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)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Darkness Outside

The following link is to my first article on the group blog : "Unashamed of Grace".

It talks about the "outer darkness" as found in the parable of the wedding feast. Most people have a knee-jerk reaction when they read this phrase and automatically import into it the idea of hell.

Come read my observations concerning this very important phrase as found in the parable of the wedding feast:

The Darkness Outside

My normal postings will resume! Keep in Touch!

Antonio

28 Comments:

Blogger Joe said...

I went over there and read your post. As usual, it was well done.

What I found most interesting was the comments.

February 19, 2006 4:11 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Antonio, a quick question. What's your view on the "ordo salutis" (order of salvation)?

Note Joe Dillow's view:

The biblcial solution, however, is to admit that for the natural man faith is impossible and to attribute it to the gift of God. This gift is not communicated mechanically. Rather,it is given through the creation of a capacity for faith on the basis of the evidence submitted. It starts with illumination, softening of the heart, and a quickening of the will. As a result, a man freely believes on the basis of the evidence submitted to him in the Gospels. This creation of capacity precedes regeneration.. . . "Joseph
Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings, 280
.

So he sees, as a Free-Gracer, regeneration preceding saving faith. Is this how you see it? And if not, how do you work this out?

February 19, 2006 10:04 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bobby,

you must read that page and paragraph over.

Dillow is saying straight out just the opposite of what you are interpreting him to say. Just look at your bolded print!

He is saying that faith precedes regeneration!

The creation of the capacity to believe PRECEDES regeneration. Not regeneration precedes faith!

Please read him again.

I can see this just from the paragraph you wrote.

He is saying that faith is a gift by virtue of God's "illumination, softening of the heart, and a quickening of the will." When this happens "a man freely believes". Then he says that this capacity PRECEDES regeneration.

Antonio

February 20, 2006 11:15 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Also,

another thing. Dillow is a Calvinist. I am not.

Antonio

February 20, 2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Antonio, do you regard faith as the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8?

God Bless

Matthew

February 20, 2006 12:59 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Matthew,

Absolutely not.

Is Faith a Gift? Gregory Sapaugh, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society.

Bobby,

I failed to mention that between the first and second edition of the Reign of the Servant Kings, Dillow changed his mind on his Ordo. In the first edition he used a single sentence that stated explicitly that regeneration preceded faith. In his second edition, he says just the opposite.

Antonio

February 20, 2006 1:21 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I just got into a big discussion whith my brother over the question Matthew asked yesterday. It seems some expositors see faith as the antecedent of the "gift" designation, while others see "saved" as that which is a gift and some say "grace" is the gift. I think everything that follows the word "grace" is describing the word "grace".

The answer to Matthew's question, as we have before see, is perhaps the most important in defining where you fall on the whole subject of soteriology, predestination, on and on ...

Antonio, I am going to print that link out and read it. Looks good, but a lot to read online. Thanks.

February 20, 2006 1:42 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

The discussion with my brother yesterday, the question Matthew asked today.

(I should've proofread that prev. comment)

February 20, 2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Yes, I agree with your answer, Antonio.

Rose~ I can think of way sin which a person taking a more 'Arminian' view of election could hold that faith is the gift of Ephesians 2:8.

A British Charismatic SemiPelagian type called David Pawson actually holds that Regeneration precedes faith. However, he argues that regeneration is a process that need not necessarilly be completed. Needless, to say, he is very unsound in theology.

One could argue that faith is a gift through Common Grace and all have the potential to exercise that gift.

Or one could argue that the gift of faith is imparted by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel.

Nevertheless, I think the simplest conclusion is that faith is not the gift of Eph 2:8.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

February 20, 2006 1:58 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

My bad, Antonio!

It's not a well written paragraph--when he said ". . . is to admit that for the natural man faith is impossible and to attribute it to the gift of God. . . ."

So he actually is a semi-Pelagian, historically speaking, i.e. his capacity would fit right into the schema presented by Aquinas--Thomas A. called this "capacity" created grace; which God as the primary cause placed within man, and thus there is "efficient cause" within each man (or the elect depending on your view) to cooperate with God in salvation by acting upon this created quality.

So I'm at odds with Dillow on this point.

Thank you for the clarification, on my boo boo, Antonio!

February 20, 2006 6:09 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bobby,

I don't know about "semi-pelagian" or what have you. Now I suppose, since I don't know your ordo, that you may place regeneration prior to faith.

I don't. Neither do I go with Dillow and state that faith is a gift of God.

Yet I take great offense to any indication that if someone believes the saving message of Jesus Christ that he is in some way "contributing" to his salvation.

This is a long perpetuated lie straight from the pit of hell.

The Bible states that faith in Christ receives eternal life. Where do you think a good place for Satan to confound salvific truth would be? The instrument by which we receive eternal life.

Faith no more contributes to one's salvation than a destitute man's passively receiving hands contribute to the purchase of live-giving sustenance by a rich benefactor.

The unregenerate are enteated to believe.

If they are unable to believe, my bible and my God deceives the world. It would be dangling a steak above a paralyzed dog.

I take great issue that faith "contributes" to salvation! Such an insistence makes my blood boil. It is the sophisticated machinations of a presuppositional and deductionistic man-made theology.

February 20, 2006 8:22 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

If they are unable to believe, my bible and my God deceives the world. It would be dangling a steak above a paralyzed dog.

I love that, Antonio! Where do you get this stuff? Do you think it up all on your own? That is a brilliant word-picture! I agree.

February 20, 2006 8:34 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Antonio, how do you respond to the Calvinist argument that unregenerate people hate God so they will never believe?

God Bless

Matthew

February 21, 2006 4:02 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

I think the concept of regeneration is the cause for much of the misunderstanding. I have found that many believers consider any of the Holy Spirit's work to be indwelling and that indwelling will occur at the moment God begins to reveal Himself. The belief that the Spirit of God can only function from within a man is fallacious. The one time the term regeneration is used in this context is in Titus 3:5. It is made clear in that verse that regeneration is apart from the renewing of the Holy Ghost and more aptly identifies the forward part of the entire process “by” which God’s grace is made evident to us. The verse itself is not an explanation of faith by any means and is given only to illustrate how that we are who we are, only “by” the grace of God. It is still “through” faith that we are saved “by” grace and it remains incumbent on a man to believe. This is a prerequisite to the spirit birth and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The term “regeneration” should then identify one who we would commonly say is under conviction and not one who is born again.

BTW, that was a great post Antonio. ;-)

February 21, 2006 4:45 AM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Antonio said:

"If they are unable to believe, my bible and my God deceives the world. It would be dangling a steak above a paralyzed dog."

Maybe a better analogy would be "dangling a steak above a dead dog".

Explain to me, if you will Antonio, "why" someone would desire to chose God instead of self. If someone is so ensnared by their own affections, why would they ever "choose" to follow Christ (I'm denying the idea of "free-will")?

February 21, 2006 10:58 AM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

I should've said, in my last post, "I'm NOT denying the idea of free-will".

February 21, 2006 10:59 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I'm wondering why I keep seeing salvation referred to as "choosing God". Is that what trusting Christ for cleansing of sin and righteousness (which brings eternal life) is - "choosing God"?
Bobby, I appreciate your mind and I wish you would address this point: Some see salvation as a response or a cry out of utter helplessness ... not "choosing" anything.

February 21, 2006 11:57 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

That is a very important point, Rose~.

If I might answer my own question, the unregenerate man hates God. However, his recognising and believing that he can have eternal life through Jesus Christ is not incompatible with his hating Christ.

A man may know that in his heart he hates God, but he may have come to the point of believing that Jesus gives him eternal life through His saving work. This does not stop the man knowing the man hating God, but his hatred may in fact confirm to him rather his need for salvation.

Faith is not a change of heart or attitude necessarilly but only a passive reception of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

February 21, 2006 12:32 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Rose,

I would strongly disagree with Matthew on his point. He said:

"A man may know that in his heart he hates God, but he may have come to the point of believing that Jesus gives him eternal life through His saving work. This does not stop the man knowing the man hating God, but his hatred may in fact confirm to him rather his need for salvation."

Contrarily, I would argue that man, who indeed hates God, why "?", because he loves self, only sees himself as "god"--and thus does not have the capacity, in and of himself, to catch a vision of the true God apart from God's initiatory work in his heart (Gen 3; Rom 1 and 3, etc.).

I'm not making this up, isn't it God who says He cares about the heart (I Sam 16:7) more than outward appearances. Isn't it said by the apostle Paul in Eph 4 that the heart of man is full of darkness and beyond the point of feeling (also the prophet Jeremiah in 17:9 makes the same point). Man is in bondage to his own affections, affections driven by love of self (i.e. little gods Gen 3, the original lie, a distortion and privation of who the true God of love is, I Jn 4). In this Fallen state, why would man ever ever look to the true God--he indeed can not Rom 8:7). I do agree with Matthew on one point here, that man does ultimately come to loath self, but given the vicious circle of self love he finds himself in, he ends up worshipping the creation (himself) rather than the Creator (Rom 1); making god in his own image (an exacting reflection of his fallen nature).

My question, given the above discussion, is what is it in man that would motivate him to value/love God and His way more than his own way? The logical conclusion is that it is God "who first loved us, that we might love Him. . . ." I Jn 4:19. Much like the incarnation, as an illustration, God must alone break into time and space, i.e. into our lives, and break this vicious circle of man's competing affections with His love. It's, IMO, at this point that man can then look away from self, being now captured by the all encompassing attractiveness of the Savior and His lovlieness, and "respond" back to Him in love. It's not until our hearts of stone are replaced with a heart of flesh that we can ever transcend the circular vicious nature of our love of self (Ez. 36:24ff; II Cor 3)!

From my perspective, Rose, this whole discussion comes down to how one defines "sin" and thus its corollary "grace". If sin is defined as only a "wounding" then all one needs is some medicine (grace). If sin is defined as death (Rom 3) then one needs a new life (grace) (II Cor 3; 5:17).

The idea of a "created capacity" post fall, as discussed above, to receive Christ (for faith), historically falls into the semi-Pelagian understanding. It assumes that man is "self-moved" apart from God's movement (this idea takes shape, w/o a doubt, historically speaking [but who needs history ;] within the philosophical integration of Aristotle's thought with Christian doctrine). This is why some might contend that human choice, within this framework, is highly problematic. In other words it assumes the lie (Gen 3 man is free and autonomous self-moved)as the touchstone for man's ability to receive salvation.

Does this seem problematic to you Rose, it does to me . . . but I'm still in a bit of angst and struggle here. I realize that I don't need to be a 5 pt Calvinist or Lordship guy in order to hold to the idea that God has, in an infralapsarian sense, elected particular men and women to salvation, believe in a purley unilateral salvation, etc. And indeed I have particular definitional committments that lead me, logically, in this direction. But at the same time I have my up-bringing that very much so reflects Antonio's position. And I'm a bit torn between the two. I have no problem with living with some tension here, which I have been for quite some time, but it's hard to remain up in the air on such important things as this. We'll see where the Lord shall lead . . .

In Christ,

Bobby Grow

February 21, 2006 8:53 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I once witnessed to a gruff, mean, hateful man who told me to get out of his life and take my religion with me.

Some time later he came to me and told me "something happened," and would I please explain it to him, since I seemed to understand these things.

I surmised that God's Holy Spirit had pricked this man's heart, I told him about Jesus (again) and he trusted Him as Lord and Savior.

Today, he lives for Christ and teaches His Word to others.

What took place in this man's life?

February 22, 2006 4:25 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

The condition for salvation is belief on Christ's aving work.

I see no reason why this is incompatible with feeling emotions of hatred towards God. I think the change of attitude comes in after conversion and after regeneration.

I am concerned, Bobby, that you draw to close a connection between loving Christ and salvation. This leads to the legalism of Calvinism.

We are saved by faith, not by love (which if it is genuine will involve works).

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

February 22, 2006 9:18 AM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Matthew said:

"I am concerned, Bobby, that you draw to close a connection between loving Christ and salvation. This leads to the legalism of Calvinism."

How does this lead to Calvinism? The ideas I discussed above are actually, historically, descriptive of the Antinomian position--i.e. against Calvinism. To see love as the basis of salvation, leads to works-righteousness salvation. I would think the opposite, remember the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, he hated God because he thought he could never live up to the high/holy standards that God required--so he constantly strove/worked/beat himself to try and attain--this was driven by what you're describing Matthew. It was until Luther had his "breakthrough" and realized God was a God of love that He was finally able to rest in his relationship with the LORD.

In Christ

Bobby

February 22, 2006 10:05 AM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Joe I think what I described above is what happened to your friend, praise the Lord!

February 22, 2006 10:07 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bobby,

I do not line up, in this matter, with your assessments of either Scripture or experience.

I once took a philosophy class, in a secular university, where the professor claimed "All things we do, no matter what, is ultimately for selfish reasons". Most of the class took issue, and for a long while, came up with instances they considered contrary to his thesis. He proceeded to field them with his years of experience having done so. Me and others were neither impressed nor convinced.

Nor do I stand convinced here either.

Cornelius was an unsaved God-fearer, who prayed to God and gave alms. Does this disposition sound like a God-hater to you? It does not to me.

In my life as well, I recollect plenty of times when i went to parochial (Catholic) school, where I had great affection toward God and did alms and good-works with my love of God as a motivation.

Depravity does not mean that all we do is depraved. To me, it means that 1) we have a disposition to depraved behavior 2) we are helpless, in and of ourselves, to bridge the gap that lies between us and God.

The dispositions of the majority of men stem from 1) their insistence to not acknowledge God and 2) God's judicial "giving them over" to their lusts as a result of their rejection of Him.

I take issue with:

1) the insistence of some who state that man cannot and does not take steps towards God (not as if they are meriting eternal life, but are "striving" to enter the narrow gate). Unregenerate man can love God, and seek Him, as evidenced by Cornelius.

2) the insistence of some who state that some subjective degree of affection is necessary for man to both want eternal life (and consequently, their understanding, that since no one can do this, that God must impose regeneration on His "elect") and to gain eternal life.

Was not Cornelius having great affection for God before he was saved? i believe that his searching and affection for God gave him a good disposition toward the leading and convcition of the Holy Spirit (I do declare that Cornelius had been operating voluntarily under the leading of the Holy Spirit this whole time).

What of the Philippian Jailor? Was his concern for salvation one of affection toward God? I declare that the jailor was interested in his own skin.

What is salvation but being delivered? Is not deliverance something that is appealing? The jailor desired to be delivered, and thus was disposed toward faith in Christ for that deliverance.

Why are those in jail great candidates for the positive reception of the gospel? Because they sense a great need for deliverance.

Why are the rich in this world not so great of candidates for the positive reception of the gospel? Because they are used to their money delivering them.

I would like at some point to exhaust all variables which make a man disposed toward persuasion to the gospel which is attended by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 17:10-12
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed.

Luke 8:15
But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Bobby, you state:
----------
Maybe a better analogy would be "dangling a steak above a dead dog".
----------
In such a case, the dog could not be held responsible for appropriating that steak.

Antonio

February 22, 2006 10:12 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Hi Antonio,

I will go read through that new blog when I get some time. It looks very interesting. You all have done a great job.

February 22, 2006 10:25 AM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Antonio,

I raised many questions, in my response to Rose, that you didn't deal with. Such as: the issue of motive, the key issue. You don't really deal with it, your illustrations from scripture provide some framework for understanding salvation--and I would agree with you that salvation is deliverance (in both the OT and NT--nuanced differently)--but it's more than deliverance not "less than", from my perspective.

I would also argue against using anything in the book of Acts, hermeneutically, as normative for us today. In other words this is a time of much transition from Judaism to Christianity--and indeed is not the norm for us today. Not only that, but Acts is narrative literature, and the primary function of such literature is descriptive not prescriptive vs. discourse literature such as the epistles provide (whose primary intent is didactic). I'm not saying there aren't exceptions to this, i.e. discourse embedded within narrative such as the Gospels illustrate. My point is that I'm not going to go to narrative lit., like Acts, to build my doctrinal framework, I'll go to discourse lit. and read Acts through that filter. All that to say that Cornelius' situation, for me, does not serve as the normative paradigm for understanding the salvific process.

Who says responsibility presupposes ability?

Antonio, I'm playing a bit of devil's advocate here. As I'm not fully committed, yet, to all that I've been discussing thus far. Just so you know :). I am genuinely considering all that I've discussed above, I thought this would be a good forum to flesh it out in--so thank you.

February 22, 2006 5:44 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Bobby, maybe I misunderstood your comment. So you do not think that a change of attitude in which a person comes to love God is essential to salvation?

Antonio, thankyou for your response to my question.

God Bless

Matthew

February 23, 2006 3:12 AM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Matthew,

This is where I have much tension in my soteriology right now. I do know that I see no conditions for salvation--but simple faith in Jesus Christ. It's the mechanism for the appropriation--or the process that actually happens at conversion, given my defintion of sin, that causes me some angst at this point. In other words, I'm still working this through . . . thank you for your patience :).

In Christ,

Bobby

February 23, 2006 10:09 AM  

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