24
Jun
13

Response to “free graceful”

I want to offer my sincerest apologies to any who may have come to this blog expecting to find my response to freegracefull’s “answers” to a series of questions I asked him. In my opinion, his responses are so lame as not to merit an argument against them. He seems to base much of his argument on his abysmal misinterpretation of Romans 1. I have written sufficiently here to rebut any argument he has made. I will be happy to entertain any questions or objections you wish to pose, but please follow the rules for commenting. For example, don’t accuse me as he did of believing in “double predestination.”

I usually have difficulty knowing to whom I am responding since some of these folks seem a bit hesitant to truly identify themselves. The quote below to which I will respond is from a person who calls himself “drew” which I believe is short for “Andrew.” At any rate, since his comment, at a couple of points, seems to be virtually the same as that of “Freegracefull,” I thought it might be appropriate to comment on it here. The following is his statement and my response to it.

Men left in ther dead state are unable in themselves to come to repentance and believe the Gospel. I will agree with this. How does this prove regeneration before faith though? What is it in Total Depravity that PROVES regeneration before faith?

There are, however, many verses/examples that plainly teach faith before regeneration and God drawing a sinner to Himself before regeneration. If you want I will supply more, but here are a few:
The story of Cornelius: Acts 10, where Cornelius and his household were very obviously NOT regenerated until the end of the chapter. If anyone claims otherwise I would like to hear how they come to such a ridiculous conclusion. Again, a PLAIN SENSE reading of Scripture leaves no other conclusion.
Galatians 3:2 “This only would I learn of you, did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”

The obvious biblical answer to Paul’s query is indeed: “we received the Spirit by faith”. I do not see how anyone can argue otherwise from a plain sense reading of this verse.
So if Galatians 3:2 is true (and it must be if we believe in the inerrancy of Scripture) then it is a pretty good blow to the doctrine of regeneration before faith. How can the Spirit regenerate us to have faith if we receive the Spirit through faith in the first place?

I know you will curl your lip and sneer at this, but from the above I conclude that a dead sinner is actually enabled by God to have faith to be regenerated. How this happens is a mystery and a work of the Holy Spirit, yes, even in the heart of a dead sinner.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:19-20).

The above is referring to a TOTALLY DEPRAVED SINNER. Who is without excuse because even the very invisible attributes of God are clearly perceived by unregenerate man in the natural order of things. If unregenerate man is without excuse, this implies a work in his heart outside of regeneration that draws him to God/Christ.
What a precious gift that God would enable us through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and power of the Holy Spirit even before we are regenerated. This makes salvation a WILLFUL, VOLITIONAL ACCEPTANCE of Christ and a ONE TIME event. This is where your Total Depravity (the way Calvinists describe it) falls flat. God will hold everyone accountable for the decision they made for Christ.
We can get into every point of TULIP if you want. But since you brought up the Canons of Dort I thought I would respond to this one.

drew,

You make an interesting argument you make. You have stated that God enables the sinner to have faith to be regenerated. I assume you mean God gives this ability to all dead sinners. You have clearly covered your backside by stating that this is a mystery. It is a mystery indeed since the Word of God which you seem to accept as your authority never says a single word about it.

The burden of proof is yours to show that the indwelling of the Spirit and regeneration are the same. As far as I know, these two works are never equated in the NT Scriptures. In fact, Paul clearly states that no man can say that Jesus is Lord apart from the Spirit. I am sure you know the term regeneration only occurs once in the NT in a way that even approximates the Systematic Theological term that corresponds to it. It seems that occurrence has reference to the Old Testament promise that God will replace the stony heart with a heart of flesh, put a new spirit [disposition] within AND put his Spirit within. The granting of a new disposition and the indwelling of the Spirit are stated as separate and distinct blessings. It seems to me the order is, calling/regeneration, faith, indwelling of the Spirit.

The real discussion we should be having concerns the Father’s work of calling by which he unites believers with Christ. The apostle Paul gives us to understand that everyone who is thus called will be justified. If the call in view refers merely to an invitation of the gospel, then everyone who hears the gospel message will be justified. I don’t think you will be willing to accept that conclusion. If you reject that, the only alternative is to believe that God’s internal call effects justification every single time he issues it.
None but those called in this way will be justified and only those thus called will be justified. There is no question but that every person must choose and that God will judge him for his choices. The question still remains as to why some make the right choice and others make the wrong choice. If God raises all up to a neutral state, how is it that some believe the gospel and others do not? The only answer I can think of is that though all are equal, some are more equal than others.

If God enables all sinners to have faith, that would imply that no sinner continues in his hostility toward God and no sinner continues to have his understanding darkened being alienated to the life of God through the ignorance that is in him. Would it not indicate that no sinner is past feeling and no sinner has given himself over to unbridled lusts? Every sinner is now in a state of neutrality toward God. There is no longer any negative influence persuading the sinner to reject the gospel.

I would be interested in seeing one verse of Scripture that indicates that such is the case. Paul indicates that the Jews go on considering the gospel a stumbling block and the Greeks go on considering it foolishness, but to those who are called, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. It doesn’t appear to me that God had enabled either Jews or Greeks to have faith apart from the divine call.
So, in what sense does God enable sinners to have faith if they continue in their hostility toward him, continue in their love of sinning, persist in their opinion that the gospel is foolishness? Can you give me one verse that gives the slightest hint that all sinners are now in a state of neutrality toward God?
Perhaps I have misunderstood what you mean by being enabled to have faith. Does it mean that God has removed the sinner’s hostility toward him? Does it mean that sinners are ambivalent about sin? Who are the biblical writers describing when they talk about recalcitrant sinners who are bent on sinning? Who are those who are dead in trespasses and sins? Who are those who walk according to the course of this world and obey the wicked one? One wonders what these people would have been like if God hadn’t enabled them to have faith.

Re: Romans one, there is no disagreement that fallen sinners continue to have the physical ability to see what God has made and to reason from design to designer and from effect to cause etc. Sinners know God exists and that they must give an account to him. Additionally, sinners know the difference between right and wrong and actually choose to do certain things contained in the Law even if they are not under the Law covenant.

The issue is what sinners invariably do with this God given revelation. Romans 1:18 teaches us that God’s wrath is is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Wherever sinners find a revelation of God’s truth, whether it be in creation, conscience, commandments or Christ’s gospel, the sinner’s reaction will always be the same. Left to ourselves, we will always suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
I want to make one final comment on the following statement:

“This makes salvation a WILLFUL, VOLITIONAL ACCEPTANCE of Christ and a ONE TIME event. This is where your Total Depravity (the way Calvinists describe it) falls flat. God will hold everyone accountable for the decision they made for Christ.”

Aside from the fact that I don’t know the difference between “willful” and “volitional,” I am not sure what the significance of this statement is contra the Calvinists’ position. If he means that justification before God only occurs once and that it comes through faith alone which is not only an act of the intellect and emotions but also a volitional decision, we would agree wholeheartedly. If he means that faith is a one time proposition and that once we get it behind us we can move on to other things, I would, of course, disagree. If he thinks Calvinsts don’t believe God will hold everyone accountable for any decisions we have made, perhaps he should write less and study more.

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3 Responses to “Response to “free graceful””


  1. 1 freegracefull
    June 27, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    If he means that justification before God only occurs once and that it comes through faith alone which is not only an act of the intellect and emotions but also a volitional decision, we would agree wholeheartedly. If he means that faith is a one time proposition and that once we get it behind us we can move on to other things, I would, of course, disagree. If he thinks Calvinsts don’t believe God will hold everyone accountable for any decisions we have made, perhaps he should write less and study more.

    If you believe this then you are not a Calvinist

    • June 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      Perhaps you would like to tell me with which aspects of Calvinism you think I disagree.

    • June 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      Frankly, it does not matter to me whether I am considered a Calvinist or not. Those who have followed this blog for very long know I have stated there are areas in which I would depart from Calvin and Calvinists. Still in the area of soteriology, I would be considered a Calvinist by anyone who understands Calvinism.

      If you wish to compare my teachings in this regard with historic Calvinistic confessions, I would be happy to entertain your allegations concerning the authenticity of my Calvinism.

      Sent from my iPad


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