Chapter 33:1 Longing To Be Naked

Chapter 33.1 – Through the Westminster Confession.

Where’s “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

Scott Oliphant is quick to point out that this chapter is not in conflict with the rest of the Confession (this I suppose is true for those who swallow hook, line, and sinker, all that the 1689 has to say and defend it with near cult like obeisance). Then, why did he neglect to annotate his work at greater length? Namely, why when referencing John does he cheery pick?

“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:19-29 ESV)

Oliphant annotates around the verse in question because it undoes what he is trying to prove.

What is Jesus definition of eternal life (life)? It is that he does not come into judgment.

When does that occur? Well, if you didn’t get it from the passage above, how’s about referencing John 11?

The famous passage corrects the stupidity of Mary and Martha (and Scott Oliphant) who think that the first resurrection and its complement the judgment for the saint is something future. In resurrecting Lazarus, Jesus, making sure he is more than “mostly dead,” demonstrates the fulfillment of the passage in Chapter 5 for those who are his.

Mistaking Jesus for something other than who he is, is often the default for the disciples. Don’t be stupid like the emotionally laden sisters needing to be slapped awake. Know this: “Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:24-27 ESV)

Passing from judgment into life is eternal, if you have the Son you have his Father. We are those who do not judge based on appearance. If you believe in the Son you have eternal life, and are sanctified by Jesus Christ in his crucifixion, John 17. You are in him, he in you, he in the Father, and the in you. Or, you have rejected his resurrection, his righteousness, his life (Romans 5) the very thing through which regeneration comes to those who will believe. Don’t have your joy and assurance shaken by those who would steal the Lord’s peace from you by insisting that on the final day, stripped naked, you will be judged all over again. The Holiness that Peter speaks of is one of faith, for the lack of having such the disobedient were destroyed, Hebrews 3:16-4:2. Hebrews tells us, yea, warns us against falling short of his rest. Today is the day if you hear his voice. Beware the mutilators of the flesh, they only wish to again ensnare you to the passions of the flesh so that they can take pride in what they believe they have accomplished by their flesh. In that Day, do you not know that you will sit in Christ’s throne and judge the nations, 1 Cor 6:2? Then today, as long as it is today, judge yourselves and you will not come into judgment, 1 Cor 11:31.

One thing is for sure, you should neither participate in the body and blood of Christ, nor bless the elements, if you do not believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and that you have been judge in all things through him and have passed from judgment into the full inheritance as children of God, Ephesians, waiting only to take possession. What filthy taste it must leave in the mouth when one first tramples the body and blood of Christ underfoot, before eating and drinking, all the while saying today is the day let us rejoice and be glad in it as Abraham was?

Remember this: Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6 ESV) If you are amillennial, then you believe with me that there is no future judgment of the saints. If you believe there is, you are neither blessed, nor holy. Jesus’ question needs to be answered by you. Do you believe that he is first resurrection and that you are in him?

Oliphant describes this time as a “nakedness” before God, which flies in the face of what Paul is teaching in 2 Cor 5. It doesn’t uphold it, for we who are his long to be clothed and not found naked when we pass from our earthly bodies to heavenly ones. The passage describes what is meant by further clothed and it is the passing from this body of death, to the new body of the resurrection. The passage which not only undermines this section of the Confessions but the one previous to it. We will not be found naked, we will not be stripped down, we will not be judged again, once we have been clothed with he righteousness of Christ through regeneration.

What I find most astounding is Oliphant’s call to repentance and faith out of 2 Cor 6, when he seems not to believe that at all.

So, You Reject Perfectionism, But Tell Me Again Why Are You Not Cooperating With The Holy Spirit?

http://reformedforum.org/podcasts/ctc308/

Until there are formal charges brought against Tullian Tchividjian which would include the condemnation of Michael Horton also, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.

After listening to two pod-casts featuring Jones, I have to agree with a couple of commenters. He turns the requirement of works nearly into the means of a second justification and makes good grounds for the FV/NPP arguments.

The WCF and 1689 are quite clear on how and by whom good works are done. What can’t be explained by Jones’ Puritan Pietism, is why a person cannot get the sin out of the way which prevents him from doing any. Paul understood it very well: “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

The WCF, and the 1689 RBC, are clear that it takes a “required” “necessary” work of the Holy Spirit “to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure.” And that “they are not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.” This doesn’t mean you have some infused grace like a credit card just waiting to be used to gain reward points. What is also clear is that a person’s righteousness is in the tank no matter what he does, “They, who in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.” To shorten that, there can be no basis of rewards in the individual, “but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from his Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s (judgment(WCF), punishment (1689).” In other words, no matter how much God has gifted you with the ability to jump, and no matter how high you can, you end up where those who are the least gifted are. The rest of the statement on good works is exactly what Jones seems to deny, that the union with Christ is more than mere association and dedicated imitation. It is rather, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Your life in the flesh is utterly worthless, and if you don’t get that you don’t get Christ. The full absorption while preserving the person is what is found in the WCF, “Yet notwithstanding the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight, but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.” So whose works is the Father looking at again? Jones says it yours. Scripture and the confessions say it is Christ’s.

This was, by the way, what Arminius testified to. Namely, that when he stood before the throne of God, it would be his works as holy because they were empowered by God. But, he did them, not Christ. Arminius’ final justification and approval by God according to works are exactly what is expected of Romanism. The grace of God is infused and it is what man does with it that is the deciding factor in justification and sanctification. Sound familiar? What earlier reformed believers taught and the WCF reflects is quite contrary to that which follows in the 1700′s. Once again, Geneva felt the attraction of Rome, and a religion that emphasized active obedience in gaining God’s blessing. Sanctification once again became the work of “co-operative” grace, rather than the double grace which Calvin understood.

Though Jones makes an appeal to “Classical” Reformed theology, it is neither classical, nor the only historic stream. The confessions, as stated above prove that unequivocally. The real error is in Jones, whose campaign against antinomianism has made him to see little fatted creatures on every ones lawn but “the real Reformed.” I think the assessment I made above is right on. It is Jones, and not TT or MH, who are in error. But, not just error. He appears to take the WCF and trash it. Ponder what I have said above. If your sin is ever-present in all that you do, when can you ever find assurance in what you do? To the contrary, Scripture teaches us to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ the author and perfecter of our faith and to trust wholly in him who has become for us both our justification and our sanctification.

What Michael Horton has said on antinomianism: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/?s=Antinomianism

Here are some things I have written on sanctification:

http://thomastwitchell.wordpress.com/?s=sanctification

They had “a choice.”

“Adam and Eve had a choice.”

Oh really? And who gave them “a choice”? It wasn’t God. God forbid a contrary choice. To say that God placed before Adam and Eve the choice of evil is the highest blasphemy. The reality is that man was created with the natural ability of choosing, but not with libertarian freewill. Man was created in God’s image, not that he could choose evil, and he was forbidden to do so. God did not temp Eve by placing “a choice” before her, it was Satan. God placed before them only what was good.

You see the problem? The natural ability of the will is simply choice. It is not the capability of contrary choice. Adam and Eve were not given a choice between two contrary things, you may eat this and live, you may eat this and die. Instead, they were given choice for those things which God had given them. The choice was not given them to eat of the forbidden fruit. That is, choice in man is choosing what is given. To state it another way, he was to eat what was given and live, and eat not what was not given and live. The choices were to be to him life. God gave them nothing but good choices. He did not give them freewill to choose death.

We can see what is meant in that God by nature is incapable of choosing evil. It was in that image man was created. Natural ability of will is, again, the ability to choose, not to not choose. It does not address the object of the choice, either. Will only addresses the ability of choice. Neither does it address the moral rectitude of the one choosing. Moral choice is a decision of the mind’s capability of discerning good from evil. Still, given the possibilities, that is, that good is the only choice given, moral choice has no reference to the thing chosen, only to the one doing the choosing. Scripture describes sin as not merely the thing chosen, but the nature of the chooser as the source of moral rectitude. To be precise, when speaking of moral choice, it is not simply a matter of what, but who. When speaking of will, it is an instrument of choice and not the one using it. We find in the NT the description of man in his fallen nature as incapable of choosing any good. We must conclude then with Paul, that nothing in and of itself is evil, it is the one choosing it. Or as he says, to the pure all things are pure, to those of corrupt minds everything is evil.

Pritchett is correct. It is implied in the command to not eat and the very mention of evil, that Adam and Eve were already in possession of a certain knowledge of the truth. They had been told. They knew to “not eat and live.” They could not choose that which was contrary to that knowledge, for they had a perfect knowledge of it, and had no other knowledge which contradicted it. Nor could they choose that which was against their nature which was pure and holy, living souls, created in the image of God. The power of contrary choice resides only in the very definition and nature of evil, then. As God cannot deny himself, he cannot oppose himself, he does not possess such power of contrariness. As man was created in that image, he was not capable of opposing himself. The natural ability of choice, or the will, is such that it is able to be the instrument through which desire is expressed. But it is like a hammer which by the carpenter’s hand drives the nail. Man in his natural state desired only what was good.

 

What is keen here is to recognize what is meant by natural ability. Choice has no reference to the object chosen. It is simply choice. It is the mind that chooses, the will is merely its instrument for it doing so. It is the mind which wields the hammer. Moral rectitude and mental acuity are inextricably intertwined so that the one cannot be without the other. But will is not them, but only the instrument by which the individual constituted by them acts. And, the corruption of one results in the corruption of the other. In Adam and Eve there was no corruption, originally. Their will could only act in accord with their nature’s desire.

The state into which man was created was in the image of God. Like God, his will is free. Even in the state of falleness, his will is free. That is, the natural ability to choose has not been abated. As God still chooses, men still choose. It is the nature of the soul which determines the outcome of whether that choice is good or evil. (The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not in itself evil, for that knowledge Genesis 3:22 affirms is God’s own eternal knowledge, and thus inextricable from his nature.) In the case of God, he is impassable. That is, he is incapable of change. He is eternally good even with intimate knowledge of good and evil. In the case of man, he being a created being, he by definition is changeable. He is not eternally good, but good as a function of creation. Certain knowledge belongs to God alone, Scripture declares and to which Genesis testifies. In the possession of the creature that knowledge corrupts by the very antithesis of the creator/creature distinction. Again, what is created is by the very definition, changeable. Along with the nature of man which was created good is the mind. God is omniscient, man is not. Again, by definition man’s knowledge can change. It can grow, or it can be corrupted. God’s cannot. As I said above, the moral nature and the mind are inextricably joined so that the corruption of the one will result in the corruption of the other. However, the will remains intact.

In the case of Eve, she was convinced by the subtlety of the Devil that the fruit which was forbidden was instead good to partake of for food and for gaining wisdom. It wasn’t that she choose against the knowledge she had. To the contrary, that knowledge had been corrupted. The good choice to not eat somehow became the good choice to eat. In the case of Adam, Genesis makes clear that he listened to the voice of his wife. She deceived him and for that God cursed her. It is impossible to get around this conclusion. If Adam wasn’t deceived, he opposed himself, an impossibility given the fact that he was perfect in the knowledge God had given him and holy according to the nature into which he was created. One cannot imagine Eve saying to him he should eat because death is good. No, she delivered to Adam what she had been corrupted with, namely false knowledge. We do not know by what power that corruption was effected. How ever the corruption of mind and nature happened, no matter if we do not know the mysterious power that deception entailed, what we know is that Adam once having been created in the image of God, of sound mind and perfect in righteousness, acted contrary that image.

Finally, we must recognize that deception is by definition not the truth. Where there is no truth, there is no true choice. In other words, even if one wants to assert that there is libertarian freewill, in deception there is no liberty, only bondage.

Baptism’s Double Dip

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.(1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.(1 Peter 3:18-22 ESV)

I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.(Luke 12:49-53 ESV)

The double-edged sword of the crucifixion of Christ is evident in these passages. Like circumcision in the OT which pointed to Christ, baptism in water points to him also. The function of the type should not be lost. On the one edge it speaks to the promised blessing, on the other, cursing. The demarcation is Christ himself, our circumcision. Or, to put it in Gospel terms, Christ our baptism. For judgment, Christ said, he came into this world. John also says that Christ was given so that the believing ones would be saved and so that the unbelieving one would be condemned.

As can be seen, water baptism confers nothing. Rather, it is Christ’s baptism. As Peter puts it, his resurrection. But he does not leave it at that, rather, he includes Christ’s suffering and death. Many were saved through the sea, but perished on the other side. Many received circumcision only to be destroyed in the various judgments of God. Only eight were saved through the flood. All this to demonstrate that God’s sovereign election in Christ places those who will be saved in Christ through his death. At the same time, his crucifixion was the final judgment of the world even though we await the consummation of all things at his appearing. Such that, his crucifixion places some on the right and others on the left.

Neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision, baptism or unbaptism is anything. What matters is Christ. Having been in him in his crucifixion, those the Father has given him, are born again through his resurrection. As is true to the fallen human condition, mankind places an idolatrous, superstitious value on the outward rite. Interestingly, circumcision was a hidden thing, buried beneath a covering out of view. Likewise, water baptism cannot be seen once the waters dry. It is so appropriate, then, that Peter emphasized the hidden conscience not the outward washing. As Paul writes:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.(Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)

And the writer of Hebrews:

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.(Hebrews 6:13-20 ESV)

That God swore to himself is our greatest comfort, not our baptism in water. That we have such a high priest who did not derive his origin nor his priesthood from among men, again, speaks of that secret working of the Holy Spirit who causes us to be born again in the inward man not according to the works of the flesh but by the Spirit, and fixes our destiny as an anchor behind the curtain of our heart, it having been circumcised in Christ, the way being made open, sprinkled with his blood, cleansed as it were with pure waters of Spirit baptism which expresses itself in faith. Our declaration of what God has inwardly worked testifies to the great promise made in Genesis- to those upon whom God’s favor rests, a blessing, to those upon whom he is taking vengeance, the expectation of God’s justice. Scripture reveals this dual aspect of the covenant between the Father and the Son in an ever brighter light as the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings causing his own to leap with the vigor of youth. In water baptism we proclaim to the world this marvelous reality, that God is saving those appointed to that light. At the same time we proclaim his judgment, an eternal, dark agony for all those who reject the bloody baptism of Christ which cleanses us from sin.

Sex After Christianity | Moral Chaos Leads To Anarchy – The End Game Of Fascism

Gay marriage signifies the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity because it denies the core concept of Christian anthropology. In classical Christian teaching, the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation. This is why gay marriage negates Christian cosmology, from which we derive our modern concept of human rights and other fundamental goods of modernity. Whether we can keep them in the post-Christian epoch remains to be seen… Conservative Christians have lost the fight over gay marriage and, as we have seen, did so decades before anyone even thought same-sex marriage was a possibility. Gay-marriage proponents succeeded so quickly because they showed the public that what they were fighting for was consonant with what most post-1960s Americans already believed about the meaning of sex and marriage. The question Western Christians face now is whether or not they are going to lose Christianity altogether in this new dispensation.

Too many of them think that same-sex marriage is merely a question of sexual ethics. They fail to see that gay marriage, and the concomitant collapse of marriage among poor and working-class heterosexuals, makes perfect sense given the autonomous individualism sacralized by modernity and embraced by contemporary culture—indeed, by many who call themselves Christians. They don’t grasp that Christianity, properly understood, is not a moralistic therapeutic adjunct to bourgeois individualism—a common response among American Christians, one denounced by Rieff in 2005 as “simply pathetic”—but is radically opposed to the cultural order (or disorder) that reigns today.

via Sex After Christianity | The American Conservative.

Anyone who has studied fascisms will recognize the process toward paganization of society and its collapse begins and is empowered by changing the cosmological thinking of the masses. Change the way the cosmos is perceived and you can control the way people live in it. The aim of fascisms is anarchy which inevitably leads to the reestablishing of tribalism as a means of attaining individual liberation from control. More directly, though, it is the means of individuals with power to control others. The eventual establishment of autonomous individualism where only one thing remains, the will to power, is the ostensible goal. But, as was seen in Nazi Germany, when reason and morality with a basis of faith in an absolute transcendent authority is undermined by individual triumphant and passion, chaos ensues. Sexual liberty was the means to attain control in Germany, and once control was established, sexual policing was the means to maintain it. In fascisms, the void is filled by those who have the might to forcibly take their freedom from those who have what they see as a threat to it. Nazism was then, and on a relatively localized scale. Homosexualism is today, and we are experiencing it on a global one. For the time being the usurpation of moral right and wrong by indeterminate standards is being imposed by governments whose who fear the loss of power. They have abandoned their pledge to deliver the right and good to the people who established the such governments over them to provide it. It was the aim of a government like that of the U.S., which was established under the supreme authority of a Creator who endued men with certain unalienable rights. That was the old paradigm. The new one has done away with transcendent truth as a grounding for rights, for right and wrong, for morality altogether. And in its place is the individual’s right to self expression of a world of his imagination which trumps others rights to life, property and a good way of living. Soon, we will seen the true persecution of Christianity. Like it was for the Jews and the Reformed Orthodoxy of Germany, it will be for even the moderate Christian, on a world-wide scale. Once that begins, it will produce the very revolution that fascisms long for and breed. The resulting chaos will leave a void of power. The dethroning of Judeo/Christianity was the first and greatest triumph of Nazism. The question will be, as it was in the first half of the Twentieth Century, who will fill that throne and with how many of lives?

Can SBC Today’s Bob Hadley Please God While Denying Baptist Faith And Message?

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Regeneration | SBC Today.

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Bob says:

Basically, there are two primary interpretations as to the how and when one is “born again” or regenerated, and both are related to belief, repentance and faith. One posits being born again as being essential for belief, repentance and faith to take place; and the other makes belief, repentance and faith essential for being born again.

What does the BF&M say regeneration is? 1) a work of grace whereby believers become new creatures 2) a change of heart wrought (past tense and a past participle of work) through conviction. It is a work of the Holy Spirit who changes the unconvinced heart of an unbelieving sinner to a convicted heart of a believing sinner who responds in repentance toward God and faith in Jesus. Even if one wants to make conviction moving a person toward the truth and a sense of guilt of sin, the question is still who works it. The BF&M states about the work of the Holy Spirit:

Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

What does Scripture say:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Are you so foolish (anoetos)? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

It is not man who is doing any of this. It is being a fool, Paul said, to think so.

What is the order in the BF&M, then? God by grace works regeneration -a change of heart- convicting of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance and faith. He baptizes (seals them) into the body of Christ and then seals them as the guarantee of ongoing sanctification to complete maturity and salvation of the final redemption. What is Bob’s order: repentance and faith is necessary prior to one being born again. To reiterate, the BF&M places “It” (being born again; a change of heart), prior to repentance and faith. In accord with that the BFM places illumination and enablement by the Holy Spirit prior to repentance and faith. Who is working the enablement and the illumination? And where? The Holy Spirit by his presence in the Christian.

To make no mistake about what he is speaking of, Bob states:

One thing appears clear: apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit or ones being “in Christ” there is no new birth or regeneration… Clearly to be born again one MUST have the Spirit living in his heart for if one does not have the Spirit in his heart that one does not belong to God. Regeneration is not possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

He then asks:

So the question now is this: does the Holy Spirit take up residence in the heart of the unregenerate so that he is able to believe, repent and be saved or does the Holy Spirit take up residence in the heart of an individual who has believed, repented and is then saved?

But as is seen in the BF&M the order is established- by the grace of God the Holy Spirit’s presence within changes the hearted, the believer is enabled, illumined, so as to understand. Which in turn, through conviction the sinner responds in repentance and faith. The BFM has already defined salvation broadly, and not narrowly as Bob has done. To be saved includes far more than Bob can allow, quoting the BFM:

In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

Again, note the order. Regeneration comes before justification. Scripture identifies the order of justification this way:

For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Regeneration, the BF&M states, is the beginning of sanctification by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes… So we need to ask, is faith set apart for God’s purposes in the believer, nor not? Is faith part of sanctification. Which comes first, a new heart which believes, or belief from an unchanged heart?

The question that should be asked is does the Holy Spirit take up residence in an unregenerate heart at all? That is, if as Bob says the Holy Spirit’s indwelling and regeneration are inseparable realities, in which he is right, how could it ever be that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in an unregenerate heart so that it is convinced to turn on its own?

First of all, Bob presents a canard. No Calvinist believes that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the unregenerate so that he will do what is required by the commandment to repent and believe. Calvinists believe that in regeneration the Holy Spirit is resident in the newly created heart. We also need to ask, can an unbelieving heart believe? Bob believes so. The self-contradiction is obvious. For those who are, borrowing the term Jesus used, anoetos (not understanding, unwise, foolish), the answer is no! Unbelievers, by the very nature of unbelief, don’t believe. By the testimony of Scripture, an unbeliever cannot be saved, period. How does one who has not had a change of heart (the BF&M’s definition of regeneration) from an unbelieving one to a believing one, believe? Again, for the anoetos, he can’t. Or, quoting Romans 8 where Bob conveniently didn’t:

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

How does a hostile, unbelieving heart, submit? Paul says, it cannot. It will not obey the commands such as repent and believe. So we ask also, can an unbeliever please God? Or, can only a believer? And who is he who can believe? The BF&M is clear, only those who have had a change of heart, who are set apart for God’s purposes can believe. Interestingly, the section on regeneration in the BF&M is supported by Philippians 2:12-13 in which it is clearly stated that God works in us the things which are pleasing to God and John 1:11-14, where we find that those who received Christ were those who were born of God. They didn’t receive him and then were born of God. The BF&M’s own quotations refute Bob’s intentions. If Bob would have further developed Romans 8 he would find that the setting apart for God’s purposes, as the BF&M’s consideration of the grace points out, is part of the whole package of election (i.e. salvation) which includes regeneration and all other means of accomplishing it. It is consistent with free agency because man in bondage to sin while unregenerate has no means of moral choice by which he can submit himself to the commandments of God. The BF&M delcares that the illumination by the Holy Spirit establishes truth in man and by that working of conviction man is set free to do what God has commanded.

Bob quotes:

Consider the following passages. At Pentecost, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’”

But this is misdirection. The manifestation of the Spirit given on Pentecost is not the indwelling. Peter and the others who were with Jesus prior to his crucifixion and after his resurrection already were indwelt by the Spirit, yet the gift Peter is speaking of is “this which was spoken by the prophet Joel… which also was given to Peter on Pentecost. So why quote it here? It is a non-sequitur. But since Bob’s motives are at best questionable, we can ask if it is sleight of hand meant to distract weak-minded anoetos.

He quotes:

“By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God”

But why didn’t he quote: “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.”

Bob quotes:

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

So we ask, how can one call upon the name of the Lord and be saved except that he already has the Holy Spirit? Again, for the anoetos, he can’t. He must be regenerated, and in regeneration have the Holy Spirit before he can call upon the name of Jesus as Lord and be saved. For no one, not anyone, zero, zip, nadie sin excepciones, calls upon the Lord who does not have the Spirit.

But Bob says:

Conversion is the result of the Holy Spirit taking up residence in a person’s heart and that takes place after one believes, repents and confesses Christ.

Again, this is a canard. Calvinists speak of conversion as the outward manifestation of the inward change (a lot like the BF&M). That is, salvation is much broader than Bob seems to have any concept of and begins with regeneration through the hidden work of the Spirit as John 3 explains. It is demonstrated by the fruit it produces, or as John 3 says, we don’t see wind coming or going but we know it by its effects. Conversion, like salvation is a continuum of events some hidden, others obvious. Typically, the outward work is what is acknowledged as conversion (which fits into the category of sanctification), and regeneration is that which cannot be seen and as the BF&M and Scripture testify come before a man’s understanding is opened so that he sees the kingdom and embraces it. When John says that God has blinded the eyes of some so that they cannot see and be converted, (John 12:40; cf Isaiah 6:9-10), the Greek word, which means to turn around, as in repent, is in the passive voice. In other words, conversion, according to John, is something which is being done to those who are turning around. What else should we expect from John who wrote that Jesus said without being born again, one cannot see, that is understand, the kingdom?

To clarify language, when speaking of being saved we acknowledge the inception, the process, and the consummation:

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

So one is said to be saved in the beginning and to be saved throughout and saved in the end. Bob doesn’t make the proper clarification and so, again, he presents a canard by conflating meaning to the point of utter confusion.

So Bob continues to confuse the issues:

Consider Paul’s word of instruction in Ephesians 1: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (see also 2 Co 1:20-22). Clearly the sealing of the Holy Spirit takes place after one has heard the Word of truth presented in the proclamation of the gospel message and has believed it.

Yes, let’s do. What is the sealing spoken of here? Is it the indwelling? It doesn’t say that. The Holy Spirit’s work is varied. For our comfort, according to many places, such as 1 Cor 2, we are told we have been given the Spirit so that we might know the things God has freely given us and knowing the truth we would be set free and no longer fear the wrath of God. 1 Cor 2 says that we have received the Spirit, not that we should fear, but so that we can discern the truth, understanding the things which God has freely given. It also says that the natural man does not have the Spirit and so cannot discern the truth. But, if that is the case, then how does he place his faith in what he doesn’t know to be the truth and turn around, convert, from unbelief to belief? What faith looks to darkness for light? John writes that these things were written that we might know. But, Paul says, only those who have the Spirit can know the things which were written. Jesus said only the disciples know and that all the rest have been blinded so that they would not convert (repent) and believe. So, when the Holy Spirit, as Jesus said, brings to our minds the things he has said, the Holy Spirit seals the truth to our minds. But, he only does that for those to whom it has been given, to those outside it remains a mystery. And this is our comfort, that as Paul, we know him in whom we have believed, not that we first believe and then know him. First, though, before we can know, and knowing repent and believe, we must have the Holy Spirit.

We  also speak of the sealing of the Holy Spirit in another way. We speak of it in adoption. That having been made partakers of the divine nature, we are inextricably bound to Christ by the Holy Spirit. But, what we have been made to be in this latter sense is given in regeneration, the former is given in sanctification. The latter is what would include definitive sanctification and justification though faith which is the whole of salvation given as righteousness by  union with Christ which seals us to Christ. The former is progressive sanctification which includes all the works we are active in, and justification through believing in which the believer is also active through the power of the Spirit performing those things in him which are pleasing to God. The power of the Holy Spirit acts in believers as the confirming signature by which the saints persevere to the end and inherit the promise. As there is a nuance to the terms used in Scripture, such as saved, salvation, redeemed, redemption, and the myriads of ways we use those terms in doctrinal discussion, there is a variety of ways the terms seal or sealed is used. To seal can mean to bind together, or it can mean to affix a mark as in a signature or deed of ownership.

Then again, even if there is a more nuanced way in which Ephesians 1:13 can be understood, there is a sense in which some or all the aspects of one nuance of the whole of our salvation are true of others. Notice that in Ephesians we have a future redemption. But, is it not the fact that those who are believers are redeemed now? There is a comprehensiveness expressed in Ephesians from first to last, from predestination to consummation. Beside, the phrase, “having believed, you were sealed,” is not necessarily rendered correctly. “Having believed is an aorist participle and could well be translated, believing. And “were sealed” is in the aorist indicative and could be rendered “being sealed.” Thus, it could say, you believing being sealed… So simply, it could just mean that believing is the seal of the Holy Spirit’s working. And if we go to Ephesians 1:20 we find the current condition of believers as now seated in the heavenlies which is the future state as considered in the past and present. This is ongoing work, and not simply the initiatory work. In both the believing and the sealing in Ephesians 1:13, the full sense of the aorist tense needs to be considered. The sense of all of Ephesians is forgone conclusion from predestination to consummation. That is, that it began, is ongoing and has futurity. It moves from the grounding purpose to infancy, to maturity, to standing in the end. So again, it is not necessarily right to fix a cemented sequence to the verbage, especially in view of the wide application of the tenses being used and with the full mind’s eye on all that Ephesians is about.

We can add to this Abraham’s faith. Was righteousness imputed to him because he believed, or was believing imputed to him as righteousness? When we look at Ephesians 2:8-9 we find that faith, though it may not be directly the gift referred, is nonetheless, a part of salvation given by God. And it is not a verb, it is a noun just as in Romans 4:9. Since the righteous live by faith, and Jesus concludes that man lives only by the word of God, it is not a stretch to conclude that faith is God’s grace provision as the full provision of all that is meant by the promise of salvation. That faith is righteousness is further confirmed by the fact that it is the very nature of the Son’s life, especially displayed on the cross. His entire life is that faith in which we are given Ephesians says in such a way so that we are in him by virtue of his resurrection (see Peter 1:3). And further, the proper way of believing is shaped by Jesus’s own faith in his Father to whom he entrusted his spirit. To say then that God enables faith in all men though they themselves remain not submitted to God, dishonoring the Son until they act on it, is to mingle the meaning of faith with faithlessness. It pollutes the kind of faith Jesus had. Jesus did not move from being an unbeliever to a believer, nor was he a mixture of doubts, rather, he was the firstfruit of the faith, and we are made after his image, as he said, born from above, John 3:3; John 17. If one makes faith a neutrality which can at once mean to believe or not to believe, faith simply has no meaning. It is no wonder then that Bob believes that an unbeliever can believe. That is to say, Bob believes that an unbeliever can be saved, thus making nonsense of John 3:16-18. We must first be raised from the dead, the power of God’s love in us as it was in Christ, by which, as the Son did, we sons cry Abba.

In Ephesians, it is best, probably, to understand that the Holy Spirit seals to our minds the knowledge of this comprehensive promise which is mentioned, as is clear in 1 Cor 2,through the word taught to spiritual men by the Spirit. Or, it might be said that this is the hope of glory which is in us, the Holy Spirit who, as with the disciples, was given after the disciples had already seen the risen Lord and had already believed, who brings to our minds the things Jesus said. As he said he would not leave them orphans but would send the comforter as the one who comes alongside as an aid in weakness, so also, even though by virtue of regeneration we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us as they did, Jesus further aids us by sending the Holy Spirit to teach, guide, and comfort. There is no reason to conflate the meaning of what the operation of the Holy Spirit is in grounding our hope in the promise of Scripture as a seal with the initial work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration which seals us to Christ. Because again, Scripture is so nuanced as to have, often, both near reference and far. The verse in Ephesians 1:13 proves no sequence of events, necessarily, especially in view of the comprehensive nature of the near context, and of broad category of salvation as it is spoken of throughout Scripture.

Bob concludes:

there is no ambiguity in the Scriptures where the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is concerned with respect to being born again or being regenerated. Regeneration is not possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to those who have believed and have repented and trusted God by faith (Acts 2:38).

As I said before, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit are not the indwelling. The apostles already had the indwelling when the Holy Spirit’s gift spoken of in Acts 2 was given. The ambiguity is in Bob’s head where he conflates one meaning with another. In other parts of Acts it is clear that the Holy Spirit came upon those who already believed:

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.(Acts 4:29-31)

By Bob’s formulation, Peter was born again, and born again, and born again. For when Jesus spoke to the apostles after his resurrection John writes:

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  (John 20:22)

The there is this:

And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
(Luke 1:15)

And we must ask, when did John the Baptist believe? Before or after he was filled with the Holy Spirit? Surely not before. It could only be that after he was enlightened that he believed for he had to be old enough to understand. Yet, we have the testimony that he was filled before he was born.

Bob concludes his conclusion:

While some may try to make a case for a temporal or logical position for regeneration preceding repentance and the exercise of saving faith, such is not the case for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

As we have just seen, this is not the case. Bob is just confused about the indwelling.

Since regeneration is not Scripturally possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, one must conclude regeneration prior to repentance and saving faith is not possible either.

There is no logical sense in which Bob draws this conclusion. The case is that we have the testimony Scripture that John was regenerated in the womb. Bob has simply failed to read the Scripture.

The lost are not regenerated so they may then repent and by faith trust Christ to be justified or saved; the unregenerate are convicted of their sin and their lost state by the work of the Holy Spirit through the proclamation of the gospel and through believing and repentance, they by faith in the person and the promises of God are converted and justified and receive right standing before God when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in their hearts.

Bob’s redundant assertion, I suppose, he hopes will carry his argument. Is he equating justification with being saved? But as we have seen, being saved is far more expansive than a one time event. Above it has been shown that an unbelieving heart is not convicted of anything. It hates the word of God, it cannot submit to it, it cannot please God. It, as the BF&M correctly affirms, must be changed. It is the Holy Spirit which works through conviction. But that is both the knowledge of God and of sin in truth. And Paul is clear that the man without the Spirit has no knowledge is a spiritual sense of anything pertaining to the promises of God. A man without the Spirit does not comprehend the things of God, because he cannot judge right from wrong. It is only the spiritual man who can,

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.(1 Corinthians 2:12-15 ).

If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that we must be spiritual, that is born of God having been given the Spirit, before we can understand spiritual truths interpreted to us (i.e., the Gospel, 1 Cor 2:1-5).

This is the clear position presented in Scripture.

Ronnie Rogers Wishes For A Systematician To Believe In

One Man’s Suggestions for Calvinists and Non-Calvinists, Part 2 | SBC Today.

This is hilarious. Anti-Calvinists nearly universally claim that Calvinists follow Calvin and not Jesus. Now, with no systematicians of their own, anti-Calvinist Ronnie Rogers hopes for someone they can believe in who would write a Systematic that they could stand on to reach the meaning of Scripture.

And here I thought they already exalted the Jesuit Molina to the position of patron saint.

Adventitious Farrago: Calvin On Baptism

via Institutes of the Christian Religion – Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

Not everything Calvin said about baptism can be accepted. There is much he does say which is instructive. Just what is baptism, the proper mode, who is the right recipient and administrator, just what makes it valid, et cetera, are questions that are difficult to answer. However, there are answers. Where Calvin is best is in recognizing where the true efficacy of baptism in water is. He locates it in Christ’s baptism, and that meaning Jesus death burial and resurrection. Right where it should be. Getting that right makes all the rest added, and at times, unnecessary.

Enjoy.

I am adding on to this, this:

We must not suppose that there is some latent virtue inherent in the sacraments by which they, in themselves, confer the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon us, in the same way in which wine is drunk out of a cup, since the only office divinely assigned them is to attest and ratify the benevolence of the Lord towards us; and they avail no farther than accompanied by the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts, and make us capable of receiving this testimony, in which various distinguished graces are clearly manifested. For the sacraments, as we lately observed (chap. 13 sec. 6; and 14 sec. 6, 7), are to us what messengers of good news are to men, or earnests in ratifying pactions. They do not of themselves bestow any grace, but they announce and manifest it, and, like earnests and badges, give a ratification of the gifts which the divine liberality has bestowed upon us. The Holy Spirit, whom the sacraments do not bring promiscuously to all, but whom the Lord specially confers on his people, brings the gifts of God along with him, makes way for the sacraments, and causes them to bear fruit.

It is important to see how Calvin defines the sacraments so as to understand how he applies to them the source of their efficacy, and to whom they should be applied. Calvin appears self-refuting. In some ways concerning some things I think he is. On the other hand, Calvin stands in an arena, I believe, somewhere between paedoism and credoism. He surely doesn’t take the mystical approach that is found in some Reformed circles.

Egregious Dr. David Allen And SBC Today

Dr. David Allen @ the John 3:16 Conference | SBC Today.

This is what Calvin said: “Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.”

Here is the more full context:

8. For by grace are ye saved. This is an inference from the former statements. Having treated of election and of effectual calling, he arrives at this general conclusion, that they had obtained salvation by faith alone. First, he asserts, that the salvation of the Ephesians was entirely the work, the gracious work of God. But then they had obtained this grace by faith. On one side, we must look at God; and, on the other, at man. God declares, that he owes us nothing; so that salvation is not a reward or recompense, but unmixed grace. The next question is, in what way do men receive that salvation which is offered to them by the hand of God? The answer is, by faith; and hence he concludes that nothing connected with it is our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all commendation, it follows that salvation does not come from us.

Ought we not then to be silent about free-will, and good intentions, and fancied preparations, and merits, and satisfactions? There is none of these which does not claim a share of praise in the salvation of men; so that the praise of grace would not, as Paul shews, remain undiminished. When, on the part of man, the act of receiving salvation is made to consist in faith alone, all other means, on which men are accustomed to rely, are discarded. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ. And so he adds, not of yourselves; that claiming nothing for themselves, they may acknowledge God alone as the author of their salvation.

9. Not of works. Instead of what he had said, that their salvation is of grace, he now affirms, that “it is the gift of God.” Instead of what he had said, Not of yourselves, he now says, “Not of works.” Hence we see, that the apostle leaves nothing to men in procuring salvation. In these three phrases, — not of yourselves,it is the gift of God,not of works, — he embraces the substance of his long argument in the Epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians, that righteousness comes to us from the mercy of God alone, — is offered to us in Christ by the gospel, — and is received by faith alone, without the merit of works.

This passage affords an easy refutation of the idle cavil by which Papists attempt to evade the argument, that we are justified without works. Paul, they tell us, is speaking about ceremonies. But the present question is not confined to one class of works. Nothing can be more clear than this. The whole righteousness of man, which consists in works, — nay, the whole man, and everything that he can call his own, is set aside. We must attend to the contrast between God and man, — between grace and works. Why should God be contrasted with man, if the controversy related to nothing more than ceremonies?

Papists themselves are compelled to own that Paul ascribes to the grace of God the whole glory of our salvation, but endeavor to do away with this admission by another contrivance. This mode of expression, they tell us, is employed, because God bestows the first grace. It is really foolish to imagine that they can succeed in this way, since Paul excludes man and his utmost ability, — not only from the commencement, but throughout, — from the whole work of obtaining salvation.

But it is still more absurd to overlook the apostle’s inference, lest any man should boast. Some room must always remain for man’s boasting, so long as, independently of grace, merits are of any avail. Paul’s doctrine is overthrown, unless the whole praise is rendered to God alone and to his mercy. And here we must advert to a very common error in the interpretation of this passage. Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.

For we are his work. By setting aside the contrary supposition, he proves his statement, that by grace we are saved, — that we have no remaining works by which we can merit salvation; for all the good works which we possess are the fruit of regeneration. Hence it follows, that works themselves are a part of grace.

When he says, that “we are the work of God,” this does not refer to ordinary creation, by which we are made men. We are declared to be new creatures, because, not by our own power, but by the Spirit of Christ, we have been formed to righteousness. This applies to none but believers. As the descendants of Adam, they were wicked and depraved; but by the grace of Christ, they are spiritually renewed, and become new men. Everything in us, therefore, that is good, is the supernatural gift of God. The context explains his meaning.We are his work, because we have been created, — not in Adam, but in Christ Jesus, — not to every kind of life, but to

good works.

What remains now for free-will, if all the good works which proceed from us are acknowledged to have been the gifts of the Spirit of God? Let godly readers weigh carefully the apostle’s words. He does not say that we are assisted by God. He does not say that the will is prepared, and is then left to run by its own strength. He does not say that the power of choosing aright is bestowed upon us, and that we are afterwards left to make our own choice. Such is the idle talk in which those persons who do their utmost to undervalue the grace of God are accustomed to indulge. But the apostle affirms that we are God’s work, and that everything good in us is his creation; by which he means that the whole man is formed by his hand to be good. It is not the mere power of choosing aright, or some indescribable kind of preparation, or even assistance, but the right will itself, which is his workmanship; otherwise Paul’s argument would have no force. He means to prove that man does not in any way procure salvation for himself, but obtains it as a free gift from God. The proof is, that man is nothing but by divine grace. Whoever, then, makes the very smallest claim for man, apart from the grace of God, allows him, to that extent, ability to procure salvation.

Created to good works. They err widely from Paul’s intention, who torture this passage for the purpose of injuring the righteousness of faith. Ashamed to affirm in plain terms, and aware that they could gain nothing by affirming, that we are not justified by faith, they shelter themselves under this kind of subterfuge. “We are justified by faith, because faith, by which we receive the grace of God, is the commencement of righteousness; but we are made righteous by regeneration, because, being renewed by the Spirit of God, we walk in good works.” In this manner they make faith the door by which we enter into righteousness, but imagine that we obtain it by our works, or, at least, they define righteousness to be that uprightness by which a man is formed anew to a holy life. I care not how old this error may be; but they err egregiously who endeavor to support it by this passage.

We must look to Paul’s design. He intends to shew that we have brought nothing to God, by which he might be laid under obligations to us; and he shews that even the good works which we perform have come from God. Hence it follows, that we are nothing, except through the pure exercise of his kindness. Those men, on the other hand, infer that the half of our justification arises from works. But what has this to do with Paul’s intention, or with the subject which he handles? It is one thing to inquire in what righteousness consists, and another thing to follow up the doctrine, that it is not from ourselves, by this argument, that we have no right to claim good works as our own, but have been formed by the Spirit of God, through the grace of Christ, to all that is good. When Paul lays down the cause of justification, he dwells chiefly on this point, that our consciences will never enjoy peace till they rely on the propitiation for sins. Nothing of this sort is even alluded to in the present instance. His whole object is to prove, that, “by the grace of God, we are all that we are.”  (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Which God hath prepared Beware of applying this, as the Pelagians do, to the instruction of the law; as if Paul’s meaning were, that God commands what is just, and lays down a proper rule of life. Instead of this, he follows up the doctrine which he had begun to illustrate, that salvation does not proceed from ourselves. He says, that, before we were born, the good works were prepared by God; meaning, that in our own strength we are not able to lead a holy life, but only so far as we are formed and adapted by the hand of God. Now, if the grace of God came before our performances, all ground of boasting has been taken away. Let us carefully observe the word prepared. On the simple ground of the order of events, Paul rests the proof that, with respect to good works, God owes us nothing. How so? Because they were drawn out of his treasures, in which they had long before been laid up; for whom he called, them he justifies and regenerates.

Being a believer is God’s creation. What we need to ask is if believing is a good work. As can be seen Calvin doesn’t make faith not a gift, he makes it part of the whole of the gift of salvation. Calvin’s view of faith is extensive and comprehensive. By Calvin’s reckoning, Allen is a Papist. What Calvin was combating was a restriction on the meaning of the gift which would isolate faith and lend to its necessarily having to be come a meritorious action to receive salvation. In other words, Calvin makes faith a necessary gift in regeneration through which all other graces are received. It is why he discussed free-will. Faith is necessary to over come it, otherwise it is a work of man and not of the grace of God. It also needs to be considered that regeneration is applied to the full process of salvation including sanctification (good works prepared beforehand that we will walk in them). Calvin used the terms interchangeably as many reformers did. That is because the entire man is regenerated in the process of salvation including the final culmination in a glorified body. So we ask, is believing part of our sanctification? Or, is believing neutral, having nothing to do with being conformed to the image of the Son? Did Christ trust the Father when he commended to him his spirit? Faith  is a word equivalent to salvation which includes belief. Calvin is faithful to the formula that faith, that is belief, flows from regeneration as can be seen, not only here, but in his discussion of faith in the Institutes:

We shall now have a full definition of faith if we say that it is a firm and sure knowledge of the divine favor toward us, founded on the truth of a free promise in Christ, and revealed to our minds, and sealed on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit… Since faith embraces Christ as he is offered by the Father, and he is offered not only for justification, for forgiveness of sins and peace, but also for sanctification, as the fountain of living waters, it is certain that no man will ever know him aright without at the same time receiving the sanctification of the Spirit; or, to express the matter more plainly, faith consists in the knowledge of Christ; Christ cannot be known without the sanctification of his Spirit: therefore faith cannot possibly be disjoined from pious affection… Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. Should it be objected, that believers have no stronger testimony to assure them of their adoption, I answer, that though there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith, yet the elect alone have that full assurance which is extolled by Paul, and by which they are enabled to cry, Abba, Father. Therefore, as God regenerates the elect only for ever by incorruptible seed, as the seed of life once sown in their hearts never perishes, so he effectually seals in them the grace of his adoption, that it may be sure and steadfast. But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate. Meanwhile, believers are taught to examine themselves carefully and humbly, lest carnal security creep in and take the place of assurance of faith. We may add, that the reprobate never have any other than a confused sense of grace, laying hold of the shadow rather than the substance, because the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the elect only, applying it by special faith to their use. Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent.

Calvin would view Allen’s faith as a false one, in other words, because it is not that

“the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the elect only, applying it by special faith to their use… In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end.”

It takes a proper knowledge of who Christ is to believe in him, and that, Calvin says, comes only from the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.

Calvin would consider Allen’s faith as such:

“This is invariably true, and is not inconsistent with the fact, that the large benefits which the divine liberality is constantly bestowing on the wicked are preparing them for heavier judgment. As they neither think that these proceed from the hand of the Lord, nor acknowledge them as his, or if they do so acknowledge them, never regard them as proofs of his favor, they are in no respect more instructed thereby in his mercy than brute beasts, which, according to their condition, enjoy the same liberality, and yet never look beyond it. Still it is true, that by rejecting the promises generally offered to them, they subject themselves to severer punishment. For though it is only when the promises are received in faith that their efficacy is manifested, still their reality and power are never extinguished by our infidelity or ingratitude. Therefore, when the Lord by his promises invites us not only to enjoy the fruits of his kindness, but also to meditate upon them, he at the same time declares his love. Thus we are brought back to our statement, that every promise is a manifestation of the divine favor toward us. Now, without controversy, God loves no man out of Christ. He is the beloved Son, in whom the love of the Father dwells, and from whom it afterwards extends to us. Thus Paul says “In whom he has made us accepted in the Beloved,” (Eph. 1:6). It is by his intervention, therefore, that love is diffused so as to reach us. Accordingly, in another passage, the Apostle calls Christ “our peace,” (Eph. 2:14), and also represents him as the bond by which the Father is united to us in paternal affection (Rom. 8:3). It follows, that whenever any promise is made to us, we must turn our eyes toward Christ. Hence, with good reasons Paul declares that in him all the promises of God are confirmed and completed (Rom. 15:8).”

To love Christ, is to be in him, and how can one have faith in whom he does not love? Is believing an act of love? Then believing can only be in those who are in Christ.

Calvin has previously declared that the power of faith is such because it is Christ in us who is its strength and remains the faithful one even when we waiver. In other words, Calvin has declared with Scripture that without faith it is impossible to please God and that it is we in him and he in us the hope of glory, for Christ alone is the one in whom God is well pleased. All other faith outside Christ is void of power to save because it is not united with Christ who by the power of his resurrection has made us to be blessed in the Beloved. Divine favor, that is God’s gift in Christ, is the source and the resource of faith.

A simple external manifestation of the word ought to be amply sufficient to produce faith, did not our blindness and perverseness prevent. But such is the proneness of our mind to vanity, that it can never adhere to the truth of God, and such its dullness, that it is always blind even in his light. Hence without the illumination of the Spirit the word has no effect; and hence also it is obvious that faith is something higher than human understanding. Nor were it sufficient for the mind to be illumined by the Spirit of God unless the heart also were strengthened and supported by his power. Here the Schoolmen go completely astray, dwelling entirely in their consideration of faith, on the bare simple assent of the understanding, and altogether overlooking confidence and security of heart. Faith is the special gift of God in both ways,—in purifying the mind so as to give it a relish for divine truth, and afterwards in establishing it therein. For the Spirit does not merely originate faith, but gradually increases it, until by its means he conducts us into the heavenly kingdom. “That good thing which was committed unto thee,” says Paul, “keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us,” (2 Tim. 1:14). In what sense Paul says (Gal. 3:2), that the Spirit is given by the hearing of faith, may be easily explained. If there were only a single gift of the Spirit, he who is the author and cause of faith could not without absurdity be said to be its effect; but after celebrating the gifts with which God adorns his church, and by successive additions of faith leads it to perfection, there is nothing strange in his ascribing to faith the very gifts which faith prepares us for receiving. It seems to some paradoxical, when it is said that none can believe Christ save those to whom it is given; but this is partly because they do not observe how recondite and sublime heavenly wisdom is, or how dull the mind of man in discerning divine mysteries, and partly because they pay no regard to that firm and stable constancy of heart which is the chief part of faith… The supplies of the Holy Spirit are therefore necessary, or rather his agency is here the only strength… The word is, in regard to those to whom it is preached, like the sun which shines upon all, but is of no use to the blind. In this matter we are all naturally blind; and hence the word cannot penetrate our mind unless the Spirit, that internal teacher, by his enlightening power make an entrance for it… Let it suffice to observe, that the spirit of faith is used by Paul as synonymous with the very faith which we receive from the Spirit, but which we have not naturally (2 Cor. 4:13). Accordingly, he prays for the Thessalonians, “that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power,” (2 Thess. 1:2). Here, by designating faith the work of God, and distinguishing it by way of epithet, appropriately calling it his good pleasure, he declares that it is not of man’s own nature; and not contented with this, he adds, that it is an illustration of divine power. In addressing the Corinthians, when he tells them that faith stands not “in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God,” (1 Cor. 2:4), he is no doubt speaking of external miracles; but as the reprobate are blinded when they behold them, he also includes that internal seal of which he elsewhere makes mention. And the better to display his liberality in this most excellent gift, God does not bestow it upon all promiscuously, but, by special privilege, imparts it to whom he will. To this effect we have already quoted passages of Scripture, as to which Augustine, their faithful expositor, exclaims (De Verbo Apost. Serm. 2) “Our Savior, to teach that faith in him is a gift, not a merit, says, ‘No man can come to me, except the Father, which has sent me, draw him,’ (John 6:44). It is strange when two persons hear, the one despises, the other ascends. Let him who despises impute it to himself; let him who ascends not arrogate it to himself” In another passage he asks, “Wherefore is it given to the one, and not to the other? I am not ashamed to say, This is one of the deep things of the cross. From some unknown depth of the judgments of God, which we cannot scrutinize, all our ability proceeds. I see that I am able; but how I am able I see not:—this far only I see, that it is of God. But why the one, and not the other? This is too great for me: it is an abyss a depth of the cross. I can cry out with wonder; not discuss and demonstrate.” The whole comes to this, that Christ, when he produces faith in us by the agency of his Spirit, at the same time ingrafts us into his body, that we may become partakers of all blessings… And what else is it than to bring the promises of Christ into doubt, when we would be deemed servants of Christ without having his Spirit, whom he declared that he would pour out on all his people? (Isa. 44:3). What! do we not insult the Holy Spirit, when we separate faith, which is his peculiar work, from himself? These being the first rudiments of religion, it is the most wretched blindness to charge Christians with arrogance, for presuming to glory in the presence of the Holy Spirit; a glorying without which Christianity itself does not exist. The example of these men illustrates the truth of our Savior’s declaration, that his Spirit “the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you,” (John 14:17).

You can see, Calvin is exhausting the meaning of faith and its source and power. Faith knows him in whom it believes. It’s power and efficacy is God himself in the one who believes, and that from God. It is secured to us by the same power which raised Christ from the dead, and is active only by that power. How futile to claim that faith can exist outside of Christ, or that it can exist in us without Christ in us the hope of glory. Faith is not impotent emotionalism like that of the pagan religions and Allen would have it. That is what Allen presents, however. He offers nothing more than the stench of death, not the life freely given so that men might believe.

Allen, along with SBCToday, for some reason wants the reader not to read Calvin for himself. For some reason he wants to pretend that no one will take notice. How such filth stands as a representative of the SBC is beyond all comprehension.

A final note. All Calvinists believe that salvation is conditioned by faith.  That A.T. Robertson pointed out that in the Greek of Ephesians 2:8-9, means nothing. There are two nuances of conditioned that should be mentioned. It can mean in the conditional sense, i.e., that one thing must precede another. It can also mean the existing state of the thing which is indicated. That is to say, light is a necessary condition to see only indicates that the light must be. Not that sight must become light. Rather, that in seeing, light must exist already. Add that to the fact that the word faith here is noun, and not a verb, there is every indication that the thing essentially (and properly all of what faith means in Scripture) and not its action, is what is being spoken of.

Add to that, is salvation ever spoken of in Scripture as existing without faith as if faith were prior and not a part of it? Even when Scripture says believe and you will be saved, the conditionality as a possibility may only indicate that the state of being is what is meant, as in John 3:16 where it is said, “all the ones believing in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The SBCToday article makes it look as if A.T. is confirming Allen. But he doesn’t. In both verses he commends that all of it is of grace. That we have faith, that is, that it is we who believe, is not excluded from the power and the one working it in us. It, as all things considered as a condition of salvation, all of grace, as A.T. said, are not from in man but from without, a gift given. Faith is the condition of salvation, not the precondition of it.

For a definition and another look, see here. Faith is on our part, there is no doubt, but that doesn’t make it any less part of the grace which God gives than any other part of the whole of our salvation. That God gives it, and operates it, does not exclude us being active in it. Nor does what the referent is, or what it refers to, have anything to do with overthrowing the Holy Spirit who works all things in all. Unless one wants to say that faith is not of the Spirit- but if not of the Spirit, then it is not Christ’s, nor does it have anything to do with him. The Spirit works all things, regeneration, conviction, sanctification, repentance, et cetera. If he doesn’t work faith in us, then it is not in us. If it is not in us it is not part of us, either, if the Holy Spirit is not working it. A.T., is not the only Greek scholar in the world.

Another attempt to rule out faith as a gift is found here. Curiously, the same two foolish conclusions are made: 1) because of the grammar construction faith is not a gift (but as we saw above, Calvin got the grammar right and still said it was a gift), 2) that nowhere else in Scripture is faith indicated as a gift. The latter has been, and will continue to shown to be one of the most foolish things ever said:

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake (Philippians 1:29).

And Robertson’s NT Word Studies says of Philippians 1:29 “{In the behalf of Christ} (to huper cristou). Literally, “the in behalf of Christ.” But Paul divides the idea and uses the article to again both with pisteuein and with pascein. Suffering in behalf of Christ is one of God’s gifts to us.” Even as an unfriendly antagonist, A.T. could not help but come to the conclusion that faith is a gift when he says that to refers to both believe and to suffer.

Hart’s derogatory conclusion is that Ephesians 2:8 cannot be used as support for “faith as a gift theology.” But in reading his article, he demonstrates that is not true, as it is and will remain, controversial because of the construction in which faith may well be included in the grace of salvation even if one agrees that faith is not directly the gift in that verse. Isolated, it may be a gift, or it may not be, but it is not conclusive that it cannot be a gift. Here is the thing. Since Philippians says that faith is a gift, even if Ephesians doesn’t contain the construction that it is, it is proper to assign it as a gift there because it is proven elsewhere. Beside, when has it ever been the rule that a direct statement must exist to prove a doctrine. Can we say trinity… anyone?

I point out Hart for one very special purpose. Allen has been known to import whole-cloth others’ thoughts, without checking out the veracity of them. In other words, when a fool speaks foolishly, Allen has a tendency to take upon himself the mantle of a fool and repeat the fools words as truth. SBC Today lacks any compulsion to avoid the same kind foolishness. In the SBCToday articles “quotes” of Allen, Allen uses direct language from Hart.

I return to Calvin since Allen, Hart, and SBC Today have quoted him as an authority:

Here Paul clearly testifies, that faith, as well as constancy in enduring persecutions, is an unmerited gift of God. And certainly the knowledge of God is a wisdom that is too high for our attaining it by our own acuteness, and our weakness shews itself in daily instances in our own experience, when God withdraws his hand for a little while. That he may intimate the more distinctly that both are unmerited, he says expressly — for Christ’s sake, or at least that they are given to us on the ground of Christ’s grace; by which he excludes every idea of merit.

This passage is also at variance with the doctrine of the Schoolmen, in maintaining that gifts of grace latterly conferred are rewards of our merit, on the ground of our having made a right use of those which had been previously bestowed. I do not deny, indeed, that God rewards the right use of his gifts of grace by bestowing grace more largely upon us, provided only you do not place merit, as they do, in opposition to his unmerited liberality and the merit of Christ.

Once again Calvin makes it clear that faith in Philippians 1:29 is a gift even if it isn’t directly so in Ephesians 2:8. And so it is not as Allen and SBCToday claim. Faith is directly proclaimed to be a gift. There is of course Corinthians. But if any should complain, let it be known, I agree with Calvin in that what SBCToday and Allen have done is to become Papists and Schoolmen. They deny the active operation of God’s Holy Spirit in the ability of men to perform the duties required of them. When Calvin also condemns the semi-schoolmen along with them, he makes it clear that neither Pelagians, nor semi-Pelagians, have any interest in a salvation that is of God alone.

My God, My God, Why?”

(A compilation from Psalm 22:16-18; Luke 23:32-38; Mark 4:12; and 1 Corinthians 2:8) And Jesus said, “Father, permit these dogs to encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; and they cast lots to divide my garments. And the people stand by, watching. They may indeed see but they do not perceive, and may indeed hear but they do not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven. Father, permit this for they know not what they do. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. The rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” All who see me mock me; their mouths open against me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”  The soldiers also mock…ed him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” “Father, for what purpose do you do afflict me?” But the Father has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship before him, even before the one who could not keep himself alive. All who go down to the dust shall bow before him. Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
Rejoice In The Anastasis!