Monday, April 9, 2007

God's Sovereignty in Salvation: PART 3

Limited Atonement

This is the doctrine that is usually the hardest for Christians to accept when they haven’t been challenged with it before. This was the doctrine that held me to an inconsistent 4 out of 5 point Calvinist until I just broke under the weight of Scripture’s teaching about this doctrine. First of all, let me say yet once again, you must have a biblical understanding of who God is in His Sovereignty before any of this will be acceptable to you. If you have not read the posts on the sovereignty of God, go back and read those first. Also this doctrine must be understood in the light of the first two doctrines presented in this series. The first doctrine is Total Depravity, the second is Unconditional Election, and now we have reached the third doctrine of the doctrines of grace Limited Atonement. Make sure you have read the first two before you read this part 3 of the series.

Let’s define Limited Atonement, sometimes also referred to as Particular Atonement/Redemption.

"Christ died, not for the sins of the whole world, but specifically for the elect. Christ’s substitutionary, atoning death was for those whom God sovereignly elected (chose) to save, and not all of mankind."

I’m certain that the objections are already flying through the minds of many of you, stick with me. I want to address first of all what this does not mean. This doctrine doesn’t teach that Christ "could not" have saved all of mankind by His death, only that He chose to die for a specific group of people. Should God have chosen to save everyone, Christ’s death would have been sufficient for everyone, but Christ as we have seen in this series does not choose to save everyone. So Christ’s atonement is limited, not in power, but merely in application to whom He chose.

As always, let’s go to the Scripture and see where this doctrine is taught. I will then follow that with some logical arguments for this doctrine that accompany the Scripture, and I will end with answering some common objections to this doctrine.

John 10:1-18

"1"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." 6This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."

Right before this passage Jesus has just chastised some of the pharisees for not recognizing Him for who He is. And then He goes on to talk about how He is the Good Shepherd and His sheep hear His voice and follow after Him. We must recognize by what Jesus is saying that He is clearly making a distinction between those who are His sheep and those who are not.

When Jesus spoke to a crowd, those whom He had called to be His own would recognize Him as the Messiah and follow after Him, those whom He had not called would not recognize Him and would not follow. You can imagine this illustration better if you realize that in Jesus’ day they would pen many sheep together in a pen with sheep all owned by different people. But the shepherd’s knew their sheep so well and vice-versa that he knew his sheep by name and they knew his voice. A shepherd would literally call to his sheep as the gatekeeper opened the gate and just the sheep who recognised the voice of their master would come to him and follow him.
So clearly Jesus is making a distinction that there are those who are His sheep and there are those who are not His sheep. Hopefully we can all agree on that. But look what Jesus says in connection with this distinction in verses 14 and 15.

"14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep."

Jesus knows His sheep, and He lays down His life for them. He doesn’t lay down His life for other people’s sheep, He lays down His life for the sheep he knows. And as we looked at last time in Part 2 of this series, Jesus knows intimately those whom He calls from the foundation of the world. That is the meaning of "foreknowledge."

Furthermore look what Jesus says just a little bit later again rebuking the Pharisees in verses 25-30.

"25Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one."

Jesus specifically tells the Pharisees that the reason they don’t believe in Him is because they are not part of His flock. Think it through carefully now, Jesus doesn’t say "because you do not believe in me you are not part of my flock" He say because you are not part of my flock you do not believe in me! Sheep do not pick their shepherd, shepherds pick their sheep! Jesus says that He gives His sheep eternal life, Jesus says that He lays down His life for His sheep. And Jesus says that there are those that are not His sheep. This equals, people, that Jesus does not give His life for everyone, He gives His life for those who He has chosen.

This could make you angry or confused if this is not what you have been taught since becoming a Christian. The Pharisees wanted to stone Jesus for the thing He just said. But I urge you to set aside presuppositions that you have and just look at the text of Scripture. What does it say? Am I making this up? I am not.

Again, as I have said, it is crucial that you understand God’s sovereignty, if you do not you will surely reject this. It is also crucial that you have considered Total Depravity and Unconditional Election, but if you have considered those things and you agree that God is truly sovereign and in control of all things (even our decisions). And if you agree man is totally depraved and that God must choose (Elect) us because we cannot choose Him and not because of works that find favor in His sight because all of our works are evil (Romans 3:10-12) then you must accept this also!

Here are some things to consider about the beliefs that are commonly held by Christians who reject or have not been confronted with this doctrine.

Is Christ’s death on the cross truly substitutionary?

We often talk about the substitutionary atonement of Christ. That is to say that Christ Jesus died in the place of the sinner as a substitute. I believe indeed that this is biblical and true, however only for the elect, not for all people. Let’s think this through carefully.
Romans 3:23-26

"23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

We see that God made Jesus a "propitiation.... so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Propitiation isn’t exactly a commonly used word in the English vocabulary. I would assume that outside of a discussion on the atonement, it pretty much just isn’t used. What it basically means is a sacrificial turning away of the wrath of God for sin, an appeasement of God’s wrath for sin. Jesus took upon Himself the wrath of God for sin. But whom did He do this for? "The on who has faith in Jesus." Who has faith in Jesus? Only those whom God elects and sovereignly breaks them out of their depravity and gives them faith and repentance. Man does not seek for God on his own, so the one who has faith in Jesus is the one whom God calls and gives faith. Jesus died for the elect, not everyone.

If Jesus Christ died, literally in the place of all sinners, why do people go to Hell? Indeed to take it further, since Christ died not only for the atonement of sin for those who would come after Him but for those who came before such as Moses and David, if Jesus died for "all people" then Jesus died for the sin of people who were already in Hell. Before anyone shouts "heretic", step back from your presuppositions and think this through. "Christ died in my place" we say. And if you are a born again believer, that is true. But it cannot be true for the person that is going to or is already suffering for their sin in Hell. If Jesus bore the wrath of God’s anger against sin for everyone, all times, all places then God would be unjust to place anyone in Hell. But Scripture clearly testifies that He does. God would equally be unjust for pouring wrath upon His son for sin that someone else was going to or already is paying for in Hell. For the doctrine of substitutionary atonement to be true, it must be understood that God died, not in place of all people, all places, all times, rather God died to pay for the sin of those whom He had chosen to save.

If you have followed with me through God’s Sovereignty and seen that man is totally depraved and unable to turn his heart to God (nor does he want to). And if you have seen that because of mans depravity that God must actively turn the heart of the sinner to Himself, not on the basis of good works (because there are none), but on the basis of His free and sovereign will, then you must accept this doctrine also.

Why would God die for people whom He has not chosen to save?

It would be illogical. God did not merely make salvation possible, He made salvation actual. Evangelicalism loves to preach that God died for all mankind and wants everyone to know Him, "but He wont force anyone to come to Him." That is pathetically unscriptural. Let me ask you this, does God fail? Jesus defined His message in this way:

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." - Luke 19:10

Did Jesus fail in His mission? No. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and so He did, perfectly. Jesus saves all whom He intends to save. Or do you think that God is just going to be eternally unhappy? "Oh I wish John Smith would have given His heart to me, but I just couldn’t mess with his sovereign free will, now I have to know I failed to save John Smith for all eternity," says God. I don’t think so! But indeed this is just our problem, we think that our will is free and sovereign and that God "would not" and perhaps some think "could not" override our free will. But it is God who is sovereign and in control God is not sad that people go to Hell. He did not try to save them and fail. God justly puts them in Hell because they are rebellious sinners who have cursed the name and authority of God since birth. We all deserve Hell but God shows His love and mercy in choosing some of those same kind of sinners and making them His own, and God shows His justice and wrath by punishing the rest. Both the free exercise of God’s wrath and His free exercise of grace bring glory to God.

Romans 9:19-24

"14What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? 22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- 24even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?"

Scripture clearly teaches that:

1. God sovereignly controls all things, yes even you and me.

2. Man is totally depraved because of Sin, we do not seek for God.

3. God in His sovereignty chooses (elects) some of this sinful mankind to be saved, merely by His free grace and not by our works, because no one does good in His sight.

4. God sent the Son to die in the place of the elect. He saves all whom He intended to save.

Common Objections:

The primary objection to this doctrine as well as the teaching of unconditional election, is that this makes God unloving. I think this is a finite mans viewpoint. After all, what is fair? Fair is that we would all go to Hell. We have all broke God’s law, and the penalty of that transgression is eternal death. So it is purely by God’s goodness and mercy that He saves anyone. I’m glad that God didn’t give me what I deserve. Instead Christ died in my place and He gave me, a depraved God hating sinner, faith and repentance and He has saved me to the full.

Other objections usually center around passages that have or use the word "all" in them when referring to Salvation. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve heard pastors and evangelists use texts such as these and then have the entire crowd repeat the word "all." As if "All" is some kind of word that trumps this doctrine that I am teaching right now. As if the word "All" laughs in the face of the rest of Scriptures teaching. For those who think the word "all" is so universal as to mean that everyone, all places, all times, no matter what, here is an illustration for you.

Let’s say on a Sunday morning I am preaching and I look out the window and see how nice it looks outside. It’s mid 80's with a nice breeze and I get the inclination to move this service outside. I then say to the congregation, "It’s such a beautiful day, let’s all go outside."

Now when I said "all," did I mean that everyone in the entire world should go outside? No. I meant my specific audience whom I was addressing should go outside. The problem with many people who try and interpret Scripture when the word "all" shows up is that they do not allow the context of Scripture to define who "all" is. Sometimes it is universal, sometimes it’s not.

An obvious example is Romans 8:32 which says:

"He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"

Isolate that verse and you could make it say whatever you want. But what does the next verse say?

"Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies."

Now we have some context, Paul is talking about the elect. Not everyone, all places, all times. And if you read the book of Romans as a whole, which is the best way to grasp the context of any verse, you will see that Paul is largely addressing people who are Christians. So who is "all?" Christians, the elect.

So let God be the one to decide what is fair. Read Scripture in its context. The doctrine of Limited Atonement is true.

10 comments:

Gregory said...

And this, this is the reason why I am itching to get a job so that I can devote free time to apologetics work--to counter this absurd and heretical teaching!

I'm sorry, Jacob, but there's no other way to put it. It's built on logical fallacy upon logical fallacy, and I wish I had time to go through, from the beginning (T, or even earlier with God's sovereignty--though I didn't have much to disagree with there).

Limited Atonement only logically follows from Scripture and the logic of TULIP if a radically unbiblical "faith alone" position is accepted, first off, and second, if certain key texts of scripture are ignored.

You begin to make a point about the "all" passages of Scripture, but you shoot yourself in the foot in so doing. You say, "In those all passages, all doesn't necessarily mean all" yet in defending total depravity, you cite Romans 3, saying that the "alls" there do, in fact, mean "all" when it is demonstrable that they really don't.

You can't have it both ways.

"For God delivered all to disobedience, that He might have mercy upon all." Romans 11:32

Reconcile that with TULIP, Jacob. If all means all, with regard to Total Depravity and all have sinned, then the corrollary that this verse teaches is that God desires to have mercy on all--that it is a possibility.

On the other hand, if all doesn't mean all when it comes to Christ's Atonement, then the corrollary is that all doesn't necessarily mean all when it comes to their disobedience. Either all have sinned so Jesus died for all so that mercy could be shown to all, or, potentially, some haven't sinned and aren't depraved, and Total Depravity needs rethinking. Romans 11:32 destroys TULIP.

I wish I had more time to pursue that further, and I apologise for the heat with which I type that--but you yourself mention that this doctrine bothers many Christians who don't buy it. I'm one of them, and from where I sit, it's a huge perversion of the Gospel.

I can understand that, if you were a "4-Point Calvinist", believing in Unlimited Atonement and Irresistible Grace, that it would cause difficulty. But then, Irresistible Grace isn't right, either.

As soon as I have a job, I'll be doing a TULIP series at Barque, probably called "Tiptoeing through TULIP". It won't necessarily be a point-by-point response to you, but I'll probably refer to your series here. I'll let you know when I can start it.

God bless
Gregory

risen_soul said...

Well I'm glad that I can now add heretic to my list of names such as arrogant, and big meanie. lol.

You need not apologize, you are honestly telling me how you feel about what I have said, and that is ok with me. As long as you are angry and yet not sinning.

It of course comes as no shock to me that you, a Roman Catholic, would take offense to this teaching. After all, our view of the fall and its effect upon man is different. If someone reject Total Depravity then they would logically reject the following four points. And that being the case for you, I've no doubt that you think each doctrine is a fallacy built upon the last.

The whole teaching really does center around God's sovereignty and whether or not He is litterally in control of all things or whether He leaves some things up to us.

And if you disagree that the fall has marred man's mind, body and soul to the extent that Romans 3:10-12 talk about and that we have the ability to find and choose God on our own or even with a bit of help, then again you will disagree as vehemently as you do with the following points. So it really the Sovereignty of God and Total Depravity (in my opinion) that Reformed Protestants and Romans Catholics should be debating before they ever move into the later doctrines.

As far as the "all" passages go, what I said was this:

"The problem with many people who try and interpret Scripture when the word "all" shows up is that they do not allow the context of Scripture to define who "all" is. Sometimes it is universal, sometimes it’s not."

Do you disagree with that statement? I think sometimes all does mean all people, all places, all times, if the context leads us to think that this is what the author has in mind. But sometimes all is given a specific context to where all is not universal, but all refers to (for instance) the elect.

I don't think that this is an unreasonable statement. You are right that I can not have it "both ways." If I tried to interpret all to mean "ALL" when it meant a specific group, I would be wrong. If I interpreted "all" to mean a specific group when it literally mean "ALL" then I would be wrong.

Do you think All always mean everyone who ever has or will live?

As far as Romans 11:32 goes, I know you think that is a smack-down verse that destroys the doctrines of grace, but I think that is a pretty weak case you make there.

Again, context is everything. Paul has been talking about how salvation is not just for the Jews but also the gentiles. When He says that all were delivered into disobedience it means that both Jew and gentile are under condemnation due to sin and then when he says that "He might have mercy on all" Paul is meaning that Salvation has come to not just the Jews but to all of mankind. Not every individual, but to every nation. Jews and Gentiles alike are transgressors but, God has brought salvation to not the jews only but to "all" peoples.

That in no way proves your point, in fact it is a wonderful demonstration of mine. We must allow context to define what Scripture means.

I encourage all reader to read not just the stated verse but the entire chapter and the one preceeding it.

Love ya Gregory, but I disagree with you oh so much.

In Him -Jacob

p.s. please do mention my articles on your site, I love free publicity.

gavin said...

Ben Witherington argues that in TULIP, the ULI stand and fall together. If one is disproven then all fall. An interesting thought to mull over: If one holds to Limited Atonment, how or who does the limiting? Is it God, because he desires only the elect to be saved? Or is the atonement limited because only those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior receive the benefits of the atonement, namely the justification and sanctification through the atoning blood of Christ?
A second thought, if I may play devil's advocate. Wanting to uphold God's sovereignty does not necessarily mean that someone must hold to TULIP. In fact, Arminians, despite Calvinists complaints, strongly uphold God's sovereignty. For example, Roger Olson, in writing about the misunderstanding of Arminian theology, says "The only thing the arminian view of God's sovereignty necessarily excludes is God being author of sin and evil" (see Roger Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. IVP: 2006, p120.)
Cheers,
Gavin

risen_soul said...

Hello Gavin!

Welcome to the blog. I want to thank you for your thoughts. I think Ben Witherington is right on this matter (I know nothing of him otherwise). Although I take it further and believe that the entire doctrine rises and falls upon total depravity. Depending on our view of the fall and man's sin, either man is completely helpless and hopeless, loves his sin and wants to sin and will never choose God because of sin, or sin hasn't had that big of an effect on man and we are capable of recognizing God and choosing Him either on our own, or at least with just a nudge from God.

I truly believe it is the doctrine of Total Depravity that is the cornerstone of the doctrines of grace. If I can't choose God, God must choose me or I have no hope.

If I can choose God, God doesn't have to choose me, salvation is possible for everyone, I might later reject God, and I might lose my salvation.

The doctrine of Limited Atonement teaches that God does the limiting because of His work of unconditional election. Atonement is not merely limited by mans choice to follow Christ or not.

I know many Arminians like to talk abotu God being Sovereign, but what do they mean by that? The Arminian position sets mans "free-will" to be more sovereign than God's free-will.

The Sovereignty of God means that God is completely in control of all things. Nothing happens apart from His will. In the Arminian position God allows man to choose or reject Him, therefore, in order for God to accomplish His purpose, God must constantly react to what man does to keep His plan on track. But that is not the God of the Bible.

The reason God can tell us about what will occur in the future isn't because that is what He is planning to do, but what God has already decreed as done. God does not merely look down the hall of time to see what will happen, God writes the future.

Man doesn't like to be told that God has ordained his every move, we want to be free. But God is in control whether we like it or not. God does not wait to see if we'll choose Him, God chooses us, or He doesn't.

God hardened Pharaoh's heart, God predestined Judas to betray Jesus. It was not up to them, they could not have changed their minds. Their actions appeared to be free, and yet they did what they made to do.

Proverbs 20:24

"A man's steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?"

The Arminian position is merely a rejection of God's total Sovereignty.

Gregory said...

Hey Gavin! Good to see you. Sorry I haven't had much for you to read lately over at Barque...

Jacob, I'm curious to know how you deal with 1 Timothy 4:10 (since you so easily dismissed Romans 11:32--I wish I had time to deal with your exegesis presently).

"For this we toil and struggle, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the saviour of all, especially of those who believe."

There's absolutely nothing in the context of 1 Timothy that could limit the "all" of that verse, especially since it's played specifically against 'those who believe', which, if I understand you correctly, must denote the elect.

I find it somewhat interesting that you aim your comments about TULIP specifically against the Arminians, though so far I'm the only person to have commented opposing your position.

Please understand me. I'm not Arminian (any more). As near as I can peg myself on this doctrine (of predestination, that is), I'd be an "Augustinian"--though I'm planning on really hashing through St. Thomas Aquinas' writings on the subject before I write my series regarding TULIP at Barque.

It might fascinate you to know that Calvin's TULIP is strikingly similar to Thomism. It's really a more extreme version. Who knows, maybe by the end of this, I'll end up a Thomist--then we'd agree on a lot more than you'd think! :)

As for everything standing or falling on Total Depravity, I just want to let you know that, in a way, I disagree. With a very slight qualification, I agree with Total Depravity as you laid it out here--and that distinction has more to do with abstract theory than with the practical outworking. Namely, while most Calvinists that I've read try to make the claim that human-kind is sinful by nature (that is, it is intrinsic to what they are as humans), I would counter that this is not the case--we are not sinful by nature but by state--we are enslaved to sin without the Grace of God. Practically, it works itself out the same--in that we can do nothing without God's Grace that is of any merit toward our salvation. Without Jesus, we're lost.

But on a more metaphysical level there are some important points of distinction--namely, if God has a part in creating each and every one of us, and we are evil or sinful by nature, then God creates things that are evil and sinful by nature. Second, if mankind is defined by its sinful nature--that is, if sin is a part of what it means to be Human, then Jesus could not truly have been Human and yet without sin.

As a believer in God's predistination, I can reject L without necessarily rejecting U, so I disagree with Witherington's assessment. I assume that, coming from a Protestant standpoint, he sees things mainly in the Calvinist-Arminian dichotomy, and not in the Catholic framework where in a mysterious way, God's predestination and man's free will coexist.

Anyway, I would ask you to withold pelagian accusations from people who disagree with some of the points of TULIP because you think to disagree with one point is the same as disagreeing with them all. I guess it's partly my fault, since I shouldn't be offering half-formed objections if I can't follow through. My main purpose is to figure this all out, actually. Predestination/Free Will is something I admittedly haven't taken a lot of time to sort out.

God bless
Gregory

Papa J said...

You confuse calling and election with salvation.

Christ redeemed ALL mankind from death. I like Gregory's Timothy passage for that regard.

Why salvation "espescially" for those who believe. Because through our faith and works he also saves the believers from the second death.

I would like to thank you for provoking me to study the scriptures more. I have always studied simply for myself and never held my belief up against another's.

On Choice,

I was pondering salvation through faith last night and was reminded of the parable of the ten virgins.

Who do the virgins represent? They are waiting for the bridegroom, so one can only conclude that they are those that believe the bridegroom will come.

What was the problem then? Why were half of the faithful found wanting when the arrival of the bridegroom was announced? Was their faith lacking? No they were waiting. Were they just NOT chosen (as your interpretation of election would presumably guide?) No, the bridegroom did not discriminate against them upon his arrival.

They had left to fill their lamps with oil. I can only infer one thing, that having faith, their works were not sufficient. They hurried to fill their lamps and upon arrival at the door of the wedding were turned away and the bridegroom disavowed them.

I would have ears to hear any other explanation.

We DO CHOOSE the Lord. He offers the atonement to all. This does not make him a failure. It is evenly and justly offered. We may fail, if our works do not match our faith.

risen_soul said...

Hey Gregory and Pat,

I just wanted to let you know that I plan on getting back to you both, however I'm a bit tied up this weekend trhough Monday, so it might be Tuesday before I can sit down to write an articulate response.

Take care til then.

Gregory said...

Hey Jacob,
No worries. I'm still rather unable to really delve into the whole discussion at the depth that I would like to--though that's starting to look up again :)

Either way, it's been rather interesting (and civil, like it used to be way back in the beginning. I guess our break was good for us, eh?)

Papa J, thanks for stopping by Barque of Peter and offering some insight into Mormonism. I'll probably respond to it in the not-too-distant future, after the current discussion on Justification winds up (I'm still attempting to discuss it with "Peter"--see part 4) and I tackle TULIP afterwards. Then I might start replying to Mormonism at some length.

God bless!

risen_soul said...

Hey Gregory,

You said "Jacob, I'm curious to know how you deal with 1 Timothy 4:10 (since you so easily dismissed Romans 11:32--I wish I had time to deal with your exegesis presently).

"For this we toil and struggle, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the saviour of all, especially of those who believe."

There's absolutely nothing in the context of 1 Timothy that could limit the "all" of that verse, especially since it's played specifically against 'those who believe', which, if I understand you correctly, must denote the elect."

This is one of those passages where the Greek text clarifies everything for us. I admit the way that most english translations read, this sounds contradictory to the case I have made. However if we look at the original language here we find that this passage is not a difficult one at all.

I'll quote for you from an article written by my friend Patrick Abendroth on the issue of atonement.

"World renowned Greek grammarian William Mounce points out what othe scholars, including George Knight in The New International Greek Testament Commentary, have already noted. They observe that the word that is translated("especially") can be translated "to be percise" or "namely" which is in line with the probable intent in 2 Timothy 4:13 and Titus 1:10. Support also comes from usage in extra biblical literature. This perspective sees the phrase "repeating and filling out the first:' who is the savior of all people, that is, all who believe" (Mounce, Pastoral Epistles), 256-257).

I know that you either know some Greek or can at least look it up like I can, and I would suggest that you check this word often translated "especially" to see that the above rendering would be an appropriate understanding of the verse. Therefore the verse is actually complimentary to my view point.

As far as everything else you said concerning Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, and Limited Atonement, I choose not to put words in your mouth or tell you what you believe. However it has been my understanding that traditionally, Roman Catholics hold a much different view of the fall than protestants, at least in its effecs.

Surely your view is closer to mine than the LDS view, but nonetheless, different. Is it not Thomas Aquinas who reasoned that man could know God by natural revelation? I don't assume you believe that, but I have understood that to traditionally be Romes view.

If indeed you do believe that, that would show our view of "Total Depravity" to be drastically different. I believe mankind will wonder blindly around in their sin unless personally confronted by the Spirit of God.

I do think we see that because of the fall that man is born naturally sinful. They are fleshly or with a sin nature. We do not have to teach our children to sin, they naturally gravitate towards it. Man is born sinful.

As far as Jesus goes, I don't think you can dogmatically say that Jesus would have been a sinner if what I say is true. After all the father of Jesus was (as you know) God the Father. There is a reasonable debate concerning whether the sinful nature is passed on by the male seed, not that I'm going to get into that now.

But it is possible that the male seed passes on the sin nature, and it is possible that God made Jesus in the womb of Mary, fully human and fully God, without usings Mary's egg. We don't have near that kind of information.

I think it's clear just by thinking about our own lives that we are sinful by nature. When I was a teen before Christ, I was into pornography. I liked it, I wanted more of it. Why, because I was enslaved to sin, yes, and I loved my sin because that's what I was a sinner.

I still am a sinner today, but I am being made holy by God's Spirit and transformed into His likeness because I have been made a new creation with a new nature.

risen_soul said...

Pat,

you said "You confuse calling and election with salvation."

I don't think that is the case at all. I recognize that "calling" is different from "salvation." However the relationship of the two is clearly defined in Romans 8:30.

"And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."

If you follow that unbreakable chain you will see that all who are "called" are eventually "justified" and then "glorified." Calling is one of the steps that God takes in redeeming a sinner, but anyone who is called will be saved in the end. This passage strongly opposes the view that salvation can be lost. A view held by those who think salvation can be merrited by their work along with or apart from Jesus' work.

you also said "Christ redeemed ALL mankind from death. I like Gregory's Timothy passage for that regard.

Why salvation "espescially" for those who believe. Because through our faith and works he also saves the believers from the second death."

I answered Gregory's use of that verse, I would point you to it. But let me ask you, if Christ redeemed all mankind, why do people go to Hell? He payed there way, God would be unjust to punish Jesus for everyone sin and then punish those same people for the sin Jesus suffered for.

You go on "I was pondering salvation through faith last night and was reminded of the parable of the ten virgins.

Who do the virgins represent? They are waiting for the bridegroom, so one can only conclude that they are those that believe the bridegroom will come.

What was the problem then? Why were half of the faithful found wanting when the arrival of the bridegroom was announced? Was their faith lacking? No they were waiting. Were they just NOT chosen (as your interpretation of election would presumably guide?) No, the bridegroom did not discriminate against them upon his arrival.

They had left to fill their lamps with oil. I can only infer one thing, that having faith, their works were not sufficient. They hurried to fill their lamps and upon arrival at the door of the wedding were turned away and the bridegroom disavowed them.

I would have ears to hear any other explanation."

The interpretation I would offer here is that faith without works is dead. It doesn't mean that works justify, but that works prove genuine faith. I believe anyone who is truly a follower of Christ will do works in accordance with their faith that prove they are truly His "faithful" followers.

I don't believe it is right or fair to call all ten of these virgins "faithful" as you have. The Lord tells us to be ready for His coming because it will be "like a thief in the night." These people were mere professors of faith, but they had not the works to prove that they really believed.

Jesus said that on that day many will come to him and say "Lord, Lord" but He will say that He "never" knew them. Not that He used to but doesn't now, but never.

Christ never knew those unfaitful followers, because they were not His sheep. Christ knows His sheep and His sheep know Him.

You can only fail to be saved when you believe that you have something to do with your own salvation. I believe as Scripture teaches that my salvation is by God's grace through faith in Christ, and I can't add a cent to it. Anything added one bit is a false gospel like the one Galatians speaks of.