Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Unguarded Quotes / Bear or Burn Theology

Here are a few quotes when some Calvinists let their guards down:

"Heaven can only be reached by continuing along the sole path that leads thither, namely, the 'Narrow Way.' Those who persevere not in faith and holiness, love and obedience, will assuredly perish" (A.W. Pink, "Eternal Security", chapter 3, online edition).

"There is a deadly and damnable heresy being widely propagated today to the effect that, if a sinner truly accepts Christ as his personal Saviour, no matter how he lives afterwards, he cannot perish. That is a satanic lie, for it is at direct variance with the teaching of the Word of truth. Something more than believing in Christ is necessary to ensure the soul's reaching heaven." (A.W. Pink as quoted by Iain H. Murray in "The Life of Arthur W. Pink" pgs 248-249)

"...we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith." (John Piper "TULIP: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism...", pg 25)

"I was asked the question about a year ago by a group of pastors in in Pennsylvania... 'What do you think is the one doctrine that is the most destructive in the life of the church...today? And I said, the doctrine of Eternal Security... God justifies, but man must have faith and he must obey.... Romans 2:13-14, when it says the one who obeys the law is justified, it means exactly that. That is not a hypothetical verse, ladies and gentlemen, the way many Protestants have read it. And when James 2:13-14 says, 'The doers of the law shall be justified,' it means the doers of the law shall be justified. That's why Paul and James are not in conflict...Let me suggest [also] Ephesians 2:8-10...We are saved unto good works. They're necessary consequential works. Without them there is no salvation. Right?" (John Armstrong "Reflections from Jonathan Edwards on the Current Debate over Justification by Faith Alone").

"Reader, if there is a reserve in your obedience, you are on the way to hell" (A.W. Pink, "Studies on Saving Faith" Part 2, online edition)

"Neither the members of the church nor the elect can be saved unless they persevere in holiness. And they cannot persevere in holiness without continual watchfulness and effort." (Charles Hodge, "A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians", pg 181)

When push comes to shove, Reformed theology conditions eternal life on works. That they say works are necessary as the inevitable result of saving faith conclusively shows that they consider works absolutely necessary for final salvation. Their insistence that it is a "required necessary result" is meant to mask what they truly believe, for, as the long quote from Joseph Dillow from His book "The Reign of the Servant Kings" will show (see below), a necessary result for which we are responsible is the same as a condition.

Piper says, "We are not saved by faith plus works but by a faith that works." "The faith that alone justifies is never alone." Salvation is absolutely free "but will cost you everything" (MacArthur).

(Begin Joseph Dillow "The Reign of the Servant Kings")
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"When Reformed Theologians use such phrases as 'faith alone saves a man, but the faith that saves is not alone,' they are in fact unconsciously speaking nonsense. Terminology like "faith plus works does not save, but a faith that works does" is simply saying that faith plus works saves. The cleverness of the prose serves to conceal the fact. Proverbial sayings like this have been passed on in the theology textbooks for centuries. They seem to have explanatory power, and they certainly left opponents of the Reformed Theology system speechless, but in reality they are not only empty of meaning but contradictory. They are simply ways of saying that true faith necessarily results in works, but it is the faith, not the resulting works, which saves. This, however, is quite confusing. If the works are a necessary result of the faith and if a man cannot be saved without them, then the works, in fact, a condition for salvation. If they are not present, the man will perish. Necessary results for which we are responsible are the same as conditions.

A simple illustration may suffice here. "Consider the marriage requirements in this country. If a man is to get married, he must have a blood test. Now it is clear that someone could break the law or, perhaps, some state does not require this. However, the author shall create a fictional world where this is always true. Then we can say the condition of getting married is a mutual commitment to do so. Furthermore, the necessary and inevitable result of that commitment is a trip to the hospital to get a blood test. In addition, getting a blood test is a condition of getting married. A necessary result is no different than a condition! I could then observe to a friend that, “A blood test is a condition of getting married.” He may then say, “No, securing a blood test is not a condition of getting married but a necessary result of a commitment to get married.” But here now you may be able to see that the blood test is both a result and a condition."
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(End Dillow)

So the same with works. If works are a necessary result of saving faith, and if those works aren’t present then the person doesn’t go to heaven (showing that he was never truly saved), then those works become a condition for that salvation.

Here is the real rub:

If there is no works, there is no heaven.

It could be termed : "Bear or Burn Theology" (works-contingent salvation)

Antonio

37 Comments:

Blogger Rose~ said...

Bear fruit or burn in hell, huh? Do they really believe this?

I saw a book by Pink once (can't remember the title but it had to do with tulip) and was totally appalled. He is quite violent verbally.

Those "unguarded quotes" are quite surprising. GREAT POST! Keep it up (even though not a lot comment, they probably read).

November 14, 2005 9:57 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Thanks for your encouragements.

I haven't made many friends in the blogosphere because of my theology. It is not popular.

Antonio

November 14, 2005 1:57 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Add one to the friend side of the list. ;-)

November 15, 2005 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antonio - you never cease to amaze me. You have no clue

November 15, 2005 5:05 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

I am not the one hiding behind an anonymous post.

Antonio

November 15, 2005 6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps if you were a calvanist, God would have enlightened you with my identity.

November 16, 2005 6:10 AM  
Blogger pilgrim said...

I have seen most of theose quotes in their original contexts---and you have presented them out of context with a subtext of misrepresenting what Calvinism is--therefore it is easy to present them as letting down their guard.

They are presenting what Calvinism/reformed theology truly is, and not what you think it is.

November 17, 2005 1:47 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Pilgrim,

Thank you for viewing my blog. I appreciate your comment.

I, too, have read them within their context, and have taken their positions to their logical end.

Please stick around and check back every few days and comment. You are welcome here and appreciated.

I am not here to bash individuals. I am here to question a system, and that system alone. I do not question the sincerity of indivuals. I am questioning their theology.

Thank you agian for your comments.

Antonio

November 17, 2005 1:53 PM  
Anonymous JG said...

These quotes are WAY out of context, and show not only your misrepresentation of these men's views, but also your misunderstanding of what they are saying....as well as your misunderstanding of salvation.

You promote a free grace....but your grace is cheaper and weaker than that. It doesn't even produce results.

What about "so great salvation"?? It's not so great in your system.
You think that grace produces nothing in us. Sad.

December 11, 2005 1:22 PM  
Blogger Theophile said...

I'm wondering why you would have a problem with the system you seem to be criticizing. I'm a Calvinist and I have no problem claiming the quotes you posted, without any further contextualizing.

The Bible seems very, very clear that works are crucial for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. You can't live in a manner antithetical to your calling and expect to end up in glory.

December 11, 2005 1:44 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

JG,

It is one thing to merely propose that I have taken these quotes out of context, it is another thing altogether to demonstrate that I have. It would take Houdini to get out of these quotes!

Is it "grace" to force someone into holiness? Are these the results that you are referring to?

There are consequences for not progressing in sanctification. Great and terrible ones to the regenerate one who is spurning holiness.

You say faith + works = salvation.

I say faith alone in Christ alone for eternal life.

My statement is orthodox, your position is not.

Grace produces in us quite a bit. Yet the regenerate one still has an old sin capacity, that, unless he, by an act of the will, mortifies, yielding himself to Christ, he will not have victory over. God does not drag any regenerate person down the path of obedience, nor does He extinguish the old sin nature this side of heaven, nor does He make us irresistibly progressively holy.

Theophile, thank you for your visit to my blog.

Let me tell you what Jesus Christ says to expect:

Eternal life when you simply believe on Him with the purpose of receiving it.

You may be comfortable conditioning eternal life on works, but I am not, for the Bible puts them at variance with each other:

"If it is by grace, then it is no longer of works, or else grace is no longer grace" (Romans 11:6). You are advocating eternal life that comes through a works-righteousness, and not by grace.

"To him who works, his wages are not accounted as grace but as debt. To him who DOES NOT WORK, but BELIEVES on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (Romans 4:4,5)

Works have nothing to do with it at all. To claim that they do is to assert that eternal life/justification is according to merit, to debt for work done, i.e. works-salvation.

Eternal life is a free gift, which was purchased with the pricesless blood of Jesus Christ. It was infinitely costly to Him, but it is absolutely free to us.

It is either free, or you can't afford it!

Please stick around. I intend to read your blog. You both are welcome here, and thank you for your visit. Please come by and visit again!

warmly in Christ,

Antonio

December 11, 2005 3:39 PM  
Blogger Theophile said...

I am not going to try to "set you straight" on what I believe, as I'm sure you think you already know. I'm just interested in what you do with the literally hundreds of verses that say that works contribute to a person's final salvation and those that positively equate loving God with doing what He says.

If you would like a few representative verses, these are ones I'd be interested to see you interact with:

Genesis 26:5
Leviticus 26:14-46
Deuteronomy 4:39-40
Deuteronomy 5:8-10
Deuteronomy 5:29
Deuteronomy 11 (whole chapter)
Psalm 19
Psalm 119 (whole chapter, but particularly verses 92-104 and 166-168)
Psalm 89:31-32
Isaiah 64:5-9
Matthew 5:19
Matthew 19:17
Luke 1:6
John 14:15, 21 ff.
John 15:5-6
Romans 6 (whole chapter)
1 Corinthians 7:19
1 Timothy 5:20
Hebrews 3:12-4:13 (particularly 4:11)
Hebrews 6:4-8
Hebrews 10:26-31
1 John 2:3-7
1 John 3:23-24

I am wondering how someone could read these representative passages and come away with the idea that keeping God's commandments are in any way optional, or not an irrevocable requirement for the Christian.

You ridicule Reformed systematics and call it bear or burn theology. But "bear or burn" is precicely what Jesus said in John 15. It also what the author of Hebrews says in chapter 6.

So how do you justify cheap grace?

December 11, 2005 7:29 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Theophile,

a few observations:

First, by your candid response, you have taken upon yourself the mantle of works-salvation. I see that this, indeed doesn't even phase you, as you essentially state that works are required for heaven.

On this note, your insistence on works for salvation, John Calvin would heartily disagree, as would Luther. It is the legacy of the Puritans that you attach yourself to, and not the Reformers, who have turned the message of grace into works-righteousness.

You have not paved a road back to Wittenburg, but back to Rome.

As concerning your plethora of rapid-fire prooftexting, why don't you pick a few that you find support your position the greatest and expound them to me. I would then be inclined to expound the same verses myself.

It is one thing to rapid-fire prooftext, painting your implied interpretation broadly across them all, but it is quite another thing altogether to expound from them your theology.

You call my position cheap grace. That is an unfortunate pejorative. You see, in my view, grace is not cheap, but FREE to the recipient. So here you have mischaracterized and misrepresented my position.

According to Romans 4:4 and 11:6, you do not even preach grace whatsoever, but you preach works and debt, thus works-righteousness.

You may be comfortable with that, the Puritans may be comfortable with that, but Paul was not.

So again, the challenge is put forth to you. Pick a few passages from your proof-texting arsenal, and prove that they support your theology.

Otherwise, why come around and muddy up the waters with your mere opinion and contention?

I will be happy to show you, from the verses you choose to expound, that they indeed to not say what you are importing into them to say.

Thank you for your visit and comments, as they are much appreciated. Please come around and drop by periodically.

Antonio

December 11, 2005 8:33 PM  
Anonymous JG said...

Since when did Reformed theology become "unorthodox" and Dispensationalism become "orthodoxy"?

Zane Hodges has been refuted many times over. Sadly there are still holding on to this unbiblical "carnal Christian", "absolutely free" concept.

Christ cannot be divided. One cannot have Christ as Savior and not submit to Him as Lord.

Faith will bring about good works. Will it not?

December 11, 2005 9:43 PM  
Blogger Theophile said...

Antonio,
It is interesting that you would say that the Reformers (Calvin, Luther) would disagree with works-righteousness. Your thesis seems to be that they taught it.

I do not believe that justification is contingent upon good works, but final salvation most certainly is. The Reformers would not disagree with this at all. However, you do not seems to accept the distinction. What I have gathered from your post is that you are uninterested in actually understandning what the Reformed position actually teaches.

Your point appears largely reactionary, over sensitive to any hint of legalism to the extreme that you downplay the role of works in any facet of the life of the believer. You are left having to say that God has no eternal interest in the behavior of His children. I would call this take on soteriology the "new kid on the block," but it is actually not. It is inherent Gnosticism and was one of the first heresies to be rejected but the Church.

This reactionary positionis demonstrated in your take on James and consequent thesis that good/bad works only affect a person's temporal lifespan. This idea must be stringently imposed upon the text, while ommiting numerous verses, such as the ones I posted above.

Speaking of those verses, I posted them not because they are profftexts of a specific theological system, but because they all convey the fact that God requires obedience from His children. They all convey the idea that a man who claims to be a Christian but does not have good works should not be regarded as a Christian of any kind.

The verses I posted do not require "expounding," unless one is attempting to make them mean something other than what they say. For example, the John 15 passage clearly says that those who are "in Christ" (cf. Romans 6) must remain in Him by bearing fruit. Otherwise, they will be cut off and burned.

As I said previously, you disparage "bear or burn theology" when the very words you use to do so are the words of Jesus.

December 12, 2005 6:37 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

JG,

in your mind is the only place that Zane Hodges has been "refuted". Your idea of refutation must mean the burning down of the detractors of Zane's straw men.

Do you even know what you are saying? Christ can not be divided? Christ is not only Savior and Lord. His office, work, Person, and ministries reach far beyond your description of Him as but Lord and Savior.

Jesus does not condition eternal life on works of obedience, submitting to Him as Master, or committing your life. This is your reading into the Bible your theology.

You and your Reformed cronies come around here and offer up nothing but assertions, contentions, and objections. Not a single shred of support is offered from a well-reasoned exposition of Scripture.

This is quite telling.

Your reformed dogma and tradition takes precedence over the Bible. So much for sola scriptura!

And so much for sola fide and sola Christo as well. For Reformed theolgy says that faith in Christ is NOT enough, but that it takes perseverance in works to make it to heaven.

Antonio

December 12, 2005 9:27 AM  
Blogger Theophile said...

John 15:5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

What's this mean?

December 12, 2005 9:30 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey theodiphile...

Are you saying that a person that God once justifies can nevertheless not merit final salvation by their works? So a justified person can be in danger of hell?

Are you really Arminian in Calvinist clothing?

You say that I "downplay the role of works in any facet of the life of the believer."

By this, you betray your complete and utter ignorance of the Free Grace position. Maybe you ought to read what THEY have to say, rather than listen to the caricatures of it by it's detractors.

You write:
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You are left having to say that God has no eternal interest in the behavior of His children.
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This couldn't be farther from my position, so therefore, you are arguing against a straw man. You have no idea what Free Grace theology advocates, you have not a clue what Zane Hodges or I believe.

The Bible puts forth a highly developed docrtine of accountability for the Christian. Temporal chastisements, discipline, correction, and wrath, even up to and including premature physical death, are all features of God's dealings with the wayward, sinning, and unfaithful Christian. As well, there are great consequences in eternity for the regenerate, unfaithful Christian, that includes severe loss, honor, glory, position, and reward in the kingdom of God.

Listen, you come around here and proof-text your heart out. Yet understand that the mere referencing to a text will not persuade a critical and biblical mind.

You have offered not a shred of proof for your contentions, while I have been taking great pains to expound the texts in my posts here.

Are you unwilling and unable to receive my challenge that I offered in my last comment to you?

Why not just start at the GREATEST passage that supports your position. Lets make it easy on you. Give us the passage and expound it to support your position, and I will expound the same verse or passage.

All of this mere contention and posturing on your part will get us no where. The Scriptures is where we should rely, not on our dogma or tradition.

Patiently waiting your exposition of Scripture,

Antonio

December 12, 2005 9:41 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Theophile, I would be happy to expound John 15:1ff for us. But I was hoping that you were first going to expound it rather than just quote it as if the mere quotation of it, without a shred of exposition, proves your interpretation.

Give me a well-reasoned exposition of it supporting your interpretation.

And then I will do the same.

Antonio

December 12, 2005 9:45 AM  
Blogger Theophile said...

I have done so. But in case it got lost in the shuffle, I'll repost it:

...the John 15 passage clearly says that those who are "in Christ" (cf. Romans 6) must remain in Him by bearing fruit. Otherwise, they will be cut off and burned.

To address some of your questions:
Are you saying that a person that God once justifies can nevertheless not merit final salvation by their works?
No I am not saying that.

So a justified person can be in danger of hell?
This is a different question. I think Scripture (particularly Hebrews in the passages I reference earlier) make it clear that no Christian should even think he is not in danger of Hell.

Are you really Arminian in Calvinist clothing?
Hehe, what would that be? A Geneva gown?

By this, you betray your complete and utter ignorance of the Free Grace position. Maybe you ought to read what THEY have to say, rather than listen to the caricatures of it by it's detractors.
You're probably right here. I did get a bit sidetracked. My original intention was the find out why you were portraying the men whom you quotes as providing "unguarded" quotes which don't seem that unguarded to me.

You have no idea what Free Grace theology advocates, you have not a clue what Zane Hodges or I believe.
If what you've said in this post is an accurate representation of what you believe, then I would image I at least have a clue. But again, you're right in that I could not repeat your system back to you. Honestly, I'm really not interested in being able to do so.

Listen, you come around here and proof-text your heart out. Yet understand that the mere referencing to a text will not persuade a critical and biblical mind.
That's an interesting way to put it. One would think that Scripture should persuade a biblical mind. But anyway, I wasn't trying to persuade, I was trying to get your feedback on what those verses say. I was not attacking with them, I was listing them as verses I would be interested to see explained from your viewpoint.

At this juncture I'm a little perplexed by your unwillingness to expoind these verses from a "Free Grace" perspective, yet simultaneous chastisement of me for not understandning the "Free Grace" perspective.

I'll level with you. I won't read Hodges. I won't read your whole blog. If you've already addressed these verses somewhere else, please feel free to link me there. I'm simply interested to see what "Free Grace" has to say about those passages.

You have offered not a shred of proof for your contentions, while I have been taking great pains to expound the texts in my posts here.
I'm not sure what kind of proof you require, if the lengthy list of passages I posted is not to be considered proof.

Are you unwilling and unable to receive my challenge that I offered in my last comment to you?
As I said, I believe I have done so. The John 15 passage says, in a nutshell, "bear or burn." You may not consider my one-sentence summary of it to be an adequate expounding, but I don't find the passage that cryptic. Jesus is pretty explicit: there is no ontological, static category of being "in Christ" such that subsequent works are somehow irrelevant. Jesus requires that His disciples keep His commandments (vs. 10) and bear much fruit (vs. 6). If such a man does not do this, he, like a branch will be cut out of the tree (detached from Christ) and burned with the other trash.

I would be interested to see what modifications have to made to the prima facie reading of this text in order to make "burned" not mean damnation, especially in the light of Hebrews 6 and Romans 11.

All of this mere contention and posturing on your part will get us no where. The Scriptures is where we should rely, not on our dogma or tradition.
If I hadn't posted such a long list of said Scripture, you would have a point. However, I have not once argued from dogma or tradition.

Patiently waiting your exposition of Scripture,
I will be charitable and assume you didn't catch the earlier post where I did just that.

December 12, 2005 10:13 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Theophile,

The Mormons, the JWs, the Apostolics, they all proof-text as you do. Does this mean that their interpretation of these texts are right?

Same with you. Just because you give a list of references, does not mean that the references actually say what you have superficially interpretated them to say.

As to John 15:

First, it is very shameful to import into the meaning in John 15 when it says "fire" that it is hell. Fire is a word used to describe judgment and testing throughout the Bible. There are no modifiers here as "hell" or "eternal" or anything that tends to make this hell. This is the contention of the Lordship Salvation proponents. They have to import this sense INTO Christ's metaphor. This is eisegesis.

Those Christians who do not abide in an intimate relationship with Christ will experience God's temporal chastisements!

Look again at John 15! For here is another shameful attempt by Lordship Salvation to evade the text of the Bible:

John 15:2
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;
NKJV

Where is the sphere of the person who does not bear fruit?

It is "in Christ". How do you get in Christ? By reciving eternal life, justification, by Spirit baptism. To be in Christ means to be regenerate!

Jesus is talking to his 11 disciples ONLY in the UPPER ROOM. Judas was ALREADY GONE. He is talking to his regenerate disicples! What does He command His regenerate, never to lose salvation disicples?

Jesus Christ says to His regenerate, ETERNALLY SECURE disciples: "ABIDE IN ME"!

This is a command! Far from being a necessary result of regeneration, Christ COMMANDS his disicples to REMAIN in Him.

It is a CLEAR evasion of the text that the Lordship Salvation advocates do here.

There are people "IN CHRIST" who bear no fruit!

I will again re-post it:

John 15:2
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;
NKJV

The BRANCH that is IN THE VINE OF CHRIST who does not bear fruit he takes away! They will be thrown into the fire of his temporal judgement. NOT LOSS OF SALVATION OR proof that he wasn't a branch in Christ!

The TEXT CLEARLY SAYS THAT THE BRANCH IN VIEW HERE, WHICH DOES NOT BEAR FRUIT, IS IN CHRIST.

But Lordship Salvation dodges this clear statement.

They dodge the contextual proof that Jesus has in mind here HIS REGENERATE, ETERNALLY SECURE disciples!

There are branches "in Christ" who do not bear fruit. This is the clear statement in John 15! And it is the Lordship Salvationist who must IMPORT INTO THE TEXT of John 15 the MEANING OF HELLFIRE! It just isn't there!

Jesus is also talking to the regenerate 11 and encouraging them, commanding them to abide! Far from it being the NECESSARY RESULT OF SAVING FAITH AND REGENERATION, the regenerate disciples are COMMANDED to abide. Why command the regenerate disciples to do something that they would necessarily do anyway?

Each command in the New Testament is an ENTREATY TO THE WILL of the REGENERATE PERSON for the purpose of SANCTIFICATION. If progressive sanctification is a NECESSARY and INEVITABLE result of regeneration why waste the time entreating the will of the Christian to obey commands that bring sanctification?

Eternal life is a FREE GIFT. It takes but a MOMENT of appropriation by purposeful faith in Christ. That some fall away later is shameful. They will answer for their unfaithfulness at the judgment seat of Christ. They will experience God's temporal judgment for thier sin here and now. Yet they will not lose their salvation. They are the ones who believe for a little while (yet it only takes a moment of faith in Christ), where the seed of the Word of God springs up and creates life, but later they fall away. These produce no fruit, so according to John 15, they will be taken away into the fire of God's temporal judgment and his unfavorable judgment at the Bema of Christ.

It is shameful how Lordship salvation uses their theology to interpret the Bible, rather than see the CLEAR expressions of it!

For a very brief article from Bob Wilkins, a Free Grace theologian, concerning John 15, click on this link Believers Who Play with Fire Get Burned

I guess you don't really know what reasoned exposition of a text means. I should be more clear next time.

Antonio

December 12, 2005 10:44 AM  
Blogger Theophile said...

You say that to be "in Christ" is to be regenerate, justified, eternally elect. Romans 6 says that to be "in Christ" is to be baptized.

But taking your understanding of the text, Jesus introduces the metaphor in verse 1 by establishing Himself as a vine and referring to those who are "in Me" as being branches. He describes this as being the way things work and then applies it to the disciples.

So to recap, you have said that to be "in Christ" is to be regenerate and justified. Jesus call those who are in Him branches. Are we okay so far?

What does Jesus say in the very next vers? He says that those who are in Him (you say regenerate, justified) who do not bear fruit are cut off. If being in Christ is being on the vine, then what does it mean to be "cut off?" Does it mean something other than no longer being on the vine? Does it mean pretending for a time that a bad branch is not on the vine, but will later be restored? Is that what "cut off" means?

Also, your understandning of the cut off branches being burned meaning temoral judgment only, that is a serious stretch of the metaphor. Do vine dressers cut off fuitless branches and set them ablaze so as to make them fruitful again?

Jesus says in verse 4 that a branch that is not connected to the vine cannot bear fruit. So how do you textually justify turning this pronouncement on its head by claiming that the metaphor teaches that the Father's cutting off branches is intended to somehow return them to fruit-bearing status?

You are correct that there are some who are "in Christ" who bear no fruit. But this text makes painfully clear what their end will be... being gathered with the rest of the refuse and burned.

Jesus uses another farming parable to illustrate a similar thought. In Matthew 13:24ff, Jesus again draws a parallel with a farmer, but this time he has a field, not a vine. In this case, the field has both good, fruitful plants (wheat) and weeds (tares). The farmhands want to uproot the tares now and the farmer tells them to hold off until The Harvest, at which point He will gather the wheat into His barn and gather the tares and toss them in the fire.

Are you prepared to say that the harvest is something other than final judgment? If so, what is the farmer's barn, as in parallel to the "temporal judgment" of the fire?

If you can admit that the harvest is the final judgment, what does it mean to be in the farmer's field? Is this something other than being "in Christ?" If not, and you want to identify only the wheat as being "in Christ," then you have to admit that "bearing grain" (vs. 26) is what makes a person "in Christ."

However, if you do not want to make this equation and instead say, as I with the vast witness of Church history do, that the field is to be understood as the Church, then you will have to adopt a Reformed understanding of union with Christ and see that there are those who are in Christ who do not bear fruit and are ultimately gathered up and burned, in contradistinction to those who are gathered together in Christ's barn.

To press this parable to fit into the mold of temporal judgment requires sever mutilation, so I hope you do not go this route.

Interested to hear your response...

December 12, 2005 12:25 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

You write:
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You say that to be "in Christ" is to be regenerate, justified, eternally elect. Romans 6 says that to be "in Christ" is to be baptized.
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You can't get wet in Romans 6. This is talking about mystical union with Christ into His body. Nowhere is water mentioned or some confession. And, even if it were so that those merely baptized with water (even the unregenerate) were in some sense "in Christ", Romans 6 speaks directly against that. In Romans 6 we see that baptism brings positional blessing. Romans 6:1-10 speaks of the positional blessings of REGENERATE people. Not merely water baptized people. You cannot be in Christ, in other words, the body of Christ, unless you are regenerate. And the regenerate one is baptized INTO the body of Christ by Holy Spirit baptism:

1 Cor 12:12-14

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

Nowhere in the Bible do we see of someone "in Christ" yet is unregenerate!

You are saying that someone once in Christ can perish? That is tantamount to denying eternal security. Are you Arminian?

Yet in this context of John 15, it is talking about the REGENERATE DISCIPLE's CONDITIONAL relationship with Christ. To be "in Christ" is to be in fellowship with Him, having the intimate relationship of Master-teacher to disciple-pupil. This relationship is CONTINGENT upon the REGENERATE one abiding in Christ.

The fact of the matter is that in CONTEXT, he is ONLY speaking to the regenerate 12. He is commanding THEM. Now unless you deny eternal security, Jesus is saying that these regenerate disciples have the potential to not bear fruit, because by their will they determine not to abide in an intimate and dynamic relationship with Christ, whereby they would bear fruit.

Why would He COMMAND these born-again disciples, who were eternally secure, and IN CHRIST, to continue to abide? If as Reformed theology teaches, the regenerate one WILL continue to abide, why does Jesus command the 11 regenerate disciples, IN WHOM HE IS TALKING TO AND APPLYING THIS MESSAGE TO, and encourage them to abide in Him?

Answer:

1) If they do not abide, they will not bear fruit
2) If they do not abide, they will be thrown into the fire

We know that regenerate people, according to eternal security, can never go to hell. Jesus promises it! They shall never perish, they shall never thirst, they shall never hunger, they shall not come into condemnation, no one can snatch them out of His hands, they will never die into eternity, they shall never come into condemnation.

You evade the clear context that this teaching, this admonition, this command, and this encouragement is strictly for regenerate people.

Now unless you are Arminian, this passage clearly teaches that regenerate Christians are liable to the fires of chastisement.

It is illigetamate identity transfer to import into one passage the meaning of another. Each teaching of Christ has its own context and intended audience. If you want to discuss the wheat and the tares, let us do so. But I thought we were discussing John 15, which teaching is CLEARLY for regenerate disciples.

Abiding is the RESPONSIBILITY of Jesus' disciples. When this condition is fulfilled, there is fruitfulness and answered prayer. If the condition is not fulfilled, tragic consequences occur.

Abiding is based on learning adn keeping the commandments of our Teacher. When we live disobediently, we are not abiding (see 1 John 2:5,6).

The consequences that follow when a disicple fails to abide in Christ (15:6) are very meaningful in terms of the TEACHER/PUPIL relationship. First there is the loss of the relationship itself: "he is cast out as a branch" Next, there is the loss of the spiritual vitality associated with that relationship: "and is withered" Finally there is chastening "they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned"

It is entirely unnecessary to associate the "fire" of John 15:6 with the LITERAL fires of hell. After all, the entire passage involves a figure of speech. The "vine" is not a literal vine, the "branches" are not literal branches, nor the "fruit" literal fruit. There is no reason either why the "fire" must be literal fire. Instead it serves as an effective metaphor for whatever trials or hardships may attend the life of a lapsed disciple. Fire as a figure for temporal afflictions is a commonplace in the Bible and, indeed, in all of literature (se Deut 32:22-24; Ps. 78:21; Isa 9:18, 19; Jer 15:14; Amos 1:4, 7, 10, 12; etc).

Whether restoration of a branch to its former position in the vine is possible or not is a point that lies ouside the scope of the metaphor. But it can be noticed that the process of withering suggests a lapse of time prior to the experience of the fire itself. What is not possible in nature, of course, is possible with God. It is unwise to push a figure of speech too far or to require it to express ideas which is is not capable of bearing. It is sufficient to learn from our Lord's words that abiding is crucial to fruitfulness and the failure to abide can lead to spiritual disaster.

To press this metaphor to be speaking about anything else but the conditional relationship of regenerate disciples to their master requires severe mutilation, so i hope that you don't go this route.

Antonio

December 12, 2005 1:56 PM  
Blogger Theophile said...

Did you read my post? You seem to be evading my direct questions. You also seem to be changing the rules we're playing with.

You said:
Where is the sphere of the person who does not bear fruit? It is "in Christ". How do you get in Christ? By reciving eternal life, justification, by Spirit baptism. To be in Christ means to be regenerate!

But now you're saying:

To be "in Christ" is to be in fellowship with Him, having the intimate relationship of Master-teacher to disciple-pupil. This relationship is CONTINGENT upon the REGENERATE one abiding in Christ.

So which is it? Is being "in Christ" the same thing as regeneration or is it a relationship contingent upon regeneration?

I'm also unclear as to why you're the only one allowed to use eisogesis. John 15 says nothing about temporal judgment or chastisement. You imported that.

The text in John 15 is not meant solely to apply to the disciples Jesus is addressing. There is universal language present (he cuts off every branch, every branch that does bear fruit, no branch can bear fruit, If a man remains in Me, If anyone does not remain in me, etc.). You are clearly operating under a presupposition which this text (and many others) does not support, so you are forced to say silly things like that.

Regarding Matthew, are you reluctant to admit that the passages can be dsicussed together? Are they completely unrelated?

Please address the questions I asked. I think it will expose more of your point of view. Thanks.

December 12, 2005 2:50 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Theophile, yes. I read your post AND responded to your points. Re-read my last comment.

You are right that I was not specific enough in my posts concerning "in Christ" as John uses it. He is talking about the relationship of the Master to his regenerate disciples. In Christ here presupposes A CURRENT relationship with Christ. In this context, it means MORE than just being regenerate. It means being in DYNAMIC relationship with Christ, in the Master/disciple, Teacher/pupil relationship. A relationship that produces fruit and answered prayer.

You write:
----------
I'm also unclear as to why you're the only one allowed to use eisogesis. John 15 says nothing about temporal judgment or chastisement. You imported that.
----------
It is the induction of the context, friend. Jesus is talking to His regenerate pupils, His regenerate disciples. He is doing this in an EXCLUSIVE teaching session of the 11 in the Upper Room discourse. What is He teaching them to do? Abide, remain in Him. Why does He command regenerate disciples to abide, remain in Him if He is talking about a eternal life/eternal death significance?

The context is clear. This is talking about the disciple relationship with Christ. Not eternal life/hell fire.

By implication, you must believe that these commands have nothing to do with the disciples in which THE TEACHING IS ADDRESSED and the COMMANDS ARE ADDRESSED.

Like I said. In Reformed theology, the truly regenerate one will abide. Jesus for sure must know that these 11 are indeed regenerate. But He is commanding them to abide or else they will be thrown into the fire. Why would he be commanding them to do something with the consequences if He knew in fact that they couldn't end up in the METAPHORICAL fire?

You write:
----------
The text in John 15 is not meant solely to apply to the disciples Jesus is addressing.
----------
It is theirs as His teaching. But yes you are correct. It is meant to apply to ALL regenerate disciples. To encourage them to abide in the dynamic relationship with Christ so that they can bear fruit, have answered prayer, and avoid the temporal difficulties related to NOT abiding.

You write:
----------
There is universal language present (he cuts off every branch, every branch that does bear fruit, no branch can bear fruit, If a man remains in Me, If anyone does not remain in me, etc.). You are clearly operating under a presupposition which this text (and many others) does not support, so you are forced to say silly things like that.
----------
It is language applying to ALL branches IN CHRIST. A branch in Christ, in this context, presupposes 2 things:

The branch is regenerate
The branch is in dynamic fellowship with Christ.

The command?

For those who are dynamically related to Christ to CONTINUE that way. You cannot be dynamically related to Christ unless you are first born-again. And you cannot bear fruit and have answered prayer unless you are born again AND remain dynamically related to Christ by abiding.

By implication of your interpretation, you must stipulate that this teaching, this command, this admonishment, warning, and encouragement cannot be applied to the 11 in whom it is specifically addressed.

Why?

Because Christ knew whether or not they were regenerate. And they were. And if your theology is correct, than by the mere fact that these 11 are regenerate, THEY WILL not FAIL to abide, according to the Perseverance of the Saints. If your theology is correct, than Christ obviously knew this, and in light of this, this teaching had no application whatsoever to the disciples, for they BY NECESSITY OF THEIR REGENERATION will PERSEVERE IN ABIDING, so says Reformed theology.

And, you can't get around the implications of your interpretation here.

Works are required to not be thrown into hell. This is works-righteousness, debt, and merit. This is not salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This is people getting out of hell by their works.

You seem to be comfortable saying that salvation is not by faith in Christ alone.

This is unorthodox. This is Roman Catholic. This is a road paved back to Rome.

If it is by grace it cannot be by works, or else grace is no longer grace. And we know that salvation is by grace through faith and NOT of works, so that no one can boast. We know that it is NOT by works of righteousness. We do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness comes by works, then Christ died in vain.

You preach a salvation by works. Paul and Jesus preach salvation by grace which PRECLUDES works. They are antithetical.

"To him who works, his wages are not accounted as grace but as debt" (Romans 4:4)

You are making God obliged to save the one from hell who perseveres in works. You have made salvation a debt.

"But to him who DOES NOT WORK but BELIEVES on Him who justifies the ungodly, his FAITH is accounted as righteousness." (Romans 4:5)

The one who does not work, but merely relies on God's grace through faith, HE is the one who is righteous. Not the one who is self-righteous through his works-righteousness and works-salvation.

Brother, in love, I don't want you to end up like those in Matthew 7 who state their reasons why they should be let into the kingdom as being their Christian works. Christ says "I never knew you!" (Matt 7:21-23).

You are not rightly dividing the word of truth. You are confusing that which is costly with that which is absolutely free.

As to your contention that we ought to combine the teachings of the parable in Matthew with the metaphor in John, that would be illegitate identity transfer. You cannot equate two things because they appear similar. They have different contexts and different teachings. Jesus loved to use agricultural figures of speech. It is against the hermeneutic rule of identity and affirmation to identify two things with each other that are not equated by the Bible.

Antonio

December 12, 2005 3:34 PM  
Blogger Theophile said...

You still have yet to answer my question: if being a branch connected to the vine is one and the same as being regenerate, what does it mean to be cut off?

December 12, 2005 4:16 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Theodophile, I did answer your question.

Let me quote myself:
----------
It means being in DYNAMIC relationship with Christ, in the Master/disciple, Teacher/pupil relationship. A relationship that produces fruit and answered prayer.
----------

To be cut off is to have the Master/discipleship relationship terminated, not the savior/sinner relationship.

What John has in view here is the discipleship of regenerate disciples.

You would have known this if you carefully read my comments.

Antonio

December 12, 2005 4:21 PM  
Blogger Theophile said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 12, 2005 5:08 PM  
Blogger Theophile said...

So let me get this straight... to be "in Christ" and thus on the vine means being regenerate, but being "cut off" from the same vine simply means not being a disciple?

December 12, 2005 5:09 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Being in the vine presupposes being regenerate, for being in the vine corresponds to the disciple's dynamic relationship with Christ, whereby, they are REMAINING (abide) in Christ. The metaphor is talking about the Master/disciple, Teacher/pupil relationship, not the Savior/sinner.

To be cut off is to have this relationship severed.

Antonio

December 13, 2005 9:35 PM  
Blogger Theophile said...

Applying this hermeneutic consistently, the promise of the Holy Spirit in the previous chapater is also limited to these 11 disciples. You seem to be creating a sub-category of Super-Christians... those who are not just saved but who are disciples, have the gift of the Spirit, are really in Christ, etc.

Since we are duty-bound by "Free Grace Theology" to interpret every passage that talks about keeping the commands of God as either only applying (strangely) to a select group of hearers (even though the passage uses universal language) or those in this new Super-Christian, disciple category, one is left to wonder what, if anything, one gets for "free" if he simply doesn't feel like being a disciple.

By your own hermeneutic, you can be "saved" but not love Jesus. After all, when Jesus said "If you love me, keep my commandments" in John 14, He was only taking to this "disciple" sub-class. Conversely, you can be saved without God loving you. Afterall, when God said in Deuteronomy 5:10 that he is a God "showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments," He must be talking about those in a disciple relationship only, right?

And when Solomon concludes his famous observations of a vanity of not following God by stating in Ecclesiastes 12:13, "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man," he really meant, "...this is the whole duty of disciples...", right?

After all, the grace of God does not require a response from man. That would be works-righteousness, yes? God only demands obedience from His disciples and you don't have to be a disciple to go to Heaven.

This is the problem with being a consistent antinomian... it requires relying on pet verses, ignoring the broader context, and saying silly things such as you have resorted to to try to explain away an otherwise plain-as-day text.

Paul wrote 1 Corinthians precisely to combat the false notion that being God's people meant that nothing more was required of them. More recently, John MacArthur soundly trounced Zane Hodges in the antinomianism discussion. "The Gospel According to Jesus" puts Hodges to rest.

Antinomianism has reared its ugly head in Christendom here and there throughout history and has been quashed every time. The entire testimony of the church since the time of the Apostles (not to mention the unity of the Old Covenant Scriptures) speaks out against any notion of faith that produces no works (need one look any further than James 2?)

When all is said and done, with "Free Grace Theology," you get exactly what you pay for. Nothing.

December 15, 2005 10:30 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Theodophile, I'll just let you bow out. Your rant contains nothing worthy of me to address.

You have admitted that works are required for eternal salvation. You have successfully transported yourself back to Rome.

God forbid that He gives anything for free, by grace! You pay for it one way or the other, right? Either on the front end or the back, but usually both!

Matt 7:21-23
"Not everyone who says to Me,'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

(John 6:40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.)

Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

This is the lot of those "Christians" who suppose that entrance into the kingdom is conditioned on works.

They did "this" in His name, and "that" in His name and "these" in His name, BUT, they did not do the will of the Father, which is to receive eternal life as an ABSOLUTELY FREE gift by faith alone in Christ alone, apart from WORKS!

Matt 7:13-14
Enter by the narrow gate;

(John 10:9 "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved"; John 14:6 "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'"; John 6:47 "Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life")

for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and constrained is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

The ABSOLUTELY FREE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE by FAITH ALONE in JESUS ALONE, APART FROM WORKS OF ANY KIND OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND.

I pray, that you do not end up like the men who seek entrance into the kingdom by their works-righteousness.

Antonio

December 15, 2005 4:45 PM  
Blogger messenger said...

Hey Antonio,

My dear brother I am glad to know that there are still faithful witnesses to Jesus the Christ. Free Grace Salvationist have gotten it RIGHT!!! and easily defeat Lordship Proponents with relative ease. No man should look to see whether they are evidencing good works (which I think is pretty arrogant...are they good to a thrice holy God?) I've begun my campaign to win over bible.org an ocean of lordship salvationist and I am not alone. God and His words are with me and scripture cannot be broken. Paul said "there is a time coming when they will not endure sound doctrine" and this is that time. Every false teacher will try to establish a righteousness of their own instead of subjecting themselves to the righteousness of God. If it is not faith alone in Christ alone then we are all doomed for I know God's standards are unattainable by the flesh. Yet this is what lordship proponents teach. These hypocrites are judgemental and actually think they are holier than thou. What a joke since I know so many of their parishioners. Selfish, quick to judge, and definitely lack scriptural knowledge. A lordship proponent once rattled on how she would go and preach the gospel. I asked her what it was (1 Cor 15:1-4) and she retaliated by saying that I had head knowledge and not heart knowledge. How can anyone preach the gospel if they don't know what it is? I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto Salvation for all who BELIEVE (notice that this quote stops right there with no works required God definitely knows what He is saying not like fallen man) first for the Jew, then for the Greek. Romans 1:16
May the gospel light shine on the hearts of these lordship salvationist lest they end up declaring their good works before a holy God like in Mathew 7:21-23 The will of the Father is not for them to reform themselves into something they will never become in the flesh (Sinless) John 6:40 is Jesus' declaration of what the will of the Father is clearly and to the point.

remember God is with us

March 01, 2006 9:22 AM  
Blogger messenger said...

Antonio,

Clearly theodophile has been deceived. I try my best to serve God and keep His commandments but I'd be a fool to think that because I do those things I am going to heaven. Maybe he doesn't really understand what he is talking about. Nothing shall seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus remember? I assume Nothing really means nothing. Sin is something therefore it cannot be nothing. The logic is undeniable eternal security comes only when someone believes the gospel. What sin is there left to condemn us? Christ paid for them all. But not all has believed the testimony God has given about His Son. They are in fact calling God a liar. They are wolves in sheeps clothing who do not look to the Savior for salvation but look to themselves. Unfortunately for them there is no other name under heaven by which a man can be saved not even their own name...

March 01, 2006 9:50 AM  
Blogger messenger said...

I know where there is much confusion. And I believe that it is a good place to go fishing. Listen up you lordship salvationist, God did not call us to clean the fishbowl...He called us to catch fish. The gospel is the bait and once Christ snatches them they will never get away.

Antonio,

They have discussion forums on bible.org and I think it would be the perfect fishing ground for the free grace salvationist. I have already entered into the fray and left exegeticals almost exactly identical to yours (Mathew 7:21-23)and also how to detect false teachers by their false message. Anyone who does not preach faith alone in Christ alone for salvation is a FALSE teacher.

March 01, 2006 10:00 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Unguarded Quotes / Bear or Burn Theology," Nov 11 2005 04:49 PM.

I would like to point out that Jesus in effect says "too much" for the use of His words in John 15 to promote an inevitable-works system.

The inevitable-works system is a minimalist system. When asked what constitutes, the "holiness, love and obedience" that is also required by them for heaven, the answer is that it must be something greater than zero. To use Pink's words which you quoted, Antonio, "something more than believing" -- or, to "persevere" in faith and holiness -- to what extent? Unspecified.

Again, from your quote of Piper, "contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith." Since neither author preached sinless perfection, there is an implied degree in their requirements less than perfection, but it is left unstated.

However, looking back at John 15, Jesus does make a quantity argument, and that argument proves too much! that is, for supporting the vague stipulations of the inevitable-works theory.

Christ says that the one who abides in Christ who abides in Him, "he bears much fruit (Jn 15:5)."

He even helps us with the idea of "much," in 15:7. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

That truly is "much fruit!" It also happens to utterly make those who want to make the test of abiding in the vine the same as the test for salvation give up, unless they have a set of true Christians who always are given whatever they ask for.

So Jesus says "too much" for His words to be used to equate abiding in the vine with salvation, since he who abides in Christ does not do so minimally, but bears much fruit, too much for the testers.

December 19, 2006 8:09 AM  
Blogger robatrhema said...

Your opening statement "Here are a few quotes when some Calvinists let their guards down:" is incredibly misleading. Take the AW Pink quote for instance. If you took time to read the whole passage you will find that it was very deliberate, very balanced and very scriptural. Certainly not 'uinguarded'

June 05, 2014 4:05 AM  

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