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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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  • « Paul's Use of Logic (Quote) | Main | Latria v. Dulia in Roman Catholicism »

    Questions for R. C. Sproul

    From the blog at http://fide-o.blogspot.com, Jason Robertson writes:

    Today, I am attending “The Cross of Christ: Redemption Accomplished” Conference in Anaheim, California with R.C. Sproul and Ligon Duncan.

    Last night I got a chance to spend some time with Dr. Sproul and talk about eschatology. I mentioned to him that I felt like in his book “The Last Days According to Jesus” that he really didn’t let his readers know which eschatological camp he was in: Premil, Postmil, or Amil. He laughed heartily and replied, “That’s right, because I don’t actually know. I see valid points in all of them and weaknesses, too.”

    R.C. made sure that I knew that he was a partial preterist who viewed this age in a very positive way. He talked about how the church in the West is filled with apostasy and liberalism but in other parts of the world the church is doing great. When he spoke of these matters he sounded like an Amillennialist. But he said that when it came to Romans chapter 11 that he agreed with Charles Hodge and believed that there was something in the future specially for the ethnic Jews of Israel. His view of Romans 11 was similar to Historical Premil. He then apologized to me for being confused. Now that was humbling. If it were not for Dr. Sproul quite possibly I could still be an Arminian – so don’t apologize to me, Dr. Sproul. In fact, to confess that some theology confuses you encourages me and reminds me that we all approach the Bible from the same place – a place of desperate need for God’s wisdom!

    The service last night was a Q&A session with Dr. Sproul. Here are some of the answers he gave. There were more questions than what I have listed below and, of course, Dr. Sproul’s answers were longer than what I have given below. But I thought you may enjoy this abridged version.

    Q – How do you feel about current supernatural works of the Holy Spirit?

    A – I feel good about the Holy Spirit miraculously doing His work of bringing men to salvation… But concerning miracles as defined theologically I am a cessationist…. Miracles in Scripture were used by God to verify and authenticate agents of revelation and to verify the divinity of Christ… God is not doing such miracles today.

    Q – Are Arminians saved?

    A – The real question is whether they are safe… Saved? Most are, barely… really the debate between Calvinists and Arminians is an intramural debate among Christians.

    Q – Why is tension between Reformed Christians and Conservative Evangelical over the doctrine of predestination?

    A – There has been tension in nearly every century for 2000 years so we shouldn’t be alarmed… The good news is Conservative Evangelicals believe that there is a biblical doctrine of predestination. The issue is what is the definition… Some are upset with this doctrine because it seems to cancel human free will and it seems to make God unfair and unloving… Arminians never get charged with their gospel making God look unrighteous. But Paul knew that his definition of predestination would bring that charge, so he anticipates the charge in Romans 9 by asking, “Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!”

    Q – Is Israel still an entity in God’s plan or has Israel been replaced by God?

    A – Yes… but Dispensationalism is flat out wrong!

    Q – How do you feel about last nights game between Pittsburg and Miami?

    A – It reconfirmed the grace of God.

    Q – The church is always under attack, but what do you see as the most dangerous?

    A – Hostility of the secular culture and those who want to use the power of the state to mute and marginalize the church… the secularization of worship… but always the greatest enemy of the church is not from without but within, the false teachers.

    Posted by John Samson on September 9, 2006 10:01 AM

    Comments

    I find it difficult to come to grips with Dr. Sproul's comparing the way God dealt with Esau to that of one condemned prisoner getting mercy while the rest are executed. These prisoners were not created by those who tried and condemned them.

    Uinsin

    Uinsin,

    I am sure you speak for many when you raise this concern. However, I believe the issue comes down to whether or not we will allow God to be God in our thinking. Why is this? Because, as Scripture reveals in Romans 9, God wasn't creating people so much for our pleasure as His. Revelation reads, "and for Thy pleasure, they were created." (Rev 4:11 KJV)

    But if we start our thinking with God... understanding that He made this universe for Him - for His name - and for His glory, we will be starting our thinking where the Bible does. If instead we start with man, thinking we are the reason for everything that exists, then we end up putting God on trial for the way He is seemingly running things...

    God runs His kingdom and it is not a democracy. God cannot be voted out by a two thirds majority. He is the King of all Kings, the Lord of all lords.

    God does what He does for His name and for His glory. and this is a loving thing, because the glory of God is the ultimate beauty and is something that will delight the hearts of the redeemed for all eternity.

    He created the heavens to declare His glory (Psalm 19:1), and saves people "to the praise of the glory of His grace." (Eph 1:6). Romans 9 tells us that a man by the name of Pharoah was raised up by God so that God's power would be seen in him and that God's name would be declared in all the earth. (Romans 9:17). Think of this - God raised up a man to the summit of world and political power so that when God hardened his heart, and wrought defeat on his army, the name of God would be known and declared throughout the world... and Paul then under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit concludes by saying, "Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens." Rom 9:18

    God is a King not a democratically elected official. He cannot be voted out of His office. Therefore His only response to those who challenge His fairness in showing mercy to some and passing by others is "who are you o man to answer back to God?" Man is not in charge... God is saying, "I didn't ask for your opinion... I reserve the right to have mercy on whom I will and I will harden whom I will so that in each case, when mercy is shown, it will resound to the praise of My glory, and likewise, when I harden (or leave a man in his own sinful nature of rebellion against Me) an individual, that too will result in my justice being glorified. All will see that I the Lord am perfect in the way I dispense justice.

    Read on in Romans 9 and you find that God doesn't back down at all... He makes vessels for honor and for dishonor... vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath..

    I believe Sproul's analogy is therefore a good though imperfect one. It would be hard to find a perfect analogy for the Creator to make a creature knowing he would judge it and ultimately send it to hell... However, this is an issue that all Bible belieiving Christians have to deal with, for even those believing God elects based on forseen faith believe that God knows the future exhaustively - therefore He, even in this scheme, would be creating people whom He knew would never repent and believe the gospel.

    God is under no obligation to change the heart of a rebel and extent mercy to them. By definition, mercy can never be demanded. If we think God is obligated to show mercy to all in the exact same way, we are not talking of mercy anymore, but of justice. And remember, God says that He will have mercy on whom He will.

    The fact that God passed over Esau should not shock us. Esau got exactly what He deserved. What should absolutely amaze us is that jacob, for no reason in himself, and because of no actions he would do, but in fact, before Jacob was ever born, God decided to have mercy on Him, because God thought this woould look good for His glory!

    We as man centered individuals may not like this and might scream "not fair!" as the imaginable objector does in Romans 9.. we may try to build a case against God and summons Him to a hearing to defend the allegation that He is being unfair... but God says, "I own the court, and I will not be put in the dock.. I reserve the right to dispense justice and mercy as I see fit... court dismissed!

    An important starting point for this discussion, often overlooked by persons objecting to the Bible's portrait of God's absolute rights over his creation, is a firm grasp of the character of God. The description given in the Westminster Confession's chapter II, if remembered by all, would go a long way toward reconciling us pots to the Potter's purposeful care.

    This may sound odd, but I'm glad Dr. Sproul is "confused" on eschatology. So am I. In fact, I'm greatly comforted in knowing that I share the same thoughts with a great mind like his. Rom 11 - yes, ethnic Israel has some sort of future role - I believe there will be a reversal of roles in which God will turn Israel to Christ throught the preaching of the Gospel by opening their hearts to it. All for His glory.

    As I see it, Prof. R.C. Sproul is a spiritual genius who understands the biblical God of monergism in regeneration, the fall and death of man without Christ's imparted faith to believe the truth as revealed by the Holy Spirit. It is all by the grace of God that we live, move and have our being, and as Christians unto eternal life. Thank God!

    I wonder what he would say about the detailed reports of healings and raising of the dead through Smith Wigglesworth and many others.

    I wonder what he would say about the detailed reports of healings and raising of the dead through Smith Wigglesworth and many others.

    I really like Dr. Sproul. Really I do. And I think the fact that I listen to his program at least a couple time a week and have read two of his books is a testimony to that. But I regard his cessasionist views as, not only wrong, but damned wrong. It really is unfortunate that such a brilliant theologian espouses such a theologically bankrupt perspective on God's present-day ministry of confirming the Gospel. Not only is it impossible to prove that God ceased to work miracles, but church history refutes it, as do many very credible accounts of modern miracles - even by irreligious doctors.

    I have also heard out his arguments on the so-called "Reformed" position on Predestination, and disagree with it for the most part. He is usually intellectually honest, but painting Calvinist Predestination as "Reformed" is narrowly defining and taking ownership of Reformed theology in a way that history does not allow for since Arminius too was in the Reformed tradition, studying under Calvin's successor.

    Greg,

    The synod of Dort. rejected the Arminian teaching therefore although it proceeds out of the Reformed tradition it cannot properly be considered consistent with it. There were, however, those who held to conditional election during the Reformation such as some in the Anabaptist tradition and certain Lutherans such as Melanchthon, etc.

    Chris A ... do you know the difference between God's gracious providential daily acts and God's miracles? If you believe these two are identical you are mistaken.
    The birth of a baby is a gracious providential act of God and not a miracle. Walking on water is a miracle, and that my friend does not happen anymore. ALL MIRACLES DO HAVE A GRACE COMPONENT, BUT NOT ALL GOD'S GRACIOUS ACTS ARE MIRACLES! Brown is a colour, but not all colours are brown!

    how do you know miracles don't happen anymore? Any scripture to support that? If not, how can you claim to believe in sola scriptura?

    The post references R C Sproul's answers (not necessarily my own). I am confused by your third question - are you asking "if someone does not believe in miracles, how can they also believe in sola scriptura?" I am sorry - you lost me on that one. I dont follow your line of reasoning/questioning.

    Is R.C Sproul serious that he considers some Arminians to be barely saved? And unsafe at that? I find that funny...If any of Arminians are saved then according to his views they are absolutely going to be saved and persevere to the end! Anyways I may be barely saved that sucks...:(

    Thanks John S. for that link. I've read Sproul's book "Chosen By God" and know that he doesn't consider Arminians to be damned. I wonder though on how serious he is when he said that Arminian's are "barely" saved...That would be contradictory to what he believes, seems like from the interview that he wasn't joking about it. Also, I didn't know he was cessationist although I am not surprised by it. Any scriptural backing for such view?

    "I wonder what he [Sproul] would say about the detailed reports of healings and raising of the dead through Smith Wigglesworth and many others."

    Greg, I suppose he would say "people report lots of things. Doesn't make them true."

    Having come from a "full-gospel word of faith" background myself, I can tell you that imagination, exageration and embelishment play a large role in just about any testimony.

    The debate between Calvinism and Arminians is a waste and only bothers to create division amongst the small remainder of Christians left in our societies today, so I try not to go into such things. Yet I have to say the comments from Brother Sproul regarding Arminians do greatly concern me. I find the teachings of futurism far more dangerous as it deceives the nations not to realise when judgement or the last days may fall upon us. Futurists are therefore blinded to the reality around them and stay silent and unconcerned - because the "rapture" "antichrist" "mark of the beast" has not yet arrived. I must also say that I find the full preterism view just as dangerous, as this view too tells its followers to keep their eyes closed, that there's nothing more to worry about, and that all if fulfilled in the past. Both camps will be blinded when Satan (an Adversary against God and Christ) will be allowed to take power over the nations to deceive us once more to great sin and blaspheme so greatly against the Most High.

    We all have our views though, and my own is what is termed "Partial Preterism". Which leads me to so strongly believe that we rest today at Rev 20:7 which has now past, that we are living in the midst of Rev 20:8, which is why our nations are so deceived to turning away from Christ and to evil instead.

    I like Brother Sproul... Christian love to all.

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