Jesus and Total Depravity in Matthew 13

Calvinism claims men are totally depraved in that they have no ability to respond to God unless and until God regenerates them or gives them spiritual life to THEN be able to repent and believe and be converted or saved. It is one thing to claim “no man come to God unless the Spirit draw him” and claim the necessity for regeneration for man’s response to God. It is also one thing to claim the necessity for God’s drawing in revelation and reconciliation and it is another to claim that man has the innate ability in and of himself to “come to God on his own.” All too often, these scenarios get easily lumped together as if they are mutually synonymous when they obviously are not.

Consider Jesus’ dialogue with the crowd of people who followed Him and His discussion that followed with His disciples in Matthew 13.

In verse 1, a “great crowd of people gathered together to listen to Him”. One would have to understand the vast majority of these people needed to be saved. Even though they were Jews, they were not all “the elect” in the Calvinist sense. At best, there were “the elect” in this crowd along with the “non-elect.” One must also remember that Jesus is laying the foundation for the gospel message and seeking to establish His authority as the Messiah for He has not yet gone to the cross nor is He addressing that aspect of His coming at this point. However, He does make some interesting comments that are significantly relevant to the discussion of total depravity and inability as posited in Calvinism.

In verses 3 through 8, Jesus gives the crowd a parable; He gives to them an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. He uses an agricultural story as a setting for His parable of the sower who went out to sow seed. His story will contain some aspects that will be easily understood and then some that will not be so obvious. One obvious aspect would be the purpose of the sower who goes out to sow and that is the necessity of the harvest. Anyone who goes out to sow seed does so with a harvest in mind; otherwise there is no reason to sow seed in the first place.

Calvinists will argue this sowing is tantamount to what they call a “general call.” They will argue the necessity of sowing the seed of the gospel because no one knows who is and is not the elect and no one knows who will and will not respond to the gospel message and be saved. This is an accurate statement. While it is true that this parable deals primarily with the ground that the seed falls on, it must be understood that without the sower who goes out to sow there is no opportunity for a harvest. The same is true in the spiritual real as well; if the gospel is not proclaimed, then there is no possibility of a spiritual harvest for “there is no other name under heaven whereby men may be saved.” Every believer has a mandate to go and sow.

Everyone listening to this earthly story being told by Jesus will understand the different places scattered seed will fall. They will be familiar with the hard, packed ground; they will relate to the stony ground as well as the ground that is covered in thorns and weeds and they will understand that the importance of that seed falling on fertile soil that has the best chance of producing a harvest. As Jesus finishes His story, He gives them a mandate in verse 9: 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” This is a command for the crowd to consider what He has just said and then respond to it.

Calvinism will argue that there is a general call that is available to all men and then there is a special call of God where salvation is concerned that is given to a select group they call “the elect.” They will contend there is God’s general will that all men would repent but there is also this hidden will that God has that extends some special call for a select group to repent and these are those who will be saved. This latter group is represented by the good soil that Jesus is talking about in this parable.

What is obvious at this point to anyone is the fact that some seed falls on bad ground and there is no growth nor is there any real potential for a harvest. The application that is not so obvious is what are the determining factors illustrated by the different types of ground and possibly even the implication of where the seed falls. What do the different types of ground represent and who is responsible for where what seed falls where? Remember one thing.

In a story there are obvious implications that are necessarily applicable but there may be aspects that are applicable to the story but not necessarily applicable to the implications being employed. A great example might be the human characteristics given to God. While references to God’s hands and His eyes for example may be used to talk about His activity in the world, there are certain aspects and limitations that apply physically that do not apply to God. There is always the caution to read enough into the illustration and then not read too much unto it as well. This may well explain the disciples’ question in verse 10: “Why do You speak to them in parables?” They no doubt were confused themselves and they knew the crowd would be.

Jesus answers His disciples. He tells them in verse 11, “It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” This is an interesting answer. One might argue, “Here is Scriptural justification for the concept for total depravity and inability. Obviously it is God who has given this ‘special grace to understand the mysteries of the kingdom that He has not given to others’.” If Jesus had stopped there, one might find that argument valid. However, Jesus did not stop there. He went on to explain why they had been given the ability to understand the “mysteries of the kingdom” while others had not.

Jesus said, “12For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Verse 12 offers some interesting commentary on Jesus’ illustration. What does He mean when He says, “For whoever has, to him more will be given”? In looking at the context, one would have to conclude that He is saying, “For whoever has ‘understanding’ more understanding will be given to him.” “Those who do not have an accurate understanding will lose out altogether.” This is an interesting perspective for it certainly brings to light the command He gave to the people as He finished the parable for “those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” The question at this point still remains; is God responsible for those who have “ears to hear” or are men responsible for their response to what they hear? Calvinism stands on the former while others will argue, the thrust of Scripture stands on the latter. At this point in Matthew 13, both positions can be substantiated.

Verse 13 begins to shed some light on Jesus’ position. He told His disciples, “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” One could argue that Jesus was saying He intentionally used parables so that they would continue to not understand or it could be argued that He was using a simple illustration that everyone SHOULD have been able to understand but they refused to accept the obvious meaning of the message and so they did not understand. In the former example, they were confused because Jesus did not want them to understand and in the latter, they failed to understand because they did not want to accept what He was saying. The latter explanation would seem to be the better interpretation for if He did not want them to understand the parable, which is a simple story to illustrate a spiritual principle, then it would stand to reason He would have simply NOT have given the story at all. If He does not want them to understand it, then there is no reason to tell the simple story in the first place. After all, the whole purpose for sowing seed is to reap a harvest! If Jesus had no intention of them understanding the story then it could be argued that He would have been guilty of the very lesson He was communicating in the first place.

Jesus is going to use an Old Testament prophesy from Isaiah to explain why some do not understand. This reference is a very interesting one. He will quote Isaiah 6:9-10. He said, “‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive;” obviously, Jesus was drawing their attention to the prophecy that would foretell of the people’s refusal to understand or accept the Messiah when He finally came. This is where Jesus’ use of the Old Testament sheds some serious light on the issue of total depravity as presented by Calvinism. Listen to what Isaiah wrote and Jesus quoted: “15 for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should (or would) heal them.”

The hearts of the people “have grown dull.” That is an interesting statement. The hearts of the people had “grown dull” because some of them were represented by the different kinds of soil. The differing types of soil represent different responses to the truths found in the Word of God. The hearts of the people had grown dull because their ears became hard of hearing and notice this next statement: “their eyes THEY HAVE CLOSED.” God is not responsible for those who refuse to hear Him! The people who closed their eyes are responsible for their own understanding or lack thereof! Their refusal to see and to hear is the reason they have not understood! The whole purpose of Isaiah’s prophesy was to point the children of Israel to Jesus! Again, the sole purpose of the Scripture was to produce a harvest; Isaiah’s prophesy was to point people to Jesus but God was saying through him many would refuse to see and refuse to hear and therefore fail to understand the significance of Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus continues, “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Understand something. Jesus is not commending them for their understanding because God had given it to them and not to others, He is commending them for listening to Jesus’ Words and accepting them as truth and seeing the things He did and accepting the significance of those things. That is what Jesus told the disciples of John when they came asking, “Are You the One who is to come or should we seek another?” in Matthew 11:3.”4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Jesus’ final statement to the disciples of John lends credence to the importance of an individual’s response to Him and His ministry. This statement makes no sense in a total depravity/inability setting.

Jesus’ explanation of the different types of soil in verses 18-23 highlights the response of those who hear the Word of God. This is the clear implication of Jesus’ explanation. Each response builds until the final response, which is understood to be the expected response of all who hear. This is why Jesus told the crowd, : 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Revelation and reconciliation demand a response. Verse 23, “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Jesus shares the parable of the wheat and the tares and then the parable of the mustard seed. Both of these parables deal with the acceptance of Jesus’ teaching among the people. There is the parable of the hidden treasure and then the parable of the hidden pearl. In these latest two parables, a reward awaits the one who is willing to sell all he has to secure the prized possession. Once again, it is the responsibility of the hearer of the Word of God to see its value and do whatever it takes to hold onto that truth. The parable of the dragnet echoes the parable of the wheat and the tares; there is a day that is coming when the unrighteous will be separated from the righteous and those who do not believe will be separated from those who do believe.

In verses 53-58, Jesus is rejected at Nazareth. After all the words of warning to see the things Jesus has been doing and to listen to the things He has been teaching and comparing them to the Word of God found in the Old Testament prophesies, most refused to see Him as the long awaited Messiah who had come to usher in this new kingdom God had promised.

The truth of this passage is this; the message is clear. This message has been revealed to all who are willing to listen to it and consider the merits of it in light of the Word of God that has given to men so that they might believe it and be saved by it.

“Blessed is the one who is not offended because of Me.”

About these ads

About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
This entry was posted in Calvinism, SBC and Calvinism, SBC Issues, Soteriology Simplified, Southern Baptist Convention, Transformed Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

110 Responses to Jesus and Total Depravity in Matthew 13

  1. Bob Wheeler says:

    I had to think a while about his one. The obvious emphasis in the passage is our responsibility to act on what we already know, and there is such a thing as “judicial blindness,” in which God takes away what light we have because we failed to act on it. That is the apparent thrust of verse 12.
    Yet it still leaves unanswered the question of what makes the good soil “good”? Why do some respond to the truth and not others? And as you noted verse 11 points in a Calvinistic direction — “Because it has been given to you to know . . .” The quote from Isaiah, taken in its context, is instructive. Isaiah has been commissioned as a prophet, and yet the Lord tells him, right at the outset, that his ministry will be unsuccessful. The reason? Because in God’s overarching plan it had already been determined that Israel would go into exile (Isa. 6:11-13). Likewise in Jesus’ day it was a part of God’s eternal plan of redemption that the Jews would reject their Savior, “being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (“Acts 2:23; NKJV).
    What makes the good soil good, then? The Holy Spirit enlightening the understanding, softening the heart, and drawing to Christ!

    • sbcissues says:

      Bob

      Your conclusion: “What makes the good soil good, then? The Holy Spirit enlightening the understanding, softening the heart, and drawing to Christ!”

      The problem I have with this conclusion is simple: “a sower went out to sow.” I believe the Holy Spirit begins to work in a person’s heart when they are exposed to the gospel or perhaps the Word of God. Every exposure to the Word becomes a “seed sown.” Certainly your statement is accurate in that the Spirit enlightens the understanding and softens the heart and indeed draws men to Christ. All of that is included in the sowing process,

      I believe Jesus’ teaching concerns our response to God’s initiatives and the differing types of soil represent men’s response to God’s imitative. If total depravity and inability and regeneration prior to repentance as posited by calvinism were true then would be no 3 or 4 types of soil; there would be only one kind of soil because the seed sown WOULD bear fruit! All of it. Since that is not the case, then it does not appear that Jesus got the calvinism memo at least when He used this parable.

      For the record, I did NOT say “And as you noted verse 11 points in a Calvinistic direction — “Because it has been given to you to know . . .” I said if that were all Jesus said, one MIGHT be able to argue that point. Jesus did not stop there and it what Jesus goes on toe say that negates that possibility. That it the thrust of my post.

      Salvation as calvinism contends is not God’s sole choice. He patiently desires all men to be saved and HE saves those who repent and believe. Calvinists and non-cals alike can agree with that statement. Where we separate is the “why one believes” and another does not. My point in this articles is simple. God does not determine which soil receives the seed; it is ALL good seed. The condition of the soil is determined by the choices and decisions we make concerning the reception of the Word of God.

  2. rhutchin says:

    Pastor Bob writes, “The condition of the soil is determined by the choices and decisions we make concerning the reception of the Word of God.”

    This is saying that good soil is the product of good decisions made in response to the preaching of the gospel. However, in the context of the parable, the soil is good or stony before the seed is sown; the soil does not become good after the seed is thrown into it. Thus, Pastor Bob cannot logically conclude that, “The condition of the soil is determined by the choices and decisions we make concerning the reception of the Word of God.” The condition of the soil is fixed before any choices are made concerning one’s reception of the word – in the parable, the soil determines one’s response to hearing the word preached.

    I don’t think you can reverse the order of events in the parable as you have sought to do.

    • sbcissues says:

      rhuchin

      The explanation for the parable that begins begins in verse 18 gives my interpretation its application. The condition of the soil that the listeners would be familiar with gives the setting for the different responses relative to the potential to produce a harvest.

      • rhutchin says:

        You say, “The condition of the soil…gives the setting for the different responses relative to the potential to produce a harvest.” I think this is much different than saying, “The condition of the soil is determined by the [responses]…”

        The claim that people are totally depraved can be inferred from the parable if we understand that the soil is to be likened to the setting for the different responses of people to the gospel. If you want to argue against total depravity using this parable, I think you need to stick with your earlier position – that the condition of the soil is determined by how a person responds to the gospel (a position I don’t think is supportable).

        I think you are correct to say that, “The condition of the soil…gives the setting…”

        Still, the question remains, Why are there different soils or different reactions by people to the gospel? For this, we might look to v13-15 where we see totally depraved people described: “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

        This condition can only be overthrown by God and would by through His grace.

      • sbcissues says:

        Your interpretation of my response was not quite accurate; I may have been too brief. The point to my response was that the people would have been familiar with the different types of soil and the ramifications of seed falling on those kinds of soil.

        I believe Jesus’ explanation ties different responses to the differing types of soil not in a theological sense as you would interpret it… ie the rocky soil representing the totally depraved etc. Interestingly enough… there was good soil but it was covered with weeds which represent the distractions of the world that cause new Converts to not grow and as a result remain weak and choked out by the world never producing a harvest.

        As I read it… the person who makes this kind of decision is LIKE the rocky soil… the sun comes out and chokes it away. It is like God having eyes and ears and hands; not literally but they are used to present a point.

        Again as I stated in the concluding paragraph in the original article, I believe the thrust of this parable is that the gospel message has been revealed to all who are willing to listen to it and consider the merits of it in light of the Word of God that has given to men so that they might believe it and be saved by it. That is the real essence of the parable; not a dissertation on the different types of soil. That part is secondary and illustrative.

  3. rhutchin says:

    Pastor Bob writes, “…I believe the thrust of this parable is that the gospel message has been revealed to all who are willing to listen to it and consider the merits of it in light of the Word of God that has given to men so that they might believe it and be saved by it.”

    The key here is “willing to listen.” We know that the elect are willing to listen and the reprobate are not. Why is this?

    For this, we have Paul explaining that “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” “…then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” Thus, Satan is active in the lives of those who reject the gospel.

    Then Paul explains, “For God…has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” “Our” refers to those who have been saved. Thus, God is active in the lives of those who yield to the gospel to negate Satan’s efforts. God saved Paul on the road to Damascus, in order to send Paul to the gentiles, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

    The difference between the elect and the reprobate is “willing to listen” and we do not find anything in the Scriptures to suggest that people are willing to listen apart from God’s direct intervention. God shines in the hearts of the saved. God draws the saved.

    • sbcissues says:

      I wish you would re-read your own answer to those who are “unwilling to listen to the gospel.” It may come as a complete surprise to you BUT I actually agree with EVERYTHING you said. I agree that the reprobate is unwilling to listen. Where you and I will differ is in the definition of the reprobate.

      I believe the reprobate is so BECAUSE he refuses to listen and you will argue that he cannot or will not listen BECAUSE he is reprobate. However, if you read your own arguments they support MY position better than they support your position.

      You wrote, “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” If they are reprobate and cannot respond to the gospel then there is NO NEED for the devil to come and blind their eyes to keep them from believing. If calvinism were true, then the devil would be one and he would KNOW that there was no need in blinding the eyes of the reprobate if they were already blind, deaf and dead. Makes no sense.

      Add to that the next passage, “…then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” This indicates at least to me that IF the devil did not come along and take the gospel out of the heart, they WOULD be saved. If calvinism were true, that could NOT be true. Then look at your own concluding statement: Thus, Satan is active in the lives of those who reject the gospel.

      WHY? Why is Satan active in the life of one who rejects the gospel IF the gospel has no power to save the reprobate?

      Look at the next statement you make, Then Paul explains, “For God…has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” “Our” refers to those who have been saved. Interesting statement,.. “who HAVE BEEN SAVED.” I believe that those who have been saved are those that God has revealed Himself to and have been reconciled to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who have been saved are those who have believed and repented. This is a response that we have to make to the gospel; not a response that God makes us make as in your deterministic theological position.

      Once again consider your next statement, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Well… if the reprobate is dead then there is no need for the power of Satan to be overturned… if they are dead it is because God made them that way and not the devil. Since that is not true THEN God does overcome their blindness and He does turn men from the blindness and the power of the devil in their hearts and lives.

      I could not have worded your final statement ANY better than you did: The difference between the elect and the reprobate is “willing to listen” and we do not find anything in the Scriptures to suggest that people are willing to listen apart from God’s direct intervention. God shines in the hearts of the saved. God draws the saved.

      I agree that we cannot find anything in the Scripture that suggests that people are willing to listen APART FROM God’s direct intervention. I believe that intervention is revelation and reconciliation. You argue regeneration which is NOT Scripturally substantiated as well as you would like for it to be. Revelation and reconciliation are.

      Thanks for the post.

  4. rhutchin says:

    Pastor Bob writes, “I agree that we cannot find anything in the Scripture that suggests that people are willing to listen APART FROM God’s direct intervention. I believe that intervention is revelation and reconciliation.”

    We have Paul telling the Colossians, “…[God] has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

    We should add that to the revelation (the preaching of the word) and reconciliation (Christ’s work).

    As to the reprobate, we have Paul explaining to the Corinthians that revelation (the preaching of the word) is meet with this response: “…the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

    If the preaching of the gospel is a stumbling block to Jews and seen as foolishness by the Greeks, then the preaching of the word (revelation) is not sufficient by itself to bring about the salvation of any person. The exception – those who are called – those whom God has qualified and rescued from the dominion of darkness.

    Is it God who must first call and rescue a person which actions then enable the person to hear the gospel (revelation), not as foolishness, but as truth. That seems to be the case if Paul is correct in saying that the preaching of the gospel is a stumbling block and foolishness to those who hear it. If God were not to act, could a person ever see the preaching of the gospel as anything but a stumbling block or foolishness? I see the answer as, No.

    • Mel Boek says:

      Rhutchin,

      “…joyously giving thanks to the Father, WHO HAS QUALIFIED US to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12)

      The issue is not about the ability or the willingness to “hear” as you contend—the real issue is HOW God qualifies a man to share in the inheritance according to the Scriptures, and WHAT the inheritance is.

      You stated in part,
      “If the preaching of the gospel is a stumbling block to Jews and seen as foolishness by the Greeks, then the preaching of the word (revelation) is not sufficient by itself to bring about the salvation of any person.”

      This statement is true. The gospel does not save anyone; the preaching of the gospel does not save anyone. A man’s response of faith and repentance does not save him either. However the preaching of the gospel and man’s response of faith and repentance both precede the work of Christ to save him. (See Acts 16:31 “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and YOU WILL BE SAVED”, And Rom. 10:13, “whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord SHALL BE SAVED”)

      However, your entire quote was,
      “If the preaching of the gospel is a stumbling block to Jews and seen as foolishness by the Greeks, then the preaching of the word (revelation) is not sufficient by itself to bring about the salvation of any person. THE EXCEPTION – those who are called – THOSE GOD HAS QUALIFIED and rescued from the dominion of darkness.” (caps are mine)

      Who are “the exceptions”, the ones whom God has qualified to share in the inheritance?
      I will demonstrate from the Scriptures that the ones who place their faith into the Lord Jesus are the exceptions! They are the ones whom God has qualifies to share in the inheritance, these are the ones who are delivered from the domain of darkness and are transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:12, 13).

      Do you know what it takes, Biblically, to become qualified to share in the inheritance?

      In the instant after a man places his faith into the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a work done by Christ upon that man, and in that man, which qualifies the man to share in the inheritance (become a joint-heir with Christ) so that he can receive the inheritance. We will look at this work which “qualifies him to share in the inheritance” shortly. But first, what is the inheritance?
      “Heirs of GOD” (Rom. 8:17);
      “heirs of SALVATION” (Heb. 1:14);
      “heirs of THE KINGDOM” (James 2:5);
      “heirs of the grace of LIFE” (1Pet. 3:7).
      Though the work to qualify a man to share in the inheritance is multi-faceted and fairly detailed, it happens in an instant, and when it is accomplished the man receives the inheritance. Simply put, Jesus Christ comes to dwell in the heart of the repentant sinner. (Jesus = GOD, he is an heir of GOD). Jesus dwelling in that man gives him eternal life (see 1John 5:11-12) (he is an heir of LIFE). And when that man receives the gift of God’s Son, the free gift of eternal life, he is born again and saved (he is an heir of SALVATION). The Scriptures tell us, when a man is regenerated he has been saved: “Made alive together with Jesus Christ, by grace YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED (Eph. 2:5); saved by regeneration (Titus 3:5); saved by His life (Rom. 5:10). The text in Ephesians tells us he was not only made alive and saved, he was also “raised with Christ, and seated with Christ in the heavenly” (Eph. 2:5, 6). This is the instant that he was “delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (he is an heir of THE KINGDOM). Prior to this work of Christ to qualify him to share in the inheritance (which I will detail shortly), he was not qualified to be an heir of the kingdom! So neither the gospel or faith saves a man. It is the inheritance that saves us! Jesus Christ dwelling in us, giving us eternal life, saves us! Therefore a man desperately needs the inheritance!

      Paul tells us that the Father qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1:12). What was done to qualify us? To understand this we must first look at what keeps a man from being qualified to share in the inheritance (the Biblical reason, not a made up Reformed tradition). Then we can look closely at the Scriptures to see the detail of the work which qualifies a man to share in the inheritance.

      NOT QUALIFIED TO RECEIVE THE INHERITANCE BECAUSE:
      1. You, me, and every man are first born slaves of sin. As a slave we are not a son. The inheritance is only for sons. What must happen before the scriptures can say, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:7)? How are you set free from slavery to sin so that you can become a son of God? Jesus said, if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
      2. Men are born bound to the Law as a woman is bound to her husband, and the Law has dominion over a man as long as he lives (Rom. 7:1-3). While you are bound to the Law you cannot be joined to Christ, which we desperately need for our salvation (Rom. 7:4). The Law is one of the issues which men needed to be redeemed from before they can become an adopted son, and thereby be qualified to receive the inheritance. “God sent forth His Son born of a woman, born under the Law, IN ORDER THAT HE MIGHT REDEEM THOSE WHO WERE UNDER THE LAW, THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE ADOPTION AS SONS.” (Gal. 4:4-5). We need redemption from the Law before we can receive the adoption as a son. And we need to be an adopted son to be an heir. But the Law has dominion over us for life. How can we be set free from the Law so that we can be joined to Christ?
      3. We are born into a body of flesh and blood, and sin dwells in us (Rom. 7:17, 20). We are born defiled by sin, and this body ages, gets injured and sick, it will die and decay. Is it any wonder that the Bible tells us that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor. 15:50). What does Christ do to our flesh so that we can inherit the kingdom of God?
      4. I won’t detail more things at this time…

      Do you clearly see the difference between this Biblical state of man that we are being rescued from and the Reformed view (Total Depravity)? The Reformed view requires a work of God upon the entire being of a man before he can “hear”, “see”, “understand”, “desire”, and “have the freedom to choose”—all of which must come before a man can place his faith in Christ. Because of this false teaching, Reformed adherents must also assume that this drastic work (erroneously called regeneration in Reformed doctrine) was performed on men since the fall of Adam, since there were men of faith who pleased God in the Old Testament. In contrast the word says that God sent Jesus to redeem men so that they could become an adopted son (Gal. 4:4-5), and only then, as an adopted son, can they become an heir (an heir of life, salvation, kingdom, and God). So the work to ‘qualify men to share in the inheritance’ did not occur before the death of Christ, since our redemption is in His blood (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). In fact there was no inheritance to receive before Christ died, for until that time, these things were merely promises. (For details on God giving the promises and how the promises became an inheritance that we can receive, see my post on Bob’s previous blog, dated June 12, 11:57:am.) The work to qualify each man to receive the inheritance is accomplished by the Risen Lord, and it is a dramatic work upon the man and in the man which comes immediately after he places his trust into the Lord Jesus Christ.

      Before I go into the detail of this work of the Risen Lord to qualify us to receive the inheritance, let me share these important facts: John the Baptist foretold that Jesus would baptize men with the Holy Spirit. John was a baptizer, and he baptized men with water when they repented. Jesus became the baptizer who baptizes men with the Holy Spirit when they repent. (Unfortunately our Arminian-Pentecostal brothers have sown confusion into the Body of Christ on what occurs when men are baptized with the Holy Spirit.) Shortly before His death Jesus referred to his impending death as a “baptism” and told his disciples that they too would be baptized with this baptism. “I have a BAPTISM to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished” (Luke 12:50). “ Are you able…to be BAPTIZED with the BAPTISM with which I am baptized?…Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, AND BE BAPTIZED WITH THE BAPTISM THAT I AM BAPTIZED WITH” (Matt. 20:22-23; Mark 10:38-39). Jesus saw his impending death, burial, and resurrection as a baptism. And He knew that His followers would be baptized with this baptism as well. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven He told His disciples that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit shortly. And now you know WHO does the baptizing with the Holy Spirit, and that Jesus first began to baptize men on the day of Pentecost!

      The Scriptures tell us that we are “baptized into Jesus Christ” (Rom. 6:3) and “by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). This baptism (not water) is the means whereby we are placed into the body of Christ (the church) when we place our trust in Him. And it is this baptism that deals with all of the above issues so that we can become qualified to receive the inheritance. Here are some of the details given to us in the Word of God:

      Men who are baptized into Jesus Christ are baptized into His death (Rom. 6:3). They are planted together in the ‘likeness’ of His death (Rom. 6:4). They are put to death via baptism by crucifixion—“Our old man is crucified with Him that the body of sin might be destroyed that henceforth WE SHOULD NOT SERVE SIN” (Rom. 6:6). Because of death, we are no longer slaves of sin. We are dead to sin (Rom. 6:2) the instant that we are baptized into his death (Rom. 6:3). Paul summarizes, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and HAVING BEEN FREED FROM SIN, you became slaves of righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18)… but now having been FREED FROM SIN and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification and the outcome eternal life” (Jesus living in us) (Rom. 6:22). When does Jesus carry our sins to the cross so that He can free us from slavery to sin by death? At the moment we place our trust in Him. As Peter wrote, “And He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree THAT WE MIGHT DIE TO SIN and live to righteousness (1Pet. 2:24). This death by baptism sets us free from slavery to sin.

      This death by baptism also resolves our issue with being bound to the Law, because we are only under jurisdiction of the Law while we live. When we are put to death by baptism, we are set free from the Law so that we can be joined to Christ. (The same way a woman is free to be joined to another when her husband dies.) Paul tells us, “For through the Law, I DIED TO THE LAW, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ…” (Gal. 2:19-20). And, “Therefore my brethren, you also were MADE TO DIE TO THE LAW THROUGH THE BODY OF CHRIST, that you might be joined to another… but NOW HAVING BEEN RELEASED FROM THE LAW, HAVING DIED to that by which we were bound…” (Rom. 7:4, 6). Death sets us free from the Law.

      So far we have seen how being baptized into Christ’s death frees us from slavery to sin, and from being bound to the Law. How does Christ deal with our body of flesh which cannot inherit the kingdom of God? Romans 6:6 tells us that “our old man was crucified with Christ” (this is when “the old things pass away before all things become new”—2Cor. 5:17). The flesh with its passions and lusts was crucified (Gal. 5:24). Crucifixion is the means of putting our flesh to death. The flesh of us, which gave us our life in our first birth (the life of the flesh is in the blood), was put to death on the cross, where we were “crucified together with Christ” and “dead together with Christ”. Only one text tells us what happens when we are “buried with” Christ in baptism, and this verse tells us what happens to the flesh of us after it was put to death. “In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism…” (Col. 2:11-12). Christ totally removes our flesh, the part of us that cannot inherit the kingdom of God, via a circumcision made without hands, when we were buried with Christ in baptism (not water). The flesh is removed in baptism. And we are clothed with Christ in baptism! “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:27).

      So now we have a dead man who has been set free from slavery to sin, and who has been set free from the Law, with his flesh crucified and removed by circumcision. So far we have detailed some of what occurs when a person is “crucified with Christ” and “dead with Christ” and “buried with Christ”. However, before this person can be qualified to receive the inheritance, he must be made a son. Thankfully the work of Christ in baptism to put a man to death, to bury him, and circumcise him, gives him the right to become a son: “But, as many as received Him, to them He (Jesus) gave THE RIGHT to become a son of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Now that this man has been set free from slavery to sin and bondage to the Law he has the right to become a son. He is first made a son of God by adoption. When this individual has been adopted as a son by God, he is now qualified to receive the inheritance! Again, the inheritance: “God”, “eternal life”, “salvation” and “the kingdom of God”! Jesus is going to come live inside of him, and he will be “made alive together with Jesus Christ” (born again, regenerated), because Christ’s presence in him gives him eternal life. This individual was dead because of baptism and now he is alive because of Christ in Him. He was brought from death to life in this baptism. When he received Christ’s life, he was born again. When he was born again, he became a son of God by birth! (Adoption precedes new birth- there is no need to adopt a son that is already yours by birth).

      So those who receive Christ, those who believe in His name are first given the right to become a son of God. Those who are given the right to become a son, become a son by adoption. Those who are adopted sons are now qualified to receive the inheritance, and these are the ones who are born of God when they receive the inheritance! They are not only “made alive with Christ”, but they are also “raised with Christ” and “seated with Christ in the heavenly”! Through baptism they inherit and are transferred into the kingdom of God too! “…buried with Him IN BAPTISM, IN WHICH YOU WERE ALSO RAISED UP WITH HIM through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 3:12). All of these things occur when we are baptized by Christ, with the Holy Spirit, and these are the things that are pictured by our water baptism!

      Now, although there is much detail, this baptism of Christ occurs in an instant. Before this baptism we were a creature of flesh and blood. Our flesh was crucified and circumcised- removed. We were clothed with Christ and indwelt by Christ giving us the new birth. Those who are born of the Spirit are no longer creatures of flesh and blood, they are spirit (John 3:6), and they have eternal life. Is there any wonder that Paul would say, if any man be in Christ, (the means for being placed ‘in Christ’ is baptism), he is a new creature, OLD THINGS HAVE PASSED AWAY…” (2Cor. 5:17). We are entirely a new creation! “For YOU HAVE DIED, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). This extensive work of Christ is a post resurrection work of our Lord, performed in an individual after he places his trust in the Lord.

      Therefore Rutchin, no one had been regenerated (indwelt by Christ) in the gospels before Christ became the “first-born from the dead”; before the Last Adam became the life giving Spirit (1Cor. 15:45). Adam’s race does not receive the new birth until the Day of Pentecost. So the idea that God must first rescue a person by regeneration before he can even “hear and understand” Christ speaking in the Gospels is unbiblical. The idea that Total Depravity can be inferred from the Parable of the Soils is not Biblical. This is not what Jesus was teaching with the Parable of the Sower. The idea that the Holy Spirit must make a man “spirit” by the new birth (“that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”) before they can hear or understand anything spiritual is false. Jesus told His disciples that He was going to ask the Father to send the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) THE NIGHT BEFORE HE DIED, and He told them what the Holy Spirit would do: He would bring things to their remembrance (John 14:26); He would testify of the Lord (John 15:26); and He would convict the world of sin and of righteousness and judgment (16:8); He will guide you into all truth (16:13); He shall glorify Me for He shall take of Mine and shall disclose it to you (16:14). It is a false assumption to believe that the Holy Spirit was already birthing men and making them Spirit before Christ even asked the Father to send the Spirit (See also John 7:39).

      Contending earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints,
      Mel

      • rhutchin says:

        Mel,

        I did not see where your response had anything to do with the discussion at hand. I did not grasp whatever point you were trying to make. Can you distill it down to a short concise argument?

    • sbcissues says:

      rhutchin,

      While I agree in part to most of what you just said, you are taking liberties in using my words that are not warranted. For example, your take on the preaching of God’s Word apart from God’s active intervention in the heart of the hearer is correct. What is incorrect is the assertion that it is irresistible grace that gives the hearer the ability to respond. My argument is that it is revelation AND reconciliation that brings about repentance in the lost person. Both are essential. I would say that we are actually in agreement at that point; we would define reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit in differing ways. So I can agree with your last sentence.

  5. rhutchin says:

    Pastor Bob writes, “My argument is that it is revelation AND reconciliation that brings about repentance in the lost person. Both are essential.” We both agree that this is true.

    I said, “If God were not to act, could a person ever see the preaching of the gospel as anything but a stumbling block or foolishness? I see the answer as, No.” To this you agree (that’s the way I understand it).

    So, where is it that we differ? I’m not sure, so let’s start with this. Can we also agree that God must act first to enable a person to hear and believe the gospel? After this, revelation and reconciliation are then able to bring the person to repentance. In application, a person may preach (revelation) but the natural reaction of the lost is to think it to be foolishness. Then, God acts to remove whatever it is that has caused the lost person to react this way. Now, the person enjoys revelation and reconciliation with the result that he is led to repentance.

    Is this accurate? Do we both agree that God begins the whole chain of events that eventually result in a person coming to repentance by removing whatever it was that hindered the person hearing the gospel and rejecting it as foolishness?

    Calvinism says that God begins the chain of events – this is irresistible grace: giving the person the ability.to respond to the gospel.

    You say, “My argument is that it is revelation AND reconciliation that brings about repentance in the lost person..” Do you also mean to add that “revelation AND reconciliation” give the person the ability to respond contra the Calvinist who says that God does this – with the ability to respond being necessary before revelation and reconciliation can have any effect.

  6. Mel Boek says:

    Rhutchin,

    You stated,
    “I did not see where your response had anything to do with the discussion at hand. I did not grasp whatever point you were trying to make. Can you distill it down to a short concise argument?”

    I’m sorry, I can’t make it short. If you want, skip to the stars (***************).

    In your last two posts before my post you used verses as proof-texts which spoke about “God qualifying man to receive the inheritance”, and “God giving an inheritance”. Reformed teaching does not address what God must do to qualify a man to share in the inheritance, before he can receive it; and neither did you. However in astonishment I realized, the way you interpret Reformed teaching, you have a man possessing the inheritance (the kingdom of God via regeneration) for a period of time before he even has faith, with no explanation of how he became qualified to receive it. This position is unbiblical. To understand how my post related to the discussion in this blog, let’s begin with the main point that you were making before the two posts in which you used the scriptures about “God qualifying us to receive the inheritance” and “God giving us the inheritance”.

    July 22- “This condition (total depravity) can only be overthrown by God and through His grace.” You were inferring the Reformed teaching that regeneration must precede hearing or faith. [You restated it another way on July 30- “God must act first to enable a person to hear and believe the gospel… Calvinism says that God begins the chain of events (that eventually result in a person coming to repentance) – this is IRRESISTIBLE GRACE: giving the person the ability.to respond to the gospel.”]

    Supposedly, in the Calvinist system, the way God overthrows man’s condition of total depravity is ‘Irresistible Grace’, which supposedly equals God‘s work of “calling” and “regeneration”. In Calvinism, the new birth doesn’t just change a man (God giving him new eyes to see, new ears to hear, a mind to understand, a new heart for new desires, a gift of faith with which to believe, and a freed will to enable the choice of faith in Christ). (*************) Calvinists also teach that a man “enters the kingdom of God” the instant he receives the new birth (The Reformed interpretation of John 3:3-6). The Bible tells us that the kingdom of God is an inheritance (1Cor. 6:10, 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; James 2:5). Since you believe there can be a period of time between the point of regeneration and conversion, then you must believe a person “is in the kingdom of God” before he even repents. Is this a Biblical truth: a man is enters the kingdom of God before he believes and repents? No, this teaching contradicts the truths revealed in the Scriptures.

    For instance, in 1Cor. 6:9, Paul states, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?”. Rhutchin, an unregenerate man is unrighteous. Reformed Doctrine teaches that a man “enters the kingdom of God when he is regenerated. Does changing the man’s eyes, ears, mind, heart and will in the new birth* (*the Reformed notion of new birth) make him righteous? No. He is still unrighteous. How does an unrighteous man “enter the kingdom of God” if he CANNOT even inherit the kingdom of God? By logic, you have an unrighteous man “in the kingdom of God” for a period of time – however long it takes before a man is converted and justified.

    Again, in 1Cor. 15:50 Paul states, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”. What does God do with the flesh and blood of the unregenerate so that an individual may “inherit the kingdom of God”, so that he can “enter the kingdom of God”? The Reformed description of regeneration says nothing about dealing with the hindrance of flesh and blood which keeps him from being able to “inherit the kingdom of God”. Reformed teaching does not deal with the obstacle of man’s sinful flesh. So how does a man, in his sinful flesh “enter the kingdom of God” when he cannot inherit it? [In contrast I gave many details contained in the Word of God which tells us exactly what happens to the flesh of us before we are “made alive together with Christ”, and “raised together with Christ”, and “seated with Christ in the heavenly” (really entering the kingdom of God!.)]

    The kingdom of God is an inheritance (1Cor. 6:10, 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; James 2:5). Only heirs can receive the inheritance. The scriptures tell us that men are “made heirs”. “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7). We need to be “made heirs”. And we are “made heirs” after we are “justified by His grace” and “justified by faith”. God must qualify us to share in the inheritance (Col. 1:12). As I pointed out in my previous post, we are all born slaves. Slaves are not sons, therefore they are not qualified to share in the inheritance (including the kingdom of God). Only sons receive the inheritance. Slaves must be given “the right to become the sons of God” (John 1:12) before they will be an heir. The Scriptures reveal that there is a specific set of acts which frees us from being a slave, frees us from our flesh, makes us righteous, and makes us into a son and therefore an heir. Because of them Paul could say, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, THEN AN HEIR through God” (Gal. 4:7).

    Now look at the detail about the inheritance in the two verses you used as proof-texts in two of your posts, which prompted my response to you.

    (July 24)
    “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:18)

    (Only in Reformed doctrine does “opening eyes” = “regeneration”) Their eyes are opened so that they might receive forgiveness of sins AND an INHERITANCE among them that are sanctified by FAITH THAT IS IN ME. When does the person receive the forgiveness of sins? Before or after faith? After. When does a person also receive the inheritance? Before or after faith? After. Faith and justification precede being made an heir, and they precede receiving the inheritance (including the kingdom of God).

    (NOTE: Also in the context where you quoted Acts 26:18, you also quoted 2Cor 4:4, 6, to make the case that blindness is removed by regeneration before a man has a response. However,the Biblical context in 2 Corinthians contradicts your premise: “But their minds were hardened…to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart, BUT WHENEVER A MAN TURNS TO THE LORD, THE VEIL IS TAKEN AWAY.” (2Cor. 3:14-16). )

    On your next post you used this verse.

    (July 28)
    “We have Paul telling the Colossians, “…[God] has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

    How does God qualify anyone to receive the inheritance? (There are more things that we receive as inheritance than just the kingdom of God—we are heirs of God, heirs of life, and heirs of salvation.) How does the Bible say that slaves of sin are set free from slavery so that they can be qualified to become a son to become an heir? Only after a person becomes an heir, can they receive the inheritance. Note what also happens before we are made heirs, “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7). A man is justified before he is made an heir. All of these facts contradict your belief that men are regenerated (enter the kingdom of God) before they are even able to hear the gospel preached.

    The verses that you used for proof-texts do not support your position. A man does not receive the inheritance of the kingdom of God so that he will be able and willing to hear the gospel and respond.

    Not to mention the fact that no man received biblical regeneration before the resurrection of the dead (1Pet. 1:3). (I clearly made a case for this fact in my interaction with Bob’s last article.) The importance of this fact to this discussion does not need to be iterated.

  7. rhutchin says:

    Lot of confusion here from what I read. We start with whether people are Totally Depraved. Under Calvinism, all people are totally depraved and a totally depraved person cannot choose salvation – he considers the preaching of the cross to be foolishness. Thus, God must do something – whatever that something is – to enable the totally depraved person to hear and respond to the preaching of the gospel.

    2 Corinthinas 3-4 makes a simple statement: “the gospel is veiled to the unsaved, they are blinded and live in darkness, so they do not, and cannot, believe.” I take this as a universal description of the unsaved and it fits well with 1 Corinthians 1. So long as the gospel is veiled, a person cannot believe. God must remove the veil. So Colossians, “God delivers the unsaved person from darkness and translates the unsaved into the kingdom of his son.” Where it says that God qualifies the unsaved in the previous verse, context seems to say that God qualifies by delivering the person from darkness. God’s qualification allows a person to hear and respond to the gospel.

    So, can an unsaved person respond to the gospel absent God enabling them to do so? Both Calvinists and Arminians affirm that God must extend grace to the person if the person is to be saved. The Calvinists say God extends grace to His elect and they call it saving or irresistible grace. The Arminians say that God extends grace to both elect and reprobate and call it prevenient grace. The only people I know who deny the need for grace are the Pelagians.

    It is where God qualifies a person – i.e., delivers them from the power of darkness – that the person can be said to be regenerated as they now have the ability to hear and respond to the gospel where they did not have this ability before.

    • Mel Boek says:

      Rhuchin,

      You stated,
      “We start with whether people are Totally Depraved…”

      Yes, that is the point of dispute.

      You contend:
      “2 Corinthinas 3-4 makes a simple statement: “the gospel is veiled to the unsaved, they are blinded and live in darkness, so they do not, and cannot, believe.” I take this as a universal description of the unsaved and it fits well with 1 Corinthians 1. So long as the gospel is veiled, a person cannot believe. God must remove the veil.”

      Some questions:

      1. According to Calvinism, who placed man in the position of Total Depravity? Who caused men to be born spiritually dead: deaf, blind, not able to understand, hard-hearted, with a bound will?
      2. Who does Paul say “blinds the minds of unbelievers” in 2Cor. 4:4? If unbelievers are born spiritually dead—already spiritually blinded—then why does the evil one even bother? How can the god of this world blind the mind of a man who is already “spiritually dead”? Is this even possible? Isn’t that like someone taking the body of a DEAD man and poking out his eyes and then saying, “there, now he can’t see”?
      3. Where in 2 Corinthians 3 or 4 does it make this simple statement: “the gospel is veiled to the unsaved, they are blinded and live in darkness, so they do not, and cannot, believe.”
      4. You have said that a person is blinded, and God must remove the veil before a person can believe. If this is true, then, shouldn’t Paul have said, “God removes the veil so that a man can turn to Christ.” Why does Paul actually say, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed”? (2Cor. 3:16)

      I will ask you questions about the rest of your post (addressing the inconsistencies between your position and the Scriptures) if you are willing to answer these questions.

      • rhutchin says:

        The questions will generate an extended discussion not easily conducted here. Do you have another discussion site that we can move to for this discussion?

        I used to frequent Theology web but it shut down. I have not found another discussion site that works as well as it did. But I’m up for trying.

    • Mel Boek says:

      Rhutchin,
      You have used several verses to support your position. The interpretations that you have given to these verses are not Biblical. Your interpretations contradict their contexts.

      I have asked these questions to see how you resolve the contradictions between the essential points of Calvinism you have been espousing in this blog and the verses you have used for proof texts, and the apparent contradictions I see in their contexts.

      I do not believe that it is right for you to avoid answering the questions that point out the contradictions between your position and the Scriptures.

  8. sbcissues says:

    rhutchin

    Lot of confusion here from what I read. We start with whether people are Totally Depraved. Under Calvinism, all people are totally depraved and a totally depraved person cannot choose salvation.

    I do not believe the Scriptures teach total depravity and inability as you suggest. That is both a calvinist and arminian philosophical position. I do believe men are sinners and are depraved but that depravity does not keep a person from being able to respond to God’s initiative in revelation from the gospel and reconciliation which is brought about in a person’s heart by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Both revelation and reconciliation are God’s initiative and both demand a response on an individual’s part. I do not believe there is a separate work of grace on God’s part different from what I just identified that is necessary for ANYONE to respond to God’s salvific initiative.

    Your total depravity/irresistible grace scenario is not as clearly defined in the Scripture as you would like for it to be. My position is for the Bible says that the GOSPEL is the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first and then the Greek. Romans 1:16. There is NO ambiguity in that statement. It is the gospel NOT effectual call… not regeneration that is the power of God unto salvation as you suggest. Read it. If calvinism were true, this verse would say… the gospel is the power of God unto sanctification… for apart from regeneration and effectual call… the gospel has no power to save ANYONE.

    For the record, I am not calvinist, arminian nor pelagian. No confusion here.

  9. rhutchin says:

    Pastor Bob – You write, “I do not believe the Scriptures teach total depravity and inability as you suggest.” Then, you turn around and say that a person’s response is “… brought about in a person’s heart by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.” So, take away the ” convicting work of the Holy Spirit” and a person cannot be saved. That is the Total Depravity that you write against. It is because the person is totally depraved and unable to respond to the preaching of the gospel that the Holy Spirit must specifically intervene and convict.

    “Both revelation and reconciliation are God’s initiative and both demand a response on an individual’s part.” This is true. If this can occur absent the Holy Spirit’s involvement then the Calvinist is wrong about Total Depravity. If it can occur only consequent to the Holy Spirit’s involvement, then the Calvinist is correct about Total Depravity. It is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that makes all the difference and this convicting power is the effectual call.

    The gospel is the power of God unto salvation but even the gospel is powerless (a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles) without the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

    • Mel Boek says:

      Rhutchin,

      You stated,
      “So, take away the ‘convicting work of the Holy Spirit’ and a person cannot be saved. That is the Total Depravity that you write against. It is because the person is totally depraved and unable to respond to the preaching of the gospel that the Holy Spirit must specifically intervene and convict.”

      And,
      ” It is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that makes all the difference and this convicting power is the effectual call.”

      Question- In Calvinism, can the Holy Spirit convict a “spiritually dead man”? Can any amount of convicting work upon a ‘spiritually dead man’ (a man in the state of Total Depravity) actually bring about the ability of the man to respond to the gospel? I thought that Calvinists teach that a man must first be given “spiritual life” by regeneration before there is any capacity to respond to anything, including conviction. Am I wrong?

      Are you taking the position that a man only needs to be convicted by the Holy Spirit, and not regenerated, before he is able to respond positively to the gospel?

      • rhutchin says:

        The issue raised in Pastor Bob’s comments is whether the convicting power of the Holy Spirit is necessary to the salvation of an individual. If it is, then we have a basic Calvinist position. That is my claim.

        So how do you see it? Is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit necessary to the salvation of an individual or can a person make a salvation decision absent the convicting power of the Holy Spirit? Where do you stand on this? Pastor Bob seemed pretty adamant that the convicting power of the Holy Spirit is necessary to the salvation of an individual?

        Once we get your position, and if we agree on this point, then we can see how this fits in with the entire Calvinist system. Otherwise, I think we should wait for Pastor Bob to bring up the issue since this is his website and his blog. If you have a discussion site that we can use to discuss Calvinism, we can move there and not unnecessarily clutter Pastor Bob’s website.

        I’ll maintain my earlier position that the convicting power of the Holy Spirit is consistent with the effectual call.

      • Mel Boek says:

        Rhutchin,

        Please answer questions about the position that you have been taking in this thread.

        I have been following Bob’s blog for a few months. In Bob’s last post “Why Do Some Repent and Are Saved While Others Do Not”, you and Les were contending that there could be an extended period of time between the instant a person was regenerated and the point of his conversion. That position surprised some of us non-Calvinists.

        Because of that, I am merely trying to get clarification. I am trying to understand your view of the “spiritually dead man” (Totally depraved man). Does he have the ability to be convicted by the Holy Spirit? Or, does he need to be regenerated first? Regeneration occurs instantly, in a single second. Does the Holy Spirit only convict at the instant of regeneration (the point of the call)? Or is conviction of the Holy Spirit something that takes more more time (minutes, hours, possibly days or years) before a person comes to repentance?

  10. sbcissues says:

    rhutchin

    One of two things is true here. 1 you do not understand total depravity as presented by calvinism or you do not understand my response. Actually there is a third option; you ignored my argument.

    It is clear that revelation and reconciliation are essential for salvation. Apart from those, a person cannot be saved. The issue is the role of regeneration or effectual call in the process. That was my objection. Your response above is totally irrelevant because it does not address the calvinist position on regeneration and effectual call that are essential for salvation in your salvific system.

    That my friend is what I am arguing against.

    Your statement is absolutely incorrect: “It is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that makes all the difference and this convicting power is the effectual call.” The convicting power of the Holy Spirit is NOT the effectual call. God’s call to new life is much more than a convicting work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the effectual call to new life really makes the convicting work of the Holy Spirit irrelevant. If I am born again to repent, repentance is the natural response to this new life there is no need for the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Regeneration provides the impetus for repentance. Sorry, this does not comport where the Scriptures are concerned.

    • rhutchin says:

      Pastor Bob writes, “Your response above is totally irrelevant because it does not address the calvinist position on regeneration and effectual call that are essential for salvation in your salvific system.”

      In order to address the Calvinist concepts of regeneration and effectual call, we need a starting point. Let’s start with my statement, “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation but even the gospel is powerless (a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles) without the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.”

      Is this statement true?

      If it is true, then what makes it true? I say it is true (based on 1 Corinth 1 where Paul tells us that the preaching of the gospel is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles). If this statement is true, then we have the bare bones for the concept of Total Depravity. It is Total Depravity that then requires the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to bring about salvation. That is the essence of Calvinism.

      So, in order to get regeneration and the effectual call, people need to be Totally Depraved. I (and Calvinism) claim that people are Totally Depraved and 1 Corinth 1 provides a start to the argument for Total Depravity.

      Given your comment above, does that mean that you would answer, No, that statement is not true (i.e., the gospel is the power of God for salvation and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit is unnecessary for salvation).

      I think that I started to misunderstand you when you made reference to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know why you introduced that idea or the point that you sought to make by doing so

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin

        You wrote… “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation but even the gospel is powerless (a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles) without the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.” Is this statement true?

        I do not believe the gospel is ever unaccompanied by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. When the gospel is proclaimed or read, the Holy Spirit is at work in the heart of the individual who has been touched by the gospel message.

        Your assertion or suggestion that the gospel is powerless is unbiblical for the Scripture does not make the claim you make. Additionally, Paul’s statement that the preaching of the cross is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles does not demand a total depravity and inability interpretation either. It would certainly support that position but it does not demand the position. TD/TI is a philosophical position that undergirds the calvinist platform. That is ALL it is. I believe it to be completely errant.

        Again you wrote, “I don’t know why you introduced that idea or the point that you sought to make by doing so.” That seems to be an odd statement coming from someone who agrees that the convicting work of the Holy Spirit is essential to salvation.

        My statement was that revelation and reconciliation are God’s initiatives to bring salvation to a lost person. Reconciliation is the direct work of the Holy Spirit that begins with conviction. I do not see any difficulty with the concept. We actually seem to agree on the point; where we disagree is that YOU equate convicting work of the Holy Spirit with effectual call; I do not.

  11. rhutchin says:

    Pastor Bob writes, “…where we disagree is that YOU equate convicting work of the Holy Spirit with effectual call; I do not.”

    Regardless what we call it, the preaching of the gospel in combination with the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (reconciliation in your sense) leads a person to salvation. That is Calvinism. God (Holy Spirit) is the instrumental means that brings about salvation. A person cannot be saved unless God brings the person to salvation.

    - “Paul’s statement that the preaching of the cross is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles does not demand a total depravity and inability interpretation either.”

    Have it that way. Nonetheless, it demands that God act (through the conviction of the Holy Spirit) if a person is to be saved. It says that sinful people will always reject the gospel except in those cases where God’s intervention brings them to salvation.

    - “My statement was that revelation and reconciliation are God’s initiatives to bring salvation to a lost person. Reconciliation is the direct work of the Holy Spirit that begins with conviction.”

    OK. Revelation (the preaching of the gospel) is met with rejection (stumbling block/foolishness). Thus, the Holy Spirit reconciles – beginning with conviction – which ultimately leads to salvation. Nothing opposed to Calvinism here.

    • sbcissues says:

      rhutchin

      You wrote: Regardless what we call it, the preaching of the gospel in combination with the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (reconciliation in your sense) leads a person to salvation. That is Calvinism. God (Holy Spirit) is the instrumental means that brings about salvation. A person cannot be saved unless God brings the person to salvation.

      Here is the problem I have with your statement, “that’s calvinism.” For some reason you guys are missing the point of one of my arguments and that is this: the preaching of the gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit CANNOT BE the instrumental means of bringing about salvation BECAUSE apart from God’s efficacious call both of these are powerless to save.

      I have read the argument that the Spirit only convicts those the Father plans to effectually call but that is nothing more than a circular argument with no Scriptural basis. Understand, the total depravity/inability argument is nothing more than a philosophical position that undergirds the tenets of calvinism. I am simply trying to point out some of the extended implications of the inconsistencies of the philosophical position.

      Calvinism purely and simple is an errant theological position.

  12. CALLED AND CHOSEN BY STEVE FINNELL

    Matthew 22:14 For many are called , but few are chosen.”

    Definition of called: Invited or summoned.

    Definition of chosen: Those who are eligible or suited for election. Elected and chosen are synonymous.

    WHO ARE THE CALLED?

    Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

    Every person who has heard the gospel has been called. The call is not limited to a select few who have been predestined for salvation.

    WHO ARE THE CHOSEN (THE ELECTED)?

    The chosen are the ones who are obedient to the call of the gospel.
    The chosen are those who have 1. Faith: John 3:16

    The chosen are those who 2. Repent: Acts 3:19 (Repent means to make the commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God).

    The chosen are those who 3. Confess: Roman 10:9-10

    The chosen are those who are 4. Baptized in water: Acts 2:38

    The chosen are not those who were supposedly, unconditionally selected for salvation. The chosen have to be suited for election.

    THE CALLED WHO ARE NOT CHOSEN.

    Matthew 22:2-3 “the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.

    Many have had the gospel preached to them, but of their own free-will have rejected the call. If men reject the gift of eternal life by rejecting Jesus as Lord and Savior; then they have been called, but not chosen.

    Matthew 22:11-14 “But when the king came to look over the dinner quests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?” 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called but few are chosen.”

    This wedding quest was disinvited. He was called but not chosen ; because he was not suitable to be chosen. Improper clothing was a big deal.

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

    DO YOU HAVE THE PROPER WEDDING CLOTHES TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

    When you stand before the KING OF KINGS are you going to be speechless when He asks; where are your wedding clothes? WHAT WILL YOU SAY WHEN HE ASKS YOU WHY YOU REJECTED IMMERSION IN WATER FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS. WHAT WILL YOUR ANSWER BE, WHEN JESUS ASKS YOU WHY YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD WITH BEING CLOTHED IN CHRIST?

    MANY ARE CALLED BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN!

  13. rhutchin says:

    “Many have had the gospel preached to them, but of their own free-will have rejected the call.”

    Is this a true statement? When a person rejects the gospel, he is expressing his will but is that expression of will free? The Psalm says, “The fool says that there is no God.” Is that an expression of a free will?

    Steve Finnell needs to establish the truth of the proposition that the will is free in being able to respond to salvation. Otherwise, he is building his theology on an assumption which is no more than building on sand.

    If the will is free, then people confronted with the gospel and a choice between eternal life and eternal death would obviously choose life. To choose death makes no sense unless the will is not free and is constrained from making the right and logical choice.

  14. Mel Boek says:

    Rhutchin,
    I posted a few questions for you at the end of two of your posts on:
    Aug. 3, 4:45 and
    Aug. 3 10:08

    Thanks,
    Mel

  15. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek wrote, “…you and Les were contending that there could be an extended period of time between the instant a person was regenerated and the point of his conversion.”

    I believe both Les and I agreed that some period of time could separate regeneration and conversion. Neither of us is aware of any place in the Scriptures that address the issue. However, the dead guy needs to be made alive in order for the the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the gospel to be effective.

    Thus, we have this order: Regeneration followed by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit followed by the effective call through the preaching of the gospel followed by conversion. The amount of time separating those activities is speculative. The whole process can be instantaneous or occur over some period of time (to which some have attested so the evidence for this is anecdotal).

  16. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek asked,”1. According to Calvinism, who placed man in the position of Total Depravity? Who caused men to be born spiritually dead: deaf, blind, not able to understand, hard-hearted, with a bound will?”

    Ans. This is the result of Adam’s sin. Adam was corrupted by his sin (he died spiritually but through God’s mercy did not die physically) and those born to Adam were similarly corrupted and by God’s mercy also lived.

    2. Who does Paul say “blinds the minds of unbelievers” in 2Cor. 4:4? If unbelievers are born spiritually dead—already spiritually blinded—then why does the evil one even bother? How can the god of this world blind the mind of a man who is already “spiritually dead”? Is this even possible? Isn’t that like someone taking the body of a DEAD man and poking out his eyes and then saying, “there, now he can’t see”?

    Ans. 2 Corinth 4 identifies “the god of this world” as the one responsible for the blindness. I like the rest of your questions and am replying off the cuff. Since it is the mind that is blinded, we might conclude that spiritually dead people can still think. The rational response to the gospel would be to repent; rejection of the gospel is irrational. Thus, Satan blinds the spiritually dead causing them to be blind and make an irrational decision regarding the gospel. Then, we have regeneration resolving the sin nature problem and the convicting power of the Spirit resolving the blindness problem.

    3. Where in 2 Corinthians 3 or 4 does it make this simple statement: “the gospel is veiled to the unsaved, they are blinded and live in darkness, so they do not, and cannot, believe.”

    Ans. “…the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ…should shine unto them…God..has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

    Those who believe not – the unsaved – are described as being blinded (having the gospel veiled to them).

    They do not believe – lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ…should shine unto them.

    They cannot believe – God..has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

    Obviously, I extrapolated my conclusions from what Paul said.

    4. You have said that a person is blinded, and God must remove the veil before a person can believe. If this is true, then, shouldn’t Paul have said, “God removes the veil so that a man can turn to Christ.” Why does Paul actually say, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed”? (2Cor. 3:16)

    2 Corinth 3:16 appears to refer to understanding the Scriptures. The unsaved cannot “understand” the Scriptures because the Scriptures are spiritually discerned. Christ refers to having “ears to hear.” So, I see two different things being addressed in 3:16 and 4:4.

    Col 1 says, ‘God…has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” Here delivery from darkness precedes salvation which I think reinforces 4:4.

  17. Mel Boek says:

    Rhutchin,
    You wrote:
    “Thus, we have this order: Regeneration followed by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit followed by the effective call through the preaching of the gospel followed by conversion. The amount of time separating those activities is speculative. The whole process can be instantaneous or occur over some period of time (to which some have attested so the evidence for this is anecdotal).”

    (if, … = “followed by”)

    1,Regeneration…
    2.the convicting power of the Holy Spirit…
    3.the effective call (through the preaching of the gospel…
    4. conversion

    If there can be a period of time between regeneration and conversion (minutes, hours, days, weeks, or perhaps years), then where does this time period fall in your understanding? Is it after regeneration, giving the Holy Spirit time to bring conviction upon a man’s heart? Or?

    • rhutchin says:

      It occurs between regeneration and conversion. The Bible is silent on timing. All we know is from anecdotal reports – something like, “I was under conviction and then…).

      I think your earlier point is valid – dead men can’t respond to the gospel.

  18. rhutchin says:

    Pastor Bob writes, “For some reason you guys are missing the point of one of my arguments and that is this: the preaching of the gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit CANNOT BE the instrumental means of bringing about salvation BECAUSE apart from God’s efficacious call both of these are powerless to save.”

    I think it would be correct to say that the preaching of the gospel and the convicting of the Holy Spirit are part of the efficacious call. Certainly, the preaching of the gospel is part of that call as Pastors do call people to repentance – the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

    The real issue is why only some respond to the gospel if it truly is the power of God – Why do God’s elect respond but the reprobate reject? In seeking an answer to that question, Calvinists concluded it had to do with actions God takes to bring His elect to salvation.

  19. rhutchin says:

    Pastor Bob writes, “I have read the argument that the Spirit only convicts those the Father plans to effectually call but that is nothing more than a circular argument with no Scriptural basis. Understand, the total depravity/inability argument is nothing more than a philosophical position that undergirds the tenets of calvinism. I am simply trying to point out some of the extended implications of the inconsistencies of the philosophical position.”

    If Total Depravity is not true then the Arminians are wrong in saying that prevenient grace is necessary to salvation; also the Calvinists regarding saving grace. So, at least, Both Arminians and Calvinists agree that Total Depravity is a Biblical doctrine and more than just a philosophical position.

    We might also question the need for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is easy enough to understand – why would the Holy Spirit have to get involved?

  20. Mel Boek says:

    Rhutchin,

    First a comment about your reply to me, then some questions.

    Back on Aug. 4 you were contending:
    “Regardless what we call it, the preaching of the gospel in combination with the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (reconciliation in your sense) leads a person to salvation. THAT IS CALVINISM.” (Mel’s caps for emphasis)

    This statement is not true, as you have now acknowledged, “dead men can’t respond to the gospel.” (Aug. 13th, 8:36). There must be much more than the preaching of the gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit according to Calvinism. In the Reformed Tradition there must be a complete change in man by God before there can be any response to the gospel. This radical work by God is said to occur only in the new birth. And there must be the effectual call.

    In your reply to me, you gave an awkward order for someone assuming a Reformed position. You wrote, “Thus, we have this order: Regeneration followed by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit followed by the effective call through the preaching of the gospel followed by conversion” (Aug. 10, 6:42). This order would seem logical. A dead man can’t respond to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, therefore regeneration would need to precede the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. But, does the effectual call follow regeneration and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit?

    Your order does not correspond to my understanding of Reformed Theology. I thought the ‘spiritually dead man’ was like Lazarus in the tomb—and it was the effectual call that brings forth the new birth. Wayne Grudem writes,

    “At least two passages suggest that God regenerates us at the same time as he speaks to us in effective calling: Peter says, ‘You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…that is the good news which was preached to you’ (-Peter 1:23, 25). And James says, He chose to give us birth through the word of truth’ (James 1:18). As the gospel comes to us, God speaks through it to summon us to himself (effective calling) and to give us new spiritual life (regeneration) so that we are enabled to respond in faith. Effective calling is thus God the Father speaking powerfully to us, and regeneration is God the Father and God the Holy Spirit working powerfully in us, to make us alive.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, page 700)

    In my studies of Reformed Theology, I do not recall anyone saying anything about the the need for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit in bringing someone to repentance. Nor has anyone said that the effectual call was the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. In contrast Wayne Grudem continues, (capitals are mine for emphasis)

    “Sometimes the term “irresistible grace” is used in this connection. It refers to the fact that God effectively calls people and also gives them regeneration, AND BOTH ACTIONS GUARANTEE THAT WE WILL RESPOND IN SAVING FAITH…God’s work reaches into our hearts to bring about a response that is absolutely certain—even though we respond voluntarily.” (Grudem, pg.700)

    With that guarantee, there is no need for convicting! Also, as a side note, it wasn’t until the night before he died that Jesus said that He was going to have the Father send the Holy Spirit to convict men… (but I won’t comment on how I think that relates to your discussion with Bob!)

    So, I agree with Bob. If the Calvinist position were correct, then there could (would) only be two types of soil. It is impossible for ‘spiritually dead men’ to have any response. And all those who are regenerated will bear the fruit.

  21. Mel Boek says:

    Rhutchin,

    Now some questions, since you contend that regeneration is a necessity before there can be any response to the gospel:

    The Calvinist teaching about regeneration does not fit the detail given to us in the Scriptures about the new birth. I have some questions about your interpretation of several Scriptures regarding the new birth.

    1. Calvinists must content that men have been receiving the new birth since the fall of man. They would also have to assume that God must regenerate the men in the Parable of the Sower before there could be any fruit. However Peter tells us that we are born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1Pet. 1:3). Were men “born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” before Jesus Christ rose from the dead? (This certainly has a bearing on your discussion of Matt. 13! If there was no regeneration before the resurrection then your perspective has no bearing on the truth.)

    2. What kind of life is given in the new birth? Remember, a man is born of the ETERNAL God (John 1:13), and the seed of the new birth is the “IMPERISHABLE, LIVING AND ABIDING Word of God” which “REMAINS FOREVER” (1Pet. 1:23,25). How can it be anything but eternal life? But, if not, then what kind of life is given in the new birth, and where does the Bible talk about this kind of life? And when in the Reformed “Ordo Salutis” does a man receive eternal life?

    3. Paul tells us that we are saved by regeneration (Titus 3:5). He also declared a man was saved when he was “made alive together with Christ—, “…made us alive together with Christ, by grace YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED” (Eph. 2:5). Does regeneration save a man in the Reformed system before he is converted? If not, what saves him? “Saving Faith”? “Justification”? Or “adoption”? Or???

    (This is the biggest difference between what you believe and what I believe the Word of God teaches us. I believe, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, when a man places his faith in Christ, there is an extensive work done upon that man in that instant, and it culminates in Jesus Christ coming to dwell in his heart, giving the man His life (eternal life) in the new birth. And Jesus Christ dwelling in him, saves him. This is a salvation that he can never lose because Christ will never leave him or forsake him. From this perspective it is an obvious declaration that the new birth does save a man. And easily it can be seen that Jesus saves him! The man did nothing to earn this gift!)

    4. In the Reformed Tradition a man’s faculties are supposedly radically transformed in the new birth. But that is not all. When a man is born again he is said to “enter the kingdom of God” (from John 3:5). You have used this verse, “He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Is “transferring us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son” the same as a person “entering the kingdom of God”? Is “entering the kingdom of God” the same as “being raised with Christ and seated with Christ in the heavenly” (Eph. 2:6)?

    5. Paul says that the kingdom of God is an inheritance (Matt. 25:34; 1Cor. 6:9-10; 1Cor. 15:50; Gal. 5:21). Can a slave receive the inheritance? (“Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, THEN AN HEIR” – Gal. 4:7) How can any man who is born a slave qualify to inherit the kingdom of God before they become a son? How, in your theology, can you have a man “enter the kingdom of God”, if he is not a son and cannot even inherit the kingdom of God yet?

    5b. As to the timing of the new birth: There was no adoption for men in the OT or in the Gospels. Paul tells us explicitly: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son… in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE ADOPTOIN AS SONS. (Gal. 4:4,5). IF you believe that men were being regenerated before Christ came and redeemed men so they might be adopted, how can you have men “entering the kingdom of God” when they are not yet sons, when they do not even qualify to inherit the kingdom of God?

    6. Paul also states, “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1Cor. 6:9). How is it an unrighteous man can ‘enter the kingdom of God’ if he cannot even inherit it? (In my understanding of the Reformed Tradition, nothing is done in regeneration to affect man’s ‘righteousness’.)

    7. Paul also states, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1Cor. 15:50). I have never seen any Calvinist describe anything happening to the “flesh” of an unbeliever when he is regenerated, only the eyes, ears, mind, heart, will, and nature. Can you explain: how can a man of flesh and blood “enter the kingdom of God” if he cannot even inherit it? (In contrast, the Bible tells us what happens to our flesh (where sin dwells in us) when we come to Christ, before we are “raised with Christ and seated with Christ in the heavenly”! If you don’t believe me, just ask me! )

    I ask these questions because you kept referring to this verse throughout your posts: “…giving thanks to the Father who has QUALIFIED US TO SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE…” (Col. 1:12).
    My question was, and still is, what did the Father do to qualify us to share in the inheritance? The answer is not “delivering us from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son”, for “entering the kingdom of God” is a part of the inheritance that we get to share.

    • rhutchin says:

      Mel writes, “1. Calvinists must content that men have been receiving the new birth since the fall of man. They would also have to assume that God must regenerate the men in the Parable of the Sower before there could be any fruit. However Peter tells us that we are born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1Pet. 1:3). Were men “born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” before Jesus Christ rose from the dead? (This certainly has a bearing on your discussion of Matt. 13! If there was no regeneration before the resurrection then your perspective has no bearing on the truth.)”

      I Peter 1:3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

      You need to crosswalk us from “lively hope” to “born again” as your argument seems to be built on this passage. I don’t see that your interpretation is correct.

      The “lively hope” of Peter would seem to be that hope described by Paul in Romans 8, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

      • Mel Boek says:

        Rhutchin
        Most versions read born again to a ‘living hope’.

        I believe the ‘living hope’ is actually “eternal life”.

        In two places Paul refers to eternal life as a “hope”.

        “In HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE, which God…promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested…” (Titus 1:2); AND, “…that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE” (Titus 3:7)

        Eternal life was a promise of God, and it is given to those who were made heirs (slaves are not heirs– adopted sons become heirs.)

        Men were looking for eternal life. Remember the question someone asked Jesus, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” God had given this life to His Son Jesus Christ—“For as the Father has LIFE in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have LIFE in Himself…” (John 5:26). Jesus chides the religious men for looking for LIFE in the wrong places: “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have ETERNAL LIFE; and it is these that bear witness of Me, and you are unwilling to come to Me that you may have LIFE” (John 5:39-40).

        “God sent His only begotten Son in to the world, that we might live through Him” (1John 4:9).

        Since the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, men can now possess God’s gift of eternal life. When Jesus Christ comes to indwell the heart of a believer, Jesus presence in him gives him eternal life; ONLY those who have the Son have eternal life (1John 5:11-12). Men did not receive God’s gift of eternal life before Christ began indwelling men. We receive eternal life in the new birth when we are born of the Spirit and of the Word of God which lives and abides forever. There was no new birth for men before Jesus Christ became the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18).

    • rhutchin says:

      Mel writes, “2. What kind of life is given in the new birth? Remember, a man is born of the ETERNAL God (John 1:13), and the seed of the new birth is the “IMPERISHABLE, LIVING AND ABIDING Word of God” which “REMAINS FOREVER” (1Pet. 1:23,25). How can it be anything but eternal life? But, if not, then what kind of life is given in the new birth, and where does the Bible talk about this kind of life? And when in the Reformed “Ordo Salutis” does a man receive eternal life?”

      In John 3, Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus does not tells us any details about the new birth – only of the necessity of the new birth to see the kingdom of God. The new birth can be a process that encompasses regeneration and a response to the preaching of the gospel that leads to repentance and faith. Through these events, the spiritually dead are born again.

      You have not established that “being born again” is a one-time event versus a process (if that is even what you mean here). Peter says that a person is born again of the word yet even you probably would agree that the repentance of the person who hears the world is a necessary part of being born again. I don’t see you the point you are trying to make.

      • Mel Boek says:

        Rhutchin,

        You wrote,
        “The new birth can be a process that encompasses regeneration and a response to the preaching of the gospel that leads to repentance and faith. Through these events, the spiritually dead are born again.”

        This is not true for these reasons:

        1. The new birth = regeneration. The terms are interchangeable.

        Reformed author Wayne Grudem writes, “Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us. This is sometimes called “being born again” (using language from John 3:3-8).” (Systematic Theology pg. 699)

        2. The new birth is not a process. You either have the “life”, or you do not have it.

        Wayne Grudem expounds, “Because regeneration is a work of God within us in which he gives us new life it is right to conclude that it is AN INSTANTANEOUS EVENT. It happens only once. At one moment we are spiritually dead, and then at the next moment we have new spiritual life from God” (Grudem, pg. 701). (caps are mine for emphasis)

        You wrote, “I don’t see you the point you are trying to make.” The important point is:

        I contend that there are only two kinds of life spoken of in the Bible. There is the ‘mortal’, ‘corruptible’ life men receive in their first birth. The ‘seed’ of the first birth is perishable (1Pet. 1:23). Those with this kind of life will die and ultimately perish.

        Christ came to save men from perishing. And He does this by giving men eternal life. Only the men who have Jesus Christ living in them have eternal life. See 1John 5:11-12, John clearly tells us that only those who have the Son have eternal life. Jesus Christ in us is our source of eternal life. Paul a states this clearly “Christ is our life” (Col. 3:4), and “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20 NASB). The ‘Seed’ for this life is imperishable (1Pet. 1:23). Imperishable seed produces a life that will not perish—it is eternal life.

        There are only two kinds of life, the kind that will perish, and eternal life. There is no other kind of life spoken of in the Bible. When men are born of God, born of imperishable seed, they receive eternal life.

        To maintain your Reformed position, you must prove that there are 3 different kinds of life in the Bible, and show your support from the Scriptures. (Keep in mind there are only two kinds of seed, and only two births!)

        Lastly you wrote, “…yet even you probably would agree that the repentance of the person who hears the world is a necessary part of being born again.”

        No, I definitely would not agree on that point. Faith and repentance are not a part of being born again. These are two entirely different things, even under the Reformed System. One is something that men must do, the other is something that only God can do. In the centuries before Christ began dwelling in men’s hearts, men had faith and repentance. Yet, they could do nothing to make God send Jesus Christ to dwell in their hearts. These men were defiled creatures, and the blood of their sacrifices was insufficient to take away their sins. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ provided the only blood that could cleanse a man from all of his sin and unrighteousness. Since the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, believing men are made into holy temples of God, where Christ now dwells. The gift of God’s Son, the gift of eternal life are given to men who place their trust in Jesus Christ.

        I would still appreciate answers to questions 3-7 if you have time.

      • rhutchin says:

        Mel Boek writes, “No, I definitely would not agree on that point. Faith and repentance are not a part of being born again. ”

        Do you take the position that the expression of faith and repentance precede the new birth (Pelagian theology) or that the new birth makes possible faith and repentance (Calvinist theology)?

        The Pelagian says that a person must repent and believe so that God will give him the new birth. The Calvinist says that God must initiate the new birth so that the person can then repent and believe.

        Gruden identifies the new birth with regeneration. I have not read his Scriptural argument for this conclusion and you do not present it. I like to search out such arguments first before reading what others say, and I haven’t found that argument in Scripture. It makes sense, but I am inclined, for now, to think that the new birth is a process encompassing regeneration followed by faith and repentance..

    • rhutchin says:

      Mel writes, ” I believe, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, when a man places his faith in Christ, there is an extensive work done upon that man in that instant, and it culminates in Jesus Christ coming to dwell in his heart, giving the man His life (eternal life) in the new birth.”

      This is the basic Pelagian position which says that man places his faith in Christ only after which God then does His work. So, it is nothing new. The Calvinists object saying that people are depraved and because of this depravity, they cannot have faith in Christ without God first enabling them to do so. The Arminians agreed. So, we have the Calvinists and the Arminians aligned against the Pelagians.

      Whether the person does not earn his salvation in your scheme is not necessarily true. It would depend on your definition of “works” and whether a person has actually done some work that earns his salvation. You assume much here but prove nothing.

      • Mel Boek says:

        Rhutchin,

        I have appreciated the time you have taken to respond to my questions. However it saddens me that you would resort to name calling rather than sincerely dealing with uncomfortable questions.

        Let me ask you a couple of simple questions.

        1. Does Jesus Christ* dwell in you?

        Paul said that there was one test to see if you are in the faith—“that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test!” (2Cor. 13:5)

        2. Were men “holy temples of God” in the OT? When in history did men become “holy temples of God”?

        3. When in history did Jesus Christ begin dwelling in the hearts of men?

        *Note: I am not talking about the Holy Spirit, third person of the trinity, but Jesus, the second person of the trinity, the Christ, the Messiah, promised in the OT, sent in the gospels. Jesus Christ=the Last Adam who became the life giving Spirit.
        “Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20)
        “Christ dwells in our hearts” (Eph. 3:17)
        “Christ in me” (Rom. 8:10)
        “Christ in you” (Col. 1:27)
        “…His Son in Me” (Gal. 1:16)

      • rhutchin says:

        “1. Does Jesus Christ* dwell in you?”

        Christ dwells in believers. In the course of time, as God brings His elect to belief in Christ, God places His spirit in them to protect and preserve them. As it is God who has saved me, He has placed His spirit within me – Christ can be said to dwell in me.

        “2. Were men “holy temples of God” in the OT? When in history did men become “holy temples of God”?”

        This idea is presented in the NT. Paul writes of this, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Peter says, “You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

        Paul also writes, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;…” Given that the foundation is comprised of the prophets, I think we can conclude that God has been building this temple from the time He created the earth.

        “3. When in history did Jesus Christ begin dwelling in the hearts of men?”
        Not sure. The Bible is not as clear on this as we might want – at least, I have not found a answer to this yet. This is clearly a NT concept, less clear as to OT.

        My inclination is that Christ indwells God’s elect whether OT or NT.

      • Mel Boek says:

        Rhutchin,
        You stated:
        “Given that the foundation is comprised of the prophets, I think we can conclude that God has been building this temple from the time He created the earth.”

        This is not true. I believe this idea is derived more from your theology than from the Scriptures.

        First, God does not build Himself a temple. When God wanted to “dwell among” the Israelites, he had Moses erect the tabernacle. Moses is a type of Christ. The Scriptures tell us that David wanted to build God a temple (see 2Sam. 7:1-2), but God sent His prophet Nathan to David to give him these details.

        “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Sam 7:12-14).

        This prophecy does not refer to David’s son Solomon.
        It is David’s Seed (descendant), Jesus Christ, (whom God ‘raised up’ and whose throne of His kingdom is forever), who will build the house (temple) for God. This Seed is not Solomon—Solomon’s throne did not last forever. David’s descendant who was to build this house/temple from ‘living stones’ is Jesus Christ.

        The building of this temple did not begin from the time that God created the earth. The Scriptures tell us, “The stone which the builders rejected, This BECAME the very cornerstone” (1Pet. 2:7). The cornerstone is the first stone that is laid in a structure.

        God dwelt in the tabernacle and temple in the OT. Because of the cleansing work made possible by the blood of Jesus Christ, which takes away all of our sins and unrighteousness, believing men and women are made into holy temples of God where God comes to dwell in men rather than just among men.

    • rhutchin says:

      Mel writes, “3. Paul tells us that we are saved by regeneration (Titus 3:5). He also declared a man was saved when he was “made alive together with Christ—, “…made us alive together with Christ, by grace YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED” (Eph. 2:5). Does regeneration save a man in the Reformed system before he is converted? If not, what saves him? “Saving Faith”? “Justification”? Or “adoption”? Or???”

      This is the process:
      1. …when we were dead in sins, God quickened us together with Christ,… (Eph 2:5)

      2. …but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:5)

      Do we identify the quickening of Eph 2 with the washing of regeneration in Titus 3? I think we can.

      To this quickening/regeneration, we this add the renewing of the Holy Ghost. (or so it seems.)

      That process leads to repentance and faith.

      • Mel Boek says:

        Rhutchin,

        I reject a doctrine that teaches that God must save a man before he can believe. (save him by regeneration (Titus 3:5) and save him when he is made alive with Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:5).

        The Bible clearly tells us that those who call upon the name of the Lord SHALL BE SAVED, and those who believe on the name of the Lord SHALL BE SAVED (Rom. 10:13; Acts 16:31).

        The problem begins with an erroneous interpretation of Ephesians 2:1, 5. Let’s look at a parallel passage: (note the placement of the uncircumcision and the circumcision).

        “And when you were dead in your transgressions and THE UNCIRCUMCISION OF YOUR FLESH” (Col. 2:13)…

        Note the phrase “the uncircumcision of your flesh”. Just prior to this Paul references a circumcision (removal) of the flesh.

        “…and in Him you were also CIRCUMCISED WITH A CIRCUMCISION made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST having been buried with Him in baptism, in which (baptism) you were also raised up with Him through the working of God who raised Him up from the dead” (Col. 2:11, 12).

        As you think through your understanding of God’s work in you—Where do you have Christ circumcising your flesh? At what point is the body of your flesh removed by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism?

  22. Bob Wheeler says:

    The work of the Holy Spirit is necessary to bring a person to Christ — to bring him under conviction and grant him repentance and faith. But if there is one specific moment when a person is “saved” it is when he seals his faith in baptism. It is then that he is formally united to Christ, receives the forgiveness of sins, and is adopted as a son. The Holy Spirit takes up His residence within the heart of the believer and he enters the kingdom of heaven. The whole process, from the first stirrings of guilt in the heart of the sinner to the rise of assurance in the heart of the believer can be construed as “effectual calling,” “conversion,” and “the new birth,” and it could take some length of time.

    • Mel Boek says:

      Bob,

      You wrote:
      “But if there is one specific moment when a person is “saved” it is when he seals his faith in baptism. It is then that he is formally united to Christ, receives the forgiveness of sins, and is adopted as a son. The Holy Spirit takes up His residence within the heart of the believer and he enters the kingdom of heaven.”

      I am interested in your belief that a person is saved and the Holy Spirit takes up residence within the heart of a believer “when he seals his faith in baptism”.

      To which baptism are you referring?

      (1) The baptism where John the Baptist states, “I baptize with water unto (or for) repentance”. Only one person received the Holy Spirit when they were baptized with water in the gospels, according to the testimony of John the Baptist.

      “He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, “He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33).

      We can know that no one else received the gift of the Holy Spirit when they were baptized by John the Baptist because Jesus told His disciples the night before He died that He would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit (the Helper) (John 14:16-26, 15:26, 16:7-14…).

      (2) The baptism Jesus spoke of shortly before His death?
      Luke 12:50
      50 But I have A BAPTISM TO BE BAPTIZED WITH; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
      KJV
      Matt 20:22-23 and Mark 10:38-39
      Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with THE BAPTISM THAT I AM BAPTIZED with? They say unto him, We are able.
      23 And he saith unto them, YE SHALL drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with:

      It is interesting to note that the Lord called out to the Father to save Him before he received this baptism. “In the days of His flesh, when He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and who was heard because of His piety…” (Heb. 5:7)

      This baptism to which the Lord referred was His impending death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation to the right hand of God. Christ received the Spirit again in this baptism as Peter records in Acts two. “…this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again…to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and HAVING RECEIVED FROM THE FATHER THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT…” (Acts 2:23, 24, 33).

      (3) Or, being baptized by Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit as John the Baptist foretold?
      “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16; see also Mark 1:8)

      “And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ (“John 1:33-34)

      This is the same baptism that Christ referred to in Acts 1: “…You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence” (Act. 1:5). On the day of Pentecost the church, the body of Christ, was ‘born’ as men were baptized by Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (Acts 12:13).

      Again, my question is, to which baptism are you referring?

      • Bob Wheeler says:

        What I am referring to is water baptism in the name of Christ. There are passages that tie the forgiveness of sins to baptism (e.g. Acts 2:38) and there are passages that assume that everyone who has been baptized is saved (e.g. Rom. 6:3-9; Gal. 3:27-29; Col. 2:10-13). And yet Scripture is quite clear that it is the death of Christ that atones for our sins, and we are “justified by faith.” (The death of Christ is the ground of justification; faith is the instrument of justification.) How then do we reconcile the two? The answer I believe, is I Pet. 3:21: “. . . baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)” (which might better be translated, “the appeal to God for a good conscience.” It must be stressed that baptism is not a good work that somehow merits favor with God, much less does it work automatically to produced regeneration (the technical phrase is “ex opere operato”), nor is there any evidence that infants were baptized. Baptism has significance only as it is an outward expression of the inward faith that the believer has in Christ.
        To put it another way, baptism served the same function in the first century church that the altar call does in a modern Southern Baptist church. It is just that there is no scriptural warrant for an altar call, and no evidence that the early church had any such practice. But we are commanded to baptize. It is the means by which we publicly express our faith in Christ and formalize the commitment. It can be argued that it is at that point that we are formally united to Christ and receive all of the benefits that He purchased for us at redemption. One does not get saved by responding to an altar call; he gets saved by formally committing his life to Christ in baptism.
        But it must also be emphasized that we cannot come to that point until the Holy Spirit has done a work of grace in our hearts, convicting us of sin, enlightening our understanding, and renewing our will — and that process can involve a spiritual struggle that can take some time.

  23. Mel Boek says:

    Bob,
    Thanks for the reply. I will respond directly to it later.
    You come from a different doctrinal position than Rhutchin does, and I would be interested in your answers to the questions that I just asked him.

    1. Does Jesus Christ* dwell in you?
    Paul said that there was one test to see if you are in the faith—“that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test!” (2Cor. 13:5) (The test was not whether or not you were baptized.)
    2. Were men “holy temples of God” in the OT? When in history did men become “holy temples of God”?
    3. When in history did Jesus Christ begin dwelling in the hearts of men?

    *Note: I am not talking about the Holy Spirit, third person of the trinity, but Jesus, the second person of the trinity, the Christ, the Messiah, promised in the OT, sent in the gospels. Jesus Christ=the Last Adam who became the life giving Spirit.
    “Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20)
    “Christ dwells in our hearts” (Eph. 3:17)
    “Christ in me” (Rom. 8:10)
    “Christ in you” (Col. 1:27)
    “…His Son in Me” (Gal. 1:16)

    • Bob Wheeler says:

      Christ dwells in our hearts through His Spirit — Paul can use the terms interchangeably — cf. Rom. 8:9-11. Locally Christ is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. The Holy Spirit, in a sense, takes Christ place here on earth (John 14:16-20; 16:7,8). The presence of the Holy Spirit in believers is, in fact, proof that Christ has risen from the dead and making intercession for us.(Acts 2:32,33).
      The status of the Old Testament saints is a difficult one to resolve. We know that Abraham was justified by faith, and David certainly spoke as a regenerate man. Yet the outpouring of the Spirit is one of the promised blessings of the New Covenant.

      • Mel Boek says:

        Bob,
        You said,
        “Christ dwells in our hearts through His Spirit — Paul can use the terms interchangeably — cf. Rom. 8:9-11.”

        That may simplify it, but the detail in the Scriptures makes me wonder at times if this may be too simplistic. Take for example John 14. Jesus reviews some facts that He has disclosed before, and then He adds some new facts the evening before His death. First He tells the disciples, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me…the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me.” (Jn. 14:10-11) Prior to this He also added, “The Father and I are ONE” (Jn. 10:30). Then Jesus begins telling his disciples how they will have this new relationship with Himself, and the Father.

        “…but you will know Him, because He abides with you, and WILL BE IN YOU. I will not leave you as orphans; I (Jesus) WILL COME TO YOU…because I live you shall live also, IN THAT DAY you shall know that i AM IN MY FATHER, and YOU IN ME, and I IN YOU…and My Father will love him, and WE will come to him, and make OUR ABODE WITH HIM.” (Jn. 14:17-20, 23).

        Make a special note of the “WE” and the “OUR” in the verse above. Remember this detail is given to us by our Lord.

        And then Jesus prays for the disciples and others who will believe in Him:

        “…that they may all be ONE; even as Thou, Father art in Me, and I in Thee, that they may be in US… that they may be ONE, just as WE ARE ONE, I IN THEM, and Thou in Me…” (Jn 17:21-23)

        Later John would write these things in his first letter:

        “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son HAS THE FATHER ALSO… you also will abide IN THE SON AND IN THE FATHER” (1Jn. 2:23,24). “God abides in us…Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, GOD ABIDES IN HIM AND HE IN GOD… the one who abides in love ABIDES IN GOD, AND GOD ABIDES IN HIM.” (1Jn. 4:12-16). And “…this life is “in His Son” and he who HAS THE SON has the life, and he who does not HAVE THE SON OF GOD, does not have life” (1Jn. 5:11-12)

        Similarly Paul writes, “…your life is hidden WITH CHRIST IN GOD” (Col. 3:3). Paul also seems to be differentiating between the Father and the Son in the text that you referenced (Rom. 8:9-11).

        Even if I do not understand how this works, I do know that Jesus told His disciples that they would soon be experiencing a new relationship with the Father and the Son, in addition to informing them that He would be sending the Holy Spirit. Jesus prayed for that new relationship, and then the Apostle John gives us similar details of our new relationship with the Father and the Son.

        I am thankful to see that you acknowledged that the Spirit is one of the promised blessings of the New Covenant. It amazes me that some people think that God has done the same things for men before and after the cross, and they refuse to acknowledge that things are radically different since the death and resurrection of our Lord.

        I am putting together my thoughts to reply to your post about water baptism.

      • rhutchin says:

        Bob writes, “The status of the Old Testament saints is a difficult one to resolve. We know that Abraham was justified by faith, and David certainly spoke as a regenerate man. Yet the outpouring of the Spirit is one of the promised blessings of the New Covenant.”

        In the OT, it appears that God was active in Israel while basically ignoring the rest of the world except to the extent that the world interacted with Israel. The law was preeminent, and all of Israel seems to have been aware of that law and to have participated in the sacrificial system, in adherence to holy days, tithing, etc. It was an unique culture – a religious culture – and easily differentiated from the surrounding nations for their worship of God.

        We read of God’s spirit coming on a person to accomplish specific tasks in the OT. We see this with Saul and the time of the Judges when God raised up a judge. The prophets had visions but do not seem to have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit on a continuing, permanent basis.

        It is also clear that the NT side has changed dramatically. The law is done away as a means of salvation but not a requirement for obedience. On the NT side, Christ actively advocates for God’s elect and God instills his Spirit into His elect in the course of time.

        Regardless, God’s elect are those He choose to save whether OT or NT even though God treated the OT elect different than He treats the NT elect.

  24. Bob Wheeler says:

    Union with Christ can be construed two ways — mystical and forensic. In the mystical union the Spirit of Christ actually dwells within our hearts and produces His fruit within our lives. In forensic or legal union we are considered one with Christ, parts of His body, and His righteousness is imputed to us. If Christ died, then we are considered to have died with Him. This, I think, goes a long way to explain Limited Atonement. The gospel is freely offered to all, but we do not actually receive the benefits of the atonement, (the forgiveness of our sins) until we are “in Him.” Thus Christ can be conceived of as having died as a substitute for all of those who are part of His body., i.e., the elect only.

  25. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, “I have appreciated the time you have taken to respond to my questions. However it saddens me that you would resort to name calling rather than sincerely dealing with uncomfortable questions.”

    There is no name calling going on. I am at a loss as to where this comes from.

    Everyone here is taking positions that are identified with specific theological positions – Universalist, Calvinist, Arminian, Pelagian, etc. No new arguments are being presented here; each of us advances arguments worked out by others in the past. There is nothing wrong with identifying those arguments with their theological home. I clearly use Calvinist arguments and my arguments can be called Calvinist by you or others. Whether I am actually a Calvinist is uncertain – I only know that I am coming to the same conclusions as the Calvinists have done historically.

  26. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, ’4. In the Reformed Tradition a man’s faculties are supposedly radically transformed in the new birth. But that is not all. When a man is born again he is said to “enter the kingdom of God” (from John 3:5). ”

    I am not sure that your conclusion, “In the Reformed Tradition a man’s faculties are supposedly radically transformed in the new birth” is correct (or perhaps the reformed tradition is not correct). Certainly, being radically transformed describes regeneration – “you hath God quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” But, counter Gruden, I am not sure regeneration has to be the new birth.

    ! John 5 says, ‘Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:” So, can a person be born again and not believe that Jesus is the Christ? If a person is only quickened/regenerated per Ephesians 2 and has not yet come to belief in Christ, is he “born again” or in the process of being born again? I have not spent enough time on the concept of “born again” to sort out what it entails. I have also not yet read a good study on “being born again.” Probably because I haven’t really looked into it.

    I think you misread John 3:5. John 3 says, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Being born again is a necessary condition to enter the kingdom of God, but these verses do not say that the one who is born again has actually entered the kingdom of heaven. I think we need to go to other verses to prove this point.

    Mel also wrote, “You have used this verse, “He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Is “transferring us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son” the same as a person “entering the kingdom of God”? Is “entering the kingdom of God” the same as “being raised with Christ and seated with Christ in the heavenly” (Eph. 2:6)?

    2 Corinth 4: says, “…if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Then Paul says, in Col 1 that God delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” I think these can be two different actions. First God delivers His elect from darkness. Then through the preaching of the word, God transfers His elect to the kingdom of Christ. Is the transfer accomplished at a point in time or over time? I am not sure. I think there can be a lot of activity here and Paul has provided a summary.

    • Mel Boek says:

      Rhutchin,

      You wrote:
      “I am not sure that your conclusion, “In the Reformed Tradition a man’s faculties are supposedly radically transformed in the new birth” is correct (or perhaps the reformed tradition is not correct). Certainly, being radically transformed describes regeneration – “you hath God quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” But, counter Gruden, I am not sure regeneration has to be the new birth.” And, “If a person is only quickened/regenerated per Ephesians 2 and has not yet come to belief in Christ, is he “born again” or in the process of being born again? I have not spent enough time on the concept of “born again” to sort out what it entails. I have also not yet read a good study on “being born again.” Probably because I haven’t really looked into it.”

      I have looked through all of my Reformed theology books. They all equate the new birth to regeneration. So your idea that regeneration is not the new birth, but just a part of the new birth is new to me.

      1. Can you detail what is done to a man (or given to a man) in the instant of regeneration in your understanding (based upon which Scriptures)?
      2. What happens in the new birth that didn’t occur at the point of regeneration?
      3. If you are going to say that these are two different events (regeneration is instantaneous and the new birth is a process) can you point to any Scriptures that lead you to this conclusion?
      4. In your opinion, does the new birth include conversion in its process?

      You told me that I couldn’t know that eternal life was given in the new birth. You said that Jesus didn’t give us that kind of detail. Yet you are adding a much more elusive detail, saying it is a process which includes regeneration. Can you give any Biblical support for your conclusion.

      You have given your order: You begin with a “dead man”. He is regenerated, followed by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, followed by the effectual call, followed by conversion?

      According to Reformed Doctrine, can you have regeneration without an effectual call? Doesn’t the “dead man” need the gospel call and the effectual call to bring him to life (just as Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb)?

      R.C. Sproul writes in an article entitled “The New Genesis” (http://www.the-highway.com/genesis_Sproul.html):

      “Sometimes the phrase effectual calling is used as a synonym for regeneration. The word calling refers to something that happens inside of us, as distinguished from something that occurs outside of us.”
      “When the gospel is preached audibly, sounds are emitted from the preacher’s mouth. There is an outward call to faith and repentance. Anyone who is not deaf is capable of hearing the words with his ears. These words strike the auditory nerves of the regenerate and the unregenerate alike.”
      “The unregenerate experience the outward call of the gospel. This outward call will not effect salvation unless the call is heard and embraced in faith. EFFECTUAL CALLING REFERS TO THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN REGENERATION. Here the call is within. The regenerate are called inwardly. Everyone who receives the inward call of regeneration responds in faith.”

      (Now if you don’t take RC Sproul as authoritative, who do you take?)

      • rhutchin says:

        Sproul says, “This outward call will not effect salvation unless the call is heard and embraced in faith. EFFECTUAL CALLING REFERS TO THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN REGENERATION. Here the call is within. The regenerate are called inwardly. Everyone who receives the inward call of regeneration responds in faith.”

        The “call” is made through the preaching of the gospel. For the call to be “effectual,” a person must be regenerated. This call is then embraced in faith. I think Sproul means that the “effectual” part of the call refers to regeneration. I think that Sproul, like Gruden, may take the position that God regenerates the person as the person is hearing the word preached thereby resulting in the person embracing salvation in faith. Everything occurs at the same time, but in their proper order – God acts; man reacts.

        I would still describe this as a process: the gospel is preached; God regenerates the person; the person believes.

        Can this occur over an extended period of time? For this, I appealed to anecdotal evidence when people have testified that they knew they were missing something for a time before hearing the gospel preached at which point they found what they were missing and believed.

    • Mel Boek says:

      Rhutchin,
      You stated: “Then Paul says, in Col 1 that God delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” I think these can be two different actions. First God delivers His elect from darkness. Then through the preaching of the word, God transfers His elect to the kingdom of Christ. Is the transfer accomplished at a point in time or over time? I am not sure. I think there can be a lot of activity here and Paul has provided a summary.”

      I do not understand. Isn’t it either one or the other? Either you are in the dominion of darkness (the realm of this world), or you are in the kingdom of Christ (“raised with Christ and seated with Christ in the heavenly” (Eph. 2:6); “you have been raised up with Christ ..your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1, 3). To me it is like crossing the border between states. First you are in one state and then, when you cross the border, you are in the next one.

      If on the other hand, you are taken out of the dominion of darkness, but you are not in the kingdom of Christ, then where are you? What does it mean to “enter the kingdom of God”? Where are you before you enter the kingdom of God?

      • rhutchin says:

        The point you make is that there must be something else going on that Paul does not explain. When Paul says that God delivers His elect from the domain of darkness, how does He bring this about so that, at the end, His elect are transferred into the kingdom of Christ? As God’s elect do not come to Christ except God draw them (John 6), this is one action. As God’s elect can neither see nor enter the kingdom of God without being born again (John 3), this must happen also. All this is by grace but also through faith (Eph 2), so we also have God’s elect reacting to grace by believing. But faith comes by hearing, so the word must be preached to God’s elect else there is nothing for faith to believe.
        So long as the person is dead in sin, his reaction to preaching is to think it foolishness. Thus, the person is quickened and this quickening is also by grace and enables the person to respond to the preaching of the gospel.

        So, it seems that the summary Paul provides in Col 1 – delivery from darkness and transfer to the kingdom – can also be described as a a process that includes: regeneration of the one dead in sin, hearing the word preached, and responding in faith (with these three actions together producing the new birth). The preaching of the word would have an irresistible effect on the elect that can be the drawing of John 6.

        Your point, I think, is that there is not room for any real passage of time between God’s delivery of the person from darkness and their transfer into the kingdom. This whole process must be instantaneous which seems to be Gruden’s conclusion also. Sounds good to me.

      • Mel Boek says:

        Rhutchin,
        You stated,
        “Your point, I think, is that there is not room for any real passage of time between God’s delivery of the person from darkness and their transfer into the kingdom. This whole process must be instantaneous which seems to be Gruden’s conclusion also. Sounds good to me.”

        No, my point was that you have problems when you try to separate “delivery from darkness” by time from the entry into the kingdom. However, an “instantaneous process” still leaves you with problems. Remember, you have been arguing for a period of separation between regeneration an conversion that can be days, weeks, months or longer.

        You have said, delivery from darkness and transferring to the kingdom of His dear Son can be two different actions separated by time.

        A man is born in the domain of darkness. He is delivered from the domain of darkness when he is regenerated according to you. Now, you have said that there can be a period of time for the preaching of the Word, and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit before conversion and entry into the kingdom. (maybe weeks or months) The person is no longer in the domain of darkness and he is not yet in the kingdom. Where is he?

        It would seem to me that you need another “place” in addition to the domain of darkness and the kingdom, IF you are going to say that there can be a quantity of time between regeneration and conversion for the preaching of the gospel and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

        HOWEVER,

        If there is not another place, and the person goes from the domain of darkness directly into the kingdom, then you have another set of problems to deal with. If you place regeneration (delivering from the domain of darkness) and the new birth (entering the kingdom = transferred to the kingdom of His dear Son) in the same instant, then you also have conversion in that same instant. Where is the time for the preaching of the gospel and the hearing of the gospel? Is there any need for “conviction of the Holy Spirit” under this scenario? (There certainly is no time between regeneration and the new birth, since they all happen simultaneously along with conversion).

        Are you now going to say that no time can elapse between regeneration (delivery from the domain of darkness) , conversion, and the new birth (transferred into the kingdom of His dear Son)?

  27. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, ’5. Paul says that the kingdom of God is an inheritance (Matt. 25:34; 1Cor. 6:9-10; 1Cor. 15:50; Gal. 5:21). Can a slave receive the inheritance? (“Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, THEN AN HEIR” – Gal. 4:7) How can any man who is born a slave qualify to inherit the kingdom of God before they become a son? How, in your theology, can you have a man “enter the kingdom of God”, if he is not a son and cannot even inherit the kingdom of God yet?”

    No slave (of sin) can enter the kingdom of God. All people are born sinners – slaves to sin – and cannot enter the kingdom of God in that condition. Thus, we have God saving the person and thereby, the person enters God’s kingdom.

  28. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, “5. Paul says that the kingdom of God is an inheritance (Matt. 25:34; 1Cor. 6:9-10; 1Cor. 15:50; Gal. 5:21). Can a slave receive the inheritance? (“Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, THEN AN HEIR” – Gal. 4:7) How can any man who is born a slave qualify to inherit the kingdom of God before they become a son? How, in your theology, can you have a man “enter the kingdom of God”, if he is not a son and cannot even inherit the kingdom of God yet?”

    No slave (of sin) will enter the kingdom of God. People are born slaves of sin – sinners – and cannot enter the kingdom of God. This necessitates that God save them by freeing them from their slavery to sin and adopting them, among other things like regenerating them, drawing them to Christ, etc.

    • Mel Boek says:

      Rhutchin,
      In Romans 6 Paul specifically spells out how a man is set free from slavery to sin. How does the Bible say that we are set free from slavery to sin? And when is the person set free?

      • rhutchin says:

        I see Romans 5 dealing with the manner in which God frees the elect from sin – “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In Romans 6-7, Paul deals with the presence of sin in the life of the believer telling believers that they are no longer slaves to sin and need not yield to sin as they had been doing.

        It seems to me that the elect are effectively freed from sin by Christ’s death on the cross – “being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Yet that freedom is not personally realized until the person comes to faith – “being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”

  29. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, “5b. As to the timing of the new birth: There was no adoption for men in the OT or in the Gospels. Paul tells us explicitly: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son… in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, THAT WE MIGHT RECEIVE THE ADOPTOIN AS SONS. (Gal. 4:4,5). IF you believe that men were being regenerated before Christ came and redeemed men so they might be adopted, how can you have men “entering the kingdom of God” when they are not yet sons, when they do not even qualify to inherit the kingdom of God?”

    I think God has made full provision for those who died in the OT looking forward to their savior.

  30. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, “6. Paul also states, “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1Cor. 6:9). How is it an unrighteous man can ‘enter the kingdom of God’ if he cannot even inherit it? (In my understanding of the Reformed Tradition, nothing is done in regeneration to affect man’s ‘righteousness’.)”

    That is why regeneration initiates the process. Dead men respond to the gospel by thinking it foolishness. God quickens those dead in sins so they are no longer dead in sin. Now, the gospel preached is accepted as truth and that truth makes the person free. With that freedom, the person chooses to repent and believe the gospel. Again, I do not identify regeneration as the new birth and I do not see the new birth as a one time event but as a process – from regeneration to repentance and belief.

  31. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, “7. Paul also states, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1Cor. 15:50). I have never seen any Calvinist describe anything happening to the “flesh” of an unbeliever when he is regenerated, only the eyes, ears, mind, heart, will, and nature. Can you explain: how can a man of flesh and blood “enter the kingdom of God” if he cannot even inherit it? (In contrast, the Bible tells us what happens to our flesh (where sin dwells in us) when we come to Christ, before we are “raised with Christ and seated with Christ in the heavenly”! If you don’t believe me, just ask me! )”

    I see this meaning only that those – flesh and blood – tied to this world cannot enter the kingdom of God.

    • rhutchin says:

      Also,

      - Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
      - Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
      - Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
      - Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
      - the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

  32. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, “My question was, and still is, what did the Father do to qualify us to share in the inheritance? The answer is not “delivering us from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son”, for “entering the kingdom of God” is a part of the inheritance that we get to share.”

    Colossians 1 says, “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,”

    God “has qualified His elect to share in the inheritance of the saints.”

    To do this God:

    1. rescues His elect from the dominion of darkness
    2. brings His elect into the kingdom of the Son

    Bringing His elect into the kingdom requires regeneration, the effectual calling, etc.

  33. Mel Boek says:

    Rhutchin,

    You stated (Aug. 16, 7:43am):
    “You have not established that “being born again” is a one-time event versus a process”

    You were not convinced with my first set of evidence, and so you responded (Aug. 17, 1:07pm):

    “Gruden identifies the new birth with regeneration. I have not read his Scriptural argument for this conclusion and you do not present it. I like to search out such arguments first before reading what others say, and I haven’t found that argument in Scripture. It makes sense, but I am inclined, for now, to think that the new birth is a process encompassing regeneration followed by faith and repentance..”

    And on Aug. 18, 6:39 you stated,
    “Again, I do not identify regeneration as the new birth and I do not see the new birth as a one time event but as a process – from regeneration to repentance and belief.”

    Your idea that “regeneration” is not the exact same thing as the “new birth” is brand new to me. So I have done some more ‘extensive’ research.

    First, in the realm of language itself, I have gone to the dictionary. Actually, I have 2 dictionaries: one is a reprint of the very first English dictionary ever produced by Noah Webster in 1828 and the second is Webster’s Dictionary published in 1970 (just in case the meanings of words have changed).

    *****
    WEBSTER’S 1828 DICTIONARY:

    “generate” – 1. To beget…to produce a being similar to the parent.
    “regenerate” (a.) – 2. Born anew
    “regenerated”- 2. Renewed, born again
    “regeneration” 2. In theology, the new birth by the grace of God
    “born” – 1. To be born, is to be produced or brought into life”. 2. To be born, or born again, is to be regenerated and renewed; to receive spiritual life.

    WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY 1970

    “generate”- to produce (offspring); beget
    “regenerate” – 1. Spiritually reborn
    “regeneration” – (b) a spiritual rebirth
    “born” 1. Brought into life or being

    STRONG’S DICTIONARY

    “paliggenesia” (used in Matt. 19:28; Titus 3:5) – rebirth
    “gennao” (used in Jn 3:3-8 and elsewhere) – to procreate, fig. to regenerate

    *****

    As you can clearly see, in language the terms are synonyms, they are even used to define each other.

    Second, I went online to do some research. I had to guess which authors you might accept, since you did not accept Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology text as authoritative. Therefore, I chose articles by J.I. Packer and Arthur W. Pink, both of whom I believe have good reputations among Reformed believers. I have included the website source for each article. (For your information, Packer’s article presents more Scriptures and the better argument that the new birth is a moment in time event, but I did not include that detail here. I just included enough to prove that these men teach that regeneration=the new birth.)
    *****
    J. I. Packer -article- “Regeneration” found at: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/packer_regen.html
    “Regeneration, or new birth, is an inner re-creating of fallen human nature by the gracious sovereign action of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-8) … Regeneration is the “birth” by which this work of new creation is begun, as sanctification is the “growth” whereby it continues (I Pet. 2:2; II Pet. 3:18).”

    “The use of the figure of new birth to describe this change emphasizes two facts about it. The first is its decisiveness. The regenerate man has forever ceased to be the man he was; his old life is over and a new life has begun; he is a new creature in Christ, buried with him out of reach of condemnation and raised with him into a new life of righteousness (see Rom. 6:3-11; II Cor. 5:17; Col. 3:9-11). The second fact emphasized is the monergism of regeneration. Infants do not induce, or cooperate in, their own procreation and birth; no more can those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” prompt the quickening operation of God’s Spirit within them (see Eph. 2:1-10).”

    Arthur W. Pink (article- “Regeneration or The New Birth”)

    http://gracegems.org/Pink/regeneration_or_the_new_birth.htm

    “That which takes place at regeneration, is the reversal of what happened at the fall. The one born again is, through Christ, and by the Spirit’s operation, restored to union and communion with God. The one who before was spiritually dead—is now spiritually alive. (Jn. 5:24) Just as spiritual death was brought about by the entrance into man’s being of a principle of evil—so spiritual life is brought about by the introduction of a principle of holiness. God communicates a new principle, as real and as potent as the principle of sin. Divine grace is now imparted. A holy disposition is wrought in the soul. A new temper of spirit is bestowed upon the inner man. But no new faculties are created within him, rather are his original faculties enriched, ennobled, and empowered.”

    *****
    As you can see, both men use these terms interchangeably.

    NOW- I believe it is your responsibility to prove that regeneration is not equal to the new birth, and that the new birth is a process and not an instantaneous event, beginning with the Scriptures if possible. This is very important, because your belief that’ the new birth is a process which includes regeneration, conversion, and the many things you have said which happen between regeneration and conversion, impacts your interpretation (and understanding) of the Scriptures, and the way you have answered my questions.

  34. Mel Boek says:

    Rhutchin,
    By the way, about you calling me a Pelagian…

    I believe you are exercising poor logic when you call me a Pelagian. If I say, “dogs have teeth”, and “Rhutchin has teeth”,” therefore Rhutchin is a dog”, you would rightly accuse me of poor logic. Just because I believe a man can have faith before he is regenerated, it does not make me a Pelagian. Why even the Arminians believe that faith comes before a man is regenerated!

    Do I believe that God works in a person before he is converted? Yes. Paul describes this quite nicely. “How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? How shall they believe in whom they have not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? “ (Rom. 10:14-15). Preachers are gifted by God (they have His Holy Spirit and more.) God sends the preachers. God gave the message of the gospel, (and the gift of His Son, His sacrificial death, and resurrection- all essential to the gospel). The Word of God is supernatural, it does its work in a man (see Heb. 4:12 & Is. 55:11), (that is why the devil steals away the Word so that men will not believe and be saved.) God has sent His Holy Spirit to convict men of sin. In addition to preachers (the sowers), God sends some to water (1Cor. 3). God has likened the process to planting and reaping. There is time in this process. But none of these elements are regeneration.

    Do I believe that God does a work of grace in a person before he has faith? No. I believe Paul when he states, “…we have obtained our introduction BY FAITH into this grace in which we stand” (Rom. 5:2 NASB) (KJV- “…we have access by faith into this grace…” NIV- “…we have gained access by faith into this grace…”). A man is either under law or under grace (Rom. 6:14). A man is under jurisdiction of the Law when he places his faith into Christ (Rom. 7:1).

    Although I read that nothing remains of what Pelagius wrote, these are some of the teachings attributed to him, recorded in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelagianism):
    “Pelagius taught that the human will, as created with its abilities by God, was sufficient to live a sinless life, although he believed that God’s grace assisted every good work. Pelagius, in agreement with the teaching of the Catholic Church,[10] did not believe that all humanity was guilty in Adam’s sin but, taking what is still the standard Orthodox view,[citation needed] said that Adam had condemned humankind through bad example, and that Christ’s good example offered humanity a path to salvation, through sacrifice and through instruction of the will. Jerome emerged as one of the chief critics of Pelagianism, because, according to him, sin was an unavoidable part of human nature.”

    Do I believe as Pelagius, that the human will, as created with its abilities by God was sufficient to live a sinless life? NO.

    Do I believe that humanity was impacted by Adam’s sin? Absolutely! In fact all of creation was impacted by Adam’s sin. “For by one man SIN ENTERED THE WORLD, AND DEATH THROUGH SIN” (Rom. 5:12). Every living thing is now subject to death because of the corrupting influence of sin. Our inanimate universe (i.e. the sun and stars…) is also ‘dying’ because of being subjected to this slavery of corruption (Rom. 8:20). Death is only one issue. Adam’s being, and his seed was corrupted, and all men since Adam have been born of corruptible seed (Except Christ). From conception a baby is defiled by sin (he is not pure or holy). His body is also corrupted because of sin; he can get sick, injured, and deformed, he will die, decay and perish without an intervention from God. He is born a sinner. If he lives long enough, he will sin. He can do nothing about his corruption (although men spend a great deal of money to retard this process). He can do nothing to rid himself of his sin, it’s defilement, or its influence in his being. He cannot live a sinless life even if he tries— even when Jesus Christ is living in Him! He cannot stop the death that is in his body (his cells die). He cannot save himself from death. He cannot raise himself from the dead after he dies. And he has no means of creating a kind of life that will last forever. Man cannot save himself from any of these conditions.

    Did Jesus merely give a good example and offer humanity a path to salvation? Absolutely not. Jesus shed the only blood that could take away all of my sin and unrighteousness (1Jn. 1:7, 9). Because of that (and more) I could be made into a “holy temple of God” where Christ would come to dwell. Christ is my salvation. His presence in me gives me eternal life (1Jn. 5:11-12) and saves me. And His presence in me guarantees all future aspects of salvation (Eph. 1:14).

    Therefore I do not believe it is correct to call me a Pelagian. Nor am I a Universalist, or an Arminian. I am a Bible believing Christian.

    • Bob Wheeler says:

      It may be true that you are not a Pelagian, a Universalist, or an Arminian. But it a little disingenuous to say that you are simply a Bible believing Christian. Every sincere evangelical is a Bible believing Christian. Calvin was a Bible believing Christian (in fact, his strength as a theologian comes from the fact that he was a very good exegete.) Dr. Hadley no doubt believes that he is a Bible believing Christian. Does that mean that there is no difference between the theology of Calvin and that of Dr. Hadley?
      Of course it could be argued, by both Calvin and Wesley, that Dr. Hadley is just plain inconsistent. He believes in both free-will and eternal security.
      (Actually, if we are really determined to be Bible believing Christians, it might just be the other way around. There are passages of Scripture that explicitly talk about predestination and election, but others that warn about the consequences of falling away from the faith!).

      • Mel Boek says:

        Well said! I agree wholeheartedly with you. I was merely trying to say that the labels didn’t fit.

    • rhutchin says:

      “Therefore I do not believe it is correct to call me a Pelagian. Nor am I a Universalist, or an Arminian. I am a Bible believing Christian.”

      I have not called you a Pelagian. Since you use arguments that have a Pelagian flavor, I asked if you were a Pelagian.

      Look at some of the things you say above.

      1. “The Word of God is supernatural, it does its work in a man (see Heb. 4:12 & Is. 55:11), (that is why the devil steals away the Word so that men will not believe and be saved.)” So, are we to attribute the plight of the reprobate to Satan’s influence and the elect to a man’s ability to reject Satan’s efforts as “God’s word is supernatural” is not sufficient in itself to determine the outcome? Man’s ability to resist Satan is a Pelagian concept. Calvinists oppose this saying that man can only escape Satan’s influence by God’s strength. Then you say, “Man cannot save himself from any of these conditions.” You basically say that man cannot be other than that which he is. It is really your intro to the above idea that it is man who must resist Satan’s influence if he is to be saved.

      2. “Do I believe that God does a work of grace in a person before he has faith? No.” Here your point is that a person has faith and is able to exercise that faith (to resist Satan’s influence) and does this without the need for God’s grace. This is basic Pelagianism. Then you say, “Do I believe as Pelagius, that the human will, as created with its abilities by God was sufficient to live a sinless life? NO.” But you have already conceded the argument to the Pelagians. The Pelagian says that the same faith a person exercises to believe God is the same faith that a person exercises to resist temptation and not sin. If that faith is sufficient to gain the greater outcome (salvation), it is sufficient to gain the lesser (living a holy life).

      3. “Did Jesus merely give a good example and offer humanity a path to salvation? Absolutely not…His presence in me gives me eternal life (1Jn. 5:11-12) and saves me.” Again, you seem to say that a person must exercise faith in order for Christ to give eternal life. Faith exercised apart form god’s Grace to enable that faith is a Pelagian concept.

      So, maybe we should not call you a Pelagian, but I can make the claim that your beliefs are no different than Pelagian beliefs. If the shoe fits, shouldn’t you wear it?

  35. Bob Wheeler says:

    Calvin would never have said that “that once a person becomes a Christian they can never lose their salvation regardless of how sinful a lifestyle they live.” Calvin believed in the perseverance of the saints, not the perseverance of sinners. A changed life is the evidence of regeneration. A person who lives a sinful lifestyle has never been converted and is self-deluded if he thinks that he has.
    I think that the passage you cited in Matthew 10:20 is a very interesting one. There is a widespread (but I think completely erroneous) belief today that the church will be “raptured” before the Tribulation. The whole point of the biblical teaching about the end times, however, is exactly the passage you cited: those who persevere to the end will be saved. It is God’s will that the church suffer persecution, and it is inevitable that many professing Christians will fall away; so that when Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation what will be left are the true saints, the pure bride of Christ.
    Reformed theologians have always distinguished between true faith and various types of false faith (temporary faith, historic faith, etc.). I fear that many people in our churches today fall into the latter category, and will fall away once the government starts persecuting the church for being “anti-gay.”

  36. rhutchin says:

    Mel writes, “NOW- I believe it is your responsibility to prove that regeneration is not equal to the new birth, and that the new birth is a process and not an instantaneous event, beginning with the Scriptures if possible.”

    John 3 – “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

    The key term is, “see,” which seems to carry the connotation of knowing; not just observing. Regardless, this points to the depravity of the unsaved and the inability to react to the gospel absent a new birth. This supported by Eph 2, “when we were dead in sins, God quickened us together with Christ,” as a description of the new birth. Also, 2 Corinth 4, “if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,…” and then Col 1, “God delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” All this points to the new birth as that which the unsaved experiences and thereby is enabled to respond to the gospel call.

    But we also have-

    John 3 – “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

    This may be a repetition/emphasis of the earlier statement that the unsaved cannot see the kingdom without the new birth. However, we read in 1 John -

    1John 5 “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:”

    So, does that mean that the person who is born again will eventually come to believe in Christ or must a person also believe in Christ to be born again?

    1 Peter 1 describes the believer as “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God,”

    We also know that the unsaved react to the preaching of the gospel by rejecting it as foolishness. Additionally, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psalm 10).

    So, what is going on? The Spirit regenerates the unsaved and this enables the person to respond to the preaching of the gospel by believing in Christ. I am not sure that a person can be “born again” without believing in Christ.

    From reading Gruden, he seems to view all this as happening instantaneously. Maybe, it does. For now, I am not sure.

    However, what seems certain is that regeneration must come first after which the person can express faith in Christ.

  37. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, “I reject a doctrine that teaches that God must save a man before he can believe. (save him by regeneration (Titus 3:5) and save him when he is made alive with Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:5).”

    Even Calvinists reject this. The issue is whether God initiates the process to which the unsaved reacts.

    Titus tells us that God saves the unsaved “by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” These are two key things that God does to save His elect. They are not the only things that happen. Following the “washing of regeneration,” we find that a person can “call upon the name of the Lord and be saved, and a person can believe on the name of the Lord and be saved (Rom. 10:13; Acts 16:31).”

    Eph 2 says, “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved His elect, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” Seems pretty straightforward.

    • Mel Boek says:

      Rhutchin,

      You wrote,
      “Even Calvinists reject this. The issue is whether God initiates the process to which the unsaved reacts.”

      Where does Paul say that God “initiates the process to which the unsaved reacts”? Paul does not say “made alive together with Jesus Christ, God began the process to save you”.

      Paul explicitly tells us, “made alive together with Jesus Christ, by grace YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED”. This is salvation completed. We find the phrase “YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED” in the NASB, NKJV, NASU, NIV, AND ASV. When a person is made alive with Jesus Christ they have been saved. They need nothing else. Men are reconciled to God through Christ’s death, and they are saved by His life (Rom. 5:10).

      Therefore, Calvinists technically believe a doctrine that teaches that a man must be saved before he can believe.

      In contrast, Paul tells the Philippian jailer to “call upon the name of the Lord, and YOU SHALL BE SAVED”. The jailer does the calling before the Lord does the saving. The jailer calls upon the name of the Lord in order to be saved. When he is made alive together with Jesus Christ, he has been saved. Salvation comes after the man calls on the name of the Lord. Being made alive together with Christ is the saving work.

      The problem comes from ascribing ‘a made up work’ to the term “regeneration” or the act of “made alive together with Jesus Christ”. Regeneration (”made alive together with Jesus Christ”) is not changing the man’s eyes, ears, heart, mind, and will.

      Regeneration= “made alive together with Jesus Christ” = Jesus Christ coming to dwell inside of a man, being joined to the man, and the man is made alive together conjointly with Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ dwelling in a man, giving the man His life (eternal life), salvation, and the new birth.

      Do you truly believe that Jesus Christ must come to dwell inside of a man, and be joined to that man, and give that man His life before the man will believe?

      However, If you want to continue to say that God saves a man by the washing of regeneration + the renewing of the Holy Spirit, and if you say that the work of the washing of regeneration is merely the initiation of the process of God to save a man, then what is the work of God in “the renewing of the Holy Spirit”?

      • rhutchin says:

        Mel Boek writes, “However, If you want to continue to say that God saves a man by the washing of regeneration + the renewing of the Holy Spirit, and if you say that the work of the washing of regeneration is merely the initiation of the process of God to save a man, then what is the work of God in “the renewing of the Holy Spirit”?”

        Titus 3, Paul writes–
        4 …after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
        5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
        6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
        7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

        Paul’s points here are-

        1. It is God who has saved us and this by mercy (v5)
        2. God saves us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (v5)
        3. This regeneration and renewing “God sheds on us abundantly through Jesus Christ.” (v6)
        4. This regeneration and washing is described as “being justified by his grace.”

        We may not know from these verses what Paul means by “regeneration,” and “renewing,” but we do know that the order is regeneration followed by renewing (or the two can be one and the same action). This is what God does to save us who “were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” (v3)

        Yet to be shown is where Paul’s appeal to the jailer fits in, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Is the jailer responding to God’s mercy on him or would his belief prompt God to have mercy on him? Of course, if God can only respond to the jailers profession of belief, can that really be called mercy?

  38. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, “Let’s look at a parallel passage: (note the placement of the uncircumcision and the circumcision).
    “And when you were dead in your transgressions and THE UNCIRCUMCISION OF YOUR FLESH” (Col. 2:13)…
    Note the phrase “the uncircumcision of your flesh”. Just prior to this Paul references a circumcision (removal) of the flesh.
    “…and in Him you were also CIRCUMCISED WITH A CIRCUMCISION made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST having been buried with Him in baptism, in which (baptism) you were also raised up with Him through the working of God who raised Him up from the dead” (Col. 2:11, 12).
    As you think through your understanding of God’s work in you—Where do you have Christ circumcising your flesh? At what point is the body of your flesh removed by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism?”

    The action in Col 2 agrees with the action described in Eph 2. Paul is describing different actions that God does to save a person.

    So, putting the verses cited so far, we have these events in the process of salvation:

    1. When we were dead in sins, God quickened us together with Christ (Eph 2)
    1a. Washing of regeneration (Titus 2)

    2. You are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: (Col 2)

    3. You are buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Col 2)
    3a. God raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2)

    4. Renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 2)

    • Mel Boek says:

      Colossians 2 is not the only parallel to Ephesians 2. And when you only utilize the detail from these two books you miss much of the detail, and it causes you to get things out of order. Note, you have a man being buried in baptism after is has been quickened together with Christ.

      You believe a man is born dead. The Scriptures teach a man must be put to death. Only death frees him from being a slave to sin (Romans 6). Only death frees him from being bound to the Law (Romans 7). A man is born condemned to die. When he is put to death that judgment against him is righteously fulfilled (Romans 5). A man is not born reconciled to God. He is reconciled to God through death. (Col. 1:22- “Yet He has NOW RECONCILED you in His fleshly body THROUGH DEATH”). A man is born an enemy, and he is reconciled to God through death. (Rom. 5:10- “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…”). No man was reconciled to God 2000 years ago. All men are born enemies. Reconciliation is accomplished through death the instant that a man places His faith into Christ Jesus.

      A man experiences this death when Jesus Christ baptizes him with the Holy Spirit into His Body (1Cor. 12:13-“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”). This is not a water baptism. This baptism is the means whereby men are placed “in Christ”. Men are baptized “into Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:3). It occurs the instant a man is converted. At the moment he is baptized ‘into Jesus Christ’, he is baptized into Christ’s death. Paul tells us this very explicitly, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been BAPTIZED INTO HIS DEATH? Therefore we have been buried with Him THROUGH BAPTISM INTO DEATH…” (Rom. 6:3, 4). (See, a man is buried with Christ through baptism after he is put to death, not after he was quickened!)

      DEATH IS NECESSARY BECAUSE OF SIN
      A man is born a slave of sin (Rom. 6). Sin dwells in his flesh (Rom. 7:14-22). He lives and walks “in sin”. (He is also an enemy in need of reconciliation.) Christ is not in him, and he is not “in Christ”. When he places his trust in to Jesus Christ, Jesus baptizes that man: Jesus baptizes him into His Body, and He baptizes him into His death, so that this man can die to sin. Peter gives us this detail, “And He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree THAT WE MIGHT DIE TO SIN” (1Pet. 2:24). We are “baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3), “buried with Him through baptism into death” (Rom. 6:4); “we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death” (Rom. 6:5). “Our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be destroyed, THAT WE SHOULD NO LONGER BE SLAVES TO SIN” (Rom. 6:6). Do you see, death by crucifixion is the only means to free a man from slavery to sin? A man is baptized by Christ, baptized into His death, to be set free from slavery to sin. Paul summarizes this by saying, “But thanks be to God, that though YOU WERE SLAVES OF SIN, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, AND HAVING BEEN FREED FROM SIN, you become slaves of righteousness… WHEN YOU WERE A SLAVE OF SIN… but NOW HAVING BEEN FREED FROM SIN and enslaved to God you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome eternal life” (Rom. 6:17, 18, 20, 22). We were not set free from slavery to sin 2000 years ago when Christ died on the cross. We are born slaves of sin, and we are taken to the cross to die to sin by baptism. After a man is put to death, and freed from sin he receives this benefit: he is sanctified (made pure/holy, ‘a holy temple’) and the Lord Jesus Christ comes to take up residence in his heart, thereby giving him God’s free gift of eternal life—“you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification and the outcome eternal life”. These are the details that we are given about our death via baptism in Romans 6. Keep in mind that the body of sin was crucified when we were baptized into Christ’s death. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and its lusts” (Gal. 5:24). That is how we become to be dead in our transgressions and the UNCIRCUMCISION OF OUR FLESH in Colossians 2:13. The flesh where sin dwelt was crucified, and we are dead, still in our uncircumcised flesh. It hadn’t been removed yet. Our flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and so we “were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism” (Col.2:11-12). The death by crucifixion occurs in baptism, and the circumcision occurs in baptism. All of the things that occur to a man in baptism can be detailed in this outline: (definitions from Strong’s)

      “crucified with Christ” (to impale in company with)
      “dead with Christ” (to decease in company with)
      “buried with Christ”’ (to inter in company with)
      Circumcised by Christ
      “made alive with Jesus Christ” (to reanimate conjointly with)
      “raised with Jesus Christ” (to rouse from death in company with)
      “seated with Christ in the heavenly” (to give or take a seat in company with)

      Paul summarizes, “FOR YOU HAVE DIED and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). From being put to death, to being seated with Christ in the heavenly. Death sets a man free from slavery to sin. Crucifixion put the body of flesh to death, and circumcision removed the body of flesh, where sin dwelt. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses a man from all sin and unrighteousness. With sin removed the man can be made into a holy temple of God and he is sanctified by Christ before he is indwelt and receives eternal life. All of that occurred when we were baptized by Christ. Our old sin polluted covering was removed, and “as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27). Jesus, our sacrifice for sin, becomes our covering in baptism. And He indwells us. Christ dwelling in us gives us eternal life. This is when we are made alive CONJOINTLY (in union) with Jesus Christ; when He comes to dwell in us, a holy temple. In baptism we are put to death AND brought to life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (We are not “joined” to the Lord, as a man is joined to his wife, while we are in our covering of polluted flesh. It is first put to death and removed before we are joined to the Lord. “He that is joined unto the Lord is ‘one spirit’- 1Cor. 6:17.)

      DEATH IS NECESSARY BECAUSE WE ARE BORN BOUND TO THE LAW
      Being a slave of sin is not the only reason that a man must be put to death. A man is also born bound to the Law, just as a husband in bound to his wife in marriage. A man is bound to the Law for as long as he lives! (There is no divorce from the law) While he is bound to the Law he cannot be joined to Christ. And we need to be joined to the Lord to receive His life! (See Rom. 7:1-6). How is a man set free from the Law so that he can be joined to Christ? He is set free from the Law by death, the same death which Paul wrote extensively about in Romans 6. Paul informs us, “Therefore, my brethren, YOU ALSO WERE MADE TO DIE TO THE LAW through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead” (Rom. 7:4), and “But NOW we have been released from the Law, HAVING DIED to that by which we were bound” (Rom 7:6). Elsewhere Paul writes more about this death to the Law. “For through the Law I DIED TO THE LAW…I am crucified with Christ…” (Gal. 2:19); and “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world…”, and, “you have died…” (Col. 2:20, and 3:3). There can be no doubt; men die to the Law to be released from the Law before they are joined to Christ. This death did not happen 2000 years ago when Christ died on Calvary. Every man is born bound to the Law. A man is made to die when he is baptized into Christ’s death, and in that way he is set free from the law as well as from slavery to sin.

      Lest you think that I am the only one who teaches that we are made to die when we place our faith in Christ, I am including some quotes by some esteemed teachers of the Word of God who also happen to be Calvinists. I chose John McArthur simply because he has all of his sermons online. And Wayne Grudem wrote the Systematic Theology text that I was encouraged to purchase.

      “And we’ve been learning that when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you are united with Christ, you die with Christ in a real spiritual death.” (John McArthur—message on Romans 7:1-6)

      “There’s an interesting note also to note in this verse. It says, ‘Wherefore my brethren, ye also are become, or you were put to death, you were put to death as far as the law is concerned’. It’s a passive verb which means you didn’t kill yourself, you couldn’t do that, it was a divine act…. He says, ‘Ye also are become dead to the law.’ Better to put it in the Greek, Ye were put to death, and a violent word for death is used. You were violently put to death.” (John McArthur—message on Romans 7:1-6)

      “Paul sees this present death and resurrection with Christ as a way of describing and explaining the change that the Holy Spirit brings about…It is as if the Holy Spirit REPRODUCES JESUS’ DEATH AND RESURRECTION in our lives when we believe in Christ” … “Here Paul’s references to baptism and faith indicate that our dying and our raising with Christ occur in this present life, at the time we become Christians.” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg. 842)

      Can you see that our death was crucial? Can you see from the teaching of the Word that we were made to die when we were placed “in Christ” by baptism? Can you see that this death did not happen 2000 years ago, it happens after we place our trust in Christ— that even good Calvinist teachers acknowledge it happens when we place our faith in Christ?

      Do you agree that you were put to death with Christ by baptism (not water) when you placed your faith in Christ?

      Were you “spiritually dead” then regenerated (“made alive with Christ”) so you could hear and sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and then eventually believe, and when you believed were you baptized into Christ’s death, being “crucified with Christ” and “dead with Christ” and “circumcised by Christ” and “buried with Christ”—? In other words, do you really think that a man is “made alive with Christ” before he is “crucified with Christ”, “dead with Christ” and “buried with Christ” and “circumcised by Christ?”

      I believe the Biblical pattern follows the order of Christ. 2000 years ago, Christ was born in the likeness of human flesh, so that He could die. Christ was crucified, He died and His body was interred in a tomb. He received eternal life (he will never die again), and He was raised from the dead and He was seated at the right hand of God. Today, 2000 years later a new believer is baptized into Christ, whereby he is “crucified with” Christ, “dead with” Christ, “buried with” Christ, “made alive with” Christ, “raised with” Christ, and “seated with” Christ in the heavenly. Hence we were made to die, and we were dead when we were made alive with Jesus Christ. And we are given the gift of eternal life when we are regenerated from the dead, when we are joined to our living Lord. Our life now comes from the resurrected Jesus Christ living inside of us. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”.

      • rhutchin says:

        Mel Boek writes, ‘A man is not born reconciled to God. He is reconciled to God through death. (Col. 1:22- “Yet He has NOW RECONCILED you in His fleshly body THROUGH DEATH”). A man is born an enemy, and he is reconciled to God through death. (Rom. 5:10- “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…”). No man was reconciled to God 2000 years ago. All men are born enemies. Reconciliation is accomplished through death the instant that a man places His faith into Christ Jesus.”

        I will gradually go through a rather long comment. Here is my first observation.

        Romans 5:10 – “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

        Here, you add, “…the instant that a man places His faith into Christ Jesus.”

        Is it true that ” No man was reconciled to God 2000 years ago”? Or were all the elect reconciled to God at that time? If the elect were reconciled, then God now begins to draw His elect to salvation – “being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” – being reconciled, God then brings the elect to belief in Christ.

        So, do we have here that reconciliation precedes a person’s belief in Christ? That seems to be what we are being told. Yet, you say, “Reconciliation is accomplished through death the instant that a man places His faith into Christ Jesus.” So, put some flesh on these bones and let’s build the Scriptural argument that make this point. (Maybe you do that later in your comment. I haven’t gotten that far yet.)

      • rhutchin says:

        Mel Boek writes, “A man is not born reconciled to God. He is reconciled to God through death. (Col. 1:22- “Yet He has NOW RECONCILED you in His fleshly body THROUGH DEATH”). A man is born an enemy, and he is reconciled to God through death.”

        Col 1 reads:
        19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
        20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
        21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
        22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:”

        The term “In the body of his flesh through death,…” seems to me to refer to Christ’s death on the cross. It is Christ’s body – His flesh – and death that is in view and not the death of the man.

        So, you should have written, “A man is not born reconciled to God. He is reconciled to God through [Christ's] death.” Christ’s death not the man’s.

        It is God’s purpose to reconcile all things to Himself by means of Christ’s death on the cross. Paul says to us, “…you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled…” It is God who has reconciled us to Himself and it is God’s intent to reconcile all His elect to Himself. It is Christ’s death that makes this reconciliation possible.

      • rhutchin says:

        Mel Boek writes, “The Scriptures teach a man must be put to death. Only death frees him from being a slave to sin (Romans 6). Only death frees him from being bound to the Law (Romans 7). A man is born condemned to die. When he is put to death that judgment against him is righteously fulfilled (Romans 5).”

        The question here is when this death of man occurred. Paul begins Romans 6:

        1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
        2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
        3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
        4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

        Paul is dealing with sin in the believer’s life. He is telling the believer that he is dead to sin. How is it that believers are dead to sin? Paul says, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:”

        So, when does this baptism occur? As you write, “A man experiences this death when Jesus Christ baptizes him with the Holy Spirit into His Body (1Cor. 12:13-“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”).”

        By Christ’s death, God now begins to reconcile all things to Himself. As part of this reconciliation, “Jesus Christ baptizes him with the Holy Spirit into His Body.”

        Paul does not give all the details of this – we do not know what actions a person takes. We do not know that, as you write, “Reconciliation is accomplished through death the instant that a man places His faith into Christ Jesus.” We still need to frame a Scriptural argument for this conclusion, which still needs to be done.

      • rhutchin says:

        Mel Boek writes, ‘Today, 2000 years later a new believer is baptized into Christ, whereby he is “crucified with” Christ, “dead with” Christ, “buried with” Christ, “made alive with” Christ, “raised with” Christ, and “seated with” Christ in the heavenly. Hence we were made to die, and we were dead when we were made alive with Jesus Christ.”

        As you quote Grudem for support, we can see why Grudem has come to the conclusion that the work of God to regenerate and then to baptize the person in Christ all occurs at the same time.

        The issue is where to introduce a person’s action to believe. The unregenerate cannot believe, so the person must be regenerated first before he can make a willful decision to believe. We also know that a person makes a willful decision to believe when he hears the gospel preached (Rom 10). Thus, regeneration is necessary to enable a person to hear the gospel and believe.

        When Paul says that God quickens the spiritually dead person and then that the person is made alive with Christ, we must understand that the quickening process begins with regeneration and cannot be resisted until it has completed its work, a new creation in Christ. That which God begins in the heart and soul of an unsaved person cannot be stopped.

        The action of a person to believe is a reaction to the “hearing” of the gospel and this hearing is only possible because of regeneration and is the natural result of regeneration.

  39. Mel Boek says:

    Rhutchin,

    Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughtful responses.

    I have been reading through your posts, pondering what you have said. I believe I have a good grasp on Calvinism. But you seem to be adding a new twist when you say that the new birth is a ‘process’ initiated by regeneration, but being “born of God” does not equal regeneration. I have never seen a Calvinist hold this view. The Calvinists that I have read and heard, equate regeneration and the new birth, and these terms are used to define each other in dictionaries. Therefore, I am really trying to understand how you differentiate these two works of God.

    In addition, we were discussing the fact that Paul says that we are saved by “the washing of regeneration” and “the renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Obviously you know a man is not saved before he exercises faith. So this verse can make sense to you within your doctrinal framework if the process begins with regeneration and concludes with the renewing of the Holy Spirit with faith sandwiched in between. Again, you must somehow believe there is a differentiation between these two terms.

    You have said you see a distinction between regeneration and the new birth, and you believe there can be a long span of time between regeneration and the exercise of faith and the new birth. You have now made a distinction between the ‘washing of regeneration’ and “renewing of the Holy spirit”, and you separate these as events in a “process”, with faith between them, which you ordered on Aug. 25, 12:54:

    1. When we were dead in sins, God quickened us together with Christ (Eph 2)
    1a. Washing of REGENERATION (Titus 2)
    2. You are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: (Col 2)
    3. You are buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Col 2)
    3a. God raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2)
    4. RENEWING of the Holy Ghost (Titus 2)

    I have some questions for clarification. Please help me make sure I understand your view correctly. To do this I must understand how you define some Biblical terms, and what works of God you associate with these terms.

    1. In your mind does being quickened together with Christ in Eph. 2:5 = the washing of regeneration in Titus 3:5?

    2. In your understanding, what exactly does God do to a man when he regenerates him? (Which Scriptures gives you this detail?) If these two actions from the two verses above are not the same, then what exactly happens when a person is quickened together with Christ? (Please give me the Scriptures that you use to support your understanding.) And which action actually gives the life? If these actions are the same, what kind of “life” is given to a man when he is regenerated/quickened together with Christ, and where in the Bible is this kind of “life” taught?

    3. On Aug. 27, 7:49pm you stated, “We may not know from these verses what Paul means by “regeneration,” and “renewing,” but we do know that the order is regeneration followed by renewing (or the two can be one and the same action)”.

    If you cannot know what Paul means by “regeneration” in this verse, then how do you know what regeneration is, since Paul only uses this term once? If you do not know what Paul means by regeneration from this verse, then how can you make this assertion: “However what SEEMS CERTAING is that regeneration must come first after which the person can express faith in Christ?” (Aug. 21 10:13 am) What verse(s) tells you what regeneration is, and what occurs in regeneration? How do you know that regeneration must come before a person can express faith in Christ?

    4. Words themselves mean things and communicate concepts. Marriam-Webster’s online dictionary states, “ ‘generate’ is to bring into existence, beget” and “ ‘regenerate’ is to be formed or created again or to be spiritually reborn”. Yet, in your mind the new birth is merely initiated by regeneration but it is something more than regeneration. What is/are the work/works of God, when a man is “born of God”, that come after regeneration? And where in the process of your list above is the new birth completed?

    5. In your process above, you place “(4) the renewing of the Holy Ghost” after (1) the work of God in regeneration, after (2) a circumcision of the body of flesh, after (3) being buried with him in baptism and raised through faith and seated with Christ in the heavenly… In your understanding, what is the “renewing of the Holy Spirit” and what happens when a man is “renewed by the Holy Spirit”?

    6. Again, I come from the perspective that words themselves communicate, because they have meaning. It is interesting therefore to me that a secular online dictionary, Marriam-Webster’s defines “renew” as “to make something like new; to make new spirititually: regenerate; to restore to existence: revive”. Note “regenerate” and “revive”. That sounds like the work of God in regeneration to me. However, Strong’s Dictionary defines “renew” as “to renovate”. How are you defining the word “renewing”? If “renewing” is not regeneration, and it is a renovation, then what ‘renovation’ of the Holy Spirit comes after a man exercises his faith? (On the other hand, doesn’t Calvinism have all of the renovating work on man done before a man can exercise faith? What else is left after the change made in regeneration, after the circumcision of the flesh, and after raising someone and seating them in heaven?)

    7. The dictionary definition for “renew” above stated – to make something like new; and “regenerate” is to be created again. Both terms bring to mind the parallel idea of a “new creation”: “Behold, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2Cor. 5:17). Is the “new creation” of 2Corinthians from the “renewing of the Holy Spirit” or from “the washing of regeneration”? This verse also states, “the old things have passed away” before all things become new. if there is a death, what dies? When in your process do “the old things pass away”? And what are the things that are “become new”?

    8. In your ‘process’ you mention baptism– you have a man “buried with Christ in baptism” in step 3. Paul also describes a man as being “baptized into Christ”, and “baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3), and in Eph. 4:5 he tells us there is “one baptism”. When in your understanding is a man “baptized into Jesus Christ”? When is he baptized into Christ’s death? How does “being baptized into Christ’s death” fit with being “buried with Christ in baptism”? Where does “being baptized into Christ’s death” fit in your process?

    9. John the Baptist tells us that Jesus Christ will baptize men with the Holy Spirit. And John knew that he needed to be baptized by Christ. The Apostle John was careful to note that Jesus did not baptize men in his earthly ministry (Jn 4:2). When in history did Jesus begin to baptize men with the Holy Spirit? Is it possible that Jesus does the baptizing in step (3) of your process above “You are buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen”, especially when Jesus does the circumcising in step (2) above?

    10. Does Jesus Christ come to dwell in a man’s heart before or after he exercises faith? Where in your process above does Jesus come to dwell in a man?

    11. When in your process is a man given “God’s free gift of eternal life”.

    • rhutchin says:

      Mel Boek asks,

      “1. In your mind does being quickened together with Christ in Eph. 2:5 = the washing of regeneration in Titus 3:5?”

      I think they are. However, I cannot cite a verse that equates the one to the other. The Greek word translated as “regeneration” seems to be used only here in the NT. Some equate it (at least John Gill) with the renewal of the Holy Spirit. My conclusion is that people are depraved and unable to accept the gospel until being regenerated after which they hear the gospel and naturally respond to it through the expression of faith.

      “2. In your understanding, what exactly does God do to a man when he regenerates him? (Which Scriptures gives you this detail?) If these two actions from the two verses above are not the same, then what exactly happens when a person is quickened together with Christ? (Please give me the Scriptures that you use to support your understanding.) And which action actually gives the life? If these actions are the same, what kind of “life” is given to a man when he is regenerated/quickened together with Christ, and where in the Bible is this kind of “life” taught?”

      The Greek word translated as “quicken” is used only here and in Colossians. It is contrasted with being dead in sin. So, God quickens the one who is dead in sin and he is no longer dead in sin. Paul uses the term, “dead TO sin,” in Romans 6 so the sense may be: Now that you have been quickened, you are no longer dead in sin and are even dead to sin; therefore, How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? From this, I gather that those who have been quickened don’t exactly know what it is that has been done. All they really seem to know is that the gospel that they once ridiculed now infects them and draws them to the Christ they formerly despised.

      “3. If you cannot know what Paul means by “regeneration” in this verse, then how do you know what regeneration is, since Paul only uses this term once? If you do not know what Paul means by regeneration from this verse, then how can you make this assertion: “However what SEEMS CERTAING is that regeneration must come first after which the person can express faith in Christ?” (Aug. 21 10:13 am) What verse(s) tells you what regeneration is, and what occurs in regeneration? How do you know that regeneration must come before a person can express faith in Christ?”

      The person who is dead in sin is unsaved. The unsaved are everything the Scriptures say of them from being fools who say there is no God and who do not seek God to mocking the gospel when they hear it preached. For a person to express faith in Christ, he must change. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word. But the unsaved responds to the gospel by calling it foolishness. To go from foolishness to faith requires something to change. That change is regeneration (or we could give it that label). It is only after that change that a person is able to express faith.

      If not, then could the person who is dead in sin express faith in that which he considers foolishness? I don’t see how an unsaved person can hear the gospel and thereby respond in faith without being freed from the constraints of the unsaved person.

      • sbcissues says:

        so if God does NOT free them from the constraints they cannot nor will not be saved?

      • sbcissues says:

        Is it also fair to conclude that IF you are wrong on your interpretation of “being dead in sin” THEN calvinism fails?

      • rhutchin says:

        Mel Boek writes, “so if God does NOT free them from the constraints they cannot nor will not be saved?”

        That’s the idea behind Total Depravity. The unsaved have no desire for God, do not seek God, are slaves to sin and therefore have no free will – they (and their wills) are slaves to their sinful nature and to sin. It is only when God frees them – regeneration – that they can, and do, respond positively to the preaching of the gospel. Thus, those who do come to Christ do so in reaction to something God does; those who are unchanged had to be passed over by God.

        It was the Calvinists/Arminians against the Pelagians on this point.

      • rhutchin says:

        Mel Boek writes, “Is it also fair to conclude that IF you are wrong on your interpretation of “being dead in sin” THEN calvinism fails?”

        No. Then, we will just need to appeal to RC Sproul to straighten me out.

      • rhutchin says:

        Oooops!! That was Pastor Bob. Sorry.

      • rhutchin says:

        Mel Boek writes, “4. Words themselves mean things and communicate concepts. Marriam-Webster’s online dictionary states, “ ‘generate’ is to bring into existence, beget” and “ ‘regenerate’ is to be formed or created again or to be spiritually reborn”. Yet, in your mind the new birth is merely initiated by regeneration but it is something more than regeneration. What is/are the work/works of God, when a man is “born of God”, that come after regeneration? And where in the process of your list above is the new birth completed?”

        The issue here is to define the term, “new birth” and what it means to be “born again.” For this we have a couple verses to help:

        “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
        “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
        “Being born again…by the word of God,…” (1 Peter 1:23)
        “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

        So, what do these verses tell us?
        1. A person cannot see the kingdom of God until born again.
        2. A person cannot enter the kingdom of God until born again.
        3. A person is born again by the word of God.
        4. A person is born again to a lively hope.

        So, regeneration is necessary to the new birth. Without regeneration a person cannot “hear” the gospel but considers it to be foolishness. Once regenerated, the person now hears the gospel – faith comes by hearing – and responds in repentance. That faith expresses itself as a lively hope. It seems to me that the “new birth” can include everything from regeneration to the lively hope. However, it could be that I am reading more into these verses than called for. It could be that the “new birth” is the beginning that leads to a person hearing the gospel with the hearing of the gospel leading to faith and the lively hope.

        In the end, we know that God gives new birth to the unsaved – it is an act of irresistible grace brought on the person by the Holy Spirit of which the person is unaware – the person only reacts as the gospel he formerly considered foolishness now grips him and will not let go. The new birth begins with regeneration and everything follows from that regeneration.

        All right. Call me undecided on this issue.

  40. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes, “5. In your process above, you place “(4) the renewing of the Holy Ghost” after (1) the work of God in regeneration, after (2) a circumcision of the body of flesh, after (3) being buried with him in baptism and raised through faith and seated with Christ in the heavenly… In your understanding, what is the “renewing of the Holy Spirit” and what happens when a man is “renewed by the Holy Spirit”? ”

    This Greek word translated as, renewing, is used by Paul twice.

    “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

    “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)

    The idea is found also here, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” (Col 3:9-10)

    The easy understanding here is that something is different than what it was. The renewing of Titus 3 is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. The implicit understanding of Romans 12 is that the person seeks renewal through the Holy Spirit. This renewing is the changing of the mind to put away the thinking and wisdom of the world and replace it with the wisdom of God. This would not be a one-time action but a continuing process. Thus, per Titus, God saves a person through the washing of regeneration after which begins the transformation/renewal of the person’s mind. As this renewal would likely occupy a person until death, we might include just the initiation of this renewing as the point of completion of the new birth.

  41. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes–

    “10. Does Jesus Christ come to dwell in a man’s heart before or after he exercises faith? Where in your process above does Jesus come to dwell in a man?”

    “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9)

    “…That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,…” (Ephesians 3:17)

    From this I conclude that a person who is born again has Christ dwelling in them. I think Ephesians 3 is the same as the renewing of Titus 3. Thus, the expression of faith would be part of the new birth.

    I am not sure from these verses when exactly Christ comes to dwell in a person.

    “11. When in your process is a man given “God’s free gift of eternal life”.”

    The person is given the free gift of life when God chooses to save the person and this occurs before the foundation of the world – before God creates the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1) The Lamb’s book of life was written before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13 and 17). That gift is realized at death.

  42. rhutchin says:

    Mel Boek writes “9. John the Baptist tells us that Jesus Christ will baptize men with the Holy Spirit. And John knew that he needed to be baptized by Christ. The Apostle John was careful to note that Jesus did not baptize men in his earthly ministry (Jn 4:2). When in history did Jesus begin to baptize men with the Holy Spirit? Is it possible that Jesus does the baptizing in step (3) of your process above “You are buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen”, especially when Jesus does the circumcising in step (2) above?”

    The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was applied at Pentecost (“wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, you have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1) Then Peter said, “Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2) So, beginning with Pentecost, it seems that all who repented and were baptized in water were also baptized in the Holy Spirit.

    I have no problem with Jesus being the author of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

  43. rhutchin says:

    Mel writes, “8. In your ‘process’…”

    Everyone pretty much has a process. It would include these steps:
    - The person must be able to hear the gospel and understand that he is a sinner and needs to be saved;
    - The person must believe that Jesus died on the cross to provides forgiveness for sin;
    - The person must repent and ask Jesus to forgive them of their sins; and
    - The person must put their trust in Jesus as Lord expressing this trust through obedience.

    That there is a process is certain. How one arranges the steps in that process is not agreed. We are focusing on “my” process simply because I am willing to advance a position which you can then challenge – not with Scriptures but with questions. I take it that you have not identified a process that you would claim because any process you develop would also be subject to challenge especially by the Scriptures.

    So, if you do not like the process that I put up for discussion, why don’t you suggest another, viable process and see if we can develop one that stands the test of Scripture.

    So far, you have not really challenged the idea that regeneration must come first, so let’s make that the first step. Thus we have–
    1. God regenerates the depraved person.
    2. The person is able to hear the gospel and understand that he is a sinner and needs to be saved;
    3. The person believes that Jesus died on the cross to provides forgive for sin;
    4. The person repents and asks Jesus to forgive them of their sins; and
    5. The person puts their trust in Jesus as Lord and expresses this trust through obedience.
    6. You are buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Col 2)
    6a. God raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2)
    7. RENEWING of the Holy Ghost (Titus 2)

    One issue is where we identify the new birth. The Strict Calvinist would put the new birth at the point of regeneration and identify the following steps as the spiritual growth of the new born. I tend to put the new birth after step 5 and maybe later.

    So, do you think there are more steps to be considered in this “process”?

    Would you like to suggest a different ordering of those steps?

  44. Mel Boek says:

    Rhutchin (responses to questions)

    ***MY QUESTION***
    “1. In your mind does being quickened together with Christ in Eph. 2:5 = the washing of regeneration in Titus 3:5?”

    ***YOUR ANSWER***
    I think they are. However, I cannot cite a verse that equates the one to the other. The Greek word translated as “regeneration” seems to be used only here in the NT. Some equate it (at least John Gill) with the renewal of the Holy Spirit. My conclusion is that people are depraved and unable to accept the gospel until being regenerated after which they hear the gospel and naturally respond to it through the expression of faith.

    ***MY REPLY***
    Regeneration = “made alive with Jesus Christ” – these terms are interchangeable in most Reformed writings. I believe they are synonymous terms as well.

    You said you have concluded that “people are depraved and unable to accept the gospel until being regenerated after which they hear the gospel and naturally respond to it through the expression of faith”.

    This is the pivotal point for all of Calvinism. If it is true, then all of Calvinism logically follows. However if this is not true, then all of the distinctive points of Calvinism are in error. It is important to note that Paul did not SPECIFICALLY teach that men must be regenerated before they can have faith in any of his writings. If he did there would be no debate! The teaching for dealing with the effects of ‘original sin’ has evolved over time. For over 1000 years before ‘Calvinism’, men taught that water baptism was a means of grace and “the washing of regeneration” occurred in baptism. The teaching of baptismal regeneration of infants was thoroughly entrenched in the church long before Calvin. The way a Calvinist views “depravity” (a particular interpretation of Ephesians 2:1) and the work of God to overcome “depravity” is relatively new historically.

    Other Christians have interpreted Eph. 2:1 as “spiritual death”, and they have defined “spiritual death” as separation from the life of God. This “spiritual death” is supposedly a consequence from the fall of Adam. (“In the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.”) Having lost the life of God, men receive the life of God when they are born of God (regenerated). The life of God is eternal, and eternal life is given to men in the new birth. The only way a man is “made alive together with Jesus Christ” is to have Jesus Christ dwelling in him giving the man His resurrected life. And when a man has been “made alive together with Jesus Christ”, the life he receives is eternal (“…God has given us eternal life…He who has the Son has the life, and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”—1Jn. 5:11, 12)

    On what Scriptural basis do you say that “spiritual death” is something more than “being separated from the life of God”?

    • rhutchin says:

      Mel Boek writes, “Regeneration = “made alive with Jesus Christ” – these terms are interchangeable in most Reformed writings. I believe they are synonymous terms as well.”

      That is pretty much what I have found. The question is, How do they (and you) arrive at that conclusion?

      There is not a neat verse in Scripture that ties these together to show that they are synonyms. I think that one must “assume” a synonymous relationship and that assumption, if wrong, leads to a “Begging the Question” fallacy in arguments built from this assumption. I would like to see a tightly argued position for these terms to be synonymous.

      When Paul wrote to Titus, he could easily have used that Greek word from Ephesians 2 and say that God saves by quickening and renewing the Holy Ghost. He doesn’t. Instead, he uses an obscure word – relative to his other letters – and that makes me suspicious. In addition, it is not just “regeneration” but the “washing of regeneration.” I think there is more here than is immediately obvious.

      For now, we know from Titus that God saves through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. In Ephesians 2, it is, “[God] quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;).” So, God does not just make the person alive when He saves but “alive with Christ.” So, perhaps “quickening” refers to the “washing of regeneration” plus the “renewing of the Holy Ghost.” They are two separate actions with one following the other – the sinner must be washed before being renewed by the Holy Ghost – even if the actions occur simultaneously.

    • rhutchin says:

      Mel Boek writes, ” It is important to note that Paul did not SPECIFICALLY teach that men must be regenerated before they can have faith in any of his writings.”

      Calvinists argue that Paul does precisely this. He does this by making faith the product of hearing the work – “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;..faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:8;17). Elsewhere, Paul writes, “if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:” (2 Corinth 4:) and “we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;” (1 Corinth 1:23).

      So, the gospel is hidden from the unsaved who consider the preaching of the gospel to be foolishness. The unsaved cannot “hear” the gospel. Yet, faith requires that a person “hear” the gospel – that it not be hidden. Calvinists also say that it is the sinful nature of a person that results in the inability to hear the gospel.

      It seems necessary, therefore, that the sinner go from being unable to hear the gospel to able to hear the gospel in order for faith to manifest itself in the life of the believer. We can label this change as a regeneration.

      So, why the continuing debate? I think because of the focus, for brevity, on one or two key verses to support the conclusion of total depravity when the entire argument with a hundred verses or so is not considered so that the argument becomes, People are not totally depraved based on Ephesians 2 and Romans 3. So, we have you asking later, “Are there verses that clearly lay out the ‘various problems a man has because of total depravity’?” You should not be asking questions like this if you have any familiarity with reformed writings. But you do – so what of people who do not read reformed writings (most of those who oppose Calvinist conclusions) – and thus the debate rages.

      Even as the omnipotence and omniscience of God are key to understanding the reformed conclusions about election and predestination, so Total Depravity is key to understanding how a person necessarily must be saved by God. Basically, it comes down to Pelagian arguments against Calvinist arguments (or more recently, Universalist arguments focusing on the love of God).

  45. Mel Boek says:

    Rhutchin,
    ***MY QUESTION***
    2. In your understanding, what exactly does God do to a man when he regenerates him? (Which Scriptures gives you this detail?) If these two actions from the two verses above are not the same, then what exactly happens when a person is quickened together with Christ? (Please give me the Scriptures that you use to support your understanding.) And which action actually gives the life? If these actions are the same, what kind of “life” is given to a man when he is regenerated/quickened together with Christ, and where in the Bible is this kind of “life” taught?”

    ***YOUR ANSWER***
    The Greek word translated as “quicken” is used only here and in Colossians. It is contrasted with being dead in sin. So, God quickens the one who is dead in sin and he is no longer dead in sin. Paul uses the term, “dead TO sin,” in Romans 6 so the sense may be: Now that you have been quickened, you are no longer dead in sin and are even dead to sin; therefore, How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? From this, I gather that those who have been quickened don’t exactly know what it is that has been done. All they really seem to know is that the gospel that they once ridiculed now infects them and draws them to the Christ they formerly despised.

    ***MY REPLY- part 2a***
    2a. First, you didn’t answer my question, “what EXACTLY does God do to a man when he regenerates him?” For instance, later, under question #3, you state: “To go from foolishness to faith requires SOMETHING TO CHANGE. That CHANGE is regeneration.” I would like you to detail the changes that are made to a man when God regenerates him, according to the Reformed perspective. I specifically desire to see the Scriptures where these changes are detailed. According to the Reformed teaching of “Total Depravity” a man needs much more than life. It would be really helpful if you could first demonstrate the verse in which Paul identifies the part of man that needs to be changed because of “total depravity”, and then show the verse where Paul describes the change. Are there verses that clearly lay out the ‘various problems a man has because of total depravity’, and others which clearly demonstrate the ‘changes’ that took place in regeneration, and verses that clearly attribute these changes to the work of God in regeneration? (I would surmise that if the Calvinist “Order of Salvation’ were true, then these details would be important to Paul and he would clearly set them in order for an unmistakable understanding, and not leave such important details to a random set of scattered phrases which could be subject to possible misinterpretation.)

    • rhutchin says:

      Mel Boek wrote,

      “2. In your understanding, what exactly does God do to a man when he regenerates him? (Which Scriptures gives you this detail?) If these two actions from the two verses above are not the same, then what exactly happens when a person is quickened together with Christ? (Please give me the Scriptures that you use to support your understanding.) And which action actually gives the life? If these actions are the same, what kind of “life” is given to a man when he is regenerated/quickened together with Christ, and where in the Bible is this kind of “life” taught?”

      Titus 3 has–

      “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another…but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

      This is similar to Ephesians 2–

      “…we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us…hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”

      So, how do do we crosswalk this? Does quickening refer to regeneration alone or to both regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost?

      I don’t know. What we can take from this is that regeneration changes the person such that they are no longer a slave to sin but basically a blank slate. The preaching of the word and the renewing of the mind (Rom 12) now come into play to fill in the empty space.

    • rhutchin says:

      Mel Boek writes,

      “2a….”Are there verses that clearly lay out the ‘various problems a man has because of total depravity’, and others which clearly demonstrate the ‘changes’ that took place in regeneration, and verses that clearly attribute these changes to the work of God in regeneration? (I would surmise that if the Calvinist “Order of Salvation’ were true, then these details would be important to Paul and he would clearly set them in order for an unmistakable understanding, and not leave such important details to a random set of scattered phrases which could be subject to possible misinterpretation.)”

      Those who are totally depraved, by nature–

      1. Cannot produce good fruit (Matthew 7:18 – a corrupt tree produces evil fruit…a corrupt tree cannot produce good fruit.)
      2. Cannot hear Christ’s word that they might have life (John 8:43 – Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.)
      3. Cannot accept he spirit of truth (John 14:17 – the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it cannot see him, neither knows him:)
      4. Cannot be subject to the law of God (Romans 8:7 – the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.)
      5. Cannot discern truths of the spirit of God (1 Corinth 2:14 – the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.)
      6. Cannot confess from the heart that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinth 12:3 – no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.)
      7. Cannot control the tongue (James 3:8 – the tongue can no man tame;)
      8. Cannot come to Christ (John 6:44-46; 65 – No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:…Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God)
      9. Do not seek God (Romans 3:11;18 there is none that seeketh after God…There is no fear of God before their eyes.)
      10. Have deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?)

      Paul uses a couple terms to describe how God negates the problems above and enable a person to hear the gospel and respond. He speaks of a “quickening” in Ephesians 2 and the “washing of regeneration” in Titus 3.

      You make some show of having read the reformed literature. Why are we having to repeat this? Do you claim that the reformed have misunderstood the Scriptures when they describe the unsaved?

      Also Mel Boek asks, ” First, you didn’t answer my question, “what EXACTLY does God do to a man when he regenerates him?” For instance, later, under question #3, you state: “To go from foolishness to faith requires SOMETHING TO CHANGE. That CHANGE is regeneration.” I would like you to detail the changes that are made to a man when God regenerates him, according to the Reformed perspective. I specifically desire to see the Scriptures where these changes are detailed. According to the Reformed teaching of “Total Depravity” a man needs much more than life. It would be really helpful if you could first demonstrate the verse in which Paul identifies the part of man that needs to be changed because of “total depravity”, and then show the verse where Paul describes the change. ?”

      Regeneration directly negates or enables a person to overcome those things that plague them from birth or initiates that process. The regenerated person can seek God, can fear God, does not see the gospel as foolishness, can hear Christ’s word and find faith through the hearing of the word, and can be subject to God’s law.

      So, why are we having to go over these things? Do you not know them (despite seeming to have read reformed literature) or do you just disagree with reformed conclusions?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s