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)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Why Sacrifice for God if You Can't be Certain that Christ Sacrificed for You?

Why would anyone want to do works in the name of the blessed Lord Jesus Christ who does not have certain, absolute convinced assurance of eternal life, his right-standing before God, and his salvation? (Pause for you to actually consider this and give a good answer)…

The Calvinist cannot know for certain that he is saved! Why?

1) Due to the fact of their Perseverance theology. Only true believers will persevere in faith and obedient works until the end; so unless he is on his death bed (and not even then will it be certain because of their sins), he cannot have any certain assurance that he is saved.

2) Calvinism grounds its own brand of uncertain assurance of salvation on 3 things, 2 of which are completely subjective. One is the inner witness of the Spirit. But I ask, how exactly are we to know that it is the Spirit, and not an agent of Satan, who transformed himself into a minister of light; or the mind playing tricks on us; or some bout of emotionalism; or even the pastrami sandwich eaten for lunch? The second subjective ground is the introspection of self: the looking to one’s works and present sanctification. My experience is that there are one of two results when looking at one’s self as a base for assurance: a) self-righteousness and b) despair caused by musing on one’s sins.

So why would a Calvinist work for God if he is not certain he is saved? Why else other than that they believe that they must persevere in faith and good works until the end of life to actually gain "final salvation"!? That this is works-salvation is evident, but this has been discussed in other posts of mine. Here we are talking about assurance, and I am going to keep it on track.

Following are a few of the quotes of Reformed writers that show the utter failure to obtain certainty that one is saved in Calvinistic theology:

Kenneth Gentry writes, "Assurance is subjective ... Dabney rightfully notes that [absolute assurance] requires a revelation beyond the Scripture because the Bible does not specifically speak to the individual in question. Nowhere in the Bible do we learn ... that Ken Gentry is among the elect" (September 1993 issue of Dispensationalism in Transition).

“'What must I do to be saved?' is an altogether different question from, 'How do I know I've done that?' You can answer the first confidently. Only the Spirit may answer the last with certainty.” (Walter Chantry, Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? pgs 75-76)

R.C. Sproul muses in an article he wrote on assurance, “Suppose I am mistaken about my salvation and am really going to hell? How can I know that I am a real Christian?” He relates, “I began to take stock of my life, and I looked at my performance. My sins came pouring into my mind, and the more I looked at myself, the worse I felt.” After falling on his knees, praying, and searching the scriptures for some assurance, he finally concluded “that being uncomfortable with Jesus was better than any other option!” (R. C. Sproul TableTalk (Nov 6, 1989): p. 20).

“You may be a spiritual defector who hasn’t defected yet." (John MacArthur on His radio program, transcribed by a friend).

“The only evidence of election is effectual calling, that is, the production of holiness. And the only evidence of the genuineness of this call and the certainty of our perseverance, is a patient continuance in well doing” (Charles Hodge, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, 212).

“The perseverance of the saints reminds us very forcefully that only those who persevere to the end are truly saints” (John Murray, quoted by Dillow, Reign of the Servant Kings, pg 259)

These quotes betray the utter bankruptcy of the Reformed theology to:

1) Relate to its adherents a certainty that they have been accepted by God, justified, and given eternal life. Doubts necessarily must abound. Some authors even claim that doubts can be good so that they will motivate us to good works and perseverance (apparently by fear of hell).

2) Provide one of the greatest motivators for godly living: certainty of salvation! What are we left with here? Reformed people’s motivation is to work hard enough in order to gain some shadow of assurance, and thus make some conjecture that they may be saved. Instead of working out of gratitude that God has certainly saved them, they must work for God and persevere until the end for final salvation to be theirs!

How can you work for God if you are not certain that your name is written in the Book of life? Is that not like investing in a company that may not be yours; tricking out a car that may be repossessed at any time; devoting to a woman who hasn’t affirmed that she is your wife?

Free Grace theology teaches that assurance is of the essence of saving faith. Calvinists and Lutherans who take their name from the great reformers may not be aware that both Luther and Calvin believed that assurance was of the essence of faith, not by looking to works!

It is generally observed by Reformed authors that both Calvin and Luther grounded assurance on the objective word of God, in that certain and absolute assurance was of the very essence of saving faith:

Joel R. Beeke (TMS) admits, "Whereas the early Reformers held that assurance is part and parcel with faith, post-Reformation divines felt free to distinguish assurance from faith as witnessed by chap. 18 of the Westminster Confession." (Beeke, "Does Assurance Belong to the Essence of Faith? Calvin and the Calvinists," The Master’s Seminary Journal (Spring 1994) pg 45)

He also makes this further admission: "The bulk of current scholarship, however, no longer views the post-Reformation struggle to develop a detailed doctrine of assurance as a faithful outworking of early Reformation principles." (Ibid 46)

D.A. Carson, writing on assurance, states that the Reformation, with “its virulent [sic] emphasis on sola fide led Luther to see assurance as an element of saving faith. If one truly trusts Christ for the forgiveness of sins and full justification, so far also one is assured of his forgiveness. Carson continues, “The same connection can be found in Calvin” (Westminster Theological Journal 54, Reflections on Christian Assurance, 1992 pg 3).

Robert L. Dabney concluded that the “doctrine concerning faith which the first Reformers … Luther and Calvin… adopt[ed] from their opposition to the… teachings of Rome… asserted that the assurance of hope is of the essence of saving faith. Thus says Calvin in his commentary on Romans: ‘My faith is a divine and spiritual belief that God has pardoned and accepted me’” (Discussions by Robert L. Dabney, D.D., L.L.D., pg 173; taken from: Volume I: Theological and Evangelical, edited by C. R. Vaughan, published by the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, Richmond, VA., 1890.).

Hodge states that the Reformers “identif[ied] assurance with faith, making it essential to salvation,” teaching “that the special object of justifying faith is the favour of God toward us for Christ's sake: therefore to believe is to be assured of our own personal salvation. Thus Luther, Melancthon, and Calvin taught. This is the doctrine taught in the Augsburg Confession and Heidelberg Catechism” (A Commentary on: The Westminster Confession of Faith, A. A. Hodge, Online Edition, Chapter 18, Section II, 2).

Institutes III.ii.16, John Calvin writes (quoting from the 1960 Westminster Press edition, edited by John T. McNeill, and translated by Ford Lewis Battles):

“Here, indeed, is the chief hinge on which faith turns: that we do not regard the promises of mercy that God offers as true only outside ourselves, but not at all in us; rather that we make them ours by inwardly embracing them. Hence, at last is born that confidence which Paul elsewhere calls "peace" unless someone may prefer to derive peace from it. Now it is an assurance that renders the conscience calm and peaceful before God’s judgment.”

Shortly after these words comes this famous statement:

“Briefly, he alone is truly a believer who, convinced by a firm conviction that God is a kindly and well-disposed Father toward him, promises himself all things on the basis of his generosity; who relying upon the promises of divine benevolence toward him, lays hold on an undoubted expectation of salvation.

Earlier (Institutes II.ii.7) Calvin proclaims:

"Now we shall have a complete definition of faith, if we say, that it is a steady and certain knowledge of the Divine benevolence towards us, which [is] founded on the truth of the gratuitous promise in Christ" (Institutes, II, ii, 7)

The aforementioned Reformed author’s admissions are significant in that they frankly declare that the prevalent view in contemporary scholarship is that post-Reformation theologians departed significantly from John Calvin’s own view of assurance. Needless to say, it would be awkward for protagonists in the Lordship Salvation debate to admit that they are defending a view of assurance significantly at variance with that of Calvin himself!

The objective word of God, specifically the promise of Christ to give, as a present and immediate possession, the free gift of eternal life by simple faith in Him alone, apart from works, is the only ground for assurance. While Luther and Calvin state that one should keep their eyes on Jesus alone for assurance, the post-Reformation writers significantly ground their assurance on self; on the works that are produced by them and their degree of sanctification.

Can I ask you a personal question? Would you want your children doubting that you are their father? What kind of psychological problems would result from such a cruel practice?

And imagine this. Your son is in a time of rebellion, even after you have given him all the tools he would need to act right. Imagine you saying to your son, “You have every reason to doubt that I am your father and you are my son because of your rebellion!”

I contend greatly that God, the perfect Father wants everyone to certainly know, not just at the moment of faith in Christ, but throughout their entire Christian pilgrimage here that He is indeed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, their Father, and that they are completely accepted by Him on the basis of Christ’s works.

Do you know that you are certainly saved, that for sure your name is written in the book of Life? that you are accepted by God, and that He is your Father?

If you don’t, you can! Simply look to the passages of Scripture that promise eternal life as a present possession to the one who merely believes in Christ for it.

For instance, John 6:47

“Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life”

Do you believe in Christ here in His solemn assertion? If you do, you must be convinced that you have eternal life, for the guarantee is disclosed in the promise.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26)

Notice the guarantee here! Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life to the simple believer in Him for it! If you believe that Jesus guarantees you eternal life by your simple faith in Him, not only do you possess eternal life, you necessarily have absolute assurance that you are saved!

How can a person say that they believe Jesus here and not understand that they have eternal life? It is impossible, for, as I have said, the explicit guarantee of eternal life is the promise to the believer in Christ. So therefore, to believe this statement of Christ is to believe that you have eternal life. Only if you doubt the veracity of Christ’s statement will you not have absolute assurance of salvation.

Are you now experiencing any doubts about your salvation? Look to Christ and His promise in faith and you will be certain!

In closing, let us view a statement by Robert L. Dabney:

“There is a spurious as well as a genuine faith. Every man, when he thinks he believes, is conscious of exercising what he thinks is faith. Such is the correct statement of these facts of consciousness. Now suppose the faith, of which the man is conscious, turns out a spurious faith, must not his be a spurious consciousness? And he, being without the illumination of the Spirit, will be in the dark as to its hollowness.”
(Dabney, Ibid, pgs 180-181).

What a tragic position! The believer in Christ cannot know whether his belief is genuine or spurious! He must, therefore, search for a way to have faith in his faith--to believe that he has believed. But what if, after self-examination, he is wrong there, too?

Obviously, the kind of theology Dabney and Calvinism represents strips believers of their grounds of assurance and dangles them over an abyss of despair.

But, as you can see, we are not the first people to fight this battle over assurance. Calvin fought it, long ago, with Rome.

---------------

As a final note, a new contributer to the comments section of my blog, Jim wrote this:

"...if one cannot know for sure whether they are saved, I would say that it is not worth even attempting that kind of "christian" life...

I have no doubts that Christ has saved me, and this assurance is in no way contingent upon any continued action on my part.

What then is the difference between Armenianism and Calvinism if one cannot know for sure whether they are saved?"

To which I responded:

"D.A. Carson, a Reformed writer says this about Reformed and Arminian doctrines of subjective assurance:

'Thus at their worst, the two approahces meet in strange and sad ways'

Introspection is the critical basis for both theologies.

Their theologies both have the same result:

Calvinism: If you don't persevere in faithful obedience until death, this shows you were never saved.

Arminianism : If you don't persevere in faithful obedience until death, this shows you lost your salvation.

The results are the same: either faithfully work and obey until death or go to hell.

And in either case, you just can't know if you will end up in glory or not!

78 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Great post as usual, Antonio.

God Bless

Matthew

January 08, 2006 9:01 AM  
Blogger Nate said...

Antonio,

"Look to Christ and His promise in faith and you will be certain!"

Amen and Amen!!!!!! This is the truth!

GODBLESS,

NATE

January 08, 2006 2:44 PM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

"Why would anyone want to do works in the name of the blessed Lord Jesus Christ who does not have certain, absolute convinced assurance of eternal life, his right-standing before God, and his salvation?"

This sounds like a question from someone who isn't sure of their faith. I, personally, don't need a *reason* to do works for God. I do good works because I love God, and He has instructed me to do these works. He has also told me (in the Bible) that my faith without these works is useless. Wouldn't you agree that refusing to do what God asks us to do is a sin? Does God appreciate it when we sin? Or, does He just not care what we do?

I believe about 70% or so of the world's population believes in God. Yet, the road to Heaven is narrow. Now, if salvation just took us believing in God, wouldn't the road to Heaven be wide?

For every verse you bring up about us just needing to believe, their is another verse telling us we need to do good works or repent from our sins. Why do you ignore these verses? Do you think God just wanted to hear himself talk? Do you think He put these verses in there for a reason? You totally blow over these verses.

Again, I will ask you about Satan. Is he guaranteed a spot in Heaven???? He believe's in God, does he not? By your reasoning, all you have to do is believe and you are guaranteed salvation.

Finally, I believe if I do what God wants me to do, He will live up to His end of the bargain and grant me eternal life in Heaven. It is not a matter of not knowing. It is a matter of making sure you are doing what is needed to be done.

Oops, I lied, now finally... I find it utterly repulsive that you will only do something good if there is something in it for you....."How can you work for God if you are not certain that your name is written in the Book of life? Is that not like investing in a company that may not be yours; tricking out a car that may be repossessed at any time; devoting to a woman who hasn’t affirmed that she is your wife?"

I'm sure Christ appreciates that mindset (sarcasm).

January 08, 2006 5:02 PM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

God is just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. The very moment that I looked to Jesus as my only hope of salvation I was justified in God's sight. I love that account in Luke 18:9-14. I cried out to Jesus to be meciful to me a sinner. That moment I was justified in God's sight. BEFORE a single good work issued from my faith I was Instantly and eternally justified. Christ Himself is interceeding on my behalf. He will never cast me out. He will never turn me away. He will raise me up on the last day.

The good works that issue forth from my life come forth from the indwelling Holy Spirit. If I look at Galatians 5:16-25 and subtract the pressence of the Holy Spirit from my life there remains nothing good in me. Like Paul in Romans 7 I see that in me dwelleth no good thing. Any and all good that issues forth from me is only due to the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit and Him alone. I am solely responsible for any and all the sin in my life.

I do good works only because it is Him working in me to will and do of His good pleasure. Phil. 2:12-13. We are saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. As a result of that regeneration experience we are new creations. We have new hearts. Ezek 36:26-27. Our desires are now aimed in a new direction-to please God. Do I still sin? Yes. And when necessary God will chasten me. When the word of God confronts me with my sins I desire to confess those sins and receive forgiveness. Right there are three assurances of salvation:God's chastening in my life;my wanting to resort to the word of God to be reproved and instructed in righteousness;and my desire to confess and receive forgiveness. These aren't things the unregenerate would even begin to care about.

Jesus is the "LORD MY RIGHTEOUSNESS"! I have no hope of righteousness but in Him. I can do nothing to improve my standing before Him,NOTHING!

January 08, 2006 6:11 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Pastor Jim,

The Old Testamant has 613 civil and ceremonial laws. The New Testament has roughly twice as many principles.

James 2:10-11
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

Rom 4:16
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham

Rom 11:6
6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Antonio

January 08, 2006 6:39 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Mark,

there isn't much in what you said that I would argue with. Actually, your first paragraph I applaud.

Thank you for again visiting my blog.

Antonio

January 08, 2006 6:40 PM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

Antonio,
I have noticed in your postings that you believe the way that you do because of your own personal study in scripture. It was as a result of your own studies that you gravitated towards Zane Hodges. Commendable. We should study first and look to the authors later. You have done well in that.

I gravitate towards the authors that I do because of MY own personal study. Many of the calvinist authors you quote from bore me so that I can not say yea or nay when you say they have said this or that.

My own doctrinal stands came about during a period of being a recluse. It was a period of "solo scriptura" as opposed to "sola scriptura"-when I came to my own conclusions of what the Bible teaches while being entirely ignorant of Calvin's institutes, or the confessions or the creeds. I know you would not applaud me in this and probably would look down on this, but that is how it is.

I am not dispensational nor do I see that changing. I used an older Schofield reference Bible for many years as my devotional reader, so I am somewhat familiar with dispensational thinking. It is a very scientific approach to interpreting scripture. Dispyism has contributed greatly to Christian thinking,and for that I am thankful.But, that said, I can not embrace it personally. That is my position. I do not wish to war with you. I do, however, think differently than you, again based on my own studies. Since I do not apply the same systems for interpreting scripture we can never agree or come to the same conclusions. I know you think I am a heretic and into works righteousness. I am sorry. But I must and will continue on my present doctrinal course. I must be faithful to my own findings in scripture as you must in yours. Yes I know, I am the one who is wrong.

Your brother?

Mark

January 08, 2006 7:49 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Hi Antonio.

pastor Jim says:
Finally, I believe if I do what God wants me to do, He will live up to His end of the bargain and grant me eternal life in Heaven.

bargain?

jaw drops again ...

Hi Mark,
Yes I know, I am the one who is wrong.

Antonio just said that he agreed with your comment and applauded the first paragraph.
Me too. :~)

butting out now ...

January 08, 2006 8:03 PM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

antonio,

"James 2:10-11
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all."

True.?.?

"Rom 4:16
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham

Rom 11:6
6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace."

What about these???

Revelations 2:
4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; REPENT and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you REPENT. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

2 Peter 2:
20)If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21)It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22)Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit,"and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."

Hebrews 10:
26)If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27)but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

James 2:
14)What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15)Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16)If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17)In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18)But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19)You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20)You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21)Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22)You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23)And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24)You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25)In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26)As the body without the spirit is dead, SO FAITH WITHOUT DEEDS IS DEAD.

I noticed you didn't answer any of my questions, AGAIN. Do you not have answers?

rose....

"bargain?

jaw drops again ..."

What would you want me to call it to make you feel less horrified? Promise??? Vow??? Agreement??? It seems you believe He has made a bargain with you....if you believe, He will save. Correct?


antonio, you make God sound as if He were a lousy Father. Let me explain.... Have you ever had a friend or family member with a drug habbit? If not, maybe you have seen a show with a druggie in it. There comes a point in time with a druggie that his or her father finds out that the money they have been loaning the druggie is just being used for drugs. Now, the father is at a crossroads. Does he... a) keep giving his child money to keep his habbit alive, or....b) refuse to aid his child anymore to his own death? You make God out to be father A. You believe that if you keep on living a knowingly sinful life God will be ok with that. In reality, God is father B. He tells us it is better to have not known Him, then to have known Him and turn our back on Him. God is our Judge. He judges our heart and our mind. If He doesn't care how we live our lives, what is there to judge??? Why, if God doesn't care if we sin or not, would sin exist??? By your beliefs, if we believe we are saved. If this were true, sin has no point of existance. It plays absolutely no role in your plan of salvation.

Bluecollar,

You bring up a good story in Luke. What did the tax collector do? He said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." The tax collector asked God to have mercy on him for his sins. He asked for forgiveness and repented. Then God justified and exalted him. This is a *work*. This is something God tells us we need to do. The pharisee *believed* in God, but did not do the right works for God. So, I guess it takes more than just believing to make God happy. So, antonio and rose, you still want to stick with your applause?

Bluecollar, you also say, "I do good works only because it is Him working in me to will and do of His good pleasure." Do you sin only because Satan is inside of you? Or, has God given you free will? It is up to us to decide if we want to do good or bad. God can help us with our wills, but He has left it up to us to make our final decision.

January 08, 2006 9:49 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

jim, are you attempting to negate my verses with your verses?

If you would like to pick just one of your verses, and expound it to me in such a way that you support your interpretation of it, I would be happy to do the same with the same verse.

But it seems you are playing a game with your verses.

None of your verses are explicit in saying "do works or go to hell" are they? or "don't repent or go to hell", or anything of the fashion. But the verses I provide are explicit, and they are absolute in language.

As you would have to import into your texts the ideas of hell, works-salvation, etc., my verses explicitly and simply declare absolute truth.

So, if you want to take one (or two) of your favorite verses you use to try to completely negate mine, do it. But don't just quote it as if they mere quotation of it proves your point. I have a well articulated interpretation of all those verses you give as well, that comes to a different conclusion than your superficial reading of them.

Antonio

January 08, 2006 10:14 PM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

Still no answers, antonio???

January 08, 2006 10:23 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Pastor Jim,

you write:
----------
You believe that if you keep on living a knowingly sinful life God will be ok with that.
----------
I have never ever stated that or anything similar or that could remotely be misunderstood to say that!

You do not understand my position. That is ok. Not many people do. Let me please refer you to an article, ok?

We Believe in Good Works

This will tell you what I believe about good works.

Antonio

The offer still stands, if you want to give me a verse, expound it according to your interpretation, I will be happy to discuss it with you.

If not, why don't you tell me what you think the three verses I gave to you mean?

January 08, 2006 10:37 PM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

"As you would have to import into your texts the ideas of hell, works-salvation, etc., my verses explicitly and simply declare absolute truth."

Hebrews 10:
26)If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27)but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

What did I import on this one??? I really don't have to defend my view on this. It is pretty obvious. I did not say the verses you quote are wrong, I just believe you take them out of context. That is why I asked you what you think "faith" actually means. Faith is not merely believing Jesus is the Son of God. If I have faith in someone, I believe their word. I believe what they tell me to be true. To have faith in God means you believe His Word, and His Word says we are to do certain works. So, my faith in God means that I understand and believe what He says will be done.

January 08, 2006 10:49 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jim,

I have proposed a discussion with you. If you would so wish to follow it, refer to my last 2 comments to you. If not, all your mere rapid fire prooftexting will not be allowed here.

Take a stand on a scripture and do some exposition on it, interpret it and support that interpretation by a well-reasoned discourse concerning it. Otherwise, the mere proof-texting without a shred of support for your interpretation will not be allowed. I have been more than gracious in offering that challenge to you.

Antonio

As to your answer about Satan, I was not aware that the intent, extent, and purpose of Christ's death included fallen spirit beings, nor have I heard a command in Scripture to preach the gospel to them. As far as i can tell, Christ's salvation has not been offered to them.

So this objection or question of yours doens't quite make your point.

Antonio

January 08, 2006 11:51 PM  
Blogger Modern Day Magi said...

isnt faith by definition a belief in something you cannot proove?
and the bibly says that faith without action is dead so i guess i should do good works or my faith will wither and die, i am already saved and these works dont change that fact.
i have faith in Jesus Christ as my saviour, i am saved by His grace alone and not anything i can do on my part.
Does it not follow that the faith itself is the proof of my salvation?

January 09, 2006 12:53 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

In all likelyhood, there is not a single (or married) Calvinist who whould think he/she is unsaved because of his/her Calvanistic mindset.

As far as I can tell, they all think they were selected for salvation and therefore are saved. They also seem to think that all others are not saved.

As a matter of fact,I doubt that anybody of any theological mindset thinks he/she is unsaved because of his/her mindset.

January 09, 2006 4:19 AM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

Way to keep avoiding the questions, antonio. It is obvious to me that you have no answers. Or, atleast answers that you want to admit to. Good luck to you. I hope one day you will open your eyes and ears to the truth. God will help you.

Be blessed

January 09, 2006 6:47 AM  
Blogger J. Wendell said...

Hi Antonio!

I'm starting to realize how important the gospel is (Ephesians 2:8-9). It seems that Evangelicalism has gone mad. I keep hearing this from many evangelicals. "Faith plus commitment eqquals salvation." I don't know how you contend for the faith the way you do, because by now, I would be weary of all the contentiousness.

Faith plus anything, whether it is faith plus the mass, faith plus Mary, faith plus the book of Mormon, or even faith plus commitment is not the true gospel.

The way I see it, Eph. 2:8-10, faith plus salavtion may or should equal works. Some seem to get the works cart before the faith/salvation horse.

When the Holy Spirit dwells in someone, they are convicted of sin and have new desires to please God. This is not because of fear of judgement to come, but because He has put His Spirit into them.

Even "Pastor Jim" is apparently leading a congregation to believe a works righteousness. This is common in Roman Catholicism, Church of Christ, and most of the great world religions. Being good is the broad way. Interestingly, grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, by God's Word alone to God's glory alone seems to be getting lost in protestant circles.

Thank you for your passion.
brother John

January 09, 2006 6:57 AM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

J. Wendell, I'll ask you, what does "faith" mean to you? What is your definition of faith?

p.s. I am not a pastor, nor is my name Jim. It is just a nick name someone else in blogland gave me.

January 09, 2006 7:04 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

pastor jim says:

What would you want me to call it to make you feel less horrified? Promise??? Vow??? Agreement??? It seems you believe He has made a bargain with you....if you believe, He will save. Correct?

I try to use terms to define salvation that the NT has defined.

Adoption: Father/child relationship.

Gift: For by Grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift (contract???? commitment???? agreement? vow??? promise????) of God, not of works ..."

What do you do when you give a gift to your child? Do you make an agreement or a bargain with him?
"Well, son, if you open this gift, you will have to make sure you use the gift rightly or I am going to take it away from you. By the way, if I see you abusing that gift, then you are not really my son."

?????

January 09, 2006 7:05 AM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

Rose, your question makes no sense. Yes, if I were to give my son a gift and he started using it incorrectly, I would take it away. That is my fatherly responsibility.

Read this:

http://www.christianlibrary.org/authors/Gary_L_Grizzell/salvation/faithonly.htm

January 09, 2006 7:14 AM  
Blogger J. Wendell said...

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Pistis (Greek) - Persuasion i.e. creedence; conviction of the truth or truthfulness of God, especially reliance upon Christ for salvation

pastor jim, (I must say I am relieved that this is just a nickname) saving faith involves knowledge, mental ascent and trust.

I have read where you were concerned that the devil may be in heaven if Antonio is right about belief being the sole ingredient. You also said something to the effect that if Antonio is right, then anyone who believes in God will be in heaven. Nobody is saying any of that. The belief has to be in the gospel. This involves believing that you are responsible for your sin, and that you need a saviour and that Jesus Christ is the only saviour. You place your trust in His finished work. Has the devil ever done this? No. Then he is not a true believer, but is confirmed in his wickedness. Has all the world that says they "believe in God" done this? Not nearly all of them. But ....

Whosoever will....

January 09, 2006 7:21 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

jim,

Indian giver!

I said:
By the way, if I see you abusing that gift, then you are not really my son."

You're right. This doesn't make any sense ... and neither does the idea that if one doesn't do works after having been born into the family of God through faith in Christ (as J. Wendell mentioned above), God will take sonship and heaven from us.

No bargain here, just grace ... the gift of God. It is beautiful!

January 09, 2006 7:27 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

pastor jim,
I went to that link and I have a question: are you Gary Grizzell?

Oh, Hi Antonio! (Forgive me for being rude.) ;~)

January 09, 2006 7:35 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Antonio,
Interesting discussion.
Since we're all happy to throw verses around, here are two:
"Blessed are the meek..." (Matt. 5:5a) and "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God." (Matt. 5:9).
I guess I'm not familiar enough with Calvinism to know if the authors cited are representative of all Calvinist theology, but I have to say - with respect to Sproul's TableTalk, I'm far more comfortable with Jesus than I am with doctrinal nitpicking and fingerpointing.
Regarding whether or not one is hearing God's voice or that of another, I know I have heard His Spirit witness within me, and so I know that He does.
When I'm not sure if what I'm hearing is of Him, I remember that in my experience, God's promptings come in that still, small voice. It always brings peace. It never contradicts Scripture. (It often contradicts what I want to do.)
Thoughts of the flesh or devil (sometimes hard to distinguish where from since the devil often uses things of the flesh to cause us to sin) are many times spoken with a loud, demanding, "do-it-now" kind of voice, often prompting unrest and doubt.
The pastor of a church I attended once said if you're not sure whose the voice is, the best thing to do is wait. One of the best pieces of advice I've heard and try to take to heart.
Peace.

January 09, 2006 9:20 AM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

Antonio,

Interesting post, I am thinking on the matter, but I do have a question for you, which you have probably addressed before, but I have not yet read much of your blog. But my question is this...

Do you believe that if a person has faith then later completely denied that faith, and dies in that state, do you believe that person will be in heaven eternally?

God Bless,

Doug

January 09, 2006 10:27 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Modern Day Magi,

your observations I would say are righ on!

Antonio

Rose and John, thank you for your observations and comments, they are appreciated and very good!

Joe,

you write:
----------
As far as I can tell, they all think they were selected for salvation and therefore are saved.
----------
They know God selected, but they can't be sure that God actually selected them! (Not without a direct revelation from God or a perfect life of works)

Antonio

January 09, 2006 2:04 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Doug, as a quick answer to your question, I say yes.

Jesus says that just a mere "drink of" his living water will cause the one who had imbibed to never thirst again, and also that the one drink becomes a perpetual spring.

The immediate act of faith brings an absolutely free gift.

Jesus doesn't say that the person must CONTIUALLY drink the water so that he won't thirst. That wouldn't be anything special, would it? Of course if you kept drinking water you wouldn't thirst. But Jesus was contrasting the water he gives with the physical water that one had to continually come to draw. Jesus says after a drink, you will never thirst again.

I answered your question, but the support that I give here is all I have time for right now.

God bless.

Oh, also look at my blog's post entitled "God drags down the path of obedience?"

Antonio

January 09, 2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger centuri0n said...

Antonio:

You are confusing two matters in your post: the basis the believer has for knowing that salvation is secure, and the correct knowledge that one has secure salvation.

I don't know of any Calvinist who would disagree with the statement that the sole basis of salvation is saving faith given by grace. However, the question "does everyone who believes right now have infallible knowledge of salvation" is exactly the same kind of question as "is everyone right now without faith going to hell?"

Only those who die without faith are condemned to hell. Even Jn 3:18 says, "he that believeth not is condemned already". To make any blanket assertion on the snapshot at 4:11PM CT on 1/19/2006 is way outside of the statement of Scripture. In that, it is somewhat lopsided to say that a one-time confession of faith (or a failure at one time to make a confession of faith) seals a person's eternal destiny lacks real substance. It ignores huge, critical passages in Scripture (like the whole books of James and of Titus, for starters) and makes faith into something that doesn't do anything materially but only spiritually -- and only eternally. It's rank dualism.

I respect the radical aspects of God's freedom to bestow His grace, but I think that if we review any book of Scripture as a specific statment about that matter, we will find that God's grace is not just about future salvation but also about present sanctification and man's willingness and ability to do what God would have him do.

January 09, 2006 2:18 PM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

Antonio,

If a hater of God, someone who exhibits none of the fruit of the spirit can be saved (as long as he has had at least one drink of the living water), what does it mean to be born again and to be a new creation?

Doug

January 09, 2006 8:04 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I have always been intrigued by that point against perseverance of the saints.

According to the Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin, argues that perseverance is a gift from God. Therefore, Calvin understood that there was nothing he could do himself to keep himself saved, but that it was in God’s hands. The doctrine of perseverance cannot be understood apart from Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. Since it is God’s choice who is saved, it is also God’s choice that those in the community of the redeemed will persevere. (Vol II, Book III Chap XXV). Obviously, this idea is not new to Calvin, but dates back to Augustine.

It is true that Calvinism is a greater development than what Calvin actually said. You are right, Calvin rejected the idea human merit had anything to do with the assurance of salvation (Vol II, Book III Chap XXV). So you are right in saying that salvation is grounded in the work of Christ, i.e. The Word of God.

What can I say? Doctrine develops and sometimes changes slightly from what one person said and how their followers built upon it. What I know, is that I always go to the original sources, i.e. Calvin, Augustine, ect. So when I speak of myself as a Calvinist, I am more agreeing with Calvin and Augustine, than with the later movements.

January 09, 2006 9:01 PM  
Blogger evanmay said...

Antonio:

I noticed that you posted a link to this post at centuri0n's blog. I was asked to address this (not by centuri0n), so I have published, "True Assurance: Reformation Theology vs. the "Free Grace" Movement". It can be read here or here.

Thank you,
Evan May.

January 10, 2006 4:15 PM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

Pastor Jim...


I'm frankly glad to hear that you're not a pastor, considering the insecure, fear-mongered flock you would inevitably be leading. The notion of "works as evidence of salvation" is debated everywhere, yet no one seems to be willing to accept that they, personally, have no more ability to generate a "good work" for God after salvation then before. Anything we do in the name of the Lord is a direct result of His Spirit inspiring the act in the first place. While religious groups outside of Christianity perform "good works" on a daily basis, they are viewed as "filthy rags" by the Lord, since they are done for the purpose of justifying onesself in His sight. Remember Christ's words regarding who will be told to "depart from me; I never knew you!"...It's those who recommend their laundry list of works for His acceptance. Paul also warned against "Galationism", or a hybrid, false gospel including mandatory works of the law, in addition to grace. Why is it that those who embrace their eternal security are accused, frequently, of "easy believism", as though we advocate some notion that the true believer's profile is one of trusting in Christ and His death for our sins for a full pardon, and then, conveniently, we skip away into a life of wanton debachery since we're saved and won't experience any eternal consequences? "God forbid!", as Paul put it. The truth is, human beings are wired in such a way that we desperately, consciously and subconsciously, want to include ourselves and our efforts in the regenerative process, even after salvation. I believe this issue is one of the most insidious ways in which Satan blinds unbelievers, and binds believers in legalistic fear, wondering constantly if we've behaved well enough for God to "let us in" in the end. A better model is this...I began life as a "walking corpse", as it were. I was dead, spiritually, and remained that way until I was called by God's Spirit, at 16 years old, to embrace the truth of the gospel, of which I'd always been aware, since I was raised as a Pastor's kid. I was given a new nature, and my old one was "crucified". I was adopted as a son of God, and my identity forever changed. Since I still must live, for the time being, with my "flesh", which will never be regenerated in this life, there will, at times, be a disparity between my behavior and my identity. My acceptance before God (past, present, and future) is based on my identity as His son, and not my behavior, since my righteousness is actually that of Christ's, and not my own. Any other religious model is something other than Grace. It's often asked, "So you think you can go off and sin as much as you want to, and nothing will happen?" The answer is this...Any true believer, if given access to a button that, if pushed, would eradicate all sin from this life, would push it gladly and immediately. We are no lovers of sin, in spite of its presence. We are resigned to its' reality, and therefore offer God the only thing believers posses to give Him...submission and dependance. Even these are mustered as the work of our Father through the Spirit. I have a sneaking suspicion that endless debate along these lines is more geared toward one-up-manship and the desire to "win", than is motivated by the only thing that matters, as far as God is concerned...Love.

In Love,

Hayes

January 11, 2006 7:07 AM  
Blogger Solifidian said...

Reformed writer, John Piper, writes:

But if, over the next ten or twenty years, John Piper begins to cool off spiritually and lose interest in spiritual things and become more fascinated with making money and writing Christless books; and I buy the lie that a new wife would be exhilarating and that the children can fend for themselves and that the church of Christ is a drag and that the incarnation is a myth and that there is one life to live so let us eat drink and be merry—if that happens, then know that the truth is this: John Piper was mightily deceived in the first fifty years of his life. His faith was an alien vestige of his father's joy. His fidelity to his wife was a temporary passion and compliance with social pressure; his fatherhood the outworking of natural instincts. His preaching was driven by the love of words and crowds. His writing was a love affair with fame. And his praying was the deepest delusion of all—an attempt to get God to supply the resources of his vanity.

If this possibility does not make me serious and vigilant in the pursuit of everlasting joy, what will?

http://www.desiringgod.org/library/sermons/96/101396.html

Please note the last sentence. I'm not sure a Reformed writer can make it any clearer that fear of having a false faith is a motivating factor in his walk.

January 11, 2006 8:14 AM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

Solifidian,

John Piper's statement is articulately placed within the context in which he meant it. He doesn't advocate "motivation to Godliness by fear" in the sense that an inherent act of God, i.e. the drawing and regenerating of a human being, can be undone in the end, ironically, by that person's refusing to fear that the act had never occurred in the first place. This is convolution at it's finest. John Piper is echoing the scriptural mandate to "examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith", in the simple sense that legitimate believers, sealed in Christ by the Spirit, will never experience the wholesale abandonment of their faith scenario that he's posing. We are not sealed into Christ by our own vigilance, but rather the keeping power of God's preserving us "to the day of redemption"...Once assured of the object of our faith, we are free to focus on the person of Christ, rather than ourselves. I'm assuming that we're all, essentially, saying the same thing, but with different emphases based on the need, within the reformed framework.

God Bless,

Hayes

January 11, 2006 9:08 AM  
Blogger Solifidian said...

Hayes,

The quote of Piper seems quite explanatory in and of itself. One can ascertain, simply by reading it, that 1) the author is uncertain of his eternal destiny since his certainty is contingent upon what his life will look like in 10 or 20 years, and 2) this uncertainty is a motivating factor in his life.

January 11, 2006 9:35 AM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 11, 2006 9:55 AM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

Solifidian,


John Piper is a Baptist pastor who holds, essentially, to Reformist-Calvinist doctrine. What you're proposing is an Arminianist position in regard to eternal security, and opposite of what Calvinists espouse. I'm a bit confused, considering his writings directly reflect his own belief in the "perseverence" of the saints. Which John Piper are you referring to?

Hayes

January 11, 2006 10:33 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Guys,

I don't know what the back and forth is about. You both seem to be espousing the same position: the Reformed doctrine of assurance is lacking.

Piper and the Reformed traditionalists do sound like Arminians. That is the point. Functionally Arminianism and Calvinism are the same in this respect:

the one who does not persevere in faithful obedience goes to hell.

Hayes, I like your post to Pastor Jim. Your comment is contrary to popular and present day scholastic Reformed thought.

Solifidian, thank you for that quote from Piper. It proves my points.

Antonio

January 11, 2006 10:49 AM  
Blogger Solifidian said...

Hayes,

The website from where the quote came is as follows (you may need to put in .html after the link that shows up in the blog commment window):

http://www.desiringgod.org/library/sermons/96/101396.html

This is the John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota. He is well-known in Calvinist circles.

See the following link for the position of John Piper’s church regarding Calvinism:
http://www.bbcmpls.org/aboutus/TULIP.htm

I am making no claims about the quote other than it seems to represent his understanding of assurance, and that the quote clearly demonstrates an admitted lack of certainty regarding eternal destiny and an admitted motivation that this uncertainty provides in his life.

January 11, 2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

Antonio,


But Calvinism teaches that the perseverance of the saints is inevitable, since that "perseverance" is apart from works, or the lack thereof. I consider myself a Calvinist, as do most of my friends and family, and know of none among them who believe that "being good for God" after salvation results in entry into heaven. What sort of brand of Calvinist-Reformed theology are we talking about?! Solifidian clearly believes in what has traditionally been referred to as an Arminian perspective...

Hayes

January 11, 2006 11:05 AM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

Solifidian,

Thanks for the references; I've read his site, and, unless I've been living on the moon, am not aware of Calvinism, modern or otherwise, changing it's position on eternal security. Logic would state that, since Piper is a Calvinist, and Calvinism is defined, in part, by its stand on eternal security, that he would need to call himself something else if this is a position he does not share...

Take Care,

Hayes

January 11, 2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger Solifidian said...

Hayes,

You wrote,
Solifidian clearly believes in what has traditionally been referred to as an Arminian perspective...

I'm not sure what you've seen in my three posts above that would indicate that to be true. I have only posted a quote from John Piper and commented that the quote clearly demonstrates a lack of certainty regarding eternal destiny and the motivation that this provides in his life. Nothing more.

January 11, 2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hayes,

Yet you don't know if you are elect and will persevere. With Calvinism's doctrines of spurious faith and temporary faith, you may only think that you believe now. And later prove that you weren't elect.

That is the same result as rank Arminianism.

Antonio

January 11, 2006 11:31 AM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

Solifidian,

I apologize. I'm under the impression, apparently, that your reference was for the purpose of refuting my earlier post, and that your interpretation of his writings was in line with your own beliefs...Please enlighten...

Thanks,

Hayes

January 11, 2006 11:34 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hayes, I think that you need to go read more about Calvinism, and Piper in particularly. Many if not most Calvinists do not believe that Eternal Security is one and the same thing as Perseverance of the saints.

Mathison claims that eternal security "is neither Calvinistic nor Arminian" Talbot and Crampton consider it a "psuedo-Christian docrtrine." Gerstner describes eternal security as "antinomian."

"We have no sympathy whatever with the bald and unqualified declaration 'Once saved always saved.'" (A.W. Pink)

"It should be obvious that the Calvinist doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is not one and the same thing with 'once saved always saved'" (Talbot and Crampton)

Antonio

January 11, 2006 11:37 AM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

Antonio,

I'm still interested in you anwser regaring...

If a hater of God, someone who exhibits none of the fruit of the spirit can be saved (as long as he has had at least one drink of the living water), what does it mean to be born again and to be a new creation?

Doug

January 11, 2006 11:41 AM  
Blogger Solifidian said...

Hayes,

Apology accepted. I apologize for not being clearer. I brought up the quote to provide another example of assurance from a Reformed / Calvinistic perspective (in this case John Piper).

January 11, 2006 11:42 AM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

Antonio,

Your point is well taken, but my own Calvinist leanings don't extend to that degree. All I can say is, since God doesn't live inside of time, as we do, He isn't "reacting" with surprise to our lives as they're led. He views the end from the beginning, and we can either accept salvation with the confidence that scripture allows, or the sovereignty of God must be challenged, in that, in spite of what he promised, in the end our own frailty was our downfall. Scripture is replete with passages referring to the focus being on Him and His work, rather than our own mustard seed-sized faith...

Hayes

January 11, 2006 11:47 AM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

I'm baffled...I was raised in a Baptist-Presbyterian environment, both of which perspectives spring from a Calvinist school of thought.
I've read extensively on the subject, and in fact, a simple google of "Calvinist doctrine" will indicate sites on which its definition is broadly recognized as including eternal security. Spurgeon believed in it, as did Tozer, etc. etc...

Hayes

January 11, 2006 12:03 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

I'm new in this discussion, but I think that much of the problem does revolve around a lot of people not understanding those they are speaking with or contending against. No offense to Antonio, but he seems to have a misunderstanding of the essential of Reformed soteriology. (By the way, I find it rather interesting that you like Clark and Warfield, seeing as how you can't get much more Calvinistic than those two!) No matter how many times you say that Calvinism makes works a necessity for salvation, you will never get a Calvinist to say that. Now, you can argue that the Calvinistic position is illogical or non-sensical, but you cannot connect the dots which you see as 'logical' in their position, form a conclusion, and then accurately portray it as the Calvinist position. Also, since I am new to this whole thread (which seems to be the basic point of your whole blog), I was wondering if you could interact with (or point to earlier interactions with) passages that deal with perseverance as the only assurance of salvation. I am specifically thinking of the end of Colossians 1, where Paul states that we have been bought "if indeed...". That would be helpful for me to more fully understand your position.
And just as a point of question, eternal security is such a vague term that it is impossible to equivocate it with perseverance of the saints. I was not raised as a Calvinist, but since embracing Calvinism my view has not changed much; I still believe that those who do not persevere never really truly believed in the first place. And whether Tozer believed it or not is irrelevant, seeing as how he was an Arminian (though after reading The Knowledge of the Holy I can't see how).

January 11, 2006 12:37 PM  
Blogger Solifidian said...

Hayes,

The Free Grace understanding of eternal security is so different from the Reformed and Arminian understandings that one seminary (Chafer.edu) has a class on the matter. The following is clipped from their course catalog:

CI 902 Free Grace vs. Perseverance

A study of the issues of Free Grace versus Arminian and Reformed views of perseverance, pursuing a biblical understanding based on exegesis.

January 11, 2006 1:02 PM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

Moonlight,

"I still believe that those who do not persevere never really truly believed in the first place..." Exactly my point, and that of many Calvinist "sympathizers". One thing that seems rarely discussed, is the question of whether all of the divisive issues that created the myriad denominations in the first place must be ironed out to God's satisfaction in order to gain access to the "narrow road", or, in the enormous framework of His grace, is it possible that unity is more important to Him. I enjoy discussion as much as the next pseudo-intellectual (ha), but it seems that there exists a rather ugly spirit, at times, in these blogs dedicated, ironically, to Christ, and all He represents. Surely it must have occurred to someone that waiting until we all agree will never be the criteria for real fellowship.

Thanks, Solifidian, for the link...

Hayes

January 11, 2006 1:50 PM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

Doug E,

He won't answer a question like that. Its too simple.

I guess God told the story of the prodigal son just for fun. The son was "dead" when he turned his back on his father, but no one wants to see that.

Good luck, Doug on your probing. I hope it pans out better than mine.

w.h.,

You say I think after you believe in God then you go off into a life of sin. I do not believe every one does this, but I think a fair share do. So, what about them? How is their standing with God? Are they not "dead" to Him, if they are knowingly living a life against God?

January 11, 2006 4:05 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

'Do you believe that if a person has faith then later completely denied that faith, and dies in that state, do you believe that person will be in heaven eternally?'

Why not? Is God's grace not good enougth to cover that sin. Such a person may well ahve died as a result of God's judgment. The Scriptures are clear that there are circumstances in which God may punish a believer with death,, for instance some of those at Corinth who participated unworthily in the Lord's Supper.

God Bless

Matthew

January 12, 2006 9:28 AM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Excellent Post, Antonio!

Thanks for your D.A. Carson quotes. I need to read him.

I like what you said about attempting to throw your heart into the Christian life without assurance:

Is that not like investing in a company that may not be yours; tricking out a car that may be repossessed at any time; devoting to a woman who hasn’t affirmed that she is your wife?

This is exactly right.

And people who respond to Once Saved Always Saved with incredulity seem to betray that they find fear of Hell as the most supreme motivator. Solid ownership of the gift God turned over to us is alien. The joy and motivations of that ownership is also alien!

Lord bless!

Jodie

January 12, 2006 9:40 AM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

dyspraxic,

Thank for addressing my post. Now could you answer my second question as I am trying to understand your position...

"If a hater of God, someone who exhibits none of the fruit of the spirit can be saved (as long as he has had at least one drink of the living water), what does it mean to be born again and to be a new creation?"

Doug

January 12, 2006 9:47 AM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

Pastor Jim,


Herein lies a question which I believe strikes at the heart of this issue...We have before us a group of Christians who are rather militant regarding the notion that "out there" there exists people who "made a profession", yet somehow continue to sin, and regularly. These dubious claims, considering the gravity of their sins, as we see them, must be challenged at every turn, considering that when we compare the sins they commit with the approved list of "Christian" sins (Christians are allowed such menial transgressions as forming cliques and gossipping about single mothers in their midst until they tearfully won't come to church anymore, creating congregations of gluttons who's average weight tops 300 pounds, worshipping youth culture and then relegating senior citizens to second class statis, that sort of thing) we find that theirs are far more grievous than ours (sins that deserve having one's salvation questioned include homosexuality, abortion, and voting for democrats). Why is it that no one seems to be willing to consider that every one of these self-appointed Christian judges sins a thousand times a day, in a hundred insidious ways? We aren't even aware that we're committing them, most of the time, yet the only Judge that counts draws no distinction between a scared boyfriend manipulating a young girl into killing her baby and a fat, full southern pastor polishing off just "one more chicken leg, jus' cuz it taste good!" Logic would then indicate that the notion of a believer wandering into habitual sin on a visible level and all of us observing him have much more in common, daily, then we might admit. The standard, then, lies elsewhere, since we certainly aren't willing to throw ourselves into Hell because OUR sin quota has been used up. Scripture boils everything down, ultimately, to whether someone is alive, spiritually, or dead spiritually. It is, in fact, the ONLY difference between a believer and an unbeliever! Those who are alive spiritually exhibit "fruit" in accordance with that fact, and those who are not, do not. "Fruit" is an issue of commission, i.e., the Spirit brings it forth in the lives of regularly sinning children of God, and does not in those regular sinners who don't belong to Him. It's that simple. I believe that it's a worthless, sinfull persuit to scrutinize one another's lives in an effort to determine whether my neighbor at church is saved. It springs from one's own insecurity and lack of confidence, subconsciously, in the Grace of God ("If I don't feel inside like I'm getting any breaks from God, I'm sure not giving anyone else one!") Ultimately, it is only He who can determine the reality of someone's committment, and, believe me, there is no more miserable person on the planet than a believer running from God. I've been there, as have ALL of us, and realigning my heart with my Lord and my true identity is a sweet place to fall....

Hayes

January 12, 2006 9:58 AM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

Dyspraxic,

To be fair I will answer your post too.

I do beleive God's Grace is capable to cover all of those sins, even faithlessness. For every one of us was guitly of it before God quickened us with His grace.

The problem with faithlessness occuring after once having faith is that this position completely neglects the scriptural teaching of being born again or being a new creation.

I look forward to your understanding of being born again and what it means to be a new creation. And yours too Antonio.

I am enjoying the discussion.

God Bless,

Doug

We are "Kept by the power of God, THROUGH FAITH" 1 Pet.1:5. "Through faith" not on account of our faith.

January 12, 2006 10:06 AM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Pastor Jim,

Having read through some of your comments, may I suggest you first read some previous posts of Antonio's.

You'll find two things: that he puts an impressive amount of time into researching and writing detailed posts, the other is that you'll discover a bit of what he thinks of the warning passages of Scripture.

I think you'll see why it is legitimate for him not to spin his wheels with reformed advocates that make accusations, superficially refering to a slew of passages, then refuse to engage once he elaborately shows that the context of one of the passages fully precludes that particular reformed interpretation. They then move on without commenting.

I see this pattern all over the blogs I visit.

He has illuminated the sharp teaching in Proverbs that sin leads to death. Then he followed that up by showing that James also teaches that same 'sin leads to death' theme. And he answers some important objections here.

May God bless you, I, and all of us as we search the Scriptures.

Jodie

January 12, 2006 10:41 AM  
Blogger Aregon said...

How timely that I would see this blog now. My wife and I just read I John 2 last night and it seems that something the apostle wrote might apply to this conversation:

"Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." (I John 2:18-19)

The apostle held to the idea that there were antichrists who seemingly were "just like" they were. However, these antichrists "went out from us". Why? Because "they were not of us". These antichrists were not true believers, even though they looked and probably acted like them - heck, they probably even had made a "profession" of faith at one time.

But what else does John write: "for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us." Sounds like 'preservation of the saints' to me.

The scary thing that John writes here is the ultimate reason that they left - "that it might become plain that they all are not of us." God shows His faithfulness by showing the difference between the sheep and the goats, in time, for the sake of the sheep.

John wrote another interesting thing about this later in this letter:

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." (I John 5:13)

If I missed the point, I'm sorry, but I would agree with the apostle here (and the voice of scripture elsewhere) when I say that you are either alive in Christ or dead in sin. There is no middle ground, and not only can you know that you are saved, but people can be deceived about their current state. Fruit is an absolute certain result of faith, but just because somebody exhibits some kind of fruit, it does not guarantee that their faith is true (Matthew 7:21-29).

Perhaps something else John wrote is pertinent here:

"And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." (I John 2:3-6).

So even the apostle believes that the test of true saving faith is perseverance (I John 2:3), however, he also believes that you can know that you will be preserved (I John 5:4).

In other words, John would have rejcted the idea that somebody could have true saving faith, and yet lead a life of sin and hatred of God. The idea of a true Christian coming to the point where he would reject Christ and follow the world until he died, and yet still end up in heaven would be preposterous to John, and dare I say, it ought to be appalling to the church of today as well.

Coram Deo,
Jeff.

January 12, 2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Aregon,

Thank you for visiting the blog,

please refer to this link to my blog that talks about "they went out from us":

They went out from the Apostolic Fellowship

Doug, I plan on making a short answer, possibly in the meanwhile, read this post of mine that somewhat may answer your question, as it talks about our ontological nature:

Does Regeneration guarantee perseverance in sanctification?

Antonio

January 12, 2006 11:22 AM  
Blogger Solifidian said...

Aregon / Jeff,

You may be interested in looking at any of the following commentaries on the Epistles of John. Some people understand the Apostle John in First John as offering tests of fellowship, not tests of life:

The Bible Knowledge Commentary (New Testament) - the commentary of the epistles of John was written by Zane Hodges

The Epistles of John: Walking in the Light of God's Love - a 300+ page commentary on the Epistles of John written by Zane Hodges

Maximum Joy: First John--Relationship or Fellowship? - by Dave Anderson

1, 2 & 3 John - a commentary by Michael Eaton

January 12, 2006 11:43 AM  
Blogger Solifidian said...

Aregon / Jeff,

See also the journal article, Finding True North in 1 John, by John Niemala in the www.chafer.edu journal back issues:

http://www.chafer.edu/journal/back_issues/v6n3_2.pdf

January 12, 2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

Antonio,

Thank you for giving me this link. I have read the post and it doesn't really answer the question of what it means to be born again, to be a new creation, or to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Though it does touch on them and I thank you for them.

I still look forward to your direct comment addessing it.

Regarding that post, you make a correct point when you say we have a new nature and an old nature. Our new nature desires to do the things of God, where our old nature still desires evil.

To say, as you believe, that a person who hates God, and exhibits none of the fruit of the Spirit, can still be a Christian is actually contrary to this point. If we have a new nature that desires God, this man does not have it. He hates God, in fact he doesn't even believe in Him (I.E. faith). This man cannot have a new nature and therefore cannot be a Christian. Since to be a Christian is to have a new nature.

In a spirit of friendliness
Your brother,

Doug

January 12, 2006 1:46 PM  
Blogger W. H. Conner said...

Doug,

Some may consider it an issue of semantics, but scripture indicates that our old nature was "crucified" and died at salvation, leaving a very present "flesh" to battle with. I consider it important, in that those with an old nature must, by definition, follow it's leading into sin, while the believer is able to choose righteousness...

Just a thought,

Hayes

January 12, 2006 2:07 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

The change involved in regeneration in experiential terms is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The completion of Sanctification occurs in glory, not in this life.

In the present we can be faithful to God only through resisting the flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. To separate the transforming of our nature from the working of the Holy Spirit is to look for some good in our flesh. It is our flesh that needs to be put to death. It is God's purpose that this involves our co-operation (Romans 6:13). The New Birth offers the potential for holiness through self-mortification and walking in the Spirit.

The Scriptures are full of warnings of the possibility of our not walking according to the Holy Spirit's leading-

Romans 8:13
'For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.'

Romans 14:19-23
1 Cor 5:1-5
1 Cor 8:9-12
1 Cor 11:28-32
Gal 5:16-26
Ephesians 5:1-11

I could cite more. If it is impossible for the Christian to be overtaken by the flesh, then this teaching is utterly useless.

If this teaching is meant for false believers, there are three possibilities, at least one of which must be true:

1. The teaching has no relevance for Christians at all.
2. It is impossible to know one is a true believer and have assurance of salvation.
3. The Gospel message to unbelievers is live a life of holiness and you will be saved.

Your choice.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

January 12, 2006 2:59 PM  
Blogger Nathan White said...

Antonio, I just finished reading 'The Gospel According to the Apostles' recently, and I was wondering if you have any sort of official, written response to MacArthur that I can find and review.

Thanks

January 12, 2006 4:27 PM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

Dyspraxic,

You said…

“In the present we can be faithful to God only through resisting the flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. To separate the transforming of our nature from the working of the Holy Spirit is to look for some good in our flesh.”

This part I agree with, but it seems to work against what you are arguing for. God is doing the work in us, and He is faithful and just to complete it.” That’s why we don’t separate it.

But your view seems to separate it.

Your point of view says you must look for some good in you that is willing to work with the spirit because he can’t do it.

You then cited…

Romans 8:13
”For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

And said...

“If this teaching is meant for false believers, there are three possibilities, at least one of which must be true:

1. The teaching has no relevance for Christians at all.
2. It is impossible to know one is a true believer and have assurance of salvation.
3. The Gospel message to unbelievers is live a life of holiness and you will be saved.”

There could be a fourth. They are true!...

But you make this out to be a lie, because your doctrine teaches that a man can live after the flesh, and not die. Now if you interperit the word die to mean merely physical death then you must interperit “live” to merely mean physical which means if we live sinless we will never die.

This not only goes against all historical understanding of the text. It fights against the immediate context which says…

Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Rom 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

This is about eternal life and death. What this passage is teaching is that when Christ changes our nature we will live after the spirit because Christ has changed us.

1. The teaching does have relevance for Christian because it distinguishes between the saved and the unsaved.

2. It is possible to have assurance, because you will live after the spirit. “Ye shall know them by their fruits” perfection is not needed for assurance, merely a nature that seek after God and desires to do his will (faith). The faith produces the works

3. The Gospel message to unbelievers is not legalistic. It is through faith Christ can give you a new nature then you will live according to that nature.


The main problem with you post is that it did not address what it means to have a new nature or what it means to be born again. You mearly said that it means we have the potential for living a Godly life. But what has changed, this is what you neglected and this is the answer I am seeking.

In a spirit of friendly discussion,

Doug

January 12, 2006 4:30 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

A review of Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles:

Gospel According to the Apostles

Antonio

January 12, 2006 9:42 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

'The main problem with you post is that it did not address what it means to have a new nature or what it means to be born again. You mearly said that it means we have the potential for living a Godly life. But what has changed, this is what you neglected and this is the answer I am seeking.'

Well, I suppose I might have mentioned that the will of man is affected in regeneration such that he is able to follow the leading of the Holy Spirt. However, the Biblical data is clear that this requires co-operation.

'But you make this out to be a lie, because your doctrine teaches that a man can live after the flesh, and not die. Now if you interperit the word die to mean merely physical death then you must interperit “live” to merely mean physical which means if we live sinless we will never die.'

Well, live certainly does not mean eternal life because nowhere in the Scripture is eternal life amde conditional upon being led by the Spirit or mortifying the flesh. Eternal life is recieved by faith in Christ. To make such things a condition of salvation or to include them in faith is to destroy the doctrine of justification and to fall into Romanism.

I would identify life here with the fullness of life that God offers, both in this life and the next. This can be lost through sinful living. In this life we loose access to God through prayer and face chastening, in the next we loose privilege and status.

Grounding assurance in works of holiness is very dangerous. Yes, our assuracne is increased by sanctified living. However, we know we are saved if we have faith in Christ. It is in Christ's Resurrection ground that we stand justified. To seek our assurance in our actions is to shift the focus from Christ and onto ourselves. Our own lives simply cannot give us assurance because we will never be sufficently faithful. This is a recipe for legalism, whether theologically understood through the new nature or not.

The New Testament gives warnings to believers to perservere and to be holy. If these warnings are meant for false professors, in effect thsi means that unbelieves are being told not to believe on the Lord Jesus, but to perservere and be holy. This is absurd. However, this is the inevitable result in grounding assuracne in sanctified living.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

January 13, 2006 12:53 AM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Antonio,

Perhaps you missed my request in the myriad of comments. Since there seems to be an emphasis on exegesis in your position (which is always great),I was wondering if you could please interact with texts that specifically indicate perseverance "if" (I am especially thinking of a passage at the end of Colossians 1 right now). If you have covered this elsewhere, can you point me to it? No need to be redundant, I am just curious how Free Grace theology exgetes such statements.

January 13, 2006 5:44 AM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

Dyspraxic,

Thank you for taking the time to respond I really do appreciate it. Due to time I will only address one of your comments that most deals with the issue.

You said…

“Well, I suppose I might have mentioned that the will of man is affected in regeneration such that he is able to follow the leading of the Holy Spirt. However, the Biblical data is clear that this requires co-operation.”

My question is how does the nature enable man to co-operate? Sorry, I am not trying to be difficult. I too see man’s will as active in the following of Christ and living Godly.

But the question is not whether man’s will is active or not, even Calvin would agree that it is, but the question is why would a man who loves evil even begin to engage his will to live a Godly life.

My answer (which I see as scriptural) is that God has changed our nature so that we now desire to engage our will to follow Him. This is not legalism.

Your answer implies that God changing our nature is not enough? There must be some additional good in you that decides to work with the new nature.

In fact your view turns faith into a work, because there must me some good in you that decides to place your faith in Christ. For example… Why did you place your faith in Christ and Joe down the street does not? Is it because you are smarter, less hard hearted, more humble.

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Your believing is God work not yours.

Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

God opened her heart.

Your Brother,

Doug

January 13, 2006 10:52 AM  
Blogger Doug E. said...

I do what to say this in commending you. I admire your desire to keep law out of grace. You do well in seeing that the Arminian understanding of loss of salvation truly does involve works to be saved. And if I understood Calvinism the way you do I would also reject it. The problem is that your understanding seems to be lacking.

At lunch I went and read the first eight chapters of Romans to try and get a better understanding the meaning of death and life in chapter 8 verse 13 which we discussed earlier. Here are some interesting verses for you to consider regarding the interpretation of those words.

Rom 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
Rom 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
Rom 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

Notice in verse 7 that patient continuance is linked with eternal life

Rom 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

You will notice that this verse speaks of the law of faith. Law in this sense is not speaking about rules, but a force that is at work within us. It is contrasted with the law of sin. Faith does produce works.

Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Rom 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

In context, to be a slave of sin is too not have eternal life. Your view claims that someone can be a slave of sin and have eternal life.

The argument then continues into chapter 8 which says..

Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Rom 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
Rom 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Rom 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Rom 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Death and life still being used as eternal.

God Bless,

Doug

deaton@tiu.edu

January 13, 2006 3:55 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Why Sacrifice for God if You Can't be Certain that Christ Sacrificed for You?", 08 Jan 2006 12:29 AM,

comment by doug e., 09 Jan 2006 10:27 AM.

"Do you believe that if a person has faith then later completely denied that faith, and dies in that state, do you believe that person will be in heaven eternally?"

      This question is so common among so many Christians.   However, not much has been written in the way of showing some presuppositions behind the question.

      What goes these days by the name of perseverance is actually the exact opposite of the dictionary definition #1 in Webster's Third International: "continued or steadfast pursuit or prosecution of an undertaking or aim."    doug e.'s question is not about perseverance in the dictionary sense, but about what state one dies in.

      There are two or three strange and unfortunate twists in the use of the term perseverance of the saints since 1647.   Since doug e's question doesn't use the word here, but specifically refers to the state one dies in, it is actually helpful, since he makes explicit what he is talking about -- the state one dies in.

      Don't you think it is strange, given the definition above, that people often think that a saint has "persevered" in the Westminister sense if, no matter what happens until that moment, the person is faithful to Christ at the time of death?   This is a changing of "be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rev 2:10)"   to   "be faithful at death, and I will give you the crown of life." THAT IS NOT WHAT THE VERSE SAYS!   For many people who think they are defending the perseverance of the saints in some kind of Calvinist sense, the "continued" part doesn't matter, but the final moment is what matters.   For these same people, the "steadfast pursuit" of something determines nothing.   Only the final moment determines the destiny.

      The soteriological view that one's salvation corresponds exactly to how faithful one is at death should be given a special name, and that name should not be perseverance of the saints, because perseverance, in that view, is precisely what means nothing in light of one's final moments.

      In another forum I have wanted to call this with a name that is not too pejorative, while at the same time showing the irony of it: it is the "you're only as good as your last at-bat" theology.  

      Pardon to those who don't know the baseball meaning of "at-bat."   It's basically a way of saying that this view teaches that a person's destiny corresponds exactly to what faithfulness to Christ exists at the end of life.   Perseverance, whether of years or even hours, has nothing to do with it.

January 14, 2007 3:22 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Why Sacrifice for God if You Can't be Certain that Christ Sacrificed for You?", 08 Jan 2006 12:29 AM

      I'm hoping to discuss further two questions that doug e (even in the blog after this one) felt were not sufficiently addressed thus far.   Antonio, if I am understanding him right, criticizes the idea of making various post-conversion responsibilities of the Christian necessary for heaven, just as being born again is necessary for heaven.

      By "responsibilities" we mean that various things the Christian must avoid as well.   Antonio is criticizing the idea that there are various things that it is the Christian's responsibility to do or have, as well as various things that it is the Christian's responsibility not to do or not to have, in order to actually be, at that point in time someone who will be in heaven. doug e is asking about the "sine qua non(s)" of heaven, either positive or negative.

Here was the first of the two questions (09 Jan 2006 10:27 AM.):

      "Do you believe that if a person has faith then later completely denied that faith, and dies in that state, do you believe that person will be in heaven eternally?"

Here was the second (09 Jan 2006 08:04 PM.):

      "If a hater of God, someone who exhibits none of the fruit of the spirit can be saved (as long as he has had at least one drink of the living water), what does it mean to be born again and to be a new creation?"

      The first case is different from the second.   The first question is about someone who "has faith then later completely denied that faith, and dies in that state."   The biblical hypothetical would be if Peter had died right the end of verses such as Mt 26:70, 72, or 74.   Therefore this first case is about the relationship of that sin to the time of one's death.   I spoke some about this in the previous comment.

      The second case describes a person whose sin is over a period of time, not just at the time of death.   This person is described with the appositives "a hater of God, someone who exhibits none of the fruit of the spirit."   I would like to point out some presuppositions behind this description.

      First of all, here is the basic assumption behind the question: there are two groups that are completely separate from each other, the Christian, and the non-Christian. Since all Christians believe that (at any single point in time, at least) no one individual is a member of both groups, let's assume that this is true at a certain point in time. Therefore we clarify doug e's description by saying that he is describing an individual at a certain point in time.

      Second of all, let's examine the category, to see, as the mathematicians say, if it is a well-defined set.

      doug e asks if it is possible for the person he describes as hater of God, exhibiting none of the fruit of the Spirit, but who has actually had one drink of the living water (Jn 4) to be in the category of Christian at that point in time.

      The first problem is that of "exhibiting."   Is it exhibiting, as in at that very moment? or does the idea mean "never having exhibited?"

      Which brings me to the first observation of my own: in the second case, it is quite an accomplishment to be certain that someone has never ever exhibited the fruit of the Spirit whatsoever. Even if it such a judgment is possible for more than just God alone, and even if Scripture tells us not to do it in 1 Cor 4:5, and Mt 13:29, it would be a very exhaustive piece of knowledge.   If we must know that a person has never ever exhibited any fruit of the Spirit in order to place the person in the category of non-Christian, it is possible that we cannot define this set, by the criteria given.

January 15, 2007 9:26 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Why Sacrifice for God if you Can't be Certain that Christ Sacrificed for You," 08 Jan 2006, 12:29 pm, comment, 12 Jan 2006, 10:06 AM,

the commenter was saying,

"The problem with faithlessness occurring after once having faith is that this position completely neglects the scriptural teaching of being born again or being a new creation."


This is the idea that being born again and being a new creation is a guarantee that faithlessness will never occur after once having faith, i.e., that no one who is truly a Christian will ever be faithless, according to this idea. The modus tollens of that is that whoever is faithless is not a Christian.

To be completely fair, we should remember that the commenter has not defined what "faithlessness" denotes in that sentence.

However, dyspraxic fundamentalist answers this idea very succinctly in that comment of 13 Jan 2006 12:53 AM, saying,

Our own lives simply cannot give us assurance because we will never be sufficiently faithful. This is a recipe for legalism, whether theologically understood through the new nature or not.


This is a very profound comment. Also, in the link Antonio provides to answer the commenter, he says,

I will not quarrel that where there is justifying faith, that naturally, signs of regenerate life should exist too. This is a reasonable assumption for any Christian unless he has been converted on his death bed!

Antonio's comment is often attacked by those who believe that good works are inevitable as affirming only the obligation and not the fact of good works. Actually this is a false dichotomy, and misinterprets Antonio's words. If Antonio was talking about the obligation to do good works, he would not have said it is a "reasonable assumption." The obligation is ironclad. It is the prediction that they will occur that is the reasonable assumption.

February 04, 2007 3:12 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
I am looking at your old articles on "Why Sacrifice for God if You Can't be Certain that Christ Sacrificed for You?"

I was wondering if you, or anyone else, can show me where to find the quote from John Piper about the way he can't know if he is one of the elect or not.

I see now that it is John MacArthur who said he may be a defector who hasn't defected yet. Is there still an audio link to that? I have a frined who just doesn't believe that these two guys don't teach assurance of salvation adn I want to show him something solid.

June 10, 2009 12:25 PM  

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