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)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Will of God is Necessity (Helpless, Hopeless, yet Unpitiable)

"The Will of God is Necessity" (Institutes II.xxiii.8)
(Helpless, Hopeless, yet Unpitiable)

Born blind and reprobate
Hell can be my only fate
Heaven reserved for those God chose
Why I have no chance, God only knows

Born blind and deaf to the gospel of grace
To my life, Christ in His death hid His face
For God so loved the world, that Jesus died only to save some
How can this be a gracious offer that disingenuously bids me to come?

Born blind and dead from my mother's womb
I am to glorify God by my certain doom
God has arranged and disposed of me at His pleasure
He has created me as an object of His wrath and not His treasure

Born blind in sin, I did not ask to be born
Unlike Paul for his brethren, For me God does not mourn
I have been chosen for hell in the secret counsel of His all-encompassing decree
When I am gone, there will be no memory of me

----------

Man was created in the image and likeness of God. Obviously this is not talking about physical features. Men are able to love with agape love, even sinners and publicans! (Matt 5:46; Luke 6:32 SEE GREEK) Men reason, do moral and just things, even not having the Mosaic or any God-given written law:

Rom 2:14-15
... for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,

Can you notice here that they "by nature" do the things in the law? This is due to the moral image and likeness of God in which they were created in.

Man has the constitutional ability to believe. Do you not believe things? Is every belief a conviction imposed by God? Man has the communicable attributes of God! We are fearfully and wonderfully created and endowed by our Maker! The false doctrine of total inability to believe Christ's message is a teaching straight from the pit.

Christ died for sinners. He took the barrier of sin out of the way. Why is there such elaborate testimony to how one receives eternal life, by faith in Christ, if this is impossible? There can be no good answers.

With Paul, I say to sinners:

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!" (Acts 16:31)

But the soteriology of a Calvinist goes like this:

Lam 3:26
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD.

The majority of humanity will be waiting in vain. God is pleased to desroy them; the have been created to be damned.

Yes, the reprobate will be waiting in vain.

The Bible conclusively shows that unregenerate man seeks God. I see that noone is willing to pose any arguments against the plain and normal reading of Cornelius and the Bereans.

Acts 10:1-3, 4
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius! ...Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God."

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. 11 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.

Acts 17:26-28
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth... so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;


God draws all men:

John 1:7-9
This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

Witnesses do one thing: seek to persuade others of their testimony. Jesus is the true light which gives light to everyone coming into the world. If man is in darkness Christ is the Light.

John 12:31-32
"Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

Jesus has been lifted up. He is the light. Men can resist the light. Men can resist the drawing.

John 16:7-9
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

Jesus went to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is now here and is convicting the WORLD of sin, righteousness, and judgement. The Holy Spirit has a convicting ministry, Jesus is drawing all men to Himself, Jesus is the Light the True Light shining to every man in the world.

Heb 4:12
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The Word of God is supernatural unto conviction, persuasion, and being convinced. The word of God, in conjunction with the Spirit of God, in conjunction with the Son of God, in conjunction with the image and likeness of God, in addition to the drawing of Jesus to all men, in light of God's invititation to all men, in lieu of Christ's death for all men, in observance of God's desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth...

In light of the examples of Cornelius and the Bereans...

Oh. What about preaching the gospel and persuasion?

Some seem to deny that there is any soul winning or persuading men as to the gospel. Why do it when they are unable to hear and respond apart from sovereign regeneration and Irresistable Grace imposed? If one must be regenerated and then made to believe, then persuading someone as to the truth of the gospel really doesn't have a purpose in evangelism; preaching it seems pointless (men can't understand, are unable to hear and respond). There is no persuading or convincing the unregenerate sinner and it really would be a waste of time to do so.

I guess those who believe such doctrine could merely be content to give a short gospel message and see if God is going to do his trick and "effectually call" his elect.

Why answer the questions of an unbeliever or seek to persuade them? They can't understand apart from imposed religion! Imagine, a Calvinist trying to persuade an unbeliever. Why would he act contrarily to his most sacred doctrines? What would provoke them to answer the questions of a dead man? Why would they seek to persuade one who does not have ears to hear? If God uses the gospel to effect regeneration in His elect, why do Calvinists waste their time in many extra words trying to convince others of the gospel in their presentations? These synergistic pleas are superfluous and their time could be better spent trying to find God imposing regeneration on His elect, rather than wasting time on the helpless and doomed reprobate!

If after a very brief gospel message the person does not respond, well either 1) he is elect and God is not ready to effectually call him with His irresisitable grace imposition at this time or 2) he is unelect, reprobate, bound to glorify God by frying for eternity. Either way, persuasion is meaningless for it is falling on deaf, totally inable ears. Why don't they just go on to the next one to see if they are elect and if God is ready to effectually call them by irresistible grace imposed? Why do they wax eloquent, as if their synergistic pleas could be regarded? It is disingenuous!

2 Cor 5:19-21
God... has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Imagine imploring and beseeching a deaf and blind person with your heartfelt speech. What use is it? This goes against all God given reason.

The deductionistic doctrines of Traditionalism are not biblical. Their arguments with their many prooftexts are a hodge-podge of special pleading and illegitamate totality and identity transfers. Not one clear scripture bears them out. The Traditionalist first got his doctrine from his theological deduction, then looked to the scriptures for support. There is not a single, clear passage stating that the gospel message, that enjoins the whole world to believe on Christ for eternal life, cannot be believed by humanity apart from God's sovereign forceable imposition. Not ONE PASSAGE states such a thing!

But passage after passage shows that not only do we see men being given the legitamate responsibility to believe, we see them seeking after God and being persuaded!

How can God make someone responsible for that which he cannot do?

That is like throwing an infant in the fires of Molech for not being able to change his own diaper.

Paul expended himself for Christ doing exactly this: disputing and persuading in the attempt to win people to Christ. As soon as he was converted, Paul "confounded the Jews...at Damascus proving that this is very Christ..."(Acts 9:22). Everywhere he went Paul "disputed...in the synagogue...and in the market daily..." (Acts 17:17). The last chapter of Acts tells us that even under house arrest in Rome, Paul was still at it: "...there came many to him, ... to whom he expounded... persuading them concerning Jesus..." (Acts 28:23).

1 Cor 9:16, 19-22
...woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!...
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law(not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

The only way that a Traditionalist can emulate Paul here is to spurn the deadly flower of his theology.

Rom 10:1
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved

Antonio da Rosa
Lakeside, CA

32 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Good stuff, Antonio.

The Exclusive Brethren hold that regeneration may occur some time before conversion. What do you make of the theory that Cornelius might have been regenerate before his conversion? Obviously, I do not find this convincing. I just wondered how you would respond to that idea.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

February 07, 2006 2:32 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

I think I'll print this article and frame it. May I have your permission to republish this as needed?

February 07, 2006 2:34 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

Antonio,

Excellent!! Keep up the good work!

February 07, 2006 3:07 PM  
Blogger evanmay said...

Wow! Where to start?

February 07, 2006 4:00 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

>Men are able to love with agape love, even sinners and publicans! (Matt 5:46)< .....?

Are you sure about that? Did you ever look at the greek when Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him.

He did admit to loving him, but it was a lesser love. Agape is only possible from God. No man can love as God only loves.

Matthew,
"No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise Him up at the last day." John 6:44

Antonio,

What do you make of those disciples that had a hard time accepting the sayings of Jesus in this whole discourse and left him?

"When many of his disciples heard it, they said, 'This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?'" John 6:60

and

"After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him." John 6:66

Question? Do you believe the ones that left following Jesus were still saved?

They stumbled at the Words of Christ and this caused them to reject Him.

"So Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?"

"Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
John 6:68-69

I love you brother and do indeed believe that we need to present grace as a free gift; but I think what area we differ in is that the flesh cannot coerce the will to believe. only the Holy Spirit and the word of God can. He will convict the world of Sin so that men will believe in His son. John 16.

You gave me evidence more by stating that man can agape. He cannot unless he is born of God.

Oh dear friend, I speak to you in earnest. Take time away from blogging and responding as reactionary findings are not always going to square with what the Spirit of God is trying to reveal to us.

Read the book of John and call on God asking Him to open the heart unto understanding. Ask Him and you will indeed receive.

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life." John 6:63

February 07, 2006 4:13 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Matthew, great question. You see, we must take the text itself at face value.

Acts 11:13-17
3 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, 'Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved. 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?


----------

Cornelius was not saved prior to hearing the words of the gospel message. The Spirit was given to him when he believed.

Peter says "words by which" Cornelius and his family would be saved. The Spirit and salvation did not come until the word was spoken and Cornelius believed.

It reminds me of the only place in the Bible where it explicitly says how one comes to faith; that it comes as a passive result of hearing the word of God:

Rom 10:17
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Or how about Paul:

Gal 3:2
This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?


Notice he doesnt say "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the sovereign imposition of God?"

Antonio

February 07, 2006 5:49 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Antonio,

Excellent Posting!

You really brought the Scriptures to bear on this Traditionalist idea that has taken on a life of its own.

Jodie


Bhder,

May I observe that the Scriptures say they were disciples of Jesus not believers. They followed him for a while and then stopped following Him.

Warmly,

Jodie

February 07, 2006 7:23 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Jodie said:

"May I observe that the Scriptures say they were disciples of Jesus not believers. They followed him for a while and then stopped following Him.

This is interesting, typically I've heard this distinction made by "Free-Gracers", but not this way. In other words, the Free-Gracer typically sees salvation, and discipleship as two separate categories--although inter-related relative to relationship with Jesus Christ. What I'm struggling to say ;), is that in those passages that appear to imply that someone has lost their salvation--the Free-Gracer might respond that the text was referencing discipleship and loss of reward; rather than losing one's salvation in that instance.

February 07, 2006 7:55 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I do not choose to afix to myself a label, but if I did, "Free Grace" would come closer than any other.

The "poem" was great and very persuasive.

February 08, 2006 3:33 AM  
Blogger nothingnothingnothing said...

Antonio -

I'm quoting from a couple of your posts, because I'm a little confused.

You said (in "The Will of God is Necessity (Helpless, Hopeless, yet Unpitiable)"):

"The false doctrine of total inability to believe Christ's message is a teaching straight from the pit."

Here, it would appear to me, that you're saying that we do have the ability to believe in Christ by saying that total inability to believe is "false".

And this if from your post "Faith is the Passive Result of being Persuaded":

"Faith in Christ is not a work. Faith's role in the reception of eternal life is purely instrumental."

"No one can determine to put his or her faith in something. Either they are persuaded as to a proposition or they retain doubt. Doubt precludes faith (Romans 14:23; Jas. 1:6, 7). A single doubt about the gospel offer will keep one from saving faith. The convicting and convincing ministry of both the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is enough to overcome any doubt."

and

"A person cannot become convinced and convicted by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God unless they are open to the discourse."

1. So is it the Spirit that gives the conviction and convinces a person to believe or is it man on his own who believes? In other words, is the Spirit a necessary participant in person's faith? Can a person believe without the Spirit's working in his or her heart?

2. And if the Spirit is necessary, wouldn't that mean He is convicting and convincing whomever the Father tells Him to convict and convince?

3. And if we are able to believe on our own, why would God want or need to send the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin?


Hopefully, my questions make sense.

In Christ,
Ten Cent

February 08, 2006 6:06 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Good stuff. I need to come back and read this more thoroughly. It's good to read someone who can clearly think through the fallacies of the calvanists. They seem to only confuse me. Thanks.

February 08, 2006 10:15 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
Well put! I have the same probelms with these odd doctrines as you do. Senseless.

This line made me laugh (and I think I feel a little guilty about that).

That is like throwing an infant in the fires of Molech for not being able to change his own diaper.

Yes. If we are unable, then how can we be held accountable? The scripture states that we are accountable:

2 Thessalonians 2:12
... and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.


John 3:18
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
.

You say:
If God uses the gospel to effect regeneration in His elect, why do Calvinists waste their time in many extra words trying to convince others of the gospel in their presentations?

I have wondered this same thing myself. You know that the traditionalists say that they find evangelism to be more enthralling with this doctrine because they know that some will believe. I guess you could just hope that you talk to one of the elect so that you have the opportunity to behold the inevitable regeneration of that one, for God's glory.

I think this doctrine is very unhelpful to the Christian's view of the world. (the whole world, not just the world of the elect). I am not accusing any Calvinist of thinking this ... but ... if I were a Calvinist, I think I would have trouble looking at the lost. I would be wondering if they were hopelessly doomed, walking corpses, as they like to say. It would make me sick. In fact ...

Also - I agree with what Joe said about the Free Grace label.

February 08, 2006 10:16 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

BTW,
I have seen this poem of yours before ... in a comment, I believe. ;~)

over here ....

February 08, 2006 10:21 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Antonio, thanks for your answer. A good response, but I would point out that Exclusive Brethren separate conversiona nd reception of the Holy Spirit.

Brian,
thankyou for quoting the Word of God. It is wonderful that we have all, by grace, come to recognise its authority and power.

Funnily enougth, I have read that verse quite a few times before.

If you do not know how I interpret that verse, why dont you have a think about how someone who does not hold to Calvinism might interpret it.

May the Lord richly bless you both

Matthew

February 08, 2006 10:52 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Casey,

thank you for your comments. You may use my words for whatever you like, even to line your bird cage (as some Calvinists would like to).

Brian,

you are wrong, read the Greek Bible. Sinners and Tax-collectors "agape" love each other.

Ten cent,

The faith is the man's, the Holy Spirit convicts the whole world. I don't see what the problem is. Man can harden himself or seek God and consider the gospel message.

It is man's faith, the Holy Spirit is essential. He convicts the whole world.

Rose,

I appreciate your agreement.

When Calvinists look at the clear passages of Cornelius and the Bereans, they must twist and contort them to fit their theology. Rather than taking their theology from the Bible, they use their deductive, presuppositional theology to interpret the Bible.

Kristi,

I really appreciate you coming around. You are a very interesting young lady and I really enjoy your blog. You grace me here!

Nate, have fun in Dallas, and tell Zane I said hi!

Antonio

February 08, 2006 1:35 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

>May I observe that the Scriptures say they were disciples of Jesus not believers. They followed him for a while and then stopped following Him.<

Are you sure?

What do you do with John 2:23-25

I beg you to read John closely and regard the whole context as it builds

February 08, 2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bobby,

Those disciples that Brian and Jodie refer to could be either have been saved or unsaved, in my position. mathetes (disciple) is a learner who followed his master and his teachings.

Those disciples who left didn't lose their salvation if they had it. Some may have been saved, others not.

They were offended with Christ's sayings so therefore they left. This in and of itself does not prove that they were unsaved. They text does not say, and it is not within John's purpose to disclose such.

Disciples of rabbis in that time followed their masters from town to town, place to place, learning. These people, whether saved or unsaved, fit that bill (until they left).

That they left doesn't prove that they were unsaved or lost their salvation.

That John called them "disciples" reveals to me that they had been following Jesus for at least a "length" of time.

Antonio

February 08, 2006 1:44 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

Please consider that that John speaks here of a false faith before going into John 3 and speaking of the re-birth

February 08, 2006 1:45 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Spurious or Secret Saints? John 2:23-25

by Bob Wilkin

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


23Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
These three verses are seemingly simple and straightforward: Some people in Jerusalem believed in Jesus, yet He didn't commit Himself to them. The verses are simple and straightforward for those who understand the purpose of John's Gospel and a theme he uses throughout the book: the secret believer motif. These verses become extremely difficult to those who fail to take these into account.


The Verdict of Most Commentators: Spurious Saints
Commentators almost all take the view that the believers mentioned in John didn't truly believe in Jesus. This, of course, is a bit puzzling. How can a person believe in Jesus and yet not believe in Jesus? It would seem that if a person didn't believe in Jesus, then he shouldn't be called a believer. Certainly John shouldn't tell us that they "believed in His name" if they didn't.

Here are some representative explanations by commentators about those who "believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did":


Many trusted in his name; i.e., because of the manner in which his power was displayed they accepted him as a great prophet and perhaps even as the Messiah. This, however, is not the same as saying that they surrendered their hearts to him. Not all faith is saving faith (William Hendriksen, John, p. 127, italics his).
believed in His name. This expression in 1:12 describes a faith that is adequate; here seemingly it is not (Raymond E. Brown, John, p. 126, italics his).

Sadly, their faith was spurious, and Jesus knew it (D. A. Carson, John, p. 184).

Compare 1:12 and 8:30, note. In this place the phrase seems to imply the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, but such a Messiah as Him for whom they looked, without any deeper trust (for the most part) in His Person (v. 24)" (B. F. Westcott, John, p. 45).


Problems with the Spurious Saints View
These statements are remarkable! Westcott contends, and Hendriksen thinks it conceivable, that those in question believed in Jesus as the Messiah, yet they don't think these people believed so as to have eternal life. This flies in the face of the purpose statement of John's Gospel: "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31).

Brown recognizes the inconsistency between his understanding of this phrase in 1:12 and here. However, he gives no explanation for the inconsistency. How could John write in 1:12 that "those who believe in His name" are "children of God" and yet here speak of people who "believed in His name" and yet did not become children of God?

Carson says that their faith was spurious; yet he gives no evidence to sustain his view. However, in an interesting way, he does deal with the problem of the use of the same phrase in 1:12. Perhaps seeing this problem coming, Carson indicated in his discussion of 1:12 that there was no blanket promise there:


The entire expression does not guarantee that those who exercise such faith are genuine believers (see comments on 2:23-25); but at its best, such faith yields allegiance to the Word, trusts him completely, acknowledges his claims and confesses him with gratitude. That is what it means to 'receive' him" (John, pp. 125-26).
Where in John do we find faith defined as "allegiance," "acknowledg[ing] his claims," and "confess[ing] him with gratitude"? Nicodemus heard none of this. Nor did the woman at the well or the other Samaritans from Sychar. Nor did the man born blind, or Martha, or anyone else in John's Gospel.

Dr. Carson has reversed the analogy of faith! Rather than going to a clear passage like 1:12 and understanding other parallel passages in light of it, he goes to a more difficult passage and allows his understanding of it to determine his understanding of 1:12.


The Secret Saints View
There are two reasons why such commentators adopt this believing-unbeliever interpretation. Both are better explained under the secret saints view, which I will explain in a moment. First, the Greek word translated commit in v. 24 is the same as believed in v. 23. "Many believed [episteusan] in His name…but Jesus did not commit [episteuen] Himself to them." This is thought by many commentators to suggest, if not demand, that those who believed in His name didn't really believe in His name. They reason that if they had really believed in His name, then Jesus would have committed Himself to them.

Second, the text indicates that they believed "when they saw the signs which He did." This is viewed as being less than saving faith. Support is often drawn from our Lord's remark to Thomas in 20:29 where He pronounces a blessing on those "who have not seen and yet have believed."

A failure to understand the secret believer motif results in a failure to understand the Gospel itself. The Gospel of John is not merely about how one can be saved. The one who believes in Jesus receives the life of God, a life which is full of potential. In order to grow and mature in this life, one must walk in fellowship with Christ and become one of His "friends": "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (15:14).

Jesus only commits (or entrusts) Himself to those who obey Him (John 14:21). Openly confessing one's faith in Christ is a central aspect of obedience. The Gospel of John tells of people who believe in Jesus and yet who are afraid of the Jewish leaders and who keep their faith in Him secret. Compare 12:42-43 and 19:38.

There was a great deal of pressure, especially in Jerusalem, to keep secret one's belief that Jesus was the Christ. This pressure was so great that when Jesus restored the sight of a man in Jerusalem who had been blind since birth, his parents were unwilling even to mention that Jesus had been the One who did it "because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed that if anyone confessed that He was the Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue" (9:22).

John doesn't come out directly and indicate what it was about these new believers that led Jesus not to commit Himself to them. However, he does make the problem clear. Jesus "knew what was in man" (2:25). The word man forms an unmistakable bridge between 2:23-25 and 3:1ff, "Now there was a man…" (3:1).

Nicodemus illustrates the problem these men had. Nicodemus is the ultimate example of the secret believer in John. That he first came to Jesus "by night" is mentioned not once, but three times in the Fourth Gospel (3:2; 7:50; 19:39). Precisely when Nicodemus comes to faith in Christ is not made clear in John. Most likely it happened the very night he came to Jesus and the Lord told him that he would be "born again" if he believed in Him for eternal life (see 3:1-21).

Facing the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus slightly cracks the door on his faith in Christ (John 7:45-52). While he doesn't openly confess his belief, he does challenge his fellow rulers regarding their judgment of Jesus, and receives a stinging rebuke for his efforts (8:52). After the crucifixion, Nicodemus is there with Joseph of Arimathea, openly claiming Jesus' body for burial (19:38-42). John clearly indicates that Joseph was "a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews." The fact that Nicodemus and Joseph are linked together in the text indicates that Nicodemus himself had also been a secret disciple of Jesus.

Even before these new believers of v. 23 had done anything, Jesus knew what was in them. He knew they were or would be afraid to confess Him for fear of the Jews. He knew that they weren't ready to be His friends. They weren't worthy to learn more about the Father and about following Jesus. Therefore, Jesus "didn't commit Himself to them." This has nothing to do with eternal life. Nowhere in John or in the entire NT is there any suggestion that only those whom Jesus commits Himself to have eternal life. In fact, this verse clearly shows the opposite, that Jesus doesn't commit Himself to all believers.

The objection that this faith was a result of the miraculous signs Jesus did during Passover in no way puts down their faith. The reason John included signs in His book was to lead people to faith in Christ (20:31). While there is a special blessing on those who believe without seeing attendant signs (20:29), this in no way invalidates the faith that results from signs (see Hodges, "Untrustworthy Believers," Bibliotheca Sacra (April-June 1978), pp. 141-43). If that were the case, then John certainly would not have included any signs in his book!


Application: Don't Be a Secret Saint
Rather, John is encouraging his readers to confess their faith in Christ openly so that our Lord will commit Himself to them. While all believers have life, fullness of life is only possible as we obey Christ. And, confessing our faith in Christ is an essential element in obedience. Only trustworthy believers enjoy intimate friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

February 08, 2006 1:49 PM  
Blogger nathaniel adam king said...

If My comments were truly demeaning and belittling to you, then I apologize. And perhaps I should not enter into discussion with you if you are one to take humor between three friends as seriousness and attmept to draw from it conclusions that are not present.

If you had gotten to know me before you cast judgement that I was attempting to demean or belittle you in my assertion that your beliefs were 'pagan' or 'horrid', then you would have known that I was only kidding in my labeling it so. Both Kristi and Kc knew this, and strangely that is who the comments were directed at.

Yes, I do believe that it was God willing and working within me to commune with my friends through discussion, of which I would love to engage you within.

February 08, 2006 2:00 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

>you are wrong, read the Greek Bible. Sinners and Tax-collectors "agape" love each other.
<

Oh Antonio, please friend. Do you not see that in denying this truth and calling me a liar...stop Antonio, please..in your quest to be right you are not thinking about what you are doing.

Don't you see what Jesus is doing. He is trying to teach them Agape by showing them how selfish they are.
Again, we can only learn Agape from God. It is not in us and has to come from Him. Glory to God alone. God's Grace.

Jesus uses this selfish love that they have for one another to and which indeed Agape is derived from Agan which is a lesser social love...and to think, you are attributing it to God. Please brother. Only God can have Agape Love and we who are born of him can love in like manner. Oh friend please think about this.

Jesus is saying here that you guys love those who love you, but instead learn to love your enemies.

Scarcely will one die for a friend, but an enemy? This comes from God. Anything else is humanism.

Again you are missing a truth in a quest to be right.

Oh dear friend lay down these boxes and balls.

Let us look to Christ alone and not Calvin or MacArthur or Hodges or anyone else. Oh I have failed here as well. Please dear friends let us look to Christ alone.

If He is lifted up then He will draw. Only if He is and not something else or someone else. He will share his glory with no man.

Dear friends it is all of God's grace and this must be our only label. and I see wherein I have erred in getting sucked in to getting away from focus on Christ alone. I was saved indeed by the grace of God at the tender age of six and trust only Him and I have indeed allowed myself to get sucked in to other mens theology, but dear friends please consider that we are ignoring unwittingly what Scripture bears witness to, and something is wrong here.

Perhaps I need to go back to calling my blog..."Leaving OZ For Yeshua."

We are all brethren. Call no man Rabbi. The Holy Spirit alone can teach us of Christ.

Oh forgive me for even thinking the slightest arm of flesh can seize this.

Eve being prone to deception added to the command in saying "God sad not to touch the fruit"

Oh dear friends, the command was not eat.

In the same way we are falling for a teaching that is telling us to observe, touch but not eat, but Jesus said"He that eateth me and drinketh me has eternal life!"

Those false believers left Christ because they did not want to eat the fruit of life. They were offended at knowing Him which is life eternal. They rejected eternal life as they were offended at His words.

Oh dear friends we must be careful not to bar men from Knowing God in teaching a false faith.

John 5:44

February 08, 2006 2:32 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Brian,

you are acting and writing irrationally and not seeking to be instructed by the Bible, but using your theology and own thoughts on such matters to interpret the Bible:

kai yap oi amaptoloi
-- -- -- ---------
even for the sinners

tous agapwntas
---- ---------
the ones loving

autous agapwsi
------ -------
them love

"For even the sinners love (agape) the ones loving (agape) them" (Luke 6:32)

February 08, 2006 3:59 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Has anyone ever heard of the "technical language fallacy", see D.A. Carson in his book "Exegetical Fallacies"

February 08, 2006 4:40 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Bobby,

no.

Tell us about it and tell me how I did it! :)

Antonio

I read D.A. Carson with a grain of salt, seeing that he makes many exegetical errors himself.

February 08, 2006 5:02 PM  
Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

I guess those who believe such doctrine could merely be content to give a short gospel message and see if God is going to do his trick and "effectually call" his elect.

Unfortunately this is exactly the point that I have seen many (not all) Calvinists arrive at. They lose their passion for the lost and become very mechanical in their presentation of the Gospel.

I enjoyed this article.

February 08, 2006 5:31 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Antonio,
I am not a Calvinist nor Free Grace believer, but am a Christian with questions seeking to learn more regarding our faith through various sources, one of which is the Christian blogosphere. Trying to discern truth out here, though, is akin to a phrase our pastor used last Sunday: "We're playing marbles with diamonds." (I think he referenced a song with those words, but can't recall which.) In other words, I'm not sure when Scripture is just being tossed about casually to prove man's points, but I'm trying to deepen my knowledge in the faith, so I'm here.
I have to wonder why the emphasis on so many of your blog entries that I've read (and I've only discovered your blog in the past month) are trying so hard to show "why the other guy is wrong."
Maybe I'm in error in asking you a few questions, because I want to also refer to Scripture to get your take on them, and I'm not sure if it's best to do so on a blog. I think Scripture is best studied book-by-book, in context. But here goes.
I looked up Matt 5:46 ("for if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans do the same?") and Luke 6:32 ("For if ye love them which love you, what thanks have ye? for sinners also love those that love them") and I don't see how these verses support your point of men being able to love with agape love.
Secondly, while reading your blog entry and resultant comments, a few Scriptures came to mind:
Proverbs 16:4 "The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil" and Job 38:36 "Who has put wisdom in the innermost being or given understanding to the mind?" These suggest volumes regarding the Lord's sovereignty to me.
There's a lot that rings true to me in Calvinist thinking, not least of which your own last Scripture reference - Romans 10:1. "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved."
Why pray to God unless it's God doing the saving?
Also, I would love to see you answer TenCent's questions one by one. The answer you gave doesn't really make sense to me with "the faith is man's, the Holy Spirit convicts the whole world" (because the Spirit obiously isn't convicting the whole world).
Thanks for the information. It's a lot to digest.
If I may add to Kristi, who says the Calvinists seem only to confuse her, Daniel at doulogos (a blog) seems able to articulate Calvinist thinking without confusion. Just in case she's also seeking truth in the blogosphere.

February 08, 2006 5:35 PM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

I don't think you're doing it, Antonio, necessarily. It's basically illegitmate totality transfer. When a particular word, such as agape, sarx, etc. becomes so identified with a particular theological concept (i.e. agape--godly unconditional love)that every time it is used it "must" be being used with that connotation; which isn't true--i.e. I know you know, Antonio, context and usage determines meaning. I thought I would bring this up since the current discussion between you and Brian, and others seems to be revolving around this word. i.e. see the interchange between Jesus and Peter in Jn 21--this illustrates how usage determines meaning. In other words, depending on context, phileo could mean what agape is typically understood to mean.

I'm sure Carson does make exegetical errors--but most likely it's because, as you know, exegesis is a process of making various interpretive decisions--even at the syntactical level. I would think that his supposed errors are made because his interpretive decisions are driven by a particular a priori theological construct--that causes him to decide to interpret on way rather than another--just like you and me--and the Calvinists ;).

That's kind've why I think this back and forth between you and the Moorheads of the world will never end. I think much of intepretation is based on prior committments to their interpretive tradition. That's why I think to effectively cause pause and question on the other "side" (Calvinist or Arminian) there needs to be an elucidation of what in fact is serving as the informing tradition which causes Moorhead to be a Calvinist, you a Free-Gracer, me a qualified Lutheran (in my soteriological understanding), etc.

This issue is deeply rooted in historical theology and those roots must be exposed, if there is ever to be any denoument to this particular topic. It seems to me that the exchange of scripture, at this point, doesn't accomplish much, unless we realize that we indeed do have our own intepretive tradition. Until we recognize this reality, every side will continue to imbue scripture with their tradition thus making the two indistinguishable. The consequence being no space or room for Christian dialogue--just the accusation of one side being saved and the other hopelessly deceived. This does not seem fruitful or Christian to me.

February 08, 2006 5:36 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

"...just the accusation of one side being saved and the other hopelessly deceived. This does not seem fruitful or Christian to me. "

Amen, bobby grow.

Forgive me if I've only added to the confusion. I really mean no disparagement or harm. But regardless of what I "mean" or intend, if my exchanging Scripture doesn't accomplish much either, as bobby wrote, then I stand guilty as charged as well. I think his point is very well-taken.

I hope to see more fruitful and encouraging discussion in the future.

February 08, 2006 6:02 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

Susan,

You have isolated something that I grew up with. In Antonios attempt to preach free grace, he is practicing the law to teach it.

I grew up in Independant Fundamentalism. If anyone was broken over their sin or out of character, well you just better pull yourself together man and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was all mechanical and wooden.

Thankfully as a child my mother explained to me the Scriptures and told me to understand my sin and that I needed to take it to Jesus and let him be my sin bearer. A feeling of immense joy like bubbles of light dancing in my heart happened and I cannot deny that day.

unfortunately I grew up in a system that taught us to hide later sin and cover it up and do good deeds in order to impress others. I read very little of my bible and played the game well.

I get concerned and have been unable to put my finger on something, but I know the Spirit of the Lord is greived. My brother says that we are worshiping doctrine and not Christ.

I think of Simon the Pharisee mentioned in Luke 7:36-50. I think him much to be like what is happening both in my past and in churches across America. We are like Simon in that we have invited him in our house, but we want to keep Him at a safe distance and the repentant sinner who is weeping and desperately in need of Christ, we look down on and try to keep outside because their repentance makes us feel awkward as they need to pull themselves together like us and believe and invite him into our house as Simon. Anything more than this is legalism as Simons belief and invitation was a true faith while this repentant sinner who is weeping over Jesus' feet is trying to earn God's favor and we should look down on her.

February 08, 2006 6:22 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Susan: "...(because the Spirit obiously isn't convicting the whole world)..."

I do believe the world is being "convicted" and that is why they fight Christianity so hard. Why do you think that some people get so mad when you do preach the gospel to them? I think it is because they are convicted and they are fighting the Spirit tooth and nail. How can someone be convicted if God isn't drawing them?

Antonio, I'm not sure what Free-Grace is, but it does seem to be more in line with what I believe the bible teaches. (I've only read this one post).

February 08, 2006 9:30 PM  
Blogger Screaming Pirate said...

one word
"synergism"
uhh please from here on out carve out every scripture with believe as if it is the only reference In the bible to saving faith. Ok i guess i can go live like i want now, thanks for the pass. I believe no i can live like i want. Who needs fruit.

February 10, 2006 6:03 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Scare us with dirty words, if you please. Synergism is fine by me.

Have you thought about the implications of the fact that the Bible identifies believing as the one condition of receiving eternal life?

Has Antonio actually said that you can live how you want?

Has he said that fruit does not matter?

Do you want to engage in intelligent discussion or do you prefer to pour out scorn and ridicule?

February 10, 2006 2:58 PM  

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