Oct 27, 2009

Debate Not SBTS Sponsored

I want to let all my readers know that SBTS is not sponsoring the debate. We are holding the debate on their campus but they are not sponsoring it. The building is rented for the occasion. I know I have not ever said the debate was sponsored by SBTS. My opponent, John Gentry, has put out flyers of the debate in which he has a map of the seminary and directions to the Alumni Chapel. He has been informed not to announce that the debate is sponsored by the seminary.

I am working on material for the debate and look forward to seeing many of you who have written or e-mailed me. Your prayers are coveted.


Oct 13, 2009

Debate Details Finalized

Dates: Thursday and Friday, Nov. 5-6, 2009
Time: 7.00pm (EST)

Location: Alumni Memorial Chapel, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Rd., Louisville, KY 40280


The Scriptures teach that a child of God, one saved by the blood of Christ, can so sin as to be eternally lost in hell.

Affirm: John R. Gentry (church of Christ)
Deny: Stephen Garrett (Baptist)

The Scriptures teach that a child of God, one saved by the blood of Christ, cannot so sin as to be eternally lost in hell.

Affirm: Stephen Garrett (Baptist)
Deny: John R. Gentry (church of Christ)

I hope all who are in the Louisville area and hear of the debate will be led to attend. Pray for good to come from open discussion.


Oct 4, 2009

Piper on Ordo Salutis

John Piper wrote:

"Repentance unto life" means that their repentance led to eternal life. They did not already have eternal life. They received it when they heard the message about Christ and turned to believe and follow him." ("What God Has Cleansed Do Not Call Common")

See here

Oct 1, 2009

Temporary Faith

Recently, I have been discussing the parable of the soils (in Matthew, Mark, and Luke) with Seeking Disciple. See here Being Arminian, Seeking takes the common Arminian view regarding the characters depicted in the parable.

I have written much regarding this parable and declared that its teachings are fundamental. It is no accident that Arminians and Calvinists disagree on important soteriological points relative to the teachings of the parable. In past debates on "eternal security" I have introduced the parable in order to uphold the traditional Calvinistic view of it. I plan to do so in future debates on "once saved always saved."

In this posting I want to enlarge upon the unconverted character of the shallow ground hearer. Nearly all Calvinists reject the idea that the shallow ground "believer" was actually converted or regenerated. Nearly all Arminians believe the shallow ground "believer" was actually converted. I say "nearly all," for some Calvinists, like the neo-Hardshells, believe that the shallow ground hearer was actually saved, and some Arminians, like Dr. Robert Picirilli, do not believe he was actually saved.

Piricilli wrote:

"The seed on stony ground (vv. 16, 17). This represents those who at first welcome the Word but subsequently stumble and turn aside. Given Jesus' explanation that "they do not have root in themselves," we do not have to overinterpret the parable to speak of these superficial believers. They "immediately" receive the Word with joy but "endure but for a time." They are temporary believers, not established ones. They have no depth; they are "enthusiastic but shallow" (Hiebert 112).

Consequently, when they find that the Word they have received results in affliction or makes them targets of hostility, they stumble and fall--again "immediately." They are quick to believe, quick to fall: "Haste and superficiality go together." (Gould 75). Affliction (Greek thlipsis) is hardship, the kind of trouble or trial that causes difficulty or pressure. Persecution (Greek diogmos) is hostile pursuit, causing someone suffering because of faith. The verb "are offended" (Greek skandalizomai) comes from a root that originally meant the trip-stick of a trap; but it is always used figuratively in the N.T. and means to stumble spiritually and thus to fall away. Superficial, temporary believers do not stand up under the pressures their faith brings on them.

Those in this group also do not really enter the Kingdom of God; their hasty welcoming of the Word turns soon to rejection. There were many of the crowd who were attracted to Jesus, rejoiced in His words and works for a while, but did not experience true conversion. When they found themselves likely to experience the hostility and threats that were increasingly manifested against Jesus, they turned aside from following Him. In Jesus' day, such "disciples" as are referred to in Jn. 6: 66 (at least some of them) might well fit into this category."
(pg. 122, 123 - "The Gospel of Mark" By Robert E. Picirilli)

See here

It is good to see a leading Arminian, as Dr. Picirilli, take the correct view regarding the shallow hearted "believer."

"And he saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise. They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert." (Psalm 106: 10-14 KJV)

"And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people? Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation." (Psalm 78: 18-22)

Here are the shallow ground hearers of the word in Old Testament times. They believed and persevered only for a short time. Even though they had initially "believed," it was half-hearted belief, not genuine or sincere. It was hypocritical. In the Book of Hebrews, Paul says these temporary believers "could not enter because of unbelief." They were unbelievers, who, nevertheless, "believed" in some shallow way, at certain times in their lives.

"The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going." (Proverbs 14: 15)

This is a description of many "believers," of shallow ground "believers." Does the "simple" kind of "believing" save anyone? Most Arminians, like Seeking, must say it does. They do not believe that there are any examples in the New Testament where the "simple believed every word" spoken by the Lord and the apostles?

"As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples (believers) indeed." (John 8: 30, 31)

I have written on these words in a recent posting and gave a syllogism which demonstrated that those professing believers who did not persevere demonstrated that they had not truly been converted. Jesus is clearly saying that future continuance in faith and faithfulness will prove whether the initial profession, confession, and "believing," were genuine or hypocritical, whether it was belief springing from an "honest and good heart," from deep rootedness, or was a belief springing from fallow ground, from unfit soil, from a half-hearted or superficial person.

"Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue." (John 12: 42)

Clearly these "believers" fit the description of the shallow ground hearer. It is somewhat ironic that most Arminians are so quick to make every pretended "believer" a truly regenerated soul. To use an expression from James, "what kind of faith" is it that does not "confess" Christ, that does not adhere to him in the face of persecution? Why would the Arminian want to insist that the "believing" of these Jewish rulers was genuine and saving?

"By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." (I Cor. 15: 2)

On this verse, A. T. Robertson said: "Condition of first class, unless in fact ye did believe to no purpose." Who "believes to no purpose" except the half-hearted, temporary, simple, "believer"? Whose "believing" is in vain except the believing of the shallow hearted?

"But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." (Hebrews 10: 39)

Whose "believing" is temporary, that "draws back"? Is it not the "believing" of the shallow, unfit, unploughed, ground? Is it not the "believing" of the unprepared heart? How can Arminians avow that such a "believing" actually converts? Notice that Paul affirms, in the above words, that those who "draw back" did not "believe TO the saving of the soul"! They "believed" but not "to" the saving of the soul. Such is the case with the shallow ground hearer, he "believed," but not "to the saving" of the soul!

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2: 19)

Most Arminians, ironically, cannot accept the idea that anyone can be said to "believe" and yet be unconverted. Yet, clearly, the demons believe in God, in the death, resurrection, and sovereignty of Christ. Are they saved? What kind of "believing" is this? Do unconverted men also have this kind of "believing"?

"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him." (I John 5: 1)

"Believing" is a present tense participle and means "one who is continuing to believe." This being so, we may paraphrase - "one who is not a temporary believer," or "one who is not a shallow ground believer." Who is "born of God"? The temporary believer? No! Only the ones who are continuing to believe, who persevere, are the ones who have been born of God. Those who believe only a short while, and who fall away, John says they were never born of God.

"Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I John 5: 5)

Does the shallow ground hearer/believer overcome? No. Therefore, we can say of him, that he was not a true believer. What does John say of every true believer? He overcomes! But, the shallow ground hearer does not overcome. Ergo. He was not a real believer.

"Faith is not true because it perseveres, but it perseveres because it is true." (Turretin)

"And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14: 27-33)

"And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Luke 9: 57, 58)

Who is Christ describing in these verses? What kind of "disciple" or "believer"? A genuine believer? Will the Arminian say that the believing and conversion of these precipitate or hasty believers/disciples issued in real salvation? Is one initially converted with a simple believing that does not count the cost?

"he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6: 35)

The shallow ground hearer, depicted in the sprout that quickly shoots out of the ground in shallow soil, "withers" and dies. Why does it die? Is it not from lack of moisture, which is itself due to lack of soil depth? Jesus said, however, that genuine believers "shall never thirst," shall never "dry up," shall never become parched, as the hypocritical, simpleton faith of the shallow ground believer.

Seeking Disciple wrote, in a comment to me in his blog, these words:

I would argue that the person of Luke 8:13 (or Matthew 13:20) is indeed saved for these reasons:

1. Again, the word "believe" in verse 13 is the same as in verse 12. It is also the same word most of the NT uses to describe saving faith.

Yes, but there is no way that the "believing" of a shallow hearted, of a superficial, unploughed (unconvicted of sin) heart, can save anyone. Why would you say that such a believing from such a heart converts anyone?

2. The time of testing comes upon those who are truly saved (2 Timothy 3:12; Rev. 2:10). Jesus said that we would be persecuted for His name sake if we are His disciples (Matthew 5:11-12).

This is not true. Does not Rev. 3: 10 say - "the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth"?

3. James 1:12 says that when we stand the test of temptation and persecution, we will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him (John 14:15; 1 John 5:2-3). This time of testing comes upon true believers.

The verse cited above disproves your assertion.

4. I don't deny they lack growth (no root) but they hear the word (Romans 10:17), recieve it (John 1:12) and since they take no root in Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23), they fall away (Galatians 5:1-4). What do they fall from? From salvation in Christ.

They "take no root in Christ" and yet they are true believers and genuinely converted? What do they "fall from"? They fall away, first of all, from the point they have come to, which is a point short of true salvation. They fall away from their previous profession. They also, seemingly or apparently, fall from real salvation.

5. Like Demas, they turn from following Christ and His Word having loved this present world (2 Timothy 4:10) they turn from Christ (James 4:4) and fall from grace (2 Peter 3:17) rather than growing in grace (2 Peter 3:18). Jesus said that they believed for a while (Luke 8:13) and then fell. He doesn't say that they were never saved to begin with but that they did not continue in their belief (Romans 11:20-22).

Yes, and he never said this shallow ground believer was ever "saved" either. In the case of the wayside hearer, Jesus coupled the word "believe" with the word "saved" ('lest he should believe and be saved'). Why did he put the word "saved" with "believe"? Why did he simply not say "lest he should believe"? Why did Jesus not say, of the shallow ground hearer, "believed and was saved for a while"? Again, it was Jesus and the apostles who affirmed that temporary believers were never truly saved or born again to start with.

Yes, the word "believe" is used in both instances, relative to both shallow and deep rooted believers, but the distinction is in the kind of heart doing the believing.