Thursday, October 18, 2007

Perseverance Of The Saints Part 2: The Vine And The Branches

Before we examine John 15, I want to give a general outline of how I envision this series unfolding. We will begin by examining what I consider to be the five passages of Scripture which I believe to most clearly teach that true believers can commit apostasy [Jn. 15:1-6; Rom. 11:18-23; Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-39; 2 Pet. 2:20-22]. We will then look at the passages that are most prominently used by the advocates of inevitable perseverance to see if they truly teach that doctrine. Lastly, we will look to discover which understanding of perseverance best conforms to what the Bible teaches regarding assurance of salvation.

[All quotes are from the NASB unless otherwise stated]

John 15:1-6 reads as follows:

[1] I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. [2] Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes so that it may bear more fruit. [3] You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. [4] Abide in Me and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. [5] I Am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. [6] If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Jesus is speaking directly to His disciples who are already “in Him”. They are “clean” [pruned]. Their present status is not in question. They are branches attached to the true vine [verse 5]. It is very important to understand that Jesus is speaking to saved individuals. They have life because they are attached to the source of life. Jesus is not talking about how one comes to be in Him [get saved]. He is speaking of the importance of abiding in Him. Young’s Literal Translation renders “abide” as “remain”. It can also be understood as “continue”. The branches in the true vine must remain in Him in order to continue to enjoy the life that flows from Him. No one can have life outside of Christ. The believer remains in Christ through faith and will continue to produce the fruits of faith and life for as long a he or she remains in Christ. When a branch ceases to remain [through faith], as indicated by fruitlessness, it is cut off. Here is a vivid and concise picture of the nature of apostasy. The apostate is not someone who was never in the vine, but someone who did not remain in the vine. Only true believers can be said to have genuinely been in the vine. No unbeliever can be said to be “in Christ”.

This passage undercuts the Calvinist definition of apostasy. Jesus is not speaking of those who had never been in Him. He is not speaking about the visible church. He is speaking about those who are in the true vine, which is Christ Himself: “I am the true vine”. The branches in the true vine can only be true believers. False professors can never be said to be in the true vine.

The Calvinist is correct to say that the branch which is cut off represents an unbeliever. The relevant question is not whether or not the branch that is cut off is an unbeliever, but whether or not the unbeliever had previously been a believer in the “true vine”. It is impossible to conclude otherwise when we allow Christ to define His own terms.
The Calvinist objection cannot be sustained for the following reasons:

1) Jesus defines Himself as the true vine and the branches as being “in Me”. Robert Shank well points out the absurdity of insisting that Jesus is only speaking of Himself as the visible church:

“Unable to deny that ‘branches’ defect and are cast forth, the proponents of unconditional security find themselves under the necessity of ‘defining’ the branches. Bishop Ryle therefore contends that “…it cannot be shown that a ‘branch in Me’ must mean a believer in Me. It means nothing more than ‘a professing member of My Church, a man joined to the company of My people, but not joined to me.’” Such a contention is necessary, of course, if one is to defend the doctrine of unconditional security. But some of us find it difficult to conceive of Jesus as saying to His Apostles, ‘I am the vine, and all who are professing members of my Church and joined to the company of my people though not necessarily joined to Me, are the branches in Me.’” [Life In The Son, pg.45]

He then quotes another such “definition” of the branches:

“Similarly, Hengstenberg quotes Lampe as saying, ‘In a certain sense, even hypocrites may be said to be in Christ, partly because, in the external fellowship of the Church, they partake of the sacrament of union with Christ, and therefore boast themselves of being in Christ; partly because they are esteemed by others to be such as belong to the mystical body, or at least are tolerated in the external communion of the disciples.’ But again, it is difficult to conceive of Jesus as saying, ‘I am the vine, and all who partake of the sacrament in the external fellowship of the Church and who therefore boast themselves of being in Me and are esteemed by others to be such as belong to the mystical body, or at least are tolerated in the external communion of the disciples, are the branches.’” [ibid. 45 emphasis his]

He finishes by quoting John Calvin:

“Similarly, in an attempt to reconcile the passage with his theology, Calvin declares that ‘…many are supposed to be in the vine, according to the opinion of men, who actually have no root in the vine.’ True; but irrelevant. For Jesus was not speaking about the opinions of men, but about solemn realities- about things as they are, not as men may imagine them to be. We protest that any definition of the branches that cannot easily be inserted into the Saviour’s discourse without a sense of glaring incongruity is obviously inadmissible. And again, it is unthinkable that Christ should say, ‘I am the vine, and all who are supposed to be in the vine according to the opinion of men, some of whom do not actually have root in the vine, are the branches.’[ibid. 45, 46]

I am in full agreement with Shank’s conclusion:

“Such arbitrary definitions of the branches, ridiculous as they are, are nevertheless unavoidable for all who deny that Jesus taught that men who are true believers can ultimately abandon the faith and fail to abide in Him, thus to be cast forth and withered and, in the end, burned.” [ibid. 46]

2) Jesus is speaking of those who cease to “remain” in Him, and not those who were never in Him in the first place. It is absurd to think that a branch can be cut off from or cast away from a vine that it was never in.

3) Jesus is directly addressing His disciples who were truly saved.

4) The branch that is “cast forth” from the vine is said to “wither” or “dry up” before being cast into the fire. It is meaningless to speak of an already dead and withered branch [such as would be the case of a hypocrite or false convert] drying up or withering. Such things are only spoken of branches that once possessed life. The fact that the branch withers is a clear indication that it once possessed life. The only way that the branch could have once lived was through being attached to the vine [Jesus Christ- the only source of spiritual life].

Conclusion: It would seem then that if we allow the text to speak for itself, we must submit to the reality of apostasy. We must also conclude that the apostasy spoken of in this passage has reference to true believers abandoning the faith and being removed from the vine. The Calvinist conception of apostasy [leaving something that you were never truly a part of] is incompatible with the plain language of Jesus’ discourse. Robert Shank has well said, “Let us accept at face value our Saviour’s grave and loving warning that it is indeed possible for us to forfeit eternal life by failing to abide in Him ‘who is our life.’” [ibid. 46]

38 comments:

Ben said...

The argument would have to be that the branches that did not bear fruit were Christians; it seems that this blog entry does not accomplish that. There are other examples in the NT of people not bearing fruit, but we would not say that they were Christians? i.e. Judas and the antichrists.

kangeroodort said...

Ben said...

The argument would have to be that the branches that did not bear fruit were Christians; it seems that this blog entry does not accomplish that.

To be honest Ben, I am not sure I understand what you are trying to say here. Feel free to elaborate.

There are other examples in the NT of people not bearing fruit, but we would not say that they were Christians? i.e. Judas and the antichrists.

A couple things here. I did not argue that those who bore no fruit were Christians, only that they had been. I wrote:

The Calvinist is correct to say that the branch which is cut off represents an unbeliever. The relevant question is not whether or not the branch that is cut off is an unbeliever, but whether or not the unbeliever had previously been a believer in the “true vine”.

Vincent's Word Studies says of "cast forth":

He is cast forth (eblhqh exw). The aorist tense. Literally, was cast forth. The aorist, denoting a momentary act, indicates that it was cast forth at the moment it ceased to abide in the vine. Forth signifies from the vineyard; exw, outside. [emphasis mine]

It is debatable whether or not Judas was ever a true believer. I personally believe that he was at one time; so the example of Judas only strenghtens my argument as far as I am concerned. It is important to note, however, that Judas was probably not among the twelve when Jesus gave this discourse. The fact ramains, however, that Jesus gave this solemn warning to his disciples who were "already clean".

Ben said...

It seems that you would have Jesus contradict what he says in John 6:37 and John 15:6.

I also believe that Jesus did not have the disciples in view, but rather on those who the disciples would later preach too.

We must also remember that John wrote the most about people believing in Jesus, but not being saved. This talks more about perseverance then anything. John writes many times that true faith will bear fruit.

You have not shown that the people mentioned as not bearing fruit at one time were Christians. This is unsubstantiated on your part. I see why you would want it to say that, but it does not so we can not assume to make it say something just to fit our preconceived ideas or theology.

i am leaving town and will not have access to a computer for awhile so I will not be able to respond in a timely manner. Good luck with your series though.

kangeroodort said...

Ben,

You wrote,

It seems that you would have Jesus contradict what he says in John 6:37 and John 15:6.

I can see why you might think that but if we examine both passages carefully we will see that there is no contradiction.

In John 6:37 it is Jesus who says that He will not cast out the one coming to Him. In John 15 Jesus makes it clear in verses 1 and 2 that it is the Father who removes the unfruitful branches from Christ and casts them forth from the vine [verse 6]. If it is the Father that removes the branches, then it is no contradiction for Jesus to say He will not cast out the one coming to Him in John 6:37.

More importantly, the one who will not be "cast out" in John 6:37 is the one who is presently "coming". Calvinists like to point out that "coming" is synonymous with "believing". If that is the case then Jesus is saying that He will not cast out the one who is believing in Him. In John 15 the ones who are cut off and cast forth are no longer "remaining" [believing]; so again, there is no contradiction.

You have not shown that the people mentioned as not bearing fruit at one time were Christians. This is unsubstantiated on your part.

I disagree. I think the text itself shows this. All I did was discuss the text.

I see why you would want it to say that, but it does not so we can not assume to make it say something just to fit our preconceived ideas or theology.

For the record Ben, I do not "want" this text to say anything beyond what it actually says. I only want to submit to Christ's teaching. The fact is that I would prefer to believe in unconditional eternal security. I can't imagine why anyone would not want to believe it. The only reason I reject the doctrine is because I believe the word of God is clearly against it. I reject the doctrine because I cannot make passages like John 15 and the others I will deal with in this series "fit" with the preconceived notions of Calvinist theology.

God Bless,
Ben

Ben said...

While responding to you I remembered a piece written by John Gill that he wrote addressing some of these things. While I would encourage you and everyone that is struggling with this to read the whole paper, here is a small portion of it:
2. The wisdom of God is concerned in this doctrine: No wise man that has an end in view, but will prepare and make use of proper means; and, if in his power, will make those means effectual to attain the end, or he will not act a wise part: the end which God has in view, and has fixed, is the salvation of his people; and is it consistent with his wisdom to appoint insufficient means, or not to make those means effectual when it is in his power to do it? which must be the case, if any of those he has appointed to salvation should perish: No, as he has appointed the end, salvation, he has fixed the means, sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth, which he prepares, produces, and makes effectual. Where would be his wisdom to appoint men to salvation, and never save them, to send his Son to redeem them, and they never the better for it; to begin a good work of grace in them, and not finish it? No, the wisdom of God is wonderfully displayed in this affair, in providing all blessings for his people in a covenant ordered in all things, and sure; in putting them into the hands of his Son for the security of them; in their complete redemption by him, wherein he has abounded in all wisdom, and prudence; and in assigning the work of sanctification in its beginning, progress, and issue, to the divine Spirit, who is equal to it, and will perform it. There is no searching of his understanding; hence he giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.—Wherefore, they shall run, and not be weary, and walk, and not faint (Isa. 40:28, 29, 31); shall persevere to the end, and get safe to heaven and happiness.
3. The power of God is concerned in this matter: such who are the elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, and are begotten again according to his abundant mercy, who have a lively hope of a glorious inheritance, these are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation (1 Pet. 1: 2, 3, 5); they are kept as in a garrison, as the word used signifies they are surrounded with the power of God: he is a wall of fire round about them (Zech. 2:5), to protect and defend them, and to offend their enemies: as the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so is the Lord round about his people, from henceforth, even for ever. Wherefore they that trust in the Lord, shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abides for ever (Ps. 125:1, 2); and this power of God is continually employed in the preservation of his people, he keeps them night and day, lest any hurt them (Isa. 27:3); they are kept in, and through a course of believing unto the end; and their faith is as much secured and preserved by the power of God, as their persons are, who performs the work of faith with power, as well as begins it; they are kept by it, unto, and till they come to complete salvation in heaven; their whole spirit, soul and body, are preserved blameless, to the coming of our Lord Jesus, and safe unto his heavenly kingdom (1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:18): and therefore, since the power of God is so strongly engaged for them, they cannot fall so as to perish everlastingly. The writer, I have to do with, owns, that "undoubtedly so are all they (kept by the power of God) who ever attain eternal salvation; it is the power of God only, and not our own, by which we are kept one day or one hour." Now there are not any real saints who are not kept by the power of God, and do not attain salvation; and it lies upon him to shew how the falling away of such, so as to perish everlastingly, is consistent with the words the apostle Peter referred to, as he says it is, or with their being kept by almighty power.
For those wanting to read the whole thing here is the link

http://www.lgmarshall.org/Arminianism/gill_perseverance.html

kangeroodort said...

Ben,

No offense, but I am not a big fan of John Gill. He came up with some of the most ridiculous interpretations I have ever read in order to avoid the non-Calvinistic implications of certian passages.

I find it interesting that Gill wants us to believe that if God didn't cause His creatures to infallibly persevere it would make Him unwise, especially since he [along with mosts Calvinists] was fond of resorting to His "inscrutable counsel" when things got tough for his theology. So God's wisdom is beyond us, but we can be sure that inevitable perseverance must be true if God is wise?

I understand the philosophical and emotional objections that some people have to the docrtine of conditional security; but they are just that: philosophical and emotional objections. There are plenty of philosophical and emotional objections that can be brought to bear against Calvinism as well, wouldn't you agree?

Like I said before, my concern is trying to submit to what the Bible teaches and allow God to define and reveal Himself. If God reveals Himself as a God who has sovereignly decided to make salvation conditional, then I don't care what anyone says to the contrary.

Why is it that the Calvinists' conceive of God being able to do whatever He wants, except something that does not conform to the TULIP? Who is truly sovereign in Calvinism? God or a flower?

I welcome your interaction here, Ben, but I would ask that you engage what I write on exegetical grounds. You have so far not addressed anything that I specifically wrote in my post.

Ben said...

I should have known better than to point an Arminian to Gill or Calvin or Spurgeon, et. LOL

Let me try this again to see if I can answer your point. By looking at the Scripture verses we see that if one remains in Christ they will bear fruit and there are those in Christ who do not bear fruit. I hope that I do not read into the text and will ask you to correct me if I do, to me it is clear that bearing fruit is a given if one remains in Christ. That being said what about the one that does not bear fruit, how long do they stay in Christ before they are removed? If I took your position I would be lead to believe that my salvation was dependent on work’s or work’s righteousness. This is not a viable option so we must look for something else. As I have stated earlier John’s Gospel often portrays people as ‘believing” in Jesus but are clearly not born again. That is why in John 15 he uses the word “remaining” which means dwelling in a place for the long term. By looking at Matthew 7: 15 – 20 we see that good fruit comes from good tree and bad fruit from bad tree. It is impossible to bear good fruit and not be in Christ, just as it is impossible to bear bad fruit and be in Christ.

kangeroodort said...

Ben,

You said:

That being said what about the one that does not bear fruit, how long do they stay in Christ before they are removed?

They are removed immediately. I addressed this earlier:

Vincent's Word Studies says of "cast forth":

He is cast forth (eblhqh exw). The aorist tense. Literally, was cast forth. The aorist, denoting a momentary act, indicates that it was cast forth at the moment it ceased to abide in the vine. Forth signifies from the vineyard; exw, outside. [emphasis mine]

If I took your position I would be lead to believe that my salvation was dependent on work’s or work’s righteousness.

That would only follow if "remaining" meant "remaining in good works". I have made it clear that "remaining" means "remaining in the faith". I am not sure how you missed that.

This is not a viable option so we must look for something else.

See above comment for "something else".

That is why in John 15 he uses the word “remaining” which means dwelling in a place for the long term.

The "place" is Christ. Please explaing how someone can remain in Christ, when he or she was never in Him in the first place? Compare with Rom. 11:16-22 where Paul both affirms that the Gentile branches "stand by faith" and can yet be broken off through "unbelief". To sustain this objection you must also explain how one can be "in Christ" and not be born again.

By looking at Matthew 7: 15 – 20 we see that good fruit comes from good tree and bad fruit from bad tree. It is impossible to bear good fruit and not be in Christ, just as it is impossible to bear bad fruit and be in Christ.

John 15 says nothing about "bad fruit". It mentions only branches that either produce fruit, or do not produce fruit. It would be helpful if you stuck to the context of the passage in question.

I do believe that it is possible to be in Christ and not bear fruit, that is why they are immediately removed as the Greek indicates. Again the question is not the status of the branch at the time of removal. The question is how did the branch get to be in Christ in the first place?

Later,
Ben

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

Sorry,

The above comment should have read:

I do believe that it is impossible to be in Christ and not bear fruit...

Anonymous said...

So am I right to say that one side says you can forfeit your salvation and the other side says no you can not? This goes to either Kangeroodort or Ben, if I forfeit my salvation can i get it back? Can I accept Jesus and then later reject him only to then come back to him.

Sorry if this is simple or of topic.

Paul

kangeroodort said...

Paul,

That is an excellent question and one I will tackle in this series. I personally believe that one can forfeit salvation and return to Christ. I also believe that there is a level of apostasy that is Irremediable.

So the answer to your question "... if I forfeit my salvation can i get it back?" is "yes" and "no" depending on the level of apostasy. This is a very simplified answer, but I will go into more detail when I post on Heb. 6 and 10 [which I believe describe an apostasy without remedy].

Anonymous said...

Great, thanks for the reply. i will come back to learn more about this.

Paul

Ben said...

Paul,

No you can not forfeit your salvation. If it were possible then you would not be able to come back to the faith or Christ would have to be crucified again. When you came to be a believer He took all of your past sins, present and future sins and paid the price for them. You should give praise to Him every minute of every day for doing that for you.

kangeroodort said...

When you came to be a believer He took all of your past sins, present and future sins and paid the price for them. You should give praise to Him every minute of every day for doing that for you.

..and feel free to sin all you like since your future sins are already forgiven. What a dangerous and absurd teaching.

Please explain why Christ and the Apostle John would exhort believers to ask for forgiveness if their sins were already forgiven? [Matt. 6:9-13; 1 Jn. 1:8,9]

Christ also taught that we would not receive forgiveness if we harbor un-forgiveness in our hearts towards others (Matt. 6:14, 15; Mark 11:25). He even went so far as to say that our entire debt of sin would be charged back against us if we refused to forgive our fellow man (Matt. 18:21-35).

How do you harmonize that with your concept of "once saved always saved"?

Ben said...

My view is more perseverance of the Saints than once saved always saved. How can you find any comfort in the fact that at any time all of your sins will be charged back? You must live in a great deal of fear and distress that you will commit a sin and forfeit your salvation. That is why John reminds us that a true believer will bear fruit and that you can tell if someone is of God by the fruit they bear. To level the charge of lawlessness is dishonest and rude.

It seems that you are adding to the work of the Cross by formulating a set of rules and guidelines that one must follow or else God will un-redeem you. So you say that while one minute God adopts you to be his son the next minute he disowns you for breaking the rules. Let me ask you would you treat your adopted child that way? If not then why would you say that God acts that way? How much greater and wiser and more loving is our Father who has cared for us before the foundations of the world.

As for Ephesians 1:13 try not to gloss over verse 11 in your hurry to prove your theology. We are reminded that we have an inheritance that we have been predestined too.

I have no idea why you are so angry, but the manner of your last couple of posts has been rude and arrogant. We must always remember to love one another and to show the fruits that we claim to partake of such as gentleness, kindness, humility…

If I have offended you then I deeply apologize, please know I never meant to cause any wrong or hurt feelings. Perhaps it is best for me to move on and wish you the best.

Nick said...

Ben (Kangeroodort),

Keep up the good work. Great series. And I commend you for your patience with Ben despite his charges of anger and arrogance.

If anyone is interested I've written a little bit about this topic here. Keep in mind that the articles are a couple of years old and need to be edited and reworked a little bit.

B"H

The Seeking Disciple said...

Great argument for necessary perserverance. Too often this teaching, more than any other, is abused by those who profess Calvinism. I once had a friend who battled a besetting sin until he finally said one day to me, "I am a Calvinist." When I asked him why he came to this conclusion, he responded, "Because I find such comfort in the teaching of eternal security." I said to him, "Make sure your faith is in the Bible and not the doctrines of men."

Thanks brother for this post.

kangeroodort said...

Ben,

Let me first say that I have nothing against you personally. I don't know how anything I have written could be described as a personal attack. I am confident that the Arminian understanding of perseverance is the most accurate. That does not mean that I am arrogant.

It seems to me that you too are very confident in your position but I have not called you arrogant for it. I confess that I am passionate about what I believe and I can get frustrated when someone posts comments on my blog which continually misrepresent what I believe, and fail to deal with the arguments I have made, while concluding that I am holding to an unbiblical doctrine.

I am not, however, "angry" and I don't know how you could come to that conclusion based on what I wrote, unless you somehow conclude that anyone who strongly disagrees with you on Biblical grounds, and says as much, must be "angry".

How can you find any comfort in the fact that at any time all of your sins will be charged back? You must live in a great deal of fear and distress that you will commit a sin and forfeit your salvation.

As I have stated before, the issue for me is not what may bring the most comfort, but what the Bible actually teaches. If I was only concerned about what teachings are comfortable, I would become a universalist.

I do not live in fear and distress because my hope and trust is in Jesus Christ. I have assurance that I am in Him now, but not even a Calvinist can have assurance of final salvation. The Calvinist might yet fall away and prove that his or her "faith" was not saving [as you have mentioned], and only prove that he was never really saved in the first place.

It has been well said that Calvinists are sure that if they are saved they will never lose their salvation while not ever being able to be sure that they are truly saved. "If you have it you will never lose it, if you lose it you never had it" is not very comforting to me anyway.

As far as believing my sins could be charged back, I am only submitting to the words of my Lord. I take Him at His word. Do you render His words void for the sake of your tradition? You did not answer my question: "How do you harmonize [these passages] with your concept of "once saved always saved"? Will you say that the servant was "never really forgiven" in the first place, despite the Lord Himself declaring that he was? Will you deny that his debt of sin was charged back to his account, when the Lord Himself declares that it was? I am not being arrogant by pressing this issue, I am just asking you to be honest with God's word.

To level the charge of lawlessness is dishonest and rude.

I only took your teaching to its logical conclusion. I am sorry if you feel that is "dishonest and rude". Fell free to demonstrate my error in concluding what I did based on your own comments.

It seems that you are adding to the work of the Cross by formulating a set of rules and guidelines that one must follow or else God will un-redeem you.

I have only contended that salvation is conditioned on faith "from first to last" as the Scriptures declare. An attitude of unforgiveness is not compatible with saving faith.

So you say that while one minute God adopts you to be his son the next minute he disowns you for breaking the rules.

Perhaps you have never read Matt. 10:32, 33. Christ disowns those who disown Him.

Let me ask you would you treat your adopted child that way?

It is not about what I would do, but what the Scriptures teach God does. Do not Calvinists say that God passed over the majority of mankind when He could have saved them? Do not Calvinists believe that God condemns unbelievers for rejecting something that was never intended for them nor provided for them? Does that sound just to you?

If not then why would you say that God acts that way?

I would say that God makes salvation conditional because the God of truth is not satified with anything other than genuine relationships.

As for Ephesians 1:13 try not to gloss over verse 11 in your hurry to prove your theology. We are reminded that we have an inheritance that we have been predestined too.

I was not trying to gloss over anything. Those who are "predestined" to adoption are those who are "in Him" [i.e. believers]. As long as we are "in Him" then we will reach the destination God has planned for His elect [in Christ]. What you seem to be missing is that we are elect "in Him" and not elected "to be in Him".

I have no idea why you are so angry, but the manner of your last couple of posts has been rude and arrogant. We must always remember to love one another and to show the fruits that we claim to partake of such as gentleness, kindness, humility…

Thanks for the admonishment. I have no problem with people coming to my blog and criticizing my writing. That is why I have a comments section, and do not moderate it. I have no problem with people holding me accountable for what I write. I think it is only fair, however, that those who write critical comments should also be willing to be held accountable for what they write, without objecting that they are being treated rudely or with anger, because I have the nerve to defend my position against their attacks.

If I have offended you then I deeply apologize, please know I never meant to cause any wrong or hurt feelings.

You have neither offended me nor hurt my feelings.

Perhaps it is best for me to move on and wish you the best.,

That is entirely up to you. I do think, however, that if you are going to continue to misrepresent my position, and ignore the implications of the passages I bring up, that we are wasting each other's time.

God Bless,
Ben

kangeroodort said...

Nick,

Thanks for the encouragement and for the link. From an outsider's point of view, would you have characterized any of my comments to Ben as "angry" or "arrogant"? I am having a hard time figuring out how he came to that conclusion, but maybe I am missing something.

God Bless,
Ben

Nick said...

Ben (Kangaroodort),

I would not characterize anything you have said as arrogant or angry. I think you articulated your position well in your last comment to Ben -- you are passionate about the subject -- but at no time did I perceive that as arrogant or angry. Ben on the other hand does seem a slight bit hostile but I might be losing something in translation.

In any event, that's my ousider point of view.

God bless!

Nick

P.S. The link to those articles deals basically with eternal security as espoused by many popular teachers such as Charles Stanley -- the articles aren't dealing with perseverence of the saints in the framework of TULIP per se (although the conclusion is the same).

I offered my thoughts on perseverence in a comment on Arminian Today about a month ago saying:

I personally reject the doctrine of unconditional eternal security a.k.a. OSAS but I believe it is a misnomer to call this 'perseverence of the saints'. The problem isn't with the idea that saints persevere -- the problem is with the idea that once a saint always a saint. There is a very real possibility of apostasy and it is the apostate (i.e. the former saint) who does not persevere. The present tense believer will persevere as long as they continue in the faith.

Most Arminians would admit the possibility that an apostate was actually regenerated at a point in time but did not continue in the faith and therefore forfeited their salvation. The Calvinist on the other hand would say that such a person was never truly regenerated in the first place. Either way, both groups would look at the person who doesn't endure to the end as not being a saint.

Classical Arminianism said...

You have done a great job in articulating this view.

I am certainly challenged by all of this and look forward to studying it further. I am also going to link these last two posts on Friday's post: "P" is for Perseverance of the Saints.

Thank you for all the work you have done and are doing for this subject. I look forward to further posts.

Billy

Albert said...

"...the implausibility of the Arminian view is seen in that Jesus declared in John 10:28-29 that those to whom he gives eternal life shall never perish. More decisive still is the word used in 15:6. There Jesus says that the fruitless branches will be “cast out” (a form of the Greek verb ballo, “to cast,” “to throw,” together with the adverb exo, “outside” or “out”). But in John 6:37 Jesus uses virtually identical terminology and says, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (ekballo with exo). The Arminian view would require that what Jesus denied of the believer in 6:37 he affirms of the believer in 15:6. Surely neither our Lord in speaking, nor John in recording his words, is guilty of the most obvious of theological contradictions." - Sam Storms

Source: http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/john-151-6-and-the-security-of-the-believer

Notice that both John 10 and John 15 use the verb "to cast out."

Thanks for the post. :)

kangeroodort said...

Albert,

Thanks for stopping by. I am familiar with John 10:27-29 and will address that important passage in a later post.

I already dealt with the objection based on parallel language between John 15 and John 6 in a previous comment. I will repost it below:

In John 6:37 it is Jesus who says that He will not cast out the one coming to Him. In John 15 Jesus makes it clear in verses 1 and 2 that it is the Father who removes the unfruitful branches from Christ and casts them forth from the vine [verse 6]. If it is the Father that removes the branches, then it is no contradiction for Jesus to say He will not cast out the one coming to Him in John 6:37.

More importantly, the one who will not be "cast out" in John 6:37 is the one who is presently "coming". Calvinists like to point out that "coming" is synonymous with "believing". If that is the case then Jesus is saying that He will not cast out the one who is believing in Him. In John 15 the ones who are cut off and cast forth are no longer "remaining" [believing]; so again, there is no contradiction.


I think Sam Storms was jumping to conclusions without carefully examining the language and context of these seperate passages. Thanks for the info. though.

God Bless,
Ben

Lou Martuneac said...

Kang:

You wrote, "No offense, but I am not a big fan of John Gill"

Agreed! Gill almost single handedly extinguished the fires of evangelism in the United Kingdom.


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

Ben:

You wrote, "My view is more perseverance of the Saints than once saved always saved."

I flip that to read this way, "My view is preservation of the Saints."

Eph. 1:13; John 10:28-30; 1 Jn 5:11-13.


LM

Albert said...

kangeroodort: In John 6:37 it is Jesus who says that He will not cast out the one coming to Him. In John 15 Jesus makes it clear in verses 1 and 2 that it is the Father who removes the unfruitful branches from Christ and casts them forth from the vine [verse 6]. If it is the Father that removes the branches, then it is no contradiction for Jesus to say He will not cast out the one coming to Him in John 6:37.

More importantly, the one who will not be "cast out" in John 6:37 is the one who is presently "coming". Calvinists like to point out that "coming" is synonymous with "believing". If that is the case then Jesus is saying that He will not cast out the one who is believing in Him. In John 15 the ones who are cut off and cast forth are no longer "remaining" [believing]; so again, there is no contradiction.

Albert: Sam Storms, however, like all Calvinists believe that those who are drawn by the Father also believe in Christ. And those who believe in Christ are raised up on the last day. For Calvinists, this is the consistent interpretation of John 6:37-47. Thanks for the info. :)

Anonymous said...

In Mark 4:39-40 we have the words of the Lord "how is it that ye have no faith?"

Notice He said that they had NO FAITH, were they removed from the vine and were they thrown away as branches and dried up, only to be gathered to burn?

Nick said...

anonymous,

You said:

"Notice He said that they had NO FAITH, were they removed from the vine and were they thrown away as branches and dried up, only to be gathered to burn?"

Actually, Jesus asked a question, he didn't make an affirmative statement. Secondly, saving faith is not the faith Jesus is speaking of in this context.

Anonymous said...

Saving faith, did Peter have it when he dienied the Lord? Did the disciples have it when they thought that He was dead? Saving faith I suppose comes from you?

what a bunch of dung!

Nick said...

anonymous,

You said: "Saving faith I suppose comes from you?"

Of course not. Saving faith is a gift from God (Rom. 12:3; Eph. 2:8).

In regards to your other questions -- Had Peter never repented of his denial then he would have been denied by Christ before the Father (Mat. 10:33; 2Tim. 2:12).

And Jesus was dead, what would be the problem in the disciples thinking that? The miraculous thing is that he got up!

Anonymous said...

Nick,

What exactly is your view? I went to your site and saw where you say that you are not Arminian nor Calvinist, i would assume you are not Pelagian.

I read most of your debate with the Calvinist, but I felt that you ended it bad. I mean what it looks like from an outsider is that you took your marbles and went home because he called you names or said mean things about you. I would assume that all sorts of things were being said about the apostles during their preaching.

All this and I still have no clue where you stand?

Nick said...

anonymous,

You are correct, I am not a Pelagian. I reject the false dichotomy that everyone must either be Arminian or Calvinist, but my soteriology stands in line with Classical Arminianism.

1. I believe that man is depraved and without God's grace he will never choose to believe in Christ or serve God.

2. I believe that God's grace is resistable.

3. I believe that God has elected men conditionally according to his eternal foreknowledge.

4. I believe that Christ died for the whole world and the benefits of the atonement are appropriated by faith alone.

5. And finally I believe that men can and do become apostate through unbelief. This speaks not of moments where their faith wavers, but rather of habitual unbelief, a hardening of the heart.

So if I must be labeled an Arminian then so be it.

Yes, my debate with Moses ended badly because I was offended by something that he said. I'm not sensitive and am certainly used to being insulted, but this came from someone whom I respected and since then we have cleared the air. As soon as I get back into my Adversus Calvinism mode we'll resume the debate.

Hope this clears things up.

kangeroodort said...

Albert,

You wrote:

For Calvinists, this is the consistent interpretation of John 6:37-47. Thanks for the info. :)

For an excellent Arminian interpretation follow the link two posts down from this on "John 6: Part One And Done".

God Bless

Anonymous said...

Of course not. Saving faith is a gift from God (Rom. 12:3; Eph. 2:8).

There is no disagreement and I will leave it at that.

clcarner said...

The word believe is a continming action verb in the Greek. If you do not continue to believe you never believed. The clear statement in the scriptures is that he that endures to the end shall be saved.

kangaroodort said...

clcarner,

Thanks for stopping by. You wrote:

The word believe is a continming action verb in the Greek. If you do not continue to believe you never believed. The clear statement in the scriptures is that he that endures to the end shall be saved.

I am not sure what passage you are referring to, but your comments concerning "believe" is true in many cases. However, your conclusion that one who does not continue never believed in the first place does not follow. The vine and the branches illustrate this. If the cut off branches never believed, then they could never have been said to be in the Vine (Christ). Christ Himself makes it clear that the branches that are cut off were formally in Him. What sense would it make, anyway, to say that branch can be cut off something it was never in in the first place?

The life of Christ flows into believers as long as they remain in Him through faith. If one should abandon the faith which unites him or her to Christ, that person is cut off from the only source of life, withers, and is burned.

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