Monday, October 8, 2007

Perseverance Of The Saints Part 1: Definitions

My next several posts will be dealing with the topic of perseverance. Perseverance of the saints is represented in Calvinism by the P in TULIP. Most Calvinists rest their understanding of perseverance on the certainty of unconditional eternal election. Those who have been elected from all eternity to salvation cannot fail to persevere to the end and reach the destiny of eternal life that God decreed for them. Some Calvinists also rest this doctrine on the nature of the atonement. This foundation is problematic and I intend to explore it in future posts.

A distinction is necessary with regards to the different ways in which perseverance is understood among various doctrinal viewpoints. I believe that these viewpoints fall into three main categories as follows:

Perseverance in Arminianism: Arminians believe that it is necessary for the redeemed to persevere in saving faith in order to attain to eternal life in the age to come [final salvation]. We maintain that true believers who have experienced genuine regeneration can yet fall away from the faith and perish everlastingly. We take Jesus’ words in Matt. 10:22 both literally and seriously: “The one who endures till the end shall be saved”. We maintain that it is the believer’s responsibility to continue in saving faith, while acknowledging dependence on God’s grace and power to do so.

Perseverance in Calvinism: Calvinists, like Arminians, believe that it is necessary for the redeemed to persevere in saving faith in order to attain to eternal life in the age to come [final salvation]. They believe that one who is truly saved cannot fail to persevere in saving faith. God is solely responsible in preserving His elect and ensuring that they reach their final destination. They do not deny that some appear to fall away, but maintain that the truly regenerate will never finally fall away from faith and salvation. They would say that apostasy only proves that one’s profession of faith was not genuine and that the “apostate” had never truly been regenerated in the first place. The “apostate’s” defection simply reveals that his or her initial conversion was spurious. The Calvinist, then, would understand Matt.10:22 as meaning: “Those who are [truly] saved will [of necessity] endure to the end”. For this reason I prefer to call the Calvinist understanding of perseverance: “inevitable perseverance”.

Perseverance among “moderate” Calvinists: I am here referring to those who essentially discount the need for perseverance of any kind with regards to final salvation. This position is held by a wide spectrum of evangelical Christians today. It is hard to say what they should be called. While many call themselves moderate Calvinists, many others would likely object to that label. It is generally held by those who would consider themselves Arminian in every other significant area of soteriology. We could call them 1 point Calvinists [holding only to P] or 4 point Arminians. This view is especially prominent among Southern Baptists and is heavily promoted by well known teachers such as Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, and Tony Evans. This understanding of perseverance teaches that once a person puts saving faith in Jesus Christ, nothing can change that person’s eternal destiny. It maintains that a true believer can return to a life of wickedness, die in a state of unrepentance, and still be saved in the end. This view even maintains that a true believer can later repudiate the faith, die in unbelief, and still be guaranteed entrance into God’s eternal Kingdom [with considerably less or no heavenly rewards]. This view of perseverance coined the phrase “Carnal Christian” which is defined as Christians whose lifestyles cannot in any way be distinguished from the wicked lifestyles of the unregenerate.

In my next several posts I will be examining important Scriptures to determine which of the above definitions of perseverance best fits the Biblical record.

48 comments:

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

Why would the Scriptures exhort someone to "examine himself" to see whether he is in the faith or not? If he is non-elect let him believe he is heading for heaven.

If he is elect he's going whether he knows it or not.

Albert said...

I personally believe that those who believe in eternal security but deny Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, and Irresisitble Grace are inconsistent in theology. Unlike Calvinism and Arminianism which emphasize the necessity of perseverance, this position can lead to antinomianism. I should add that these people have no right to call themselves Calvinists.

Thank your for the post. :)



Thanks for the post. :)

kangeroodort said...

Albert,

I agree completely. Thanks for stopping by.

Henry,

You also bring up an excellent point. I would add, what reason do we have for warning against false teaching if Calvinism is true. The reprobate will never respond to the gospel anyway, and the elect cannot fail to respond regardless of how much false teaching they are exposed to.

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

Roo - I have always questioned the "watchman" ministry of Calvinists. If they believe the purpose driven people are not saved why not let them enjoy the false joy of thinking they are?

And the content and clearity of the message is irrelevant, the message doesn't save people, God does without and human participation.

I will also say that no one can sin his way out of salvation, but one must torutre Hebrews 6 and 10 to strip them of openly teaching apostacy. They call them "problem" verses because they're problem is they teach something they don't believe!

Anonymous said...

Paul was exposed to a great deal of false teaching that would not nor could not save him. Yet the Lord when it was time to call Paul did so effectually to His glory.

The reason we are warned of false teaching is because that will not save anyone. While God has chosen who to save He also has established the means that some will come to realize their salvation... the preaching of the TRUE gospel.

Seems like you guys have a distorted view of Calvinism and I would encourage you to read Calvin himself. Better yet, just read the Bible without your Calvinistic bashing bias.

Paul G said...

Kangeroodort;
(“Perseverance in Armenianism”).
Am I correct in saying, that you believe that Jesus can not really save you, if you do not persevere to the end?
That salvation is the believer’s responsibility?
And grace is conditional on your performance?

No Kangeroodort! I would not believe in a God who can not get His job done!
Who claims to be an omnipotent savior, yet loses His children whom He loves and died for to a hell which He has created for the wicked.

That is the wrong savior!

My savior Jesus Christ loses not one of His children, because He is the mighty savior who leaves the ninety-nine to get the one who is lost and together brings them into His eternal home.

Jnorm888 said...

Paul g,

That would be pure monergy in the other direction. Arminian theology starts out as monergistic(because of prevenient grace) but after the initial contact by God the walk of being sanctified is "synergistic".

So you can't think of it as "us" persevering to the end.......as if God isn't working in you to both will and to do in helping you persevere to the end as well.

We are subordinate fellow workers with God. So you are thinking in ways that are foriegn to "synergism".


I think what is being said is we are in danger of being cut off from the Son....from the Olive.... Tree.

John chapter 15 tells us that it is the Father who cuts us off from His Son if we don't produce fruit.

Romans chapter 11 tells us that if we stop believing then we too will be taken out of the Olive tree.

So it is the Father who cuts us off.

Jesus will not loose anyone in whom the Father "keeps sending" to the Son.

If the Father stops sending/drawing someone to the Son then the Son didn't loose that person. That person was cut off by the Father!


So from first to last it all depends on the Father's mercy.


If we stop believing and turn our backs on God then we are in danger of being cut off. And if we are cut off it is because that was the Father's choice.

It all depends on the Father's mercy.





JNORM

Nick said...

Paul g.,

You said: "And grace is conditional on your performance?"

Well, the authors of James (Jam. 4:6) and 1Peter (1Pet. 5:5) seemed to think so to a certain degree. Both authors drew from Proverbs 3:34 in the LXX which says:

κυριος υπερηφανοις αντιτασσεται ταπεινοις δε διδωσιν χαριν [The Lord resists the proud but he gives grace to the humble]

And you also have to wrestle with the very clear and emphatic teaching on apostasy in the book of Hebrews, as well as in John's Gospel and in Paul's epistles. Paul (assuming Pauline authorship of 1Tim.) said that in the latter time some 'will depart' (αποστησονται) from the faith (1Tim. 4:1). The verb αποστησονται is indicative meaning that the act will occur, it's a statement of fact.

kangeroodort said...

anonymous,

You wrote,

Paul was exposed to a great deal of false teaching that would not nor could not save him. Yet the Lord when it was time to call Paul did so effectually to His glory.

Please direct me to where the Bible says that Paul was saved irresitibly. You also undercut your argument here. If Calvinism is true then no amount of false teaching can harm the elect. That is exactly what you prove with your belief that Paul was irresistibly saved despite the false teaching he was exposed to.

The reason we are warned of false teaching is because that will not save anyone. While God has chosen who to save He also has established the means that some will come to realize their salvation... the preaching of the TRUE gospel.

Calvinism teaches that if the gospel is not accompanied by an irresistible work of grace, then it is powerless. It is like talking to a deaf person. So again, the question becomes, what harm does false teaching do to the elect, and what further harm can it possibly do to the reprobate. Just saying, "God ordains the means as well as the ends" does not really answer the question. Feel free to elaborate.

God Bless,
Ben

Paul G said...

Jonorm888
If grace has an attachment, like (prevenient), then grace is no longer grace.
Grace is the finished work of the Lord Jesus at Calvary.
For those who are born again they will persevere but they are not saved because they persevere. They are saved because Jesus died for them, and they can never be cut of from the Lord Jesus, for He loves them with an everlasting love and they can never perish.


Nick;
Grace is totally unconditional!

I’m sorry! I don’t understand what you try to say about the proud, humble and the apostate.

kangeroodort said...

paul g,

You wrote,

Am I correct in saying, that you believe that Jesus can not really save you, if you do not persevere to the end?

You are incorrect. The question isn't what Christ "can" do, but what He "will" do according to the conditions that God Himself established.

That salvation is the believer’s responsibility?

Salvation is God's responsibility. Our responsibility is to believe. Big difference.

...And grace is conditional on your performance?


Salvation is grounded on Christ's performance on the cross. "Faith" is looking away from our "performance" and trusting in Christ's "performance". It is receiving the grace of God "that has appeared for the salvation of all men" Titus 2:11. You may want to read my post, "The Nature of Saving Faith".

No Kangeroodort! I would not believe in a God who can not get His job done!

Again, the issue is not what God "can" do, but what He sovereignly "chooses" to do. Would you reject a Savior who saved only those who met the God ordained condition of faith if the Bible revealed such a Savior?

Who claims to be an omnipotent savior, yet loses His children whom He loves and died for to a hell which He has created for the wicked.

Actually, hell was not created for the wicked of mankind, but for the devil and his angels. This alone causes problems for Calvinism's claims of eternal reprobation.

Honestly, if I were going to make up a Savior with no regard for how the Bible reveals Him, I would opt for an "omnipotent Savior" who saves all of mankind unconditionally. Of course the issue is not what we would like God to do, or how we think He should be, but how He has revealed Himself and His intentions in His word. Wouldn't you agree?

I would have no problem with Jesus saving unconditionally if not for the many passages that seem to plainly teach otherwise. Examining those passages is the point of this series. You are welcomed to comment and interact as I post.

Thanks for stopping by.

Ben

Anonymous said...

So while Jesus saves someone that meets the God ordained requirement of having faith the minute that person stops having faith then Jesus no longer dies for their sin and they face eternal damnation? How can He have died for my sins one minute while I was saved and then not die for my sins the next minute because of lack of faith?

J.C. Thibodaux said...

'Anonymous,' you're starting with a bad premise, Christ died for the sins of all men, but forgiveness through it is conditioned on faith; so if one casts off his faith in Christ, he will not be forgiven.

Anonymous said...

So He did not die for ALL sins? Still under your theology one can be saved and forgiven at one minute and then not forgiven in another minute. So there is a sin that did not get paid by the cross.

So much for the grace alone part.

kangeroodort said...

Mr. anonymous,

Allow me to clarify a few things from the Arminian perspective that might help you to see why I believe your logic is invalid.

As an Arminian I believe that Christ died for all in a provisional sense. I also believe that one only comes to benefit from the atonement "in Him" where all spiritual blessings reside. We come to be in Christ through faith. Therefore, the atonement is provisional "in Christ" and only those who believe are incorporated into and share in the atonement "in Him".

Look at 1 Tim. 4:10,

"...we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men [provision], and especially of those who believe [conditional application]."

With this in mind I would like to address some of your objections:

So while Jesus saves someone that meets the God ordained requirement of having faith the minute that person stops having faith then Jesus no longer dies for their sin and they face eternal damnation?

The moment that person stops having faith they are cut off from the only source of atonement and life [John 15:1-6; Rom. 11:17-23]. There is no atonement or life outside of union with Jesus Christ.

How can He have died for my sins one minute while I was saved and then not die for my sins the next minute because of lack of faith?

Again, the issue is not Christ making atonement and then not making atonement, but the person failing to partake of that atonement [provided for all] through faith [and union] in Jesus Christ.

So He did not die for ALL sins? Still under your theology one can be saved and forgiven at one minute and then not forgiven in another minute. So there is a sin that did not get paid by the cross.

At the risk of being redundant- all sins were paid for at the cross, but no one benefits from them outside of union with Jesus Christ [through faith]. Unbelief is atoned for when we believe because atonement is "in Christ". If we stop believing we are cut off from Christ and no longer benefit from His atonement.

You may also want to check out the parable of the unmerciful servant. It seems plain from that parable that one who was completely forgiven later had all of his debt charged back to his account [Matt. 18:32-35].

So much for the grace alone part.

I think you should have said something more like "so much for my inadequate view of the grace alone part".

Anonymous said...

So the work that Christ accomplished on the cross is in a big storehouse that we can tap into only by having faith i him.

Will any of this reserved grace be left over after the final judgment? Seems like you are saying that some of what Christ did on the cross will be for naught. Very sad theology indeed.

Nick said...

paul g.,

You said: "Grace is totally unconditional!"

I don't know what this means exactly but I can assure you that from Proverbs 3:34 as well as James 4:6 and 1Peter 5:5 we see that God gives grace (even if the grace itself is unconditional, whatever that means) to the humble while resisting the proud. My point is that receiving grace certainly seems to be conditioned upon something.

I'd also note that you're stuck in a seriously flawed Augustinian mindset when you assert that "If grace has an attachment, like (prevenient), then grace is no longer grace." Says who?

'Prevenient' isn't an 'attachment' to grace -- it describes the point at which grace is given to people. It's the 'grace that goes before' -- a grace enabling men to respond freely to God's call to salvation. How is this any less grace?

anonymous,

You're treating grace as an entity -- it isn't. There isn't a set ammount of grace stored up to be used by only the elect or so much that there's going to be some left over, or whatever else you wish to imagine.

But as far as "tapping into" Jesus' work through faith, I'm shocked that there would be any problem with such a notion coming from any Christian of any theological camp. Have you not read that we are justified by faith (Rom. 3:28; 5:1)?

And how does it sound like anyone is saying that some of what Christ did will be for naught? Jesus' sacrifical work was provided for all but applicable to believers. In the end all believers (whoever they may be) will be saved. Where do you find fault with this?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Arminian side should try to show how prevenient grace as used in your theology is biblical.

Jnorm888 said...

Anonymous, Prevenient grace is also called , Enabling grace, Pre-ceeding grace, actual grace, and pre-regenerating grace. Different groups give it different names, but we all mean the samething by it.




Prevenient Grace


Opens the Heart

Acts 16:14 "14One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message."

Psalm 10:17
LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:



Opens the eyes

2nd Corinthians 4:6 "For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

Psalm 13:3
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

Psalm 19:8
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.





Opens the mind


Luke 15:17 "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you."


Matt 16 :16-17 "16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven."

Proverbs 2:6
For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.


Job 32:8 "But it is the spirit in a man,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding."




Prevenient Grace as LIGHT


John 1:9 "9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world"

John 12:36 "Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light." When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them."


Psalm 18:28
You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

2nd Corinthians 4:3-7 ""And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."


Prevenient grace as God's "calling" and "drawing"

Calling

Mark 16:15
"He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

Romans 10:14-15 "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"


Drawing

Pslam 18:32-33
"It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights."

John 6:44-47
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."


John 12:32
"Jesus said, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." 33He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die."

Titus 2:11
"11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."


1 Timothy 2:3-6
"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time."



Prevenient grace as "conviction", fear, repentance....ect


Proverbs 9:10
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Isaiah 33:6
He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.

Acts 17:30-31 "30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead"


John 16:8-11 "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned."

Job 32:14-18
"For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though man may not perceive it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men
as they slumber in their beds,
16 he may speak in their ears
and terrify them with warnings,
17 to turn man from wrongdoing
and keep him from pride,
18 to preserve his soul from the pit,
his life from perishing by the sword."


Job 32:19
"Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain
with constant distress in his bones,
20 so that his very being finds food repulsive
and his soul loathes the choicest meal.
21 His flesh wastes away to nothing,
and his bones, once hidden, now stick out.
22 His soul draws near to the pit,
and his life to the messengers of death.
23 "Yet if there is an angel on his side
as a mediator, one out of a thousand,
to tell a man what is right for him,
24 to be gracious to him and say,
'Spare him from going down to the pit ;
I have found a ransom for him'-
25 then his flesh is renewed like a child's;
it is restored as in the days of his youth.
26 He prays to God and finds favor with him,
he sees God's face and shouts for joy;
he is restored by God to his righteous state.
27 Then he comes to men and says,
'I sinned, and perverted what was right,
but I did not get what I deserved.
28 He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit,
and I will live to enjoy the light.'
29 "God does all these things to a man—
twice, even three times-
30 to turn back his soul from the pit,
that the light of life may shine on him




JNORM888

Anonymous said...

Would it not be fair to say that Arminius himself believed in regeneration before faith? Did he not say that man has to be reborn, but in his mind it was only a partial rebirth unless one accepts it then it becomes total.

Even the Remonstrant's taught regeneration to some degree before faith. Would not your side then call this prevenient grace? So grace is not grace unless it is actualized by the believer?

Ben,

p.s. by the way that other anonymous is not me. I like the scripture verses that you cited and feel strongly that they are more in line with Calvinism then Arminianism, but that is just my opinion.

kangeroodort said...

To anonymous who said,

p.s. by the way that other anonymous is not me. I like the scripture verses that you cited and feel strongly that they are more in line with Calvinism then Arminianism, but that is just my opinion.

Is this then the first comment you have left? What verses are you referring to that you believe support Calvinism more than Arminianism? If you wish to remain anynomous, why don't you click on "other" and just make up a name or use your first name [no one will know who you are]? That way I can distinguish you from the other "anonymous".

Anonymous said...

I did put my name, it is Benjamin, but I like to go by Ben.

As for which scripture verses I would say all of them. Rather than get into a long debate about those verses I will say that in all likelihood we will not settle this between ourselves. Meaning, you will still hold to your Arminian beliefs and I will hold to my Calvinistic beliefs.

If you believe that my lone post on this thread misrepresented Arminius then please let me know how. There is no need to knock down straw men arguments.

Know that I consider you are brother in Christ.

Ben

Jnorm888 said...

Anonymous,

This web address below has the works of James Arminius.

http://www.godrules.net/library/arminius/arminius29.htm


In quoting Augustine this is what James Arminius said...from the link above.


""""Subsequent or following grace does indeed assist the good purpose of man; but this good purpose would have no existence unless through preceding or preventing grace. And though the desire of man, which is called good, be assisted by grace when it begins to be; yet it does not begin without grace, but is inspired by Him, concerning whom the Apostle writes thus, thanks be to God, who put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. If God incites any one to have 'an earnest care' for others, He will 'put it into the heart' of some other person to have 'an earnest care' for him." Augustinus, Contra. 2 Epist. Pelag. l. 2. c. 9."""



As you can see James Arminius did believe in "Prevenient grace"

The grace that preceeds the will.....preceeds faith. At least in the Arminian and similar systems of thought is "prevenient grace".

Regenerating grace comes after faith, not before.


JNORM888

kangeroodort said...

To anonymous who said,

So the work that Christ accomplished on the cross is in a big storehouse that we can tap into only by having faith i him.

Actually that is not a bad analogy so long as the "storehouse" is Christ. Consider the following passages:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." Eph. 1:3

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our tresspasses, according to the riches of His grace." Eph. 1:7

"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." Eph. 2:13

How do we come to be "in Christ"?

"In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of salvation- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise." Eph. 1:13

[emphasis mine in all quotes]

All spiritual blessings are found in Christ [including regeneration], and we come to be in Christ through faith. Therefore, faith must precede regeneration, and the atonement is provisional "in Christ". If you read the Pauline writings you will find that this is the foundation of the gospel for Paul. Take the time to read Col. 1:13-23 where this doctrine is beautifully expressed.

Very sad theology indeed.

If this is a "sad theology" then you have only condemned God's word. What is "sad" to me is that it seems your exegesis is theologically driven, rather your theology being exegetically driven.

If you want to interact with the passages I have quoted, then I welcome the interaction. You have yet to address Rom. 11; Titus 2:11; 1 Tim. 4:10; Matt. 18, or John 15. I would love to hear how you think these passages conform to Calvinism. If you just want to make snide remarks without being willing to honestly deal with Scripture, then I would respectfully ask that you go and bother someone else.

Thank You,
Ben

kangeroodort said...

Ben,

I just read your latest comment and there has been some confusion. When you wrote "Ben," and then the "P.S." I thought you were addressing your comments to me since my name is also Ben.

It seems that you were addressin jnorm888 instead, so if that is the case then I apologize for the confusion. If you are interested in why I believe that faith must precede regeneration I have written several posts addressing that issue.

God Bless,
Ben

Ben said...

JNORM,

If I am wrong I would greatly appreciate you correcting me. The Arminian believes in total depravity and that none seek God, but rather than hold to the Calvinist position they say that man is enabled to respond to the Gospel by this "prevenient grace." Would it be fair to say that this "prevenient grace" is universal?

I would agree with anonymous that while "prevenient grace" as used by the Arminian is attractive it is impossible to arrive at it by the use of Scripture. If you could show using proper exegis that this "prevenient grace" as used by your side is possible then you guys would have a stronger case, but I believe it to be impossible.

So while Arminians say they believe in total depravity they usually mean it in the hypothetical case, because due to this "prevenient grace" man has been partly restored to make a decision.

Ben

Anonymous said...

Titus 2:11

Are you saying that the grace of God has been shown to ALL men rather than all manner of men?


Even Wesley, who i believe is Arminian, said of that verse that it applied to all manner of men. Meaning to the rich and to the poor. Of course you could also see that by reading the verses preceding that one, but that may be too much for you Arminians.

kangeroodort said...

Ben,

Sorry to butt in. I wanted to address an earlier concern you had with regards to Arminus' belief regarding the order of faith and regeneration. Here is a quote that I think plainly demonstrates what Arminius believed,

"Besides, even true and living faith in Christ precedes regeneration strictly taken, and consisting of the mortification or death of the old man, and the vivification of the new man, as Calvin has, in the same passage of his Institutes, openly declared, and in a manner which agrees with the Scriptures and the nature of faith. For Christ becomes ours by faith, and we are engrafted into Christ, are made members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones, and, being thus planted with him, we coalesce or are united together, that we may draw from him the vivifying power of the Holy Spirit, by which power the old man is mortified and we rise again into a new life. All these things cohere together with each other in a certain order,
and must thus also be considered, if any one be desirous of knowing them not confusedly but distinctly, and of explaining them well to others."
[Works Vol.2 pg. 233, Wesleyan Heritage Collection].

As far as an exegetical defense for faith preceding regeneration, I recommend the following posts, "Does Regeneration Precede Faith?", "Does Jesus Teach That Regeneration Precedes Faith in John 3:3, 6?" and "Fletcher on Bein Dead in Sin Part 2". If faith precedes regeneration as I have argued, then it follows that the grace of God must be resistible and that God can "open the heart" to respond to the gospel without a prior work of regeneration.

To say that Total Depravity is hypothetical becuase it enables the sinner to believe is unfair. Total Depravity must be real or there would be no need for such a work of grace. The doctrine of prevenient grace does not change the fact that one is depraved, it only makes clear the fact that salvation is entirely gracious and impossible without the prior work of God on the sinners heart.

BTW, do you believe in imputed righteousness? Would you call that hypothetical?

kangeroodort said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kangeroodort said...

anonymous,

Thanks for trying to address Titus 4:11. You seem to want to make "all men" to mean "some men of all men" which the text does not say. The verses before and after do not help your case. I addressed a similar erroneous argument regarding John 12:32 in my post "Is the Drawing of John 6:44 and John 12:32 Particular or Universal." Your argument falls to the same objection.

Wesley's comment that the grace of God has appeared to all men "high and low" does not mean that God's grace has appeared only to "some men" among "all men" both high and low.

Ben said...

Kangeroodort,

I agree that total depravity is real and that it is taught in the Scripture, that being said my point was that the Arminian can not say that there is no T.D. for that would be unbiblical so what to do. It looks like the answer is to develop "prevenient grace" to such a degree as to say that the T.D. of the individual is not total, but that a measure of responsiveness is actualized to let the individual then make a unbound choice. Therefore I do not think that I misrepresent the point that while T.D. is true it is only hypothetical due to "prevenient grace."

Again, to my knowledge there has been no proof offered that shows that "prevenient grace" can be applied in said manner.


BTW, yes I believe in imputed righteousness and no it is not hypothetical.

Ben

Anonymous said...

The doctrines of grace and salvation are for all ranks and conditions of men. If applied the way that you seem to want it would lead to universalism. That is not too surprising though since Arminianism either leads to Open Theism or Universalism.

kangeroodort said...

Ben,

I hope that you will take the time to read the posts I recommended. I would love to hear what you think of them.

kangeroodort said...

anonymous,

Your conclusions would only follow if grace were irresistible, the atonement were not provisional, and salvation were not conditional. Since I believe the Bible teaches that God's grace is resistible, the atonement is provisional, and salvation is conditional, then my theology in no way leads to universalism.

As for Open Theism, I reject it. I believe in God's exhaustive and infallible foreknowledge. Please stick to criticizing my position rather than one I never calimed to hold.

Thanks,
Ben

kangeroodort said...

I will be away from the computer until tomorrow, so any further interaction on my part will have to wait then.

God Bless,
Ben

Jnorm888 said...

Ben,


It is unclear if Arminius himself held to a "Universal" idea of Prevenient grace.

I can't speak about the Remonstrants for outside of the 5 articles, I haven't read much of their works.

Maybe someone who has read more of their stuff could speak about what they believed.

It is said that the Weslyian Arminians believe Prevenient grace to be "Universal".

I don't see myself as a Weslyian Arminian nor a strict classical Arminian, but I too believe it to be Universal as well.

John 12:32
32But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."


Titus 2:11
"11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."


John 1:9 "9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world"



1 Timothy 2:3-6
"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time."


I would like to look at 1st Timothy chapter 2 for a second.

""1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.""


Is Paul telling Timothy to pray for "all kinds of kings"?

Is Paul telling Timothy to pray for all kinds of people in authority?

Or is Paul telling him to pray for "ALL KINGS, and ALL PEOPLE in authority? If so then God wants ALL men to come to the knowledge of truth.


John chapter 12 shows Prevenient grace in action.

In it we see how the Light makes it possible for people to become sons of God.




JNORM

Henry (Rick) Frueh said...

The invisible chronology involved with salvation is a mystery. But faith is the catalyst that begins it all.

Ben said...

Kangeroodort & JNORM,

I have read most of what you pointed me too and will give you my thoughts in a nutshell.

I believe that one can have faith before regeneration, but that it is not saving faith. The only way that one can have saving faith is to have their soul quickened by the Spirit.

We have to remember that faith comes from the heart and the heart is wicked. There are many examples of people believing Christ and having a faith in him, but are not saved. The reason I believe is because they were not reborn. Such faith is blind and/or dead and can do nothing. A great number of people have what they believe a true faith when in actuality they are as dead now as they were before. They have convinced themselves that their faith is saving faith when it is nothing of the kind.

What you guys are trying to prove is that faith saving faith comes first from an evil and corrupt heart. This is done by “prevenient grace” which enables the spirit to respond before regeneration. Again, I see how this would make sense if “prevenient grace” functioned that way, but I can not see it in Scripture. Calvinism does not say that a person can have no faith; all it says is that it can not have saving faith till after regeneration. Before that event man just deludes themselves into believing that the faith they have is saving by saying that they really mean it, but how can one really mean it with such a corrupt, deceitful and wicked heart and with total depravity being a given.

I say that God saves who He wants and that He did not draw straws or pass over people that truly want to come. Man in his natural state wants nothing to do with God or his commands. Sure every now and then we may go along with them, but our motifs are not pure nor can they be. It seems that the Arminian relies so heavily on this “prevenient grace” that it takes away the Sovereign power of God. In order for us to come to him/ accept him/ or show faith in him our motifs must be true and pure and that is impossible in our natural state with or without “prevenient grace”. I am beginning to ramble so I will close and thank you both for this dialogue. Please know that while we differ on these things I have no doubt that you are both fellow brothers in Christ our Lord and Saviour!

Nick said...

Ben,

I would note that Arminianism actually emphasizes the sovereignty of God with its view of prevenient grace -- it also maintains God's absolute goodness in that it doesn't present God as coercive.

To suppose that God is not so free as to be able to give men a prevenient grace which would enable them to respond to the call of salvation is to limit God's sovereignty -- this is your position.

And while you see problems with the Arminian/Biblical understanding of saving faith preceding regeneration, I wonder if you see a problem with the Calvinist ordo salutis which has a man regenerated and given life before being justified. Your view logically leads to the belief that God's wrath could be against one who has been born again.

And might I suggest that the reason you can't see prevenient grace in Scripture (even after having been presented with some pretty good presentations in the comments here) is because you read scripture through Calvinist lenses? I think that your theology is shaping your interpretation rather than it being the other way around.

B"H

kangeroodort said...

Ben,

Calvinism does not say that a person can have no faith; all it says is that it can not have saving faith till after regeneration. Before that event man just deludes themselves into believing that the faith they have is saving by saying that they really mean it, but how can one really mean it with such a corrupt, deceitful and wicked heart and with total depravity being a given.

In the posts I wrote dealing with this issue I cited only Scriptures that have reference to saving faith. For that reason I do not see how your objection is valid.

Ben said...

Nick,

I do not have a problem with seeing "prevenient grace" as your side labels it in Scripture. Please read my post again, the problem is that "prevenient grace" as your side uses it does not exist in Scripture. Please read my post again.

As for seeing it through Calvinist ideas I could say they same for the Arminian. Both sides claim to use Scripture and do so better and more Biblically than the other side.

Again, it seems that you guys have misread my post. I have not seen or read in your blog how you defend "prevenient grace" as you want to apply it. If you can tell me how one's corrupt heart can have genuine and true faith before rebirth then I am all ears, but to say that it has been addressed is wrong, to say that I have Calvinist glasses on is wrong and to just say that it is a matter of fact that this is "prevenient grace" that does this is wrong.

Thanks for your time and God bless.

Ben

Jnorm888 said...

Ben,

You said

"""If you can tell me how one's corrupt heart can have genuine and true faith before rebirth then I am all ears, but to say that it has been addressed is wrong, to say that I have Calvinist glasses on is wrong and to just say that it is a matter of fact that this is "prevenient grace" that does this is wrong."""



John chapter 12 shows the possibility.


John 12:35


"35So Jesus said to them, "For a little while longer the Light is among you Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes."

This verse is very important for alot of Reasons. It shows that the Light of Christ is able to make the blind see. It is presented in scripture that "Light" can make people see, Because it is the darkness that blinds them.

As seen in 1st John 2:11

"But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."


So when Light comes, the darkness is taken away.

As seen in John 12:35 as well as Isaiah 9:22

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."

We know from scripture that Jesus is the "True Light" that gives light to every man.

As seen in John 1:9

"That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world."

So the Prevenient grace of God illumines people so that they can make a choice to either believe or not believe. It allows them to be drawn to the Regenerating water of Baptism.


"36"While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light " These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them."


The words "you may be" is "ginomai" and it's mood is "Subjunctive" And according to the blue letter Bible it says:

http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-b...6&strongs=5792

"The subjunctive mood is the mood of possibility andpotentiality. The action described may or may not occur,depending upon circumstances. Conditional sentences of the third class ("ean" + the subjunctive) are all of this type, aswell as many commands following conditional purpose clauses, such as those beginning with "hina."


This shows the "potential" of being saved. It is a possibility. This also shows that the Light "can" be resisted."


37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them. 41Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.”


When we reject the Light givin to us the Darkness returns thus leaving us blind again. Those who are blind can't believe because they rejected the Light givin to them.

I like what Luke chapter 8 says about the sower of the seed in this regard.

Luke chapter 8 verses 11-12

11"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

In the context of Luke chapter 8 the devil is the one who takes the seed out of peoples hearts, so that they may not believe.

So in this context the Word of God is the Prevenient grace. This grace is sowed in the heart. So the people are able to believe. What causes people not to believe in the context of Luke chapter 8 is the devil taking this grace away from people.



Now lets go back to John chapter 12 and look at the people who believed. Verse 42 says:


"42Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him."


Those who rejected as well as those who accepted both had the light. The very same light!!! Scripture doesn't tell us that God has an efficatious call and a sterile call. The same call/Light that some rejected was the very same call/Light that others accepted. So we can't blame God for some not believing. God gave the same grace to both groups of people. The difference is the Choices they made.

Now this is where things get interesting for a Calvinist would assume that the people in verse 42 were Regenerated. They(Calvinists) believe the regenerated can't ultimately resist and fall away.

But what does the text say about the people who believed in verse 42?


"42Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved praise from men more than praise from God."


The Bible would seem to lean towards the idea that the people who believed in verse 42 were on rocky ground. Or at least in danger of falling away.

Matthew 10:32-33

32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.


Also the passage about the parable of the sower sheds some light to the topic at hand.


Matthew 13:20-22

"20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful."







INLOVE JNorm

Ben said...

It seems that you put a great deal of weight to John 1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

For your system to work the light here has to be shown to mean that it refers to the light freeing a person to be able to perceive and then too believe in the Gospel. Of course I would strongly disagree with that and think that there is a far better explanation to it.


Just look at John 3:19 – 21 and John 12: 35

I believe that the meaning of Jesus as the light in John 1:9 exposes the world’s corrupt heart. This is what I was addressing before when it comes to the Arminian view of “prevenient grace”. It seems that you guys make this ‘prevenient grace” as you label it do something that it does not nor could not do. Your side would have to show that ‘enlightens everyone’ means that the moral state of man and his corrupt heart have been restored to the point of making this decision. By looking at the meaning of the passage I think it is clear that that position, the Arminian, is untenable. Especially when we look at John 3: 19 – 21, 12:35 and other passages which define for us what is meant by ‘enlightens everyone’.


That then moves us back to how then can one posses saving faith before rebirth when the heart is wicked and man is totally depraved? Not only that, but if your view is correct then man has something to boast about. I have heard your side say that it is still by the grace of God and that receiving the gift allows no man to boast about having it, but could not then my neighbor boast that he had the mind, heart, will, or whatever else to take the gift and I did not. Would he not boast in the fact that unlike me he had what it took to come to God and make the choice to eternal life while I did not have it? So while he may not be able to boast to God, he would be able to boast to other men. Also, we would have to see why he, my neighbor, had what it took to accept and I did not since we both were in the same neutral state.

No your side has not shown that this thing you label “prevenient grace” does what it says that your side needs it to do. Of course without this “prevenient grace” doing what the Arminian needs it to do your side is dealt a serious blow. In fact without “prevenient grace” enabling all men to respond from a neutral position your side collapses and would have to retreat to the Semi-Pelagian view, Universalist view, or the Open Theist view.

I do not wish to sound harsh and do consider you a brother in Christ. While we have major differences and we should continually strive to correct and admonish each other, we must remember to do it in a loving way that brings honor to our Lord. That being said I do not wish to hijack your post or blog any longer since I doubt that either one of us will change his mind this side of heaven. I will pray for you and ask that you pray for me.

God Bless!

kangeroodort said...

Ben,

I am not sure what you are looking for. I guess you want the Bible to say something like "prevenient grace is a Biblical doctrine". The fact is, like so many doctrines, the doctrine of prevenient grace is largely an implied doctrine.

The same is true for irresistible grace. It is no where stated in Scripture. In fact, the passages often urged by Calvinists for irrestible grace better support the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace.

Calvinists belief in irresistible grace is based on the preconceived notions of a theological system. I have dealt with that system and the passages primarily used to support that doctrine in previous posts which I referred you to. You said you read them, but your comments concerning them lead me to believe otherwise.

Why don't you go to one of those posts, drop a comment at that particular post, and challenge the specific arguments I made there. To be honest, not a single Calvinist has tried to engage my arguments. They have only brought up their own arguments and ignored what I wrote. You have so far done the same. Here is my argument from "Does Regeneration Precede Faith?" in a nut shell:

There are several problems with the belief that regeneration precedes faith:

1) It does not theologically comprehend the nature of justification.
2) It does not theologically comprehend the correlation between regeneration and sanctification.
3) It is not sufficiently "cross-centered" or "Christocentric".
4) It actually downplays the seriousness and nature of man's deadness in sin.
5) It does not seriously consider the necessity and implications of union with Jesus Christ with regards to all spiritual blessings.


I discuss these reasons in detail as the Scriptures explain them. I then concluded with:

We could state the Arminian case as follows:

1) One cannot experience justification or regeneration apart from union with Christ.
2) We come to be in union with Christ by faith.
3) Therefore, faith precedes justification and regeneration.

or...

1) We cannot experience life (regeneration) while still in our sins.
2) We remain in our sins until we are justified on the merits of Christ's blood.
3) We are justified by faith.
4) Therefore, faith precedes regeneration.


Feel free to refute my conclusions with Scripture. The fact is, the burden of proof rests on the Calvinist to prove irresistible grace. It is an anomaly in Christian history and is not based on Scripture, but on a failed theological system.

The Bible plainly teaches that we are saved by faith, and that only those who believe receive eternal life. It also teaches that all spiritual blessings reside in Christ and that we come to be in Christ through faith. Calvinism has people experiencing new life prior to union with Christ, which is simply absurd. Like I stated earlier in this thread:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." Eph. 1:3

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our tresspasses, according to the riches of His grace." Eph. 1:7

"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." Eph. 2:13

How do we come to be "in Christ"?

"In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of salvation- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise." Eph. 1:13

All spiritual blessings are found in Christ [including regeneration], and we come to be in Christ through faith. Therefore, faith must precede regeneration, and the atonement is provisional "in Christ". If you read the Pauline writings you will find that this is the foundation of the gospel for Paul. Take the time to read Col. 1:13-23 where this doctrine is beautifully expressed.


That settles things as far as I am concerned.

Thanx for stopping by,
Ben

Ben said...

kangeroodort,

No idea why you replied the way you did seeing as you addressed nothing that I had in my post in response to JNORM. I can only assume that I have offended you and ask your forgiveness. I will drop the matter and go my way now. Many blessings to you and JNORM.

Anonymous said...

Kangeroodort,

Looking at your last response I have a question for you. When Paul was on the Damascus road was he still under the wrath of God? Did Christ die while we were justified or while we were yet sinners? I assume that you believe that the elect are known to God and that the number is set, that being the case then were they elected before the had faith or after? It seems that you are not too clear on some of these things. If regeneration is a spiritual blessing and it occurred before Adam, I agree to that, then how can you say that regeneration happens after faith? We were sealed for the day of redemption Eph. 4:30

Perhaps the reason no Calvinist has tried to engage your arguments is because the contradict themselves and there is no need to engage them. That being said I feel that some people that may read your blog would be helped by someone pointing out your logical fallacies and contradictions.

kangeroodort said...

No idea why you replied the way you did seeing as you addressed nothing that I had in my post in response to JNORM.

The reason I replied the way I did is because you have claimed that the concept of prevenient grace is unbiblical. You have not, however, demonstarted how irresistible grace is Biblical. It is one thing to attack another person's position, it is quite another to defend your own.

I did not reply to much of what you wrote to JNORM because I have addressed these objections elsewhere. If you look at the comment section of "Regeneration Precedes Grace" you will find an answer to your "why does one man accept the gospel, and the other does not" question. If you look at my post "Fletcher on Being Dead in Sin Part 2" you will see why the Calvinist understanding of being "dead in sin" and it's implications are Biblically unfounded. I directed you to those posts, but you have not addressed them except to say that there is a faith that is not saving. That had nothing to do with what I wrote, as I pointed out.

What is strange to me is the way that you demand answers to your questions and arguments, without being willing to honestly tackle the problems with your own position, or deal with counter arguments. I was simply giving you another opportunity to do so.

I can only assume that I have offended you and ask your forgiveness.

You have not offended me and there is nothing to forgive.

I will drop the matter and go my way now. Many blessings to you and JNORM.

...or you could defend your position and deal with the arguments I presented against the doctrine that regeneration precedes faith and is irresistible. The choice is yours.

kangeroodort said...

Anonymous,

I am having a hard time following what you are saying. Are you trying to say that the elect have been justified and regenerated from before the foundations of the earth, or something similar?

Perhaps the reason no Calvinist has tried to engage your arguments is because the contradict themselves and there is no need to engage them.

Feel free to demonstrate how they contradict themselves.

That being said I feel that some people that may read your blog would be helped by someone pointing out your logical fallacies and contradictions.

Feel free to point them out. I am open to correction.