Nov 27, 2009

Elihu Spoke Correctly?

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: "My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Elihu has." (Job 42:7)

According to many "Reformed" commentators, and even some Arminian interpreters, this is how the verse should read! I am amazed at how Calvin, in his sermons on the Book of Job, saw Elihu, and not Job, as the one who spoke correctly in his theology.

I have also become amazed at how modern Calvinistic expositors have likewise argued that Elihu was correct and Job incorrect, men such as Al Mohler and John Piper, just to name a couple.

I am back to writing additional chapters in my book on the theology of Job (see link on this web page) and am taking notes for upcoming chapters. I plan to demonstrate further how Job was theologically correct, while the friends of Job were not correct, including Elihu, the one who "darkened counsel with words without knowledge."

Nov 22, 2009

Baptist Distinctive - B.H. Carroll

"Baptism is Essential to Salvation"

"So far from being distinctive, this is not now and never has been a Baptist doctrine. More than all other people do they repudiate it. Indeed, on the contrary, the Baptists are the only people in the world who hold its exact opposite: Salvation is essential to baptism." ("Baptists And Their Doctrines," page 9)

Nov 20, 2009

Gill on Private Interpretation

"Of the Holy Scriptures"

"A sure, certain, and infallible rule to go by, with respect to things both to be believed and done: a rule they are (Gal. 6:16). And since they are of divine authority, and are perfect and plain, they are a sure rule, and to be depended on; "The testimony of the Lord is sure", (Ps. 19:7) and a "more sure word of prophecy" than all others whatever, (2 Pet. 1:19) these are the witness of God, and therefore greater than man’s; and to be believed before any human testimony, (1 John 5:9) yea, must be reckoned infallible, since they are the Scriptures of truth, and not only contain what is truth, and nothing but truth in them: but have a true, even a divine testimony bore unto them, and come from the God of truth, who cannot lie (Dan. 10:21; Tit 1:2). They are the judge of all religious controversies, to which all are to be brought, and by them determined; according to these, spiritual men, who have their senses exercised, to discern between good and evil, try and judge all things. The Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture, or the Spirit of God therein; nor are the church or its pastors, nor councils and popes, the infallible interpreters thereof; there is a private interpretation of Scripture, which every Christian may make, according to his ability and light; and there is a public one, by the preacher of the word but both are subject to, and to be determined by the Scripture itself, which is the only certain and infallible rule of faith and practice."

("A Body of Doctrinal Divinity" - Book 1—Chapter 2)

See here

Nov 18, 2009

B. H. Carroll on Soul Liberty


"The sole responsibility of decision and action rests directly on the individual soul. Each one must give account of himself to God. This is the first principle of New Testament law--to bring each naked soul face to face with God. When that first Baptist voice broke the silence of four hundred years it startled the world with its appeal to individuality: "Think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father. Behold, the axe is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire." Do thou repent. Do thou confess thy sins. Do thou be baptized. It was the first step of Christianity, and what a collossal stride! Family ties count nothing. Greek culture nothing. Roman citizenship nothing. Circumcision nothing. O soul, thou art alone before God! The multitude shall not swallow thee up. "If thou shalt be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself; but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it." (pg. 15, 16 - "Baptists and Their Doctrines)

"How often in history has the question been propounded by some wishing to shun personal responsibility! May I not refer this matter to the magistrates? May I not consult the customs of my country? May I not seek the guidance of my priest and put on him the responsibility of interpreting this book? Nay, verily. Do thou interpret. It is God's letter to thy soul. Thy right of private judgment is the crown jewel of thy humanity. Sometimes even Baptists falter on this point. I have heard one of them excuse himself from an acknowledged duty of co-operation in mission work. Not even thy church can absolve thee from individual duty. Churches are time organizations and are punished in time. They do not stand before the great white throne of judgment. But thy soul shall appear before the Judge. Well did our Lord know that there could be no evangelization of the world if ancestors, families, customs, government, commerce and priests could tand between the individual soul and God. Thy relation to God is paramount. His law takes precedence of all and swallows up all. In giving emphasis to this doctrine of individuality our Baptist fathers have suffered martyrdom at the hands of the heathen, the Romanist, the Greek, and the Protestant like." (pg. 17)

Nov 17, 2009

On Private Interpretation

"The issue is not the right of every individual believer to worship God and interpret Scripture according to the dictates of his own conscience. No one has spoken more eloquently to this principle than George W. Truett in his 1939 address to the Baptist World Alliance: "For any person or institution to dare to come between the soul and God is a blasphemous impertinence." No true Baptist has ever denied that. What is at stake is the right of a community of believer-priests, whether local congregation, association, state or national convention, to define for itself, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the acceptable doctrinal perimeters of its own fellowship.

Every Christian remains free to interpret the Bible as he believes he is led by the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of religious liberty declares that penal measures must not be used by the civil authorities to enforce belief. But it also implies that the church must be free to define and maintain the boundaries of its own fellowship. A church which is unable to do this or, even worse, no longer thinks it is worth doing, is a church which has lost its soul."
(Timothy George)

See here

"As Bible-believing Christians we have liberty of interpretation! God must like variety of expression and interpretation. Look at the Bible itself – what a diverse collection it is! Even each of the four Gospels has a different interpretation of Jesus. Hebrews 1 says that God has spoken in "many and various ways." And those various ways have been understood in many more various ways! God has never dictated absolute uniformity in interpretation. He honors the liberty of each individual to read and interpret scripture.

Our liberty of interpreting the Bible is exercised under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Paul told Timothy that the ultimate purpose of the scripture is to "instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (II Tim. 3:15) John said that his gospel was written "so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name." (20:31)

Before there was a New Testament the early Christians were expressing their faith by saying "Jesus is Lord." Early Christians interpreted all of scripture in light of that confession. A Baptist Christian understanding is that we must also filter every interpretation of the Bible through that confession. How do we judge among so many different individual interpretations of scripture? We ask ourselves, "How does this stack up to who Jesus is and what he did while on earth? What did Jesus do, or not do? What did Jesus say, or not say? What is Jesus saying and doing now about this?"

"We affirm that the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament are the inspired, written Word of God. We call them the "canon," or measuring rod, of faith. But who sets the standard of the measuring rod? Who says an inch is an inch, a gospel is a gospel, salvation is by grace? Jesus does, for he is Lord – Lord of the church, Lord of the Bible, Lord of the interpreter. It is Jesus who blesses the conscientious interpreter. That’s what James means when he says that those who continue to intentionally stoop and stare into the perfect law of liberty and do what they find "will be blessed in their doing." Jesus is the blesser! He is the giver of all beatitudes, and here is another!

Although we firmly believe in the liberty of individual interpretation, we also believe in accountability of interpretation! It is liberty of and under! All proper interpretation of scripture must be carried out under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. That’s why the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message Statement, which our church’s Bylaws affirm, says so wonderfully: "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.

I remember when Jesus cheers came out: "Three cheers for Jesus!" What a hubbub they caused! But early Baptists actually had two cheers. They were: "This Lord and no more!" And, "This Book and no more!" No pope, no king, or no bishop could usurp the lordship of Christ over the soul of the individual. No creed, no confession, and no doctrinal statement can usurp the authority of the Bible. As Bible Baptists we can cheer that we have liberty of interpretation, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and from any binding creed, confession or statement. We can come up saying "Yes!" When you joined this church you were asked to say straight from the Bible "Jesus is Lord;" you were not asked to affirm a creed."

"This Book and no more!" We don’t need any other binding sources of spiritual authority in our lives. All we need is right here! We may as well register with this authority! Jesus never said, "Repeat after me." He said simply, "Follow me." And as Bible Baptists we believe that is enough – that the liberty of interpretation of the Bible, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ liberates us from having to repeat after anyone a binding creed, confession or statement!"
("Polishing the Baptist Family Name: "Bible Baptist"" by Dr. Craig A. Sherouse - Lakeside Baptist Church, Lakeland, FL)

Editorial Introduction: Dr. Craig Sherouse, became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Griffin, GA, in August, 2003. Prior to that he was the pastor of the Lakeside Baptist Church in Lakeland, FL, where he preached this series of sermons. Dr. Sherouse graduated with both the M.Div. and a Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Seminole, FL.

See here

Believer's Individual Right

What is an Historic Baptist?
by David A. West, Sr.


"1. The Bible is the only rule of faith and practice (II Timothy 3:16). Some denominations would claim this same truth, but their practice is not in keeping with the New Testament."

"4. The priesthood of the believer, or the right of the individual to interpret Scripture privately, and to have direct access to God (I Peter 2:9).

From the Dark Ages on, the Roman Catholic Church taught (and still teaches) that a person cannot directly approach God, but must go through a priest, much like the Old Testament system. This enslaves the individual to the Roman Catholic Church, and assures control over the individual. Baptists have always believed that each individual is a priest before God, and that there is no need for an intermediary. An individual has the right to pray directly to God, and the inalienable right to interpret Scripture, as the Holy Spirit guides him.

Quite often, many people view distinctives four and five as the same. While they are similar in some respects, they each develop from a different historical setting. Also, they each have a different emphasis. The priesthood of the believer is Godward, stressing the individual's right to approach God. Soul liberty is manward, assuring the individual the right to worship unmolested, according to the dictates of his heart." (emphasis mine - SG)

See here

Nov 16, 2009

Individual Liberty

In the debate over "sola scriptura" there is one often missed a priori truth behind it. The individual is solely responsible for his own salvation, and no man, or group of men, has absolute power over the individual. Individuals are addressed as if they have the sole authority over their own soul's salvation.

" out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Phill. 2: 12)

The individual is called upon to believe in God by means of divine revelation. He is not called upon to believe in the uninspired opinions of men or groups of men, relative to that revelation. Each person is duty bound to become "fully persuaded in his own mind." (Rom. 14: 5)

"Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand." (II Cor. 1: 21 KJV)

Even the apostle Paul refused to become a lord or tyrant over the faith of the individual Christian. Yet, the Catholic, in his attack against "sola scriptura," does this very thing. He insists that the "church," or "pope," or "magisterium," has absolute authority over the individual's conscience. He tells the individual that he should trust the "church" to interpret revelation for him, as though the individual who has the Holy Spirit is unable to understand it himself.

"Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge." (I Cor. 14: 29)

Paul believed that the individual Christian has the right, privilege, and duty to judge the truthfulness of a person's preaching or commentary on scripture. They are able to "judge" the message, just as the Bereans.

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17: 11)

Obviously these Berean believers were not of the Catholic mindset. They did not believe in the "authority of oral tradition," but in the sole authority of the word of God, and of their individual ability, through the Holy Ghost, to "judge" the veracity of what even the apostles spoke.

Campbellite Doctrine

In an oral debate held in November, 1873, in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, between Hardshell Elder, J. A. Thompson, and Benjamin A. Franklin, of the "Church of Christ," a remarkable admission was made by the Campbellite. On page 215, Franklin said:

"To whom did Paul say, "Work out your own salvation?" Was it sinners? No. To whom did he say, "It is God who works in you?" To alien sinners? Not a bit of it. But to saints in Thessalonia and Ephesus, he said, "It is God that works in you." He was not working in them to make them Christians."

This is a grand admission by the Campbellite! If a man gets saved, he cannot affirm that it is due to God working in him to save him! Thus, the man cannot thank God, or credit God, for it! What blasphemy!

Nov 11, 2009

Hardshells on the Heathen

In 1957 Elder G. E. Griffin held a four night debate with famed Campbellite debater Guy N. Woods on "the subject of eternal salvation" in Lovington, New Mexico. In this debate Elder Griffin gave the Hardshell view on the untaught, unbelieving heathen, and on whether sinners can be saved apart from believing in Christ. Here is the answer of Elder Griffin.

"Now, he's got some questions he wants me to answer.

Are there any saved people among the heathen who live and die without the knowledge of Christ? Yes, that's easy to answer. He would not have asked such a question unless his doctrine or he believes that every last heathen that he or some of his brethren don't get to or someone of like faith are doomed for hell, every last one of them.

Let me tell you something about the heathen right now.

There are at present time some two thousand million people on the earth according to statistics, there are one thousand million who have never heard any kind of preaching. A thousand million! thousands are dying every day, doomed to an endless hell, because they can't hear him or some preacher. (laughter) How do you like it? I want that to soak in.

Now, I'm going to prove by God's Book that the heathen will be saved whether I, Mr. Woods, or any other preacher gets there. I want you to turn with me first to Psalms, 2: 7,8. Here David is speaking as though he were Jesus Himself. He said: "I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, ask me and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Mr. Woods no doubt believes that He did that, but they may never be in peace with God. I'm going to prove now how they get in peace with God. Turn with me to Zachariah 9: 10: Here is (sic) the prophet's words. I want you to notice this. Please let it sink in. This is inspiration. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The prophet said: "He shall speak peace to the heathen." He--a personal pronoun in the singular. God is going to do this. This is what the prophet said. Do we believe He will? This is what He said about it. A man of God said that God "shall" speak peace to the heathen.

May one be regenerated, born again without faith in Christ? Yes. John 14: 1: "Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me." Jesus said there were some believers in God. Will the believers in God be lost in a devil's hell? Are the believers in God alien sinners? Would you call a believer in God an alien sinner?" (pages 20, 21)

There you have it! A man is saved without faith! This became the Hardshell position in the late 1800's and nothing could be more unbiblical than this! It flies in the face of numerous passages which state that those who do not believe in Christ are condemned.

It is ironic that the Hardshells call themselves "Primitive" or "Original" Baptists! No Baptist who signed the London Confession held to such a view! John Gill repudiated it. The true "Old Baptists" held that those who die without faith in Christ are eternally lost!

Debate Review I

I was totally surprised by my opponent's lack of proof texts in support of his proposition (that many of those who have been saved lose their salvation). I have debated this topic with Campbellites many times and one can count on them introducing the standard proof texts on the subject. John did not bring forth the standard scripture passages to prove his affirmative. In fact, he only brought forth only six passages! He dwelt mainly on II Peter chapter two, verses 20-22 about the apostates whom Peter compared to pigs and dogs. The other passage he gave some time to was Hebrews 10: 26-29. He mentioned Hebrews 3: 12, Hebrews 6: 6, and I Corinthians 9: 24-27, and the passage concerning Judas in John 17: 12. He did not give much attention to any of the passages except for II Peter 2 and Hebrews 10.

I was prepared to deal with John 15: 1-6, Galatians 5: 4, Revelation 3: 5 & 22: 19, Romans 8: 13, and other passages, but John never introduced them. This was a big surprise. I cannot imagine one debating his position without these passages. This lack of affirmative proof texts made my job much easier. It gave me opportunity in the negative to introduce counter arguments.

When John was in the negative, he never addressed a single argument I presented. Rather, he spent all his negative speeches trying to repair the damage done from his first night affirmative. Again, I was shocked that a debater, in the negative, never addressed any of my arguments but simply wanted to go back and repair his first night's perfomance.

Surely his brethren must be very disappointed in his effort.

I say this not out of ill will for John personally. Those of you who will order videos or listen to the debate on the internet will be able to judge for yourselves relative to my review of it.

Debate's Pivotal Moment

During the first night of the debate, while in my second speech, Steve Wolfgang, moderator for John Gentry, called a point of order. He said that I misrepresented John in saying that John said that "does not commit sin," in I John 3: 9, meant "does not practice sin." He stated that John had not said this, but had rather said - "does not keep on sinning." I then said, "okay, I will rephrase." After I restarted my speech, I said - "what is the difference between 'practice sin' and "keep on sinning'?

The next night of the debate, ironically, John cited A. T. Robertson on the passage where Robertson said the meaning was "does not practice sin," endorsing Robertson's words!

Case of Judas

My opponent, John Gentry, brought up the case of Judas to prove that one can be saved and lose salvation. The following is the verse cited by him with a syllogism I offered in rebuttal. Like nearly all the arguments I brought up, either in affirmative or negative, John did not even respond.

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." (John 17: 12)


1. All given by the Father to Christ are preserved from losing salvation.
2. Judas was not preserved.
3. Judas was not given to Christ by the Father

Or, this way.

1. None of those given to Christ by the Father are lost.
2. Judas is lost.
3. Judas was not given to Christ by the Father.


The following are questions I asked of John Gentry

1. When does a sinner become one of Christ's sheep?

2. Do any of Christ's sheep fail to follow the voice of the shepherd?

3. What does "cannot sin" mean in I John 3: 9?

4. Is a sinner who believes without a good and honest heart saved?

5. What thing separates a Christian from the love of God?

6. If a Christian loses salvation, how can it be said that "all things work together for his good"?

Second Night

1. Do any of the called and justified fail to be glorified?

2. Was the believer of John 12: 42 saved?

3. Which kind of soil would the believer of John 12: 42 represent?

4. Could any of those on the ship with Paul, in Acts 27, fail to obey the warning to abide in the ship? (vs. 31)

5. In light of II Timothy 4: 18, was there any chance that Paul would lose his salvation?

6. In light of Philippians 1: 6, does God ever begin a work of salvation in a sinner without completing it?

Nov 10, 2009

OSAS Negative (Gentry)

The following is my prepared negative for the debate. I did of course add material to this presentation and responded to the scriptures and passages cited by my opponent.

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters in Christ:

I am happy to be here to defend the gospel against a perversion of it.

My opponent's proposition directly contradicts the Apostle John's words in I John 3: 9 and I John 5: 18.

"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (I John 3: 9)

"We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." (5: 18)

(Chart # 29) I would now like for us to accurately define "sin." There are several different Greek words used in the New Testament for what we in English call "sin." Let us begin by defining the Greek word "hamartia."

Hamartia means "tragic flaw," or "fatal mistake," or missing the mark, or not achieving aim.

It means to abandon faith, that is, a failing to give credit to God, a departure from God's fail safe system of salvation and tragically replacing it with one's own system.

For instance, "Committeth sin" in I John 3: 4 has the definite article ("ho") and refers to a specific sin. "The sin" or "this sin."

Sin is a "falling short," and no born again believer "falls short" of salvation.

The big sin in John's epistle is the denial that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah and attempting to please God by one's own system and failing at it.

"Each one doing THE sin, also the lawlessness does, and THE sin is the lawlessness."

John is identifying a particular sin, the sin of denying the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. Moreover, the Greek word "anomia" means lawlessness, a common New Testament term indicating a disregard for God.

"The one who practices the sin of denying the Messiahship of Jesus Christ and his system of salvation is lawless, because this denial is lawlessness."

Now let me read to you the questions I have given to John. (Chart #24)

1. When does a sinner become one of Christ's sheep?
2. Do any of Christ's sheep fail to follow the voice of the shepherd?
3. What does "cannot sin" mean in I John 3: 9?
4. Is a sinner who believes without a good and honest heart saved?
5. What thing separates a Christian from the love of God?
6. If a Christian loses salvation, how can it be said that "all things work together for his good"?

Before I get to the particular verses cited by my opponent, let me introduce a few negative arguments that bear directly on the passages cited by my opponent.

Negative Argument #1 - (Chart # 2)

Perseverance is the absolute and certain result and proof of genuine conversion. Failure to persevere, or falling away, proves that there was no genuine conversion.

"But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." (Hebrews 3: 6 KJV)

"For we are (or 'have been') made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." (vs. 14)

These words do not imply that genuine converts can fail to persevere and lose salvation. In fact, they prove just the opposite! They only affirm that perseverence is a proof of genuine conversion.

They state in propositional or syllogistic form, that we are presently saved, or that we have been saved in the past, if in the future, we remain loyal to Christ. Or, that conversion is real only if it is followed by perseverance. Perseverance is the proof of initial salvation. Falling away is proof of false conversion.

The wording of the above verses is not - "and you will be saved in the future if you in the future persevere." It is rather - "you have been, and now are, really saved, if in the future you hold fast to Christ."


1. Christian was saved in the past if he perseveres in the future.
2. Christian did not persevere in the future.
3. Christian was not saved in the past.

Present or past salvation cannot be based upon acts that come after salvation. Events after salvation can only prove or demonstrate the reality of what was assumed.

If one does not persevere (hold fast), then he was not made a partaker of Christ. If he perseveres, he was (in fact) previously made a partaker of Christ.

Argument #2 - Parable of the Soils - Chart # 19

Believers Who Fall Away - (Luke 8: 13, 18)

"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away."

"Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have."

Verse 13 is part of Christ's explanation of the parable of the soils (or sower and the seed), dealing with the shallow ground hearer. The second is a summation of the entire parable. It tells us what is the chief lesson in the parable. "Take heed how you hear" means "take heed how you receive and respond to the sowing of the seed to your heart."

In discussions about salvation, this parable is extremely important. In fact, Jesus said that if one did not understand this parable, then he could not understand the other parables. (Mark 4: 13) Several major issues in soteriology come into intense discussion in the parable.

Is The Shallow Ground Hearer Saved? - Chart # 20

Even though this shallow ground hearer is said to have "believed," yet he is never said to have been "saved." How do we know that the shallow ground hearer was never actually "saved"? Let me give you the reasons.

First, his heart condition is contrasted with that of the "good ground" hearer, who's heart was "good" and "honest." Thus, his heart was not "good," being like the soil to which it corresponds, being "shallow" or "rocky," lacking sufficient depth.

Such soil represents a sinner not properly prepared in heart. People who "believe" and "rejoice" at the preaching of the gospel without a prepared heart, and without a good and honest heart, and without having "root" in themselves, do not experience real salvation.

Second, the terms descriptive of him indicate his lack of salvation. He is "shallow," and "rootless," and without "patience" (perseverence). His "believing" is, therefore, "shallow." His "believing" is not "rooted," either in himself, or in truth, or in Christ. His "shallowness" is exhibited in the words describing him and his faith, such as "for a while believe," and "for a while endure." He is temporary, quick to start, and quick to tire.

Third, the things he is said to lack indicate he is not saved. Already it has been observed how he lacked goodness and honesty of heart, not being "good soil." Also, how he lacked "depth" or "root in himself," and how he was deficient in "stick-to-itiveness." The shallow or stony soil "lacked moisture," or the Holy Spirit.

Fourth (Chart # 21), the "engrafted word" is to be received "with meekness" (James 1: 21) but the shallow ground hearer receives the word not so. Can one be saved who receives the word without meekness?

Fifth, the shallow ground hearer represents that precipitate or hasty disciple, one who does not "count the cost," the kind whom Jesus warned against. (See Luke 14: 27-33 & Matt. 8: 18-20)

Sixth, truly saved people, like the Bereans, have "received the word with all readiness of mind," (Acts 17: 11) being prepared in heart (soil) for the reception of the word. Can people savingly receive the word without readiness of mind? Is he saved if he receives it without readiness of mind?

Seventh, true believers "receive" the word with deep "joy," not with superficial joy.

"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance...And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost." (I Thess. 1: 5, 6 KJV)

Can one be saved who does not receive the word in this manner?

Eighth (Chart # 22), shallow ground hearers receive the word as the word of men. (I Thess. 2: 13)

Not only do true believers receive the word with joy, but with soul affliction, or with conviction of sins, and also receive it "with power." It is not human emotional joy, but joy "of the Holy Ghost." The shallow ground hearer receives the word as the word of men, without deep "assurance."

Ninth, the shallow ground hearer did not have a penitent heart to accompany his believing, for the soil was not ploughed or "broken up" by the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction.

Tenth, none of these shallow ground hearers produce "fruit," for they soon die before growing to sufficient maturity, as a plant, to produce fruit.

Finally, the shallow ground hearer was a "simple believer." (Proverbs 14: 15)

"The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going."

Will this kind of "believing" save anyone? Are there any examples of these kind of believers in the New Testament? Does not the shallow ground believer describe him?

Now, if it has been established that the shallow ground hearer was never really converted, then what does it mean for him to "fall away"? My opponent will argue that such terms as "depart," "fall," "apostatise," etc., can never be used to refer to pretenders or unsaved believers, but can only be said of those who have been truly saved. But, clearly this is false for the two reasons I have already given. First, I have clearly shown how the shallow ground believer was not saved, and yet he "fell away." Secondly, I cited Luke 8: 18 where Christ spoke of seeming believers, and how they lose only what they "seem to have." Thus, they fall away not from actual salvation, but from seeming salvation, and from their prior confession.

One can see why those who make this argument are keen on insisting that the shallow ground hearer was actually saved. They are forced, logically, to make him a genuine born again Christian for he "fell away," and to them only genuinely saved people "fall away." On the other hand, if I have proven that the shallow ground hearer was never truly converted, then the argument that the words "fall away" can only refer to the genuinely saved, is false.

Now let me get more particularly into the passages cited by my opponent.

Argument #3 - Perseverance a Gift

"And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36: 27 KJV)

"His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." (Psalm 89: 29-34 KJV)

"Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand." (Romans 14: 4 NKJV)

"LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us." (Isaish 26: 12 KJV)

"For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (I Cor. 4: 7 KJV)

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1: 6 KJV)

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12: 11 KJV)

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (I John 5: 4 KJV)

"The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety (victory) is of the LORD." (Proverbs 21: 31 KJV)

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 15: 57 KJV)

OSAS Affirmative

The following is my affirmative case for the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, or of once saved, always saved. I did add further evidence in the actual debate.

"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."

By the "scriptures" I mean the inspired writings. By a "child of God" I mean one who has been "born again," one who has been "washed (or "freed from sin") by the blood." (Rev. 1: 5) I mean one saved by the blood of Christ. By "cannot so sin" I mean what John meant when he said, in I John 3: 9, that "whosoever is born of God doeth no sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." And I John 5: 18 - "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not."

By "sin" I mean to "miss the mark," or to abandon faith in Christ and the gospel. By "lost in hell" I mean "eternally condemned."

What I am essentially affirming is this proposition:

All those chosen by the Father, Redeemed by the Son, and Regenerated by the Holy Spirit, will be finally saved

London Baptist Confession of 1689 (SECTION ON PERSEVERANCE)

2. "This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and union with him, the oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof."

Argument #1 - The Unchangeable Decree of God (or immutability of the decree of election)

True believers cannot be lost because their salvation has been unchangeably decreed, or predestined.

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Rom. 8: 29)

To be "conformed to the image of Christ" is to be "saved." Thus, Paul says that those whom God has foreknown, he has predestined to salvation. The word "predestine" means to "unchangeably decree," or to fix and determine beforehand what is to be done (Acts 4: 39), therefore, the predestined cannot be lost.

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" and "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." (Ephesians 1: 5, 11)

Again, to be "adopted" or made "children" of God is to be "saved." And, God has predestined genuine believers to be eternally saved. Therefore, they will be saved, or else we affirm that what God has predestined to come to pass may not come to pass, and that God is not omnipotent. The elect are therefore saved according to "the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3: 11)

"But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth." (Job 23: 13)

"The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand...For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isaiah 14: 24, 27)

The "promise" and "decree" are declared to be not only "eternal," but "immutable." (See Hebrews 6: 18)

Thus, if Lord God has determined to save a man, nothing is going to keep God from saving him.

If I substitute my name in the above passages, it would read like this:

"The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought (to save Stephen Garrett), so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed (to save Stephen Garrett), so shall it stand...For the LORD of hosts hath purposed (to save Stephen Garrett), and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out (to save Stephen Garrett), and who shall turn it back?"

Argument #2 - Saved Once for All Time by the Death of Christ

Those for whom Christ's died particularly, the elect, sheep, or believer, are said, in scripture, to be forever saved without the possibility of being lost. Sinners are said to be saved for no other reason than that Christ died for them.

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Romans 8: 31-34)

Paul clearly affirms that if Christ died for you, if God gave you his Son, then you will surely be given every other good thing. This, of course, as I shall show, includes the gift of perseverance. My opponent's position is that Paul's reasoning is false. He would not argue, as does the apostle, that the Father's gift of the Son to a person guarantees that he will be given all things.

Further, Paul reasons that no one can be can legitimately "charge" one who is "elect." This shows that Paul believed that election is a permanent blessing. One cannot be elect and then become non-elect.

He also argues that the reason no one can condemn a believer, an elect one, is because Christ died for him! Yet, if Christ dieing for a person does not guarantee his salvation, then Paul's argument is meaningless. The fact that Christ died, rose again, and is seated in heaven, for an elect one, forever secures his salvation. He cannot be condemned!

The act of justification, or of dying to sin, or of being legally freed from it, is permanent, once for all time. The once for all nature of Christ's death, both as he personally experienced it, and as believers experience it, is clearly taught in these verses.

"We who died (once for all) to sin..." (Romans 6: 2)

"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." (Romans 7: 4 KJV)

What does it mean to have "died to sin"? Likewise, what does it mean to be "dead to the law"?

Three times in Romans chapter six it is stated that Christians are dead, or have died, unto sin. Rom. 6:11 shows what is clearly meant by being "dead to sin." He is legally "freed" from sin. He is justified once for all time.

Every believer, everyone chosen and called, "died unto sin," once for all, representatively, when Christ "died unto sin." The elect were "in Christ" in the same manner in which all are "in Adam" (Romans 5), or as Levi was "in Abraham." (Hebrews 7: 9)

Christians are therefore "dead to sin" as they are said to be "dead to the law." (Romans 7: 4).

"For he that hath died is justified from sin." (Romans 6: 7)

What Paul said of Christ, that "he died to sin once" (Romans 6:10), is also true of every believer.

Baptism is done once, and is never repeated. What does this signify but that one is saved once for all?

1. Once (at; for all)

hapax denotes

(a) "once, one time," 2_Cor_11:25; Heb_9:7,26,27; Heb_12:26,27; in the phrase "once and again," lit., "once and twice," Php_4:16; 1_Thess_2:18;

(b) "once for all," of what is of perpetual validity, not requiring repetition, Heb_6:4; Heb_9:28; Heb_10:2; 1_Pet_3:18; Jude_1:3, RV, "once for all" (AV, "once"); Jude_1:5 (ditto); in some mss. 1_Pet_3:20 (so the AV).

2. Once (at; for all)

ephapax a strengthened form of hapax (epi, "upon"), signifies

(a) "once for all," Rom_6:10; Heb_7:27, RV (AV, "once"); Heb_9:12 (ditto); Heb_10:10;
(b) "at once," 1_Cor_15:6.

Other Verses Signifying the "once for all" nature of salvation, in all its parts.

1. Life given is eternal, or unending. ("Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life" - John 6: 54)

2. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11: 29)

3. Gift of the Spirit deposit (escrow) guarantees completion of the contract. (II Cor. 1: 22; 5: 5)

4. Seed remains so that the believer cannot sin. (I John 3: 9)

5. Perfected forever those who are sanctified. (Hebrews 10: 14)

6. Unchangeable and unconditional love of God. (Romans 8: 35-39)

7. Unchangeable promise (Hebrews 6: 18)

Argument #3 - Christ Prays for the Perseverence of his elect and the Father always hears him

"Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always." (John 11: 42, 42)

"But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22: 32)

Notice, he did not say "and if you are converted."

Christ prays for his people to be given perseverance, or be made to endure. In the passage cited from Romans 8, Paul gives another reason why the elect cannot be lost. He says that Christ "makes intercession for us." For what does Christ pray, if it is not for the perseverance of his people?

"Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7: 25)

Why are the elect, true believers in Jesus, saved "to the uttermost"? Paul says it is because Christ prays for them. Yet, according to my opponent, Christ may pray for you to persevere and be finally saved, yet it will not avail in many cases.

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (I John 2: 1)

When one of the Lord's people sins, what does Christ then ask of the Father? To cast them off forever? Or, does he not pray to the Father to forgive them for his sake? To recover them for his sake? Will the Father deny Jesus?

If Christ prays for the disciples to be given perseverance, they will then, without fail, be given it by the Father, which brings me to my next argument.

Argument # 4 - Perseverance is a gift.

I showed from Romans 8, how the apostle's reasoning was this - if the Father has given you his Son, will give you "all things," and this certainly must include perseverance.

"I assert....that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God."

(Augustine - The Works of Aurelius Augustine, vol 15, Anti-Pelagian Works (ed. M. Dods; T and T Clark, 1876). The Latin title is De Dono Perseverantiae, "On the Benefit of Perseverance." 200-201 (chap.33). Augustine cites Rom 8:30; Rom 11:29 in relation to God's predestining the elect)

If perseverance is not a gift of God, then we cannot thank God, or credit God, for our persevering.

Now, John and I both agree that one must persevere to be saved. He must have both faith and perseverance. Notice Hebrews 6: 12.

"That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."

"Patience" is from the Greek word "hupomene" and means steadfastness, constancy, endurance. Literally it means to "abide under." It means to "bear up under." Thus, it means perseverance or stick-to-it-tiveness.

Every good ground hearer "brought forth fruit with hupomene." (Luke 8: 15) The other types of ground, or hearers, did not have both faith and perseverance.

"For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (I Cor. 4: 7)

Paul's argument here is that only God can be thanked and credited for our differences, for why we receive, and for why we persevere. God makes the difference.

"Safety (victory) is of the LORD." (Proverbs 21: 31)

That is, it is his gift. Why do we stay safe? Why do we overcome? Why do we persevere? Because God has given victory and perseverance to his people, and has guaranteed their perseverance.

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 15: 57)

"And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36: 27)

"His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." (Psalm 89: 29-34)

"Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand." (Romans 14: 4 NKJV)

Argument #5 - Unchangeable and victorious nature of regeneration

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (I John 5: 4)

"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (I John 3: 9)

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I John 5: 4,5)

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6: 1,2)

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Galatians 6:15)

Argument #6 - The Immutable and unconditional promise of God

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." (John 10: 27-29)

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (John 6: 37-39)

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1: 6)

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8: 35-39)

"The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore." (Psalm 121: 7, 8)

"And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (II Timothy 4: 18)

Argument # 7 - Chastened but not Destroyed

"If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." (Psalm 89: 31-33)

"But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (I Cor. 11: 32)

"For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12: 10, 11)

Is God successful in his chastening of his children? Or, does his chastening often fail?

Believing To Life

Believing unto life, and not life unto believing

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." (John 11: 25 KJV)

"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20: 31)

"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." (John 5: 40)

"Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." (I Timothy 1: 16)

Believing unto salvation, and not salvation unto believing

"believe and be saved." (Luke 8: 12)

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved..." (Acts 16: 31)

" pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." (I Corinthians 1: 21)

Believing unto conversion, and not conversion unto believing

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3: 19)

Begotten by believing, and not believing by being begotten

" Christ Jesus I have begotten (to life) you through (believing) the gospel." (I Corinthians 4: 15)

Believing unto sealing, and not sealing unto believing

" whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." (Ephesians 1: 13)

Believing to receive the Spirit, and not receiving the Spirit to believing

"But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." (John 7: 39)

Believing to become children of God, and not becoming children in order to believe

"While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them." (John 12: 36)

Believing to justification, and not justification to believing

"But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead." (Romans 4: 24)

Believing to obtaining the promise, and not obtaining the promise in order to believe

"But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." (Galatians 3: 22)

Nov 9, 2009

Debate Concluded

My debate with John Gentry has concluded. I am filled with joy over the entire trip to Louisville and the visit to the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The weather was perfect and the campus was picturesque. It was a privilege to stand on ground where such able men as J. P. Boyce once stood. It was "holy ground."

I got to go to the J. P. Boyce library and do a little research. I hated I did not have time to spend an entire day or two there. Perhaps another debate will be arranged at the seminary and I can do my historical research.

I was blessed to have my sister and father to come down from Ohio. I have not had the opportunity of seeing either since my oldest sister passed away four years ago.

I hope to do a review of the debate soon. Also, I hope that John Gentry will be making the audio of the debate available on the internet soon, as he did our recent debate on water baptism. I will let all know as soon as John informs me that he has put it on his web page. I will also be making videos of the debate available soon.

Thanks to all who prayed for this discussion.