Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

28
May
18

For We are His Handiwork–Ephesians 2:10

If there is any question in anyone’s mind about Paul’s meaning in verses eight and nine, what he has written in verse ten makes it abundantly clear. First, notice that the purpose clause “in order that no one should boast” and the words “we are his handiwork/created work” are connected by “for, or because [γὰρ].” Paul is citing the reason that no one should boast and he places “of Him [αὐτοῦ]” in the emphatic position—“of him, we are the created work” to underscore the fact that our union with Christ in the new creation is his doing and not ours. This clearly accords with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 1:29-31 where he wrote, “In order that no human being should boast in his presence, but it is of him [God] you are in Christ Jesus. . .in order that just as it is written, ‘he that boasts, let him boast in the Lord.’”

If the synergistic view were correct, none of what is written in these passages would be true. According to synergism, God’s choice of sinners has been determined, not by his sovereign good pleasure but by his foresight of their free will decision. The Son has not secured the eternal redemption of any sinner in particular but has merely given sinners the potential for salvation if they will let Jesus save them. Jesus “draws” every sinner and the Father enables them to believe by giving all of them prevenient grace. He does absolutely nothing to distinguish between one sinner and another. If any sinner is saved, it is solely because he [or she] has cooperated with God’s best efforts and has thus distinguished himself from other sinners who have had equal opportunities but did not improve on them.

It is inconceivable, on the supposition that this view of soteriology is correct, that Paul could have written, “But it is of him that you are in Christ Jesus” since it would be of the sinner’s doing that is in Christ and not of his doing. If in all his best efforts to bring sinners to himself, efforts exerted toward all sinners equally, many will perish for eternity, one cannot accurately state that his most noble exertions have been effective in uniting any sinner to Christ. If there is no distinction in God’s efforts to save sinners, the factor or factors that distinguish one sinner from another must be in the sinner.

If God has done all he has intended to do to effect the sinner’s salvation once he has granted universal but ineffectual “grace” and has left the outcome to the sinner’s free will decision, the best one could say is that God has responded to the sinner’s decision and has united him to Christ in response to his faith, but in that case the reason for our union with him would be of our doing and not of him.

Paul is clear. We should not boast since it is God who has made us what we are spiritually. In creating us spiritually, he has performed a supernatural work that we could never have performed. Again, we should notice that the focus is entirely on God’s activity and not on ours.

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23
Feb
18

To Know the Love of Christ

To know the love of Christ, my Lord,

Who rescued me and holds me fast,

Will be my highest treasure here,

Until I see his face at last.
 

That love above all loves below,

Its width and depth and height unknown,

Will far exceed my knowledge here

Until I see him on his throne.

 

To know him thus, exceeds my power

To plumb the depths of love divine.

Upon his Spirit I depend

To make this splendid knowledge mine.

 

Above what I can ask or think,

He works in me to give this light

And fill me with his fullness here

That I might live and walk aright.

 

To him be glory in the church,

Both now and while the ages run,

For he alone can make me know

The splendors of his glorious Son.

R. Seiver

Based on Ephesians 3: 14-20

12
Jan
18

Reason’s Obituary

I just listened to a few minutes of a Youtube video in which the speaker was arguing against the idea that God has chosen a people for himself and predestined those people and those alone to inherit everlasting life. After listening to what this man had to say, I concluded that the ability to reason must have died. If a person could stand behind a pulpit and  teach such bilge and no one listening to his absolutely erroneous arguments called him to account, there is little hope.  
 
His “argument” was that God has predestined everyone to everlasting life but only who choose to be saved are actually saved. His contention, based on Romans 8:30, was that if we can discover who is called, then we will know who has been predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. He then read several verses that made reference to the universal call of the gospel. I saw several problems with his argument that were so obvious that anyone thinking person should recognize immediately. Let me just list a few of his errors:
 
1. He has ignored the fact that the “calling” Paul speaks of in this verse is according to God’s purpose and that being called according to that purpose is his description of believers alone. It is true of those who love God, but of them alone (Romans 8:28).
 
2. He has ignored the fact that “called” is used in two distinct ways in the New Testament. It is used of the sincere, universal call of the gospel and it is used of that internal call by which God unites his chosen people to Christ (1 Cor. 1:9). Paul wrote, “but to those who are called, Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:24). One need only ask himself if everyone who is invited by the gospel message (“called” in that sense) regards Christ as God’s wisdom and God’s power.
 
3. He argues that if we can show who are the called, we will know who has been predestined, but he has ignored the fact that he would, in that way, limit God’s predestinating decree to those alone who have heard or will hear the gospel.
 
4. He argues that if we can show who are the called, we will know who has been predestined, but he has ignored the other side of that link in the chain. There is an inseparable link between all the links in this golden chain, so that Paul’s argument boils down to this—God will glorify all those he has purposed to save. The chain spans God’s entire work of redemption from his purpose in eternity past to glorification to his act of glorifying his people in eternity future. Everyone who is predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ will be glorified. What this gentleman has overlooked is that not only can we show who has been predestined by learning who has been called, but we can show who has been called by showing who has been justified. Paul wrote, “those he called, he also justified” (Rom. 8:30). According to this man’s argument, everyone who is called [invited] by the gospel will be justified. I suspect that is not a conclusion he would wish his hearers to draw.R
06
Jan
18

“Free Grace” Hijacked.

I want to thank one of our readers, Dan Huston, for pointing out that in my booklet, Burning Straw Dummies, available at http://www.amazon.com/author/randyseiver, I have used the term “free grace believer” to refer to those who believe in the free and sovereign grace of God, and that the term may be misleading since there are those who use the same term in a quite different way to describe what I would describe as “cheap grace.” As a correction, I have added the following to the book description. I hope it will serve to clarify my views on this matter.

Throughout this booklet, I have used the term “free grace believer” to refer to those who believe in the free and sovereign grace of God lavished on hell-deserving sinners. Since I wrote this booklet over thirty years ago, that term has been hijacked by those who believe in cheap grace and are perpetuating a doctrine that shows they have no understanding of salvation at all. In my book, Authentic Evangelism and Its Counterfeit, I have addressed this damnable heresy in some detail. I would suggest that you read the last two chapters of that book if you have any question about my affinity for that aberrant view.

16
Dec
17

Why I No Longer Hold to New Covenant Theology.

I am disavowing all connection to New Covenant Theology, not for what it was intended to be but for what it has become. There are at least three areas of departure from what we originally intended when we began to develop NCT. The first was the infusion of what was more like Progressive Dispensationalism which saw Israel as an entity separate from the church and not as a typical foreshadowing of the church that found it’s fulfillment first in Christ and then in the church in union with him.  The second is the denial of the imputed active obedience of Christ. And the third is the denial that there remains any objective standard that gages a believer’s obedience in sanctification.

These are such radical departures from the original intent and content of New Covenant Theology that it is no longer safe to use that label.  The following are fifteen tenets of classic NTC that I continue to hold and would urge others to consider.

1..Given that, biblically speaking, a covenant is a unilateral decree and not an agreement between two or more persons, we have no problem with the idea that there was a “pre-fall covenant of works” with Adam.  Its terms were these–you will die as soon as you disobey.

What we have difficulty with is the idea that God promised Adam and all his posterity eternal life based on his perfect obedience during a probationary period.  What he was promised was that he would certainly die if he disobeyed God’s one prohibition.  He would continue to live as long as he obeyed, but there is no evidence he would ever have been confirmed in righteousness at any point.

2. We have no difficulty with the idea that every sinner who has ever been justified before God, was justified through faith alone, based on the redemptive work of Christ alone.  This does not mean God established an over-arching “Covenant of grace” in Genesis 3:15, and that every subsequent covenant is part of that covenant.

3.  The New Covenant and the Old Covenant are distinct covenants, not different administrations of the same covenant

4.  The Law, the covenant by which God constituted Israel a nation before him, was a homogeneous whole.  There were certain elements of it that pertained to the civil state; others that pertained to the ceremonial system; still others were “moral” in nature.  Biblical writers never speak of these aspects of the law as though they are separable.  If Jesus has fulfilled the “Law.” it is not merely one or two aspects of the law he has fulfilled, but the entire covenant.

5.  Israel was a typical representation of the church.  As such, it was neither “the church” in the Old Testament nor were it and the church separate and eternally distinct peoples of God.  Nothing that is predicated of natural and national Isreal has the same meaning as the same terms used to describe the New Covenant people of God.  The Hebrews can be both Abraham’s seed and not Abraham’s seed at the same time.  The continuous relationship between the Old and New Covenants is that of type to antitype and promise to fulfillment.

6. We believe there is a continuity in God’s righteous standard between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  God requires no less under the New Covenant than under the Old Covenant.  In fact, we believe Christ’s law presents an even higher standard than did the Law of Moses.  Often mercy is more difficult to display than justice.

7. We believe the focus of the gospel is on what God has done in Christ rather than on what he is doing in us. We stand as righteous in God’s presence not only because we have been pardoned from our past sins but because we have the positive righteousness and active obedience of Christ imputed to us. His faithfulness and obedience up to and including his substutionary death on the cross [in itself an act of submission and active obedience to his Father] form the righteous basis of our justification before God. Justification is more than pardon. It is a declaration of a positive righteousness that we possess because we are in union with Jesus Christ, the righteous one.

We do not deny the necessity or importance or regeneration, but insist that we are what we are only “in Christ.” For this reason, New Covenant Theology is God-centered and Christ-centered rather than man-centered.

8.  The redemptive-historical approach stresses that this is the final age of human history. These are the last days. This is the time of fulfillment. We are those on whom “the fulfillment of the ages has come.” This does not mean God’s people have already fully and personally experienced everything that God has promised. Paul tells us in Romans 8:23 that we believers have the first-fruits, the pledge, of our inheritance, namely, the Holy Spirit. Yet, we, along with the rest of creation, go on groaning as we wait for the full enjoyment of all Jesus won for us at Calvary. The realm in which we are saved is the realm of confident expectation, not full fruition.

9.  The redemptive-historical approach does not minimize the reality that believers personally and individually enjoy the blessings that accrue from the redemptive work of Christ. Yet, the focus of this approach is not the individual’s experience, but God’s accomplishment of redemption in Christ. In Paul’s Epistles it is clear that, in his theological thought, all of redemptive history consists of God’s dealings with two representative men. All others are what they are in God’s sight by virtue of their relationship to one of these two men. A person is either in Adam or in Christ, whom Paul designated as the “last Adam” (1 Cor 15:45). Accordingly, every person belongs to one of two spheres or realms. They belong either to the old creation (this world, this present age) in Adam or the new creation in Christ. When Paul writes about the “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17, Gal 6:15), he is not talking about something that God does in the believer, but about the realm into which the believer has been transferred in Christ. Similarly, when he talks about “the flesh,” he is not making reference to the “sinful nature.” He refers instead to the environment into which sinners are born in Adam. This is that which characterizes the realm or age to which man, in Adam, belongs.

New Covenant Theology teaches the gospel is more about what God has accomplished in Christ than it is about what he is doing in us. This does not mean we deny the work of God’s Spirit in us or depreciate its importance.  It is simply that we believe his principal work is the application or the redemptive accomplishments of Christ.

10     God assures us that the full inheritance is ours, but the best (the experiential enjoyment of it) is yet to come.

The idea of present eschatological fulfillment creates an “already/not yet” tension between that which is true of the believer because of His redemptive-historical union with Christ and that which is not yet true in his experience. “If any man is in Christ, there is to him a new creation, old (that which belongs to a former time) has passed away, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).

11. New Covenant Theology teaches that the Holy Spirit enables believers to do what the Law could only demand.  This does not mean New Covenant believers are without imperatives to be obeyed.  It simply means we will not be frustrated in our efforts to obey those imperatives.  Sin shall not have dominion over us since we are no longer under Law, but under grace.  Obeying rules out of gratitude is not legalism.  Legalism is the sense that I must obey rules to obtain or maintain God’s approval.

12.  New Covenant Theology does not teach that anyone has ever been without God’s Law in an absolute sense.  What we argue is that the Law in the sense of a covenant God made with Israel entered at Mt. Sinai and came to fulfillment at Mt. Calvary.

13.   Just as we are to interpret obscure passages in the light of clearer passages, so New Covenant Theology believes we are to interpret the Old Testament Scriptures in the light of New Testament revelation, not visa-versa.

14. New Covenant Theology teaches that all the Law of God depends on two commandments–supreme love for God and appropriate love for ones neighbor.  Obedience to these two commandments is demonstrated in differing ways under different covenants.

15.  New Covenant Theology is in full agreement with neither  the assertions of Covenant Theology nor those of Dispensationalism.   Still, we readily acknowledge the correctness of their assertions when we find them to be consistent with the teachings of the Scriptures.

11
Nov
17

Dohse/Seiver debate on Justification

See my opening statement in two parts at:

 

As soon as Paul makes his opening statement, I will post a link to it.

27
Aug
17

Authentic Evangelism and Its Counterfeit–Study Guide