The ATONEMENT Papers: READ THIS FIRST!

In reading these several papers on the doctrine of the extent of Christ’s penal and substitutionary atonement a number of things need to be kept in mind for clarity’s sake.

1. These papers are to be read as they were penned – in progress. They cover a period of over 3 years. Therefore reading them in order is essential to getting an accurate picture.

2. Each was penned for a different audience.

a. The first one – which is the most disorganized – is really more stream-of-consciousness. It was written only for the eyes of the Elders at our Church, and has a lot of thinking out loud in it. It was a first attempt at beginning to organize my thoughts. I thought it might be helpful for some others to see how I was working through the various ideas. Note that at the end I remind my readers that I was far from done in studying things through.

b. The second one is very difficult as it is a brief synopsis of a rip through some central thoughts done at a think-tank meeting with just a few other men. But it holds some bits and pieces well worth considering as one tries to think through atonement issues from the very beginning of the Scripture representations.

c. The third one is a response to a critique of my first paper, written over 3 years after the paper itself. You will see in my responses, that there are numerous refinements and adjustments which had gone on in my thinking since then. My responses were originally intended only for the one who offered the critique. Because pastor Leuck is a knowledgeable man, I take his understanding of certain things for granted and do not explain some things in more detail as I would for someone less acquainted with the subject matter.

d. The fourth paper is a somewhat detailed schema of what became two lectures delivered at a Pastor’s conference. Once again, the audience aimed at is more of the academy than the average guy in the pew. I take a lot for granted in terms of how that audience is able to fill in finer points and make certain connections on their own. It was not meant for general consumption. This is now nearly 4 years after the first paper.

All that being said – having some of this background may be extremely helpful in making sense of it all as you read through. Reading them in order will be your best bet.

95 thoughts on “The ATONEMENT Papers: READ THIS FIRST!

  1. Reid,
    I understand that you would want to consult many authors to make sure your summing up of everything is not “off the wall” but perhaps, for a minute, putting aside all this you might consider looking at actual preaching of the Gospel in the Scriptures. If it is really important to let sinners know that “God loves you” and that “world” means every one in the world as far as the atonement then we should see that there, don’t you think? One can take a multitude of “texts” as try to use them as proof texts but in actuality how was the Gospel preached in the NT? If you can find things like God loves everyone and He died for everyone in the whole world in actual preaching of the Gospel then we should definitely do the same but if not…?

  2. Thanks Dan – But I disagree that we don’t see exactly that – we do! God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. And Paul’s own exposition of the Gospel he preached, the things of “first importance” he told the Corinthians when he first went to them were: How that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. The only warrant we have to preach to men that there is forgiveness of sins – is the finished work of Christ at Calvary. Without that, there is no good news. Men as sinners stand condemned and on their way to Hell. Except they know that there is forgiveness in Christ – they have no other warrant to believe. This unfortunately is lost in many of our gospel presentations. No, simply because God loves them and Christ died for their sins doesn’t mean they are automatically saved. One who does not trust Christ as their own sin bearer will not have salvation. But a salvation to be had is to be preached to all men – one to be solely on the ground of the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

  3. So you use the word “world” in its various contexts to show that there is no definite plan or design to the atonement? I think if you study it closely, in my opinion, you will see that the word “world” is emphasizing that the Gospel is for those of every race and not just Jewish people. I think also, you do not see the Gospel as an offering that you can accept or reject. While it is true that one can accept or reject the message and then it follows that you reject the One being preached nevertheless the Scriptures teach that God has commanded ALL men to repent … . And take for instance Peter’s message in Acts 2 shows that Peter presented their guilt to them, he didn’t wince with words, yet, I believe he presented the Gospel with genuine love for his lost brethren. There is no mention of God loves you and the result is that about 3000 Jews are saved! Then again, unlike us and Western thought, I don’t believe they were concerned about the issue of elect and non-elect when preaching the Gospel like some Calvinists are. Those teachings are definitely there but when preaching the Gospel it was a universal call to “whoever will”. I think the over emphasis of getting into the “limited” or “particular” atonement, etc. came because of the lack of preaching regarding our lost state and nature and what that entails. One has to have a “new heart” in order to believe or they “whoever will may come” will not come because they do not have the ability to do so with their present fallen nature. See I Cor 2:14 in context with the preceding verses from about 10 on. So the atonement is not successful unless the atoned respond to the Gospel. The atonement in the OT was done on an individual basis as the one atoned for laid hands on the sacrifice before it was sacrificed. The end result was a “group” atonement but still done individually so I have a problem believing there is an atonement just sitting out there and not really having a design of who is atoned for. Do you see what I mean? There should still be the universal call and the mention of God’s graciousness and mercy for sure but having the understanding that an atonement is for those chosen by God (you have not chosen me but I have chosen you…) does enter into how you are presenting the Gospel. I fail to find God loves you (although I am not against such a thing) and even though “whosoever will may come” should be preached, I fail to find that means an unlimited or specific design or plan in the atonement. Whosover meaning Jew or Gentile. That is emphasized over and over to counter the false Jewish idea that God is the Savior of only the Jewish people! If you take a look at all the Scriptures used to present an undesigned or unlimited atonement, you will see that it pretty much is used in these contexts to show that you don’t have to be a Jew to receive God’s salvation.
    I believe with you that we should preach the Gospel to everyone believing that some will believe, perhaps, quite a few and some will not believe. After all the Scriptures do say that Jesus death was a ransom for MANY! Not all, not a few, but MANY!

  4. Reid,
    Excuse me for being so forward but I have copied a quote from you on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2003.
    “Limited atonement helps me understand that Christ did exactly what He came to do; He left no elect man without forgiveness, and He didn’t fail.”
    This is a wonderful way of summing up that the atonement is 100% effective. Unlimited atonement, if I understand this correctly, does not leave Messiah as 100% effective in His atonement.
    Yet, when one preaches the Gospel it must be “whosoever will may come.” God alone knows who the “whosoever’s” are, agreed? This does not mean that God has not given a specific people to His Son the Messiah, does it? “All that the Father has given me will come…” This teaches that there is a DEFINITE number of people that the Father has given to His Son. Is this right or is it wrong?

  5. Dan wrote: “So you use the word “world” in its various contexts to show that there is no definite plan or design to the atonement? I think if you study it closely, in my opinion, you will see that the word “world” is emphasizing that the Gospel is for those of every race and not just Jewish people.”

    Not at all. First, the word “world” has to be defined BY each context. To interpret it indescriminately is part of what leads to such confusion. But for 1 John 2:2 for instance, the context absolutely militates AGAINST a Jewish/Gentile contrast. First off, the letter has no contextual indications that it is written to a Jewish audience, and secondly, the passage itself (chap. 2) is quite clearly contrasting believers with non-believers. He begins chapt. 2 by referring to “My little children” – believers. These are who he contrasts against when he writes that Christ is the propitiation for ours sins (believers) and not for ours only (believers) but for the sins of the whole world (un-believers). What needs to be kept in mind is that such a propitiation does not translate directly or automatically into salvation for all. The propitiation which Christ offered must be received “by faith” – Rom. 3:25

    None of this of course negates God’s particular intention toward the elect. I am not advocating any such thing. Simply, that by virtue of His propitiation, there is no sin which is not forgivable, and that all the fault of a lack of salvation rests in man, and nothing in any lack in God or Christ’s sacrifice.

    The reality of god’s love for mankind in general is clear from any number of passages, not the least of which is John 3:16. However, man is not saved by love alone. There are other dynamics at work. If God does not sovereignly overcome the soul, then none at all would be saved. And He extends this special grace only to the elect.

    To posit that the atonement must have failed if not all are saved by it simply is a nonsequitur. It is no more absolute than “we have not because we ask not.” God’s grace extended to us isn’t what has failed, but our sinfulness. When Jesus said “come unto me all you who are weak and heavy laden” – which was ALL who heard Him – His grace did not fail because all did not come. When He said to the 12 at the last supper – “this is my body broken for you” – His grace did not fail because Judas sat there and partook (see: Luke 22). These are simply the dynamics of human responsibility being lived out.

    In your second post, I will stand by my original statement. But I would qualify it by recognizing that in His atonement, He had more than one intent. The narrowing of the atonement so that God could only have one purpose in it leads to assuming that something must have failed. But it is not so. To have satisfied the Father’s wrath such, that no man need ever reason that he cannot come to Christ should he so desire is only to say this was another intent in God. It says nothing at all about HOW they might be minded to come – but it does not preclude any from coming in and of itself.

    The either/or dynamic which requires that either Christ died ONLY for the elect, or for ALL men with the absolute intent to save all simply contradicts the Biblical paradigm. We need not conclude that way. We can see His love for all, and His unquantified provision – and still leave the sovereign application of it up to Him.

  6. Brother, I’m afraid I am going to have to disagree with you again. I have found that Lightfoot in his 3 vol work, “A Commentary On the NT from the Talmud & Hebraica” shows how “world” in John 3:16,17 is definitely not everyone. Again, I say, you must look at the context. WHO is the Lord speaking to? WHAT did Nicodemus believe? WHY did the Lord use the word “world” there? Did Nicodemus believe the Messiah came to “condemn” the world (Gentile dogs)? Yes, he ABSOLUTELY did! So, the Lord corrects that error in vs 17 of John 3. The same commentary is made in I Jo. 2:2. WHAT did “my little children” believe? Exactly what Nicodemus believed so “world” in proper contextual interpretation absolutely means “non-Jews.” Check it out, Reid, you cannot come off with an interpretation like the one you are holding to these days. You will also find that “The Expositors Greek Testament” also interprets “world” in the context of what Jewish people believed when it was written.
    As far as I Cor. 2:14 which states that the “natural man” is not ABLE to receive the things of God because it requires a “spiritual man”, I fail to find a reasonable explanation of how just “anyone” has the ability to come! Your statement:
    “To have satisfied the Father’s wrath such, that no man need ever reason that he cannot come to Christ should he so desire is only to say this was another intent in God. It says nothing at all about HOW they might be minded to come – but it does not preclude any from coming in and of itself.”
    The passage clearly states that the “natural (unregenerate) man” DOES NOT have the ability to comprehend spiritual things.
    Prior regeneration is required to become a “spiritual man” or “new creation” and the new birth also described in John 3 compares becoming a child of God like the wind which no one knows where it begins or where it will blow or where it will end. If you can choose where and how the wind will blow then you can choose to believe in that manner. The “natural man” WILL NOT receive the things of God because they are “foolishness” to him and this is his nature. So tell me how the “natural man” can come to Christ apart from the saving, regenerating work of God?
    You see, it all has to start with God! Anything that begins with man is man centered and not the true Gospel. It all starts with God. Salvation is of the Lord! God regenerates, grants faith, repentance, and ALL that is needed to respond positively to the universal call to believe. I know you know this is true. It does negate the responsibility to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah). One who has been given a “new heart” does respond to the Gospel and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. The objection is sometimes given that this would be unfair because if you can’t come then you aren’t responsible since you do not have the ability to do so. First, I would like to say that no one really knows if they will NEVER believe and Secondly, God did not have to compromise on His Word that “the soul that sins shall die.” There are some things that are God’s working of which we may not be able to comprehend fully and there are some things we can and I believe we must preach the Gospel to “All” as we do not know who will respond in a saving manner and if one does repent and believe then he/she must give ALL the glory to God. There is nothing for a saved individual to claim credit for such as the right “decision” or using their “free will (myth)” correctly to make the right decision. When I was saved I was literally “called” out of this world. I “heard” the voice of the Lord” convicting me and calling me and I felt like dirt was cleaner than I was! I was heading toward Satanism when the Lord saved me while starting at Genesis and getting convicted and saved in Exodus. I did not wonder if I had the “ability” to believe. I just knew God wanted me and I knew I wasn’t worthy of His saving love. All I knew is that He wanted me to be His child by coming to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. I was not a “natural man” anymore who just previous to this life changing event blasphemed God and was going to become a follower of His enemy! When I woke up the next morning I spoke to God as “my Father” and asked Him what should I do now?
    So, I believe that God initiates salvation and that mankind is called upon to repent and believe the Gospel. Both of these are true. There is no mention of God’s love in the Scriptures when preaching the Gospel (and if I believed it was true, I would revert back to telling people that God loved them as I do not find it offensive but just unknowable until one believes). This is not contrary to God’s common love for all His creation but that is an entirely different context. On the contrary, God’s wrath is included in John 3 at vs 36. If WE love people then we will be showing that love by warning them of the WRATH TO COME! This can be done in a loving way by us but we do not know if God loves them in a saving way. Those who believe are the one’s whom God loves in a saving way. There can be no other conclusion. Preaching “election” to the lost I believe is not the Gospel. Election should not be an issue as God sovereignly decides who these people are that the Father has given to the Son! You do believe that don’t you Reid? God has given His Son a people and they WILL come. Otherwise, what does John 6:37 mean?
    We may have to agree to disagree in love, okay? Your change in the extent of the atonement in no way changes my love for you as a brother of the same Lord and Savior that we both love. I just wanted you to know that even though we are debating an important issue. And, if the Lord shows me otherwise then I would change my current understanding of the atonement.

  7. Dan R wrote: Brother, I’m afraid I am going to have to disagree with you again. I have found that Lightfoot in his 3 vol work, “A Commentary On the NT from the Talmud & Hebraica” shows how “world” in John 3:16,17 is definitely not everyone. Again, I say, you must look at the context. WHO is the Lord speaking to? WHAT did Nicodemus believe? WHY did the Lord use the word “world” there? Did Nicodemus believe the Messiah came to “condemn” the world (Gentile dogs)? Yes, he ABSOLUTELY did! So, the Lord corrects that error in vs 17 of John 3. The same commentary is made in I Jo. 2:2. WHAT did “my little children” believe? Exactly what Nicodemus believed so “world” in proper contextual interpretation absolutely means “non-Jews.” Check it out, Reid, you cannot come off with an interpretation like the one you are holding to these days. You will also find that “The Expositors Greek Testament” also interprets “world” in the context of what Jewish people believed when it was written.

    RAF: We have no argument that in the first place, Jesus is correcting Nicodemus’ concept regarding the Messiah coming to judge the Gentiles and restore the Jewish kingdom. That much is obvious. But in His response, Jesus widens the scope of salvation (while also moving the discussion to deal with salvation spiritually versus a mere earthly kingdom restoration) by appealing to the fact that God’s love in sending the Redeemer is not bound up with the Jews exclusively, but also with the “world.” the very point is to move from a view bound to exclusivity, to broadening God’s love for the lost Gentile world as well. While the word is not meant to denote each and every human being, by its nature it excludes none either. That is His point. God doesn’t just love the Jews, but is providing a Savior for all. Here, it would be best simply to understand it as humanity in its fallen condition (See D. A. Carson on the use of World here – which cannot possibly be Owen’s “elect in the world”). Individuals are not the discussion – but at the same time humanity is comprised of individuals. No one in particular is excluded by use of the word. Hence Calvin’s comment on it: “Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish.” And Calvin again: “And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life.”

    DAN R.: As far as I Cor. 2:14 which states that the “natural man” is not ABLE to receive the things of God because it requires a “spiritual man”, I fail to find a reasonable explanation of how just “anyone” has the ability to come! Your statement: “To have satisfied the Father’s wrath such, that no man need ever reason that he cannot come to Christ should he so desire is only to say this was another intent in God. It says nothing at all about HOW they might be minded to come – but it does not preclude any from coming in and of itself.” The passage clearly states that the “natural (unregenerate) man” DOES NOT have the ability to comprehend spiritual things. Prior regeneration is required to become a “spiritual man” or “new creation” and the new birth also described in John 3 compares becoming a child of God like the wind which no one knows where it begins or where it will blow or where it will end. If you can choose where and how the wind will blow then you can choose to believe in that manner. The “natural man” WILL NOT receive the things of God because they are “foolishness” to him and this is his nature. So tell me how the “natural man” can come to Christ apart from the saving, regenerating work of God? You see, it all has to start with God! Anything that begins with man is man centered and not the true Gospel. It all starts with God. Salvation is of the Lord! God regenerates, grants faith, repentance, and ALL that is needed to respond positively to the universal call to believe. I know you know this is true. It does negate the responsibility to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Messiah). One who has been given a “new heart” does respond to the Gospel and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. The objection is sometimes given that this would be unfair because if you can’t come then you aren’t responsible since you do not have the ability to do so.
    RAF: I am afraid you are misreading my meaning here. We are not discussing how it is a man may BECOME willing. I have never advocated anything but that such takes a supernatural and sovereign work. What I AM saying is that there is no impediment other than their own unregenerate will. This is part of what makes them responsible. The inability is not a “natural” inability but a moral one as Edwards argues. To use an analogy, when Adam fell, God placed an angel at the entrance to the Tree of Life, guarding it so no one could enter in. In Christ, “a new and living way” has been opened up. That no one WILL enter apart from the sovereign work of the Spirit renewing the will and drawing them is without question. That God has removed the impediments in Christ and on the basis of His finished work of Calvary calls all men to enter is also without question to me. That man’s fallen condition is his bar I agree with – fallen in that he cannot desire God as God apart from sovereign grace which is not given to every man.

    DAN R.: (snip) So, I believe that God initiates salvation and that mankind is called upon to repent and believe the Gospel. Both of these are true.

    RAF: I do not disagree and fail to see how you might have thought I did.

    DAN R.: There is no mention of God’s love in the Scriptures when preaching the Gospel (and if I believed it was true, I would revert back to telling people that God loved them as I do not find it offensive but just unknowable until one believes). This is not contrary to God’s common love for all His creation but that is an entirely different context.  On the contrary, God’s wrath is included in John 3 at vs 36. If WE love people then we will be showing that love by warning them of the WRATH TO COME! This can be done in a loving way by us but we do not know if God loves them in  a saving way. Those who believe are the one’s whom God loves in a saving way. There can be no other conclusion. Preaching “election” to the lost I believe is not the Gospel. Election should not be an issue as God sovereignly decides who these people are that the Father has given to the Son! You do believe that don’t you Reid? God has given His Son a people and they WILL come. Otherwise, what does John 6:37 mean?

    RAF: I simply disagree that communicating God’s love for men, implies that they are not presently abiding under His wrath apart from Christ. These simply are not mutually exclusive ideas. We are often MOST angry at those we love the most. To make these two things necessarily contrary in God is (in my estimation) neither Biblical nor logically necessary. That in preaching the whole Gospel we need both to let men know their dreadful state under God’s wrath, and God’s love toward them in Christ seems to me to be inherent in it. Again, as Calvin writes on John 3:16 – :This mode of expression, however, may appear to be at variance with many passages of Scripture, which lay in Christ the first foundation of the love of God to us, and show that out of him we are hated by God. But we ought to remember—what I have already stated—that the secret love with which the Heavenly Father loved us in himself is higher than all other causes; but that the grace which he wishes to be made known to us, and by which we are excited to the hope of salvation, commences with the reconciliation which was procured through Christ. For since he necessarily hates sin, how shall we believe that we are loved by him, until atonement has been made for those sins on account of which he is justly offended at us? Thus, the love of Christ must intervene for the purpose of reconciling God to us, before we have any experience of his fatherly kindness. But as we are first informed that God, because he loved us, gave his Son to die for us, so it is immediately added, that it is Christ alone on whom, strictly speaking, faith ought to look.” It is in seeing the love of God in Christ at Calvary, that we have a warrant to believe in Him.

    DAN R.: We may have to agree to disagree in love, okay? Your change in the extent of the atonement in no way changes my love for you as a brother of the same Lord and Savior that we both love. I just wanted you to know that even though we are debating an important issue. And, if the Lord shows me otherwise then I would change my current understanding of the atonement.
    RAF: I’ll agree in the main, I just want us to know what we really disagree about!

    A Reformulated Catechism taken from the Geneva Catechism 
    circa 1560
    A Dialogue between the Minister and the child.
    by John Calvin
    I. Faith
    1. Minister. What is the chief end of human life?
    Child. To know God.

    2. Why do you say that?
    Because He created us and placed us in this world to be glorified in us. And it is indeed right that our life, of which He Himself is the beginning, should be devoted to His glory.
    3. What is the sovereign good of man?
    The same thing.

    4. Why do you hold that to be the sovereign good?
    Because without it our condition is more miserable than that of brute-beasts.

    5. Hence, then, we see that nothing worse can happen to a man than to live without God.
    It is so.

    6. What is the true and right knowledge of God?
    When we know Him in order that we may honour Him.

    7. How do we honour Him aright?
    We put our reliance on Him, by serving Him in obedience to His will, by calling upon Him in all our need, seeking salvation and every good thing in Him, and acknowledging with heart and mouth that all our good proceeds from Him.

    8. To consider these things in order, and explain them more fully—what is the first point?
    To rely upon God.

    9. How can we do that?
    First by knowing Him as almighty and perfectly good.

    10. Is this enough?
    No.

    11. Why?
    Because we are unworthy that He should show His power in helping us, or employ His goodness toward us.

    12. What more then is required?
    That we be certain that He loves us, and desires to be our Father, and Saviour.
     
    13. How do we know that?
    By His Word, in which He declares His mercy to us in Christ, and assures us of His love toward us.

    RAF: We come to know He loves us and wants to be our Father from the Word – NOT as merely a subjective experience after salvation.

  8. Reid, in spite of these quotes, I fail to find this kind of preaching in the Bible. If there is not such a strong difference between God’s wrath and His love (I cannot understand how anyone could possibly believe this!) why do we not see things like “God loves you” in the NT when the Gospel is preached??? Because of God’s wrath unbelievers are being cast into hell. Is God casting sinners into hell but saying that He is sorry that he has to do this because He really loves them? I strongly disagree with the idea that there is not a strong difference between God’s love and God’s wrath.
    One other point, are you saying Christ’s death and atonement was only to make it “possible” to be saved? Then when the Lord said, “it is finished” that He meant that now its up to you (sinner) to make the right decision to complete my work of salvation??? That He didn’t really atone for ANYONE in particular so that the atonement is only effective if MAN (sinner) chooses to reconcile with God? If I’m wrong, let me know because that is what I gather from your presentation.
    So I lied about “one more thing.” Another question: If Jo. 3:16,17 means “Gentiles” then how do you get from there to a no design, no plan, kind of atonement that is dependent on mankind to make it (the atonement) effectual?? You don’t say this but if the atonement does not become effective without mankind making it so then what does that imply? Again, I repeat, this makes the Gospel a “man centered” Gospel and not the power of God (Rom. 1:16). Mankind comes to the Lord believing because there is a remnant like there has always been since Abraham that God has reserved for His Son. The atonement is effectual for them and them only! It is not a narrow understanding of the atonement. Again, we do not know who this remnant is or who the “elect” (those the Father has given to the Son)are and we do not know to whom the atonement will be effective but that does not take away from the fact that the atonement has a design and that is it is applied to those whom God has chosen before the “foundation of the world.” God is not wondering who might believe in Him but just to make sure that none of the elect are lost He makes the atonement for “all” mankind knowing that some of those whom Christ died for will be cast into hell. I’m sorry brother but that cannot be.

  9. If I may interject,Reid’s saying the atonement Christ finished has removed every impediment on God’s side for the reconciliation of whosoever will. There is not just unlimited sufficiency in the sacrifice,but an ordination for all men as the ground of a bona fide general call. Whoever we are,we must reckon with the RISEN Christ in whom the blessings of salvation have been laid up-Acts 5v31-the risen Christ who has brought in eternal redemption and is willing to give it to whoever would receive it. (He does not delight in the death of the wicked,showed mercy and grace to the chief of sinners as a pattern of his super-abounding willingness to save anyone,etc). I think this is the difference-those that believe in a strictly limited atonement tend to collapse away the medium of faith that appropriates the blessing in a risen Christ,such that the atonement works by itself,rather than as it’s applied in the present through the hands of Christ as Lord.Then, the gospel loses its dynamic (which is Christ himself) and becomes more just a message that declares whether one is elect or not on the basis of whether they have heard and accept ‘facts of the atonement’. Faith loses an essential trust element. I think-like everything else-the atonement’s efficacy is laid up in the hands of Christ in the present…and all of this can be true without making man the first cause of his actual salvation in our time and space,even for the application of the atonement and thus the reception of its merits. Man must believe on the risen Christ,who in THIS status holds the key to an inheritance on account of a perfect,finished work;what stops man entering in-naturally speaking- is his ‘moral’unwillingness to so receive it in Christ risen-an unwillingness which is effectually removed on account of having a new spirit given- to which the will then answers as it should to close with Christ in being indwelt by the spirital presence of the risen Christ ‘joined in one with our spirit’…don’t mean to bust in on your conversation here and put words into anyone’s mouth.

  10. As to the efficacy of the atonement,Reid’s in no way saying it depends on man,but on the risen Christ who in that status gives the gift of faith to his unconditionally elect-by giving them a new heart that receives his blessing in all its freeness. Man must savingly believe to be saved,but this is necessarily achieved by the Spirit’s effectual call.

  11. I think it’s more accurate to say ‘God has a design with the atonement’,than ‘the atonement has a design of its own’.

  12. Thanks Phil – good to hear from you and I believe you’ve stated things well.

    By the way – I KNOW I am WAAAAY over due on a response to you. Please forgive me. Once all of this began to unfold at the Church I am afraid I have been simply buried. I hope to be back in the swing of things son.

  13. A brief summary of John Owen’s position:

    The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:
    1. All the sins of all men.
    2. All the sins of some men.
    3. Some of the sins of some men.

    In which case it may be said:
    a. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved.
    b. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.
    c. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

    You answer, Because of unbelief. I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!

  14. Here is the fallacy in that reasoning. Let’s you are elect. (Easy assumption given I know you.) But you however, were born in sin and UNBELIEF just like everyone else. Now if Jesus paid for your sin of unbelief on the cross, how is it that you were still IN this sin of unbelief when you were born? The payment for it did not automatically remove it! Those in Hell are in the same position, except there’s will never be removed. But both were born in sin, and in unbelief. In 1 John we read: “22 Who is the liar but khe who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is bthe antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 lNo one who denies the Son has the Father.” The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Jn 2:22-23). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. And “10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, tnor is the one who udoes not love his brother. ” The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Jn 3:10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

    Until we are born again, this is the state of us all – “children of the devil.” As long as we abide in the state of being among those who do “not practice righteousness” – we are no different.

    Now if that is so for the elect – as it is clearly is – then it is so for the non-elect: i.e. that no one has their sins removed, until they repent and believe. Though the sins have been paid for, OUR account is not yet settled. We must reckon with Christ – or we remain outside and still abide under the wrath of God.

    Now once again, there is no question that the elect ALL WILL INFALLIBLY BELIEVE. This is absolutely true. Nevertheless – they are lost and undone until they are saved. They (we) are not saved at the cross. We must be brought to faith in Christ.

  15. Reid could answer this more fully-Owen’s arguments import his logic on the scriptural data,making these fundamental assumptions-the payment on the cross was in kind,and can be quantified after a pecuniary fashion; God’s intent in the atonement is strictly defined by election and reprobation;the atonement made,functions in and of itself (in time!). I don’t think these assumptions come from revelation…unbelief is a sin of a particular kind-in fact the root of all ‘moral sin’that issues from it. Fundamentally,lack of gospel faith is lack of rest in God’s finished work-faith brings a repentance from dead works -those by which we seek God’s favour. Necessarily,the atonement dealt with all these sins-by it we are restored to the rest of grace. Unbelief is the only sin that will keep someone from Christ-but that doesn’t mean that it can’t have been paid for by the second Adam anymore than any of the other sins,and still be the defining sin imputable to those who do not exercise their wills thus-even if morally incapable.

  16. Quick thought: If everyone can possibly choose for Christ then if one chooses and one doesn’t the one who chooses must be better than his fellow human being. If God chooses first then (election) then we do not run into that situation.

  17. Dan,if you’d prefer I butted out then let me know…what Reid means is that man has the natural ability to choose Christ,but won’t until Christ effectually calls him. By natural ability,it would be meant that(normally speaking)his faculties are intact for the exercising of saving faith,and he has good reason to do so,there being no lack of provision for him on God’s side. Yet he ‘will not’ believe,naturally. His will is in bondage to his sinful unwillingness. Unless that changes,he won’t believe. So Christ grants a new heart to some(the elect)to remove the sin inclination that keeps the will bound,so that the person assuredly chooses Christ. Faith is still a particular gift here initiated by Christ. At the same time, lack of faith is purely due to a lack of consent on the part of the sinner-it cannot be said ‘Christ may not have made space for you’. Cos he has.

  18. Imagine two sewer rats. When these two rats are offered a piece of cheese – that the cheese finds acceptance with one in his hunger, and none with the other due to either his insensibility or having been glutted on something else – gives not the slightest hint of superiority or virtue to the rat who receives it over the one who refuses it.

  19. Thanks,that was helpful for me!and just so that the invitation is as wide as it can be,lest we think we are not first hungry enough to qualify to eat the cheese,so to speak, he says ‘whosoever will,let him take of the water of life freely’.

  20. Phil, please feel free to comment and anyone else is welcome to also as this is a blog. I have read Bruce Ware’s article on the extent of the atonement and found it quite lacking in sound hermeneutics. I plan on doing a critique and posting it in the future.
    For now, this one statement about we are not actually children of God until salvation actually occurs. We were “chosen before the foundation of the world.” God is not a time/space entity like we are so for us salvation is a time/space thing but for God it is NOT.
    God sees as before we are even born into this world and he sees us as His children even though for us space-time creatures it has not taken place. This is how election should be viewed. For God, it is already a fact but for us who are locked into time/space it hasn’t happened yet. Repentance, saving faith, and all that is needed to be right with God was taken care of even before we existed! The fact of this shows up in time/space reality when the effect of these gifts evidence themselves as the chosen ones DO repent, DO express saving faith, DO believe the Gospel and in Jesus Christ, and DO come to Him with a new heart He as given us.
    Also, although is another subject, we translate “grace” as God’s unmerited favor. We are good for nothing, disgusting people, undeserving of God’s grace BUT on God’s side He is not thinking of His grace that way and it does not carry that meaning. It is simply God’s favor. However, on our side, as we see it, we feel that we are most undeserving and we are filthy, disgusting, sinners. This is a true experience on our side but God NEVER looks at us this way. That would be like saying to someone here is a present for you, hope you like it but you really don’t deserve it you worthless, no good jerk.
    Let me hear from you. What do you think?

  21. Sky,
    I read your argument and it was very well put together. If I understand you correctly then you believe that everyone in the world “can” believe or have “faith.” That is why the Gospel then is bonafide and that is because everyone “can” believe. II Thess. 3:2: and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for NOT ALL HAVE FAITH.” (My emphasis). If faith is something that anyone can just do then it is a WORK not a GIFT. It is something out of the goodness of man that he contributes to secure his salvation. If it is a gift then God gives it to whomever He will. He is the Potter and can do whatever He wants to do with the clay. Rom 9:19-24. Answer this please: why do some believe and others do not? All have the ability according to your viewpoint to exercise faith. Paul states in I Cor. 2:10-14 vs 14: “But the natural man does not welcome what come from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is NOT ABLE to know it since it is evaluated spiritually.”
    You are presenting a man centered theology where man is the deciding factor. Calvinism presents a God centered theology where all starts with and enabled by God according to His mercy. We start with “you have not chosen me BUT I have chosen you…” Jo.15:16, and vs 19: …”but I have chosen you out of it (the world).” Start there not with a “decision.” from there you will find that God, NOT man, gives those whom He has chosen (see also Jo.6:37) and a new heart, repentance, and saving faith. When they are called from among everyone (the world) by the universal call of the Gospel to repent and believe, they WILL COME and they come willingly since their wills which are captive to their previous nature have been SET FREE. That is “freed will” not the pagan, Greek philosophical idea of a “free will.” All men have free moral agency but that means their will acts in accordance with their nature. If it is up to someone with a fallen nature to believe they will always choose to reject the Gospel. How can it be otherwise that someone would respond and come believing unless the Lord has done His saving work first. To make everything depend on what mere mortal man will do is a dishonor to a just and Holy God. The Lord didn’t die “just to make it possible” to believe! He died for those the Father has given Him (Jo.6:37) and that is not the only place where you will find that God has given His son a people that WILL BE SAVED! Put God first in everything and you would NEVER come up with such teaching including Arminianism which was condemned as a heresy! It is a man first system and not the true Gospel.

  22. Dan, Thanks for your thoughts. I had Reid take my post off because I want to re-work it a bit, but I will get back. I appreciate the dialog!

  23. A copy of an article from Reformation Theology:

    The Gospel: Offer or Command?

    John Samson showed me this piece on seperate blog entitled
    “I don’t want to be a hyper-Calvinist”

    Here are a few of my comments on it:

    The author of this piece is struggling with the following question: If the gospel is an offer how can it really be sincere since only the elect will be regenerated?

    Response: According to the witness of Scripture itself, the gospel is nowhere clearly presented as merely an offer, but as a divine command. There is no clear indication from the Text anywhere that we are simply “offering” the gospel to people. We, rather, plead with people to obey the Divine command to believe in His Son. There is explicit Scriptural evidence that the Gospel is a command. Here are some key texts:

    “Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” -Acts 17:30

    “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ…” – 1 John 3:23

    Not only do these texts explicitly affirm that the gospel is a command, but we should take note that the Gospel has every characteristic of a command. Just like commandments throughout the Bible, the command to believe the Gospel is accompanied by covenant blessings for obedience and covenant curses for disobedience. And like a biblical covenant it is accompanied by the shedding of blood. On the other hand, a gift held out as a mere offer does not usually threaten consequences for refusing it.

    The other article also expressed concerns of the genuiness of an offer/command if we were unable to obey/receive it ourselves. But as we know, God gives us commands all the time that we are unable to carry out (Love God will all our hearts, obey the 10 commandments, believe in Jesus >John 6:65). The purpose of the Divine legislation is to reveal our sin and inability(Rom 3:19, 20), not our ability. “Through the Law comes knowledge of sin.” In other words, the Law simply reveals our spiritual impotence. And this passage in Romans does not make us any less accountable to obey. What we “ought” to do does not equal the “ability” to do it. The purpose of the “ought” is actually to reveal our “inability”.

    Do you recall the rich young ruler who went away sad because he will unwilling to depart from his covetousness to follow Jesus?

    Jesus said it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven then for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. The apostles respond correctly by wondering out loud, “then who can be saved?” In other words, if God’s standard is so high then no one can have any hope to live up to it. That is exactly what Jesus wanted them (and us) to understand for He says, “What is impossible with man, is possible with God.” But what is Jesus speaking of that is impossible with man? Answer: repentance & faith – Only God can give it (2 Tim 2:25, John 6:65, Phil 1:29) but man is still culpable for his response of willful autonomy. That is what this passage and encounter with the Rich Young Ruler was all about.

    Consider in our every day world, if someone squanders a huge sum of money they borrowed, (say $10 million) their inability to repay it does not alleviate them of their responsibility to do so. Right? In the spiritual world this kind of moral inability is, likewise, inexcusable and thus God requires it of us even though we are unable to do it. If we were physically blind and were told to read something, we would not be blamed for saying we could not. But moral inability is a different matter altoghter.

    Those who are spiritually blind are bent willfully and beyond repair (like a debt we cannot repay), and thus culpable. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind…if you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” We are impotent to repay our debt and our downfall is that we often proudly think we can, but thanks be to God, in Jesus Christ God does for us what we could not do for ourselves. This is the most humbling news any of us could hear and it is only GRACE ITSELF that makes us humble enough to embrace this. The natural man does not accept the humbling terms of the gospel so it requires the intervention of the Spirit. So God is quite sincere in commanding us to obey the Gospel, to believe in His Son, even though we will not do so apart from the grace of Christ who raises us from spiritual death by His Holy Spirit.

  24. I wrote a longer post on earlier stuff but can’t post it via my phone right now. Sky,hello!I look forward to reading your post when it goes back up as you want it. I’ve thought that faith is mysterious. We don’t have the grace of the gospel until we believe but faith is a rest and not a work-we perceive his grace and thus receive it. Joseph Prince says ‘we see his grace and he sees our faith’. Dan,I think the nature of the gospel command is key. Right through,new covenant obedience is ‘not of the letter’..

  25. …but of the Spirit. I think that’s not just talking about how, but is qualitative. We rest from our ‘law-works’ so that he can produce his grace-works. Christ in us,the hope of glory. He is our life.Thus we fulfil the precept. The irony is that those who make the gospel command of a letter ministry can’t do it until they quit trying!they have it a work!So the Spirit’s not involved in that. Likewise sanctification that doesn’t go on the same way we begin. It also needs a biblical anthropology…thoughts.

  26. …and the reason man will not naturally believe in his natural fallen state is that he is bent on a letter-type ministry,so to speak. He won’t rest from his works (believe). Faith is foolishness and impossible while the heart is bent on being blessed for what it does,and attempting to obligate God on account of it. By definition, it won’t be exercised in that state…

  27. and “it won’t be exercised”, Phil, because there is none (faith). The reason the natural man will not believe according to I Cor 2:14, is the he is “not able” to. Its that simple. That is what it states and that is what it means. And yes, the natural fallen state is such that a natural man is self-centered and natural religion is formulated as such to try and show that one can “believe” by doing works. In this case, belief, is a work and not a gift (Eph 2:8).
    BTW, do you know Dan Phillips in Sacramento? I’m a friend of his from back in the ’70’s.
    I think he’s mentioned you on his website.
    You know that in Acts 17:22-31 Paul preaches that God commands all people to repent. He does not present this as an offering. And as I search through the Scriptures, unless I missed something, I fail to find the Gospel as an offering. Yes, it is to be preached to all people but it is a statement tht doesn’t ask if people might maybe repent and believe but that it is a command. I do not find anywhere that “God loves you”, do you? Jo. 3:16 is Jesus’ straightening out Nicodemus error in believing that faith in the Messiah is for Jews only and not Gentile “dogs” as most Jews believed. And, in vs. 17, Jesus states that unlike what Nicodemus believes, God did not send His Son (Messiah) into the world to condemn the world. Likewise, in the propitation IJo 2:2, John is speaking to Jewish believers and again wants them to know that God has not excluded Gentiles from being saved.
    I think we must keep in mind that the primary audience in the Scriptures are believers. When he says “all”, “us”, etc. he is not telling unbelievers that “while WE were yet sinners, Christ died for us” and was not talking to unbelievers. He was was talking to the “we’s”, the believers and that when we were still sinners, Christ’s death was an atonement for us (believers) and all that will believe. Just as Jo.6:37 states, “All that the Father has given me WILL COME to Me…” So God the Father has given a people to His Son and they will come. They are His sheep and they hear his voice and they know Him and another they will not follow.
    Just a few thoughts for now. Your comments or anyone’s comments are welcome.

  28. One more article relating to synergism vs monergism. An important element, I believe, in this discussion.

    The Reformed Parishioner

    *

    Thursday, January 10, 2008
    What is Monergism?
    Monergism.com gives the following definition:

    Monergism: In regeneration, the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ independent of any cooperation from our unregenerated human nature. He quickens us through the outward call cast forth by the preaching of His Word, disarms our innate hostility, removes our blindness, illumines our mind, creates understanding, turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh — giving rise to a delight in His Word — all that we might, with our renewed affections, willingly & gladly embrace Christ. The Prophet Ezekiel inspired by the Holy Spirit asserted “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” (Eze 11:19, also 36:26) The Apostle Paul said, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” (1 Thess 1, 4, 5). I.e. In regeneration the word does not work alone but must be accompanied by the “germination” of the Holy Spirit. And again “…you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1 Pet 1:23)

    The Century Dictionary defines it as follows:

    “In theology, the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration – that the human will possesses no inclination to holiness until regenerated, and therefore cannot cooperate in regeneration.”

    It means that the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly comes to us through regeneration — and if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, he/she ignores the teaching of the Apostles, for Paul says, “…Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved.” and “…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5) And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). or 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).

    It is in contrast to synergism which the Century Dictionary defines as

    “…the doctrine that there are two efficient agents in regeneration, namely the human will and the divine Spirit, which, in the strict sense of the term, cooperate. This theory accordingly holds that the soul has not lost in the fall all inclination toward holiness, nor all power to seek for it under the influence of ordinary motives.”

    They also offer a more indepth treatment here.

    RC
    Posted by RC at 5:31 PM
    Labels: Monergism, Synergism
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  29. Right now Dan,I’m going to pipe down a bit. Yes the Holy Spirit must make us willing with grace. But man naturally has the faculties to be willing-the gift of faith is not a mystical thing in the sense that we get given the natural ability for a saving faith. We already have that. What we don’t have is the heart to respond. So faith is due to God,and lack due to our lack of consent. Also,none of us believed by some automatic conception. We responded to his love us-ward. I suspect few if any people…

  30. …were saved without being convinced on objective grounds that Christ died for them. I don’t know. What is probably true is that many people were not calvinists doctrinally when they came to Christ. They probably wouldn’t have felt the door open enough for them…I did run into Dan Phillips over at Pyromaniacs.

  31. Phil,
    I was not a Calvinist when I was saved for about 4 years. I was not saved by hearing a preacher preach the Gospel to me. I was saved reading the OT and in the book of Exodus in 1972. I was not seeking. I was wanting to find out how to become a satanist! I was looking at my bookshelves and wondering which occultic book I could read when it was like a voice said to me to pick up the Bible. I thought for a minute about it then decided to do that because I had read a lot of the OT before and the NT and rejected that. When I got into Exodus I found myself very upset with the Jews ( I considered myself one since my mother was Jewish) and it was like I was there. This never happened before. I was believing and not knowing I was and when the Jewish people complained against God even though he gave them water, quail, manna, and their sandals did not wear out they had nothing but complaints for the Lord God! At that point, I said, “how can you do this to God? Its like spitting in His face!” and IMMEDIATELY a voice spoke in my mind saying, “what are you doing to me?” and at that point I felt like dirt was cleaner than I was. And the realization of how sinful I was so terrible that I fell on my face for some time weeping. I then asked for forgiveness. After this, I said to the LORD that if I have to come to Him through Jesus then I will but if this is not the way please don’t let me believe in a false god. I said that I knew He, YWHW, would not deceive me and I trusted Him. So I gave my life to the LORD and said I come to you through Jesus and I knew in a way I cannot put into words that was now a child of God. The next morning when I got up, I called Him Father and asked what should I do now? He led me to a bible study at my cousin’s house where the pastor befriended me and made himself available for any questions or anything.
    I did not think that I had a choice to reject Him! I was not the same person the minute I knew I was a sinner and that was only because God gave me a new heart and made me a new creation so THEN I was able to turn in one minute from seeking out satan to believing in the Lord!
    I did not have the natural means to believe. It was supernatural. I haven’t revealed everything about my salvation experience as it was quite supernatural but I know this, God didn’t have to wait upon me for my acceptance of Him nor did He just “enlighten me” so I could make a choice. He made me a new creation and I, as a totally different man, responded the only way a “spiritual man” would. He gets all of the glory. Nothing was depending upon me as my response was what every response of a “new creation” is. God sought me out. I didn’t seek Him. And He chose me and if He chooses you He gives you a new heart, repentance, and all that is needed to have faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as your Savior.
    From there I went to an Arminian, Dispensationalist, type church and the pastor, who was a seminary teacher, and also taught Hebrew by Gleason Archer, started a bible school which he thought would be accredited but was not. I studied for 4 years under him and spent 4 years in Ephesians in the Greek, and 2 years Hebrew instruction, and all the usual seminary type classes.
    Dan Phillips became convinced of the doctrines of grace quickly. Probably within 2 years of coming to that bible school with me. He kept arguing with me about how prevenient grace was not biblical, etc. I prayed about it and began reading the book of John and material by a guy named Gary Long. I was so upset about this and said that I don’t know about you but the Jesus I know loves and died for everyone! As I prayed and studied I suddenly realized that if I put God FIRST in everything that Arminianism, Amyraldism, Pelagianism, NOTHING could be correct except the doctrines of grace and Calvin’s teachings on Soteriology. I felt like I was “born again” again! Any other teaching is a man made system as the end result depends on what man does to enable (a horrible idea) God to save him.
    All the arguments against this biblical teaching are just like the argument in Paul’s teaching in Rom. 9. They are rebelling against God being the potter and choosing some for salvation and others for destruction.
    I know how hard it is to switch one’s thinking from the something we have to do to believing that God is the initiator and He follows through with His choosing. Our response in the positive is only a response to what God has already graciously done. We cannot take any credit for any of it. We are not synergists who cooperate with God in order to make our salvation happen. Those who respond in a saving way to the Gospel are those who are no longer lost. They are responding to what has already been done by a gracious, loving, God.
    I hope I didn’t bore you with the personal stuff but I thought it might be appropriate to this background. Believe it or not, I gave you the brief description of my salvation.
    It still moves me to tears thinking about how God had mercy on me over 36 years ago.
    I was going to be a satanist and boy did I ever get opposition from the evil one and his followers after God saved me. I won’t describe these supernatural attacks but I knew that this other dimension existed for sure now!
    I said this to Sky, Phil, and I will say it to you. Put God first in everything and you will find like almost a “paradigm shift” (sorry about the new age terminology here) takes place and your life becomes empowered like it never has before.

  32. Dan,thank you for that. But Nobody’s denying the effectual call for the elect. We’re not talking prevenient grace. God gives a new spirit and the will is then not inclined to resist Christ. The heart believes,the person is saved. We are saying that it’s the lack of inclination that’s the problem on the part of any sinner-nothing else. His responsibility is his soul-mind,emotions,will. God addresses him here. The faculties work,like Spurgeon says in ‘All of Grace’,but the will is not willing.

  33. Dan,thank you for that. But nobody’s denying the effectual call for the elect. We’re not talking prevenient grace. God gives a new spirit and the will is then not inclined to resist Christ. The heart believes,the person is saved. We are saying that it’s the lack of inclination that’s the problem on the part of any sinner-nothing else. His responsibility is his soul-mind,emotions,will. God addresses him here. The faculties work,like Spurgeon says in ‘All of Grace’,but the will is not willing. Both/and.

  34. Wrote this the other day…I think its both,but we need to be right on the nature of the command. We need to know ‘what manner of Spirit we are of’,and that is in keeping with the minstry which is described as one of ‘reconciliation’. What is that but love(power,and a sound mind)?2Cor5v20 says ‘we pray you in Christ’s stead,be ye reconciled to God’. Paul says he has great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart,and could wish himself accursed for the sake of the unbelieving Jews who were not obeying…

  35. …/receiving the gospel. That in Rom9! He had the heart of his Lord. How can we say-knowing how the chapter starts and ends-that in the middle what’s being said is ‘the Lord is not willing,after all’?That his disposition is not one of mercy and grace,love concerning all? Further,what is the nature of faith and repentance?gospel repentance in the new covenant is defined as ‘repentance from dead works’and ‘unto life’. It has the quality of ceasing self-effort for rest about it. Repose. Spurgeon says in…

  36. …’All of Grace’ that the Puritans referred to faith as ‘lying recumbent on Christ’. It has the sense that the one doing the commanding is commanding out of love to those he’s addressing-their good-not ‘because he’s Sovereign,after all’.(In fact in doing so according to his character-and God is love,we are explicitly told-he is exercising his sovereignty). If the gospel is to be preached by ambassadors ‘in Christ’s stead’,why should his resurrection abridge the fact that when he was on earth and had laid..

  37. …aside his divine prerogatives,sinners-and not ‘the elect’- could approach him on account of his gracious loving authority?-The same sinners who were despised by the letter-ministers of the day(who themselves didn’t understand the old way of the written code should naturally have led them to embrace the grace of the One who wept over Jerusalem and the coming ‘new way of the Spirit’?…The bible’s address of believers does so in the context of a people called out of darkness and into light. That doesn’t…

  38. …mean the light of the World is just the light of the elect. We were ‘yet sinners’just like everyone else. Because some will be saved and others not does not mean that the Son of man was only lifted up for some. If we lose that his affection is for sinners,we make the gospel all rather arbitrary and cold,because we have to view it (with minds not capable of thinking with the congruity of thought of the Perfect One)in a deterministic fashion. I’d say Hebrews is an example of a flexible use of ‘we’. The…

  39. …author is referring to a group he addresses as believers,but his subject matter,dealing with the very principles of the gospel rest that refers to all men-including those who hear but don’t receive-necessitates a broadening of the ‘we’from ‘believers’to ‘people in general’…sorry the proliferation of posts…limited field on a limited mobile browser.

  40. Well said Phil – this is precisely the issue. If we were to go back to our sewer rats- all rats have the faculty of appetite. Not all however (in our illustration at least) have an appetite for cheese. Thus, when the cheese is offered, each could conceivably eat it – but in fact, only those with the appetite for it will. Man has desires – he is not devoid of them. But he will not desire holiness – he has no appetite for it, no appetite for God as God. This is what the Spirit does in His sovereign work through the preaching of the Gospel: He gives men a new appetite, a taste and desire for the very things he once abhorred.

    IN terms of God’s love for all – Gen. 29:30-31 are helpful. These two verses shed light on understanding how the Bible refers to hatred vs. love in crtical areas. Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated – fits into this category.

    Jacob’s love for Rachel was certainly different than that for Leah – but this did not relegate Leah to the realm of the cast off, negelected, scorned or utterly abandoned by Jacob. Nor should we impute such virulence in God toward the non-elect simply seen as non-elect.

    In Adam, both elect and non-elect were once unfallen – and both were made to bear the image of God. That adoption was predetermined for one, does not (in and of itself) imply absolute destruction for the other. The torments of Hell are not directed toward men as merely non-elect, but as fallen. They REMAIN fallen and are not saved as God only saves the elect – but it is not their non-elect status which is the basis of their judgment – it is their unreversed fallenness.

    We receive similar light upon these questions in passages such as Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

    The hatred refered to here is realtive – in comparison. When push comes to shove, one must be ready to choose Christ above all others – no matter how dear. At the same time, what is NOT implied is that there must be some kind of emotional animosity toward them. Nor ought we to imagine some strain of animosity in God – when at the same time we are called upon to love our enemies “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:43-45). If we are to imitate our Father in this regard, we cannot conclude anything other than that God loves His own enemies.

    While He remains angry with the sinner every day, still it is not such that He is unwilling to receive any and all who will humble themselves and seek His mercy. Today, we remain in the season of grace. One day, all such offers of mercy will end forever.

    One last comment – from our dear friend Mr. Calvin: “And the first thing to be attended to is, that so long as we are without Christ and separated from him, nothing which he suffered and did for the salvation of the human race is of the least benefit to us. To communicate to us the blessings which he received from the Father, he must become ours and dwell in us. Accordingly, he is called our Head, and the first-born among many brethren, while, on the other hand, we are said to be ingrafted into him and clothed with him, all which he possesses being, as I have said, nothing to us until we become one with him.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translation of: Institutio Christianae religionis.; Reprint, with new introd. Originally published: Edinburgh : Calvin Translation Society, 1845-1846., III, i, 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

    And: “For which reason, also, Peter says, that believers are “elect” “through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” (1 Pet. 1:2). By these words he reminds us, that if the shedding of his sacred blood is not to be in vain, our souls must be washed in it by the secret cleansing of the Holy Spirit. For which reason, also, Paul, speaking of cleansing and purification, says, “but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God,” (1 Cor. 6:11). The whole comes to this that the Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ effectually binds us to himself. ” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translation of: Institutio Christianae religionis.; Reprint, with new introd. Originally published: Edinburgh : Calvin Translation Society, 1845-1846., III, i, 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

  41. A caution Dan – You can “put God first” in such a way that you deny the human responsibility God instructs us in in the Scriptures. We are not fatalists. Men really do act, and do so by their genuine volition. If we do not preserve this, we do away with the category of genuine disobedience, since everyone is just doing what God wants anyway. This is not Biblical thinking. Jesus rebukes it when He gives the parable of the talents. The one who said he knew the master was a “hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed” is condemned. He was responsible to act upon what he was given, and penalized for not doing so. The master didn’t say: “You’re right! I just act sovereignly and so there is nothing you could do!” Just the opposite is true. We need to be careful not to distort God by placing any of His attributes above all others – or denying the responsible agency of men.

  42. Reid,
    I’m afraid you misunderstood me. Putting God first in EVERYTHING does not negate the responsibility of mankind to repent. Indeed, it is a command (see Acts 17). If you can repent and believe it is because you are a “new creation.” Election in no way is a cold, unloving teaching. The word carries with it the meaning of love. There is an old book probably out of print now entitled “Election, Love Before Time.” Man does not cooperate in his salvation for that is certainly a man centered teaching! BUT…he does respond as a “new creation.” I can’t seem to get through to you on that. No, it does not negate the responsibility of all mankind to repent and believe the Gospel. It does negate the responsibility of believers to preach the Gospel to all creation. Scripture says that God loved those who are being saved “before the foundation of the world.” It doesn’t say God loves everybody “before the foundation of the world.” His love goes along with his choosing (election).
    Again, I say, any system that does not put God first in everything and including complete salvation is a man centered teaching not honoring to God. Synergism is not a biblical teaching but monergism is. Putting God first does not negate the COMMAND to repent and believe the Gospel nor does it make men robots because God did it FIRST! But then…as I told you personally one time, if that was true (and it is not) then I would rather be a “robot” going to heaven then free to make my own decision based on my fallen nature as I would then surely go to hell! There must be the principle of “prior regeneration” or you will NEVER choose to believe…NEVER.

  43. Dan,what Reid’s saying has nothing to do with synergism. Synergism says two parties meet in the middle without the necessity of logical priority to one or other. We’re saying God moves first and effectually in salvation…to give a heart that will assuredly (AND volitionally) close with Christ. But without closing with Christ by volitional faith,there’s no salvation. And THAT’S what’s lacking in the unbeliever. Thank God for his predetermination to manifest his love on his elect salvifically…

  44. …thank God also that his love is not limited by a deterministic concept of election, that ultimately must say His heart is made known by the effect,because he is the cause. That sounds more like the Muslim view of God.

  45. …thank God also that his love is not limited by a deterministic concept of election, that ultimately must say His heart is made known by the effect,because he is the cause. That sounds more like the Muslim view of God. A view that must be false because it doesn’t behold God revealed in the Son.

  46. Sorry guys but I’m done with these debates. You do not answer my replies except what you want to reply to and the latest reply by Phil and by association, Reid, shows me that you have no idea what you are saying! You call God’s choice of whom He will save and whom he does not save as “deterministic concept of election!!!!!!!!!!!!!” You relate it to Muslim’s??????????? You are not paying attention to the objections and answering them. So the Calvinistic Soteriology is nothing but “a deterministic concept of election???” God determines who He will save and actually has already chosen His people BEFORE the foundation of the world. Call it”deterministic concept of election” or whatever you want. Somehow, you must make man a contributor or capable of some credit. The Arminian side dies hard. Scriptures bear this teaching out but not your ideas. You cannot find your teachings in the Scriptures. You are implying these from proof texts which usually turn out to be misinterpreted. There is no “God loves you” in the preaching of the Gospels in the Scriptures! By its very definition “atonement” can not be something that is unknown. The atonement is for those who have been atoned for!!!!
    Just like the OT sacrifices show. Its not out there wondering who will be atoned for. You can continue to believe your confusing ideas of how Christ died for the elect and the so-called “offer” is to all mankind because his atonement is “sufficient.” That is NOT the question. The question is WHO is the atonement for? God could save all mankind if He wanted to but Scripture doesn’t show us that. There has always been a remnant!
    And yes, the Gospel is to be preached to “all” mankind. What you are coming up with from that is contradictory ideas. Preaching the Gospel to all mankind DOES NOT MEAN that we can therefore IMPLY that fallen man CAN believe. Its in the Scriptures over and over that this CANNOT be so! He doesn’t become a “spiritual man” by making the right choice. He makes the right choice because he is no longer a “natural man.” I mean, its that simple. Its not that complex. No one who believes is saved because he was offered a “possibility” to be saved and made the right choice.
    Now, I know that we believers can come up with some pretty crazy ideas and find out that we have been mistaken but, for the life of me, I cannot figure how someone could profess to believe in Calvinistic soteriology (5 points) and then revert back to some confusing, complex, illogical teaching that exalts a man’s reasoning powers borderline Arminianism or Semi-Pelagianism. I can understand coming from Arminianism or 4 point believing to Calvinistic soteriology (the doctrines of grace) but not coming from a view that exalts God and makes Him first in everything to a view that tries to wrestle away from God the fact that He is the Potter and He makes some vessels unto honor and some unto dishonor. He saves some and does not save some. He is not unfair because He does this. God can do whatever He wants and we cannot say He is unfair!!!! Reid, you quoted Jacob and Esau but failed to say why??? Before they were even born to do good or evil GOD loved (chose) Jacob but Esau He hated! It had nothing to do with man making a choice. It has EVERYTHING to do with God’s choice. To go from there and accept that and YET…somehow, you think that does not apply to everyone who is saved is totally contradictory to the facts.
    The plain and simple fact is this- God chooses. Man responds as a new creation or NOT. Man is responsible to repent and believe. It is a COMMAND. It doesn’t matter if you think that cannot be because you cannot command someone to do something that they supposedly can’t do!!!! Scripture says God has commanded all mankind to repent. That is not unfair because God can do whatever He chooses to His vessels. You can come up with whatever you want but God COMMANDS all mankind to repent. You can call it some crazy made up term like “deterministic concept of election” or whatever you want but the facts still stand! Salvation is of the LORD. That means salvation is God’s work and all of it from the choosing (which was done before the foundation of the world) and loving and giving a new heart to the gift of repentance and saving faith. Yes, faith is involved. God gives true faith to us. We do not have faith inherent in our fallen nature! So all that is needed to secure the salvation of those people whom God the Father has given to His Son is effectually accomplished by the atonement. Its a fact BEFORE the foundation of the world. God is not restricted by time/space considerations but we are! In God’s eyes He sees all His children for whom Christ died as saved even before in time/space we were saved. Yes, salvation is not a matter of us choosing but it is something that is DONE TO US! It was already determined (I know Phil doesn’t like that word) that His people would come and they would repent and they would believe because it was already an accomplished fact for God. Nothing in heaven, hell, or on earth will prevent God’s chosen one’s not to be saved. Call it whatever you want but for hundreds of years now it is known as the orthodox faith and your ideas were not considered such. They still aren’t. Salvation is a surety and not a “possibility” and this is where an important part of your mistaken ideas is gravely in error.
    You can reply but I am through because you do not address the issues I bring up but only the ones you want to and then you are trying to use “argument absurdum” like in the last reply. I believe you are still brothers in the Lord even though I am not happy with your simple summing up to make my statements (that you choose) to reply to ridiculous and make them to mean something other than what they are. I must admit, Phil, that this idea of “a deterministic concept of election” has really got me upset. What is election? It is not deterministic? What does the word election mean? And to relate that to Islam????? Go back and study the Scriptures and pray. You Amyraldians are sadly lacking in sound Hermeneutics. Study the contexts, the original translation, the culture and what Jews believed when Jesus says “I did not come to condemn the world” and Jesus said, “I do NOT pray for the world BUT for those whom you have given me.” If He is not praying for the world then who then can be saved? If the Lord is not praying for them then how will they be saved?????
    That’s it. I’m done. I tried not to offend anyone. Forgive me if I have but our discussion is over.
    God bless.
    Dan

  47. BTW, FYI.

    Synergism stems from the 1657 theological doctrine that humans will cooperate with the Divine Grace in regeneration[1]

    . The term began to be used in the broader, non-theological, sense by 1925.

  48. (Haven’t read the above yet)…Dan,you’re still not understanding and you’re caricaturing. When I used the phrase ‘deterministic concept of election’negatively,I obviously didn’t mean election is not sure, unconditional thing. I’ve said as much by talking of ‘effectual calling’and the like. Come on,man. Be reasonable. I meant,that within all those professing Christians who affirm unconditional election,there are some who make it fully defining of the gospel. That is, they tend to view everything through…

  49. the lens of cause and effect-they make the gospel ‘whosoever will,let him take of the water of life freely’ (given with good reason on account of the atonement) into a mere transcript of election. ‘Believe!But I’m only really calling you that are elect. The rest of you can go to hell.'(God forbid this is Christ). I don’t like even putting that in speech marks…Amyraldism believes hypothetically,because Christ died for all,everyone could be saved by general revelation-but won’t,only because God has

  50. chosen to tie the effectual call to the gospel message. I don’t believe that. The gospel message alone saves,because it is the power of God to salvation,through the foolishness of preaching…salvation IS surety,like you say,God giving faith to believe. But YOU can’t say to someone that he has any reason to think he is at all comprehended in the gospel. So what would you ask him to obey?A command that God gives knowing full well that,even if he could obey it without an effectual call,the atonement has

  51. absolutely no reference to him anyway,so he couldn’t be saved?And what of an objective ground of atonement for those who strictly limit its ordination? They must examine themselves as subjective judge,jury and prosecution,logically speaking,to see whether they can presume to have faith,thus are elect,and thus their sins were atoned for?How could someone with that attitude have come to Christ with it in the first place? I don’t think they so learned Christ.

  52. That should be ‘objective ground of assurance’,not ‘atonement’. On some of these things like the issue of faith,God’s intent in the gospel command/invitation ‘come unto me'(how is that not an invitation and a free offer?) you’re pushing hyper-calvinist,I reckon.

  53. Also,God can do whatever he wants,but here’s the thing-he can only do things that are perfectly consistent with his perfect character. When our concept of God’s sovereignty’has it looking like deified fate,beware.

  54. And(!) synergism concerning regeneration says man is MORALLY capable of a good disposition that can lead him to positively cooperate with God for faith BEFORE God’s grace has enabled him to be willing. What’s being said here is NOT that. What’s being said is man has the FACULTIES required to believe and be saved, but needs God’s grace to dispose him to be willing BEFORE he exercises them to his salvation through faith alone…hope that makes sense…I need to go to bed.

  55. I have to agree with Phil here Dan – your rant was way over the top because you are not listening.

    1. Neither Phil nor I have denied God’s sovereign and eternal election in any way.
    2. Neither Phil nor I have denied God’s sovereign predestinating work.
    3. Neither Phil nor I have denied that God must sovereignly work in the soul to bring a man to salvation BEFORE he can savingly believe.
    4. Neither Phil nor I have denied that man contributes in any way to his salvation or that it is synergistic.

    What we have both said is that a man MUST believe. Did you even read Calvin’s quote on that? Or read John Reisinger’s take on it? Reisinger writes: “God’s Part and Man’s Part in Salvation
    July 8, 2007 — Mike Ratliff

    by John G. Reisinger

    God and man must both do something before a man can be saved. Hyper-Calvinism denies the necessity of human action, and Arminianism denies the true nature of the Divine action. The Bible clearly sets forth both the divine and human essential in God’s plan of salvation. This is not to say, as Arminianism does, “God’s part is to freely provide salvation for all men, and man’s part is to become willing to accept it.” This is not what we said above, nor is it what the Bible teaches. In order to understand what God’s Word really says, and to try to answer some straw dummy objections, we will establish the subject one point at a time.

    ONE: A man must repent and believe the gospel in order to be saved. No one was ever forgiven and made a child of God who did not willingly turn from sin to Christ. Nowhere does the Bible even hint that men can be saved without repentance and faith, but to the contrary, the Word always states these things are essential before a person can be saved. The one and only Bible answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

    TWO: Every one who repents and believes the gospel will be saved. Every soul, without any exception, who answers the gospel command to come to Christ will be received and forgiven by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Philip Bliss put the truth to music when he said, “Who-so-ever will, forever must endure…” If we can be absolutely certain about anything, we can be sure that Christ will never void His promise to receive “all who come to Him.” As old John Bunyan said, “Come and welcome” is the Savior’s eternal word to all sinners.

    THREE: Repentance and faith are the free acts of men. Men, with their own mind, heart, and will must renounce sin and receive Christ. God never repented and believed for anyone – and He never will. Turning from sin and reaching out in faith to Christ are the acts of man, and every man who so responds to the gospel call does so because he honestly desires to do so. He wants to be forgiven and he can only be forgiven by repenting and believing. No one, including God, can turn from sin for us, we must do it. No one can trust Christ in our place, but we must personally, knowingly, and willingly trust Him in order to be saved.

    Now someone may be thinking, “But isn’t that what the Arminian teaches?” My friend, that is what the Bible teaches–and teaches it clearly and dogmatically. “But don’t Calvinists deny all three of those points?” I am not talking about or trying to defend Calvinists since they come in a hundred varieties. If you know anyone that denies the above facts, then that person, regardless of what he labels himself, is denying the clear message of the Bible. I can only speak for myself, and I will not deny what God’s Word so plainly teaches!”

    You are way over reaching in your responses and claiming we are saying things or drawing conclusions which are not true. Dial it back a bit, and interact with what has actually been written and we can move ahead some.

  56. Oh, one last thought All – I do not mind quotes – I use them liberally. But please do not take up my bandwidth with posting entire sermons like that OK? I like Geoff Thomas too – but it would be better either to post a short extract, or simply provide the link and then those who wish can go and read the entire thing and do not need to wade through all of that to interact in the conversation.

  57. I do not want to get into this any further but could you please help me out here? You don’t believe in definite atonement but you are not an Amyraldian? 4 pointers are considered Amyraldians. I wish we could all dispense with all these labels like Calvinists (most of us are not total Calvinists) but hold to his soteriology. Arminians, Amyraldian’s, etc. I guess it makes things easier to know where someone is coming from but for myself, I just want to be considered a follower of the Lord. I don’t think Calvin, Luther, etc. wanted us to call ourselves by their names, do you? We all love the Lord, including Arminians, etc. We want to live for Him and our hope is to see the One we love face to face someday, right? We have some serious differences but not serious enough not to consider us brothers of the same Lord who loved us and gave Himself for us. Even though Arminianism was condemned as a heresy there are still many Arminians today who know the Lord and are serving Him to the best of what they know. They love Him just as we do and in spite of our differences, we are called to love one another. This is how the world knows that Jesus is real don’t you agree?
    I think in spite of our deciphering and systemizing what we think God’s role is in salvation that He is going to do what He wants to do anyway and He will not fail.
    I am not saying that I don’t strongly believe what I have expressed but what I am saying is that I don’t want to argue anymore but I do want to serve our precious Lord with you. We do want to see the lost turn from their sins and believe regardless of how we think it is supposed to happen. We have unity in that respect and also our love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and we need to show love for one another, Amen, brother?

  58. I do believe in definite atonement,but not one that definitely works in itself. The atonement is done and ordained effectual in the hands of the risen Christ. It’s with him we ‘have to do’. He will give himself freely to his elect because of it, by giving the faith that lays hold on him by way of the general call of the gospel. AND sincerely offer himself to the non-elect in that same call,on the same condition they believe on Christ. ‘Look unto me and be ye saved,all the ends of the earth;For I am God…

  59. …and there is none else.'(Is45v22,KJV). I do believe Christ died one death-not one way for some,another for others. The atonement’s one thing,the application another. Particularity relates to the application of the atonement in Christ’s office as High Priest. But at the same time,I don’t believe that the effectual call is a rescue job due to a failed general call(a call that includes general revelation)as per Amyraldism(?) I think that’s too ‘low’ a view. The bible does not portray Christ’s love for…

  60. …his bride-elect as being such that it necessitated a desperate second choice when the woman that he would have married if she’d chosen him,had rejected him! Just some limited thoughts…John,I love you, sir.

  61. Bro’ Phil, here is a link to a message you gave in 2003.Who or what influenced you to change your mind? I’m not looking to argue. I am just interested in wanting to know how you got where you are now. The same for Reid. Other than Dr. Bruce Ware, who or what brought you to your present position you hold to now. If you don’t mind sharing with me. I will not pick it apart nor will I critique or comment.
    Thank you and God bless you,
    Dan

    http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/SC03-1027.htm

  62. Thank you for sharing those thoughts, brother Phil. I have a few thoughts. The Bible does tell us to preach to everyone. Everyone does need to repent and believe in the Lord. I think we agree on that. Now, perhaps we made it all a little too complex. Simply put, we preach the Gospel and some come and some don’t. We don’t know who will and who won’t so we preach as if they all will come, agreed? This other stuff about election, and the bonafide offer and all that. Do we really need to go there? We preach the Gospel and some repent and believe and some don’t. If we just do what the Bible tells us to do then we don’t have to bring things up like the “bonafide” offer of the Gospel and for whom did Christ die and all that, do we? We preach to all as if they all could come. Its not going to happen but we have absolutely no idea who will come and who won’t. I don’t think God told us in His word that we need to get into all that, did he? We must not preach a Gospel void of repentance but if someone can or can’t repent…really. What are we doing? I can’t prove this but I think that God being as loving as gracious as He is, we may really be surprised by how “many” do come to saving faith, don’t you think.
    God bless you..

  63. Thank you,Dan. I know what you mean. But I just don’t think we’re to be thinking in terms of a secret decree everytime the gospel is offered. Bunyan preached ‘come and welcome’to sinners because he knew the gospel was for them,not just the elect. And he knew the elect needed to respond just the same. He knew that-whatever the mysteries of the eternal,and how everything fitted to together in God’s mind-it must be good and perfect-God genuinely appeals to us in our time and space as the creatures he’s…

  64. …fearfully and wonderfully made. If he says ‘believe’it’s out of seeking the best for the other,and he means it. And there must be sure,solid ground for the basis of that. He wouldn’t give it just for the sake of commanding. I think all the life is squeezed out if our (limited)conception of things too high for us leaves this untrue or strangled. After all,its the goodness of God that leads us to repentance-not his wrath,his sovereignty,or his election. If we lose that,we lose the power of the gospel…

  65. …He will assuredly save,but not by dragging people kicking and screaming into the kingdom… Grace and peace,Dan.

  66. BTW, have you read Turretin’s “The Atonement of Christ” and especially the last section on the “extent of the atonement.” He address every single one of yours and Reid’s objections.

  67. No,I haven’t Dan. I’ve not read much. I’m prob half your age for one!But Reid probably has. And I’m a Brit,so happy Thanksgiving from across the pond.

  68. Phil, I’m 26 and have dyslexia. I am guessing that your age is the same backwards as it is forwards if your website was the Dead Theologian thing which I enjoyed very much.

  69. Oops! Well, Phil Johnson is rather common name, I guess. Sorry.
    Here is a small excerpt from “Fred’s Bible Talk” . The whole article can be found at:
    http://www.fredsbibletalk.com/picirillireview.html

    Also, Calvinists appeal to other factors in the passage to determine what John has in mind, for instance, his use of propitiation in the immediate context. Dr. Picirilli mentions the significance of this word in passing during the course of his study on 1 John 2:2. As he points out, the word propitiation has the idea of appeasement of God’s wrath. But that definition has severe problems with proponents of a universal atonement, because if Christ has appeased the wrath of God against the whole world, then the question can be asked, “what remaining sin is in need of propitiation of those who go to hell?” Calvinists believe, with strong exegetical foundation, that the death Christ died completely satisfied the wrath of God against sinners and that it accomplishes the salvation of those for whom it is made. This is the reason why the Christian can be assured of Christ’s advocacy in regards to their sin. First John 2:2 is connected to verse 1 with the Greek conjunction, kai, translated as “and.” Christ’s role as the advocate for sinning Christians is conditioned upon his role as their wrath appeasing sacrifice. Hence, if Christ’s propitiation is to be understood as universal, in that all men without exception are atoned for by Christ’s death, then all men have Christ interceding for their sin in the role of advocate on their behalf. But, we know from John’s own pen that the whole world lies in wickedness (1 John 5:19) and those born of God keep themselves from sin. It is contradictory to suggest, as Dr. Picirilli and other universal atonement proponents do, that on one hand, the sins of the whole world have been propitiated and Christ acts as their advocate before God, yet on the other, they still remain in their sin and will be judged for it. Thus, this is the reason Calvinists believe the word propitiation has a limiting affect upon the word world. The old Scottish theologian, George Smeaton, summed up this fact well when he wrote,
    It is a perversion of the language when this is made to teach the dogma of universal propitiation; or that the atonement was equally offered for all, whether they receive it or not, whether they acknowledge its adaptation to their case or not. The passage does not teach that Christ’s propitiation has removed the divine anger in such a sense from all and every man. Nothing betokens that the apostle had others in his eye than believers out of every tribe and nation.[15]

  70. The problem with that exegesis is that it isn’t as much exegesis as logic. Not that I oppose logic. But logic can err. In this case, it is not a convincing argument that if Christ’s death propitiated for all, that it necessarily implies FORGIVENESS has actually been meted out to all. The Scripture evidence militates against it. All are born in sin and unforgiven EVEN the elect. Until there is faith and repentance, the unbeliever (elect or non-elect) is still abiding under the wrath of God. If we are consistent with Picirilli’s logic, then there could be no wrath abiding on the elect before their conversion. However, Scripture clearly affirms there is. The logic simply does not hold up to the Scriptural model.

    In 1 John 2:2 (I’m borrowing heavily from Dr. Canham’s exegesis here):we need to ask and answer 3 questions.
    1. Who is the “our” used 2 times in the verse?
    2. Who is being referred to as “the whole world” in this verse?
    3. If the “whole world” is taken in its normal sense of including both elect and non-elect (we’ll establish that textually later) then in what sense is Jesus’ death a “propitiation” for them?

    1. “Our” in the verse. Some posit the “we” as Jewish believers, and the “whole world” as Gentile believers. Thus propitiation would only have reference to those two groups of believers. This of course presupposes John writing to a primarily Jewish audience. I don’t believe this stands up to scrutiny for the following reasons.

    a. There is no textual evidence John is writing to primarily Jews – and evidence to the contrary in his admonition to refrain from idols in 5:21. Idol worship was a Gentile problem at this point, but not a Jewish one per se.
    b. Nowhere in this epistle does John introduce any kind of Jewish/Gentile dynamic. It simply isn’t there in the text.
    c. All of the other “we/they” contrasts in this letter are believer/unbeliever contrasts, not Jewish/Gentile contrasts. See: 2:19; 3:4-10; 4:5-6.
    d. That John was an apostle to the Jews may or may not be accurate, but at this point he was most likely in Ephesus and among more heavily Gentile believers.
    e. Christ can indeed be the Advocate of the saved – those who have believed in Him and trusted in His sacrifice (“our sins” – v. 2a), and is yet held forth as a propitiation to be received by faith (Rom. 3:25). The propitiation must be received.
    f. Most date this epistle in the mid 90’s A. D., lowering the possibility it is written to a more exclusively Jewish believing community. His audience might well have been primarily the 7 churches he writes to in the Revelation.

    Note: Even John 17:9 which speaks of Christ praying NOT for the world – is not the whole story in this regard. He goes on in praying for the disciples to include the world! Vs. 21 “so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” And in vs. 23: “so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

    2. Who, is included in “the whole world.” Some would say (based on the Jewish/Gentile) dynamic – it simply means Gentile believers as opposed to Jewish believers. However, in John’s use of world, the lost human race is more often the case.

    In fact, the only other use of this term “the whole world” in John’s writings is in 1 John 5:19 where we are told the “whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Canham notes: a. It is the same expression “whole world”. b. The same contrast exists between “we” and the “whole world”. c. In this case, it is clearly the contrast between redeemed and unredeemed. d. Most grammarians note that if a phrase occurs only twice in a writer, and those times are in close proximity – it is “virtually assured” they have the same meaning.

    If we see both as groups of elect, then the verse reads: “He is the propitiation for[the elect’s] sins, and not for[the elect’s] only but also for the sins of the [elect].

    3. In what sense then is Christ the “propitiation” for the non-elect? In that a. The Gospel call is a genuine call based upon a finished work. b. It is a forestalling of final wrath on all mankind – and a day of forbearance is ours while we preach the Gospel. The very core of Paul’s message on Mars Hill. c. Again – with Rom. 3:25 – This propitiation has been made, but is styled by the Spirit as being “put forward” in the Gospel, and to be “received by faith.”

    The sacrifice itself does nothing, until it is applied – even as slaying the lamb on the day of atonement did nothing in itself, until its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat. The Temple and its types being destroyed, and transferred to the heart of the believer.

  71. Interesting but…what does “He chose in Him before the foundation of the world…” Eph 1:14 mean?And I Pet. 1:18-21 where the Lamb of God was foreknown before the foundation of the world, etc.? See also Heb 9:24-26. As far I Jo. 2:2. I repeat that I think that the issue is not particular election but the fact that the world (according to Jewish belief) means all kinds of people but not necessarily individuals in particular. God is not restricted to time/space the way we are. He sees everything now. For Him it is all a done deal. Not so for us. He does not see us as goats. He has already chosen His people before the foundation of the world. That is, how God sees us. For us, restricted to a time/space continuum, we don’t know who is saved until a person repents and believes. Then we may consider them sheep. God knows. He is not waiting to see who is going to have faith and who doesn’t. On our side, we do need to see a person repent and believe to know they are saved. The bona fide offer of the Gospel is preaching that those who do repent and believe are surely saved. The offer is not a fake offer. The offer is that if one repents and believes in Christ as their Savior then they are saved. Calvinists don’t preach the Gospel thinking that a person is prevented from repenting and showing faith. If they hear the Gospel and do this then they are saved. I repeat that no one knows who the elect are but we know God has given a people to His Son. Just like Bunyan said something like when you get to heaven you see a door with the words “whosoever will may come” and when it is opened you look on the other side of the door and it says “chosen before the foundation of the world.”

  72. Dan wrote: Interesting but…what does “He chose in Him before the foundation of the world…” Eph 1:14 mean?

    RAF: I assume you mean Eph. 1:4 – and it means just what it says. This is election. but election is not salvation itself. Election is FOR something it is UNTO something. verse 5 says it is unto ADOPTION. We were predestinated UNTO to adoption – we were not already adopted – or predestination has no meaning. If words have meaning, and they do, then what has been predestined is that which is not yet arrived at. Election is designation, not the thing itself. Barack Obama is our President elect, but as of yet he has not taken office, and has absolutely no power or authority to act as the President. That he WILL have it after he is sworn into office is assured. But that Mr. Bush is still our President and in the office WITH its authority is the present reality. I’m afraid you are pushing these realities beyond their bounds. Gal. 4 is clear – even a natural born heir (which we are not – we are adopted, and NOT brought into the family until regenerated) differs nothing from a servant until he comes of age. We must make these distinctions because Scripture does.

    DAN R. “And I Pet. 1:18-21 where the Lamb of God was foreknown before the foundation of the world, etc.? ”

    RAF: Please read the text Dan. Even though Christ Himself was “foreknown” – He still HAD to be manifested in the flesh. The Cross had to take place in time and space or there would be no salvation. We cannot collapse these events or wrest them out of their actual accomplishment. God exists outside of time – but we do not. And He deals with us IN time – not outside of it. If we took your theory, Jesus wouldn’t really have to die on the cross at all – since it was done before the foundations of the world. And Paul’s entire argument in 1 Cor. 15 is that if Jesus didn’t actually and physically rise from the dead – we are still lost. It couldn’t just happen in the mind of God – it had to actually take place. Otherwise we make the incarnation utterly irrelevant.

    DAN R. “See also Heb 9:24-26.”

    RAF: The beginning of the Hebrews pericope reads thus: ” But WHEN Christ APPEARED as a high priest of the good things that have come, THEN through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, THUS securing an eternal redemption. (Emphases mine) There was no securing of our eternal redemption UNTIL He appeared and died – because it was secured BY HIS OWN BLOOD.” No other way could it be secured. The text is absolutely clear – this redemption was not “secured” until it was so – by His blood. Which required the incarnation and His death in time and space.

    DAN R. “As far I Jo. 2:2. I repeat that I think that the issue is not particular election but the fact that the world (according to Jewish belief) means all kinds of people but not necessarily individuals in particular.”

    RAF: That’s fine to disagree Dan – but how about just a little exegesis. You’ve offered not one single argument to counter to objections I raised to that theory by means of the text. The simple reality is, there is not one line in 1 John that hints at John writing to a Jewish audience. We can’t just pluck that idea out of tin air, we have to justify it in the text somewhere.

    DAN R. ” God is not restricted to time/space the way we are. He sees everything now. For Him it is all a done deal. Not so for us.”

    RAF: I proved above by Scriptural texts that that is not how He deals with us. Please offer some texts which would indicate otherwise.

    DAN R. “He does not see us as goats.”

    RAF: SOME text Dan – please. Some. This is a fine opinion, but there is nothing Scripturally which states what you just stated. The entire “goats” concept is taken but from 1 simile in Matt. which clearly sets believers over and against unbelievers at the end of the age. It says absolutely nothing about sheep or goats beforehand. But please note that in terms of the OT sacrificial models – goats could be substituted for lambs in almost every sacrifice. This clear delineation simply does not exist there. In fact, on the day of atonement – it was two – GOATS!

    DAN R. “He has already chosen His people before the foundation of the world. That is, how God sees us.”

    RAF: No argument – as elect. But He does not already “see us” (I’m not sure how you’d build that concept Biblically) as forgiven and redeemed – or justification by faith is a mirage. We would have nothing to be justified from.

    DAN R. “For us, restricted to a time/space continuum, we don’t know who is saved until a person repents and believes. Then we may consider them sheep. God knows. He is not waiting to see who is going to have faith and who doesn’t. On our side, we do need to see a person repent and believe to know they are saved. ”

    RAF: I have never once asserted that God doesn’t know or has to wait to see who is going to have faith and who is not. If you are going to accuse me of holding that view – show me where I’ve advocated it. But in fact, I never have. You are confusing something here. Perhaps someone else said that – but not me.

    DAN R. “The bona fide offer of the Gospel is preaching that those who do repent and believe are surely saved. The offer is not a fake offer. The offer is that if one repents and believes in Christ as their Savior then they are saved. Calvinists don’t preach the Gospel thinking that a person is prevented from repenting and showing faith. If they hear the Gospel and do this then they are saved. I repeat that no one knows who the elect are but we know God has given a people to His Son. Just like Bunyan said something like when you get to heaven you see a door with the words “whosoever will may come” and when it is opened you look on the other side of the door and it says “chosen before the foundation of the world.”

    RAF: The “door” similie (one I like by the way) was Spurgeon. Bunyan said: “In the language of our Lord, “Go preach the Gospel unto every creature,” and again:
    “Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye sawed; and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.” And the reason is, because Christ died for all, tasted death for every man, is the Savior of the world, and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world…I gather it from those several censures that even every one goeth under that, doth not receive Christ when offered in the general tenders of the Gospel: “He that believeth not shall be damned; he that believeth not makes God a liar, because he believeth not the record that God hath given of his Son;” and, “Woe unto thee, Capernaum, woe unto thee, Corazin, woe unto thee, Bethsaida; with many other sayings; all which words, with many other of the same nature, carry in them a very great argument to this very purpose; for if those that perish in the days of the Gospel shall have at least their damnation heightened because they have neglected and refused to receive the Gospel, it must needs be: that the Gospel was with all faithfulness to be tendered unto them; the which it could not be unless the death of Christ did extend itself unto them; for the offer of the Gospel cannot, with God’s allowance, be offered any further than the death of Jesus Christ doth go; because if that be, taken away there is indeed no Gospel nor grace to be extended . Besides, if by every creature, and the like should be meant only the elect, then are all the persuasions of the Gospel to no effect at all; for still the unconverted, who are here condemned for refusing of it, they return it as fast again: I do not know I am elected, and therefore dare not come to Jesus Christ; for if the death of Jesus Christ, and so the general tender of the Gospel, concern the elect alone, I, not knowing myself to be one of that number, am at a mighty plunge; nor know I whether is the greatest sin, to believe or to despair; for I say again, if Christ died only for the elect, etc., then, I, not knowing myself to be one of that number, dare not believe the Gospel that holds forth his blood to save me; nay, I
    think with safety may not, until I first do know I am elect of God and appointed thereto.”

  73. Thanks,Reid. Seems like Luther was right when he said justification by faith was the article of a standing or falling church. I think,like I guess Mrs F was getting at in her post,that reformed people often fall into inadvertently denying that by making election rather than faith the sine qua non of actual salvation. Not that I don’t think the new covenant isn’t unilateral. But it deals with men as the men they were made, and there is a real sense that Christ draws all men to himself as the Second Adam.

  74. Again – well said Phil. I am amazed that justification by faith is taking a back seat to election in our day. We need to guard this fiercely. And isn’t it interesting that it is coming from inside? I know my own heart is prone to stray. But the revelation of Scripture and the those things most plainly revealed must remain central.

  75. Me,too. When I first believed I knew I was comprehended as a sinner and that I was loved as one. That gave me confidence to believe with a faith that didn’t boast in itself but rejoiced in his love for me. I didn’t know what a Calvinist was. But since,through a proud desire for orthodoxy,I have suffered the pains of disassociating election from the heart of the God who loves sinners,and it has been one thing that has caused me much pain and confusion. I think we sometimes think that we really cut to the…

  76. …the chase on grace if we view everything through the lens of election. We forget that’s not a lens we’re privy to,nor is it God’s way to cut to the chase on grace or human responsibility. Election is a pillow for the believer’s head. A love-call from eternity past that tells of the present not being an accident,but on purpose. Not a spur with which to spike people. It can turn around and bite us. The only sense it is a limitation on human boasting is insofar as it’s connected with the effectual call…

  77. …that brings our chooser around so we close with Christ,I think. I trust my troubled heart-in this and other things-is being brought into the disposition befitting one who has faith-that of a weaned child who puts his Father’s revelation in Christ above his telling his Father what he ought to be,as he attempts to view him outside of Christ! I pray so.

  78. I also think,though,that this error readily opens the door for a christianized Phariseeism-works religion disguised in the attire of grace. Something that says ‘we have God’s doctrine and law and are committed to keeping it with God’s help. And this is evidence we are okay with him. Separate from sinners’. Couple that to a false humility that glories in exalting wretchedness to make it seem more reasonable. And of course this would bring with it all that would be expected.

  79. Phil, since you are being very polemical and trying to make out the Reformed position as evil and stupid, I will conclude with this. If I understand you guys correctly, what you are saying is that “faith” is a contribution from man and that “chosen before the foundation of the world” can’t be true because we weren’t here yet…????
    When I asked “what does this mean”? I’m not being polemical. I really want to know what you think. If you want to stick with unorthodox teachings and make false accusations (especially young Phil) then I really am through with all this now. How dare you say the Reformed disassociates love from election! How dare you call these teachings “false humility” and “exalting wretchedness”!!!!
    What is really going on is that you must insist on giving man some credit and putting man first in everything involved in salvation and how God must be unfair (implied by your statements) if He doesn’t love everybody in the whole world and including those who are burning in hell (since He loves them). Your position is totally unbiblical and illogical and from your statements it is certain you are confused and self contradictory.You have to redefine terms and insist that I John was not written to Jews of which there is absolutely no proof of this. The majority of believers were Jewish and numbered in the hundreds of thousands. When John said “our sins” he met his fellow Jewish believers in contrast to the “world” (Gentiles). There are many intelligent and godly men who have written commentaries on all these errors you are commiting and have studied the Hebrew culture, the Hebrew thought and idioms, and the Greek and DO NOT come up with such God dishonoring teachings like Arminianism and Amyraldism. In fact, many of them say that Amyraldism is just a cover up for out and out Arminianism and I am tempted to believe them. Is it so terrible that God chooses who He wants and these are the people Christ died for? Is it so terrible that fallen man had lost all ability to repent and believe and so everything for salvation is given from God because He loves them (the elect)????? Or are you so deceived that you HAVE to believe that man has got to have some contribution of His own to his own salvation?
    That God loves everyone and sends some of those He loves and died for to a Christless, eternal punishment in Hell???? So, you want to be polemical and make this personal so here is my reply. You have my word that I am through posting any more comments.
    Salvation is of the LORD.
    Good bye.

  80. Dan,you’re still not understanding me. I’ve tried to say why I’m not saying what you say Reid and I are saying. ‘Reformed’theology isn’t monolithic. In fact,when you say God doesn’t love everybody and the gospel call is just a command-that puts you outside the mainstream of historical reformed theology,from what I gather. I didn’t say election is not to do with love-I said a wrong concept of it limits the heart of the love of God unbiblically…Reid gave some comments on 1Jn. My simple thought is this…

  81. …it’s a general epistle aimed at black and white contrasts between the state of the believer and the unbeliever in the context of a proto-gnosticism that said ‘because we’re perfect in spirit we can do all sin with the flesh willingly.’I don’t think it’s true that the majority of early believers were Jews. On the contrary,a small remnant of Christ’s own kinsmen after the flesh came to him. The rest wouldn’t believe. The masses were from the Gentile nations to provoke the unbelieving Jewish masses to…

  82. …jealousy,while the vestiges of the old covenant system remained,pre-AD70. I only want to be ‘orthodox’-whatever that means- as far as orthodoxy accords with written revelation. I didn’t write what I did to provoke anyone,Dan,really. I wasn’t personally attacking you. Please try and get what’s being said -I too am thinking as I try to express myself-and consider the ramifications. -Best wishes,Dan.

  83. Reid,isn’t Dan saying that the new creation must be COMPLETE, BEFORE he can believe?Whereas I at least am saying that he’s not complete until he exercises faith. Dan says synergism is any thing less than being entirely passive in regeneration. I’m saying monergism is that we are first passive, then believe as the result,upon which we are ‘complete in him’. What do you say?

  84. You are correct in my opinion. In fact, in John Owen’s book on justification, he had to distance himself from Tobias Crisp in this very area. Crisp taught an out and out eternal justification scheme. Even Owen has to finally admit: ‘absolute, complete, pactional
    justification, [as] an act of favour quitting the sinner from the guilt of sin, charged
    by the accusation of the law, terminated in the conscience of a sinner’ follows faith ‘in
    order of nature’. (Works of Owen 1850-55: X.453.) Mason’s disseration is very helpful here: http://www.johnowen.org/media/mason_union_with_christ.pdf

    For Dan, it seems he cannot separate election from justification. Our union in Christ Scripturally is tied to the Spirit’s work – He is the one who “baptizes us into Christ” or “into one body.” And “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” We just need to get the cart back behind the horse – that’s all.

  85. Look, Phil. I love the Lord, you love the Lord. I want to see the lost come to salvation and you do too. We are serving Him to the best of our knowledge we have at this time. We are responsible to use what we think, at this time, is the truth to the best of our abilities. I can see there simply cannot be any further dialogue. I accept and love you as a brother in Him. I know you are earnest about what you believe. You feel strongly about what you believe and I feel the same way about what I believe at this time. We are just going nowhere with all of this so I’m through. I wish you God’ greatest blessings and consider what I said:

    “Is it so terrible that God chooses who He wants and these are the people Christ died for? Is it so terrible that fallen man had lost all ability to repent and believe and so everything for salvation is given from God because He loves them (the elect)?????”

  86. To your quote,Dan,I would answer ‘no’. But I would ask you on top of that, is it so terrible that God can love the non-elect and sincerely offer them salvation on the grounds that they repent and believe as well? I say revelation reveals both. And the basic reason is that the salvation of one man needed the sacrifice of Christ,the perfect man to provide it. This was also super-abundantly sufficient for all,and ordained on condition of faith for all,just by the very fact that the salvation of any number…

  87. …required a Second Adam to substitute for the whole race to save any at all…I’ve only aimed at dialogue and clarifying my own thought here,Dan,not personal attack. My comments were intended to be largely general,sir,not personal. I think perhaps you read into my words a bit. The last comment on Nov29th at 5.14 was a genuine question to Reid that I wanted to hear what he thought about. I’ll leave it be now,then, Dan.

  88. Very interesting indeed. I have never heard of the Wladenstromian view. A new one on me.

    On the face of its assertion that we are not under the wrath of God however, I would find it in opposition to the direct statements of Scripture. John 3:36 – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” While anyone remains in an unbelieving state, they remain under God’s wrath. At least as Jesus understands it.

    Thanks!

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