Corrupted Evangelism and the Recovery of Means

Note: Before I get started, I want to thank all of you who have expressed so much support for SBF and the work we are wanting to do here. For those of you who disagree, you are welcome as well. No one here hides in the dark, and all of us want to be held accountable to the Scripture and Christ-like character. May the Lord use this website to bring many “to a knowledge of the truth.” Now to my post…

One of the greatest critiques made against Calvinists is the claim that they are not passionate about evangelism. Recent attempts have been made both from the scholastic (see Steve Lemke’s white paper) and popular level (see Bobby Welch’s newsletter, this sermon, and of course BaptistFire’s recent article). Of course, such a critique cuts both ways as Tom Ascol has shown that numerical growth in churches does not necessarily mean that a church is a healthy, New Testament church (here and here). So the question must be asked: Are Calvinists really passionate about evangelism?

Let me begin with a quote from Dr. Tom Nettles, Southern Baptist historian and scholar concerning zeal in evangelism:

When devoted to evangelism it [zeal] is good; but when the evangelism to which it is devoted takes shortcuts around the gospel, zeal may be a catalyst for theological dissolution. The coincidence of evangelistic minimalism and encroaching modernism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries made strange bedfellows for theological deconstruction. Renewal in the work of evangelism involves a cordial embracing of full-orbed theology as friendly to, not destructive of, evangelism, along with a purposeful execution of a theology of means—or methods ordered by God for the effectual operation of his gospel message. [1]

Two things I want to bring out from this quote: one, taking “shortcuts” around the gospel, and two, the “purposeful execution of a theology of means.” First, concerning the gospel, there is no question that a zeal for numerical growth coupled by the pressure of pragmatic novelty has crippled our understanding of the gospel. Churches are filled with unregenerate church members with a false sense of security of having prayed a prayer or walked down an aisle as evidence of being born again. Decisional regeneration and the guarantee of proven techniques has produced untold number of illegitimate “converts” who find themselves either with a yearly “rededication” or written off as being a part of the “carnal” crowd (to research decisional regeneration, a bibliography can be found here). At this point, we must go back to the beginning and ask ourselves, “What kind of gospel are we preaching?” here?

I submit to you that we cannot be passionate about evangelism unless we are first passionate about the gospel. If we fail in understanding the gospel, it does not matter how eloquent, passionate, or winsome you are, you will not bear fruit becoming of Christ. I remind you, of the four soils in which the seed of the gospel was planted, the only one who brings forth fruit was the one that “hears the word and understands it” (Matt. 13:23). But we must ask, “How does one understand it?” By presenting the latest acronym and “plan of salvation” complete with all the transition statements? This leads me to my second point.

Calvinists are passionate about evangelism because, not only are we passionate about the gospel, but we are committed to the God-ordained means through which God saves sinners. The 1689 London Baptist Confession makes two points which I want to point your attention to. First, concerning God’s providence, it says:

Ordinarily, in His providence, God makes use of means; yet He is free to work without them, to give them efficacy above what they normally possess, and even to work contrary to them, at His pleasure. [2] (Isa. 55:10,11; Dan. 3:27; Hos. 1:7; Acts 27:31,44; Rom. 4:19-21)

Time and time again, it is said of Calvinists, “If God has elected those who are going to be saved before the foundation of the world, why evangelize? If God has elected them, they are going to be saved anyway!” What our brothers have spoken of, concerning the predestined end of one’s salvation, they have neglected the ordained means to bring about that end, namely, the preaching of the gospel. For instance, take 1 Peter 1. Three times Peter mentions that the salvation which they received came through the instrumentality of the Word and efficacious working of the Holy Spirit. Verse 12 has a three-part phrase that says “through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven”; verse 23 adds that “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” and verse 25b concludes by saying “and this word is the good news that was preached to you.” Peter made it clear to the “elect exiles” (1:1) who were caused to be born again by God’s great mercy through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1:3) that their salvation came through a specific means—the preaching of the good news.

So do we really believe the gospel is the power to save (Rom. 1:16)? Then why are we so ashamed to preach it fully and clearly and not resort to shortcuts and man-centered methods to convince ourselves otherwise? It is evident that the instrumentality or means by which Arminians say we are saved is through free will. The efficient cause is not God nor his mercy or election, but our choosing of God. Nettles reveals how this affects one’s understanding of evangelism. He writes,

The theological Achilles’ heel of Arminianism lies in its tendency to minimize the impact of sin on the will. This in turn realigns the relation between the divine and the human in salvation; this realignment, sadly, has often led to a diminished estimation of the character of the Redeemer and of course a reconceptualization of the nature of evangelism. [3]

So how can one be passionate about evangelism when the “Lord of the harvest” is not really Lord but subjected to the will of man? Is salvation “of the Lord” or is it not? The Confession cuts through the theological fog today when it states that:

The gospel is the only external means of making Christ and saving grace known to men, and it is completely adequate for this purpose. But that men who are dead in their sins may be born again—that is to say, made alive, or regenerated—something further is essential, namely, an effectual, invincible work of the Holy Spirit upon every part of the soul of man, whereby a new spiritual life is produced. Nothing less than such a work will bring about conversion to God. [4] (Ps. 110:3; John 6:44; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:4,6; Eph. 1:19,20)

God will effectually work his salvation through the operation and execution of His ordained means, to which you and I are responsible. We must preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2), for what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Cor. 4:5). Before God we must plant and water, with the promise that God will give the growth (1 Cor. 3:6). What then are we? “Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each” (1 Cor. 3:7). And this is why Calvinists are passionate about evangelism. God could have chosen to save everyone himself without any other means, but in the kind intention of his will, he has placed the responsibility upon us to preach the gospel to all nations and all people.

This same Paul who wished that he were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of his kinsmen (Rom. 9:3), whose hearts desire was for their salvation (10:1), understood that “the Lord knows who are His” (2 Tim. 2:19) and that the Potter will be glorified through those whom he has mercy as well as those whom he hardens (Rom. 9:14-18). Paul knew that election did not nullify evangelism but rather inspired it. God’s sovereignty in salvation does not let us off the hook regarding the souls of men, but reveals whether or not we are truly saved. As Piper has stated before, those who call them Calvinists who are not passionate about evangelism and missions are not true Calvinists. But then again, one who is not intensely concerned about the souls of men must consider whether or not their own soul is possessed by God.

Theological reductionism has led us to the place of mere nominalism where gospel presentations are calling people to “their best life now,” that Jesus is “your thrill ride” and guaranteeing that for every $48 you give to a ministry, a soul will be saved. To say that theology does not matter is tantamount to concluding that Jesus is someone other than the Truth. If we were all honest with ourselves, I would dare say that any of us are as passionate about evangelism as we ought to be. This is a call to repentance, beginning with me. But as we rise from a broken and contrite heart, we still are faced with what gospel we will preach. Any gospel which cheapens the grace of God to make man co-operative with God’s saving purpose is no gospel according to Scripture. My friend, it is not enough to be passionate about sinner’s being saved; we must also be passionate about the Message and the One who has sent us, lest we find ourselves asleep with strange bedfellows in our day.

______________________________
[1]Tom Nettles, Ready for Reformation? Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2005, 40.

[2]A Faith to Confess: The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. Leeds, England: Cary Publications, 2002, 23.

[3]Tom Nettles, Ready for Reformation?, 43.

[4]A Faith to Confess, 48.

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20 Comments on “Corrupted Evangelism and the Recovery of Means”

  1. Timmy Says:

    Because of some issues with the formatting, I was not able to include this footnote, so I am going to mention it here. The “Thrill Ride” curriculum is being/has been changed due to the response of bloggers. Also, the Bailey Smith $48 Save-a-Soul-of-the-month club is no longer on the Internet; however, it appears that the practice is still ongoing.

    I mention these only to show the need for sound theology in evangelism. It is not to slam them but to reveal how far down the slippery slope of a corrupted evangelism we have come.

  2. Josh Buice Says:

    You said, Time and time again, it is said of Calvinists, “If God has elected those who are going to be saved before the foundation of the world, why evangelize? If God has elected them, they are going to be saved anyway!” What our brothers have spoken of, concerning the predestined end of one’s salvation, they have neglected the ordained means to bring about that end, namely, the preaching of the gospel.

    I say – AMEN! Those who claim that God will save – therefore – no evangelism is necessary are in direct violation of Holy Scripture! The God who elects is the God who sends the preachers with the gospel!

    God elects souls – God elects means to save people. The means is the gospel being proclaimed by people – and we are all called to proclaim the message of Christ Jesus!

    For the glory of God and the God of glory!

    Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  3. John Weaver Says:

    Allow me a simplistic explanation. God told me to preach the gospel, so that’s reason enough to do it. I rather like Spurgeons response to the same question, “if I knew God’s elect had a yellow stripe down their back I’d lift shirtails”.

  4. David Hewitt Says:

    I liked Spurgeon’s explanation too. I am also completely convinced that our problem for a lack of evangelism is NOT the fact that we haven’t programmed it enough, but rather it IS the fact that we are not as in love with Jesus as we should be. If we truly desire His glory above all things, if our greatest pleasure is His glory (as it ought to be), then why are we satisfied with the fact that so many around us do NOT glorify Him with their lives, and do not worship Him?

    We need more of Jesus and to love Him more. How do we do this? More Scripture, and not just mindless reading of it — pouring over it, and begging God to show us more of Himself, that we’d want Him more and want others to want Him more (or for others to begin to love Him)!

    Thanks, Timmy, for bringing out this critical issue.

    SDG,
    David Hewitt

  5. Peter Says:

    You wrote: “It is evident that the instrumentality or means by which Arminians say we are saved is through free will. The efficient cause is not God nor his mercy or election, but our choosing of God.”
    This is an unfair statement. The Arminian views God as the efficient cause of faith. In a hypothetical world where Christ did not die and decided “Hrmm nevermind” and lifted back to Heaven, would the person’s decision to accept Christ have any potence? No, it would be impotent. Therefore, the potence lies in the fact that Christ came and has offered this gift. The efficient cause of faith is God because He had taken the initiative of Christ dying for all—Heb 12:2, but is tragically rejected by some. The efficient cause of unbelief is because of man, it is that which was not the product of Christ’s offer, but was the product of man’s decision in Christ. It is not free will that saves us, as if the agency is the determining focus that non-Calvinists view, but the fact that the offer was set before us by Christ which is the beginning cause of our faith. One non-Calvinist had challenged a Calvinist by accusing the Calvinist of thinking that “people are robots and not truly doing any sort of responding to the Gospel”. Let the Calvinist similarly stray away from mistakes like these and particularly desired perspectives to impose onto to the Non-Calvinist.
    You go onto saying: “So how can one be passionate about evangelism when the “Lord of the harvest” is not really Lord but subjected to the will of man?”
    Could we not give you the same response that you gave the mistaken Arminian who judges Calvinists as evangelically apathetic? I do not see the logical necessity of your statement. My simple answer would be the same one you have given: “God could have chosen to save everyone himself without any other means, but in the kind intention of his will, he has placed the responsibility upon us to preach the gospel to all nations and all people.”—so that those who hear His Word may come to a saving knowledge of Him.
    Could you clarify why/what Nettles is saying in “The theological Achilles’ heel of Arminianism lies in its tendency to minimize the impact of sin on the will.” How does the Arminian exactly do this? I did not understand this statement.
    Finally you wrote: “But as we rise from a broken and contrite heart, we still are faced with what gospel we will preach. Any gospel which cheapens the grace of God to make man co-operative with God’s saving purpose is no gospel according to Scripture. My friend, it is not enough to be passionate about sinner’s being saved; we must also be passionate about the Message and the One who has sent us, lest we find ourselves asleep with strange bedfellows in our day.”
    I agree that theology is important and should not be skimmed. However, by what standard is a co-operative decision to ACCEPT (not CHOOSE) Christ, cheapen the grace of God? By what standard do we determine the offensive nature of a process? Answering this question requires a knowledge of God’s preferences about processes of salvation. It is kind of like a mistakenly zealous bodybuilder saying “Do not cheapen your image of Christ by not believing that he had 25 inch biceps. If you don’t believe Christ had 25 inch biceps, then you are lessening Christ”. Obviously, he is taking his own bodybuilder club’s perception of the world and applying it to his notion of the omnipotence of Christ. An Arminian could also conversely reply by stating that Calvinists are cheapening the grace of God and unviewable sovereignty of God by stating God’s limitations about which paths are in fact fully sovereign, which paths are in fact possible. (In other words a characitured Calvinist statement would be: “God is not giving you a free choice to accept Him! He cannot do that because that is less sovereign”) A “cheapening” accusation is one based on emotional standards. Let us go back to scripture—which is the crux of the entire Arminian/Calvinism debate. However, I do recognize that this was not the focus/thesis of your post. I did want to chime in on this point anyways.

  6. Peter Says:

    ERROR: The efficient cause of unbelief is because of man, it is that which was not the product of Christ’s offer, but was the product of man’s decision in Christ

    CORRECTION:
    The efficient cause of unbelief is because of man, it is that which was not the product of Christ’s offer, but was the product of man’s decision in response to Christ’s offer.

  7. Josh Buice Says:

    David,

    You said, I am also completely convinced that our problem for a lack of evangelism is NOT the fact that we haven’t programmed it enough, but rather it IS the fact that we are not as in love with Jesus as we should be.

    I say – that is exactly right. If we truly loved Jesus as much as we seem to when we sing, listen to preaching, and attend conferences – we would be sharing Him with others more and more!

    I find it interesting that many Calvinists and Arminians will travel hundreds of miles and spend hundreds of dollars to listen to their favorite preacher at the latest and greatest conference – but the same people will not carry out the great commission across the street from their home. That is the issue!

    May God send us a revival that opens our heart – reveals our sin – and causes us to repent! May we love God more tomorrow than we do today! May we share Christ with the world – for the glory of God.

    Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  8. 4ever4given Says:

    EXCELLENT POST!!!It is ours, then, to give men something worth their hearing; in fact, to instruct them.… The gospel is good news. … there is information in it, there is instruction in it concerning matters which men need to know, and statements in it calculated to bless those who hear it. It is not a magical incantation, or a charm, whose force consists in a collection of sounds; it is a revelation of facts and truths which require knowledge and belief. The gospel is a reasonable system, and it appeals to men’s understanding; it is a matter for thought and consideration, and it appeals to the conscience and the reflecting powers. Hence, if we do not teach men something, we may shout, “Believe! Believe! Believe!” but what are they to believe? Each exhortation requires a corresponding instruction, or it will mean nothing. “Escape!” From what? This requires for its answer the doctrine of the punishment of sin. “Fly!” But whither? Then must you preach Christ, and His wounds; yea, and the clear doctrine of atonement by sacrifice. “Repent!” Of what? Here you must answer such questions as, What is sin? What is the evil of sin? What are the consequences of sin ? “Be converted!” But what is it to be converted? By what power can we be converted? What from? What to? The field of instruction is wide if men are to be made to know the truth which saves. “That the soul be without knowledge, it is not good,” and it is ours as the Lord’s instruments to make men so to know the truth that they may believe it, and feel its power. We are not to try and save men in the dark, but in the power of the Holy Ghost we are to seek to turn them from darkness to light.
    And, do not believe, dear friends, that when you go into revival meetings, or special evangelistic services, you are to leave out the doctrines of the gospel; for you ought then to proclaim the doctrines of grace rather more than less. Teach gospel doctrines clearly, affectionately, simply, and plainly, and especially those truths which have a present and practical bearing upon man’s condition and God’s grace. Some enthusiasts would seem to have imbibed the notion that, as soon as a minister addresses the unconverted, he should deliberately contradict his usual doctrinal discourses, because it is supposed that there will be no conversions if he preaches the whole counsel of God. It just comes to this, brethren, it is supposed that we are to conceal truth, and utter a half-falsehood, in order to save souls. We are to speak the truth to God’s people because they will not hear anything else; but we are to wheedle sinners into faith by exaggerating one part of truth, and hiding the rest until a more convenient season. … The preacher’s work is to throw sinners down in utter helplessness, that they may be compelled to look up to Him who alone can help them.
    To try to win a soul for Christ by keeping that soul in ignorance of any truth, is contrary to the mind of the Spirit; and to endeavour to save men by mere claptrap, or excitement, or oratorical display, is as foolish as to hope to hold an angel with bird-lime, or lure a star with music. The best attraction is the gospel in its purity. The weapon with which the Lord conquers men is the truth as it is in Jesus. …You need no other nets when you fish for men; those your Master has given you are strong enough for the great fishes, and have meshes fine enough to hold the little ones. Spread these nets and no others, and you need not fear the fulfilment of His Word, “I will make you fishers of men.”
    …You and I must continue to drive at men’s hearts till they are broken; and then we must keep on preaching Christ crucified till their hearts are bound up; and when this is accomplished, we must continue to proclaim the gospel till their whole nature is brought into subjection to the gospel of Christ….They must be born again from above. …nowadays we hear of persons being healed before they have been wounded, and brought into a certainty of justification without ever having lamented their condemnation…God never clothes men until He has first stripped them, nor does He quicken them by the gospel till first they are slain by the law. —C.H. Spurgeon

  9. 4ever4given Says:

    Oops… that was longer than i thought… apologies. It would be nice to have the preview option.

  10. Timmy Says:

    4ever4given,

    Great thoughts! (And don’t worry about the length!)

    You said: To try to win a soul for Christ by keeping that soul in ignorance of any truth, is contrary to the mind of the Spirit; and to endeavour to save men by mere claptrap, or excitement, or oratorical display, is as foolish as to hope to hold an angel with bird-lime, or lure a star with music. The best attraction is the gospel in its purity. The weapon with which the Lord conquers men is the truth as it is in Jesus. …You need no other nets when you fish for men; those your Master has given you are strong enough for the great fishes, and have meshes fine enough to hold the little ones. Spread these nets and no others, and you need not fear the fulfilment of His Word, “I will make you fishers of men.”

    I am so thankful for the promise Jesus makes for those who follow Him. “I will make you . . .” If any man has anything to speak of concerning the souls of men, it is because Christ has made us such. I take great comfort in know that Jesus is renewing my mind with his truth, changing my heart with his compassion and love, and transforming my walk to go “outside the camp” where he died. May the Lord find us getting our hands dirty, hearts full, and eyes tear-stained for the world around us devoid of our Treasure.

    Let us preach the simplicity and purity of the gospel as the net which the Lord has provided. And let us treasure the promise that Jesus will make us such fishermen. “O Lord, do not abandon the work of your hands!” (Psalm 138:8).

    *******
    Peter,

    Please do not think I am avoiding your comment. Because of the length of your comment and the numerous things you mentioned, I am organizing my thoughts to respond to what you have said. Today and tomorrow I have two photog commitments which have me away from the computer. However, I will reply as soon as I have the opportunity. Thanks for your comment, and though you disagree with me, I hope you feel welcome here at SBF.

  11. Scripture Searcher Says:

    The correct definition of scriptural and theological terms that are often used, abused, misused is the task of each generation of Christians.

    There is a difference in evangelism (as frequently used by so many today) and TRUE EVANGELISM.

    There is a difference in revival (as frequently used by so many today) and GENUINE REVIVAL.

    Our need is get back to the Bible, learn the meaning
    of these (and dozens of other) terms and practice what the Scriptures teach.

    It is the only hope for the SBC and the USA!

  12. Timmy Says:

    Peter,

    As it has been the continual practice to caricature Calvinists, I certainly would not want to be guilty of doing the same to Arminians, so I take seriously the charges that what I am saying is unfair, or that I am mistaken, or find no logical necessity in my statements. I have read many leading Arminians, and what I am stating is from from their works, not my formulations. I want to be fair and represent the viewpoints of those with whom I disagree with such objectivity that they could say, “Yep, that’s exactly what I believe.”

    You said several things in your comment that I wish to address, but let me start here. In arguing against my statement that the efficient cause of salvation is man’s will, you said,

    “This is an unfair statement. The Arminian views God as the efficient cause of faith. . . . Therefore, the potence lies in the fact that Christ came and has offered this gift.”

    If God is the efficient cause of faith, then are you saying that the source of one’s saving faith is from God? I do not think Arminians make this point; rather, they argue that faith is not a gift, but each man has faith in and of himself. Secondly, faith, when given to man, is to be appropriated to trusting in Christ which is the responsibility of man after having been drawn to Christ. I do not see how you your statement refutes what I had already said, nor do I see how it clarifies how God brings salvation to man.

    Let me make my point from some biblical texts. The Scriptures say that we are saved by means of sovereign mercy. If this is the case, then the testimony of Christians can never be, “I chose Christ, or I made my decision.” Think of it. Imagine the person begging for mercy (“God be merciful to me a sinner!) being the one to determine their salvation as if they are in control! No, it is the one who freely chooses to give mercy to some and withhold it to others who is in control. Consider the texts:

    1 Peter 1:3
    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! *According to his great mercy,* he has CAUSED us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

    Titus 3:5
    “*he saved us,* not because of works done by us in righteousness, but *according to his OWN MERCY, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”

    Ephesians 2:4-5
    “But God, *being rich in mrecy,* because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, MADE US ALIVE together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–”

    Romans 15:9
    “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might GLORIFY GOD *for his mercy.*”

    Romans 9:16
    “So it depends not on human will or exertion, but ON GOD, *who has mercy.*”

    Romans 9:18
    “So then he has MERCY on *whomever he wills,* and he hardens *whomever he wills.*”

    Clearly, the testimony of Scripture says that the cause of salvation is sovereign mercy freely given to whomever he wills. The efficient cause is not founded in the freedom of our will, but rather in the freedom of God’s will. “He saved us . . .”, “made us alive . . .” “caused us to be born again . . .” how? By his own mercy. That is why Paul, when he shares his own testtimony does not say, “I chose Christ of my own will.” No, he says the following:

    “This saying is trustworthy and deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. BUT * I received mercy* for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

    Paul’s testimony, as he stated, is an example to those who believe to show that God is not frustrated by man’s will nor is he unable to save (consider the will of Saul and his persecuting and killing of Christians!). He who could change such a life where people were continually saying, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy” (Galatians 1:23) is sovereign over salvation from beginning to end, as Paul states that God had “set me apart before I was born” (Galatians 1:15).

    I could go on, but this comment is already getting too lengthly. I will address more of your comment again soon. The point I am make here is that our salvation, from beginning to end, is efficiently caused by God who is the author of finisher of our faith. His omnipotence lies not in “the offer of the gift” but in the giving of the gift and conquering the wills of unregenerate men.

    “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he *gave the right* to become children of God, who WERE BORN, *not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor the will of man,* BUT OF GOD.” (John 1:12-13)

    Because God is the SOURCE of our life in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30), no man will boast before God that they chose Him or because of their free will they were saved (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 1:31). No they wil “glorify God for his mercy” knowing, that He chose us as those who were weak, foolish, low and despised, and those who are nothing, that He might be glorified in our salvation which he accomplishes perfectly and fully.

    I have more to say later, but I hope this clarifies what I mean when I say that the efficient cause of salvation is of God alone. Arminians hold that God is sovereign to a point, but man must do his part (synergism) where God is not involved. I will address your comment on “potence” and the “co-operative” nature of Arminian salvation next.

    (Gene, my comments are not intended to rival your length!)

  13. Timmy Says:

    Concerning Peter’s comment:

    2. “The offer is the beginning cause of our faith”

    What do you mean by the “beginning cause” of our faith? What do you mean by offer? The general or effectual call of God? Are you stating that God calls some to come but ultimately do not because that is just the beginning cause, and that the final cause is man’s free willl? Please clarify.

    3. “by what standard is a co-operative decision to ACCEPT Christ, cheapen the grace of God?”

    A. The first standard is the sufficiency of God. God is able to save fully, to the uttermost those who draw near to him (Heb. 7:25).

    B. The second standard is the Scriptures. Nowhere can you find where man co-operated or contributed to their salvation. The faith to believe and repent are gifts of God which are given according to His divine purpose and will.

    C. The third standard is the supremacy of Christ. He is subject to no one’s will or self-determination. Christ is not limited in what he can do or know. Those whom he calls will come. Those who are his sheep will hear. His call is efficacious and omnipotent.

    The grace of God is cheapened when it is no longer grace. For anyone to contribute or co-operate with God is to misunderstand the nature of grace. It is a work, and most defiably the work of the will which secures a sinner (in choosing Christ). We are sealed by the blood of Christ, not by our self-determination.

    4. “Let’s go back to the Scripture”

    Amen brother. I would love to hear the Arminian defense from Scripture. In your comment, you gave reference to one text (Heb 12:2) which did not support your argument (the potence is in the offering of the gift).

    Peter, you have argued that Calvinists have limited God’s sovereignty and cheapened his grace by arguing that we have chosen “which paths are in fact possible.” What exactly are you referring to here. In making such a charge, it is incumbent to be clear and precise, which I believe you have failed to do. Unfortunately, in your comments, more questions have been raised than answers (for instance, I do not think your illustration of a bodybuilder’s biceps contributes any meanginful statement to your argument). Unless there are answers to these questions and/or a response to my comments above, I am assuming that the argument is finished. Thanks again for your input.

  14. Gayla Says:

    I suppose (due to our inherent bent towards sin) we (generally speaking) think that anything which seemingly steps on our ‘free will’ is somehow an affront. Even when it’s God.

    And we also mistakenly assume that it is ‘unfair’ that there are people who go to hell, when the reality is that if we get what’s fair, we all get hell.

    Through God graciously growing me in Him, I am grateful that He IS the One in control and not leaving my destiny up to sinful me.

    I just can’t get enough of studying God’s sovereignty. 🙂

  15. Peter Says:

    Thanks for your comments. I will most definitely clarify my points for you and reply to these postings. I am always glancing at this blog but I do not always have time to write responses. Hope you understand. And do not worry, I did not assume that you were avoiding my comments at any point in time. Likewise, I ask you the same. Thanks again.

  16. Timmy Says:

    No problem Peter! Thanks for checking in. I know times are busy (as I have finals this week!), and it is hard to know if those with whom you are dialoging with are still in the conversation. I look forward to hearing from you when you get a chance.

  17. Peter Says:

    Sorry I took so long. I too had mid-terms (and now its finals season). Anyways, here is my response:

    You wrote, “If God is the efficient cause of faith, then are you saying that the source of one’s saving faith is from God? I do not think Arminians make this point; rather, they argue that faith is not a gift, but each man has faith in and of himself. Secondly, faith, when given to man, is to be appropriated to trusting in Christ which is the responsibility of man after having been drawn to Christ. I do not see how you your statement refutes what I had already said, nor do I see how it clarifies how God brings salvation to man.”

    Sorry, re-reading what I wrote I agree I was unclear. I hope this makes it clearer. I am sure you have read Norman Geisler’s book CBF as it is constantly mentioned in the articles and comments on this blog and linked-blogs. My mistake was that I labelled it Arminian, because I figured that you would not consider anything less than TULIP as Calvinism. However, whatever the term, lemme clarify what I meant. It is through God’s grace that we are saved, because he was the intiator of salvation. Without him, any and all commitments of faith are impotent. It is only with the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to freely choose, and from that, to either accept or reject God’s offer of salvation in Christ (2 Cor 3:5, 2 Cor 12:9, Phil 2:12-13, Phil 4:13, 1 Chron 29:14). Without this assistance, there would be no chance for salvation—therefore it is by God’s grace that we are saved. If this clarification would have modified the intentions for your original response then I sincerely apologize. However, I have written the rest of this response with the assumption that this clarification does not make such a dramatic difference for your response.

    You wrote, “Let me make my point from some biblical texts. The Scriptures say that we are saved by means of sovereign mercy. If this is the case, then the testimony of Christians can never be, “I chose Christ, or I made my decision.” Think of it. Imagine the person begging for mercy (”God be merciful to me a sinner!) being the one to determine their salvation as if they are in control!”

    Right, but the difference here is that God is the one who made the first offer. And it is certainly an unfair offer—grace and love—because by definition it is something that we do not deserve. Christ was not sent because there was a high demand for Him in the ballot box and God gave-in somehow. It is because of God’s mercy that Christ was sent—on God’s initiative, which is His sovereign mercy. Therefore, Christians can never say “I SAVED myself”, but they can say that, in part, they made a decision to accept Christ. These two are true because a) they are not the authors or initiators of salvation b) the Bible states that nothing can be done without the assistence of the Holy Spirit c) “God be merciful to me a sinner!”, in your depiction, is a command to God to be merciful, so yes I agree that this is absurd. However, it is not that we are demanding salvation by accepting Christ and having faith in Him. Christ’s call is to believe in Him, he did not call us to command our own mercy. It is through faith that we are saved. As Calvin once wrote faith brings a man empty, so that Christ can fill him up. Having faith is not equal to “God be merciful to me a sinner!”. It is an offer that we ACCEPT—not something we command and take. “Imagine the person begging for mercy (”God be merciful to me a sinner!) being the one to determine their salvation as if they are in control!” The word here is “control”. God’s offer, at least in my view, is that Christ’s offer was to all and it was by faith that we are saved. If someone offers you something and you accept it, how were you ever the commanding controller in the situation? If you offered something to your friend, how does their acceptance of it impinge on your will? Or have somehow become the greater being in the situation? Lets now look at the verses.

    1 Peter 1:3
    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! *According to his great mercy,* he has CAUSED us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

    “According to his great mercy” This does not proof-text your perception of his “great mercy”, keep in mind I do think such a thing as God’s great mercy exists also! He has certainly “caused” (us to be born again to a living hope) regeneration. But how? It is “…through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. What is the link between us and Jesus Christ—faith or belief. No doubt about this! Just as Ephesians 1:11-14 states: “11 **In him** we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
    A key difference is that Calvinists believe regeneration precedes faith: 13And you also were included **in Christ** **when you heard the word of truth**, the gospel of your salvation. **Having believed**, you were marked **in him** with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
    Without your specific analysis of 1 Peter 1:3 and the rest, I can only assume what your statements are with them. Keep in mind that “non-Calvinist” versus “Calvinists” do not divide the Bible into “their” verses and not-their-verses. In other words, both sides have 1 Peter 1:3 on their side. So please explain what you intend by these verses, in addition to the asterixes and capitalizations.

    Titus 3:5
    “*he saved us,* not because of works done by us in righteousness, but *according to his OWN MERCY, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”

    3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

    There is a distinction being made in “not because…” and “but according to…” The clear statement here is that it is not by works that we are saved, but by the gracious love and mercy poured through Jesus Christ. I agree that “God saved us” (verse 5) “through Jesus Christ our Savior” (verse 6). However, your verse here and the section which it is in does not say anything about willing or faith or anything particularly Calvinistic as opposed to non-Calvinistic (my apologies for the labelling of my view). What is being questioned is NOT that God had mercy on us or that he is the initiator of the salvation plan through Christ.
    Ephesians 2:4-5
    “But God, *being rich in mrecy,* because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, MADE US ALIVE together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–”
    Yes again I do not have any problem of this verse! It is by grace we are saved—however, where is the talk about faith? I think verse 8 gives us a clearer picture of faith, grace, and works: 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.
    Just in case you might use this in the Calvinistic sense also. “Ephesians 2:8 is sometimes cited, but the “gift of God” in view is not faith itself, but the whole complex of salvation-by-grace-through-faith. Touto has reference, not to faith, and certainly not to grace, but to the whole clause “by grace are you saved through faith.” The fact that touto is neuter and pisteos feminine forbids faith to be the antecedent of “–that..”. Many exegetes are agreed on this point, including Calvin. ” (Shank, Robert Elect in the Son, p.110-111). A.T. Robertson, the great New Testament Greek scholar similarly noted: ” ‘Grace’ is God’s part, ‘faith’ ours. “And that” [it] (kai touto) is neuter, not feminine taute, and so refers not to pistis [faith] or to charis [grace] (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part.” (AT Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 4:525).
    Again, the existance of a possibility for salvation was the grace of God. While we were still sinners God came down to us and the Word was made flesh so that those of us who would come to repentence, would come to repentence! And we were made alive together with Christ through faith—and this is a gracious work of God. We did not send Christ down to earth. I do not see how my view here takes away God’s credited and awesome mercy.

    Romans 15:9
    “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might GLORIFY GOD *for his mercy.*”

    I do not see here how you are interpreting this to mean anything particularly Calvinistic and anything particularly opposed to my view. Again, clarification is needed.

    Romans 9:16
    “So it depends not on human will or exertion, but ON GOD, *who has mercy.*”
    Romans 9:18
    “So then he has MERCY on *whomever he wills,* and he hardens *whomever he wills.*”
    Romans 9:15-18 I will couple my response together:
    This is absolutely true. God has mercy on whomever he wills and hardens whomever he wills. It is, as the title of this section is called, “God’s Sovereign Choice”. But is that it? What was Romans 9-11 written for? And what does the rest of Romans 9-11 talk about? I do not have time to go into the full analysis as I also have finals week now approaching, but I would suggest to you the book “Elect In The Son” by Robert Shank where he goes through Romans 9-11, in particular, very thoroughly. I do not agree with some of his points on perseverance and a few others, but I think exposition about Romans 9-11 is pretty accurate. All scholars (Calvinistic and Non-Calvinistic) know that Romans 9-11 is one whole letter. Very briefly, through the explanation of God’s sovereignty, Israel as a stubborn and disobedient people, the ingrafting of the Gentiles, etc., this letter to the Romans, ENDS with:
    28As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[h] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
    This is the mercy of God which we find present in Jesus Christ.

    Here is an interesting link:
    http://www.mercer.edu/baptiststudies/HotIssues/Fisher/CandB.htm
    It goes into a very brief explanation of Calvinism and Romans 9-11. I think what is very valuable in that article is his section “WHAT WE ARE ALL DOING AND WHY”.

    I think you and I know that God was merciful by sending His Son—it was his unwarranted intiative, he is the author and perfector of our faith. I don’t think that is the problem here. But you are equating verses that have the word mercy in them to say that this means God has willed us into believers—to which you termed “sovereign mercy”. The mercy of God, however, has to do with pretty much the whole concept of salvation! It is pretty hard go about proof-texting the debate that way—(honestly, at first glance, aside for a few more popular verses—I could not recognize the Calvinisticness of some of the verses you mentioned). To you “sovereign mercy”, essentially, it means “mercy to some” rather than all. The closest you get to that in your list of texts is your Romans 9 verses—which is hard to swallow in light of context and how the letter to the Romans is concluded/finalized in verse 11:32. Let’s not cut off Paul in mid-explanation there.
    I know the Calvinistic response to this. So you don’t have to go about the explanation. I can give you the typical 1 Peter 3:9, 1 Tim 2:3-6, Eph 1:13, etc, but I do know you have your ways of skepticizing the Non-Calvinistic interpretation of these verses.
    The point of my post was for this:
    1. Clarifying the mistaken dichotomy of “all God” versus “all man”. Shown in the first point of my original post.
    2. The evangelism point in which I again quote you. Which you did not respond to in your post, but rather responded to Arminianism in general. Bottomline, the argument doesn’t uphold, because the logic could be driven in the same way to say that Calvinists believe that “it is not of him who wills” but rather God so a fatalistic notion wouldn’t be all that out of the question. [FYI, I do not believe this about Calvinists!, Check my comment on Pastor Dustin’s post] I was just showing you that the logical necessity of saying that Non-Calvinists cannot be fervent about evangelism is unfounded and unneccessitated logic.
    3. You did not clarify your Achilles heel comment. That was for my own information cuz I honestly did not understand that. How is it an achilles heel, what are its “tendencies” that he is talking about. If you do not know specifically what he meant, then that is OK. I was just wondering.
    4. Lastly, the whole “cheapening” term was first used by you, cited from your original posting “But as we rise from a broken and contrite heart, we still are faced with what gospel we will preach. Any gospel which cheapens the grace of God to make man co-operative…”. You say that synergism cheapens the grace of God. But what is your measure for determining whether something is cheapening the grace of God? If you meant that it was just completely wrong, I wouldn’t have said anything, because I know you’re a Calvinist and its obvious you disagree with Arminianism—that’s fair. However, you used the word cheapen. This asserts a concept of “less than” to be in anything that involves human action. In other words, “man is NOT in a passive state for the salvation process, that is lessening than sovereign grace/mercy!”. But how are you determining human action to be less-than-ness for God’s plan of salvation. If I can give a guess, it would be rooted in the belief that regeneration comes before faith. However this is contrary to Eph 1:13.

  18. Peter Says:

    Sorry last section had some grammatical errors. Here is the fixed version.

    This asserts a concept of “less than-ness” to be in anything which includes human action with God’s salvation plan. In other words, “If man is NOT in a passive state for the salvation process, then that is lessening God’s sovereign grace/mercy!”. But how are you determining that human action is “cheapening” for God’s plan of salvation. If I can give a guess, it would be rooted in the belief that regeneration comes before faith. However this is contrary to Eph 1:13.

  19. Gene Says:

    Therefore, Christians can never say “I SAVED myself”, but they can say that, in part, they made a decision to accept Christ. These two are true because a) they are not the authors or initiators of salvation b) the Bible states that nothing can be done without the assistence of the Holy Spirit c) “God be merciful to me a sinner!”, in your depiction, is a command to God to be merciful, so yes I agree that this is absurd. However, it is not that we are demanding salvation by accepting Christ and having faith in Him. Christ’s call is to believe in Him, he did not call us to command our own mercy.

    Several problems here.

    1. The individual is still left to respond from a state of nature, not a state of grace. The ultimate, final decision is up to him not to God. Thus, the ultimate reason they respond is that they chose to improve on God’s grace. Question: Why then, based on your reason, does one person believe and not the other? What causes them to differ?

    2. You wrote: It is an offer that we ACCEPT—not something we command and take. (A) It is a universal offer given to all men without exception. It is underwritten by the assumption that if God does not give all men this offer and ability by way of prevenient grace, God is unjust. This has successfully moved you from the category of mercy into the category of retributive and remunerative justice. The Holy Spirit has gotten you part of the way across the chasm, but the rest is up to you. If you go, then you get your reward. If you do not, you are judged for your unbeleif. This is remunerative justice for salvation, not mercy. This is retributive justice for unbelief.

    If someone offers you something and you accept it, how were you ever the commanding controller in the situation?

    Answer: The ultimate decision is up to you, not them. Ergo, your destiny is in your hands.

    If you offered something to your friend, how does their acceptance of it impinge on your will? Or have somehow become the greater being in the situation? You mean “they become…greater” I assume. This is a level confusion, because you attempt to place it between two humans. God is not a human and He is always greater. First, the offer of salvation is between God and you, but you are not able to accept it on your own. Your friend in this situation is not dead and unable to respond. Your analogy is false.

    Lets now look at the verses.
    “According to his great mercy” This does not proof-text your perception of his “great mercy”, keep in mind I do think such a thing as God’s great mercy exists also! He has certainly “caused” (us to be born again to a living hope) regeneration. But how? It is “…through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. What is the link between us and Jesus Christ—faith or belief.

    Peter, you severed this from the rest of the text.

    Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen
    2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

    3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

    V. 3 is the tail end of a text that begins with the foreknowledge of God. God caused us to be born again according to His foreknowledge. This is the noun for of prognosko, it speaks of unconditional election based on God’s mercy alone and not on His knowledge of our foreseen faith decision; it is His determination alone.

    Second, you have inserted faith into this text to link man to regeneration, but where there mention of faith in this text? Where do we find an offer of salvation? Where is there any mention of us believing in order to be raised from the dead? His great mercy itself has caused us to be born again. Why does one man believe and not another? I John 5:1 explicitly states that we believe because we are born again. The immediate agency of the working of the Spirit (regeneration) is the immediate cause of faith.

    Touto has reference, not to faith, and certainly not to grace, but to the whole clause “by grace are you saved through faith.”

    How does this help you, for if it refers to the entire preceding clause, which Calvinists agree it does (Have you even read James White, The Justification of God, on this?) that would mean that all the elements of the work of salvation by grace through faith are human in origin.

    The fact that touto is neuter and pisteos feminine forbids faith to be the antecedent of “–that..”. Many exegetes are agreed on this point, including Calvin. ” (Shank, Robert Elect in the Son, p.110-111). A.T. Robertson, the great New Testament Greek scholar similarly noted: ” ‘Grace’ is God’s part, ‘faith’ ours. “And that” [it] (kai touto) is neuter, not feminine taute, and so refers not to pistis [faith] or to charis [grace] (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part.” (AT Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 4:525).

    This does not help you at all, because you have just employed Calvin and then Robertson, but their formulations tug in logically opposing directions. Robertson is disagreeing with Calvin here. I’m not sure how you think they are in agreement.

    A. Calvin goes on to state (Eph.2:8): For by grace are ye saved. This is an inference from the former statements. Having treated of election and of effectual calling, he arrives at this general conclusion, that they had obtained salvation by faith alone. First, he asserts, that the salvation of the Ephesians was entirely the work, the gracious work of God. But then they had obtained this grace by faith. On one side, we must look at God; and, on the other, at man. God declares, that he owes us nothing; so that salvation is not a reward or recompense, but unmixed grace. The next question is, in what way do men receive that salvation which is offered to them by the hand of God? The answer is, by faith; and hence he concludes that nothing connected with it is our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all commendation, it follows that salvation does not come from us.

    Ought we not then to be silent about free-will, and good intentions, and fancied preparations, and merits, and satisfactions? There is none of these which does not claim a share of praise in the salvation of men; so that the praise of grace would not, as Paul shews, remain undiminished. When, on the part of man, the act of receiving salvation is made to consist in faith alone, all other means, on which men are accustomed to rely, are discarded. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ. And so he adds, not of yourselves; that claiming nothing for themselves, they may acknowledge God alone as the author of their salvation.

    9. Not of works. Instead of what he had said, that their salvation is of grace, he now affirms, that “it is the gift of God.” 1 Instead of what he had said, “Not of yourselves,” he now says, “Not of works.” Hence we see, that the apostle leaves nothing to men in procuring salvation. In these three phrases, — not of yourselves, — it is the gift of God, — not of works, — he embraces the substance of his long argument in the Epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians, that righteousness comes to us from the mercy of God alone, — is offered to us in Christ by the gospel, — and is received by faith alone, without the merit of works.

    This passage affords an easy refutation of the idle cavil by which Papists attempt to evade the argument, that we are justified without works. Paul, they tell us, is speaking about ceremonies. But the present question is not confined to one class of works. Nothing can be more clear than this. The whole righteousness of man, which consists in works, — nay, the whole man, and everything that he can call his own, is set aside. We must attend to the contrast between God and man, — between grace and works. Why should God be contrasted with man, if the controversy related to nothing more than ceremonies?

    Papists themselves are compelled to own that Paul ascribes to the grace of God the whole glory of our salvation, but endeavor to do away with this admission by another contrivance. This mode of expression, they tell us, is employed, because God bestows the first grace. It is really foolish to imagine that they can succeed in this way, since Paul excludes man and his utmost ability, — not only from the commencement, but throughout, — from the whole work of obtaining salvation.

    But it is still more absurd to overlook the apostle’s inference, lest any man should boast. Some room must always remain for man’s boasting, so long as, independently of grace, merits are of any avail. Paul’s doctrine is overthrown, unless the whole praise is rendered to God alone and to his mercy. And here we must advert to a very common error in the interpretation of this passage. Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.

    10. For we are his work. By setting aside the contrary supposition, he proves his statement, that by grace we are saved, — that we have no remaining works by which we can merit salvation; for all the good works which we possess are the fruit of regeneration. Hence it follows, that works themselves are a part of grace.

    When he says, that “we are the work of God,” this does not refer to ordinary creation, by which we are made men. We are declared to be new creatures, because, not by our own power, but by the Spirit of Christ, we have been formed to righteousness. This applies to none but believers. As the descendants of Adam, they were wicked and depraved; but by the grace of Christ, they are spiritually renewed, and become new men. Everything in us, therefore, that is good, is the supernatural gift of God. The context explains his meaning. We are his work, because we have been created, — not in Adam, but in Christ Jesus, — not to every kind of life, but to good works.

    What remains now for free-will, if all the good works which proceed from us are acknowledged to have been the gifts of the Spirit of God? Let godly readers weigh carefully the apostle’s words. He does not say that we are assisted by God. He does not say that the will is prepared, and is then left to run by its own strength. He does not say that the power of choosing aright is bestowed upon us, and that we are afterwards left to make our own choice. Such is the idle talk in which those persons who do their utmost to undervalue the grace of God are accustomed to indulge. But the apostle affirms that we are God’s work, and that everything good in us is his creation; by which he means that the whole man is formed by his hand to be good. It is not the mere power of choosing aright, or some indescribable kind of preparation, or even assistance, but the right will itself, which is his workmanship; otherwise Paul’s argument would have no force. He means to prove that man does not in any way procure salvation for himself, but obtains it as a free gift from God. The proof is, that man is nothing but by divine grace. Whoever, then, makes the very smallest claim for man, apart from the grace of God, allows him, to that extent, ability to procure salvation.

    B. With respect to Robertson, Hendrickson observed: “That offered by A.T. Robertson. Commenting on this passage in his Word Pictures in the NT, Vol. 1V, p.l 525, he states (quotes the portion you quote). Without any hesitancy I answer Robertson, to whom the entire world of NT scholarship is heavily indebted, does not express himself felicitiously in this instance. This is true first because in a context in which the apostle places such tremendous stress on the fact that from start to finish man owes his salvation to God, to Him alone, it would have been very strange, indeed, for him to say, “Grace is God’s part, faith is ours.” True though it be that both the responsibility of believing and also its activity are ours, for God does not believe for us, nevertheless, in the present context (5 -10) one rather expects emphasis on the fact that on the indicated page of his Grammar (p.704) he points out that “in general” the demonstrative agrees with the substantive in gender and number. When he says “in general” he must mean “not always but most of the time.” Hence, he should have considered more seriously the possibility that, in view of the context, the exception to the rule, an exception by no means rare, applies here. He should have made allowance for it. Finally, he should have justified the departure from the rule that unless there is compelling reason to do otherwise the antecedent should be look for in the immediate vicinity of the pronoun or adjective that refers to it.”–Exposition of Galatians, Ephesians, Phil, Col.

    You write: The fact that touto is neuter and pisteos feminine forbids faith to be the antecedent of “–that..” You’re making a common objection here, because folks on your side of the aisle frequently stay that since faith is feminine and “that” is neuter it cannot be that faith is a gift, but this isn’t quite true. If your logic holds, then you would have to admit that grace in 2:8 is not a gift, yet it too is feminine singulear, which, if we follow your reasoing, would mean that grace is not a gift anymore than faith. There is no reason to accept the fact that 2 of the 3 elements (salvation and grace) are a gift while faith is a human contribution. In fact, faith elsewhere in Paul is spoken of as something granted to believers. Calvin is not teaching that grace and salvation are the gift and faith is not included, rather he is repudiating the error that faith alone is the gift. Robertson disagrees, but Hendrickson has refuted him.

    Again, the existance of a possibility for salvation was the grace of God.

    Where does this text speak of a POSSIBILITY for salvation?

    While we were still sinners God came down to us and the Word was made flesh so that those of us who would come to repentence, would come to repentence! And we were made alive together with Christ through faith—and this is a gracious work of God. We did not send Christ down to earth. I do not see how my view here takes away God’s credited and awesome mercy.

    Really? Answert this: Why does one man believe and not the other?

    Bottomline, the argument doesn’t uphold, because the logic could be driven in the same way to say that Calvinists believe that “it is not of him who wills” but rather God so a fatalistic notion wouldn’t be all that out of the question.

    Conflation of determinism and fatalism. Please clarify.

    However this is contrary to Eph 1:13.

    Ephesians 1:13 does to refute monergistic regeneration. This is Dave Hunt logic.There are two errors here. (1) Being regenerated by the Holy Spirit is not the same thing as being sealed and indwelled by the Holy Spirit, which occur after a person hears, repents, and believes. Notice the viciously circular logic here. The unspoken assumption is that regeneration cannot occur apart from being indweeled (viz. “sealed”) by the Holy Spirit. Ergo, you have begged the question without benefit of argument and read that back into the text to raise your objection. This is called semantic anachronism.The disputant maps dogmatic usage back onto Biblical usage, then appeals to Biblical usage, thus redefined, to disprove dogmatic usage. (2) The above Ephesians 1:13 passage is also being read in isolation. It says, “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” Indeed, but again, what about context?. There are other verses which seem to qualify this one. Ironically in the context of the same passage two verses earlier it reads, “… also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” (Eph 1: 11) Verse five even says, “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved….” You see, these verses, in the same context, teach that the grace of God preceded our faith. Freely bestowed means “without conditions” or not because of something He was responding to in us like foreknowledge of our choice … rather the text says that it was according to God’s good pleasure alone. You would have thought Paul was clear enough in this passage leading up to belief, but God’s free grace seems to be casually overlooked by many. (3) Regeneration takes logical and causal priority to repentance and faith and thus to sealing / indwelling. Eph.1:13 in no way contradicts this unless you assume, as you have that being sealed by the Holy Spirit is the same as being regenerated.


  20. […] For the life of me, I do not understand how Lemke can make such a demonstrable error to think that a conviction to unconditional election equals a tempered passion for reaching the lost.  Calvinists actually believe in evangelism and the gospel more than Arminians because they believe God has not only ordained the ends (salvation) but the means (the preaching of the gospel) as well.  They also believe that God does not just make salvation possible but actually saves sinners, and uses His people in the process.  The God who draws sinners by an effectual call also infuses a passion within the heart of the Christian to preach the gospel.  That is why Paul, who believed that God had chosen those would be saved before the foundation of the world could also exclaim, “Woe to me if I don’t preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16, cf. Rom. 9:3; 10:1).  I have addressed this in greater detail, including the references to Dr. Lemke’s paper in an article called “Corrupted Evangelism and the Recovery of Means.”  To argue that Calvinists believe they are not crucial to the process is to tacitly acknowledge that one knows little about evangelical Calvinism. […]


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