Nov 22, 2010

Debate Review 8

Elected to Regeneration (new birth)

Regeneration or conversion is not the cause of election.
Election is the cause of regeneration or conversion.

1) "chosen to salvation." (II Thess. 2: 13)
2) "chosen to justification and sanctification." (Eph. 1: 3, 4)
3) "foreknown/predestined to calling and justification." (Rom. 8: 29, 30)
4) "chosen," then "circumcised." (Deut. 10: 15, 16)
5) "chosen to knowledge of God and faith." (Isa. 43: 10)
6) "chosen to know God, see Christ, and hear his voice." (Acts 22: 16)
7) "Elected to obedience." (I Peter 1: 2)
8) "Chosen" and then caused to "approach" God in salvation. (Psalm 65: 4)

This was a chart I used early in the debate and believe it focuses in on the major difference between us. Which comes first, regeneration or election? Or, are people chosen to regeneration or regenerated in order to become chosen? The above scriptures, I affirmed, showed that regeneration (salvation) is what God has chosen sinners "to." Regeneration is the effect of election, not the cause of it.

The first verse is in II Thess. 2: 13.

"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II Thess. 2: 13, 14)

Clearly this passage says that men are chosen to salvation, chosen to regeneration. It does not say that they are chosen because of salvation. It does not say that they are saved unto election. This argument never was refuted. It completely overthrows my opponent's corporate view of election which puts salvation before election. My opponent could only bring up other issues regarding the passage as it relates to Calvinism. He argued that "through (in) sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" affirmed that men were elected because they were sanctified and believed the truth. But, obviously, it cannot mean this. If this interpretation were correct, we would have to see the passage as saying - "God chose you to salvation because you have been saved." That is nonsence. People who are already saved do not need to be chosen to salvation. President Obama does not need to be chosen to the presidency because he is already the president.

I argued that the prepositional phrase "in sanctification" and "in belief" modifies or connects to "salvation" and not to "chosen" or "you." The Greek preposition "en" is a motionless word and denotes "existence within" or "location within." The passage may be read like this - "God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation, a salvation located within sanctification and faith." It describes salvation. In the next verse, the apostle says "whereunto he call you," he is pointing to "salvation," and not to election. He called you to salvation, not to election.

The next passage focuses on Eph. 1: 3,4, which passage was often referred to and examined in detail. I showed that people, in that passage, were chosen to holiness, not because of it. They were chosen to adoption, not because of it. They were chosen to justification, and not because of it. My opponent never disproved this.

The next verse, in Romans 8: 29, 30, was also frequently cited by me and declared to show that people are chosen and predestined to be called and justified. My opponent's position says that God chooses and predestines those who are called and justified, thus reversing the divine order. Again, my opponent could not show how this analysis was incorrect. It says "whom he predestined, them he called." It does not say, "whom he called, them he predestined."

The next passage reads as follows:

"Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked." (Deut. 10: 15, 16)

I showed that this verse clearly puts election before salvation (circumcision). My opponent never refuted this. Instead, he chose to focus on a separate, unrelated, issue. He said that God was telling the people to circumcise themselves and tried to say that this upholds his Arminianism and refutes Calvinism. I felt no need to address this because it was beside the point. The point was this: God told the chosen people to be circumcised, not in order to become elect, but because they were elect, thus election preceded salvation, preceded incorporation into the body of Christ. I certainly do believe that God commands the dead to live (Eph. 5: 14), but this command 1) does not imply ability, and 2) is a means in effecting the change.

The next verse reads as follows:

"Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me." (Isa. 43: 10)

Not only did I have this passage on the chart, but, like the previous verses on the chart, were elaborated upon in several of my speeches. My opponent, in one of his last speeches of the debate, in reference to this chart, said that he felt no need to respond to a chart that just listed verses without elaboration. But, the fact is, this was not the case. The verses were referred to, cited, and explained, several times during the debate. This particular verse was cited, read, and shown to prove my proposition, several times in the debate. My opponent, however, never once responded to this passage. The passage says that people were "chosen THAT," or "in order that," they may "know," "believe," and "understand." Clearly the believing and knowing of anyone is owing to this election. My opponent teaches that one believes and knows God in order to be elected. But, the passage clearly teaches otherwise.

The next verse also was referred to by me in nearly every speech I made and again my opponent never even addressedBold it. It reads as follows.

"And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth." (Acts 22: 14)

This verse is similar to the preceding verse from Isaiah. Paul was chosen "to" certain experiences. He was chosen to "know the Lord's will," and to "see that Just One," and to "hear the voice of his mouth." These several things describe what it is to be saved, thus Annanias was saying that Paul was chosen to salvation. The choice of God did not only concern Paul being made an apostle, clearly.

The next verse reads as follows:

"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." (I Peter 1: 2)

This verse, I affirmed, was clear. It says that men are "chosen...unto obedience," and not because of obedience. My opponent did make on comment on this passage, saying that "through sanctification" meant "because of sanctification." But, again, this would have Peter saying that God chose those who are sanctified unto sanctification, those who are saved unto salvation. Again, this is nonsensical. Eph. 1 clearly says that people are chosen "to holiness," but my opponent wanted to say that Peter was contradicting Paul by affirming that "holiness is unto election."

The next verse reads as follows:

"Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple." (Psalm 65: 4)

This verse also was never addressed by my opponent. And, again, the charge that I did not do anything other than cite it on a chart, without argument, was false. I cited the verse more than once, and argued that the election in the passage preceded conversion, or "approaching" the Lord. People do not come to the Lord in order to become elect, but they come to the Lord because they are elect. I also showed how this passage was an individual election, "the man." How could language be any clearer? How could a person affirm individual election in any clearer language? My opponent never responded to these arguments.

Another chart I used in the debate, and which relates to the previous chart, is this one:

Which Comes First?

1. We love him because he first loved us. (I John 4: 19)
2. We choose him because he first chose us. (John 15: 16, I John 4: 19, Acts 13: 48)
3. We know him because he first knew us. (Rom. 8: 29)
4. We come to him because he first came to us. (John 6: 44, 45)
5. We draw near to God because he first draws near to us. (John 6: 44, 45)
6. We are given to Christ before we give ourselves to Christ. (John 6: 37)
7. We turn to him because he first turns to us. (Jer. 31; 18, Acts 2: 39)

My opponent only responded to the first proof listed on this chart. He asked - "does Mr. Garrett actually believe that I believe that men love God before God loves them?"

The problem here is that the love the apostle John refers to is that special love that God has for his people, and not his general love for all mankind. Who can deny that the scriptures speak of salvation as entering into the love and favor of God? Besides, John says that this love of God causes the objects of his love to return love, and so cannot be a reference to God's general love for his people. Paul said, in Eph. 5: 25, that Christ "loved the church," not the entire world. He loves his bride, a particular love. A man who is outside the church is not loved in a saving way.

The next affirmation was proven from the scriptures listed, and also with all the scriptures that showed one was chosen to salvation. To "love" one includes the idea of "choosing" or "favoring" one. Thus, if we love him because he first loved us, then it is also true that "we chose him because he first chose us."

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain..." (John 15: 16)

Clearly these words of Jesus say that the choice of Christ preceded any choice of the apostles. One choice was the ground, reason, or cause of the other. Whose choice took precedence? Who chose who first? All my opponent could do was to say that this was not talking about salvation, but about being chosen to the apostleship. Clearly he sees how the passage is against his views if the passage relates at all to the ordo salutis of salvation. But, clearly, the passage affirms that the thing the apostles were being chosen "to," or "in order that," was to "bringing forth fruit that remains" to complete salvation. How can we limit fruit bearing to the apostleship? How can we divorce "that you fruit may remain," from final salvation?

Again, I referenced Romans 8: 29, 30. Who knows who first? Does the sinner foreknow God? Knowing God, in scripture, is a description of the salvation experience. And, again, this passage was not simply put on a chart but not really analyzed, for it was often stated by me. My opponent never denied that the passage says that God knows us before any know him, and that this foreknowledge of God was the cause why any come to know him.

The next passage (John 6: 44, 45) was another that I not only cited, but frequently argued from, emphasizing several important points from the passage. The passage says that men come to Christ because God first visits them and this visit is the cause of any man's coming. Men do not come to Christ in order for God to come to them.

The next passage (John 6: 37) speaks of God's giving a person to Christ prior to that person's actual coming to Christ. Involved in coming to Christ is a person's giving their heart and life to Christ. Thus, who gives first? Do men come (give themselves to Christ) in order for the Father to give them to Christ, or vice versa? The passage is clear. Men come, give themselves to Christ, as a result of the Father's giving of them to Christ.

"...turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God." (Jere. 31: 18)

"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call." (Acts 2: 39)

In the first passage, a sinner turns (repents) because God turns him. God's work precedes the repenting of the sinner. In the second passage, people repent, are converted, because God calls them.

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