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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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  • « Happy Reformation Day! | Main | Reminding God »

    God’s grace works in us sovereignly to produce a godly will - Augustine

    "Some might interpret ‘It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God Who shows mercy’ (Rom.9:16), in this sense — that salvation comes from both, that is, both from the human will and from the mercy of God. In that case, we must understand the saying, ‘It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God Who shows mercy,’ as if it meant that the human will alone is not sufficient, unless the mercy of God goes with it. But then it would follow that the mercy of God alone is not sufficient, unless the human will goes with it! Therefore, if we may rightly say, ‘it is not of man who wills, but of God Who shows mercy,’ because the human will by itself is not enough, why may we not also rightly put it the other way round: ‘It is not of God Who shows mercy, but of man who wills,’ because the mercy of God by itself is not sufficient? Surely, no Christian will dare to say this, ‘It is not of God Who shows mercy, but of man who wills,’ in case he openly contradicts the apostle!

    So it follows that the true interpretation of the saying, ‘It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God Who shows mercy,’ is that the entire work belongs to God, Who both makes the human will righteous, and prepares it in this way for His assistance, and then assists it when it is prepared. For human righteousness of will precedes many of God’s gifts, but not all of them; and it must itself be included among those gifts which it does not precede. We read in Holy Scripture, both that God’s mercy ‘shall meet me’ (Ps.59:10), and that His mercy ‘shall follow me’ (Ps.23:6). Mercy goes before the unwilling person to make him willing; it follows the willing person to make his will effective. Why are we taught to pray for our enemies, who are plainly unwilling to lead a holy life, unless that God may produce willingness in them? And why are we ourselves taught to ask in order that may receive, unless that He who has created in us the wish, may Himself satisfy the wish? We pray, then, for our enemies, that the mercy of God may go before them, as it has gone before us; and we pray for ourselves that His mercy may follow us.

    Augustine, Enchiridion, 32

    Posted by John on November 1, 2011 01:43 PM

    Comments

    This is an interesting post.

    Augustine’s teaching that the will of man needed God’s mercy to make it “willing”, evolved into something much different 1200 years later. Observe how the writers of the Canons of Dort declare that nothing short of regeneration will free the will.

    “…without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit they are neither able nor willing to return to God…” (Section III, Article 3)

    The Westminster Confession of Faith declares the same notion two different times.
    “…promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.” (Section VII, Article 3)

    “being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call (effectual call) and embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.” (Section X, Article 2)


    Now Augustine was adamant that baptism was the sacrament of regeneration, and infants needed this sacrament to be regenerated.
    “But the sacrament of baptism is undoubtedly the sacrament of regeneration…’Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Even an infant, therefore, must be imbued with the sacrament of regeneration, lest without it his would be an unhappy exit out of this life…” (On Forgiveness of Son, and Baptism, 43:27)


    Do we therefore conclude that a baptized baby has received both regeneration and the mercy necessary to make his will “willing”? Do you hold to the teaching of Augustine that infants are regenerated by the sacrament of baptism?

    Jim

    Thanks for your post and your thoughts. Augustine erroneously held to baptismal regeneration (thankfully inconsistently) since Augustine himself knew that not every baby baptized would persevere to the end (Perseverance also a doctrine he also affirmed). And since we ourselves are not Roman Catholic or Auburn Avenue Theology we do not embrace any kind of infant baptismal regeneration. Baptism does not work "ex opere operato," rather, salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit sovereignly dispensing the grace of Person and work of Jesus Christ (John 3:8), quickening (regenerating) the heart through the word to bring forth life.

    You may wish to note that the Roman Catholic Church itself completely abandoned Augustine's soteriology of monergism for a form of semi-pelagianism. They embraced his ecclesiology but it can be easily demonstrated that the outright abandoned his doctrine of grace and salvation. The Canons of Orange are also conveniently overlooked by Roman Catholics, or at least they do not believe it means what it says.

    See this article
    Contrasting Augustine and the Council of Orange (529 AD)
    with The Council of Trent (1563)
    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/counciltrent.html

    John, is baptism of any kind eternally significant in your view? Simply put, can we get to heaven by following Jesus as our Savior and Lord? But, not actually going through the ritual of baptism. When I read Scripture, I seem to find indications that believing and following are the ways to salvation. Baptism doesn't appear to wash away sin once for all, but only Christ's propitiation. Serious question. Thanks.

    tubal

    Neither believing, following nor baptism are salvific. Salvation is by Jesus Christ ALONE and these graces flow FROM his grace. He grants us a new heart that believes, obeys and is baptized. Baptism is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace. It "reminds" God not to treat our sins as they justly deserve.

    John

    Ok, I confess. I am a Roman Catholic and follow the Pope. I occasionally visit this blog, not for the erroneous doctrine it contains but, because I am interested in theology. That having been said....

    What?! Baptism is not salvific? Jesus commanded the Apostles to go forth and Baptize without any reason? Belief is not salvific? Jesus commanded the Apostles to go forth and preach the Gospel to all nations for no reason? Believing is not salvific? I think Jesus knew those who did not believe.

    Listen, not as a Roman Catholic do I speak, but as a person endowed with reason. God does not issue meaningless commands. Faith and reason cannot contradict. At least not in my mind...but your post...it certainly does and also contradicts the Bible!

    Like, I said, I am not arguing as a Catholic....only out of God-given reason. You are wrong. Not looking for a fight....but, you are wrong.

    Wait....let me put it another way. As I understand what you wrote, God only wants the Gospel to be preached to those who are saved? He only wants those who are already saved to be Baptized? He only wanted the Apostles to preach to those who had already been saved? That's what you are saying. At least that is how I read it.

    Yet Jesus himself did not do this! The Apostles were baptizing people before Pentecost! It's in the Bible. Jesus preached the Gospel to Judas, even though he betrayed Him! Jesus himself preached so that people should come to believe.

    Sorry, your position, as I understand it, is completely untenable to human reason and the Bible.

    Bob

    So what it appears that you are asserting is that water baptism is not merely a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, but actually itself works "ex opere operato," (or automaticly) to everyone that it is applied to -- that the sacrament is itself efficacious... so every person, no matter what their disposition toward Christ is, if they are baptized, they are saved? Not only does the Bible plainly teach otherwise, but it is observable in every day life that there are tens of thousands of persons who reject Christ, or who are not walking with Christ who were once ritually baptized with water.

    If you say they could have lost their salvation due to some sin, then you also must believe that that Jesus Christ is insufficient to save them to the uttermost - but rather, that they must maintain their own just standing before God apart from the sufficiency of Jesus Christ., based on their personal holiness .... which is a denial of the very gospel itself.

    Again, belief or faith itself is not salvific, it is the object of our faith which saves. H. Bonar once rightly said, "Faith is not our physician; it only brings us to the Physician. It is not even our medicine; it only administers the medicine, divinely prepared by Him who healeth all our diseases. In all our believing, let us remember God’s word to Israel: I am Jehovah, that healeth thee (Exod. 14:26). Our faith is but our touching Jesus; and what is even this, in reality, but His touching us?"

    Bob, you said, "also As I understand what you wrote, God only wants the Gospel to be preached to those who are saved? He only wants those who are already saved to be Baptized? He only wanted the Apostles to preach to those who had already been saved? That's what you are saying. At least that is how I read it."

    Then you understand wrong. One major difference between the Reformed faith and RCC is that God not only justifies us for Christ's sake when we come to faith, but also raises us from the death of sin by His quickening Spirit in order to bring us to faith. When we preach the gospel we cast the seed widely and it falls into hardened hearts. Faith is not automatically produced. The Spirit, must germinate the seed of the gospel, so to speak for their to be life, faith, obedience and the like. Jesus is a savior who came to rescue us, to give us life, not to teach us how we can save ourselves.

    When spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit, the word of God has the power to graciously open people's eyes, unplug their uncircumsized ears, change the disposition of their hearts, draw them to faith, and save them (James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:23, 25). The word of God does not work "ex opere operato," rather, it is the work of the Holy Spirit sovereignly dispensing grace (John 3:8), quickening the heart through the word to bring forth life. So the written word is not the material of the spiritual new birth, but rather its means or medium. The word is not the begetting principle itself, but only that by which it works: the vehicle of the mysterious germinating power It is because the Spirit of God accompanies it that the word carries in it the germ of life. The life is in God, yet it is communicated to us through the word.

    Do you believe Jesus sufficient for salvation to eternal life? Can something we do change this? Are you saved because you had more wisdom than your neighbor to have faith or because or was it grace that even gave you the humility to have the faith ???? .... . Read the Canons of Orange - "...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)

    Is everyone who is baptized at one point in their life saved - even those who reject the Savior.?

    Bob

    Your link only exposed how RCC avoids what the text actually says and did nothing except make bare assertions IN SPITE OF from what Orange and the Bible go out of their way to explain. Likewise you did not engage any of the points posted.

    Your link said Orange means "Man can do no good except by God's grace."

    What RCC means by this is that grace of Jesus Christ is necessary but not sufficient. As if our merit makes up for where Jesus lacks or has anything to do with our salvation. But Orange and the Bible make plain that the grace of Jesus Christ is not only necessary but sufficient to save to the uttermost. Jesus is a complete savior, not a partial savior.

    If two persons are the recipients of God's grace in your scheme, why does one person believe the gospel and not another? What makes them to differ? Christ or something else ???

    The evidence is so overwhelming that RCC has abandoned Augustine, Orange and thus the Bible's teaching on salvation by grace alone that it is hardly worth arguing. The language is plain and unassailable. "...it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble" (orange), YES RCC embraces Augustine's ecclesiology but is semi-pelagian in their soteriology.

    "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" Galatians 3:3

    I posted the link because I think it explains things quite well and therefore, it was not necessary for me to comment further.

    I assume that you believe that you have already received "grace" and have been "regenerated." So...therefore, you are already "perfect." Everyone in your congregation is already "perfect." Where's your church again? This I have to see!

    But, of course, nobody is yet "perfected." Wouldn't you agree? What shall we say then? God's grace was not sufficient enough to make us perfect?

    There are different types of grace and we recognize the distinctions. You seem to want to lump "grace" in one big pile, as if there is only one kind.

    Not to change the subject, but just wondering: Does your theology believe in aeviternity?

    Thanks.

    Bob,

    As for not yet being glorified, the Bible makes clear that this occurs in an already/not yet sense. The Holy Spirit is now given as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come (glorification) 2 Cor 1:22 & 2 Cor. 5:5 which is clearly spoken of in the scripture given now in the present as a pledge of our future inheritance. But according to Scripture, because of Jesus Christ, we have eternal life NOW (1 John 5:13). Our sins are forgiven now (Past tense and continuing action in the present).

    Again Bob, I believe your view of the holiness and majesty of God is too low. We all need a savior because we woefully fall short of the glory of God in this life. So no man, no matter how good he is, and no matter how long he has been a Christian, comes close to loving God with all their heart and neighbor as himself - so he could never approach God or even have a fraction of the merit needed to enter the kingdom of heaven. And no amount of time in Roman Catholic Purgatory could ever make up for this lack. God's grace shows us the depth of our darkness and sin against and infinitely holy God and that our ONLY hope is Jesus Christ both now and forever.

    Since you believe we are not perfect before God, in Christ, in spite of ourselves, then you must affirm that Jesus Christ is not sufficient to save you and you make up for his lack of merit before God. Simply put your theology declares that JESUS IS NOT ENOUGH. If this is true, I believe you deny the gospel and deny Jesus Christ as he is revealed in the Scripture. You are still trusting in yourself and your merit and therefore are are total odds with everything the Bible affirms.

    If I break a lamp in your house and you decide to forgive me, someone must still pay for the lamp. In this case (because you forgave me) you do, in its entirety. When you forgive me you do not give me new conditions I must meet to obligate you to maintain my forgiven standing before you. You have already paid for it in full.

    Jesus Fulfilled the law. Christ’s full obedience to ALL the prescriptions of the divine law made available a perfect righteousness before the law that reckoned to those who put their trust in him.(2 Cor.5:21) LIKEWISE, Christ's willing obedience in bearing all the sanctions imposed by that law against his people because of their transgression is the ground of God’s justification of sinners (Rom. 5:9), by which divine act they are pardoned. NOT A RENEWED EFFORT ON OUR PART OR OUR MERIT.

    As for your question "Does your theology believe in aeviternity?"

    I am not much of a philosopher but a student of the Bible. I would not want to speculate about something not clearly revealed in the Text of Scripture.

    As for your first paragraph...let's say I agree.

    As for the second, I would entirely disagree that my view of the holiness and majesty of God is too low. I believe that, in this life, one can love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. We are commanded to do so in the Bible. God would not have commanded it were it not possible.

    Why do you try to insist on telling me what I must believe? Why do you insist on telling me that I trust in myself? I know better.

    If the lamp is broken, even if I forgive you, the fact of the matter is that, THE LAMP IS STILL BROKEN!

    If one cooperates with with God's grace, is he then deserving, merits, of even more grace? I think the answer is yes. Does that make the first grace insufficient in your thinking? There are degrees of perfection (grace), you know.

    Finally, you do not wish to speculate about "aeviternity"? It is philosophy and not in the Bible? Ok, you get a pass. For now.

    But human reason and the Bible dictate that only GOD is eternal. Humans are certainly not. But, angels? They are not in eternity, since eternity IS God Himself, and Angels and the deceased are certainly not in time. So reason dictates that there must be an intermediate duration. i.e. A place or duration between Time and Eternity. This is must be crossed to reach the eternal God. AND, the damned are also not in eternity, nor are they in time! What say you?

    Again, I state my position based on reason.

    Thanks.

    @ Bob

    Your assertion: "We are commanded to do so in the Bible. God would not have commanded it were it not possible"

    Your answer is not based on the Bible or exegesis but unaided human reason. The answer from the bible clearly is yes - God commands us to do things all the time that we cannot do (for good reason). Paul declares that the purpose of the Law is to reveal our sin, not our ability >>> "Through the law comes knowledge of sin" (Rom 3:19.) The whole reason for the law (commands, imperatives) is to reveal our sin (or inability to obey), our captivity to the yoke of sin, and thus our need for Jesus Christ.

    "For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all." Rom 11:32.

    Imperatives (commands) show not what we can do, or do do but what we OUGHT to do, and what is required of us, so that our spiritual impotence may be made known to us and the knowledge of sin may be given to us. Nothing more is signified by verbs in the imperative mood than what OUGHT to be done, and that what can be done can be expressed by words in the indicative. God is holy therefore he commands us to be holy as he is holy. After the fall it is impossible for humans, but He does not change his standard of holiness for us simply because we have changed and are impotent to do so. He has not changed. He is still holy. So His command to be holy should be taken seriously but because we have failed to do so it should drive us to despair of ourselves and to call out to Jesus, who alone fulfilled God's holy law) to save us. To not see God's commands this way is fatal. Jesus is the Savior, not someone who comes to help us save ourselves.

    Does it follow from "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love with all your heart? What do arguments of this kind prove, but the man does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by his own power?...But it does not follow from this that man is converted by his own power, nor do the commands say so; they simply tell man what he should do. And Rom 3:19, 20 tell us their purpose is to see we are accountable to God.. we have fallen short and need Jesus. Their purpose is NOT that we would try to scale our way to heaven by them. You have misunderstood them if this is what you think. And it appears that it is what you think since you explained that that we must be able to obey God's commands If God gave them to us. Haven't you considered there might be another reason. Take the time to meditate on Rom 3:19, 20. It answers the question.

    Bob, you said "If the lamp is broken, even if I forgive you, the fact of the matter is that, THE LAMP IS STILL BROKEN! "

    Yes it is -- we are still broken and will be until we are glorified. But our brokenness is not what God looks at any longer. Christ paid for the lamp so to speak, so God is well pleased with us. It is our union with Christ in which God forgives us and pays all our debts and adopts us as His children. There is nothing we can add to Jesus' work. It is finished.

    What we do to cooperate with God's grace after salvation has nothing to do with our just standing before him. Jesus alone is our justification. Our good works are the overflow - what we do as a result of our salvation, forgiveness and new life. I do not obey in order to be saved but BECAUSE I am saved in Christ. The older brother in the prodigal son is rebuked by the father because he thought he could earn his position and forgot he was a son ALREADY. There is nothing we can do to "maintain" that just standing before God. This would be to rob Christ of his glory. We are joined to .... united to Jesus in His life death and resurrection. United to such an intimate degree that we are just and holy before God... God grants us eternal life for Jesus sake, not for ours. In your view somehow Jesus' work is lacking, as if what He did is not enough for God's good pleasure. Even if we cooperate with his grace as you say, it means that God will not accept us UNLESS we meet some further condition.

    For your other question regarding the dead. Jesus teaches that when men are judged on that Day there will be a resurrection of the righteous and a resurrection of the wicked in physical bodies in time and space. The world will be quite different from this as there will be no more tears, sin or death, but it will continue to be physical, as God declared in genesis that the earth and all that was in it are "good".

    "Does it follow from "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love with all your heart? ...

    (Er, yes.)

    What do arguments of this kind prove, but the man does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by his own power?"

    I didn't say that one could love God with all one's heart without grace. I said that it is possible in this life (with grace of course).

    You seem to hold that this is impossible in this life, even with grace. With God, all things are possible.

    Bob

    You are at complete odds with both the Bible and your own doctor of the church. To be clear --- Augustine did not claim that we can believe and persevere with the "help of grace" but that such grace ITSELF was effectual.

    Just one example of this quoted from the above post where Augustine says, "Mercy goes before the unwilling person to make him willing; it follows the willing person to make his will effective."

    Augustine also said, "God bids us do what we cannot, that we may know what we ought to seek from him."

    This above quote denies your unbiblical assertion which declares that loving God with all our heart is possible simply because God commands it. The purpose of God's laws are so the proud, blind man may learn the plague of his impotence, should he try to do as he is commanded so he can ask where he may find ability to do it.

    Likewise Romans 3:19, 20 - which plainly states that the law reveals man's inability also flatly denies your assertions.

    This statement, and countless others, completely undo your argument and your semi-pelagian church tradition as having abandoned Augustinian soteriology wholesale. Lay down your pride of tradition and see what is actually being said here. Your tradition has blinded you to what both Augustine and the Bible are teaching. My position is not some Protestant spin. I posted Augustine's actual quote(s) which say what they mean.

    lastly your position fails on logic. If you child runs out into the street and is about to be hit by a car, you do not stand at the curb and tell him that you will will only help him if he helps himself. No, you run our to save him regardless of what his will is at the time. You make certain your child is safe. If this is how a parent loves a child how much more God toward us. Your tradition makes God's love conditional toward his people. He will only love you IF you meet certain conditions. But true love gets the job done.

    LUCIFER WANTS YOU DRY

    Why does Satan want you to stay away from the the watery grave of baptism?

    1. Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

    Lucifer wants you dry so you cannot be saved.

    2. Acts 8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.

    Beelzebub wants you dry to prevent you from rejoicing.

    3. Acts 22:16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.

    The Devil wants you dry so your sins will not be washed away.

    4. Galatians 3:27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

    The prince of darkness wants you dry so you will not be clothed with Christ.

    5. Acts 2:41,47 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 47 ...And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    Satan wants you dry because he does not want you saved and subsequently added to the Lord's church.

    6. Romans 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.


    The prince of devils wants you dry to keep you from walking in a new life with Christ.

    7. Romans 6:6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

    Lucifer wants you dry so you will remain a slave to sin.

    8. Romans 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    Beelzebub wants you dry so you cannot be alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    9. 1 Peter 3:21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you---not the removal of dirt from the flesh , but an appeal to God for a good conscience---through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    The prince of the devils wants you dry because he does not want you to be saved.

    10. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Lucifer wants you dry because he does not want you to have your sins forgiven nor does he want you to receive indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit.

    11. Colossians 2:12-13 ..buried with Him in baptism...13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.

    Beelzebub wants you dry because he does not want your transgressions forgiven.

    12. Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have dine in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by thewashing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

    The Devil want you dry so will remain unsaved.

    13. John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    The prince of darkness wants you dry in order to keep you from entering the kingdom of God.

    14. Ephesians 5:25-27 ...Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her , having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory , having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

    Satan wants you dry because he does not want you sanctified, cleansed, nor holy and blameless.

    15. Revelation 20:15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Lucifer wants you dry because he does not want your name written in the Lamb's book of life.He want you to be thrown into the lake of fire.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

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