SharperIron's Doctrinal Statement: Questions from Readers

The SharperIron Doctrinal Statement is available here.

Salvation and regeneration

This one came to us via the site contact form in July of 2011.

I would be interested in joining your group and adding to the discussion, however, you require that a person believe your Doctrines Statement and I have a problem with statement #8, which defines “Salvation” as being the result of the inner transformation of the man. This is not Salvation. Your statement is a fine example of the error of Roman Catholicism, which fails to understand the difference between, and relationship of, what Jesus has done FOR us and what the Holy Spirit is doing IN us. Salvation (which is the promise of the believers resurrection from the dead) is what Jesus has done FOR us, outside of us. The new-birth is what the Holy Spirit is doing INSIDE of us (it comes to every believer as a RESULT of trusting the the Gospel of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection). The new-birth is not the Gospel itself and it is not a biblical definition of Salvation.

Would I be allowed to join dispite my refusal to accept your false definition of Salvation?

Response

Thanks for reading our Doctrinal Statement.

Let me see if I can help a bit. Our doctrinal statement is actually lifted from the American Council of Christian Churches and was designed by them to accommodate a pretty broad range of groups that embrace the fundamentals of the faith. It is consciously designed to reject Roman Catholicism, along with many other errors.

That said, it’s just a doctrinal statement and these things are always imperfect.

Statement 8 reads as follows:

[We believe in…] “Salvation, the effect of regeneration by the Spirit and the Word, not by works, but by grace through faith.”

First, the words “saved” and “salvation” are used in a variety of ways in Scripture. A few examples: “Work out your own salvation” (Phil. 2:12), “salvation ready to be revealed” (1 Pet.1:5), “eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9), “salvation belongs to our God” (Rev. 7:10). The root idea is “deliverance” or “rescue,” and it applies mainly to God’s work of rescuing believers from sin and its penalty.

Many use the term “salvation” broadly and include regeneration as part of it. Item 8 in our doctrinal statement uses the term specifically for the deliverance that comes to those who have become the sons of God (John 1:12) by believing.

The statement does not deny that resurrection is part of that salvation. Many blessings not mentioned in statement 8 are part of our salvation or inseparably linked to it, such as being glorified (Rom. 8:29-30), receiving an inheritance (1 Pet.1:4), becoming like Christ (1 John 3:2), our union with Christ (Rom. 6) and much more. So the term “salvation” properly includes God’s work both within us and outside of us.

The new birth/regeneration is not something the Spirit “is doing” in believers, but something He does immediately and fully when we believe. If any man is in Christ he is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17, emphasis added). 1 Peter 1:23 describes believers as having been born again. Similarly, 1 Peter 1:3 describes believers as “begotten again.” Ephesians 2:5 refers to believers as having been “made alive” and links this to being “saved” by grace. So “salvation” and regeneration can be spoken of as distinct but are truly inseparable.

So the statement is an accurate, though brief, summary of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. Still, if we were going to revise it (maybe someday we will), it would probably simply say:

“Salvation, the gift of God, not by works but by grace through faith.”

So if you believe that salvation is God’s gift for all who believe and that all who believe are also regenerated, there is no reason why you could not agree with the doctrinal statement.

Total depravity

Another inquired in February of this year, also via the site contact form.

Hello Brother Aaron! Of course you don’t really know IF I am your ‘brother in the Lord’ because you do not know what I believe. Fair enough? I came across your ‘fundamental’ web site while googling for fundamental Christians.

I see that one of the requirements of ‘joining’ this forum is to believe that all humans are totally depraved. It’s suprises me that you would make this a ‘requirement’ for entering a forum which is suppose to be ‘open’ to discussing, debating, analyzing or simply sharing what one believes (as a Christian) is sound doctrine. Now I am quite aware that YOU…have the option of deciding ‘what can’ and ‘what cannot’ be ‘debated.’

But in my opinion, I think your ‘reasoning’ (about what can and cannot) be discussed is wrong. Aaron, there is more to God’s Truth than what just you (and I) know to be Truth. I believe you should let ‘people’ share whatever they believe. In time, IF you are continually faithful to God’s Word, you will separate the sheep from the goats. Who knows, you might even find out as I have that many who say they ‘know Jesus’ as their Savior are not really children of God to begin with. Also I absolutely believe that the Scriptures are quite clear that though all humans are sinners, NOT all humans are totally depraved. I am hoping and praying you are NOT a Calvinist. (Did you know that John Calvin absolutely believed water baptism was ‘part’ of the gospel package? He was a lot like Martin Luther in his beliefs.)

Luke 8:15 –– But the good soil represents honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s message, cling to it, and steadily produce a huge harvest.

Hope to hear from you soon…

Response

Thanks for contacting me.

What do you believe “total depravity” means? We have found that many misunderstand our position on this because they are not clear on how we’re using the term. And many mistakenly believe that the doctrine of total depravity came from Calvin.

What we mean by the term is that in Adam all sinned and consequently, all are born sinners by nature. That’s the depraved part. The “total” part is that every part of human beings’ nature is tainted by sin.

The doctrine of total depravity does not claim that every human being is as sinful as it is possible to be or that everyone is equally wicked. It does teach that apart from a gracious convicting work of the Spirit, human beings do not seek God or believe what He says.

Hope that’s helpful.

Rejoinder

Aaron,

I hope and pray you are a teachable person. If you do not believe ‘total depravity’ means total depravity you should change your wording. Aaron, you are kind of talking out of both sides of your mouth. On one hand you say you don’t believe that all humans are equally (i.e. totally) depraved, and then you say that no humans (in and of themselves) seek for God. History shows this world was (is) full of examples of unsaved religious people (totally depraved?) people who ‘sought’ the Creator God of the universe.

Unfortunately in many instances there were no true Christians (i.e. true messengers of Truth) around (in past history) to direct these people to the God of the Bible. (When the Gentile who have no (direct) Law (written Mosaic Law) do instinctively the inner hidden law of God that the Lord has put in all people these laws will be used to judge these people.) In the Bible Cornelius sought for the God of the Bible–—even though he did not know Him. (He did not get ‘saved’ until Peter came and preached the gospel to him.) John Calvin would teach that Cornelius had no choice in the matter. Calvinism teaches (falsely) that God ZAPS people (even those who were not seeking God) so that they have no choice in the matter. This is where the foolish idea of total depravity originated. In Acts chapter 17 the Apostle Paul told the unregenerated Greek philosophers that if they sought to know the God of the Bible they would find Him.

Response 2

The “total” in “total depravity” refers to all of a human being’s nature. It means there is no part of him that is not depraved. This has never meant that every person is as sinful as every other person, though it does mean we all begin at the same point. Our nature is the same but we do not all make the same choices. The result is that some become more wicked than others in their conduct.

Consequently, there is no need to change the wording in our doctrinal statement. In any case, it’s a very old term and though we could use different wording, that wouldn’t undo the history. It makes sense to me to continue to use the term as it has been used for centuries.

Your understanding of Calvin is not accurate. Neither he nor Augustine taught that people “have no choice.” Rather, he understood that a being is only able to choose what his nature permits him to choose. God cannot choose to sin. A sinner cannot choose to seek God—not because anyone is preventing him from choosing, but because he does not want to and cannot—on his own—want to.

Persons like Cornelius seek God when God draws them. Calvin et. al., have never taught that people who are being drawn do not seek God prior to believing. But in these cases, it’s a gracious drawing that moves them toward God and not their own nature.

Yes, Paul told his hearers they would find God if they sought Him. He did not say they were able in themselves to seek Him. Rather, he described what would happen if they did and urged them to do so. Preaching the gospel involves a call to all to repent and believe (seek God). God graciously produces results in hearers. When He draws them, they see the truth of the gospel message and choose to repent and believe. These ideas are far older than Calvin or even Augustine.

[node:bio/aaron-blumer body]

10272 reads

There are 62 Comments

Shaynus's picture

Aaron,

Well done on both counts. Thanks for taking the time to respond to these folks.

Shayne

removed_jh's picture

Aaron,

Articulated clearly and with great understanding. Thanks,

Jeff

Jack Hampton's picture

Aaron, you wrote:

Quote:
So “salvation” and regeneration can be spoken of as distinct but are truly inseparable.

If they are inseparable then why do the Calvinists separate them? They teach that "logically" a person is "regenerated" prior to "faith" and no one is saved until "faith" is exercised.

Therefore, according to Calvinism, logically a person is "regenerated" before he is "saved" so therefore these two things cannot be described as being "inseparable."

At least that is the way I understand it. What am I missing?

Thanks!

DavidO's picture

I think we need to include in the SI statement the following guidelines for using the word fundamental (and any derivatives) and then insist everyone abide by them.

fundamental- (noun) some thing basic to another more complex thing, as in a fundamental of the faith.

fundamentally- (adv) at a thing's essence.

fundamentalist- (noun) any person or group insisting on agreement to certain essentials of their belief.

fundamentalist- (adj) a person or group characterized by fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism- (noun) a movement consisting of such persons or groups.

This way I never again have to read the term "fundamental Christian," of which the only possibly appropriate use I can imagine is in reference to an apostle.

[/rant ]

Caleb S's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Aaron, you wrote:
Quote:
So “salvation” and regeneration can be spoken of as distinct but are truly inseparable.

If they are inseparable then why do the Calvinists separate them? They teach that "logically" a person is "regenerated" prior to "faith" and no one is saved until "faith" is exercised.

Therefore, according to Calvinism, logically a person is "regenerated" before he is "saved" so therefore these two things cannot be described as being "inseparable."

At least that is the way I understand it. What am I missing?

Thanks!


Thank you for your equivocation (fallacy) on the word "saved". If you had written something more substantive there would be more to critique. Did you read Aaron's opening post dealing with the issue of the range of meaning for the word? I would suggest reading it and understanding it to correctly represent those with whom you disagree. If I were to use DA Carson's Exegetical Fallacies book, then I would mention that you are committing an "illegitimate semantic domain restriction" fallacy with regard to the word "saved". So my suggestion is to get a broader understanding of the meaning of the word, and the opening post--which you supposedly read--is a good start.

Why do you go by "Jack Hampton" here, but over at the CARM forums you go by another name?

Thanks

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Long post... sorry. Big question!

Jack wrote:
If they are inseparable then why do the Calvinists separate them? They teach that "logically" a person is "regenerated" prior to "faith" and no one is saved until "faith" is exercised.

Therefore, according to Calvinism, logically a person is "regenerated" before he is "saved" so therefore these two things cannot be described as being "inseparable."


Some Calvinists I know believe regeneration is "logically but not chronologically prior" to faith. Others don't want to say it's prior at all.
I can't remember where ol' John himself stood on that point, if he even said (given how many words he cranked out, it's probably in his writings somewhere).

So how are they inseparable? I'm not sure I understand the question. How are they not inseparable?
Maybe it helps to put it this way:
In every variant of Calvinism I'm aware of both of these statements are true:

  • no regenerated persons are without faith (in the Eph.2:8 sense)
  • no persons with faith are unregenerate

Or, to put it in more Baptistic terms:

  • everybody who is saved (as in, "converted") is regenerate
  • everybody who is regenerate is saved (as in "converted")

So, really, the question of when regeneration happens "logically" is a distinct question from whether it is separable from conversion.

Now when we start saying "saved" instead of "converted," we're being alot less precise and this is where some confusion can arise. In the Baptist tradition, we have a habit of using "saved" for converted (there is some biblical warrant for this--see below).

But according to Eph.2:8, 1 Peter 1:5 and Phil.2:12, when is a believer "saved," the moment of belief, during his life as a believer or "at the last time"?
I reproduce the verses for those who don't have the javascript working and can't see the Scripture popups.

Eph 2:8 NKJV 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
Php 2:12 NKJV 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
1 Pe 1:5 NKJV 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

So when is a believer saved, at belief, during his life, or at the last time? The answer is yes. The downside to using "saved" for "converted" is that people get confused and overlook the fact that God has saved us from sin's penalty at the moment of faith, is in the process of saving us from sin's power and presence during our Christian life and completes that work (Php1.6) at the Day of Christ.

So, is regeneration inseparable from all of that?
Ultimately, yes. But it's distinct from it. And there is obviously some time between regeneration and the "salvation ready to be revealed at the last time."

It's just like being physically alive. Your conception and your life are inseparable but distinct. You can call the whole thing your "life" most of the time and not worry about the distinction because the two are inseparable. But conception is the event that takes you from non-life to life. So it really is distinct from life. It's just that nobody is alive w/o being conceived and nobody is conceived without being alive (at least for a while).
Add another term, say, "adulthood," and you have a phase of "life" that is obviously distinct from conception... but still inseparable. You can become adult w/o being conceived and vice versa.

I hope that helps and I haven't introduced more murk into the waters!

One more thing: FWIW, I do not believe regeneration is "logically prior" to faith. The reason is because it is simultaneously logically subsequent to faith. Just as you have to be alive to believe you have to believe to be alive. So the whole question of logical priority is moot in my view. (That angle did not originate with me... I just can't remember where I read it. I do remember thinking: bingo!)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I think I did add some mud to the waters with that last post.
Many use "conversion" to mean pretty much the same thing as "regeneration." Let's just say that Baptists tend to use "saved" and "salvation" for everything that happens immediately when you believe... and we tend to use "sanctification" for everything that happens after that... and "glorification" for what happens at the end.

But even among more Arminian Baptists, all but one of these things is distinct but inseparable from regeneration. For many Arminians, regeneration comes the moment of faith, but even then it is distinct from faith. Distinct but inseparable.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jack Hampton's picture

Caleb S wrote:

Thank you for your equivocation (fallacy) on the word "saved". If you had written something more substantive there would be more to critique. Did you read Aaron's opening post dealing with the issue of the range of meaning for the word? I would suggest reading it and understanding it to correctly represent those with whom you disagree. If I were to use DA Carson's Exegetical Fallacies book, then I would mention that you are committing an "illegitimate semantic domain restriction" fallacy with regard to the word "saved". So my suggestion is to get a broader understanding of the meaning of the word, and the opening post--which you supposedly read--is a good start.

Of course the Greek word translated "saved" has more than one meaning but I do not think anyone understood that when I used the word that I was speaking of anything other than the meaning which Peter speaks of here:

"...obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls" (1 Pet.1:9).

Let me ask you a question, Caleb S. When the Bible speaks of anyone being "saved" by faith (and that was exactly what I was speaking about) do you think that the "salvation" being spoken of is anything other than the "salvation of the soul"?

i did not think it would be necessary to spell out this truth because I thought that all of those on this forum would already have this understanding. Perhaps I was wrong with you so if that is the case I apologize. Sorry.

Shaynus's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:

Let me ask you a question, Caleb S. When the Bible speaks of anyone being "saved" by faith (and that was exactly what I was speaking about) do you think that the "salvation" being spoken of is anything other than the "salvation of the soul"?

Not speaking for caleb, but I think it's speaking of saving of the soul, plus the body. (Matt 10:28) So it's both the soul (immaterial) and the body (material) that will be saved. Glory to His name.

Caleb S's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
Of course the Greek word translated "saved" has more than one meaning but I do not think anyone understood that when I used the word that I was speaking of anything other than the meaning which Peter speaks of here:

"...obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls" (1 Pet.1:9).

Let me ask you a question, Caleb S. When the Bible speaks of anyone being "saved" by faith (and that was exactly what I was speaking about) do you think that the "salvation" being spoken of is anything other than the "salvation of the soul"?

i did not think it would be necessary to spell out this truth because I thought that all of those on this forum would already have this understanding. Perhaps I was wrong with you so if that is the case I apologize. Sorry.


Postponed & Semantic Range
Just letting you know that I have seen your post here, and I will not be able to respond to it at the moment with any kind of depth. I will only quickly point out the semantic range of your phrase. The phrase certainly can mean "the salvation of your souls". The phrase can mean "the deliverance of your selves." The phrase can mean the "preservation of your life." The point here is that simply arriving at the meaning of the words here should not be taken for granted. There is some hard work that is required. The context is VERY significant in the meaning of this verse, and that is what has me bogged down right at the moment. I'll jump the gun a little and simply note that verse five is going to probably have a huge impact upon how we are to understand the meaning of verse nine.

Caution
My only caution is that your question is very systematic in nature. Certainly, that is not a problem (systematic theology). However, those "questions" have to take a back seat to investigation. The question probably assumes that the meaning is already known for the phrase. The question probably assumes that one is then (upon knowing the meaning) safe to generalize from this passage upon other passages (taken from your words "when the Bible speaks of anyone"), which is quite dangerous. I also am assuming that your question is designed (framed) to lead the reader down an already thought out road. For these reasons, I'm looking more closely at the passage and letting it determine the road to follow before discussion; it is quite fascinating. (anagennaw)

Present Circumstance & Question
Right now I'm trying to analyze the passage for basic structural elements which let the reader know the thought flow. Tomorrow, I hope to continue looking at it. Until then, I'll leave with a question. Does salvation have both man-centered perspectives and God-centered perspectives in the Bible? One where man is focused upon, and one where God is focused upon?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Jack...Why are we isolating 1 Pet.1.9? Not that there's anything wrong with analyzing a single verse, but understanding 'salvation' involves looking at the whole of what Scripture says on the subject (and, really, understanding a single verse also involves looking at the whole of Scripture on the subject).

As a point of logic, Peter's reference to the salvation of the psuche specifically does not imply that nothing else is saved or even that he has nothing else in mind. There are a couple variations of "part for whole" figures of speech he may be using. One likely possibility is that the reference to soul is intended to convey the idea that if the soul will be saved, there is surely nothing else what God will fail to save in response to our faith.
I'm also not sure psuche doesn't simply mean "self" there. Need more time to dig into that.

As for meanings of the Greek word for salvation... there is nothing special about the Greek. There is a range of meanings evident in different contexts (several appear in the article) and that range is apparent in any language.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jack Hampton's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Jack...Why are we isolating 1 Pet.1.9? Not that there's anything wrong with analyzing a single verse, but understanding 'salvation' involves looking at the whole of what Scripture says on the subject (and, really, understanding a single verse also involves looking at the whole of Scripture on the subject).

Aaron, the subject we are discussing is the relationship between "salvation" and "regeneration" and in regard to this relationship there is only one type of "salvation" that is past and finished at "regeneration":

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus.3:5).

I believe that the phrase "the salvation of your souls" is referring to that same "salvation":

"...obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls" (1 Pet.1:9).

This speaks of a salvation that is already received by "faith" and that same salvation is described here:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph.2:8).

This describes a salvation that is spoken of in the Greek "perfect" tense.

Quote:
Some Calvinists I know believe regeneration is "logically but not chronologically prior" to faith. Others don't want to say it's prior at all.

That surprises me because R.C. Sproul, perhaps the most high profile Calvinists in the public arena today, says the following:

"When speaking of the order of salvation ('ordo salutis'), Reformed theology always and everywhere insists that regeneration precedes faith because it is a necessary condition for faith...when Reformed theology says regeneration precedes faith, it is speaking in terms of logical priority, not temporal priority" [emphasis mine ] (R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology? [Grand Rapids,: Baker Books, 2005 ], 195).

Quote:
How are they not inseparable?

When we look at Titus 3:5 we can see a "cause and effect" relationship between being "regeneration" and being "saved":

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus.3:5).

If we apply the Calvinist's test in regard to "logical priority" then "regeneration" must be separted from "salvation" because Paul asserts that it is "regeneration" which results in "salvation."

Quote:
One more thing: FWIW, I do not believe regeneration is "logically prior" to faith. The reason is because it is simultaneously logically subsequent to faith.

So do you believe that men who are spiritually dead can believe the gospel?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

in my opinion, is that if we tried to explain every possible definition and permutation of terms like 'salvation', the SI Doctrinal Statement would look like the tax code. It is general where it needs to be and specific where it needs to be in order to narrow the field somewhat and still allow for debate.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
If we apply the Calvinist's test in regard to "logical priority" then "regeneration" must be separted from "salvation" because Paul asserts that it is "regeneration" which results in "salvation."

I think we're still getting some terms confused here.

Though some of the Calvinists who believe in the logical precedence of regeneration to faith may claim their position is the only one held by Calvinists or Reformed people, there are many Calvinists/Reformed folks who would beg to differ.

In any case, the ones I'm aware of who claim logical precedence specifically deny any precedence in time (which just makes me wonder what the point is in claiming it at all, but that's another subject).
So if by "separated" you mean "separated in time," no, this is not a common Calvinist view.

If by "separated" you mean "there is a moment when one can exist without the other," again, this is not the Calvinist view.

By "distinct," people usually mean that they can be meaningfully differentiated... as in my illustration earlier of "conception" vs. "life." The terms have differences--refer to different "things." But one thing cannot exist without the other. Hence, inseparable.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jack Hampton's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I think we're still getting some terms confused here.

You have no comments on what I said in regard to the term "salvation of the soul"?
Quote:
Though some of the Calvinists who believe in the logical precedence of regeneration to faith may claim their position is the only one held by Calvinists or Reformed people, there are many Calvinists/Reformed folks who would beg to differ.

So the remarks of R.C. Sproul which I quoted are obviously not accurate.
Quote:
So if by "separated" you mean "separated in time," no, this is not a common Calvinist view.

I thought I made it clear that I was speaking of "logical priority" and not "temporal priority" but I guess it was not as clear as I thought.
Quote:
If by "separated" you mean "there is a moment when one can exist without the other," again, this is not the Calvinist view.

Again, I said "logical priority."
Quote:
One more thing: FWIW, I do not believe regeneration is "logically prior" to faith. The reason is because it is simultaneously logically subsequent to faith.

So do you believe that spiritually dead men can believe the gospel?

Jack Hampton's picture

Shaynus wrote:
Not speaking for caleb, but I think it's speaking of saving of the soul, plus the body. (Matt 10:28) So it's both the soul (immaterial) and the body (material) that will be saved. Glory to His name.

The salvation of the soul is received at the time when a person believes. On the other hand, the salvation that is in regard to the "redemption of our body" remains in the future.

Jack Hampton's picture

Caleb S wrote:
I'll leave with a question. Does salvation have both man-centered perspectives and God-centered perspectives in the Bible? One where man is focused upon, and one where God is focused upon?

I would say that the ultimate purpose in salvation is in regard to praising God:

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Eph.1:5-7).

"That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise" (Eph.1:12-13).

Jay's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
So do you believe that spiritually dead men can believe the gospel?

Hi Jack-

I seem to remember this question from before...how do you interpret Romans 5?

Quote:
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men5 because wall sinned—13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass6 led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness7 leads to justification and life for fall men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now ithe law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, jgrace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


I would say that natural man cannot believe the things of God unless supernaturally convicted and drawn by God (John 6:44). I think Romans 5 is pretty clear that all men are born under the sin-curse and condemned before God. IIRC, you had a different take on this.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jack Hampton's picture

Jay C. wrote:
I seem to remember this question from before...

Although my question is meant for Aaron I will give the same verses which I gave earlier that are a part of the reason why I think that spiritually dead men can believe the gospel.

Here we see that only those who have "received the Spirit" can understand the things of God:

"For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (1 Cor.2:11-12).

How does one "receive the Spirit" that enables a spiritually dead person to believe the things of God? Is the Spirit received prior to faith, as the Calvinists teach? In the following verse Paul asks a rhetorical question that tells us exactly how a person who is spiritually dead receives the Spirit:

"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Ro.3:2).

Of course no one receives the Spirit and is regenerated by the Spirit PRIOR to faith, as most of the Calvinists teach, but instead the Spirit is not received until a person believes.

Quote:
I would say that natural man cannot believe the things of God unless supernaturally convicted and drawn by God (John 6:44).

Since "all men" are drawn (Jn.12:32) then all men can believe. The natural man stays a natural man and does not become a spiritual man because he "resists the Holy Spirit" that accompanies the gospel.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

First, Jack, I agree with a few things you've pointed out here. The salvation of the body is, per Rom8, yet future.
And the point of it all is the glory of God.

I would say, though, that the complete salvation of our souls is yet future as well. The reason I say so is that believers are still clearly in a struggle against sin (1 John 1.9 and vacinity, for example). We are delivered entirely from sin's penalty the moment we believe, but we are not fully delivered from the battle with sin until we are perfected... which I believe is part of what "glorified" means (Rom.8:29ff).

But I'm not sure how we got on that topic... it must be connected in some way to this question:

Jack wrote:
So do you believe that spiritually dead men can believe the gospel?

I don't want to give the question a simple answer. I'd like to be able to, but I don't think a simple answer is an honest one (for me) in this case. Here's why:
- A "dead" man cannot believe
- A believing man cannot be "dead"
I don't think there is any solution to the relationship between quickening and faith because there is no moment (chronologically or "logically") when a believing man is dead or a quickened man is not believing.
I'm sure several theologians above my paygrade have attempted to do so at great length (I vaguely remember reading a few and thinking, nice try, but no cigar... maybe I'm just not smart enough). In my view, there is a paradox here because you have two very clear assertions in Scripture.
1. "Life" is described as the result of faith.
2. Faith must also be the result of life. (Because those without faith are described as "dead" and the point is clearly to depict our pre-faith condition as completely helpless).

But there is at least one non-Pelagian solution to the paradox for those who can't buy the Calvinistic/Augustinian one and aren't content to leave it unsolved: classical Arminians hold that prevenient grace enables sinners to believe... and I think maintains that they remain "dead" even though thus enabled--until they actually do believe.

If the Calvinish solutions seem unpersuasive to you, I'd recommend the classical Arminian route and strongly discourage adopting a semi-pelagian or quasi-pelagian solution (these would involve some version of man's fallenness/depravity that describes him as being by nature, able to believe. The implications of that idea set off all kinds of chain reactions in the doctrine of sin and salvation--like throwing a wrench into the clockwork. This is why the church rejected Pelagius' ideas pretty early on).

There was a discussion here not long ago with some Arminians, connected to an article by Dan Chapa (of Society of Evangelical Arminians) you might find interesting. http://sharperiron.org/article/society-of-evangelical-arminians-what-arm...

So, to boil that down to something as short as possible:
I affirm that a sinner cannot respond in faith to the gospel apart from a gracious enabling act of God.
I do not personally believe that this gracious enabling has happened to everybody.
I'm comfortable saying that belief and regeneration seem to each be "logically prior" to the other.

(Oh, about RC Sproule... I do think he's overstating his point in the part you quoted, much as I enjoy Sproule)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jack Hampton's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I would say, though, that the complete salvation of our souls is yet future as well. The reason I say so is that believers are still clearly in a struggle against sin (1 John 1.9 and vacinity, for example). We are delivered entirely from sin's penalty the moment we believe, but we are not fully delivered from the battle with sin until we are perfected... which I believe is part of what "glorified" means (Rom.8:29ff).

The word "salvation" speaks of a "deliverance" from something, and when our soul is saved we are completely delivered from the guilt and penalty of sin. We are delivered from the wrath of God. We have already been given eternal life and the Scriptures make it plain that those who have received eternal life shall never perish. Therefore the salvation of our souls is an accomplished fact and nothing can change it.

The Scriptures do speak about being saved from the habit and dominion of sin but that does not effect the salvation of our souls. And the Christian will be saved from all the bodily infirmities at the return of the Lord Jesus when we will put on glorious bodies like His glorious body. But none of these lat two "salvations" have any bearing on the fact that believers are already saved once and for all time from the guilt and penalty of sin.

Quote:
I affirm that a sinner cannot respond in faith to the gospel apart from a gracious enabling act of God.
I do not personally believe that this gracious enabling has happened to everybody.

What passages from the Scripture would you quote to support those ideas, Aaron?

Thanks!

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
The word "salvation" speaks of a "deliverance" from something, and when our soul is saved we are completely delivered from the guilt and penalty of sin. We are delivered from the wrath of God. We have already been given eternal life and the Scriptures make it plain that those who have received eternal life shall never perish. Therefore the salvation of our souls is an accomplished fact and nothing can change it.

The Scriptures do speak about being saved from the habit and dominion of sin but that does not effect the salvation of our souls.


There are three distinct categories/questions we're talking about here:

  • What is saved/delivered?
  • From what is the saved/delivered thing saved/delivered?
  • When is it saved/delivered?

First, we agree that the soul is delivered completely and instantly from 100% of sin's penalty, God's wrath, our guilt, and eternal life is already ours. Agreed also that this is accomplished fact and nothing can change it.

Where I differ--and I believe Scripture differs--is that the "habit and dominion" of sin exists in our souls also, not just our bodies. So it breaks down like this:

What is saved/delivered?

  • Soul (in the sense of "inner man")
  • Body

What is it saved from?

  • Sin's penalty (body and soul)
  • Sin's power and presence (body and soul)

When is it saved from these?

  • Penalty: upon conversion (body and soul)
  • Power and presence: over time, culminating at glorification (body and soul)

So I see no biblical basis for making the "what is saved" the factor in deciding "when." Rather, it's the "what it's being saved from" that affects the "when."

Jack wrote:
Aaron wrote:
I affirm that a sinner cannot respond in faith to the gospel apart from a gracious enabling act of God.
I do not personally believe that this gracious enabling has happened to everybody.

What passages from the Scripture would you quote to support those ideas, Aaron?

That the sinner cannot respond in faith to the gospel on his own:
Ro 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. (esv)
Col 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds
2 Co 2:15–16 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death [gospel=stink of death to unbelievers ], to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
Eph 2:1–2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

That no comprehensive gracious enabling has occurred:
Jn 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Jn 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Ac 16:14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia... The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
Support for this point also flows logically from the first set of verses. They do not merely describe how sinners are at birth but how they live: alienated from God, hostile to Him, repulsed by the gospel, dominated by the prince of the power of air.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Dan Miller's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
... the reason why I think that spiritually dead men can believe the gospel.

Here we see that only those who have "received the Spirit" can understand the things of God:

"For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (1 Cor.2:11-12).

How does one "receive the Spirit" that enables a spiritually dead person to believe the things of God? Is the Spirit received prior to faith, as the Calvinists teach? In the following verse Paul asks a rhetorical question that tells us exactly how a person who is spiritually dead receives the Spirit:

"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Ro.3:2). (NOTE: This is Galatians)-DanMiller

Of course no one receives the Spirit and is regenerated by the Spirit PRIOR to faith, as most of the Calvinists teach, but instead the Spirit is not received until a person believes.

Quote:
I would say that natural man cannot believe the things of God unless supernaturally convicted and drawn by God (John 6:44).

Since "all men" are drawn (Jn.12:32) then all men can believe. The natural man stays a natural man and does not become a spiritual man because he "resists the Holy Spirit" that accompanies the gospel.
Jack,
You point out that Galatians 3 gives the manner of reception of the Spirit: "by hearing with faith" (ESV) or "by the hearing of faith" (KJV).
But this passage still leaves the question of the means of receiving the Spirit open. Paul gave the means of receiving: "hearing," which is modified by the genitive "of faith."
You want to make the means "faith." But that's not exactly what the Text says.

Consider 1 Corinthians 2:12-15:

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Why did we receive the Spirit? "That we might understand [the Gospel ]."
Can the natural man receive the Gospel? No.

Paul is explaining why some people receive the Gospel and some reject it. That's key to this passage. "Natural" is not caused by rejection of the Gospel. "Natural" is why people reject it.

Jack Hampton's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
So I see no biblical basis for making the "what is saved" the factor in deciding "when." Rather, it's the "what it's being saved from" that affects the "when."

That is what I alluded to earlier. It is "what it's being saved from" which affects the "when." The following verse speaks of the salvation of the soul and that salvation is already received or is the result of one's faith:

"...obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls" (1 Pet.1:9).

This speaks of a salvation that is already received by "faith."

On the other hand, a Christians's deliverance from the "habit and dominion" of sin cannot be said to be an accomplished fact because Christians continue to sin (1 Jn.1:10).

So from this we can understand that "what it's being saved from" at 1 Peter 1:9 is the factor in deciding "when." In other words, because that verse speaks of a salvation of the soul which is an accomplished fact then we know that it happened at the moment of faith.

Quote:
That no comprehensive gracious enabling has occurred:
Jn 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Then what about this verse which demonstrates that "all" are drawn since the Cross?:

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (Jn.12:32).

Now let us look at the verse which you cited in its "context":

"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me" (Jn.6:44-45).

By the context we can understand that the words "I will raise him up the last day" are in reference to those who come to the Lord Jesus and not the ones who are drawn to Him. The word "draw" does not always mean an irresistable force, as witnessed by the same Greek word from the LXX:

"the LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee" (Jer.31:3).

Quote:
And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Of course no one can come to the Lord esus without divine help and the following verses speak of that help:

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?" (Ro.10:13-15).

Quote:
Ac 16:14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia... The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

You assume that Lydia was not saved prior to having her heart opened but we can see that even those who are already saved are enlightened to truths by the Lord:

"Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph.3:4-5).

So it can be said that the Lord opened the heart of the apostles and prophets, those who were already saved, so this verse does not help you.

Jack Hampton's picture

Dan Miller wrote:
Jack,
You point out that Galatians 3 gives the manner of reception of the Spirit: "by hearing with faith" (ESV) or "by the hearing of faith" (KJV).
But this passage still leaves the question of the means of receiving the Spirit open. Paul gave the means of receiving: "hearing," which is modified by the genitive "of faith."
You want to make the means "faith." But that's not exactly what the Text says.

Dan, those who understand Greek much better than I do think that the following translation conveys the thought in regard to the words "the hearing of faith":

"I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?" (Gal.3:2; NIV).

John Calvin understood the same thing, writing that "He now proceeds to support his cause by additional arguments. The first is drawn from their experience, for he reminds them in what manner the gospel was introduced among themselves. When they heard the gospel, they received the Spirit. It was not to the law, therefore, but to faith, that they owed the reception of this benefit" (John Calvin, Commentary at Galatians 3:2).

Do you think that the Lord's Jesus words here are just in regard to "hearing" His words and not believing them?:

"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (Jn.6:63).

Of course the Apostle John makes it plain that is by "believing" that a person receives "life" and not just by "hearing":

"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (Jn.20:30-31).

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

On what we are saved from... you're using my words but you don't seem to have their meaning clear yet.
I'm not sure what else to say about that. References to the "salvation of the soul" do not saying anything about what it is saved from.
But again, I'm not sure what this really has to do with anything at this point, other than being clear on what salvation is.
Salvation from sin's penalty is present for both body and soul.
Salvation from sin's presence and power is yet future for both body and soul.

As for your counterarguments on the verses I listed. I'm not really interested in going circles on all the nuances and possibilities. The general question is which passages are you going to use to interpret other passages? In answer to that, I make the choice I do because of two factors:
1. The passages that are most clear should interpret the ones that are less clear
2. All passages involved should be interpreted in ways that are most in harmony with the overall teaching of Scripture

In the case of the "draw" passages, we have one in which Jesus says nobody can come who is not drawn. We have another that says all are drawn. One must be interpreted in light of the other.
Given the abundance of evidence that sinners are not interested in God, both my criteria above are satisfied best by the view that "no one can come without being drawn" refers to being drawn to faith and that "I will draw all to myself" is either meant to say that drawing is the result of the lifting up (and "all" refers to all who believe) or the drawing has a different sense: something analogous to the general call to repentance (which is issued to all - eg. Acts 17:30).

But in all this detail, let's not lose sight of the most crucial question: do human beings possess in themselves the ability to repent and believe or is this granted to them by God's grace?
The former option is the Pelagian error. The latter is the orthodox view. It offers a Calvinist option: "God sovereignly enables faith as He chooses" and an Arminian view "God graciously enables faith for everybody who hears the gospel." (There are some Arminian variants as to who all is the recipient of this prevenient grace and when it happens).

But taking the view that sinners are naturally neutral toward God rather than hostile to Him creates all kinds of problems with other doctrines and distorted interpretations of many clear passages.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jack Hampton's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
On what we are saved from... you're using my words but you don't seem to have their meaning clear yet.
I'm not sure what else to say about that. References to the "salvation of the soul" do not saying anything about what it is saved from.

I just put two and two together and came up with four. The verse shows a "present" salvation which is already in effect and the only "salvation" that fits that criteria is deliverance from the guilt and penalty of sin. Do you agree with that?
Quote:
As for your counterarguments on the verses I listed. I'm not really interested in going circles on all the nuances and possibilities. The general question is which passages are you going to use to interpret other passages? In answer to that, I make the choice I do because of two factors:
1. The passages that are most clear should interpret the ones that are less clear
2. All passages involved should be interpreted in ways that are most in harmony with the overall teaching of Scripture

So what do we do with all of the verses which do not appear to be in harmony with your "opinion" as to what is the overall teaching of Scripture?
Quote:
Given the abundance of evidence that sinners are not interested in God, both my criteria above are satisfied best by the view that "no one can come without being drawn" refers to being drawn to faith and that "I will draw all to myself" is either meant to say that drawing is the result of the lifting up (and "all" refers to all who believe) or the drawing has a different sense: something analogous to the general call to repentance (which is issued to all - eg. Acts 17:30).

So we are supposed to believe that "all" in the following verse means "all believers" and not "all men"?:

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (Jn.12:32).

There are many translations of this verse and not one that I can find says "all believers" but there are many which say "all men." I can find nothing in the "context" that even hints that the meaning is "all believers." If you interpret verses in that manner then it will not be long before you can make the Scriptures say anything you want them to say and you can come up with your own version of the "overall teaching of the Scriptures." And that does not mean that that "oeverall teaching" reflects the truth.

Jay's picture

Jn 12 is pointing forward to the fulfillment of Philippians 2:9-11-

Quote:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There are quite a few passages that talk about how every person will stand before God (esp. in judgment), and it is probably at that point that every person will acknowledge the superiority of Jesus to everything and his deity. It does not mean that everyone will be saved, otherwise Jesus' teaching on the sheep and the goats or John's teaching on the lake of fire in Revelation would be wrong.

Your interpretation of Jn 12:32, along with this statement from above:

Quote:
Since "all men" are drawn (Jn.12:32) then all men can believe. The natural man stays a natural man and does not become a spiritual man because he "resists the Holy Spirit" that accompanies the gospel.

Seems to indicate that you believe in either some kind of quasi-universalism OR that man is in and of himself 'morally neutral', as Aaron put it. Can you provide Scriptural documentation anywhere for either of these ideas? If not, can you let me know if we're misunderstanding your position?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jack Hampton's picture

Jay C. wrote:
Seems to indicate that you believe in either some kind of quasi-universalism OR that man is in and of himself 'morally neutral', as Aaron put it. Can you provide Scriptural documentation anywhere for either of these ideas? If not, can you let me know if we're misunderstanding your position?

I believe that since the gospel comes in the power of the Holy Spirit then there is no one who cannot believe it, even though there are some who do not believe. Here we see that even those who are "lost" and "believe not" could believe the gospel if it were not for the fact that their minds were blinded to it by the god of this age:

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor.4:3-4).

Since even those who are "lost" and "believe not" have the ability to believe the gospel then common sense dictates all men have the same ability.

Jack Hampton's picture

Jay C. wrote:
Jn 12 is pointing forward to the fulfillment of Philippians 2:9-11-

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


I do not think that John 12:32 is speaking about the time when every knee will bow to the name of Jesus Christ. Instead, I believe that the words were in reference to the time when all do not bow to His name. Let us look at the verse in its context:

"Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (Jn.12:32).

I believe that the drawing of all men is in regard to the time which started at the Cross. And since not all men come to the Lord Jesus then it is certain that the word "draw" does not mean an irresistible force.

Pages

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.