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Regeneration Does Precede Faith (I Was Wrong)

Posted by Job on March 22, 2013

In the past, I have vehemently criticized the doctrine that regeneration precedes faith. The reason for this was my ignorance. I took regeneration to be another word for conversion in that it had the exact same meaning.

However, regeneration only refers to passing from death to life. It is what happened in the natural sense when Lazarus and a number of unnamed characters were raised from the dead by those such as Jesus Christ, Elijah and Elisha. Those natural regenerations were types, or prefigurements, of the spiritual regeneration that happens when a sinner becomes a believer. We can include the resurrection of Jesus Christ as this sort of natural regeneration, as Jesus Christ’s physical existence went from being dead to alive. Obviously, being the sinless perfect and pre-existing God and Son of God, Jesus Christ needed no spiritual regeneration of any sort. This is in contrast with Lazarus, who not only experienced natural regeneration after being dead four days, but being one born into original sin and having sinned – as the soul that sinneth shall die as Lazarus did – he needed to receive spiritual regeneration also.

The subject of confusion: being regenerated, being born again, is only part of the salvation process. The actual conversion process happens after regeneration. Further, the effectual calling occurs before regeneration.

1. Effectual call: this is when God (the Holy Spirit) calls the sinner to salvation. It takes place when the sinner hears the gospel. (Note: the providence of God must place the sinner in position to hear the gospel first.)

2. Regeneration: this is when the Holy Spirit raises the sinner from the dead.

3. Conversion: this is when the sinner receives faith from the Holy Spirit, believes the gospel of Jesus Christ and hence fulfills John 3:16, Romans 10:8-9 etc.

The effectual calling cannot and will not happen unless one has first been chosen (elected by God the Father unto salvation from before the foundation of the world). The regeneration will not occur until one has been called. And salvation occurs after regeneration.

Why must regeneration precede faith? I am certain that you have heard that “dead men tell no tales.” Similarly, dead men cannot have faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). How can a dead man have assurance or conviction? A secular dictionary defines faith as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” How can a dead man have trust or confidence of any sort in anything, let alone a complete and total one in the unseen God? A dead man cannot even have wishy washy confidence in the casket that he is lying in. Why? Because he is dead. He doesn’t even know that he is in a casket. He has no feelings, thoughts or emotions.

This is not a contrivance of philosophy or idle speculation, but a truth clearly taught in scripture. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” But that is Paul’s doctrine, right? Well from the words of Jesus Christ in John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Now John 3:3 is key. Seeing the kingdom of God or entering the kingdom of God is always used by Jesus Christ to refer to salvation. Always. So, Jesus Christ explicitly states that one must be born again before that person can be saved. Again, when Jesus Christ said “except”, He was making a condition. So, the condition of being saved was being born again. Regeneration precedes conversion or salvation. And take a look at Ephesians 2:8, which says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.” Regeneration precedes salvation. Salvation comes by faith. Thus, regeneration precedes faith. It is clearly, explicitly taught in scripture.

The doctrine of regeneration precedes faith is considered to be a Calvinist distinctive. However, many non-Calvinists believe so also without acknowledging or admitting it. Many non-Calvinists believe that God makes a change in the sinner that allows the sinner to make a choice to accept or reject him. Of course, the acceptance is a decision made through faith, and the rejection is a decision made through a lack of faith according to this doctrine. The non-Calvinist does not refer to this as regeneration, of course, because he recognizes that regeneration must necessarily result in salvation. So the non-Calvinist regards this as God’s merely opening the sinner’s eyes and hearts for the purposes of allowing him a free choice.

Problems with this doctrine are many. The Bible makes it clear that unsaved people are spiritually dead. So the person goes from spiritually dead to “sort of dead”, akin to the woman who says that she is “sort of pregnant”? Just as you are either pregnant or not, you are either dead or not … there is no in-between! Second, how can the “sort of dead/alive” person choose to believe and accept God on this basis in the absence of faith? Simple: he cannot. He cannot accept the gospel and believe without faith. And if God gives him faith, he will inevitably believe. There is no such thing as conditional, decision-based faith that is only activated on choice. So, for the sinner to choose God once God makes this choice possible requires the sinner to already have faith present within himself. And if this faith is present, he never was a sinner to begin with, and he was never spiritually dead to begin with. The Bible states that without faith it is impossible to please God. The converse would mean that those who have faith are already acceptable to God, meaning that they were righteous, justified, regenerate and converted already. Instead of being in a condition of original sin, this person would have had to have been inherently righteous already without having heard the gospel and without need of Jesus Christ. Moreover, if such a righteous person were to confess and repent of his sinful condition and state his need for Christ to be his savior, that person would be a liar!

The doctrine of regeneration coming after faith – or truthfully that regeneration and conversion are the same – is due to people being determined to believe that God must offer a man a free choice to accept or reject Him in order to be just and righteous. However, accepting God cannot be made in the absence of faith! The Bible is clear on this. Thus, denying that regeneration precedes faith is nothing more than an absolute determination to believe a lie.

This also solves the problem of those who fall away and confirms the doctrine of perseverance of the saints, or “once saved always saved.” Be not deceived: faith is not mere belief. Faith only comes by the Holy Spirit after the Holy Spirit regenerates you. And after conversion, the Holy Spirit seals you and keeps you in the faith. The Bible is clear on this. The Bible is also clear with the parable of the sower that it is possible to believe the gospel at one point but later renounce that belief. The Bible further states clearly that it is possible to believe the gospel, retain this belief but not bear fruit. The Bible further still states that it is possible to believe the gospel, do good works and bear fruit but not be obedient. These are the teachings of Jesus Christ, and Christ makes it clear that those people (the ones who renounce the gospel after believing at one point, those who believe but do not bear fruit, and those who believe and bear fruit but are disobedient) will be cast into the lake of fire! Why is this so? Because these people believed without receiving faith, and they did not receive faith because they are still unregenerate. You cannot have faith and be spiritually dead, but you can certainly believe and be spiritually dead. Hence, rejecting the truth that regeneration precedes faith is one of the reasons why many Christian denominations (Methodists and many Pentecostals for example) believe that it is possible to lose your salvation. The regeneration precedes faith doctrine provides both absolute proof that those who fall away were never saved to begin with, and provides absolute assurance that those who are truly saved will bear fruit, attain obedience and endure trials and tribulations until the end, even unto death!

So God will accept anyone who comes to Him through His Son, because those who come to God are those that God has called to do so. Is God calling you today? If so, repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. If you wish for more information on how to do so:

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Putting John 3:16 In Its Place: The Meaning And Purpose Of This Text

Posted by Job on March 19, 2013

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Some use passages like these to assert that those who believe in limited atonement (or particular redemption) instead of universal atonement deny that God loves everyone. The argument goes that if God loves everyone, then it means that Jesus Christ died for everyone and that those texts “prove” it and accuse men of twisting scripture in order to claim otherwise.. Well C.S. Lewis and other believers of religious pluralism and universalism use 1 Timothy 4:10 –“For to this end we labour and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe “ – and many other scriptures to justify it. Is it similarly twisting scripture to say that they are wrong also?

Of course not. Why? Because we know that 1 Timothy 4:10 is not the only thing that the Bible says about salvation. So, it is because that we put 1 Timothy 4:10 in the context of all the other things that the Bible says about how God saves – including John 14:6’s “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” – in order to deny that this text teaches that men above the age of accountability can be saved outside of personal faith in Jesus Christ.

Thus, the same is true of John 3:16. While that text is extremely popular, very well known and much beloved, that is no reason to make it the primary text on the issue of salvation through which all other texts must be judged, held subject to and viewed in light of. That is interpreting scripture according to human opinion and emotion – our tendency to grab hold upon and emphasize the things that please and comfort us while putting less emphasis on the things that disturb and challenge us – instead of letting scripture speak for itself.

It is all well and good to love John 3:16. But we cannot use John 3:16 to pretend that Proverb 16:4 “The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil ” isn’t in the Bible, especially since Romans 9:13-23 clearly uses Proverb 16:4 in order to explain the nature and purpose of God’s election as it applies to the Jews and the Gentiles? Now that is what requires the twisting of the Bible scriptures. Accepting those texts and putting them into the proper contexts is why the so-called 5 point Calvinists exist. The only alternative is to deny the meaning and application of those texts, which is what most theologians and other Bible students do … precisely what they accuse the believers of limited atonement of. Perhaps the best example of this is the common explanation of deniers of limited atonement that predestinate in Romans 8:29-30 doesn’t mean, well, predestinate, or the many others who claim that it really means “foreknowledge.” Similar explaining away is done with and who do the same with Ephesians 1:3-12 and also with the many “Calvinistic” texts that appear in the Gospel of John just as does John 3:16.

So, for example, using John 6:65’s “And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” and John 10:26-29’s “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand.” to interpret John 3:16 is not imposing an artificial human framework on the Bible. Instead, claiming that John 6:37 is based on God’s foreknowledge – and doing so in the complete absence of textual evidence to support it and when so many texts like Romans 9:13-23 contradict it – is when the denying the plain meaning of scripture from its literal, contextual interpretation is being done.

Does this mean that God does not love the world — all people and not just the elect — with an unconditional love? That begs the question of whether unconditional love as our modern humanistic Enlightenment-driven society defines it is a Biblical concept to begin with. If it were, then that would necessarily mean universalism. You may ask whether “world” really mean world or does it mean only the elect and whether world can be both, meaning all people in general, but only or especially the elect in particular?

Many do precisely those types of interpretative gymnastics, but they are not necessary. The “world” of John 3:16 does mean the world. But understand this: God is perfectly capable of loving the world and saving only the elect. Again, making the case that God’s loving everyone obligates Him to save everyone can only lead to universalism. The non-Calvinist viewpoint deals with this problem by saying that God TRIED to save everyone but failed. Now if you limit this “failure” to those who made a free will decision to reject Jesus Christ then that “solves” the failure issue after a fashion. The problem is that “God tried to save everyone but His efforts were thwarted by the free will that He gave us to accept or reject Him” theology simply cannot be a sufficient answer for the fact that the overwhelming supermajority of humanity has never heard the name Jesus Christ, and moreover before His advent had never encountered Judaism or the pre-Judaic Yahwism.

Truthfully, the pluralism of types like C.S. Lewis and the Roman Catholics (purgatory) and contemporary religious moderates do a much better job of explaining this problem, which is so real and vast that it has been a source of great heartache for missionaries like Hudson Taylor, who knew that he could not possibly reach every person in the vastness of China with the gospel of Jesus Christ and fell victim to the slough of despond and the giant despair (see Pilgrim’s Progress) as a result. God rescued him from that fate with the instructions for Taylor to be satisfied with going to the people that that God sent Taylor to. (And incidentally Taylor was not a Calvinist).

And here is the real irony for those who reject the Biblical doctrine of limited atonement. Even if you do not believe in limited atonement, the requirement of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation serves as a practical limitation anyway. Again, the only way to avoid that practical limitation is to be a universalist or pluralist. How “general” is the atonement to the person who lives his entire life as a sincere, upstanding, devoted, honest moral adherent to the Hindu religion because he spent his entire life in India in the 1500s and Hinduism is all he ever knew? The only relevance of general atonement to that person is that even though that person had absolutely no possibility of ever being saved, Jesus Christ still died for him so that “proves” that God loved him. Christ’s death on the cross made this person’s salvation hypothetically, theoretically possible in the spiritual realm even though it was still impossible in the natural one. Which means that the true purpose of general atonement that it provides a comfortable, reassuring view of God to the people who hold it. The doctrine is of no use to the sinner whatsoever. Whether you hear the gospel and do not respond with faith and repentance or never hear the gospel at all, from the sinner’s perspective the extent of the atonement doesn’t matter because the fate of the sinner is still the same. The issue is all about whether serving a God who limits the atonement or serving a God who doesn’t IN THEORY but does IN PRACTICE “feels better.”

Still can’t look at John 3:16 and “see” limited atonement? Well, you may not see religious pluralism in 1 Timothy 4:10 either. But that is what C. S. Lewis saw when he looked at it … justification for the religious pluralism doctrines taught by the Roman Catholic Church – and Lewis fellowshipped with a lot of Catholics, including his friend J.R.R. Tolkien – and embraced by virtually all moderate (meaning neither evangelical or liberal) Christians and an increasing number of evangelicals like Rob Bell. So often we see what we want to see instead of what the Bible says, and that has to change.

Does limited atonement mean that God takes pleasure in the destruction of the wicked? Ezekiel 18:23 would tend to say otherwise with “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: [and] not that he should return from his ways, and live?.” But just as we being in the image of God often have to do things that give us no pleasure but are necessary, God’s justice requires that His wrath must be poured out on the wicked. The key to remember that merely because destroying the wicked does not give God pleasure does not require God to act in order to avoid displeasure. Claiming that it does is judging God by arbitrary standards created by our own emotionalism; our refusal to accept things that appear to us to be unjust. But why do they appear to be unjust to us? Because we feel that God owes us something. The truth of what the Bible says, which is that we are the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3) to do with as He pleases is denied because of our unwilling to countenance the idea that God is the measure of all things and not man; that the universe is God-centered and not man-centered.

It is curious: no Bible-based Christian (as opposed to the idolatrous animal rights activist) takes offense at the notion that man, a mere creature made in God’s image, has the right to breed sheep for the purpose of eating them even while they are juveniles (lamb chops, leg of lamb, rack of lamb etc.) Yet we are offended at the idea that God, who is worth more than the entirety of creation (meaning that the distance between man’s worth and a lamb’s worth is much smaller than the distance between man’s worth and God’s worth) has the right to do with us as He pleases or else be judged as unloving and unrighteous, so we stumble at Yes, the Bible does not say that God takes pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, but texts like “The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” and “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” as a result.To do this we must make God out to be worth less than He is or we make ourselves out to be worth more than we are at God’s expense. Either way it is man-centered heresy.

So if you are struggling with the question “how can I say that God loves you without knowing whether you are elect or not”, I emphasize again that this goes back to the fundamental question of whether God can love someone without electing them to salvation. This answer – yes – is most clearly given in Matthew 5:45 … “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Also, an excellent teaching on this topic can be found here: http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/a294/the-love-of-god-and-the-nonelect

This brings about the inevitable question: how will this affect my evangelism? Well you can certainly everyone that God loves them, and use this truth clearly taught in the Bible as the basis for your evangelism. The Bible does not say to use the fact that God did not elect everyone to hinder evangelism, because quite the contrary God said that many are called (in that they hear the gospel … note that it does not say that ALL are called because all do not hear the gospel) but few are chosen (meaning that of those who hear the gospel, few will be saved). And this truth was illustrated by several of Christ’s parables, such as the parable of the sower of Matthew 13:1-23 and the wedding parable of Matthew 22:1-14.

So John 3:16 does not have to be abandoned by the Christian who believes in limited atonement. It means that when sharing the gospel we can tell sinners that everyone who believes – whosoever believeth – will be saved.The key is to stop right there and not add anything to it. Don’t say “Jesus Christ died for all of you so that means all of you can be saved if all of you believe.” Why not? Because the Bible doesn’t say so. General atonement is nowhere in the Bible. If it were, I would believe it and so would you. So whether in mixed company, hostile company (all unbelievers like Paul at Mars Hill) or all believers like Jesus Christ at His high priestly prayer or the disciples in the upper room awaiting Pentecost, limiting yourself to what the Bible actually says is all that is necessary, sufficient and justifiable.

So evangelist, just say “Christ died so that all who believe will be saved” and you will be true to the Bible. And that is the true meaning of the John 3:16. Before it was written, there was no promise, assurance or guarantee that everyone who believed would be saved. Now we contemporary Christians presuppose that and take it for granted because we have always known it. But keep in mind that the apostle John was originally writing that gospel not to people with 2000 years of Christian tradition behind them like us. Rather, the first audience who received his gospel was made up of pagans with a very different view of salvation than we have, and also to Jews who believed in justification by the works of the law in addition to faith.

So for both the Gentile pagans and even the Jews, it was very possible to believe in God (or the gods for polytheistic pagans) and still not be saved. For the Jew, one could believe and still be condemned if you did not keep the law. As for the pagans, their gods were arbitrary, unpredictable, conferring – and withdrawing – their favor on whims. So the true purpose of John 3:16 is not to talk about the extent of the atonement, but to teach the doctrine of justification by faith alone, sola fide, to the Jews first and then the pagan Gentiles.

This is evident if you stop taking John 3:16 in isolation and instead look at the entire chapter of John 3. This chapter begins with the rabbi going to Jesus Christ to seek instruction on spiritual things because He recognized that as God was obviously with Christ due to Christ’s miracles, Christ would know such things to teach. Christ in response taught the rabbi about the need for, meaning and nature of regeneration, being born again. The context of Christ’s discussion with the rabbi was never who could be saved, but how people are saved.

John 3:3 – by being born again. John 3:5-8 – by a work of the Holy Spirit, not of man. John 3:11-17 – Christ stating that it is by and through Him that this salvation will be achieved because of His divine sonship. And John 3:18-21 – the fate of those who do not believe, with 3:18 being the inverse of 3:16. In that context, the true context and meaning – it is crystal clear that the text never intends to claim that God gave Christ so that all can theoretically be saved! Instead, it states that God gave Christ so that all who believed would be saved, and that all who did not believe would not be saved! This fact that we today take for granted today was in complete opposition to the religious mindset of Jews and pagans of the time and place of John’s gospel. It was a truly radical, revolutionary groundbreaking idea that was foolishness to the Gentiles and an offense to the Jews.

So as this is all the scripture ever meant and was intended for, why claim that it says or was intended to proclaim more? Anything more is adding to scripture, which should not be done, chiefly because it is a sin, but also because there is no reason to. The sinner needs no more information than that, and the only reason to add more information than that is for the benefit of the evangelist sharing the message. It reassures the evangelist and makes his job superficially (by that I mean according to the flesh) easier, but the Bible makes it clear that our jobs in service to the God of the Bible are not going to be easy or flesh-driven to begin with.

John 3:16 is 100% true and very powerful. But the Christian should not and cannot impose meanings on it that do not exist because it makes us feel better. We Christians should cast aside such works of the flesh and acknowledge to ourselves that the Bible says what it means. God gives the evangelist the responsibility to share the gospel with all. God gives the sinner the responsibility to respond to the gospel with repentance. But the only ones who will be saved are those that God supplies with faith. Everyone who receives faith from God will be saved. No one who does not receive faith from God will be. It is this way because with our salvation as with everything else, God alone shall be glorified. That is the point of John 3:16, the point of the entire canon of scripture, and the point of all of creation in the first place. And when viewed next to the glory of the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent perfect God, such notions that God only wants to be worshiped by those who choose to do so out of their free will – as if it is illegitimate for God to compel the sheep of His pasture to worship Him, and to train and condition us into doing so by conforming us into the image of His Son and providing His Spirit to live in us – must be rejected for the plain betrayals of the Bible and the picture of God that is revealed to us through His creation that they are.

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

“I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7

If you are saved, walk in this truth. If you are unsaved, you are without excuse. Repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ today.

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The Necessity Of The Holy Trinity

Posted by Job on October 26, 2011

Motivated at least in part by the current controvery over oneness heretic T.D. Jakes, (also here and here) please read two very good pieces on the importance of the Holy Trinity. Hopefully, this will help Christians understand that we are to separate with heretics, not dialogue with them.

On The Trinity: Part One – Hermeneutics

On the Trinity: Part Two – The Trinity, Central to Apologetics and Evangelism

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Luke 14:23’s Compel Them To Come In Refers To Irresistible Grace

Posted by Job on March 27, 2011

Luke 14:16-24 reads

And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden , Come ; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse . The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused . And another said , I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said , I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come .So that servant came , and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said , Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded , and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in , that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

As useful as was Augustine in combating the heresy of Pelagius, we must never forget that this fellow in many other respects oft labored to promote the political interests of the Roman Empire and its state religion, including but not limited to laying the groundwork for such endtimes views as preterism, amillennialism and postmillennialism because the Roman Empire wanted Christians to see it as the fulfilment of the kingdom of God, which make Christians far less likely to oppose it. The error of Augustine’s allowing the pulpit to be used to advance a state agenda was exposed when Catholicism later cast aside Augustine’s work against Pelagius and instead adopted what is clearly semi-Pelagianism when it suited its political interests. Contemporary pastors who wish to mix the doctrines of the holy God with the ambitions of the fallen state should take note.

But far more harmful than Augustine’s endtimes doctrines in service to the Roman state was his misappropriation of Luke 14:23. His wicked, evil use of this scripture was employed to justify a state doctrine that over the centuries caused the deaths of untold people by the sword, and kept scores of others in religious darkness with the threat of force. Though there were others before him and after him, it was Augustine who most effectively made the case that it was God’s will for the state to use the threat – and reality – of force to make membership in the state church compulsory. This made the ambitions of the state and the church shared, and allowed one to not only tolerate but promote any amount of corruption and wickedness from the other so long as it advanced the interests of both.

Augustine’s malevolent butchering of Luke 14:23 occurred during the time of the Donatist rebellion. Now history records the Donatists as heretics, a vicious smear which shows just how truthful the proverb “the winners get to write the history book” is. Any idea that the Donatists were heretics motivated primarily by political, nationalistic and ethnic/racial considerations to break from the Roman church in order to pursue strange doctrines was convincingly shattered by Leonard Verduin’s “The Refomers And Their Stepchildren”, and that so many church historians have disseminated Catholic propaganda regarding this sad incident is something that will have to be answered for by them.

The truth is that the Donatists should be considered to be as among the earliest Protestants. While it is true that some of their motivations were not entirely religious, it was clearly superior to what motivated the Anglicans (Episcopalians) to separate from Rome. Also, it is ridiculous to call them heretical based on doctrine because on most points the Donatists beliefs were similar to the Roman church from which they attempted to break, and where there were divergences, the Donatist position must be preferred. So, the only reason why history denounces the Donatists is because the Catholics call them so, and as the Donatist attempt to separate failed where other separatist efforts (the Eastern Catholic churches and the Protestant Reformation) succeeded, the unjust Catholic judgment against them stands.

So, during the time of the Donatist protest, even though the entity known as “the Catholic Church” was not yet fully formed in doctrine and organization, the Roman Empire had already started appointing “priests” for political and other reasons. Cronyism, nepotism, political payoffs and other forms corruption were oft used for the basis for selecting church officers, and this resulted in vain fellows with unsavory backgrounds and behaviour and questionable training – unqualified and unsuitable on many counts – being appointed as priests by the politico-ecclesiastical hegemony all over the empire, and the region of the Donatists (north Africa) was no different. When the practice of elevating unqualified individuals to the priesthood was challenged, the Catholic Church responded that the measure of qualifications of a priest is being ordained and appointed by the church, and not the spiritual or moral state of the church itself. When the sacraments (i.e. baptisms and the rite of communion) offered by priests who were deemed by those in a position to know (the parishioners that they were presiding over) to be unbelieving were challenged, the hierarchy took the position that the legitimacy of the sacraments were not a function of the priest who gave them, but rather of the church that ordained the priest. (This remains the position of the Roman Catholic Church to this day, and is used to retain any number of priests who exhibit severely aberrant doctrines and behaviour.)

The Donatists, then, took the “radical” position that church offices should be held only by those qualified to do so, and that ensuring this required that the officers be chosen by the local churches themselves. The Donatists stated that the baptisms performed by illegitimate priests were illegitimate, and had to be performed again. (Donatists were the original Anabaptists.) Further, Donatists held that the church must be “a church of saints, not sinners.” Now of course, this is not necessarily an unqualified defense of Donatists and Donatism. For example, they were still very much “Catholic” in doctrine and practice, believing in such abominations as a human priesthood, rites of penance, and the Eucharist.

The Roman church responded predictably to the Donatist protest: with brutal military action. They did not succeed in totally eradicating the movement. (That was accomplished by the Muslims in the 7th and 8th century.) But they did persecute the Donatists mightily, and as a result kept their ideas, influence and numbers within the empire to a minimum. So, while they did not succeed in wiping out the Donatists, they did accomplish their primary goal of preventing the widespread challenge of the authority of the Roman church, and please recall that challenging the authority of said church was the same as challenging the authority of the Roman empire.

However, some men of conscience did protest violent action being inflicted on other people who professed to be Christians, and also demanded to know what in the Bible justified compulsory church membership enforced by the state, especially since those who dissented did have strong Bible-based arguments on their side. Make no mistake: the Roman empire was being challenged on one front by the Donatist defection and another by their reaction to the former, and both fronts exposed the Roman church for the spiritual fraud that it was.

Into this crisis stepped Augustine. Now as a north African and one who so convincingly expounded such positions as justification by faith, one could have well expected Augustine to side with the Donatists. Instead, Augustine sided with those who paid his salary and elevated him to a position of prestige and power. In addition to siding with the imperial position concerning their right to appoint unregenerate officers and the legitimacy of sacraments administered by such officers, Augustine searched the scriptures to find something that would justify using murderous force to eliminate dissenting movements and thereby make church membership universal (save whom the church excommunicates!) with the sword. (Please note: this remains the goal of the Roman Catholic Church to this day … a global institution where everyone is a member … or else. In this way, the rule of Christ over the earth is accomplished through the church, and then Jesus Christ will return for the church.) And Augustine found Luke 14:23’s “And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in , that my house may be filled.” Of course, this grotesque misinterpretation and misapplication of a Biblical text was more than good enough for the Roman empire, because it suited the purposes that they already had anyway. It is similar to the true but sad tale of the woman who used Ephesians 4:22-24’s “take off the old man and put on the new man” to justify her desire to un-Biblically divorce her current husband and marry a new one without being considered an adulteress. In her rebellious heart, she had already determined that what she was doing was not only permissble, but the will of God, and merely needed a Bible text to misconstrue to justify it, and would not be deterred, even when her pastor informed her of that text’s correct meaning and application (and of the Biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage).

Augustine’s actual interpretation (eisegesis!) of Luke 14:23 is of little consequence, for it was used to arrived at an illegitimate meaning for an illegitimate intent in service to an illegitimate institution. Unless one agrees with – or is willing to in some context defend – the state using the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction to compel membership in a “church” who regularly ordains and retains atheists, homosexuals, occultists and child molesters as its officers, then that could be taken for granted, and therefore there is no need to violate Proverbs 26:4 with regards to it. Instead, let us simply declare Augustine’s efforts to be thoroughly wrong and evil – with its use throughout history to justify many evils (including the magisterial church-state Reformers’ murderous actions against Anabaptists – whom the Reformers ironically politicized as Donatists! – Michael Servetus and others) as evidence of its great error – and move on to a proper interpretation.

In this parable, the “lord” is God the Father and the “servant” is “God the Holy Spirit.” It came to pass God the Father accomplished salvation (through the sending of His Son for atonement), and established the kingdom of heaven. (One does not have to reach far to arrive at this interpretation, because immediately prior to starting the parable, Jesus Christ stated “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God“.) The establishment of the kingdom of heaven is the meaning of the reference to “for all things are now ready.” Now the Bible declares that salvation is for God’s called (or elect) but first the Jew and then the Gentile. (We should also realize that Matthew 20:16 and 22:14 state that “many are called but few are chosen.” While all election of God is unconditional, not all election of God is unto salvation, but rather only the election as “chosen.”) So, the initial call goes out to the original olive tree, the natural seed of Abraham; the Jews of Israel. Due to their faithless condition (as faith comes from God) because of their not at this time being chosen for salvation (the salvation of the Jews will not occur until after the fulness of the Gentiles comes in), the original branch (save a few) demurs and defers.

So, the mission then goes to the Gentiles, who having not known the special revelation of Yahweh because of their not being in the Jewish nation and therefore not having received or lived under the Sinai covenant or benefited from instruction of the law, the writings and the prophets, are spiritually “poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” These may have been the ones who for some reason were aware of their sinful condition and the benefits of the kingdom of heaven (i.e. they are Gentiles who have already attached themselves to Judaism to some degree – such as the God-fearers, the Ethiopian eunuch and the centurion Cornelius – but did not fully convert to Judaism, but were yet “within the city” based on their faith and partial observance) and immediately with gladness believed the gospel of Jesus Christ when they heard it. If one recalls the account of church growth in the early portions of Acts, there was indeed a pattern of angry Jewish rejection on the part of all but a few, but enthusiastic acceptance and rapid growth among the Gentiles that had already been praying to YHWH, fasting, giving alms, attending the synagogues and worshipping in the outer court of the temple.

But after adding the relatively few Jews who had been with Jesus Christ and witnessed His resurrection, the Jews who believed after Pentecost and thereafter, and the Judaism-observant Gentiles who received the gospel with very little effort because of possessing pre-existing faith (some theologians refer to those such as these who lived between the advent and passion of Jesus Christ and the destruction of the temple as “transitional period faithful” akin to Old Testament saints), there was still “room at the table.” That was when this famous case took place. The lord, again in this parable God the Father, told his servant, representing God the Holy Spirit, to go out of the city into the highways and hedges (meaning away from the confines of believing Jews and Gentiles who merely needed to transform their faith from an Old Testament one where Jesus Christ was concealed to a New Testament one where Jesus Christ was revealed) and into the realm of the faithless.

Now the faithless, due to their original sin condition (doctrine of total depravity) these folks were not going to come “to the supper”, or into the kingdom of heaven or participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb with His bride, willingly. Instead, these unwilling people first have to be given faith and converted. Who gives faith? The Holy Spirit, or the servant in this story. Make no mistake: faith does not come from or is not produced by man, but is a gift of the Holy Spirit, see 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. After the Holy Spirit gives the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is the One who regenerates the sinner, see Titus 3:4-7. Make no mistake: this does not happen because the sinner wants it to. The sinner because of his total depravity is thoroughly unwilling, and thus comes into the kingdom not by way of a free will decision, but by God’s compulsion. God’s sheep, declared so before the foundation of the world, hear the voice of Jesus Christ and come when He calls, but Luke 14:23 reveals that a great many come because the Holy Spirit is the Staff that the Great Shepherd uses to pull them in with Its crook on their necks! This is the doctrine of irresistible grace, and gives support to the theory that the rider of the white horse of Revelation is not the anti-Christ, but instead is the Holy Spirit, and the conquering that the rider on the white horse goes about doing is not the nations, but of those called and chosen by God the Father from out among the nations to be the bride for God the Son.

So, in this parable you see 3 of the “5 points of Calvinism” (total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace) explicitly or nearly explicitly at work. Also, perseverance of the saints is implied, as those brought in by the Holy Spirit remain to fill the house and eat of the marriage supper of the Lamb; they do not fall away. Only limited atonement is missing, and this is only because this parable is not expressly Christological, but instead deals primarily with the decree and election of the God the Father and the work of drawing in  and regenerating of the Holy Spirit. So, in telling this parable, there was the Second Person of the Holy Trinity describing the role of the First and the Third Persons of the Holy Trinity in salvation, to the point that though the Third Person of the Trinity is the servant of the First, the Third Person is still sovereign in salvation because men do not have the option of saying no to the Holy Spirit! Those that the Holy Spirit compels must come, because the Holy Spirit is God, and God is Sovereign! Soli Deo Gloria!

Now the compulsion of the Holy Spirit is by no means limited to Gentiles. Instead, Romans 11 is clear that sometime after the Gentile mission is complete, all Israel will be saved. The Jews are currently “not in the house” or “even in the city” but like the Gentiles are faithless, but at the return of Jesus Christ will be drawn and regenerated by the Holy Spirit according to the election and decree of God the Father, and at that time the olive tree will be complete, with the original branches together with the grafted in formerly wild branches.

So, the compulsion of Luke 14:23 is not the servants of the state forcing church membership with the threat of the sword. Instead, it is the Servant of God conquering those captive to original sin and therefore because of their fallen natures and corrupt wills are unable to come to God, and for that matter do not even have a true desire to. (At the very most, they may have a desire for morals, ethics, religion, cultural conformity, tradition, pleasing the expectations of others, to assuage their guilty consciences, to avoid the lake of fire, or to receive the benefits of heaven. It is those things that man can come to and decide for himself of, and not truly of God, and indeed lest we forget a multitude of false religions offers all those things also.) Jesus Christ has bound the strong man and led his captivity captive, so now the Holy Spirit is free to go and spoil his goods. So against the false teachings and applications of Augustine, this is the true meaning and intent of the passage and in its correct context.

Thus, please know that membership in any church cannot save you (even if it is a legitimate New Testament local congregation headed by Jesus Christ) and neither can being the beneficiary of any sacrament, ordinance or ritual. Instead, only membership in the true church will save you, and membership in that church is only granted to those who are saved by the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus Christ that is granted by that same Holy Spirit. If this does not describe you, then you are currently separated from God, at enmity with God, and the Bible states that all those who are found in that status on judgment day will receive an eternal punishment in the lake of fire. Do not let the doctrines of election, predestination and irresistible grace cause unnecessary confusion. Just as God’s sovereignty in salvation is a truth clearly set forth in the Bible, so is the responsibility of man to believe the gospel and submit Himself to Jesus Christ as his Lord. They are two truths that are not in conflict with each other, but are both true in their own right and work together in ways that are beyond our understanding to give God the glory. God is glorified both by being sovereign over salvation and by seeing those formerly trapped in original sin do what was impossible for them prior become possible with God (see Matthew 19:25-26’s “When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed , saying , Who then can be saved ? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”, and over against not only their own sinful natures but also the desires and machinations of Satan.

So make no mistake, those chosen by God have as their duty to make their calling and election sure. If you have not done so, I entreat and implore you to do it, do it quickly, indeed do it today, and moreover right now!

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan!

Posted in Bible, Calvinism, Christianity, false doctrine, false teaching, Jesus Christ, Reformed | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

A Question For Jesus Only Oneness Pentecostal Trinity Deniers

Posted by Job on May 15, 2009

Oneness Pentecostals, as well as Christians who support and fellowship with oneness Pentecostals, here is a question of you.

The Bible declares God the Father, called the Ancient of Days (see Daniel 7, especially verses 9, 13, and 22) to be King in various places. The Bible declares God the Son, called the Angel of the Lord in His preincarnate form (see Joshua 5:14-15, also Exodus 3:4-6 cross referenced with Exodus 3:2Acts 7:30Acts 7:35 ) and the Word of God (John 1:1-18, Proverb 8 especially verse 30) and Jesus Christ to be King.

However, the Holy Spirit, called the Spirit of God the Father (Matthew 10:20Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18) and the Spirit of God the Son (Galatians 4:6, Romans 8:9, Isaiah 61:1Luke 4:18) is never declared to be King by scripture at any time. Also, where both God the Father and God the Son are both spoken of as being glorified and exalted, to my knowledge God the Holy Spirit is never spoken of by scripture as being glorified or exalted at any time.

How is this possible? I welcome your replies. Thank you.

Posted in anti - Christ, antichrist, Apologetics, apostasy, Bible, blasphemy, blasphemy Holy Ghost, blasphemy Holy Spirit, Christianity, heresy, Jesus Christ, Jesus Only, modalism, oneness pentecostal, oneness pentecostalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

The Book of Job and the Sovereignty of God

Posted by Job on November 20, 2007

From Theology.Wordpress.com:

The Book of Job and the Sovereignty of God

Posted in Christianity, Jesus Christ, Moshiach, Ruach Hakadosh, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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