Wednesday, August 06, 2008

IF YOU AREN'T PREACHING JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE, YOU ARE NOT PREACHING THE BIBLICAL GOSPEL

Romans 3:24
and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 3:28
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Romans 4:1
What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?

Romans 4:2
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[1] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:9
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Romans 6:7
For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Romans 8:30
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Romans 10:4
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Galatians 2:16
yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Titus 3:4-7
"But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

Reformation
This is at the heart of the Reformed faith (Calvinism) and more importantly - biblical Christianity. Salvation is of the Lord - it is all of grace! We add nothing to it and do not cooperate in it to obtain it. It is God's free gift to sinful men. It is a Sovereign act of a holy God upon unregenerate people who are by nature children of wrath, sons of disobedience, and dead in trespasses and sins. We must "made fit" for the inheritance (Col. 1:12-14); because in and of ourselves we are hostile to God; enemies of Him and His truth, with all our own righteousness being nothing but dirty, filthy rags. But because of His great love, unfathomable grace and never-ending mercy - by grace through faith in Jesus we may be clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ our Lord.

This is no spoony faith. This is Christianity; this is what the Reformation was chiefly concerning: a recovery of the biblical gospel of justification by faith alone, through grace alone, because of Christ alone. Theological systems may come and go, but what has become known as Calvinism, symbolically and truthfully, represents the biblical gospel and an exalted sufficient view of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.

As the Apostle Paul say in Romans 4:5: "To the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Look at these seven great truths on justification mined from this one verse by our dear late brother, Dr. John Gerstner:
1. The justified one does "not work."
2. The justified one "trusts."
3. The justified one trusts not in himself but in another: "God."
4. The justified one confesses himself to be "wicked."
5. The justified one does not have faith in his faith.
6. The justified one sees his faith only as "credited" to him.
7. The justified one sees his faith credited as "righteousness."
Amen?

As we read some excerpts of these men below, may their words encourage us all to proclaim His gospel of grace, not by the authority of Calvin or the Reformation, but by the authority of God's Word alone to which they gave their lives!


Martin Luther:

"This doctrine [justification by faith] is the head and the cornerstone. It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour…. For no one who does not hold this article – or, to use Paul's expression, this 'sound doctrine' (Titus 2:1) – is able to teach aright in the church or successfully to resist any adversary . . . this is the heel of the Seed that opposes the old serpent and crushes its head. That is why Satan, in turn, cannot but persecute it."

"Whoever departs from the article of justification does not know God and is an idolater . . . For when this article has been taken away, nothing remains but error, hypocrisy, godlessness, and idolatry, although it may seem to be the height of truth, worship of God, holiness, etc."

"Of this article [justification] nothing may be yielded or conceded, though heaven and earth and whatever will not abide, fall to ruin; for 'there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,' says St. Peter (Acts 4:12); 'and with His stripes we are healed' (Is. 53:5). And on this article all that we teach and practice is based, against the pope, the devil, and the world. That is why we must be very certain of this doctrine and not doubt; otherwise all is lost, and the pope and the devil and all things gain the victory over us and are adjudged right."

"In short, if this article concerning Christ — the doctrine that we are justified and saved through Him alone and consider all apart from Him damned — is not professed, all resistance and restraint are at an end. Then there is, in fact, neither measure nor limit to any heresy and error."

JI Packer
“Now the real nature of Calvinistic soteriology becomes plain. It is no artificial oddity, nor a product of overbold logic. Its central confession, that God saves sinners, that Christ redeemed us by his blood is the witness both of the Bible and of the believing heart.

The Calvinist is the Christian who confesses before men in his theology just what he believes in his heart before God when he prays. He thinks and speaks at all times of the sovereign grace of God in the way that every Christian does when he pleads for the souls of others, or when he obeys the impulse of worship which rises unbidden within him, prompting him to deny himself all praise and to give all the glory of his salvation to his Savior.

Calvinism is the natural theology written on the heart of the new man in Christ, whereas Arminianism is an intellectual sin of infirmity, natural only in the sense in which all such sins are natural, even to the regenerate. Calvinistic thinking is the Christian being himself on the intellectual level; Arminian thinking is the Christian failing to be himself through the weakness of the flesh.

Calvinism is what the Christian church has always held and taught when its mind has not been distracted by controversy and false traditions from attending to what Scripture actually says; that is the significance of the patristic testimonies to the teaching of the ‘five points’, which can be quoted in abundance.
So that really it is most misleading to call this soteriology ‘Calvinism’ at all, for it is not a peculiarity of John Calvin and the divines of Dort, but a part of the revealed truth of God and the catholic Christian faith. ‘Calvinism’ is one of the ‘odious names’ by which down the centuries prejudice has been raised against it. But the thing itself is just the biblical gospel.”

CH Spurgeon:
“I have my own private opinion that there 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 after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor."

HT: The Irish Calvinist

51 comments:

Carla said...

"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 after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor."

For the first 2+ years of my life in Christ, this was the very teaching that I was under. I can speak from experience that such a teaching offers no peace, no assurance, no rest in the finished work of Christ. It will leave one constantly focusing on SELF, and if one is honest with themselves, they will be deeply troubled since they will KNOW that they can never live holy ENOUGH, on their own. It's a most miserable doctrine to live with. What's more, if you're in a church where this is being taught and it doesn't sit right in your soul, your questions will NOT be welcome. Eventually, if you keep asking questions YOU will not be welcome either.

Thank you for posting this today, it cannot ever be said enough that our hope is in Christ ALONE. Praise God for pastors that teach this, churches that hold firm to it, and brothers and sisters with the boldness to continue to proclaim it via books, blogs, lectures, conferences and all the other media outlets available today.

Like a balm to the tortured, miserable soul, it matters.

SJ Camp said...

Carla
Like a balm to the tortured, miserable soul, it matters.

Amen; for it eternally matters.

Blake said...

Can you really call one a cornerstone or more important than the other four solas? At the very least, I'd expect you can't elevate sola fide, sola gratia or solus Christus above each other. Those three make probably the most important minimum contribution to not be in heresy in regards to the Gospel.

SJ Camp said...

blake
Great question my brother and thank you for asking.

1. Nothing is elevated above Christ Himself. He alone is preeminent in all things (Col. 1:15-20; 2:9-10; Heb. 1:1-3, 6-8). All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him (Col. 2:1-5).

2. The issue of works righteousness compared to a righteousness that is obtained through faith IS the issue (Phil. 3:1-12) - (this is the primary issue surrounding Galatians 3-4 and Romans 3-4 as well).

3. Justification by faith alone, in that respect, is "the Atlas upon which all other doctrines rest" (Packer). Again, does that diminish grace or Christ Himself? On the contrary, it exalts Christ and the grace by which we are saved. For our salvation is solely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. We may also say, that the doctrine of justification by faith not only encompasses sola gratia and solus Christus, but the doctrines of imputation and vicarious penal substitution as well (2 Cor. 5:18-21; Heb. 2:9-18).

Steve

Brian said...

That post was awesome. Thanks Steve!

Timothy said...

As one who preaches weekly, I absolutely agree. It is all God's grace... we just bring our sin to the table and by His grace, helps us learn to hate it and loath it... yearning to be with Him and eager for His return.
Blessings

SJ Camp said...

Brian
Thank you my brother for your kind words. I am grateful this post was an encouragement to you.

Timothy
The more we minister to others the more we know the efficacy of the gospel is not depended upon us. It is all of Him and His grace alone.

What a wonderful privilege to be about proclaiming His gospel and Word, and then being a spectacle of His grace as He sovereignly works in the hearts and lives of others.

Grace and peace,
Steve
Col. 1:9-14

Blake said...

Maybe I'm just being nitpicky with the language. I look at sola fide, sola gratia and solus Christus as a kind of trinity of doctrine where none works without the other and all are necessary for salvation. I don't know that I would put it that sola fide encompasses the other two so much as it summarizes the relationship of this doctrinal trinity. You can't have sola fide without sola gratia or solus Christus and sola fide is the "logical conclusion" of sola gratia and solus Christus existing. Sorry, if I'm being redundant or not getting it I'm just uncomfortable with making any of the three seem to stand out above the others when they exist for each other and thus for us.

The Blainemonster said...

Carla's comment was right on. I've felt for some time that to believe one can be lost after true salvation is a self-centered doctrine, even prideful. If it's possible for an adopted child of God to be cast off, then none of us have hope because not a single one of us would persevere.

To believe in our security is to cling more closely to our gracious Savior and marvel at His mercy!

SJ Camp said...

blake
I look at sola fide, sola gratia and solus Christus as a kind of trinity of doctrine where none works without the other and all are necessary for salvation. I don't know that I would put it that sola fide encompasses the other two so much as it summarizes the relationship of this doctrinal trinity. You can't have sola fide without sola gratia or solus Christus and sola fide is the "logical conclusion" of sola gratia and solus Christus existing.

Agreed. No argument here.
Campi

SJ Camp said...

blainemonster
I've felt for some time that to believe one can be lost after true salvation is a self-centered doctrine, even prideful. If it's possible for an adopted child of God to be cast off, then none of us have hope because not a single one of us would persevere.

Amen and well said!

A Christ-centered gospel IS humbling to us and exalting to Him. It is the intended purpose and way... That is one proof that only God would design salvation to be such. All about Him and not about us (Eph. 1:4-14).

"If we have begun in the Spirit, can we perfect ourselves in the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3).

Thank you,
Campi

Carla said...

the blainemonster said:

"to believe one can be lost after true salvation is a self-centered doctrine, even prideful."

The thing is, when you're in a church that teaches you that you choose to believe the gospel, you have exercised your free will to follow Christ, and you are the one who mustered up faith in your heart to do all that - then it only stands to reason that you are the one who must keep yourself saved, by your constant good works and avoidance of any sinful thought, word or deed.

The problem with that arises when HE shows you just how sinful you truly are, and how deceptively wicked your heart is. That's when you have to either submit to His truth, or your traditions. (and force the traditions onto the text of Scripture to make it all work).

It is indeed a horrible, man-centered teaching.

SJ Camp said...

Carla:
Good words.

That is precisely why Spurgeon and others say Calvinism represents the biblical gospel. Why? Because it is not man centered; but Christ centered.

Joshua Walker said...

I've actually come under the conviction that, while it boasts the opposite, Calvinism is indeed a man-centered system of soteriology. Most Reformed Calvinists support the idea that the Gospel is equal to TULIP. If this is true then the essence of the Gospel is how sinful WE are, how God selected only some of US, how Christ died only for US, how God irresistibly draws US, and how WE will eventually persevere in faith. Although the proponents of the system boast that all the focus is on God, it seems that all the focus is on just how privileged we indeed are to be the elect. The Gospel is not some age-old system of how humans can get saved. It's all about the Jewish Messiah who is now Lord of the entire universe dying and rising to fulfill God's covenant promises so that he could renew the whole creation, not just pluck his chosen few from hell. Calvinism entirely misses the point of the Gospel and God's covenant. I don't mean to be harsh, but this is the conclusion I've come to after long contemplation of the issues at hand.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear brother Camp:

How can you place regeneration and the new birth BEFORE faith and yet put justification, pardon of sins, and union with Christ, AFTER faith?

God bless,

Stephen

SJ Camp said...

joshua walker
Thanks for posting here at COT and welcome. Always good to have some Liberty students participate here. I really like your school and I have family that is on the faculty there as well. I considered Dr. Falwell a friend in ministry even though we disagreed on the Calvinism issue. I was privileged to sing at his church with other artists presenting the "David" project; and he even let me preach the closing Word on Sunday evening. It was an honor.

You said, "Calvinism entirely misses the point of the Gospel and God's covenant. I don't mean to be harsh, but this is the conclusion I've come to after long contemplation of the issues at hand."

The point of the gospel is the glory of God and exaltation of Christ through the redemption of His elect chosen from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-14). It is the working of grace given to the lost that was decided between the Father and the Son in "times past eternal" (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:1-2).

The emphasis is not on US... It is all about Him - "to the praise of the riches of the glory of His grace." Amen?

I agree with Spurgeon on this and more importantly the clear teaching of God's Word. May I encourage you to forget the label of Calvinism for a moment and just look at the truth of God's Word.

Here is a key question for you: did the sinless life and ministry of our Lord Jesus, His propitiatory work on the cross, and His bodily resurrection from the dead just simply provide an atmosphere for salvation, or did He really redeem us there?

Thank you for your thoughts and I will be awaiting your response.

Steve

SJ Camp said...

stephen garrett
Good to have you aboard my brother and thank you for your question.

Regeneration precedes faith and justification is by faith BECAUSE that is what Scripture clearly teaches (Titus 3:4-7; John 3:1-20; Roms. 5:1; 1 Cor. 15:1-11, Roms. 10:-17, etc.). Because of both I have the forgiveness and complete pardon of sins and therefore union with Christ Jesus my Lord in which He is not ashamed to call me His brethren (Heb. 2:11).

I appreciate you.
Campi

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Steve:

I have been "on board" (so far as reading and visiting your site) for a few months now.

You said:

"Regeneration precedes faith and justification is by faith BECAUSE that is what Scripture clearly teaches (Titus 3:4-7; John 3:1-20; Roms. 5:1; 1 Cor. 15:1-11, Roms. 10:-17, etc.)."

Please excuse me, but which of these passages teach that one is saved, born again, or regenerated, before he believes and repents?

God bless,

Stephen

SJ Camp said...

stephen...
I have been "on board" (so far as reading and visiting your site) for a few months now.

I know you have brother; I meant on this issue - good to have you weigh in. :-).

It is Titus 3:4-7.

(from a previous entry)
When people ask me what is the heart of the doctrines of grace, I usually respond by saying one central essential thing: "salvation is of the Lord" (cp, Psalm 37:39; Jonah 2:9). That is the glory of our new life in Christ... it is all of Him; He saved us and not we ourselves. (Titus 3:5). It is all of grace (Eph. 2:8-9) for apart from we can't do anything (John 15:5); and before we are saved by His grace through faith in Christ alone, we were dead in trespasses and sin, by nature children of wrath, sons of disobedience, slaves to our own lusts, passions and desires (Eph. 2:1-3; Titus 3:3, Rom. 3:10-18).

The fallen sinner has no ability or inclination to believe prior to the new birth.

The Gospel is not merely an invitation but a command (1 John 3:23)

Christ died for all our sins including unbelief

Fallen Man has a mind at enmity with God; loves darkness, hates the light and does not have the Holy Spirit. "There is no one who seeks God" (Rom 3:11); Sinner would never turn to God without divine enablement and new affections.

Spiritually dead sinner needs new nature (mind, heart, will), regeneration.

Natural man is spiritually impotent and morally culpable for both original sin and actual sins committed. Our inability is not like a physical handicap or a drowning man for which we would not be culpable but, rather, it is like a man who cannot repay a squandered financial debt. Inability to repay, therefore, does not relieve us of the moral responsibility to do so.

Needs salvation to remove the offense we've made against a holy God and from the power and bondage of sin.

The natural man can contribute nothing towards his salvation. Faith is a response rendered certain following the efficacious work of the Holy Spirit.

We respond to God's unconditional decision. (Acts 13:48)

No Fallen man will create a right thought, generate a right affection, or originate a right volition that will lead to his salvation. We would never believe unless the Holy Spirit came in and disarmed our hostility to God. Therefore salvation is dependent on God's good pleasure alone (Eph 1:4, 5, 11), not something He sees in us.

Man's nature determines his desires/affections and give rise to the choices he makes. "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit." Luke 6:43 Only Christ can "make a tree good and its fruit will be good."
(Also see John 8:34, 42-44; 2 Pet. 2:19).
_______________

God has the key in his hand. God's eternal counsel determines to whom the benefits of the atonement apply.

If God exercised His justice then none of us would stand since each of us has rebelled against an infinitely holy God. He owes us nothing and is under no obligation to save any person. Regeneration is, therefore, an act of pure, undeserved mercy because the justice we deserved, He poured out on His Son (thereby turning His wrath away from us).

After God makes one's heart of stone into a heart of flesh, no person wants to resist. By definition our desires, inclinations and affections have changed so we willingly and joyfully turn in faith toward Christ.

Apart from grace, there is no fallen sinner (unregenerate) who fits that description. A desire for God is not part of the old nature.

It is grace itself which makes us pray to God (Rom 10:20; Isa. 65:1)

To desire and seek God prior to the new birth is an impossible supposition. (Rom. 3:11; 1 Cor 2:14) It is the infusion and quickening of the Holy Spirit within us that we even have the faith or the strength to will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock and believe in the finished work of Christ.

The Command toward sinners to repent and believe does not imply ability. Divine intent is to reveal our moral impotence apart from grace (Rom 3:20, 5:20, Gal 3:19,24). The Law was not designed to confer any power but to strip us of our own.

God only helps those who cannot help themselves. (John 9:41)

Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling.

Repentance is a gift of God. (2 Tim 2:25)

Campi

The Blainemonster said...

In response and in addition to the above discussion, Revelation 13:8 clearly proclaims the incredible truth that Christ, the Lamb, was slain from the creation of the world. Additionally, Revelation 17:8 demonstrates that the Book of Life was authored before time began (pretty cool). IOW, the work of redemption is from eternity, the elect have always been so, and salvation is totally in God's hands.

SJ Camp said...

Blaine...
Wonderfully said.

Here are two more verses as well that support truth:

Titus 1:1-2
1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

2 Timothy 1:9
9 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,

SDG,
Steve

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Steve:

I still did not see that verse that said men were born again before faith. You gave some illogical reasoning from the doctrine of total depravity to try to prove it, but where did you do so?

You misconstrue those verses on total depravity when you think that they imply that one must be first born again, apart from faith, before he can believe, seek God, repent, etc.

Can't you find a verse that says plainly what you teach on this point?

Yes, God does give or create a new heart in regeneration, but you have this new heart still in unbelief and impenitent!

Also, you have a man who is regenerated and yet in unbelief and impenitence! Where is the scripture for such a view of the new birth?

Also, since you put regeneration before faith, and salvation after faith, you have a man then who is regenerated but not saved! The same is true for forgivemess and justification. You have a man who is regenerated but who is still condemned, under wrath, and unforgiven. I find all this a bunch of nonsense and the fundamental view of the Hardshells, from whom I was able to be delivered.

I disagree that there is no seeking of God before regeneration. Where is the verse that says that? Romans 3 does not say that men only seek God after regeneration, but only that men cannot do this of themselves.

All the grace given to the elect does not come before regeneration, but some grace goes before, in preparations, as Spurgeon and the other great Baptists taught.

Recall the bones moving in the valley of dry bones. Were they alive while they were moving and before breath came upon them?

I may have more to add later, but time is pressing and this is all I have time for now.

Let me thank you for the kind way you have welcomed me to your site. This is better than some other Calvinist sites.

God bless,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Oops! That should be rather

"All the grace given to the elect does not come after regeneration, but some grace goes before, in preparations, as Spurgeon and the other great Baptists taught."

Also, does God not use the word of God in creating this new heart?

God bless,

Stephen

Timothy said...

Steve,
You wrote: The more we minister to others the more we know the efficacy of the gospel is not depended upon us. It is all of Him and His grace alone.

What a wonderful privilege to be about proclaiming His gospel and Word, and then being a spectacle of His grace as He sovereignly works in the hearts and lives of others.


I couldn't agree more. The more opportunity to share the gospel, and preach it, the doors He opens. It's a joy to be used by Him, for His glory. Especially knowing the grace that had to be given for us to be used.
Blessings

SJ Camp said...

stephen g
Good to have you engaged here. This is good.

A few thoughts for you to possibly consider:

1. Man is dead in trespass and sin (Eph. 2:1)

2. He is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3)

3. No one seeks after God; no one does good (Roms. 3:10-18)

4. We are conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5)

5. Faith is not something that is produced internally by man as he responds to the truth claims of Jesus as an act of his own free volition (Eph. 2:1-9)

6. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:10-17).

7. Corpses cannot confess or believe anything unless first brought to life (Titus 3:4-7); and no one may come to Him unless the Father first draws him (John 6:35-44).

8. Regeneration must precede faith (John 3:1-18)

9. Faith is a gift of God; so is the grace by which we are saved (Eph. 2:8-9).

10. Man does not cooperate in salvation at all; it is a sovereign act of a holy God done to us (2 Tim. 1:9)

11. It was promised for us in eternity past (Eph. 1:4-14) and secured in time (Heb. 2:9-18).

12. When we repent of sin, believe in our hearts and confess Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives - it is the instant fruit and byproduct of being regenerated in Christ by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-7; Roms. 10:9-10). For even repentance is the gift and kindness of the Lord to us.

13. IOW, salvation is all of grace; man cannot boast in anything except Christ Jesus our Lord. We do nothing to solicit our salvation. The gospel itself IS the power of God unto salvation (Roms. 1:16-17).

14. No man may confess Christ as Lord without the Spirit of God in him (1 Cor. 12:3)

15. This is a great salvation indeed (Heb. 2:1-4).

16. "I believe, I believe, cause He made me believe.' (Roms. 9:9-22). Amen?

He gave me His love when I deserved His enmity; He gave me His mercy when I only deserved His justice; and He gave me grace when I all I deserved was His wrath. I was dead and He made me alive.

He saved me!

Now, my only question for you dear brother, is why do you want to rob God of any of His glory by thinking your feeble depraved mind and heart is capable of choosing Him and cooperating in His sovereign act of grace to you? Is your faith in your faith? Or is your faith solely the byproduct of His working within you and granting you faith and repentance?

You seem to be hung up on a time frame rather than a truth frame.

"Me thinks your view of God is too small..." (Luther).

As always, I appreciate you and your comments here. You are welcome anytime. I await your thoughts and thank you in advance for sharing them.

Salvation is of the Lord,
Steve
Col. 1:9-14

Mike Riccardi said...

It's been obvious for months that what Stephen Garrett is hung up on is that when we say that regeneration precedes faith, we say so about a logical order, and not a temporal order. So that none of us is saying that we have regenerated unbelievers. Temporally, these are simultaneous. Logically, regeneration precedes faith.

Check out the links from this page if there are any other questions.

Also find these words from Spurgeon:

And, my brethren, it is quite certain that no man ever begins the new birth himself. The work of salvation was never started by any man. God the Holy Spirit must begin it. Now, the reasons why no man ever started the work of grace in his own heart, are very plain and palpable: firstly, because he cannot; and secondly, because he will not.

The best reason of all is because he cannot--he is dead. Well, the dead may be made alive, but the dead cannot make themselves alive, for the dead can do nothing. Besides, the new thing to be created has no being. The uncreated cannot create. "No," but you say, "that man can create." Yes, but can hell create heaven? Then sin may create grace. What! Will you tell me that fallen human nature that has come almost to a level with the beasts, is competent to rival God; that it can emulate the divinity in working as great a miracle, and in imparting as divine a life as even God himself can give? It cannot. Besides, it is a creation; we are created new in Christ Jesus. Let any man create a fly, and afterwards let him create a new heart in himself; until he has done the lesser he cannot do the greater.
(Source)

And RC Sproul:

The reason we do not cooperate with regenerating grace before it acts upon us and in us is because we can- not. We cannot because we are spiritually dead. We can no more assist the Holy Spirit in the quickening of our souls to spiritual life than Lazarus could help Jesus raise him for the dead.

When I began to wrestle with the Professor's argument, I was surprised to learn that his strange-sounding teaching was not novel. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield - even the great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas taught this doctrine.

...

These giants of Christian history derived their view from Holy Scripture. The key phrase in Paul's Letter to the Ephesians is this: "...even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved)" (Eph. 2:5). Here Paul locates the time when regeneration occurs. It takes place 'when we were dead.' With one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation all attempts to give the initiative in regeneration to man are smashed. Again, dead men do not cooperate with grace. Unless regeneration takes place first, there is no possibility of faith.


I appreciate the lengths you're going to, Steve (sjcamp), but this just seems to be SG's ax to grind. God speed you should you choose continue.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Mike:

Your prejudicial accusations against me speak for themselves.

It is okay for you to go around telling folks that regeneration precedes faith and we are just supposed to sit by and say nothing?

Mike, there is more "noise" on this issue coming from you and the "reformed camp" than from those of us fighting that noise.

When you can prove your accusations, you will get a hearing.

How did you arrive at the conclusions you reached about me? If the Spirit does not convict you of your ill behavior and gross accusations, then I am sure nothing I say will do it.

Your talk about logical versus temporal order is a bunch of nonsense, as many others have pointed out.

Of course, if you would like to debate it publicly, I am open to it.

God bless,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Oh, by the way, Mike, you gave Steve Camp a way out of not engaging me, didn't you? You want him to follow your example, right?

He did not treat me as you have. We will see if he changes.

I guess you know that "ignore" is the root of ignorance?

I think you guys would love to ignore me and Bob Ross, hey?

In Christ,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

One other thing, Mike.

Why don't you first try to answer some of the difficulties your pre-faith view of regeneration contains, and which I have pointed out in my responses to brother Camp and in my baptistgadfly blog.

I don't blame you for ignoring such refutations of the pre-faith view of the new birth.

Stephen

SJ Camp said...

Mike R
Thank you my brother for some very good points made here. The Sproul quote especially was spot on.

Keep on,
Steve


Stephen G
Thank you also for not abandoning ship on this important discussion. It is obvious that you and Mike have some history on this issue. But that's cool. I am glad you are both here and reasoning together from the Word of God.


Regeneration preceding faith I believe not only goes to sovereignty and election in salvation, but to the greater issue of the nature of man. Sproul told me years ago that the hardest letter in the TULIP to deal with was the L, but the T. Total depravity (or as I prefer, total inability) is THE issue on this. When we get that correct, this issue falls in place.

Do we really believe that man is capable of deciding - making a decision that determines his eternal destiny - that of his own free will and volition responds to the evidence once presented to him. IOW, God is a bystander and by the cross has created an atmosphere and opportunity for salvation, but actually redeemed no one on the cross and now waits for man to decide as a waiting suitor for his bride to give an answer to the proposal for marriage.

OR, do we see man as being acted upon by a holy God; who has prepared some vessels as vessels of mercy before the foundation of the world; yet in time, Jesus Christ as our divine substitute on the cross, not became our propitiation, but actually redeemed His elect there. So that by the sovereign drawing and electing love of God the Father, and the regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit, we are by regeneration and upon the hearing of the gospel, granted saving faith and the grace to repent of our sin and confess Jesus Christ as Lord unto salvation where by we are justified and given by imputation the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Stephen, you are welcome here and it is a joy to engage you. Mike you too; I welcome any corrections or encouragements on this issue.

Lastly, contrary to popular opinion, this great doctrine doesn't minimize my burden for evangelism, but it increases my boldness and joy in proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Paul would say, "by the terror of the Lord we persuade men." AND, "I do all things for the sake of the elect."

What a joy to herald His gospel; calling all men everywhere to repentance; to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. And then, to be a spectator of God's grace and see how He produces the greatest miracle - the new birth.

Amen? That is our joy, humble privilege, and great hope.

SDG,
Steve

joan said...

My husband and I were in a church that had foot washing as one of the sacraments.Women were never to wear pants anywhere,because it was an abombination.Women were not to wear short hair or makeup for the same reason.Every time someone faltered in any area they were to apologize and be rebaptized.Thank God we came out of that "works salvation"church.There was such bondage,and people were told to never question their doctrines.Christians,never stop preaching justification by faith alone.

Stephen Garrett said...

Brother Camp:

You said - “The fallen sinner has no ability or inclination to believe prior to the new birth.”

Brother, I have believed in total depravity nearly all my Christian life and have defended it in public debate many times. You seem to think that if one believes that faith precedes regeneration then he cannot believe in total depravity. Where did you get that idea? Most of the great Calvinists who preached total depravity also taught that faith was God’s creation and means of bringing about the new birth.

You then later wrote - “Do we really believe that man is capable of deciding - making a decision that determines his eternal destiny - that of his own free will and volition responds to the evidence once presented to him.”

Steve, here is your problem. You seem to think that God cannot make faith a condition or prerequisite to the new birth because man has no ability. Here you argue from the Pelagian premise, a premise you later deny, that a “command implies ability.” You later wrote - “The Command toward sinners to repent and believe does not imply ability.” You seem “wishy-washy” on this point.

Man’s ability has nothing to do with it. God does not address men according to their abilities. Recall Ezekiel preaching to the dry dead bones. His preaching to them did not imply any ability in themselves, did it? God calls upon dead sinners to choose Christ and be regenerated (saved) and this does not imply any ability. Surely you see this, so why make arguments like this?

You also said - “Sinner would never turn to God without divine enablement and new affections.” Again, what Calvinist who puts faith before regeneration, men like Spurgeon, Pendleton, Broaddus, etc., denied total inability?

You think that I am in error on regeneration through the gospel, or through faith in the gospel, because I do not understand “total depravity” or “total inability,” but I think it is you who misunderstand the topic, and have imbibed Pelagian notions.

You also wrote - "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit." Luke 6:43 Only Christ can "make a tree good and its fruit will be good."

Brother, when I was with the Hardshells, I heard these kinds of arguments all the time. Who denies that only Christ can make a tree good? The question is simply this - “does he use the gospel to effect that change?” And, did not Jesus say to some bad trees - “make the tree good”? And, to “make clean the inside as well as the outside”? By your interpretation Christ is doing what you condemn, commanding these sinners to make their hearts right with God. And really, Jesus is simply repeating what God had said in many places in the Old Testament, where he tells totally depraved sinners, those “dead” in sins, to “make you a new heart” and to “circumcise your hearts to the Lord,” does he not?

You also wrote - “Christ died for all our sins including unbelief.” What are you saying by this? That one of the elect can be an unbeliever and still be saved?

You wrote - “Repentance is a gift of God. (2 Tim 2:25)” Who denies this? But what you deny is what the bible says about “repentance is UNTO life.” Your view would make the verse say - “repentance FROM life.”

You then said:

“A few thoughts for you to possibly consider:

1. Man is dead in trespass and sin (Eph. 2:1)

2. He is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3)

3. No one seeks after God; no one does good (Roms. 3:10-18)

4. We are conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5)

5. Faith is not something that can be produced internally within man”

Now, brother Steve, a man can believe all this and still believe that seeking and faith precede regeneration.

You continue:

“6. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:10-17).

7. Corpses cannot confess anything unless first brought to life (Titus 3:4-7); and no one may come to Him unless the Father first draws him (John 6:35-44).”

Here is where you contradict yourself. You argue from the Pelagian premise, a premise you deny. Don’t you see your contradiction here? If you reject the Pelagian idea that a command implies ability, then why do you always come back with the argument that these commands to believe and repent imply ability?

Also, we are said to be “begotten through the gospel” (I Cor. 4: 15). Is this not begotten through faith in the gospel?

Corpses also cannot rise up out of the grave but they are still commanded to “rise from the dead,” are they not?

Your error on “coming to Christ” is evident here. Notice that you make “coming to Christ” to not be regeneration or the new birth! That is unbelievable. You say the “drawing” is regeneration, but the coming is not! Notice that your view says a man can be “drawn” but who has not yet come to Christ.
You continue:

“8. Regeneration must precede faith (John 3:1-18)”

Which verse says that “regeneration must precede faith”? The passage you cite show that Christ equated being “born again” with coming to faith! Jesus put the “salvation” (new birth) after faith in these verses, does he not? Does he say that men must be first saved in order to believe or does he say that men believe in order to be saved?

You next say:

“9. Faith is a gift of God; so is the grace by which we are saved (Eph. 2:8-9).”

But, I agree with this and have preached it all my life, as did Spurgeon, and yet he and I both have taught that this faith that God gives is the means for bringing about the wonderful transformation we call regeneration or the new birth. Does not Paul say that we are saved by grace THROUGH FAITH? We are saved (regenerated) by the gospel, by faith in it. So, this passage does not help you in your salvation before faith view.

You then say:

“10. Man does not cooperate in salvation at all; it is a sovereign act of a holy God done to us (2 Tim. 1:9)”

What do you mean by “cooperate”? Did Lazarus “cooperate” when he came out of the grave? When did he become alive? Was it simply when Christ spoke the words, or was it when the words took affect in Lazarus? Do you deny that there is obedience to any divine command in regeneration? It seems not. So, lets just substitute the word obedience for the word cooperation and see if you and I can agree. If we do, your above statement would read as follows:
“Man does not obey God’s command in salvation at all.”

Also, you seem, by your definition of things, that “regeneration” is strictly something God does and experiences, and does not include anything the sinner experiences or does. Who was it that did the coming out of the grave, Lazarus or Christ?

You next say:

“11. It was promised for us in eternity past (Eph. 1:4-14) and secured in time (Heb. 2:9-18).”

Who denies this? Certainly not I. And, the belief that faith is sovereignly given to the elect, through gospel preaching, and that this faith initiates the new birth, does not deny it.

You say next:

“12. When we repent of sin, believe in our hearts and confess Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives - it is the instant fruit and byproduct of being regenerated in Christ by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-7; Roms. 10:9-10).”

Well, you may believe this, but many of your “Reformed” buddies do not always affirm this. Many of them, when pressed on the matter, will tell you that many infants are regenerated, and is not an “instant” fruit. Do you believe in infant regeneration as Wayne Grudem?

That is all you see faith to be, a mere “byproduct” of regeneration? Here is your great error! You fail to see how faith is an essential part of the new heart and life of the reborn sinner.

You say next:

“13. IOW, salvation is all of grace; man cannot boast in anything except Christ Jesus our Lord. We do nothing to solicit our salvation. The gospel itself IS the power of God unto salvation (Roms. 1:16-17).”

Here again, I must ask, how what I believe about faith and its relation to regeneration, contradicts the idea that salvation is of grace and all by the power of the Lord?

But, notice how you contradict yourself. You say the gospel is the power of God UNTO salvation. Do you believe this salvation is regeneration? Apparently not. Do you believe that the gospel is the power of God to salvation to anyone but to those who believe it? This passage teaches against your view that says men must first be saved before they can believe the gospel.

You continue:

“14. No man may confess Christ as Lord without the Spirit of God in him (1 Cor. 12:3)

15. This is a great salvation indeed (Heb. 2:1-4).

16. "I believe, I believe, cause He made me believe.' (Roms. 9:9-22). Amen?”

Yes, amen! Who denies this among Calvinists who believe we believe the gospel in order to be regenerated?

He gave me His love when I deserved His enmity; He gave me His mercy when I only deserved His justice; and He gave me grace when I all I deserved was His wrath. I was dead and He made me alive.

He saved me!”

Are you not fighting a “straw man” here, my brother?

You next write:

“Now, my only question for you dear brother, is why do you want to rob God of any of His glory by thinking your feeble depraved mind and heart is capable of choosing Him and cooperating in His sovereign act of grace to you? Is your faith in your faith? Or is your faith solely the byproduct of His working within you and granting you faith and repentance?”

Steve, this is all misrepresentation, is it not? This is your building of a “straw man.” Here you argue Pelagian principles! The very thing you earlier denied! You said a “command does not imply ability” and now you are arguing the same point in order to destroy what I have said! How am I robbing God? It seems to me that it is your view of things that does this. If teaching that men are begotten through believing the gospel robs God of his glory, then Paul was guilty of it.

You then said:

“You seem to be hung up on a time frame rather than a truth frame.”

No, ironically, you are the one hung up on the “time frame”! Lol You all insist that regeneration must occur before faith! This is laughable, Steve.

You then wrote:

"Me thinks your view of God is too small..." (Luther).”

Well, that was certainly “hitting below the belt,” hey? Brother, if you would read my Calvinistic writings, I think you would retract that statement. I could also come back and say that your God is too small who cannot give faith to a sinner that brings about regeneration.

You then said:

“As always, I appreciate you and your comments here. You are welcome anytime. I await your thoughts and thank you in advance for sharing them.”

Well, you have them. But, may I ask you to go back and respond to some of the things I have written in my comments, questions and arguments you ignored?

You next say:
“Stephen, you are welcome here and it is a joy to engage you.
Lastly, contrary to popular opinion, this great doctrine doesn't minimize my burden for evangelism, but it increases my boldness and joy in proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ”

I appreciate that very much. You have welcomed me much better than some, like some at “Teampyro,” and men like Mike. No, I do not remember engaging Mike specifically. He must have read some of the exchanges I have had with others on this topic on other web pages.

God bless, as always,

Stephen

Mike Riccardi said...

Steve, see what I mean?

Stephen, you get up in arms pretty quick, huh? Just admit it dude. This is your ax to grind, and you're willing to pick a fight with whoever will give you the time of day. You make statements like, "Many Calvinists held to the belief I hold," and document nothing. You also persist blindly in affirming that Spurgeon thought faith preceded regeneration, when the quote I produced in this very thread documents otherwise. You spout off about "Hardshellism" and Hyper-Calvinism that have definitions that only you define.

How did you arrive at the conclusions you reached about me?

...

No, I do not remember engaging Mike specifically. He must have read some of the exchanges I have had with others on this topic on other web pages.

Don't flatter yourself. See this entire thread for how I arrived at my conclusions.

As soon as someone takes you to task, you hide behind the scores and scores of rants at your blog and say, "Read those." What I mean is, Frank Turk says the following:

Stephen Garrett:

If I can point you to resources in which Spurgeon talks about the ordo salutis, and he says something different than you have said here, will you admit you are wrong?

All other readers:

Dan and I are in agreement that Stephen Garrett is simply trying to grind an axe here, and I'd appreciate it that, until I'm done 'splainin' to him his mistake, if you would withdraw or simply take a breather that would help immensely.


Your response: I left the proof you asked for in my baptistgadfly blog if you are interested.

And then there's some whining about how we didn't treat you nicely.

Frank comes back:

Stephen -- So you wandered over here with the thought that nobody was going to object to your, um, interpretation of what SPurgeon was saying here? In spite of your previous interactions with Dan here at TeamPyro?

Yeah, that is very convincing.

If I can point you to resources in which Spurgeon talks about the ordo salutis, and he says something different than you have said here, will you admit you are wrong?


Your response:





{crickets}




So that's the context for my response to you.

It's funny that you call the logical-temporal distinction nonsense. Do you not agree with Revelation 13:8 (cited by the blainemonster), that the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world? If that's true, how can we talk about temporal order when something happened outside of time?

The same is true with the supra- and infralapsarian distinction. See Phil's excellent breakdown of this for more.

So, like I said on that other thread: I don't think there are periods of time where one is regenerated before coming to faith. But logically, one is given eyes to see, and then one sees. He does not see, and by virtue of his seeing gain his sight. But temporally, as soon as one is given his sight, he sees. There's no lapse of time in between. But logically, he gets his sight first.

Continuing, one is made alive, and then responds. He does not respond, and then by virtue of his response gain his ability to respond. One is born, and then believes. He does not believe, and gain his ability to be born.

Anyway, you ignored (what's that? the root of ignorance?) that then. Will you ignore it again?

If you actually want to engage on this point, answer me three questions.

1. Does Ephesians 2 (in accordance with the rest of Scripture) teach that man is totally dead in his trespasses and sins? Yes or no.

2. Can dead men do anything before they're made alive? Can they even decide they don't like being dead, and that being alive seems like a good alternative? Yes or no.

3. Who can make men alive? Is it (a) God alone, or is it (b) God + man's cooperation? A or B.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Mike:

You have the facts wrong about the exchange at Teampyro. I invite any to go back and read how it began and ended.

I was basically told not to come back. That is why there was no more engagement. I don't engage those who have the kind of attitude that you and Frank Turk have displayed.

Bob Ross has posted many writings where Spurgeon did not teach that one was born again before faith.

Mike, you are way to unkind and confrontational for my taste. You cannot keep the discussion from degenerating.

God bless,

Stephen

Mike Riccardi said...

Heh... no answers.

Here's Spurgeon three times from two sermons:

There never was a grain of such faith as this in the world, except in a regenerate soul, and there never will be while the world standeth. [...]

Faith in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ is always the result of the new birth, and can never exist except in the regenerate. (Source)

And--

Let me tell you, moreover, that this change is a supernatural one. It is not one that a man performs upon himself. It is not leaving off drinking and becoming sober; it is not turning from a Roman Catholic to a Protestant; it is not veering round from a Dissenter to a Churchman, or a Churchman to a Dissenter. It is a vast deal more than that. It is a new principle infused which works in the heart, enters the very soul, and moves the entire man. Not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. It is a supernatural change—something which man cannot do, and which only God can effect; which the Bible itself cannot accomplish without the attendant Spirit of God; which no minister's eloquence can bring about—something so mighty and wondrous, that it must be confessed to be the work of God, and God alone. (Source)

Stephen Garrett said...

Mike, just in case you forgot, here are some of the citations I gave from Spurgeon, remember?

Spurgeon:

"An equally remarkable thing is that the gospel calls upon men to do what they cannot do, for Jesus Christ said to this paralyzed man, “I say unto thee, Arise, take up thy bed and walk.” He could not rise, could not take up his bed, and could not walk, and yet he was bidden to do it. And it is one of the strange things of the way of salvation that --“The gospel bids the dead revive; Sinners obey the voice and live. Dry bones are raised and clothed afresh, And hearts of stone are turned to flesh.”

Listen to him as he makes solemn proclamation. “Thus saith the Lord, Ye dry bones live!” “Ridiculous, Ezekiel! they cannot live, why speak to them?” He knows they cannot live of themselves, but he also knows that his Master bids him tell them to live, and he does what his Master bids him. So, in the gospel, the minister is to bid men believe, and he is to say, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” For this reason alone do we say, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The gospel bids you believe, albeit that you are dead in trespasses and sins. “I cannot understand it,” says somebody. No, and you never will till God reveals it to you; but, when the Lord comes and dwells with you, you will perfectly understand, and see how the exercise of faith on the part of the preacher of the gospel is a part of the divine operation by which dead souls are raised...The man, though he cannot take up his bed and walk, yet believes that he who told him to do it will give him power to do it, and he does take up his bed and walk: there is the whole of it in a nutshell. He believes, and acts on that belief; and he is restored. And that is the whole plan of salvation. You believe the gospel, and act upon the truth of it, and you are saved—saved the moment you accept the witness of God concerning his Son Jesus Christ.

[Excerpts from Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 21, Year 1875, Sermon #1269, pages 703-706]

"If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate."

(Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Warrant of Faith, #531, page 532)

"You are to look to Jesus Christ upon the cross just as the poor serpent-bitten Israelites looked to the brazen serpent and lived. Your prayings will not do you a farthing’s worth of good if you refuse to trust Jesus Christ...It is depending upon the Lord Jesus Christ alone which is the true vital act by which the soul is quickened into spiritual life."

(MTP, Volume 12, Year 1866, page 163).

"But while I remark upon these things, let me also say that to obey the precept “Believe and live” is certainly a great deal more effectual to the soul’s salvation than all the sacrifice and all the fat of rams which you can offer...I would not give a penny for a wagon-load of them. The whole of them are just what Paul calls them --”refuse.” He says, “I count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him.” All your best works are but so much rubbish to be carted out of the way, and if you trust in them they will be your ruin, and all we say to you is, “BELIEVE AND LIVE.”

“Believe and live,” oh! that is too simple! What! just trust Christ and be saved on the spot? Why, it cannot be, you think. If we bade you do some great thing you would do it, but you refuse to do so simple a thing as to believe.

(MTP, Volume 12, Year 1866, pages 224, 225, 226).

By "Repentance unto life," I think we are to understand that repentance which is accompanied by spiritual life in the soul, and ensures eternal life to every one who possesses it. "Repentance unto life," I say, brings with it spiritual life, or rather, is the first consequent thereof. There are repentances which are not signs of life, except of natural life, because they are only effected by the power of the conscience and the voice of nature speaking in men; but the repentance here spoken of is produced by the Author of life, and when it comes, it begets such life in the soul, that he who was "dead in trespasses and sins," is quickened together with Christ; he who had no spiritual susceptibilities, now "receives with meekness the engrafted word;" he who slumbered in the very center of corruption, receives power to become one of the sons of God, and to be near his throne. This I think is "repentance unto life,"—that which gives life unto a dead spirit."

"Repentance unto life "is the act of salvation of the soul, the germ which contains all the essentials of salvation, which secures them to us, and prepares us for them."

"Then beloved, if you would have "repentance," this is my best advice to you—look to Jesus. And may the blessed Giver of all "repentance unto salvation" guard you from the false repentances which I have described, and give you that "repentance," which existeth unto life."

Repentance Unto Life - A Sermon (No. 44)

http://baptistgadfly.blogspot.com/2008/05/not-welcomed-at-pyromaniacs.html

In Christ,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Oh, I also forgot this good citation from Spurgeon.

"This new birth, this regeneration, is a great puzzle to many poor sinners. One asks, “How can I make myself a new creature in Christ?” Of course, you can do nothing of the kind. This is a miracle; it is as much a work of God to make us children of light as it was to make light at the first.

Only God can work this miracle; but mark you this, there never was a soul yet that truly believed in Christ, but at the same time it underwent the change called the new birth or regeneration.

Christians have often been asked about which is first, faith or regeneration, belief in Christ or being born again.

I will tell you when you will answer me this question, -- When a wheel moves, which spoke moves first?

“Oh, they all start together!“ say you.

So these other things all start together, whether it be the hub of the wheel, which is regeneration, or the spokes of the wheel, which are faith, and repentance, and hope, and love, and so on; when the wheel moves, it all moves at once.

If thou believest in Jesus Christ and him crucified, in the moment that thou believest, this great change of nature is effected in thee; for faith has in itself a singularly transforming power. It is a fact in everyday experience that, when a man comes to believe in his master, he becomes at once a better servant. A person whom I disliked, because I suspected him, becomes at once pleasing to me as soon as I trust him. So, faith towards God in itself produces a total change of mind in the man who has it.

But, beside that, there goes WITH FAITH a divine energy which changes the heart of man."


(Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 41, page 235, Despised Light Withdrawn).

Stephen Garrett said...

How about one more good citation from Spurgeon? Can you handle it and say amen?

"The act of TRUSTING Jesus Christ is the act which brings a soul into a state of Grace and is the mark and evidence of our being bought with the blood of the Lord Jesus. . . . See, then, the FOLLY of persons talking about being regenerated who have no faith! It cannot be! It is IMPOSSIBLE! . . . WITHOUT FAITH THERE CAN BE NO REGENERATION.

(Open Heart for A Great Saviour, C. H. SPURGEON, Sermon #669, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 12, 1866)

Mike Riccardi said...

1. Exactly. That only proves my point. How can the dead be revived? By reviving themselves? No. They must be given a nature to obey a command. They must be made alive.

2. Again, exactly. They can't live. Why would you tell them to live? Because, regeneration comes by the preaching of the gospel (1Pet 1:23-25). So you preach the gospel to all, and call all to believe. If God chooses at that time, He regenerates one of His elect by the preaching of His word. Then that person believes, gets up, and is restored.

3. Again, making my point. We don't preach to the regenerated. There are no people who are regenerated and who aren't saved. There's no temporal distinction, only a logical one. Spurgeon is just making the point I've made twice already on this thread and at least once on another thread with you: There's no time in between regeneration and salvation. Yet one logically precedes the other.

The rest of them confuse "life" with regeneration. The life he's talking about is the eternal life as opposed to death. I responded to this on the other thread. This is what I said:

SG: Do you deny that Spurgeon believed that it was scriptural to reverse the order and say to sinners "repent and live"?

MR: This is almost a technicality. I'm much more comfortable with "Repent and be saved." The only time "Repent and live" is used in the Bible it's in Ezekiel 18, in which "live" is used parallel to "be saved," as it's contrasted with the eternal death of the wicked. It's like saying, repent and don't die eternally.


Think about it with the seeing metaphor. "Repent and live," is like saying, "See, and read this book." Seeing and being able to read are the same thing. But you can't read unless you're able to see. You've got to see before you can read. You don't prove that you can read (while blind) and then get your ability to see.

Oh, and by the way, since I must have read that other thread wrong -- the one I was participating in! -- there's also this thread that helped me draw my conclusions.

Steve, any comments?

Mike Riccardi said...

That last post was for your first post of misunderstanding Spurgeon. I'll deal with the next two now.

Mike Riccardi said...

From the second post, all of these are supporting what I've already said: that these are temporally simultaneous. So Spurgeon speaks of these happening simultaneously related to time.

But, when he's not speaking according to time, when he's speaking according to a logical order, he calls faith the result of regeneration, and the the evidence, which I've documented here.

So... what do you say to that?

The act of TRUSTING Jesus Christ is the act which brings a soul into a state of Grace and is the mark and evidence of our being bought with the blood of the Lord Jesus. . . . See, then, the FOLLY of persons talking about being regenerated who have no faith! It cannot be! It is IMPOSSIBLE! . . . WITHOUT FAITH THERE CAN BE NO REGENERATION.

Again, this is exactly what I've said. There is no regenerated person who is not saved. The order we're talking about is logical, not temporal. You insist on reading the temporal as logical. As long as you confuse these, you'll remain confused. When you distinguish them, you'll step back into orthodoxy.

Mike Riccardi said...

I'm going to have to leave for at least awhile now. I'll check back later to see if any of the (only 3) questions I asked get answered. If not, I'll have to refuse interaction here further. If you want, Stephen, you can email me if you'd prefer talk about this privately. My address is in my profile.

But in your repeated appeals to Bob Ross, I'm beginning to understand from where you've imbibed your misconceptions. Semi-relatedly, for anyone interested, James White has some stuff about his interactions with Ross on his website, aomin.org. On there, one of the YouTubes has James White explaining the same things Steve and I have tried to explain to Stephen. The whole video is instructive about the kind of men we're talking about here and how they handle the word of God, but particularly relevant is White's explanation beginning at 12:36 in the video. He explains it and then shows how this is in identical accord with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. If one was so inclined, he could find the language in the LCBF on these matters almost identical to the language of the Westminster Confession. And so this is not "Hardshellism," "neo-Hardshellism," "HyperCalvinism," or any such thing other than historic orthodoxy. The relevant portion eventually tapers off at around 17:26, but as I said, the whole video might be illuminating.

Stephen Garrett said...

Mike:

For one, I have already answered your questions, for they were 1) the same questions that Steve C. put to me and which I responded to, and 2) Spurgeon answered well for me, did he not?

About the White video. You have to be kidding me! I think you should visit the "flyswatter" and get Bob's take on the video. I watched it! I have also a different take on it and plan to write about it as soon as I can get away from engaging you here!

Brother, I say this not unkindly, but you just do not know what Hardshellism is for you are mighty close to it. Believe me I know Hardshellism.

And, since you have read some of my recent posts, why don't your respond to the short write up on comparing I Cor. 4: 15 with I John 5: 1 and answer the question - "Are we begotten through believing the gospel"?

Yours in Christ,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Mike, you said:

“Stephen, you get up in arms pretty quick, huh? Just admit it dude. This is your ax to grind, and you're willing to pick a fight with whoever will give you the time of day.”

See what I mean? Is this the way to have a gentleman’s discussion? Throw out unjust characterizations? Accuse? Provoke? I don’t think I have “gotten up in arms” at all. If you recall, this conversation with Steve Camp began the same way my discussion began with Dan at Teampyro. Steve wrote an article on “Justification by faith.” He made the statement that regeneration was before faith and yet that forgiveness, justification, and salvation, were after faith. I simply asked him about this. How is that “getting up in arms”? Then, when Steve responded, how was my response to him a “getting up in arms”? Also, why did you not say the same about Steve? Was he not “getting up in arms”? What is your criteria for judging when one “gets up in arms”?

Also, calling me “dude” is also not a gentlemanly way to speak to a brother in Christ, is it? It is not the best way to begin a discussion, is it? Your youth and immaturity in Christ shows here.

My “ax to grind”? Have you not an ax to grind too? Have you not been “grinding” it fairly hard? I don’t think I am the one who has lowered the level of discussion here. I have sought to keep all discussions to the scriptures and facts, but you just want to make “ad hominem” attacks.

You next accuse me of “willing to pick a fight.” Why, because I asked Steve to explain himself and because we have discussed this? Why can’t you follow Steve’s example? Where did he make the kind of accusations that you have or have uttered such ad hominem statements?

Look at your tone in the words you spoke to me and about me. Are they not harsh? Bitter? Unforgiving and unkind? Uncharitable?

You next ask me these questions, the same kind Steve asked. But, since you want me to address them specifically, it will be easy.

1. Does Ephesians 2 (in accordance with the rest of Scripture) teach that man is totally dead in his trespasses and sins? Yes or no.

Yes.

2. Can dead men do anything before they're made alive? Can they even decide they don't like being dead, and that being alive seems like a good alternative? Yes or no.

Yes, he can. See Ezekiel’s bones move before they receive breath and life!

3. Who can make men alive? Is it (a) God alone, or is it (b) God + man's cooperation? A or B.


Only God can make men alive, but he uses gospel preachers. (Acts 26: 18) Peter raised the dead, did he not? Also, did not Ezekiel?

Regeneration is the result of a sinner obeying the command to live, to believe, and to repent.

God bless,

Stephen

SJ Camp said...

Stephen
Regeneration is the result of a sinner obeying the command to live, to believe, and to repent.

Then regeneration is dependent on man; biblical regeneration is a sovereign work of God upon spiritually dead men whereupon they will believe, repent, and obey the command to live.

I love Him because He first loved me!

Steve

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear brother Camp:

You cited these remarks of mine:

"Regeneration is the result of a sinner obeying the command to live, to believe, and to repent."

Then, you said in response:

"Then regeneration is dependent on man; biblical regeneration is a sovereign work of God upon spiritually dead men whereupon they will believe, repent, and obey the command to live.

I love Him because He first loved me!"


I am a little let down with you with this reply. I took you as better informed on Calvinism than this reply shows.

Is it your position then that there is no command from God to the dead sinner to live? There is no voice of the Son of God commanding the dead to rise? Does God not say to men, in the gospel, “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee ligh”? (Eph. 5: 14)

Did not Jesus become the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him? (Hebrews 5: 9)

Does God not command men to repent? And, is repentance not unto life?

Why does believing that sinners are saved by obeying the command to live, repent, and believe, contradict the sovereignty of God? Our Baptist forefathers saw no contradiction.

The reason why any dead sinner obeys the command to live, believe, and repent, is because the sovereign power of God attends the word in the case of the elect, which causes them to obey the command to live, repent, and be converted, etc.

Also, how does saying that the dead must obey the voice and command of God to come forth from the dead in order to be saved, and this occurs as a result of the sovereign power of God, exclude one from believing that God loved me first, and that this love caused me to obey his commands?

God bless,

Stephen

P.S. Am watching the Olympics while at the computer and thought I would respond right away..

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Steve:


1. Is “be ye reconciled to God” a command or not? If one obeys this command, is he reconciled as a result?

2. Is “repent ye and be converted” a command or not? If one obeys this command, is he converted as a result?

3. When God said to the polluted infant “Live,” was that a command? Was the result of obeying the divine command the receiving of life from the dead?

4. Was it a command when God said to sinners - “make you a new heart”? And when he said “circumcise your hearts to the Lord”? What was the result of obeying these imperatives?

5. Was it a command of God when he said to sinners “hear and your soul shall live”? What was the result of obeying these words?

6. Was it a command of God when he said to sinners “look unto me and be ye saved”? What was the result of obeying these words?

7. Was it a command of God when he said to dead sinners “awake, rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”? What would be the result of this obedience?

8. Was it a command of God when Jesus said to the paralytic man - “stretch forth thine hand”? What was the result of this obedience?

9. Was it a command of God when Jesus said to Lazarus “Come forth!”? What was the result of Lazarus’ obedience?


Obedience can be both passive and active. We are acted upon, as the elect, and drawn effectually, or irresistibly, but in being drawn, we move towards Christ, and we are not considered as “drawn” to God till we have reached God and Christ.

From your reply, you seem to think

1) There is no obedience of the dead to the command of Christ in the new birth, and

2) That “obedience” always implies free will, and the power of the creature apart from God and his power and grace?

Don’t you know that obedience is part of what it means to be “called”? A “called” person is someone who has head a call and obeyed it. Correct?

Yours in love for the truth,

Stephen

SJ Camp said...

Stephen
The command to repent of sin, be reconciled to God, to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to deny oneself, take up your cross and follow Him, etc. are commands that are unmistakably associated with the gospel call. No question.

That is not under debate here nor the issue of this thread.

BUT, what is important, is that unless God first acts upon the unbeliever - granting them saving faith and quickening their dead lives unto eternal life through regeneration by the Holy Spirit - salvation would not be possible.

cf, John 6:35-44; Eph. 1:4-14; Titus 4:4-7.

SJ Camp said...

Stephen
The command to repent of sin, be reconciled to God, to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to deny oneself, take up your cross and follow Him, etc. are commands that are unmistakably associated with the gospel call. No question.

That is not under debate here nor the issue of this thread.

BUT, what is important, is that unless God first acts upon the unbeliever - granting them saving faith and quickening their dead lives unto eternal life through regeneration by the Holy Spirit - salvation would not be possible.

cf, John 6:35-44; Eph. 1:4-14; Titus 4:4-7.

SJ Camp said...

Mike R
I have so greatly appreciated your tempered and biblical words you have contributed on this thread.

Spurgeon is just making the point I've made twice already on this thread and at least once on another thread with you: There's no time in between regeneration and salvation. Yet one logically precedes the other.

Amen.

Thank you my brother.
Have a great Lord's Day
Grace and peace to you,
Steve
Col. 1:9-14

Stephen said...

Stephen Garrett,

The verse you're looking for is John 3:3, which has the mistranslation "born again."

The text says "unless you are born from above, you cannot (noetically) see..."

The Greek that is rendered "born again" is "gennao anothen." Being born from above is a precondition to faith since faith requires belief in propositions that must be understood. Thus being born from above (regenerated) reverses some of the noetic effects of man's fall into sin, making him alive, enabling him to believe.

I understand this isn't a comprehensive exegesis, but it is probably a good enough answer to one that sincerely seeks to know why us Reformed folks say regeneration precedes faith, albeit logically.

BTW, Hi Steve & Mike!