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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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  • « An Important Mark of a Sound Conversion | Main | Misunderstanding... »

    Justification - Exegesis v. Eisegesis

    Some passages of Scripture are crystal clear in terms of their meaning, while others are less clear. Though confirming the fact that Peter viewed Paul's writings as Scripture, he admitted to finding some of Paul's letters "hard to understand."

    "There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." (2 Peter 3:16)

    One of the basic rules of hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation) is that on any given subject, we start with passages that are clear on the issue before moving to what is seemingly unclear (at least at first). When seeking to understand an issue, we must start with passages that actually address the subject in the Bible, and this will allow us clarity when seeking to understand the doctrine in possible inferences made elsewhere in Scripture.

    In terms of the biblical doctrine of justification and whether someone who is genuinely justified has the possibility of losing that salvation, passages such as Romans 8:28-39 come to mind because of its sheer clarity. Here we read:

    28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

    35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    What follows below is an interesting interchange on youtube video between a Roman Catholic caller and Dr. James White on his Dividing Line program. I think it shows a clear comparison between exegesis (drawing out the meaning from the text) and eisegesis (reading into the text). - JS

    Posted by John Samson on July 18, 2009 08:54 AM

    Comments

    It may be true that the catholic understanding about justification is flawed, but this doesn't lift Romans 8:28-30 into the league of crystal clear pillars of reformed doctrine, like the poster is saying.

    What's the problem? The problem is that Romans 8:28-30 doesn't support the doctrines of God's grace. What White (and obviously the poster also) completely miss is the context of this "golden chain" passage.

    What then is the context the golden chain is embedded in? The immediate context is encompassed by the verses 18-39 which describe a confined part within the epistle. The topic of this part is the creatures' sufferings and anxieties in this present world. Paul encourages the readers to endure the afflictions of this age because there is a greater hope for the future. While all of creation is subjected to frustration, even the christians who have the firstfruits of the Spirit already are not excluded from the afflictions and anxieties of this world but rather walk their journey in hope of their future glory and find comfort in the promises of prayer. From this encouragement to have hope and trust, which is the topic of verses 18-27, the "Golden Chain" verses follow in smooth transition.

    The text immediately following the "Golden Chain", that is verses 31-39, draw an inference of the verses 28-30. God is greater than all other powers and will certainly protect and save to the uttermost those who love Him. God's provision of his own son is evidence, that he will also give the elect all the heavenly glory. While there are sufferings, tribulations and even persecutions in this world, these do not break God's sovereign purpose and cannot thwart God's faithfulness to the christians. The entire passage 18-39 is summed up in the last two verses, 38-39, where Paul establishes God's ultimate sovereign power to protect his beloved ones.

    So what is the context of Rom 8:28-30? Verses 18-39 describe a confined part in the epistle which treats of suffering, tribulation and persecution and God's sovereign salvation out of this misery. These are the key words that describe the context of Rom. 8:28-30.

    So when it comes to justification here it is clear what is meant. The passsage does speak of salvation of course. But salvation of whom? The salvation of the saints. The saints, the righteous ones, those who "love God" (v.28) are the objects of salvation here. What are the saints saved from? Answer: From the fallen world. The saints who are living in the evil world but are not of the world will finally and infallibly be saved out of the world in order to be with God who will wipe away all their tears. The saints (the elect) will find rest from all their sufferings. However, James White's problem is that he views this passage talking about the salvation of sinners that are saved from their sins. But the words, "sin", or "sinners" don't appear in the entire section here! The section is just not about sinners! It is about saints, the elect. White treats the "golden chain" as a kind of transformation mechanism that describes how sinners are turned into saints, where a sinner is at the input, and a saint is delivered at the output. But note, the text is not about that at all. Sinners are not justified. They are condemned. The saints are justified. The objects of the golden chain are not sinners but saints, from beginning to end. The justification of Romans 8:28-39 is the justification of the righteous ones, how else could it be? God is just, therefore he justifies (declares righteous) those who are righteous! These will come to the lamb's wedding feast dressed in white, bright linen, a proper wedding garment and be welcomed to sit down at the supper to enjoy God forever. This acknowledgement of God, this approval of God is their justification. They are not rejected and will never be cast out. Their righteousness (wedding clothing) is the basis for their justification. God doesn't justify sinners. He justifies saints. Yet Whites eisegetically reads the "golden chain" as speaking of a justification of sinners that are transformed into saints. And then the question is, whether these saints can return to be sinners again. That's the basic mindset behind the entire dialogue in the video and the reformed treatment of Romans 8. Again, the text speaks of the salvation of the saints, not sinners. This absolutely crucial aspect is hidden to White due to his reformed tradition glasses which he approaches the text with. That is another example of eisegesis isn't it? The "golden chain" is not a sinner-to-saint-transformation system. It is about "those who love God" from beginning to end. Never mind I'm not defending the catholic guy here. But two wrongs don't make a right!

    A helmet

    A Helmut,

    You said, >>>>The objects of the golden chain are not sinners but saints, from beginning to end...It is about "those who love God" from beginning to end.

    There is no one who fits that description apart from the grace of God in Christ. That is, apart from God foreknowing, Predestination, Calling, Justifying and glorifying them in Christ. it is utterly absurd to speak of "saints" in a context that is apart from the grace of God in Christ, as if these saints somehow, of their natural powers overcame their own inborn resistance to God (Rom 8:7) and decided to follow Christ apart from the Holy Spirit.

    What is it about your own righteousness and doings that you think you could please God more than the sacrifice of His own Son?

    Read the context of the passage again, it is not about us, but about Christ and our union with Him. None of these redemptive blessings can be had apart from Him.

    Dear Helmet,

    Ye do err. And methinks you do not know your scriptures very well at all. You said: "God doesn't justify sinners. He justifies saints."

    God says clearly in His word:

    "Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in HIM WHO JUSTIFIES THE UNGODLY, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works." Rom 4:4-6

    Scripture is clear God JUSTIFIES THE UNGODLY. God does not justify the saints, He justifies the UNGODLY. And last time I checked ALL the ungodly are SINNERS indeed.


    Tom
    SDG


    John S.

    Thank you for this broadcast with us.

    To Dr. White I comment then: "that distinction in that broadcast, ex and eis, that he makes, could not be anymore "black" or "white", pun intended, than that recorded there, this that we just listened too"!

    This was very helpful John and this recording sharpens my senses even moreso "why" it is clear "why" the Holy Ghost, among other books of the Bible, included "Jude" as a part of our learned duties when standing in the doctrines of Christ defending Truth with those standing to defend error!

    Oh, that there would be more callers making the point so clear?

    Jud 1:3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
    Jud 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
    Jud 1:5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

    It is clear, what we just listened to, underscores this quote by A.W. Tozer:

    "So skilled is error at imitating truth that the two are constantly being mistaken for each other. It is therefore critically important that the Christian take full advantage of every provision God has made to save him from delusion - prayer, faith, constant meditation of the Scriptures, obedience, humility and the illumination of the Holy Spirit" - A.W. Tozer

    Thank you again for taking "full advantage of this modern medium"! What a wonderful "eye" opening reality of where some are, in their own sincerity defending error, orally and forcefully, in putting over a convincingly false doctrine so that one doubts the Truth!

    I am trembling and reminded of these Words of the Lord, by Peter, ironically, especially after listening to that broadcast and sensing the boldness with which this guy Peter went at this heresy with Dr. White. Dr. White needs to be commended again for the clarity the Lord has put in him to make the Truth about True Justification plain and lucid in an era or false claims against the Truth:

    2Pe 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

    A helmet,

    what "helmet" are you wearing then? I would say it isn't the helmet of Salvation!

    What is this? You wrote:

    "....What then is the context the golden chain is embedded in? The immediate context is encompassed by the verses 18-39 which describe a confined part within the epistle. The topic of this part is the creatures' sufferings and anxieties in this present world. Paul encourages the readers to endure the afflictions of this age because there is a greater hope for the future. While all of creation is subjected to frustration, even the christians who have the firstfruits of the Spirit already are not excluded from the afflictions and anxieties of this world but rather walk their journey in hope of their future glory and find comfort in the promises of prayer. From this encouragement to have hope and trust, which is the topic of verses 18-27, the "Golden Chain" verses follow in smooth transition....".

    Huh? There is no "blanket" sufferings in this world. I would say then that this that you wrote cited above by me is another great example of making the Scripture mean something to you personally that it clearly does not mean. What I get from those verses is clearly not what you have written above.

    Consider these "Words" of sound Biblical "Truth" in light of what I just cited, your handiwork above, which clearly refutes your underlying assertion about "the" others living in the world the Church Body is called out of and for some, sent back into to go and proclaim the Gospel among them. True "theology" is for proclamation in the world so that those for Whom Christ died, Whom God has given the Gift of Faith too, "already" may quickly desert their life in this world and come out of that darkness and begin living in Light fully aware of the law that works in their members that is opposed to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ the gift of His Faith conjoins them too. It is to be proclaimed, this Gospel of the Kingdom, in the world of fallen humanity. What I believe you have done here clearly stands in stark contrast with the plain meaning Paul puts over in those verses you ironically highlighted in defense of the clear error of its premise. Now consider these Words of Truth that I offer you to refute your words that I cite above:

    Psa 73:1 A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
    Psa 73:2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.
    Psa 73:3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
    Psa 73:4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek.
    Psa 73:5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
    Psa 73:6 Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment.
    Psa 73:7 Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies.
    Psa 73:8 They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression.
    Psa 73:9 They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.
    Psa 73:10 Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them.
    Psa 73:11 And they say, "How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?"
    Psa 73:12 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.


    Just curious. What do you think?

    Would Luke 4:16-30 be a model of Christ's own exegesis and eisegeis of Scripture as a Minister serving others on earth?

    Raised a reformer i have been struggling with calvinism vs. armenianism and you sold me on calvinism. Thanks very much!

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