Friday, December 19, 2008

ARE YOU SURE YOU LIKE SPURGEON?
...by Alan Maben

"The doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works..." -C.H. Spurgeon

Praised by many evangelicals as a great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon is considered a successful and "safe" example of a "non-theological" ministry. His works are recommended as a means to lead many aspiring pastors into developing their own successful ministries. His Lectures to My Students are often used for this purpose, emphasizing the "practical" aspects of evangelism. But while the form of Spurgeon's successful preaching is often studied by would-be pastors, the content of this Christian giant's preaching and teaching is often ignored. Rather Spurgeon is popularly thought to have heartily approved of the same theology that is presently dominating American culture: Arminianism.

Many Christian leaders, for instance, like to point out Spurgeon as one who also had no formal college training. They ignore the fact that he had a personal library containing more that 10,000 books.1 It is further argued that the success of his ministry in the mid-to-late 19th century was due to his anti-intellectual piety, "his yieldedness to the Spirit," and his Arminianism. The fact is, Spurgeon was not anti-intellectual, nor did he entertain delusions of being so holy that he could allow God to work only if he was "yielded." Most importantly, he was not an Arminian. He was a staunch Calvinist who opposed the dominant religious view of his day (and of ours), Arminianism.2 Even toward the end of his life he could write, "From this doctrine I have not departed to this day." 3 He was grateful that he never wavered from his Calvinism.4 "There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrine of grace than do I..."5 Reading Spurgeon's beliefs, one will see that this tremendously fruitful ministry was built upon the preaching of the biblical gospel.

In his work, "A Defense of Calvinism," he states unequivocally:

[T]here is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation

Here Spurgeon affirms his agreement with what are usually called "The Five Points of Calvinism." Spurgeon's own summation was much shorter: A Calvinist believes that salvation is of the Lord.7 Selections from his sermons and writings on these subjects make his position clear.

Regarding Total Depravity and Irresistible Grace:
When you say, "Can God make me become a Christian?" I tell you yes, for herein rests the power of the gospel. It does not ask your consent; but it gets it. It does not say, "Will you have it?" but it makes you willing in the day of God's power....The gospel wants not your consent, it gets it. It knocks the enmity out of your heart. You say, I do not want to be saved; Christ says you shall be. He makes our will turn round, and then you cry,"'Lord save, or I perish!"8

Regarding Unconditional Election:

I do not hesitate to say, that next to the doctrine of the crucifixion and the resurrection of our blessed Lord--no doctrine had such prominence in the early Christian Church as the doctrine of the election of grace.9 And when confronted with the discomfort this doctrine would bring, he responded with little sympathy: "'I do not like it [divine election],' saith one. Well, I thought you would not; whoever dreamed you would?"10

Regarding Particular Atonement:
[I]f it was Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has he been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood.11

He has punished Christ, why should He punish twice for one offence? Christ has died for all His people's sins, and if thou art in the covenant, thou art one of Christ's people. Damned thou canst not be. Suffer for thy sins thou canst not. Until God can be unjust, and demand two payments for one debt, He cannot destroy the soul for whom Jesus died.12

Regarding the Perseverance of the Saints:

I do not know how some people, who believe that a Christian can fall from grace, manage to be happy. It must be a very commendable thing in them to be able to get through a day without despair. If I did not believe in the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, I think I should be of all men most miserable, because I should lack any ground of comfort.13

The selections above indicate that C. H. Spurgeon was without a doubt an affirmed, self-professing Calvinist who made his ministry's success dependent upon truth, unwilling to consider the "Five Points of Calvinism" as separate, sterile categories to be memorized and believed in isolation from each other or Scripture. He often blended the truths represented by the Five Points, because they actually are mutually supportive parts of a whole, and not five little sections of faith added to one's collection of Christian beliefs. Spurgeon never presented them as independent oddities to be believed as the sum of Christianity. Rather, he preached a positive gospel, ever mindful that these beliefs were only part of the whole counsel of God and not the sum total. These points were helpful, defensive summaries, but they did not take the place of the vast theater of redemption within which God's complete and eternal plan was worked out in the Old and New Testaments.

Certain that the Cross was an offense and stumbling block, Spurgeon was unwilling to make the gospel more acceptable to the lost. "The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, is the truth that I must preach today, or else be false to my conscience and to God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine."14 Elsewhere he challenged "I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible....Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be heresy..."15 Spurgeon believed that the price of ridicule and rejection was not counted so high that he should refuse to preach this gospel:
"[W]e are reckoned the scum of creation; scarcely a minister looks on us or speaks favorable of us, because we hold strong vies upon the divine sovereignty of God, and his divine electings and special love towards His own people."16

Then, as now, the dominant objection to such preaching was that it would lead to licentious living. Since Christ "did it all," there was no need for them to obey the commands of Scripture. Aside from the fact that we should not let sinful people decide what kind of gospel we will preach, Spurgeon had his own rebuttals to this confusion:

[I]t is often said that the doctrines we believe have a tendency to lead us to sin....I ask the man who dares to say that Calvinism is a licentious religion, what he thinks of the character of Augustine, or Calvin, or Whitefield, who in successive ages were the great exponents of the systems of grace; or what will he say of the Puritans, whose works are full of them? Had a man been an Arminian in those days, he would have been accounted the vilest heretic breathing, but now we are looked upon as the heretics, and they as orthodox. We have gone back to the old school; we can trace our descent from the apostles....We can run a golden line up to Jesus Christ Himself, through a holy succession of mighty fathers, who all held these glorious truths; and we can ask concerning them, "Where will you find holier and better men in the world?"17

His attitude toward those who would distort the gospel for their own ideas of "holiness" is clear from the following: No doctrine is so calculated to preserve a man from sin as the doctrine of the grace of God. Those who have called it 'a licentious doctrine' did not know anything at all about it. Poor ignorant things, they little knew that their own vile stuff was the most licentious doctrine under Heaven.18

According to Spurgeon (and Scripture as well), the response of gratitude is the motive for holy living, not the uncertain status of the believer under the influence of Arminianism and its accompanying legalism. "The tendency of Arminianism is towards legality; it is nothing but legality which lays at the root of Arminianism."19 He was very clear on the dangerous relationship of Arminianism to legalism:
"Do you not see at once that this is legality--that this is hanging our salvation upon our work--that this is making our eternal life to depend upon something we do? Nay, the doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminianism, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works...."20

A status before God based upon how we "use" Christ and the Spirit to feign righteousness was a legalism hated by Spurgeon. As in our day, Spurgeon saw that one of the strongholds of Arminianism included the independent churches.21 Arminianism was a natural, God-rejecting, self-exalting religion and heresy.22 As Spurgeon believed, we are born Arminians by nature.23 He saw this natural aversion to God as encouraged by believing self-centered, self-exalting fancies. "If you believe that everything turns upon the free-will of man, you will naturally have man as its principal figure in your landscape."24 And again he affirms the remedy for this confusion to be true doctrine.
"I believe that very much of current Arminianism is simply ignorance of gospel doctrine."25 Further, "I do not serve the god of the Arminians at all; I have nothing to do with him, and I do not bow down before the Baal they have set up; he is not my God, nor shall he ever be; I fear him not, nor tremble at his presence...The God that saith today and denieth tomorrow, that justifieth today and condemns the next...is no relation to my God in the least degree. He may be a relation of Ashtaroth or Baal, but Jehovah never was or can be his name."26

Refusing to compromise the gospel in any way, he soundly refuted and rejected common attempts to unite Calvinism and Arminianism into a synthesized belief. Nor would he downplay the importance of the differences between the two systems:

This may seem to you to be of little consequence, but it really is a matter of life and death. I would plead with every Christian--think it over, my dear brother. When some of us preach Calvinism, and some Arminianism, we cannot both be right; it is of not use trying to think we can be--'Yes,' and 'no,' cannot both be true.Truth does not vacillate like the pendulum which shakes backwards and forwards....One must be right; the other wrong.27


Notes
1. Walter A. Elwell, ed. Evangelical Dictonary of Theology (Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Baker Book House, 1984), s.v. "Spurgeon, Charles Haddon," by J. E. Johnson. 2. From sermon cited in Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon, 2d ed., (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1986), 52. 3. "A Defense of Calvinism," by C. H. Spurgeon, in C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography, eds. S. Spurgeon and J. Harrold, Rev ed., vol I, The Early Years 1834-1859 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1976: reprint), 165. 4. J. E. Johnson, 1051 5. Spurgeon, "A Defense of Calvinism," 173. 6. Ibid. 168. 7. Ibid., 168. 8. As cited in Murray, 93. 9. From a sermon cited in Murray, Ibid., 44. 10. Ibid., 60. 11. Spurgeon, 172. 12. From a sermon cited in Murray, 245. 13. Spurgeon, 169. 14. Ibid., 162. 15. Ibid., 168. 16. Murray, 168. 17. Spurgeon, 174. 18. Ibid. 19. Murray, 79. 20. Ibid., 81. 21. Murray, 53. 22. spurgeon, 168. 23. Ibid., 164. 24. Murray, 111. 25. Ibid., 68. 26. Spurgeon's Sermons, vol. 6 (Baker, 1989), p.241 27. Murray, op. cit., 57.

Recommended Works:
Murray, Iain. The Forgotten Spurgeon, 2d ed. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1986; reprint. Spurgeon, Charles H. "A Defence of Calvinism" in C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography. Edited by S. Spurgeon and J. Harrald. Rev. ed. Vol I, The Early Years 1834-1859. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1976; reprint. Spurgeon, Charles H. New Park Street Pulpit. A collection of his sermons. Spurgeon, Charles H. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. A collection of his sermons.

Alan Maben is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach 
and Simon Greenleaf School of Law

This has been an encore presentation

115 comments:

Mike Ratliff said...

Wow, I get to be first commenter.;-)

quote"This may seem to you to be of little consequence, but it really is a matter of life and death. I would plead with every Christian--think it over, my dear brother. When some of us preach Calvinism, and some Arminianism, we cannot both be right; it is of not use trying to think we can be--'Yes,' and 'no,' cannot both be true.Truth does not vacillate like the pendulum which shakes backwards and forwards....One must be right; the other wrong.27"unquote.

I have been attacked by some people lately for making statements like this. I am told that I am dividing the body of Christ. These people state that Christians should always seek coexistance of various interpretations of the Doctrine for the sake of peace.

Well, that is compromise and it results in the free-for-all confusion and watered-down versions of the Gospel we have now.

There is only one Gospel. It's time to come to grips with that truth and quit avoiding the truth that Jesus came not to bring peace, but a sword.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

iamchief said...

I still grin when I recall the late Curtis Hutson quoting Spurgeon favorably in his pamphlet "Why I Disagree With All 5 Points of Calvinism".

And also when my father-in-law tells me a (unconfirmed) story about Jack Hyles saying "If you don't like Spurgeon, you won't like my sermons, because I like to preach Spurgeon."

4given said...

Wasn't the unity our Saviour prayed for a unity in truth, and not the compromise of truth to attain unity?

John 17:19-21 "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

iamchief said...

Truth is too often sacrificed on the altar of "unity".

SJ Camp said...

4given: You wrote: "Wasn't the unity our Saviour prayed for a unity in truth, and not the compromise of truth to attain unity?"

There are two kinds of unity that we have in the body of Christ with each other and both are found in Eph. 4.

The first is a unity by virtue of fact that we have been baptized by the Lord with the Holy Spirit into His body (1 Cor. 12). Notice what Paul says here in Eph. 4:2-3, "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,
Eph. 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (emphasis mine). The unity of the Spirit is by union in Christ positionally at salvation. If the Lord has made a man or woman my brother or sister in Christ, then I cannot do less and must guard that unity. What is one of the signs that we have passed from death to life? Loving the brethren (1 John 3:14).

The second unity mentioned in Eph. 4 is found in verse 13. Here is where we move from position to precept. The Apostle Paul says, "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." (emphasis mine). Unity in "the faith" is not the faith to believe; but THE FAITH, the once for all delivered to the saints FAITH. That encompasses the entire body of sound doctrine in Christianity - truth. The following words in that verse further explain that it is the unity in "the knowledge of the Son of God" - which is the gospel (Gal. 1:6-8).

So you are correct; we shouldn't minimize the truth of God's Word to achieve a superficial unity (the theology of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"); AND we are to guard the unity that we possess with each other by our union in Christ (the unity of the Spirit) (Eph. 4:5-6, "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.")

Steve
Phil. 1:27; 2:1-4

4given said...

Correct me if off the mark:
So, though unified positionally, this does not mean we will be unified in regards to the authoritative rule of sound Doctrine... this is where "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love" must come into action. Which sometimes must entail prayerfully discerned defensive exhortation.

When I have been asked if I am a Calvinist... my response:
I am a Christian woman that embraces Biblical theology which happens to be labeled the Doctrines of Grace, Calvinism, 5 solas... that LOVES to share the Gospel.

I thoroughly enjoy reading Spurgeon!!! One of my favorites.

Steve Sensenig said...

I am a Christian...[who] embraces Biblical theology which happens to be labeled the Doctrines of Grace, Calvinism, 5 solas...

(This comment is not directed to 4given, personally. I am only using her statement as the basis for my comments.)

Where I think the humility and grace needs to come in, though, is to be able to humbly acknowledge that those of us who do not fall into the same theological categories still look to the Bible for our theology.

Many people with pure intentions read the same Word and come to differing conclusions. For example, John MacArthur is a cessationist, believing his position to be the "biblical" position. C.J. Mahaney is not, from what I can gather, a cessationist, but believes his position to be the "biblical" position.

From what I have seen written about these two men, they appear to respect each other, and I believe C.J. has even spoken from the pulpit of Grace. (Am I getting this all correct?) At least in that particular area of disagreement, they appear to demonstrate that humility and gentleness.

So, one is free to call your theology "biblical theology", because they believe that's what the Bible teaches. I may see things differently, using the same Bible, and our humility should lead us to work through that together and not slander each other in the process. I believe my theology is "biblical", too, even though we disagree.

Obviously, as this post referenced, both cannot be true. One of us is mistaken in one area or another. (Again, I'm not speaking directly to 4given here. I'm saying that one on either side of any of these debates is mistaken.)

Humility, gentleness, patience -- these allow for that "tension" between our theologies while we help each other see the progression of our exegesis and logic.

steve :)

SJ Camp said...

bhedr wrote: "Now to this Covenant thing. The reason I am inhibited from resting on the Mosaic Law as imputed righteousness is because I believe it is not enough."

I agree it is not enough.

And you said, "We must be clothed in a righteousness that far exceeds this passing fading glory."

I also agree. That is why we must be clothed with the complete imputed righteousness of Christ.

The difference between the Arminian and the Calvinist isn't that they both look to the Scriptures for their answers; it’s the conclusions that the study of the Scriptures by each of them reveals.

You mentioned CJ and Mac as a comparison. Here is where the analogy breaks down: they may disagree on cessationism vs. continuationism--granted; but that is not a primary, essential doctrine. At best it is secondary or even tertiary.

However, on sotierology they are absolutely on the same page and that is the difference. Arminians and Calvinists cannot agree on the nature of saving faith--and that has eternal ramifications--and that is the difference. We can differ on nonessentials; but there cannot be two different gospels. One is all of grace; and the other is grace plus the free will and decision making power of man. BOTH cannot be right.

I agree with the Scriptures: "Salvation is of the Lord."

Campius
Col. 3:16-17

Michele Rayburn said...

Since we are talking about unity in the body of Christ, I just thought I would quote James Buchanan, quoting John Owen on the subject of justification, specifically the imputation of righteousness:

For this reason we can cheerfully acquiesce, and cordially concur, in the truly catholic deliverance of Dr. Owen, when, speaking of the sentiments of Calvinistic divines on this point, he says:

"They do not think nor judge, that all those are excluded from salvation who cannot apprehend, or do deny, the doctrine of the imputation of righteousness, as by them declared....

To believe the doctrine of it, or not to believe it, as thus or thus explained, is one thing; and to enjoy the thing, or not enjoy it, is another
....

Men may be really saved by that" (irresistible, efficacious) "grace which doctrinally they do deny; and they may be justified by the imputation of that righteousness which in opinion they deny to be imputed....

And for my part, I must say, that notwithstanding all the disputes that I see and read about Justification, I do not believe but that the authors of them (if they be not Socinians throughout, denying the whole merit and satisfaction of Christ) do really trust unto the Mediator of Christ for the pardon of their sins, and for acceptance with God, and not unto their own works or obedience. Nor will I believe the contrary, until they expressly declare it." – Dr. Owen, Works, vol. 11, p. 203.


In other words, John Owen will not judge someone to not be a Christian if they do not have the same understanding of the doctrine of the imputation of righteousness as another Christian, unless that person flat out says that they do not trust in Christ.

As Jesus said, we should not pull up the wheat with the tares. (Matt. 13:28-30) God will be the judge of our hearts on the last day. Some good advice from Buchanan and Owen, and Jesus, too, by the way.

(see the post “The Imputed Righteousness of Jesus Christ”, by James Buchanan)

In His Love,
Michele

SJ Camp said...

4given: You are correct.

Unified on doctrine takes time and that is why Paul said, "till we all come to the unity of THE FAITH." We have unity now in Christ positionally as part of His body. But in matters of truth, we are all not on the same page or at the same place in our walk with the Lord. We need to give each other grace in this process.

But in saying that, I don't mean that all views should be equally tolerated and given equal weight. Biblical truth is not subject to postmodern egalitarianism; and when it comes to understanding the Word of God rightly divided and interpreted, tolerance is not a virtue.

SJ Camp said...

Michele: Owen and Buchanan are correct; but how you have applied their words is not keeping in context.

Let me explain.

Can someone not believe in the Trinity but yet still respond to the gospel of grace of Jesus Christ and be saved? Yes. Can someone claim to grow in their walk with the Lord, study the Scriptures and continue year after year to deny the Trinity and be considered a true believer in the Lord? Of course not.

The same applies here. This great doctrine of imputation is part of justification. BUT, you don't enter into theological debate with a nonbeliever, but proclaim to them the gospel. Part of that proclamation by the believer of the gospel will be 2 Cor. 5:21 - imputation. But to come to Christ, is the nonbeliever required to understand, comprehend and believe all the great doctrines of the faith to be saved? No.

From reading much of Owen and Buchanan, I believe that is the intent here. (as you quoted, Owen flatly rejects anyone who has embraced Socinian beliefs, but shows grace to the one who is simply young in their understanding of complex theological truths).

Let's not minimize this great truth by pragmatics or experience.

Lastly, the pulling up of the tares from the wheat goes to prejudging souls in determining their eternal destiny as opposed to being discerning about false doctrine. Cp, Gal. 1:6-9. Paul was not pulling up tares, but declaring someone's eternal state by trusting in a different gospel.

Those two issues are a bit different from what is being discussed here--but thank you for sharing nonetheless.

Steve Sensenig said...

Steve, you said that both can't be right. And I agree. At least not using human logic. And not if we're talking about the whole system of thought in its entirety. But it's possible that we might both be partially right in some areas, and we might both be wrong in some areas.

I know you are absolutely firm in your Calvinistic position, and I have no hope of ever getting you to back down on any of that, because you believe that your beliefs are the true teaching of Scripture.

I respect your conviction in that. I do believe, though, that there are verses which Calvinists simply ignore and refuse to actually deal with (if you want to discuss this, I'll be happy to supply some that I have never gotten a satisfactory answer from a Calvinistic perspective), or change the meaning of a word in order to make it seem more compatible with other Scriptures.

It is in those situations that I wish there were more apparent humility to say, "OK, so we can't fully explain this, but this is what we believe best represents the truth here." I would respect that immensely.

The Calvinist position may actually be entirely correct. I'm willing to consider that. But I have yet to see an example of a conversation about this where the respect and humility goes both ways. (This is not directed specifically at you. I'm just referencing my overall experience.) Is this blog the place where that can happen? Where I can ask honest questions and receive honest answers, even if the answer is, "I'm honestly not entirely sure on that particular detail"?

steve :)

littlegal_66 said...

I assume that Alan Maben was posing a rhetorical question, but.....am I sure I like Spurgeon?
Oh, yes...."without a doubt." (Note my "subtle" emphasis on the words, "without a doubt.");-)

Favorite quotes: "The gospel wants not your consent, it gets it."

"You say, 'I do not want to be saved;' Christ says you shall be."

"So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."—Romans 9:16, ESV

littlegal_66 said...

My, how I love the section in "A Defense of Calvinism," in which Spurgeon describes the day & hour that he first received the truths of the doctrines of grace in his soul, (a paragraph that reads like a page from my own history--oh, how I can relate--word for word).

Spurgeon says:
"I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God." But then, of the instant he received the truths, he says, "One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it."
(This littlegal's "done time" in both places).
The last incredible line of that section speaks volumes for me:
"Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God."

Mike Ratliff said...

Steve S.

I would be happy to look at the passages you have questions about. I have never seen what you are describing when you say that Calvinists ignore certain passages.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

Michele Rayburn said...

Hi Steve,

You said:

"Michele: Owen and Buchanan are correct; but how you have applied their words is not keeping in context."

I am simply quoting Owen and Buchanan and I agree with what they said. Their quotation stands on its own:

"They do not think nor judge, that all those are excluded from salvation who cannot apprehend, or do deny, the doctrine of the imputation of righteousness, as by them declared...."

In His Love,
Michele

SJ Camp said...

Steve S. You said, "Where I can ask honest questions and receive honest answers, even if the answer is, "I'm honestly not entirely sure on that particular detail"?

You know it is; move on from the rhetoric and ask the question.

You also said, "I respect your conviction in that. I do believe, though, that there are verses which Calvinists simply ignore and refuse to actually deal with (if you want to discuss this, I'll be happy to supply some that I have never gotten a satisfactory answer from a Calvinistic perspective), or change the meaning of a word in order to make it seem more compatible with other Scriptures."

Steve, no drive-by comments; if you have the verses state them; don't ask if I want you to; make the case brother and get on with it.

I await those verses.
Campi

pilgrim said...

Based on how some Arminians misuse Spurgeon--I'm waiting for the arrival of "The Spurgeon Seminar" to determine what SPurgeon really said.

Steve Sensenig said...

Steve, Why would you think I was doing a "drive-by"? The reason I asked about bringing the verses to the table was because I feared that switching to more general questions would be considered "off-topic".

I was showing respect for your rules of engagement here. The topic was Spurgeon, and so I didn't want to be accused of writing off-topic. Instead, you thought it was a drive-by??

(Sheesh, I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around here now!)

Anyway, what I was trying to get to...

Verses that I do not understand the Calvinist approach, or have not gotten any kind of straight answer on from others before are:

-- 2 Peter 3:9 (re: God being willing that all should come to repentance vs. God's will in election. How can He be unwilling that any should perish, yet "will" only to save some? Note: I do not endorse universalism, so please do not mischaracterize my question as implying that I believe all will be saved. I'm talking with regard to what God's will/desire is, vs. the fact that my understanding of Calvinism teaches that He only chooses to save some.)

-- Luke 19:10 (Is "what was lost" referring just to Israel, or is it lost individuals, in which case, how does this relate to the non-elect?)

-- Hebrews 6:4-6 (the whole "falling away" scenario)

-- Romans 11:21 (can branches that are grafted in be broken off again?)

-- John 15:1-8 (why does Jesus tell his disciples to "remain" in Him? And what does it mean to "not remain" in Him? Can one be "in Him" and then "not remain" in Him?)

Thanks for taking the time to address these questions. Steve, I am a sincere person, asking sincere questions. I thought you had come to realize that in the past couple of weeks. My questions and comments are not mere "rhetoric".

steve :)

Steve Sensenig said...

More "on-topic" and shorter:

Spurgeon said: You say, "I do not want to be saved;" Christ says you shall be.

Does anyone know where he gets this from? I see no indication in Scripture of anyone ever being "coerced" into salvation in this kind of language.

Those whose repentance is recorded in Scripture come asking things like, "What must I do to be saved?" That sounds very different from what Spurgeon says here.

I must be missing something significant there...

steve :)

donsands said...

C. H. Spurgeon was so different than any other. I love to read his thoughts.
He gives all the glory to the Lord. What a vessel of honor our Lord molded for the Church.

The big argument for me and my Arminian brothers is faith. They believe the human heart can believe the gospel. I believe the human heart can not believe, and will absolutely never believe the gospel.
They say what about our free will. I say we absolutely have free will, and our free will hates God, and hates the truth, not to mention the god of this world has us blinded.

I was lost and blind and even dead. He found me opened my eyes with His grace, and quickened me from the dead. God did it all, and the Bible surely declares this with certainty.
He is the Potter, and I am but clay.

There's no glory for man in the doctrine of election, which is the TULIP. None.

"Who can bring a charge against God's elect? ...It is Christ that died, ... who also makes intercession for us [His elect]." Rom. 8:33,34

SJ Camp said...

Steve S.: Here are some responses for you in regards to the verses you listed.

1. 2 Peter 3:9 is a wonderful promise of God's great benevolence towards sinners. It is a verse of hope that God is longsuffering to those that He came to save.

The context is verses 3-4 which says, "First, be aware of this: scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, following their own lusts, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.”

There were scoffers ridiculing believers mocking God and God's ability to fulfill His promises to them. Peter is reassuring them of God's faithfulness in fulfilling His promises on God's timetable--not theirs--"with the Lord one day is like 1,000 years, and 1,000 years like one day." (v.8)

So when Peter says in verse nine "The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance" (emphasis mine) he is addressing believers and giving them hope and reassuring them that the Lord is not slow about fulfilling His promises to you and in His benevolence to you He gives gracious time in the unfolding of His promise so that "all will come to repentance." Who are the all? All that He has chosen (Eph. 1:4, 1 Peter 1:2); all that He redeemed (Eph. 1:6-12; John 17); all that the Father gave to Christ (John 6:44; 2 Tim. 1:9); and all that He knew in eternity past (Matt. 7:21-23). None will perish for whom the Lord has extended His saving grace (John 6:35-44).

What a wonderful hope that He who began a good work in you will finish it; that He is the author and finisher of our faith. This is not a promise where God is conflicted about His desire to save all, but doesn't; that He wants every person to come to Christ, but they can't because He doesn't will it... no.
This is written to believers in tremendous persecution under Nero who need their confidence built up in God's sovereign plan for them amid the scoffers and critics and false teachers that mock God and in turn mock them by their slanderous and blasphemous words.

2. Hebrews 6:4-6 is speaking of nonbelievers. None of those terms there ever are used in Scripture for describing a believer in the Lord. The writer of Hebrews is speaking to "the almost Christian"; ones who have experienced something about the Lord but are not regenerated. If they reject the whole gospel once when its presented to them, it is impossible to renew them to repentance... Why? Because there is nothing more to share with them--they reject the only way as not the way, but demand for the way to be shared with them proclaiming something more. IOW, if anyone rejects the gospel after hearing it and yet wants to know the way of salvation but doesn't believe in the true gospel--they will perish. They are "recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt."

We know this is the context, for in verse nine of that same chapter, the writer says after describing eternal punishment to them, "But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way." Here again, this is a verse of hope amid strong warnings to those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. "But beloved" - now he is addressing the believers; "we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation..."

This again is very encouraging to these young Jewish converts to Christ. The writer describes in shocking detail the perishing of those who reject the gospel (v. 7-8); but is giving great comfort and hope to those who are really saved (beloved).

John 15:1-7 is similar. The branch the Lord describes at first here is the Judas branch in this upper room discourse. The remaining in Him is abiding in Him--persevering in Him. This is the faithfulness of life by grace that is extended to every true Christian--"we endure until the end."

Judas was claiming to be in Christ; one of His--but he wasn't. He betrayed the Lord and is called "the son of perdition" by Christ Himself. What is the end for the Judas branch? "If anyone does not abide in me che is thrown away like a branch and withers; dand the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned." That is eternal judgment in hell forever. Similar language to Hebrews 6:7-8.

Judas is the pretend Christian; the whitewashed tomb; the branch that doesn't remain and is burned up.

But again, amid such strong warning, there is comfort for the Christian. Where does our strength come from to abide in Him--remain in Him? (v. 5) "Apart from Me you can do nothing." The Lord graciously gives us the ability to remain in Him. This is the fruit of real regeneration; we are in Christ forever! Amen?

3. Luke 19:10 as in Matthew 18:11 the Lord is giving a general truth here: "I have come to seek and to save those that were lost." It is not limited to Israel; but is a declaration to all the redeemed from all the ages. And notice, the Lord is doing the seeking and the saving--not man! He is Lord over all in their salvation. We don't and cannot do anything to warrant or merit salvation; the Lord alone "opens the heart" - not us (cp, (Acts 16:14).

4. Lastly, in Romans 11:21, Paul is speaking to Gentiles and using Israel as an illustration (v. 13). Verses 17-18 gives insight here, Rom. 11:17 ¶ "But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, Rom. 11:18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you."

Once "grafted in" the promise cannot be thwarted as to you question about salvation. You can't be in Christ and then out of Christ; in Christ and then out of Christ. That is Arminianism run a muck.

This is a chapter of great promise to the Gentiles as to their salvation; and that their salvation is in the great promise made to Abraham. They (we) are the "wild branch" grafted into Christ. Rom. 11:20 says, "True enough; they were broken off by unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid."

Compare "this mystery" that Paul speaks about here with Ephesians 3--the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile has been broken down--salvation is only through Christ Jesus. Consider Eph. 3:6; "the Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and partners of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel."

Thanks Steve for your questions... Keep on.
Campi
2 Cor. 4:5-7

SJ Camp said...

Donsends and Steve S. Don, some really good thoughts here. We will not believe, repent, confess, obey unto salvation until He by His grace "makes" us.

Steve this is the reality. Salvation is all of the Lord. No one comes to Christ unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). The word draw here means to drag. Our wills are bound by and in sin. We are dead in trespasses and sin; by nature children of wrath; no one seeking after God; no one doing what is good (read Rom. 3:10-18; Eph. 2:1-3).

God in His grace and mercy reaches down to us through Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-7) and saves us. There is nothing we do in our salvation to merit or inherit our salvation--nothing. Even the faith to believe is God's gift to us (Eph. 2:8-9).

Is salvation God's gracious act of redeeming us against our wills? Yes and aren't you glad? We were dead and now we are alive! (Rom. 5:1-10; Roms. 9)

Campi.

Steve Sensenig said...

Steve, thanks. I need to head off to my musical duties at the University, but will read through this more thoroughly later on and comment as appropriate.

One quick question that came to my mind:

You went up to verse 20 in Romans 11, but then stopped short of actually dealing with verse 21. Why does verse 20 (leading into 21) say to be "afraid" and then says that God "will not spare you" (in context, I take to mean if you return to unbelief)?

You said, Once "grafted in" the promise cannot be thwarted, but it sounds like vss. 20-21 run counter to that.

So what does "afraid" mean, and in what way (or under what conditions) will God "not spare" the reader of that verse? (Since he's addressing ones who he says have already been grafted in, the "you" in verse 21 would have to be the same ones being addressed.)

By the way, I struggle with the way Arminianism is defined here. My understanding of free will, or our opportunity to respond to salvation, does not (to my mind, at least) diminish at all the fact that salvation is completely of the Lord. Seems that there is a bit of a false dichotomy being presented sometimes here.

Regardless of whether I agree with the finer points of what you are saying, know this one thing for certain: I am saved solely through faith in the work of Jesus Christ on my behalf, and am declared righteous before God on that basis, and that basis alone. I give myself absolutely no glory or credit in this.

I can clearly affirm that it is "for the glory of God alone."

steve :)

donsands said...

steve s,

You do bring glory to our Lord. And I can see your heart wants to give God all the glory.

I have very good non-reformed friends, who also long to give God all the glory. And they do glorify the Lord.
Here's the basic arguement i ahve with my bros:
They argue that the faith we use to believe is our faith, and that this faith has no merit to it whatsoever. I respectfully disagree.
I believe faith is a gift from God, the same as repentance is a gift granted to us. The same with the love that is shed abroad in our hearts is a gift. And yet all these gifts are genuinely mine to experience. I truly did believe, and I did repent, and I do love. But it is 100% pure grace, even the faith must not be tainted by my flesh, or it would be in vain.

My non-reformed bros do believe salvation is something that we can never loose, and that we will persevere. There are so many ways my brothers encourage me, and are examples to me.

I must be honest and say that I pray that the grace of God would come upon their hearts, so that Romans 9, in all it's simplicity and profundity, would be seen in a new light. And I say this, not with pride, but because I remember when it happened to me. And it's not a one time deal, but this incredible passage of the Word is so powerful, that it humbles me time and time again.
Peace and grace.

Matthew2323 said...

Mr. Sensing,

In regards to your question about Hebrews 6 and those who fall away it is helpful to consider the words of our Lord as quoted in Matthew 7:

21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord!' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?' 23 Then I will announce to them, 'I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!'

Notice how Jesus says, “I never knew you!” He does not tell the accursed that, “I knew you and forgot you,” or “I know you and forsook you.” The reprobate was never known. To interpret passages that ‘appear’ to suggest that a Christian could ‘lose’ his salvation is completely erroneous in light of our Lord’s declaration.

Yours in Him,
Matthew

Steve Sensenig said...

Matthew, that's actually a good point. Thanks for writing that. I definitely need to take that into consideration and examine the words of Jesus there.

steve :)

P.S. My last name is "Sensenig" ;) ;) (And if anyone is wondering, it is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable: SEN-sen-ig. Even if you're not wondering, that's how it is pronounced!)

(BTW, it's nice to have a last name like Sensenig, because when telemarketers call and ask for "Mr. Sensing", I can truthfully say, "I'm sorry, but there is no one here by that name" and hang up!!)

Steve Sensenig said...

donsands,

Thanks for your comment. With regard to the faith being a gift from God, I have long wondered about this. In fact, back in my more Calvinistic days, I actually preached a sermon on Ephesians 2 where I tried to demonstrate how the "gift of God" was faith on the basis that a dead man is incapable of anything, including faith. (See, I do know the arguments for Calvinism!)

However, I have to confess that I preached it with a nagging doubt in my mind because I chose to ignore the fact that the phrase "and that not of yourselves" uses a neuter gender pronoun in the Greek, and not the gender of the word "faith" (which off the top of my head, I think is feminine, but I may be wrong on that). I also argued for "faith" on the basis of "nearest antecedent", but I believe that the fact that "faith" is in a prepositional clause limits the impact of the nearest antecedent.

I never resolved that in my mind, and still struggle with that interpretation.

I am very ashamed to admit here that I preached that without being completely honest about my question on the grammar. (Do any of you who preach ever do that? Steve, do you ever experience that in your preaching or writing?)

Anyway, I'm curious if there are any clearer Scriptures that tell us that the faith is a gift from God in and of itself. Without spelling out an entire argument here, let me summarize by saying that Eph. 2:8-9 only has three possibilities for what the gift is:

1. Grace (probably the weakest position grammatically, although lots of other biblical evidence in favor of this)
2. Faith (strictly the nearest antecedent to the pronoun, but a different gender in Greek)
3. Salvation (which is the nearest antecedent for the pronoun if you strike out the prepositional phrases)

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God...."

donsands said...

steve s,

good question. I have to do some digging.
thanks.

SJ Camp said...

w
Faith is a gift; grace, by definition, is a gift; salvation is a gift; Christ is our "unspeakable gift"; the sorrow leading to repentance is a gift; eternal life is a gift; and the Holy Spirit is a gift.

We can't do anything apart from Him...

Don said, "I truly did believe, and I did repent, and I do love. But it is 100% pure grace, even the faith must not be tainted by my flesh, or it would be in vain."

Amen.

Campi

PS - There is no such thing as free will.

Terry Rayburn said...

Both "grace" and "faith" are Feminine in Eph. 2:8. Since "that" is neuter, it can't refer specifically to either, but rather to the whole grace-by-faith deal, in other words, "how-we-are-saved".

Faith is not a gift as if it were a transferable entity. It's simply "belief". And the one who is dead in their sins and trespasses cannot believe. They may *say* they believe, but they are wrong, and their lives will bear the fruit of unbelief, visibly or invisibly.

That's why regeneration must come first.

It's in the New Birth that Christ is revealed. Then the commanded "repent and believe" on the Lord Jesus Christ is immediate.

It's not "irresistable" in the sense that one is dragged kicking and screaming. It's "irresistable" in the sense that it's now been divinely revealed to a New Creation, and the New Creation embraces the revelation and "repents and believes".

When he repents and believes, he does so with the revelation of Jesus as both Savior and Lord. And so he believes not just that his sins are washed, he believes that Jesus is his Lord. This is the key to so-called "Lordship Salvation".

It's not that one obeys the law to gain salvation, it's that the new believer, as a New Creation, loves Jesus and hates sin, and desires in his new spirit to follow Jesus. And so his life will unavoidably change and reflect the good works that God as appointed for him.

To illustrate: If I hold a dime hidden in my fist and ask you to believe I have a dime in my hand, you may *say* you believe I do. But you can't truly believe it, no matter how much you try.

But if I then open my hand and reveal the dime to you, you now not only believe I have a dime in my hand, you can't *not* believe it. It has been revealed.

This *irresistable* revelation of Christ comes in regeneration. "Regeneration first" is the key to the 5 Points of Calvinism. It's the key to understanding why salvation cannot be lost (since both revelation and a new spirit are given simultaneously). It's the key to understanding apostasy (since one can make a "decision" to follow Jesus without a new heart and revelation, and then "change their mind"....they were "never of us", 1 Jn.).

It's the key to how an Arminian can be truly born again, saved, and then be wrongly taught that he did it of his own free will even while dead in sins and trespasses. And it's the key to why we can confidently say that it's truly all of Grace, not of works, yet works *will* follow, defeating the so-called Free Grace error.

Understand that regeneration precedes faith and many many scriptures will suddenly make sense, that didn't before. The "wind" of the regenerating Spirit blows where He wishes, and *accomplishes* salvation...by Grace.

This is not Hyper-Calvinism. God calls all men everywhere to repent and believe in Christ. "All who will may come", and "if anyone comes to me [Jesus], I will in no way reject him". But only those who are born again can even "see" the Kingdom, let alone come.

Blessings,
Terry

SJ Camp said...

littlegal Wonderful Spurgeon quote. I have read that sermon as well. Excellent.

Salvation is wholly of God and is not depended on our methods, techniques, abilities, outreaches, etc. One more chorus of "Just as I Am" won't bring one more soul into the kingdom.

If the church got a hold of how sovereign the Lord was in salvation, it would revolutionize evangelism today.

Well done girl and thank you.
Campi
Col. 1:9-14

SJ Camp said...

Regeneration must come first; regeneration precedes faith.

Terry, you and I finally agree--I am blessed today! :-).

When I preached on this very thing two years ago at the Toledo Reformed Conference, a very well known evangelical bible teacher said to other men listening, "Did you hear what Steve just said--that regeneration precedes faith?" The other speakers answered "yes." "Isn't that wrong?" this man replied. The others said, "No. That is what the Scriptures teach." This man then said, "Do all of the those attending the conference believe that too?" To which they affirmed again by saying "yes."

I was told after I spoke that he then went into the pastor's office and rewrote his message to accommodate the audience in this belief. Mind you, he didn't understand this doctrine; and what he did understand he really rejected; but nonetheless, preached on it anyway because he didn't want to be out of step with those attending.

Amazing isn't it? (I am withholding the man's name for I have hope he will change on this issue and do not want to bring him unnecessary consternation.)

Terry. well done brother. We'll take up your views on irresistible grace another day. Today I am enjoying that you and I agree and that it is biblical and not relational.

Stephanus Campius

Steve Sensenig said...

Faith is a gift

And this statement is based on...?

There is no such thing as free will

Same question. You base this on...?

I'm just looking for some substance in the Word to hang all this on.

4given said...

To ME be all the glory if I dare say I could choose God. To HIM be all the glory knowing that He is sovereign even in the way of salvation. As I have said before, what is the point of grace if we have the free will to choose it.
Ex Animo.

I like the Latin name there Mr. "Campius"

SJ Camp said...

Steve S.

Faith - Eph. 2:8-9
Actually, the word rendered "that"—touto—is in the neuter gender, and the word "faith"—pistis—is in the feminine. This refers to the salvation by grace through faith of which he had been speaking. It is "all" a gift brother.

Do you think faith is something you do independently from God and by your own "free" volition? Faith is not of yourself--but is God's gracious gift in salvation (as well as His grace).

No free will - Rom. 3:10-18; Eph. 2:1-3
Not even a good pagan believes in free will. All of our wills are bound by sin; corrupted by our wrathful sinful nature; we are not free to operate outside of God's sovereignty or purposes; we are not free even to operate on our own with no regard to others. Free will is a myth.

The real question is: where do you find free will in Scripture?

Let me answer--it is no where to be found. I could win a Dove Award before someone proves free will from the Bible--it doesn't exist.

4given said...

Here is an explanation of "free will" from someone WAY smarter than me:
"When a person makes the bold claim that human beings have a 'free will' then you may want to ask them to define terms by asking,"Free from what?" "Free from sin?", "Free from God's decree?" No, neither. So what do people actually mean when they claim man has a free will? I think many persons mean to say that man is free from external coersion. In this we all can agree, but just because someone is free from coersion does not mean his will is free. There are other ways in which man's will is not free. If the natural man make choices BY NECESSITY then he also lacks a kind of freedom. We might want to consider whether the Bible uses the expression 'freedom' to describe any fallen man. And the answer is no, not UNTIL Christ sets us free (Rom 6). Jesus says that prior to grace, persons are 'slaves to sin'. And, last time I looked, a slave is not free. If man is in bondage to a corruption of nature, as the Scripture attests, then he is not, in any sense, free as the Bible defines it. That is, until the grace of God in Christ sets him free. It would be correct to say man HAS A WILL and that his choices are VOLUNTARY (not coerced) but this does not make the choices free. Fallen man chooses sin of NECESSITY due to a corruption of nature, and this is just as much a form of bondage of the will from which we need to be set free by Christ, and a more properly biblical way of expression. Just because we make these choices, of necessity, does not alleviate our responsibility. If we borrow $5 million and squander it in a week of wild living in Las Vegas [like our condition of debt after the fall], our inability to repay the debt does not alleviate us of any responsibility to do so (see Rom 3:20). So I contend that whenever speaking about the concept of "free will," because of the confusion surrounding it, we should only define freedom as the Bible does: that man's will is not free, but rather is in bondage to sin. Clearly the Bible affirms that apart from a supernatural and merciful work of the Holy Spirit to change our naturally hostile disposition to God, no person would ever receive Christ (John 6:65). And Just as water does not rise above its source, so unspiritual men do not think or act spiritually (1 Cor 2:14). - J.W.H"

Mike Ratliff said...

Campi,

What makes you think you can't win a dove award? ;-)

I hear that stuff about free all the time. I am convinced that God has to open our hearts to understand the truth that unless God regenerates our hearts we can never believe.

I have learned to ask the Free Willers to show me the passages they are using to base their stance on. It is always an elightning experience both for me and them when they find one passage that teaches it.

Sola Scriptura
Sola Gratia
Sola Fide
Solus Christus
Soli Deo Gloria!

Mike Ratliff said...

Oops, I am a typo prone person sorry. That last statement should read: It is always an elightning experience both for me and them when they CANNOT find one passage that teaches it.

littlegal_66 said...

"I could win a Dove Award before someone proves free will from the Bible--it doesn't exist."

Thanks alot, Campi-I just sprayed my monitor with coffee over that line.
:-)

(Psst...the link that I'd put in my post to Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism is to the article you posted here back in September...I was in hopes that some of the newer bloggers would check it out).

Terry Rayburn said...

Steve S.,

It *seems* so self-evident that we choose freely that it seems silly to even discuss it. But although we are "free" to make choices, our choices are always subject to our nature or mind.

For example, I am free to break up my living room window glass and eat it. "Free", yes, but it goes against my nature and my mind. I am repulsed by the very idea.

All such analogies break down at some point, but consider this: Can a person who is dead in sins and trespasses, who is an enemy of God by nature, and loves their sin, "choose" to believe on the glorious Lord Jesus Christ?

I believe the Bible clearly teaches that they cannot. That's why, when Paul said the Potter makes some for good purpose and some for destruction, they asked Paul, loosely, "Who can blame the sinner, then for rejecting Christ, if he has an anti-Christ nature and can't receive Him?" and Paul answers, "Who are you, O man, to question the Potter, God?" [paraphrase] (Rom. 9:18-21)

In the above sense, the will is not free, but "bound" by the nature and mind.

But when one's nature is changed, as in the New Birth, then "believing" is not a problem. In fact, the reverse now happens, and one can't *not* believe in Christ. In that sense, the will is still not free, but "bound" by nature and mind.

Of course, in some respects, the nature may allow a "free" choice, but the mind still make it a "bound" choice. I am "free" to choose Chocolate, but my mind "binds" me to Vanilla.

Or even, I like Vanilla better, but there's only one Vanilla, and I know that you want it. So my mind "binds" me to choose Chocolate, so that you can have the Vanilla. I *look* free, but I'm such a nice guy I actually choose against my desire, so *you* can have your desire. :) This is the basis of sacrificial benevolence.

In any case, the "spiritually dead" unbeliever is "unable" to "choose" Christ, until they are born again, and therefore no longer dead, spiritually.

Carpe gratiam,
Terry

Matthew2323 said...

Mr. Sensenig, :)

Consider Romans 12.
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

In this passage Paul states that both grace and faith are given/allotted by God. In addition, the apostles asked the Lord ‘increase our faith.’ (Luke 17:5) They understood that it came from a Source outside of themselves.

Repentance is also a gift. (Acts 5:31, 11:18, II Timothy 2:25)

4given said...

I do not see how you keep up with all these comments. I hit a nerve on my blog once in a blue moon that NEVER compares to the nerves you hit on a daily basis. ha

Always posts that challenge us all to know what we believe and why!!!

4given said...

I hear tornadoes and severe storms are coming to Nashville. We pray you are okay.

Steve Sensenig said...

Steve Camp wrote: Not even a good pagan believes in free will.

You know what? It's those kinds of comments that make this conversation pretty pointless.

I mentioned several times that I was completely sincere in asking my questions, and at first I get flippant answers without any kind of Scriptural backing or exegesis, requiring me to ask for clarification. Then, with the clarification, I get these kinds of slurs.

At least I've gotten some Scripture that I can go to now and examine, but I'm done asking questions here, Steve. I'm just going to have to search this out on my own.

Thank you for your time. I pray God blesses you as you fight for truth.

Sincerely,
Steve Sensenig

4given said...

Steve S. wrote "I'm just going to have to search this out on my own."

---That's the point.

Ex Animo.

Steve Sensenig said...

That's the point.

Excuse me, then. Let me clarify what I should have said. I'm going to have to continue to search this out on my own without trying to get help here.

SJ Camp said...

To Steve S. and Bhedr:

Steve: I gave you a serious reply on free will (mixed with a little humor in a follow up reply too.) BTW, it was Spurgeon who said the free will/pagan line--I thought it was funny and that you would appreciate the humor.

Bhedr: are you upset at Don and Matthew? Man, I thought the comments and discussion has been really good. Others have commented to me off-line similar sentiments.

The door has not hit either of you on the way out because it remains very open from the host of this blog. FYI: I have never left a forum or a another blog on a debate for any reason--ever. I always find it interesting that those who think they are the most loving and patient and humble are usually the first ones to bail on a discussion.

To make one small correction: all of us here do love the brethren here very much--and part of that love is dealing with issues from the truth of Scripture (Eph. 4:13-15).

Grace and peace to you both and I hope you decide to stay on and see it through.

His unworthy servant in His unfailing love,
Steve
Col. 1:9-14

PS - Thank you all for your prayers this past hour or two. Nashville and Franklin, TN have been hit very hard with several tornados that has sadly resulted in many severe injuries and a few deaths. The Lord has protected us so far and we pray that He will be glorified in the midst of these storms.

To God be the glory in all things.

boxcarvibe said...

I don't believe in a free will playing a part in salvation, either, but I do believe, based on how I interpret Scripture, that man can choose to believe on Jesus Christ.

Am I interpreting the following verses incorrectly?

John 5:24: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life".

John 5:38, 40-46: "But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe."..."But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life....I have come in My Fathers name, and you do not receive me...For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for He wrote of Me..but if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"


Why does Jesus warn of unbelief? If all saints are determined from eternity past and are irresistably drawn, why was He even concerned?

SJ Camp said...

bhedr: You said, "Simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. This is the truth of the Gospel."

I agree, but even that statement needs a context doesn't it. Even "the demons believe and they tremble" James says. They believe, know the nature of Christ and recognize Him as the Holy One of God AND they tremble--but that is not sufficient to save.

IOW, we must unpack what believing is when presenting the gospel to others--which I know you agree.

Faith must be seen in the greater context as well. Not just an arbitrary faith, but as you rightly quoted Hebrews 11 it is substantive and hopeful. Faith in Christ requires knowledge of His person and comes as God's gracious gift to us through hearing the Word of Christ proclaimed (Roms 10).

Terry was right on target in saying that the key here is regeneration. For once again, our preaching is not key, our methods or arguments, even our faith is not what opens up the hearts of others--only the Lord can open the heart (Acts 16:14).

Hope this helps somewhat...

Grace and peace,
Campi
James 1:19-21

Mike Ratliff said...

Bhedr, you say there must be no instrospection only looking unto Jesus.

Why does anyone look unto Jesus? No one does unless the Father draws them. John 6:44. What is the calling that enables anyone to believe? That is regeneration. Belief follows and that belief is accompanied by Repentance.

The following verse tells us what? "God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31 ESV)"

When are our sins forgiven? When are we saved? Is it when we say a sinner's prayer? Is it when we are regenerated or is it when we believe and repent?

I hear your heart. You are saying that we must preach the gospel freely to all people, right? AMEN! However, no one beleives unless God calls them. We can't worry about that. What we must do is make sure that all who respond to our preaching are the real deal. Why? Why can't we simply blindly accept all who respond?

I used to manage the "invitation" in a large SBC church I used to belong to. I'd wager that I have prayed with well over 50 people to receive Christ during a couple of years of doing that. One night we had over 200 teenagers come forward in a youth deal. I had 20 of them to counsel myself. How many of them do you suppose stuck? How many came back Sunday after Sunday? It was next to none. Of all those people I prayed with during those invitations I would guess that about 1% stuck.

This is not right. After people respond to the gospel presentation there needs to be something else that we do other than simply writing there names in a church role after we dunk them.

You are right. We need to direct people to Believe ON the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Forget teaching new converts doctrine, but it is our doctrine which guides us into being used by God as He brings people into the Kingdom. We certainly don't do it.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

David Rowe said...

Regarding Spurgeon. Spurgeon was a Calvinist in his own eyes, in his preaching, writing and teaching. At the same time he did not like the phrase, 'Limited atonement' and he gladly preached, 'Whosoever will may come'. For him the gospel was the offer of free salvation to all. He agreed that these ideas seemed contradictory but because they are both in scripture he declared both that God saves His chosen and that human beings are responsible for their reaction to the gospel. So his repeated call was, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.' He has been called 'an illogical Calvinist' and if that is what being true to scripture makes someone it seems a good description to claim. If you want to read something brief on this see Arnold Dallimore's Spurgeon: A New Biography (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1985) pp. 67-69.
Source A.J. Rowe - Spurgeon's College London

Mike Ratliff said...

I read "Suprgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism" a few weeks ago. It is interesting to me that this publication, also by the Banner of Truth Trust, does not ever state that Spurgeon was uncomfortable with Limited Atonement. He was uncomfortable with the Hyper-Calvinist's use of it. He preached as you say, Whosoever will may come, because we are told to do so in scripture. He stated that he did that because there was no way for any of us to know who the elect are. Therefore, he preached it that way, but he fully understood that it was God who saves people not his preaching.

Some of those wishing to say Spurgeon was not a 5 point Calvinist use what he said when he was battling Hyper-Calvinism. That, in my opinion, is a cheap shot.

4given said...

Here is a comment I got today from a woman preacher in Finland:

"Lisa, I understand and respect that it is part of your faith system that you cannot accept women speaking with spiritual authority to men (in church, or by the sounds of it elsewhere). I bless you being faithful to your interpretation of scripture and have no problem with you believing that it is the right think to do.

I don't want to use scripture as a battering ram (Bible bashing never gets converts in my experience) but I would like to share one thought with you. In Galatians Paul writes
there we are all sons (as in heirs) through faith in Christ Jesus. He goes on to say "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female" for we all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:26-28)

My belief (and practice) is that we have each been given gifts to use to spread the Good News that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. I do that according to the gifts God has given me, and in a way that is also consistent with my church's teaching.

At the end of the day both you and I will be asked by God about the use of our time and talents. Lorna / Lisa did you use them for MY kingdom and for MY glory? If we did we will be rewarded.

I bless you and your tradition and understanding. I in no way meant to imply that you are guilty of stuffing God in a box. I actually think most of us do, but that wasn't my point. My point was that God is much bigger and more amazing that any of us really know or can even imagine."


--- why am I sharing this? Because it breaks my heart. I felt in sharing this it goes along with why we must know what we believe and why and be prepared to defend it without compromising truth.

SJ Camp said...

She said: "At the end of the day both you and I will be asked by God about the use of our time and talents. Lorna / Lisa did you use them for MY kingdom and for MY glory? If we did we will be rewarded."

She forgot one key element here: did you use them for MY kingdom and for MY glory--according to MY Word?

Obedience to God's Word is never trumped by the pragmatic of using gifts and talents outside of His Word's authority.

4given, I respect you immensely for not exercising authority over a man in teaching God's Word. The Lord will reward you greatly for honoring His Word.

I checked out your article on Beth Moore the other day--very good. I like Beth, but she is wrong for teaching men especially in her local church. She not only teaches men in a Sunday School class, but she has even preached from the pulpit on a Sunday evening service. I know this for I have family that attend 1st Baptist in Houston.

The verses sited in your post from this Finish woman preacher she has taken out of context. Paul is describing the relationship between all kinds of people in the body of Christ in respect to our salvation. He is not describing ecclesiastical authority, or in her case, the absence of it. Though we are all one in Christ, the Lord has designed pastoral leadership to be done by men; not because of gifting or talents or abilities, but because of two things: 1. The order in creation; 2. Eve was deceived (Cp. 1 Timothy 2). To go outside that authority is to violate Scripture.

One other key element here: if there are to be women teachers in a local church setting exercising apostolic authority in the Word of God, why aren't there the same biblical qualifiers in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:4-9 as a man is supposed to have? The reason? it is not permissible.

Beth Moore is a gifted teacher and has some good things to say. But she should not abdicate the authority of Scripture because her own local pastor is weak and not acting biblically; or because of her name in the market place to draw people to the church (pragmatics usually win the day in most SBC churches).

I appreciate you Lisa... keep on.
Steve
Col. 1:9-14

SJ Camp said...

bhedr You said, "You are quite wrong as this leads to introspection and does the very thing you say you don't believe. Tell people how to believe?"

Not tell people how to believe--but instruct them as to what believing means. There is a huge difference. When I have proclaimed the gospel to others and have said to them, "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved..." they almost always ask me... "what does that mean?" Then we must be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us and explain to them what the Scriptures teach.

This is what Paul did as he reasoned with the Jews in the synagogues and with the gentiles as well. He took the time to communicate "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" to whom he was ministering to. We live in such an instant society today, that we don't take the necessary time to unfold the gospel and call men to repentance.

I agree we shouldn't tell people how to, but what it means to...

Hope this clarifies,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Lawrence Underwood said...

This is my first comment on your excellent blog. And, I am compelled to do it.

Why would anyone be uspet over this discussion of 'free will'? It is one of the most genteel discussions I've ever run across!

Anyway-keep up the good work.

boxcarvibe said...

"Believing" sounds so easy, but its really not. IMO, its where the road splits between authentic and artificial salvation.

It's easier for someone to walk an aisle, pray the sinners prayer, attend discipleship classes and think they're saved. To them, that's Christianity.

It's quite another to truly be humbled in spirit, recognizing your need for a Savior and believing on the Lord Jesus to be saved. That happened to me a year and a half after I walked an aisle!

Steve Edwards
Jude 25

Gordan said...

Someone above was wanting Scripture to look up:

FAITH is from God, not man:

Eph 2:8; 2 Pet 1:1; Luke 17:5; 1 Tim 1:14; Rom 10:17, 12:3; Acts 14:27; 2 Tim 3:15; Gal 3:22-23; Jas 2:5; Acts 3:16; Heb 12:2; 1 Jn 5:4. (Additionally, not every individual is given this gift: 2 Thess 3:2)

REPENTANCE is from God, not man:

Acts 5:31, 11:18; Rom 2:4; 2 Tim 2:25; Psalm 80: 3, 7, 19. Negatively, see 1 Samuel 2:25

BELIEF is from God, not man:

Jn 6:45, 12:39-40; Rom 11:30; 1 Cor 3:5; 2 Thess 2:10-13; Acts 13:48; Deut 29:4, 30:6

OBEDIENCE springs from ELECTION:

1 Pet 1:2, 2:8; Jude 4; Psalm 65:4

Hope this is helpful.

SJ Camp said...

Lawrence: I agree and thank you.

boxcarvibe: I agree. John MacArthur has written an excellent book on this subject called , "Hard to Believe." It is hard for man--but not with God...amen? Thank you for your comment.

Gordon: Very helpful. i appreciate the emphasis on the Scriptures in this.

Off to church...
Steve
Col. 1:9-14

4given said...

Mr. Camp,
I do not think you comprehend the vastness of your ministry. You are touching lives with this truth all over the world. Inspiring both men and women to know what they believe and why... to be able to defend it for the glory of God. Some of your readers do not have a sound church within reach of them. SOme of your readers are stuck in churches that are not sound because of wanting to honor God in the role of submission to the head of their home, their husband. Some of your readers have turned to the Doctrines of Grace... others who fight against it... they still come.
I am blessed to be married to a Godly man that holds me accountable to what I write, to the time I spend on this computer. I am blessed to be in (sadly) one of the few solid churches out there. Even my husband has seen my growth in the Lord in this blogosphere, by the grace of God.
But for those, and there are far more than one or two here, that come to your blog to be challenged in the truth... not, I think, because they are failing to be in the Word of God for themselves... but this blog in particular has inspired many to be even more in the Word of God. This permeates into their lives... it makes them better mothers, fathers, friends, husbands and wives when we pour ourselves into God's Word. Some have come here not only inspired, encouraged and changed... but have found this to be a deep well of water from which to draw in this parched land.
To God be ALL the glory and honor and praise.

Lawrence Underwood said...

Steve,
I'd have to agree with 4given on your blog's impact. I have young men scattered around the country who are using your blog as one tool in their quest for more authentic theology. Several of the young men in my congregation do as well. It is rare to find a man with the public personna that you possess willing to run against the easy poptheology of today. Thank you for that willingness. My prayer is that your example with inspire others to that same public boldness.

God send us another Reformation or we are done.

Lawrence

SJ Camp said...

4given. lawrence and all that blog here:

I so appreciate your kind and gracious words of support for this blog and what the Lord is doing through this ministry. They are timely words of encouragement that I do not take lightly--I am humbled by them.

Thank you so much and to God be the glory for using such weakness for His divine purposes.

Grace and peace to you,
Steve
2 Cor. 3:5

Jonathan Moorhead said...

EXCELLENT!

Rose~ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bobby grow said...

Steve Camp said:

"PS - There is no such thing as free will."

Even Augustine and Luther believed in "free will"--they just believed that we are so enslaved by the competing affections of our heart, driven by a self-love ( =concupiscence---Augustine's "positive" defintion of sin vs. his "negative" privatio/privation), that we will only "choose" those things that serve self--the consequence, the bondage of our will.

Steve's pronouncement, i.e. no such thing as "free-will", needs some historical context. When Luther said there was no such thing as "free-will" relative to salvation--it's informed by Augustine's definition of sin, and the subsequent implications of such a definition.

SJ Camp said...

...which makes the will bound--not free (Roms. 3:10-18). It doesn't need an historical context--just a biblical one.

There is only One that has free will (that which is unaffected by others, circumstances, sin, time, conditions, impure motives, etc.) and that is God Himself.

Steve

Peter said...

Very good post brother Steve.
Thank you.

Rick Frueh said...

I love Spurgeon even while I am well aware of his theology. He also was a harsh and unyielding critic of infant baptism and baptismal regenration that some Calvinists espouse. Here is a snippet from one of his sermons:

"How can they harden their faces to utter such a false promise, such a mockery before the presence of the Almighty Father? Most likely angels weep as they hear the awful promise uttered! I can understand a simple, ignorant farmer, who has never learned to read, doing all of this at the command of a priest. I can even understand persons doing this when the Reformation was in its beginning, and men had barely crept out of the darkness of Roman Catholicism; but I cannot understand gracious, godly people, standing at the baptismal font, insulting the all-gracious Father with vows and promises based on fiction and lies. How can intelligent believers in Christ, dare to utter words, which they know in their conscience to be wicked and opposed to truth? I have a confirmed belief that the God of truth never did and never will confirm a spiritual blessing of the highest order in connection with the utterance of such false promises and untruthful vows. My brethren, does it not strike you that declarations so fictitious are not likely to be connected with a new birth brought about by the Spirit of truth?"

Yep, Spurgeon had words for a variety of people. :)

The Seeking Disciple said...

I am an Arminian and not ashamed of that. However, I love Charles Spurgeon. I even named my youngest son, Haddon Spurgeon after Charles. However, I do think that Spurgeon's understanding of Arminianism is wrong. His statement that Arminianism is "works salvation" shows his utter ignorance of the teachings of Arminius. Further, Maben says that Arminianism dominates the American landscape but we Arminians argue that it is semi-Pelagianism that dominates the American landscape and not Arminianism. Arminius has become, in the words of Vic Reasoner, the scapegoat of Calvinism.

Just as Maben wrongly assumes that semi-Pelagianism is Arminainism, so did Spurgeon. Perhaps the "Arminianism" of Spurgeon's day is what he confused as Maben has as well.

I would urge you all to read and study Jacobus Arminius and not merely quotes about his theology. You will find a man fully grounded in the Scriptures who indeed was a reformer of the faith. You will find a God-centered theology and not a man-centered, works salvation theology.

SJ Camp said...

Peter
Thank you for your encouragement

Rick
I also am a Reformed Baptist believer that does not support infant baptism. Presbyterians do so because they have a different view of what baptism is for they try to make it synonymous with circumcision and the Abrahamic covenant found in Gen. 12, 17, and 24. They make the leap by wrongly applying Col. 2:11-12.

I appreciate the quote and as always your comments here.

The Seeking Disciple
Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Have you ever read The Synod of Dort findings? And have you ever read Arminius's own words on salvation?

The former very encouraging, the later very troubling.

IMHO, Spurgeon got this spot on and was not ignorant of what Arminius taught at all.

Grace and peace,
Steve

Strong Tower said...

Steve Sensenig said-

"OK, so we can't fully explain this, but this is what we believe best represents the truth here."

This is inadequate and actually forbidden by Scripture: "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

How does opinionating glorify Christ? Every man will be judged for every idle word, every word that does not work. IOW, if it is only opinion and not the only truth, Scripture warns and commands silence.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Camp,

There is no such thing as free will.

...

The real question is: where do you find free will in Scripture?

Let me answer--it is no where to be found. I could win a Dove Award before someone proves free will from the

Bible--it doesn't exist.


Libertarian free will is defined most minimally as 'contrary choice,' i.e. that one 'could do otherwise.' The scriptures state,

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

If God gives us a way of escape from every temptation so that we may endure it (for He does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able), yet believers sometimes succumb to temptation anyway, then contrary choice must of necessity be a reality if you believe the scriptures.


One is all of grace; and the other is grace plus the free will and decision making power of man. BOTH cannot be right.

But since one's decision hinges upon prevenient grace, then the Arminian view of salvation is all of grace, for in it there is no decision or belief apart from grace. If you're going to attempt to teach theology, you should at least take the time to learn the the very basics, such as the fundamental differences between Arminianism and Pelagianism.

SJ Camp said...

J.C.
Thank you for your comment and the views you shared here.

One initial problem with your view is that the passage you quoted out of Corinthians presupposes regeneration. Paul's context is not the unsaved, but he is writing to the church at Corinth and giving instruction to believers on various essentials of the Christian life.

As you know, spiritual realities mined from the Word of God cannot be understand by the natural man - they are spiritually appraised (1 Cor. 2:11-14). So your proof-text is quite out of context as to this issue of free will - which finds its expression and controversy in regards to the unregenerate man and his ability to either accept or deny saving faith.

As an Arminian you must be somewhat acquainted with the Remonstrants, the sandy teachings of Arminius, and the biblical correctives given at The Synod of Dort. But here you strangely state the following: But since one's decision hinges upon prevenient grace, then the Arminian view of salvation is all of grace, for in it there is no decision or belief apart from grace. That is not the biblical view of grace in salvation; but if Arminius is your source there in part lies your struggle.

Your statement is a clear denial of the biblical view of sola gratia - something which Spurgeon addressed and refuted very thoroughly in his writings as well. I believe your confusion on this important issue may stem not from the apocryphal philosophy of Arminian prevenient grace, but from an inadequate view of total depravity.

I think you think that salvation is a cooperation between man and God (this also refuted at Dort). The biblical doctrines of soteriology completely strip away man's ability to cooperate for his own salvation - for he is "dead in trespass and sin." (btw, I think you meant to say semi-Pelagian at the end of your post.)

Thus the joy that all true believers in the Lord have is only through Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone... We have no say in it; no claim to it of our own design; no cooperation in it; and no decision for it. It is all of God, all of grace, all of Christ and all by the regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit (cp, Eph. 1:4-14; Titus 3:4-7). Even the faith to believe is God's gracious gift to you or else you would have no hope of eternal life (Eph. 2:8-9).

Please think about these things for it is nothing less than the very gospel we are discussing here and it is a critical discussion and issue and not to be treated with flippancy or a cavalier attitude.

Lastly, when I visit someone else's home, I don't come in and insult the host - especially when unprovoked. As a guest I show respect even if I may disagree over certain issues with them. May I strongly encourage you to leave your childish invective at the door before you enter "my home" here again.

Grace and peace,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Camp,

So your proof-text is quite out of context as to this issue of free will - which finds its expression and controversy in regards to the unregenerate man and his ability to either accept or deny saving faith.

It's perfectly in context: I said nothing about free will as it pertains to unbelievers - you did. I was showing that that libertarian free will is indeed a scriptural concept, contra your statements that it cannot be found in scripture.


That is not the biblical view of grace in salvation...

Yes it is. Grace obviously does come before one can believe, but scripture doesn't support the idea that regeneration does.


...but if Arminius is your source...

No, he isn't.


Your statement is a clear denial of the biblical view of sola gratia

How? Why do you stoop to merely hurling elephants without backing such assertions?


Concerning,

I think you think that salvation is a cooperation between man and God (this also refuted at Dort).

and,

...no cooperation in it; and no decision for it.

God calls men to Himself and draws them by His grace, yet men may reject Him. The scriptures warn,

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven.... (Hebrews 12:25)

Which is incongruous if we have no actual 'choice' as to whether we heed Him or not. Even as far as those who have not believed yet, the Lord states,

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Luke 13:34)

as well as,

"You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you." (Acts 7:51)

If we have ability to refuse the Lord who speaks and resist the Holy Spirit despite God's calling us to Himself, then it's plain that grace is still resistible. However, salvation by grace that's resistible is still salvation by grace.


The biblical doctrines of soteriology completely strip away man's ability to cooperate for his own salvation - for he is "dead in trespass and sin."

'Deadness' in such a context does not indicate inability, especially where grace is concerned. By that logic, would that imply that being 'dead to sin, but alive to Christ' means that we have a total inability to commit sin once we are regenerated?



(btw, I think you meant to say semi-Pelagian at the end of your post.)

Pelagianism and its variants (Semipelagianism inclusive) all deny that grace is the beginning of anything good towards God, thus denying the necessity of salvation by grace; though perhaps SP would be the better parallel in this case....


Lastly, when I visit someone else's home, I don't come in and insult the host

I didn't insult you, I indicated that you should at least learn the basic differences between Arminianism and Pelagianism. If you think pointing out problems with one's understanding is 'childish invective,' then why do you make employ the term, "your confusion" so freely?


- especially when unprovoked.

Excuse me, but how in the world did you come to the conclusion that lobbing what are no less than heresy charges and indicating that I believe 'another gospel' aren't inflammatory?


As a guest I show respect even if I may disagree over certain issues with them.

Good, then try showing a bit of Christian love in learning what others actually believe before you start accusing the brethren.


May I strongly encourage you to leave your childish invective at the door before you enter "my home" here again.

Were you somehow under the impression that it's 'rude' or 'childish' to deliver a well-proportioned response pointing out the fact that the one hurling damning charges does not understand the issue?

SJ Camp said...

J.C.
Prevenient grace defined as follows by "Wesley's Order of Salvation":

"Human beings are totally incapable of responding to God without God first empowering them to have faith. This empowerment is known as "Prevenient Grace." Prevenient Grace doesn't save us but, rather, comes before anything that we do, drawing us to God, making us WANT to come to God, and enabling us to have faith in God. Prevenient Grace is Universal, in as much as all humans receive it, regardless of their having heard of Jesus. It is manifested in the deep-seated desire of most humans to know God."

I assume you would agree with this definition?

Two questions then for you:

1. Arminians hold that while still unregenerate (or partly regenerate as they would have it) some can and will improve on that grace. In other words, God's prevenient grace takes us part of the way to salvation (makes us partly regenerate) but man's will (or nature) does the rest (or completes it). Given this were the case, if all human beings have this prevenient grace at some point in their life, consider, if two persons hear the same gospel, why does one man believe and not the other? What makes them to differ?

2. Asked in a different and more simplistic way by a dear friend of mine:

If you chose of your own free will to accept Christ or believe in Christ...

...and John Doe chose NOT to...

...what made the difference between you and Joe?

I will await your reply.
Steve

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Camp,

Wesley's not my source either.

Arminians hold that while still unregenerate (or partly regenerate as they would have it) some can and will improve on that grace.

"Improve on grace?" The scope of prevenient grace is not to irresistibly impel one to believe. At least make an attempt at accuracy in terminology....


In other words, God's prevenient grace takes us part of the way to salvation (makes us partly regenerate) but man's will (or nature) does the rest (or completes it).

Talk about backwards, grace is what allows one to believe in spite of our old nature, not because of it.


Given this were the case, if all human beings have this prevenient grace at some point in their life, consider, if two persons hear the same gospel, why does one man believe and not the other? What makes them to differ?

Let's turn this around, shall we? From 1 Corinthians 10:13, which I cited earlier: If God gives the same provision to two Christians to escape temptation, yet one falls and another endures it, who makes them to differ?

Clearly both have opportunity, yet one may freely accept or reject the aid God gives, it is doubtless God gives the aid to stand, but God does not make the one who falls differ by irresistibly causing him to fall. So it is with prevenient grace, for while it is doubtless that it is God who makes us as believers differ from the world in cleansing us from our sin and giving us the promise of the Spirit, and who gives sinners the opportunity to repent and believe, God does not cause one who rejects the gospel to differ by irresistibly causing him to resist the Holy Spirit. So the one who believes can only do so by grace, the one who obstinately rejects the counsel of God despite His grace does so of his own free will.

And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him. (Luke 7:29-30)


Scripturally speaking, 'grace alone' (salvation by grace, apart from the works of the law and our own works of righteousness) does not preclude willing response any more than it precludes faith. Grace alone means that we cannot merit or purchase our own salvation, not that it must be irresistible or require no willing assent, the latter two concepts being extra-biblical.

SJ Camp said...

J.C.
I see you couldn't answer my simple questions. That was expected. When you can, I will continue this discussion with you.

Until then, may the Lord give you a great Christmas with your friends and family remembering His incarnation.

Grace and peace,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Camp,

My answer was pretty unequivocal. What part of,

So the one who believes can only do so by grace, the one who obstinately rejects the counsel of God despite His grace does so of his own free will.

did you not grasp?

Strong Tower said...

All things being equal, why don't both obstinately reject?

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Hey Thomas, that post was a real blessing. Here's one you can entertain yourself with for a while.

Strong Tower said...

Hey Harrier Guy :)

"It is, through God's grace, the ability to heed and obey the gospel, or in the resistance of grace, to disbelieve it."

Let's be clear about this, that is not the definition of free-will. It might be yours but it is not the definition within Scripture. That is defined by Jesus. And if you are advocating that Jesus had the ability to resist and disbelieve, you are proposing a different Christ. Contrary to your definition, free will is not the ability to choose between to opposing things. True free will is only free if it chooses what is good. There never has been freedom to choose evil. Now, if you think you have that freedom, then I suggest that you repent and believe.

We have had this discussion many times. Your definition of grace is false. Your definition of faith is false. Your definition of free will is false. But you persist. The only thing I can say to that is Hey Harrier Guy.

You consistently failed to answer Hendryx's question. What makes you different, all things being equal? If it is not goodness on one man's part and the opposite, badness on another's. Then what? Your fall back position has always been because. But that is no answer. And, as I have said "timelessly" you can only repose on Pelagius Island and from your position of neutrality either swim to the Love Boat or stay put. You have no reason, though, to do either.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Twitchell,

And if you are advocating that Jesus had the ability to resist and disbelieve, you are proposing a different Christ.

Didn't you read, "Libertarian free will is the ability to choose within a range of viable choices..."?


There never has been freedom to choose evil.

There is as far as what God permits human wills to do for a time, unless of course you're suggesting that things occur that God doesn't allow...more equivocation....


You consistently failed to answer Hendryx's question. What makes you different, all things being equal?

You consistently fail to keep the facts straight. Assuming you mean why does one receive the gospel and the other reject it, as opposed to the difference between Christians and the world due to what we actively receive from God spoken of in 1 Corinthians 4:7, I already answered this the first time around with,

"One freely chooses to receive the word of God, another freely rejects it."

The ability to receive it being by God's grace. And yes, that is the only logical answer if one holds that our believing is not irresistibly caused, (the fundamental property of a libertarian action). Asking what irresistibly causes it to be so is assuming Determinsim, and therefore begging the question, which as I've already pointed out is a rather obvious logical fallacy (essentially asking, "What irresistibly determines our choices if they're libertarian?"). Rather, neither you nor Hendryx have been able to rebut my counter-argument from 1 Corinthians 10:13. Your quaint 'dilemma' thoroughly disarmed in light of my beliefs, now try answering mine according to yours: Can Christians who yield to temptation do otherwise or not?

Peter said...

I'm not a theologian by any means, but it seems that J.C.'s logic here is not biblical at all.

God is sovereign in the saving of His people or He is not. He did choose us before the foundation of the world; He came to save not the world, but the ones whom the Father gave Him; and He is not a God who waits for us to choose Him, but He chose us; He saved us.

I am so thankful His grace is irresistible when the Father draws us to Jesus and regenerates us by the Holy Spirit. God is greater than our hearts. I am so glad my will is not free, but now bound by His grace and by His choosing alone.

J.C. - are you going to try and prove your logic from the Word of God, or by "libertarian free will"? Stick with the Bible and you won't drift into this kind of nonsense.

Keep on Steve. Well done brother.
Peter

J.C. Thibodaux said...

I'm sorry Peter, where did you get the idea that I wasn't basing what I say in scripture?

God is sovereign in the saving of His people or He is not.

He is indeed, though 'sovereignty' does not mean 'irresistibly impelling' or 'micro-managing.'


He did choose us before the foundation of the world....

Correct, though the Father's choosing is according to His foreknowledge.

"...Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ..." (1 Peter 1:2a)


He came to save not the world, but the ones whom the Father gave Him

Incorrect according to the gospel of John.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17) [emphasis mine]


...and He is not a God who waits for us to choose Him, but He chose us; He saved us.

None of which conflict with our being free to believe through grace, or the fact that we may obstinately resist the Spirit (Acts 7:51, cited above).


J.C. - are you going to try and prove your logic from the Word of God, or by "libertarian free will"?

You haven't noticed that I've based my reasoning directly upon references in scripture? As I've already shown from 1 Corinthians 10:13 (feel free to point out any flaws in my reasoning), the word of God unequivocally supports the concept of libertarian free will, for while Christians are indeed capable of committing sin, we are given a way of escape from every temptation, and hence do not have to fall into it, i.e. we can do otherwise -- such a choice is not predetermined for us.


Stick with the Bible and you won't drift into this kind of nonsense.

I'll try to keep that in mind, thank you.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

I see he's still taken the 'silence' route, looks like I'll have to spell it out. For those of you just joining us, Mr. Camp posed to me the question of,

Given this were the case, if all human beings have this prevenient grace at some point in their life, consider, if two persons hear the same gospel, why does one man believe and not the other? What makes them to differ?

...

If you chose of your own free will to accept Christ or believe in Christ...
...and John Doe chose NOT to...
...what made the difference between you and Joe?


I'll assume he meant 'John.' The latter part of Camp's rephrased question is likely a reference to 1 Corinthians 4:7, which many Calvinists use to make the case that the only factor which makes any of us to differ as far as whether we believe or not is being irresistibly regenerated,

For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

The difficulty with this interpretation lies in the wording of the passage: The word for 'receive' is of active voice, denoting the agents spoken to actively receiving, not passively having something conferred upon them. In other words the difference Paul speaks of between believers in the world here is due to what we have received from God, not because of something irresistibly thrust upon us. What God has given those who believe - justification, spiritual life, adoption as His sons and daughters, and the promise of the Holy Spirit - make us differ from the world as new creations in the image of His Son; all these things which pertain to life and godliness come through the knowledge of Christ.

So to reiterate my answer to what makes the difference between one who receives the gospel versus one who rejects it, I plainly stated,

So the one who believes can only do so by grace, the one who obstinately rejects the counsel of God despite His grace does so of his own free will.

So God's grace is what draws a man to Him, but man may resist His grace. Since one who rejects His word does so of his own free will, then the difference between them is due to the fact that one freely receives the word, the other freely rejects it, which is fairly obvious from my answer.

To sum it up the differences between the believing and unbelieving concisely:
Who draws sinful men to Himself, opening their hearts and giving them freedom through grace to hear Christ? God of course.
If one resists the work of the Holy Spirit, from where does such an action come? Man does so of his own free will (establishing the differing factor of the one who rejects the word and the one who receive it by grace).
Who makes us differ from the world in the sense which 1 Corinthians 4:7 speaks? God of course, for what we have received from Him that makes us differ is His gift, and therefore nothing we can boast in.

If Camp was hinting that he wanted me to name some other factor that irresistibly caused one man to believe and another to reject, such a question is inapplicable and nonsensical given my beliefs that both are free to do either, as I've elucidated to Mr. Hendryx recently. This raises the question then as to why Mr. Camp errantly claims that I haven't answered his inquiries, but fails to explain at what point or how my detailed reply fails to do so.

SJ Camp said...

J.C.
Good day brother...

You said, So God's grace is what draws a man to Him, but man may resist His grace.

Actually it is God the Father Himself who draws a man to Jesus (John 8:44). John 6:37 further addresses this truth: All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. Anyone that comes to Jesus for salvation has been chosen and regenerated apart from anything they might do or believe. Saving faith is a gift from God and the result of the Holy Spirit already at work in the life. Faith does not produce regeneration; but regeneration produces faith which believes the gospel and causes one by God's grace to confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. Grace is irresistible; and glory to God that it is.

As John records, we are a gift from the Father to the Son determined in times past eternal. 2 Tim. 1:9 clearly states: who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

Before anything that was made was made, we were chosen in Him - marked out as a people for His glory; vessels of honor made fit for the inheritance. My will is not free; it is bound in sin and straight-jacketed because of the Fall. There is ONE who does have free will though - and that is God Himself. He is the only ONE.

Like Spurgeon used to say, "not even pagans ultimately believe in free will; for even they know they are bound by the actions and events of others beyond their control."

Vessels of honor; vessels of destruction. One to make His glory known; the other to make His eternal power and wrath known. Both are the result of His divine foreknowledge and eternal purposes.

Therefore, the one who is saved glories that God would from all eternity mark him out for His own and extend mercy to one deserving only of His justice, wrath and enmity.

You have no say in your salvation. You have no part to play in it. You have no cooperation in it. It is all of grace, all of God and all of the gospel.

Amen?
Campi

SJ Camp said...

J.C.
One additional thought: you do make one small contribution to your salvation...

To quote Edwards: "the only thing that man contributes to his salvation is the sin that makes it necessary."

(cp, Roms. 3:21-31)

SJ Camp said...

J.C.
One last thought before running off to church:

You site 1 Cor. 4:7 and receive as being in the active voice to justify free will. Once again, context is everything. Deal with Scriptures that apply to the unregenerate in salvation - there is a difference. You will discover not one use of sozo or soterios is in the active voice when referring to the lost; they are all in the passive voice. Why? Because salvation is not something we are actively engaged in or take an active role in; it is something done to us.

What is that something? Irresistible grace through regeneration in the Holy Spirit. Even the godly sorrow to repent and believe is God's gift to us.

Glory in His grace and not in your free will my brother!

Steve
Eph. 2:8-9

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Camp,

I stated,

So God's grace is what draws a man to Him, but man may resist His grace.

You said,
Actually it is God the Father Himself who draws a man to Jesus (John 8:44).

Pardon, but did you read, 'Son,' or 'Holy Spirit' anywhere in that sentence?


John 6:37 further addresses this truth: All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. Anyone that comes to Jesus for salvation has been chosen and regenerated apart from anything they might do or believe.

and,

Faith does not produce regeneration; but regeneration produces faith...

John 6:37 states nothing about men being regenerated prior to faith. Rather, Christ says,

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. (John 5:25)


Saving faith is a gift from God and the result of the Holy Spirit already at work in the life.

Which does not imply regeneration prior to faith, nor the idea that being brought to faith is irresistible.


Grace is irresistible...

Scripture supports no such concept.


Before anything that was made was made, we were chosen in Him - marked out as a people for His glory...

According to the foreknowledge of God the Father (1 Peter 1:2, already cited), which produces no real difficulties for the concept of free agency or the resistibility of grace.


Therefore, the one who is saved glories that God would from all eternity mark him out for His own and extend mercy to one deserving only of His justice, wrath and enmity.

That point I would agree with you on, nothing we can do can merit salvation.


You have no part to play in it.

...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)


You have no cooperation in it.

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God .... (Hebrews 3:12)


It is all of grace, all of God and all of the gospel.

I already clarified my position concerning Grace Alone.


You will discover not one use of sozo or soterios is in the active voice when referring to the lost; they are all in the passive voice. Why? Because salvation is not something we are actively engaged in or take an active role in; it is something done to us.

and,

You have no say in your salvation.

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)

So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31)

Of course the redemptive work itself is passive as far as we're concerned, we don't save ourselves; we believe and receive ourselves through grace (and yes, 'believe' is active here), but it's God who forgives, regenerates and justifies us, making God our Savior.


Even the godly sorrow to repent and believe is God's gift to us.

Yes, I agree.


Glory in His grace and not in your free will my brother!

'Glory' in my free will? Where did you dig up that nonsense?


There is ONE who does have free will though - and that is God Himself. He is the only ONE.

Not sure what you base that on, as has already been shown, 1 Corinthians 10:13 plainly supports the idea that God makes a way for believers to endure temptation, yet Christians often demonstrate that they have the capability to yield to it, which you thus far appear unable to address. Care to explain?

Additionally, I want to make sure that I understand your position correctly:

a.) Do you believe that Arminians and those of similar belief actually believe another gospel?

b.) Do you believe that someone can be saved by believing a false gospel?

Billy Birch said...

Steve Camp,

"And have you ever read Arminius's own words on salvation?"

Please inform us as to what you have read from Arminius's three-volume Works on salvation that is so troubling to you.

You will certainly not find the philosophical notion of regeneration preceding faith, but then again, the Bible doesn't teach it either (e.g. Col. 2:13). But as far as "free will" is concerned, I'd very much like to know how Arminius's view of total depravity differs from yours (or any Calvinist's for that matter).

And further, have you read Richard A. Muller's account of Arminius in his "God, Creation, and Providence in the Thought of Jacob Arminius"? His account of and study in the Works of Arminius didn't seem so "troubling" to him ~ and I believe Muller is quite a Calvinist, eh?

I will check back soon to learn all that you have read of Arminius.

God bless,

Billy

SJ Camp said...

Billy Burch
Thank you for your thoughts you expressed here and for entering into this discussion. As you know the content of primary post here about Spurgeon is from Spurgeon's own hand. Therefore, as one who believes as Spurgeon did in Calvinism being the gospel and containing the gospel and rejecting Arminius's teaching - I stand in that tradition.

Secondly, being of reformed convictions biblically as to soteriology - historically, The Synod of Dort condemned the teachings of Arminius as heresy - and rightly so. In The Cannons of Dort they give a full, weighty and biblical foundation for their pronouncements over and against the Remonstrants. I would adjure you to their collective wisdom which springs from the well of God's eternal Word.

Thirdly, as to depravity, Arminius believed in a partial depravity (while affirming the need of a prevenient resistible grace given to all men equally and without distinction) which I would reject.

In the language of the opinions of the Remonstrants, here is one brief snippet:

Therefore God has not with this plan created in the one Adam all men in a state of rectitude, has not ordained the fall and the permission of it, has not withdrawn from Adam the grace which was necessary and sufficient, has not brought it about that the Gospel is preached and that men are externally called, does not confer on them any gifts of the Holy Spirit by means of which he leads some of them to life, but deprives others of the benefit of life, Christ, the Mediator, I not solely the executor of election, but also the foundation of that same decree of election: the reason why some are efficaciously called, justified, persevere in faith, and are glorified is not that they have been absolutely elected to eternal life. That others are left in the fall, that Christ is not given to them, that they are either not called at all or not efficaciously called – these are not the reasons why they are absolutely rejected from eternal salvation.

This flies in the face of passages such as Roms. 3:10-18; Eph. 2:1-3; Roms. 5:12-17; Roms. 1:18-Roms. 3:19, etc. and was understandably rejected at Dort. It is most unfortunate that Arminius's convictions can be seen in the face of modern evangelicalism by what is commonly known as easy believism and evident in the sandy teachings of men like Finney himself. Producing temporary converts is the fruit of Arminianism - which biblical Christianity knows nothing of...

It is impossible to justify Arminius's partial depravity of man in the context of ones soteriology especially in regards to Roms. 9:11-25.

It then follows that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints can only be thoroughly understood in light of the nature of the atonement by vicarious penal substitution; by the imputation of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ by faith consisting of His passive and active obedience; and that those that persevere in Christ are the ones who are eternally preserved in Christ (John 10; 6:35-44; Roms. 8, etc.

Ergo, propitiation can only pertain to the elect only. Libertarian free will is an affront to the gospel at this point as well as an Amyraldian view of the atonement.

I am very tired so I apologize I cannot be more precise at this junction. Thank you for your graciousness in putting up with my weary mind this evening.

Billy Birch said...

S. Camp,

"Partial depravity"? This strikes me as odd.

Though I agree wholeheartedly with what the Remonstrants have stated (from which you have quoted here), and agree with your proof-texts concerning man's depravity (though we'll part ways in the solution to man's problem ~ regeneration vs. prevenient grace), I am much more concerned about Arminius's reputation, which you are maligning: you are not accurately and fairly representing him (which leads me to believe that you have not read him).

(And BTW, it is no more fair to throw Charles Finney in our face than it is for us to throw Fred Phelps in yours. So, let's be a little more considerate.)

Arminius wrote, "In this state, the Free Will of man towards the True Good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost: And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. . . .

"The Mind of man, in this state, is dark, destitute of the saving knowledge of God, and, according to the Apostle, incapable of those things which belong to the Spirit of God . . .

"To this Darkness of the Mind succeeds the Perverseness of the Affections and of the Heart, according to which it hates and has an aversion to that which is truly good and pleasing to God; but it loves and pursues what is evil . . .

"Exactly correspondent to this Darkness of the Mind, and Perverseness of the Heart, is the utter Weakness of all the Powers to perform that which is truly good . . ." (Arminius, II:192-193).

If this description of the wicked depravity of man is "partial," then I suppose that Calvinists also believe in a "Partial Depravity."

I think what you, MacArthur, White, Piper, Spurgeon, and most Calvinists ad nauseum, have a problem with is not the Reformed Arminian definition of Total Depravity/Inability (for we agree with you entirely), but rather what it takes to convert a person to Christ Jesus; for you have to admit, Steve, that what you have just read of Arminius is, as R. C. Sproul Sr. wrote in his "Willing to Believe," just as strong a description of man's depravity as that of Luther and Calvin.

Though I believe Spurgeon's problem with "Arminianism" in his day was an aberration of it (and that always needs to be taken into account), it should not be applied to Classical Reformational Arminian theology today. If you and other Calvinists care not to make appropriate distinctions, then I suppose we Arminians do not need to distinguish between Classical Calvinists and hyper-Calvinists, supralapsarians, Fred Phelps-types, and heretics such as Marc Carpenter (Outside the Camp Ministries).

And as far as Dort is concerned: what bearing does that Synod truly have on us? I love it when Calvininsts remind us that "Arminianiam was condemned at the Synod of Dort." Ooooh, really? Well then, that settles it! (As if Dort really has any bearing whatsoever.) If a group of Arminians had had the political sway in Holland during that time, and had condemned Calvinism, would that have had any bearing on you today? (I should hope not, considering that you believe the Bible teaches Calvinism.) Unless, of course, you take all Church synods and councils to be infallible (and I doubt very seriously that you do ~ at least I should hope not, for that would link you more to Rome than to Protestantism).

As always, God bless,

Billy

J.C. Thibodaux said...

You raise a very good point Billy. As far as the of the Council of Constance -er, I mean the Synod of Dordt, I hold to a little belief called 'Sola Scriptura' where my beliefs are concerned, meaning that with regards to the foregone and scripturally untenable condemnations of a hyper-dogmatic group of self-appointed totalitarian judges, I couldn't care less.

So Camp, you do hold that Arminianism is 'heresy;' is that a 'yes' to question a?

Billy Birch said...

"Libertarian free will is an affront to the gospel at this point as well as an Amyraldian view of the atonement."

This is comical. I will let my Amyraldian professors at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (including its president Dr. Danny Akin) know that Steve Camp thinks that what they believe concerning the atonement is an "affront to the gospel." I'm sure they'll get a kick out of that.

God's blessings upon you,

Billy

SJ Camp said...

Billy B
Libertarian Free Will is an affront to the gospel. I am encouraged that you did not try and make a viable defense of its unbiblical moorings.

As to an Amyraldian view of the atonement and some of the good professors at SE including Danny Akin; he has a greater issue even than that before him (though that in itself is troubling). Last year when SE and Akin were hosting Seattle Shock the Flock emerging bad boy Mark Driscoll, Akin came out in full support of Romanist Peter Kreeft's writings which included his monumental heretical tome, "The Ecumenical Jihad." This was most surprising and shocking that a fine man like Akin would lack this kind of doctrinal and theological discernment regarding Kreeft pertaining to such key issues as Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, and Sola Gratia - all of which Kreeft denies.

Unfortunately, it is an Arminian worldview that widens the narrow road to unbiblical proportions.

This is far from being comical Billy. This is very serious and shouldn't be trifled with by sem students whose goals include putting "the Works of Arminius into a wide margin Bible in the hopes of one day seeing an Arminian Annotated Study Bible." Before venturing into projects that could unwittingly lead many away from the truth of the gospel, may I encourage you brother to give yourself some time coupled with humility to study, serve in ministry, and to let your life marinate in the great truths of Scripture.

Grace and peace,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Billy Birch said...

Steve,

Of all that could be said in response to what you have stated here, what I find most troubling about you (and SO many other Calvinists) is your utter lack of humility where theology is concerned. You have not one iota of a thought left in you that you COULD be wrong, leaving all others, those who disagree with you, puzzled as to what or whom led you down such a path. I used to get angry at comments such as those you have made here, but now I simply pity you and those whom you lead astray. Truly, may God's grace rest upon you.

"Before venturing into projects that could unwittingly lead many away from the truth of the gospel . . ."

You mean like the MacArthur Study Bible, The Reformation Study Bible (Sproul), the Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible (Zondervan),and the ESV Study Bible? Yeah . . . I know what you mean.

" . . . may I encourage you brother to give yourself some time coupled with humility [will YOU be my example?] to study, serve in ministry, and to let your life marinate in the great truths of Scripture."

That is excellent advice. And I, at 40 years of age, an ex-Calvinist, am aiming at that very thing. But if I'm to "marinate in the great truths of Scripture," I must avoid the arrogance and errors of Calvinism at all costs.

May God be with you, as always,

Billy Birch

Billy Birch said...

Libertarian Free Will: An unbiblical notion? I didn't "tackle" it because I thought you were joking.

It's good to see Calvinists such as yourself at least be consistent and call God the author of sin and evil. I just knew that one did not have to be named a hyper-Calvinist in order to accomplish this feat. I just knew that a Calvinist did not have to be "hyper" in order to defy Scripture and deny that man has any freedom whatsoever. With a God such as the one you promote, who needs a devil?

Thank you for exposing Calvinism in this manner. It's settled then. God determines what we say, act, feel, do, choose, eat, wear, sin, etc. And when Jesus claimed that Israel was "unwilling" to be gathered unto her Messiah, what He REALLY meant was that God had predetermined her to reject her Messiah. Perhaps Jesus, the Son of God, did not understand this facet of determinism. Or perhaps Calvinism misrepresents and misinterprets the character, plan, and motives of God. I'll freely choose to believe the latter (pun intended).

May the Lord continually bless you as you study His word,

Billy

SJ Camp said...

Billy, Billy, Billy
It's good to see Calvinists such as yourself at least be consistent and call God the author of sin and evil.

You either need some Starbucks or a great night sleep :-).

SJ Camp said...

Billy
I can be wrong on many an occasion; and therefore I must remain teachable from anyone who can demonstrate from the Word of God where I have a theological blind spot. I treasure and welcome such exhortation, rebuke, correction and training in righteousness. I thank the Lord for the many faithful Bereans that comment here frequently.

But on this issue... I will not yield. Historic precedence is with me; sound exegesis is with me; biblical theology and doctrine is with me; and the great confessions of the faith are with me.

What I might inquire though is what led you astray, sir, to leap off the rock of Calvinism to stand so firmly in the quicksand of Arminianism? Why trade the glory of the One Triune God alone and His gospel of sola fide (Titus 3:4-7) for a cooperative work of salvation whereby sinful man can find something of his own "decision to follow Christ" to glory in? Even if it be ever so small a mention, it elevates sinful man to a place he does not deserve.

The essence of humility IS the gospel. (cp, Phil. 2:5-11)

So I come back to my statement earlier: what charmed you to embrace Arminius's unbiblical, man-centered views of the atonement?

I see you conveniently avoided Akin's endorsement of Kreeft. If I were you, I would too. I mean... why would Akin embrace with complete support a Romanist like Kreeft who clearly embraces a different gospel of faith + works; grace + merit; and Christ + papal/church authority for salvation? Kreeft even supports The Fifth Marian Dogma; the Treasury of Merit; Purgatory; The Mass being Propitiatory, Penance, etc. and supports Inclusivism whereby even atheists will go to heaven - with Mary as the great divine Savior leading the way. Added to this, what do think of his claim of an OBE experience where he says he witnessed a conversation with Mohammed, Confucius, Moses and Mary in heaven? You have to admit, that is completely nutty even for Arminian! Would you not agree?

And this is who brother Akin is recommending to men training for the ministry and yet you think I am the one who is arrogant and have gone down a path of error?

I will gladly stand with my dear friends Sproul and MacArthur any day. Thank you for the honor of being included with them.

You are welcome here anytime to comment.

Grace and peace,
Steve
Titus 3:4-7

SJ Camp said...

Billy
With a God such as the one you promote, who needs a devil?

I spoke too soon.

Unless you apologize to myself and the readership of this blog for your blasphemous statement, you are no longer welcome here.

Are we clear?
Mr. Camp
Ex. 20:1-3

Billy Birch said...

Steve Camp & All,

Then I am no longer welcome here.

God bless all you do for Him,

Billy

SJ Camp said...

Billy
How sad my friend. You can say what you will about me, this blog, or my writings; but when your unbridled tongue tries to smear the God we so dearly love by making false claims against His character and name, attributing them to Calvinism, and stating them as truth is completely unacceptable.

This is why Calvinism represents the essential glorious truths of biblical Christianity so powerfully. For chiefly at its core, it maintains a high view of God and His Word. Spurgeon understood this very well and why he clearly stated that when one is preaching the tenants of Calvinism, one is preaching the gospel.

Arminianism fails at this juncture and your response is proof of that. Unfortunately, you are prepared to attack the very nature and character of God and misrepresent how the reformed faith understands them from the pages of Scripture.

May I encourage you Billy to lift up your gaze to that which is eternal rather than dwell on that which is more human. Put Arminius, Akin, Hunt, and Stanley in the drawer this year and instead, try reading Owen, Watson, Spurgeon, Edwards, Manton, Calvin, Burroughs, Mead, MacArthur, Sproul and Mohler.

It just might change your life.

Happy New Year.

Billy Birch said...

Dearest Steven,

As already stated, I left the Calvinist "camp" back in 2000. I've read those men you suggested (except Burroughs and Mead).

And for the record, it was your denial of humanity having any semblance of freedom which libels God as the author of evil ~ I certainly do not believe that.

Nonetheless, Steve, I harbor no bitter feelings toward you whatsoever. We simply sorely disagree on these matters. And I truly do want God to bless you and your ministry. I will not comment any further. But for my own peace of mind, I wanted to state these things.

God bless,

Billy

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Camp,

I think the 'author of sin and evil' comment was merely to point out where the idea of 'no libertarian free will' leads. Consider: If human beings have no free will of our own, and all of our actions/thoughts/motives are all predetermined, then from whence do sinful desires and motives arise firstly – from the creation or the Creator?


Historic precedence is with me...

Historic precedence? You have the egocentric mentality and mass-temper-tantrum of one set of churches in Europe at a particular time. The church for a much longer time has acknowledged the necessity of grace prior to conversion and libertarian free will simultaneously (as seen in the writings of Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tatian, et al). Even the Council of Orange declared at its conclusion,

We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema.

The church as a whole rejected exhaustive determinism even in Augustine's day.


sound exegesis is with me; biblical theology and doctrine is with me...

Keep talking, you can't even answer the simple difficulty with determinism that I raised from 1 Corinthians 10:13. None of the latter four points of Calvinism find any solid basis in scripture. 'Limited atonement' is the biggest joke, you would think that if universal but provisional atonement were such an 'affront to the gospel' as you ridiculously claim, the writers in scripture would have been a bit more careful before they said things like,

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." (John 6:51)

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

Not to mention John 3:16-17.

To try and redefine 'world' as 'only the elect' or some such finds no support in Greek. One author underscored the absurdity of such a view when he cited,

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

Are we to believe that 'the ungodly' means 'only the elect,' or that only the elect are ungodly? In fact there is no point in scripture that indicates that Christ died for the elect to the exclusion of everyone else. Since your view is not even stated in scripture, then on what basis do you claim that our point of disagreement with you is an 'affront to the gospel?'


...and the great confessions of the faith are with me.

The ones written by Calvinists specifically, which is no more effective than arguing, “the Calvinist confessions are with me, therefore Calvinism is true.”


...for a cooperative work of salvation whereby sinful man can find something of his own "decision to follow Christ" to glory in?



Even if it be ever so small a mention, it elevates sinful man to a place he does not deserve.

You really need to start relying on the Bible rather than “Owen, Watson, Spurgeon, Edwards, Manton, Calvin, Burroughs, Mead, MacArthur, Sproul and Mohler.”

Really, the whole “if God didn't do it all, it's not of God” philosophical canard doesn't really comport with the scriptural record at all. Consider the story of Gideon, even physical salvation of the righteous is 'of the Lord,' and God is certainly more than capable of defeating any threat in a completely monergistic manner if He wishes (e.g. 2 Kings 19:35). But in Gideon's case, as with many others, He chose to do so through human agents. God makes it clear from the outset that it was His power that would deliver them, and He makes sure that the Israelites have no room to boast in their own strength:

And the Lord said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.'” (Judges 7:2)

So God whittles Gideon's already comparatively feeble army down to less than 1% of its original combat power, turning already dreadfully terrible odds into astronomically hopeless odds by human reckoning, which very well settled Who the true power behind their victory was. But observe, for their victory, did God stipulate cooperation from Gideon and his men? Indeed He did. Did men obeying His voice, thus achieving victory through the power of God suddenly make their salvation 'not of the Lord?' Of course not! Did the fact that there were still that measly three companies of human participants left somehow rob God of the glory? Think again. The simple fact is that 300 men (given no extraneous factors) simply cannot defeat a comparable or better-trained enemy that large and well-equipped on their own – it had to be God. Gideon and his men had no viable room to boast in such a victory, only the Lord did. Likewise, we of ourselves are nothing. Does the fact that men freely receive the faith of Christ through the grace of God then suddenly make our salvation 'not of the Lord?' Certainly not. The simple fact is that were it not for grace, the human heart would remain forever closed in darkness – it's only by God's grace that we may believe at all. We as Christians thus have no viable room to boast in obtaining salvation, only the Lord does. Or as Jesus explicitly stated,

”So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' " (Luke 17:10)

So the Synergist view of coming to faith accords with the scriptural examples and the gospel teaching extremely well; it's the Calvinist philosophical presuppositions that are left at odds with the word of God.

After your attempt to hound me for supposedly not answering your questions, I find the fact that you refuse to even address a few simple questions of mine as to your beliefs about Arminianism/Synergism as it relates to the gospel to be most disturbing. I sincerely hope in spite of what I read from you that you have not surrendered your thinking to the cultic Neo-Gnostic Calvinism; a common practice of cults is to conceal their true beliefs for the sake of wider acceptance, either feigning ignorance, lying, changing the subject, or simply going silent whenever something that identifies them as cultic is asked.

SJ Camp said...

J.C.
Happy New Year to you too!

A few brief corrective thoughts for you:

1. As to the Council of Orange (529 AD). The vast entirety of the council's findings support my views here. I am surprised that you chose to quote one lonely sentence from Orange to try and prooftext your sandy beliefs (something Arminianism must do to attempt to make their case from unbiblical footing - I understand your dilemma.)

The entirety of Orange was to address the Pelagius (and semi-Pelagius) heresies against total depravity and to correct the error of man possessing a free will. It also historically in redemptive history help to lay the foundation for Calvin and Luther on the issues of the doctrine of Total Depravity and Luther's the Bondage of the Will.

Both Luther and Calvin were correct (as was Orange) in demonstrating biblically that man is not just partially corrupted by Adam's sin, but completely depraved including his will unless by grace God changes their heart of stone for a heart of flesh by which then man is "free" to believe (regeneration preceding faith).

For those of you who would like to actually read The Canons of Orange for yourselves and not just J.C.'s one sentence prooftext you may do so here. Enjoy.

2. As to 1 John 2:2 - the issue is not the definition of the word world. The issue is defining "propitiation" and defining "whole."

Here is the verse: "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

To propitiate means to assuage wrath and to satisfy. Upon the cross, Jesus Christ took the guilt and penalty and wrath against every sin that would ever be committed by every sinner that would ever believe (IOW, for His people chosen before the foundation of the world - only). He redeemed the elect there fully and completely. Jesus drank the cup of wrath to propitiate the Father on behalf of the sins of the people (Heb. 2:17). Again, what people are they? "to those whom the Father had given Me" (John 17; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:1; Eph. 1:4-6).

If all people ever born and unborn and their sins were propitiated by Christ to the Father, then there would no more wrath to pour out upon anyone and all would be saved. Ergo, the heretical view of Universalism is born. (Now I am confident, J.C., that not even the theological error springing from Arminianism has led you to believe such heresy.)

On the cross, Christ first and foremost died for God - to satisfy Him - His justice, holiness, and wrath. Jesus fully did. He was "pros ton theon" on our behalf to the Father (Roms. 3:21-26; 1 John 4:10; Heb. 2:17). He stood in our place; He was our divine substitute; and He actually saved us there. SDG!

As to the word whole, if you notice the Greek word here is "holos" and not "pas." Pas is mostly used to designate every single individual; whereby holos is mostly used to mean the universality of the message. IOW, John is not saying here that Jesus satisfied God and His wrath on behalf of every single person, but he is saying that this glorious salvation is not just for us, but for those of every tribe, tongue, nation and people throughout the entire world.

When you finally come to fully understand the nature of the atonement then your theological search will be over.

I must grant you this though, you are consistent in how you like to prooftext your quotes and verses. :-).

Must run for now. Will address the rest of your comment a bit later.

Grace and peace to you J.C.
Steve
Eph. 2:8-9

PS - synergism is heresy. I will address later.

Strong Tower said...

"The simple fact is that were it not for grace, the human heart would remain forever closed in darkness"

Does grace open the heart to darkness?

Or, to ask it another way, does grace merely afford the ability to choose either darkness or light?

Grace, according to Arminius, provided all that "appertains" to regeneration. In other words, regeneration provided, i.e. preceded faith. Yet he maintained the liberty of freewill. He thus believed that regeneration merely reset man to his pre-lapse Adamic state, neutral, concerning good and evil in respect to his will. He believed Adam was created with both evil and good tendency within him; that the will was neutral concerning them and that he could either reject the grace given or improve upon it. From his perspective on regeneration, he taught that in prevenient grace (though he did not use that term but, initial, preventive, or prepratory) was inescapably perfect. That is, though it could be resisted after it was given, it could not be resisted in the giving of it those powers proper to it, and if applied it would without fail produce more of its kind. The thrust was that the curse was lifted by this preventive grace, preventing total depravity from intefering. He called it preventive because it prevented man from stopping it, also. At the same time, he did not consider grace to be completed grace, that is having in itself power to affect the will positively according to the nature of grace. But he did believe that it bent the will toward good without the man's consent, by the renewal of mind and affections. If one wants to picture this, he might think of a scale weighted toward evil, but grace removes the weight of sin by sitting upon the other pan, bringing ballance. It is up to man to tip the scale by moving one way or the other.

So, though he would defend himself as non-Pelagian, he was, for the position that he puts man in, at least in reference to his will, is that of moral neutrality. He was non-Pelagian in that he required of grace assistive properties. He was non-Pelagian in that he held to total depravity, also. In all, even-though he denied he was semi-Pelagian because he knew it to be no different than Pelagianism, he was. Because he proposed that man was merely renovated in regeneration in regards to his will by the removal of TD from it; he rejected the Scripture's teaching of the new creation by that same fiat.

Further, he believed that the Holy Spirit so works whereever the Word was found, that the person exposed to it could not resist the grace that was "magically" infused into man in its reading or hearing (in thus doing he denied Jesus' own teaching concerning it). So at first, he believed in irrestistiable grace, but only so in intitial, or prepratory grace. Grace, to him was the entirety of the salvation package, but not in the biblical sense of fullness of inheritance. Because for him, grace delivered no sure hope. In otherwords, he denied Hebrews definition of the faith given as grace. Faith he believed a pure gift given in grace, but rather than biblical faith, he considered it resistable, as if it were a magician's common tool. He devised a three-fold view of grace. Still, intitial grace is irresistible being not in the man that he should at first resist it, for in his ungregenerated state he was unable to do so. Resistence comes only with renovation according to Arminius.

The analysis of Arminius' grace was nothing short of Pelagian and a rejection of the grace that saves as defined in Ephesians 1:1-14. In those passages grace of salvation is described as perfected before it is given as particular in which the recipient is totally passive. And beyond that, that grace is the inheritance which adopts, contrary to Arminius who believed it only a possible, an aquired iheritance, founded in the freewill of the creature to choose to be adopted. In the end, Arminius' false hope can never be the very Lord that biblical hope is defined as.

As Arminius descibed it, the weight of the depravity was lifted from the will in this initial grace and the renovated will, freed as it were from total depravity, becomes able to choose, if it so desired, either good or evil. But, biblical grace grants the choosing of good, not the choosing of evil.

Then the question above resolves to why does a man choose one and not the other?

This is the question that you never answer JCT, no matter where you are asked it around the blogosphere. Like Arminius you deflect it, ignore it, or answer circularly.

This is really the problem. Show us where the grace which Scripture speaks of as saving grace, does not regenerate man as whole, initially, and perfect him according to Christ, the author and perfecter of it. But you do not care to go there. Then answer, what is it in subject A which improves upon the grace given, as opposed to the subject B who does not improve it. Why, if all things are equal, does one choose to follow Christ and another, not?

Do you believe as Arminius that God created man in his image with both good and evil tendency? And, is that what you mean when you say that man can, after being restored to his Adamic state, from his Pelagius' Island of neutral freewill, choose either to remain in the light or return to darkness?

SJ Camp said...

J.C.
Anyone is welcome at this site to post on the issues and substance of the posts I choose to write and feature at COT. But, they must do so with propriety and respect for others.

You have not demonstrated this especially in your last comment and as such it has been deleted.

You may repost and do so without the needless juvenile invective or consider yourself permanently banned.

I have been patient with you, but that has run out. Stay on topic, do so with respect for this blog, its host and those who comment here and you may say what you will. Otherwise, you may address the three or four people that may visit your blog on any given week.

Grace and peace,
Steve
1 Peter 3:15

SJ Camp said...

Strong Tower
Tremendous comment. Thank you for not only being well researched, but well voiced too.

It has hard to refute Scripture and the application you have made here. Fair and balanced - to coin a phrase :-). I think though the depth of your post was maybe a bit too much for J.C. to comprehend all in one sitting. Hopefully he will respond to the content of what you have stated.

Well done!

Grace and peace,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7

J.C. Thibodaux said...

I don't know why I bother Camp, you'll probably just delete this without cause like you did my last two posts.


Does grace open the heart to darkness?

No. I've already answered you thoroughly on this before at RM. Why do you keep asking the same questions?


Or, to ask it another way, does grace merely afford the ability to choose either darkness or light?

No, grace draws sinners to Christ, sinners can resist grace by nature.


Show us where the grace which Scripture speaks of as saving grace, does not regenerate man as whole, initially, and perfect him according to Christ, the author and perfecter of it.

The burden of proof is upon the one making assertions requiring evidence Thomas, show me where in scripture the grace that comes prior to conversion is ever called 'regeneration.'


Then answer, what is it in subject A which improves upon the grace given, as opposed to the subject B who does not improve it.

Your question is incoherent, since I don't believe one 'improves upon grace.' What does that mean? Giving ourselves more or better grace or something? I'd cited the case of Gideon achieving victory by the power of God; by your logic, was he somehow 'improving' upon the power of God by physically engaging the enemy?


Do you believe as Arminius that God created man in his image with both good and evil tendency?

I don't believe God has evil tendency. I believe Adam was capable of freely choosing between good and evil, though his descendants are tainted by nature due to his sin.


And, is that what you mean when you say that man can, after being restored to his Adamic state, from his Pelagius' Island of neutral freewill...

"when you say that man can, after being restored to his Adamic state"?? I never mentioned anything about an 'Adamic state' or 'Pelagius Island,' nothing even resembling it concerning my beliefs, as anyone reading this thread can see Twitchell. You are now clearly making things up and trying to put words into my mouth. Such intellectual dishonesty speaks very poorly of the case you're attempting to make. God is truth, if your doctrine were of God, you would speak the truth.


Back to you Camp. The crux of Twitchell's post, the 'why does one choose and not another' canard (which has been pretty well-pulverized by this point) I did answer again and you deleted it, which you fail to mention in your gloating "a bit too much for J.C. to comprehend" taunt. When I posted again calling you on your accusation and asking you to cite specifically where I'd been improper or disrespectful, you again deleted my comment, this time completely without cause and without answer.

Strong Tower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Strong Tower said...

For those of you who might be wondering about what follows, in part it is in response to JCT's response that was deleted.

"And for the record, I've posed the question from 1 Corinthians 10:13 to you as well, and it's in fact you who haven't given a straight answer."

This is simply a lie. I have answered it elsewhere, and you well know that. You refuse to accept the answer, unless it is "straight" by which you mean if it doesn't contradict you. And I don't respond to you often because of the kind of person you present yourself to be here and the impudence with which you responded at Reformed Mafia to me and others there. Your arrogance is far flung and well known.

So for others here is one way to approach JCT's confusion so that he can never say that I have not answered: The Corinthians passage in no way makes unequivocal opportunity. The context is tied to "But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband." God has provided this as a way of escape, not that the temptation is defeated (escape does not speak of victory), but that the temptation is made bearable by the proper use of the means provided. It is therefore not a matter of choosing among equivocations. But, as with the rest leading up to this, it is about the right use of those things provided by God for use by man. As each is given his gift, so he is to make it work and not to do it in such a way that it brings disrepute upon the body of Christ or causes his brother to sin. That is the context of Corinthians. Now, even at this point, should anyone sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus the righteous, who is always making intercession for us. In other words, should a man not be able to maintain himself, God is faithful, providing Christ, the sure way of escape.

Arminius' example of David dying before he repented and losing his salvation is ludicrous. Repentance is no magic talisman that saves, it is Christ. Arminius through all his methodistic machinations, ends up denying the very sufficiency of Christ's atonement in defending freewill. He made the methods, i.e. repenting, and the means, i.e. repentance, mediators between man and God. The efficiency of grace was bound to man's obedience, and not the obedience of Christ.

For Christians though, Christ always provides a way, for faith is a sure and certain hope, and he is our faith. What JCT does with this passage is laughable. If he would continue reading he would see that there were those among the children of Israel who did not have faith. But among the children were people like Aaron, who though he had faith, he like the others engaged in idolatry. But for him, as one of those of faith, Christ was the provision made such that he escaped final condemnation. In other places, Moses is put among those that rebelled, for it is said that he broke faith with God by striking the rock. Yet, his actions were not the keeping measure of his salvation, nor were the ordinances to be acted upon as we are told, rather, it was Christ himself. So 1 Corinthians 10:13, also, is a guarantee that faith can never fail. But for the Arminian, that is not true, is it, JCT? It takes man's effort and decision, the means and methods the savior, and not Christ. But the faith which saves depends upon the promise of escape, not man's ability to.

JCT, like Arminius was so adept at doing, neglects context: "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." We stand by grace. But JCT makes it to be cooperative grace, or grace plus works, which is idolatry.

In either case, should we stand or fall, we do not have any boast to make, except in Christ who has provided all means in him, not in us. Our freedom does not grant us license to do as we so choose, neither does it grant the willing and doing unilaterally of his good pleasure as if it were we who lived and not Christ. It is God who works in us that which we will without fail do of his good pleasure. Then we know also, that if it is not by his grace that we stand, then it is by some other principle we do so, namely the flesh. But that is death. When we live by our will, our flesh, it is sin, for which we are responsible, but for which he has died to cleanse. As I have argued elswhere, and JCT simply rejected, Christ is our way of escape, even if we fail.

If anyone thinks that he can exercise LFW, which by definition is without Christ, you're welcome to it, but you will fall. That is what 1 Cor 10:13 says. It says nothing about LFW being graciously regenerated in you so that you might choose to sin.

We are made to stand, JCT, where you like to think you stand on your own even if it was first by grace that you do so. We have been translated into the kingdom, and it is no longer we who live but Christ. You are still wandering in the desert of despair thinking that since you have been delivered from Egypt you can find your own way home.

Why did God take them by the desert road, and not the sea road of the Philistines? It was because if it was left to their own freewill, the temptation to save their own skins from the Philistines would have provided opportunity to return to Egypt, or IOW, they would have had opportunity to sin against God. And why did he trap them by the sea? He turned them away from open country, on purpose. Do you honestly think that they did not want to sin against the Lord and return to Egypt, at that point? To the contrary. It is shown throughout their entire wanderings, that they did want to return and it is further proclaimed by the prophets later that in their hearts they are always turning back to Egypt unless God removes the stony heart and replaces it with a heart of flesh and causes them to walk in his way. He provides himself as the way of escape, (1 Cor 10:1; cf Hebrews 3:12-4:3) even though all did not make right use of his provision. Nor could they, because it says, he has mercy on whom he wills, and the rest he hardens (Romans 9:18, cf Romans 8:9-10). A person is either of the Spirit or not, and if of the Spirit, then it is the Spirit that makes alive, but the flesh remains dead. For you though, it is by the flesh that you do anything, the very reason the children of Israel who were rejected died in the wilderness. Why harden yourself so?

Some day JCT, you'll read all Scripture and get the full picture.

No, grace draws sinners to Christ, sinners can resist grace by nature.

So, the nature is both good and evil? Thanks for answering yes in the negative. I guess. Can one not resist the drawing out of that nature? Can sinners accept Christ out of that nature once drawn to him? Strange definition of nature, one that is both good and evil. And how is it that both good and evil can accept Christ?

You know, Arminius' definition of total depravity was not Reformed. He considered it the addition to the neutral nature, the curse of the evil choice made by Adam, so that man is unable by his will, to raise himself. And he considered grace the regeneration by the lifting of the curse of total depravity from the will so that man could exercise choice or not in obedience to God. Now, he also spoke of the differentiation between the different compartments of man's compostition. So, is what you are saying is that man rejects Christ out of his nature but will does not reside there? But where does will reside, then? Okay, why does one man reject Christ out of his nature and another does not? Is that fair? Or does he reject Christ out of his nature and accept him out of his will? See JCT, the problem is not that you didn't answer, you just redefine terms and move it back another step so that it was another question that you were answering which was not asked. JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION: WHY? NOT HOW! And don't redefine, don't obfuscate. No matter where the ability resides, or doesn't, WHY does one man choose one thing and another not if all things are equal, i.e. neutral.

The burden of proof is upon the one making assertions requiring evidence Thomas, show me where in scripture the grace that comes prior to conversion is ever called 'regeneration.'

It has already been given, you rejected it. And here is what you have done: You make grace to be one thing and then another, but Scripture makes grace our salvation. Or perhaps you didn't catch that little word charoo. Charis is the gift, charoo is the perfection of it. Simply stated it means that grace which saves is perfected from the foundations of the world as applied then and made manifest in time. Regardless of how you try to caricature it as eternal salvation, it is not. What it does mean is that the limited scope of the atonement is fixed by the perfection of the intent of it and that it is not viewed as being phased in according to the active participation of the object of it. Ephesians specifically makes the recipient passive and the grace the perfecting agent. But so that you might not go away empty handed: "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior..." Things to notice about this Scripture, mercy, eleos, is a word equivalent to grace in this passage as it is contrasted with works and grace works by regeneration. Even Arminius held that grace was regeneration, all that "appertains" to it. I thought that you were Arminian.

"Your question is incoherent, since I don't believe one 'improves upon grace.'

Then you're not Arminian. Let me try another word, how's about cooperates with grace? For that is what improves means: "use something well: to make good use of something or employ something to advantage." Which is the way Arminian's use the term. Unfortunately this makes grace a magician's wand, a talisman, an occult tool.

Giving ourselves more or better grace or something?

By Arminius' definition, yes, for what he meant by proper use of grace in his economy was that God rewards it with greater grace. But, if you're not really Arminian, then hey, what difference does it make? By the way I liked Hendryx's name for your kind: "Deviant Arminian."

I'd cited the case of Gideon achieving victory by the power of God; by your logic, was he somehow 'improving' upon the power of God by physically engaging the enemy?

No, by your logic it does. It was a stupid, or let me use your word, incoherent, as an example anyway. The point is that it is not by anything inherent in or given to Gideon by which God gains the victory. But according to you, it was Gideon's will that effected the victory, for without it, God powers were insufficient and he could not have had the victory.

I don't believe God has evil tendency. I believe Adam was capable of freely choosing between good and evil, though his descendants are tainted by nature due to his sin.

A trick question, I admit. Still, Arminius taught that Adam did have both tendencies in him in creation and that the will was neutral in regard to them and that also Adam had the capability of choosing between good and evil. So prove it, prove he was "freely" capable. If you mean he had the ability to choose the good and reject the evil, I agree. But if you mean he was neutral in regards to it so that he could choose either one, that is Pelagian and heresy. If you believe that he was good and some how could choose evil, that is heresy and Pelagian as well. Still, if Scripture teaches Adam created in the image of God, how is it that evil is in man in the beginning such that he might choose evil as presented to him and God call what he created good? Then again, good means there was nothing in Adam of an evil tendency, then to what does evil external to him appeal? And if there was evil in him in the creation where did it come from? In either case you're in a pickle. You must make God the author of evil in Adam which is not the image of God, or you must make God to be good where good is both good and evil and Adam created in that image. So which is it? Was Adam created able to choose evil? The fact that he could be made to is beyond question, it happened, but only by deception (which is a corruption from without not from within and is as much as being forced against one's will). God did not grant Adam freedom to choose evil did he? Wasn't it God who forbade the eating? Isn't it in fact the case that God did not put before them good and evil? And is it not the fact that there was no evil in Adam or Eve to begin with? If he made them capable of choosing either one how so? The image of God is not that, is it? Is God capable of choosing evil? You say no... So, what do you mean by capable? Surely the will can be bent, but if you are insisting that that ability to bend it to evil is within man from the creation, that is the height of blasphemy and heretical. For God does not author evil in man, does he? Then how did evil arise in man, seeing that it could not have been God's doing? You've got some splainin to do Lucy!

You are now clearly making things up and trying to put words into my mouth.

No, it is extrapolated from all you have said about man's ability to either choose Christ or reject him. He must be able to do that from something in him that has the ability to choose since you do not believe it is without him that the choice is made for him. And you define it as capability which tends toward both good and evil, equally, or in other words, you make it neutrality. So, the question is fair and is related to the facts of the subject of synergism which as Campi pointed out is unbiblical and can in some senses be called blasphemous and heretical depending on the extremes of the definitions applied by synergism's defenders.

So don't blame me when what you say is devilish, and don't blame Steve when what you say makes God the devil and he bans you. You've done far worse than this at RM, and I didn't ban you because it wasn't my place to do so. Though I could have asked those who know you there like I do to do so. I have turned a deaf ear to most of your recalcitrant impudence because you are a boor.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Twitchell,

This is simply a lie. I have answered it elsewhere, and you well know that. You refuse to accept the answer, unless it is "straight" by which you mean if it doesn't contradict you.

Baloney, you only ranted to the point of,

...you make something other than Christ the way of escape.

Which I did not state, and which is not an answer to the question:
Can Christians who yield to temptation do otherwise or not?


And I don't respond to you often because of the kind of person you present yourself to be here and the impudence with which you responded at Reformed Mafia to me and others there. Your arrogance is far flung and well known.

Twitchell, you are the one flinging heresy charges at me and making up things that you think I believe. Of course my responses are going to be hard-hitting refutations. They're extremely reasonable to someone who refuses to be even partially civil. It's very egocentric to assume that you can hurl such accusations and not expect a solid rebuttal pointing out the flaws in your reasoning. My 'arrogance' is only in your head, don't make up motives just because I can make my point.


The Corinthians passage in no way makes unequivocal opportunity. The context is tied to "But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband."

and,

But, as with the rest leading up to this, it is about the right use of those things provided by God for use by man. As each is given his gift, so he is to make it work and not to do it in such a way that it brings disrepute upon the body of Christ or causes his brother to sin. That is the context of Corinthians.

Wrong, it was tied to the numerous ways in which the Israelites had fallen to sin in the desert, which includes sins like idolatry, lust, fornication, etc. (vs 5-10)


God has provided this as a way of escape, not that the temptation is defeated (escape does not speak of victory), but that the temptation is made bearable by the proper use of the means provided.

Yes, I agree. But if we are predetermined to fall to a temptation, we are then not able to bear it -- my point.


It is therefore not a matter of choosing among equivocations.

Among 'ambiguous expressions'? What?


Now, even at this point, should anyone sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus the righteous, who is always making intercession for us. In other words, should a man not be able to maintain himself, God is

faithful, providing Christ, the sure way of escape.


and,

As I have argued elswhere, and JCT simply rejected, Christ is our way of escape, even if we fail.

The way of escape spoken of in verse 13 is so we can endure the temptation, i.e. stand up under it; not merely escape its effects.


Yet, his actions were not the keeping measure of his salvation, nor were the ordinances to be acted upon as we are told, rather, it was Christ himself. So 1 Corinthians 10:13, also, is a guarantee that faith can never fail.

That logic doesn't follow, since Christians often fail to endure (i.e. yield to) temptation.


It takes man's effort and decision, the means and methods the savior, and not Christ.

Salvation requires endurance, but through Christ, for He says,

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)


"Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." We stand by grace. But JCT makes it to be cooperative grace, or grace plus works, which is idolatry.

Nice attempt at redefinition, but cooperation with grace is not a 'work' any more than faith is.


That is what 1 Cor 10:13 says. It says nothing about LFW being graciously regenerated in you so that you might choose to sin.

I never stated anything of the sort. Please cease trying to put words into my mouth.


We are made to stand, JCT, where you like to think you stand on your own even if it was first by grace that you do so.

and,

You are still wandering in the desert of despair thinking that since you have been delivered from Egypt you can find your own way home.

Now you're completely off-base. I never said anything about standing 'on my own,' I believe God's grace and provision is necessary for us to be able to stand, which is exactly why I was arguing that it is God who gives us the way to escape temptation from 1 Corinthians 10. Twitchell, you are now asserting that I'm arguing the opposite of the very thing I've been arguing!


Do you honestly think that they did not want to sin against the Lord and return to Egypt, at that point?

No. I don't recall saying that either.


For you though, it is by the flesh that you do anything, the very reason the children of Israel who were rejected died in the wilderness. Why harden yourself so?

Again you simply make up stances for me. I never stated anything about it being 'by the flesh.' If you hold to the doctrine of the God of truth, then why can't you make your case honestly.


I stated:
No, grace draws sinners to Christ, sinners can resist grace by nature.

You stated:
So, the nature is both good and evil?

No, I only stated that humans can resist grace by nature. Our fallen nature is evil.


Can sinners accept Christ out of that nature once drawn to him?

No, by grace, sinners may accept Christ despite their nature. I've answered this one as well.


So, is what you are saying is that man rejects Christ out of his nature but will does not reside there?

I would think not. While the two are linked, Adam had a will before his nature was corrupted, as will resurrected believers when our sinful nature is wiped away.


Okay, why does one man reject Christ out of his nature and another does not? Is that fair?

Certainly, the one who rejects freely does so.


Or does he reject Christ out of his nature and accept him out of his will?

That makes no sense. One cannot accept Christ and reject Him simultaneously.


See JCT, the problem is not that you didn't answer, you just redefine terms and move it back another step so that it was another question that you were answering which was not asked.

Pointing out the inherent fallacy in an inherently fallacious question is sufficiently answering it.


JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION: WHY? NOT HOW! And don't redefine, don't obfuscate. No matter where the ability resides, or doesn't, WHY does one man choose one thing and another not if all things are equal, i.e. neutral.

Because he freely believes, the ability to believe coming by grace. If you are asking what principle 'made' one choose and not another, then you are effectively asking 'what forces one to make a specific libertarian choice.' An 'impelled libertarian choice' is inherently contradictory.


I said:
The burden of proof is upon the one making assertions requiring evidence Thomas, show me where in scripture the grace that comes prior to conversion is ever called 'regeneration.'

You said:
It has already been given, you rejected it. And here is what you have done: You make grace to be one thing and then another, but Scripture makes grace our salvation. Or perhaps you didn't catch that little word charoo. Charis is the gift, charoo is the perfection of it. Simply stated it means that grace which saves is perfected from the foundations of the world as applied then and made manifest in time. Regardless of how you try to caricature it as eternal salvation, it is not. What it does mean is that the limited scope of the atonement is fixed by the perfection of the intent of it and that it is not viewed as being phased in according to the active participation of the object of it. Ephesians specifically makes the recipient passive and the grace the perfecting agent.

But so that you might not go away empty handed: "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus

Christ our Savior..." Things to notice about this Scripture, mercy, eleos, is a word equivalent to grace in this passage as it is contrasted with works and grace works by regeneration.


But, Titus 3:5 states nothing about regeneration coming before faith. So where exactly does scripture define grace before faith as 'regeneration?'


Even Arminius held that grace was regeneration, all that "appertains" to it. I thought that you were Arminian.

I have theology that is similar in some ways, but no, I've never adopted the label 'Arminian' for myself.


Let me try another word, how's about cooperates with grace? For that is what improves means: "use something well: to make good use of something or employ something to advantage." Which is the way Arminian's use the term. Unfortunately this makes grace a magician's wand, a talisman, an occult tool.

How would cooperating with God's grace make it a "magician's wand," since grace involves God drawing men to Himself despite their inherently evil nature?


I said:
I'd cited the case of Gideon achieving victory by the power of God; by your logic, was he somehow 'improving' upon the power of God by physically engaging the enemy?

You said:
No, by your logic it does. It was a stupid, or let me use your word, incoherent, as an example anyway.

Not so, for God used Gideon, Gideon didn't use God.


But according to you, it was Gideon's will that effected the victory, for without it, God powers were insufficient and he could not have had the victory.

Again you make up stances for me. I never stated that God couldn't achieve victory by Himself, I even cited an example of when He chose to do so. You should read carefully before you level more accusations.


I said:
I don't believe God has evil tendency. I believe Adam was capable of freely choosing between good and evil, though his descendants are tainted by nature due to his sin.

You said:
A trick question, I admit.

I'd hoped that was an accident on your part. What a childish ploy...


So prove it, prove he was "freely" capable. If you mean he had the ability to choose the good and reject the evil, I agree. But if you mean he was neutral in regards to it so that he could choose either one, that is Pelagian and heresy. If you believe that he was good and some how could choose evil, that is heresy and Pelagian as well.

But if he could choose good, and yet chose evil when presented to him (as Genesis plainly tells us), then it's obvious that he could choose either one. How is that Pelagianism?


Still, if Scripture teaches Adam created in the image of God, how is it that evil is in man in the beginning such that he might choose evil as presented to him and God call what he created good? Then again, good means there was nothing in Adam of an evil tendency, then to what does evil external to him appeal?

and,

You must make God the author of evil in Adam which is not the image of God, or you must make God to be good where good is both good and evil and Adam created in that image. So which is it? Was Adam created able to choose evil? The fact that he could be made to is beyond question, it happened, but only by deception (which is a corruption from without not from within and is as much as being forced against one's will). God did not grant Adam freedom to choose evil did he?

God didn't need to create Adam evil (which He didn't) for him to choose evil. He created Adam with a free will. He was created good, but was fallible, not inherently evil.


And is it not the fact that there was no evil in Adam or Eve to begin with? If he made them capable of choosing either one how so? The image of God is not that, is it?

God is not fallible either, I certainly wouldn't argue that that's His image. There were obvious differences between Adam and God.


Is God capable of choosing evil? You say no... So, what do you mean by capable?

Why are you asking me to define basic words?


Surely the will can be bent, but if you are insisting that that ability to bend it to evil is within man from the creation, that is the height of blasphemy and heretical.

Satan didn't force Adam to sin, he tempted him. Adam sinned of his own free will. How is that blasphemous?


For God does not author evil in man, does he?

Nope.


Then how did evil arise in man, seeing that it could not have been God's doing?

God creating a creature capable of choosing either good or evil doesn't make the creature inherently evil.


I said:
You are now clearly making things up and trying to put words into my mouth.

No, it is extrapolated from all you have said about man's ability to either choose Christ or reject him. He must be able to do that from something in him that has the ability to choose since you do not believe it is without him that the choice is made for him.

I have repeatedly stated that man can only will to do good by grace, which is in diametric opposition to what Pelagius taught, making any association between us wholly spurious. I stated nothing about being restored to an Adamic state by grace, which would require that we be not guilty of sin (as Adam was before he sinned) before we believe, and with no inherently corrupt nature still within us (which still remains even after we believe), which is nonsensical. You are employing deceit to try and lump me with Pelagius, whose distinctives I reject. Accusations must be based upon fact and proof, otherwise you are a false witness. An idea stuck in your head that I kinda sorta resemble Pelagius from your view is not proof. You jump in with accusations before you even know who you're accusing; misquote, misconstrue, and simply make up positions; employ deceit and try to ensnare with childish trick questions...who are you acting like? The Father in heaven, or the enemy - the accuser of the brethren?


And you define it as capability which tends toward both good and evil, equally, or in other words, you make it neutrality.

I never said anything about 'equally' or 'neutrality.'


So, the question is fair...

No, you are plainly putting words into my mouth and attributing statements to me which I implied nothing about. Speak the truth, or don't speak.


You've done far worse than this at RM, and I didn't ban you because it wasn't my place to do so.

Like what?

SJ Camp said...

J.C.
Strong Tower has given you measured, tempered, well researched, and biblical responses. I wish I could say the same for your continued invectives displayed here.

I think we have reached the end for your stay here. I will allow responses to your last post, but as for you it is time to move on.

I do pray for you that you will come to see how synergism is anthropocentric and monergism is theo or Christocentric. One is the biblical gospel and one is not.

Also, may i encourage you to reexamine one key element as to your use of Scripture and theological proof-texts; you seem to confuse verses regarding ones sanctification and ones salvation in making your case for "libertarian free will." I.e. - 1 Cor. 10:13/4:7. Once someone is regenerated unto salvation, there is a choice to obey or not to obey (cp, Roms. 6-7). BUT, in regards to salvation, there is no such choice or "libertarian free will" (Roms. 3:10-18, Eph. 2:1-3), but rather only sovereign election and one that is all of grace (cp, Roms. 9:11-23).

You even want to make the issue of sin and the guilt and penalty of sin in regards to personal responsibility and the necessity of the atonement not one of imputation or nature, but of only individual action and the ability to comprehend and understand the Law (thus you believe in the antinomian and fictitious "age of accountability").

So I will leave you to the Lord's care, God's Sovereignty. and the Holy Spirit's instruction from His eternal Word. Hear these powerful words of G.S. Bishop that I trust will be a blessing to you:

"Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the ax of justice; so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures; so adverse to God that they cannot turn to Him; so blind that they cannot see Him; so deaf that they cannot hear Him; and so dead that He Himself must open their graves."

In His irresistible grace,
Steve
John 6:35-44

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