizing Gordon part, to my knowledge I did not do that. Now the reason I say that is because I did not consciously try to use his words or ideas, in fact I think it is clear after reading your discussion with him that he was making a different case then I did. Could I have sub-consciously used what I may have read in the past, yes? If that be the case then I apologies to you and Gordon, but why would I consciously use his words or ideas? Why would I need to use his argument when my whole argument rest’s on a different premise? The fast and loose, perhaps it is me, but I see a different meaning in his fast and loose and my use of it. I guess I was unaware that the term “fast and loose” has been copyrighted by one particular person. None the less, I openly and publicly apologies to you and Gordon, for any appearance of impropriety on my part.

The reason the perfect tense argument is so damning to your position is because this is how John typically writes and we see this same motif in other areas of his writing’s. You have yet to show how a natural man can understand the things of the spirit? When it comes to Lydia, I have yet to see you put forth what “opening her heart” means?

As for unfruitful exchange, well I am sorry that you feel that way about it. I have tried to answer your questions the best that I can and tried to show you where I am coming from on these things. I do also realize that I have acted in a un-Christ like manner and ask that you forgive me. I at times let my emotions get the better of me and say/write things that I have no business saying/writing. To question or hint your eternal salvation is despicable and unfounded, I regret the whole incident. I pray that we will have an opportunity to interact again in the future and I wish you nothing but God’s blessings in the meantime.

kangaroodort said...

Paul,

I appreciate the apology for questioning by spiritual state. That was very big of you.

If I was wrong about your use of Gordan's material, then I apologize for that. There was no good reason for me to question your integrity on it, and I am sorry if I caused you undo embarrassment.

I really don't think Gordan cared much anyway. And no, "fast and loose" is not copyrighted, though it probably should be (since that would limit its use :-)) I certainly understand letting emotions get the best of us. I have been guilty of that many times and have always regretted it.

If you want to continue to discuss my view of Lydia etc., I suggest we do it by way of e-mail; that way we can have a more relaxed and productive discussion.

God Bless,
Ben