Dec 31, 2011

Edwards Misrepresented?

In a posting titled Garrett's Misrepresentation of Jonathan Edwards, Jason Brown, Hardshell apologist, said:

"Garrett has argued that Edwards viewed regeneration and conversion as synonymous terms."

"Certainly the quotations of Edwards that Garrett offers show that Edwards linked the two inseparably, and used them as approximately synonymous. However, Garrett has misrepresented Edwards to argue that he made no distinction between them."

But, Garrett never affirmed that Edwards saw "no distinction" between the various terms used to describe the initial Christian experience.  Regeneration, conversion, repentance, begetting, quickening, resurrection, created, etc., are all terms that speak of the one and the same saving experience.  In other words, a regenerated man is a converted man, and vice versa.  A begotten man is a quickened man.  Etc.  So, even though the words are distinct words, standing for distinct concepts, yet they each are describing the same experience!  That is what Edwards taught and is what is denied by Hardshells and Hyper Calvinists. 

Brown wrote:

"Garrett even quotes a crucial passage from Edwards and neglects to give the entire quote, which shows not only that Edwards did not view the terms as completely synonymous but that Edwards viewed the mind as passive in regeneration. There is no doubt from the passivity of the mind in regeneration that Edwards logically (like James White, for example) placed regeneration preceding faith."

Edwards did not, of course, view the terms regeneration, begetting, conversion, resurrection, the ones he used in the citations, as denoting separate experiences, but of one singular experience.  Brown is attacking a straw man.  We have simply affirmed that Edwards saw regeneration, conversion, and repentance as different words that denote the same experience.  Brown affirms that Edwards says that the terms are used as synonyms in scripture, interchangeably, but not exactly synonymous!  Is that what we are arguing about?  Whether the various terms used to describe the Christian salvation experience were synonyms or almost synonyms? 

Brown then attempts to use Hardshell "logic" on the words of Edwards regarding the "passivity" of the mind in regeneration.  He deduces his proposition and then ascribes it to Edwards!  What is his false conclusion?  It is this - "regeneration logically precedes faith."  His argument looks like this:

1.  The mind is passive in being changed in regeneration
2.  The mind cannot be passive in believing
3.  Believing (faith) is not part of the passive changing of the mind in regeneration

But, Edwards did not divorce being convicted of the truth from that "change of mind" that resulted from the work of God, as do the Hardshells.  Also, Edwards did not exclude the activity of the sinner in his regeneration.  The sinner was both passive and active in regeneration.  Just like regeneration is a work accomplished both mediately and immediately. 

But, we have already shown how Edwards, like Calvin, equated "regeneration" with "repentance."  Both terms spoke of one and the same experience, of initial Christian "transformation." 

The "repentance" of Edwards did not exclude faith, for he also uses it synonymously with "conversion" as well as "regeneration."  Brown and the Hardshells will sometimes argue that "faith is given in regeneration," and then argue with those who make faith a integral element of regeneration.  Ironic isn't it?  The plain fact is, Edwards did not believe than anyone was "regenerated" who was not converted.  Arguing over "which comes first" in regard to all the elements of the new birth is like arguing over whether my feet or hands came first into being.  It is like arguing about those "things which accompany salvation" in relation to which "things" came first? 

Even though theologians have put the experience of regeneration under a microscope and dissected it, with the purpose of discovering process and the links in the chain of causes and effects, nevertheless, all the primitive Calvinists did not teach that regeneration or new birth was completed until one believed, repented, and was converted.  According to such men as Calvin and Edwards, and according to the authors of the London Baptist Confession of 1689, the bible never designates anyone as regenerated who was not a convert to Christ. 

Brown then cites these words of Edwards that I originally cited:

"If we compare one scripture with another, it will be sufficiently manifest that by regeneration, or being begotten or born again, the same change in the state of the mind is signified with that which the Scripture speaks of as effected by true repentance and conversion. I put repentance and conversion together, because the Scripture puts them together (Acts iii. 19), and because they plainly signify much the same thing.'"

Brown then comments:

"However, Garrett omits the next two sentences that show that Edwards distinguished regeneration from conversion:

"I put repentance and conversion together, as the Scripture puts them together, Acts iii. 19, and because they plainly signify much the same thing. The word metanoia (repentance) signifies a change of the mind; as the word conversion means a change or turning from sin to God. And that this is the same change with that which is called regeneration (excepting that this latter term especially signifies the change, as the mind is passive in it), the following things do show…."

Not only are they distinct in magnitude, as regeneration is represented by Edwards here as especially indicative of change, but they are distinct in that while conversion involves the intellect, regeneration does not - man is wholly passive in it! How could Garrett miss that? This misrepresentation should make a person wonder how many of Garrett's quotes and historical representations have been pulled out of context on the pretext of support for his views."

A "change of mind" does not involve the "intellect"?  That is just laughable.  If a man changes his mind, he does it without his brains?  Without cognition?  Without understanding? 

When Edwards said  that regeneration "especially signifies" the "passive change of mind" he does not exclude the term "regeneration" being applicable to other aspects and powers of the soul and spirit being aslo regenerated and transformed, only that it is the "mind" which is especially the object of regeneration.

It is ironic that Brown would say that my citations from Edwards and my comments upon them are a "misrepresentation" of Edwards because the evidence given already proves that it is actually Brown who "misrepresents" Edwards!  Further, the additional evidence that I will shortly present from the writings of Edwards, also will further prove it.

Brown wrote that my gross "misrepresentation" of the words of Edwards "should make a person wonder how many of Garrett's quotes and historical representations have been pulled out of context on the pretext."

What is odd about Brown's words are that they apply to him!  Not, to me!  He says that I misrepresented Edwards because I said that he said that the various terms dealing with the initial Christian saving experience all signified the same experience.  But, let us here cite more from Edwards, from the same section we have both cited. 

Edwards wrote:

"The change the mind passes under in repentance and conversion, is that in which saving faith is attained. Mark i. 15, " The kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." And so it is with a being born again, or born of God, as appears by John i. 12,13: " But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born, not of blood, &c, but of God.""

Could anything be more clear?  Being "born again" is the same as that "change of mind" and "is that in which" one comes to "saving faith,"  when one is "converted." 

Edwards also wrote:

"Many other things might be observed, to show that the change men pass under in their repentance and conversion, is the same with that which they are the subjects of in regeneration. But these observations may be sufficient.

II. The change which a man passes under when born again, and in his repentance and conversion, is the same that the Scripture calls the circumcision of the heart."

Does Brown not know what is meant by "is the same with that" means?  Brown is condemning me for saying that Edwards said that regeneration and conversion were "the same" and yet this is what Edwards says!  Who is misrepresenting Edwards?  Is it not Brown?

Edwards wrote:

"Regeneration is that whereby men come to have the character of true Christians; as is evident, and as is confessed; and so is circumcision of heart; for by this men become Jews inwardly, or Jews in the spiritual and Christian sense (and that is the same as being true Christians)...That circumcision of the heart is the same with conversion, or turning from sin to God, is evident by Jer. iv. 1—4."

Again, notice that "regeneration" is "the same with" both "circumcision of heart" and "conversion."  "THE SAME WITH"!

Edwards wrote:

"III. (This inward change, called regeneration and circumcision of the heart, which is wrought in repentance and conversion, is the same with that spiritual resurrection so often spoken of, and represented as a dying unto sin, and living unto righteousness.)

In which place also it is evident, by the words recited, and by the whole context, that this spiritual resurrection is that change, in which persons are brought to habits of holiness and to the divine life, by which Dr. Taylor describes the thing obtained in being born again."

"That a spiritual resurrection to a new divine life, should be called a being born again, is agreeable to the language of Scripture, in which we find a resurrection is called a being born, or begotten.

So that' I think it is abundantly plain, that the spiritual resurrection spoken of in Scripture, by which the saints are brought to a new divine life, is the same with that being born again, which Christ says is necessary for every one in order to his seeing the kingdom of God."

"IV. (This change, which men are the subjects of when they are born again, and circumcised in heart, when they repent, and are converted, and spiritually raised from the dead, is the same change which is meant when the Scripture speaks of making the heart and spirit new, or giving a new heart and spirit.)"

",,,as has been observed of regeneration, conversion, &c, and how apparent it is from thence, that the change is the same...For it is as it were self-evident: it is apparent by the phrases themselves, that they are different expressions of the same thing."

Brown accuses me of misrepresenting Edwards in his equating regeneration with conversion, but surely he knows what is meant by "different expressions of the same thing," does he not?

Edwards wrote:

"Add to these things, that regeneration, or a being born again, and the renewing (or making new) by the Holy Ghost, are spoken of as the same thing. Titus 3: 5, " By the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

"And it is most apparent, that spiritual circumcision, and spiritual baptism, and the spiritual resurrection, are all the same with putting off the old man, and putting on the new man." 

"Here, to pass over many other evidences of this, which might be mentioned, I would only observe, that the representations are exactly equivalent. These several phrases naturally and most plainly signify the same effect."  (pages 466-470)  See Here

Brown wrote:

"Garrett would do well to research Edwards through the works of such scholars as John H. Gerstner. I recommend Gerstner's article.

Gerstner was a very highly regarded Edwardsean scholastic authority, and his published works testify against Garrett's claim that Edwards made no distinction between regeneration and conversion or that regeneration does not logically precede faith and repentance."

Gerstner is the one who misrepresented Edwards and so Brown is simply following in his footsteps. Bob Ross has written about Gerstner's misrepresentation of Edwards.  See Here

So, rather than repeating here what he has written, I simply refer Brown and the reader to Ross's post.

Dec 28, 2011

Reformed 'Ordo Salutis' is not Primitive


The Hardshell and Reformed 'Ordo Salutis' is not Primitive

Bob L. Ross, a close friend, and author of several great books on bible doctrine, and publisher of Pilgrim Publications, and Campbellite debater, and cult exposer, wrote a small book -  "Hardshellism: Its History And Heresies" - and has also written much against the modern "Reformed" view that affirms that "regeneration precedes faith," or that one is "born again before faith."

In an excellent article titled -  "Hybrid Calvinism - What is it?" - Ross shows that such an "ordo salutis" is not the primitive teaching of Calvinists but is a "hybrid" or novel invention and is not the older position of the Reformers and primitive Calvinists.

Bob Ross wrote (highlighting mine - SG):

"From time-to-time, we have "new arrivals" to our Flyswatter blogs who are not familiar with what I prefer to call "Hybrid" Calvinism.

In a nutshell, this term refers to the teaching that "regeneration precedes faith," or the idea that a person is actually"born again before faith."

This idea apparently was a post-seventeenth century development which arose among the Pedobaptist [baby baptizer] theologians as a means to supposedly explain how their "covenant children" were "regenerated" as babies or even before they were physically born. These supposed "covenant children" of believers were supposedly "born again" as babies before they ever became believers, which believing supposedly comes later in life.

Hybrid Calvinism is a mixture of (1) Creedal Calvinism on the efficient cause (Holy Spirit) in the New Birth, and (2) the non-creedal idea that the "means" of the Word in creating faith is not an inherent necessary element in the New Birth. It became the "Primitive Baptist" or "Hardshell" view of regeneration by a "Direct Operation of the Spirit apart from Means." It is often called the "Spirit alone" theory.

This theory became part of the "ordo salutis" and the idea is traced by some to Francis Turretin.

W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Volume 2, pages 492-494, attributes the distinction between "regeneration" and "conversion" to Turretin, and Shedd adopted this approach. He says:

"The divines of the seventeenth century [Puritans] very generally do not distinguish between regeneration and conversion, but employ the two as synonyms. Owen does this continually: On the Spirit, III. v. And Charnocke likewise: Attributes, Practical Atheism. The Westminster [Confession] does not use the term regeneration. In stead of it, it employs the term vocation, or effectual calling. This comprises the entire work of the Holy Spirit in the application of redemption. . . ." Shedd then alleges: "But this wide use of the term regeneration led to confusion of ideas and views. As there are two distinct words in the language, regeneration and conversion, there are also two distinct notions denoted by them. Consequently, there arose gradually a stricter use of the term regeneration, and its discrimination from conversion. Turrettin (XV. iv. 13) defines two kinds of conversion, as the term was employed in his day. . . . After thus defining, Turrettin remarks that the first kind of conversion is better denominated 'regeneration,' because it has reference to the new birth by which man is renewed in the image of his Maker; and the second kind of conversion is better denominated 'conversion,' because it includes the operation and agency of man himself. . . ."

Then Shedd says: "We shall adopt this distinction [by Turretin] between regeneration and conversion. . . . Regeneration is a cause; conversion is an effect."

J. I. Packer also contends that the theory arose in "later Reformed theology:" Packer says:

"Many seventeenth century Reformed theologians equated regeneration with effectual calling and conversion with regeneration . . . LATER REFORMED THEOLOGY has defined regeneration more narrowly, as the implanting of the 'seed' from which faith and repentance spring (I John 3:9) in the course of effectual calling."

Louis Berkhof:

Berkhof likewise acknowledged that the theory had post-Creedal development:

"It is true that some Reformed authors have occasionally used the term 'regeneration' as including even sanctification, but that was in the days when the ORDO SALUTIS was not as fully developed as it is today" (Systematic Theology, page 468).

These are well-known "Reformed" Pedobaptist sources, and they are acknowledging that the "ordo salutis" of modern Reformed theology -- which puts "regeneration" prior to faith -- is in fact a hybrid development which arose "later" than the seventeenth century divines (Puritans) who regarded regeneration and conversion as synonymous.

Contrary to Shedd's idea that "regeneration is a cause," non-hybrids hold that regeneration is indeed an "effect" -- that is, regeneration is the New Birth, and the New Birth is an effect of the Holy Spirit's using the Word of God to bring an unconverted person to union with Christ by faith in Christ.

So non-hybrids contend that no one is born again until he has faith "monergistically" effected in him by the Word as the instrumental cause and the Spirit of God as the efficient cause -- as is plainly taught in our Baptist Confession of Faith, and is known as "Effectual Calling." (1689 London Baptist Confession, Article 10)."

Thus, the Hardshell and Hyper Calvinistic teaching of "born again before faith" is not the original teaching of Calvinists, and is not what was taught in the London Baptist Confession of 1689. "Primitive" and "Reformed" Baptists and Presbyterians who teach the hybrid ordo salutis are not teaching the view of the first greatest Calvinists, including John Calvin.

Substituting Faith for Regeneration

I believe that faith in Christ and regeneration (rebirth) essentially describe the same experience so that one may put one term for the other in scripture and do no harm. Let us look at some passages of scripture where one or the other is discussed and substitute the terms and see if they do not express the truth.

"But without faith (regeneration) it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Heb. 11: 6)

"For they that are after the flesh (unbelievers) do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit (believers) the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded (unbelieving) is death; but to be spiritually minded (believing) is life and peace. Because the carnal mind (unbelieving mind) is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh (in unbelief) cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh (in unbelief), but in the Spirit (in belief), if so be that the Spirit of God (faith) dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ (faith), he is none of his." (Rom. 8: 5-9)

"But the natural man (unbeliever) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God (is not regenerated): for they are foolishness unto him (unbeliever): neither can he (unbeliever) know them, because they are spiritually discerned."  (I Cor. 2: 14)

"And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe (who are regenerated), according to the working of his mighty power." (Eph. 1: 19)

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration (by faith), and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Tit. 3: 5)

"For by grace are ye saved through faith (regeneration); and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." (Eph. 2: 8)

"He that believeth on the Son (is regenerated) hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not (is not regenerated) the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3: 36)

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me (is regenerated), hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5: 24)

"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent (be regenerated)." (John 6: 29)

"Of his own will begat he us (made us believers) with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." (James 1: 18)

"Being born again (made a believer), not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." (I Peter 1: 23)

"Therefore if any man be in Christ (is a believer), he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (II Cor. 5: 17)

Edwards on Regeneration

Though some affirm that Jonathan Edwards taught the hybrid "born again before faith" view, the following citations show otherwise. Edwards did not think that regeneration was different from conversion. 

Edwards wrote (all emphasis mine - SG):

"If we compare one scripture with another, it will be sufficiently manifest that by regeneration, or being begotten or born again, the same change in the state of the mind is signified with that which the Scripture speaks of as effected by true repentance and conversion. I put repentance and conversion together, because the Scripture puts them together (Acts iii. 19), and because they plainly signify much the same thing.'"

"Regeneration is that whereby men come to have the character of true Christians; as is evident, and as is confessed; and so is circumcision of heart; for by this men become Jews inwardly, or Jews in the spiritual and Christian sense (and that is the same as being true Christians), as of old proselytes were made Jews by circumcision of the flesh. Rom. ii. 28,29, "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God...That circumcision of the heart is the same with conversion, or turning from sin to God, is evident by Jer. iv. 1—4, "If thou wilt return, 0 Israel, return (or, convert unto me)—circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and put away the foreskins of your heart." And Deut. x. 16, " Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked...Circumcision of the heart is the same change of the heart that men pass under in their repentance; as is evident by Levit xxvi. 41, " If their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they accept the punishment of their iniquity."

"This inward change, called regeneration and circumcision of the heart, which is wrought in repentance and conversion, is the same with that spiritual resurrection so often spoken of, and represented as a dying unto sin, and living unto righteousness...That a spiritual resurrection to a new divine life, should be called a being born again, is agreeable to the language of Scripture, in which we find a resurrection is called a being born, or begotten...This change, which men are the subjects of when they are born again, and circumcised in heart, when they repent, and are converted, and spiritually raised from the dead, is the same change which is meant when the Scripture speaks of making the heart and spirit new, or giving a new heart and spirit."

"It is needless here to stand to observe, how evidently this is spoken of as necessary to salvation, and as the change in which are attained the habits of true virtue and holiness, and the character of a true saint; as has been observed of regeneration, conversion, &c, and how apparent it is from thence, that the change is the same. For it is as it were self-evident: it is apparent by the phrases themselves, that they are different expressions of the same thing. Thus repentance (metanoia) or the change of the mind, is the same as being changed to a new mind, or a new heart and spirit. Conversion is the turning of the heart; which is the same thing as changing it so, that there shall be another heart, or a new heart, or a new spirit."

"The apostle does in effect tell us, that when he speaks of that spiritual death and resurrection which is in conversion, he means the same thing as crucifying and burying the old man, and rising a new man."  (pgs. 466-470)

"It appears from this, together with what has been proved above, that it is most certain respect to every one of the human race, that he can never have any interest in Christ, or see the kingdom of God, unless he be the subject of that change in the temper and disposition of his heart, which is made in repentance and conversion, circumcision of heart, spiritual baptism, dying to sin and rising to a new and holy life; and unless he has the old heart taken away and a new heart and spirit given, and puts off the old man, and puts on the new man, and old things are passed away, and all things made new."  (pg. 471)


See here

"Much has been said concerning regeneration by light, and by moral suasion. If they who use this language mean no more, than that men are not regenerated in paganism, and so without the light and motives of the gospel; and that under the gospel they are commonly regenerated in consequence of attention to the gospel and of awakening and conviction in view of the truths and motives of it; and that the regenerate turn from sin to God in view of those truths and motives, though not by them as the efficient cause; I shall not oppose them, though I think their phraseology in many instances leads to a different understanding. In the sense now explained, we may understand the following texts, "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth;" "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever;" "I have begotten you through the gospel," etc."  (pgs. 109-113)


See here

Dec 8, 2011

Zack Guess - Hardshell Apologist


Elder Zack Guess, a modern day Hardshell, and supporter of Elder Lasserre Bradley, Jr., and whose writings I have previously critiqued here, wrote:

"When God's grace enters a sinner's heart, that heart is changed. The will is changed. The sinner who hated the Holy God now loves Him, and longs for holiness (Matt. 5:6). The sinner is now willing to follow God and to please Him. As the psalmist said, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power..." (Ps. 110:3). As God said by Paul, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13)."

There is nothing wrong with this description of the salvation/regeneration experience, of that time "when God's grace enters a sinner's heart."  However, the above description contradicts general Hardshell ideas on the nature of the saving experience.  It even contradicts other statements that Guess makes in the same writing, as we shall see.

Guess and the Hardshells do not teach that the "change" that occurs when one is saved includes any experience effected by gospel knowledge and belief.  A man is as much a heathen in belief and practice after "regeneration," according to the Hardshells, as before.  He becomes a "believer," but not a believer in scripture, nor in the gospel, nor in the one true God, nor in Jesus.  Those who are saved are "made willing," but not, according to Guess and the Hardshells, made willing to believe in Christ, not made willing to turn away from heathen faith and practice.  A man's heart and mind are "changed," but this change, as characterized by Hardshells, does not include any conversion to Hebrew and Christian faith.  It is a mere metaphysical change of the faculties of the soul, of what Hardshell apologist R. V. Sarrels, called the "soul essence."  It simply changes the physical nature of the soul to where it is now "enabled" to believe, repent, etc.  There is no real faith, nor turning to God, nor any revelation or enlightenment of truth about Christ.  According to Guess and the Hardshells, many idol worshippers in non-Christian religions have been "regenerated," and "made willing," but who nevertheless never become believers in the revelation of scripture. 

Guess says that a saved person is one who loves the Holy God.  But, to know the one holy God, one must have knowledge of him, for "how shall they believe in him whom he has not heard?"   Guess does not divorce enlightenment from the saving experience.  He does not make it wholly a sub-conscious or non-cognitive experience, at least not in this place, for he mentions loving God, being willing, etc.  One of the verses cited by Guess is Phil. 2: 13 and cannot be interpreted outside of the context of Christian conversion.  Willingness to do the will and pleasure of God implies a knowledge of God, and a knowledge of Christ, such knowledge that comes through instruction.  Can one be "willing" in a non-cognitive sense?  Guess says that regeneration makes a man "willing to follow God."  But, how can he follow God that he knows nothing about?  How can one believe in God of whom he has not heard? 

Guess wrote:

"The Ephesian epistle, in very powerful and beautiful language shows emphatically that it takes the same mighty, miracle-working power to make one a believer as it took to raise Christ from the dead: "And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." (Eph. 1:19,20)."

All this is acceptable and an accurate statement, but who is the "believer" in the passage?  What is it that these believers believe?  What doctrine do they receive as true?  Clearly it is a Christian believer.  The context makes this all too clear to be successfully denied.  Notice these verses from Ephesians chapter one:

"That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise."  (12, 13)

Guess and the Hardshells are forced to admit that these words describe Christian conversion, a being saved by hearing and believing the gospel.  They cannot make the "believing" and the "faith" of these verses into a "non-cognitive faith," or "latent faith," or "hidden faith," or "seed faith," for the faith is produced by the preaching of the gospel and has Christ as the object.  So, they will admit that the "believer" of these verses is the one who is converted by the gospel.  But, they will affirm that conversion is not regeneration, that the Ephesian converts had been "regenerated" long before they heard the gospel and became converts to Christ.  Further, they will make the "salvation" of this passage to be something that occurs some time after "regeneration," and something entirely separate and distinct from "regeneration." 

But, in order to uphold their views the Hardshells must show, from the context, how the "salvation" of verses 12 and 13 is not eternal salvation, and how the "believing" of verse 19 is not the same believing of verses 12 and 13.  Where, in verses 14-18 does Paul show a change in definition for the term "believer"?  Is eternal salvation not under consideration in verses 1-11?  Does Paul not talk about being chosen and predestined to eternal salvation in all these verses?  How can the salvation of verses 12 and 13 be different from the salvation of verses 1-11? 

Guess makes the experience of being made a "believer" in Jesus to be the same as the experience of regeneration.  This passage presents all kinds of difficulty for the Hardshells and their "anti-means" view of salvation. 

Guess wrote:

"This same truth is taught in I Peter 1:23: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." The "word" here is not the preached word nor is it the written word. Rather it is the living truth of God in Jesus Christ which is implanted in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit. We will study this verse in depth in another study sheet."

Of course, I have responded to this argumentation in chapters in my book and in postings in my Gadfly and Old Baptist blogs.  Hardshell apologist, Elder R. V. Sarrels, in his "Systematic Theology," said that "the word" here could not be the Lord Jesus Christ because the definite article "the" is absent in the Greek of the passage, and yet, in all the passages where Christ is called "the Word of God," the definite article is present.  Of course, there are lots of other reasons why this interpretation is false.  Certainly the London Confession cited this verse as proof that men were saved by the preaching of the gospel.  John Gill also believed that this "word" was not Christ, but was the gospel, which was the means whereby God "begets" his children. 

Guess wrote:

"The impartation of saving grace to individuals is also referred to in the Scriptures as a creation. "For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (II Cor. 4:6). Here, of course, Paul is referring back to the Genesis account of the creation of the heaven and the earth. How was light created? God commanded it to shine with irresistible power! "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." (Gen. 1:3). There was no resistance here. God was the active agent. The thing created was passive (indeed non-existent) until God called it into being."

Not only is it problematic for the Hardshells to make Ephesians 1: 19 to refer to either regeneration or conversion, II Cor. 4: 6 is also problematic for them.  Is Paul describing the Christian conversion experience in these words, or not?  How do Hardshells answer the question?  Guess says it is talking about regeneration, about effectual calling or irresistible grace.  But, how can he not see that this experience of regeneration is applied, by the apostle, to the experience of Christian conversion?  Guess and the Hardshells affirm that regeneration often exists apart from conversion.  Many people, even worshippers of idol gods, are "regenerated," and only need to be "converted."  

Clearly Paul is describing Christian conversion in these words for he says that the "light" that illuminates the soul is the "gospel," and the soul is enlightened with "knowledge" of Christ!

Guess wrote:

"The great majority of Christians believe in gospel regeneration. They believe that a person must hear and believe the gospel (or at least read the Word of God) in order to be born again. However, they have a problem with what to do with those who die in infancy or with those who are mentally incapable of hearing and understanding the gospel."

Notice that Guess does not say "however they have a problem with these verses of scripture"?  No, he says that those who believe that the gospel is a means in regeneration "have a problem" with explaining how the gospel is a means in the regeneration of those who die in infancy and with those who are mentally incapable.  But, I have written extensively on this argumentation in my book on the Hardshell Cult and have completely refuted it.  The main purpose of Guess is to convince bible believers that the bible does not make faith in Christ, or conversion, to be necessary to be eternally saved.  What an impossible task!  The bible is full of verses that affirm that faith in Christ is necessary for being eternally saved.

Guess wrote:

"The Scriptures make plain that God has regenerated individuals before they were able to think in a reasonable manner. This is very plain in the case of David. He said, "Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts." (Ps. 22:9). This clause is rendered in Bagster's Interlinerary Hebrew And English Psalter, p. 29, "causing me to trust upon the breasts of my mother." The word for "hope" in Ps. 22:9 is BATACH, which, according to Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon To The Old Testament, p. 112 means, "to confide in anyone, to set one's hope and confidence upon any one." So it is obvious that David was regenerated while a suckling. It is just as obvious that this was before the stage of maturity to mentally comprehend either the spoken or written word of God. The conclusion that must be reached is that regeneration takes place on a level below the consciousness. Faith and repentance are those exercises which reveal this subconscious change."

Yes, and all these "carnal reasonings" have been "cast down" in my book.  I have shown that the case of David does not exclude the use of means.  David is said to "hope," but hope is cognitive and springs from faith in a revelation of truth.  Guess even admits that this "hope" included "trusting," and "confiding."  Therefore, David was not a non-cognitive infant.  But, after admitting that David hoped and trusted in the Lord, and confided in his God, yet this was "before the stage of maturity to comprehend..."  What a contradiction of words!  Guess and the Hardshells will say, on the one hand, that "the infant is not able to believe, repent, trust, etc.," and yet here we see, on the other hand, how Guess argues that David did exactly the thing he said infants could not do!  David hoped!  David trusted in the Lord!  David had faith in the Lord!  David confided in his God!  But, it was not possible for him?  What contradictions! 

David is not said to be sucking upon his mother's breasts, but to be "upon" them.  But, many young children sit in mother's lap and recline in her bosom long after they have been weaned.   

Guess wrote:

"Another infant who was regenerated in infancy was John the Baptist. In fact John was born again while in his mother's womb. "The babe leaped in her womb" (Luke 1:41) "The babe leaped in my womb for joy" (Luke 1:44).

The occasion of the joy was the presence of his Savior who was in the womb of Mary. This was no ordinary leap of a babe in the womb of its mother. Elisabeth was enlightened by the Holy Spirit and she said the babe leaped for joy."

Again, I refer the reader to my book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult" ( and to those chapters where I deal with the case of the infant and how it gives no support for their anti-means view of regeneration, for their "regeneration" that lacks Christian faith and conversion.  The case of the Baptist certainly offers no support, and actually overthrows it!  If John the Baptist was truly "regenerated" while in his mother's womb, ever since he became "filled with the Spirit," was it a regeneration that excluded gospel faith and knowledge?  That excluded conversion?  Did not the Baptist "leap for joy"?  How does that prove that there was no gospel faith or knowledge?  Does it not rather prove the presence of faith?  Further, since the salutation was a gospel announcement, was not the gospel present and believed?  Again, one cannot help but notice how the Hardshells speak out of both sides of their mouths and are grossly contradictory.  First they say that infants cannot be saved by possessing gospel faith and knowledge because they are incapable of possessing it, and then they cite the case of John the Baptist to prove it!  No, but the case of the Baptist disproves their assertion that infants cannot hear and believe the gospel!   

Guess wrote:

"How does this square with a Scripture like John 17:3, where it is said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." The answer is simple. One of the basic meanings of know is "to be aware or cognizant of."

There is much misunderstanding in the religious world about "faith" or "belief." Many preachers will say that salvation is by grace but that a person must "put his trust in Jesus Christ" or "believe in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior" or "have faith in Jesus Christ" before he can be saved. This act of faith, thus presented, is an act of the sinner's free will.

These verses make it plain that "saving faith" is not an act of man's so-called "free will" but is a gift of God."

How confusing and contradictory are these words!   Hardshells argue that "regeneration" is a non-cognitive experience, that there is no imparting of truth knowledge in it.   But, as I have said, they speak out of both sides of their mouths in this regard.  For, while they insist that no instruction is integral to the regeneration experience, or involves cognition, or belief of revelation, out of one side of their mouths, they will out of the other side say what Guess says, that having eternal life is essentially connected with "knowing" and "believing" the "only true God," and in "knowing" and "believing" Jesus, as God's appointed Savior.  And, he affirms that "knowing" means "to be aware or cognizant of."  How can he say, on one hand, that regeneration is non-cognitive and then say, on the other hand, that it is cognitive?  It just demonstrates that they are blind to their errors.

Guess once again objects to the idea that faith precedes salvation!  But, is this not the universal presentation of scripture?  Have I not already given a couple examples?  Where does Guess cite any verse that says men "believe because they are already saved"?  Is it not always "believe to salvation"? 

Guess objects to saving faith being a free will act, and yet he has already affirmed that "the will (choice) is changed" in regeneration, and that being saved involves God making the sinner "willing" and obedient, and making him into a Christian believer, a bringing him to know God and Christ.  To what extent, and in what sense, the will of the sinner is "free" in salvation, is beside the point.   

Guess also affirms that gospel "faith," or "faith in Jesus," is "the gift of God," and he says this in the context of his apology for the Calvinist doctrine of "irresistible grace" or "effectual calling."  But, if gospel faith is the gift of God, then conversion is equally efficacious as is regeneration.  Yet, this is denied by Hardshells. 

Guess wrote:

"The Greek word most commonly translated "believe" in the New Testament is PISTEUO. The meaning is "to believe, be persuaded of, to place confidence in." (W. E. Vine). Thayer gives the meaning as follows: "of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of his soul." When the object of believing is Jesus Christ, Thayer says that it is "a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah."

The Greek word most commonly translated "faith" in the New Testament is PISTIS. The meaning is "firm persuasion." (W. E. Vine). Thayer says of this word that "when it relates to God, PISTIS is the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ-Heb. 11:6." He says that, "in reference to Christ, it denotes a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation."

It should be obvious that PISTEUO and PISTIS are cognate words. This means that they were derived from a common original form or root. One is a verb; the other is a noun. Simply put it means that "to believe" is "to exercise faith." "Faith" is "the ability to believe." So, if one believes, he is exercising the faith which he already has."

One can read what I have written on pisteuo and pistis here.

All that Guess writes, excepting the last sentence, destroys Hardshellism's teaching about the nature, definition, and use of the word "faith."  The definition that Guess gives of "faith" (noun) and "believe" (verb) uproot another Hardshell definition of "faith" and "believe" which is absolutely opposite to the one he gives above.  Notice that Guess does not say that the above definition is true only of that faith which comes by hearing the word of God, but not true of "latent faith" of "seed faith."  What he does in one sentence after the end of his biblical definition of faith is to say "Faith" is "the ability to believe."  Faith is not belief!  Faith is without belief!  Unbelievers are actually believers!

If "faith is ability to believe," is this true of "seed faith," of "non-cognitive faith," of that "faith" that is given to all in regeneration?  The same that is given to infants and the mentally incompetent when they are regenerated?  By this logic, Guess creates a infinite chain of causes!  One must have faith in order to have faith!  If one has to have "ability to believe" even before he has "seed faith" or "hidden faith," then regeneration must occur even before one obtains it!  In other words, in order to have gospel faith, one must first have seed faith, and before one can have seed faith he must have the "faith of ability," ad infinite.     

Guess, by defining "faith" by "ability to believe," has changed the whole meaning of the word.  After Guess cites the definition of faith and believe as given by scholars, then adds to the definition and gives one that no scholar gives, a totally new definition.  Is this not a clear example of perverting and corrupting the word of God?  Is "repentance" also to be defined as "the ability to repent"?  Is "perseverance" to be defined as "the ability to persevere"?  Is "knowing" and "trusting" God to be defined as "the ability to know and trust"? 

Guess wrote:

"The Scriptures make plain that faith is a gift of God and not an achievement of man's "free-will." "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8,9). These verses tell us that we are saved on the principle of grace (a free unmerited favor); that faith is the instrument used; that salvation is not of works (including a work of faith); and that man cannot take any credit for his salvation. In short these verses say that God gives the individual faith when He saves him. Faith, as used here is almost a synonym for spiritual life."

Guess affirms that the "faith" of Eph. 2: 8, 9 is "the instrument used" in salvation.  He even says that such faith is "a synonym for spiritual life."  But, what is the meaning of "faith" in this passage?  Is it the faith that the word scholars gave and which Guess endorsed?  Or, is it that weird definition of "faith" that Guess himself gave to it?  Does Paul mean "ability to believe" when he speaks of being "saved through faith"?  Let us read the passage with the Hardshell definition.  "For by grace are you saved through ability to believe."  How does that make any sense?  Where does Guess give us any proof from the Book of Ephesians where "faith" meant "ability to believe"?  Where does Guess prove that the "faith" and "believing" of the Book of Ephesians is non-cognitive, that it is not what came by the preaching of the gospel?  It is good that Guess admits that faith is "a synonym for spiritual life," but he needs to accept the biblical definition of "faith" and throw his man-made definition away. 

In Ephesians 1 Paul speaks of "your faith in the Lord Jesus" (vs. 15), and of a faith that involves "revelation in the knowledge of him," and "enlightenment" (vs. 17). 

Guess wrote:

"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." (Phil. 1:29). This verse makes it plain that the ability to believe on Christ is a gift of God, and not a power exercised by the "free-will" of the sinner."

To apply this passage to regeneration is as damaging to Hardshellism as the application of Eph. 1; 19 to regeneration.  Guess and many Hardshells want to affirm, and actually do affirm, that "faith" is "given in regeneration."  Too many scriptures uphold that truth.  But, they do not want to make this "faith" that which "comes by hearing the word of God" (Rom. 10: 14), and thus have to create a whole new definition of "faith," one that is diametrically different from the one given in the scriptures.  But, as we have shown, the "believing" of Eph. 1: 19 is clearly shown, by the context, to be that believing in Christ that comes by the gospel, the same kind that Paul had in mind when he said - "how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard and how shall they hear without a preacher?"  But, Guess cannot make the "believing" of Phil. 1: 29 to be "ability to believe," or "latent faith," or "hidden faith," or "seed faith," for it is a believing in Christ.  All Hardshells confess that believing in Christ necessitates that one hear the gospel, as Paul taught, and yet Guess applies believing in Christ as what is the gift of God, what is given effectually in regeneration. 

Guess wrote:

"To further show that Jesus finishes what He has begun He said to Peter, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." (Luke 22:32). Christ prays for all His people as their Intercessor. Though they lapse into sin from time to time their faith (practically a synonym for spiritual life) will never fail. The fact that Jesus is both the author and finisher of faith is what is being emphasized in the following verse: "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)."

For what kind of "faith" does Guess think that Jesus prayed?  For "faith" that is defined as "the ability to believe"?  "I have prayed for thee that your ability to believe fail not"?  Did Jesus pray for a hidden, latent, invisible "faith"?  For a "faith" which did not have him for an object?  For a "faith" that was without knowledge and cognition?  Again, Guess says that "faith" is "a synonym for spiritual life."  What kind of "faith" did John have in mind in I John 5?  Did he not refer to "whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ" in verse 1?  And to him "who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" in verse 5? And to one who believes "the record that God gave of his Son" in verse 10?

Guess wrote:

"Another verse that shows that the ability to believe is entirely of God and is not of man is I Peter 1:21: "Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." The gift of faith was purchased for the elect on the cross: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." (I Peter 3:18). We are brought to God in vital, living union by faith. That faith is entirely by Christ is further pointed out in Acts 3:16: "And His name through faith in His name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea the faith which is by Him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.""

Notice how Guess says that the word "faith" in the passages he cites is "ability to believe."  But, he has no authority from word scholars in Greek or Hebrew for his definition, and the context shows that the novel and man-made definition of Guess is false.  The "faith" of these passages is a "faith in His name," a faith in Christ, a faith that Hardshells admit can only come through the preaching of the gospel per Romans 10.  It is a "believing in God," but how can one believe in Israel's God without any revelation or knowledge of him? 

Guess wrote:

"Faith is not the work of man. Man only exercises that which God has already worked in him. "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." (John 6:29). John Gill says of this verse, "This, as a principle, is purely God's work; as it is an act, or as it is exercised under the influence of divine grace it is man's act." He is saying what I have said above -- man only exercises what God has already worked in him. The Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson says, "So here Jesus terms belief in Him as the work of God.""

Yes, Gill gave all the credit to God for faith, but he did not interpret "faith" as did Guess, and Gill affirmed that faith in Christ was produced through the gospel, and that God regenerates through the gospel as a means.  Notice that Robertson's words contradict those of Guess!  Faith is "belief in Him," that is, belief in Jesus!

Guess wrote:

"It takes the same power to truly believe as it took to raise Christ from the dead. "And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raise Him from the dead ... " (Eph. 1:19,20).

The pattern of how one becomes a believer is Paul the Apostle. He wrote, "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 Tim. 1:16).

Paul became a believer on the road to Damascus by a direct operation of the Spirit of God. He was not under the sound of the gospel when this occurred. Since this was a "pattern" conversion, all sinners who become believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are born again by the immediate power and grace of God, and not by the ministry of the Word."

It is interesting that Guess cites the words "believe on Him to life everlasting," for they uproot his Hardshell notions about believing not being "to life everlasting," but teach rather that men believe because of everlasting life.

I have already shown how Guess is wrong about the regeneration and conversion of the apostle Paul in my posting pointed to earlier in the link given.  Paul was converted when he was regenerated and the gospel was present in his mind and believed at the time of his regeneration.  When Guess says that Paul "became a believer" when he was regenerated, was it not a believer in Christ?

Zack Guess's article, titled "Irresistible Grace," can be read here.

Dec 5, 2011

Difficult, Especially for Hardshells

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (I Tim. 2: 1-6)

These verses have been the subject of disagreement between Calvinists and Arminians and present some difficulty for both groups.  The first area of debate is over who is meant by the term "all men."  Arminians affirm that "all men" means every human being.  Calvinists are not uniform in their interpretation.  Some affirm that "all men" simply means "all kinds or classes of men," or "all men without distinction," or "some men."  Other Calvinists will agree with the Arminians that "all men" literally means all men without exception.  With these Calvinists, the discussion moves from discerning who is meant by "all men" to discerning what is meant by God being "willing" that all men be saved.  Is God's predetermined will or predestination the thing alluded to by reference to the will of God, or is God's will of precept alluded to?  These Calvinists will affirm that the "will of God" has two significations in scripture, sometimes it refers to what God has decreed will absolutely and unconditionally come to pass and sometimes to what God calls upon creatures to do of their own wills. 

For myself, I agree with Spurgeon, a five point Calvinist, who believed that "all men" did not mean "some men" only, but that the "will" of God denoted what God wishes to see occur as a result of the choices of men.  Does God want all men to tell the truth?  Certainly.  Does he decree postitively that they all will in fact tell the truth?  Certainly not. 

Did the text say simply "who will have all men to be saved," there would be less reason to believe that "all men" literally meant every person without exception.  But, it also adds "and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 

Obviously God does not want all men to be saved, for many will not be saved.  Even Arminians admit that God does not want unbelievers to be saved.  Paul is not saying that God "will have all men, both believers and unbelievers, to be saved."  Only the Universalists would affirm such from Paul's words. 

Why would any Calvinist see a need to deny that God wants all men not only to tell the truth, but to believe the truth?  Admitting that God wants all to know the truth, including the truth about God and salvation, does not overthrow Calvinism nor endorse Arminianism. 

Do all Calvinists deny that God "wants every sinner to be saved"?  Some do, but not all.  Spurgeon believed, as I said, that "all men" excluded no one.  But, he nevertheless still taught that Christ died only for the elect, for believers.  God has a general will and a special will.  Paul wrote:

"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."  (I Tim. 4: 10)

Here Paul plainly says that God is the "Saviour of all men."  And, if he is the "Savior of all men," then he is so because he wants to be so.  And, if he wants to be the Savior of all men, then this is all the same as saying that God "wants to have all men saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."  Thus what Paul affirms in I Tim. 2: 1-6 is no different from what Paul says in I Tim. 4: 10.  Both Calvinists and Arminians should be able to agree that God is the Savior of all men, that he wants all men to be know the truth and to be saved. 

Both should agree and affirm that God, however, is not in fact the Savior of all men.  Both agree that all men will not be saved.  God is the Savior of those who perish, in some sense, but is also not their Savior, in some sense.  If a person is in Hell, he can hardly say that God is his Savior and Deliverer.  When a person says of another person - "he is my rescuer," he may mean either 1) "he is my appointed rescuer in case I ever need one," or 2) "he is the one who actually rescued me."  In the first case a savior/rescuer was provided, and in the latter case a savior actually rescued.

Paul says that God is "especially" the Savior of believers.  Thus, we may say that God is not especially the Savior of unbelievers.  The term "savior" is not apropos for unbelievers.  Again, both Arminians and Calvinists should affirm that God is not the Savior of unbelievers, especially speaking.  But, they should also both affirm that God is the Savior of all men, believers and unbelievers, generally speaking. 

Both Arminians and Calvinists should also agree that God's wishing to see all sinners saved, to see all become believers in the truth, is not sufficient in itself to save all.  If God's wishing it was all that was needed, then Universalism would be true.  God wishes that all men keep his laws, but this in itself is obviously not sufficient to make it so.   

If then God's general wishing of the salvation of all is not sufficient to save, then what ultimately does make the difference in why one believes and is saved and one not?  Or, to put the same question into words of scripture, "who makes you to differ from another?"  (I Cor. 4: 7)  The apostolic question shows that such a question is not one of those "foolish and unlearned questions."  (II Tim. 2: 23)  Our inquiry into "why" one person believes, and is saved, and "why" another believes not, and is not saved, is a good question, one raised in scripture.  Both Calvinists and Arminians should agree that Paul affirms that God is the reason for one differing from another.  The reason lies in God.  The outcome of gospel preaching is owing to God.  Paul does not say "you made yourself to differ," but "God made you to differ from another."  So he also taught in I Cor. 3: 6, 7:

"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."

When a sinner hears and believes the gospel and is saved, it is because God "gave the increase," and that he was the cause or reason why the seed germinated, or why the plant that was planted in their hearts produced fruit.  God is to be credited for "making the difference."

God then has a general will and a special will in regard to the salvation of sinners.  We are authorized to say that God  has a general will that all men believe and be saved, but not a special will for such an end.   Generally willing a man's salvation is insufficient for salvation, as I have shown.  It is the special willingness of God that makes the difference in why the seed germinates in one heart and not in another, why one believes and is saved and another is not.  Cannot both Calvinists and Arminians agree on this much?

Certainly they can both agree that the number of the elect is equal to the number of believers.  All Arminians would affirm such, and most Calvinists.  Those Calvinists who would not affirm such would be the Hyper Calvinists and Hardshell Baptists.  These believe that the number of the elect is greater than the number of believers, for not all the elect, they affirm, become believers.  But, more on them later. 

The chief disagreement between Arminians and Calvinists involves the question of whether faith is the cause or the effect of the divine choice to salvation.  Am I chosen to believe or chosen because I believed?  To my mind the answer to this question has already been demonstrated.  God gives the increase, he is the reason for why one is different, why one believes and another does not.  He had a general will that all believe, but he had a special will for some to believe.  While the general will is not sufficient to save anyone embraced in it, the special will actually guarantees salvation for all embraced in the special will.    

There are three expressions in I Tim. 2: 1-6 where the discussion is focused.  They are 1) "who will have all men to be saved," and 2) "who will have all men to come to a knowledge of the truth," and 3) "who gave himself a ransom for all."  The first two have been discussed, so the latter will now draw our attention.

"All" refers of course to "all men."  Here the debate continues regarding whether "all men" means "some of all kinds," or "every person."  Those Calvinists who believe that Christ died only for the elect defend their views, relative to this passage, in one of two ways.  Some will say that "all men" does not mean "every single person without exception," but means "all men without distinction, not all men without exception," or "all classes or kinds of men."  Other Calvinists, though affirming that "all men" does in fact refer to every person, will rather focus on determining how Christ can be said to be the ransom for all and yet be the ransom for some only, for only the elect. 

Both Arminians and Calvinists should agree that Christ is not, in every respect, the Redeemer and Ransomer of all.  That Christ has ransomed all, generally speaking, and the elect (believers), especially speaking, ought to be affirmed by all. 

It is said that Calvinists have difficulty with Christ giving himself a ransom for all men (I Tim. 2), and that Arminians have difficulty with Christ shedding his blood "for many" (Matt. 26: 28), and with his "giving his life a ransom for many."  (Matt. 20: 28)  How can one reconcile "for many" and "for all"?  It is argued by Calvinists that "many can mean all but all cannot mean many."   I think this is irrefutable. 

Obviously Christ is, in some sense, a ransom "for all," and is in some sense only a ransom "for many."  Becoming more precise in defining and describing wherein this difference lies is not easy.  But, if we could stick to what has been said thus far, both Calvinists and Arminians should be in agreement.  As the terms "general" and "special" may be used in regard to what God wills, so also in regard to what he does, or to his works.  It seems that Calvinists need to affirm that atonement and redemption are, in some respects, general and unlimited, and that Arminians need to affirm that atonement and redemption are, in some respects, particular and limited. 

One of the ways that theologians have sought to restate the teaching of scripture on this point is to say that the atonement and ransom of Christ is "sufficient for all, efficient to the elect (believers)."  It is only the Hyper and extreme Calvinists, however, who would not accept such a statement.  They do not believe that God, in any sense, or in any degree, desires or wills that all men believe and know the truth, or be saved, nor that Christ, in any sense, died for, or provided himself a ransom for, all men. 

"Sufficient for all" often involves the idea of provision, and so may include the idea of "provided for all."  Thus the question - "was salvation provided for all?"  And, who can deny, that the answer is "both yes and no"?  Christ made what we may call, in keeping with one of our themes, a "general" provision, in his death, and also what we may safely call a "special" provision. 

But, into the depths of that question, we will not descend, but hopefully what has been stated thus far should be acceptable to both Calvinists and Arminians.  But, let us recap a few points and then see how Hardshells and Hyperists have the greater difficulty relative to I Tim. 2: 1-6.

The salvation of the passage cannot be made into what the Hardshells call "time salvation" because the salvation under consideration is paired with being ransomed by the death of Christ.  Being ransomed by the death of Christ is the same as being eternally saved, and no Hardshell will deny this.  But, if they admit that this salvation is equated with being ransomed by the death of Christ, then they are confronted by the words - "who will have all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."  Coming to a knowledge of the truth, and becoming a believer, is said to be as much the result of God's wishing and willing as is being saved.  Paul couples together being "saved" with "believing."  How can the Hardshells deny that this salvation is eternal?  How can they deny that those under consideration, the "all men," or "the elect," are as much willed to a knowledge and belief of the truth as to eternal salvation?

If they argue that "God will have" means "God absolutely and unconditionally will have," then they must affirm, to be consistent, that God is then saying that he "will in fact absolutely and unconditionally have them both saved and to know and believe the truth." 

If the reference to God's will be interpreted to refer to his decree, to his predestination, then it is detrimental to Hardshellism, for they do not believe that all the elect will be both saved and believe the truth.  If the reference be made to God's preceptive will, to his mere general wish and will, then the Hardshell still has difficulty, for he then must make eternal salvation to be through means, through the means of precept. 

In closing let me present some further observations and questions for further investigation. 

1.  If "all men" means "every human being," does it include Christ himself?  Does it include those who are not sinners, to those who die in infancy and before the "age of accountability"?  

2.  If "all men" means "every human being," are we to pray for those who are in Hell, seeing that we are to pray for all men?  Does it include Judas Iscariot?

3.   If "all men" means "every human being," does this include those who died never having heard the gospel?

Let me close this posting by noting that the great evangelist, D. L. Moody, is reported to have said that "whosoever will" is on the front side of the door to heaven, but that "chosen to salvation" is on the other side.  Moody used to say - “The elect are the ‘whosoever wills’; the non-elect are the ‘whosoever wont's.'”

Dec 1, 2011

Spurgeon - Preaching that Saves

In Spurgeon's "Lectures To My Students," in CHAPTER XXIII - "ON CONVERSION AS OUR AIM," Spurgeon said some things that condemn both Hyper Arminianism and Hyper Calvinism.

Spurgeon said:

"Our great object of glorifying God is, however, to be mainly achieved by the winning of souls. We must see souls born unto God. If we do not, our cry should be that of Rachel "Give me children, or I die." If we do not win souls, we should mourn as the husbandman who sees no harvest, as the fisherman who returns to his cottage with an empty net, or as the huntsman who has in vain roamed over hill and dale. Ours should be Isaiah's language uttered with many a sigh and groan "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" The ambassadors of peace should not cease to weep bitterly until sinners weep for their sins."

This is a condemnation of Hyper Calvinism and Hardshellism.  It is one of the characteristics of this system to kill evangelistic zeal.  See Bob Ross's excellent book "The Killing Effects of Hyper Calvinism" for a good treatise on this issue.  Spurgeon was a five point Calvinist and yet he was one of the most evangelistic of ministers.  Those Calvinists who have little zeal for saving souls manifest that they are infected with Hyperism.  To lack deep and intense desire for the salvation of souls is the effect of a false Calvinism.

Spurgeon said:

"Brethren, the necessity for the Holy Ghost's divine operations will follow as a matter of course upon the former teaching, for dire necessity demands divine interposition. Men must be told that they are dead, and that only the Holy Spirit can quicken them; that the Spirit works according to His own good pleasure, and that no man can claim his visitations or deserve his aid. This is thought to be very discouraging teaching, and so it is, but men need to be discouraged when they are seeking salvation in a wrong manner. To put them out of conceit of their own abilities is a great help toward bringing them to look out of self to another, even the Lord Jesus. The doctrine of election and other great truths which declare salvation to be all of grace, and to be, not the right of the creature, but the gift of the Sovereign Lord, are all calculated to hide pride from man, and so to prepare him to receive the mercy of God."

Here Spurgeon denounces Hyper Arminianism and shows how the right preaching of the doctrines of grace do not hinder sinners in salvation, but rather promotes it.

Spurgeon said:

"Secondly, if we are intensely anxious to have souls saved we must not only preach the truths which are likely to lead up to this end, but we must use modes of handling those truths which are likely to conduce thereto. Do you enquire, what are they? First, you must do a great deal by way of instruction. Sinners are not saved in darkness but from it; "that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good." Men must be taught concerning themselves, their sin, and their fall; their Saviour, redemption, regeneration, and so on. Many awakened souls would gladly accept God's way of salvation if they did but know it; they are akin to those of whom the apostle said, "And now brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it." If you will instruct them God will save them: is it not written, "the entrance of thy word giveth light"? If the Holy Spirit blesses your teaching, they will see how wrong they have been, and they will be led to repentance and faith. I do not believe in that preaching which lies mainly in shouting, "Believe! believe! believe!" In common justice you are bound to tell the poor people what they are to believe. There must be instruction, otherwise the exhortation to believe is manifestly ridiculous, and must in practice be abortive. I fear that some of our orthodox brethren have been prejudiced against the free invitations of the gospel by hearing the raw, undigested harangues of revivalist speakers whose heads are loosely put together. The best way to preach sinners to Christ is to preach Christ to sinners. Exhortations, entreaties, and beseechings, if not accompanied with sound instruction, are like firing off powder without shot. You may shout, and weep, and plead, but you cannot lead men to believe what they have not heard, nor to receive a truth which has never been set before them. "Because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge.""

In these words Spurgeon "kills two birds."  He condemns the Hyper Arminian practice that calls upon sinners to believe without giving them that instruction that is needed for faith and he condemns the Hyper Calvinist who is "prejudiced against the free invitations of the gospel." 

Spurgeon said:

"While giving instructions it is wise to appeal to the understanding. True religion is as logical as if it were not emotional. I am not an admirer of the peculiar views of Mr, Finney, but I have no doubt that he was useful to many; and his power lay in his use of clear arguments. Many who knew his fame were greatly disappointed at first hearing him, because he used few beauties of speech and was as calm and dry as a book of Euclid; but he was exactly adapted to a certain order of minds, and they were convinced and convicted by his forcible reasoning. Should not persons of an argumentative cast of mind be provided for? We are to be all things to all men, and to these men we must become argumentative and push them into a corner with plain deductions and necessary inferences. Of carnal reasoning we would have none, but of fair, honest pondering, considering, judging, and arguing the more the better."

Here again Spurgeon does not "throw out the baby with the bath water."  He does not, as some Hyper Calvinists, totally reject the methods of Finney, but neither does he fully endorse them.  Spurgeon objected more to Finney's doctrine than to his methods.  It would be well for those Calvinists today who are decrying "invitations," and "Finneyism," to heed the counsel of Spurgeon.

Spurgeon said:

"The class requiring logical argument is small compared with the number of those who need to be pleaded with, by way of emotional persuasion. They require not so much reasoning as heart-argument which is logic set on fire.

Brethren, we must plead. Entreaties and beseechings must blend with our instructions. Any and every appeal which will reach the conscience and move men to fly to Jesus we must perpetually employ, if by any means we may save some."

Again, Spurgeon is condemning Hyper Calvinism.  We should all condemn it.  That preaching which lacks such appeals to sinners is not the kind we find coming from the mouth of Christ and the apostles.

Spurgeon said:

"Sometimes, too, we must change our tone. Instead of instructing, reasoning and persuading, we must come to threatening, and declare the wrath of God upon impenitent souls. We must lift the curtain and let them see the future. Show them their danger, and warn them to escape from the wrath to come. This done, we must return to invitation, and set before the awakened mind the rich provisions of infinite grace which are freely presented to the sons of men. In our Master's name we must give the invitation, crying, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Do not be deterred from this, my brethren, by those ultra-Calvinistic theologians who say, "You may instruct and warn the ungodly, but you must not invite or entreat them." And why not? "Because they are dead sinners, and it is therefore absurd to invite them, since they cannot come." Wherefore then may we warn or instruct them? The argument is so strong, it be strong at all, that it sweeps away all modes of appeal to sinners, and they alone are logical who, after they have preached to the saints, sit down and say, "The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." On what ground are we to address the ungodly at all? If we are only to bid them do such things as they are capable of doing without the Spirit of God, we are reduced to mere moralists. If it be absurd to bid the dead sinner believe and live, it is equally vain to bid him consider his state, and reflect upon his future doom. Indeed, it would be idle altogether were it not that true preaching is an act of faith, and is owned by the Holy Spirit as the means of working spiritual miracles. If we were by ourselves, and did not expect divine interpositions, we should be wise to keep within the bounds of reason, and persuade men to do only what we see in them the ability to do. We should then bid the living live, urge the seeing to see, and persuade the willing to will. The task would be so easy that it might even seem to be superfluous; certainly no special call of the Holy Ghost would be needed for so very simple an undertaking. But, brethren, where is the mighty power and the victory of faith if our ministry is this and nothing more? Who among the sons of men would think it a great vocation to be sent into a synagogue to say to a perfectly vigorous man, "Rise up and walk," or to the possessor of sound limbs, "Stretch out thine hand." He is a poor Ezekiel whose greatest achievement is to cry, "Ye living souls, live.""

What a powerful denunciation of Hyper Calvinism and Hardshellism is this!  It also condemns Pelagianism that says that men are to be preached to according to their abilities.

Spurgeon said:

"Let the two methods be set side by side as to practical result, and it will be seen that those who never exhort sinners are seldom winners of souls to any great extent, but they maintain their churches by converts from other systems, I have even heard them say, "Oh, yes, the Methodists and Revivalists are beating the hedges, but we shall catch many of the birds." If I harboured such a mean thought I should be ashamed to express it. A system which cannot touch the outside world, but must leave arousing and converting work to others, whom it judges to be unsound, writes its own condemnation."

It is a characteristic of Hyper Calvinistic and Hardshell churches to fill up their churches with "converts" from other denominations and have none who are converted from outside of churches, from the multitudes of sinners who belong to no church at all.

Spurgeon said:

"Again, brethren, if we wish to see souls saved, we must be wise as to the times when we address the unconverted. Very little common sense is spent over this matter. Under certain ministries there is a set time for speaking to sinners, and this comes as regularly as the hour of noon. A few crumbs of the feast are thrown to the dogs under the table at the close of the discourse, and they treat your crumbs as you treat them, namely, with courteous indifference. Why should the warning word be always at the hinder end of the discourse when hearers are most likely to be weary? Why give men notice to buckle on their harness so as to be prepared to repel our attack? When their interest is excited, and they are least upon the defensive, then let fly a shaft at the careless, and it will frequently be more effectual than a whole flight of arrows shot against them at a time when they are thoroughly encased in armour of proof. Surprise is a great element in gaining attention and fixing a remark upon the memory, and times for addressing the careless should be chosen with an eye to that fact."

Here Spurgeon condemns those who only appeal to sinners at the close of a discourse or only in special services, such as Sunday night services or in revival meetings.  He believed that sinners ought to be appealed to throughout a discourse and in all meetings. 

Spurgeon said:

"Do not close a single sermon without addressing the ungodly, but at the same time set yourself seasons for a determined and continuous assault upon them, and proceed with all your soul to the conflict. On such occasions aim distinctly at immediate conversions; labour to remove prejudices, to resolve doubts, to conquer objections, and to drive the sinner out of his hiding-places at once. Summon the church members to special prayer, beseech them to speak personally both with the concerned and the unconcerned, and be yourself doubly upon the watch to address individuals. We have found that our February meetings at the Tabernacle have yielded remarkable results: the whole month being dedicated to special effort. Winter is usually the preacher's harvest, because the people can come together better in the long evenings, and are debarred from out-of-door exercises and amusements. Be well prepared for the appropriate season when "kings go forth to battle.""

Here Spurgeon promotes the practice of regularly giving appeals and invitations to the lost, and even special services designed for "addressing the ungodly." 

Spurgeon said:

"Mean conversions, expect them, and prepare for them. Resolve that your hearers shall either yield to your Lord or be without excuse, and that this shall be the immediate result of the sermon now in hand. Do not let the Christians around you wonder when souls are saved, but urge them to believe in the undiminished power of the glad tidings, and teach them to marvel if no saving result follows the delivery of the testimony of Jesus. Do not permit sinners to hear sermons as a matter of course, or allow them to play with the edged tools of Scripture as if they were mere toys; but again and again remind them that every true gospel sermon leaves them worse if it does not make them better. Their unbelief is a daily, hourly sin; never let them infer from your teaching that they are to be pitied for continuing to make God a liar by rejecting His Son."

Let both Arminians and Calvinists heed these well spoken words of Spurgeon! 

Spurgeon said:

"From the very first you should appoint frequent and regular seasons for seeing all who are seeking after Christ, and you should continually invite such to come and speak with you. In addition to this, hold numerous enquirers' meetings, at which the addresses shall be all intended to assist the troubled and guide the perplexed, and with these intermingle fervent prayers for the individuals present, and short testimonials from recent converts and others. As an open confession of Christ is continually mentioned in connection with saving faith, it is your wisdom to make it easy for believers who are as yet following Jesus by night to come forward and avow their allegiance to him."

May we all hear well what this great Calvinist soul winner has advised!