The Extra-Biblical Logic of Molinism
Regarding salvation "...middle knowledge claims that God's perfect, infinite knowledge must be able to know not only what sentient creatures will freely choose in all situations in their lives but what everyone would do in every possible situation that they could confront." - Craig Blomberg
Response: Where is Christ in all of this? The problem with this statement should be obvious to any serious student of Scripture: It doesn't matter what situation people are put in, they will always, always reject Christ apart from regenerating grace. Natural men need the gospel precisely because they are not free but in bondage to their corruptions...and are unable to see the beauty of Christ in the gospel... Men, therefore, do not "freely choose" but instead need to have their heart of stone made into a heart of flesh. Men do not have the natural power to change our own hearts ... and so the gospel's power is that it not only justifies a man when he comes to faith but also raises him from the death of sin (renewing our heart) in order that he might bring men to faith (John 6:63-65, 37). Salvation is by Christ alone.
The end we should all be more persuaded by arguments from actual texts of Scripture then from the apparent logic of entailments. While we should never embrace anything that has internal contradictions, yet Molinism's fatal error is that it has created an extra-biblical system which may be logical within its own system but does not even attempt to justify itself from Scripture.
Does God's will always infallibly come to pass?
Does God's will always infallibly come to pass? Well, His eternal will or decree always comes to pass infallibly (Ephesians 1:11) but his commands to men (which are also called "the will of God" - Heb. 10:35-38; Eph 6:5) do not. For example consider the following text:
"Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." -Acts 17:30
If this statement could not be distinguished from God's decree then either 1) everyone would be saved, OR 2) God's eternal will could be thwarted since some men disobey this command. Since neither of these can be the case then, in fact, we distinguish God's eternal will (his decree) from his commands or preceptive will, which he gives to men.
God is not a God of contradiction. When he decrees something it is certain to come to pass. When he commands men to obey, they often do not... therefore His preceptive will is not the same as His's decree but is to be distinguished.
The Moment of Awakening
R.C. Sproul describes the moment of awakening Martin Luther had as he read Romans 1:17, "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'"
He says, “Here in it,” in the gospel, “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘the just shall live by faith.’” A verse taken from the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament that is cited three times in the New Testament. As Luther would stop short and say, “What does this mean, that there’s this righteousness that is by faith, and from faith to faith? What does it mean that the righteous shall live by faith?” Which again as I said was the thematic verse for the whole exposition of the gospel that Paul sets forth here in the book of Romans.
And so, the lights came on for Luther. And he began to understand that what Paul was speaking of here was a righteousness that God in His grace was making available to those who would receive it passively, not those who would achieve it actively, but that would receive it by faith, and by which a person could be reconciled to a holy and righteous God.
Now there was a linguistic trick that was going on here too. And it was this, that the Latin word for justification that was used at this time in church history was—and it’s the word from which we get the English word justification—the Latin word justificare. And it came from the Roman judicial system. And the term justificare is made up of the word justus, which is justice or righteousness, and the verb, the infinitive facare, which means to make. And so, the Latin fathers understood the doctrine of justification is what happens when God, through the sacraments of the church and elsewhere, makes unrighteous people righteous.
But Luther was looking now at the Greek word that was in the New Testament, not the Latin word. The word dikaios, dikaiosune, which didn’t mean to make righteous, but rather to regard as righteous, to count as righteous, to declare as righteous. And this was the moment of awakening for Luther. He said, “You mean, here Paul is not talking about the righteousness by which God Himself is righteous, but a righteousness that God gives freely by His grace to people who don’t have righteousness of their own.”
And so Luther said, “Woa, you mean the righteousness by which I will be saved, is not mine?” It’s what he called a justitia alienum, an alien righteousness; a righteousness that belongs properly to somebody else. It’s a righteousness that is extra nos, outside of us. Namely, the righteousness of Christ. And Luther said, “When I discovered that, I was born again of the Holy Ghost. And the doors of paradise swung open, and I walked through.”
Back in March of this year, I had the privilege of being interviewed on the Apologia Radio show and was asked a number of questions about Divine election. I continue to get good feedback from people who have listened to the broadcast.
Today someone wrote,
"Feeling incredibly blessed by this episode of Apologia Radio tonight. I've listened to it a total of at least 6 times since it's aired. Each time a) makes me want to dive in to Scripture for the next week without any sleep but b) brings me a whole new level of understanding. I really encourage everyone to challenge their traditions and listen with an open heart to what is being said."
If you have yet to hear the show online, perhaps it can be a blessing to you. It can be found at this link. - JS
The Atonement and Foreknowledge
No Christian can consistently declare that Christ exhaustively foreknew who would be saved and then teach that He was punished with the intent of saving every single person that ever lived. To declare that he died with the intent of saving those he foreknew would go to hell is a flat out contradiction. Either Christ is God and foreknows all things or He is not God and ignorant of what is to take place. you cannot have it both ways. (John 10:11, 26; 17:9, 19, 24)
Particular Redemption and Solus Christus
The biblical doctrine of particular redemption establishes the fact that our salvation is by Christ ALONE. On the other hand, all unbiblical views of Christ and His work require us to meet some other condition in order to make His work effectual ... but the redemptive effectiveness of Christ does not depend on faith being added to His work; its redemptive power is such that our faith springs from it.
From A Flying Eagle's Perspective
Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Location : Chamonix, Mer De Glace area
Weighing in on Macro-Evolution and the Christian
The Bible declares that all death came into the world through sin. That same sin was paid for in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus physical death paid for the sin that caused Adam's physical death (and ours).
One of the most discouraging trends, even among some who call themselves Reformed, is to embrace macro-evolution ... whether it is to appear respectable among intellectuals and peers, I do not know. But such a teaching is clearly inconsistent with the biblical gospel at its core. One cannot embrace evolution without profoundly changing the substance of orthodox theology. So it seems to me when scientists finally do conclude that evolution is false, (and they will) it is sad to consider that theologians very well might be the last people standing who still believe in it.
But isn't that spiritual death? some might say:
Physical death, not just spiritual death, came into the world through sin. The (Hebrew) God created the spirit and the body as a unit, not to be bifurcated. To say that death was only spiritual is a Greek/Hellenistic concept of God and the soul, not a Hebrew one. We do not float up to heaven after the judgment but are resurrected in body and soul. The fact that Jesus had to (among other things) die physically for Adam's sin simply demonstrates this to be a fact. Was Jesus death (absorbing the wrath of God for us) merely a spiritual one? What about his resurrection? Was that only spiritual as well?
“There were earnest longings that all God’s people might be clothed with humility and meekness, like the Lamb of God, and feel nothing in their hearts but love and compassion to all mankind; and great grief when anything to the contrary appeared in any of the children of God, as bitterness, fierceness of zeal, censoriousness, or reflecting uncharitably on others, or disputing with any appearance of heat of spirit.” - Jonathan Edwards, “Thoughts on the Revival,” in Works (Edinburgh, 1979), I:377, recording the experience of his wife under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
At The Gospel Coalition National Conference at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, earlier this year, Tim Keller explored the theme of "A Biblical Theology of Revival." Here's a short clip where he makes note of the fact that genuine revivals are usually quiet affairs:
Here's the full workshop address:
An author is always grateful to receive positive feedback concerning something he has written. I wrote the "Twelve What Abouts" book with the hope that those new to the subject of Sovereign Election, would be able to grasp the concepts clearly. If that goal has been achieved then I give great thanks to the Lord. I just received this letter today from a gentleman named William. - JS
I wanted to thank you so much for you latest book 'Twelve What Abouts.' I just finished reading it and I was so blessed by it.
I am a Reformed Baptist with an MDiv from Southern Seminary and I found your short book to be one of the best responses to objections to Reformed Theology. Not that you have new information, but that you package it in a small, quick book that is to the point. There are many books on Reformed Theology, but most of them are very technical and are not accessible to the average layperson. I loved that your book is very easy to read and your arguments are very easy to follow.
I especially appreciated your chapters on 2 Pet 3:9 and 1 Tim 4:10. I had always heard the two wills theory and just found it somewhat lacking. Hearing your explanation fits the context so much better than other ones. Your explanation of common grace in 1 Tim 4:10 was good as well.
I really like the way you address traditions throughout the book, challenging the reader to consider whether their tradition matches what the text really says.
While I know your book will be read by many within the Reformed community, I hope that its brevity and style might appeal to those on the "other side".
Thank you again for your work and I pray that God will continue to bless your ministry.
Grace be with you,
With love for His chosen
"In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long before the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long before the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being --- when the ether was not fanned by an angel's wing, when space itself had not an existence, where there was nothing save God alone --- even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His heart moved with love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul. Jesus loved His people before the foundation of the world --- even from eternity! and when He called me by His grace, He said to me, 'I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee’”
- C. H. Spurgeon (Autobiography, I:167).
Unconditonal Election and Particular Redemption
In recent months I have had the privilege of teaching a session, every six or seven weeks or so, at the Apologia Church in Tempe, Arizona. I was asked to speak on the theme of "The Doctrines of Grace." The last two sessions are now available to hear online.
The first teaching is on "Unconditional Election" and starts at the 35 minute, 28 second mark here.
The second teaching is on Limited Atonement (or perhaps better expressed as "Definite Atonement" or "Particular Redemption"). The teaching begins at the 36 minute, 25 second mark here.
- John Samson