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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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  • « Images of the Savior (6 -- The Promise Made to Abraham) | Main | John 3:16 - Exposing our Traditions »

    "WHOSOEVER"

    Visitor: You still must someday deal with the achilles heal of your theology. How do you reconcile "For God so loved the world that He gave his only Begotten Son the WHOSOEVER believes in Him will have eternal life" with a theology that believes God creates the vast majority of creation for the singular purpose of eternally damning them and their doom is sealed by the nature they were born with?

    Response:
    "For God so loved the world that He gave his only Begotten Son the WHOSOEVER believes in Him will have eternal life."

    Friend, this is a passage from Scripture itself and I believe it just as it is written. WHOSOEVER believes the gospel will be saved. Anyone who's faith is in Jesus Christ, their sins are forgiven and they have eternal life. The misunderstanding here, I believe, is that you have failed to read the passage in its context. The passage (John 3) goes on to say, but men loved darkness and hate the light and will not come into the light ... those who do show what has been done is wrought by God. And prior to this same text is reads "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6) Which means that they "were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13). "so then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." (Rom 9:16)

    Jesus tells Nicodemus straight up that 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

    In other words, the Spirit is sovereign in whom He will bless with the grace of regeneration. But bad theology usually enters the equation when we read texts like this in isolation, and thus form our whole theology around singular texts rather then look at what Jesus is actually saying and why he says it. We need to read all of what the Scripture says and not just part of it.

    God declares that we must believe to be saved -- he also teaches everywhere that He elects those people who will believe. Here, in John 3, the whole passage is about the new birth, and being born again here and elsewhere is never spoken of in the imperative mood, that is, something we must do. To be born again is not something commanded by God anywhere in Scripture because man cannot do it, nor even cooperate in it. It is something the Spirit alone does to us, so He gets all the glory.

    The fact of God's elective grace is not something that is in a corner. We do not believe in salvation by GRACE ALONE because we have arrived at it philosophically, but because the Bible teaches it. The issue is that we owe a debt we cannot repay. Our inability to repay it does not alleviate us from the responsibility to do so. So Christ pays the debt for His people effectually bringing them to Himself. The 'free will' position that you apparently hold is a picture of God which teaches that His love for us is conditional, that is, based on something we do to be saved, rather giving Jesus Christ alone the glory, even for our faith to believe. Christ does for us what we could not do for ourselves, including granting us the Holy Spirit and a new heart that we might cry "ABBA, Father" for the Scripture says that "no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart from the Holy Spirit."

    So do you really believe that we we can come to Christ apart from the Holy Spirit changing our hearts? Whosoever believes the gospel has eternal life. This we affirm. We all believe that; but it is just the "whosoever wills" where the difficulty comes in. We affirm that no man will believe Christ unless he grants it; No, in fact, we do not assert it, but Christ himself declares it--"no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father" and as long as that "no one can come" stands on record in Holy Scripture, we will not believe in any man-made doctrine of the freedom of the human will, apart from the Spirit's work of regeneration. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all." (John 6:65)

    Can an unregenerate person come to faith? According to 1 Cor 2:14 this is not possible. The gospel declares that we must lose all hope from ourselves and that the assistance of grace does not depend on the humility or obedience of man --- it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble enough to lose all hope from our self and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Next you state:>>> "God creates the vast majority of creation for the singular purpose of eternally damning them and their doom is sealed by the nature they were born with."

    So can you honestly stand before God and claim to believe that God did not know what each individual would do prior to even creating the world? If He knew, and went ahead and created the world the way He did anyway, then it still remains just as much His will that certain individuals believe and others don't. (Fact is, we believe He does this justly because it is in light of the persons' sinfulness.) Are you going to argue that God is trying to save every man even though he knows who will not be saved before creating them? Their future is sealed and cannot be otherwise. Wayne Grudem once wisely said:

    Keeping this in mind, the Arminian recognizes (1) that God foreknows the future exhaustively, and (2) that He has created the world knowing what the future will bring. In other words, before the foundation of the world, the Arminian believes God knew that, in 2004, Joe Smith would make a free decision to become a Christian. But before Joe Smith was born, the Arminian concedes that God knew of his free decision. God chooses him based on his foreseen faith. But even before creation, Joe Smith's free decision was inevitable. Why? Well it is not because of Joe Smith's free will, for Joe was not yet born. And certainly not because of God's predestination, because the Arminian denies that possibility from the outset. The inevitability in question was therefore, by necessity, some source other than either Joe Smith or God. For if God can look into the future and see that a person #1 will come to Christ and that person #2 will not come to faith in Christ, then those facts are already fixed, they are already determined. God's foresight of believers' faith and repentance implies the certainty, or "moral necessity " of these acts, just as much as a sovereign decree. "For that which is certainly foreseen must be certain." (R.L.Dabney) If we assume that God's knowledge of the future is true (which evangelicals all agree upon), then it is absolutely certain that person #1 will believe and person #2 will not. There is no way their lives could turn out differently than this. Therefore the Arminian position paints itself into a corner by being forced to conclude that their destinies are determined, for they could not be otherwise. But now the question is, by what are their destinies determined? If God Himself determines them then we no longer have election based on foreseen faith, but rather on God's sovereign will. But if God does not determine their destinies then who or what determines them? Of course no Christian would say that there is some powerful being other than God controlling people's destinies. That is a scary possibility! In rejecting "divine determinism," the Arminian by default must embrace an impersonal determinism coming from some mysterious other source. And to be sure, this idea certainly does not leave much room for their much-boasted free will. The only possible alternative is to say their destinies are determined by some impersonal force, some kind of fate operative in the universe, making things turn out as they do. But of what benefit is this? We have then sacrificed election in love by a personal and compassionate God for a kind of determinism by an impersonal force and God is no longer to be given the ultimate credit for our salvation.

    Similar Resources
    A Short Response to the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace by John Hendryx

    Posted by John on May 16, 2008 12:16 PM

    Comments

    Great response to the 'whosoever' questions that inevitably come up. I don’t know where to properly ask this question, but it ties in with the Arminian position, so I will ask it here.

    How do you respond to those who say that regeneration cannot precede faith because life is only given after sin has been removed, and sin is only removed upon justification, which is triggered by faith; therefore, faith must precede regeneration to bring about justification and life?

    I have a few thoughts, but wondered what your take is.

    Aric: Thanks for the comments and the question. First, we should note the complete absence of Scripture in their response. This is naked logic apart from the Scriptures which themselves plainly teach that regeneration Precedes faith (John 6:63-65; 1 John 5:1)

    Secondly, they are confusing two distict concepts: justification and regeneration. These are differing applications of the work of Christ. Justification is not life-giving in itself. It is a declaration to the sinner that he is righteous in God's sight because he is united to Christ. God declares him for Christ's sake to be forgiven, not because he is good in himself. Thus it does not in itself infuse a change in the person. It is a declaration of not guilty because Christ's work is counted as his own - it is imputed to him. Regeneration, on the other hand, is the Holy Spirit working to change the heart of stone of the heart of flesh. One is a legal declaration and the other is a change in the ethical tajectory of our nature.

    Thirdly, the clause "regeneration precedes faith" is not referring to a temporal order. The relationship is causal, not temporal which means that regeneration and faith actually occur simulteneously What do I mean by that? Well, consider a pool ball being struck by you. It rolls across the table and strikes the other ball making it move. Does one pool ball strike the other first? No, they strike at the same time, but only one of the balls caused the other to move. Likewise God opens our blind eyes, unplugs our deaf ears and turns our heart of stone to the heart of flesh that we might believe. If God opens our eyes is there a delay in time between the opening and seeing? No, they occur at once. When Jesus raised lazarus from the dead was there a delay between his being brought to life and his living. No, of course not.

    Notice the Scriptural order in Ezekiel when speaking of the new covenant:

    "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."
    Ezekiel 36:26

    Notice carefully: It is the actual change of heart that "causes" the person to obey. So ask yourself, would it be possible for anyone to obey God and love God if his heart was still stone? Can we change our own heart from stone to flesh? No, never. God has to plow up the fallow ground of our heardened hearts supernaturally.

    When I read John 10 the holy spirits role in regeneration opened up to me. But please explain 2 peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4.

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