Sep 30, 2012

Definite Atonement IV

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20: 28)

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5: 25-27)

These verses are similar to those in John 10 where Christ says that he will lay down his life "for the sheep."  They speak of Christ's vicarious death being "for" (on behalf of) "the church of God," for the bride of Christ.  Again, all that the opponents of particular atonement can do is to say "yes, for the church, but not for the church only."  But, it does not seem to be the natural way to interpret the words of the texts.  If I say that I love my wife and do something for her, I mean her only. 

Paul compares Christ to a husband and the church to his wife.  Christ loves the church and gives his life for her.  To think that Paul does not mean for her only is to distort the teaching of the apostle. 

Also, if we cannot read for the church "only" in these words, then we ought not to read church only when Paul speaks of the church elsewhere.  Will those Arminians who insist that the words do not mean "church only" also say that about other verses where the church is referred to?  In Ephesians 1:22?  In Ephesians 3: 10 & 21?  If we read church only in those verses, then why not in Ephesians 5?

"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."  (I Tim. 3: 15)

"To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect..."  (Heb. 12: 23)

Can we read these words and say that they should not apply to the church "only"?  Surely not. 

It is quite obvious that those who deny that Christ gave his life for the church only are giving an interpretation to the words that is not in keeping with his meaning in other verses where he speaks of the church.

Sep 28, 2012

Definite Atonement III

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep...As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep."  (John 10: 11, 15)

When those who believe in particular redemption and atonement cite this verse as proof of the doctrine, the only response that those who deny it offer is to say that the text does not say that Christ died for the sheep "only."  To them, Christ is simply saying that he died for the sheep without implying that it was for them only.  They will cite the words of Paul where he said that Christ "loved me, and gave himself for me," (Gal. 2: 20) and ask - "does Paul mean that Christ only died for him?"  To which I respond by saying that it is clear, in John 10, that Christ means that he died for the sheep only.  If he does not mean sheep only in that context, then we are left to also say that it is not "sheep only" when he says "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."  (vs. 14)  Does he not mean sheep only in these words?  Surely he does. 

Christ does not know those who are not his sheep.  And, those who are not his sheep do not know him.  But, if "sheep only" is to be read into the former statement ("I lay down my life for the sheep") then it ought to be read into the other statements that Christ makes about his sheep, as in the latter statement. 

Thus, when Christ says "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" he obviously means "sheep only"!  Will those Arminians who say Christ does not mean "sheep only" in verses 11 & 15 also say that it does not mean sheep only in these words?  If they were consistent, they would interpret Christ as saying - "Not my sheep only hear my voice and follow me, but everyone in the world hears my voice and follows me."  And, when Christ says "I give unto them eternal life," if Arminians are consistent, will have to say that this does not mean "sheep only"!  And, when Christ says that "neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand," he does not mean that only the sheep are in the hand of Christ.  (see verses 25-28)

"Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."  (25-28)

If there are rich and poor in a room and I say "I am giving money to the poor," who would not interpret me as saying "poor only"?  Who would not understand that the rich are excluded?  Jesus addresses people and says to them "you are not of my sheep" and says that he lays down his life for his sheep. 

Thus, the Arminian has no rebuttal to disprove particular redemption in these words of Christ.  Their only argument has been shown to be no argument at all.  Those who teach that Christ died for both sheep and goats (Matt. 25: 31-46) are therefore in error and do much to demean the victorious nature of the atonement of Christ. 

Sep 27, 2012

Definite Atonement II

"So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.  For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous."  (Rom. 5: 18-19 NASB)

"The sin of Adam did not make the condemnation of all men merely possible; it was the ground of their actual condemnation. So the righteousness of Christ did not make the salvation of men merely possible, it secured the actual salvation of those for whom He wrought."  (Charles Hodge)

Paul introduces the case of the fall of Adam in order to teach something about the work of Christ in dying upon the cross.  Paul's thesis is simply this:  Men are condemned because of the disobedience of one man and likewise are saved by the obedience of one man.  The disobedience of Adam is a parallel to the obedience of Christ.  Charles Hodge clearly states what is one of the main ideas of Paul in the parallel. 

It is the teaching of Arminians that Christ, by his one act of obedience in dying upon the cross, did not make the salvation of all that he represented sure and certain.  Yet, how can they deny that the disobedience of Adam certainly made all who he represented sinners? 

In Romans 5: 12-19 the Greek aorist tense is used when the Apostle says "all have sinned" and "many were made sinners."  (KJV)  It is a statement of what happened to all in the past.  When Adam sinned all humanity sinned.  When Adam died all humanity died.  Yet, it is also a fact that all sin and die as they are born into the world and commit individual acts of disobedience. 

It was shown in the previous posting how it is scriptural to say that a person was saved when Christ died, as well as when he is converted, and also when he actually escapes the coming wrath in the day of wrath.  So also it is scriptural to say that men sinned and died when Adam sinned as well as to say they sin and die in time when they are born and commit acts of sin. 

Just as "Levi paid tithes in Abraham" because he "was yet in the loins of his father" when Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec (Heb. 7: 9-10), so likewise all humanity sinned in Adam for they were in the loins of their father Adam.  Paul says "in Adam all die."  (I Cor. 15: 22)  Adam was a representative man, the "head" of all those who were "in" him.  Likewise Christ is a representative man, the "head" of all those who were "in him." 

"The many" and the "all men" who were made sinners cannot be the same group without teaching universal salvation.  The text does not say that the obedience of Christ merely makes it possible for "the many" to be made righteous but that it shall certainly make them righteous.  The "many" and the "all men" that were made sinners are the many or all that Adam represented.  Likewise, the "many" and the "all men" that are made righteous are the many or all that Christ, the second Adam, represented. 

Sep 26, 2012

Definite Atonement I

In this series of articles I intend to show that Christ died specially for the elect, for those who he chose to salvation before the foundation of the world.  (Eph. 1: 3-4; II Thess. 2: 13-14)  I will not only give the reasons why I believe this to be the teaching of Scripture but will answer the leading arguments brought against it. 

Traditionally, the doctrine has been styled "limited atonement" in contrast to what is called a "universal" or "unlimited atonement."  There are some objections made to these terms, however.  All, except the Universalists, limit the atonement.  All admit that the atonement's saving efficacy is limited to believers, or limited in its application.  Some therefore prefer other ways of expressing the matter by affirming "particular redemption" or "definite atonement."  The questions under consideration by all these terms is the question - "for whom did Christ die?"  And, "what was the intent of the atonement?" 

That the intent of God in providing atonement by the sacrifice of Christ is related to the extent of the atonement is acknowledged by all to be necessarily connected.  Was it God's purpose in the atonement to make the salvation of those for whom atonement was made possible or to actually save them?  In theological terms, those who believe the former are styled "Arminian" while those who believe the latter are styled "Calvinist" or "Reformed." 

Definite Atonement

"Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."  (Heb. 1: 3)

Verses such as this one state very clearly that sins were purged by the death of Christ and was a completed work.  This is in keeping with the words of Christ uttered on the cross where he said "It is finished."  (John 19: 30)  The adverb "when" is very important.  Christ purged from sins by his death on the cross and this is why he "sat down."  This sitting down signified that he had completed the work of purging sins for those for whom he died.

To affirm that Christ died for all must therefore lead to the conclusion that all are and will be saved.  How can a man be lost who has had his sins purged?  This is a question that will forever destroy those who teach universal atonement and who believe that some for whom Christ died will nevertheless spend eternity in Hell.  What they are forced into denying is the stated fact of the passage, that those for whom Christ died are purged from their sins. 

A leading argument against definite atonement, or salvation at the cross, is one that says - "if one is saved from wrath at the cross, then why is the same one said to be under wrath until conversion?"  (See Eph. 2: 3 & John 3: 36)  The argument is presented in order to deny that any were saved by Christ at the cross.  But, how can such be denied when verses, such as the above, clearly affirm it?  Such an argument cannot overthrow what is plainly affirmed by the passage.  The best that the argument can do is to force one to say that there is a sense in which sins were purged by the death of Christ and another sense in which they are purged in conversion. 

Sinners for whom Christ died were saved from their sins when Christ died and are also saved from their sins when they believe.  Both are true and affirming the truth of one does not exclude the truth of the other.  Those therefore who make such argument for the purpose of denying that there was any actual or definite salvation accomplished at the cross are in error.  One cannot argue scripturally that sins are only purged in conversion to the exclusion of what took place "when" Christ died. 

What one must do is to explain in what sense sins were purged at the cross and in what sense they are purged in conversion, to affirm both, and to show how both are true.  Those, therefore, who affirm that the purgation of sins in conversion prove that they could not have been purged when Christ died are in error.  They must deny what is plainly stated in Hebrews 1: 3. 

However, what those who teach universal atonement must deny is the plain fact that anyone was saved when Christ died.  They do not believe that the atonement actually atoned but only made atonement (reconciliation) possible. 

If the fact that sinners are saved in conversion proves that they were not saved at the cross is valid, then it would also prove that sinners are not saved even in conversion. 

The Scriptures teach that salvation from the wrath of God is yet, in some sense, a future event.  Notice these passages.

"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Rom. 5: 9)

"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: 5)

"For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. 6: 17)

These verses speak of being saved in the future from the wrath of God, of being saved in the day of wrath.  Thus, if I make the same argument made by Arminians to deny that any were saved at the cross, then I would say that none are saved until the end of time, for Scripture speaks of being saved from wrath as a future event.

Thus, if we speak in accordance with Scripture, we will affirm that sinners were saved from the wrath of God when Christ died for them, and that they are saved when they are converted, and also that they are saved in the day of wrath.  All three are true.

How and in what sense are sinners saved from the wrath of God before the day of wrath?  Notice these passages:

"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." (I Thess. 1: 10)

"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thess. 5: 9)

Paul says that we are presently saved from the wrath that is to come.  But, obviously one cannot actually be saved from future wrath until that future wrath occurs.  The sense therefore in which sinners may now be said to be saved from future wrath is because it has become certain due to the foreordination of God.  When God decrees a thing shall be it is as good as done.  This is what Paul meant when he said that God "calls those things which be not as though they (already) were."  (Rom. 4: 17) 

We see this in regard to all things being put under the feet of Christ.  Notice these passages:

"For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet." (I Cor. 15: 25-27)

"Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him." (Hebrews 2: 8)

"He has put all things under his feet" speaks of what is already done.  Yet, the same writer says "we see not yet all things put under him."  Obviously the decree of God designating Christ as "over all" makes certain that they shall in actuality be put under him. 

So, likewise, when Christ died as a penal substitute and atonement for the sins of those for whom he died, God is said to have pronounced them as saved.  Not, however, that they are actually saved, but the decree has made it so certain that he can speak of it as already done. 

Thus, the argument that none could have been saved at the cross because men are said to be saved at the moment of conversion, is untenable and no argument overthrowing the truth that sinners were saved when Christ died for them.

Sep 22, 2012

A Good Arminian Brother

I enjoy reading several Arminian writers and one of my favorite is brother Roy Ingle of Arminian Today.  Though he and I disagree on several things, we follow each other's web pages.  I love his spirit and passion for Jesus and the Gospel.  Often his writings provoke me in a positive way. 

Too many of my Calvinist brothers think that they can have no fellowship with, or learn anything from, their Arminian brothers.  But, I disagree.  None of us have all the answers, and if the truth be known, all of us come short of knowing all the truth. 

I do not believe that finding Calvinism is the same as finding the pearl of great price.  Calvinism is not the Gospel, but neither is Arminianism. 

I recommend all to read brother Roy's writings.

Drawing All Men

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."  (John 12: 32)

Arminians argue that these verses are an answer to Calvinist argumentation on John 6: 44-45.  They argue that all men are drawn, and this proves that the drawing is not effectual or irresistible since all are not actually or effectually drawn.  But, consider these facts.

First, "all men" cannot possibly mean "every human being."  Many Arminians cannot but help admit this.  Many of them do not believe that the infant is included in the "all men."  And, if so, then "all men" cannot mean "every human being."  Thus, if they can exclude a certain class of human beings from "all men," then so may Calvinist also do so. 

Further, "all men" cannot include those who were already dead and in Hell.  Cain, Esau, and Pharoah cannot be included.  So, again, "all men" cannot mean "every human being." 

Also, most Arminians admit that this drawing is done by the Gospel and yet millions have died who never heard the Gospel.  Thus, "all men" cannot possibly mean "every human being."  Christ is not saying "I will cause all human beings to hear the Gospel." 

Further, the text indicates that all will be drawn, meaning not that God will make an effort to draw them, but that they will actually be drawn.  If that which is being drawn is not actually drawn, it could not be said that they have been drawn.  The statement is not focusing on the cause irrespective of the effect.  All those who are drawn come, as Jesus taught in John 6. 

The only condition for the fulfillment of the effect is the lifting up of Christ.  A man who does not come to Christ cannot be said to have been drawn.  If I say that I drew water out of the well, it cannot mean merely that I made the attempt to draw the water, but that I actually did draw it. 

Clearly the "all men" means "all men without distinction," not "all men without exception."  This is the way "all men" is used numerous times in holy scripture. 

Debate Review X

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."  (Luke 8: 11-15)

My opponent brought up this parable the second night of the debate while he was in the negative and made affirmative arguments about it which was contrary to the rules of debate.  I had intended to bring it up while I was in the negative as a reason for believing that the cases of apostasy that he was expected to introduce were not good ground hearers, but rather shallow or thorny ground hearers.  My opponent affirmed that the shallow and thorny ground hearers were truly saved Christians and that their apostasy brought about a loss of salvation. 

My major argument to prove that only the good ground hearers were genuinely saved and converted was due to the fact that the ground was a symbol put for the heart and the shallow and thorny ground hearers did not have good hearts, and thus could not have been saved by hearing the word because one cannot be saved by hearing or believing the word without a good heart.  This argument was never refuted by my opponent.  He was forced to admit that people may be saved who receive the word without a "good and honest heart."  Jesus said, in interpreting the parable:

"But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."  (Luke 8: 15)

The word "but" denotes a contrast.  The shallow and thorny ground hearers did not have a heart that was good and honest.  If one affirms that these professing Christians were saved, then he must affirm that one can be saved without receiving the word with a good and honest heart, which is absurd. 

My opponent, while ignoring this absurdity, nevertheless made arguments to prove that the shallow ground hearer was saved nonetheless.  He argued that the shallow ground hearer had "received" the word.  I argued, however, that this was no proof because the wayside hearer, who we both agreed was never saved, also is said to have received the word.  "He that received the seed by the wayside."  He then argued that the text says that the shallow ground hearer "believed."  I responded by saying that this would prove salvation before beging baptized in water for men believe before baptism.  My opponent believes that one is not saved until he is baptized in water.  I also responded by saying that simple believing is no proof of genuine conversion or having been born of God.  Believing without an honest heart does not produce real conversion.  "The simple believe every word."  (Prov. 14: 15)  Insincere faith does not produce a genuine new birth. 

My opponent argued that the shallow ground hearer "received the word with joy" and that this was proof that he was saved.  I responded to this by saying that this also, if true, would prove that one is saved before being baptized.  When did my opponent receive the word with joy?  Was it before or after being baptized?  I also said that this would prove that I was saved because I have received the word with joy.  But, my opponent does not believe that I am saved.  I gave examples where people who were not saved had nevertheless received the word with joy. 

"He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light."  (John 5: 35)

"For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."  (Mark 6: 20)

Neither Herod nor the unbelieving Jews were saved and yet they rejoiced in the preaching of the Baptist.  Thus, my opponent's argument was disproven.

I also argued that the shallow and thorny ground hearers were plants that had no fruit which proves that they had not been genuinely born again.  Faith is a "fruit" of the Spirit.  (Gal. 5: 22,23)  Therefore, not having any fruit, they did not have saving faith.  The shallow and thorny ground hearers were what the old writers called "leaveless Christians."  I referred to Jude 1: 12 where the same apostates referred to in II Peter chapter two are described as being "without fruit," or as Berry translates as "auntumnal."  They were leaves only professors.  Their being "twice dead" denoted the fact that they were dead in both root and branch (fruit). 

The shallow ground hearer "had no root" in himself or in his believing and so was not a genuine convert. 

All of the examples of apostates brought up by my opponent to prove that genuinely saved individuals lost salvation were not examples of good ground hearers but of shallow and thorny ground hearers.  I asked my opponent these questions.

1) How many of the shallow and thorny ground hearers persevered?
2) How many of the good ground hearers apostasized?

My opponent evaded these questions but basically argued that some of the good ground hearers fell away and that some of the shallow and thorny ground hearers persevered.  Yet, the text is clear that all of the good ground hearers persevered and none of the shallow and thorny ground hearers persevered.

Those apostates in II Peter chapter two who were compared to dogs and hogs were examples of shallow and thorny ground hearers only.

Sep 15, 2012

Debate Review IX

"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: 13)

My opponent brought this verse up but did not say much about it, other than to say that Paul was indicating that it was possible for Christians, who are spiritually alive, to nevertheless so sin as to die spiritually and go back to the condition they were in before they became born again Christians.  I mentioned how this was a favorite verse of Campbellite debater Larry Hafley who nearly always brought it up when affirming that truly born again people can lose salvation. 

It is argued that the death warned about cannot be physical death since that is going to happen to all anyway.  I agree with this argument.  It is argued that it must therefore be spiritual death.  And, it is a warning to those who are spiritually alive.  Thus, the warning about dying spiritually proves that such is not only a possibility but a reality for many who are saved. 

My response was to deny that spiritual death in this life was under consideration, but that eternal death in the Lake of Fire is what is warned against, what is called "the second death."  (Rev. 2: 11; 20: 6, 14; 21: 8)   I affirmed that it could not be a warning about reverting back to that state of spiritual death that sinners are in before being made alive in the new birth.  Here is why. 

If the "death" is spiritual death in this life, then the "life" is spiritual life that is possessed by those who are presently born of God.  "You shall die" is set in opposition to "you shall live."  And, if "you shall die" implies that the ones addressed are presently spiritually alive, then "you shall live" must prove that the same ones addressed are spiritually dead.  We must then read the second part of the verse in this manner - "if you who are presently alive do mortify the deeds of the body, then you shall live."  It does not say "you shall continue to live," but "you shall live." 

It seems clear then that the living and dying refers to that living and dying which will take place at the Great White Throne Judgment.    The verse then may be interpreted to read as follows:   "If you who are professing Christians live after the flesh then you shall die eternally the second death," and "if you who are professing Christians live after the Spirit then you shall live eternally with Christ."   Surely this is what needs to be said to all professing Christians, for they are not all what they seem to be.  No professing Christian who lives after the flesh is a real Christian and such will surely die the second death.  

These words of the Apostle show that he did not believe that all the Christians he addressed were really what they professed to be.  It also shows that the warnings of spiritual death are the means God has appointed for begetting and nourishing faith, and in the case of the elect, shall succeed in their purpose.   It is sometimes argued that warnings to those who are truly incapable of being lost or destroyed are meaningless if they do not imply that there is real possibility of being lost.  I have responded to this by referring to the case of Paul and those who were on board the ship with him in Acts chapter 27.  

"And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."  (vs. 22-25)

From these words it is clear that all on board the ship would be saved and that there would be "no loss of any man's life."  Paul said that he believed God and "that it shall be even as it was told me."  Nevertheless, such a certainty of the salvation of all did not keep Paul from this warning:

"Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved."  (vs. 31) 

Some would argue that Paul's warning and exhortation was deceptive because it implies a possibility of loss of life when in fact there was no such possibility.  But, Paul saw no such contradiction.  He believed that his exhortation and warning would be successful.  He was warning about a real danger.  If one did not abide in the ship, he would be lost.  But, the "if" would never become the case.  Clearly the warning of the Apostle was guaranteed success by the prior determination of God.

Perspective is important in answering questions.  For instance, does the planet spin clockwise or counter clockwise?  Well, that depends on whether you are looking down on the planet or up to it.  If you are above the planet, then it turns counter clockwise, but if you are looking up at it, then it is turning clockwise.  So also, from the perspective of God's preordination, there is no real danger that any of the elect will perish.  But, from the perspective of the dangerous situation itself, or of the means, there is real danger

Debate Review VIII

"Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."  (I Cor. 10: 11-12)

"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God."  (Hebrews 3: 12)

These passages were introduced by my opponent to prove that Christians can apostasize just as many of the ancient Israelites also did.  My response was simply to say that Paul was warning professing Christians, some of whom Paul knew had never truly been converted in heart, to make sure that they were truly saved, similar to Peter's exhortation about "making your calling and election sure."  (II Peter 1: 10)  Simply put, Paul was warning professing Christians to make sure that they are the real thing, that they are not simply Christians externally but internally, in the same manner that he said that "he is not a Jew who is one outwardly but who is one inwardly."  (Rom. 2: 28-29)  I argued that just making a profession of Christ and doing Christian things, such as being baptized and eating the Lord's Supper, did not in itself mean that one was genuinely changed in heart. 

"Take heed" simply is a call to self examination to make sure that those who profess the name of Christ are not shallow or thorny ground Christians. 

There is no question that the Israelites who fell in the wilderness were not Jews internally but only externally and that they had been saved to a certain extant, as Jude says:

"I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not."  (Jude 1: 5)

Many of those who profess the name of Christ, as the shallow and thorny ground Christians, experience some temporary deliverances from sinful lifestyle, as was shown from II Peter chapter two.  They experience temporary deliverance from certain sins and evils, although they do not experience inward transformation. 

It is a stretch to think that all those who came out of Egypt were Jews internally or were true believers.  In fact, the Scriptures call them unbelievers, even though it is said that they believed at times. 

"And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert."  (Psa. 106: 10-14)

When it is said that "they soon forgat" it identifies them with the shallow ground hearers of the parable of the soils.  Their belief was shallow, without "root."  It was the kind of faith mentioned by Solomon when he spoke of the simple hearted believer. 

"The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going."  (Prov. 14: 15)

Their believing was a shallow believing, without root in the heart.  This kind of believing does not bring true salvation.    It is obvious that those "believers" who were "overthrown" in the wilderness were not born of God, for they cannot so sin.  It is obvious that they did not have the faith of I John 5: 4-5, for such a faith cannot be overcome, but rather itself overcomes.  It is obvious that they did not have that change of heart described in Jeremiah 32: 40, for it guarantees that they "shall not depart from me." 

Sep 11, 2012

Debate Review VII

"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"  (Heb. 10: 26-29)

This was the third major scripture that my opponent introduced in order to prove that genuinely converted Christians may lose salvation.  I have never been in a debate on the question of eternal security where this passage and the second Peter chapter two passage were given as proof texts. 

I have never denied that the punishment that these apostates receive is eternal punishment.  What I have ever denied, however, was that these apostates were genuinely born of God.  I have always argued that they were either shallow or thorny ground Christians. 

Like the passage in II Peter chapter two, there are several things said of these apostates that some think proves that they were genuinely saved Christians.  First, the text says apostasy happens to those who "received the knowledge (epignosis) of the truth."  My opponent again argued that having epignosis proved that the apostates were once truly saved.  But, my arguments on this point were simply applied to this passage.  Epignosis does not denote that one has been truly inwardly converted.  Second, my opponent argued that the apostates had previoulsy been sanctified by the blood of the covenant

I argued that all men were sanctified by the blood of Christ when Christ died.  I showed how this can be gathered from Peter's words to Cornelius and his household.

"And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean."  (Acts 10: 28)

"No man" shows that what Peter is affirming is true in regard to every man.  Every man is now "not common" and "not unclean."  All are uncommon and clean.  How and why?  Is it not because of the shedding of Christ's blood?  I argued that the two particulars mentioned by Peter are integral to what it means to be sanctified.  Sanctification makes what is common to be uncommon, or special.  It also makes clean what is unclean.  Thus, as all men are sanctified by the blood, it cannot mean that all men are saved. 

It is therefore no proof that the apostates mentioned in the passage were ever truly saved or born of God.  My opponent never refuted these rebuttal arguments.

Sep 10, 2012

Debate Review VI

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."  (Gal. 5: 1-4)

This was the second argument my opponent brought forward to prove that genuine believers, or those who are born of God, may so sin as to be finally and eternally lost.  He also mentioned verse 7 where Paul said - "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" 

His major argument was that those who had embraced a belief in salvation by circumcision and law keeping were genuninely saved people and had lost their salvation in so doing.  I responded by saying that there is nothing in the epistle that affirms such explicitly.  It may be that some who were genuinely born again did temporarily get caught up in the Judaizer's heresy, a heresy dealt with by the Apostles in the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.  But, those who were truly converted, I argued, would not have remained in such a state of error, the teaching of the Apostle Paul being successful in restoring them to a proper understanding of the Gospel and salvation by Christ.  Others, who had never been truly converted, may have never come to a true saving knowledge of the grace of God. 

My next response was to affirm that the text does not say "you are fallen from salvation."  My opponent had to interpret "fallen away from grace" to mean all the same as "fallen away from salvation."  I again argued that my opponent is forced into this kind of proof because he could find no express statement of Scripture where it is said that people lost or fell away from actual salvation. 

I argued that it could not mean that those who were born of God could, or did, actually fall away from salvation for this would contradict the verses I brought forth that positively affirmed that those who are born of God cannot sin, that they could not be overcome, but would positively overcome. 

It is not denied that there have been many professing Christians who have initially believed in salvation by grace but who later went astray and embraced a belief in salvation by law keeping.  However, nothing in the text tells us that such who went astray lost salvation or did not later repent and were not finally saved. 

I argued that the falling away from "grace" was the same thing as falling away from the "gospel."  (See chapter one verses 6-8)  It is also to fall away from Christ as the way of salvation. 

The fact that some of the Galatian Christians were being led astray into a belief in salvation by works and by law keeping caused the Apostle to question whether they had ever really been converted or born again. 

"I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain."  (4: 11) 

"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you."  (4: 19-20)

It is not denied that those who trust in their own righteousness have not submitted to the righteousness of God.  (Rom. 10: 3-4)  It is not denied that those who seek righteousness by keeping the law and by their good works will not be finally saved.  Paul said that Christ will profit one nothing who seeks to be made righteous before God by law keeping. 

I did not argue in depth about this passage because my opponent never responded to the initial arguments I had made and so there was no need to rebut further.  It was his responsibility to prove that falling from grace meant falling from salvation and this he never proved.

I did argue that Paul said, in this very epistle, that being a new creature, and having the faith that God begets guarantees success. 

"For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."  (Gal. 5: 6)

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."  (Gal. 6: 5)

Paul's argument would be meaningless if some who had genuine saving faith and were new creatures failed to obtain final salvation and glorification.  Paul is not saying that true saving faith and the work of regeneration only avails sometimes, but that it always avails. 

Sep 8, 2012

Debate Review V

In this part of my debate review I will look at the passages introduced by my opponent to prove that those who are born of God can sin so as to be finally lost. 

"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."  (II Peter 1: 1-4)

My opponent argued that these verses prove that all who were addressed by the Apostle Peter were genuinely saved people and therefore the ones later described, in chapter two, who fell away must have fallen away from salvation.  My response to this was to affirm that Peter, like all the other new testament writers, addressed people based upon their profession.  I argued that Peter and the authors of the epistles were not naive to think that every member of the Christian churches were actually what they professed to be.  They knew that some of them were shallow and thorny ground hearers.  They knew that they were not all good ground hearers.  I cited verses from several of the epistles to prove this point.  I also showed from chapter one (vs. 8) how Peter said - "if these things be in you and abound."  He is assuming that those things were in them for the sake of argument but did not affirm that every single professing Christian was indeed what he professed to be.

"For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."  (II Peter 2: 18-22)

My opponent, like all those who believe that born again people can lose salvation, affirmed that the ones who fell away in these verses were the same people addressed in the first chapter, and were therefore genuinely saved people.  He argued that they were genuinely saved based upon certain facts stated about them in the passage.  First, that they had received the knowledge of the truth or "known the way of righteousness."  Second, they had "escaped the pollutions of the world." and "escaped from them who live in error." Third, they had become untangled from the world.

My opponent argued that the Greek word for "knowledge" was epignosis and this showed that the knowledge that they had received was saving knowledge, or knowledge that only saved people possess.  My opponent never gave any proof that epignosis denoted saving knowledge.  He cited Vines and others who showed that epignosis denoted a full knowledge, and one in which the person experiences a deeper participation, but he cited no Greek authority to show that such a knowledge was proof of salvation, or a knowledge that only saved people could possess.  I showed from Scripture that epignosis did not denote that the possessor of it was saved. 

I also used my opponent's affirmation against him by asking him when he received epignosis.  Did he receive the knowledge of the truth before he was baptized or after?  He believes that he was not saved until he was baptized in water.  Such a view leads him to have to say that he did not receive the knowledge of the truth before he was baptized, or if he did, that he was saved before he was baptized.  He never responded to this.  As an aside, I also used the same type argument against him when he argued that the shallow ground hearer was saved because the text says that he "received the word with joy."  I asked him - "when did you receive the word with joy?"  If he received the word with joy before he was baptized, then he must say that he was saved before he was baptized.  On the other hand, if he was not saved till he was baptized, then he must say that he did not receive the word with joy until he was baptized.  But, more on the parable of the soils later.

I affirmed that the best English word to translate the Greek word epignosis was "acknowledge." Thus, "through the knowledge of the truth" simply meant "through the acknowledgement the truth."   I argued that false professors, like the shallow and thorny ground hearers, acknowledged the truth of the Gospel, but were nevertheless not saved. 

I also argued that the passage says that these apostates had escaped the "pollutions" of the world through epignosis, not the "corruption" as in the first chapter.  I argued that these were two different Greek words, the Greek word for "pollutions" denoting mere outward filth while the Greek word for "corruption" denoted inward filth.  The false professor had escaped mere external defilement but had not been saved from inner corruption.  They had been cleansed outwardly but not inwardly just as the Pharisees to whom Jesus said that they "make clean the outside of the cup and platter" but who were not clean internally.  He said to them - "Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also."  (Matt. 23: 25-26)  The apostates that Peter talks about were professing Christians who had experienced a mere outward cleansing but no internal cleansing.  They had temporarily escaped from certain grosser sins but who had not escaped from internal corruption.

My opponent argued that these apostate Christians had experienced both an inner and outward cleansing.  I argued that the fact that Peter refers to them as unclean animals (dogs and hogs) shows that he did not believe that they had experienced an inner cleansing which had made them into clean animals.  At the time they were externally washed, they were unclean on the inside.  "The sow that was washed."  The washing of the hog did not change the nature of the hog.  It was a mere external washing.

I argued that these apostates were not good ground hearers because all who receive the word with a good and honest heart bring forth fruit with perseverence.  Thus, they clearly were examples of either shallow or thorny ground hearers, who did not receive the word with a good and honest heart and were therefore not truly converted. 

I argued that these apostates had been "overcome" and could not therefore be genuine believers or born of God for John affirmed that genuine believers "overcome" and have a faith that cannot be overcome.  (I John 5: 4-5) 

Thus, their apostasy proves that they were not good ground hearers and that they were never truly born again.  I argued that God desires truth in the inward parts.  (Psa. 51: 6)  To have the truth merely in the intellect but not in the heart or core of being does not save.  Shallow ground Christians are but superficial in their faith and in their knowledge.  They are half hearted believers. 

I argued that the things said of the apostates did not prove that they were genuine believers.  Hypocritical Christians, and even unbelievers who hear and learn about the Gospel, receive a knowledge of the truth and yet are not saved by it.  The fact that they had received an external cleansing and a temporary reformation did not prove that they had experienced the real transformation of soul that occurs in being born of God.  I argued that Peter, if he had intended to teach that these apostates had lost salvation, would have said "it were better for them had they never been saved or born again."  I argued that my opponent should find such clear cut verses instead of such verses where he has to read into the verses evidence of genuine salvation.

The sow that was washed was washed only externally.  The washing did not make the sow into a clean animal.  An unclean animal was washed, was externally clean, but was still an unclean animal in nature.  This is a fitting image of those who are temporarily benefited by the Gospel and Christian religion but who do not experience a genuine inward cleansing and transformation.  The dog may have eaten the finest of food, but still had a nature that desired the unclean. 

It is clear that Peter wants us to see how external reformation and cleansing, after the manner of the Pharisees, did not avail towards a real salvation or internal cleansing.  Jesus told the Pharisees to first clean the inward but they thought to cleanse the outward first.  Religion may offer ways to help one temporarily escape from worldly vices but unless one receives inner cleansing first, it will not avail.

I argued that this passage was one of the weakest that could be offered to prove that genuinely born again souls lost salvation, and yet it is typically one of the first proofs offered. 

Sep 5, 2012

Debate Review IV

“And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.”  (Jeremiah 32:40)

“And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.”  (Ezekiel 36:27)

The above verses, along with others of similar import, were introduced by me as a proof that God's work of regeneration guarantees perseverance.  God says he will do something in his chosen people which will cause them to do something.  He says the effect of his work in them will ensure "that they shall not depart from me." 

"His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips."  (Psalm 89: 29-34)

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand."  (Psa. 37: 23-24)

I introduced these verses to show that the Lord has promised not to eternally condemn his people when they sin but promises to correct them and bring them to repentance.  The Lord's people do fall, but they shall not be utterly cast down.  I also cited these verses along the same line.

"But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."  (I Cor. 11: 32) 

"And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."  (Heb. 12: 5-11)

I argued that these verses also show what the response of the Lord is to the disobedience of his people.  He chastises them and his chastisement does not fail to produce what he intends.  To say that such discipline by the Father often fails is to say that God is not a successful Father.  God does not fail to correct his erring children, just as Jesus does not fail to keep his sheep from going astray so as to be destroyed.

Again, none of the sins of God's children are "unto death" but are rather "not unto death."  They are unto discipline and correction, which is itself unto salvation.

Sep 4, 2012

Debate Review III

In my last speech in the affirmative I brought up some verses from the Gospel of John and some other miscellaneous verses from the epistles. 

Gospel of John

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."  (John 6: 37-40)

From this passage I argued that all who come to Christ and enter into him will not be cast out and this is because it is the Father's will that they be kept and that Jesus cannot fail to ensure that the Father's will is executed.  Once one is "in" Christ, he cannot be cast "out."  The will of the Father is that none of those who are given to Christ and come to him be lost.  I stated that the position of those who believe that some of those who come to Christ will be lost involves the consequence of affirming that the will of God and the work of Christ fails.  My opponent did not refute this clear affirmation of the preservation of all the saved.

"And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are."  (John 17: 11)

Jesus prays that those given to him be all preserved unto final salvation.  I argued that every prayer of Christ is heard and granted by the Father as Jesus said that the Father hears him always.  (John 11: 42)

"And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers."  (John 10: 4-5)

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."  (vs. 27-29)

From this passage I argued that none of those who are sheep fail to follow Christ and that none of them hear the voice of the stranger.  If some of the sheep lose salvation, however, it could not be said that none of them hear the voice of the stranger and fail to follow Christ.  I argued that once in the Father's hand they are secure.

From The Epistles

"And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."  (II Tim. 4: 18)

This is a clear affirmation that God will surely keep his chosen and called people.  Unlike the view of my opponent, I offered such clear and express statements of eternal security.  I challenged my opponent to produce clear passages which state that someone lost his salvation but never got such evidence.  Paul said that God would preserve him to complete and final salvation.  There are no ifs or buts.  The God who had delivered Paul would continue to do so.  The only way Paul could speak so certainly is because he believed in the eternal unconditional security of all the chosen and called.

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."  (I Thess. 5: 23-24)

This is another clear statement that God will preserve his people safe and secure so that they will not lose what they have been given.  Paul says God "also will do it." 

"Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."  (II Cor. 1: 21-22 NIV)

The deposit given to those who are saved is God's guarantee that he will save them in the end.  When a man asks God to save him from his sins, God promises to do so and God will never go back on his word.

Sep 3, 2012

Debate Review II

On the second night of the debate, in my second affirmative, I introduced arguments from the Book of Romans to prove the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and the impossibility of their apostasy.

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."  (Rom. 5: 8-10)

I argued from this passage that those who are truly once saved in time by the death of Christ will surely be saved in the end.  When Paul said "being now (in the present) justified by his blood we shall be saved (in the future)" he was saying that once a person is saved in the present, he will surely be saved in the future, or "once saved, always saved."  He also repeated the same affirmation when he said "being reconciled (now in the present) we shall be saved (in the future)."    This argument was never refuted by my opponent.

"Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him."  (6: 8-9)

Again, Paul affirms that if one is truly saved now in the present, then he will surely be saved in the future, or in the end.  He affirms this when he says "if we be dead (if we be saved now), then we shall also live with him (or be finally saved)." 

"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."  (8: 11)

Again, Paul affirms that if one is saved now, he will surely be saved in the end.  "If the Spirit dwells in you now, then you will be saved in the resurrection." 

None of these verses or the arguments from them were ever refuted by my opponent.

"For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." (6: 14)

I argued that those who are under grace will not have sin to reign over them and can therefore not be lost.  Again, this argument was never refuted by my opponent.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (8: 28-39)

From these words I made several arguments.  First, I argued that the number of the finally saved (glorified) was not less than the number initially saved, which it would be if any of those who were called and justified failed to be glorified.  My opponent never made an attempt to answer this powerful argument.

Secondly, I argued that Paul affirmed that Christ being given to a man secured him.  If Christ has been given for me, then everything else will surely be given to me, including my perseverance in grace. 

Thirdly, I argued that no one for whom Christ died and suffered the penalty of sin could possibly be lost and that this was the argument of the Apostle. 

Fourthly, I argued that nothing could separate the truly elected, called, and justified man from the love of God.

None of these arguments were ever refuted by my opponent. 

"Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand."  (Rom. 14: 4)

From this passage I argued that Paul expressly says that those who are the Lord's servants will be "upheld" or "made to stand."  Their perseverance was guaranteed by the promise and power of God  Again, this argument was never ever addressed by my opponent.