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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Look & Live! | Main | Pauline Missiology Parts I & II »

    Things that Irk J.W. Hendryx

    "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God." - 1 John 5:1

    There are few things that irk me more than bad or inconsistent theology. This is because it amounts to a misrepresentation of God and his message, and, as we know, all wrong thinking about God is a form of idolatry. No doubt we are all guilty of having wrong thoughts about God at some level and thus should humbly acknowledge God's grace for anything we have and not boast in our knowledge or anything else ... but when persons, who should know better, begin presenting God's grace as a cooperative effort of man and God, where unspiritual man is presented as possessing spiritual capacities, then contradictions abound. Unfortunately, this kind of synergism is perhaps the the most pervasive cause of error and confusion in the church today.

    Charles Hodge said,""No more soul-destroying doctrine could well be devised than the doctrine that sinners can regenerate themselves, and repent and believe just when they please... As it is a truth both of Scripture and of experience that the unrenewed man can do nothing of himself to secure his salvation, it is essential that he should be brought to practical conviction of that truth. When thus convinced, and not before, he seeks help from the only source whence it can be obtained."

    C.H. Spurgeon said, "Faith in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ is always the result of the new birth, and can never exist except in the regenerate. Whoever has faith is a saved man." (from His sermon Faith and Regeneration)

    Just recently Pastor John Samson did a post reflecting on 1 John 5:1 where he briefly exegeted the passage as clearly teaching that faith is the immediate result of regeneration, not the cause of it. However, a reader took exception to this and said the following:

    "All the ones going on believing (pisteuon, a present tense, continuous action) that Jesus is the Christ has been born (gennesanta, perfect tense - an action already complete with abiding effects) of God," simply does not prove that we were unable to believe prior regeneration. It only states that after regeneration we have been empowered to continue believing and thus our faith is sustained through the work of God in our lives. So, though this verse is a great verse for preservation, it simply does not support regeneration prior to faith - in fact, nothing in Scripture does. Every occurance of life and faith in any context in Scripture always logically places faith prior to life."

    This misunderstanding of the doctrine of regeneration, I believe, is one of the most serious errors of modern evangelicalism. Please note again an admission this person made about the passage in the above statement. He said:

    "[This] simply does not prove that we were unable to believe prior regeneration. It only states that after regeneration we have been empowered to continue believing and thus our faith is sustained through the work of God in our lives."

    Consider, he (and many others) acknowledge that we need the Spirit of Christ after we believe in order to continue belief in Christ but he rejects the concept that we need the Holy Spirit to have faith to begin with. I hope you see the fatal flaw in this argument and that this is hopelessly contradictory. This is asserting, in effect, that a believer cannot keep believing without the Spirit, but an unbeliever, who is unspiritual by nature, is spiritually able to believe, yet entirely without the grace of the Holy Spirit." Do you think any Christian really believes that?

    Of this kind of thinking Charles Hodge rightly said:

    "It is according to the universal ... judgement of men that the moral character of an act depends upon the motive with which it is done. This is so obviously true that [synergists], and almost all other advocates of the liberty of indifference, readily admit ... And so do the advocates of the theory on which this objection is founded, with regard to all moral acts excepting the first. All acts of choice, to be holy, must proceed from a holy motive, excepting the first holy choice which constitutes regeneration: that may be made from the mere desire of happiness or self-love [to a synergist]...We confess that this strikes us as very much like a relinquishment of the whole system. For how is it conceivable that anything should be essential to the very nature of one act as holy, that is not necessary to another? Is not this saying that that on which the very nature of a thing depends may be absent, and yet the thing remain the same? Is it not saying that that which makes an act what it is and gives it its character, may be wanting or altered, and yet the character of he act be unaffected?...It is the motive which gives the moral character to the act. If the motive is good, the act is good; if the motive is bad, the act is bad; if the motive is indifferent, so is the act. The act has no character apart from the motive This, it seems, is admitted with regard to all moral acts excepting the first [in synergist theology]. But the first act of a holy kind is an act of obedience, as well as all subsequent acts of the same kind. How then is it conceivable that the first act of obedience performed from the mere desire or self-love can be holy, when no other act of the same kind and performed from the same motive, either is or can be? How does its being first alter it very nature? It is still nothing more than as act done for self-gratification, and cannot be a holy act."

    So in the visitors' estimation we have the desire to obey God before we have the spiritual power to obey God? That the natural man can embrace Christ without any work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Scriptures contradict this through and through. If someone comes to Christ without the Holy Spirit then I believe he also went away without Him. No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord' apart from the Holy Spirit, so says the Text of Scripture. To say that we are able, by our own efforts and from our own resources to think good thoughts about Christ or see the beauty and excellence of Christ, or give God spiritual obedience before we are spiritually regenerate is to overthrow the gospel and the faith of the universal church in all ages.

    Consider who the natural man actually is: The Text says, the natural man cannot think spiritual thoughts and thinks of them as foolish, by definition (1 Cor 2:14). By nature he is hostile to Christ, loves darkness and hates the light (John 3:19, 20). He doesn't merely need to be persuaded of his sinfulness and need of Christ, he needs a new heart and the mind of Christ to understand and have the disposition to believe it.

    Consider where the Text says, "For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God." 1 Cor 2

    This passage plainly states that we received that Spirit THAT WE MIGHT UNDERSTAND the free gifts of God to us, that is, that we might know and understand the gospel. Without the Spirit, Christ is unknowable.

    It is through the Spirit that Jesus makes the benefits of his saving work available in the present age (John 3:5-8; 6:63; 7:37-39). Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing ... For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." (John 6:63-65) This itself clearly teaches that the grace of regeneration precedes our faith. Only the Spirit gives life, it says, and so no one can believe in Christ UNLESS God grants it by the same Spirit who gives life. It is the spirit who quickens, not our faith. Our faith is the infallible result of the Spirit making our stony heart into a heart of flesh and opening our spiritual eyes (also see John 1:13 & John 3:3-6). The carnal man, by definition, is unspiritual, and thus does not have spiritual eyes. We should never use the word spiritual in a pagan way. Scripturally, no one is spiritual unless the Holy Spirit works grace in us. Naturally, all people are UNspiritual.

    If our visitor believes we can embrace Christ, apart from the Holy Spirit, then he has too much confidence in the flesh. We should Give glory to God. It is He alone that grants repentance (2 Tim 2:25) and enables us to believe (Rom 9:16; Eph 2:1-9). Can you give thanks to God for your faith or is the one thing we can glory in ourselves for? Jesus says, "apart from Me you can do nothing." It is the grace of God that makes us to differ from others, not our faith. Do not boast in faith but in the grace of God!

    Those who believe faith precedes regeneration believe we have the ability to see spiritual things before we are spiritual, that we have the ability to hear spiritual things before we have spiritual ears. That we can desire Christ and believe the gospel when we are by nature hostile to God.

    What does it mean when we are a certain thing by nature? A cat has whiskers by nature and no amount of willing can change that. Likewise we are naturally in bondage to a corruption of nature, slaves to sin and thus cannot be otherwise unless God intervenes to change who we are. Only God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. To believe that our faith is the cause of (or precedes) regeneration is to believe unregenerate, unspiritual man to be spiritual, an impossibly contradictory supposition. It is a rejection of the necessity of the Holy Spirit to change our naturally hostile nature to one that sees the beauty and excellency of Christ. J. I. Packer said, "Infants do not induce, or cooperate in, their own procreation and birth; no more can those who are 'dead in trespasses and sins' prompt the quickening operation of God's Spirit within them."

    Can an unspiritual man see Christ's beauty and excellency simply through persuasion or does he need a change of nature, a new set of eyes and a new heart?

    The apostle Paul in 1 Thess 1:4,5 says, "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction."

    This text teaches that Paul knows they are elect BECAUSE his gospel did not come with mere words but by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is because words alone and unaided do not even scratch the surface of stony hearts. Consider, is it possible for a person to come to (i.e. believe in) Christ apart from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit?

    Now, just for a moment,we should end by returning to the passage itself:

    "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God." - 1 John 5:1

    It is important to note not only Pastor John's excellent point that He who now believes (both present and continuously) does so because they were born again. But also take notice that several times in this same epistle, John speaks of other actions that take place as the result of the new birth and uses the same grammar he uses here (1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:9, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 5:1, 1 John 5:18). A pattern is developing in John's writing. For example in 1 John 3:9 he says, "No one [who has been] born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God." The exact same sequence of words is grammatically utilized in the same way. It is indicating a cause and effect relationship between the new birth (cause) and the Christian who does not continue in a life of sin (effect). He cannot continue a pattern of sin BECAUSE God's seed abides in Him. He would go on sinning if God's seed did not abide in Him, in other words. Both texts show that the cause of regeneration brings about the effect of a life that believes and does not continue sinning as a pattern of life.

    So not only does the tense of 1 John 5:1 show belief being actualized as the result of regeneration but this is also a continuation of a pattern of speech that John uses throughout the entire epistle. Therefore it is extremely unlikely that the Apostle means anything else by this than faith is the result of our spiritual birth ... that the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is the immediate cause of the desire that give rise to faith in the Savior. John’s frequent repetition of the events that come about as the result of regeneration reveal an unmistakable intent.

    And as I have shown above, the Bible does teach this doctrine but, as is natural, people still wish to retain a small bastion of pride for themselves that they had something to do with their salvation.

    Related Essays
    A Simple Explanation of Monergism by John Hendryx
    A Divine and Supernatural Light A Sermon by Jonathan Edwards
    The Work of the Trinity in Monergism by John Hendryx
    Salvation: Synergism or Sola Gratia? Charlie Martin
    Responsibility, Inability and Monergistic Grace by John Hendryx

    Posted by John on February 16, 2006 11:21 AM

    Comments

    "The key phrase in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians on this matter is this: even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). (Eph. 2:5) Here Paul locates the time when regeneration occurs. It takes place when we were dead. With one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation all attempts to give the initiative in regeneration to man is smashed utterly and completely. Again, dead men do not cooperate with grace. The spiritually dead take no initiative. Unless regeneration takes place first, there is no possibility of faith. This says nothing different from what Jesus said to Nicodemus. Unless a man is born again first, he cannot possibly see or enter the kingdom of God. If we believe that faith precedes regeneration, then we set our thinking and therefore ourselves in direct opposition not only to Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and others, but we stand opposed to the teaching of Paul and of our Lord Himself." - Dr. R. C. Sproul, from his article, Regeneration Precedes Faith

    I was struck by this part of your visitor's quote.

    {"So, though this verse is a great verse for preservation, it simply does not support regeneration prior to faith - in fact, nothing in Scripture does. Every occurance of life and faith in any context in Scripture always logically places faith prior to life."}

    Is this the act of refusing to believe an apparent doctrinal truth simply because it is not stated in a way that suits oneself?

    My problem is that I am a Deacon and Bible teacher in an SBC church. I have recieved some serious heat from some people for teaching this truth. However, I don't feel led to leave my church or denomination. I think God is using me there to as a tool to open people's eyes and hearts. The hardest part for me, however, is when my pastor deliberatly preaches something he knows I don't agree with. He does it with his eyes firmly fixed on me as I shake my head. I will not go back to the Arminian confusion so what do I do?

    Mike Ratliff

    "All the ones going on believing (pisteuon, a present tense, continuous action. . ."

    Your reader here makes a very elementary mistake about Greek grammar. He assumes that the use of the present tense necessarily emphasizes continuation in an action (e.g., "CONTINUE(S) to believe").

    While it is true that the present tense will be used by a writer when emphasizing that an action is ongoing, it is by no means the case that every use of the present tense includes such an emphasis. In fact, the ordinary use of the present tense, lacking any additional words or contextual markings (e.g., a contrasting expression), does not make such a special emphasis any more than the English present tense does.

    (If the reader would work his way through the NT, translating ALL present indicative verb forms in this manner, he would discover how unnatural, even ludicrous, the assumption is. For that matter, if the present tense always emphasizes "continuing to", what is a person supposed to do who wants to speak of a simple present action--which will much more often be the case-- without such an emphasis?!)

    Actually, the simple answer is staring us in the face. Our English translations correctly render this verb form (and countless others in the NT) simply as "believes" or "has faith", without any special emphasis on "continuing to". (My advice to the reader here would be to beware suggesting special meanings or emphases when our translations contain no hint of them. If they were there, and so easy to convey in English, our translators would have let us in on it!)


    Mike,

    That's easy! You should become a Presbyterian! ;-)

    Seriously, it sounds like you're caught in a real bind. I'm just a layman, but it seems that when something so foundational to the faith is dividing the leadership within a given congregation, there's a pretty big problem. What (if any) role does the London Baptist confession play in the SBC? It's good, on the one hand, to know that you're there to support the Reformed understanding (not to mention the belief that the denomination was founded upon!) but bad, on the other, that the pastor himself is deliberatly undermining what you're teaching. People in the church will pick up on that right away, and you could end up running a risk of people taking sides...ugly business.

    I'm part of a PCUSA church right now that's going through some changes (including a possible split from that denomination). There are differing agendas, different visions, and some theological conflicts (here it's reversed...our pastor is preaching Calvinism but some in the congregation don't like that). There are PCA, OPC, and Reformed Baptist churches all within 20 minutes of each other here, so I'm not without options for a purely Reformed church. But I'm loathe to leave a fellowship unless it's absolutely necessary.

    Whether you've reached that point yet, may really be a matter of conscience...can you continue contradicting the pastor, and can you continue knowing that whatever you teach your members may very well be undermined in the very next sermon?

    I'll pray that God will guide you to the right decision.

    Mike:

    As a layman and brother let me encourage you to keep on keepin' on. Be gracious, be humble, be peaceable, be patient.

    Andrew

    Bill and Andrew--Thank you for your encourgaging words and especially your prayers.

    My doctor is a Presbyterian who grew up a Southern Baptist. He and I have wonderful discusssions. :)

    I will go where God directs me to go. I have decided to submit to my Pastor because he has that authority over me. However, I refuse to teach anything that my conscience (in bondage to the word of God) gives me no peace over.

    I pray I will be gracious, humble, peaceable and patient.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

    Wow, this can be an excellent chance to defend the Reformed faith! I agree with the others... persevere for now, and stand up for what you believe in. That's what Luther and Calvin did - that's how Reformations happen! I applaud you for your courage to stand up for your beliefs even against major opposition.

    Aspiring Theologian
    http://aspiringtheologian.modblog.com/

    Dear friends, specially Mike and Bill. It gives some comfort to know that there are other people who have the same problems tha oneself. I was a member of a Presbyterian church here in Mérida, México. The sad thing is that reformed theology is poorly know (less preached) within churches here in Mexico, even in churches with reformed foundation and heritage like the Presbyterian. I was too a deacon and Bible teacher in my church, and of course for a couple of years i have been teaching the doctrines of grace whenever possible. Sadly, that put me in a clear opossition (of ideas and teaching) with the pastors and elders of the church. The problem grew when the elders decided that the church entered in the Purpose-Driven Life Campaing (it was starting to sound very strong in other churches). They buyed the books, DVD's and other material, and of course, I decided to not participate. In the recent months the preaching (following all the counsel of that kind of books) have become irrelevant, light, and even with frases like: "learn to enjoy of this live" and so on. Of course, with this kind of preaching my teaching seemed to grew up against everything the pastors preached (in part it was true, or was i supposed just to hear all the bad things and never say anything?). The climax reached when the pastors and elders have a meeting with me (and other 3 brothers with the same reformed convictions) and told us to stop preaching or teaching what we have been teaching, because "we were dividing the church" (of course, many people were noting the clear contrary content of the teaching of both parts). It is sad to say, but within the recent months I decided to leave my church. Now i'm a member of a Reformed Baptist church, whose preaching is biblical and the elders and pastors have a strong conviction to let the doctrines of grace give form and be the base of every sermon and teaching. It was difficult to change, but I made myself some questions like: Do I really want my children to grew up hearing and learning this in church? and others like that. Of course. I hope that someday I can return to my first church to serve in that place. God bless you.

    Johan

    Johan - I applaud you courage and conviction. Your concern for you children struck home. Should we stay in churches that teach false doctrine for the sake of peace or do we leave them so that our families will not be corrupted by them. Hard decisions, but ones that God will hold us accountable to.

    Mike Ratliff

    Let us remember in our dialogue with others, that most of us were just like they were. We were taught something (Bad theology) for many, many years. As a result, we (yes, all of us) bring our presuppositions to the table regarding the given subject.

    I have been able to have continuous dialogue with those from the other side (synergism) by asking them to agree that we BOTH do so, and beginning there. My emphasis with them is that IF my (or theirs) presuppositions are examined by scripture (solid exegetical work) and found in error...Wonderful! Then I have found my (or theirs) error & can correct it. On the other hand if our study has found my (or theirs) presuppositions supported by scripture...Wonderful! If so, this is affirmation of my (or theirs)doctrinal understanding.

    When I have started in this manner, the results have been overwhelmingly better. They haven't ALL become Calvinistic in their theology...BUT, I have had multiple opportunities for discussion and study with EACH person, BECAUSE I am not starting with an "I'm right/you're wrong" attitude. INSTEAD, I am beginning with us both admitting our having presuppositions on the subject, and an agreement to let God's Word EITHER affirm or correct our stances.

    grateful for grace,
    The Dogpreacher

    Yo Dogpreacher

    Indeed you are correct. The "I'm right/you're wrong" attitude is not the way to go if you wish to persuade. In fact, we would do well to even avoid buzzwords like Calvinism and Arminianism especially when we first meet people, as these each tend to carry a lot a unecessary baggage that colors opinions from the start. Instead if we just go to the Scriptures with a humble attitude and work through it, by the Lord's grace, persuasion is a bit more likely.

    Having done church planting overseas for many years it must be said that those who are fresh believers in unassuming cultures seem to have almost no difficulty believing grace alone when taught from the start ... the problem arises when persons have been steeped in bad teaching for years in fluffy evangelical churches in the USA that there is a hardening to the word. Tradition replaces the Text and with deep roots in inconsistent theology, uprooting is a much more painful affair.

    But in doing Monergism.com for many years and having discussions daily with email inquirers, I have discovered that it is usually the case that intellectually proving a doctrine to be true from the Scripture is really only about 10% of the battle. Most persons must be persuaded through the heart and through prayer.

    When we take the time to be a friend to people and love them ... then when the Lord opens the opportunity, they are more likely to listen because they know you care and respect them. Show affection and be brotherly - you will be surprised how much more effective your intellectual proof is, which previously fell on deaf ears...The site itself attempts to be inviting and hopefully is used by the Lord to make a difference.

    What is frustrating is when those in positions of authority are teaching and leading the church as shepherds doctrines that weaken and make the church less effectual in its witness.

    Solus Christus

    Mike, I can surely relate to your situation! The doctrinal statement of the church I attended until two weeks ago contained two very clear and explicit statements that they were "Augustinian/Reformed" and "Reformed/Evangelical" in their theology. That section of the doctrinal statement was followed by the statement that they "are moderate Calvinists". However, the statement says, they understand that many folks do not agree with Reformed views and the church does not regard the doctrines as a matter over which Christians should divide or cease fellowship.

    Now, here's the problem with that kind of language as I see it: 1) the terms "Augustinian/Reformed" and "Reformed/Evangelical" are designed to convey an explicit meaning that does not permit one to be a "moderate Calvinist". 2) Conversely, to be a "moderate Calvinist" precludes one falling in the other two categories. Further, to declare these fundamental, foundational points unworthy of contending for is a betrayal of Truth.

    Here's where the rub came in relative to my role in our church’s life and ministry. When the previous teacher moved out of state, I was asked to teach the senior adult Bible class. In the 2-1/2 years I attended that class and participated extensively in it, I repeatedly made it clear that I am a convinced Calvinist; so there should never have been any question about that.

    I accepted the teaching responsibility and taught the class for about three months, most recently teaching a series of very brief introductory lessons on the doctrines of sovereign grace in preparation for entering upon a study through Paul's Epistle to the Romans. On Friday of the week I had covered the Preservation and Perseverance of the Saints, I received a phone call at work from an associate pastor. He was upset that I had been teaching "hyper-Calvinism" and I was, on that specific account, summarily ejected from the church and told not to come back as either the teacher or as a participant.

    Go figure!

    Dan Bowers
    Farmington, NM

    Wow, that’s quite a comment. I posted on this at Triablogue a few weeks ago myself. It continues to amaze me that synergists say this. Then they’ll turn right around and say that doing good works is a result of regeneration, drawing from a text with the exact same contruction.

    a, 1 John 5:1 is a test for the criterion by which we know a person has been born again. They believe, because they have been born again. Faith in Christ flows from the new birth itself. This is not a different type of faith than “saving faith,” it is saving faith. John is putting this forth as a test by which we can know if we are regenerate, not as a means to know we are being preserved securely. He is talking about the evidences of regeneration in light of the false teachers who had risen up and left the church. He is answering their burning question, “How do we know who is born again.” He answers with this as one of his tests. It would be meaningless as a test of that nature if the new birth was not the cause of the evidence.

    b. Let’s compare this with the parallel texts in 1 John, which your interlocutor failed to note: 1 John 2:29; 1 John 4:7. I wonder, does this person believe that we can legitimately reverse the order between the new birth and these actions? What consistent Protestant would say such a thing?

    John puts forth 2:29 and 5:1 as tests for assurance of believers' salvation / tests for the salvation of false teachers and thus the validity of their message. It is clearly John's intent to say that practicing righteousness is one of the means by which we know we and others are regenerate. Likewise, we know, by the fact that we believe, that we are regenerate. There is no reason here to conclude, then, that faith is antecedent to regeneration that does not involve you inconsistently teaching that the logical and temporal order of practicing righteousness is antecedent to regeneration as well. That problem is insurmountable for Arminians.

    c. Let’s toss in some more exact parallels, for 1 John is not the only place where John does this. In fact, in his gospel, he actually spells out the logical and causal template for us..


    John 6:37.

    "All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out."

    Again, we have another construction from which we conclude that there is a temporal order being taught. The Father gives to the Son. Those that come will not be cast out, and as v.39 teaches, they will all be raised up on the last day.

    The action of the Father comes before the action of coming to Christ by the individual. It comes before the raising of those persons by Christ. Christ saves them and raises them because they come and because the Father has given them to Him. Is this not a set of clauses that are dependent upon each other for their logical and temporal order. Are they not executed in their grammatical order?

    Likewise 6:44 is a similar construction. While the synergist and I may disagree about the effectiveness of the drawing, I do not think that either of us will dispute that Jesus is very clear that any person that comes to Christ does so because He is drawn by the Father. Surely, 6:44 is sufficient to teach that much! The Remonstrants in the Opinions certainly agreed.


    There is insufficient textual evidence to conclude that (a) drawing precedes coming, (b) believing precedes being raised again, (c) giving precedes coming and being raised again, (d) regeneration precedes works, and (e) loving the brethren precedes regeneration. In none of these instances does any of the texts support such a contention.

    John has a very specific style. He writes in parallel constructions and spells out the relationships between them. John 8:43 is very clear:

    Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.

    First, note: "Why do you not understand what I am saying?" It is because you cannot hear My word. This is stated verbatim. Jesus says there is a causal relationship between their ability to understand and hearing. They do not understand because of their inability to hear. John then parallels this with:

    8:47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.

    John writes a grammatical construction exactly like I John 2:29, 5:1, and 4:7! He first spells out, verbatim, the causal relationship between ability to hear and understanding in v. 43 and endcaps with v.47's end that says "for this reason..." "He who is of God, hears the words of God." for this reason, you do not hear them, because you are not of God. There is a logical, temporal, causal relationship, verbatim.


    For the objector, one more time. John 8:47 provides the template for the logical, causal order. On the objector’s model our refusal to hear causes us not be sheep, but Jesus says the inverse is true. We do not hear, because we are not sheep. Ergo, we hear because we are His sheep. We hear because we a drawn. We are drawn because we are given. Ergo, we believe because we are born again. What is so unclear about this?

    Again, 1 John 2:29, 4:7, and 5:1 also are this same construction:

    He who is of God hears the words of God.

    They hear because they are "of God."

    You do not hear them because you are not of God

    They do not hear because they are not of God

    Everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

    They practice righteousness because they are born again.

    Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

    They love because they are born again and know God.

    Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.

    They believe because they are born again.

    Though 6:44 is not as exact a parallel, we conclude a direct causal relationship between drawing and coming to Christ from that text. Those that come come because they are drawn.

    It would be meaningless for us to say, "They hear because they are of God but being of God is not logically/temporally antecedent to hearing. It would be meaningless for us to say, "They practice righteousness because they are born again, but regeneration is not antecedent to practicing righteousness. It would be meaningless for us to say, "They love because they are regenerate, but there is not logical/temporal order to loving the brethren and regeneration. It would be meaningless to say "They believe because they are born again," but the logical and temporal relationships are inverse. It would reverse the meaning of 6:44 to say they are drawn because they come. Why be drawn if they can come and are coming? Causal relationships depend on their logical / temporal order. Exegesis determines this order for all of these. There is no reason to draw one conclusion from three of these but not the fourth, unless you have a theological tradition you are trying to satisfy.

    Therefore, not only is there a logical and temporal order, there is a causal relationship between regeneration and practicing righteousness, loving the brethren, and believing. Regeneration precedes and is the cause each activity. Works does not result in regeneration. Love is the result of regeneration, and believing is the result of regeneration. Regeneration precedes faith. 1 John 5:1 is clear: regeneration precedes faith.

    The metaphor is "new birth" or "born again." The inference John is making is that as the new birth is to faith, so natural birth to breathing. A baby's first act upon birth is to cry and fill its lungs with air. In the same way, the first thing men do when born again is exercise saving faith. It is precisely the fact that this faith continues as a result of this divine act that we can conclude this is a good text for preservation. In other words, with out monergistic regeneration, there is nothing to underwrite the very objection being offered by the synergist.

    Hey Mike Ratliff. The Bible tells us to separate from those who do not believe the truth. We are to separate so that we will not be corrupted in the process of fellowshipping. We are to fellowship with those of like mind so that we may be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Rom.8:29. God does all things. Yes even all the evil in the world. People nowadays do not want to believe the Bible. They are vain and want to adhere to their opinions. They refuse to search the scriptures and find out what the truth is. They are not willing to look up all the words in the original Greek to find out what the Bible really says. That is the only way we are to find the truth. Also we should be looking up all the idioms that were used in Biblical days to learn what they mean. The Bible is full of figures of speech, idioms and metaphors that are indigenous to the Jews of that era. Jerry W. Moss

    Jerry:

    Where do you draw the line about which truths determine whether you will seperate from other believers. All truths or only some truths? No doubt, even in your own church, you will not agree with anyone on every single issue. Just curious how you make this determination.

    John:
    The Bible tells us tto separate after the first and second admonition. (Titus 3:10) We are not to continue to strive over words. If they are elect, they will hear. If they do not hear separate from them so that they will be ashamed and may turn back to the truth.(I Cor. 5:5) We are not to continue in fellowship with those who are stubborn and will not listen to the word of God. If they are still doing rituals, we are to separate from them. All those things were nailed to the cross. (Col. 2:14) Do away with your crackers and grape juice. Do away with your water baptism. Walk in the newness of life in the spirit through the blood baptism. We are baptized daily when we speak truth and people hate us for what we say. When we pull away from those who are not doing truth, then we are newly baptized. This is bearing your cross. You are to be hated for what you believe. Jesus said: "If they persecute me, they will persecute you also."

    Jerry

    Jerry W. Moss

    Thanks for your answer but you still did not quite answer my question. It seems to me that you believe we can all have some infallible understanding of all truth. Are you saying that we should seperate over the slightest difference or rather over differences that pertain directly to the gospel.

    If you believe we all have perfect understanding and cannot diverge over anything then my contention is that you will not find even one person in your own church who agrees with you on everything. What is crucial is the gospel. We seperate from those who preach a flase gospel, but not over whether a certain passage has this nuance or the other. What doctrine do you draw the line. All doctrines? Do you think the Bible makes equally clear all doctrines?

    If so then you had better seperate from me and because we disagree. :) Hope this is not the case dear brother.


    John,

    It seems to me that Mike Ratliff was talking about someone (his Preacher) who is still preacing free will. If that is the case he is preaching a false doctrine. We are not to allow any fellowship with those who come preaching another Jesus or another doctrine. If one is still keeping those traditions that were nailed to the cross, we are not to fellowship with them. That too is a false doctrine. It is a show in the flesh and we are spiritual. We are no longer carnal but spiritual. Paul and John spoke of these things many times in their epistles. In fact when Christ says anything that is in the imperative mood in the Greek, it is a command and we must follow. In fact, it will not be us who will be doing it. It will be Christ in us doing his work in us. We can do nothing. It is God who is doing all things.

    Jerry

    Jerry

    Let me make sure I understand you. From your above comment it appears your position is that anyone who is not a 5-pt Calvinist or teaches free will is not saved and perhaps this even includes those who fellowship with them, is this correct?

    Furthermore, there are many false doctrines, not only free will. Does this mean that any doctrine we think is false should cause us to seperate or only ones that deny the gospel?

    John

    John,

    That person who preaches free will or any other false doctrine is not saved. You are not saved one time in your life. The word saved is the word "sozo", which means to be taken from one point in your life (the moment you are born again) and protected and preserved til the end. It does not mean that at some point that God will not deal with that person who still believes in free will and cause that person to be born again and believe what Jesus says. If you are not born of the spirit you are none of his. You are carnal. You are of the flesh. We are to separate from those who walk disorderly. Walking disorderly is believing false doctrine. Believing is doing. We must do the will of God. If a person is not doing the will of God, he is antichrist. If you do not believe what Jesus tells you, you are antichrist. We must confess the word of God. That word confess is the word "homologeo" in the Greek. It means to say the same thing as another or agree with what one says. If Christ says that He is doing all things there is no free will. If someone comes preaching free will, then he is not agreeing with the word of Christ. Therefore, he is antichrist and we must separate from him and have no fellowship with him. We are not to continue going around these people or we will become dirty also. Even if our families will not listen to the word and believe, we are to separate from them also. Christ says that if you cannot leave your father, mother, sister, or brother and follow Him you cannot be his disciple. (Luke 14:26) After a person has heard the truth, and if he is one of the elect, he will repent and follow Christ. The elect will hear and repent. The vessels of wrath will not. Many who sit in the church and continue to cause strife, are spots on the love feast, brute beasts.(II Peter 2:12) They were made to be taken and destroyed. If we even bid them Godspeed, we are partakers of their evil deeds. (II John 1:11) We are set apart "hagios" sanctified when we believe. We are called out of this world. We are not to be partakers of it. We are who we run with. Be careful.We are not to touch the unclean or we will get dirty. (Job 14:4)(Isa. 52:11) We are to remain pure. The inner man (Christ in us) reveals these things to us. He gives us ears to hear the truth. Hearing is doing to the Jewish mind. We have eyes that we may see the truth. The rest were blinded.

    Jerry

    Jerry:

    Thanks for your clarification. Then it follows that, in your own mind, those who contribute to this blog are all most likely not saved and you should probably seperate from us. We don't agree with you at all on this issue, so in your mind we must all be damned according to your above statements.

    From the perspective of Scripture, I believe, your assertions show that you are in danger of not trusting in the grace of Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, but rather, are trusting in perfect knowledge of all doctrine to be saved and are telling others that this (perfect doctrinal knowledge) is the gospel. From these assertions, the Apostle Peter wasn't even saved, because Paul had to rebuke him for his false beliefs after Pentecost.

    We should boast, rather, only in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, not our perfect understanding of all doctrinal issues. IMHO, the kind of theology you bring here is just a simple re-hash of the gnostic heresy in the early church. Salvation via gnosis.

    Since we cannot agree on this, and in your mind ALL doctinal error is damnable then what fellowship is there?. With regret I must say that separation is the only thing left for you to do.

    May the Lord Jesus open your eyes to his grace.

    What an astute observation John! Good theology is not the Gospel! Though obviously good theology will flow out of God's children, many times it seems that many people (specifically Reformed people) use their knowledge as a point of pride and arrogance. Someone I would consider a mentor to me once told me, "It pains me to see the Reformed people with excellent theology who have such prideful heart! Above all people they should know their knowledge of God is not because of their intelligence apart from Him!"
    I will never forget this quote. My doctrine, which is still being perfected and will not cease being perfected until Christ glorifies my body is not a result of my own libertarian freedom. It is a result of Christ work in me. I am thankful that God does not have us pass a theology test to enter the gates of Heaven! Obviously direct opposition to any essential teaching of God (eg. Trinity, deity of Christ, justification by faith) is vitally essential. Someone's theology in no way "saves" them.

    I would have another question though for people on the board. I am currently in school and living with my parents. They do not attend a Reformed Church. The church that my family attends is a "Purpose-Driven Church". What is my responsibility to:
    1.) Jesus Christ
    2.) My family

    I desire to grow, and I cannot do that at my current church. Your adivce would be appreciated.

    Brandon

    To J. Hendryx.
    Dear sir; your theology is very
    sound. I looked up 1Jn.5:1 in the
    Greek translation. It is 'has'
    been born... And the faith referred
    to in Gal.5:22 is the same saving
    faith as in Eph.2:8,Heb.12:2, and
    Rom.12:3. Yes, we do have to be
    regenerated to believe. Keep up the
    good work, God Bless you.

    Brandon, you have a very difficult to make, indeed. As you may have seen in my previos comment, I decided to move to another church. Let me assure you, is hard to do it, because we have to "left behind" dear friends and brothers, and as in your case, family too. But i wrote "left behind" because the truth is that we have not ceased to have fellowship with many of them, as we have the possibility to meet in our houses or in another place. All of this mean that, your decision must be based only, as you comment, in a real desire to grow, to hear sound biblical preaching and to serve God too in that new church. It would be a mistake to go out of a church only because of enemisty with someone. God bless you. I'll say more in a future comment.

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