The Natural Man Receiveth Not the Things of the Spirit of God

Those within Calvinism often quote the following verse in order to attempt to prove that a sinner cannot believe the things of God unless they are first brought to life.

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor.2:14).

The things of the Spirit of God are "spiritually discerned."

The word "spiritually" means "by the aid of the Holy Spirit" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon). The word "discerned" means to "determine" (Ibid.), as in to determine the truth. So the things of the Spirit of God are determined to be true by the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Now we will apply these things to the gospel. The Bible comes not in "word only" but in the Holy Spirit:

"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance" (1 Thess.1:5).

If the gospel comes "in word only" then the sinner could not respond to its truth. But it comes with the Holy Spirit and with the aid of the Holy Spirit those who do not "resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51) will determine that the gospel is absoluely true.

The gospel declares that those who hear it are sinners and that Christ has died for their sins. Unless the hearer of the gospel resists the Holy Spirt he will be convicted of his sinful condition:

"And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (Jn.16:8).

When the Holy Spirit convicts of sin He presents or exposes facts. He convinces of the truth concerning sin in relationship to the one who hears the gospel and that truth is the evidence that one is a sinner.

Faith is described as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb.11:1).

The gospel, combined with the convicting of sinfulness by the Holy Spirit, provide the "evidence" that the gospel is true. This work of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of the gospel as it effects the hearer who does not resist the Spirit is in reference to "spiritual discernment":

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor.2:14).

The natural man does not believe the evidence of his sinfulness because he resists the Spirit so therefore he has no use for anyone to die for his sins. But those who do not resist the Holy Spirit receive salvation as a result of believing the gospel:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Ro.1:16).

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Pastor Harold's picture

Bro Jack,
If you hunted for lost folks like you do Calvinist, you would be much more useful in our Lord's work. It would seem Witch hunting is a favorite pass time of many preachers these days. I know I have wasted many hours chasing down Armenians for sport. I had to give up this hobby to pastor one His church's.
I'd love to argue theology with you, but this old Calvinist needs to be about seeking that which was lost. You will not change anyones theology with your efforts nor will they change yours. (it is up to God to open blinded eyes) I hate to think your going to waste these next few days posting on SI with the world around you lost and going to Hell. If it is up to us to save them from the flames, lets turn our PC's off and beat the bushes. We can argue about Calvinism with you when we all get to heaven, but it won't be near as fun. Because by then you will be a Calvinist like the rest of us. May every soul you win today be drawn by the Holy Spirit to the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world to the praise of God the father.
Your fellow laborer, Harold

Jack Hampton's picture

Pastor Harold wrote:
I'd love to argue theology with you, but this old Calvinist needs to be about seeking that which was lost.

Harold, good for you.
Quote:
If you hunted for lost folks like you do Calvinist, you would be much more useful in our Lord's work.

How do you know that I don't?
Quote:
It would seem Witch hunting is a favorite pass time of many preachers these days. I know I have wasted many hours chasing down Armenians for sport. I had to give up this hobby to pastor one His church's.

It seems to me that there are many on this forum who would rather attack the messenger instead of answering the message.

I guess when there are no answers then attacking the messenger seems a rather attractive alternative.

James K's picture

Harold, chasing down Armenians for sport sounds mean. I think you meant Arminians.

Jack, we surrender. You have successfully stunted all theology that isn't rooted in the sovereignty of man. There are no answers anywhere for what you have put together. We give you the ball back.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Jack Hampton's picture

James K wrote:
Jack, we surrender. You have successfully stunted all theology that isn't rooted in the sovereignty of man. There are no answers anywhere for what you have put together. We give you the ball back.

How has anything that I have said denied the sovereignty of God?

A sinner cannot conjure up his own faith. He cannot be saved unless he first hears the gospel and that is in the hands of His ministers:

"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).

It's all in God's hand. The only thing in which man plays a part in by believing the "gospel," words that are absolutely true and come in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

When one has exhausted their arsenal normally they begin their retreat with names, innuendos and exaggerations. It appears, Jack, that many with whom you have engaged are in such a retreat.

Your identification that with the Word is the presence of the Holy Spirit that the natural man may understand is well documented. I notice a rather large dearth of responses to your argument here.

Greg Long's picture

The point is, Alex, that Jack has joined this site with an agenda and from his very first post has waged an unprovoked battle against Calvinism/Covenant Theology, as if these issues had never been discussed before on this site. And he is doing so with a dogmatic, unrelenting style that turns people off because it seems (notice I said "seems") that he is unwilling to consider any contrary evidence to his positions. I say this as one who is neither a 5-point Calvinist nor a Covenant Theologian.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Jack Hampton's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
When one has exhausted their arsenal normally they begin their retreat with names, innuendos and exaggerations. It appears, Jack, that many with whom you have engaged are in such a retreat.

Your identification that with the Word is the presence of the Holy Spirit that the natural man may understand is well documented. I notice a rather large dearth of responses to your argument here.


Alex, what you say is true and a good example is what Greg just posted. It is the same old worn out tactic, "When you cannot answer the message attack the messenger."

They seem to think that if they somehow can undermine my credibilty then the verses which contradict their views will just disappear!

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Greg Long wrote:
The point is, Alex, that Jack has joined this site with an agenda
That may or may not be so, but in the case of it being so, as long as one's agenda falls within the permitted discussion or debate parameters of SI, I do not find it a valid cause for objecting or for some who are dismissing him or his arguments.

Greg Long wrote:
and from his very first post has waged an unprovoked battle against Calvinism/Covenant Theology, as if these issues had never been discussed before on this site.
I do not agree that he is discussing them as if they have never been discussed, rather he is doing so with the reality that he has never participated in those threads and is introducing his views on well discussed topics as a new member which I believe are valid causes for threads.

As to the unprovoked battle, I am not so sure this is the case. Theological assertions are provocative in themselves and certainly Calvinism, like many schools, contain provocative assertions. Now if you mean provoked here, at SI, I would still consider many of the provocative assertions made in those past discussions by adherents to Calvinism, here at SI, which Jack may have indeed read. His membership is new but his reading of SI may not be.

Greg Long wrote:
And he is doing so with a dogmatic, unrelenting style that turns people off because it seems (notice I said "seems") that he is unwilling to consider any contrary evidence to his positions. I say this as one who is neither a 5-point Calvinist nor a Covenant Theologian.
As to his considerations of the arguments contrary to his positions, everyone I have seen made so far, Jack has responded to so he has given them consideration indeed. As to his dogmatism, obviously he is confident and I know dogmatism at SI certainly has overflowed on many occasions by esteemed members so I am not confident dogmatism is a problem.

As to he turning people off, he certainly has not turned me off and I have disagreed with him. What has turned me off is the rudeness with which he has been treated with sarcasm and the implications he is not interested in winning others to the Lord instead of those participants dealing with his positions. After all, that is what we are here for in a rather significant way.

I am interested in a thorough treatment of his OP and not questions about his motives or preoccupation with his style, particularly when some complaining have been rude to him. And I have yet noticed him returning the rudeness or implications about the character of others.

And I hate responding off topic, he isn't the topic and should not be, it should be the OP so to the powers that be, forgive me, but I was responding to a post and I, personally, return to the topic.

James K's picture

Quote:
It seems to me that there are many on this forum who would rather attack the messenger instead of answering the message.

I guess when there are no answers then attacking the messenger seems a rather attractive alternative.

This is what I was originally responding to. Someone said they would rather evangelize than do the back and forth with Jack. I responded to his sad face that no one was dealing with what he said and only attacking him.

I haven't read all of your thoughts on every issue Jack. Your showing up throwing punches though is something I would have engaged in years ago. Now I will just follow Rom 15:1.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Jack Hampton's picture

James K wrote:
I haven't read all of your thoughts on every issue Jack. Your showing up throwing punches though is something I would have engaged in years ago. Now I will just follow Rom 15:1.

Since I have no intention of letting sleeping dogs lie here is my approach:

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tim.4:2-4).

James K's picture

Quote:
Since I have no intention of letting sleeping dogs lie here is my approach:

Letting sleeping dogs lie refers to "Do not instigate trouble.; Leave something alone if it might cause trouble." So you have the intention of instigating trouble by your own admission? I am pretty sure that is a virtue somewhere, but not in scripture.

I don't want to further upset you Jack, but do you really think that my not wanting to poke a hornet's nest is the equivalent of not enduring sound doctrine?

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Jack Hampton's picture

James K wrote:
Letting sleeping dogs lie refers to "Do not instigate trouble.; Leave something alone if it might cause trouble."

False teaching always causes trouble in one way or another. That is why Paul gives these instructions:

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tim.4:2-4).

Quote:
So you have the intention of instigating trouble by your own admission? I am pretty sure that is a virtue somewhere, but not in scripture.

I don't want to further upset you Jack, but do you really think that my not wanting to poke a hornet's nest is the equivalent of not enduring sound doctrine?


It is funny how you fail to mention the words of Paul to reprove and rebuke. I guess those words have no place in your politically correct world. There is a good chance that anytime you follow Paul's words it is going to cause trouble but I believe that taking a real stand in the defense of the Word of God is more important than trying to avoid conflict.

Pastor Harold's picture

I am speaking for myself and I'm sure some of the others will agree; most of the post fall under Titus 3:9. No one is interested in discussion and learning, only promoting a system and putting down someone else's theology. Would this not be considered "foolish questions" and "contentions?" The text says we are to "avoid" these. No one is attacking the messenger as much as the messenger is attacking this forum.
Lets just stop, what do you say? I will stop first. You can post after me and get the last word in, and I won't respond. Then these foolish arguments will be over.

Jack Hampton's picture

Pastor Harold wrote:
I am speaking for myself and I'm sure some of the others will agree; most of the post fall under Titus 3:9. No one is interested in discussion and learning, only promoting a system and putting down someone else's theology. Would this not be considered "foolish questions" and "contentions?" The text says we are to "avoid" these. No one is attacking the messenger as much as the messenger is attacking this forum.

Lets just stop, what do you say? I will stop first. You can post after me and get the last word in, and I won't respond. Then these foolish arguments will be over.


"But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain" (Titus 3:9).

I do not think that the points which I am raising are "foolish questions," as if they are not worth discussing.

In fact, the subject of this thread is one of the favorite verses which the Calvinists like to quote in order to attempt to support their views. I would think that the Calvinists would welcome the opportunity to have a full discussion on this subject.

It seems that your attitude is that everyone should accept the meaning which the Calvinists place on this verse and anyone who wants to present an opposing view is doing nothing more than raising foolish questions!

Daniel's picture

I am completely lost as to what you are asking or what you are stating. I could take guesses, but would rather not. Can you be a bit more specific?

Jack Hampton's picture

Daniel wrote:
I am completely lost as to what you are asking or what you are stating. I could take guesses, but would rather not. Can you be a bit more specific?

Daniel, I am just explaining the meaning which I place on the verse which I quote in my initial post:

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor.2:14).

Go back and read what I say and then if you have any specific question I will be happy to try and answer it for you.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Jack,
Your argument and conclusion(s) are not as clear as you seem to think.
Based on the original post, let me see if I have you right. Your view is that...

  1. Natural man does not receive the gospel without the aid of the Spirit
  2. The Spirit sometimes "comes with the gospel" and sometimes doesn't
  3. If the Spirit does come, the sinner believes because the Spirit persuades him
  4. If the Spirit does not come, the sinner rejects the gospel

    If this is what you are saying, I fail to see how it differs from the old Reformed idea of irresistible grace (which I am not arguing for or against here). That is, the Spirit only "comes" in the sense of bringing conviction of the truth, to those whom God has chosen... and if He does they do not reject (resist) the message of the gospel. And if He does not, they are helpless to genuinely see it's truth.

    But I'm thinking it was not your goal to make a case for irresistible grace. So... how about spelling out what exactly your target is and you believe you have hit it?

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,
Your argument and conclusion(s) are not as clear as you seem to think.
Based on the original post, let me see if I have you right. Your view is that...

Natural man does not receive the gospel without the aid of the Spirit.


Aaron, the answer is "Yes," that is what I am saying.
Quote:
The Spirit sometimes "comes with the gospel" and sometimes doesn't

You say that my conclusions are not as clear as I seem to think. But I wonder how closely you read what I wrote because nothing I said even hints that sometimers the Holy Spirit does not come with the gospel.
Quote:
If the Spirit does come, the sinner believes because the Spirit persuades him

I believe that the gospel and the Holy Spirit work together to reveal the truth to those who are dead in their sin. The words of the gospel reveal to those who are dead in sin that they are sinners and that Christ died for his sins. At the same time the Holy Spirit exposes his sinful condition to him.
Quote:
If the Spirit does not come, the sinner rejects the gospel

Aaron, it is as if you did not read what I said. If you would have read it you would know that I said that those who reject the gospel do so because they "resist the Holy Spirit."
Quote:
If this is what you are saying, I fail to see how it differs from the old Reformed idea of irresistible grace (which I am not arguing for or against here). That is, the Spirit only "comes" in the sense of bringing conviction of the truth, to those whom God has chosen... and if He does they do not reject (resist) the message of the gospel. And if He does not, they are helpless to genuinely see it's truth.

You are having trouble with your thinking. Since a person can "resist the Holy Spirit" and by doing that he rejects the gospel then it is evident that the Calvinist idea of "irresistible grace" is not in play.

You also say that I believe that "the Spirit only "comes" in the sense of bringing conviction of the truth, to those whom God has chosen."

I never said anything that hints that the gospel which comes in ther power of the Holy Spirit only to those whom God has chosen.

Quote:
But I'm thinking it was not your goal to make a case for irresistible grace. So... how about spelling out what exactly your target is and you believe you have hit it?

Aaron, it is obvious to me that you did not read what I said with enough attention to detail or else you would not be so confused about what I said.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Quote:
Jack Hampton said: Aaron, it is obvious to me that you did not read what I said with enough attention to detail or else you would not be so confused about what I said.

I'm confused Jack, is this response an example of the humility or the unity of the Spirit you were promoting in another thread just now?

Do you really have to keep resorting to personal attacks on people. Either you are willing to try again to make yourself clear, or you are not. It really is a simple question. Can you please provide some simple, clear, concise answers?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
I'm confused Jack, is this response an example of the humility or the unity of the Spirit you were promoting in another thread just now?

I was merely stating the truth in regard to what Aaron said about my ideas. For example, he asked me if the following idea represented my beliefs:
Quote:
The Spirit sometimes "comes with the gospel" and sometimes doesn't

Go back to my original post and there is nothing that I said that even hints that I was saying that sometimes the Spirit comes with the gospel and sometimes it doesn't.
Aaron then said:
Quote:
If the Spirit does not come, the sinner rejects the gospel

Again, I never said anything about the Spirit not coming with the gospel. On my original post on this thread I made it plain that those who reject the gospel do so because the "resist the Holy Spirit." Go back and read it if you do not believe me.

What I said seems to be lost on Aaron. And that is why I told him the following:

"Aaron, it is obvious to me that you did not read what I said with enough attention to detail or else you would not be so confused about what I said."

So I had a resonable reason for saying this to Aaron. But despite this you accuse me of "resorting to personal attacks on people":

Quote:
Do you really have to keep resorting to personal attacks on people.

I would say that it is you who is making false accusations against me since I made no personal attacks on anyone.

James K's picture

Jack, it appears as though you are being targeted by many people as someone who is confused and confusing. Can you plainly state whether or not you believe you are a victim? The very fact that people ask you time and again to clarify and you respond by telling them they are confused demonstrates to me you are a victim.

If you are a victim, what steps can you take, if any, to no longer be a victim?

If you are not a victim, what steps can you take to address the concerns people have without indicating they are blockheads?

Please clearly answer so we only have to go through this experience once.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Jack wrote:
You say that my conclusions are not as clear as I seem to think. But I wonder how closely you read what I wrote because nothing I said even hints that sometimers the Holy Spirit does not come with the gospel.

Actually you did. From the first post in the thread:
Jack wrote:
If the gospel comes "in word only" then the sinner could not respond to its truth. But it comes with the Holy Spirit and with the aid of the Holy Spirit those who do not "resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:51) will determine that the gospel is absoluely true.

The second clause appears to me missing an "if" before "it"... but I see now that this was not intended.
(Part of my confusion was also due to your citing verses that do not have a clear relationship to the points they seemed to be linked to)

But I get what you're saying now... and this also answers the other three questions: in your view the gospel always comes "with the Holy Spirit."

I wonder where that is written? In the context of 1Thess., Paul is referring to the enthusiastic responseto the gospel and explaining why it occurred. "With the Spirit" here means "with the Spirit's power producing abundant results." It would follow that in other places where Paul preached and did not get much of a response, the Spirit was not working in the hearers to the same degree. So the gospel is not always "with the Spirit" in that sense.

Here's the verse in question (1Thess.1:5)

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were... (nkjv)

Note the word "for"... it looks back to their election in the preceding verse (v.4)

From the OP

Jack wrote:
The gospel, combined with the convicting of sinfulness by the Holy Spirit, provide the "evidence" that the gospel is true. This work of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of the gospel as it effects the hearer who does not resist the Spirit is in reference to "spiritual discernment":

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor.2:14).

The natural man does not believe the evidence of his sinfulness because he resists the Spirit so therefore he has no use for anyone to die for his sins. But those who do not resist the Holy Spirit receive salvation as a result of believing the gospel:


A couple of problems here:
1) Where does it say "they are spiritually discerned if he does not resist"?
2) The Spirit is not just convicting people of their sinfulness in John 16:8. He is also convincing them of righteousness (this would be "where true righteousness may be had: in Christ alone") and judgment (that they will not escape if they do not trust Christ.... or something pretty close to that). So the Spirit is convincing people of the entire gospel, not just the sin part.
3) Convict there (ἐλέγχω) means convince. (It can mean "rebuke" but that doesn't fit here since it refers to sin, righteousness and judgment). When you are convinced, you believe.

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:
But I get what you're saying now... and this also answers the other three questions: in your view the gospel always comes "with the Holy Spirit."

I wonder where that is written? In the context of 1Thess., Paul is referring to the enthusiastic responseto the gospel and explaining why it occurred. "With the Spirit" here means "with the Spirit's power producing abundant results." It would follow that in other places where Paul preached and did not get much of a response, the Spirit was not working in the hearers to the same degree. So the gospel is not always "with the Spirit" in that sense.


I see no reason to suppose that in some instances the gospel comes with the Holy Spirit and in some instances it does not. The Lord Jesus said:

"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).

I find it hard to believe that it was only when He was speaking to the elect that His words were "Spirit and life" but when he addressed His words to the nonelect His words were neither Spirit nor were they life. What if He was speaking to a crowd? Frankly, I see no reason to suppose that the gospel does not always come with the Holy Spirit.

"Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into" (1 Pet.1:12).

Quote:
A couple of problems here:
1) Where does it say "they are spiritually discerned if he does not resist"?

I believe it is implied by the words in regard to what is preached being "foolishness unto him":

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him" (1 Cor.2:14).

The reason that the gospel is "foolishness unto him" is because he rejects the "convincing" power of the Holy Spirit in regard to his sinful conditions as well as in regard to righteousness and judgment. The reason why he does not believe these things is because he resists the Holy Spirit.

Quote:
2) The Spirit is not just convicting people of their sinfulness in John 16:8. He is also convincing them of righteousness (this would be "where true righteousness may be had: in Christ alone") and judgment (that they will not escape if they do not trust Christ.... or something pretty close to that). So the Spirit is convincing people of the entire gospel, not just the sin part.

I do not see how this hurts my position at all.
Quote:
3) Convict there (ἐλέγχω) means convince. (It can mean "rebuke" but that doesn't fit here since it refers to sin, righteousness and judgment). When you are convinced, you believe.

The Holy Spirit has been sent to the world with the express purpose of convincing the "world" of these things:

"And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (Jn.16:8).

Since it is obvious that not all people of the world are convinced of these things it is clear to me that the reference is the "purpose" of the Holy Spirit and not to the "result." That is the same sense that is spoken of here (in bold):

"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Ro.5:18).

The purpose of the free gift was to bring justification of life for all men but since all men do not believe only some men actually receive this justification. So there words are not in regard to the "result" of the free gift but instead are in regard to the "purpose" of that gift.

Jack Hampton's picture

James K wrote:
Jack, it appears as though you are being targeted by many people as someone who is confused and confusing. Can you plainly state whether or not you believe you are a victim?

Kevin, I believe that I was not as clear about what I said as I should have been and that resulted in people asking me to clear up what I was saying. So I do not think that I am a victim.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Jack wrote:
I see no reason to suppose that in some instances the gospel comes with the Holy Spirit and in some instances it does not. The Lord Jesus said:

I've provided one reason already: 1 Thess 1.5... Paul's argument there is that there acceptance of the gospel was due to the Spirit powerfully working along with the message. This would imply that others did not accept the gospel because the Spirit did not work--at least not in the same way.

Jack wrote:
"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).

I find it hard to believe that it was only when He was speaking to the elect that His words were "Spirit and life" but when he addressed His words to the nonelect His words were neither Spirit nor were they life. What if He was speaking to a crowd? Frankly, I see no reason to suppose that the gospel does not always come with the Holy Spirit.


There are two better ways to take this statement, both of which do not support your point.
a) The "spirit" there is in contrast to flesh and does not refer to the Holy Spirit. In this case, "they are spirit" would mean their nature is that they deal with spiritual realities not physical ones. They reveal spiritual truths.
b) Probably better: the first "spirit" is the Holy Spirit and therefore "they are spirit" means "they are from the Spirit."
It's an interesting statement. I'm sure there are other views and I'm curious now. Will do some more digging.
But Jesus did not say "my words are always accompanied by the convicting work of the Spirit." If that is what He meant, it's necessary to make some exegetical case for taking it that way.

As for 1 Peter 1:12, the "them" in "them that have preached" is the prophets (see v.10). So "preached the gospel by the Holy Spirit" refers to them receiving the message of the gospel from the Spirit or to the Spirit empowering them to do the preaching. Even the latter is not the same as the Spirit always bringing conviction to the hearer.

Jack wrote:
Aaron wrote:

2) The Spirit is not just convicting people of their sinfulness in John 16:8. He is also convincing them of righteousness (this would be "where true righteousness may be had: in Christ alone") and judgment (that they will not escape if they do not trust Christ.... or something pretty close to that). So the Spirit is convincing people of the entire gospel, not just the sin part.

I do not see how this hurts my position at all.

Your reasoning, as I understood was that the Spirit convinces all hearers of the gospel that they are sinners and that this is evidence that the gospel is true, evidence they may reject. My point is that if He is convincing them they are sinners, He is also convincing them of the rest of the gospel. So their sinnerhood is not "evidence" they may accept or reject on the way to accepting or rejecting the rest of the gospel. The whole gospel is included in the Spirit's convicting work.

I may need to clarify something here. I do believe it is possible to resist, even "quench" the Spirit (1 Thess.5:19). But there are two things important to keep in mind about that. 1) The passage refers to believers and is a metaphor of some kind (the word has to do with putting out a fire). What's clear is that it has to do with not being as responsive as we ought to be to the Spirit as believers. 2) When the Spirit does His John 16:8 work, He does not necessarily do it completely all at once in every case. For whatever reason, He often draws (John 6:44... the Father is in view here, but I think He does this through the Spirit) slowly. It's accurate enough to say that people often "resist" before they arrive at full conviction.

Jack wrote:
"And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (Jn.16:8).

Since it is obvious that not all people of the world are convinced of these things it is clear to me that the reference is the "purpose" of the Holy Spirit and not to the "result." That is the same sense that is spoken of here (in bold):


Taking is as purpose doesn't really solve the "world" problem there. Even as an expression of purpose it would be saying "It is His purpose to convince the world." So He either fails in His purpose or that convincing is also the result.

The result is that I'm probably going to have to backpedal on my earlier assertion that "convict" here means "convince" i.e., personal faith. Maybe, maybe not. If it's personal faith, one has to take the reference to "the world" (kosmos) in some way that does not indicate "the population of the entire world."
But several of my better commentaries are arguing for taking the term "convict" in a judicial sense, but still not quite equivalent to our judicial "convict." So the idea is He legally declares the world to be sinful, declares the standard by which they are judged (righteousness) and passes sentence.
There are some problems with this idea, too.

So I'm back at the drawing board on that passage at the moment. One thing is certain: the Spirit there is not merely supplying sinners with some evidence that might result in their reasoning their way to seeing the truth of the rest of the gospel.

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:
Paul's argument there is that there acceptance of the gospel was due to the Spirit powerfully working along with the message. This would imply that others did not accept the gospel because the Spirit did not work--at least not in the same way.

Aaron, I can find no evidence in the Scriptures that supports your assertion here. I will go over some of the same ground which I previously presented to you (to which you did not respond).

I believe that the following verse demonstrates that man's mind is not blind to the gospel so therefore he can understand it:

"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor.4:3-4).

The very fact that the "god of this age" is able to blind the minds of men to the truth of the gospel demonstrates that it is possible that all men can see and understand the gospel. And since it is possible for all men to see the truth of the gospel then it is obvious that the gospel comes to men in the same way. And here is the way that the Lord has chosen to reveal the truths of the gospel to all who hear it:

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God...which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Cor.2:9-10,13).

Paul said that God reveals the things of the gospel by the Holy Spirit. And since this is the way that the Lord chooses to reveal the gospel to those who can see the light of the gospel then that is the way that He would reveal it to all who hear it. Not just some.

So therefore the gospel comes in the Holy Spirit to all who hear it and not just to some.

Quote:
I do believe it is possible to resist, even "quench" the Spirit (1 Thess.5:19). But there are two things important to keep in mind about that. 1) The passage refers to believers and is a metaphor of some kind...

Why did you not address the verse which speak of "unbelievers" resisting the Holy Spirit? Stephen told the unbelieving Jews the following:

"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers" (Acts 7:51-52).

The truths of the gospel are revealed to all who hear it by the Holy Spirit and it is only those who "resist the Holy Spirit" who do not believe.

Kevin Miller's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
I believe that the following verse demonstrates that man's mind is not blind to the gospel so therefore he can understand it:

"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor.4:3-4).

The very fact that the "god of this age" is able to blind the minds of men to the truth of the gospel demonstrates that it is possible that all men can see and understand the gospel.

The logic of your statements here eludes me. The verse tell us that Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers, and you claim that the verse "demonstrates that man's mind is not blind to the gospel." The verse says that man IS blind to the Gospel, doesn't it? So how does that demonstrate that man is not blind? You have used this verse to show that man is not blind due to some birth condition from Adam, and I can at least see your reasoning there. If man was blind from a birth condition, then why would Satan have to blind him? So even if it is not a birth condition that causes man's blindness, the blindness is still a reality since the verse says that Satan is blinding man. How can you claim that all men are not blinded to the gospel by Satan if the verse says that they are?

Aaron Blumer's picture

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I'm finding an interesting variety of views on John 16.8. Some, such as Ryrie, seem closer to Jack's view, sort of. That is, they take the three things the Spirit "convicts" the world of there as key truths of the gospel but view the conviction as a "making clear" in this case, not a convincing. I'm not convinced that's accurate.

But let's look at the OP to get back to the point at issue...

Jack wrote:
The gospel declares that those who hear it are sinners and that Christ has died for their sins. Unless the hearer of the gospel resists the Holy Spirt he will be convicted of his sinful condition:

"And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (Jn.16:8).

When the Holy Spirit convicts of sin He presents or exposes facts. He convinces of the truth concerning sin in relationship to the one who hears the gospel and that truth is the evidence that one is a sinner.

These observations are offered as part of the argument in support of this conclusion

Jack wrote:
Those within Calvinism often quote the following verse in order to attempt to prove that a sinner cannot believe the things of God unless they are first brought to life.

OK, I don't really care to defend the idea of regeneration before faith. I don't think it actually works that way. But John 16:8 proves nothing whatsoever about what a sinner is able to do.

Jack wrote:
Aaron wrote:

Paul's argument there is that there acceptance of the gospel was due to the Spirit powerfully working along with the message. This would imply that others did not accept the gospel because the Spirit did not work--at least not in the same way.

Aaron, I can find no evidence in the Scriptures that supports your assertion here. I will go over some of the same ground which I previously presented to you


I've already pointed out the evidence. "For" in 1Thess.1:5 points back to the phrase in 1:4 and marks an explanation of it--the reason for it or cause of it. Because the Spirit came in power and much assurance Paul was able to "know" their election. 1.6 elaborates further on the thought, detailing the powerful working of the Spirit. So Paul was claiming that the Spirit's work produced the fruit described in the context.

If the Spirit's work was responsible for the results, it follows that had the Spirit not done this work, the results would not have occurred.

Jack wrote:
The very fact that the "god of this age" is able to blind the minds of men to the truth of the gospel demonstrates that it is possible that all men can see and understand the gospel. And since it is possible for all men to see the truth of the gospel then it is obvious that the gospel comes to men in the same way.

It doesn't follow. First, being able to "see and understand" is not the same as being able to respond in faith. Second, it doesn't follow at all that if everybody can see something everybody actually does see it... that "it" actually enters their field of view, so to speak.
For example, I "can" understand a ship's SOS in Morse Code--I can hear and I can recognize the code. But I've never actually heard a ship send that signal. Are you actually claiming that everybody hears and understands the gospel?

I think it's far more in harmony with the overall teaching of Scripture to see human nature, "natural man," as having a nature that in inherently rebellious toward God and the gospel and we are as unwilling and unable (perhaps because unwilling) to repent as a bird is unwilling to give up flying or a fish is unwilling to stop swimming. Rom.3:11. Human beings are just not God-seeking creatures by nature.

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 it's far more in harmony with the overall teaching of Scripture to see human nature, "natural man," as having a nature that in inherently rebellious toward God and the gospel and we are as unwilling and unable (perhaps because unwilling) to repent as a bird is unwilling to give up flying or a fish is unwilling to stop swimming. Rom.3:11. Human beings are just not God-seeking creatures by nature.

Aaron, I think that you will admit that you came to repentance. What changed in your nature that allowed you to repent?
Quote:
OK, I don't really care to defend the idea of regeneration before faith. I don't think it actually works that way.

Now I am even more curious as to what changed in your nature that allowed you to come to repentance. At one time you must have been a "natural man" who was unwilling and unable to repent as a bird is unwilling to give up flying. But then something happened and you did repent.

Can you explain what it was that changed your very nature and allowed you to repent?

Thanks!

Jack Hampton's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:
The logic of your statements here eludes me. The verse tell us that Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers, and you claim that the verse "demonstrates that man's mind is not blind to the gospel." The verse says that man IS blind to the Gospel, doesn't it?

Kevin, the verse speaks of some men whose mind has been blinded to the gospel by Satan.
Quote:
So how does that demonstrate that man is not blind?

It is impossible to blind someone who is already blind. Therefore, common sense dictates that those who were blinded were able to see before they were blinded. so man in his natural state is able to see the light of the gospel.
Quote:
How can you claim that all men are not blinded to the gospel by Satan if the verse says that they are?

I said that before anyone was blinded by Satan they were able to see.

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